Monday, June 30, 2008

Uga VI: RIP

Georgia's beloved mascot dies. I saw the Auburn game pictured above--he tried to bite the Auburn player who had just scored. That's a good dog.

"Big Oil": why they make a lot of money without doing what we think they ought to do! Damn them!

As we all know, politicians rank somewhere between used-car salesmen and lawyers on the credibility sale. But what to do with this kind of lying?
ExxonMobil “only spent $10 million on renewables last year,” House Energy Independence Committee Chairman Ed Markey (D., Mass.), moaned June 22 on ABC’s This Week.

“I am very angry, frankly, at the oil companies,” presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) said June 12. “Not only because of the obscene profits they’ve made, but their failure to invest in alternative energy to help us eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.”

“We are forcing oil companies to change their ways,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told journalists May 7. “We will hold them accountable for unconscionable price-gouging and force them to invest in renewable energy or pay a price for refusing to do so.”

"Obscene" profits? "Unconscionable price gouging"? These politicians know that what they are saying isn't true, but that doesn't stop them from trotting out a boogeyman to distract the public from the real problem with domestic energy production -- Congress is not letting oil companies, coal companies, power companies, and the like do what they do best, which is develop new technologies or utilize property to generate energy. We know this, the politicians know it, and the oil companies damn sure know it. Sure, an oil rig is ugly (to some -- I think the rigs are incredibly cool), but it is also a safe and effective way of producing energy domestically, which in turn has the effect of our becoming more energy independent.*

Now, I take issue with the article linked above, but only for one reason: the oil companies investing in alternative energies aren't doing so from the goodness of their hearts, as that article implies (he may not have meant that, but it does appear to imply that). They are investing for the same reason anybody else invests in new technologies -- to make money, either from the technology itself or from the goodwill generated by the projects. And, as Martha would say, that's a good thing.

So what the politicians want to do is force these same companies, which are investing billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy, to contribute more to the effort. All the while Congress can sit back as energy prices rise and rise, and say "well, we're making Big Oil pay for alternative energy research, so we've done all we can do."

Worse still, a huge segment of our population will like them more for it.

*As I understand Obama's position, since it will take 10 years or so to get things going enough to make a difference, then we ought to spend our money on ethanol and other alternative fuels. Maybe he's right, but I don't think so. We can't possibly grow enough corn/switchgrass/other stuff to meet even the goals GWB set. It's also dirtier, a less effecient use of food-producing land, and does nothing to support at least one of the goals of energy policy -- reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

** I don't really get McCain's position on this either -- open up offshore leases again, but don't touch ANWR? Seems a bit daft to me.

Me, I like solar power. In the South (and probably elsewhere), everybody who has the money could generate at at least a portion of their own power on their roofs--if I ever build a house again, I'm gonna install some solar panels for the lights and such. Should be fun. And hideously expensive.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hopefulness. Changeytude. Same shit, different day.



Jon Stewart: you'll note he has to tell the audience it's okay to laugh at Obama and his various foibles. Jesus.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ah, Presidential politics

Missed this a few days ago.

Barack Obama is warning supporters that the general election fight between him and John McCain may get ugly, but the Illinois senator is vowing not to back down.

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," Obama said at a fundraiser in Philadelphia Friday, according to pool reports.

Uh huh. I hope he also brings a gun permit, a trigger lock, and a good lawyer. And a health care plan. In his next fantasy I suppose Obama will want to channel his inner Clint Eastwood, who once explained that "I've got a firm policy on gun control. If there's a gun around, I want to be the one controlling it."
Yup, Barack Obama ready to shoot guns and be a badass. Now, of course, he's being hyperbolic here -- he wouldn't dare use a gun to fight off a potential stabber, would he? Wouldn't he negotiate and use his Winnie-the-Pooh diplomatic skills to ensure that his would-be murderer could see the error of his ways, and voluntarily disarm?

Sarcasm aside, I used to think Obama was slick, likeable, and smart. Lately, he seems tone-deaf, arrogant, and, well, kinda dumb. Of course, he's running against the Republicans, so he's not going to have too hard a time with any of it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

First, they came for the speed limits

So, of course, with gas prices rising and folks all a-twitter about it, and the environmental "climate change" movement gaining ever more power, we begin to see calls for freeway speed limits to be reduced to 55 again, just like the miserable 70's.

Why is this difficult to understand? People drive faster because they want to get places. Speed limits are for safety -- they are not for fuel efficiency. If I have a car that gets 30-35 MPG, why should I be penalized by the government for the perceived sins of the SUV driver? If I can go 70 on I-64, I get to Richmond in one hour flat. If I go 55, it takes an hour and 20 minutes. That's 20 minutes I could have spent with my kids, sleeping, working out, reading, whatever -- for no corresponding increase in the safety of the road.

Also, if you want to drive an SUV or a minivan (most of which get as bad or worse mileage than the hated SUV), I don't begrudge you that -- you just have to buy more gas than I do. That's your problem, not mine.

As for global warming/climate change/whatever you wanna call it -- let me know when someone can definitively say human activity is really responsible. The earth was a hell of a lot hotter, and had way more CO2, back in the era of the dinosaur. And the Vikings. And all kinds of other times in the history of this planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy it by driving big cars? I reckon Al Gore is that arrogant, but he's also an idiot.

Cross posted at a new group blog just getting started: The Building Badness Foundation Quarterly Report.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Truth is not a defense . . .

before a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Background: McLean's magazine, based in Toronto, printed an excerpt from America Alone, a book by Mark Steyn, which avers that the West's (particularly Europe and Canada) declining birthrate has set the stage for immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, to take over and potentially radicalize the West (I haven't read the book -- I'm plagiarizing what I understand to be among the central themes). Now, think what you may of his premise -- it is supported greatly by things Muslim leaders have said.

Certain Muslims in Canada took offense at this, and filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Commission, even though none of the parties to the complaint reside or have any real connection to British Columbia, as I understand the jurisdictional prerequisites of the tribunal. No matter -- there apparently aren't any rules.

The HRC has the authority, even if the printed speech is entirely true or entirely opinion, to sanction the offender with fines, injunctions, etc., if the speech has the potential of subjecting a person or group to "hate," whatever the hell that means. There are no rules of evidence, and the proceedings are apparently a farce.

They certainly are in McLean's case.
"Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.” —Canadian “Human Rights” Investigator Dean Steacy, responding to the question “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?”

This is the way free speech ends, not with a bang but as the result of an administrative hearing in a windowless basement in Vancouver, Canada.

At least that’s where a “Human Rights Tribunal” is taking place this week that will further solidify the Canadian legal position that the right not to be offended by something you read is more sacred than the freedom of the press.


Oh yeah--the "judges" on the tribunals? Not judges at all, but employees of the Human Rights Commission, who have a vested interest in keeping the commissions going so they can save their jobs!

Read all about the show trial here or here or here (with much more material about the HRCs).

To some extent, Mr. Stacey is right: freedom of speech is an American concept (although it didn't really start with us), insofar as protecting the worst kind of speech from government intervention is a necessary evil to preserve a greater freedom--that of the free flow of ideas. One does not need to venture very far to understand what life can be like where there is no freedom of speech -- Cuba imprisons journalist and others for writing bad things about the government. Even if the things they write were wrong (and they aren't), would any of us tolerate living in a society where saying "I can't stand George Bush" or "I think Obama's a crook" would get you locked up?

What the hell is going on in lovely Canada?