SocraticGadfly: 5/31/09 - 6/7/09

June 06, 2009

Even if GM clears bankruptcy quickly …

The current market for automotive sales is likely to be no better a year from now:
Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, said capacity will need to shift to emerging markets such as India and China, not saturated markets like the United States and Europe, where most of the dealmaking is centered.

All the changes brings to mind past unhappy auto mergers: Ford with Land Rover and Jaguar, Chrysler with Germany's Daimler AG, and General Motors with Fiat.

A big exception, Dudenhoeffer said, is Volkswagen AG, which gathers multiple brands from Bentley to Lamborghini to Skoda under one roof. "But it took 20 years to bring them onto the same technical platforms," he said.

This should, but won’t, give pause to boisterous Saturn buyer Roger Penske, who is planning on using Saturn dealerships as a platform to sell multiple brands of foreign cars. Indy Roger says that will only happen when those unspecified brands meet GM quality before he’ll sell their cars through Saturn as a multi-brand dealer network. Besides the laughableness of that, with many foreign brands already ahead of GM, one that isn’t yet is working on that.

When India’s Tata is looking at coming to America, not the other way around, Roger Penske should shut up until he can prove something.

What does 9.4 unemployed mean to Geithner?

Well, as Reuters blogger Felix Salmon kindly notes, shold mean a hell of a lot of concern to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, since his bank stress test models were based on the old economic model called Rosy Scenario, and NOT the 9.4 percent non-solution.

No wonder President Obama, Grandpa Biden et al, are claiming the slowing growth in unemployment is such “good news.” They’re probably buying plastering trowels to spread this BS.

Obama doesn’t even bother hiding broken promises

Or caring that he’s so bald-faced at noth caring how obviously he’s breaking campaign promises. That’s the shorter David Sirota.

Horowitz comes to praise neocon Obama, not bury him

When far-right bomb-thrower David Horowitz finds President Obama’s Cairo speech wunderbar, the question is now, not whether Obama is a liberal or not, but, just how much of a neoliberal can he even claim to be?

Or, is he now a closet neoconservative?

It’s clear Obama is lightly and proudly wearing the mantle of “presidentialism.” As Horowitz notes, Obama not only did NOT repudiate Bush’s invasion of Iraq, he all but embraced the neocon regime change reasoning behind it.

In the new world, given Hillary Clinton’s intransigence at the recent OAS meeting, if I’m Raul or Fidel Castro, I walk very lightly, hearing Obama so openly embrace regime change.

EVERYBODY favors killing DADT except The One

Conservatives, weekly churchgoers, even: A majority of both groups is now OK with gays in the military.

So, when will Just.Another.Politician.™ realize he’s actuallybehind the curve, and not in the dead center of public opinion on this issue? Maybe we ought to up the ante and ask if Obama has some degree of anti-gay bias?

‘Buy American’ for climate control? What a laugh

So the U.S., the biggest climate-control foot-dragger among developed nations, and worse in some ways than China or other “Tier 1” developing nations, has Members of Congress suggesting a “buy American” provision in the Waxman-Markey climate change bill now working its way through the House.

I can understand the U.S. Chamber of Commerce being against it, as the C of C always looks to cheap labor in underdeveloped countries as the “solution” for everything. (And, no, what is “good” for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or even your small town’s chamber of commerce, is often most assuredly NOT good for America.)

And, yes, it could violate WTO rules. Ottawa is already steamed.

Sure, we might stiff Canada. But, what if Beijing gets hacked off?

Beyond that, there’s my original point. We’re the biggest foot-dragger on climate control, in part because neither half of the duopoly wants to piss off the American business from whom we’re supposed to buy?

I’m at the point where I hope House Ag attaches such onerous provisions to Waxman-Markey, or the Senate simply digs in its heels, and either way, the bill gets killed.

