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Hubert Cumberdale

The search for the next great bogeyman has begun

Posted on 2008.08.25 at 14:49
And it's...ready for this...the dangerous lack of oxygen in our atmosphere!

The rise in carbon dioxide emissions is big news. It is prompting action to reverse global warming. But little or no attention is being paid to the long-term fall in oxygen concentrations and its knock-on effects.


Guys like this used to walk around busy streets with long beards, bad smells and placards that read "the end is nigh!" Now, they write for newspapers.

Households worried about the high cost of keeping warm this winter will draw little comfort from the Farmers' Almanac, which predicts below-average temperatures for most of the U.S.

"Numb's the word," says the 192-year-old publication, which claims an accuracy rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts that are prepared two years in advance.

"This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said almanac editor Peter Geiger, noting that the frigid forecast combined with high prices for heating fuel is sure to compound problems households will face in keeping warm.


I dont know how accurate the Farmers Alamanac's predictions will turn out to be, but it's interesting that a colder than average winter is envisioned to be "catastrophic for millions". Wasn't it warmer than average temperatures causing hand-wringing a few short months ago? Isn't it still in some quarters?

It's amazing how easily the mass swings from catastrophe to catastrophe (although I personally can imagine how colder weather would be more problematic than warmer weather). At least there's no bogeyman-finger-pointing in this article, declaring an encroaching end of all life unless Western civilization resorts to self-flagellation and privation.

PS - While he wouldn't comment specifically on the almanac's ability to forecast the weather two years from now, O'Lenic said it's generally impossible to come up with accurate forecasts more than a week in advance.


Hubert Cumberdale

Meat for the Bones

Posted on 2008.08.07 at 14:15

I posted a video a short while ago of a cop pushing over a random "activist" biker and then arresting him. The video above is a detailed expose of what happened during and after the incident, including further nonsensical arrests. In one way, it's a relatively minor incident. In another, it makes one wonder how often arrest reports are falsified and how often innocent people are detained or charged due to some cop or cops capricious and arbitrary use of their authority. I mean, if they're willing to lie about the little stuff - in public, with cameras rolling - what happens with "the big stuff" in a more "private" setting?

Hubert Cumberdale


Posted on 2008.08.04 at 13:42
One of the most important and powerful writers of the 20th century, Aleksandr Solhenitsyn, died recently. I've only limited exposure to his work (Cancer Ward and Gulag Archipelego), the former being a novel, the latter being a first-hand account of his time in Gulags of Soviet Russia. They are both frightening and arresting works of great will and genius.

Here's the best eulogy for the man that Ive come across thus far:

"Ivan Denisovich", "Cancer Ward", and "The First Circle" were all eminently worthwhile. I almost never have time for novels, but this is true: the Russians have broken through that wall more than anyone in the past twenty years or so...The "Red Wheel" series is magisterial: I've only read the first two ("August 1914" and "November 1916") and need to move on the last two, but I cannot imagine a more illuminating display of pre-Revolutionary Russian culture than he brought us in those works. I have never gotten over his contention that the single most important gunshot of the entire twentieth century is the one that killed Pyotr Stolypin at the Kiev Opera in 1911. Solzhenitsyn contends that it's because Stolypin represented the very last chance to head-off November 1917. I think he's right about that.

...However, I think the "Archipelago" is at least as important in a different way. There are no enduring theoretical innovations here. It's not that big a deal. What it is, is the biggest spotlight that anyone ever focused on the biggest infestation of human rats and cockroaches in history. This is to learn from, good and hard. And to have done that not from the safety and comfort of the West, but right in the middle of the horror, commands my highest respect.

Hubert Cumberdale


Posted on 2008.07.29 at 13:39

This biker (a "Critical Mass" protester, whatever the hell that is) was arrested for "assault on a Police Officer" and "resisting arrest". Seriously.

Here's the cops version of events:

In court documents, Pogan said he saw Long weaving in and out of lanes and obstructing traffic before he ordered the cyclist to stop. The cop claimed Long deliberately drove his bike into him, sending both of them falling to the ground. Pogan claimed to have suffered cuts from the impact.

The video clearly shows Long trying to dodge Pogan, who appears to have remained upright the entire time.

Laughable. Here's what the cops father had to say:

"You gotta do what you gotta do to make an arrest," said Patrick Pogan Sr., 51, who retired in 2002.

He said his son is the third generation of NYPD in the family. "I'm proud of my son. He's a good kid."

