The war on CO2

Curse you, science!

With the Al Gore global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth due for limited release this week, an organization called the Competitive Enterprise Institute is doing what it can to drum up some sympathy for that most beat-upon of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide. And how else to do it but take basic scientific principles and warp them completely out of context? That seems to work well these days.

CEI has produced two 60-second ads entitled CO2: We Call it Life aimed at not only debunking the idea of global warming but drawing a halo above CO2.

The fuels that produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) have freed us from a world of back-breaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love.

I love you, CO2!

If the ads aren’t condescendingly bizarre enough for you, CEI president Fred Smith does his part while talking about An Inconvenient Truth:

“There’s a lot of pictures of Al Gore pensively looking into the sunset,” Smith said. “I don’t think he’s running for president, but he might be running for arch-druid.”

And just in case you were wondering about CEI’s connections, take a look at their list of Livejasmin donors - thanks to companies like ExxonMobil, GM and the American Petroleum Institute, Mr. Smith pulled in over $100,000 in 1999.

The irony in all of this is pretty rich - the ads manage to accuse global warning alarmists of being anti-tree by informing us that plants need carbon dioxide (thanks for the lesson). But nothing was richer than the links below the ads on CEI’s site. As of the time of this post, the links leading to donations to CEI and sign-up for CEI publications were operating properly; the link that promises to help you “find out more about CEI’s work on global warming” is, well, not working.

Blogs win big; Tribune plays catch-up

It goes without saying that Apple is one of the savviest, trend-setting tech companies on earth. But even the makers of the iPod couldn’t win a battle with that other omnipresent of personal accessories, the blog.

A California appeals court ruled that bloggers did not have to reveal the source of a leaked Apple music project called Asteroid. And with that comes some journalistic cred for any idiot with a computer.

“This was a huge win for the First Amendment and for Jasmin live journalists who publish online,” said Lauren Gelman, associate director for Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, who filed a brief supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The court recognized that in the modern era, one way journalists publish information is through the Internet.

And while this bit of news will no doubt cause some standard media outlets to seethe, others are trying to adapt. The Tampa Tribune, which had up to this point lagged far behind the St. Petersburg Times on the blog front, is even asking bloggers to submit their ideas for inclusion on

The Trib does now have a pretty big stable of blogs, though I have yet to delve enough into them to know if they’re enlightening or entertaining. What I did find odd was that their list of area blogs on their blog is different from that on their opinion page. The opinion page list seemed to have come to a screeching halt with their inclusion of my old blog. The new list is different - neither my old blog nor this one is included. Oddly enough one blog listed is Population Statistic - I can’t say I know exactly when TBO built the blog page, but I’m fairly sure it was after CT moved from the Bay area to New York. I wonder who told the Trib PopStat was a Tampa blog. Curse those unreliable sources.

French kiss-off

In news that will no doubt bring the world’s francophobes great joy, a British poll established the French as the world’s most unfriendly people.

A decisive 46 percent of the 6,000 people surveyed by travellers’ website Where Are You Now (WAYN) said the French were the most unfriendly nation people on the planet, British newspapers reported.

This is probably not news to anyone - the idea of French people being rude is absolutely not original. And yet I am most frustrated by this news, as my five days in Paris nearly two years ago were filled with nothing but pleasant experiences with the French people.

In fact I dare say that amongst the European countries I have visited - France, Spain, England and Italy - I had the most positive experience with locals in France. Obviously it’s hard to get a proper idea of an entire culture in one city in five days, but I still maintain that the rudeness stereotype is self-fulfilling; if you expect rudeness before you even speak to anyone, your tone and manner will inevitably breed ill will. I found my strategy proved most successful - start with a bonjour and a parlez vous anglais and the person will be happy to know that you are indeed aware that you are visiting their country where they speak their language. That type of language snobbery should be extremely familiar to those in the States, so try not to hold it against them.

I couldn’t find the entire poll results, but I was amused that all the countries I previously listed got mentions in the article.

Italy was voted the world’s most cultured nation with the best cuisine…

It’s not all that difficult to imagine Italy having the world’s best food, though finding horse as a topping on pizza in a perfectly decent restaurant in Venice was rather jarring.

The British did not feature in the top 10 of any of the categories.

“The British fit in nowhere — good or bad. It appears that we are so completely average that the voters did not include us in any chaturbate category,” the tabloid Daily Express commented…

I have to believe that England’s lack of impact on the poll has plenty to do with it being a British poll, though the fact that I only saw the sun once in five days in summer probably doesn’t help. Consider however that Expedia once found Britons to be the world’s worst tourists.

While most said Spain was the foreign country where they would most like to live, they said the Spaniards were nearly as unfriendly and ungenerous as the French.

And as for Spain being rude and ungenerous - I only spent time in Catalonia, the semi-autonomous region home to Barcelona; I can’t say I know how “regular” Spaniards act but Catalans proved to be the happiest, most fun-loving Europeans I’ve encountered.

And how did my home country fare?

… the United States was named the most unstylish with the worst food.

So next time you slap on a pair of Crocs and head down to the Krystal, try to at least be nice.

Just being friendly

The World Cup is just over two weeks away, and who am I to say the rest of the world is wrong to be excited?

I actually enjoy soccer/football, and this year is supposed to bring added incentive for US residents to watch - the American team may be the strongest ever sent to the competition, currently standing at fifth in FIFA rankings.

Tuesday in Nashville was the US team’s first “friendly” (exhibition, so it doesn’t really count) warm-up match against 36th-ranked Morocco, a team that did not qualify for the 32-team World Cup. And it looks like the US is going to need all the warming up it can get - they lost 1-0.

Admittedly some of the starters either came in later as substitutions or did not play at all, while captain Claudio Reyna was hurt early in the match (fortunately the news is that the injury was not serious). Still it would have been nice to see something from the team against a weaker opponent. Instead the offense only seemed to get it going late in the match, and then only to be done in by some pretty shoddy shooting.

It’s probably not anything to be too alarmed about - 2002 World Cup winners Brazil looked awful going into Cup play - but the bigger issue is what that match will do for would-be fans. It’s no secret that soccer ranks somewhere between hockey and log-rolling in terms of popularity here in the US, but my guess is that national pride plus some potential for success could spell a decent interest in the Cup. But if the team can’t make a decent showing leading up to the tournament, even the best efforts of Nike (via their Joga TV ads) will probably fail to keep people from assuming that the team is as terrible as it has been historically.

More reasons for public transportation

I’m married - I don’t need to ride the bus.

Before you shrug aside that bit of reasoning, consider that 10% of respondents to a survey in England claimed to have met a significant other while waiting at a bus stop.

And it seems that bus stops are more about uniting than dividing - only 3.4% said they broke up at a stop.

I never rode a bus in London, but I was surprised to hear this - my impression of people riding the Tube was that no one could be bothered to lift their heads out of a tabloid newspaper. I guess the combination of a less-regular schedule and closer seating quarters make the bus a far more romantic transportation option than the subway. Perhaps the sexually euphemistic reality of subway travel puts too much pressure on people.

Maybe romance is precisely the marketing angle Hartline should take here in Tampa to draw customers. I doubt that would work, though - I don’t see anyone here freely admitting that they met their loved one waiting for the bus. That fact would certainly bring images of a mentally touched elderly person carrying all their worldy possessions in a paper bag. London bus travel is essential; Tampa bus travel is what you do when your license is revoked and no one wants to give you a ride.