“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Musharraf may not be the only one in trouble

While looking for some news story which would explain the sudden pessimism over Afghanistan, I found something pretty darn outrageous.
Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist

· Testimony to US Congress will also criticise lobbyists
· 'Revolutionary' policies needed to tackle crisis

* Ed Pilkington in New York
* The Guardian,
* Monday June 23, 2008

James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech (pdf) to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."

He is also considering personally targeting members of Congress who have a poor track record on climate change in the coming November elections. He will campaign to have several of them unseated. Hansen's speech to Congress on June 23 1988 is seen as a seminal moment in bringing the threat of global warming to the public's attention. At a time when most scientists were still hesitant to speak out, he said the evidence of the greenhouse gas effect was 99% certain, adding "it is time to stop waffling".

He will tell the House select committee on energy independence and global warming this afternoon that he is now 99% certain that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has already risen beyond the safe level.

The current concentration is 385 parts per million and is rising by 2ppm a year. Hansen, who heads Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, says 2009 will be a crucial year, with a new US president and talks on how to follow the Kyoto agreement.

He wants to see a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, coupled with the creation of a huge grid of low-loss electric power lines buried under ground and spread across America, in order to give wind and solar power a chance of competing. "The new US president would have to take the initiative analogous to Kennedy's decision to go to the moon."

His sharpest words are reserved for the special interests he blames for public confusion about the nature of the global warming threat. "The problem is not political will, it's the alligator shoes - the lobbyists. It's the fact that money talks in Washington, and that democracy is not working the way it's intended to work."

A group seeking to increase pressure on international leaders is launching a campaign today called It is taking out full-page adverts in papers such as the New York Times and the Swedish Falukuriren calling for the target level of CO2 to be lowered to 350ppm. The advert has been backed by 150 signatories, including Hansen.
I told you... Pogroms....


  1. Speaking in Fresno, Calif., White House hopeful McCain said he wants to create a $300 million prize for an automotive battery “that has the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” Critics are already calling the prize a “gimmick,” likening it to McCain’s proposed gas tax holiday.


    The next president will have to lead the nation’s fight to mitigate global warming lest it truly become too late, said NASA climatologist James Hansen in his testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming today. Hansen also accused big oil execs of high crimes against humanity.


    And in an op-ed, NYT columnist Thomas Friedman offers up what he believes should be the next president’s energy policy:

    Oil is poisoning our climate and our geopolitics, and here is how we’re going to break our addiction: We’re going to set a floor price of $4.50 a gallon for gasoline and $100 a barrel for oil. And that floor price is going to trigger massive investments in renewable energy — particularly wind, solar panels and solar thermal.

    Oil Rants

  2. … accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

    This is a subtlety false analogy.

    I can’t go the distance on this one but I can draw the outline. The field of statistical epidemiology for defining the relationship between disease and specific populations is well developed and based on rather long history. From wiki:

    The work of communicable and non-communicable disease epidemiologists ranges from outbreak investigation to study design, data collection and analysis including the development of statistical models to test hypotheses and the documentation of results for submission to peer-reviewed journals. Epidemiologists may draw on a number of other scientific disciplines such as biology in understanding disease processes and social science disciplines including sociology and philosophy in order to better understand proximate and distal risk factors.

    It is complicated but correlation and risk envelopes can be achieved with identified risk factors.

    The simulation models used to support the global warming thesis are vastly more complicated. Just think about it. These models have to span 3-dimensional space plus time and they have to integrate physics, chemistry, and biology using mathematical relationships. The relationships are derived in part from theory and in part from analysis of empirical data - in other words measured data.

    Each data set must cover an appropriate time frame at intervals that capture variations determined to be of significance, each data set must be taken at proper and compatible elevations - ground data must be supplemented with atmospheric data to properly define the gradients. The data sets must be tested for statistical anomalies and missing records must be artificially created. Preparing a data set for statistical modeling is a very big deal. Preparing multiple data sets for some more complicated form of contingent Bayesian analysis (given A,B,C, then D,E,F) is very complicated.

    Most recent technical objections are the omission of the “Little Ice Age” from the period of temperature record and the [alleged] corruption of surface data sets.

