Friday, February 26, 2010

OK, this is just funny. Melissa Hart was my parents' representative when they still lived in the commonwealth. Apparently she's making enough money as a lobbyist to not worry about abandoning a car in the House parking lot. If you ask me, they have too many spots if you can leave an abandoned car there for *three years*, and not have it towed.

When I saw the Instapundit link, I thought that the malefactor would be Cynthia McKinney, and I was all ready to point and laugh.

More fool me.

But really, this is part of why the Republicans are in such poor odor, even with the current backlash against the socialists. No class, no style, no integrity.
Ye gods! The Indian portion of the "green revolution" is coming to pieces because the dung-brained socialists running the Indian agricultural ministry trapped themselves in a urea subsidy trap, and their farmers are uneducated enough that they think they can power through broad-spectrum nutrient deficiencies via over-fertilizing with urea.

For those of you without a passing acquaintance with basic farming, let me assure you - this is so basic it's almost a truism: nitrogen fertilizer can only address nitrogen deficiencies in a soil. You can't hose down a field with nitrogen & expect good results if your field is sulfur or phosphorus deficient. The only thing that over-fertilizing with nitrogen does is *burn the field*. And pollute the downstream drainage with runoff - really badly, too.

I don't even know how they're seeing any sort of boost by doing so, let alone what the article's quoted farmers claim. I wonder if it's some sort of placebo reporting effect? Maybe there's something I've never heard about that might explain what's going on there - I'm not exactly an agronomist - but it violates everything I thought I knew about Liebig's Barrel.

This is a classic example of the poisonous power of anti-market forces upon the environment. A subsidy imposed for political effect results eventually in ruined farms, environmental devastation, declining yields, and bankrupted farmers, all at taxpayer expense; let's not even talk about the primary market disruptions. Government intervention driving mal-investments, inefficiencies, and pollution. Ain't the anti-market wonderful?


Update: I asked a guy here at work, and he says that since burning a field with excessive nitrogen can sterilize the soil (and thus destroy the organic matter & microculture), increasing nitrogen usage can to some degree replace the nitrogen-fixing that organic matter & microfauna would normally have contributed to crop growth. So, basically, the farmers who were seeing marginal increases in yield returns with very heavy urea usage had already "killed" their fields, and are now essentially growing on dead soil.
Game, set, match.

Our climate records, due to this back-asswards adjustment of rural stations to match UHI-to-a-fare-thee-well urban stations?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pfft. What a classic display of "yes, but" Republicanism. Governor Lingle now opposes the psychotically un-American Akaka bill, not on principles, but because recent amendments make it just a little more heavy-handed in its violation of American ideals, just a hair more front-loaded in its offenses against basic decency. Back when it was only lukewarm in its abominations, only somewhat horrible in its repudiation of everything that makes this country worth defending, oh, then, she was all in favor of it.

Keep walking down this road, you idiots, and we'll all have seceded from the country by racial means, forced to make our separate peace by binding ourselves to some squalid default tribal entity in a demonstration of a sort of Grisham's Law of group identity, where bad communitarian politics drive out the good.

Update: Argh!
This is the sort of gonzo eulogy which makes Hitchens so... Hitchens. But I tend (for the most part) to agree with him on Al Haig. I've been somewhat confused by the version of Haig that's appeared in the right blogsphere since his death, it bears no resemblance to the Haig I thought I knew. That Al Haig appeared in Sorley's A Better War as a sort of Renfield to Kissinger's Dracula, a Tyrell for Nixon's Richard III. The Haig I remember as a child during the Reagan adminstration is largely the one Hitchens describes; perhaps I was deluded by the mainstream media of the time, except Hitchens offers quotes from Reagan's journal which echoes the opinion of the journalists of the day. Haig was, as far as I can tell, a scary, unscrupulous General Ripper freshly escaped from the imagination of Stanley Kubrick, run amok on the American political stage.

h/t Mark Levin, who himself kind of scares me some days.
"[H]ow can brie be elitist if you can buy it at Sam's Club?"

I don't know, man. I don't do Sam's Club - I don't bother with my company's standing offer of free Sams Club membership. I don't see why they need to waste the $40-$50 yearly fee just for me to buy the same crap I could get at WalMart at a slight bulk discount.

But from at least one lowly perspective, Sam's Club is a tiny bit elitist.

But just a bit.
the need of all of them for expert guidance would cause them to gravitate toward the consensus positions among scientists

The above is a quote from this Reason article, which just pissed me off to no end. The article's about a sociological research project testing the inclinations of loosely (and frankly, ludicrously) defined groups towards accepting or discarding scientific "expert guidance" which supposedly comes from their own or an opposing philosophic tendency.

