What Makes Us Fat

Here’s a radical idea: Let’s do some actual scientific research:

…much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.

What a concept.

“Fear Of Being Thought Racist”

Old Blighty is suffering a real blight:

In August 2013, four women launched legal action against Rotherham council over ‘systematic failures’ to protect them from ‘sexual abuse by predatory men when they were children’ according to their lawyers.

One girl, known only as ‘Jessica’ claims she was abused daily as a 14-year-old by a 24-year-old man after social services failed to accept that she was a victim grooming.

On one occasion married father-of-two Arshid Hussain was even caught with the half naked schoolgirl under his bed but documents revealed that police arrested her – and let him go.

These are the wages of multi-culturalism. And they’re being paid by the innocent.

[Update Thursday morning]

An interesting take from Richard Fernandez:

Doubtless there’s nothing in his religion that explicitly instructs it believers to act thus, but there’s something in the atmosphere. The BBC reports that investigators have only now just discovered “child sexual exploitation is happening in a ‘number of towns’ in different parts of the country”. Rotherham might just be the tip of the iceberg.

But Muhbeen Hussain is at least fighting his side, arguing his cause. Our problem, as Hussain notes, is that the Western elites have quit fighting theirs. If the British authorities really wanted peace with the “Asians”, they should have as he suggests, arrested them. Assent is consent, or may be perceived as such.

You may disagree with Hussein. You may hate what you think is his side. But at least he’s no traitor, not to his side at least. Not like those mealy mouthed politicians in Rotherham. As Daniel Hannan notes “interesting to see whether people in Rotherham keep voting for Labour councils. On the evidence so far, they will.” Because the arrangement is the “Asians” will vote for Labour and in return Labour will let them practice their traditions unhindered under the color of diversity and tolerance. Expect Labour to dominate in Rotherham until the day the Democratic Party loses Detroit.

The role of radical Islam in Britain is as the proxy Brownshirt wing of the Left. The Left knows that if it can terrorize a town into surrendering — and indeed a nation — into surrendering their children with their proxy thugs, then the door is open to everything. Rotherham is not about racism. It is about fascism: about aspiring tyrants with impeccable double-barreled Anglo-Saxon names, wearing fashionable dress nightly luring a passive population into the chute of slavery with dulcet tones over national TV. And if you don’t listen to them, then you’ll heed the boys with the funny hats.

Yup.

[Update a while later]
More thoughts from Ann Althouse:

I’d like to see more detail about this “fear of being thought as racist.” It sounds like a confession of deliberate law enforcement paralysis, a choice to permit thousands of children to be raped for decades on end, because of befuddlement about how on earth to begin to do anything without looking bad or because of a sense that your community is already hopelessly overwhelmed by evil forces that will only become more aggressive and violent if opposed.

That’s pretty much the point.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Muslim gang rapists: Why can’t we be honest about it?

…only a racist would believe this is a “Pakistani” problem. It isn’t. It’s a cultural phenomenon unique to Muslim communities, as suggested by the prevalence of father-son combinations in so many of the gangs, wherever in the world they appear. And here’s another clue it’s not just about brown-on-white crime: Britain’s Sikh community has been complaining for years that its young girls are being targeted by Muslim rapists.

But good luck figuring out the complicated racial and religious dimensions to these crimes if you’re getting your news from the Guardian. That newspaper, together with some parts of the BBC, is committing the same error in judgment that the police and council in Rotherham did over all those years. They are turning a blind eye to obviously pertinent facts of the case for political reasons.

There are complex religious and cultural reasons why Muslim men are drawn to rape in gangs, often in family units, with fathers, sons and uncles all raping the same women. But how will we ever know why this is so, and begin to tackle it, until we are honest about what’s happening?

We won’t.

[Bumped]

[Update a few minutes later]

This is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards.

