So, How About… Ah, Screw It All

sorry for the lack of attention but my ISP has been having server issues the last few days. Everything seems to be OK in computer land now.

I had a fun little post all planned about something or other then World War III started and it all seems kind of silly now, what I was going to say. So, how are you guys? Holding up? Yeah, me too.

The more I think about it the more I come to the inescapable conclusion that our leaders are all crazy people. And I don’t mean “Crazy” in that way that they are just obsessively motivated towards self preservation and aggrandizement of their own ideas but clinically not well. Putin likes to kiss the bellies of little children, The Japanese prime Minister can’t stop himself imitating Elvis in front of the King’s own Daughter and as for Bush, well, he spouts off in unguarded moments, sounding like the drunk at a Shoney’s around 3 AM, talking about Israel and the shit they have to cut out. And these are the popele who are supposed to somehow stop the Middle East from exploding little bits at a time, keep North Korea in check and solve this whole Global Warming thing.

Yeah, we’re all going to die.

To The Moon, Stephen!

Dr. Hawking, while a genius in Astrophysics and Cosmology needs to lay off the Star Trek:

The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there’s an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.

The British astrophysicist told a news conference in Hong Kong that humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years.

“We won’t find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system,” added Hawking, who arrived to a rock star’s welcome Monday. Tickets for his lecture planned for Wednesday were sold out.

He added that if humans can avoid killing themselves in the next 100 years, they should have space settlements that can continue without support from Earth.

“It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species,” Hawking said. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.”

Amada Marcotte’s response is much more pointed, so I’ll quote her:

Religious wingnuts have invented the Rapture to avoid talking about taking responsibility for the future of the human race (also to justify having more and more Virility Objects, i.e. children, even though the planet is suffocating from the massive explosion in wasteful human beings). Now Stephen Hawking has just put his authority behind an escape fantasy that allows wingnuts who aren’t Rapture fanatics to ignore the fact that we’re destroying our planet and very soon going to make in uninhabitable.

Chris Clarke shoots down the technical aspects of such a monumental brain fart, even bringing up the horrible memories of Biosphere:

And that was on this planet, where the designers could just have a thousand yards of specialized concrete and a million square feet of tempered glass driven up to the site on flatbed trucks. I suspect an attempt to replicate the Biosphere experiment in the Valle Marineris would be a bit more difficult. The construction crew here could actually breathe without tanks, for one thing, and what happens when the New Martians realize they have the wrong gauge turnbuckles for the shadecloth awning, and all the lettuce plants get UV poisoning? We’re talking about an agency that forgot to do a English-Metric conversion for an unmanned Mars probe here. Would you really trust them to buy compatible plumbing fixtures from 400 million miles away?

The heart of the matter though, as Amada points out, is that this is a sad example of escapist fantasy for geeks. Our current policies (and by our, I mean not just the US but China and Russia and everyone else as well) amounts to prolonged attempt to kill Planet Earth before it kills us. That is civilization in a nutshell.

By the time I’m an old man, global warming-spawned superstorms will probably have submerged the city where I was raised, my current home and turned Florida into a barrier reef. That’s the positive scenario. The bad version involves wars for the last bit of oil going nuclear, turning all our old Cold War fears into Hot World realities. Maybe if we adopt sensible ecological policies and implement new technologies, cooperate across international boarders to end our dependance on oil, then we’ll have the time and man-power to devote to Hawking’s wet dreams of living on Mars. But that’s an awful long way to go and we haven’t even started building that road.

Local Oaf Takes Advice From Well Meaning Krank; or: Is the Globe Warming, Or Is It Just Me?

George Washington was an honored veteran of two wars. Jefferson spoke three languages and wrote fluently in all of them.* Grant, it was said, could write in Greek with one hand while simultaneously writing in Latin with the other. President Bush, well, he gets his science from a science fiction author, and not even a good one:

In his new book about Mr. Bush, “Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush,” Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, “State of Fear,” suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as “a dissenter on the theory of global warming,” writes that the president “avidly read” the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest “talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement.”

“The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more,” he adds.

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton’s dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.

Mr. Crichton, whose views in “State of Fear” helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best.

“This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O’Donnell’s group monitors environmental policy.

“This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so,” he said.

I saw Barnes on the Daily show and on Bill Mahr, Friday. His book is pure hagiography and Barnes couldn’t defend it even a little without stumbling into lugubrious platitudes. I don’t know what Crichton’s problem is. He used to be smart and sort of cutting edge in the science department. Now he’s just a cranky shill for pseudoscience. I guess that’s what happens when real science passes your fiction by at light speed: what sounded far out and whizbang a decade ago now sounds haplessly naive and about as forward thinking as a coal burning car.

“But it burns coal! It can shuttle a man at twice the spead of a horse and gets fifty gallops to the hogshead!”

Oooh! Tell us more, Dr. Crichton.