Saturday, May 7, 2011

Observations From the Back Row; 5-7-11

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“De Omnibus Dubitandum”

When oil companies are making huge profits and you're struggling at the pump, and we're scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren't right. They aren't smart. And we need to end them. –
Barack Obama, Weekly Radio Address

***Featured Article***

Why tax 'reform' talk is idle chatter

Let me begin with some background information: The United States Internal Revenue Code is 44,000 pages, 5.5 million words and has 721 different forms. A nightmare of unmatched complexity, it conceals, in undecipherable language, tens of thousands of favors, preferences and influence buying, bordering on corruption.





Arsenic Railroad: Next stop, heart disease If you remember the 2004 “May I please have some more arsenic in my water, mommy?” campaign directed at President George W. Bush, this story is for you. A new study in the British Medical Journal claims to link “moderate” exposures to arsenic in drinking water with increased risk of heart disease.

The study itself is not much to speak of as it is based on weak and/or statistically insignificant associations, only considered a few confounding risk factors (age, BMI, smoking status and education) and only followed study subjects for an average of six years. So it has a lot in common with other arsenic studies that the EPA relied on to (unjustly and expensively) tighten drinking water standards in 2001.

Adding his two cents in an accompanying commentary is Berkeley’s Allan H. Smith, a long-time pusher of the arsenic-in-drinking water scare. Interestingly, this study was funded by U.S. taxpayers — even though the study subjects were Bangladeshis and the average drinking water concentration of arsenic was more than six times the U.S. standard. It would seem that the National Institutes of Health ought to have more relevant things to do with our money. (Go to the original for the links. RK)

My Take – One thing is clear; we once again find a study with conclusions in search of data. A second thing is clear. There is entirely too much grant money being spread around.
I have tried to think of some way of stopping all of this “grant money is the holy grail of science” shtick that we see going on at universities all over the country. And I can’t! The thing that keeps coming up in my mind is any such system carries with it the potential for become corrupted and then stopping real science because it isn’t harmonious with the philosophical flavor of the day. You know….something like what already exists, except it isn’t official.

Once something takes on the mantle of officialdom it becomes even more onerous. So what to do? I think the answer is to stop funding studies by about 90%. Then, with so little money to spread around it becomes incumbent on the grantors to make sure they are spending it on real science. Then the grantors superiors can review the work and if they find that they are continuing to waste taxpayer money on junkscience they can further cut the grant money permitted by those who are wasting it.

Quite frankly, I have serious misgivings as to how much “real science” is coming out of any of these studies by government grantors. I would like to see it cut to 0% to see what happens. We can always go back up if necessary.

There is one thing that would be for sure if that happened. These junk science university researchers would have to go back and start teaching their classes. Then again….I’m not sure where they are more dangerous; Lysenkoian scientists in the lab spewing out destructive junk science or in the classroom corrupting young minds.

Science publishes Left-coast loons’ organic ag propaganda - Expert panel calls for ‘transforming US agriculture’ Changes in markets, policies and science needed for more sustainable farming - A group of leading scientists, economists and farmers is calling for a broad shift in federal policies to speed the development of farm practices that are more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

Writing in the journal Science, they say current policies focus on the production of a few crops and a minority of farmers while failing to address farming’s contribution to global warming, biodiversity loss, natural resource degradation, and public health problems.

“We have the technology and the science right now to grow food in sustainable ways, but we lack the policies and markets to make it happen,” says John Reganold, a Washington State University soil scientist and the Science paper’s lead author. Starting in the late 1980s, Reganold pioneered several widely cited side-by-side comparisons showing organic farming systems were more earth-friendly than conventional systems while producing more nutritious and sometimes tastier food. His Science co-authors include more than a dozen other leading soil, plant, and animal scientists, economists, sociologists, agroecologists and farmers.

Junk Science Editor - Science‘s decent into eco madness is almost complete. Modern industrial agriculture is the more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable option and currently protects vast areas of marginal lands from the plow through high productivity. As Science should know before printing this kind of irresponsible pap there is no serious support for the assertion “organic” food is more nutritious even for trendy Left-coasters, unless you count feeding their delusions.

Much worse, however, is the fact that there is not sufficient land in all the world to support the livestock or grow the humus stock that would allow “organic” agriculture to produce anything like the quantities of food enabled by modern agriculture and how would you transport and apply all that compost even if you could produce it? The only way “organic” agriculture can “feed the world” is to fit the population to low-productivity, high input, labor-intense agriculture. In other words these are just another bunch of misanthropic cranks out to trim the human population – in the name of “sustainability”, of course.

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, May 5th 2011 This week, George is at it again. He’s fearful of what sort of future greens have in a world that has abundant fossil fuels:…… Monbiot is slowly figuring out the green agenda is doomed, but can’t get past his belief in the new paganism of global warming to realize his fears of a planetary demise are greatly exaggerated.…. Donna Laframboise discovered that the IPCC hired another veteran from the NGO ranks, this time Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund. Also, the IPCC uses climate modelers to evaluate climate models:……….. then again NoCarbonTax has spared no expense, time and supercomputer power to bring you a completely new Coupled Climate Change model that actually works!





Moving on…….Jolly Prince Chuckles saw his son married off to a commoner last week and headed to the USA for a visit. He intends to lobby congress about global warming, or eating meat. Or both. If Congress had any sense of history they might remind Chuck that he represents the old and busted version of America and that there was this revolution thing a while back. But they won’t……… Aussie activist Clive Hamilton wants more radicalism. And Mad Men reruns, but mostly radicalism……. Despite Brad Johnson’s hopes, NOAA shoots down the idea that global warming had anything to do with the record tornado storms last week…….Green math is unkind to solar power projects in New Jersey: (Please go to the article for the links…and there a lot of them so you may peruse any one of the issues highlighted in the article. (This Weekly Roundup is one of my favorite posts each week. I’m not sure what I like more about this weekly post….the links or the tongue in cheek way he presents them. RK)

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax -
Of cabbages and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."

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