Some things I've noticed lately:
- This paper in the journal Atmospheric Environment looks at air pollution in China is causing 418,000 to 514,000 deaths annually (I think it's per year), with 511,000 deaths avoided in the last decade. (The abstract isn't absolutely clear about the time periods of the numbers involved.) That's a lot of air pollution.
- This press release about prostate cancer says that 90 million American adults read below the high school level. (It advocates dumbing down patient information.) Can that possibly be true? If so, damn, we're a pretty dumb country. American Exceptionalism? Yeah, right.
- I don't know either if Michael Mann has any chance of winning his lawsuit against NRO, Mark Steyn, and Rand Simberg -- an article in Science magazine minimizes his chances, but doesn't put them at zero -- but clearly what those pseudo-intellectuals wrote was deplorable. (And completely devoid of science -- the hockey stick has been replicated by several other groups and completely independent mathematical techniques.) Of course, accuracy and insight has never been what the attacks on Mann have been about -- they're about plunging a finger in what's been manufactured to be seen as an open wound, seeking to enlarge and inflame it. I think Mann will go down in history as the Galileo of our time, and his assailants as the ignorant Catholic officials whose truculence represented the beginning of the end of their misplaced ideas.
- That said, I don't think authors for the IPCC ought to go around claiming they are Nobel Laureates, as Mann has recently attracted some attention for doing. What's wrong with the title "Nobel Contributor?" (Scientific American recently wrote about the need for the Nobel committee to better recognize groups and not just individuals.) It maintains its due connection to the prize, but doesn't place the title holder in the set of Bohr and Dirac, Feynman and Weinberg (where they don't belong). To me it sounds just right.
- Richard Cohen nails it in the Washington Post: "The president who seems not to care."
"...somewhere between the campaign and the White House itself, Obama got lost. It turned out he had no cause at all. Expanding health insurance was Hillary Clinton’s longtime goal, and even after Obama adopted it, he never argued for it with any fervor. In an unfairly mocked campaign speech, he promised to slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet. But when he took office, climate change was abandoned — too much trouble, too much opposition. His eloquence, it turned out, was reserved for campaigning.
"Obama never espoused a cause bigger than his own political survival. This is the gravamen of the indictment from the left, particularly certain African Americans. They are right. Young black men fill the jails and the morgues, yet Obama says nothing. Bobby Kennedy showed his anger, his impatience, his stunned incredulity at the state of black America. Obama shows nothing."Honestly, do you have any impression that Obama wants anything more than to get re-elected -- or that Mitt Romney would sell his children, if he could, to attain the office? I still think Steve Duin of The Oregonian said it best, this July:
"Who still believes that either candidate wants anything from the rest of us beyond a show of hands?"This election marks the end of my belief that much of anything will ever again change for the better in America -- or that it's possible in a country of our size. In a Twitter world, what do you expect, really?