Posts

Showing posts from January, 2009

Demolition

A favorite climate ploy of the crackpot rightwing creationists and other reality deniers is claiming that a warmer Sun is responsible for observed climate warming. Lou Dobbs, no lefty he, had representatives for both sides on his show. I was impressed by how effortlessly the scientist managed to puncture this particular bit of nonsense.

If the Sun is hotter, he noted, why is the upper atmosphere cooler while the lower atmosphere is warmer? The "upper cooler, lower hotter" pattern is an unambiguous greenhouse effect signature. There is no plausible way for a warming Sun to produce such an effect. The perp has to be in our atmosphere.

Suicide Pact?

The House Republicans have apparently decided to be relentlessly obstructionist on everything from the economic stimulus bill to digital telivision. So is trying to cause the President's programs to fail good strategy or a suicide pact?

One Idiot's Guide to the Economosphere

Paul Krugman - a very clever fellow who should never be allowed to use the word "wonk." (If it is a word)

Brad DeLong - Another clever fellow - unfortunately also a reincarnation of Savronala. Could stand to be more temperate/mealy mouthed.

Eugene Fama - Who?

Tyler Cowen - A very clever fellow who would be more successful if he were less concerned with being the coolest kid in the school.

John Cochrane - Eugene Fama's son-in-law. The Fama family's most useful output: Children's stories.

Greg Mankiw I - Prolific writer of unintelligible but prestigious textbooks. Good blogger.

Greg Mankiw II - Bottom dwelling Bush admin econo-liar. Not known to be related to his namesake.

Steven Landsberg - Math/relativity dropout. Also, frequently annoying twit.

Steven Levitt - Economist with a genius for self-promotion.

Milton Friedmann, John M Keynes, Adam Smith. Members of two famous economics clubs: G = good economists, D = dead economists. An important but unproven conjecture…

Is Economics Worthless?

The subject of the stimulus furiously divided the economists of the Chicago faith from others. The Mellonites are convinced that the stimulus is unlikely to do any good. Meanwhile, Krugman, DeLong and others keep complaining that despite all their Nobel Memorial prizes, the fresh-water economists don't understand elementary macroeconomics. The width of the gulf suggests that there might not be anything that economics has learned that is relevant to science or policy. Krugman:
...Nobody who was at all familiar with this literature could make the logic mistakes that are coming fast and furious from the fresh-water economists.

What this reveals, I think, is just how insular part of the macroeconomics profession has become. They just don’t read anything that doesn’t come from their cult circle; they just weren’t aware of major bodies of work that didn’t happen to be in their preferred style.

This insularity is asymmetric. Ask a PhD student at Princeton what a real business cycle theo…

Badgers

Badges, we don't need no stinkin badges...
Prompted in part by the writings of Arun and his guru, I realized that I have left out a huge part of the role of contemporary religions: that of keeper and enforcer of morality codes, and thereby of social and power relationships. I'm not sure if this applies to primitive societies, but it's clearly a cardinal role in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Hindu religion.
That role is probably even more relevant for most societies than the (closely related) role of organizing for war. Most religious warfare is internal to societies rather than external. Different groups can be seen competing for control of the levers of power in all of the religions I have mentioned. Often the struggle is portrayed as between fundamentalist and modern, but that is surely an oversimplification.
Why do the Taliban blow up schools for girls, or Hindu mobs burn movie theaters, or West Bank settlers stone Palestinian children? They usually justify …

Button, Button

Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Three hours long, but it seemed much longer. Perhaps it was an effect of the Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's incompatible arrows of time, but more likely it was just because this is an excruciatingly bad movie. Boring, plotless, incoherent, illogical, maudlin and slow-ow-ow. Four hundred funerals and an endless voice over mainly by Pitt.

Some of the scenery was OK, and the makeup guy really does deserve an Oscar, but I can't imagine why this interminable piece of pretentious crap got 13 Academy Award nominations. I surely hope it doesn't win any - except for makeup, that is.

By the thirty minute mark I was willing to pay another $8 for the damn thing to end.

Supposedly this was based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald. Perhaps it could even have been an amusing short subject. But a three hour movie with a ten minute plot and no interesting character development - ugh.