‘GM quality’ – Roger Penske makes me laugh

The would-be buyer of GM’s Saturn division says foreign automakers will have to meet GM quality before he’ll sell their cars through Saturn as a multi-brand dealer network.

Other than India’s Tata (which actually may have a U.S.-standards meeting car in a couple of years), and China’s Chery, about everybody else in the world is ahead of the Corporal already, Roger.

June 05, 2009

Feeding cows their natural food cuts methane

Cows belching methane worries worldwide environmental groups enough that, as developing nations’ beef-eating increases, some say cows could be as much a part of the global warming problem as cars.

Well, not if you feed cows more of what they naturally eat and less corn and soy.

U.S. organic dairy farms, largely under the impetus of French yogurt king Danone, are leading the way here; in France, it’s being used on its equivalent of CAFO-sized beef feedlots, too.

China could again outdo US on CO2 fight

Beijing says it’s working on an environmental tax:
“Several departments are currently working together to develop research on this issue, and when the conditions are right we will launch an environmental taxation system for polluting companies,” Zhang Lijun, deputy head of the Environmental Protection Ministry, told reporters.

What President Obama, Reps. Markey and Waxman, and anybody else in government refuses to consider, while bashing China on global warming, is being considered by China.

In other enviro news, Mexican megabillionaire Carlos Slim is ponying up $100 mil to help wildlife there.

Take back progressivism – from Obama

More and more progressives are waking up to that idea, as Dana Milbank notes, but the numbers are still small. And, most of the “dissidents” will still pull the “D” lever in 2012, assuming Obama runs again and is renominated.

June 04, 2009

Rall – pro-choicers need to talk better, be more honest

Ted Rall, far from a conservative, and pretty much an absolutist on reproductive rights, nonetheless says, in the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s murder, that pro-choicers need to communicate better, rather than engaging in some of the same demonizing the other side does.

In words that folks like P.Z. Myers and his Pharyngulac followers need to listen to (but won’t), Rall says:
I am disgusted by much of my fellow pro-choicers’ rhetoric in the aftermath of the shooting of Dr. Tiller.

Reveling in the same kind of smug self-righteousness that characterized Bush and his supporters after 9/11 (did they really think questioning liberals' patriotism would convince them to support invading Iraq?), my fellow pro-choicers are attempting to marginalize pro-life Americans as out of touch and possibly insane.

Regarding that last comment, he calls Tiller’s murder “tragic” while insisting that, from pro-lifers’ stance, it is NOT “senseless.” In fact, Rall goes further, showing the clarity that Myers lacks outside of his academic field, in many cases:
Abortion is murder. In my view women have--and ought to continue to have--the right to murder their unborn babies. Each abortion is a tragedy, some necessary and others not, and all of them are murder.

He then puts this in terms of larger complexity:
It’s not a position that I'm comfortable with. But as sad and horrible as abortion is, I can't see telling a woman who doesn't want to carry a pregnancy to term that she has to do so.

If you want to wrestle with more thoughts like this, read the full column.

Socialism, hell – worry about a police state

President Obama wants the legal authority to block any release of any photograph after 9/11 showing U.S. abuse of any detainee, and Congress is considering giving him that authority. That’s anything BUT “the most open and transparent (administration) in history,” contra Obama’s campaign trail promise.

Glenn Greenwald has details of the outrageousness. Lindsey Graham and Joementum are behind it.

Yet another Pop Ev Psych ‘truism’ crumbles

Turns out girls maybe are just as good as boys at math.

I’ll be waiting for a couple of the usual suspects to post comments here.

Rush may support Sotomayor

Why? With no paper trail on abortion, and being Catholic, Rush hopes she might be David Souter in reverse. I still think Obama lied when he said he didn’t ask her about her stance on abortion, but, what if he IS telling the truth?

June 03, 2009

US political duopoly cannot let go of Cuba

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, AFTER the Organization of American States voted to readmit Cuba, albeit conditionally, uttered the following drivel, which surely is supported by The One:
"Cuba can come back into the OAS in the future if the OAS decides that its participation meets the purposes and principles of the organization, including democracy and human rights," Clinton said in a statement.

