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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, November 26, 2010

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Given that we have fallen within this net, how big is the net?"

Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel? That's what the IRS asked a group filing for non profit status recently. Given that this is irrelevant to the non-profit decision, this question has the called group Z Street wondering why its being brought up. Ben Smith at Politico writes:
Z Street claims that a different IRS agent reviewing its application for tax exempt status said the agency is "carefully scrutinizing organizations that are in any way connected with Israel" and that "a special unit" is determining whether its activities "contradict the Administration's public policies.'" The IRS can deny tax exempt status to groups that work against "established public policy," a precedent established in its denial of a tax exemption to Bob Jones University over racial discrimination, and Z Street is suggesting that the IRS has begun applying some such policy to pro-Israel groups.
Perhaps it was one goofball agent, or perhaps this is a larger policy by the Obama administration, who seems to be working behind the scenes to undercut Israel.

Scientists looking at the skeleton of a Pterasaur (Quezalcouatalus) believe they have modeled what it would fly like using computer analysis and aerodynamic studies. Their results are amazing, as Reid Frazier at NPR reports:
They revealed an animal that could fly up to 80 miles an hour for 7 to 10 days at altitudes of 15,000 feet. The maximum range, Habib says, was probably between 8,000 and 12,000 miles.

"That doesn't mean necessarily they did, doesn't mean necessarily a specific number, just that it would be long enough to say, cross an ocean," Habib says.
There's only a couple of problems with this work. First, all they have are bones, so they can't know what the air resistance of the animal's skin was like, what other structures were on the body to interfere with flight, what its musculature was like to hold the wings out for any length of time, what its actual specific weight was, and so on. Skeletons consist of a fairly small percentage of a body's mass, its just not sufficient to make any sort of conclusions like this. Second: computer modeling is almost always very faulty because there are so many variables to even a small study that they tend to get things wrong.

But hey, its interesting to speculate. Lets just hope that the British people didn't sink too much tax money into this speculation.

Leftists love to consider the Tea Party movement a batch of idiotic lunatics, so when Ellisa Martinez claimed to have heard a speaker at a rally then phoned schools, triggering a 300 school shutdown and the eventual resignation of the speaker from the Allen West campaign, they figured to have their poster girl for the movement. See, they're deranged anti-government freaks! Except... she's a member of the Green Party, not a conservative. Weasel Zippers points to Palm Beach newspaper article:
According to the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office, Martinez is a member of the Green Party, a progressive left-wing group focused on environmental issues.
...
None of the 21 people she's following appear to be right-wingers.

It's actually a pretty eclectic bunch, incoluding ABC News, Chris Cornell, The Office's Mindy Kaling, and Weird Al Yankovich. Another is Chris Sacca, a left-leaning San Francisco venture capitalist. Others are British singer Imogen Heap, self-described "new media geek" Felicia Day, and indie musician D.A. Wallach of the band Chester French, who wrote recently, in the depthy style of Twitter, "The idea of being a 'conservative' is so lame to me. Why do people have such an unreasoned infatuation with the past?"

Oh well maybe they still can find a lunatic somewhere to paint the entire movement with. So far every one of them has been a leftist trying to infiltrate the Tea Party.
Zero Hedge has an interesting article up in which they run down the tax numbers and data to show that someone making $14,500 a year in America actually can bring home more take home pay than someone making $60,000. The person making just over $3000 a year can get nearly as much. Take a look at the chart; I bet in countries like Germany and England the discrepancy is even bigger.

Brent Bozell has a great column up at CNS News pointing out how the horrific Bush Gulag of horror and oppression has suddenly become perfectly acceptable to the left. Its almost as if the whole complaint was just political rather than principled in the first place, imagine that.

Having been in Seattle, I'm surprised that it only came in 4th in an analysis of Rush Hour traffic. Then again, they haven't fully implemented the Bike Boxes yet, so give them time in Washington. Pierce County is determined to make driving as miserable as humanly possible in Seattle, and the results are very noticeable. First on the list? New York City.

