April 24, 2007

About that toilet paper.

Glenn Reynolds writes:
AT THE RISK OF BEING TARRED FOR TREASON LIKE HARRY REID, I'm going to declare that the war against toilet paper is already lost.

But unlike Reid and the other 76 Senators, I never voted for this one!

UPDATE: A reader suggests "smeared" instead of "tarred." In this context, all I can say is "Eww."

ANOTHER UPDATE: By the way, Sheryl Crow says the whole toilet-paper thing was tongue in cheek, though Rand Simberg isn't sure he believes her.
Oh, come on! It was obviously a joke. I didn't post on this story yesterday -- a day when I was already attacking Crow -- because I thought it was such a lame joke that it didn't fairly compensate for the annoying behavior I was complaining about

I'm really only posting now to say, Glenn, since you're eww-ing at "tarred," you might want to reconsider "tongue in cheek."

By the way, don't forget this guy, who's subjecting his family to life -- on 5th Avenue -- without toilet paper.

80 comments:

Victor said...

A good friend was commenting how it's so silly there's a big hubbub about this. According to him (and I agree) the real point to look at is whether H20 is cleaner than paper at all.

To water users we (not including myself here) must seem nasty indeed.

Doyle said...

Glenn Reynolds is such a douchebag. He's starting to try to write like Mickey Kaus now, I see.

Also, there are more than 77 senators.

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

Heh.
She doesn't know how to use the three shells!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Oh, come on! It was obviously a joke.

Probably but then again, with the celebrity crowd it's hard to tell the difference.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Also, there are more than 77 senators.

I think Reynolds knows that Doyle. 77 senators voted for the war which is what he was making a parody of.

Doyle said...

Reynolds is a parody.

Justin said...

Doyle said...

Glenn Reynolds is such a douchebag.

And then later said...

Reynolds is a parody.

It's a good thing there are people like you out there who can raise the level of debate and balance out people like Reynolds.

Doyle said...

Quit crying, baby.

Invisible Man said...

I can't believe that normal people haven't gotten tired of Reynold's shtick yet. His yuck-yuck passive aggressive humor is only impressive when standing next to Richard Little.

And as for no-toilet paper guy, that story is the gift that keeps giving. Best small talk subject ever! But I don't know who is crazier, him for doing it for a book deal or his wife in torturing herself when she seems to be the more accomplished writer and a semi-sane individual.

Justin said...

Wow. I haven't been called a baby since 5th grade.

nick danger said...

Quit crying, baby.

I know you are but what am I?
I know you are but what am I?
I know you are but what am I?

Doyle said...

Your taste in blogs is exceeded only by your sense of humor!

SteveR said...

As for Reynolds, if you don't like his "shtick" don't go there. There are only about 80 billion web sites, I can't imagine the stupidity of wasting time on one I don't like.

Doyle said...

Hey maybe if you did you wouldn't be such an entrenched wingnut. I read as much conservative garbage as I can, trying to find anything persuasive in the steaming piles of neuroses, insecurity, dishonesty and Jonah Goldberg columns.

Anyway it's not stupidity as much as morbid curiosity. Plus you guys (like Justin!) are just too much fun to mess with.

Justin said...

Doyle said...

Your taste in blogs is exceeded only by your sense of humor!

Everyone here (including you) is reading the same blog. Are you saying we all have bad taste in blogs?

reader_iam said...

Nanny nanny boo-boo!

SteveR said...

Doyle, don't flatter yourself, I was talking to Invisible Man.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Anyway it's not stupidity as much as morbid curiosity.

Funny, us wingnuts think the same thing about the lefty sites.

Go figure.

Pogo said...

One-sheet Sheryl wants me to join the modern eco-health Puritan cult. No thanks. Besides, her logorrhea will require half a roll at least before this mess is behind her. So to speak.

ptg said...

Corn cobs. Thats what we used to use at the feedlot until the combine came along.

Roger said...

As Taranto notes on best of the web today: now we know why Karl Rove doesnt want Cheryl Crow touching him!

Ron said...

That guy on 5th Ave can afford to wad up some aloe-soaked $20's and throw them out the window instead of flush them so the rest of the City can benefit...

vnjagvet said...

I am willing to give Sharon the benefit of the joke.

But I am also willing to give Glen the same doubt.

Even doyle and invisible ought to support that position.

mcg said...

By the way, don't forget this guy, who's subjecting his family to life -- on 5th Avenue -- without toilet paper.

But it is precisely examples like this that made plausible the seriousness of Ms. Crow's comments. That is, someone of some notoriety really is "taking action" on their consumption of toilet paper.

Having said that, I'm a big fan of Mr. Reynolds, but I think his stance on global warming is really rather weak. He's trying to have his cake and eat it too: he wan't sign onto the whole AGW scenario but says we ought to eliminate carbon-based fuels anyway. Come on, you can't have it both ways.

Paul Zrimsek said...

As Taranto notes on best of the web today: now we know why Karl Rove doesnt want Cheryl Crow touching him!

That's where you're both wrong. When Celebrity says "Everyone should do X", that's proof positive that Celebrity herself doesn't do X.

MadisonMan said...

....but says we ought to eliminate carbon-based fuels anyway. Come on, you can't have it both ways.

