Monday, May 10, 2004

The New Republic has a column blasting The Day After Tomorrow's science.

Al Gore and are having an anti-global warming rally to coincide with the movie's release.

The intended message is that "We have to replace Bush or the world will end." Considering the quality of the science in this movie, the real message is "We will say anything to defeat Bush."

Tech Central Station has a few interesting articles on health.

First, does a 30 minute exposure to second hand smoke nearly double the rate of heart attacks?

Not really. The article points out that the sample group is too small to project from and the hospital changed the way they diagnose heart attacks, eliminating a test that gives false positives.

Next, does Supersize Me represent real life experiences?

Spurlock easily could have eaten three meals a day at McDonald's while staying below the 2,500 calories his doctor said he needed to maintain his starting weight of 185 pounds. For instance, an Egg McMuffin, orange juice, and coffee for breakfast; a grilled chicken bacon ranch salad and iced tea for lunch; and a double cheeseburger, medium fries, and diet Coke for dinner total fewer than 1,800 calories. By contrast, Spurlock says he consumed some 5,000 calories a day, while deliberately avoiding physical activity. In short, his experiment proves nothing but basic physics.

The author of this article is even quoted in the movie.

At one point I suggested that it may soon be socially acceptable to publicly hector fat people for their unhealthy habits, just as it is acceptable to hector smokers. The appropriate response in either case, I suggested, is: "Fuck you. Mind your own business." He ended up using that bit of the interview, mainly to establish the background of rising concern about rising weight.

While driving to work the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I heard a radio report that a small airplane had struck one tower of the World Trade Center. A few minutes later there was a report of a second plane hitting the other tower. My immediate thoughts were that terrorists had done this, probably the group that had bombed the Cole.

The reaction of the Bush-hating left was very different. They universally blamed Bush. I saw this on every level from local crackpots to national columnists. They assumed that the terrorists were people who disagreed with some policy of Bush's and felt that an act of terrorism was the only response. Reasons given included the recent boycott of the African summit on racism or the withdrawal of the US from the Kyoto protocols.

The general sentiment was that 9/11 had been done by their own, that the perpetrators had gone too far, but that it was understandable considering how evil Bush was. I thought that it was strange at the time how few people remarked on this.

To put this in perspective, starting in 1999, activists protesting various aspects of globalization started adding the riot to their activities. Seattle was the first city to suffer major damage but during 2000 and the first half of 2001, any city that hosted a meeting of the World Bank, a G7 summit, or anything else remotely relating to global trade could expect a major protest and millions of dollars of property damage. Some protestors admitted that their goal was to trash any city that dared to hold one of these conferences in the hope that no one would hold them in the future.

Given this pleasant attitude, it is not surprising that the left could imagine their own killing thousands in order to make a point.

Michael Moore's take on Sept. 11 was posted on his web site. It has long-ago scrolled off (or was removed because it was so stupid) so I am relating this from memory.

On Sept. 12, Moore made a post on the tragedy. His assumption was that people felt so powerless in the wake of the presidential election recount that this was their response. To him, the worst part of it was that the states most affected by the hijackings, New York, Massachusetts, and California, were all blue states. These states had voted for Gore but their residents were disproportionately represented among the dead.

Presumably he would have felt better about the whole thing if the casualties had been mainly people from the red states.

By Sept. 13, Moore was in Columbus, Ohio. Any feelings he had about the sudden death of 3,000 Americans was overshadowed by the realization that his hotel was across the street from the statehouse where Jim Rhodes had ordered the National Guard to Kent State. He was nowhere near Kent State, mind you, this was 30 years later, and the bodies of 3,000 Americans still lay in smoking rubble in New York but all Moore could think about in Columbus was Kent State.

BTW, Moore is in fairly exclusive company, having his own entry in the urban legend site, Snopes.

This entry was written in response to claims in Moore's "Dude, Where's my Country". Since Moore's newest movie is trying to make some point about connections between the bin Laden family and Bush, this part is pretty relevant:

The term "bin Laden family member" is rather misleading, as it is often mistakenly assumed to indicate a person with close ties to Osama bin Laden. By most accounts, Osama bin Laden was one of more than fifty children fathered by the same man; the bin Laden family is huge, with hundreds (if not thousands) of members spread all over the globe. Many, many of these family members are only tangentially related to Osama bin Laden and never had much (if any) contact with Osama himself. Moreover, his family disowned him after he fled Saudi Arabia in 1991 and was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 for smuggling weapons from Yemen. According to another news account about Saudis leaving the U.S. in the wake of the September 11 attacks:

Most of Mr. bin Laden's relatives were attending high school and college. They are among the 4,000 Saudi students in the United States. King Fahd, the ailing Saudi ruler, sent an urgent message to his embassy here saying there were "bin Laden children all over America" and ordered, "Take measures to protect the innocents," the ambassador said
The fact that "most of Mr. bin Laden's relatives were attending high school and college" in 2001 means that most of them were somewhere between 4 and 12 years old when Osama bin Laden fled Saudi Arabia. Students who were mere children when Osama bin Laden left Saudi Arabia, and who had spent at least some of their intervening years living in the U.S., were not likely sources for information regarding his current whereabouts and operations

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