Monday, March 27, 2006

Climate change, hot air or hot air?

I am concerned about what I've read and heard about global warming, the greenhouse effect, climate change, and whatever else it's called. I'm beginning to question why I believe that it's happening and if human activity is involved. In order to have a meaningful understanding of it, apparantly I have to be able to understand hundreds of pages of writing such as this:

Any human-induced changes in climate will be embedded in a
background of natural climatic variations that occur on a whole
range of time- and space-scales. Climate variability can occur as a
result of natural changes in the forcing of the climate system, for
example variations in the strength of the incoming solar radiation
and changes in the concentrations of aerosols arising from volcanic
eruptions. Natural climate variations can also occur in the absence
of a change in external forcing, as a result of complex interactions
between components of the climate system, such as the coupling
between the atmosphere and ocean. The El Niño-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is an example of such natural
“internal” variability on interannual time-scales. To distinguish
anthropogenic climate changes from natural variations, it is necessary
to identify the anthropogenic “signal” against the background
“noise” of natural climate variability.


From the minimal research I've done, it appears that those who say climate change is happening and human activity is involved appear more credible than those who do not believe it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Clarification and various thoughts

I didn't take the time to look up collectivism, and instead chose to use my own definition. See the exchange here and here for background. Now that I have a well written definition, I must humbly bow out of those exchanges and move on to exploring my own ideas, and return to the goal of this blog. Thank you Leondias for taking the time to speak thoughtfully with me.

A brief note on my background and intentions. I have limited education, and have done minimal nonfiction reading (at least of a political/sociological nature). I have a lazy habit of not looking up words I don't know, and instead guess at the meaning in context, and have I suppose created my own argot, though it's not a secret vocabulary, and I'm the only one who uses it. My goal is to explore my own thoughts, dreams, and ideas, to compose a description of the world from my own perception, imagination, and viewpoint. I enjoy logically sound exchanges with other bloggers because it helps me improve my communication skills, makes me aware of my misperceptions, and it's fun, staves off loneliness (except when it makes it worse). I can't stand discussion riddled with fallacies. My contributions are constructs of my own mind built with borrowed and stolen ideas, but I'm fully committed to seeking to reveal truth. What does that mean? Well, I think I have a new goal for this post.

What is the truth, and how can we speak of it? How can I resist the parable of the blind men and the elephant:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

We post on these blogs our responses to something we read or hear, or there's that crew that seem to only comment on another blogger's posts. Fred keeps his blog focused by expressing a libertartian view on local issues, and he's willing to concede a point, giving (at least the appearance) that he's interested in meaningful dialogue. We post, but what are we accomplishing? What do we reveal? I would like to perceive the truth, and discuss with others who share that goal.

From the Tao te Ching:

The tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.

What is truth? I like the archaic definition: "sincerity in action, character, and utterance," but the truth I seek in blogging is: "the body of real things, events, and facts." That is difficult to achieve when we're discussing political policy such as campaign finance. Should local candidates be allowed to receive donations from nonlocal source? What are the pros and cons of the issue? I have a strong opinion, but it's not based on a researched understanding. I absolutely favor allowing "outside" donations into our local elections. My reasoning is, this is a poor county, and we could really use the money. I'm not too concerned with some rich out of town entity buying our local representatives because I think there's enough voters here that see it similiar to me. If somebody from out of town is spending a lot of money on one side of an issue, that's usually enough reason for me to vote the other way. Ah but I digress. What is the truth of campaign finance? The truth isn't necessarily in that issue. The truth lies in the reasons for the existence of government (I love that phrase, "the truth lies"). Before one can venture a meaningful opinion on whether the candidates for District Attorney should be allowed to accept donations from out of town sources, one must understand the need for the DA, and understand what kind of person is needed to maximize the quality of the office as it currently stands. By meaningful opinion, I mean one that rightfully addresses the truth of the situation. Is the office of the DA faithfully executing the duties of representing the people in prosecuting law breakers in a cost effective manner? What improvements could be made and who is most likely to implement those improvements? Does a candidate have sufficient ethical development to carry out the duties with integrity? The issue of campaign finance only plays a part if the voters base their decision on who spent the most money. It can also play a part if the cost of running prevents any but an elite few from having a chance at winning office, but I don't see that as the case in our local elections.

I've taken on to broad a subject and have wandered off this trail and that. To bring this post to a close, I refer back to the quote from the Tao te Ching. Although the eternal nature of truth prevents us from fully grasping it, there is still value in seeking reveal it in discussion. I wonder where my head will be next time I sit down to post. Now it is time to be a father.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Duality models, false dilemmas, human nature

Leondias posted this comment on my other blog:

"The human race divides politically into those who want people to be
controlled and those who have no such desire." Robert Heinlein


Which was a continuation of the comments on Fred's Blog

Models can aid in facilitating discussion of an issue, in this case, the political spectrum. But a model is not the reality, and extrapolation isn't always valid. A duality model, such as left/right, individualist/collectivist can give some insight into a single issue. That's what Fred was doing, giving his position on various issues, liberal on same sex marriage, conservative on forestry practices, etc. The duality model breaks down when applied to multiple issues, as Fred illustrated. It becomes a false dilemma, which is what the Heinlen quote above is. If those are my only two choices, the two horns of the bull, controlling people or not, then I choose the third option: throw the bull out. There are issues where I think the collective should exercise control on the individual, and other issues where the individual's choice should take precedent. On abortion, I firmly believe in the individual's choice. On pollution, the collective need should override the individual's freedom; if you're car is burning oil and leaving a blue plume trail, get it fixed or off the road. If I'm waving my freak flag and banging my guitar and lambasting establishment, be entertained or leave me alone. But if I'm delusionally paranoid and suicidal, please 5150 me. When I come down, I'll be glad to be alive.

A good friend used for the thesis of his final essay on human nature for sociology the following. "Humans, by nature, are diverse." Duality models have their use, but please don't diminish the richness of our diversity by simplifying everything with either/or mentality. At the very least, it makes for boring dialogue.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My apathy continues

I saw the headline that South Dakato has banned abortion. With Alito on the Supreme Court, looks like the anti-abortion interests are setting the stage to outlaw abortion. I can't even muster the gumption to express my disgust at the impratical minds that believe that banning abortion will improve the world. The rich get richer, the poor get superstitious, and the middle watch fear factor. The machine grinds on spewing forth bits of bone and brain flesh. My finger raises half up half heartedly, obscured by the exhaust.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I will rule the world

I picked up a paper for the first time in a long time (other than to do the crossword, the jumble, or read the comics). It was a Lumberjack. There was a question they asked several students and printed their responses. The question was, “what is your diabolic plan to take over the world?” Here’s my response:

I would acquire a company that profited from war to generate capital. I would engage in covert activities to perpetuate war. I would use the capital to acquire property rights or political control of as many of the world’s freshwater sources as possible. I would also purchase and expand business activities that perpetuate global warming. I would aggressively squash efforts to develop desalination technology. As the freshwater supply dwindles due to ice melting, I would control the world. The only thing more fundamental than water is air.