Apparently, being a thug runs in the family. It's one thing to "do what you gotta do" to arrest an escapting rapist, murderer or politician (heh), but...arbitrarily body-slamming some random dude and then charging him with assault and throwing him in jail for the lone crime of being your unlucky victim, well...

At least he didn't tase him, I guess.

Hubert Cumberdale

Demonization as a step-stool to fascism

Posted on 2008.07.24 at 10:13
Im not - and never have been - a smoker...but I am so sick and tired of this shit. The self-importance of the crusaders, the relentless repeal of personal freedoms, the cowing of the victims because the "intentions are good".

The $500 million would be spent on a multipronged campaign — nicknamed Mpower — that Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the health organization, outlined in February.

The campaign will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, outlaw smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and free giveaways of cigarettes, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer their citizens nicotine patches or other help quitting. Third world health officials, consumer groups, journalists, tax officers and others will be brought to the United States for workshops on topics like lobbying, public service advertising, catching cigarette smugglers and running telephone hot lines for smokers wanting to quit.

With all due respect to billionaire Bill Gates and the WHO - go fuck yourselves with a rusty torque wrench. Yes smoking is potentially hazardous, yes it can lead to certain deleterious health defects and, yes, some people do it anyways. And some of them actually enjoy it and want neither dollars nor your interference to "help them quit". And none of your self-aggrandizing, high-minded blather about moving the death rate decimal point changes the fact that you have no goddamned right to force them to do otherwise. I'd be okay with these jokers if were looking to fund yet another "smokings is bad for you" educational campaign with their ill-spent money (even though I somehow doubt there's anyone left on the planet that is unaware that smoking is bad for you), but of course that's not where it stops. Dollars will be used to "outlaw smoking in public places" and "raise tobacco taxes". I don't know what drives these temperance movements that grab hold of the masses every other decade, or why they target only certain vices in particular, but it makes me want to punch babies in the face. The funny thing is, when you read this sort of press, the sentiment is always couched in pragmatic terms (ie; preventing deaths, increasing health), but the truth of the matter is it's almost always propelled by moralist motivations. From the comments of the linked article:

As the father of an 11 week old son, I am thrilled. When all you smokers come within ten feet of my son, you're taking your life in your hands! Obama leads the way on this issue by putting on his nicotine patch and twitching like an addict but at least not puffing like a weak-minded loser anymore!

And thus a personal vice becomes a social evil that needs to be "stamped out" by whatever means possible. All the hallmarks of intolerance and hysteria are there: the "think of the children!" precautionary principle, a gross over-estimation of the demonized behavior's effects and the sanctimonious sense of "changing for the better".

Eventually the tobacco crusade will peter out, as almost all populist moral panics tend to. And what probably none of the current anti-smoking zealots realize right now is that it could be one of their personal foibles that is targeted by the smiley-faced fascist crowds next.

As for me, I'm considering taking up the demon weed. I want to be the first 30-something person to start smoking in the 21st century - for the lone purpose of spiting these self-appointed social engineers.

Hubert Cumberdale

David Lynch wins (loses)

Posted on 2008.07.23 at 12:47
Fun little Meme making its way around the inter-tubes recently. Being a movie buff, I couldn't help but partake:

Bad movies! Five categories:

1. Worst well-regarded film
2. Most overhyped film (note that this is slightly different from above; the first measures the absolute badness level, while the second measures the delta between reputation and actual quality)
3. Worst film to win a best picture Oscar.
4. Most disappointing film (ie should have been good but wasn't--Godfather III, Phantom Menace, the latest Indiana Jones atrocity).
5. Worst movie, full stop. (Must have been a major motion picture release--no direct-to-video, or film festival torture tactics, please).

My list:

1.) Magnolia. Hate, hate this movie. A hodge-podge of paper-thin, unsympathetic characters in a poorly cobbled together series of events that can only charitebly be called a "plot". Stinks of pretension, particularly the grand "ending".

2.) Mystic River. I remember walking out of that film feeling emotionally manipulated and wondering WTF the hype was all about.

3.) Forrest Gump. This was a tough one because I tend to pointedly avoid many so-called "best pictures". Still, I'll go with the Gump. My father aptly described it back in the day as a movie about "a retard with lots of luck."