Did I mention that I didn't care for the movie? …

That Old Time Religion

Religions, like other social institutions, changed dramatically when humans started practicing agriculture and living in cities. In most cases, the religion became closely allied with that other new invention, the state. Priestly classes, and priest kings appeared. A nastier invention also seems to have sprung up very broadly at about the same time: human sacrifice. When the priests gained power, so did the gods, and with that they became greedy for blood. The practice seems to have occurred everywhere cities did: Europe, the Middle East, India, China, and the Americas. The largest scale carnage we have documented was that of the Aztecs, whose bloody warfare was carried on mainly for the purpose acquiring more victims for their sacrificial rites. Modern religions have official objurred it, but many have bloody roots. The Bible documents a couple of cases of human sacrifice, but more are mentioned. Their Semitic relatives, the Carthaginians were reputed to be big sacrificers o…

The Goof Supreme

So why did John Roberts flub the presidential oath? Steven Pinker has a persuasive theory.

How could a famous stickler for grammar have bungled that 35-word passage, among the best-known words in the Constitution? Conspiracy theorists and connoisseurs of Freudian slips have surmised that it was unconscious retaliation for Senator Obama’s vote against the chief justice’s confirmation in 2005. But a simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts’s habit of grammatical niggling.

Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. Nonetheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha! Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers.

Among these fetishes is the prohibition against “split verbs,” in which an adverb comes between an infinitive marker like “to,” or an auxiliary …

On Purpose

People who study such things tell us that the ability to identify and understand the motivations of others is, if not uniquely human, at least uniquely developed in humans. It's a very powerful technique for understanding and predicting human interaction, not to mention being the most likely origin of art, empathy, politics, and perhaps even language. Lately, I've been wondering about its role in the origin of science and religion.

It's Arun's fault, or at least partly his fault, that I got started thinking about such things. Everytime I post something about religion - not too often, I hope - he posts some quotes on religion than I can't quite understand.

So why do religious ideas see to be almost universal in humans? How did our remote ancestors come up with such things? We don't know, of course, but we do have a couple of clues. The first clue is that those modern and pre-modern peoples who retained a lifestyle like that of our remote ancestors seem to be almo…

Handwriting on the Wall

Brad DeLong looks at the 14% interest rate the NYT got on its loan from Carlos Slim and thinks that the game is just about up.

Good God almighty! 14% interest with short-term inflation at zero plus a share of the upside if the stock price recovers!

Duncan Black:

Eschaton: NYT Co is taking out a subprime loan.

The New York Times Company said Monday it had reached an agreement with the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú for a $250 million loan intended to help the newspaper company finance its businesses.

Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Slim, who already owns 6.9 percent of the Times Company, would invest $250 million in the form of six-year notes with warrants that are convertible into common shares, the company said in a statement. The notes also carry a 14 percent interest rate, with 11 percent paid in cash and 3 percent in additional bonds.Not bad! If they'd let me I'd scrape together the pennies under my couch cushions and lend it to them for 14%.
Hard to see this deal as anyt…

So What?

I guess I just lost my husband
I don't know where he went
...................So What, by Pink

Found him?

Atheism, Religion and War

Thoughtful atheists are often baffled by thier fellow humans stubborn attachment to religion. Even a smart guy like Richard Dawkins lapses into silliness when trying to concoct an explanation. My guess is that the question doesn't even occur to dumber guys like PZ Myers and Christopher Hitchens - but I don't know.Part of their confusion, I suspect, stems from confusing religion and theology. In practice theology is a relatively unimportant part of religion, serving somewhat the same function in religion that a hood ornament does for a car. Because our atheist friends mostly fail to understand this, they waste a lot of time "refuting" various religious beliefs.The key to understanding religion, I think, is understanding its historical and present role in society. Consider Gaza as a thought experiment. If Gazans were or suddenly became Christians, Israeli policy would crumple like a MacDonald's sandwich wrapper. If those images of dead and maimed Muslim chi…

The Undead

Paul Krugmanargues that Citigroup and other zombie banks need to go. The alternative, giving them taxpayer gifts of a few hundred billion to keep them walking, is robbery and a very bad precedent.
To explain the issue, let me describe the position of a hypothetical bank that I’ll call Gothamgroup, or Gotham for short.

