I've still managed to get in a bit of reading besides Council minutes. There are two articles in particular from TCS Daily, formerly known as TechCentralStation.com. The first is on one of my favorite topics, anthro-centric global warming:
The Stern Review is out and now that people have had a couple of days to digest the 600 or so pages of heavy verbiage and math, we're starting to see some commentary on how well it's been done. Leave aside the screaming newspaper headlines that shout that we all drowned yesterday and will boil tomorrow and the general reaction from those who know the subject is 'Hunh?'
The author of the TCS Daily piece, Tim Worstall, quotes and comments on an evaluation of the accuracy of the Stern Review by a man named William Connelly who is one of those johnnies who create mathematical global warming models. Mr. Connelly starts with a quote from the Review:
"If the Greenland or West Antarctic Ice Sheets began to melt irreversibly, the rate of sea level rise could more than double, committing the world to an eventual sea level rise of 5 - 12 m over several centuries." Errrm... centuries? Current SRL is 2-3 mm/yr, ie 20-30 cm/century. Double that to 40-60 and you're a fair few centuries into the future before you hit 5m, let alone 12. SRL is the "great white hope" of impacts, since its unequivocally bad (at least I've never seen anyone assert it to be a good). 5m is SRL in a millennium might well cause problems, true, but I'm not really happy looking that far ahead - tech could do anything by then.
Even climate researchers aren't all that impressed with trying to predict out that far into the future. As an analogy, think back into history. Should the Northern Europeans not have started to use the horse collar, thus allowing them to plough the heavy soils, because 1,000 years later there's so many of us that CO2 levels are rising?
As you can see people aren't arguing about what should be done if the Review's predictions are correct. They're actually arguing about whether the Review is correct or not which is really a much larger problem for its supporters. Because I really don't think that the Review is indeed correct, either in its predictions for future temperature rises nor in the logic that it uses to urge us into mitigating actions.
My kind of guy!
The second takes an interesting look at the verdict in the trial of former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. The author, Austin Bay, is a retired colonel in the Army Reserve who served on active duty in Iraq in 2004. He compares what is happening in Iraq to the U. S. military occupations of Germany and Japan and how they differ from post-war Russia:
Contemporary Russia still suffers from the long-term effects of Stalin's evil depredations. Unlike Germany and Japan, two other nations once run by mass-murdering cliques, Russia didn't benefit from a postwar American military occupation. Check the empirical record: Those history-breaking American endeavors demonstrably hasten a country's rise from the hell of sociopathic tyranny.
And now the "hell of sociopathic tyranny" in Iraq is on display in Iraq's courts, and Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang:
A history-breaking, tyranny-shattering event -- but few in the sensationalist media have noticed it. Since the verdict, we've already heard a few talking heads sob about "Saddam as victim" and the court exacting "victors' vengeance." Though Iraqis ran the trial, the "Western judicial imperialism" charge is circulating among the usual media and academia suspects.
But this grand story is about belated justice, a justice once thought impossible to reach by the Iraqi people, who were Saddam's real victims. It's also about the slow, difficult birth of a democratic society in a region caught in the terrible ying-yang of tyrants and terrorists -- a nation moving from the whim of the Big Man and the fear of terrorist bombs to the rule of law and democratic polity.
I know, The New York Times and John Kerry have told us Iraq is a disaster. Not true. There's a democratically elected government in the potentially most powerful (predominantly) Arab Muslim nation, a government trying to learn to govern and administer under the most trying conditions. It's a government that is learning by doing -- and learning often by failure. However, as long as the United States and coalition remain around to coach, train and respond to crises, Iraqi failures will be controlled failures.