Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito confirmed: Reuters unhappy

This is the first paragraph of a news report from Reuters:

A sharply divided U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, backing a second conservative nominated by President George W. Bush in his effort to move the nation's highest court to the right.

While Reuters starts to sound more like the official mouthpiece of the Democratic Party, it's worthwhile remembering how the Republicans treated Clinton's two nominees. Despite one explicitly declaring her belief that abortion is a woman's right, and another firmly avowing that he believed there should be a wall between church and state, Republicans voted overwhelmingly to confirm the two nominees. This was despite serious concerns raised over Stephen Breyer's failure to recuse himself from a case where he had a financial interest in the outcome.

In fact the only precedent for the shameful behaviour of Senate Democrats over the Bush nominees is... the shameful behaviour of Senate Democrats over the Reagan nominee Robert Bork.

Source: Did Republicans Apply an Ideological Test to Bill Clinton's Supreme Court Nominees?

Friday, January 27, 2006

A cheat?

Why does The Sun have a picture of a cheetah on top of a Jaguar in this article? I'm used to their very high standards of journalism, so I find it hard to believe it's an error. Perhaps it's an ironic comment of sorts, or a knowing in-joke? Can anyone help?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Land of the (almost) free.

From that bastion of free expression and human rights, Cuba, comes news of the latest act of tolerance and openness:

Bulldozers dug up a street in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana on Wednesday apparently preparing to block the view of an electronic billboard carrying human rights messages that has angered President Fidel Castro.

U.S. diplomats said Cuba's communist authorities were building a concrete wall or screen to obstruct view of the ticker, which displays messages to the Cuban people, news headlines and quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walesa.

But the important thing is that Cubans have free healthcare, right?

Galloway a "lying, manipulative bully"

According to one of the other Big Brother contestants, that is.

Asked how she felt when the respect MP nominated her for eviction from the Channel 4 show, she said: "Of course I felt betrayed.

"It's just that he's lied a lot before and I've seen him lie since. He's just a manipulative bully."

Asked if an MP should have agreed to go on the show, Lenska said: "I think he was trying to swell his popular appeal.

"But sadly I think he has done completely the opposite. People have been turned against him quite rightly.

"He should have been out looking after his constituents instead of being in the Big Brother house."

And in other news, the Pope is said to be Catholic, and a dog has bitten a man.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Those Zionists are at it again...

I must say that the actions of the Zionists are sometimes quite hard to understand. It's not clear to me how rescuing people from a collapsed building in Nairobi serves the interests of world domination. But I'm sure some racist bastard will enlighten me in due course.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What to do with the UN?

Jeff Goldstein at Normblog:

Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

For those of you who missed one of the greatest movies of all time, it's one of the best quotes in Aliens.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The power of logic

Elder of Ziyon has a great post up; it has clarified for me a lot of the internal conflict I often feel about Israel:

When it comes down to it, from a purely rational perspective, Jerusalem is just a piece of real estate, no more or less important than Gaza or Madagascar. Logical, rational Jews can look through the superstitious nonsense of tradition and coldly calculate the cost of keeping the eastern half versus the benefit of giving it up.

No, I haven't lost my mind: read the whole thing.

Pre-order William 0rbit's Hello Waveforms

Amazon have listed Hello Waveformsfor pre-order: release date is February 20th. For more on this new release by William 0rbit, see here.

According to rumour on the fan list (actually it's a bit more than rumour) there will be another album this year, something a bit faster than Hello Waveforms. (How do I know HW isn't fast? Let's just say some Internet radio streams have been, ah, archived for posterity. And distributed to some, er, quality control assurers.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

State of Fear

I recently read Michael Crichton's latest, State of Fear, which is well up to his usual standard in terms of compelling reading (I confess to finishing it in a few hours, its 736 pages notwithstanding). But what's really great about it is a very well-researched, impeccably dramatised devastation of the climate change industry, the fear merchants who are trying to create the state mentioned in the title. And there are some delicious sideswipes at airheaded Hollywood celebrities who jump on the bandwagon du jour.

In this speech Michael gives an interesting account of how he came to write the book:

The book really began in 1998, when I set out to write a novel about a global disaster. In the course of my preparation, I rather casually reviewed what had happened in Chernobyl, since that was the worst manmade disaster in recent times that I knew about.