Well, we could get booted for torture, I suppose.

Beyond that, it’s apparent that the OAS kicked the can down the road because of Obama Administration intransigence personified by Clinton. But, if all other OAS members say, two years from now, “Cuba has made satisfactory process and we’re ready for a final vote,” will Obama’s State Department, whoever runs it then, insist on being a stinker?

Answer: 3-1 odds Yes.

US2World – we may be CO2 no-show, but make deal anyway

The Obama Administration’s commitment only to climate-control lite, aided by the HUGE soft bigotry of low expectations when its environmental record gets compared to BushCo’s, becomes clearer all the time.

Jonathan Pershing, the deputy special envoy for climate change, said Team Obama may not have climate change legislation through Congress in time for officially being part of the Copenhagen accord in December.
“It might mean that you have a framework in place as opposed to absolute numbers. Those numbers may come a bit later,” Pershing said.

That said, by the time Markey-Waxman gets through Congress, both those gentlemen may want their names off the piece of Swiss cheese.

Operation Rescue in for RICO filing on Tiller murder?

It turns out Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue out of Wichita, was giving Dr. George Tiller murder suspect Scott Roeder information about court dates in Tiller’s trial earlier this year for allegedly breaking Kansas’ second-doctor consultation law.

And, there’s this tidbit:
Sullenger served about two years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in California in 1988. She has since renounced violent action.

Add in the fact that Roeder is the likely culprit in vandalism at two Kansas City abortion clinics, and RICO does seem a possibility.

Cuba re-admitted to OAS after all?

Contra an earlier post of mine, where I discussed reports that re-admission of Cuba to the Organization of American States had broken down, allegedly over a U.S. insistence that Cuba move toward democracy, the latest word is that Cuba is in, with no information on what, if any, preconditions are involved.

That then said, Cuba says it doesn’t want in, because the OAS is an American tool. Maybe Raul Castro sings a different tune than Fidel on this, especially if the re-admission is a fait accompli

It IS without preconditions, but with Cuba agreeing to comply with OAS conventions on human rights and other issues.

That said, overall, the vote has to be considered a “win” for more moderate approaches to Cuba. And, an acknowledgement of reality-based foreign affairs by the Obama Administration.

US, Latin American left still can’t agree on Cuba

American insistence on Cuban commitment to democracy, apparently rejected by Venezuela, Nicaragua and a couple other countries, has Cuba’s OAS application on hold. And, ridiculously so.

Did we ever put the same restrictions on Chinese WTO membership? Yes, Venezuela, especially, with Hugo Chavez, is just playing spoiler with this issue. But, I bet if the U.S. agreed to “more democratic” rather than “democratic,” it could get Cuba’s membership approved.

And, at the same time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking about how much her husband’s administration reached out to Cuba is simply laughable. In addition to tweaking language, somebody on the U.S. side is probably going to have to do at least some degree of mea culpa, rather than just trying to do an Obama “look forward” while lying about the past.

Bye-bye, Gordo?

British Labour rebels have a not-so-secret 23-day plan to unseat their own leader, Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

It’s clear that the expense accounts scandal in Parliament, on top of Brown’s almost stereotypical Scottish dourness and general lack of personal stroking skills, has him in big trouble.

June 02, 2009

‘Bad GM’? No, just what GM wrecked, on sale

Besides GM selling its Hummer brand, the General also claims it has 16 buyers for Saturn and three for Saab. Neither of these falls into the idea of “bad GM,” other than they are divisions that GM wrecked.

After buying Saab, GM slowly, but inexorably and ineptly, crushed every iota of uniqueness out of it. With Saturn, the one-time independent entity was dragged back into the GM fold, probably in part because it was making the rest of GM look bad.

GM didn’t name any of the potential buyers, but I can think of a couple.

