31 January 2009

Former NASA Climatology Chief Puts the Chill on Global Warming

I realize my posts have been more news-related lately, which is definitely not where I plan to continue going with this blog, but there has been some juicy stuff of late that just screams to be shared.

The latest is a public rebuke of James Hansen, the NASA scientist first responsible for breaking the man-made climate change scenario to Congress in 1988, by Dr. John Theon, his former supervisor. Hansen has been very radical and very vocal in his advocacy, but some inconvenient developments have begun to swing the prevailing winds in another direction.
“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results.”
Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,” he added.
Hansen was a noted authority in Gore's acclaimed film, "An Inconvenient Truth."
Gore faces a much different scientific climate in 2009 than the one he faced in 2006 when his film was released. According to satellite data, the Earth has cooled since Gore’s film was released, Antarctic sea ice extent has grown to record levels, sea level rise has slowed, ocean temperatures have failed to warm, and more and more scientists have publicly declared their dissent from man-made climate fears as peer-reviewed studies continue to man-made counter warming fears.
Read all this and more over at Watts Up With That.


An outstanding opinion piece by actor Gary Graham is up over at Big Hollywood. He details his own irresponsibility as a college-educated free love revolutionary and the convenience of abortion for the women he kept on the side.
I had bought the whole ‘women’s rights’ thing, completely agreed with ‘the constitutional right of a woman’s freedom to choose’…and I was just fine with that. Sure took the pressure off of me, a guy, interested in sex who had been raised in the era of, “Hey, you get a girl pregnant, you marry her!” But times had changed. Now abortions could be had legally if a doctor determined the life of the mother was in danger. Girls in college told me what a joke that was. They’d go in to see a doctor, tell him they’re pregnant, and the conversation went like this:

Doctor: “You’re feeling suicidal?” (hint hint, wink nudge.)

Girl: “Oh. Yeah… suicidal. I’m feeling suicidal.”

Doctor: “All right, then.”

Abortion as a method of birth control became the norm. I knew a few girls who had had as many as five of them by the time they were twenty-five. And they seemed fine on it…mostly because everyone around them was telling them that they should feel fine about it.


Jump forward thirty years and Nancy Pelosi tells us yesterday that ‘family planning’ is now a fiscal responsibility to ‘reduce costs.’ Her defenders will say that NO, she’s talking about condoms and sex education. But anyone with a mind who’s been around for a while knows that ‘family planning’ is code for abortion. She is asking for 200 million dollars for Family Planning Services to ‘expand the economy.’ These are taxpayer dollars, dontcha know. Your money. She says states are in terrible fiscal crisis and it’s ‘part of what we do for childrens’ health and education’…” I’m trying to figure out how ripping an unborn child from it’s womb is aiding in it’s health or education, but maybe I’m missing something here.


Our willingness to tolerate such a holocaust says volumes of how our entire culture has been coarsened. How life itself has been cheapened. We are told to have sex any time we feel the urge. Condoms are handed out in grade schools. Promiscuity is not only condoned, it’s tacitly encouraged. Illegitimacy has enslaved an entire underclass of our citizens, relegating them to government assistance for a lifetime, bankrupting cities, and holding an entire subculture down in dependent despair. But if you should get pregnant and it’s just not a ‘convenient’ time for you, don’t worry, there are Family Planning Services, funded, thanks to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, by your tax dollars. That inconvenient fetus can be surgically ripped from its uterine moorings, ground up and tossed into the trash like so much garbage. Problem solved, and the mother can resume her egocentric lifestyle. But the scars on that woman’s soul will never quite heal. I’m a man, but I’ve got them on mine.

If you could only imagine the difficulty these opinions will cause this man as a part of Hollywood. It's a good reminder that our prayers, which seem to be launched into the silence, never to surface again, find their way to their appointed place. Keep them coming.

(Via Church of the Masses)

22 January 2009

Oh My Goodness.

Thanks be to Change.

The Daily Show is On To Something.

21 January 2009

Free Lecture!

Enthusiasts of the Norwegian author Sigrid Undset will enjoy a short lecture by Bernt Ivar Eidsvig, Bishop of Oslo, delivered at my alma mater in November of this past year. The download, a .zip file containing eight .mp3 files, can be found at the link below until the 28th of January. After that, you will need to contact me directly with your email address and I will re-post the file.


