The collapse of Pajamas Media

Is not exactly a surprise, because non-profitable operations always burn through their VC money sooner or later. It’s almost always more effective to start an operation that is profitable from the start. Readers with long memories will recall that I never had any interest in what was obviously a ludicrous business proposition:

A few people have asked me about my opinion on what I think is now called Open Source Media, and wondered why I’m not involved or if I’m bitter about not being involved. My position can be summed up thusly:

1. Heard about it.
2. Didn’t sign up for it.
3. Don’t care about it.
4. Expect it to crash and burn.

– Vox Popoli, Nov 20, 2005

[W]e have decided to wind down the Pajamas Media Blogger and advertising network effective March 31, 2009. The PJM portal and the XPressBlogs will continue as is. Since our ad relationship continues for the time being, you should note that in order to be paid for the 1st quarter of 2009, you must leave the current Pajamas ads up until 12:01AM April 1. We will be sending you information in mid-March on removing the ads. As of April 1, 2009, you will be free to arrange syndication or re-sale deals.
– Protein Wisdom, Jan 31, 2009

And as far as I’m concerned, good riddance to them. Dennis the Peasant was right.

GDP Watch

In the interest of watching the statisticians work their fictional magic, I thought it might be educational to track the economic contraction as it develops and see to what extent it shows up in the official figures. Notice that according to the current Advance report on the fourth quarter of 2008, the economy actually grew 1.3 percent this year. I’m guessing that they just might revise that down a bit in the next report or two.

Quarter Adv Prelim Final Revised Annual
2008 Q1 0.6 0.9 1.0 0.9
2008 Q2 1.9 3.3 2.8 2.8
2008 Q3 -0.3 -0.5 -0.3 -0.5
2008 Q4 -3.8 1.3
2007 Q1 1.2 0.5 0.6 0.1
2007 Q2 3.4 4.0 3.8 4.8
2007 Q3 3.9 4.9 3.9 4.8
2007 Q4 0.6 0.6 0.6 -0.2 2.0
2006 Q4 3.5 2.2 2.5 1.5 2.8

Rationalist unreason

It seems the incidence of the self-proclaimed rationalist drawing errant conclusions from demonstrably inaccurate data is not a new phenomenon:

Innumerable have been the explanations which men have offered for the apostasy of Julian. They have pointed to his Arian teachers, have suggested that Christianity was hateful to him as the religion of Constantius whom he regarded as his father’s murderer, while rationalists have paradoxically claimed that the Emperor’s reason refused to accept the miraculous origin and subtle theologies of the faith. It would be truer to say that Christianity was not miraculous enough – was too rational for the mystic and enthusiast. The religion which had as its central object of adoration the cult of a dead man was to him human, all too human: his vague longings after some vast imaginative conception of the universe felt themselves cabined and confined in the creeds of Christianity…. A Greek by education and literary sympathies, the Christian Bible was but a faint and distorted reflexion of the masterpieces which had comforted his solitary youth: a mystic who had felt the wonder of the expanse of the heavens, with a strain in his nature to which the ritual excesses of the Orient appealed with irresistible fascination, it was easy for him to adopt the speculations of Neoplatonism and to fall a victim to the thaumaturgies of Maximus. The causes of Julian’s apostasy lie deep-rooted in the apostate’s inmost being.
– The Cambridge Medieval History Series, Vol I, p. 78

Just as history’s most famous apostate did not become a pagan mystic because he was too rational for Christianity, the atheist does not become a secular humanist because he is too devoted to reason for religion. In both cases, the cause lies within the individual’s character rather than from any superior rational faculty. This should be obvious due to a) the oft-demonstrated logical errors of the leading atheists, (to say nothing of their collective belief in the AGW myth), and, b) the fact that atheist intellectuals tend to convert to atheism in their inexperienced youth, but irreligious intellectuals who convert to religion have tended to do so at the height of their intellectual powers.

Atheist Demotivator #5

What people often seem to forget, even as the AGW/CC consensus is washed away beneath a tide of facts, observations, and public scorn, is that it doesn’t matter if it’s four men or four thousand who throw their intellectual weight behind a foolish idea. Eventually that idea is going to have to stand or fall on its own.

The global warming fraud exposed

Former NASA climate chief admits that there is no science behind the theory of anthropogenic global warming/climate change:

“As Chief of several of NASA Headquarters’ programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research,” Theon wrote….

“My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.”

This isn’t the first time that a politically charged theory that a) enjoys the support of a “scientific consensus”, b) fails as a predictive model, and c) is dependent upon constant tweaks in order to prevent its complex structure from collapsing with each exposure to new data, has failed. Nor will the collapse and eventual disappearance of AGW/CC be the last time this happens.

Science does work; one of its most positive attributes is that it works despite the best efforts of scientists to harness it in the service of their political, ideological, and professional ends.

What men want

Flirting with the TMI line, Ace nevertheless sums it up accurately enough:

It’s baffling that women’s magazines even exist. All those wasted pages on “How to Keep Your Man.” Any article on this topic that contains more than three words (“Screw him lots”) is missing the big picture and dwelling on trivialities.

