June 12th, 2013

#3864: The science is settled!

This time I'm talking about evolution. But current theory doesn't include epigenetics.

...so if the theory of evolution by natural selection doesn't include epigenetics (except perhaps by inference) how can anyone say the science is settled? And if they're insisting that evolution is the explanation why hasn't anyone started calling it the law of evolution?

Well, the fact is we don't know everything, so claiming that "the science is settled" is arrogant and incorrect.

Regardless of the field we're talking about.

* * *

Case in point: petroleum geology: "...[I]t’s clear that there’s a lot more oil and gas out there than the peak oil Chicken Littles were predicting just ten years ago."

Ten years ago, twenty years ago, forty years ago--in 1977 they were telling us that the world had perhaps thirty years' worth of oil left "at present consumption levels", which included a China where nearly everyone rode bicycles and an India where shank's ponies were the primary mode of transport for most people. The world energy economy of 1977 was vastly different than it is today and oil was cheap as tap water by comparison, yet we were being told that there was less than thirty years' worth of oil left in the world.

Forty years on there's more oil available than ever before. The "chicken Littles" were wrong, just as they have been wrong every time, which is why I took "Peak Oil" with a 20 lb block of salt. The biotic theory of oil formation is probably wrong anyway (look up "Thomas Gold" and "abiotic oil" on Googe) but even in 1977 we knew about plenty of resources which we were simply not allowed to exploit for political reasons. It's much the same now, but those pesky petroleum geologists keep finding exploitable deposits on land the feds can't letgitimately seize (not that they don't try!) and the pesky petroleum engineers keep finding ways to get at the trickiest ones, and to do it in ways which produce oil and gas in industrial quantities at reasonable prices.

"There is a lot more hope for the 21st century than the Malthusians would have you believe," the article concludes. That has always been the case.

* * *

Karl Denninger talks about something which has bothered me a long time: the role of credit in past economic calamities.

See, long ago--back when I was in junior high school--one of the things we studied in one social studies class or another was the Depression and its causes. Since this was before leftism had penetrated our public schools deeply enough to allow the outright indoctrination of children--since they still had to teach some facts--one of the causes given for the Depression was leverage.

The idea that you could buy stock by paying 10% of its face value and make money on its gains sounded great, until the teacher explained that if the stock declined in value you were on the hook for the entire value of the loss, which is why it rained stockbrokers for a while on Wall Street.

...and that was pretty much the last time I heard that story. Since then it's been pretty much as Dennginer says--we're given any other possible explanation for the market crashes and no one mentions the role that credit or leverage played in them. They are, in fact, conspicuous in their absence in any of the discussion.

I'm suspicious of that. I can't (yet) see why intelligent people would obfuscate a real root cause of a financial meltdown except for politics, and generally it's the left which lies about things in order to get its way.

That's how it is, I suppose.

* * *

It hit 90° today; it's not egregiously sticky outside but it's plenty warm. The AC is on in the bunker, of course, set to 74°, and it's comfortable as long as you didn't just come out of a meat locker.

Storms are predicted, and rain all night, after which it's supposed to be 70° tomorrow. We probably have a few cool days left before summer really sets in, but not many. June 12th is pretty late for the first day in the nineties, so I'll call myself fortunate if we actually make it to the first day of summer without having any real long-lasting heat to contend with.

Over at Spaceweather.com their picture of the sun is showing one sunspot on the Earth-facing side, very close to rotating over the limb of the sun and obscuring it from view. If that happens, we'll have a blank sun for the first time since 2011, and it's not good news.

See, we're reaching the peak of solar cycle 24 right about now. There shouldn't be any spotless days at the peak of a cycle. 2009 was the trough of cycle 23; the sunspot cycle typicall hits a trough and then rockets up to the peak of the new cycle, then spends six or seven years tapering off to the next trough. This time, we got the rapid rise, but to a peak lower than that of cycle 23--which was itself weak--and right smack-dab near the top we're about to have a spotless day. Not good.

..."not good", that is, if you think the sun has an effect on Earth's climate. Low sunspot count means cold, unless you're a climate scientist.

* * *

MSNBC host incorrectly identifies the political affiliation of pro-segregation governor George Wallace. Douchebag insisted that Wallace was a Republican.

