Sunday, November 06, 2005

Science, Politics and the Military

Today’s posting is mostly clippings. And interesting links. Starting with the most important...

otherculturewarSee my new essay on "Beleaguered Professionals vs Disempowered Citizens" on my website.

*More items….

Study: Human Hands Emit Light -- (Discovery Channel -- October 31, 2005)

Human hands glow, but fingernails release the most light, according to a recent study that found all parts of the hand emit detectable levels of light. The findings support prior research that suggested most living things, including plants, release light. Since disease and illness appear to affect the strength and pattern of the glow, the discovery might lead to less-invasive ways of diagnosing patients.

World Temperatures Keep Rising with a Hot 2005 -- (Washington Post -- October 25, 2005)
New international climate data show that 2005 is on track to be the hottest year on record, continuing a 25-year trend of rising global temperatures. Climatologists calculated the record-breaking global average temperature, which now surpasses 1998's record by a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, from readings taken at 7,200 weather stations scattered around the world.

Spain Gets First Tropical Storm -- (Political Gateway -- October 25, 2005)
Vince, the 20th named tropical storm in the Atlantic this year, is the first storm of its type to reach Spain in recorded history, claimed the National Hurricane Center. "The historical record shows no tropical cyclone ever making landfall on the Iberian peninsula," added one meteorologist.

Amazon Rainforest Vanishing At Twice Rate of Previous Estimates -- (Climate Ark -- November 1, 2005)
Loggers are cutting down trees in the Amazon rainforest at twice the rate of previous estimates, according to a new analysis of satellite images of the region. Earlier attempts to gauge the scale of deforestation were not sensitive enough to spot the occurrence of selective logging - the cutting down of individual trees without clearing the surrounding forest.

Mark Engler | Bush's Bad Business Empire
Mark Engler writes that the Bush Administration is making the world unsafe for Microsoft and Mickey Mouse.... Maybe George Bush and Dick Cheney aren't very good capitalists at all.

DeLay's Staff Tried to Help Abramoff
Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter of a million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton.

Bush Appoints More Cronies to Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
Bush may find himself besieged by charges of cronyism, but that doesn't seem to have affected his picks for a panel assessing intelligence matters. President Bush last week appointed nine campaign contributors, including three longtime fund-raisers, to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a 16-member panel of individuals from the private sector who advise the president on the quality and effectiveness of US intelligence efforts. After watching the fate of Michael Brown as head of FEMA and Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee, you might think the president would be wary about the appearance of cronyism - especially with a critical national-security issue such as intelligence. Instead, Bush reappointed William DeWitt, an Ohio businessman who has raised more than $300,000 for the president's campaigns, for a third two-year term on the panel. Originally appointed in 2001, just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, DeWitt, who was also a top fund-raiser for Bush's 2004 Inaugural committee, was a partner with Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Oh... I would be encouraged by the recent defection of Brent Scowcroft to the dis-bush camp. After all, I have been saying that 200 decent conservatives could save us...

...except this is one of the chief guys to help decide in 1991 to abandon the Iraqi people to Hell-on-Earth when Bush-Cheney-Powell had Saddam in the palm of their hands.

Scowcroft's mealy excuses? "The UN did not give us authority to go to Bagdhad and occupying Baghdad would have been a quagmire."

Uh... the trick is to pose your dopey mistake vs something dopier. As if (for example) these guys pay the slightest heed to the UN except when it suits them.)

Saving the people of Basra, who were rebelling against Saddam at Geo. Bush Sr's radio request! would have taken another 20 hours. And in 1991, there really would have been flowers and kisses. No need to march on Baghdad! A protected Kurdish entity in the north and a protected Shi-ite entity in the south would have left Saddam with 25% of the population and no oil! And the 250,000 Iraqi army prisoners - culled of Baath Party cadres, could then have been sent marching north to take care of Saddam themselves, instead of what we did to them...handing them carefully into the arms of those same cadres.

