Watermelons

When I am deciding whether or not to buy a book on some contemporary and controversial subject from Amazon.com, the first thing I do is check out the one-starred reviews If there are a number of such reviews from hysterical liberals who obviously haven’t read the book, I know it is worth reading. I have not been disappointed yet.

Watermelons by James Delingpole amply fulfills that criterion. Liberals are hysterical, and it is really, really good. Basically, the premise is that everything you think you know about global warming is simply wrong. Delingpole begins by examining the science and politics of global warming. Although the generally accepted narrative is that of a few brave Greens fighting against the power and money of Big Carbon, the truth, as Delingpole shows, is that there is quite a lot of money and potential power on the warming side. Far from being Davids, the environmental groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund, or the Environmental Defense Fund are Goliaths in their own right with operating budgets as large as any multi-national corporation and CEOs with six-figure salaries.

The science is also far from settled. Along with the inherit uncertainties of modeling a system as complex as the Earth’s atmosphere, Delingpole also exposes the corruption of science and the fraud revealed in the Climate gate e-mails, and other sources.  He also debunks many of the myths that are still being used by Warmists.

Then there is the question of motive. Many Greens are in fact the watermelons of the title, that is to say environmentalists on the outside, but socialists on the inside. These are people who have decided that the only way to save the Earth and provide social justice is to circumvent national sovereignty and democratic institutions to form a sort of world government.  We might think they are all eco-Fascists but they are doing it all for our good.

This sounds a bit like the sort of crazy conspiracy theory promulgated by the sort of people that wear tinfoil hats, as James Delingpole readily admits. He has provided extensive citations to prove his points and as he points out, it is hardly a conspiracy when the people involved publish their plans for all the world to see.

I strongly recommend Watermelons as an enjoyable and informative guide to the science and politics of climate change. I think it would be an excellent gift to any Liberal friends or relatives. Not that it would change any minds, but it is always fun to watch Liberal’s heads explore when they have contact with information that doesn’t fit their worldview.

 

Trading with China

Here at Townhall.com is a good column by Walter E. Williams on some of the myths about our trade with China. Unfortunately, this sort of foolishness is a bipartisan affair, which is never a good thing.

Republicans and Democrats, liberals as well as conservatives, have bought into anti-Chinese trade demagoguery. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that tariffs against China are a “key part of our ‘Make It in America’ agenda.” During his 2010 campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called his tea party-backed Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, “a foreign worker’s best friend.” In a recent news conference, President Barack Obama gave his support to the anti-China campaign, declaring that China “has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage,” adding that “we can and should take action against countries that are keeping their currencies undervalued … (and) that, above all, means China.”

Republican 2012 presidential candidates have jumped on the anti-China bandwagon. Mitt Romney wrote: “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I will work to fundamentally alter our economic relationship with China. … I will begin on Day One by designating China as the currency manipulator it is.” Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was even more challenging, saying, “I want to go to war with China.”

I don’t want to go to war with China, trade war or real war. I think former Sen. Rick Santorum needs to have his head examined.

Here is the meat of the column.

Hale and Hobijn find that the vast majority of goods and services sold in the United States are produced here. In 2010, total imports were about 16 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, and of that, 2.5 percent came from China. A total of 88.5 percent of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States, the bulk of which are domestically produced services — such as medical care, housing, transportation, etc. — which make up about two-thirds of spending. Chinese goods account for 2.7 percent of U.S. personal consumption expenditures, about one-quarter of the 11.5 percent foreign share. Chinese imported goods consist mainly of furniture and household equipment; other durables; and clothing and shoes. In the clothing and shoes category, 35.6 percent of U.S. consumer purchases in 2010 were items with the “Made in China” label.

Much of what China sells us has considerable “local content.” Hale and Hobijn give the example of sneakers that might sell for $70. They point out that most of that price goes for transportation in the U.S., rent for the store where they are sold, profits for shareholders of the U.S. retailer, and marketing costs, which include the salaries, wages and benefits paid to the U.S. workers and managers responsible for getting sneakers to consumers. On average, 55 cents of every dollar spent on goods made in China goes for marketing services produced in the U.S.

You should read it all. In a way, the US and China are leaning against each other holding up the economy of the whole world. It simply doesn’t make much sense for either to work against the interests of the other. I hope both American and Chinese politicians realize that. Being politicians, they probably don’t.

Bah Humbug!

Gerard van Honthorst Adoration of the Shepherd...
It wasn't on December 25.

I wonder how many people who quote Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous comment about Christmas know what a humbug actually is. It’s not a word we commonly use nowadays. According to thefreedictionary.com a humbug is;

1. Something intended to deceive; a hoax or fraud.
2. A person who claims to be other than what he or she is; an impostor.
3. Nonsense; rubbish.
4. Pretense; deception.
In one sense Scrooge was absolutely right; Christmas is a humbug. Don’t worry! I am not turning into a Grinch. What I mean is that Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a humbug in that he was almost certainly not born on December 25. The general consensus seems to be that a birth in the spring or early summer is far more likely.
The truth is that the early Christians were not greatly concerned with the nativity. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection were far more important to them. Of the four Gospels, only Matthew and Luke provide us with any information at all about Jesus’s life before his public ministy and they only give out scattered anecdotes. It may not be until as late as the fourth century that the birth of Jesus was cerebrated. So how did they decide on December 25th?
If you live in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, you may have noticed that the weather is getting colder. The days are getting shorter and the Sun seems to be growing weaker with each passing day.We are approaching the Winter Solstice, of course.  It wouldn’t take much for primitive people to imagine the Sun growing weaker and weaker and the forces of night and winter defeating the Sun.That had never happened before, but who’s to say that this year wouldn’t be different. It must have been a source of profound relief and celebration as the solstice came and the days started to grow longer. Naturally, nearly every culture has some festival around this time of year. Here is a list of some winter festivals. Notice how many share a theme of the triumph of good over evil.
The Romans, in particular had a solstice holiday, known as Saturnalia which was much like Christmas, including gift giving. In the late Roman Empire the cult of the Unconquered Sun was very popular, and of course, the Winter Solstice was the day on which the Sun was victorious. The  fourth and fifth century Christians did not want to miss out on the fun, nor did they want to participate in pagan ceremonies, so they adapted the winter festivals of many nations into a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Some Christian writers even made an explicit connection between the birth of the Sun and the birth of the Son. Cyprian wrote, “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born…Christ should be born” and John Chrysostom, “They call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .?”
So, is Christmas a humbug? Should Christians celebrate the day? Not all Christians do. The Puritans didn’t, either because it was too “Catholic” or it was too rowdy for them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t either because Christmas is too pagan for them. The churches of Christ have no official celebration on Christmas because it is not in the Bible, and if it isn’t in the Bible, they don’t do it. Individual members do celebrate Christmas. For myself, I don’t think there is any harm in Christmas and it is my favorite day of the year. I have to admit to being a little amused when I see posters demanding we keep “Christ in Christmas”, when I consider that Christ wasn’t originally a part of Christmas. I do wish that people would feel a little more “Christmas Spirit” the other 364 days of the year.