The entire project, and indeed, the article itself, is predicated on the need for "expert guidance". Not testimony, not research, not evidence - although the writer of the article artfully elides "evidence" and "guidance" as if they were synonymous in a passage later in the article - but "guidance". It's also quite interesting that the study's four tendency-groups doesn't include an "elitist" tendency, although one might suspect that it might fall within the "hierarchical" grouping which is described solely in nasty terms which suggests that neither the writer nor the researchers would place their smug selves within the confines of their own study.

I'm rather perturbed that an allegedly libertarian magazine like Reason would publish something so indulgent of the dogmas and theocratic aspirations of the secular priesthood.

"Consensus positions". Humbug!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Sigh. I swear politicians and their staffers are getting dumber. That bill reads like a particularly ill-thought-out post by a drunken blogger. Maybe a lesser diary piece on Red State, one by a guy doomed to never, ever get promoted to the front page. Furthermore, it reads like somebody clumsily modeled it on one of those moronic Intelligent-Design-in-the-classroom brainfarts that Deep South legislatures are fond of passing as a way to fly their evangelical front flags.

Just because catastrophic warming is looking highly, highly unlikely doesn't mean you can legislate the opposite opinion, any more than you can legislate the definition of pi. I don't even care if you get the right definition for pi. It isn't a suitable subject for legislation.

h/t the Czar of Muscovy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Frank J. of IMAO says it right the first time. And he does it almost without clowning around, which has to be a first for him. One thing, though - a fourth party was how the first Republican president got elected. No, seriously, follow my logic:

In the early 1850s, the old Whig Party imploded due to the solution of the problem it had been created to exploit - economic policy and development - and the emergence of new tensions and electoral splits for which that party had no answers - the sectional split, Mormonism, mass immigration, and the growth of Catholicism. The Whig Party itself had been a relatively short-lived creature of the Second Great Awakening, composed largely of politically active evangelicals and religious liberals. By the early Fifties, the Second Great Awakening had largely run its course, and a lot of the movements and trends in said SGA had collapsed of their self-contradictions or mutated beyond the pale of American society - see the Mormon exemplar. Meanwhile, the great developmental economic booms had attracted vast new populations of Europeans - mostly Catholic - who couldn't care less about the hyper-Protestantism which was the lodestone of the Whiggish moment.

Anyways, the Whigs detonated impressively, and the back-wash almost took the Democracy with them. The 1850s saw a lot of serial High Weirdness, including a brief moment when a conspiratorial secret society - led in part by an ex-president who had himself risen to national fame twenty years previously as the bannerman of a political party predicated on the opposition to a conspiratorial secret society - nearly took over the country. The Republicans were just another bit of political weirdness, less strange than the Know-Nothings, but also less broad-based. They decisively lost their first presidential election, and probably would have decayed into yet another regional oddity like Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, New York's Liberal and Conservative Parties, or the LaRouchites, if it weren't for the mad presidential election of 1860.

That was the year that the Democracy finally spun to pieces, and the sitting vice president led the southern Democrats out of their national convention and right into a splinter party. Before the campaign was over, even the border states had their own splinter party, Bell's Constitutional Unionists. Seward's wild little radical Whig third party, taken over by a charismatic former one-term Illinois congressman whom no-one had ever heard of before 1858, swept to a problematic victory due to the intervention of not only a fourth party, but a fifth one as well.

In short, third parties only win when they're not the third party at all, but rather one among a half-dozen, or the only default in an otherwise one-party system, which is, of course, naturally instable.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yeah, Prof. Mankiw? I call shenanigans. The good professor seems far too fond of resorting to tax increases as a first concession in the best of times, so long as they are "pigovian". Might I suggest that he is just naturally biased towards a typically New England "high taxation" regime, and only has to look for reasons to cater to this inclination?

Also, there are valid political-economic reasons to despise the VAT, mainly for the same reasons that one should be hostile to government-run health insurance system - once the government is allowed a tool of such intrusive capacity, it will never let go of it, and never cede a dime extracted via its use. The VAT may have a theoretical edge over income taxation, but its practical application offers a significant negative externality in terms of the private-public power balance, or lack thereof.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't do crap like this, people. It's what the kids call "a dick move". The only reason to ever act politically in this fashion (like voting tactically) is if you think the one you're voting/signing a petition for is actually better than the immediate alternative in the immediate context. This is why I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008 - not because I wanted the Republican to win (although I did), but because I thought she was the marginally-better option in the race. "Operation Chaos" was amusing but not really a factor in my 2008 primary vote. "The worse the better" is Leninism, and absolute BS no matter which party or faction is pushing for it. Always find the better option, even if that better option is no action at all.

