A New Peer Reviewed Study Casts Doubt On The Accuracy Of Climate Change Models…And The Mainstream News Media Doesn’t Think That’s Something The Public Should Know [Corrected]

Climate change models

The day before Thanksgiving, the journal “Science Advances” published a new study of Arctic water temperature that indicates that the warming began decades earlier than was previously thought. The study found that “the expansion of warm Atlantic Ocean water flowing into the Arctic, something called “Atlantification, has caused Arctic water temperature in the region studied to increase by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900.

So what, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that the findings suggest that the climate change models considered “scientific consensus” and ” settled science” are not so settled after all. [Notice of correction: The earlier version of that sentence carelessly implied that the new study disproved the predominant science. That was not my intent. Thanks to Luke G. for calling me on this.] meaning that if you were skeptical Robert Kennedy, Jr. thinks you should be prosecuted, the new data calls into question many if not all of the climate change models. Francesco Muschitiello, one of the paper’s authors, explained, “This is something that’s a bit unsettling for many reasons, especially because the climate models that we use to cast projections of future climate change do not really simulate these type of changes.”

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Comment (s) Of The Day: P.M. Lawrence And Steve-O-in NJ On “Stolen Lands”

BLM Thanksgiving

It’s not as if a racist, Marxist, anti-American organization like Black Lives Matter has to try to be obnoxious, but nonetheless, it treated Thanksgiving celebrants with that holiday message this week. Normally Comment of the Day posts that arrive in an Open Forum are accorded guest blogger honors, but I couldn’t figure out a clean way to unlink the two comments presented here. I apologize to P.M. and Steve.

The “stolen lands” indictment has rankled me for a long, long time, and the two Ethics Alarms regulars between them have done an excellent job of covering the issue.

First up is Steve-O; P.M. Lawrence will take over later.

***

steal [stēl] VERB [stolen (past participle)}: 1. take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it. “Thieves stole her bicycle” ·
synonyms: theft · thieving · thievery · robbery · larceny · burglary · shoplifting · pilfering ·
2. dishonestly pass off (another person’s ideas) as one’s own. “Accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying”
synonyms: plagiarize · copy · pass off as one’s own · infringe the copyright of · pirate · poach · borrow · appropriate

conquer [ˈkäNGkər] VERB 1. overcome and take control of (a place or people) by use of military force. “The Magyars conquered Hungary in the Middle Ages”
synonyms: defeat · beat · vanquish · trounce · annihilate · triumph over · be victorious over · best · get the better of · worst · bring someone to their knees · overcome · overwhelm ·

So tell me, which of the above definitions more accurately reflects what happened here in the US? To steal something from someone, the other person must first possess it. Can you really steal from those who don’t believe anyone can own land? Not really. But you can conquer that area.

Unfortunately, history is almost nothing but conquests. It’s not the story of people becoming friends. History has been about conquests since Sargon of Akkad conquered the Sumerians and since Joshua led the Hebrews over the Jordan to attack and take the city of Jericho. In fact, if you go all the way back to the earliest Biblical stories, the Hebrews first came to be when and because a sheik in the Bronze Age Mesopotamian city of Ur answered a call that came directly from the man upstairs promising him the land originally promised to Caanan, grandson of Ham, because Ham proved himself unworthy by seeing Noah drunk and uncovered in his tent and doing nothing about it. Most of the rest of the Old Testament is about the Hebrews getting, losing, and getting back the land promised to them by God. Most of us grew up reading of Joshua bringing the walls of Jericho down and cheering on David as he stood up to Goliath, giving Saul’s army the chance to defeat the Philistines, and never once asking the question of whether they were right. However, come to the modern state of Israel, and suddenly it’s stolen land, stolen from the Palestinians, who were never a nation to begin with, and at any rate were Johnny-come-latelys since the Caananites, Hebrews, Seleucid Greeks, Romans, Persians (briefly), Byzantines, Crusaders, and Turks had the territory before them.

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So: Facebook Decided That Kyle Rittenhouse Was Guilty, And Enabled False Media Narratives. Now What?

Facebook-Censorship

Facebook announced shortly after Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested after the Kenosha shootings, “We’ve designated the shooting in Kenosha a mass murder and are removing posts in support of the shooter.” At this point, there had been no investigation, no assessment of the evidence, and, obviously, no trial. Nonetheless, Facebook, which purports to be a protector of free speech and expression (but is not), decided to cut off debate as well as access to mitigating facts in the incident, and leave the field to one side only. Guess which? Here’s a hint: it’s the side that almost all of social media and Big Tech uses its power and influence to support. (See: 2020 Presidential election)

Want to begin with Facebook’s declaration that two deaths under still undetermined circumstances is a “mass murder”? Ironically, a jury that had far more information before it ultimately determined that this wasn’t a murder at all. Never mind: Facebook removed pro-Kyle Rittenhouse posts, including posts from legal scholars attempting to explain why the teen could well have a valid self-defense claim. Then the platform manipulated its search engine so you couldn’t find any non-negative references to Rittenhouse that slipped through.

