Talking about the weather

I’d ask how all of you out East were holding up in the big storm, but apparently three million of you are without power and aren’t going to be able to read or reply for a while. When you do finally get back online, at least you’ll find this entertaining.

Fox News thought it would be clever to invite an atheist on, ask him what he was doing to prepare for the hurricane, and then sneer at his spiritual poverty. Unfortunately for them, they got David Silverman, who proceeded to show that the talk show hosts were cretins. Shrill, angry, obtuse cretins.

And if you really want to see more Fox News inanity, here’s an opinion piece in which a couple of thinktank troglodytes argue that we don’t really need a national weather service. Why? Because it’s sometimes wrong, because if it really was useful then private industry would provide the service, because it’s exploited for political purposes, and because it costs too much. It’s all bog-standard libertarian bullshit.

Weather is complicated and you’re never going to get perfect accuracy: the weather is always predicted with an awareness of the range of error possible. Commercial weather agencies rely on data from the wide range of federally established monitoring stations — not just locally, but internationally, at sea, and in space. The private agencies don’t actually want NWS/NOAA to end, they just want them to stop distributing their information to the public for free (amusingly, AccuWeather has tried to copyright forecasts taken verbatim from the National Weather Service).

The accusation that the NWS/NOAA service is used for political purposes is asserted without evidence, but I can guess what they’re talking about: Republicans and Libertarians hate the fact that there’s all this data pouring out of weather services that supports the fact of climate change. In their minds, reality is a conspiracy to undermine their ideology.

These pundits also expect their audience to be innumerate.

As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS. With the federal deficit exceeding a trillion dollars, the NWS is easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be.

Yes? So the cost of the National Weather Service is equal to less than 0.1% of the budget deficit?

These goons are only outdone by Ron Paul, who sees no virtue in forecasting and emergency response plans from agencies like FEMA: he thinks “We should be like 1900“. Hands off, just let people cope as well as they can in areas affected by natural disasters.

They could sit around and pray without federal assistance, after all.

Comments

  1. Seeker Lancer says

    The national weather service isn’t meant to make money. It’s meant to save lives and that’s exactly what it does.

    But Republicans say it all the time, they want to “run this country like a business” and the primary goal of a business is to make money. Human lives are of no consequence to these people unless they can be used as an excuse to start a war in an oil rich country.

  2. John Morales says

    Having watched the piece, I think PZ’s second paragraph in the OP is, if anything, understated.

    (Most amusing, it was)

  3. invigilator says

    Sitting here in suburban DC with the power on. (Waiting for it to go out.) It never blew all that hard, as far as I can tell. No trees fell on the house, either.

  4. says

    because it’s exploited for political purposes

    Huh? While I grouse about all the times the local weatherpeople are wrong, weather forecasting is so very important and saves a lot of lives. That’s exploitation? Oh…climate change. Yeah well it’s just a shame that shutting down weather forecasting wouldn’t magically cure that nasty warming problem.

    As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS.

    Whoop-de-do. That’s barely a drop in the bucket, especially compared to incredibly costly things, like, I don’t know…wars. FFS.

    “We should be like 1900“.

    No. Paul might not care, but I rather like knowing when a tornado, flood, severe thunderstorm or an ice storm is headed my way. I’m sure there’s someplace in the world where Paul can go live like it’s 1900. He’s welcome to it, there’s no need to drag the rest of us along.

  5. dobbinriddle says

    As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS.

    So my share of the cost is around $4 per year? Definitely worth it!

  6. Sili says

    If the forecasts are so wrong, why the hell didn’t these people stay on the shore in Jersey?

    I’d hoped the Republan standard response to Obama – do exactly the opposite of what he suggests – woulda helped rid us of Boehner, Cantor and the lot.

  7. Matt Penfold says

    So my share of the cost is around $4 per year? Definitely worth it!

    Put like that it is an incredible bargain.

  8. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Oh really, accusing Silverman of mocking people who believe in god, but they have called him on the show with a sole purpose of mocking him and all atheists. Hypocrisy, thy nickname is religion.

  9. says

    Yeah… this is why I’m not an ideological libertarian any more. While I’m all for a healthy distrust of government (after all, most governments are complicit in plenty of violence, oppression and discrimination), there’s a point at which categorical opposition to government intervention simply becomes ridiculous. Disaster relief is certainly one area in which a government-coordinated response is the only option, and it takes some serious ideological blinders to deny that.

  10. says

    Yet more politicization of science. If only those who wish to privatize science and the many outlets that serve the public using the data would stop for one brief second and consider the consequences.

  11. Liesmith says

    I loved the Silverman video. Though I wish he’d just responded with “We prepare,” and then stared silently into the camera for the next four minutes while the hosts grew increasingly uncomfortable.