Public-Employee Unions

Letting the cat out of the bag:

Where do public employee unions get their money? Directly from dues paid by public employees, who in turn get that money from taxpayers. Where does that money go? Politically, almost entirely to the Democratic Party, as Scheiber admits. Public employee unions, whatever else they do, are (in almost all cases) a mechanism for mandatory taxpayer financing of one political party. Scheiber’s complaint is that Wisconsin Republicans have cut the amount of such public financing.
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What’s the argument for that? I understand that those who want the Democratic Party to win every election may think that’s good public policy. But what’s the politically neutral argument for public financing of one political party and not the other?

There isn’t one, of course. And cutting off the funding in Wisconsin explains the scorched-earth policies of the Democrats there against Walker (whom I would enthusiastically support for president). They know that can’t win without this kind of cheating and corruption.

Outlawing public-employee unions should be one of the reforms to come out of the IRS corruption.

Covering The Israeli-Arab Conflict

Some tips for the anti-Semitic mainstream media:

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

Because Israel is the representative in the region of the hated West. But this is the real bottom line:

The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.

Few areas of media bias are as appalling as coverage of the Middle East.

[Update a while later]

It’s not just the media. Obama’s irrational animus toward Israel:

Think about this for a moment. In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).

Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.

Add to this the fact that the conflict with Hamas in Gaza–a conflict started and escalated by Hamas, and in which Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields–had a very negative impact on America’s relationship with Israel. To show you just how absurd this has become, other Arab nations were siding with Israel in its conflict with Hamas. But not America under Obama. He was constantly applying pressure on Israel. Apparently if you’re a nation defending yourself and, in doing so, you wage a war with exquisite care in order to prevent civilian death, it is reason to earn the fury of Mr. Obama.

Dinesh D’Souza’s theory of Obama’s inherited anti-colonialism from his father certainly seems to fit here. As noted there, this is the most anti-Israel president in US history, and he hangs out with ant-Semites like Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton (and we still don’t know who said what at that Khalidi birthday party that the LA Times won’t show us the video of). And yet the Jews continue to support him.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, maybe he’s not worse than Carter. It’s hard to know.

The SpaceX “Test Failure”

This isn’t new — I wrote it on Saturday at Ricochet, but it’s behind the paywall, so I thought I’d repost it here:

So the big news yesterday for people in the space business was that SpaceX finally lost an experimental test vehicle in its program to make its vehicles reusable (crucial to dramatically reducing costs to the point necessary to achieve its corporate goal of opening up the solar system). Some criticized it as a “failure” of the company. This is nonsense.

People need to understand that the purpose of an engineering test is to learn something. As I said on Twitter last night, the only “failed” test is one in which you didn’t get the information you were seeking. Losing hardware in a test is not a “test failure,” per se:

For example, consider the crash testing of cars, in which a successful test results in a wrecked car, but tells you what its weak points are so that you can improve the design, and the only test “failure” you can have is if the car fails to hit the barrier. In SpaceX’s case, the goal of the test wasn’t to destroy the vehicle per se, but they were fully aware that this could be an outcome. In fact, Gwynne Shotwell, the company president, said last year that she was a little disappointed that they retired the first test vehicle, Grasshopper, because the fact that they didn’t lose it in a test meant that they weren’t pushing the envelope hard enough.

Had it failed to deliver a payload of a paying customer to its designated destination, that could have rightfully been called a “failure” and the company justly criticized for it. But when an experimental vehicle crashes during a flight test, that’s called “flight test.”

SpaceX probably knows, but it hasn’t yet been reported what the cause was. The most common cause of failure in rockets is failure of stage separation, which doesn’t apply in this case, of course, since it is a single-stage test vehicle. Also, it could be an engine failure, but they have a lot of experience with their engines and hardware in general, so that’s an unlikely cause.

For this kind of vehicle, it’s really a test of the flight-control system, which is not only the computers, and sensors, and software, but the actuators that steer it. It’s possible that they had an actuator or engine-gimbal hardware failure, but they’ve had lots of test flights and never run into that problem. My guess (and it’s only that), based on viewing the video, is that they were pushing the vehicle beyond its capabilities to do something (perhaps translate, i.e., go sideways, while also descending or changing attitude) that they’d never attempted before, and it lost control (like an aircraft in a tailspin) without ability to regain it.

