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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An Inconvenient Lie

We saw this AP article in the Lincoln Journal Star today under the ridiculous title "Scientists Give Gore Film Five Stars for Accuracy." This sloppy, pseudo-journalistic paen to Algore's glorified PowerPoint presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, is nicely debunked by SperoNews. See also this (subscription only link) WSJ column by Richard Linzen, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.

Here are just a few paragraphs from this Inconvenient Lie:
The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Blah. Blah. Blah. An Algore lovefest followed.

This "study" has a huge problem with sampling. So they contacted "more than 100 top climate scientists," of which only 19 had seen the film. We're betting none of these people's minds was changed by the film, and none of them heard anything they hadn't heard before. Furthermore, scientists who agree with Gore's position are much more likely to be interested in watching such a film than those who don't. Or, to put it another way, scientists who view Algore as an opportunistic, fearmongering idiot are likely to choose not to see his film.

It was necessary to read the article very carefully to find any of the criticisms:
One concern was about the connection between hurricanes and global warming. That is a subject of a heated debate in the science community. Gore cited five recent scientific studies to support his view. "I thought the use of imagery from Hurricane Katrina was inappropriate and unnecessary in this regard, as there are plenty of disturbing impacts associated with global warming for which there is much greater scientific consensus," said Brian Soden, a University of Miami professor of meteorology and oceanography.

Some scientists said Gore confused his ice sheets when he said the effect of the Clean Air Act is noticeable in the Antarctic ice core; it is the Greenland ice core. Others thought Gore oversimplified the causal-link between the key greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and rising temperatures.
Of course the last sentence above is the big enchilada. The "causal-link" between so-called greenhouse gases and rising temperatures is simply not established. In other words there is no proof as to what role, if any, these gases play in the climate change that is currently occuring. There simply is no scientific concensus on this critical point, no matter how many times Algore and his fellow travelers try to claim there is.

Interestingly, even this mild-mannered, one-sentence concession to truthful reporting doesn't appear in many versions of the article we found online (e.g. here and here). Talk about an Inconvenient Truth.

UPDATE: The Lindzen article from the WSJ is now available on the free site. Reader Ransom provides this link to another excellent article from Lindzen.

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Lincoln Property Taxes and Spending

On Saturday, Lincoln Mayor Coleen Seng unveiled her new budget proposal for the city. As predicted, she aims to keep all the windfall revenue from the revaluation. The Lincoln Journal Star reports:
Mayor Coleen Seng has proposed what she calls a low-calorie municipal budget, although it relies on a healthy dose of extra property tax revenue resulting from the county assessor's recent revaluation. Seng said the city is like one big family that has to live within its means."This no-frills budget meets the minimum daily needs but won't satisfy anyone's appetite for full services," the mayor said in a news release.

Her budget proposal would leave the city property tax rate alone, allowing the city to collect an estimated $5 million more because the property it taxes will be worth more.

That allows the mayor to say she didn't raise property taxes, even though most property owners would pay more.
Well, sure... she's "allowed" to say that. It's a free country. That doesn't make it true, of course. Sure property taxes will be going up $5 million, but she didn't raise them. This is a "no-frills budget" that "won't satisfy anyone's appetite." We wonder if the mayor is polishing up her act for a standup comedy tour when her term is (finally) up. We're just "one big family that has to live within its means." Why do we think Mayor Seng is playing the role of our deadbeat cousin looking to borrow some money to start a business raising chinchillas?

Meanwhile, the City Council is realizing that no one is buying this "not a tax increase" tax increase. Even a majority of the Democrats are getting cold feet on the mayor's spending plans:
During her “State of the City” speech Monday, Mayor Coleen Seng sent a message to City Council members abandoning previous inclinations to use new, higher property values to buttress the budget: Don’t cut and run.

The mayor said during budget meetings earlier this year, most council members indicated they’d support using the higher valuations to balance the city’s 2006-2007 budget.

But their support has eroded since the new property values were released late last month.
She actually said, "cut and run." Where did she get the idea Democrats would do that? Is she questioning their patriotism?

A "key" project in this "low-calorie" budget is a $2.1 million subsidy to lure a new HyVee supermarket to the middle of town at 48th and O. Well, it's not actually a "new" one, because HyVee will be closing another (somewhat smaller) store at 70th and O. It's argued that the real subsidy is "only" $752,000, and much of the rest is for storm sewer and street repair projects for the area that need to be done anyway.

The mayor has designated the 48th and O area as "blighted," and this is part of her plan to relocate some of the blight out to 70th and O.

The mayor recently quashed the development deal that would have put a new WalMart in NE Lincoln without requiring any subsidy from the city. She doesn't like WalMart, whatever WalMart customers may think, and doesn't want any more of its kind around here.

Gunscribe Makes Lincoln Journal Star

Fellow Lincolnite, Gunscribe, made his point in dramatic fashion this week. As reported in the Lincoln Journal Star:
Tim Tyrrell Sr. went to the City Council meeting on Monday with a loaded 40-caliber Glock handgun on his hip. And that's perfectly legal. Until now, council members haven't been concerned enough about their safety to ban anything other than cell phones from the council chambers.Even though plenty of angry citizens march down to city hall on a regular basis, there are no metal detectors at the door; no signs asking people to leave their guns at home.

Tyrrell was trying to make a point about the concealed weapons ban on the council agenda: Even if Mayor Coleen Seng's proposed ban were to pass, nothing would prevent people from carrying around unconcealed weapons. (He did not testify at the meeting; the council won't have a public hearing on Seng's proposal until July 31.)
The author of the article, which doesn't use the word "wazoo," is Deena Winter. She also mentions Gunscribe's blog, From the Heartland, by name, although she doesn't give the URL. The page with the article also has a picture of Deena, but not her wazoo.

Gunscribe also notified Lincoln Police Chief Tom Cassidy in advance that he would be bringing his gun to the City Council meeting, just so there would be no panic. It's a good, balanced article.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Viet Vets Memorial
My friend, Joy Kovar, took this beautiful picture of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Thanks, Joy, for permitting me to post it here.

She was using it as the wallpaper on her computer desktop, and it's quite striking in that mode. The small width available here doesn't really do it justice. If you click on the picture you can see a somewhat larger version on Flickr.

I've been to the memorial half a dozen times now. It's such a powerful site, and I still get choked up when I visit it. I didn't lose anyone close to me in the Vietnam War. I don't have any specific names to look for when I'm there at the wall. In a way, though, being there makes me feel connected to everyone listed and their families.