Archive for December 2011
I’m not a gamer. I don’t get excited over new video games, and don’t play them much beyond a few beers and some Wii Fit competition, or maybe the occasional Wii FIFA. But that’s about it. I’ve never played any of the Modern Warfare games, and I do not doubt they are quite enjoyable.
But when I saw the commercial for the new Modern Warfare, starring Jonah Hill and the guy from Avatar, I didn’t like it. I wasn’t sure why. But I didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal; there’s no outrage here, frankly I don’t care enough about video games to be too upset. It just seemed off.
Turns out D.B. Grady, former paratrooper, picked up on this too, and expressed it well.
Because the game crossed the billion dollar sales mark in only 16 days, clearly its marketing strategy is working. But none of that makes it okay, or mitigates its tastelessness. The advertisement trivializes combat and sanitizes war. If this were September 10, 2001, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so bad. Those who are too young to remember Vietnam might indulge in combat fantasies of resting heart rates while rocket-propelled grenades whiz by, and of flinty glares while emptying a magazine into the enemy. But after ten years of constant war, of thousands of amputees and flag-draped coffins, of hundreds of grief-stricken communities, did nobody involved in this commercial raise a hand and say, “You know, this is probably a little crass. Maybe we could just show footage from the game.”
This is not an argument against so-called shooter video games or depictions of war in popular culture. However, as Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is? (Here I point to the giddy howls of one supposed soldier in the commercial as he fires a grenade launcher at some off-screen combatant. War is great, see? It’s like a gritty Disneyland.)
Read the whole piece. It’s a moving reminder that war is real, and not a video game.
How much money is it worth to lose the Presidential Election via winning the Iowa Caucus? The Republican Presidential Primary Campaign Train, as it always does, is currently going through the muckety-muck that is the the FIRST IN THE NATION EXTRAVAGANZA CAUCUS OF HIGHLY IMPORTANT SOCIAL AND EVANGELICAL CONSERVATIVE VOTER TEST OF OVERLY RIGHTWING BONA FIDES that is the Iowa Caucus.
It’s such a waste of time. Even to someone as tuned in an politically minded as TRC, we have to ask: Why does this happen? Winning the Caucus-going Iowa Republicans does not mean you will win the suburban Minnesota Republicans who vote on election day, or even the suburban Iowa Republicans who vote on election day. It means you win the small, handful of very conservative, Christian, caucus-goers who can be convinced to Caucus by barbecue sandwiches and fear of the gays. Take that, Iowa. You have once again been satirically over-simplified.*
To wit: This morning, I read a relatively boring article from Politico (as they usually are) about the potential surge of…Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucuses. Rick Santorum: the famously anti-gay, very boring, social conservative haymaker from Pennsylvania who has won the ire of every progressive by being so calmly able to condemn entire communities of sinners with dispassionate rhetoric. Politico asks, essentially, is Rick Santorum the past or future of the Republican Party? (Note to Republicans, you really, seriously, sincerely and earnestly better hope that Rick Santorum is NOT the future of the Republican Party).
Anyway. The point of this piece, and so many others regarding Iowa, is that Rick Santorum, as well as Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, are all fighting to be the Mike Huckabee of 2012. Remember Mike Huckabee? He was the very evangelical conservative Pastor and former Governor who plays in a rock band and ran for President in 2008 and took the nation by surprise by winning Iowa and then won nothing else and didn’t matter that much in the eventual outcome because he couldn’t actually win anything other than the very strange and unrepresentative of the nation contest that is the Iowa Caucuses? Yeah. Rick Santorum is fighting to be that guy in 2012.
Iowa, I think you’re day is done.
*I recognize that candidate Obama received a major boost by winning the Iowa Caucus in 2008. I do not think, however, that the Republican and Democratic caucus goers are equally unrepresentative nationally.
TRC would like to congratulate Louis Woodhill, contributing author at Forbes, for just making it in a nick of time to be awarded the prize of “worst piece of science comprehension and most ridiculous rhetorical strategy in journalism” award. This does of course allow that what contributing author at Forbes Louis Woodhill does is journalism and not just blather, and we grant that is a stretch.