Either Magna, the apparent buyer of GM’s European arm, Opel, or Fiat, who backed off Opel after GM wanted some extra last-minute money, could be interested in it. Fiat might also be one of those 16 potential Saturn buyers.

Yes, the dealers may be losing money on Saturn, but probably not for different reasons than other Shrinking Three dealers.

The General’s big mistake there was bringing Saturn the carmaker back into the generic fold without trying to shut Saturn dealers then or roll them into other brands. Well, now that the National Automotive Dealers Association has less of a leg to stand on, Saturn’s buyer will do just that.

And, while conservatives hammer the UAW, and liberals, greenish types in particular, slam GM itself, why doesn’t NADA get more blame? Doesn’t the acronym say it all?

At the same time, speaking of closing or selling off lines, why doesn’t the General get rid of GMC? Really, are diehard GMC aficionados going to go buy Fords? Let alone Toyotas?

How fitting – Hummer to China

If only this were some stealth plan to wreck the Chinese economy once oil prices break $100/bbl again. But it’s not.

In what is surely a symbolic sign of the self-enslavement of the U.S. economy (and the U.S. consumer) GM is selling its Hummer brand to a Chinese company. Instead, China will probably use its cheaper, more pollution-creating steel to drive down Hummer prices here, addicting more Americans.

Why Obama should release Abu Ghraib 2.0 pix – out of Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reportedly told Washington that Iraq would erupt in violence and he would ask US troops to leave a year early if the pics came out. Maliki reportedly said “Baghdad will burn.”

Best argument yet for releasing them. Get us out of there.

If Obama were a real liberal, he’d find a way to either dun KBR or force it to stay behind a couple of years, to boot.

MediaNews’ I-News sounds like DMN’s CueCat

So MediaNews is starting what it calls an “Individuated News: personalized newspaper?
Peter Vandevanter, vice president of targeted products for MediaNews Group, told the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) “The Power of Print Conference” that the subscribers will get home delivery of a printed paper, through home printers or portable devices, with content personalized to their demands and including hyper-targeted advertising and coupon offers.

So, on the ad side, MediaNews and Dean Singleton are trying to out-Google Google and Sergey Brin? Good luck with that. Coupons? BFD. Everybody knows their use rate is in single digits.

If I want to read hardcopy, I can just go to a webpage and hit “print” if I have a home printer. If it doesn’t correctly format for 8.5x11, I can copy the text and paste in a Word document. Plus, if I have ad-block settings and/or a good hosts file, I don’t get any of Singleton’s ads.

What moronity.

But wait, that’s not ALL the moronity. The MediaNews printer ain’t a freebee:
Subscribers buy the printer at a deep discount and pay a “modest” subscription fee, Vandenvanter told Mitchell. The newspaper reimburses subscribers for the consumable. Advertisers pay the newspaper for targeted ads.

Even THAT isn’t all the moronity. Allegedly, advertising rates for the I-News product “are 10 times print advertising rates.”

Good luck with that one!

Auto writers tanking for GM half the problem

The Dallas Morning News’ Terry Box is a perfect example of “see no evil” at GM.

Link delisting - Pharyngula

While I think P.Z. Myers, aka Pharyngula, is a very good explicator of evolutionary biology, and what’s at stake in science education in public schools, and while he can often be a decent commenter on atheist philosophy, his logically unsupportable stance on late-term abortion, and the number of Pharyngulacs who follow him, fundamentalist-like, on this issue, mean I’ve decided to delist him for now.

Life is more complicated than you would like to have it, P.Z.

Taxpayers fall just as much as Obama bank money rises

Ted Rall points out what he says goes beyond irony and, instead, leads him to call for, in essence, a tea party from the left: Obama’s $12 trillion in commitments to Big Finance is almost exactly mirrored by last year’s $11 trillion drop in taxpayer worth last year.

