The World This Week By Wah : September 14, 2008 : Part 1 of 2

Here is the first part of my new weekly feature.  I had to split it into two parts because of youtube limits (still working of finding a better place that works well.  Enjoy.  I should have the second half availabe in the mornig.

Doing the video stuff is easy.  Doing the editing is taking a while, but I am getting better at it.  You’ll probably want to view these in full screen to read the text.

Another Upside of Global Warming

BERN (AFP) – Some 5,000 years ago, on a day with weather much like today’s, a prehistoric person tread high up in what is now the Swiss Alps, wearing goat leather pants, leather shoes and armed with a bow and arrows.

The unremarkable journey through the Schnidejoch pass, a lofty trail 2,756 metres (9,000 feet) above sea level, has been a boon to scientists. But it would never have emerged if climate change were not melting the nearby glacier.

Melting Swiss glacier yields Neolithic trove, climate secrets – Yahoo! News.

Ocean-front property in Arizons is also a distinct possibility.  Surfs up!

Wes Clark on Becoming Georgian

This is an interview with Wesley Clark regarding the recent happenings regarding Russia and Georgia.

Two things to notice here….what an absolute pathetic hack Cavuto is(1) and what a generally smart and strategic thinker Wes Clark is (to no one’s surprise). I’ll bold Cavuto’s propagandic statements and insane bias.

The fact that Fox News isn’t news isn’t news, so don’t focus too much on that.

In Clark’s statements I’ll highlight the substance of the interview…if you want to actually know more about the situation and read some good strategy for dealing with it, read that part.

If you want to see blatant b.s. read the Cavuto bolds…

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Last Chance…Squandered?

The Associated Press: NASA warming scientist: ‘This is the last chance’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world’s only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the “dangerous level” for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth’s atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

“We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path,” Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. “This is the last chance.”

So we’ve pretty much already passed over the GW tipping point. The hope now is to try and moderate some of the effects. This has been a major push at the G8 summit in Hokaido.

Unfortunately that’s not going to happen with the present leadership. And not just the U.S. leadership, the whole G8 has problems.

The leaders of the world’s richest countries have squandered yet another opportunity to lead the global community when it comes to climate change. The G8 Summit in Japan has issued a classically vague and nonbinding statement endorsing the idea of halving carbon emissions by 2050, a goal well below the emissions cuts proposed by leaders of many of the G8 nations.

The declaration on the environment and climate change gives a lot of lip service to various “low-carbon technologies” but offers little in terms of new policy to help facilitate development and deployment.

More baffling is the way in which the statement names certain technologies and omits others. Nuclear and biofuels receive strong commendations, while wind and solar fail to get a single mention. Meanwhile clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and sequestration, are given a whole paragraph, in which there resides one of the most clearly worded assertions: “We strongly support the launching of 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects globally by 2010, taking into account various national circumstances, with a view to beginning broad deployment of CCS by 2020.”

[full post]

The other part of the backsliding is highlighted in this NYT article.

RUSUTSU, Japan — Pledging to “move toward a low-carbon society,” leaders of the world’s richest nations vowed Tuesday to work with emerging powers to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, but did not specify whether the starting point would be current levels or 1990 levels, and refused to set a short-term target for reducing the gases that scientists agree are warming the planet.

So they can’t even decide what the baseline is, much less make any realistic, trackable goal.

The G8 is also hampered here, as China and India, the two main U.S. competitors for “Polluter of the Planet” are not represented and the U.S. won’t sign a deal without them. And they won’t sign one without the the U.S.

So we have a nice stalemate, and the water slowly gets hotter.

The frog sits, waiting for flies.

Jamming in 1000 A.D.

Marginal Revolution: Time travel back to 1000 A.D.: Survival tips

Londenio, a loyal MR reader, asks:

I wanted to ask for survival tips in case I am unexpectedly transported to a random location in Europe (say for instance current France/Benelux/Germany) in the year 1000 AD (plus or minus 200 years). I assume that such transportation would leave me with what I am wearing, what I know, and nothing else. Any advice would help.