If you want your brain to explode, read Even the Warmists Don’t Believe in Global Warming. It’s a riotous good time. For an individual with a degree in mechanical engineering, one would think Mr. Woodhill would have a better understanding of how science operates. Alas. We cannot understand that which our paychecks depend on us not understanding.
It is worth going through the whole essay, piece by piece. It is not every day one reads the worst piece of Climate Change journalism ever.
First, the climate is indeed changing: One feature of the manifested universe is the impermanence of all things. Poetic.
Then Woodhill asks of that change: Overall, is it good or bad? We can’t say. We don’t even have a conceptual framework that would allow us to answer that question, or even to adequately describe how the climate is changing. “Climate” is an abstraction, and all abstractions are untrue (or at least incomplete).
Sorry, this is wrong. The Climate is an actuality. It is a thing, and it can be described and observed. Granted, it is very, very complex, and difficult to make prescriptions for, but it is NOT an abstraction. It is only an abstraction to those of us lucky enough to have air-conditioners and in-door heating, roofs over our head, and money to move when we need to.
But even this is a point that is understandable, though incorrect. What’s next? Is human activity causing the climate to change? We don’t know, and there is no way, even in principle, that we can know. It is difficult enough to determine the “what” of climate change. To determine the “why”, we would need to do controlled experiments. And, for this, we would need another planet, identical in every way to our own earth, which we could use as a “control”.
Wrong. In fact, even in principle, this is wrong. There is no understanding of human activity that does not affect the climate, the ecosystem, the entire natural systems of the earth. By doing anything, human activity changes the climate. But I presume the point Mr. Woodhill is making is that we cannot control experiments to understand if burning fossil fuels is actually changing the climate. Again, wrong. It is the most basic level of physics, understood for at least 150 year: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and greenhouse gases capture heat. The more carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere, the more heat that carbon will hold. If Mr. Woodhill can somehow change physics, I am sure the world would love to hear it. Accepting this will do you no harm. It can be argued that warming the earth won’t be so bad, but it can’t be argued that burning fossil fuels, thus increasing (by a LOT) the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not increase the temperature. How much is open to argument, that it is happening is not. That is just science.
Of course, why should we trust science? “Science” consists of nothing but theories that have not yet been disproved by evidence, but which, in principle, could be so disproved. (some nonsense about Relativity being challenged) If something is “settled”, it is not science. It is religious dogma, and an assault upon freedom of thought and inquiry.
Well, that was easy. Why bother arguing against the science, only to throw science as an entire endeavor for understanding anything overboard with one crazy notion?
From here things really get strange. But don’t the climate scientists’ computer models prove that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are causing climate change? No. First, no computer model can ever prove anything (see the definition of “science” given above). Second, we do not have the capability to model a system as complex as the earth.
Really? No computer model can ever prove anything? I assume Mr. Woodhill realizes that computer modeling is an integral part of many facets of science and is not the creation of climate scientists who are pushing an agenda to make people give up their freedoms. Because, if no computer model can every prove anything, well, that changes everything.
After deciding no computer model can prove anything, the contributing author at Forbes goes on to discredit climate computer models, which, based on his previous argument is a complete waste of time.
So what do we know about the earth’s climate? Apparently, nothing. We don’t know what is really happening to the earth’s “climate”. Even if we did, we could not be sure why it was happening. And, we have no way of knowing whether the change was good or bad for mankind as a whole.
All our best efforts, brightest minds, and exact calculations, decades of study, decades of observation, all amount to a big fat goose egg. No one knows anything.
Wait, but then, why do “progressives” (who are the villain in this essay) keep pushing the coming climate catastrophe? In the world that Mr. Woodhill lives in, progressives pushing climate change want the world to surrender our freedom and move to a centrally planned world economy managed by experts, “just in case”. How could we be so wrong, so terribly anti-freedom, so blind to reality?