    This subject earned - earned - my enduring scorn by the arrogant and cavalier response of the technical academic community to Bjorn Lomborg’s critique. It was as sorry an expression of insular and claustrophic wagon-circling by alleged scientists that I have seen since the tobacco days.

    If the science is valid, then shine a spotlight on it. I am not qualified to perform a review but somebody like Lomborg is. I do not accept the “independence” of the UN’s IPCC and I am not impressed by charts and graphs and bald statements that claim 99% certainty.
    Nothing is ever 99% certain. Completely phoney number.

    (1) The analytics need to be ripped apart by an independent team.

    (2) The issue of causation needs to be cleaned up. Is it anthropogenic or not and can you prove it? Of course not.

    (3) The issue of causation needs to be cleaned up. (Did I say that - worth repeating.)

  3. What a lot of people don't get is these CEO's have a legal duty to the stockholders, a fiduciary duty. It is their primary responsibility, in the law, often honored in the breach. It is the Congress that enacts the over all laws. You can be sued, and often are, by the stockholders, who think you are fucking them over someway. That is the basic way our world in the west works. And, it is really really odd, that companies that have brought unheard of properity to the millions should be under the gun. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. It will go nowhere of course. Another example of guy trying to grab some headlines, and he did so. Move on, move on, no news here...

    If you don't like the ways things are, and most of us don't in one way or another, get elected yourself or support someone who is in tune with you. The oil companies have brought prosperity to the millions. If it's time to change, do that. The best way to get back at Chevron is to buy some stock in the company. Then you'll get a dividend.

  4. They have a legal duty, I should have underlined that.

  5. Obama doesn't accept money from the oil companies, either — just their employees. At one point Obama had received $222,309 from donors at Exxon, Shell, Chevron and others.

    According to USA Today, two oil company CEOs pledged to raise $50,000 each for Obama.

    "The Obama campaign is trying to create a distinction without very much of a practical difference," says. "We're not sure how a $5,000 contribution from, say, Chevron's PAC would have more of an influence on a candidate than, for example, the $9,500 Obama has received from Chevron employees."

    Vetting Obama

  6. I think a better place to park one's money, rather than a political party, if you want to give it away, is here--

    . . . to enhance scientific knowledge, enrich the human search for meaning, and inspire a better world.

    That is the vision of IANDS. We thank the many members who have given generously to our Light the Way campaign. As we have written before, membership dues pay only a portion of the funds we need to increase IANDS’ impact in the world through research and education about NDEs.

    If you have not yet made your gift we urge you to do so now.

    Click here to help us Light the Way and please be as generous as you can.

    Thank you.
    The IANDS Board of Directors

    A service of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (

    This email was generated by the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS). You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to this IANDS Email List. If you want to be removed from this list, please click the Unsubscribe link below.

    I actually gave this good group a few bucks.

  7. Signs and wonders from heaven have been reported all over the world in recent years. Angel sightings, near-death experiences, dreams and visions, miracles of healing and other spiritual encounters are captivating the imagination of many through the internet and television shows that support either Christian faith healers or paranormal and occult practitioners.

    Are they all from God? Can some be constructs of our own mind or even demonic in origin?

    Author Julia Loren is fast becoming recognized as one of the Church's foremost authorities on discerning the origins of the variety of spiritual experiences people are having in our day and age – both within the Church and in the world. As a former journalist and a counselor, she leads readers to discover what is God and what is clearly not in her two recent books about common spiritual experiences reported by both Christians and occultists called Shifting Shadows of Supernatural Power and Shifting Shadows of Supernatural Experiences.

    What's God and what's not

  8. Professor Tad Patzek, Civil & Environmental Engineering, U.C. Berkeley

    An Indefensible Proposition
    Converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol involves a negative energy return - that is, the magnitude of
    energy required for biomass production and conversion is greater than the magnitude of energy displaced by the ethanol produced.
    There is no scalable “cellulosic ethanol” technology, so there is no “energy return,” positive or negative Existing Iogen pilot plant is only 20%-efficient, very

    There are no large-scale biowastes” or “biomass surplus” to make cellulosic ethanol.

    Indefensible Assumptions
    Fossil fuels we use to produce anything are the only relevant limiting factor.

    All other factors are limitless and irrelevant:
    The Earth provides us with an infinite and instantaneous supply of pure air, fertile soil and
    clean water full of nutrients
    She can regenerate all soil we destroy, and purify all water and air we pollute.

