The Joys of the Wall Street Journal, Weekend Edition

Ah, the joys of reading the relatively new weekend edition of the Journal…There’s always news you can really use. For instance, if you happen to be in Atlanta and are hungry, the Journal will tell you exactly where you should sitting at Rathbun’s, depending on whether you are an A, an A+, or A++.

i-7f6076521c9b326db56e4f2aa66651eb-floorplan.gif Floorplan Key: Red=A ++ List; Yellow=A+ LIST; Blue=A LIST

And when you’re done analyzing your status based on where the restaurant seats you, you can read about how to deal with your pesky, environmentally-conscience children! Ellen Gamerman reports:

In households across the country, kids are going after their parents for environmental offenses, from using plastic cups to serving non-grass-fed beef at the dinner table. Many of these kids are getting more explicit messages about becoming eco-warriors at school and from popular books and movies.

And of course, there is a book you can read to push back:

Earlier this month, a book called “The Sky’s Not Falling! Why It’s OK to Chill About Global Warming” hit the shelves. Its author, Holly Fretwell, says she sees it as an answer to what she calls “one-sided” environmental messages kids are getting in school and from books. “While riding a bike saves energy and is a great exercise, it gives you less time to do other things, like sports or homework,” she writes. “We drive our car because it gets us to work and play faster.”

My favorite: the sidebar on “HOW TO MANAGE YOUR ACTIVIST KID:”

Your daughter wants you to get a Prius but you don’t want to spend an extra $3,000.

Brian Day, executive director of the North American Association for Environmental Education, a professional nonprofit group based in Washington, says it helps to tell children that there’s more than one way to cut down on carbon emissions. He recommends driving less, and reminding kids about carpools.

If you can’t beat ’em, smear ’em

Tim Lambert has coverage of the latest in the denialist attempt to discredit global warming science – the smearing of scientist James Hansen. Using the bogey-man of George Soros, they try to suggest that Hansen has been funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely “NASA whistleblower” standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute, which gave him “legal and media advice”?

That’s right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros’ flagship “philanthropy,” by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI’s “politicization of science” program.

They do this by the dubious assumption that 100% of the Soros organization’s outlay to cover “politicization of science” that year went to Hansen.

The facts? Hansen received zero money from Soros, and 10,000 dollars and legal representation from the Government Accountability Project . As Hansen explains (PDF), he temporarily accepted this help, then declined after he was concerned strings would be attached.

So, in other words, this is a lie, and a smear, and it is completely beyond the pale for the Investors Business Daily to attack a civil servant this way and fabricate some kind of bribery charge against him. Lambert has also covered other attempts to discredit Hansen by saying he used to raise alarms for global cooling, equally dishonest, that are sadly already making the rounds of the conservative blogosphere unchallenged.

It again goes to the fundamental dishonesty of the global warming denialist movement. They can’t win with data, so they have to resort to lies, and smears to advance their agenda.

HIV/AIDS crankery from a Catholic Archbishop

This is seriously disturbing. Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, who is head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique, is telling people that condoms are laced with HIV and HAART therapy is designed to finish you off. This is in a country with double-digit HIV infection rates.

Archbishop Chimoio told our reporter that abstention, not condoms, was the best way to fight HIV/Aids.

“Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose,” he alleged, refusing to name the countries.

“They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century’s time.”

This abstinence/anti-condom nonsense from the Catholic Church has got to stop. It doesn’t work. They are killing people with this message. And worse, Chimoio telling people that one of the truly effective methods of preventing infection is a cause of infection is one of the more despicable things I’ve ever heard. However, since they are opposed to condoms for any reason, I doubt that he will experience any kind of censure for spreading such obvious lies and distortions about condoms and HIV/AIDS treatments.

This “every sperm is sacred” nonsense isn’t just a joke anymore.

This policy of the church actually has the potential to kill people.

Internet Roundup

Here’s what I’m reading this morning.

An Orangutan stole a womans pants in Malaysia. That’s got to be embarrassing, but at the very least, you’d have a story to tell people for the rest of your life that is sure to entertain.

Congress, having solved all other problems is looking into the language of hip-hop. Someone needs to find the youtube of this testimony.

But rapper and record producer Levell Crump, known as David Banner, was defiant as lawmakers pressed him on his use of offensive language. ”I’m like Stephen King: horror music is what I do,” he said in testimony laced with swear words. ”Change the situation in my neighborhood and maybe I’ll get better,” he told one member of Congress.

Swallowing the Camel lists the worlds weirdest/stupidest conspiracies, however manages to leave out “a cruise missile hit the Pentagon”. The troofers, of course, make an appearance and immediately churn out the usual debunked nonsense.

Super-crank Ahmadinejad apparently thinks Iran has no homosexuals. I don’t think there is any type of crankery this moron would not embrace (including 9/11 troof), so I can’t admit to any surprise.

Christopher Monckton, famous global warming denialist, apparently told a lie about why he had to sell his house. Once again, not surprised.