Worst stain on our honor in 100 years. I am ready to welcome Scowcroft (who appears only to be defecting because W has personally snubbed him). I will even forgive. But I will not forget.


Anonymous said...

Anyone care to make some *predictions* regarding the riots in France ?

Anonymous said...

This is off the present topic, but relevant to Dr. Brin's previous posts on gerrymandering. There's an online attempt to define America's spheres of cultural influence at:

It only take a moment to contribute to the project and the results will help inform future debates concerning gerrymandering by illustrating clearing how much difference there is between state-defined districts and actual cultural spheres.

Anonymous said...

Another stain on the nation's honor:

Secret offshore chemical weapon dumps.

Not just in our waters, but in those of our allies.

The military refuses to take responsibility, or even open up its records.,0,3757483.story?page=1&track=mostemailedlink


HarCohen said...

Anyone care to make some *predictions* regarding the riots in France ?

French culture is so much more advanced than the US it only took them 38 years to repeat what the US experienced in the 60's.

Some people will get deported. Some will go to jail. Some money will be devoted to new housing projects and new jobs programs. The Right will demand a halt on immigration. The Left will demand new elections.

What was the last sea change in French politics? And what do they have in terms of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?

Oh yes. A committee will be appointed.

Anonymous said...

"Study: Human Hands Emit Light"

I dunno - I am not very pleased with the few Discovery Channel programs I have seen - there seems to be a lot of sloppy science with a tilt to the pseudo side.

It seems to me it would be easier to explain these photons as infrared light, e.g. radiated heat. From the article it is not clear if the photon counter would have counted IR frequency photons.

Of course, it is a great lead in to that old saying, "Many hands make light work."


HarCohen said...

This is off the present topic, but relevant to Dr. Brin's previous posts on gerrymandering. There's an online attempt to define America's spheres of cultural influence at:

Yes. And for $79 you can get the Nielsen Designated Market Area Wall Map.

Anonymous said...


You know, France did have this sort of nonsense, in May 1968.

Prediction: in the aftermath, we'll find out that the riots were hardly spontaneous, but were rather organized by the local "community leaders". Folks will fall over themselves rushing to make excuses for them.

David Brin said...

Re Gerrymandering... again I freely admit a multiple agenda in urging all of you to urge Ohio folks to vote yes to impartial redistricting. Especially to vote, if they had not been planning to.

Yes, this may briefly benefit democrats in 2006... Something any balanced person would want, since we aboslutely MUST see one of the houses of Congress change parties in 2006. So that one set of investigative committees can get back to work.

But it goes farther. After 2004 can we name any other state whose political machine - including Florida's - needs total up-ending more than Ohio's does?

Above all, if this works in Ohio, it might cause moderate Republicans and Democrats across the nation to start negotiating trades on this issue, the right way to solve it.

@ Stefan, you are right that countless stains spread from secrecy. Why, for example, has the international community left Somalia in an utterly lawless, pirate state?

The facile answer is the modicum of pain we suffered when meddling there (less than a single week in Iraq). But there is an alternative... the method that worked in Balkans and Afghanistan. Choose some of the least objectionable local forces and help THEM do the fighting.

In this case the local forces to choose are obvious. Fully 1/3 of the people have been living under peace and law for ten years, in the northern region called Somaliland. Those clans have offered to bring peace to the whole country, if the international community would offer support. Why has it not been forthcoming?

A theory... somalia is just too useful now as a site of lawless commerce, a transshipping site for unmarked and untaxed goods. And especially a dumping ground for toxic wastes.

It is s scandal of huge proportions - with an easy solution - and nothing is done in the media. Hardly anyone has even heard of Somaliland.

Tony Fisk said...

Human Hands Emit Light

Any magic sufficiently understood is indistinguishable from science.

Bush Appoints More Cronies

I think this just ceasing to be newsworthy. (but always noteworthy! At least the Miers nomination was given the flick)

Concerning that other conspiracy theory: the 'GOP'. If grimy, independent officer types really are being flushed out with fresh, clean, 'yessir' models, surely it would be traceable through enrolments, appointment announcements etc. (For those who have the time and the noses to go sniffing).

