Good Lord, the government really is planning to ban donut sprinkles!

December 30, 2014
Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State

I thought a friend was joking when he said the government was “going after” sprinkles, but then I saw an item in  this morning’s bulletin from the California Political Review that lead me to Warner Todd Huston’s post at Publius Forum, which in turn lead me to this jaw-dropper from Mike Flynn at Breitbart from before Christmas:

Early next year, the FDA is expected to finalize a new regulation intended to eradicate even trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, known as trans fats, from our diets.

Although the amount of trans fats Americans consume has declined significantly in recent years, the FDA’s quest to completely eliminate a particular type of trans fat threatens to eliminate the noble “sprinkle,” used to decorate holiday treats and donuts. Even a small amount of joy is suspect in the FDA’s brave, new, food-monitored world.

In recent years, research has determined that consuming large amounts of trans fats is harmful to the heart. Trans fats have been in the American diet since the 1950s, but recent awareness of its health risks have pushed food companies and restaurants to minimize its use. Today, Americans consume just 1.3 grams of trans fats a day, around 0.6% of total caloric intake. No research has shown this level of consumption to pose any risk.

Flynn goes on to point out the irony in the situation: the very organization that now pushes for a total trans-fat ban, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), in the 1980s and 1990s was urging restaurants and food manufacturers to switch to trans-fats, because they were “healthier.” Oops.

And now we’re supposed to trust them and the FDA on this.

The argument over trans-fats aside, this is another example of the eternal desire of the Nanny State to regulate and control everything in our lives — for our own good, of course. You’re not capable of making your own decisions over your own affairs –what foods to eat, what kind of lighting to use, &c.– so boards of experts, that progressive ideal, have to make them for you.

There’s another imperative behind this and other examples of nanny-statism: the built-in, always-on need of all regulatory agencies to ensure there is a reason for their continued existence and for increasing their budgets. No problem is ever truly solved; there is always some new rule to issue, some standard to tighten, even if there is no real problem that needs fixing. But the regulators need their enemy: To admit they’ve accomplished their goals would mean they don’t need more money, maybe not as many staff. It might even leave them vulnerable to the unthinkable: budget cuts or —gasp!— elimination.

And, of course, there wouldn’t be new jobs for crusading nanny-staters fresh out of graduate school.

Enjoy your sprinkled donuts while you can, before Nanny takes them away.

RELATED: Nanny-statism is a feature of the Administrative State, which gives bureaucratic agencies the power to write rules that have the force of law without democratic accountability. A recent book by Philip Hamburger argues that such powers are not only unconstitutional, they are extra-constitutional, not being recognized by our foundational documents at all. Bureaucratic nonsense like the above, such as banning traditional cookies, makes me sympathetic to the idea.

 

 

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Free to speak your mind in Scotland, as long as the police approve

December 30, 2014

This from the land of Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, which informed so much of our own political thinking, from before the Revolution to the present day:

Most of the replies were what one would expect from stiff-necked Scotsmen, along the lines of “Go bugger yourself!” Quite apart from the police having almost no business monitoring what anyone says on the Internet, one has to wonder at the resources being diverted from solving real crimes — you know, against life and property.

Of course, this isn’t the first instance of criminalizing thought in the UK in recent years. Just last year, a minor politician was arrested for reading from a work by Winston Churchill, on the grounds it might have been offensive to Muslims. Before that, another man was hauled in for posting online a couple of mildly tasteless jokes about Nelson Mandela when the former South African president was dying. Do some searching and you’ll quickly find more.

Freedom of thought and speech isn’t quite dead in the nation that gave birth to it, but it’s clearly on life support.

PS: In case they pull the tweet, here’s a graphic:

Scotland police

Carry on, Citizen.

 


Will Greenland Begin Accumulating Ice in 2015 and Beyond?

December 29, 2014

And another climate-alarmist claim begins to look dodgy, this time about the receding of Greenland’s glaciers. Click through for the details, but the gist is –say it after me– “natural cycles.”

Watts Up With That?

Guest post by Jim Steele, director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University.

Based on NOAA’s 2014 Arctic Report Card, the past 2 decades of ice loss in Greenland has slowed dramatically in 2013-2014. In contrast to Velicogna’s (2014) previously published average mass loss of 280 +/-58 gigatons/year using GRACE satellite data, or the maximum loss of 570 gigatons in 2012-2013, there was only an insignificant loss of 6 gigatons from June 2013 to June 2014, or mere 1% of the previous year’s loss. A loss of 360 gigatons translates into a 1 millimeter rise in sea level, therefore the 2013-2014 sea level rise should be 1.3 mm less than the year before. And based on historical analyses, Greenland will likely begin gaining mass in the coming years.

In Vanishing Ice Most Likely All Natural (transcipt here) I argued that Greenland’s glaciers would soon…

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School nativity play includes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…. Stalin?