Once you lose control the decision to terminate flight comes pretty quickly, because bad things can happen very quickly after that. If they hadn’t been able to do the flight termination, and if it had resulted in unexpected damage on the ground, that would have been grounds for criticism, but the vehicle was safed exactly as planned, under FAA guidance and supervision.

Other than losing the vehicle, this flight was indeed a great success by the criteria of providing the information desired. At least two people from SpaceX, including Lars Blackmore, the lead of their entry, recovery and landing team, tweeted last night that they got “lots” of data.

Presumably in this case, if my theory is correct, they now understand the limits of the flight-control system. It may be that they will be able to ground simulate the failure, and tweak the software to avoid it in the future.

Was this a setback for SpaceX? Someone on Fox referred to the test last night with “A small rung on a long ladder to Mars broke on Friday, when a rocket test in Texas ended in a midair ball of fire.”

Jeff Foust called it that in his piece at the NewSpace Journal, and Jeff is a very smart guy, but I think he’s wrong, or at least, it’s not obvious that it is. In fact, when I asked him, Lars tweeted that he didn’t necessarily consider it one:

I would consider something a setback if it actually results in a delay of a critical program milestone. I think they have another test vehicle (that they’ll be flying out of New Mexico soon to do higher-altitude testing), and if they need yet another for McGregor, given their production capacity, they could probably pull one off the line and modify it pretty quickly. They’ve found something to fix in the next test vehicle (and possibly, though not necessarily, depending on what caused it) in an operational one. Also, in a sense, they’re no longer test-flight virgins, and may even be more bold going forward.

It’s certainly not going to affect their future launches (most importantly, next week’s), since it’s a side experimental program on which none of their current customers are dependent. So no, I don’t think it was much of a setback, if any.

On the other hand, I think that Blue Origin’s loss of its test vehicle three years ago may have been a setback, because they haven’t flown anything since (as far as I know). Unlike yesterday’s event, it may have been a totally unexpected, “back to the drawing board” thing. But I have no inside knowledge.

In addition to the general point of the difference between a hardware loss in a test and failure in operations, there is another point to consider here. While you expect problems in flight test of any new vehicle, VTVL (vertical take-off, vertical landing) types are particularly susceptible, not having wings to come home on if there’s a failure (though some use chutes as backup). I don’t think there is any serious VTVL company that hasn’t lost a vehicle in flight test, from Blue Origin, to Masten, to Armadillo, to Unreasonable Rocket. As Elon Musk tweeted last night, rockets are tricky:

I’d say that losing a VTVL vehicle in flight test is inevitable, almost a rite of passage, and that SpaceX just finally joined the club.

In fact, this isn’t actually the first experimental vehicle they’ve lost attempting to land it. It’s just the first on land. In a very real sense, every previous attempt to do an ocean recovery of the first stage, after it had completed its primary mission, was a flight test, and a success in that they got great data from each one to build on the next, and “failure” only in the sense that they didn’t succeed in actually recovering them. The company plans one more of these water “recoveries” this fall. Based on history, they have low expectations of getting the vehicle back this time as well, but obviously expect to get critical data needed to start to land actual first stages on land (though the first attempt or two will be on a barge at sea before they have demonstrated the control required for the FAA and the range to allow a flight back to the launch site).

But with each test, regardless of whether they get the vehicle back, they continue on their risky quest, with their own money, to achieve a long-time dream of the space industry (though one that NASA abandoned after the Shuttle), of an end to the wasteful and costly practice of throwing vehicles away. They should be encouraged to continue in their boldness. As I note in my recent book, such boldness, not caution or timidity, is crucial in opening up the harshest frontier humanity has ever faced.