I hope you have an expensive gold wedding band but otherwise start off by keeping your mouth shut. Find someone who will take care of you for a few days or weeks and then look for employment in the local church. Your marginal product is quite low, even once you have learned the local language. You might think that knowing economics, or perhaps quantum mechanics, will do you some good but in reality people won’t even think your jokes are funny. Even if you can prove Euler’s Theorem from memory no one will understand your notation. I hope you have a strong back and an up to date smallpox vaccination.

Readers, do you have any other tips? Is there any way that Londenio can leverage his knowledge of modernity (he is, by the way, a marketing professor) into socially valuable outputs? Would prattling on about sanitation and communicable diseases do him any good?

This post is from a good while back. There is some fun reading at that link above and in this Kottke thread.

And if you are really up for it, here’s a free MP3, 1000 A.D. on the same topic. It’s from Hillel(?) over at Sugerfix (who, BTW, has one of the best “about” pages I’ve read in a while *).

Personally, I think I would need to bring out a whole lot of pirate and a lot less robot to live happily in ye olde Dark Ages.

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It’s All About the Electrons (Flowing, Yo)

The Coming Energy Wars | Newsweek International Edition | Newsweek.com

The lack of any spare capacity in the global pipeline makes it difficult to solve such situations with sanctions; taking any oil off the market would, at this point, merely ignite an already explosive situation. The megatrends fueling the global supply shortage tend to feed on one another. Higher prices fuel the growing tendency of oil states like Russia and Venezuela to re-nationalize fields. That often leads to lower output, due to the inefficiency of most state oil companies, notes Sanford Bernstein analyst Ben Dell. The publicly traded companies have to go where they can. As fields in peaceful places (Alaska, the North Sea) are tapped out, the hunt for new oil has moved into conflict zones (Nigeria and Angola) or geologically extreme territory (Siberia, the deep sea). And while higher prices are already driving down energy consumption in rich nations, that drop does not offset the booming demand in emerging markets.

Some dry but good reading from Newsweek on the ramifications of everyone fighting over the same thing, i.e., everyone is going to fight over the same thing.

This is also why Iran is having such a fun time being in the position they are.  That is, the world is both trying to cut them off to punish for the uranium enrichment and trying to open them up to exploit their oil, natty gas, and pipeline potential.

Dude, It’s the 21st Century, Of Course There Aren’t

There are no more great writers, says V S Naipaul – News, Books – The Independent

The novelist V S Naipaul has damned the achievements of his literary contemporaries by declaring that there are “no more great writers”.

Naipaul, 75, who won the Booker in 1971 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, is said to have called this year’s Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival “unimportant and meaningless”.

He made his outspoken comments while at a launch of a new magazine at the Wallace Collection, in London. “Publishing has gone down in quality so much in recent years and the problem is that there is no literary life any more because there are quite simply no more great writers,” he said.

He added that he had also noticed the people who go to Hay were “incredibly ugly”.

Unfortunately for the old, they don’t realize the great writers of the day aren’t writing books.  Some write movies.  Some write blogs. Many write code.  Some write these things wonderfully, some horridly, but trust me, old man, there are most certainly great writers out there, and many of us enjoy their work tremendously.

Drinking In High School (US vs Russia)

Here’s the news story…

Angel Cincinnati said her daughter chugged vodka out of two water bottles in an unsupervised Capital High School homeroom last Wednesday.

“She hadn’t had any breakfast,” Cincinnati said. “A boy challenged her to a chugging contest.” 

In her third-period class, the daughter tripped over a trash can and laughed about it on the floor, which tipped a teacher off that something was wrong. Later, paramedics arrived to take care of the 15-year-old.   

Cincinnati said she was told that her daughter and classmates were supposed to go to a supervised classroom, but some did not. A voice over the intercom system alerted students to go to another classroom because their usual homeroom teacher was absent, Cincinnati said.

“But nobody ever followed up to make sure they made it there,” she said. “Their being unsupervised allowed this to happen from the very beginning.”  

[full story]

And here’s the communist version.   Looks like we aren’t all that different after all.

