Month: May 2013

Angelina Jolie and a brave, terrifying decision

Dice (representing probability)
At what odds would you want someone second-guessing you?

Subjective rant in 3…2…

This one’s for those with opinions about Angelina Jolie’s boobs, especially those who don’t have ’em. Sadly, it seems even some women don’t get this. Generally, I couldn’t give less of a crap about celebrity anything, but I’ve got a soft spot for her. I respect her for the difficult decision she made. I mean, seriously…you think it was an easy decision? Step into her mind for a moment (at least as I imagine it…you might imagine it differently).

“Hey, there’s this part of me I’ve been fretting about since I was a pimple-faced kid, that society says is more important than my brains, talent, or character, that I get judged by more often than not, and that, when dealing with men, probably has a huge effect on how much money I make, and when dealing with women probably causes all kinds of catty unspoken criticisms for being either too big or not big enough or being the real cause of any success I have, like *I* didn’t have anything to do with it. Oh, and it’s surgery, so this shit is gonna hurt. And I’ll never get to see myself in the mirror again like I used to. And I might have to second-guess whether I’m more important than my boobs to a guy who could have his pick of other women.”

Other than that? It’s none of my damned business. I know this, though. If a doctor said I’ve got a significant chance of being killed by crotch cancer, and we agree on the essence of significant, that shit’s coming off. My manhood and my humanity are defined by who I am and what I show everyone, not by a bit of extra meat-baggage. Would I be scared and probably have issues forever? Sure. But I’d be alive to have those issues. As for anyone that dared to fucking[1] question that decision?  That’s the moment that person stops mattering even a little.

[1] Any question, even hypothetical, of my possible castration or anything approximating it merits an f-bomb in my book.  If there were an even worse word to use for amplification, I’d use it.

Here’s Rosalarian‘s take on the matter.

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Image credit: John Morgan.  Licensed under Creative Commons.

UPDATED: Why do liberals hate science?

That is…

Shikha Dalmia at Reason.com had a few things to say about liberals and their penchant for ignoring inconvenient evidence in an article entitled, “The Myth of the Scientific Liberal.” Since part of the subject matter involves climate disruption, I’m sure Brian Angliss would ordinarily have much of weight and merit to contribute, but alas, time is short and even Superman can only save one world at a time. So I’ll be pinch-hitting, if only to shine a little light on Reason’s oxymoronic dereliction of integrity.

From Dalmia’s unfortunate lapse of reason:

For two decades, progressives have castigated those questioning global warming as “deniers.”

But the Economist, once firmly in the alarmist camp, recently acknowledged that global temperatures have remained stagnant for 15 years even as greenhouse-gas emissions have soared.

This may be because existing models have overestimated the planet’s sensitivity. Or because the heat generated is sinking to the ocean bottom. Or because of something else completely.

How should a scientifically inclined liberal react to this trend? By inhaling deeply and backing off on economy-busting mitigation measures till science offers clearer answers.

For starters, I’d like to share a little tradition I picked up from Wikipedia: [citation needed]

Why? Well, good lucking finding that reference in The Economist. If you have better luck with the search, by all means please share a link. A domain-restricted Google search for stagnant, further limited to results from the last year since Dalmia claims the acknowledgment is recent, turned up nothing useful. A search of The Economist for articles on climate change disruption actually turned up a piece far more favorable to the overwhelming evidence for anthropogenic climate disruption. The closest thing I could find was a page of comments by one Mogumbo Gono, who, from what I can tell, isn’t actually affiliated with The Economist. Just who is Mogumbo Gono? Your guess is perhaps better than mine. My guess is just some person, at best, one that has registered to comment at a lot of websites, e.g., The Blaze. Make of it what you will.

A single, solitary reference would go far to substantiating Dalmia’s claim.

Secondly, Dalmia might want to look up cherry-picking.

Thirdly, Dalmia might want to look up single-study syndrome.

Perhaps the question isn’t, “Why do liberals hate science?” Maybe it should be, “Why does Reason hate rationality?”

Granted, I’m perhaps a rank amateur when it comes to critical thinking, but isn’t there something absurd about re-branding reason with this kind of nonsense? What other errors can you spot in Dalmia’s exercise in logical fallacy?

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Update

Thanks to Sam (in comments), we now have a link to the Economist article in question, “A Sensitive Matter.”  I apologize for my earlier sloppiness in not catching it. Sure enough, insofar as this may well be the article referenced by Dalmia, the first graf reads:

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

This might just solve the [citation needed] quandary. Of course, it does nothing to dispel my dismay at the presence of no less than two serious logical fallacies (cherry-picking and single-source syndrome) in Dalmia’s piece, especially since they serve to make the case that it’s the liberals who are intellectually dishonest on the issue.

But it gets so much better than this! As I understand it, Dr. Hansen is held in high esteem for his extensive work in climate science (thank you once again, Brian, for making such a wealth of information readily available). So when his words appear in what might be a truncated quotation out of context, I can’t resist the siren call of Google. Surely, if this is a verbatim quote I should be able to find something that will ease my perplexity. Neither Google nor Dr. Hansen disappoint.

Lo and behold, in Despite Rising Carbon Emissions – Global Mean Temperatures Have Been Flat, by Phil Covington at TriplePundit, we find:

In fact, the quote above which appeared in The Economist is actually incomplete. Hansen’s report actually says, “The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of net climate forcing.”

Then, after a brief explanation of climate forcing, Covington continues:

The Hansen report concludes that despite the slowdown in climate forcing effects, background global warming is continuing. The report says the 5-year running mean global temperatures may largely be a consequence of the first half of the past decade having predominantly El Niño (warming) conditions, while the second half had predominantly La Niña (cooling) conditions. The report also notes we have been in a period of a prolonged solar minimum – in turn having a cooling effect.

In addition, and this is important, the report points out that even though an observed flattening of temperatures has occurred, the “standstill” temperature is nonetheless at a much higher level than existed at any year in the prior decade except for 1998 (a strong El Niño year). Bottom line; the planet is still hotter.

It is therefore dangerous and incorrect to conclude that recent flattening of surface temperatures means climate change is over. Furthermore, the short period of observed temperature flattening is hardly a significant time scale in order to signify a change in trend. The University of Reading study (mentioned previously), shows actual temperatures are clearly trending in an upward direction since 1950 when their data begins. [emphasis added]

What’s the tally now? Dalmia at Reason engages in argument from authority by relying on the credibility of The Economist to make her point.  By failing to adequately cite, she also, unintentionally or otherwise, obscured the failings of the source. Then it turns out that The Economist starts out strong with a misrepresentation of Hansen’s analysis, which Dalmia either failed to catch or just failed to pass along for consideration. Whatever other flaws or merits The Economist exhibits, what remains is that Reason can’t seem to be trusted to reason when it comes to politically inconvenient facts.

If Reason’s credibility can be so easily brought into question on this one issue, on exactly what can they be trusted as a resource?

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Image credit: Daniel Lobo. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Quick! OMG! Hurry! Tomorrow’s the second Sunday of May!

Rose
A rose by any other name

To better prepare readers of The Atlantic for appropriate ways to observe Mother’s Day, Nicole Russell, in an article captioned “[t]he second Sunday of May is a source of frustration and disappointment for men and women alike,” shares a little history and some pointers.

Yet, somehow, she managed to contribute to the disappointment by including this little zinger in her closing:

“Most moms would rather have dad take the kids on a walk so she can prepare dinner in peace…”

For all I agree with the anti-consumerist argument she makes, was this really the right time to suggest moms get back in the kitchen to make dinner?

*facepalm*

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Image credit: Candie_N.  Licensed under Creative Commons.