I still like to think that the clapless address at Fort Bragg had an element of satyaghara to it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos on mentioning Somaliland I read about it in the book “the road to hell”

After the failed pirate attack on the cruse liner today off the coast of Somalia I would hope some one tryed to fix that problem.

His interpretation was that since Somliland did not have an airbase nobody wanted to suport it. Even though it was stable and well run.

HarCohen said...

I'll let you know how this looks to one Ohioan. I live in a compact democratic district shared by the City of Cleveland and neighboring suburbs in a single county. The next district 'out' is District R-14, held by Steve LaTourette. It covers several counties and dips into the eastern part of mine county and another to serve the remaining suburban and ex-urban Republicans.

I went to school with Steve LaTourette. His beliefs and thinking were well-formed by the time he was our high-school valedictorian. The committees in which I believe he has greatest influence in Congress is transportation. I think he has become convinced that the interest of Northeast Ohio will be better served with bi-partisan support, so at least we see some coming together on issues like military base realignment and NASA closings. I'm hoping it all doesn't come apart in the next election.

This is hardly the worst in terms of meandering districts in Ohio. District 6 follows a quarter of the Ohio border and splits at least four counties.

The arguments for and against the issue on TV? 'For' has a single pitch for all four reform issues based on the dismal performance of Taft and his cronies, particularly the ones going to jail.

I find it a naive appeal and I wish they (Reform Ohio Now) could have spent the money to distinguish these issues better. It's much easier to vote no on all four and wait until next time than to vote yes on all four when they address separate and complex issues.

'Against' runs a couple ads that say 'vote no' because it removes power from the democratically elected representatives and gives it to potentially unqualified commissioners who have no limits on spending. And besides, these are poorly written amendments. And we are all the victims of outside interests who want to influence our elections.

Some newspapers are all against, some have split out issues they endorse. My weekly community paper was the most forthright of what I read.

I'm prepared to vote for several of these issues. Removing some of the powers of the secretary of state doesn't seem essential however. I'll let that slide.

HarCohen said...


You know, France did have this sort of nonsense, in May 1968.

Prediction: in the aftermath, we'll find out that the riots were hardly spontaneous, but were rather organized by the local "community leaders". Folks will fall over themselves rushing to make excuses for them.

This is the underclass rioting and hasn't been joined by the trade unionists and students. Ergo, much more like the class/race riots of the 60's in Cleveland, Detroit, Watts, DC, and so on.

'Organized by community leaders'? Could be. Doesn't matter. Sounds like a sound bite from the Right. From the Left who might be embarassed you'll probably get, 'This was the consequence of antisocial memes perpetrated by American gangsta television and was not organized nor supported by community leaders'.

You can always find a scapegoat. "Must be the Jews, he whispered. They had only two synagogues reported damaged to date."

Anonymous said...

These riots in France did not arise in a vacuum. In terms of actual raw numbers, you'll find the number of participants is fairly small, but you'll also find they have a lot of sympathizers. Frustrated, angry people with a lot of time on their hands. In a way, very similar to the LA riots after the Rodney King trial.

My own prediction is that France will follow its well-worn pattern of throwing money at the problem until the symptoms go away. After the problem the money was meant to address (e.g., the rioting) goes away, the money will dry up, and the whole process will repeat itself.

HarCohen said...

And here's how the Brits see it, an opening clash in the Eurabian conflict.;jsessionid=EJCKXH1XWI4TDQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2005/11/08/do0802.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/11/08/ixopinion.html

I hope we get David's opinion on this.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the question is now wether the rioters initially motivated by rage and hopelesness, will continue their mob violence under the spell of ambition. If there actually is some organisation going on there then that might happen. And then the army will step in. More people will die. Rage will flare up again. Could become a vicious circle.

Interesting article. I like the part of multiculturalism giving us possibly the best of all worlds but also the worst. At the same time.