The excellent arguments for avoiding Carbon-based fuels are many, and stand alone frmo AGW arguments. Start by crippling the economic power of Saudi Arabia, funder of fundamentalism, and other repressive regimes like Russia.

Coal mining is a very dangerous job. Thousands die annually.

Burning coal pollutes -- and I'm thinking of Mercury and Sulfur in particular. Nuclear energy is much cleaner.

paul a'barge said...

Speaking of a single square of soiled, smelly toilet paper: Doyle.

Synova said...

"...he wan't sign onto the whole AGW scenario but says we ought to eliminate carbon-based fuels anyway. Come on, you can't have it both ways."

Why not?

Seriously?

This insistence on doctrinal purity is amazing to me. There's a multitude of reasons to reduce or eliminate our use of carbon-based fuel, get clean air and water and clean up the trash. Why does only the *proper* motivation count?

Reminds me of some green wailing I read about how incredibly offended the guy was, how DARE Bush have every nifty conservation do-dad at his Crawford Ranch home?

I'm old enough to remember Arbor Day and Earth Day during the pre-global warmening years, back when they were fun ways to make the world a nicer, cleaner, place, without the demand for an attitude of guilt or that pesky doctrinal purity test.

I suggest that we bring that all back by instituting a, "I Just Want Shade For My Dog - Plant A Tree Day."

Doyle said...

Speaking of a single square of soiled, smelly toilet paper: Doyle.

Ba-ZING!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Careful, folks. What if she's right? You're all gonna' have to eat crow then.

mcg said...
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mcg said...

Synova:

I'll tell you why. His reasoning for not using carbon-based fuels is that carbon-based fuels are "filthy".

Well then why not just regulate the filth? Why throw out the baby with the bathwater? I mean, what if scientists and engineers can come up with ways to eliminate the filth in question? He hasn't seemed willing to concede that possibility. But in fact, the amount of emissions emitted by automobiles has been reduced significantly since 1970. So there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that such improvements could continue.

On the other hand, if the combination of fuel costs and emissions regulations do eventually make fossil fuels infeasible for large-scale use, so be it: the economics will demand it.

So the problem, Synova, is that Glenn's thinking limits our future courses of action, even if those courses would achieve the same key result.

Here's a positive example. Recently the state of California enacted a law to ostensibly phase out the use of incandescent bulbs by 2012. The motive was reasonable: to reduce energy consumption. The legislation is, however, STUPID. What they should have done is legislate efficiency for lighting, and let the scientists figure out the best way to get there. Instead, they basically shovelled us all into using these mercury-laden carbon flourescents.

And yet, recent work on high-efficiency incandescents is promising to make them as efficient as current CFLs---only without the mercury problem! But thanks to legislators who think they can outguess scientists, those will not be available in California.

blake said...

Well then why not just regulate the filth?

'cause, generally, Glenn has both a libertarian and a technophile bent: He's anti-regulation and pro-scientific-solutions-to-problems. I imagine he has a sci-fi aesthetic, essentially, where infinite clean power is available for our jet packs, flying cars, and so on.

By the way, that incandescent bulb legislation hasn't passed yet. It's moved forward but isn't yet law. The lightbulb companies are lobbying for efficiency standards, but that doesn't make for good legislative lynching.

Revenant said...

He's trying to have his cake and eat it too: he wan't sign onto the whole AGW scenario

Meanwhile, back in reality, Glenn Reynolds has flatly stated (a) that he thinks there is no reasonable doubt that AGW is happening and (b) that we do in fact have a moral obligation to do something about it.

He mocks people like Gore and Crow because they richly deserved to be mocked -- they're "Gulfstream liberal" hypocrites, they grossly exaggerate the dangers we face, and their proposed solutions will not work. The Kyoto treaty, for example, is a moronic idea whether you believe in AGW or not.

but says we ought to eliminate carbon-based fuels anyway. Come on, you can't have it both ways.

Even if it was true that Reynolds didn't believe in AGW -- which of course it isn't -- your argument still makes absolutely no sense. You can be against carbon-based fuels for a huge number of reasons, ranging from the pollution they cause (unpleasant whether it heats the planet or not), to the fact that burning oil wastes a natural resource that has countless other uses, to the fact that most oil comes from countries that we really don't want to be enriching -- i.e., ones run by tinpot dictators and socialists.

Well then why not just regulate the filth?

Because as a libertarian he would prefer to voluntarily reduce the filth he produces than have the government force him, through taxes and threats of imprisonment, to be cleaner.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Recently the state of California enacted a law to ostensibly phase out the use of incandescent bulbs by 2012. The motive was reasonable: to reduce energy consumption. The legislation is, however, STUPID

Yes it is stupid and on several levels.

First of all, I'm stocking up on incandescent bulbs or driving across the border to get some. Who's going to check up on my bedside reading lamp for contraband bulbs? Should we create a new beaurocracy? The Bulb Police?

Florescent bulbs are more environmentally unfriendly than incandescent bulbs. They have mercury inside and if broken are dangerous to touch or breath any of the fumes. They have to be specially disposed of in a hazardous waste capable facility. There isn't one of these within a 100 miles of my home. Guess where those used bulbs will end up. Right!! Thrown out along with all the other trash.

If you are using a bulb in a cold room like a garage, workshop, outdoors location they won't light up if the temperature is under 30 degrees as it often is here. We had snow on Saturday and the low temperature was 23. If it is cold they take a inconveniently longer time to light up.