Please post your thoughts in the comments box below by clicking on the "__ comments" link. I hope to have a post up soon.

07 January 2009

Reality Is Not Episodic

It's recently become clear to me why television is boring.

Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death has gotten me thinking about television and in what ways it's affecting culture. He traces the shift in public discourse over the years in which the printed word was the sole medium available, through the rise in the telegraph, to the present day in which the medium of TV has gained ascendancy (the book was written in the mid-80s so I would imagine he'd have something to say about the internet … especially bloggers). His motivation in writing is simply this: television has become an uncritically accepted reality in our world. Why is that, and how did it happen?

I'll leave a treatment of that question to a later post, but I'm going to go ahead and tell you why television bores me.

Most television shows operate on a formula that has been proven to attract viewers, fit within given limits imposed by the medium, and provide opportunities for the insertion of lucrative advertising. This formula runs something like this:

1 Situation
2 Conflict / unknown is introduced
3 Situation is thereby altered
4 Process of repair / reconstruction / discovery
5 Situation is restored.

1 and 5 are the entry and exit points for the show. They must be identical in order to allow the next episode to pick up at essentially the same situation. 2-4 are the "raw material" in which characters are revealed and developed. Because of the nature of the medium, no conflict or unknown can be introduced that cannot be resolved in 22 or 46 minutes (the actual viewing time of a half-hour or one hour show after commercials are removed). The exception to this is the season finale, in which one is allowed to leave the audience hanging for the season premiere to follow some months later. Any tension, ambiguity, or confusion must not persist beyond when the credits begin to roll. If more consequential or complex material is included (say, a developing romance between main characters), it is unfolded in manageable chunks, and sufficient innuendos are placed so as to draw the regular viewer into the mounting tension that in all likelihood will be satisfactorily resolved.

Characters, to the degree that they have any interior life at all, do not reflect on a given conflict / unknown beyond the time constraints of an episode (think Doogie Howser's diary). This reflection is rarely carried out in a sustained fashion, and is tolerated only to the degree that it advances the process of repair / reconstruction / discovery. Characters do not advance in age or wisdom unless they have the misfortune of being children, in which case writers come up with appropriately altered conflicts / unknowns commensurate with the unavoidable physical development in their actors.

Depending on the nature and genre of the show, the details change, but the basic format stays the same. It's discernible in some way, shape, or form in every other entertainment show out there, whether past or present. The fact that certain shows currently deviate slightly from this formula (Battlestar Galactica, Lost, etc.) and have received great acclaim is the exception that proves the rule.

What bores me about this is not just the repetitive structure, but the incredibly narrow slice of dramatic material available for treatment in this 22/46 minute window. Someone gets fired, someone gets restless, someone finds a dead body, someone wants to have sex with someone else, someone gets in trouble at school, someone buys a motorcycle, etc. etc. Nothing's inherently wrong with this way of packaging entertainment. I suppose on some level it's perfectly legitimate. But at what point do we lose contact with the bigger things? I happen to be blessed to live in a community that spends very little time (relatively speaking) watching TV; what about the rest of the world? Television is so fundamental a right that the government is subsidizing the transition from analog to digital signals by offering to purchase receivers for those who cannot afford to buy them. There is no one too poor not to have television!

It's not too far of a stretch to say that most of the world lives in the world of television, and takes it utterly for granted. Specifically, our entertainment has been so restricted to television and movies that it's hard to think of a popular form of entertainment that has not been affected by it in some way. Even pop fiction is written and published with the above format in mind (think of the reactions to The DaVinci Code, and how few of the chapters were more than a page or three long).

Some might say that all the above criticisms are precisely why television is so enjoyable: ready-made, easily digestible packets of entertainment and escape that are always ready for a quick excursion from the humdrum of daily life. Who says entertainment is supposed to be something that takes work? Why can't it be a good thing to sit back and rest the mind for an hour or two with some old, familiar faces?

The point isn't so much about "unwinding" or not, but the question of whether we are still capable of being stretched beyond facile and insipid approaches to human existence. "Sure," Mike Teavee chirps in between clicks of the remote. "I just don't want my TV doing it for me."

A man wiser than I interjects, "We all build our castles in the air, Mike. The problem is when we try to live in them."

Great fiction shows us not how to conduct our behavior but how to feel. Eventually, it may show us how to face our feelings and face our actions and to have new inklings about what they mean.
Eudora Welty