  12. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    I didn’t know that 3rd World status was an aspiration till I met a libertarian.

    The Dominationists have a similar goal, only they want to impose Christian sharia law as well.

  13. frankensteinmonster says

    If only those who wish to privatize science and the many outlets that serve the public using the data would stop for one brief second and consider the consequences.

    What makes you even think that they do not want those consequences in the first place ?

  14. Rabid says

    “N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-NOOOOOOOOO!”

    Best argument I’ve ever heard.
    Who is that dumb fuck. He’s making us Brit’s look bad.
    Not that I ever would, but the urge to plant a fist firmly in his face is strong at this point.

    “We wish you well preparing with your candles and batteries.”

    Because when the best thing you can do to insult someone is their use of common sense, you’re doing it wrong.

  15. Outlier says

    The worst hurricane in U.S. history in terms of human lives lost was in 1900??? Why would we want that again? Sometimes I think the dollar signs Republicans imagene blind their common sense.

  16. Marta says

    The Fox hosts get all shouty when they respond to Silverman. I always find it interesting when people in debate do this. In this case, the Fox hosts lose their shit even faster than normal.

  17. triskelethecat says

    No power loss here (at least yet) so I was able to read this, PZ. Although they are reporting power outages all over, at least here we seem to be OK for the moment. Now I’ll take the time to read the comments and check out all the links (unless I lose power, of course…)

  18. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Because it’s [the National Weather Service] sometimes wrong, because if it really was useful then private industry would provide the service, because it’s exploited for political purposes, and because it costs too much.

    So, let me get this straight– these assholes want this potentially life-saving information be available to only those who can afford to pay for it?

    *spits*

    Fuck you, libertarians.

  19. triskelethecat says

    Oh my FSM. That video was…I can’t find words for it. David Silverman tried to be polite, and they were so rude! Shrill cretins is too kind a phrase. I couldn’t believe how fast they started attacking him, but then, I don’t ever watch Faux News.

  20. invigilator says

    Audley @ 22. Yes, that seems to be the general principle. Provision of medical care for all, for example, is a horrible detriment to our freedom. Unemployment benefits just demotivate people to go find work. Food stamps aren’t needed because poor people are fat. Federal disaster assistance is henceforth to be provided only if offsetting spending cuts can be identified.

  21. says

    Audley Z. Darkheart:

    So, let me get this straight– these assholes want this potentially life-saving information be available to only those who can afford to pay for it?

    *spits*

    Fuck you, libertarians.

    Yeah. ’cause if it can’t be controlled by an individual — or a very small group, in the case of a corporation — it just ain’t worth it.

    Next up: privatizing air!

  22. Linda Grilli Calhoun says

    I have been a volunteer observer for NOAA for almost 20 years. (I will get my 20 year pin in October.)

    There are many of us. The amount the government spends is easily equaled by the contributions in time and energy of citizens like us. It’s fun, too; I have learned so much in the time I’ve done this.

    I cannot imagine volunteering in this way for a profit-making company. So, people who think that the weather service should be privatized would be astonished at how much more it would actually cost to provide the same level of information. L

  23. Carlie says

    Wow, it was so obvious that they only had Silverman on to attack him. I never fault anyone for not being able to get the exact points needed when under pressure and attack, but it would have been beautiful if he had gone after that priest more – “Why is he boarding up the windows if he’s praying to be safe? He’s showing with his actions that he doesn’t believe God will keep him safe! He is, in effect, acting just like an atheist”. And that woman admitting that God won’t stop a hurricane was something else – “What good is your God for, then, if you don’t think he’ll stop the hurricane or keep you safe enough that you still have to prepare just like we do?”

  24. unbound says

    Objectively, Faux News got served by Silverman, but I’m sure the regular Faux News viewers feel otherwise.

    Seeker Lancer (#1) has it dead on. Corporations do not, in fact, operate more efficiently than government…they simply do what they do for profit. With little to no competition in nearly all markets today, most corporations are actually more inefficient than government programs.

    Sadly, the libertarian movement looks nearly sane in comparison to the rethuglicans…which just makes it harder for people to see how immensely naive that movement is when considering advanced economies (hint: we aren’t just a bunch of farmers selling the same products at a central market anymore where anyone can join in easily).

  25. says

    triskelethecat:

    Oh my FSM. That video was…I can’t find words for it. David Silverman tried to be polite, and they were so rude!

    Yeah.

    Stuffy shirt: “So, David Silverman, how do atheists (*spit*) cope with natural disasters?”

    David Silverman: “We prepare.”

    SS: “What, you don’t pray? You live in poverty, you sad, poor fool!”

    DS: “Well, working hands do more in cases like this than praying lips.”

    SS: “You come on my show, eat my food, drink my wine, and you insult me? Me?