    Forever, she can feed 7–12 billion people, 1 billion cows, and all other non-human living consumers
    of plant and animal matter, . . .
    . . . and – now – 1 billion cars and trucks (620 million produced since 1961).

    A Defensible Proposition
    Every large ecosystem on Earth must approach a steady state characterized by zero net ecosystem
    productivity (NEP).

    When humans are not a natural part of an ecosystem, large-scale biomass harvesting by the humans leads to an eventual breakdown of that ecosystem.

    Remedial actions (waste cleanup, erosion management, and applications of nutrients) are
    necessary to slow down – but never stop – the ecosystem deterioration
    All these actions require massive inputs of fossil energy and are unsustainable.

    Mat will love him. "Solar and Wind are the only answer."
    Read the rest of the PDF

  9. Bobal: I actually gave this good group a few bucks

    I have a Near Death Experience every time I drive up to the pump.

    Seriously, though, Bobal, there's nothing to that NDE business. Aside from the dark tunnel with a light at the end of it, which is probably an artifact of the human brain being starved for oxygen, everyone sees what they expect to see. Muslims see a garden of delights with 72 black-eyed houris. Baptists see a very small, very white cloud marked SBC floating ever a very large inferno for everyone else. Catholics see a celestial Irish Bar. Truthfully, no one has every come back from the dead, because it takes hours for all the cells in your body to die, and by then the brain has turned into pudding. People have been resuscitated after drowning or a heart attack, but that's not death, that's just sleep. And brain death is no indicator, any random Congressmen is a flatliner in that department.

  10. Council members also warned that the violence and restrictions on opposition activists imposed by the government of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe "have made it impossible for a free and fair election to take place" on Friday.

    But the U.N. Zimbabwean Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku said the election would proceed Friday nonetheless.

    Western powers, outraged at the turmoil in Zimbabwe, also tried but failed to include language asserting Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be considered the legitimate president, until another fair election can be held.

    Mugabe Opposition

  11. I'm surprised you say that, Lil, though you are many times wrong, you are rarely ignorant of a subject. You have a lot of reading to do. Your statement there could not be further from the truth, which waits out there in the massive number of books, just waiting for you. I love you, I honor you, I lust for you, but you are 'dead' wrong on that simplistic assumption, my dear.

  12. I can see you haven't even cracked a good book on the subject. I call you an ignoramus on this subject, o beautiful one.

  13. which is probably an artifact of the human brain being starved for oxygen

    Oh nonsense. This has been talked about endlessly, particularily by that twit girl in England what's her name, and even she is now saying "I don't know, I don't know, I DON'T KNOW".

    You are better than this, o Catholic Woman, and, while the mystery has not been cracked, you need to educate yourself before beginning a conversation on the topic.

  14. Voters are inured to presidential nominees from both parties who pander, flip-flop and equivocate on the campaign trail. If that’s all they see – a typical politician – then that candidate is in trouble, as John Kerry and Al Gore can attest.

    But Obama is an entirely different candidate, the first Democratic nominee since Clinton – and the second since Carter – that most people instinctively like.

    He and his campaign have calculated that a broken promise here and there won’t fundamentally change that. They’re probably not wrong.

    Barcack Obama

  15. Whit, heading south for a few days.

  16. "Winnie-the-Pooh seems to me to be a fundamental text on national security."
    --former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, one of Barack Obama's key foreign policy advisers, June 11


    As the basis of his criticism of the Bush administration, he read the famous opening sentences of Winnie-the-Pooh:

    Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming down stairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping a minute and think about it.


    But he's ostensibly an Obama adviser. What's the man to do?

    Obama's Pooh-bah

  17. Well, bobal, as you know, when you talk like that to me I have to respond, and my response is not to respond, for days, possibly weeks. And that means I've got no one on the Elephant Bar to talk to.

  18. By the way, dear Bobal (which by the way is also a town in Iran, I have learned), my denial of the reality of NDEs is theological. We have to take up our cross and follow Christ through death into eternal life. It's all about faith, and there's no peeking, no sneak previews, otherwise the principle of faith itself as a supernatural assurance of divinely revealed truth is undermined. Do you see? There's people who seek supernatural signs everywhere (and the Near Death Experience qualifies as one of these), and they do that to shore up their lagging faith.

