Plebescites and Placebos

The Iranian election results seem very suspicious, and the return of Ahmadinejad to power is bad for Iranian women, bad for the Iranian economy, bad for Israel, and bad for freedom-loving people everywhere. It is appalling, really, that a country with the rich cultural heritage of Iran is being led by a Holocaust-denying fanatic.

What’s also interesting, though, is that so many countries feel they need to have “elections” to legitimize leadership choices. As the Philosopher King observed today, it is a tribute to the power of democratic ideals that theocracies like Iran or dictatorships like Venezuela hold “elections” as a kind of public relations ruse, even if everyone realizes that the elections are neither free nor fair. It is as if such an “election” is viewed by those in control as a kind of democratic placebo for the people. It seems to me that holding bogus elections is a dangerous game, however. Having enjoyed the appearance of democracy over the past few weeks, the Iranian electorate might be willing to press more strongly for the reality.

Fishy Spending

This article reports that $50 million in stimulus funds will be used to help fish farmers buy fish food. Well, why not? Once you start to spend federal money on just about anything, so that you can argue that you have “created or preserved” a bunch of jobs, why would you draw the line at helping the $1.4 billion “aquaculture industry”?

If fish farmers really need algae, though, they may just want to stop by the pond near us, which is experiencing its annual algae bloom. Every summer, as fertilizer run-off hits the pond, an algae bloom follows and a fish kill ensues soon thereafter. Right now, it looks like someone poured bright green paint into the pond. So far, the algae bloom has defeated every technology fix they have devised for it, including the most recent technique of putting some pumps in the pond that make it look like a bit like a water treatment facility. If the catfish farmers of the Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama need somethng for their bottom feeders to nosh on, we Ohioans would be happy to part with our algae in the name of job creation and economic development.

The Global Warming Debate Heats Up, Part III

I’ve posted before — here and here — on certain aspects of the global warming issue and its politics. This article takes a different viewpoint, so I offer it in the interest of balance.

I mention only that I find it interesting that environmentalists would seriously consider some of the “geoengineering” proposed by this article. I would think long and hard and would have to be pretty certain of my data before I launched a program to inject ultra-fine suphur particles into the upper atmosphere or built a fleet of 1500 ships to sail the oceans spraying seawater into the air.