Douthat’s good ideas on SCOTUS

Russ Douthat, not afraid to note that the GOP in Congress could have restricted affirmative action laws, rather than turning to the Supreme Court for relief, has two good suggestions, at least on paper.

The first is term limits, batted around by many, of many political persuasions, before.

The second is a 6-3 supermajority to overturn state or federal laws. Interesting.

Dunno whether traditional special interests of the left or right would howl more on that one.

World climate plan clears hurdle, still weak tea

The weakest tea comes from the United States. Besides pledging to do less to cut emissions than EU members, or (it is expected, announcement later this week) Japan, America is guilty of, to use a football metaphor, moving the goalposts. What else can you call the Obama Administration wanting to use 2005, not 1990, as the benchmark year from which to measure cuts?

Indeed, that’s exactly the way the EU feels:
EU Commission representative Artur Runge-Metzger cautioned against moving the goalposts.

“It’s not about making numbers match and making them close to each other, I think at the end it’s a question of what's the effort behind it,” he said.

He added, though: “It's easy to say we start from a clean slate and we forget what the EU has been doing in the past, and what kind of efforts, what kind of economic burden we have been putting on ourselves in order to move forward.”

It’s clear Team Obama is NOT an environmental administration. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says CO2 emission is a serious health risk, but won’t do anything to regulate it, instead punting to Congress. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wasn’t a friend of the Endangered Species Act before he was first elected to Congress and he isn’t now. Economics czar Larry Summers, in past lives, made noises about environmental issues being means tested.

And, that brings us to this international foot-dragging.

June 01, 2009

Will GM clear bankruptcy in just 90 days?

First, the General has to go through the process of being separated into “good General” and “bad General,” the process that big, bad hypocritical Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner refused to consider for his banking best buds. (One more sign, per Paul Kennedy’s “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,” that the U.S. is now a financial nation, not an industrial one, and therefore on the downslope.)

Next, there’s the “little” hurdle of getting some sucker enterprising business to buy “bad GM.” Of course, if no enterprising business is out there, President Obama may decide to go the sucker U.S. taxpayer route.

Meanwhile, you have bullshit public relations like this:
“It’s going to be a much smaller, leaner company but the industry in general is going to be a far more profitable industry with all the capacity that's been removed,” said David Cole, chairman of Michigan's Center for Automotive Research.

GM has the opportunity to “be profitable really quickly” once auto sales recover and has a solid plan and strong product portfolio, Cole said.

Solid plan? GM has done everything BUT that for 35 years now, since the first oil embargo. (Actually, before that, but, who’s counting?)

Strong portfolio? You mean like the Volt that it’s too broke to roll out? Or the Volt that probably would get swamped if it were rolled out? Or the pseudo-hybrid SUVs that some auto writers continue to tout?

Beyond that, though, Cole admits that “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage” isn’t playing on the stereo:
“The way they are managing this, this is probably going to be very clean and neat but there is a finite risk that it goes out of control,” Cole told AFP. “If one or a few of the key suppliers collapse, then everything is over with and we're in for a really serious problem.”


And, although much of David Brooks’ newest column is just stupid, he’s right about how GM’s corporate culture could make the bankruptcy process worse.

That said, per my poll on the issue, and contra the caveats here, I won’t personally consider GM to have “cleared” bankruptcy until the “bad GM” is sold – to the private sector.

So, when you hear Obama claim GM’s restructuring plan is “full of promise,” take that with a whole shaker of salt.

Free polls from
How long will a GM bankruptcy take? (As of June 1, 2009)
Three mths Six mths Nine mths Twelve mths Eighteen mths   

Congress, Obama need to do more after Tiller murder

Ezra Klein says it is NOT unseemly for Congress to consider new legislation to protect abortion clinics, precisely because Tiller’s murder wasn’t such an isolated act.

And, Ann Friedman says Obama needs to step up to the plate. (Fat chance, unless it’s his usual parsing of “stepping up to the plate” as “passing the buck to Congress.”)

