Author Archives: Rip Rowan

Obama-Nation 2: Judgment

Why am I writing in opposition to Obama instead of writing in support of McCain?

Quite simply, McCain is a known entity.  There’s lots of reasons not to like him, and they’re all scattered about the public record for all to see.  The guy is pretty much WYSIWYG.  It’s a waste of time to write about him.  But Obama is a mystery, an invented fantasy character.  He has no virtually no public record and in fact has never held a job other than a few years as Senator (state and federal).  The fascination with him is astonishing to me.

Moreover, I’m a contrarian.  I don’t just get in line with the popular people to do the popular things because they’re popular.  And when I see people going along with the popular things, I get suspicious.  Sometimes, in the case of Apple fans, the popular people are snotty pricks, but they’re right.  Other times, as with the Ridiculously Large SUV craze, people are just plain dumb.

Thus the series on Obama.

This installment is about judgment.  One of the Obama campaign’s top selling points is judgment, probably because they know they’re screwed on experience.  We’re supposed to believe that Obama’s track record of making sound judgments is a key differentiator in his favor.

But is it?

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Barack Obama: Bat Boy?


Is Barack Obama the Bat Boy?

What a Letdown


You may imagine my excitement when I opened my latest shipment from Amazon.

Sadly, though, the package did not contain any high explosives.

Pity.  I could have really used them.

Eternally Badass

Representing the USA in four events, including the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, will be Dana Torres – back for her fifth showing at the Olympics (from the NYT):

Torres had secured a berth on her fifth Olympic team Friday with a victory in the 100 freestyle. Her time of 53.78, remarkable for a 41-year-old mother of a 2-year-old, is nearly a half-second slower than the third-fastest time in the world this year.

She is simply an amazing, amazing swimmer.  One to watch for sure.

Windows Live Writer

If you haven’t checked out Windows Live Writer, you should.

WLW, like wBloggar and other blog-writing gadgets, allows you to post to your blog using a friendly user interface.  WLW also makes it easy to interact with multiple blogs simultaneously, as well as providing an easy facility for including photos, videos, tags, etc..

It works great, comes with predefined connectors for most every blog platform, and its free.

Urban Legend Goes Reality

Man flying lawn chair lifted by helium balloons.

My favorite part?

He carried a Red Ryder BB gun and a blow gun equipped with steel darts. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, Global Positioning System tracking devices, an altimeter and a satellite phone.

I Like These Guys

Of course, I don’t have to live next to them.  But I might enjoy it if I did.

“Why are we in America?” he said while sitting in his office in his group’s headquarters, a five-story, 43,000-square-foot building in the main commercial district of Forest Hills. “Because we’re dreaming of this freedom! We were dreaming to build big house.”

On the walls hung two enormous paintings in thick gold-colored frames, one showing the British surrender to Washington at Yorktown and the other depicting Moses’ liberation of the Jews in Egypt.


Global Warming

David turned me on to an interesting article on global warming.  The best part, however, was this comment to the article, which I have paraphrased:

To accept the program of action put forth by proponents of global warming, we have to accept the following presumptions:

1. We can accurately measure whether the earth is getting warmer or not.

This requires us to accept, among other assumptions, these questionable ones:

  • That the proxy data (ice core samples, tree rings, etc.) are sufficiently reliable to provide a good baseline for comparison
  • That the timeline of climate change is adequately large to be meaningful. (1,000 years versus 1 billion, for example)

Now that you’ve proven that the Earth is in fact getting warmer, we have to ask

2. We can accurately assess the cost and benefit of global warming

Perhaps global warming produces net benefits to humankind.  Why should we assume that the current temperature is optimal?  We might find that a warmer planet is quite beneficial.  If so, we need not bother with solutions, as there is no problem.

Let’s assume that the pundits are correct, and that global warming produces a net cost to society in general.  Now, we need to determine if

3. We can accurately assess man’s contributions to the putative warming

Perhaps man contributes little or nothing to global warming.  There is significant evidence that the planet might be warming all on its own.  If so, is it reasonable to demand societal change?