    Yeah. The setup was pretty pathetic. “Millions turn to prayer. What do atheists turn to?”

    Doing shit, asshole. That’s what atheists turn to.

  26. says

    That Faux News video was too funny. They invite Silverman on the show specifically to attack him, mock him and sneer at him for being an atheist, and then get all huffy and indignant and whinge “You’re attacking us! You’re mocking us!” when he matter-of-factly states the atheist viewpoint. Silverman managed to get quite a few good points and a couple of good zings in, even though the Fox yammerers angrily shouted over him from start to finish. I thought it was the atheists who are supposed to be angry, shrill and strident…

    The whole premise (“What do atheists do to prepare for a hurricane?”) is ludicrous. WTF does Faux News think they do? Buy atheistic flashlights powered by godless batteries? Buy 100% certified non-holy water? Board up their windows with wood fabricated from trees that deny the existence of the Holy Spirit? The answer is simple, you fucking idiots – atheists do the exact same thing the shrieking Christers do to to prepare for a hurricane, with the exception of invoking the name of an imaginary deity whose sole purpose apparently is acting as Linus Van Pelt’s security blanket. Does beseeching this deity deter the hurricane in any way? No. Are Christians spared property damage, injury, or death from the hurricane? No.

    How many times have we seen this story? A hurricane is about to strike a populated area. The authorities declare a mandatory evacuation in certain areas. Inevitably, there are people who defy the evacuation order and stay, telling the television reporter “God will look after us” or “I’m leaving it in God’s hands” or something similar. How many Christians died in Katrina?

    Prayer doesn’t work to alleviate the effects of natural disasters (or anything else). Preparedness does. No god(s) required.

  27. Carlie says

    The whole premise (“What do atheists do to prepare for a hurricane?”) is ludicrous. WTF does Faux News think they do?

    I believe what they wanted him to say was “huddle in a corner and wish we believed in God”.

  28. Cuttlefish says

    Well, they have a point. In times of disaster and tragedy, it really is as important to nourish our souls as our bodies. We truly are impoverished if we are unable to find solace in prayer; true preparation must recognize this objective fact.

    So I’m watching the local news, and there are two alternating scrolls at the bottom of the screen. First, a list of emergency shelters that are open to care for your physical needs. Secondly, a list of churches that are… wait, closed? What about my spiritual needs?!?!

    Fuck it, I’m going atheist.

  29. Ava, Oporornis maledetta says

    Thanks for thinking of us, PZ. Boston still has power as of 9:20 a.m. Eastern, tho I’m glad I have plenty of candles and one of those Red Cross wind-up radios. Wind and rain have picked up quite a bit since 6 a.m. There was no wind here last night.

    So we’re basically hunkering down but OK at this point. I saw one insane runner pass the house a little while ago.

    A friend of mine visiting a very sick relative in NYC was not allowed into the hospital yesterday. It seems that in case of power loss or other emergency, they don’t want to be dealing with any extra people.

    The TV gnus says that high tide is at its highest possible level due to the new moon, adding to the flood threat posed by the storm surge. Coastal tourist businesses like restaurants and ice cream stands are screwed.

    Nope, hospitals, railroads, fire departments, the Coast Guard, etc. don’t need no stinkin’ National Weather Service.

    /sarc

    P.S. BTW, Al Franken does an excellent takedown of Coulter’s bullshit in Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them. When challeneged, she always says her evidence is in the footnotes, but Franken able shows how her footnotes are bullshit too, comparing what her quoted source really said to how Coulter twisted it for her purposes.

  30. Frere Ogvorbis, off on yet another tangent says

    Because it’s sometimes wrong, because if it really was useful then private industry would provide the service

    I admire (well, I admire it in the same way that I admire Limbaugh’s ability to seduce an audience (how’s that for an uncomfortable image on a Friday (sorry, Sunday) morning?)) the conservative’s ability to place everything into a win-win scenario for the rich. If it doesn’t make a profit, private industry should not be expected to do it; if government performs the service, and it loses money, then obviously there is no market for it and we need to get rid of it; if government does it and it does make a profit, then it should be in private hands; and if it is in private hands, it should make a profit; if it doesn’t make a profit, rinse and repeat. I wonder if Faux News realized just how much money is made by private corporations using the data supplied by the National Weather Service? The Weather Channel, Intellicast, Monsanto, ADM, and a host of other private, for-profit, companies use the data paid for by the US taxpayer (and the lenders, of course) to make money. I wonder how they would react to the privatization of the NWS?

    A good illustration of the contortions the GOP goes through can be seen in (you guessed it) railroading. In 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central Railroad (along with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad) merged to become the largest (in terms of assets) railroad in the world. And it failed magnificently. Between changing markets, corporate failure, management failure, accounting failure, inefficient labour, and deferred maintenance, the company declared bankruptcy in 1970 (and was, until a certain gas companies epic failure, the biggest bankruptcy of a private company in history).

