5/30/11

Why I Hate Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, and a Challenge to Global Warmists

When they're not pumping silver coins to gullible idiots for twice the spot price, posting misogynistic pictures (women are loose and give good head, look at their cats, do women even have faces?, look at their gold and silver,  "don't you just love her outfit?" and this one doesn't even have an outfit--this is but a small number of such images), and putting forth the ridiculous claim that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) will go bankrupt if the price of silver goes over JPM's stock price (oops, JPM made money even while silver went up), pseudo journalists and Russian and Iranian state employees Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert blame "AGW" for everything.

It's cold. "AGW!"
It's warm. "AGW!"
There's an average number of tornadoes. "AGW!"
There's fewer hurricanes. "AGW!"
It's snowing. "AGW!"
It's not snowing. "AGW!"
There's drought. "AGW!"
There's flooding. "AGW!"
There's a meltdown at a nuclear power plant. "AGW!"
The sky is blue. "AGW!"
It's dark at night. "AGW!"


What the hell is AGW?

Standing for Anthropogenic Global Warming, AGW is a thought terminating cliche. It's a slogan. The more one shouts it, the more one believes it. It stops all debate. To call what's happening in the environment AGW not only says there's warming, but also that it's our fault.  It's a compact, three letter statement that doesn't give you a chance to think.

Has the debate been settled on either score?

I have no idea whether there is global warming, and, if there is global warming, whether human activity is the cause. I don't think you do either.

My problem is I don't know which source is trustworthy. When this scientist says that the earth is cooling, is he lying? Or how about this one, who says "The Earth has been in a warming trend since the depth of the Little Ice Age around 1680...so human carbon dioxide cannot possibly have caused the trend"? Or this guy from MIT, who says that the climate science isn't settled? Should I trust them, or are they funded by the Koch brothers? Or are they of the political persuasion that the fewer the regulations, the better? And if they are of that opinion, does it shape their scientific conclusions?

On the other side there are a number of scientists, led by the UN and East Anglia University, who say the opposite. They might be right, and they might be wrong. I don't know. What I do know is that if they, and other climate researchers, stop saying that there's global warming caused by humans, their funding will be cut. (Group think or herd mentality has always been around in science. That we can classify different movements and schools of thought is evidence enough. But as an example, recall all the eugenics theories of decades past when people's skulls were measured to determine their intelligence and moral worth--that was mainstream science.)

The UN has an interest in pushing global warming, because any carbon tax scheme will redistribute wealth from the richer nations to the poorer ones. And do scientists who instinctively favor more government regulation allow that opinion to interfere with their research? Newspapers of this pro-regulatory bent certainly report on these scientists' research more frequently and favorably than they do on skeptics.

They're not the only ones making a business of global warming, or climate change, or AGW, or whatever you want to call it. Al Gore and other passionate advocates for various carbon tax and cap and trade schemes (which are, incidentally, supported by the very companies blamed for carbon emissions) stand to make boatloads of money.

So I don't trust any of them. (And I find it a bit ironic that the last few global warming conferences have been held during record breaking cold spells. Do they have these conferences in the winter with the hope that it might be a warm day so they can say, "aha! see there's global warming!"?) The earth has been hot. It's been cold. There have been floods and droughts. All before humans made an appearance. That's all I know.

Getting back to Max and Stacy, it's almost as if their site and shows are designed to broadcast AGW propaganda: say something true about the world, like it's going to hell in a hand basket--duh, take advantage of people's justifiable anger toward the banks, and then, when the audience is nice and ready to hear what else Max and Stacy have to say, it's AGW, AGW, AGW. And before the audience can question anything, show them some demeaning pictures of women. Direct the blood flow from the brain. (I'm only half serious here.)

How can anyone trust these people?

So here's my challenge for everyone who blames global warming on carbon. (I haven't a clue, but I'll assume for argument's sake that there is global warming.)

Do you eat meat?

Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars

Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

And here's a graphic from the NY Times.

Read that again.

So, do you, global warming believer, eat meat? If you do, how do you justify it and still believe in global warming? (Unless you think global warming is good, which I guess can be an acceptable position.)

I'm a global warming agnostic, but I bet my "carbon footprint" (alert! another slogan) is lower than yours. My score is 6.3 on the test here (it's stupid, in my opinion, but everyone's yammering about reducing their carbon footprint). What's your score? Be honest!

5/29/11

Some links about Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency created in February 2009. It is based on peer-to-peer networking, and as a result it has no central authority or issuer, is anonymous, and is free of transaction and transfer fees. There is a fixed number of Bitcoins, with deflation built into the system. According to Wikipedia, "As the supply of more bitcoins runs out and the 'Bitcoin economy' grows, the value of a single bitcoin increases." Bitcoins are also practically impossible to counterfeit.

I like the idea. A lot. But we already know what banks, and therefore governments, will think of it, given user anonymity and lack of third party meddling. The chief problem that I see with Bitcoin is also one of its appeals: it is independent from government. As almost anything can be money, it's usually government enforcement, through a taxation system (e.g., "you can only use x to pay your taxes"), that gives the medium of exchange its legitimacy. Bitcoin lacks this and has the potential for the opposite--government hostility, which can result in criminalization, and so on.

Another problem is that Bitcoin is backed by demand only. There's nothing to stop a competing digital currency from becoming more popular. As demand shrinks, so does the purchasing power. Paper money (note that this is a small percentage of our money supply) has some worth even if it's defunct. As something physical, you can at least use it to wipe your butt, burn it for fuel, and so on. It can become a collectible. For example, "worthless" Zimbabwe trillion dollar notes are being sold on Ebay for a few US dollars each. Defunct coins can be melted down and the metal sold off or traded for whatever currently has purchasing power. Digital currency, on the other hand, simply vanishes.

There will be an all digital currency in the future. But it probably will not be Bitcoin. It'll be issued and controlled by whoever is in charge. All your transactions will be monitored and recorded. Anonymity will be eliminated and various transaction fees and taxes will be automatically applied. There will be all sorts of fraud, and life will be the same or worse.

But one can dream of a freer world:
  1. Wikipedia article on Bitcoin
  2. What Bitcoin is, and Why it Matters (Technology Review--an MIT publication)
  3. Bitcoin, Digital Currency of the Future? (The Atlantic)
  4. Why I'm Putting All My Savings Into Bitcoin (Falkvinge) 
  5. Bitcoin.org
  6. Bitcoin Wiki
Regarding the title of article 4, I wouldn't do that with any asset. It always pays to diversify.

Update: As expected, here's some grandstanding by a government official (my senator and Wall Street lackey) who doesn't know what he's talking about. There will be more, I'm sure. Money laundering? Really? If anything, it's a ponzi scheme.

Update 2: Maybe they'll continue going up in dollar value, but I say Bitcoins are finished. Today there's an article about them in SmartMoney. That article made it to the Yahoo! front page, where all the stupid news for the unwashed masses goes. I bet that marks the bursting of the bubble.

Update 3: While Bitcoins are themselves secure, Bitcoin holders are only as safe as their computers. Check out this article from PC World, World's First Virtual Heist? BitCoin User Loses $500,000.

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