So we assume that mankind is contributing to global warming.  Now we need to determine whether

4. We can accurately model and predict how changes to man’s behavior will affect the putative warming trend

Global warming pundits demand a spectrum of changes.  How will those changes affect global warming?  Is it conceivable that we might overshoot?  Or perhaps the combined effect of available changes is completely negligible.  If we don’t know the impact of a particular change, then we’re really just shooting in the dark.

Let’s assume we can, in fact, measure the impact of particular changes on the climate.  Now, we must presume

5. That we can meaningfully lower man’s impact on the climate through a coordinated global effort

Perhaps we discover a few changes that, if made, would reduce or eliminate man’s effect on the climate.  Could these changes be implemented globally?  It is unlikely that a few local changes would have significant impact.

Let’s assume #1 through #5 are demonstrable.  We have now demonstrated that global warming is real, that it is bad, that man is causing it, that there are a set of changes which will result in a meaningful solution, and that these changes are globally feasible.

Now for the kicker.  We need to know

6. That the global efforts at combating the putative warming have a net quality of life and economic benefit around the globe. In other words, the costs of remediation are outweighed by the benefits.

Needless to say, we have a long way to go before we really have a handle on the problem of global warming and the feasibility of commonly accepted solutions.

Instantly Electable

I actually think someone like this would have a much easier time getting elected than pundits and pollsters realize…

Obama-Nation I: Negotiating with Terrorists

Well, since it’s now clear who the ’08 Presidential Candidates will be, I decided it’s time to start a series of articles on the candidates.  Beginning with Barack Obama, the lovable, cuddly candidate from Illinois that everyone loves to love.

Let’s start with negotiating with terrorists.  Does Obama support negotiation with terrorists?  Curiously, I cannot find any place on record where he definitively states that he does not support negotiating with terrorists.  Let’s assume that he wouldn’t (which may or may not be a safe assumption, but I’ll give him the benefit of doubt).

On his own web site is a series of backpedaling remarks regarding negotiations with Iran:

Obama was asked "Would you be willing to meet
separately, without precondition, during the first year of your
administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of
Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the
gap that divides our countries?" Obama responded, "I would."


Asked if he were still willing to meet without pre-condition during
your [sic] first year with Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez, Obama
said, "I do."

As others have pointed out, in these statements, Obama is not saying that he will meet with terrorists per se, but rather with known state sponsors of terrorism.  This is, of course, a reversal of the Bush doctrine that holds state sponsors of terrorists responsible for the actions of the terrorists they support.

In other statements on his website, Obama "clarifies" that "preconditions" are not the same as "preparations":

Obviously, there is a difference between pre-conditions and
preparation. Pre-conditions, which was what the question was in that
debate, means that we won’t meet with people unless they’ve already
agreed to the very things that we expect to be meeting with them about.

Right.  In particular, we say "are you willing under any conditions to agree to stop sponsoring Islamic terrorism" and if they say "no" then we don’t have anything left to talk about, since we don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Apparently, Obama understands this:

We must
not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction. We
should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize
Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.

Wait.  That sounded like a precondition to me.  I’m confused.

What makes it patently clear that Obama just doesn’t get it is this asinine statement in regard to dealing with states like Iran and North Korea:

Obama said, "The approach I am suggesting, the tough but engaged
diplomacy that I am suggesting is the kind that was carried out by John
Kennedy, it was carried out by Richard Nixon, and it was carried out by
Ronald Reagan."

Absolutely and completely incorrect.  In particular, Reagan’s approach to state sponsors of terrorism was essentially the Bush doctrine.  Just ask Gaddafi.

Regardless of his misunderstanding of political history, Obama is clearly indicating his position supporting negotiation with state sponsors of terrorism.

Am I the only one who understands that while you can negotiate with adversaries, you can’t negotiate with nutcases?  Doesn’t everyone understand this?  Or do we now need to argue whether Hugo Chavez, Kim Jung Il, and Ahmadinejad are nutcases?

So, will Obama negotiate with state sponsors of terrorism?  His answer: an unqualified YES.  Will he negotiate with the terrorists themselves?  His answer: a qualified NO.