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Monday, September 25, 2006

I met some angels this weekend. I found no evidence of wings, yet more sainted they could not be. Karen Guenther and Joanna Wroblewski happened to be at Brooke Army Medical Center and heard that the local Marines, 4th Recon Battalion, were having yet another memorial service for our fallen comrades. This time we had made portraits of each of them and hung them in the hallway. These women decided to visit us.

Karen, along with two or three other women, a few years ago decided suddenly to found the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. They each chipped in $100 to help Marines injured in combat or training. They sought out supporters and now only a few years later they have raised more than $12 million! They help families struggling to overcome bureaucracy and other hurdles so that they can heal together. For instance, one woman's husband was severely injured and was in the hospital. At the same time her new born baby was terribly ill and in another hospital. The poor woman was frazzled shuttling between hospitals every day. Karen somehow got both into the same hospital and provided her a place nearby to stay.

Joanna represented the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivvors (TAPS). We especially enjoyed meeting her because her husband was a Marine killed in Fallujah, and his exploits were written about in many books and publications. Her organization helps widows and survivors of those killed in action in any branch of service. She exuded positive energy and there is no doubt of the passion she has to help others that are going through the same pain she went through.

I was humbled in their presence. These women are truly great heros. Yet, both of them repeatedly thanked us for serving. I felt embarrassed and almost guilty at that. None of us were hurt overseas. We got to live through an exhilirating experience. We had been trained for years. We were paid to do what we did. Yet these women had no obligation. They needn't have done anything at all, yet they are devoting their lives to helping others whose lives are mangled by war.

There are two types of heros. Those that are heros in battle, and those that are heros at home. These women are my heros.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Global Warming. How do We Know?
There's one thing that always perplexes me about the people claiming there is global warming. No, it's not that the same movement used to claim global cooling. I understand that political agendas make little accommodation for consistency or fact. What I'm flummoxed by is, how do they measure global warming?

I read that the global temperature rises or lowers from time to time. How do you measure this, and how do you compare it to past measurements?

Let's start with the basics. What is the global temperature today? Oh, wait, that's too broad. Let's start with what is the average temperature in Austin, Texas today? How is that measured? Even that is too hard.

Click the drivel link to read more.
So, let's say that we can accurately measure the temperature of a specific point at a specific time. I think we have the technology to do this very reliably, so this is where I'll start.

In Austin, usually we hear of temperatures measured at the airport, at the national guard base in town, and at various other points of the city. I have no doubt that these measurements are correct when they are taken.

But Austin is a pretty big place compared to the number of measurements being taken. Often I will record a temperature several degrees different from what I hear on the radio, because I'm in a higher elevation, I'm on asphalt, or any other number of different reasons. There might be errrors in measurement, but I think it's clear that there are also variations across even one city.

I can't imagine that the people making up the global average temperature for a year take into account the variation across every few hundred meters.

But let's say that they do. In Austin and other large cities, we conceivably can take reliable measurements every few hundred meters in every direction. How do you compile all these measurements into usable data, or an average for the day? How much weight do you give to each reading? What if the peak of a hill is measured and the slopes are not?

Okay, my example is a bit harsh. I suspect that there are reasonable algorithms to get a fairly accurate measurement of areas of cities. But this must be done over a fairly continuous time, to take into account not only highs and lows, but the duration of the highs and lows.

I'm no meteorologist, but I question whether this is done consistently in most cities in the United States, but I've been to too many third world nations to even tolerate the notion that reliable and meaningful data is universally available even in just inhabited places.

Now what about outside the cities? I could be willing to believe that urban areas are saturated with temperature guages all tied into some big megalithic network. But I've been out in the woods often enough to know that there aren't many meteorlogical stations in many parts just outside of most cities. Terrain can vary dramatically, yet there is no systematic collection of temperatures. How can I reasonably believe that we know the variations of temperature?

Sure, we can assume some continuity of temperature between weather fronts (a front being essentially defined as a discontinuity in temperature and pressure, or so I would posit). But within those areas between fronts, the temperature tends to vary as well. We can make assumptions, but remember that they make claims that the global temperature has risen by fractions of a degree from year to year or over decades. The input comes from these measurements in cities and towns which can vary by several degrees easily. There is a statistical fallacy to claiming such trivial global changes based on data that cannot be measured locally to that degree of accuracy.

Now let's look at history. Massive data collection to the scale we see now was available only within the past hundred years, to be very generous. Before then, collection of temperature data was confined to populated areas (even more so than today) and was haphazard in reliability and consistency. How can we extrapolate changes in global temperature based on data from past centuries that is of marginal reliablity at times, and inconsistent coverage?

And before thermometers were invented our only evidence comes from archaeology or from plants and tree growth. This is good for what it can tell us, but I can't believe for a minute that the accuracy needed to define temperature to a degree, let alone tenths of a degree is even remotely possible, and again we have a pretty serious problem with coverage of the entire globe.

And with all these pretty fatal and obvious flaws, I still haven't even addressed how different areas should be weighted. Is the temperature over the ocean more significant than the temperature over a desert, for instance?

