Fresh Update: An Arctic Tale

Here’s a link (scroll through) to the National Geographic piece on the movie.

Here’s a link to my opinion of the movie.

Good camerawork and good moviemaking———-Yes.

Good ideas?

Mostly bad ideas.  Anthropomorphism, global warming wackiness (seeking to prove what you already believe), a lot of sentiment.

Kids:  If you study science, and math, and one day come to make a discovery (even in a field not related to global climate change, zoology, animal intelligence or anything to do with the subject of An Arctic Tale) you will likely have done more than anyone involved in this movie.   You will have done much more than me commenting on the movie.

Go for it.

Addition: Check out the comments.

Hurricane Dean

A Category 4 now south of Jamaica and heading toward the Yucatan.  Saffir-Simpson scale here. 

I spent a season in Florida with four hurricanes, and maybe what I most remember as I while driving northeast to Orlando to escape Charley, was how anxious I was.

I sat among tens of thousands of cars jammed on I4, nosing east.   I was flipping through even the am stations for updates.  Will it be really bad?  Will I find shelter?  This land is so flat, I remember thinking, just a large spit of sand. 

The weakened eye passed right near the Super 8 near Orlando where I luckily found a room.  I stood near the breezeway for a few minutes with some teenagers, watching plywood and bits of plastic, a construction cone, and driving walls of wind and rain pass through.

I watched and listened in awe as a steady roar filled the night, then gradually died down.  

Fortunately, I didn’t have a house or loved ones to lose. 

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Richard Feynman at NASA

After the terrible Challenger explosion in 1986, Richard Feynman was included on an independent panel to find out what went wrong.  He discovered a profound difference between engineers’ and managements’ probability estimates for number of flights without failure.  One potential (and very important) reason that a system-ending failure can go unnoticed is the tendency of managers to believe top-down explanations. 

It’s vintage Feynman, inconoclastic, penetrating and brilliant:  

“for whatever purpose, be it for internal or
external consumption, the management of NASA exaggerates the
reliability of its product, to the point of fantasy.”

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over
public relations, for nature cannot be fooled

Just a suggestion with NASA in the news lately…though it’s clear the space shuttles are getting older.

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Global Warming: Andrew Revkin on Bloggingheads

Andy Revkin, of the New York Times, appears on Bloggingheads to discuss Global Warming.  It’s a sane, insightful discussion.  A quick summary:

1.  He’s been writing about global warming for twenty years, and he’s probably the best person I’ve seen discuss how this issue is reported

2.  Revkin thinks global warming is as much an energy issue as anything else.  He’d like to see more research into alternatives.   Underlying this is his belief that current oil, coal and gas reserves (including nuclear plants, not enough of them) are not sustainable in light of global warming research; while solar and wind technologies are inefficient and unreliable as they stand.  He also seems capable of understanding many of the economic issues (pressure on politicians, for example) without censure.

While I’d still like to reserve the right to doubt global warming in its entirety, I recommend it because it’s a good discussion about a potentially important problem.

Here’s a quote:

“…a light broke upon all natural philosophers. They learned that reason only perceives that which it produces after its own design; that it must not be content to follow, as it were, in the leading-strings of nature, but must proceed in advance with principles of judgement according to unvarying laws, and compel nature to reply its questions.”

Immanuel KantPreface to the Critique of Pure Reason

Addition:  He’s a reporter at the New York Times, and he’s managed not to lose sight of the science involved, and the bigger picture.  That’s something.

Update:  Watts Up With That has more here.  Perhaps he needs to question more deeply and keep taking a look at the evidence.

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Sometimes Willing to Kill: Animal Rights Activists

The Animal Liberation Brigade placed a bomb under the car of an U.C.L.A opthamologist involved in animal research.  Fortunately, it did not detonate.

There’s not much to say about people who threaten or justify violence for their ideas.   They have failed whatever truth they seek to protect. 

Dealing with them seems to be a legal matter.  If they break the law, then they must face the consequences of law enforcement, and punishment; where at the very least the threat of violence against them is tempered by the procedures and ethical obligations and oaths those who serve the law make to the rest of us.   

Those who put the bomb under the car make no such oath, to anyone.   It seems like if you’re the one threatened, you should go on with your life as calmly as possible.

Anyone else see a connection, though? 

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From the Economist: Republican Malaise

Here’s a quote from Andrew Sullivan’s page:

Quote of the day from The Economist:

“The Republicans have failed the most important test of any political movement—wielding power successfully. They have botched a war. They have splurged on spending. And they have alienated a huge section of the population. It is now the Democrats’ game to win or lose.”

Insightful, but it’s quotes like these that make me want to run to the Libertarian party. 

…So you see, there’s two teams in town, Democrats and Republicans, and they’re playing this game, see, and the rest of the Americans are in the stands…

Thanks, Economist, you’re a fine publication, but I’d prefer not to be watched from up there and placed into reductionist thinking quite so easily….don’t spread yourself too thin.

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Nietzsche: There is No Morality

If you have read Nietzsche, and I think many intelligent people are attracted to him, then here are some conclusions you might have drawn from his thinking as I have. Correct me if I’m wrong:

1. There is no morality. Humanity has mostly been sick; Christianity especially. We are full of laws and ideals that divert valuable energy into dead codes. The highest men among us follow the values created by the “Ubermensch,” or Overman. This overman has yet to appear, but leads humanity indirectly by creating new values.

2. Christianity is a religion that from its very founding was a morality of slaves. It is full of “ressentiment”, or something akin to creating values out of weakness and resentment.

3. Even Plato and Socrates (Pre-Christian Greeks) were products of a similar sickness, or the decline and decadence of Athenian life. They became, as he puts it, “absurdly rational” and made a cult of reason to counter the decay around them.

In my opinion, in Nietzsche’s favor we can say: He lived as though there were no morality. It may have contributed largely to his madness, but he truly stuck to his idea. Nietzsche also uncannily saw the coming failure and decline of German society into aggression and two world wars, therefore, it may be possible to “see the future” by merely living outside of a society according to deep principles. He also wrote very, very good German.

Against Nietzsche I’ll say: He may have been more of a failed artist and genius level thinker than anything else, miserably sucking much that he didn’t understand into his own thought. He admirably stuck to that thought, and may have made new thought, but he passed over science and mathematics, as well as much good political theory, and everything esle he would have likely identified as “the cult of reason.” This is not nothing, and I highly recommend finding what else is out there.

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