27 April 2008

crime and guns and stuff

The writer of this article from the BBC (via instapundit) seems to find it paradoxical that that the US - with it's legal guns and high rate of homicide - feels safer than the UK where guns are banned. Statistics showing the burglary rate for various countries might be relevant. The US sits at No. 17 on the list with a rate of 7 per 1000 people - well below the UK at No. 7 (13/1000) or No. 1 Australia with a staggering  21 burglaries per 1000. (Let me add now that I haven't vetted the site providing the stats, so consider the source)

It's true that our murder rate is higher than the UK's - 4 per 100,000 people (3.6 using guns) vs. the UK's 1 per 100,000. Hey that's 4 times the UK rate, it's 400% higher. That's what you'd see in the headlines, but look at the numbers 1/100,000 vs. 4/100,000. That's not much real difference, certainly not compared to the burglary rates.

Guns are dangerous - no question about it. And tragic accidents happen with guns all too often. And they always make the headlines.

Unfortunately, it's also true that there are bad people in the world. Guns provide a way for 'regular' people to defend themselves and their loved ones regardless of age or physical condition. They are equalizers. Criminals in the US have to consider the real possibility that anyone they might decide to rob may have a gun.

23 April 2008

food into fuel

Does anyone take ethanol seriously as a fuel? As a replacement for petroleum? It just seems so obviously a political move to give money to farmers for pure political gain. It seems like such an obviously bad idea that it's hard to imagine how anyone could take it seriously.

And I know Prof. Reynolds is keen on using non-food biofuels like switch grass - whatever that is - which at least has the advantage of not taking grain out of our food supply. But I just don't see ethanol as a viable replacement. I think going electric makes more sense. I thought his advocacy to build more nucular plants for plug in cars was a better idea. If the French can manage to not screw up nuclear then we ought to have a fighting chance.

You mean natural processes also increase carbon ...

how can this be?

That was quick

Global Warming is over. Here comes the ice. And there's more to fear from global cooling than from global warming.
Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it.

Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.

 And more chilling, still: (punny, huh?)

The bleak truth is that, under normal conditions, most of North America and Europe are buried under about 1.5km of ice. This bitterly frigid climate is interrupted occasionally by brief warm interglacials, typically lasting less than 10,000 years.

The interglacial we have enjoyed throughout recorded human history, called the Holocene, began 11,000 years ago, so the ice is overdue. We also know that glaciation can occur quickly: the required decline in global temperature is about 12C and it can happen in 20 years.

The next descent into an ice age is inevitable but may not happen for another 1000 years. On the other hand, it must be noted that the cooling in 2007 was even faster than in typical glacial transitions. If it continued for 20 years, the temperature would be 14C cooler in 2027.

I don't really like the sound of any of that. We need to boost our carbon dioxide output immediately.

22 April 2008

I don't like the sound of

this. China selling counterfeit Cisco equipment to government agencies. Somebody call Tom Clancy.

21 April 2008


Stephen Hawking is an interesting person, and I admire him. This quote, however, disturbs me a bit:
I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
  - Stephen Hawking
I guess I still have a little more faith in Man and I don't think he's evil. I'm a little sad that Hawking apparently does.

17 April 2008

Wikipedia not to be trusted on global warming

This article chronicles one writers experience trying to edit an article on Wikipedia that suggests that some scientists might not agree that global warming is proven from a scientific standpoint.

02 April 2008

Sounds good to me ...

real lifestyles of the interesting and brilliant.

Really, it does sound good, I just don't think my boss will go for it. It's fine for world leaders and self-employed composers. Who's going to tell them they're 'wasting time' or 'not getting enough done'? Seriously.