From the comments, someone points out they finally fired the vegan proselytizing teacher. He apparently wouldn’t return to work until everyone in the world converted to his lifestyle. I’m sure it was a hard choice for the school district.

Finally, one last piece of crank news, Paul Cameron has announced the formation of a new crank journal to study human sexuality. I can guess what its first article will say. Something like “teh gay kills”. One more crank source to track, no big deal.

Any other good crank news?

Who Steals a Kindergarten Bunny?

I have trouble believing this, but animal rights extremists have apparently stolen a kindergarten bunny.

Students at the Community Building Children’s Center arrived at their downtown preschool Monday morning to discover that their pet rabbit Sugar Bunny had been kidnapped over the weekend. Teachers found anti-circus flyers in his hutch.

“Somebody stoled him,” said five-year-old Zion. “I’m sad.”

Continue reading “Who Steals a Kindergarten Bunny?”

HeadOn Works!

The ads work, that is. HeadOn, that homeopathic (and therefore completely ineffective) head rub for head pain isn’t effective. But it’s still selling, because advertising and propaganda often trumps evidence! Mya Frazier of AdAge reports:

Those rapid-fire “HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead” spots are arguably among the worst commercials ever from a creative standpoint. They’re annoying, repetitive, obnoxious — and effective.
Clutter buster: HeadOn ads seem amateurish and mindnumbing, but the company’s marketing chief said consumers remember them.


HeadOn is logging some heady growth rates — 234% from 2005 to 2006. And for the first half of 2007, the brand looks to be on track to double sales. HeadOn ranks No. 9 in the external-analgesics-rubs category and logged $6.5 million in sales last year, up from just $1.9 million in 2005, according to Information Resources Inc. That’s not including Wal-Mart, who is “one of our biggest customers” Mr. Charron said.

Miralus’ ActivOn, for joint pain, launched in 2006, has leapfrogged past HeadOn, topping out at $5.5 million in sales and jumping to the No. 6 spot in the $278 million external-analgesic-rubs category. Within that category, Head-On is stealing share from such brands as Icy Hot, which was up just 4.4% in 2006; Bengay, which was down 2.5% last year; and Aspercreme, down 12.6% in 2006. (The last for a long time had its own cheesy tagline, “You bet your sweet Aspercreme,” since changed to “You bet if it’s Aspercreme.)


Mr. Charron is a big believer in focus groups and takes a rather unconventional approach to this most traditional of research tools. “Our No. 1 priority is recall,” said Mr. Charron, and sounding a bit like the HeadOn spots himself, he added: “It’s all about recall. It’s all about recall.”

Instead of testing the commercials against other headache remedies or other health-care advertising, Mr. Charron has tested HeadOn spots instead against what he refers to as ad clutter. “Odds are, 99% of the time, our ad won’t be next to a headache remedy anyway but a car ad or electronics ad or food ad,” he said.


But if the HeadOn story is inspiring as a case study, remember, it’s all about the long haul. Despite the buzz and the impressive sales growth figures, Miralus isn’t in the black yet.

Bring Back the OTA III – A history of the OTA

Chris Mooney has been nice enough to help promote our effort, and points us to some more helpful information about the Office of Technology Assessment. Now would be a good time to go over what the OTA did, how it was set up, and why I think it would be rather easy to set it up again as a non-partisan scientific body. To help people understand why this office was important, let’s go through a history of the body, much of which I’ve culled from Bruce Bimber’s “The Politics of Expertise in Congress”.

Founding and Mission of the OTA
The OTA was founded in 1972 to counter more political bodies of expertise, like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) which explicitly serve to advance the executive’s policy goals and lack objectivity or rather political neutrality. While in its early years it was not politically pure, it was remarkable among Congressional agencies in that it became less politicized over time. From Bimber:

Even the most naive observer of politics expects advisors to presidents, senators, and agency heads to be “biased” in favor of their bosses. But the simplicity of this theory is also its downfall–it merely predicts that degree of politicization increases with time, and cannot speak to cases where expert organizations might grow less politicized over time, or where agencies might exhibit different degrees of politicization. The Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), created explicitly as an analogue to PSAC for Congress, was highly politicized in its first half-dozen years of operation. It was widely viewed as dedicated to a narrow set of political interests, and its technical credibility suffered as a result. But OTA evolved over time to be less politicized; it became less partisan, less parochial, and more credible as a neutral provider of expertise. The agency exhibited an unmistakable trend from high toward lower politicization. (p20)

The Technology Assessment Act of 1972 initially defined a more limited role for the agency. It “assigned the agency a mission of providing neutral, competent assessments about the probable beneficial and harmful effects of new technologies.” (Bimber p26) The goal of the agency was to help craft policy to mitigate the negative effects of new technology while maximizing benefit from new science and knowledge.

The governing structure of the OTA was unique for a Congressional office. It was designed to minimize partisan input, and restrict the OTA from developing its own policy goals.

Continue reading “Bring Back the OTA III – A history of the OTA”