Really, what does it even mean to have an average global temperature? It's a nice number for some very coarse uses, but it can't possibly be of real value when splitting the hairs needed to make the wild claims made by people driven by political agendas.

Yes, I'm sure a climatologist can come and explain his algorithms and how his science has come to a complex understanding of weather, but part of good science is to understand the limits of your measurements. Every young student of science learns how important it is to understand the accuracy of your measuring device, be it a beaker or pipette or a yard stick. I am skeptical that anyone making these wild claims about average global temperature changes has taken this basic care, and are either charlatans or have been blinded by their own hubris and believe that their models can be valid.

Next time someone talks about global warming, remember that some of the theories may be plausible, but the state of our science and the need to take accurate measurements over vast areas of the world across vast spans of time, including pre-industrial history and indeed prehistory, are not capable of confirming the theories because they are not capable of measuring the required data.

Global warming may be true, it may be bunk. Since it is driven by politics and since people are making implausible claims about global temperatures, I tend to believe it is bunk.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

John Howard for President
Too bad John Howard isn't an American. I'd vote for him in a heart beat for our president. I'm a one issue voter nowadays. Whoever convinces me that he will do the most to win this war gets my vote.

Here's what Mr. Howard's spokesman said yesterday in Australia,

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith.
"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.
"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.
"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."
If only someone in the role of American leadership could be so common sensically plain.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Pope tells us to be Afraid
In an age where a primitive, anti-intellectual, pro-death, anti-human religion is threatening to destroy human civilization and return the world to the bronze age, on the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, the leader of the anti-life Catholics reminds us that we should be afraid.

But the Pope isn't telling us to fear irrationality that spawns demonic ideologies, he tells us to fear god. He tells us that our intelligence and ability to understand this world is frightening and confusing those parts of the world that have little intelligence and ability to understand this world. His suggested remedy? Forsake our intelligence and embrace darkness.

Here's what the Pope said:
""People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time, they are frightened by a form of rationality that totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason."

I look about me in this great nation of ours, and I see more religion here than anywhere I've ever known. I see more devout people here than anyplace I've been. I see more churches, with active congregations, than in any third world nation. And here, in our "rational" technically powerful nation, we are free to worship and free not to worship. The Pope would have us emulate nations where such freedoms aren't so free, where religion isn't based on thinking but on ignorance.

Even if I could forget that this current Pope swore to defend Adolf Hitler, I still could not take seriously the nihilistic denigration of man's mind that this man, even more than his predecessor, spews out on a regular basis. Even if his life were one of exemplary morality, his ideas still come out as perverse, anti-man, and anti-mind. The ideology of the Catholic church is swinging away from Thomas of Aquinas and back to the dark ages when we were all expected to obey the church without question and without free will.

On this day, the fifth anniversary of Islamism's attacks on us, the Pope still condemns us more than the terrorists. Today, the day we should remember the evil of anti-intellectual, anti-technological, dark age oppression, the Pope wishes that we would return to the dark ages. Now, when we are in a life and death struggle for our existence as free people who have done so much to advance the cause of peaceful religion in this world, the Pope asks us to forsake that which has made us free.

It's considered bad form to accuse your opponent of being a nazi, but when someone acts in an oppressive manner, was a member of Hitler's elite band of children, and then acts today as he has, there is no escaping the comparison.

Five years ago, thousands of Americans died because of an oppressive religion that forsakes technology. Rather than remember these people and the fight to save mankind from their murderers, the Pope calls on us to emulate those murderers.

And people wonder at why I'm not Catholic anymore.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Media Bias: Did you know of Pakistan's surrender to Al Qaeda?
Bill Roggio reports that Pakistan has surrendered to Al Qaeda in its province of North Waziristan. The terms of the surrender include:

- The Pakistani Army is abandoning its garrisons in North and South Waziristan.
- The Pakistani Military will not operate in North Waziristan, nor will it monitor actions the region.
- Pakistan will turn over weapons and other equipment seized during Pakistani Army operations.
- The Taliban and al-Qaeda have set up a Mujahideen Shura (or council) to administer the agency.
- The truce refers to the region as “The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan.”
- An unknown quantity of money was transferred from Pakistani government coffers to the Taliban. The Pakistani government has essentially paid a tribute or ransom to end the fighting.
- “Foreigners” (a euphemism for al-Qaeda and other foreign jihadis) are allowed to remain in the region.
- Over 130 mid-level al-Qaeda commanders and foot soldiers were released from Pakistani custody.
- The Taliban is required to refrain from violence in Pakistan only; the agreement does not stipulate refraining from violence in Afghanistan.

They also have agreed to allow Osama bin Laden to remain free.

How come the main stream media aren't reporting this?
There is nothing about the main stream media that we can trust anymore. Here is a significant loss by one of our erstwhile allies, yet it is treated as obscure, unimportant news. Katie Couric is talking about Tom Cruise's baby.

This is horrifying. How did the world learn anything before the internet?

Read Bill's entire article. It's worse than you think.