On paper, Gotham has $2 trillion in assets and $1.9 trillion in liabilities, so that it has a net worth of $100 billion. But a substantial fraction of its assets — say, $400 billion worth — are mortgage-backed securities and other toxic waste. If the bank tried to sell these assets, it would get no more than $200 billion.

So Gotham is a zombie bank: it’s still operating, but the reality is that it has already gone bust. Its stock isn’t totally worthless — it still has a market capitalization of $20 billion — but that value is entirely based on the hope that shareholders will be rescued by a government bailout.

Why would the government bail Gotham out? Because it plays a cent…

Lucky

Sully Sullenberger, the hero of the day is getting well deserved kudos as a brilliant pilot. It's also true that he was lucky. If he had been only just a tiny bit unlucky, his plane would have broken apart on landing, and many or most of the passengers and crew would likely have died. If that had happened he would have been pilloried by some for not choosing to attempt to land at one of the two nearby airports, but his decision would still have been correct. He very quickly evaluated the risks and decided that the risk of a catastrophic crash that might have killed many more than just the passengers was too great.

President Obama will face several terrible challenges in his first term, and it is certain that success will require luck as well as good judgement. My guess is that at least some of his policies will fail. We can only hope that such failures, if they occur, will not cloud his judgement of how to proceed.

We have just about finished with one President who continually…

Thought Experiment

Imagine that nothing else about the last 70 years in the Middle East was changed but that the Palestinians were predominantly Christian. What kind of a different universe would that produce?

Nationalization

Nationalization is a word that gives every good capitalist, and lots of us slightly less good capitalists, the shivers. Experience has proven that (a)governments are lousy at running entrepeneurial enterprises and (b)giving the government huge chunks of the economy seriously constrains everybody else's freedom.
The problem we have is that several huge banks, notably Citi and Bank America, made a bunch of bad loans and are seriously insolvent, despite already enormous injections of taxpayer money. The money involved is more than the GDPs of most countries, and there is a well-founded fear that their collapse could spread an Iceland-like financial armageddon to the entire world.

Kevin Drum takes a look at the voices for nationalization and especially at the mostly admired Swedish experience in nationalization in the 1990s. His tentative conclusion: let's not get hasty.

So is this what we should do? I don't have the financial chops to say — though certainly government owner…

And The Horse's Ass You Rode In With

Arianna Huffington had the right diagnosis for Bush's goodbye speech: "Still delusional after all these years."

Reports From Stupid World

Hilzoy looks at Pentagon reports that many of the people released from Gitmo returned to their terrorist ways. Some of the evidence is straight from StupidWorld.
". What the DoD actually counted as their "return to the fight" was-- I hope you're sitting down -- the fact that one of them published an op-ed in the New York Times.
Yet another reason not to brake for Republicans.

Shock! Moon Really Green Cheese!

The Party of Stupid may be hurting, but they still have suicide bombers willing to go out and lose one for the Gipper. Richard L. Connor, whoever the hell that is, thinks "History May See Lincoln-Like Greatness in George W. Bush."
Right, and there are so many parallels. Lincoln was a self-made man from the humblest origins, Bush was a perpetual screwup from the rotting detritus of the aristocracy; Lincoln was our most eloquent President ...
Never mind.
David Kurtz of TPM is to blame fro bringing this particular moron to my attention.
PS. About the speech tonight. When do they get to the part where he is tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail.

...And Tinkerbell Saved The Lost Boys

Andrew Sullivan has a reader who gives us a glimpse into the greatest conservative legal mind of his generation:
A reader writes:

You asked (referring to 24): "Do people take this stuff seriously?"

Quite unfortunately, yes. I guess you've forgotten the comments of one of Justice Scalia:

"Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles . . . . He saved hundreds of thousands of lives.... Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Then, "I don't think so... So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

Pretty scary, huh?

The Magic of Strings

Relying on the recommend of the Lubonator in a very laudatory review posted to his blog and Amazon, I bought David McMahon’s String Theory Demystified and started going through it.

Perhaps you are familiar with the following “derivation:”

1 = Sqrt (1)

= (-1)*(-1)*Sqrt(1)

= (-1)*(i^2)*Sqrt(1) where i is the imaginary = Sqrt(-1)

= - Sqrt(i^4 * 1)

= - Sqrt(1) since i^4 = 1

= - 1

Truly an impressive result – even more so when you notice that steps 2-5 are utterly superfluous.