Many people use a light bulb for some warmth in their pump rooms to keep pipes from freezing at the well head. It is a cheap way to keep the room slightly above freezing. This won't work with a florescent bulb. Instead people will switch to electric heaters that use much more energy.

It is these feel good, impractical,scatterbrained ideas that are formulated by people who don't have to live in the real world that make a joke of the environmentalists dire warnings. They have made themselves into laughing stocks that no one takes seriously.

mcg said...

Revenant,

First off, let me be clear on two things: first, I'm actually someone close to a "denier", at least in the sense that I don't think the science is settled. That is, I don't consider those scientists who dispute the prevailing thesis to be crackpots---or for that matter, universally provably wrong. At the same time I don't mind being wrong, and am willing to go with the consensus, if the solutions proposed are economically and politically realistic.

Secondly I am quite sympathetic to Glenn's hypocrisy angle on the whole AGW story. Heck it's one of the things I enjoy about his blog.

Thank you for the link that points out Glenn's belief on AGW. I certainly stand corrected on the point that he's not willing to take a position on it.

Because as a libertarian he would prefer to voluntarily reduce the filth he produces than have the government force him, through taxes and threats of imprisonment, to be cleaner.

Yes, I know he claims to be a libertarian, but when he says we should "eliminate the use of fossil fuels"---no matter what the reason---that really doesn't strike me as something he's looking to leave entirely to individual choice.

Perhaps this because I don't see it ever being an issue of individual choice. In my view, economics will favor carbon-based fuels for a longtime, if government doesn't get in the way to change those economics. There will simply be no credible reason to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. We're finding more and more all the time, and finding newer, cheaper, and clearner ways to get to it. I flat out don't buy the peak oil scenarios bandied about.

Now, our dependency on Middle Eastern oil is something I'd like to see eliminated for strategic reasons. But dependency on fossil fuels in general simply doesn't seem necessary except if regulations alter their economics. So that's why when someone says we ought to wean ourselves off of them, and they don't posit an economic reason why, I must assume they mean another reason that involves government intervention.

Mindsteps said...

Here is what I take execption to with bloggers like Reynolds, on both the Right and Left.

How do Reynold's and similar bloggers reconcile within themselves their skepticism toward one particular party, cause, or belief system (e.g. liberal democrats) and not apply the same degree of skepticism to the opposing party, cause, or belief system. And further,, what about demonstrating some skepticism toward one's own ideas?

It just seems dishonest to me and why I rarely visit Instapundit and analogous blogs.

mcg said...

What an odd thing to say. It seems to me you're suggesting that a blogger can't actually have a position of his own; he has to be skeptical of all positions equally.

mcg said...

Your real problem with Reynolds is simply that you don't agree with him. Why make it more complex than that?

Synova said...

I can see how someone might not like Glenn Reynolds (no one has to like everyone) but it sort of boggles me when he is portrayed as a right partisan.

Is he not skeptical toward Republicans? He seems a reasonably equal opportunity skeptic to me.

Jokes about the blogfather aside, Instapundit *is* a sort of vanguard of the right blogosphere, which is also a bit boggling considering. He's libertarian, mostly. He is in opposition to what is considered the "Republican Base" on several issues and doesn't hesitate to say so.

I have to wonder... are people objecting to *him* or are they objecting to a portrayal of him?

Mindsteps said...

mcg said...
What an odd thing to say. It seems to me you're suggesting that a blogger can't actually have a position of his own; he has to be skeptical of all positions equally.

I am not saying that at all. Blogger's can take positions. However, those that are able to demonstrate a capacity to challenge their own positions seem more persuasive and credible to me when presenting their point of view.

mcg added:

Your real problem with Reynolds is simply that you don't agree with him. Why make it more complex than that?

Because it is more complex than that.

Some bloggers are multi-facted and my reaction to a particular blogger involves, in some way, the sum of my responses to these various dimensions. Whether I agree with their position or not is but one of those dimensions. The capacity of the blogger to consider and not dismiss alternative ideas is also attractive to me. I am especially impressed with individuals who can take, what appears to be incompatible pieces of information and reconcile them. I also place a value on an individual who is open to data that is not consistent with their positions. These are characteristics that I work hard to cultivate in myself (and it often ain't easy).

Mr. Reynolds is a gentleman who frequently takes on some pretty complex issues (e.g. Iraq). On these issues integrating as much of the data as possible is very important to me before arriving at a particular position. I also believe it is important to be open to new information in order to make adjustments as the situation changes. I do not see this as a strength of Mr. Reynolds blog.

Revenant said...

Yes, I know he claims to be a libertarian, but when he says we should ---no matter what the reason---that really doesn't strike me as something he's looking to leave entirely to individual choice.

Well, I can't help the way things strike you. If Reynolds has ever advocated using the government to force people to stop burning fossil fuels I've never seen him do it.

I've also never seen him use the phrase "eliminate the use of fossil fuels" or imply that it should be done regardless of the reason they were being used. He typically uses phrases like "we should be trying to mimimize the burning of fossil fuels" and "it makes sense to cut back on burning fossil fuels". The only forms of government intervention I've seen him advocate are is a revenue-neutral carbon tax -- I'd be happy to see a carbon tax in exchange for income tax cuts or sales tax cuts.

