It's Not Magic
Writings of a techie wizard
 
Category: rants
Wed, 26 Mar 2014

The Daily Telegraph reports that, based on the latest draft of the IPCC AR5,

The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make "green" biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices

(hat tip: Watts Up With That ). At first glance, this looks promising, an actual outbreak of sanity for the IPCC, something like admitting that climate model forecasts are inaccurate. But just as with that previous item, you shouldn't get your hopes up too much; as you can see even from the brief quote above, the obvious reason for not using food crops to make biofuels (the one that's in the title of this post) is not the primary reason the IPCC gives for their about-face on this issue.

The primary reason the IPCC gives is that

growing biofuel crops on a large scale requires either the conversion of agricultural land used for food crops or the destruction of forests to free up land, possibly offsetting any reduction in carbon emissions from the use of biofuels.

In other words, the IPCC isn't really concerned about rising food prices; after all, if they had been, the AR4, back in 2007, would not have made such an aggressive recommendation to increase the use of biofuels. It's not as though burning food only just started to drive up food prices. No, it's all about CO2 alarmism.

Of course, even if we restrict the discussion to the climate aspect, the IPCC is admitting that they screwed up. Did they just now discover that growing biofuel crops requires the use of land? Couldn't exactly the same analysis have been done back in 2007? Why wasn't it? Of course, nobody is asking those questions. And if the IPCC can screw up something this basic, what does that say about their ability to get it right on more complex issues, like, oh, say, predicting what Earth's climate will be like in fifty or a hundred years? Of course, nobody is asking those questions either.

But to me, all that is secondary to the real issue, which is that the IPCC, and all the governments that make policy based on what the IPCC says, were willing to make it more difficult for a significant fraction of the world's population to get enough to eat, right now, based on the belief that it would lead to some vague benefit to the climate fifty or a hundred years hence. Which they're now saying isn't going to be a benefit anyway (not that I believed them whey they said it would, but the point is that now even they admit it's not). And the people who wouldn't get enough to eat had no say in the matter. These are the people whom we are supposed to trust with the future of our planet. Personally, I don't trust them to add two and two correctly. But maybe that's just me.

Posted at 22:32   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Thu, 20 Mar 2014

Some time back I noted that what was then a common sentiment (I found it in an op-ed in the New York Times, which is proof of it being a common sentiment if anything is) about the Constitution seemed backwards to me. The claim was that we were getting into trouble about the "fiscal cliff" because we were too obsessed with following the Constitution; but as I showed in that post, the real problem was that we weren't following it enough.

Now I've come across a lecture given by Michael Karman at Johns Hopkins University on Constitution Day, 2010, entitled "A Skeptical View of Constitution Worship", which goes even further than the NYT op-ed did. My basic response is the same: the problem is not that we "worship" the Constitution, it's that we ignore it.

Read more...

Posted at 23:58   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Thu, 16 Jan 2014

It's been obvious for quite some time, at least to anyone not marinated in the ideology of climate change alarmism, that the models being used to produce the IPCC's forecasts of doom do not match reality. But now it's become so glaring that even the IPCC itself has admitted it in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) from Working Group I for its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) (hat tip: Watts Up With That ).

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Posted at 23:55   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Wed, 27 Nov 2013

A few weeks ago the Federal Reserve announced that it would continue "quantitative easing" at its current level. The reason, as explained in the press release just linked to (though in rather oblique language, as is the usual practice with such things), was basically that, while the economy appears to be recovering, the Fed isn't sure that it's recovering strongly enough. Which leads to the obvious next question: how much longer will this have to go on?

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Posted at 23:31   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: economics, politics   |   Permalink
Tue, 25 Sep 2012

Some time ago I posted about Go vs. Python with regard to delimiters. I now have another reason to prefer Python to Go: Go's error handling (hat tip: Hacker News).

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Posted at 21:01   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Wed, 22 Aug 2012

I recently came across this from Jamie Zawinski, and one of his gripes with Firefox struck a huge chord with me:

The Firefox UI is a moving target. It is under constant "improvement", which means "change" which means every few months I'm forced to upgrade it and shit has moved around and I need to re-learn how to do a task that I was happily doing before.

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Posted at 21:17   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Thu, 08 Mar 2012

A while back I explained why I use Python, not Lisp. However, after reading this review of Go, I realized that I left out something important, something that sets Python apart from pretty much every other language out there, and certainly from every "C-oid" language, which is all that the author of the review seems able to find himself wishing for.

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Posted at 23:28   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Sat, 03 Mar 2012

Cary Sherman, the CEO of the RIAA, is upset. He says those mean and nasty Internet companies shut down SOPA and PIPA by spreading misinformation and claiming it was fact. Well, after reading his recent op-ed in the New York Times, I will certainly concede that Mr. Sherman ought to know about that sort of thing, since he is evidently an expert at it. Just for fun, I thought I would post some examples.

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Posted at 20:50   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 09 Jan 2012

This is just a quick update to my previous posts on SOPA to collect a few more links of interest.

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Posted at 22:58   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Tue, 29 Nov 2011

I thought I was done with this topic for now, but I can't help adding one more quick post, because it now appears that it isn't just media companies who want to put a stranglehold on the Internet. Chanel is getting in on the act.

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Posted at 22:14   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
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