I mention this because David McMahon, in his book “String Theory Demystified,” uses the exact same trick to deduce that x * Sqrt(- m^2 / x) = - m * Sqrt(-x), (I have simplified a bit - he has lots of subscripts and superscripts and manages to throw in both more steps and a couple of cancelling sign errors.) (Pages 27-28, and yes, it did take him most of two pages).

This is hardly an inconsequential aside. The procedure is intended to illustrate how the so-called Polya…

Consorting With the Enemy

Via Josh Marshall. Oh dear!.

Down Plaxico Way

Senator Burress will be sworn in tomorrow. This is truly an amazing American comeback. And how did he manage to both shoot himself in the leg and Eli Manning in the passing arm?

Krudlow & Friends

Why exactly does Larry Krudlow continue to have giant television and other media pulpits?
See Paul Krugman for the forensics in vivid graphical form.

Exceeding Himself

Just when you think that George Bush has plumbed the ultimate depths of cluelessness, he tops himself with this gem due to Atrios:
8 days left of this absurd tiny man.


One thing Bush hadn't shared previously was his thinking about Hurricane Katrina, which up until the financial crisis was seen as his biggest domestic failure.

"I've thought long and hard about Katrina; you know, could I have done something differently," he said. Like what? "[L]ike land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge."
Yeah, maybe you didn't play the PR quite right.
A short list:
Two years before: appoint somebody other than Skeletor to head Homeland Security. Comic book villains are usually a poor choice for key national security posts.Six months before: Appoint an experienced emergency manager head of FEMA instead of a political crony who failed at every job he had.Two months before, when it became clear a very severe hurricane season was coming: Preposition emergency r…

Another Stupid Prediction From David Brooks

Maybe Obama can pull this off, but I have my worries. By this time next year, he’ll either be a great president or a broken one.
............David Brooks
Either of those is possible of course, but neither is especially likely. How would Brooks have evaluated Lincoln after his first year?
More likely is a third possibility. After one very challenging year, Obama will probably have a few obvious successes, a few obvious failures, and a potload of issues hanging fire. How he deals with the latter two will determine the fate of his Presidency.
Despite the epic failure of 9/11, George Bush was not yet a failed president after his first year. It was his persistence in his error and failure to change course that turned it into a disaster.
The greatest Presidents, especially Lincoln, had terrible failures. Their greatness emerged from their ability to recognize and get beyond those failures.

Priorities

Steve Benen looks at George Bush's Presidential priorities:
PRESSURE'S ON.... George W. Bush's two terms haven't been successful, but they have been eventful. The president has faced daunting challenges and striking crises, some of his own making.

And given what we've seen, statements like these are just painful.

Asked by People magazine what moments from the last eight years he revisited most often, W. talked passionately about the pitch he threw out at the World Series in 2001: "I never felt that anxious any other time during my presidency, curiously enough."

Specifically, People asked, "Which moments from the last eight years do you revisit most often?" Bush, after talking about meeting with families of fallen soldiers, replied, "I think about throwing out that pitch at the World Series on [Oct. 30] 2001. My heart was racing when I got to the mound. Didn't want to bounce it. Didn't want to let the fans down. My heart was pumping so h…

Ouch!

So did the NY Giants' offense suck today or what?

Asteroid Impact?

Brad Setser has some graphics and discussion on the effect of the financial crisis/recession/depression on trade. The data is just early reporters Korea and Japan, but the impact looks a bit like that of a major asteroid encounter.
Words don’t really do justice to the sheer brutality of recent downturn in Korean and Taiwanese exports.
Brad has the charts.

Winkery/Wankery/Wonkery

Paul Krugman's latest post is entitled: Risks of deflation (wonkish but important)
"Wonkish," it seems, is econospeak for "technical." I wonder if that usage has been cleared with Nashville.

English Only

In Nashville, a new municipal resolution would require that Country and Western Songs be written only in English. Nashville city councilmen have aclaimed this measure as the first step in taking America back for Americans.
“Kono jyoukyou wa kaeru bekidesu,” said the councilman, Eric Crafton, who is fluent in Japanese. Translated, it meant, “This situation must change.”
In fairness, however, we really should report that other observers claim that due to certain imprecision in Mr. Crafton's syntax, his remarks could also be translated as "You are the backside of a mule."
A committee of English teachers has been appointed to vet all published music for proper grammar and usage. Because of the expected expense, this work will be outsourced to India.
A city council spokesman says that the next step will be to attempt to apply the same standards to rap and Tex-Mex.
"This is America," he said. "We can't have people just saying things anyway they want."