Well, of course, because everyone knows that Republicans are the racists. Segregation, Jim Crow, those things are raciss so of course none of them came from Democrats.

The Twitchy page has a good comment posted in reponse to the liberal douchebag's outright lie: "the real problem is if you knew that George Wallace was a #Democrat you wouldn't have run the story at all" [SIC].

Because it was the fiftieth anniversary of a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT giving a speech against racial integration, and that story would not have helped the left one whit.

It's nice that the leftist douchebag apologized for his (alleged) mistake but it would be a lot more impressive if he apologized on his TV show instead of Twitter.

Hell yes I'm skeptical that this was a mere mistake. I mean, come on--you mean to tell me that no one working on this guy's show could be fucked to spend two minutes going to Googe or Wikipedia and typing "george wallace"?

Maybe someone (as the Twitchy page suggests) did exactly that, but it was too close to the airing of the show for anyone to do anything about it. "Better not tell [douche] or he'll be covered in flop sweat. We'll just spin it afterwards."

Democrats desperately want to bury their racist, segregationist, KKK-founding, pro-slavery past. The press wants to help them.

* * *

I had better be careful, though. Secret Service raids the home of a man who posted tweets critical of the President. The SS did it because "someone who's crazy might read the tweets and go after the President".


This is how freedom turns into tyranny: legitimate political discourse is criminalized. We see this administration using the power of the federal government to harass and intimidate anyone who has a contrary word to say about them. Oh, it's nothing overt, and no one says, "You're being investigated because you said you think Obama's an idiot," oh no! No, it's for other reasons--someone might read what you wrote and try to assassinate someone, you know, or "we're just trying to make sure you're obeying the tax laws", or "complying with a Freedom of Information Act request is an expensive proposition so of course in this time of sequestration you must pay a fee", or whatever. Passive-aggressive stuff.


If they're allowed to get away with it, soon the covert will become overt: "Sir, you said 'Obama is a stuttering clusterfuck of miserable failure' in your blog four years ago. You're under arrest." The revelation that the NSA is monitoring us is proof of their intent; you don't have them monitor everyone in direct contradition of their mandate AND the Constitutional rights of the citizenry if you're only trying to catch a terrorist or two. (And that didn't work; witness please the Boston Marathon Bombers.)

Fortunately, the people of the US are not on board with that totalitarian bullshit. It remains to be seen whether or not we'll keep our freedom, though.

* * *

As with the other GoT books, A Storm of Swords took a while to get going. The first few chapters of all three books have been interminable slogs. It's why I refer to Martin's prose as "plodding"; furthemore I know I'm not alone.

Not really sure what he means when he says the second book was "depressing" but I don't think that really matters all that much. Book 3 looks to be worse than 2 was, because of what happens in it.

In the third season, the TV series has taken some real license with the source material, though. "The Brotherhood Without Banners" doesn't exist in the books, and is instead something else. Arya's interaction with the equivalent characters in the book is--so far--different in a few key ways but I don't think it materially changes the plot.

The penultimate ep of season 3 was shocking, by design and intent, so it's not terribly surpising that some people stopped watching the series. A good saga needs good guys, and Robb Stark was the closest thing to "good guy" the series really had. Other than him? Tyrion Lannister is a protagonistic character; he's not really a "good guy" but he's better (by a long shot) than most of the wretched assholes in the series are. I think Dany Targaryen is supposed to be the ultimate protagonist of the story, the one who will straighten everything out and knock the Others back north of the Wall and-and-and...but Martin shows no sign of actually writing anything like this and the entire world of Westeros is spiraling into a pit of madness and despair.

I was talking, the other day, about the casting of Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, about how well he was doing the role. Well, last night I read this and just had to blockquote it:
Every once in a very long while, Lord Tywin Lannister would actually threaten to smile; he never did, but the threat alone was terrible to behold.
Just as I said: he never smiles, and if he did, I think I'd shit my pants.

I do believe he played the bad guy in Last Action Hero: "I've just shot this man, and I meant to do it!" That was quite a while ago. I thought he was kind of familiar-looking. And--holy shit!--he was the bad guy in Golden Child. That certainly explains it!