Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Wondering

Three stories about denial, how we can't live with it, yet can't live without it, on a grey Wednesday morning.

Heater: Some damaging indictments of the global warming religion, as a new study exposes how compromised much of the warming data has been, and how little blind faith we should put on the extrapolations made from that data:

The official record of temperatures in the continental United States comes from a network of 1,221 climate-monitoring stations overseen by the National Weather Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Until now, no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.
During the past few years I recruited a team of more than 650 volunteers to visually inspect and photographically document more than 860 of these temperature stations. We were shocked by what we found.
We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.
In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.
In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.
It gets worse...
Our pollution must be having some negative effect upon our environment. But let's not let our good intentions fall like an acid rain upon reasoned responses to the problem, let's have the humility to accept that we really don't know as much as we think we did about what in the world is going on. [Hat Tip to Vox Day]

Pill-pusher: The doctor who prescribed painkillers by the shovel-full to patients such as homicidal wrestler Chris Benoit, has been sentenced to ten years in prison.
Dr. Phil Astin, 54, had pleaded guilty Jan. 29 to a 175-count federal indictment that accused him of writing illegal prescriptions to known drug abusers, some of them for years.
"I take full responsibility," Astin told U.S. District Judge Jack Camp... "I am sorry I hurt so many lives. I was thinking that I was looking after my patients."

Two of Dr. Astin's patients died from drug overdoses, and the prosecution made it clear that it wasn't referring to the high-profile Benoit murder/suicide case. Given that it was that tragic event that triggered the investigation in the first place, it feels like the indictment followed the kind of logic more common to pro wrestling angles by how it avoided the whole issue of steroids altogether, despite a search warrant revealing that Dr. Astin had prescribed Benoit a ten-month supply of steroids every three to four weeks.

Media sensationalism in the aftermath of the Benoit incident notwithstanding, the connection between massive use of steroids and a mind so corrupted as to kill one's wife and 7-year old child is not a slam-dunk case. There's another, stronger link besides 'roid-rage', however, that needs to be pursued, and that's the heavyweight-class degree of denial going on within, and without, the wrestling industry.

The suspension of disbelief that we use to enjoy movies and plays gets tapped into to also appreciate a pro wrestling match, but unlike film and theater, when it comes to wrestling it seems that once engaged that denial of reality can't seem to shut itself off. The result is a deadly dance between diehard wrestling fans and the wrestlers who die hard in order to please them.

In his autobiography, veteran wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper called this desire to please the fans and be liked by them, "The Sickness", as it led wrestlers to continually act against their own best self-interest, both physically and spiritually.

Where the in-ring pain leaves off, the outside-the-ring lifestyle picks up: "It takes over your life 24/7 and, especially before cellphones and email, no matter how hard I tried, it was impossible not to become distant from my family, my kids. Most, maybe all, the boys suffered the same isolation, and soon strangers became family and family became strangers. Almost all who escaped came back, having no clue how to make it on the outside."

The bandmasters for this waltz of doom are promoters like Vince McMahon, who insist on pushing the stars with the biggest bodies, and try to condition fans to only accept bigger as better. If you don't have the large size, what do you do to make up for it in the eyes of the fans and the promoters? The answer isn't pretty. It's certainly not wrestling, and surely it's not "entertainment"..?

Unfortunately, since no one takes the shows in the ring seriously, few people take the pain outside the ring seriously either. A shroud of denial has fallen upon the wrestling business; even with the publicity in the last few years, the appalling death rate for the young performers in that field is still ignored as a messy, unwelcome needle that could pop the whole illusion. Ignored, especially, by the fans.

Swister: An anonymous tip (from a guilty conscience..?) leads two 56-year old women to the shocking discoverery that they were switched at birth.

Qualls, Bobby Reed and one of their sisters met Shafer at a Kennewick, Wash., clinic last month for DNA testing. A week later, Qualls got the results, learning her likely probability of being related to her brother and sister was zero.
"I cried," she said. "I wanted to be a Reed _ my life wasn't my life." Shafer's DNA report said she had 99.9 percent of being related to Bobby and Dorothy Reed. Now living in Richland, Wash., Shafer said the report only confirmed what she knew after meeting Qualls.
"After seeing Kay Rene, I went home and told my husband, I don't know why she's doing the DNA testing," she said. "I was shocked _ she looked just like my sister's twin."
Mid-way through reading this article I paused to discuss the story with my wife, curious to get her take on what it must be like to be faced with a revelation like this. "It must make your life feel almost illegitimate", I suggested; "you would look back and feel like you had lived the 'wrong life'..." My wife had a more positive reaction: "It would be like getting a whole new set of brothers and sisters, an extra family on top of your own!" Oriented toward the past as I am, I hadn't thought of things from that angle... and not for the first time, learned from her forward-thinking attitude, another reminder of the complex nature of faith. It's not about ignoring the doubts, denying the bad; it's about having sufficient imagination, and courage, to be able to see the potential good as well as the obvious bad. I was, therefore, not surprised in the least when I soon reached the concluding paragraph...:
The two have become friends and celebrated their May 3 birthday together. Recently, Qualls introduced Shafer to her work colleagues, calling her "my swister."
"I'm trying to move forward at look at the positive," Shafer said.
"You can't look back. It just drives you crazy."

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