In my view, economics will favor carbon-based fuels for a longtime, if government doesn't get in the way to change those economics.

The perceived moral value of a product affects demand for that product whether the government gets involved or not.

Revenant said...

How do Reynold's and similar bloggers reconcile within themselves their skepticism toward one particular party, cause, or belief system (e.g. liberal democrats) and not apply the same degree of skepticism to the opposing party, cause, or belief system.

If you think Reynolds doesn't express skepticism about Republicans, you clearly don't read his blog.

And further, what about demonstrating some skepticism toward one's own ideas?

What about it? Reynolds frequently updates his posts with links to counter-arguments and/or quotes from emails from people telling him he's wrong. He also readily admits to often being wrong in his economic and political predictions.

mcg said...
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mcg said...

Revenant, by all means, you let me know how that "moral value of oil" campaign is going :) As for me I see plenty of SUVs and full-sized pickups on the road.

Besides, a carbon tax is still government intervention, revenue-neutral or otherwise.

Mindsteps said...

Revenant said...
How do Reynold's and similar bloggers reconcile within themselves their skepticism toward one particular party, cause, or belief system (e.g. liberal democrats) and not apply the same degree of skepticism to the opposing party, cause, or belief system.

If you think Reynolds doesn't express skepticism about Republicans, you clearly don't read his blog.

I did not say that he did not express skepticism about republicans. However, can you honestly say that he demonstrates a comparable degree of skepticism for the current administration, the msm, information obtained from governmental agencies, the republican party, the democratic party, liberal blogs, and conservative blogs?

He does not integrate enough data from disparate sources on important issues for my taste.

Revenant said...

Revenant, by all means, you let me know how that "moral value of oil" campaign is going :) As for me I see plenty of SUVs and full-sized pickups on the road.

I'm not sure why you think that is relevant.

Besides, a carbon tax is still government intervention, revenue-neutral or otherwise.

It is not, however, the ban on fossil fuels you were accusing him of advocating. If anything it falls into the category of "regulation" you said he SHOULD be advocating.

mcg said...

Mindsteps, again, you're really not being logical here. Everyone assigns a different degree of skepticism towards different institutions or sources of information. That's fundamental. The fact that he doesn't assign that skepticism in a balance that suits you is simply a reflection of your differences with his politics. You can try to make it more complex than that but it quite transparently isn't.

Revenant said...

However, can you honestly say that he demonstrates a comparable degree of skepticism for the current administration, the msm, information obtained from governmental agencies, the republican party, the democratic party, liberal blogs, and conservative blogs?

If by "comparable degree of skepticism" you mean "comparable willingness to proportion belief to evidence" then yes.

He does not integrate enough data from disparate sources on important issues for my taste.

So you keep saying. You've yet to provide an example of the "important data" about, say, Iraq, that he is not "integrating".

mcg said...
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mcg said...
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Synova said...

Well, he really doesn't *integrate* much does he?

Is that the problem?

Mostly he just posts links. Occasionally he makes a remark about something, agreeing or disagreeing or whatever.

Very rarely he'll make a longer argument.

So is the "problem" actually a preference for essays?

He doesn't do essays on Instapundit. I think we're supposed to do the essays either referring to finding a link to something on his blog that we want to fuss about or something that he can link to from us.

Mindsteps said...

mcg said...
Mindsteps, again, you're really not being logical here. Everyone assigns a different degree of skepticism towards different institutions or sources of information. That's fundamental. The fact that he doesn't assign that skepticism in a balance that suits you is simply a reflection of your differences with his politics. You can try to make it more complex than that but it quite transparently isn't.

I don't know, mcg:

I am a scientist and have spent years learning how to evaluate the reliability and validity of data. I attempt to use many of the same procedures employed in my scientific endeavors when appraising poliical, social, economic, and other issues, some of which Mr. Reynolds spends considerable space blogging on (for e.g. the war in Iraq, the relationship between guns and violence). I make efforts not to cherry pick my findings and attempt to take a broad survey of ideas and data. When it comes to some important issues, I just don't see Mr. Reynolds taking a similar approach.

Now, you have described me as transparent. Can you elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion?

mcg said...

(Sorry for the multiple deletions!)

It is not, however, the ban on fossil fuels you were accusing him of advocating.

I said that he said we ought to eliminate them, not ban them. And I am correct on this point. In this post he said that "we should replace them as soon as possible." Is that not consistent with my claim?

To be fair to you, in the same post he largely avoids advocating government intervention to accomplish that, though he does say it "might be an okay idea." Hardly a libertarian-motivated rejection to me. Again, it's still regulation whether revenue-neutral or not.

To be fair to me, however, I think you should cut me some slack for missing that post where he concedes that global warming is at least in part anthropogenic: given that only a month earelier, in the above post, he said it was "not so clear."

If anything it falls into the category of "regulation" you said he SHOULD be advocating.

My argument assumed that he was advocating a form of regulation. It should be clear now that regulation was at least on the table for him, even though the above post suggests he prefers non-governmental means.

In that light, I was simply saying that if he advocates regulation, then it should be properly targeted, so as to allow technology the widest latitude for addressing the problem. His advocacy of their elimination due to their "filthiness", no matter how it is accomplished, fails that test.

mcg said...

Now, you have described me as transparent. Can you elaborate on how you arrived at this conclusion?

No, I have described your argument as transparently false. I'm sure you personally are quite less so.