Finally, someone found something that Tom DeLay actually did wrong. He's been retired from congress since 2006 facing continual legal attacks, he was the left's poster boy for all that was corrupt in the Republican congress, but they never actually found anything wrong with him, until now. He's been convicted of essentially money laundering, by taking donations and running them through various bodies until they could be recycled for GOP political campaigns without triggering elections violations. I'm glad he's out of congress; that kind of corrupt crap is what we don't need. Its just interesting that it took 4 years and most of the charges leveled against him were found to be nonsense.

San Francisco's city council voted to ban toys that come with fast food meals, but the governor vetoed the vote, considering it not just silly but poorly aimed. The council overruled his veto, and the ban is in place: you can't get a happy meal for your kids with a toy. Not that this will prevent anyone from buying happy meals or make kids not want the food, but its the intent that matters to the left, not results.

Pirate Bay is one of the internet's largest and most successful peer to peer transfer sites. They host various "torrent" programs you can download and use to obtain files. However, the reason Pirate Bay is called that is because the bulk of their material seems to be pirated. Look up a movie on the site, and they'll have it - sometimes stuff that hasn't even been released in theaters yet.

Well, a Swedish court found the founders of the site guilty of running a pirate site (essentially, the law is a bit more twisted than that), and sentenced them to a year in prison each. An appeals court modified the ruling, noting that the founders of a website cannot be held completely responsible for everything people who use that website get up to, reducing their sentences by a few months each.

This is a tough case for me, because I think pirating software, movies, music, and so on is theft, so it should carry a penalty. At the same time, jail time for running a site people happen to use to trade illegal software seems a bit harsh.

Sarah Palin recently praised our allies in North Korea, a silly gaffe that she should have not made. Its being mocked a lot lately, as proof, proof that she's a vapid idiot. Those same people didn't seem terribly concerned about President Obama's 57 states or Shiela Jackson Lee's East and West Vietnam for some reason. Obama has made a lot of bonehead statements of this sort like people speaking Austrian in Austria (that's like speaking Canadian) and calling Europe a country. So? If you speak in public enough, you're guaranteed to say something stupid by accident, that's just part of the job. Joe Biden is Vice President and he's pretty much made a career out of saying idiotic crap. Palin's mistake is being a Republican, not saying something goofy.

Senator Simpson isn't shy about speaking his mind, as proven recently when he said "We had the greatest generation -- I think this is the greediest generation" about responses to the debt commission's suggestions. The slightest suggestion we raise the retirement age and start cutting spending inevitably brings out the enraged constituencies who benefit from government money, and I can't disagree with Simpson's characterization, really. Its just fun seeing a Democrat finally get the usual hate for suggesting we maybe cut some spending.

The hapless Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in America has gotten a lot of grief lately - well deserved grief - for their idiotic response to cargo planes carrying proto bombs. However, if you're a member of the privileged elite you can avoid the full body grope down, as Michelle Malkin wrote about recently:
Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport.
Meanwhile, the press is trying furiously to downplay the outrage and annoyance of travelers who have to go through the new security measures. Why? It hurts Obama. At the same time they can't help but cover the outrageous stories coming out like forcing people to clip off nipple rings, searching people after they leave the plane, and so on because the stories are so juicy.

Obama's administration has been very busy seizing land for the federal government, and the most recent example of this is an 8.3 million acre "critical habitat" in Alaska for polar bears who are more numerous now than at any time in previous recorded human history (even according to the local Native Americans). Why? Because theoretically global warming might result in reduced habitat and threaten Polar Bears at some indeterminate point in the future, maybe.

The planet overall has gotten slightly cooler over the last decade, but its tough to find an alarmist who will admit that. They are starting to admit that it hasn't warmed however. For example a Daily Mail article recently was posted which claims that warming "slowed" over the last decade, then it quotes the scientists blaming increased pollution for the slow.
  • Old and busted: pollution causes global warming
  • New and hot: pollution slows global warming

David Whitehouse at the Observatory can't quite bring himself to admit the cooling of the planet, but he does admit that warming has "stalled" and notes that, shockingly, the level of CO2 keeps rising. Its almost as if the relationship between CO2 and global temperature isn't a cause-effect simple equation or something.