Rick Perry’s ‘green’ boasting just more hot air

Gov. Helmethair, aka Lil Ricky Perry, among his many bloviations, is wont to talk about Texas being a leader in renewable energy.

Well, just one little problem.

It ain’t so.

All it takes is a pair of eyes, when driving through West Texas, to note all the missing large-scale solar panels. All it takes is a pair of eyes, when driving through new DFW, Houston, Austin or San Antonio suburban developments, to note the missing rooftop solar panels on new houses. (In fact, two solar initiatives died in this year’s Lege.)
"They need a statewide strategy, not a little piece here, a little piece there kind of thing," said Jeff Morris, chief executive of Dallas refining company Alon USA.

Lil Ricky’s response? President Obama doesn’t care about Texas. More bullshit (that’s spelled R-E-D M-E-A-T) for the sheeple following Perry.

Rather, it’s Lil Ricky and most the Texas GOP don’t care about the environment. As a result, the state is already losing new green jobs.

It’s a great, in-depth story. Read the whole thing.

God – the No. 1 abortionist (if he exists)

In light of yesterday’s murder of Dr. George Tiller, this is an edited repost of an old post.

Francisco Ayala, one of the world’s greatest evolutionary biologists, AND one of the most renowned biological scientists being a professed Christian, as part of openly defending the compatibility of evolution and religious belief, has been a busy man with the controversy over “Expelled.”

And, he’s not afraid to be as blunt with IDers as Richard Dawkins:
In fact, he said, evolution “is more consistent with belief in a personal god than intelligent design. If God has designed organisms, he has a lot to account for.”

Consider, he said, that at least 20 percent of pregnancies are known to end in spontaneous abortion. If that results from divinely inspired anatomy, Dr. Ayala said, “God is the greatest abortionist of them all.”

Ayala talks more about the compatibility, that he sees, of religion and science, his latest book, “Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion.”

Ayala also offers his take on the “teach the controversy,” or similar statements, espoused by many evolution doubters from President Bush on down, as well as evolution denialists:
He dismisses the argument that it is only fair to teach both sides of the evolution/creationism controversy. “We don’t teach alchemy along with chemistry,” he said. “We don’t teach witchcraft along with medicine. We don’t teach astrology with astronomy.”

Ayala’s work on behalf of evolutionary biology is greatly appreciated.

(Oh, if you refuse to believe he’s a practicing Christian, read here.)

But, his comments also underscore part of why I became an atheist.

If you accept the idea that God, in the Western monotheistic version, cannot be “all,” how much of a “less than all” do you accept and still find worthy of the label “God,” as far as powers or skills of design?

Or, second question – how much below “less than all” do you get until you recognize that your “God” is nothing but a “god of the gaps” and that these gaps have been being closed by both science and philosophy for 300 years or more?

Or transferring this issue beyond what philosophers call “natural evil” to “moral evil,” how much “inhumanity” (the older Mark Twain would say it’s quite human) do you accept as the production, whether active or passive, of a “morally less than all” divinity before junking the idea entirely?

And, that said, at the end of the NYT story, Ayala himself refuses to discuss whether he is still a religious believer or not.

Addendum: Issues like teratomas and the related human chimeras add to this issue.

Update, May 2, 2021: Fascinating Smithsonian piece here. If you're familiar with what chimeras are, namely a human fetus that has absorbed another in the womb, the discovery that moms can become chimeras from their fetuses is ... fascinating.

The heck with ‘the liberal wing of the Democratic Party’

If it really is that worried about Obama the neolib, it would join us liberal non-Democrats and stop supporting him.

But, it won’t. In its own way, it’s like the religious right wing of the GOP.

May 31, 2009

Atheism no guarantee of rationality or critical thinking

At the often-lively blog of evolutionary biologist and atheist P.Z. Myers, aka Pharyngula, his thread on the murder earlier today of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller offers yet more proof of that fact.