  19. That's an illigitimate response, Lil, and I reject it outright. I, myself, bob, am ignorant of many subjects, which is no shame, as we all are. You take that attitude right back!

    A dying, oxygen starved brain does not give birth to a coherent narrative, is one of the first problems to be faced. And while it is true the are cultural variables, the core seems to be the same. I'm not sure what the answer is, though I think it is wrong to poo poo the subject. I too am like that girl in England, I don't know, I don't know, I DON'T KNOW! But if Plato found the subject fascinating, that is a good hint.

  20. It's all about faith, and there's no peeking, no sneak previews, otherwise the principle of faith itself as a supernatural assurance of divinely revealed truth is undermined.

    No, I think that is wrong. It's not about faith at all. It's about having an experience, as I think we all will. Faith is the written hand me down from those who have experienced something. Faith didn't start writing about faith. St. Paul started writing after he had experienced something, on the road to Damascus, regardless of all his talk of faith. He was preaching faith to the inexperienced.

  21. Pratik Dogra, a 21-year-old sports writer in New Delhi, is among those who might be in trouble. Dogra loves to eat at hip restaurants, buy imported clothing and watch cricket matches at pubs with his friends.

    He said he almost always puts the drinks, sports gear and meals on his credit card.

    He typically racks up about $250 in charges a month, slightly more than he earns. He said he was "totally broke but happy."

    Young Spenders

  22. The nationalists tried to woo the Socialists by focusing on their common stance on issues such as Kosovo, and reminding them of their legacy as a party founded by the late nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic.

    But they underestimated the Socialists' desire for rehabilitation after having been blamed for the wars, isolation and poverty caused by Mr Milosevic's policies in the 1990s.

    The party eventually refused to freeze Serbia's EU bid, arguing that the economic progress it could offer was key to the generous social policy they promised their voters.

    Coalition Government

  23. deuce:
    I'm headed north for the week. I guess we'll manage.

  24. Speaking of:
    James Dobson and Barack Obama had a sit down recently.

    Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."

    "Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.

    Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

    "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

    "... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

  25. China now has more people on the Internet than any other nation. Although the Chinese government does a good job of censoring political content online, it's been more lax about cultural matters.


    Yao Jun prefers to get his entertainment on the Internet, where he can find the shows he likes almost immediately after they've aired in the U.S. Yao lives 45 minutes from the center of Shanghai, in a newly minted gated community of prefab townhouses.


    Yao speaks only a little English, but he's able to watch these programs because he downloads them from a Web site where the latest episodes turn up with regularity — and with Chinese subtitles.

    For Free

  26. Meanwhile:

    James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

    "We're toast if we don't get on a very different path," Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. "This is the last chance."

  27. Hansen brought global warming home to the public in June 1988 during a Washington heat wave, telling a Senate hearing that global warming was already here. To mark the anniversary, he testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming where he was called a prophet, and addressed a luncheon at the National Press Club where he was called a hero by former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., who headed the 1988 hearing.

    Wonder how much time he gave us twenty years ago.

  28. ...Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., committee chairman, said, "Dr. Hansen was right. Twenty years later, we recognize him as a climate prophet."

  29. The Etorus FE has been independently verified by leading internationally recognized laboratories, including the Southwest Research Institute, Olson-Ecologic Engine Testing Laboratories, Esso/Exxon Mobil Laboratories, Penske/Toyota Laboratories, Virginia Tech University, and the U.S. Military. The device is extremely simple to install, requires no maintenance, and has no moving parts, which creates a very low failure risk.


    Increased fuel efficiency:

    * Greater range per tank of fuel.
    * Greater power per load.
    * Increased horsepower.

    Reduced fuel costs:

    * On purchases, our customers typically achieve an ROI of over 100% in less than one year.
    * On rentals, our customers typically achieve cost savings that are 300% above the rental fee.
    * Under the Pay Per Save Program, our customers’ ROI is infinite, as there is no upfront cost and payment is made only AFTER savings have been achieved.