For those playing at home, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana announced his retirement at the absolute last moment, leaving the Democrats in Indiana with only one, crazy-left forlorn-hope candidate with even close to enough petition signatures to get on the primary ballot by the deadline, which is, like, today. If they don't have any primary candidates, Indiana Democratic Party rules provide for a leadership caucus, which is what the Democrats are trying to achieve. What the conservative muckers are trying to do is sabotage that caucus by collecting enough signatures to pitchfork Mrs. Moonbat into the Democratic nomination by default. Not cool, even if I do prefer a generic Republican Senator from Indiana over a generic Democratic Senator. Don't play with dynamite, even if you're confident it wouldn't ever go off.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Well, I'm finally back in the county. Boy, that was a pain. I'm still at work, I guess I'll find out in a couple of minutes whether the house burned down. I guess I'll let you know if it did.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Well, crap. Man Proposes, Global Warming Disposes. Behold the wreck of my designs: yet *another* Mid-Atlantic storm has canceled my flight tomorrow out of Philly. I'm now tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Assuming the pilot can find the county under that mound of snow that's apparently on its way.

Monday, February 08, 2010

We went up to Gainesville to visit a state park built around a sinkhole, just for something to do for an afternoon. The state park was closed on Mondays.


So we went over to the University of Florida and spent fifteen minutes looking for parking, then found that the Museum of Art was *also* closed on Mondays.


Luckily, the Museum of Natural History was kind enough to actually be open for a reasonable approximation of normal hours, so we spent an hour or so looking at butterflies and Indian archeological exhibits.

What does Gainesville have against Mondays? What is it, Garfield's adopted home town or something?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Every time I go down to Florida to visit the folks, a nasty storm descends on the Mid-Atlantic and hammers the commonwealth while I'm away. I have to wonder how much of a mound of ice I will find in front of my place *this* time when I get back.

Also, I see that the borough council is giving up control of the local farmer's market to some "farmers' association" which plans to kick non-locals and non-"local producers" (aka "the competition") out of the market. Because nothing promotes competitive pricing, quality produce, and an amiable atmosphere like xenophobic protectionism run amuck. The one councilman who spoke against this power-grab was denounced by foaming Red Guards in the comments section as a damned carpet-bagger who had dared to not be born in town.

While we're at it, SEIU is threatening to unionize the county offices. I suppose I ought to be grateful they haven't done so already, but really, I'm just kind of resigned to the inevitable ballooning of my property tax bill. Damned parasitic thugs, the lot of 'em.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Well, I'm back in Florida, and that means catching up on reading a bit. I read Hoyt's Darkship Thieves during the trip down, since there's been a big booster effort on Instapundit and elsewhere. I can see why - it's solidly in the didactic libertarian Heinleinian style - a swashbuckler with an aggressive James H. Schwartz/Heinlein heroine and a lot of anti-authoritarian posturing. It's not bad, and there are some nice flashes of attitude and style. The heroine is likeable in that unreliable-narrator borderline-sociopathic fashion that's common to post-Heinlein followers of the old man, but the book has a certain early-draft shagginess and shapelessness which suggests that Baen isn't exactly stepping up to the plate in terms of editing and guidance. Also, Hoyt strikes me as flinching a bit from the consequences of her characterization, and repeatedly pulls her punches on the protagonist's alleged hardness. There's a certain amount of "Han [didn't] shoot first" going on there. TV Tropes talks about Faux Action Girls, Hoyt's heroine Athena is a bit of a Faux Heroic Sociopath.

The recent cold snap down here has done a real number on the greenery - it's more of a brownery, right now. Grass, palm trees, bushes, everything's burned brown by the frost. Weather's fine, now, though. I was hearing enough about the big storm coming through up north at home; down here it's sixty-five and overcast. We were just rushing to get as much of the bark mulch into the planters as we could before a rainstorm blew in from the Gulf. Igh, I'm out of shape.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dude, this call for mass resignations at CRU is by George Monbiot. George Monbiot - the original "Moonbat". Even with that pro-forma tu quoque about unspecified "denier fabrications" at the end, it's still a pretty damning thing from the foremost journalistic drumbeater of the global warming crusade in Old Blighty.

England must have been damn cold this winter for the freeze to penetrate this deep into the AGW hedgerow.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I'm watching the third season of Supernatural, and if the second season was strangely oriented around mildly (or not-so mildly) misogynistic slaughter of young women, the third season's developing what looks like a fascination with violence against evil children. During the attempted drowning scene in "The Kids Are Alright", I commented to myself that this was the single-most screwed up thing I've seen this year, and I've been watching Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, which is the walking embodiment of Nightmare Fetish Fuel Station. Admittedly, it's been more than a year since the last time I watched the second season of Black Lagoon, so YMMV.

Could I get a real person to make a token comment, btw? I'd like to see if the moderation feature is working properly.