I’ve seen false dilemmas, unexcluded middles, ad hominem arguments, simply unsupported arguments, non sequiturs and more there in just an hour’s time.

I’ve blogged before about “village idiot atheism,” the type of atheism that lives only to poke a finger in the eye of theists whenever it can, and this is a prime example.

Strange Gods and Holbach are two of the most offending posters there

Strange Gods that any opposition to atheism must be supernatural is guaranteed not to win support. He then makes that as a specific allegation against Nat Hentoff, an openly proclaimed atheist.

Holbach (like his namesake French baron), has such a virulent, even vicious, anti-religion stance it hugely warps his thinking. (Holbach refused to accept religiously-themed classical music as worth listening to.)

In this thread, he claims that any opposition to abortion (no caveats) must either be emotion or religion. There’s both your unexcluded middle and your false dilemma. He then defines religion itself as ultimately being a form of religion, showing he’s never read Wittgenstein. (He, Strange Gods, and one or two others like to be Humpty-Dumpty with language.)

I’m surprised a few of the commenters there haven’t said it’s no surprise Tiller was shot, if he insisted on still being a Christian himself.

In short, as I’ve blogged before, there’s atheism, and there’s village idiot atheism. And, in a certain small subgroup of posters at Pharyngula, you have people approaching the definition of cultists.

Dr. George Tiller killed – Hate crime? Terrorism?

And, presumably by an anti-abortion fanatic. Tiller, the Wichita, Kan., doctor known for being the only one in the state to provide late-term abortions was killed at his church Sunday; a suspect has been arrested.

Especially if that suspect was a member of a group like Operation Rescue, or worse, but to some degree even if he is a lone operator, the two rhetorical question words in this post’s header do have at least some degree of truth.

If he IS affiliated with a group like Operation Rescue, the state of Kansas had BETTER use RICO powers in the trial.

Meanwhile, at the often-lively blog of evolutionary biologist and atheist P.Z. Myers, the thread on this subject offers yet more proof that atheism, sadly, is no guarantee of either logical or critical reasoning skills.

And, the nutbarrery of claiming that any opposition to atheism must be supernatural is guaranteed not to win support.


Near sunset, during a walk,
The summer-ripened oak trees stood tall and proud,
And golden at top, like mountains
Bathed in end-of-day alpenglow.
No montane heights in flatland Texas
But those in the recesses of memory,
As the sight of warm-glowing treetops
Brought to mind images of Montana and Alberta
Vacation memories of glacial-carved peaks
Embracing, caressing, the near-twilight summer aura
As another long, well-laden day
Faded golden, then orange, then salmon.
Then back to today’s Texas oaken-glow,
As reverie faded to reality
And I focused on a walk
With an alpen-spring in my steps.

– May 31, 2009

The NY Times hates the environment

Advising readers in a Travel story about the Grand Canyon to take a helicopter tour — a highly noise-polluting tour — is a sure sign. Telling them to download the soundtrack of “2001” for a morning stroll on the South Rim, rather than listening to, well, the sounds of nature at the South Rim, is the second sign. NOT even talking about taking a hike below the rim, into the canyon, is the third sign.

(Apparently mislabeling some hoop-dancing Indians as Navajos does not help your credibility either. And, beyond that, as someone who knows his way around a camera, the slideshow pix are not that impressive.)

LED lights positioned to replace CFLs

Some of the things many people have complained about on compact fluorescent light bulbs either aren’t true, or aren’t as true, with today’s bulbs as the first generation of them. They do warm up quicker now, and have more natural light tones.

But, it’s true that you can’t use them in dimmer switches, and they still contain mercury.

That’s why, especially as engineering lowers prices, more large-scale applications and users are going LED instead of CFL. In addition to these benefits, there’s another HUGE one for outdoor lighting, which is a drawback for LEDs in other spots.

Because LED lighting is directional, street lights get their light concentrated where it needs to be — and the night world outside city streets sees a cut in light pollution.