4.) Star Wars - Phantom Menace. A popular choice, no doubt. It's just so damn hard to get around how long one waited for the next batch of Star Wars films and how incredibly terrible they were. Phantom Menace was the worst of the lot. Tim Burton's second Batman film might belong here too.

5.) Mullholland Drive. I wanted to say "Master of Disguise", but I think this is the better pick. Aside from a lesbian love-scene, there is almost not a single thing worth watching in Lynch's over-long nightmarish abortion. Nonsense stacked atop nonsense with the added gall to marvel at the resultant heights.

Hubert Cumberdale

Cool. And creepy.

Posted on 2008.07.22 at 15:17
Fascinating device that can negotiate steps like a living being.

It also gets 10/10 on the Cronenberg creep scale. Can you imagine that thing coming at you in some dark alley?

Hubert Cumberdale

What he said...

Posted on 2008.07.04 at 14:35
Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature. Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." That's Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.

And surely it is in keeping with this essentially religious outlook that the "solutions" chiefly offered to global warming involve radical changes to personal behavior, all of them with an ascetic, virtue-centric bent: drive less, buy less, walk lightly upon the earth and so on. A light carbon footprint has become the 21st-century equivalent of sexual abstinence.

original here.

Hubert Cumberdale

A sufficient number of boring facts

Posted on 2008.07.02 at 23:07
“Kings and dates and battles” is the popular, disparaging formulation of “traditional” history education: walking the students through memorizing the names of people of no relevance to the student other than the demands of the teacher, memorizing the dates things not important to the student occurred, and memorizing big military clashes that are likewise impossible for them to fully connect with. The tyranny of dry fact, if you will. Up to an extent, this can be compensated for with a teacher that has a lively delivery and good performance skills- and the regular small doses of facts which may not be all that relevant to history, but WILL actually interest the students- but when it comes to test day, the questions won’t be about the nuances of the performance or the juicy details included to get attention, they’ll be mostly… kings and dates and battles. Their names, their place in time, some demonstration of understanding of their significance, depending on the grade level.

The imagined solution to this problem- not to mention the problem of getting some diversity into the endless parade of Dead White Males- is to teach history “in context”. The problem with this otherwise laudable idea- who wouldn’t want students to be more interested in history, and minority students to feel less alienated by it?- is that there is no such thing as context until you’ve accumulated a sufficient number of boring facts, only its illusion. Proposing to teach a child context first- or fascinating context hand in hand with the kings and dates and battles every step of the way- is like trying to draw a zebra on a blank sheet of white paper by starting with the spaces between the stripes.

An epic essay by "Labrat" over at Atomic nerds (rapidly becoming one of my favorite blogs). It gives "context" (heh) to the ceaseless efforts of proponents of the perniciously labeled "Intelligent Design" movement to infiltrate American Science classes. Very worthwhile.

Hubert Cumberdale

Give me a good reason why you're filming...

Posted on 2008.06.27 at 09:53

Hubert Cumberdale

Dark Knight Echos

Posted on 2008.06.26 at 13:46
I used to make weekly trips to the movie theater. It was more than bland routine for me; it was a passion. That passion has dissipated over the years, thanks to the ceaseless march of trite, stupid and overly-formulaic films that dominate the silver screens these days. I still love good movies (and really, really bad ones), but I've scaled back the theater trips to one or two every few months. A movie has to get me really excited to coax me onto the dark, sticky floors these days.

Heads up: a thunderbolt is about to rip into the blanket of bland we call summer movies. The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan's absolute stunner of a follow-up to 2005's Batman Begins, is a potent provocation decked out as a comic-book movie.


No fair giving away the mysteries of The Dark Knight. It's enough to marvel at the way Nolan — a world-class filmmaker, be it Memento, Insomnia or The Prestige — brings pop escapism whisper-close to enduring art. It's enough to watch Bale chillingly render Batman as a lost warrior, evoking Al Pacino in The Godfather II in his delusion and desolation. It's enough to see Ledger conjure up the anarchy of the Sex Pistols and A Clockwork Orange as he creates a Joker for the ages.

Via Rolling Stone.

I've always liked the whole Batman mythos, and the first Tim Burton iteration holds a special place in my heart. But this one sounds fucking awesome.

I'll be there. With bells on.

Hubert Cumberdale

RIP George

Posted on 2008.06.24 at 14:13

Hubert Cumberdale

Memetic replication due to hardware restictions.