Two points about this: first, it’s not going to happen. The Progressives will have to content themselves with extracting a few billion dollars per year from taxpayers to fund cushy “research” and “advocacy” jobs, and to hold climate change conferences like the one that just concluded in Durban. Second, the climate change advocates obviously don’t believe in climate change themselves.
It’s so obvious. Well. I guess that settles it. It’s not real, and even those of us who think it is real KNOW it is not real. Easy-Peezy.
And now for the nail in the coffin. How does Mr. Woodhill know we believers don’t really believe it? Because we are unwilling to accept the wonderful potential of, wait for it…GEOENGINEERING!! Yes, that’s right. If we thought climate change was real, we would re-make the entire interactive nature of earth and its climate with technology! Because that is the real simple solution. Not, you know, changing human activity. It’s much simpler to alter the fundamental systems of nature!
Mr. Woodhill goes on, but I can’t go on. From here, contributing author to Forbes Loius Woodhill (remember, he has a BS in mechanical engineering, oh oh, it all comes together) goes on to sing the praises of geoengineering as a resolution to our problem that is not real, is not believed by people who believe it, is not proven by science, because science can’t prove anything, because the earth is complicated, because humans are incapable of understanding the change inherent in the universe.
The worst piece logic ever created, arguing for the most complicated and expensive resolution to a problem that apparently doesn’t exist. Congratulations, Mr. Woodhill. I didn’t think it possible.
Did you know that the best sporting event of the year was the Women’s World Cup? And the Lady Yanks were the team of the 2011? They put together an exciting, dramatic, beautiful run of soccer. And they electrified the country to support their cause: Women’s International Soccer. They played beautifully, and they played tough. And then to the heartbreak of a whole nation that found itself surprised by how much it cared, the US Women’s Soccer Team lost the World Cup final to Japan on an incredibly weak penalty kick showing.
The pressure must have been fantastically huge. The Japanese Women were the sentimental favorites of the entire world, and their victory is not undeserved. And yet this summer’s World Cup was truly one of the best things of 2011. It has left us with some indelible images and lovable reminders that these women are tough, excellent at their jobs, and so much fun.
Here are three highlights of the year’s best sporting event.
1. Megan Rapinoe.
Everyone fell in love with Megan Rapinoe. How could you not? She was the squad’s most resourceful player, and she had a beautiful cross that set up goal after goal. She was the most spirited, energizing character, and she had that hair. How iconic did her hair become? It inspired this t-shirt, from Nike.
I wear a men’s M if you are interested. I’d love to own one of these.
2. Alex Morgan’s goal scoring ability.
Alex Morgan scored a beautiful goal in the World Cup Final against Japan. Receiving a lovely long-ball from Rapinoe on a broken attack from the Japanese, Morgan laid a perfect shot into the far post, just out of reach of the Japanese keeper. It was a perfect strike.
But what lovers of soccer learned from this tournament is that Alex Morgan can score goals. The above goal against Japan was not Morgan’s best of the year. It was not even the best of the summer. The woman can score goals.
3. Abby Wambach is one tough cookie.
That Abby Wambach is a big, tough, player for the USWNT is no surprise if you watch the game. She is tall, she is muscular, and she gets her head on the ball and puts it in the net. It is just what she does.
Wambach, though, has taken her hits. And none could be worse than the qualifying match that the USWNT lost to Brazil back in November of 2010. In that match, Wambach went up to challenge for ball and took a shot to her eyebrow, which split her open. Amidst the rushing blood, the trainer stapled her face back together, and she played on. Because Abby Wambach is badass. (warning: there’s quite a lot of blood in the below video)
And this story has a happy ending, as Abby Wambach scored the latest goal in World Cup history against Brazil to bring the match to PK shootout, which the Lady Yanks won to give them a birth to the final.
If the US Women’s Team’s performance at this summer’s World Cup didn’t cause you immense joy, surprise, heartbreak, and simple love of country and sport, well, then you just weren’t paying attention.