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Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021): Integrity Was Everything

Sondheim2

There’s not too much I can add to the many tributes and essays about Stephen Sondheim, who died yesterday at the age of 91, but I feel I owe him a special salute for his ethics. Ethics is not a common trait in theater, or in show business generally. Sondheim, one could argue (and I will) built his career on ethical values.

The Times has three excellent pieces: a front page obituary, a report on a final interview, and an appreciation by critic Jesse Green. I don’t disagree with any of them, nor do I dispute Sondheim’s importance to musical theater and the culture, which justifies his superstar send-off. None of them come right out and say what I believe to be obvious, if inconvenient: for all his influence, Sondheim represented a fascinating, elitist, dead-end for musical theater, which he was determined to elevate whether it was healthy for the genre or not.

Musical theater arose from humble, populist origins like the British music hall, and it was generally accepted to be a way for ordinary people to have a good time without having to think too much. That model served the genre, and the industry, well until Sondheim’s mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II took off from where only scattered experiments like “Lady in the Dark” and “Pal Joey” had previously ventured to bring serious topics and dilemmas into song while still sending the crowd home humming. Sondheim, once he had freed himself from writing words to established composers’ tunes in “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” deliberately sought darker, more complex stories to musicalize than even Oscar would dare attempt.

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Ethics Leftovers, 11/26/21: “Truth Is Truth!”

Leftover

Oh, yum.

1. The Zenith Of The Great Stupid? At least for stupid apologies: the Women’s March—you know, the groups that gave us Pussy Hats?—-actually tweeted this:

Womens March

Deeply! I guess this means that Women’s March loyalists are expected to berate any merchant whose register come up with a charge that offends. We have offensive numbers now! Is there any point where recruits into Progressive Crazytown stop, listen to what their compatriots are saying (advocating, doing…) and realize, “Oh my God! These people I’ve been taking seriously are lunatics!”

2. In related news, a poll shows President Biden in negative territory in the approval polls of all but six states. I guessed four out of the five: I missed New Jersey, guessing New York instead. The rest, too easy for a quiz, are California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, and Hawaii. (D.C. is still not a state.) What can any state like about a Presidential performance as miserable as Biden’s so far? What is there to approve of? All I can think of is that they like the fact that he isn’t Donald Trump. Is that enough to approve of someone?

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“The Twelve Lies Of Rittenhouse”

Sadly, this is how my mind works and has always worked, if you can call it “working.” Once I wrote in the previous post that my mention of twelve lies in regard to the Kyle Rittenhouse case suggested a Christmas song parody, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head until I wrote it. Fortunately, there were more than twelve lies to play with, or the challenge would have been impossible.

Here it is; do with it as you choose. The video above is provided so you can sing along: Continue reading

Take The Ethics Alarms Rittenhouse Case Pledge: “I Vow To Slap Down The False Narrative Whenever I Encounter It, Forever!”

Witherspoon tweet

The five jagged prongs of the fantasy version of the Rittenhouse case are 1) He carried a semi-automatic weapon “across state lines” to cause trouble; 2) the teen is a white supremacist, hence a racist, and was “hunting” virtuous social justice crusaders justly and peacefully protesting ; 3) the three men he shot were innocent victims, and two of them were murdered, 4) the rioting Rittenhouse was opposing was a protest over a white police officer brutally killing an unarmed black man, and 5) the jury’s failure to convict resulted from the inherent racism of the justice system.

Within those prongs are at least (let’s see…) twelve lies that can no longer be excused by confusion over the facts. Nor is it an excuse that someone like Witherspoon has been reading and watching the wrong news reports (as well as getting her political views from within a progressive bubble), because every American knows or should knows that such sources cannot be believed or trusted.

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Post-Thanksgiving L-tryptophan Hangover Open Forum

food hangover puppy

There is absolutely no excuse, none, for readers to not engage in an epic ethics donnybrook in this week’s open forum. What else are you going to do? Watch young men begin their slow descent into premature dementia from successive concussions as thousands cheer? Watch the “Get Back” Beatles documentary? OK, that’s actually a good idea (I watched Part 1 last night), but that still won’t take up the whole day…

The Complete, Updated Ethics Companion To “Miracle On 34th Street”!