[Sunday-morning update]

OK, not exactly a “setback,” but SpaceX has announced that they will delay Tuesday’s planned AsiaSat 6 satellite launch one day, to Wednesday, to allow them time to review the test results to ensure that the vehicle loss wasn’t caused by something that could affect the flight. “Mission assurance above all.”

[Wednesday-morning update]

They announced yesterday that they’re delaying the launch for several days now, but it’s unclear if it’s related to the vehicle loss on Friday.

The 50-50 Argument

It’s not logical to state that most warming since 1950 has been caused by man (or Mann):

The glaring flaw in their logic is this. If you are trying to attribute warming over a short period, e.g. since 1980, detection requires that you explicitly consider the phasing of multidecadal natural internal variability during that period (e.g. AMO, PDO), not just the spectra over a long time period. Attribution arguments of late 20th century warming have failed to pass the detection threshold which requires accounting for the phasing of the AMO and PDO. It is typically argued that these oscillations go up and down, in net they are a wash. Maybe, but they are NOT a wash when you are considering a period of the order, or shorter than, the multidecadal time scales associated with these oscillations.

Further, in the presence of multidecadal oscillations with a nominal 60-80 yr time scale, convincing attribution requires that you can attribute the variability for more than one 60-80 yr period, preferably back to the mid 19th century. Not being able to address the attribution of change in the early 20th century to my mind precludes any highly confident attribution of change in the late 20th century.

In other words, we shouldn’t and can’t have as much confidence as many would like to push their policy agenda.

A New Obama Talent

His ability to make “liberals” look even more foolish and incoherent than usual.

Actually what Kazin’s lament makes clear is that the usual liberal cant about pragmatism is utterly insincere. It is a way for liberals to deny they are being ideological. (Jonah Goldberg beats down on this trope masterfully in The Tyranny of Cliches.) So what Kazin is really saying is that Obama is incompetent at the liberal straddle: he’s no good as an ideologue, and he’s lousy at pragmatism. His golf handicap is his only handicap that is improving in office.

Ouch.

North Bay Quake

Sounds like they had a pretty good shake up in Napa. apparently the biggest one in the Bay Area since Loma Prieta, a quarter of a century ago. Have an in-law in Vallejo, but she’s currently in Missouri, so we’re more likely to have felt it here in LA than she was. Of course, I’ll get calls from relatives who don’t know how California is, wondering if we’re all right.

More SpaceX Coverage

Over at NBC, where Yours Truly is quoted.

[Sunday-morning update]

Here’s Tariq Malik’s story. Note this (for some in comments):

“With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program,” SpaceX representatives wrote. “Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test.”

Makes sense to me.

The Victims Of Communism

Commemorating, though not celebrating, the 75th anniversary of the Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact:

On this 75th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, we recognize the morally reprehensible nature of the totalitarian ideas of Nazism and Stalinism, of fascism and communism. We also recall the historical fact that regimes dedicated to these deadly ideologies worked together to start World War II, and aided each other in murdering millions of innocent men, women, and children. We remember those victims on this Black Ribbon Day.

A few years back, the Left squealed like stuck pigs when Jonah reminded them that the Nazis were of them, not of “the Right.” They desperately grasped at thin straws to point out the niggling differences between the Nazis and the Stalinists. But the point was, and remains, that the similarities were much greater than the differences. Both are totalitarian, collectivist, anti-individualist ideologies, and the distinction was pretty much transparent to the unwilling user.

[Afternoon update]


More thoughts
from Ilya Somin.

[Late evening update]

This isn’t exactly the same thing, but it is related. The American historians who are new friends of Hamas:

The demands they make upon Israel, Herf argues, without corresponding demands made on Hamas, is in essence repeating Hamas’ demands as their own. The petition writers do not even mention that the fighting in Gaza began with Hamas’ aggression. This is, Herf continues, a major change in the Left’s position taken over many years. Once a movement that always claimed to be “anti-fascist” above all, it is now supporting and praising the equivalent of the Islamic fascists.