What I discovered stunned me. Chernobyl was a tragic event, but nothing remotely close to the global catastrophe I imagined. About 50 people had died in Chernobyl, roughly the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents. I don’t mean to be gruesome, but it was a setback for me. You can’t write a novel about a global disaster in which only 50 people die.

Undaunted, I began to research other kinds of disasters that might fulfill my novelistic requirements. That’s when I began to realize how big our planet really is, and how resilient its systems seem to be. Even though I wanted to create a fictional catastrophe of global proportions, I found it hard to come up with a credible example. In the end, I set the book aside, and wrote Prey instead.

The fact that his impression of what had happened at Chernobyl, moulded by the media, was so strikingly and incredibly at odds with the reality, made him think about the value of disaster prediction in general, and the particular disaster that we are being asked to believe we face today. Could it be that these predictions may be just as wrong, and will go the way of the predictions of every other "disaster", from the new ice age to global famine, that have been given (ahem) some prominence over the last forty years?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another pointless online test

I am nerdier than 53% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

DVD rentals by post

I've been using Amazon's DVD rental by post service for a while now, and it's really been great to catch up on some of the classic movies I've enjoyed before, plus ones I never got round to seeing before for some reason or another (like The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense).

Usually when I go to a rental store I wander around for ages, trying to remember movies that I might like, but with the Amazon rental list, anytime I think of a movie I just add it to my list. The web interface lets me change the order of the DVDs at any time, and for less than ten quid I get four DVDs a month, two out at any time (as soon as I send one back, they send the next one on the list, unless the monthly limit has been reached). Plus you get a discount if you buy any DVD from Amazon.

If you'd like to check it out for yourself, just click on the banner:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gorgeous imagination

Oliver Kamm on the latest antics of the Honourable Member for Bethnal Green:

After George travelled to Damascus last July to tell the Syrian people, who had had no say in the matter, how fortunate they were to have Bashar al-Assad as their leader, there were few ways open to him to lose his dignity further, and he at least showed imagination in finding one of them.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Forests and trees

Mark Steyn makes his bid to reduce global warming:

Here's a headline from the National Post of Canada last Friday: "Forests may contribute to global warming: study." This was at Stanford University. They developed a model that covered most of the Northern Hemisphere in forest and found that global temperature increased three degrees, which is several times more than the alleged CO2 emissions. Heat-wise, a forest is like a woman in a black burka in the middle of the Iraqi desert. In my state of New Hampshire, we've got far more forest than we did a century or two ago. Could reforestation be causing more global warming than my 700m-per-litre Chevrolet Resource-Depleter? Clearly I need several million dollars to investigate further.

I think he should get it. It would be better spent than more money going to people who engage in outright fraud:

Question: Why do most global warming advocates begin their scare statistics with "since 1970"?

As in, "since 1970" there's been global surface warming of half a degree or so.

Because from 1940 to 1970, temperatures fell.

Now why would that be?

Who knows? Maybe it was Hitler. Maybe world wars are good for the planet.

Or maybe we should all take a deep breath of CO2 and calm down.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sign of the times

Nikon will only make digital cameras in the future. Can't see how there is any kind of market for film 35mm cameras, which is their focus, so it's not unexpected.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Climate change roundup

Quick roundup of climate change links of note:

Scientific journals accused of censoring those who don't toe the party line

Michael Crichton on complexity and the "crises" of the past

Interesting article by two German scientists:

Other scientists are succumbing to a form of fanaticism almost reminiscent of the McCarthy era. In their minds, criticism of methodology is nothing but the monstrous product of "conservative think-tanks and misinformation campaigns by the oil and coal lobby," which they believe is their duty to expose. In contrast, dramatization of climate shift is defended as being useful from the standpoint of educating the public.

Silencing dissent and uncertainty for the benefit of a politically worthy cause reduces credibility, because the public is more well-informed than generally assumed. In the long term, the supposedly useful dramatizations achieve exactly the opposite of what they are intended to achieve. If this happens, both science and society will have missed an opportunity.

How Global Warming Research is Creating a Climate of Fear