A simple application of Ockham's Razor suffices here, and a scientist as well trained as you purport to be ought to see an application of it more clearly than you are now.

This meta-argument that people who disagree with you must somehow be deprived of the proper information, or simply refusing to integrate it all, is all too common in the political sphere.

There's a reason you don't see what you want in Mr. Reynolds' methodology; it simply isn't on display. That you consider it deficient assumes you know what it is in the first place. You don't know all of the sources of media he reads, so how do you know he hasn't simply rejected some of the information you think should be altering his opinions?

Revenant said...

mcg, I'm afraid I must just not understand what kind of a point you're trying to make, here. Could you be more specific about just exactly what kind of a position you're accusing Reynolds of holding, here, and why it is wrong or inconsistent for him to hold it?

Revenant said...
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Revenant said...

His advocacy of their elimination due to their "filthiness", no matter how it is accomplished, fails that test.

It is obvious that if a magical solution to the fact that coal and oil burning produces pollutants could be found then Reynolds would favor using that technology when burning fossil fuels. Realistically speaking that's not going to happen (and is probably physically impossible), so why waste bytes with the disclaimer?

I would also like to note that Reynolds also opposes fossil fuel use because oil is in his view much more valuable for its chemical contents than it is as a fuel. So even if the aforementioned perfectly pollution-free gas-powered car could be invented it would not follow that using oil and coal as fuels would be a good idea.

Mindsteps said...

A simple application of Ockham's Razor suffices here, and a scientist as well trained as you purport to be ought to see an application of it more clearly than you are now.

This meta-argument that people who disagree with you must somehow be deprived of the proper information, or simply refusing to integrate it all, is all too common in the political sphere.

There's a reason you don't see what you want in Mr. Reynolds' methodology; it simply isn't on display. That you consider it deficient assumes you know what it is in the first place. You don't know all of the sources of media he reads, so how do you know he hasn't simply rejected some of the information you think should be altering his opinions?

mcg you could be right becase I have no idea what methodolgy Mr. Reynold's employs (however, I would like to ask him). What methodolgy do you think he uses?

I am however basing my contention on what I can observe, the frequency of his links and comments about specific issues (e.g. guns and violence, Iraq). Based upon what I can observe (which I believe is justifiable and even adviseable on scientific grounds rather than speculation based on what we cannot see), he tends to present links that almost entirely support his position and rarely includes links and comments that do not support his positions.

It is similar to the confirmatory bias that exists with many scientific journals and therefore probably affects to status of some scientific positions. Journals tend to publish research that rejects the null hypothesis and does not publish negative findings (i.e. not rejecting the null). Scientists are beginning to question how this confirmatory bias may have affected the scientific enterprise (this has some practical implications, for example with respect to research on and approval of pharmacological agents addressing various ailments). In fact, journals have sprung up for the sole purpose of publishing negative results as a way of counteracting this bias.

I prefer to see evidence of this kind of approach when ideas and positions are proposed, assessed, and taken.

mcg said...

Revenant, it's apparent now that my very first post about Glenn was not well written. Let me start fresh.

Glenn advocates the elimination of fossil fuels because they are "filthy". His word. As to how he sees this happening he seems at least to be open to government regulation such as carbon tax. That it is revenue-neutral doesn't really move me, frankly, it's still regulation.

My argument is this: if you must regulate something, don't regulate the fuel, regulate its byproducts. That is, employ emissions standards. If technology can find a way to eliminate or sequester the dangerous byproducts from burning carbon fuels, then this technology ought to be "blessed" by any such regulation.

Again, I refer to the incandescent bulb ban in CA. In an effort to reduce energy usage, CA has banned an entire class of technology, the incandescent bulb. Nevermind the fact that CFLs have their own problems (mercury), and nevermind the fact that companies like GE are working to make them as efficient as CFLs. Their proper course of action, assuming they felt they must regulate something, was to regulate the efficiency of light bulbs. Let the technologists figure out which methods to employ to get there. Instead, they overreached, and CA is going to pay the price.

Now, onto my claim of Glenn "having his cake and eating it too." This one I now admit is a bit weaker. You might argue that carbon taxes do exactly what I prefer: controlling emissions, not actual fuel choices. But that's really only useful if you want to regulate CO2; it does nothing about the other "filth" caused by fossil fuel burning.

So it really seems like an indirect and half-hearted solution to his "problem" anyway, but one that just so happens helps him stay just baby step over the AGW orthodoxy side of the line.

mcg said...

Based upon what I can observe (which I believe is justifiable and even adviseable on scientific grounds rather than speculation based on what we cannot see), he tends to present links that almost entirely support his position and rarely includes links and comments that do not support his positions.

Oh my gosh! Horror of horrors! You mean he actually advocates his position? Wow!

Seriously, from my perspective he links to those he disagrees with quite often. Yes, he does so to ridicule or refute them, but he does so nonetheless. And look, I can understand if you prefer not to read blogs that advocate their writer's positions, but it doesn't seem like an unreasonable approach.

Furthermore, there must be something going on that neither you nor I can see, because he does change his positions sometimes. Consider the debate I am now having with Revenant. On Feburary 3, he posted: 'Do I believe that global warming is anthropogenic? Not so clear. Plausible, but still far from certain." On March 17, he said: "Is AGW happening? ... [it] is a technical question that seems to be largely settled; when you've convinced Ron Bailey it's happening, you've convinced me."