December 29, 2014

Stalin of Nazareth

 

Whether this was a hilarious mistake or a pre-planned prank, this got me laughing hard:

When Russian schoolboy Ilya Gavrichenko told his parents he was playing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in his school production, they put together the perfect costume – moustache and all.

It was only when he arrived on the night of the performance that they realised he was meant to be playing a very different role – Joseph of Nazareth.

Ilya, who is 12, was dressed in a white shirt, jacket, military trousers and army boots when he arrived at the school in St Petersburg.

With no time to change before the start of the nativity, he was left with no choice but to accompany the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem while dressed as the murderous tyrant.

Fortunately the other parents took it in good cheer and laughed at the absurdity of one of history’s worst monsters heralding the birth of the Son of God. And I suspect the kid had a grand time.

No word about if he later had the Three Kings purged as class enemies, though. smiley wink


Regulation gone wild – Christmas lights are the next target of nanny state thinking

December 28, 2014

Well, thank God that Nanny State is here to protect us from the dangers of… Christmas lights. This sounds like a case of bureaucrats with too much time on their hands… and a good reason to get rid of the agency. Anyone know who financially benefits from these proposed regs? Like GE and the incandescent light bulb ban, I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere.

Watts Up With That?

US GOVERNMENT SAY BAH HUMBUG! to Christmas lights

xmas-lights-plugin-griswold

The Comment period ends December 30th on the new regulations that will outlaw affordable Christmas lights including indoor and outdoor lighted decorations of any type. See link below.

From the Washington Times via Gail Combs:

Christmas lights have become so affordable that even the humblest of homes often are lit like the Star of Bethlehem. Federal bureaucrats are working to end this. They claim it will make us safer, but the facts don’t back them up.

It’s not uncommon to find strings of mini-lights priced at $1 for a hundred lights, sometimes even less. To cure this excessive affordability, the feds are rushing to save Americans from mass holiday displays. They seem to believe we all are like Clark Griswold, the bumbling father figure in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” (played by Chevy Chase), who nearly electrocutes himself, starts fires, falls off the…

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Climate Craziness of the Week – AGW could trigger plants and soil in tipping point attack

December 27, 2014

So now a “greening” of the Earth, leading possibly to higher food production as more areas become arable and plants get more plant food (that nasty CO2) is a bad thing. The climate alarmists are getting desperate, I tell ya.

Watts Up With That?

Yes, somehow, more plants growing due to increased CO2 will cause more carbon dioxide in a vicious cycle. Notice three things about this study: 1. The word “could” 2. “modeling work”. 3. Lack of any paleo reference to such an event in Earth’s past during higher periods of CO2.

Attack_of_the_monster_plantsFrom Princeton: Dirty pool: Soil’s large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth

An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet — soil.

Researchers based at Princeton University report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the carbon in soil — which contains twice the amount of carbon in all plants and Earth’s atmosphere combined — could become increasingly volatile as people add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, largely because of increased plant growth. The…

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Cloud City on Venus? Make it so!

December 26, 2014

venus sky base

(Photo credit: NASA Langley Research Center)

The fine folks at NASA are thinking it might be easier to go to Venus first, rather than Mars. After all, it’s nearer. But how, given the (to put it mildly) hostile conditions of the Venusian surface?

Simple: we build a colony above the clouds!

Called HAVOC – High Altitude Venus Operational Concept — engineers and scientists at the space agency have been studying ways in which a Venus mission would be possible.

“The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration,” aerospace engineer Christopher A. Jones told CNN.

Venus is the closest planet to Earth, about 38 million kilometres, compared with 54.6 million km to Mars. However, it is also highly inhospitable with a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius, a cloud layer of sulphuric acid and atmospheric pressure that’s 92 times greater than Earth’s.

Scientists say, however, that just 50 kilometres above the cloud layer are conditions that mimic Earth – pressure is almost the same and so is the gravity and the temperature is about 75 C. With current technology, the astronauts could be outfitted in special suits to withstand the heat.

In previous years, probes have been sent to the surface of Venus, but could only last about two hours.

NASA has also provided a concept video (via):

There’s a fuller discussion at the IEEE Spectrum.

NASA projects the initial mission to last about 30 days, but, over time, the station itself could become permanent, with researchers coming and going. (And tourists? Why not?)

If you know me, you know I grew up watching and loving the space program. While I support private space efforts, I think a NASA-lead exploration program fits with our “Lewis and Clark” traditions. Add to that the possibility of a Star Wars-like “Cloud City” (1), and I’m all for it. Let’s start tomorrow!

We’ve walked on the Moon. No reason we can’t soar above Venus.

Footnote:
(1) Okay, okay. Not even close to Cloud City. But ya gotta start somewhere! smiley thumbs up