Yuck!

Huffington Post seems to have devolved into the cheesiest possible type of tabloid journamalism.

If I want this kind of garbage (misleading headlines, tabloid trash) I can just go to Drudge - and it loads faster.

Unrealistic Expectations

Charles Krauthammer is an MD, specifically a shrink, specializing in wishful thinking and other right wing nutjobbery. His latest contribution to that literature appeared today in the Washington Post. He thinks that the endgame is near in Gaza, and sees the options as twofold:
Israel's leaders have purposely obscured their war aims in Gaza. But there are only two possible endgames: (A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza.
Option A, he thinks, would be very bad. He doesn't address the question of why he thinks Israeli leaders have been deliberately obscure, which is not helpful to those of us who think those Israeli leaders don't have a f****** clue.
Option B is where the power of wishful thinking asserts itself. Thus speaketh Chuck:
In the first four minutes of this war, the Israeli Air Force destroyed 50 targets, taking down practically every instrument and symbol of Hamas ru…

When You're Rich ...

...they think you really know.

But, it seems, rich people turn out to be dumb in the same ways the rest of us are. About the selling of Bernie M.
In other cases, Mrs. Kohn appealed directly to investors during her frequent trips around Europe. Like Mr. Madoff himself, she used the promise of entree to an otherwise unavailable investment as her key selling point.

AGW Refuted!!!!

Latest proofs that AGW can't be real

1)Temp drops below freezing at 51 degrees North latitude !!!!

2)7% of Earth cooled very slightly during the most recent decade!!!!

What will science discover next? Snow in Michigan!?

Bombing for Votes

The US is nearly the only country in the world where it's impossible to see any mainstream media criticism of Israel. Such is the grip of the Israel Lobby on the American Press, political parties, and most of the American public. If you want hard hitting critiques of Israeli policy, you need to go to Israeli papers, or the web.
Mark Lynch went to listen to the Israeli Ambassador
It was a profoundly dismaying experience. Because if Ambassador Meridor is taken at his word, then Israel has no strategy in Gaza.

Asked three times by audience members, Meridor simply could not offer any plausible explanation as to how its military campaign in Gaza would achieve its stated goals.(via Kevin Drum)

Cristopher Hitchens thinks he knows what Israel is up to. Israeli politicians are bombing for votes:
Until last week, Benjamin Netanyahu was strongly favored to come back as the man whose hard line against territorial concessions had been vindicated by the use of long-evacuated Gaza as a launching …

Rollo

Roland Burris seems to be a rather vain and not especially trustworthy guy who got himself appointed to the Senate under very dubious circumstances. He should fit right in. Swear him in.

There is no good legal justification for trying to keep him out.

Intelligence

David Kurtz takes a look at the seemingly odd fact that Senior Senate intelligence committee Dems Feinstein and Rockefeller were not consulted about the appointment of Panetta to head the CIA.
Good. Few Dems were more in the pocket of Bush and the torture lobby. Feinstein is a real horror story and Rockefeller is a complete zero.

GUCFT

I jocularly pretended to be working on a UFT of crackpotia in the previous post, but I should mention that the real Grand Unified Crackpot Field Theory is due to John Baez, reproduced below:
The Crackpot Index
John Baez

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics:
A -5 point starting credit.

1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.

2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.

3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.

5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.

5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).

5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".

10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

10 points for pointin…

The Road to Crackpotia*

Sean Carroll muses on scientists gone crackers in The Varieties of Crackpot Experience - or, more exaxtly, on one particular physicist. No, not the one you were thinking of.
Frank Tipler is a crackpot. At one point in his life, he did very good technical work in general relativity; he was the first to prove theorems that closed timelike curves could not be constructed in local regions of spacetime without either violating the weak energy condition or creating a singularity. But alas, since then he has pretty much gone off the deep end, and more recently has become known for arguments for Christianity based on fundamental physics.
I will leave the details to Sean and Wolfgang, but I think I know the moment at which Tipler went off the rails. At least twenty years ago he had a paper published in Phys Rev Letters, in those days the most prestigious physics venue, which purported to refute Hawking's black hole radiation argument. At that moment I thought wackjob (as well as what in …

Suck on This, Bill O'Reilly

Al Franken then.