Introduction

The holiday season traditionally kicks off with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and so does this iconic holiday movie. As with most holiday movies, but perhaps more than most, the entire concept of digging into the ethics of the plot of “Miracle on 34th Street”  can be criticized as beside the point. Indeed, this ethics analysis of a classic Chritsmas movie received more flack than the previous two (“White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” ) combined. The movie, at least the 1947 original, is a classic; I don’t dispute it. It works dramatically and emotionally, it makes people feel good, and it has held up over time. That’s all a Christmas movie is supposed to do, and if it does it without really making sense or avoiding ethics potholes along the way, so what?

I sympathize with this view. However, our ethical standards and ethics alarms are affected by what we see, hear, like and respond to. If popular holiday movies inject bad ethics habits and rationalizations into our character, especially at a young age, that is something we should at least be aware of by the tenth or eleventh time we watch one of them.

One ethical aspect of “Miracle on 34th Street” that must be flagged at the outset is competence. The film is so effortlessly engrossing and convincing that it is easy to forget how easily it could have failed miserably. Actually, it is also easy to remind oneself: just watch any of the attempts to remake the film. There have been four of these, starring, as Kris Kringle, Thomas Mitchell, Ed Wynn, Sebastian Cabot, and Richard Attenborough. That’s a distinguished crew, to be sure. Mitchell was one of the greatest character actors in Hollywood history. Wynn was nominated for an Academy Award (for “The Diary of Ann Frank”) and Attenborough won one, Best Supporting Actor Award in 1967 for “The Sand Pebbles.” Cabot wasn’t quite in their class, but he was a solid pro, and looked more like Santa Clause than Mitchell,  Wynn, or Richard Attenborough.

None of them, however, were as convincing as Edmund Gwenn. He made many movies—all without a white beard— and had a distinguished career in films and on stage, but even audience members who knew his work had a hard time reminding themselves that he wasn’t Kris Kringle while they watched the movie. I still have a hard time.

The rest of the cast is almost as perfect.  The film is one more example of the special, unappreciated talent of Maureen O’Hara, who never seemed like a movie star, as lovely and strong an on-screen presence as she was. Her ability to anchor great movies while never dominating them is the epitome of the “collaborative art” they always blather about during the Oscars, but which is seldom truly honored. There were Katherine Hepburn movies and Bette Davis movies; there are Meryl Streep movies. Nobody ever talked about Maureen O’Hara movies, just great movies that had Maureen O’Hara essential to making them great. O’Hara was the female lead in four genuine classics: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Quite Man,” “How Green Was My Valley,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” She never won any Academy Awards, nor is she ever named when the greatest Hollywood actresses are named, but how many actresses delivered four classics—not classic performances, but classic films?  Hepburn ties Maureen with four: The Philadelphia Story,” “Bringing Up Baby,” “Adams’s Rib” and “The African Queen.”  Streep maaay be credited with one, if you count “Sophie’s Choice”; personally, I wouldn’t.

“Miracle on 34th Street” is an ethics movie in part because its artists committed to telling a magical story and charming audiences by working as an ensemble selflessly and  efficiently. John Payne, as the idealistic lawyer in love with Maureen, is never flashy, just completely convincing. One reason may be that, as he told an interviewer once, the role of Fred Gaily perfectly matched his own ideals and beliefs. Payne never made another memorable movie in his long career; he was the classic bland, B movie leading man. He made Glenn Ford seem exciting. But he was the perfect choice for this story.  Similarly, there have been more impressive child actresses than young Natalie Wood—Margaret O’Brien, to name one; Dakota Fanning, to name another—but none who was better at simultaneously nailing her scenes while never taking a viewer out of the film by making him think, “Wow, she’s so precocious! I wonder if she’s a midget?”

This is the magic of performing talent: they make audiences suspend disbelief because they seem to believe in the story and characters too. The director,  George Seaton (who also directed “Airport”), not only wrote the script (that won him an Oscar, and deservedly so)  and cast his movie brilliantly, he also made the correct decision to stick with a matter-of-fact, realistic, unadorned style that keeps the story grounded. There are none of the features and gaffes in this film that make other holiday-themed movies inherently unbelievable, like the cheesy battlefield sets in “White Christmas” or the heavenly dialogues in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

This is why the awful colorized version that Ted Turner inflicted on the world—this was one of the first movies to be subjected to Ted’s “improvement”—was such a disaster. The colored version looks fake, because it is. The original black and white version is set in a mundane, grey world like Doris’s—Maureen’s–view of life itself: no excitement, no romance, no fantasy, just cold, unadorned reality. No heaven, no magic, ghosts, nobody breaking into song and sounding like Bing Crosby. There’s no child’s point of view, like in “A Christmas Story.” No, all of us live in the world we are shown in “Miracle on 34th Street.” We would love the magic to be real, but we don’t believe in it any more.