Herf makes a sound analogy between their position and that taken by the old Communists in the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact from Aug. 1939 to June 1941. Just as the Communists ignored fascism — the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov famously said that “fascism is a matter of taste,” the historians now justify many of the Islamists’ actions as a cultural difference that Westerners should respect. Recall that historian Joan Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton a few years ago refused to condemn Tariq Ramadan’s failure to oppose the stoning of women to death in Muslim nations. Stoning, she said at a forum, was an aspect of their culture that we had to understand.

What explains these historians’ actions? Do they really want to be known as supporters of Hamas? Have they bothered to read the Hamas Charter? If not, how can they purport to be scholars and historians? Either they have read it and ignore it; or are so negligent as to not have bothered to learn what Hamas’s beliefs and aims are. It is especially shameful that these senior scholars, many of whom are historians of Germany no less and are proud of their anti-fascism, totally ignore the nature of Israel’s enemy.

There is an answer to why these historians are all anti-Israel, and it is the same answer I gave in my column last week at PJ Media. The American Left, following the long standing stance of its British comrades, favors an alliance with the West’s greatest enemies.

Again, the similarities (opposed to liberty and individualism) are much more important than the (literally, in this case) academic differences.

And then there’s this:

Shame on these supposed intellectuals, historians all, who have abandoned the most basic tenants of the historical method to propagandize for the Islamists, whom the late Christopher Hitchens aptly referred to as “Islamofascists.”

That’s a much better word than “Nazis,” which O’Reilly foolishly proposed as an improvement on “terrorists.”

Emphasis mine.

SpaceX Test Flight Booboo

I’m at the Tall Ship Festival, but hearing that they lost a vehicle, maybe Grasshopper. Fortunately, with their production line, shouldn’t take long to replace.

[Late-evening update, after getting back from Port of LA]

Yes, I was using the informal “Grasshopper” to refer to SpaceX VTVL R&D test vehicles. It was the F-9R, version 1. Gywnne had said last year she was actually disappointed that they never lost the initial Grasshopper, because it meant they hadn’t been pushing the envelope enough. Looks like they solved that problem today.

Oh, and they had a successful static fire at the Cape today of the vehicle for next week’s Asiasat launch.

[Update a while later]

OK, Jeff Foust has the story up at New Space Journal.

Public Schools As Child Abuse

Example #1,456,382:

To be thorough, they should have searched the neighbor’s yard for a dead Triceratops, too. Everyone involved in this tragedy should be flogged naked through the streets, then put in the stocks wearing a dunce cap.

Hey, the kid deserved it! He’s probably also a young-earth creationist, what with his apparent belief in the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs.

The Real Villain Of Ferguson

It’s LBJ’s (not so) Great Society.

Yes. It’s been a half-century of social disaster for blacks.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Jason Riley tells some hard truths:

Once upon a time, Eric Holder called for us to engage in a conversation about race. If that conversation were to be frank, it would have to start with the brute and ugly fact pointed out by Jason Riley. I do not doubt that racial prejudice still exists, but it does not constitute a serious obstacle to African-American advancement. The most grievous problems that African-Americans face today have little or nothing to do with the conduct of ordinary white people. Of course, they may well have something to do with white conduct in the past, which has a lingering effect. But nothing can be done about that. Long before they encountered George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were on the downward path. Given their taste for dope, their instinct for defiance, and their predilection for violence, they were both likely to end up as killers or as killed.

If Barack Obama and Eric Holder were actually interested in the welfare of the likes of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, they would level with their fellow African-Americans. They would initiate a genuinely frank conversation about race aimed at altering African-American conduct. As things stand, they are only interested in manipulating African-American fear and anger for short-term political gain — and the same can be said for the scoundrels (largely white) who manage CNN, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Pravda-on-the-Hudson, and Pravda-on-the-Potomac and who treat the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown as national news.

Yup. When it comes to discussing race, it’s not we who are the cowards. It’s the race hustlers like Al Sharpton. And Eric Holder.

[Bumped]