There seems to have been little fanfare in recent weeks over a major accomplishment of President Obama, one that he claimed he would accomplish when he was candidate Obama, and one that the media hasn’t seemed particularly interested in covering, or at least delving into in terrible amounts of detail.
The Iraq War is over. Our troops are home from an engagement they shouldn’t have been involved in to begin with, and after 8 years, far too many lives lost, and countless dollars spent on a war that was started on false pretense in the first place, TRC says: Thanks, President Obama. This was a shitty year for US Politics, yet I’m glad our President is Barack Obama, and the end of the Iraq War deserves our praise.
It has been said that Candidate Barack Obama made promises that as president he could not deliver. That he portrayed himself as messianic, the savior of a nation in despair. Maybe. But when it comes to campaign promises, President Obama is actually doing pretty well, believe it or not. Many of the Obama promises were vague idealized notions around bringing change to Washington, or bringing people together, etc. And some were just failed promises. Because, hey, sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, the promises are that just laughable.
For example, Mitt Romney said: “What I can promise you is this – when you get out of college, if I’m president you’ll have a job. If President Obama is reelected, you will not be able to get a job.”
Really, Mitt Romney? If you are elected next fall you are going to find jobs for every college graduate in America? How many favors do you think you can call in? Do you know how many people graduate from college? A lot. This is right up there with that very achievable pledge Michelle Bachmann made to bring the price of gasoline down to$2. You got to love the presidential political campaign.
On the other hand, if Mitt Romney actually could find a job for every college graduate, well, he just might deserve to be elected. If not, well, he should heed the words that were delivered to Maverick after a daring landing: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”
How dire a position is the United States in, morally, philosophically, just in general? Is there a shortage of talent in the world, a shortage of great men and women who can buck up the nation and lead us out of despair and into a new post-economic recession era when money is not the only concern of our country and the future is one of unknown hopes and better lives for all? I think that’s a good question. One that is hard to answer, but at times, you just get a sense, one way or another.
To get a flavor for the day’s news, I often check the headlines as compiled by Real Clear Politics. One of today’s question headlines screams out a warning that America just might be in trouble.
I’m sorry. But if we can’t answer that question without the aid of our popular press, we are in deep shit.
This is the image from the Obama Family Christmas Card.
Granted. It’s kind of lame. I am sure Bo is a fine dog, and having him painted in a Christmas style room with a fire is quite warm and conducive to the feelings I am sure Obama wanted to inspire in his friends, family, and you known, bloggers and everyone who takes time to comment on the meaningless outflow of presidential paraphernalia.
Some people didn’t approve. For example, Sarah Palin. Apparently, Palin has polled Americans on their Christmas card preferences: Palin said a majority of Americans prefer “American foundational values illustrated and displayed on Christmas cards and on a Christmas tree.” With regard to the card, she added, “It’s just a different way of thinking coming out of the White House.”
I understand, Ms. Palin. So, from me to you, here is a Christmas card I hope you will like.
I spend a lot of time reading about environmental legislation and policy-making. A lot of time. And often, that time is spent closer to despair than joy, seeing how big the task ahead of humanity is, and how easily that task is derailed by something as trivial as politics. So we should celebrate our success.
Thus, Congrats to the Lisa Jackson and the EPA on finalizing the Mercury and Air Toxics emissions rule for coal plants. There might be money to be spent as a result, but literally thousands of lives will be saved because of this rule. Billions of dollars will be saved in medical costs, and the quality of life will be better for millions and millions of people alive today and yet to be born. It is a real accomplishment for our and the planet’s future.
See David Roberts for a nice piece on the new rule.
This one is a Big Deal. It’s worth lifting our heads out of the news cycle and taking a moment to appreciate that history is being made. Finally controlling mercury and toxics will be an advance on par with getting lead out of gasoline. It will save save tens of thousands of lives every year and prevent birth defects, learning disabilities, and respiratory diseases. It will make America a more decent, just, and humane place to live.