Revenant said...

Mindsteps,

Are you planning to provide the examples of "data" that Reynolds is "failing to integrate" with regard to the Iraq war?

You claim to be a scientist. Tell me, if you wrote an article criticizing a scientist for ignoring important data and neglected to say what the data were or why they mattered, would you expect the article to pass peer review? Heck, would you even expect to be taken seriously by your colleagues? Would you expect to have a job, even, if you made a habit of acting that way?

Indeed, when you won't even publicly admit what the basis for your beliefs is -- only that you arrived at them and you *swear* you did so cautiously and impartially -- what possible reason would we have for taking you seriously? You accuse Reynolds of cherry-picking his data, but you've gone a step beyond that and simply refused to show any supporting data at all.

Revenant said...

mcg,

As I noted, Reynolds opposes fossil fuel use on two grounds: (a) pollution and (b) waste, since petroleum gives us many products for which alternative sources aren't necessarily available. Obviously merely treating the pollution issue doesn't address the second problem.

As for the pollution issue specifically, a carbon tax DOES address the byproducts rather than the fuel, so I don't see your objection there. Sure, it doesn't address all pollutants, but who says they're all equally important?

Finally, your "we could develop pollution-free fossil fuel burners" argument is in my view the same as arguing against the phrase "we should try to eliminate food shortages" on the grounds that it ignores the possibility of technological advances eliminating the need for humans to eat food. Er, maybe, but it isn't going to happen in the real world so let's try to stay focused on what's actually plausible.

mcg said...

Revenant: you have made a doozy of a mistake here, and I perpetuated it. Go back to the Instapundit link you've given me, and note the authors. It's not Glenn, it's Megan McArdle.

Glenn kindly pointed this detail out to me when I asked him what prompted the change in position between February and March.

mcg said...

Er, maybe, but it isn't going to happen in the real world so let's try to stay focused on what's actually plausible.

Come on now! First, you're putting words in my mouth again. I'm not looking for "pollution free"; frankly I'm assuming that we'll never get there no matter what we do. I'm presuming there is a small but nonzero pollution level that is sustainable given the earth's natural renewing processes.

Second, ask someone in 1970 if it was plausible for automobiles to meet 2007 California emissions standards. I am sure they would have said something along the lines of what you just said. Look, some top minds are working on methods for burning fossil fuels more cleanly. Heck, people are even working on gasoline fuel cells---which, thanks to the lack of combustion, there is probably considerably more opportunity to manage the byprodcucts.

Don't get me wrong. I would LOVE to see more nuclear plants, more wind farms, more geothermal. But my argument all along here is that fossil fuels are cheap, and will remain so unless the government gets invovled.

mcg said...

As I noted, Reynolds opposes fossil fuel use on two grounds: (a) pollution and (b) waste, since petroleum gives us many products for which alternative sources aren't necessarily available. Obviously merely treating the pollution issue doesn't address the second problem.

Again, I don't believe we're running out of oil, so I don't see it as a problem.

Mindsteps said...

mcg:

I will provide you some data, however we may interpret it differently.

If you go to Mr. Reynold's blog you will find that he has numerous references to the remarks made recently by Harry Reid regarding Iraq over the past few days (I personally believe Reid should not have made these remarks). The pattern of Mr. Reynold's posts implies that Instapundit believes the Senator's remarks were demoralizing to the troops and fodder for our enemies.

However, he makes nary a mention of the Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch matter, also issues that may have a detrimental affect on soldier morale and provide ammunition to our enemies.

Based upon the number of mentions Mr. Reynold's makes of the Democrats errors in judgment and the administrations errors in judgment, you would conclude that the Dems, the liberal blogs, and the msm are completely off track and out of touch with reality with respect to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current administration and the conservative blogosphere is almost flawless in their decision making, perceptions, and behavior.

Now, in my opinion, to obtain a more comprehensive, accurate, and potentially more effective picture of the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror we need to bring together data from a variety of sources (not just those that present a consistently favorable view of the war in Iraq and dismiss problems in the region)

This is but one exemplar of what I believe is a pattern in how Mr. Reynold's addresses information that is inconsistent with his particular agenda...he frequently gives contrary information a few links and mentions on his blog (sometimes none) relative to links and mentions that support his particular positions.

By the way, what did I 'swear' to?

mcg said...

Well, mindsteps, like I said, if you don't like reading blogs that advocates a given user's position, so be it. I know of few true advocate blogs on either side that with regularity promote arguments against their agenda. But as a reader it's easy enough to find diversity of argument by simply reading more than one blog.

Still, you seem to persist in overstatement. There are quite a few positions on which Glenn Reynolds disagrees with the current administration, and he's not afraid to say so. So to suggest that somehow he promotes the notion that the current administration is "flawless" is really not supported by the evidence.

But again, it is a different matter entirely to conclude that he just isn't taking in all the information you would have him take in. We just don't know what sources he reads that he doesn't end up citing on his blog. I know for example he recently noted Matthew Yglesias' move to a new publication, and I dare say that the two of them don't agree consistently.

As for what you swore too, you'll have to ask Revenant. He said it.

mcg said...

Incidentally, I believe Glenn has just proved your point wrong concerning Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman. (Are you there, Glenn?)

Revenant said...

