December 31, 2011

#Skeptic fail: #Dunning, #Shermer have blocked me at SkepticBlog

Looks like I can post about a bit of New Year's Eve "skeptic" (as opposed to actual skeptics) fireworks and narrow-mindedness.

I have apparently been blacklisted from posting comments at SkepticBlog, one of the allegedly top blogs for alleged skeptics. Anyway, that's what WordPress tells me when I try to post comments there. (And, I checked again today; other people have posted comments since then, so this is not a generic WordPress error. The only other possibility is that WordPress doesn't like this dial-up ISP. But that doesn't make sense.)

Apparently, my last comment on libertarian and selective skeptic Brian Dunning's latest blog post, trying to poo-poo the idea that biopiracy exists (sorry, no links if you're going to blacklist me), including a snarky aside about Dunning's upcoming court date on civil and criminal fraud allegations, was too much.

I will, speaking of that, give you this link though, to a previous blog post of mine about Dunning's legal woes and their connection to his libertarianism and selective skepticism. I'll also give you this link to a blog post of mine about how I apparently had a comment on another post of Dunning's deleted a couple of months ago.

That said, Dunning's not the sole proprietor of the blog. In fact, it's theoretically headed by his fellow libertarian and selective skeptic, Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine. So, any "block" decision ultimately falls on his hands, theoretically.

As for the "snark" of my comments, there's been more personal attacks there by other commenters in the past, including some directed at me.

So, this is a tolerance and open-mindedness issue.

And, speaking of Shermer ...

He's now a gun nut, too, while ignoring that John Lott's been refuted more than once, many more times than once, across a full decade. I'm actually glad to be banned from Skepticblog with stupidity like this, and it reminds me ever more than "professional skeptics" ... aren't; in fact, they're the equivalent of Gnu Atheists.

So, just as Gnu Atheists are a reason I don't primarily identify myself as an atheist, libertarian selective skeptics like Shermer, Dunning, magicians Penn/Teller and many others who deliberately conflate libertarianism and skepticism are another reason.

But, there's yet another reason.

More generally reasonable skeptics, like Daniel Loxton, have too narrow a definition of skepticism.

On this blog, I identify myself as a skeptical left-liberal (in U.S. terms, at least, I'm a left-liberal). That is, I apply skepticism to my own political stances and views. But, folks like Loxton don't want to apply skepticism to politics, or even too much to psychology or sociology, instead focusing on claims testable within the "harder" natural sciences only.

And, in addition to that, folks like Loxton are generally thinly informed on the history of Skepticism the philosophy. Were this not the case, and they had a deeper grounding in Philosophy 101, they wouldn't have such a narrow view of what "skepticism" is or should be.

That said, that's one blog to scratch off my reading list again. I went back there regularly about two years ago because friend Leo Lincourt said Shermer was posting less in the way of libertarian stuff there.

Well, he started again, and Dunning made up for that in spades.

And, you Skeptic's Guide to the Universe readers, you wonder why I wonder about Dunning? Or Shermer?

And, I didn't think I'd have anything to blog about more than a trip to Austin (nothing big) or Iowa caucus thoughts

December 30, 2011

#Mercury, #CO2: Environment takes two dings in court

The second may actually be the more serious in the long term, given today's political environment on global warming issues.

A George W. Bush-appointed Federal district court judge has blocked enforcement of California's greenhouse gases law, the much-trumpeted effort that folks like oil companies have previously tried to kill by ballot initiative.

This time, it's the ethanol folks, and getting a win, at least for now.

Judge O'Neill said that this was interference into interstate commerce.

But ... given that California has latitude for tougher state standards on car emissions than national EPA standards, given that courts have ruled EPA can indeed regulate CO2 as a pollutant, and given that a major source of CO2 is either cars running on  various sources of CO2 emissions, or power plants from out of state supplying part of California's electricity, I'm halfway hopeful the judge's injunction will get overturned by the Ninth Circuit. But, this one could wind up at SCOTUS level.

The other? A federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of the EPA's new mercury rules. And, in a "shock me," this is the legal action pushed by  Luminant, aka the power generating part of the former TXU, and the state of Texas.

Why does Rick Perry hate kids near power plants?

And, Luminant says now that coal plants it was going to mothball Jan. 1 will keep running instead.

So, it has admitted it can live without those plants, it just doesn't want to.

The one true libertarian leaves GOP race - NOT #RonPaul

There was one no real libertarian in the GOP presidential race, but we're now down to zero, as Gary Johnson is seeking the Libertarian Party nod. Sit DOWN, Ron Paul and Paul-tards. As Johnson said, in reference. to Paul, "I am not a social conservative," indicating the truth that Paul IS.

Will the fact that Johnson is, as the Libertarian Party bragged, the first two-term governor to join the party, help it in the fall, should Johnson get the nod? Probably a bit, in Libertarian Party terms.

That said, as to Johnson's complaints about the GOP? All valid. He deserved on the debate platform more than Santorum based on polling alone. He also deserved up there over Bachmann and others based on the executive experience background.

But, while they, and Paul, are just bat-shit crazy, they're not too bat-shit crazy for Republican elections. But the GOP can't accept true social libertarianism at all. No drug legalization on top of pro-choice and other issues. So, Johnson gets frozen out.

And, per Sheldon's comment below, click here for a great cartoon on the varieties of bat-shit libertarian, vs. actual social libertarians like he and I are.

December 27, 2011

2012 economic-political sneak peak

Early economic predictions for 2012 continue to sound like could be good news, could be iffy news for President Barack Obama's re-election chances.

Growth is expected to be better in the coming year, breaking 2.5 percent. But unemployment is only expected to drop slightly, down to 8. 4 percent by election time in November.

The story adds that the Federal Reserve could be more aggressive next year. Changes on its policy board will help that.

So, for Obama, the tipping point on his chances will probably remain, as they have been, who his opponent is. Although Romney has his job-slashing background on his resume, he doesn't come off as batshit crazy, like Gingrich or Paul. Everybody else is probably already falling outside the ring of probability. And, Romney does have the executive angle, the telegenic angle, etc.

What if Paul runs as a Libertarian? Or Huntsman angles for the Americans Elect nod? The former? Helps Obama for sure. The latter? A real wild card.

In short, this election is going to remain up in the air.

December 25, 2011

Marble Falls views


Well, folks, just a couple of quick photo impressions from the city park between my apartment and the office, but this is a quick glimpse of Marble Falls. The creek hits the Colorado River about two blocks past the photos. I'll take my camera with me to the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge next weekend. There's even better color still left on a few of the oaks there.