SocraticGadfly: 12/13/09 - 12/20/09

December 19, 2009

Of course China loves Copenhagen

This AP story is a no-brainer. Beijing got the majority of the world to give it a PR whitewash, got both rich and poor nations to ignore the idea of a three-track approach to emissions control, which I have blogged about before, got truly poorer nations to believe it was one of them, and made nary a binding commitment.

And, even that is a farce. The non-binding deal never got formally approved by the full rota of nations at Copenhagen, anyway.

Autism diagnoses up 57 pct in 4 years

So says the Centers for Disease Control. No reason to doubt that diagnoses are up, but, autism? It could be better identification. It could be overidentification. It could be "bumping up" of Asperger's cases to autism, cases that, before DSM-IV, weren't Asperger's.

December 18, 2009

Could Iran sanctions backfire?

Ed Cohen says yes. He's got some interesting reasons why. I'm nore sure if his analogy is that strong, but...

China still rejects climate commitments

China is still apparently resisting making any concrete commitments at Copenhagen, even to the point of giving U.S. President Barack Obama the cold shoulder.

So, my idea of something like a three-track plan for climate change control is getting hard-core Chinese opposition.

December 17, 2009

Last nail for Copenhagen round?

China is refusing to accept international monitoring of any carbon dioxide emissions reduction it does undertake. We all know how well internal monitoring worked on stuff like melamine.

Meanwhile, even if every country at Copenhagen does what it has pledged to do, the same story reveals global temperatures will still jump by 3C, not 2C.

Mencken, Americans and Wall Street

Americans who invest right now in Wall Street, and their investment beliefs, prove H.L. Mencken's adage about American stupidity and betting on it as right as rain. Wonder how many tea partiers still sink major money into the Street?

Randi gets worse on climate change

After being accused of climate-change denialism, James Randi is now engaging in a pseudoskeptical version of the mainstream media playing "he said, she said" with climate and politics stories.

Copenhagen headed down in flames

It looks like the "swing point" for the Copenhagen climate control round is what to do with the Kyoto treaty - junk it or build on it. That, in turn, is a metaphor for larger decisions, and the philosophy behind them.

Unfortunately, nobody in Denmark is discussing my "three track" idea: Developed nations, developing nations in the true sense, and folks like the BRIC countries on a middle track, with binding targets, but on a slower timetable.

Meanwhile, both in Denmark and at home, while trying to straddle some things, Obama needs to do more.

December 16, 2009

December 15, 2009

Let China have the Afghan war

It's going to be developing a big new gas field in Turkmenistan, and piping that gas to Beijing. I believe Afghanistan lies in the middle of Point A and Point B.

So, if it's worried about oil or other terrorism, let it put the troops in there. Let China fight the war.

Barack "Peace" Obama is even more idiotic now than ever for sending more troops there. At least Bush I put the dun on on other countries to pay for US troops.

Or, if China doesn't want its own troops there, fine. Put Beijing in touch with Blackwater/Xe and let's go from there.

Will O'Reilly, Xn neocon friends fight THIS war against Xmas?

It seems Israeli rabbis hate Christmas more than those godless secular American liberals. That's our "ally."

Why the unemployed are angry, and who they blame

First, who's to blame? A plurality of longer-term unemployed blame George W. Bush, followed closely by the mega-bankers. But, a near-majority, in a separate question, say Barack Obama is not doing enough.

And, per the same story, they have reasons to be angry. Borrowing money. Stress, anxiety and depression. And more.

Four stances on global warming

Stewart Brand distinguishes pretty well between denialists, skeptics, warners and calamatists. That all said, I worry that he might be correct that warners become ever more interested in geoengineering. In biology, in things such as introduced non-native species, it's been a huge problem in many cases. Trying to engineer our planet's atmosphere, if a similar flop, could be catastrophic.

December 14, 2009

Is employment recovery just around the corner?

At Slate, Daniel Gross argues that, just as economists were too late on the curve with their bullishness 2-3 years ago, the same is true on bearishness now, and that we are are just around the corner from a job-market takeoff.

Gross cites a combination of factors:
1. More Obama stimulus money will be disbursed next year
2. Census Bureau hiring (though Gross omits that almost all those jobs are temporary, and the majority of them are PT to boot);
3. Whatever "stimulus 2" jobs bill money/creation gets enacted.

Color me less skeptical of all this than I was before reading Gross's column, but remaining more skeptical than he is. Especially since he neglected the fine print on point 2, and also is relying on a hypothetical in point 3.

A Congressman writes his constituents...

A must-read fake Congressional letter about the gerrymandering that will take place after the 2010 Census.

Could have fooled me on bankers, Obama

Obama claims he wasn't elected to help the "fat cats" but, then, why did he appoint so many to his administration? Fat cat bankers?

He becomes more full of crap on some things, and just a more complete sellout on others, by the day. As if giving bankers a "lecture" which they already are calling nothing but PR is actually going to help anything. Greenwald has more.

EU does Internet regulation right

Or at least, the European Union, and/or individual member states, do Internet regulation better than the U.S. does, as is more and more common. And Google doesn't like it. Well, boo hoo.

How Murdoch is ruining the Wall Street Journal

Despite initial pledges it wouldn't happen, Rupert Murdoch, through hand-picked editorial minions, is clearly politicizing news coverage at the Journal. And, I have no doubt this is not the end.

December 13, 2009

Monsanto: Another reason to fear GMO

I've talked in the past about how the push for more and more GMO crops not only risk dangerously decreasing food genetic diversity, it also threatens further impoverishment for developing nations' agriculture.

Well, the 800-pound GMO gorilla of Big Ag, Monsanto, offers more proof of that. And, if you don't care about sub-Saharan Africa, what if GMO crops wind up costing you and I in the USofA MORE for food here, too? Eh?
Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.

Nice, eh?

Monsanto is using its same financial power here in the US to run more and more independent seed companies out of business. Which means developing countries don't even stand a chance.

And, that's the reality of today's GMO agriculture.

Blago-Obama saga not yet done?

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorneys are subpoenaing for records of FBI interviews of President Obama and top White House staffers. Interesting.

Hacked climate e-mails came from Russian server

Go about 3/4 way down this story for more details.

Of course, the Russian govt is denying involvement, and saying it isn't going to talk about the incident any more if other groups and countries don't stop accusing it, etc. But, outside experts say the Russian state police has already brought in IT experts, etc...

More will be revealed, as the saying goes.

Our man Karzai laughs at us

In a rare actually good, and not just snarky, column, Maureen Dowd notes how much egg Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai put on U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' face, and by extension, President Barack Obama's. The column goes on to talk about his work in the greater Middle East in general.