Patterico's Pontifications


Save the Planet, Starve the World

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 10:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Merchants like Costco and Sam’s have rationed sales of some rices this week, and that has brought heightened attention to the possibility of world food shortages. Today’s New York Sun reports that food shortages, especially shortages in corn and grain production, may eclipse concerns about global warming:

“The campaign against climate change could be set back by the global food crisis, as foreign populations turn against measures to use foodstuffs as substitutes for fossil fuels.

With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Several countries have blocked the export of grain. There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.

One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America’s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food.

“I don’t think anybody knows precisely how much ethanol contributes to the run-up in food prices, but the contribution is clearly substantial,” a professor of applied economics and law at the University of Minnesota, C. Ford Runge, said. A study by a Washington think tank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, indicated that between a quarter and a third of the recent hike in commodities prices is attributable to biofuels.

Last year, Mr. Runge and a colleague, Benjamin Senauer, wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.”

“We were criticized for being alarmist at the time,” Mr. Runge said. “I think our views, looking back a year, were probably too conservative.”

One of the problems with many global warming advocates is their unwillingness to discuss the feasibility of their solutions. The general tenor of the discussion seems to be “No price is to great a price to pay to save the planet.” But the fact is that a price can be too great, especially if the solution starves the neediest peoples of the world.



Liveblogging the Mike Peters Solo Show

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 8:18 pm

I’m here at the Crash Mansion in L.A., waiting for Mike Peters of the Alarm to take the stage. I’m wearing my threadbare T-shirt from the Change tour, circa 1989. The room is packed with at least 16 expectant fans.

I’ll never understand why this guy isn’t more famous than Bono. That’s life for you.

UPDATE: Make that 23 fans!

UPDATE x2: There must be around 38 fans here now. It’s intermission.

Reminds me of when I saw one of the all-time great bands, Wasted Tape, in L.A. with about six other people.

UPDATE x3: What a great show. The man plays to 40 people with the same energy and intensity as if he were playing to 40,000.

He’s always done that.

Appellate Attorneys: Explain This to Me

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 8:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

What is a Sealed Appellant and why would the device be used in a child pornography case like this?


Liberals Who Want US to Go to War

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 6:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas doesn’t seem to be a big supporter of the War in Iraq – he’s characterized it as a war to teach the Arabs a lesson after 9/11 – but there is one war he does support.

The War on Global Warming:

“The only way to get from here to there on slashing greenhouse emissions is by massively enforcing limits on consumption, which means heavy regulation, or much higher taxes. Or by developing breakthrough technologies, like a way to cheaply recapture carbon emissions or safer nuclear technology. (The technology has to be so cheap that China and India will buy it.) Higher oil prices will stimulate investment in alternative fuel sources, but every halfway believable estimate leaves us still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

It would be nice to hope that the scientists will solve our problems, and I pray for them. But the politicians will have to get involved and put the thumb of government on the scale-and then lean hard. That means calling for sacrifice-serious wartime sacrifice.”

Thomas realizes it will be hard to convince average people to fight this war since only the politicians and the elites seem to understand how important it is. There is, he says, an “enormous class divide” on global warming that elites and politicians understand but everyone else can’t understand or “can’t be bothered” with. As he puts it, when it comes to everyday Americans, “Slow food to most people means that the waitress at the local IHOP is falling behind.”

I’m a little slow but I think Evan Thomas just called me an IHOP hick.

I am and I’m proud of it. He should try it sometime.


Obama’s Plan to Win Without McCain’s Racists

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Politico reports that Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, told the National Journal that John McCain already has the racist vote but Obama still has a plan to win:

“David Plouffe tells Linda Douglass that real racists are probably voting Republican in any case:

“[T]he vast, vast majority of voters who would not vote for Barack Obama in November based on race are probably firmly in John McCain’s camp already,” he says.

Plouffe also made a four-pronged case for Obama’s electability. One, primary-focused, is that Clinton has big problems too.

He also pointed out that Obama’s actually been winning white men and younger white voters.

And looking ahead, he pointed to the issues: “They won’t agree with John McCain on issues like the economy and health care. And so I think that we are going to get the vast, vast majority of Democratic voters,” he said.