    Etorus FE

  30. What the prophet told Congress:
    A price on emissions that cause harm is essential. Yes, a carbon tax. Carbon tax with
    100 percent dividend3 is needed to wean us off fossil fuel addiction. Tax and dividend allows the
    marketplace, not politicians, to make investment decisions.
    Carbon tax on coal, oil and gas is simple, applied at the first point of sale or port of entry.
    The entire tax must be returned to the public, an equal amount to each adult, a half-share for
    children. This dividend can be deposited monthly in an individual’s bank account.
    Carbon tax with 100 percent dividend is non-regressive. On the contrary, you can bet
    that low and middle income people will find ways to limit their carbon tax and come out ahead.
    Profligate energy users will have to pay for their excesses.
    Demand for low-carbon high-efficiency products will spur innovation, making

  31. Consider, my Lady of Puget Sound, consider the narrative of the stout Indian boy, Black Elk, hearty child of the midwest plains, born of parents from parents born of the same, born of buffalo hunters. Consider how he, at 7 or 9 years of age, lay as if dead, lay for three or four days, and near death he was, dead in the teepee of his parents, and was able, indeed compelled, to narrate a wonderful tale, unrolling page after page to his copiests in late life, and, he said, I did not have to remember this tale, it remembered itself all these years. Consider this in your meditations, O My Friend.

    Consider how his vision matched so closely those of others, even in Christiandom, over the ages, O My Friend, and explain it to me, on the theory of an oxygen starved dying brain.

    There is a mystery here, the real one.

  32. Statistics Canada calculates that consumer price inflation in B.C. was 2.1 per cent in May, up from 1.7 per cent in April and the latest low of 0.8 per cent in January 2008.

    B.C.’s annual average rate of consumer price inflation has declined slowly for the past five years, but the surge in energy, food and other prices is expected to reverse that trend this year.

    Credit Union Central of B.C. forecasts that the province’s average inflation for 2008 will be two per cent, up from 1.8 per cent in 2007.

    BC CPI

  33. Don't be surprised to see more filling stations with empty pumps. But don't panic either.


    But the independents are really getting hit. Take Eranell Miller.

    He has owned a filling station and repair shop in Baldwin, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh, for 31 years. But lately, he has been losing money on every gallon of gas he sells.

    Out of Gas

  34. The last chance ...

    Now that's somethin'

    460 nillion folk, spread across a continent, encompassing over 90 individual States, ruled from DC with subservient regional capitals in Canada and Mexico ...

    With over 700 military bases spread across the Globe, spending more on military force projection than the rest of the worlds' populations, combined.

    Ruled by an Emperor or a Decider, and an imperial Court

    Call it what you will,
    Empire, Hegemony or America.
    It smells the same.

    Only America can save the world, from itself. As the Chinese fire up a coal fired power plant, each and every week. Dueling Empires

    Along with the EU, a trilateral relationship.

    Wind, solar, thermal ...
    None will move a single vehicle in the existing fleet of over 300 million cars and trucks, in America.

    Using oil products to make an argument that is false, on its' face. Universal energy, as if all forms of energy were synonomous and interchangable.

    They're not.

  35. Rat, we can always go back to hunting buffalo.

    I'm worried, and it shows.

  36. God Bless George Bush--He Got It Right

    And for such a numbling speaker too, and, recognition from The New York Times!


  37. Hanson is an America hating, Soros funded, fraud.

  38. . U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Page .

    Reality Check: Challenge to Hansen's funding data claims.

    The oil money's paltry contribution pales in comparison to the well funded alarmist industry.
    See full funding report here:

    Excerpt: Newsweek reporter Eve Conant was given the documentation showing that proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so, but the Magazine chose instead to focus on how skeptics have reportedly received a paltry $19 MILLION from ExxonMobil over the last two decades. Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the Senate Environment & Public Works committee, explained how much money has been spent researching and promoting climate fears and so-called solutions. “In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $US50 billion on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one," Carter wrote on June 18, 2007.

    Senator Inhofe's Office: Fact Sheet on James Hansen

  39. People have been resuscitated after drowning or a heart attack, but that's not death, that's just sleep.

    Which is not what many folks say. Some of them say, when asked, where you really dead, they say, o yes, I was really quite dead, that's for sure, it is really very different being dead than I had imagined.

    So we have dueling definitions of death here.

  40. Wonder how much time he gave us twenty years ago.

    I made that point many millenia ago. The time frame of the early models was on the order of hundreds of years. It shrank to 50 years, 20-30 years, “last chance.”

    I was informed that the models got better.