It's not Glenn, it's Megan McArdle.

Good grief, you're right. I hadn't noticed that when it was first posted on Instapundit either. Hm, I guess Glenn's still skeptical about the "A" in "AGW" after all, then.

First, you're putting words in my mouth again. I'm not looking for "pollution free"

Well, you offered up pollution reduction technology as the way to eliminate fossil fuel pollution. That sounded (and still sounds) like zero-emissions technology to me.

Second, ask someone in 1970 if it was plausible for automobiles to meet 2007 California emissions standards. I am sure they would have said something along the lines of what you just said.

First of all, "we've improved it before ergo we can improve it more" is fallacious reasoning, so even if I accepted your claim that people would have been that skeptical in the 1970s (and I do not), the argument still doesn't work.

Secondly, gasoline is approximately 85% carbon by weight, so each gallon of gasoline contains approximately five POUNDS of carbon. You can do exactly three things with this carbon:

(1): Release it from the car in gaseous form (i.e. as CO2 and other gaseous organic compounds). This is of course exactly what we're trying NOT to do.
(2): Dump it on the road in solid or liquid form, either in elemental form or as organic compounds. This is also a horrible idea for a whole list of reasons I'm sure are as obvious to you as they are to me.
(3): Store it in the car until it can be physically removed later. Raise your hand if you want to remove seventy pounds of carbon from your car every time you fill up your 14-gallon gas tank. Anyone? Didn't think so. And of course both options (2) and (3) assume some way of performing the transformation without using more energy than you got by burning the gas in the first place, which probably isn't possible either.

That's what I mean when I say there is no technological solution to this problem. We're talking about burning hydrocarbons for energy. That produces carbon byproducts -- there's just no way out of that.

Revenant said...

However, he makes nary a mention of the Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch matter

Obviously the Tillman friendly-fire death and the revelation that Lynch wasn't really a hero hurt morale.

But it is equally obvious that neither has anything to do with the question of Reid's behavior. If the question under discussion had been "is the Pentagon honest", then those two people's stories would have been relevant. But the question of whether or not Reid's claim was (a) true and/or (b) harmful to America can be answered without knowing anything at all about Tillman or Lynch. The only reason to bring them up is to toss a tu quoque fallacy at war supporters. I can see the *rhetorical* value of doing that, but the desire to score rhetorical points on war supporters is not a sign of a balanced, "integrated" blog.

And that was the only example you gave of a source Reynolds failed to consider -- the rest of your post was just yet another restating of your claim that Reynolds is ignoring important data. This mysterious "data" continues to remain unidentified, and thus your argument continues to remain unworthy of serious consideration.

Furthermore Reynolds has been sharply critical of the conservative position on, among other things, stem cell research, gay rights, "indecency" and euthanasia. He co-launched a campaign to crack down on pork-barrel spending by the then-Republican Congress. He has repeatedly criticized the Bush Administration's handling of US security, from the pointless and ineffective hassles at airports to the cozying up to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In other words, your claim that he portrays conservatives and the Administration as "almost flawless" is utterly without foundation and betrays the fact that you obviously haven't spent much time actually reading his blog. My guess is that you only read Instapundit posts that the lefty blogs you DO read link to to complain about.

mcg said...

Revenant, you're not even being remotely creative. Fallacious logic or not, I think my comment about your attitude is spot on.

For example, why are you so quick to dismiss the recovery of carbon after combustion? It could certainly be recovered in, say, liquid or even solid form at the service station during fillup. The distribution channel used to deliver gasoline could be duplicated in reverse to transport the recovered carbon for sequestration. The resulting upgrades to service stations would likely be in the same order of magnitude as, say, the upgrades to double-walled tanks and vapor recapture hoses. It would likely be less onerous than a full conversion to hydrogen fuel.

And while I may have unfairly boxed you in by using the term "emission", nothing says that the actual combustion or conversion has to take place in the car itself. If the all-electric car pans out (go Tesla!) we're still going to need to generate clean electricity for it. And the prospects of clean hydrocarbon energy are higher in larger-scale settings like a power plant.

Finally, developments in catalysts for carbon extraction and sequestration might very well allow for the development of efficient carbon sinks that could balance a fraction of the fuel burned.

Let's put it this way. Given the pace that China is building coal plants, we'd better hope that we can find ways to harvest and sequester carbon in very large scales. And if we succeed, why not take full advantage of it?

That is, of course, if Al Gore is right.

Revenant said...

For example, why are you so quick to dismiss the recovery of carbon after combustion?

The most obvious reason is this -- there are three reasons to use gasoline instead of electricity:

(1): Our current fleet supports it
(2): Gas is convenient
(3): Gas is comparatively cheap

Carbon recovery eliminates all three advantages. Your scenario requires that we replace our internal combustion fleet, construction of a worldwide network of toxic-waste disposal facilities at all fueling stations capable of processing and safely disposing of approximately a metric ton of waste per car per year, and force car users and filling station owners to deal with the fuel/waste exchange. Swapping batteries or fuel cells is a superior option even at current tech, let alone in the future.

And the prospects of clean hydrocarbon energy are higher in larger-scale settings like a power plant.

Nuclear power is cheaper -- or rather would be, if we were allowed to standardize it and use it on a larger scale the way that other countries have.

Chip Ahoy said...