To be honest, I’m not sure which is more pathetic. The fact that most men are so utterly and irredeemably simple or the fact that most women are so utterly stupid that they can’t figure out a binary relationship.

It’s not rocket science. Daily sex will usually make for a mutually stimulating relationship. Twice-weekly sex will usually make for a neutral and stable relationship. Sex once a month or less will usually lead to an affair and/or a divorce. There just might be a reason the Bible instructs men not to turn down their wives and women not to turn down their husbands, given that it also informs us that God looks askance on divorce.

Of course, if you’re a man or woman who genuinely prefers watching television, well, you don’t need to be married to do that anyhow.

Let them drown in red ink

I have to admit, I really love the stimulus package. I love the massive onslaught of liberal spending on everything from condoms to public schools. I want to see the American people absolutely and utterly crushed beneath the weight of the government services they demanded in democratic election after democratic election, because it’s the only way three generations of idiots will be forced to acknowledge the obvious:

In 2005, the state Supreme Court ruled that the education of Kansas schoolchildren was in peril because the Kansas Legislature had not spent enough on the state’s schools. Despite the fact that by every recognized measure, Kansas schools already were near or at the top in most state rankings, the court imposed spending increases that are now helping push the state into a deep budget crisis….

Research conducted for the University of Kansas Business School’s Center for Applied Economics by Dr. Florence Neymotin, a Kansas State University assistant professor of economics, shows the massive increase of school funding in Kansas between the years 1997 and 2006 so far has had “little evidence of improving student outcomes as measured by test scores.”

Shocking, isn’t it? The next thing you know, the experts will discover that every federal dollar spent doesn’t actually deliver a 5x multiple in economic growth. A few more years of this and they may even be ready for the concept of “water is wet”.

Voxiversity III possibilities

Now that everyone is getting ready for the final, it’s time to go ahead and start kicking around possibilities for the next book study. Here’s my initial thoughts on the subject, but feel free to argue the case for your favored candidate:

The Aeneid: Pros – new translation is pretty good. Cons – I’ve never actually been able to finish it.

Liberal Fascism: Pros – likely relevant to the new administration, nice segue from Rothbard’s AGD. Cons – no free texts available.

Herodotus: Pros – Lovely Landmark edition. Cons – are we really ready for another history already?

The Wealth of Nations: Pros – Classic economics text. Cons – More econ?

Why the Fowl Atheist ran away

It was probably wise of PZ to run away from me, considering that he couldn’t even beat an incompetent Canadian:

I attended the debate tonight, and I have to honestly say that PZ lost… badly.

He basically decided to dismiss the agreed topic of debate and then proceeded to lecture on Hox genes. If the topic of debate was really evolution vs Intelligent Design he certainly would have won on the issue of genetics, but still would have lost on the issue of overall rationale.

In the end, his conclusion was that he couldn’t argue the agreed-upon question because it wasn’t his area of expertise and they should have gotten someone else.

PZ is so incompetent and historically ignorant that I doubt he could win a debate that remained solidly within his area of expertise. There’s a reason he’s still a community college professor, after all. Have a look through the blog at every single exchange that’s ever taken place between us; you’ll see that painfully lame ad hominem is the very best that he can ever do. It doesn’t sound like Durston was much of a debater himself, but that doesn’t prevent PZ from whining about him. That’s pathetic, since nothing is easier than slashing apart someone who is attempting to play fast and loose with the facts. They do your job for you.

PZ was completely wrong when he attempted to claim that Hitler was a Christian. (PZ’s opponent was also wrong, as Hitler was not an atheist although he was a science fetishist.) The OSS reports released in 2001, with which PZ is obviously unfamiliar, make it clear that while the man was, like Dawkins and Hitchens, raised within a church tradition, he abandoned it and sought to destroy both the Protestant and Catholic churches as an adult.

As for those who completely dismiss the legitimacy of the Testimonium Flavianum, I would merely inquire by what evidence they do so. I completely agree that the text doesn’t sound like Josephus, but then, that’s hardly conclusive proof of it being a post-facto addition. Moreover, the Testimonium Flavianum is not the only reference to Jesus in the Antiquities, it’s merely the only one whose legitimacy is seriously questioned.

Vox vs the Experts – the results

The 2008 Housing Price Test:

NAR EXPERTS’ 2008 FORECAST: “Existing-home prices are expected to… hold essentially even in 2008 at $218,300.”

VOX: Instead of $218k, I’m expecting a decline that would project to $175k or less by the end of the year.

THE VERDICT: “The median price crashed 15.3% year over year in December, to just $175,400.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am entirely unconcerned with whatever the expert scientific consensus of the moment happens to be. Intelligence and logic will usually – not always, but usually – trump expertise and consensus. Consider the track record: 2008 housing prices, check. Embryonic stem cell research, check. Dark matter, check. Global warming, check. Evolution, okay, jury’s still out.

And I am an expert in precisely none of those things. Now, if you’re still not convinced, what more would it take to convince you?