Meanwhile, one of the lead authors of the IPCC's "we're all doomed unless you give us control over the world's economy" alarmist report admitted that, well yes, it is about power and socialism. Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters (courtesy Ace of Spades HQ) excerpts the man';s comments on the latest global warming vacation meeting:
This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.B
...
Basically it's a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War
...
But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy
.
Well yes.

Tim Blair hilariously notes something about global warming:

Faced with those temperature and atmospheric stresses, the rain forests of the time actually thrived, the scientists found, with a rapid increase in plant diversity and the emergence of new species. New plant species — including plants from the passionflower and chocolate families — appeared.
Global warming causes chocolate! How absolutely terrible.
Of course as with most of this paleo science, they don't really know when or where or even how these species appeared, they just know when they first started finding evidence of them in given areas.


There's money on that thar moon! The Moon Daily (!) reports that some of the rocks found on the moon contain gems including Spinel, a semi-precious stone. Mineral riches on the moon are something people have long expected and predicted - and something that will take horrendous battles to gain, because of the push to "leave the moon pristine and untouched by the greed of man." Hey, guess what, there's a reason people compare a really awful, barren, and dead part of earth to a lunar landscape. Its not paradise up there, its dead.

Sometimes you just can't get past the conspiracies and paranoia, but people still keep trying. In this case its Scientific American, where Michael Shemer notes that cell phones cannot give you brain cancer:
Where do cell phones fall on this spectrum? According to phys­i­­cist Bernard Leikind in a technical article in Skeptic magazine (Vol. 15, No. 4), known carcinogens such as x-rays, gamma rays and UV rays have energies greater than 480 kilojoules per mole (kJ/mole), which is enough to break chemical bonds. Green-light photons hold 240 kJ/mole of energy, which is enough to bend (but not break) the rhodopsin molecules in our retinas that trigger our photosensitive rod cells to fire. A cell phone generates radiation of less than 0.001 kJ/mole. That is 480,000 times weaker than UV rays and 240,000 times weaker than green light!
Mind you that doesn't mean they can't be harmful in other ways, just not cancerous.

The United States is essentially floating on a gargantuan sea of natural gas and helium, neither of which gets much use for some reason. You can make viable cars that drive on natural gas; the state uses them for local vehicles in Oregon. Why this isn't exploited is anyone's guess, but as recently discussed on CBS, there's a lot of the stuff available:
"In the last few years, we've discovered the equivalent of two Saudi Arabias of oil in the form of natural gas in the United States. Not one, but two," Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.

"Wait, we have twice as much natural gas in this country, is that what you're saying, than they have oil in Saudi Arabia?" Stahl asked.

"I'm trying to very clearly say exactly that," he replied.
And then there's this New York Times article (behind registration wall) which notes the huge new oil finds in the last few years. But we're all still doomed and the world is running out of fuel. Who you gonna believe, all the damned facts, or the peak oil alarmist.

NPR recently admitted something that is difficult to get a leftist to say: there's no such thing as a Social Security Trust Fund. Alex Blumberg and Chana Joffe-Walt write:
"They are nothing like any trust fund that any one of us would think of," says Maya MacGuineas of the New America Foundation. "It conjures up an image of really holding savings, and it doesn't do that at all."
You can also listen to the audio if you want. By even the most positive estimates, Social Security goes totally into the red within a few years. Most think it has already.

Crooked faux minister Al Sharpton's organization has been running huge debts for years - the blackmail and shakedown industry apparently has fallen on hard times. But as Douglas Feiden writes in the New York Daily News, Sharpton himself still pulls down a salary of a quarter million a year. At least, that's the amount he admits to.

Hezbollah, the Iran-created terrorist group which wants to destroy Israel and conquer Lebanon all but admitted that they assassinated its former prime minister. But then they said "that's no reason to destroy Lebanon," referring to what would happen if the Lebanese government dared to fight back against their attempt to take the country over. Killing fellow Muslims is perfectly fine to these guys, as long as they end up in charge.

Finally, in Pakistan, a woman was slated to be put to death for the heinous crime of becoming a Christian. The courts decided not to kill her, and Muslims started protesting this lack of execution. Sure, Muslim clerics have noted that Islamic law does not require the death sentence for leaving the faith, but who cares, really when its about power and control?

And that's the Word Around the Net, November 16, 2010

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