We want it to be, though—and that’s why this movie works.

Chapter 1.

Meet Kris Kringle

The movie tells us right at the start that 1) the charming old man in the white beard can’t possibly be Santa Claus, and 2) that he’s nuts. That is, he tells adults who are paying attention this as soon as he starts complaining to a New York City storekeeper that his window display has the reindeer mixed up: “You’ve got Cupid where Blitzen should be. And Dasher should be on my right-hand side. And another thing…Donner’s antlers have got four points instead of three!”

Let’s see:

  • No Christmas display has ever distinguished between Santa’s reindeer (except for Rudolph), because the individual reindeer have never had any identifying characteristics in reality or myth. Are we to assume that there are name-tags on the models? If so, why wouldn’t Kris be complaining about the features of all of them, not just “Donner’s” antlers?
  • The names of the reindeer, even if there are flying reindeer, were 100% the invention of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” or “The Night Before Christmas,” originally published in 1823.  No one has ever claimed that the author had some kind of special info on the actual names of the reindeer when he wrote,

    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

    “Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
    On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DUNDER and BLIXEN!

    …and anyway, if he did, those were their names 120 years before the movie takes place. Nobody has ever claimed the reindeer were immortal, either. I suppose Santa Claus, in a nod to the poem’s popularity (it has been called the most famous poem of all time), could have adopted the practice of always having the reindeer named after the poem’s versions, and when one Vixen dropped of old age, the young reindeer that took her place became the new Vixen.

I suppose.

  • A bigger problem is that the movie’s alleged “St. Nicholas” calls the seventh reindeer “Donner.” It gets confusing here. The original St. Nicholas was Greek, the Christian bishop of Myra, now Demre, in Lycia.  Nicholas gave gifts to the poor, in particular presenting three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.  THAT would be neat poem! Saint Nicholas is buried in Italy. He was later claimed as a patron saint of children (also archers, sailors,  pawnbrokers, and the cities of Amsterdam and Moscow). The name “Santa Claus” is derived from the Netherlands version of St. Nick called Sinterklaas,  or “the Christmas man,” de Kerstman in Dutch. This explains “Dunder and Blixen,” meaning thunder and lightning in Dutch, and the movie later confirms Kris’s Dutch origins. (But why does he speak in a British accent?)

Never mind that: why would he call Dunder “Donner”? The “real” Santa wouldn’t. Though the original version of the poem got the names right (we know it’s Blixen and not “Blitzen” because it rhymes with Vixen), various editors, transcribers and  the author himself kept changing the names in subsequent printings. Dunder became “Donder” and eventually “Donner,” which is a meaningless Anglicizing of “Dunder.”

Santa Clause, aka Sinterklaas,wouldn’t be confused: he named the beasts. He’s correcting the shop-keeper while passing along a misnomer?

Baloney.

Well, enough of that. The next scene shows Kris encountering the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa pre-parade. He instructs him in the use of his whip on the reindeer! In the German Santa mythology, the jolly old elf used the whip on naughty children, but nowadays, using a whip on either kids or reindeer is pretty much excised from Santa’s methods, and should have been in 1947. It’s an unethical image…

…even though artists have worked hard to confuse us….

No, an ethical Santa Claus wouldn’t use a whip. He also wouldn’t put a poor old guy with a drinking problem out of work during the holidays, but that’s what Kris does next. He smells liquor on the costumed Santa, and shows no mercy:

“Don’t you realize there are thousands of children… lining the streets waiting to see you… children who have been dreaming of this moment for weeks? You’re a disgrace to the tradition of Christmas… and I refuse to have you malign me in this fashion. Disgusting!”

Then he tracks down Doris Walker, who is in charge of the parade, and gets the man fired. That’s just mean; there’s no way around it. I bet a lot of Macy Santas have had a few nips before and during the parade, and so what? How hard is it to say “Ho Ho Ho”?

Kris manages to get Drunk Santa’s job, having single-handedly gotten him sacked, no pun intended.

Why is Kris, if he’s the real Santa Claus, hanging around New York City and moonlighting in the Macy’s parade when the big night is just around the corner? This is no time for a vacation or boondoggles. If he’s really Santa, he’s goofing off, and he has the gall to tell a temporary parade Santa that he’s risking disappointing children!

Kris is not off to a good start. Continue reading