Father, Grandfather, and Husband of the Year

BBC NEWS | Europe | Austrian ‘hid daughter in cellar’

A 73-year-old Austrian is under arrest on suspicion of hiding his daughter in a cellar for 24 years and fathering seven children with her, police say.

The existence of the woman, believed missing since 1984 and now 42, emerged after a teenager said to be her daughter was taken to hospital.

And as they say…that’s when it got weird.

Josef allegedly lured her into the cellar of their house in Amstetten on 28 August 1984, drugging and handcuffing her before locking her up.

It was assumed she had disappeared voluntarily when her parents received a letter from her asking them not to search for her.

“Abused continuously during the 24-year-long imprisonment”, Elisabeth bore six children while a seventh, one of a set of twins, died soon after birth.

The dead baby was allegedly taken out of the cellar and burnt by Josef.

Elisabeth said Josef had provided her and three of her children, who were locked up along with her, with clothing and food.

Good story for remembering the good things in your own life.  I think that’s about the bottom of the barrel when it comes to parenting. 

All of a sudden “Hostel” looks a whole lot more realistic

Ah, Ahh, Aaaaahhhh….

Record-breaking Mentos and coke explosions – Telegraph

Coke

The students, from Belgium, tried to out-fizz the previous record for so-called Mentos fountains by simultaneously putting Mentos mints into bottles of the soft drink.

Coke

The resultant chemical reaction shot hundreds of streams of carbonated soda into the air.

The explosive record-breaking event was held in Ladeuzeplein square in Leuven, Belgium.

Ah, Belgium, what can’t you do in unison?

The Best Way to Become a Target…

Putin scores major diplomatic victory by blocking NATO’s expansion plan – International Herald Tribune

BUCHAREST, Romania: By scuttling the NATO membership bids of two of Russia’s westward-looking neighbors, Vladimir Putin won what is arguably his biggest diplomatic victory even before he arrived at an alliance summit.

NATO’s plan to expand further into former Soviet turf collapsed Thursday when leaders — anxious to avoid angering Moscow — opted not to put the strategically important ex-Soviet nations of Ukraine and Georgia on track for membership.

The Russian president has strongly warned the military alliance against moving to bring Ukraine and Georgia aboard. He even threatened that Russia could point its nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joins NATO and hosts part of a U.S. missile defense system.

Putin has succeeded in driving a wedge in the alliance. The United States, Canada and Central and Eastern European nations strongly backed the bids of Ukraine and Georgia. But Germany, France and some others resisted it, fearing that the move would damage ties with Russia, a key energy supplier to the continent.

…is to paint one on your chest.  This reality was mentioned a while back in this post.

Guess How He’s Getting Missile Space?

Bush sees NATO backing missile defense – Yahoo News

BUCHAREST, Romania – President Bush expressed confidence Wednesday that NATO will bolster its combat forces in Afghanistan and endorse a missile defense system for Europe that Russia has opposed.

I’m optimistic that this is a going to be a very successful summit,” Bush said, sitting alongside NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hours before the 26-nation military alliance opened three days of meetings with a leaders’ dinner.

The summit has been troubled by divisions, most notably opposition from France and Germany to giving Ukraine and Georgia a plan for eventually joining NATO. Bush indicated that was an open question because any NATO member can block it.

It doesn’t say specifically what convinced them to give up space, but my guess would be that he stuck with the tried and true method giving a bunch of your money to the people on Georgia and Ukraine (“your” if you are a U.S. citizen).

I do kind of think it’s funny that the missile shield (Reagan’s “Star Wars” built to protect us from those crazy commies), is the think most likely to encourage people with missiles to start aiming them at us.  

The people most likely to attack the U.S. (previous post here) do not have anything approaching such tech. 

“If we do not defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan, we will face them on our own soil,” Bush said. “Innocent civilians in Europe and North America will pay the price.”

He said the missile defense system was critical to defending against a “real and, in my opinion, urgent” threat posed by nations such as Iran.

Ahh, can you taste the fear?  It is strong in this one.