Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Ivory Tower of Babel

The Ivory Tower of Babel
©2012 Ross Williams

I was reading the news today and was struck by a few items in it for the hubris they displayed.

The first is a story about Russian botanists who found some 30,000 year old seeds in a ground squirrel burrow in Siberian permafrost, and planted them. They grew dainty little plants with white flowers that make seeds which also grow when planted.

This plant had been extinct for 30,000 years. As Doctor Ian Malcolm, the chaotician in “Jurassic Park”, would have scolded the Russians if they had been a rich old Scotsmen with more money than brains, “Nature selected them for extinction... You were so preoccupied with whether you could that you didn't stop to think if you should.”

I don’t expect the lacy little Silene Stenophylla to gobble up lawyers hiding in outhouses, as did the T-Rex re-engineered by Sir Richard Attenborough’s team of bio-geeks in the movie, but it may prove to be invasive – a pre-glacial kudzu vine – unwelcome to flora and fauna alike in this century. Its seeds will escape their Russian lab for, as Jeff Goldblum’s character so stammeringly said, “Life, uh, ... finds a way.”

So, the score of this match-up:
Science claiming to know better than nature: 1
Nature: 0

Next up was another chapter in the perennial list of back and forth juvenile yammering between pro-abortion zealots and anti-choice pinheads over whether a fetus is a parasite. The discussion unfolded along utterly predictable lines: the pro-abortion zealot hyperbolized her position into a strawman and claimed – falsely – that a fetus perfectly fits the biological definition of a parasite, completely skipping over the need for it to be an organism of a different species. The anti-choice ninny’s response – also predictably – failed to dismiss the fundamental dishonesty of the pro-abortion idiot because it was simply dishonest, but instead dwelled upon the “awe-inspiring magnificence” of an “act of human creation”.

Non-scientist lobotomizing science to fit into a political screed: 1
Non-scientist rendering science into Unknowable Mystery for the purpose of political screed: 1
Rational discourse: 0

Next match on the card is the German version of Solyndra; Germany is halting subsidies of its solar energy program because, at $10B per year, it is making a few million dollars of electricity. This comes a mere three weeks after Obama’s State of the Union where he smugly announced that Germany’s clean energy program “has never been more promising”, apparently in attempt to justify the half billion he dropped on Solyndra, the $400 million he dropped on another similar company and the half dozen examples of him dropping a quarter billion at a time on yet other clean energy companies which have yet to produce anything other than a pocket to hold, and from which to spend, government money.

Germany discovered that you have to have a climate conducive for solar power – which is decidedly absent from north-central Europe – before you can effectively use solar power. Who knew?

Politicians compelling nature to conform to the law: 0
Nature saying ‘Tolja so’: 1

The final match of the day concerns – what else? – global warming, its religious adherents and its apostates.

One Peter Gleick, an adherent who calls himself a hydroclimatologist, admitted to stealing documents from the Heartland Institute, a well-known global warming skeptic outfit, for the purpose of forcing the Heartland Institute to acknowledge that they were purveyors of non-science and misinformation ... much like the leaked emails and data from East Anglia had shown Climate Change to be three years ago.

Many of the documents stolen appear to have been forged, and likely written by Gleick himself, and those which aren’t have private information about Heartland’s donors the dissemination of which is a criminal offense in itself. Gleick has resigned from, or been booted from, every scientific panel he was a member of, and most consider that he has screwed the pooch of his career, as well as damaged the credibility of the increasingly non-credible Global Warming hypothesis, regardless of which name it chooses to go by this week.

A spokesman for the Heartland Institute played a victim card, and then did so again, and again, and again, and again...

Final round’s score:
PhDs using crime to paint skeptics as unethical: 1
Skeptics using ethics to play martyr: 1
Nature: did not play

Biblical metaphor leaves many feeling cold and still others feeling defensive. In this case that’s a good thing. The colder and more defensive the inappropriately arrogant become the less their egos will plague the rest of us.

What happens when mankind believes it can build an edifice to see the god it worships, whether that god is Jehovah or Gaia, is that mankind is left stumbling around afterward with a jumbled tongue or a jumbled mind trying to rationalize. Or, as one of the news items indicates, prattling past each other with fantasy and vapidity and, as another item suggests, leaving the god out of the equation altogether by replacing it with deceit and manipulation.

Nature wins in the end. That will be especially true if nature is successfully reinvented into the vengeful Earth Goddess many prefer to see it as. And just like all other targets of religious devotion, the most vengeance is ultimately wrought upon those who impose their ego into their piety, and not those who disbelieve.


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