Finally, the Obama campaign is counting on its ability to change the electorate — a powerful argument, if one with real limits.

“If Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, I think turnout amongst African-Americans, turnout amongst all voters under 40, and our ability to register new voters is going to be a very important piece of the puzzle,” he said.”

It’s fair to call someone who votes against Obama solely because of his race a racist but there are other reasons than racism someone might vote for McCain. There are people like me who will vote for McCain because I don’t like Obama’s liberal policies, his lack of experience, and his questionable character. That doesn’t make me a racist, except perhaps in David Plouffe-world.

The irony is that this was a throw-away line in the interview. Plouffe was conceding that Obama has lost some voters to McCain, and it’s telling that Plouffe thinks votes have been lost because voters are racists. Clearly Plouffe believes that a segment of McCain’s support comes from one-dimensional racist voters.

That’s a sad and one-dimensional view of the electorate Obama craves to serve. As President, I don’t think Obama the uniter will be motivated to connect with racist McCain supporters … unless they happen to remind him of a racist old uncle.

The full National Journal interview is here.


100 MPG Hybrid Prius

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 1:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Wheaton College sponsored a display of alternative fuel vehicles during a recent Earth Day event, and two brothers brought their Hybrid Prius that they modified to get 100 mpg:

“For some young men, the trunk is the perfect spot for a huge set of car speakers.

But brothers Andrew and Chris Ewert have put something far more powerful in the back of their parents’ Toyota Prius: a lithium-ion battery pack capable of dramatically boosting the hybrid car’s already impressive fuel efficiency.

Unlike a conventional gas-electric Toyota Prius, which gets about 55 to 60 miles per gallon of gas, the Ewerts’ so-called “plug-in hybrid” is capable of traveling about 100 miles per gallon.

And it only takes 35 cents’ worth of electricity from a standard power outlet to charge the extra batteries.

“We’ve gotten about a thousand miles off of one tank of gas,” Andrew Ewert said. “This is the future of cars. We strongly believe that this is where it’s headed.”

Here’s a video interview.

Pretty cool.


Kids Who Panhandle

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 11:53 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s not unusual to see panhandlers on street corners asking for money. KUTV in Salt Lake, Utah, investigated and found that some panhandlers on their streets aren’t what they appear to be:

“2News reporter Mike Headrick spent the last couple months following some of these panhandlers, and after his investigation we discovered that, chances are, your money is not going where you think.

With each passing glance, there is a story. Megan Elmer hopes that her story will tug at the hearts of those who drive by.

“I’m from Seattle, I came down here to live with my boyfriend and he ended up kicking me out a week before Christmas,” says Megan.

And it is because of that, Megan says she’s spent the last few months begging for money, hoping to make enough cash to buy a bus ticket back to Seattle. “I need about $139 for a ticket,” says Megan.

But when it comes to panhandling, Megan has a very interesting secret. It turns out that everything written on her broken piece of cardboard is a carefully constructed lie.”

The reporter discovered that Megan has nice clothes, a home, and a family and she apparently panhandles for spending money. He estimated that Megan could be making up to $26,000 a year.

It’s refreshing to see local media report stories like this. Hopefully it will shame Megan or her parents into stopping her dishonest behavior. If not, perhaps it will at least put a damper on her collections.


Update on FLDS Mothers and Children

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Law — DRJ @ 11:26 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

My frequent posts on this topic makes it appear I’m more interested than I really am but it seems like there’s new and interesting information everyday. Today’s Houston Chronicle has news about the FLDS women that I think is encouraging:

“Forty women opted Thursday to go to a family violence shelter rather than return to the West Texas ranch where authorities allege children are unsafe because of the polygamist group’s practice of “spiritually marrying” underage girls to older men.

Seven of the women who had been staying with their children in public shelters for the past three weeks returned to the Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado.

The number of women choosing to go to an undisclosed family violence shelter was a turnaround from last week, when six sought shelter and 51 returned to the isolated compound.

“It was entirely up to them,” said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.”

Seventeen mothers with infants under 1 were taken to San Antonio where they will be housed together at the Baptist Children’s Ministries.

The total number of children in State care was revised to 462 with the addition of 25 girls who claimed they were adults but who are believed to be minors.


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