Posted on 2008.06.13 at 12:18
We expect ideas to go away when they are proven to be bad, much as we tend to expect that the pinnacle of human evolution is really someone that resembles Doc Savage. We can understand why an idea spreads under force of threat, but we scratch our heads when the same thing that failed spectacularly before keeps getting picked up, brushed off, and tried again by purely persuasive and even democratic means. We usually explain this by deciding that some bad ideas won’t die because of their pure emotional appeal, but this isn’t quite adequate either after a certain scale of failure. Breatharianism, the cutely wacky cult that alleges that all you truly need to survive is light and air, is a very emotionally appealing idea; just think of what you could save on groceries, you’d never have to worry about obesity again, and you’d completely eliminate all tiresome moral dilemmas about killing to survive and the energy costs inherent in the food you eat. As a meme, however, breatharianism has been so spectacularly unsuccessful that I’m betting most of you haven’t even heard of it until now. While it has managed to claim some victims (and probably a few more miserable chronic cheaters), we don’t wonder about why and the tally remains very small relative to other destructive memes; deciding to give up food and water is transparently a bad idea.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred million deaths are credited to the destructive meme of communism- which are probably very much underestimated, as we only tend to get figures from relatively well-organized regimes- and god alone knows how much lost productivity and wealth can be credited to its milder cousins. The various strains of collectivism in practice have ranged from merely a dubious idea that results in countries with chronically sclerotic and declining economies, to a truly catastrophic one that kills off half a population. And it remains an extremely successful meme that seems to require no threat at all to perpetuate itself; well-educated people around the world who have read all that history persist in insisting it’s a brilliant idea that has always been somehow poorly implemented. As memes go, it is incredibly robust and fit. No matter how many people it impoverishes or kills, it still seems like a good idea to so many people that it not only keeps being tried, but winds up as fashionable iconography for t-shirts and political campaigns.

A biological/evolutionary perspective on why collectivist movements in politics persist.

Hubert Cumberdale

More filler

Posted on 2008.06.12 at 12:06
This Meme is actually pretty good, though:

Create your very own rock band!

Go to Wiki Random - this is the name of your band.

Go to Quotes random - the last four words in the last quote is the album name.

Go to Flickr 7 days interesting - the third picture, no matter what, is your cover.

Here's what I came up with:

Sarah the Martyr - "Paying Somebody Not To"

Hubert Cumberdale

Sounds about right

Posted on 2008.06.10 at 14:19

You Are 71% Misanthropic

Here's the truth: Most people suck. You are just lucky enough to know it.

You're not ready to go live alone in a cave - but you're getting there.

How Misanthropic Are You?

Hubert Cumberdale

The Fredrich Family Circus

Posted on 2008.06.06 at 11:18
Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter, sometimes the union of seemingly disparate things results in sweet fruit nonetheless.


Hubert Cumberdale

Worst. Deflection. Ever.

Posted on 2008.05.29 at 20:49

Hubert Cumberdale


Posted on 2008.05.29 at 11:39
...if there is one pattern we see in the public policies the Cathedral produces, it's that they tend to be very good at creating dependency. We can observe the dependency system by imagining what would happen if Washington, DC, out to the radius of the Beltway, is suddenly teleported by aliens into a different dimension, where its residents will live out their lives in unimaginable wealth, comfort and personal fulfillment. We here on Earth, however, see the Federal City disappear in a flash of light. In its place is a crater of radioactive glass.

What would happen? Many, many checks would no longer arrive. Children would go hungry - not just in North America, but around the world. Old people would starve. Babies would die of easily preventable diseases. Hurricane victims would squat in squalor in the slums. Drug companies would sell poison, stockbrokers would sell worthless paper, Toys-R-US would sell little plastic parts designed to stick in my daughter's throat and choke her. Etc, etc, etc.

Washington has made itself necessary. Not just to Americans, but to the entire world. Why does Washington want to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis? Because helping is what it does. It dispenses love to all. Its mission is quite simply to do good, on a planetary basis. And why does the government of Burma want to stop it? Why turn down free help, including plenty of free stuff, and possibly even some free money?

Because dependency is another name for power. The relationship between dependent and provider is the relationship between client and patron. Which is the relationship between parent and child. Which also happens to be the relationship between master and slave.

Interesting and worthwhile, if you can get through the whole thing.

2ft deep Wading pools now require life-guards and insurance. No joke.

This is the banal entrance to a risk-free utopia. Or a nightmarish prison -- depending on which side of the rule-makers desk you sit on.

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