I like Glenn Reynolds a lot. Have him at the top of 'favorites' list. Enjoy his links, consider his comments perceptive and interesting.

He's didn't say "eww" to "tarred". He said "eww" to "smeared" in the reader's suggestion and in that context. And that is eewey in that context.

Roger said...

It is absolutely amazing to me that bloggers are being critiqued. In a total free market environment, if you dont like a blogger--for whatever reason-absolultely NO ONE is forcing you to read one. This, BTW, is not a comment aimed at Mindsteps; I do think Mindsteps has put forward a fairly good argument about how informed people generally should accept and integrate new information.

If that be the case, then, this formulation should be more applicable to editorial boards, and columnists for the MSM rather than bloggers. I assume bloggers to be opinionated and advocates of what they believe to be right. They have every right to push their views of reality. Thus, I can pick and choose among many bloggers for insights (like, for example, wretchard at Belmont Club).

I like Mindsteps formulation; I simply think it is misplaced. It should be directed at the (IMO increasingly irrelevant) MSM.

Mindsteps said...

I like Mindsteps formulation; I simply think it is misplaced. It should be directed at the (IMO increasingly irrelevant) MSM.

I appreciate the confirmation (even if it is partial) and I agree that it is applicable to the mainstream media. Prof. Althouse referred to Mr. Reynolds, otherwise his blog is not a site I visit frequently. I, however do visit Mr. Reynold on occasion because I want to survey a range of opinion and he seems to take shots at the mainstream media pretty often (which gives me some perverse pleasure). I visit atrios about as frequently for similar reasons and am as skeptical of his agenda as I am Mr. Reynolds, and the MSM.

mcg said...

Revenant,

I must object slightly to your characterization of this waste as "toxic". I mean, at current levels, we seem reasonably comfortable spewing it in the air with the exception of global warming. And liquid/frozen CO2 is not particularly toxic. I say that only to point out what I consider the be a bit of overstatement on your part about the costs and complexities of this disposal process.

But look, I've been making the argument that economics should decide all along here. If the numbers work out better for other energy technologies, so be it. I just don't think the relative costs are as clear-cut as you're claiming they are. For example:

Swapping batteries or fuel cells is a superior option even at current tech, let alone in the future.

So here's what I'm talking about. For one thing, if you're talking about fuel cells, then you have to talk about what you're fueling them with. If it's gasoline, then you have the same disposal problem that you have with combustion, only it might be easier to control the emissions.

If it's hydrogen, then yes you've eliminated the byproduct issue---but now you're stuck building an entirely new infrastructure for hydrogen distribution. Honestly, if we were starting from scratch, I'd guess (totally arbitrarily) that hydrogen would be a bit more expensive than gas to distribute, but less expensive than if we added carbon disposal to the gas side. But we're not starting from scratch; we need only augment our existing gas infrastructure.

On the battery side, I personally have real concerns about the feasibility of their large-scale manufacturability. Greenpeace isn't fond of the environmental damage caused by the nickel mining process required for Prius batteries, for example; and then there is of course the issue of disposing of or recycling those batteries when they are exhausted (same for fuel cells, actually). Hopefully ultracapacitors or even flywheel batteries will actually become feasible, because it seems to me that those solutions wouldn't suffer these problems, at least to the same degree.

But again, Revenant, I'm happy to be wrong about the future economies of various fueling systems. I simply want the market to have the best possible opportunity to find the solutions to the problems our governments are identifying, instead of being constrained by regulations that prescribe the solution instead of constrain the problem.

mcg said...

All eyes on China, people.

Money quotes:

"China had been forecast to surpass the U.S. in 2010, but its sizzling economic growth has pushed the date forward."

"China's rising emissions will effectively cancel out attempts by other countries to reduce their own, he said."

"A Chinese government report detailing the costs of climate change... [asserted] that the country should focus on development before cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

If we're gonna counter this, I think one square of toilet paper may be too much. Looks like it's stinkpalm time.

Revenant said...

mcg,

I must object slightly to your characterization of this waste as "toxic". I mean, at current levels, we seem reasonably comfortable spewing it in the air with the exception of global warming.

Who's the "we" in that sentence? Haven't we been discussing the fact that the levels of allowed pollution keep getting tighter and tighter? Anyway, you can object to the "toxic" label all you want, but it is both scientifically and colloquially accurate.

but now you're stuck building an entirely new infrastructure for hydrogen distribution.

In your scenario we were stuck building an entirely new infrastructure for extracting, storing, and disposing of the toxic waste generated by cars. Building a hydrogen distribution infrastructure would be cheaper and easier, and not leave us with a small mountain of hydrocarbons to dispose of every year.

Greenpeace isn't fond of the environmental damage caused by the nickel mining process required for Prius batteries, for example

Greenpeace is primarily motivated by hatred of capitalism and technology, not by concern for the environment. The real environmentalists ditched those fruit loops years ago. :)

mcg said...

In your scenario we were stuck building an entirely new infrastructure for extracting, storing, and disposing of the toxic waste generated by cars. Building a hydrogen distribution infrastructure would be cheaper and easier, and not leave us with a small mountain of hydrocarbons to dispose of every year.

Well, this is probably where we'll have to part ways: at an assertion that has an objective answer but which neither of us can honestly say we know for sure. As I said I'm content to let the economics decide, and if I'm picking the wrong side here, so be it.