Shoulda gone with the Karyoke version, though.

Lincoln and Rivals

I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln , and one thing stands out already. Lincoln and his rivals for the Republican nomination, Seward, Chase, and Bates all had this fierce desire to study and learn. As boys and men they awoke early and went to bed late, in order to read, study, and develop their intellectual skills.

String Theory, Yet Another Book

A look at but less than a review of String Theory Demystified by David McMahon.

An extremely popular genre these days is is that of the book which promises an easy road to understanding some subject. The "For Dummies" series is probably the most extensive, but a whole host of competitors are also out there. One that leans technical is the "Demystified" series which sets out to tackle Advanced Calculus, Complex Variables, Quantum Field Theory and String Theory, among many others.
Now these subjects are not really cloaked in mystery. What they are is advanced, in the sense that one needs to master a lot of other material before one can understand them. "For Dummies," "Demystified", and similar titles could probably more accurately be called "A concise introduction to ..." books.
To be sure, there is some variation in the flavors of the genre. At 1200 plus pages, "Java in a Nutshell" can hardly be called concise. Zee's "Qu…

Proportionate Action

Israel has a policy of assassinating enemy leaders and their families. They do this because they can. Cenk Uygur, writing on The Huffington Post, doesn't approve:
Imagine what American reaction would have been if Hamas had just killed one of the top Israeli leaders -- like Tzipi Livni -- and her family. No one can honestly say that we would have the same reaction of indifference...
Hmmm. Yes, I can sort of see Charles Krauthammer lying on the floor, frothing at the mouth.
Uygur's larger point is that the Palestinians have adopted a strategy and tactics that can't possibly succeed. The Israelis were pioneers in modern terrorism, and it worked for them, but the case of the Palestinians is different. In the British, the Israeli Irgun was dealing with a foreign country that really wanted to get the hell out, while the Palestinians are dealing with colonists who have taken root and really really intend to stay.
Uygur thinks that the Palestinians would be far better off adopting the…

Bear's Bad News

Paul Swartz has some graphs comparing the current economic downturn to past recessions. The forward looking indicators point to a grim start to 2009. Some of the financial numbers are unprecedented.

(via Brad Setser)

Excuse Me!

As the days dwindle down to a precious few, perhaps the biggest question still remaining is whether Bush will pardon key members of his criminal gang. With Obama showing no interest in pursuing Bush transgressions, it is plausible that he might not. On the other hand, ongoing investigations of the former attourney general plus Fredo's threat to write a tell-all might exert a contrary pressure.

Moral Clarity

Charles Krauthammer writes with characteristic effrontery on Moral Clarity in Gaza. As is usual in such cases, "moral clarity" is achieved through intellectual opacity and dishonesty. Krauthammer has 20/20 vision for Hamas's very real transgressions but turns a blind eye on Israel's. Krauthammer:
The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel's very existence.

What a crock. Israel removed its (rather few)settlers from Gaza and withdrew its troops, but continues occupation, expands its settlements in the West Bank and practices death from the skies instead. Israel controls the borders of Gaza so tightly that its residents can neither import the necessities of life or earn a living - except by smuggling. Israel made and broke a truce with Hamas. Grievances there are a plenty.
The Israeli government is convinced, or perhaps pretends t…

Shroud of Turin

I'm not one to listen to Sean Hannity, but I did catch a bit of his show on XM during a drive today. The subject was the Shroud of Turin, claimed to be the shroud Christ was wrapped in but demonstrated rather conclusively to be a fourteenth century fake. the interesting part to me was that the Catholic Church, which did sent a bit of the fabric out for Carbon 14 testing a couple of decades ago (which demonstrated the age and fakery) now refuses to let skeptics view the Shroud.

Less interesting, but even more predictable, are the responses of the defenders of the Shroud, who grasp at implausible straws even as the Church continues to try to hide the fraud. Very remniscent of the behavior of the deniers of Anthropogenic global Warming.

Growing Up

I know, of course, that children have to grow up, leave home, and make their way in the world, but it is lonely, and I really miss them.