    Pann Central tried to reorganize but it was fruitless. Under the guidance of the Nixon and Ford administrations, Conrail (the Consolidated Railroad Corporation of America) was formed out of the bankrupt remains Penn Central, as well as the Ann Arbor Railroad (bankrupt 1973), Erie Lackawanna Railway (1972), Lehigh Valley Railroad (1970), Reading Company (1971), Central Railroad of New Jersey (1967) and Lehigh and Hudson River Railway (1972). And the federal government, over the objections of conservatives, rebuilt the railroad with billions of taxpayer dollars. From inception through the end of government subsidies, the rallying cry from the right was, “If the service was essential, private industry would do it at a profit; since Conrail does not make a profit, it is not essential and should be auctioned off for scrap.”

    Except that the service was essential. Without rail service in the Northeastern United States, every railroad in the country would have gone under and heavy industry in the northern Midwest and the Northeast would have disappeared completely (there is still heavy industry in the NE, just not as much as there was in the 1950s or even 1970s). And, once the deferred maintenance was caught up, Conrail began to make money for the US government. And the conservative Pavlovian response kicked in immediately: “Conrail is making a profit: if it makes a profit, then, obviously, the US government should not be doing it as that is what private industry does. We need to sell Conrail for a pittance to another railroad.”

    Conrail went public as a private corporation and, through sale of stock, were able to pay the ‘owners’, that is, the federal government, more than it cost to rebuild the railroad. And Conrail became a great stock buy, making lots of money for investors, for employees, and for the businesses it served. And conservatives pointed to Conrail and said, “See, in private hands it makes even more money so the government should never have gotten involved.”

    It is always a win-win situation for the fat cats. Private industry fucks up an essential service, the government comes in and rebuilds it (over the objections of the fat cats) and, when it is rebuilt, the fat cats get their hands on the improved industry and blame all previous problems on the government. Until the next time they need a bailout. Which they will object to while accepting.

    If the NWS were to be privatized, we would, most likely, see an inversion of the Conrail story. My prediction: NWS gets privatized and any place with lots of people and money get really good forecasting services at a fair price (those in the hinterlands would pay three to four times as much for less service). Then, the PNWS fucks up big time, multiple times, killing people in the process, and are bankrupted by the legal costs. So the conservatives in congress pass a law protecting the PNWS from lawsuits and the reorganized company still goes bankrupt again. And again. And finally, the federal government is forced to step in, at a cost of five billion dollars per year, to clean up the mess.

  31. Sines says

    I remember when I first saw that host. He was bitching about secular europe. How their secularism was leading to their bad economic times. And he also thought secularism = paganism = earth worship. I’m not kidding. The fox news religion correspondent (A catholic priest, I believe) had to correct him the secular means no such thing.

    The guy is so ignorant he has to be corrected on what secularists do by a catholic priest, who works for fox news.

    You know you’ve failed at life when…

  32. says

    I couldn’t make up my mind quite why the Fox commentators were so indignant. Were they horrified that Silverman was so egregiously wrong, or were they terrified that he was right?

  33. brokenSoldier, OM says

    Zeno:

    Were they horrified that Silverman was so egregiously wrong, or were they terrified that he was right?

    I honestly don’t think right or wrong ever crosses those idiots’ minds – they seem to get all huffy and indignant when someone commits the sin of going off-message.

    It happened during their Libya coverage too – they had on a foreign polcy expert that was trying to make the point that the tribal divisions, while existing, werent as severe and contentious as in some of the other areas we’ve seen, and the host all of a sudden had to go to commercial, saying they’d come back afterwards and finish the segment. Except they did so with someone else entirely.

    I think it all has to do with whether or not the guest strays off the narrative that’s been ordained from on high.

  34. teawithbertrand says

    #27

    Exactly right. I like David Silverman, but I think he’s become the token atheist for Fox Noise whenever they want to trot out a heathanous non-believer and make fun of him. Kind of like what Alan Colmes was as a liberal democrat. Why? Because they consider him easy prey. They know their audience doesn’t like him, and they know he’s too polite to shout over their shouting.(That’s why I like to call it Fox Noise, by the way. In their minds, whoever is loudest and rudest wins the argument every time.)

    Every time they have Silverman on, I think, “Ok, he did a great job, But I wish he’d said…” Like when he missed the opportunity to explain the tides to Bill O’Reilly earlier this year.

    These Fox assholes aren’t interested in actual debate. They don’t care what atheists are doing to prepare for Irene. They care about tearing down those who disagree with them to make their own bullshit look better in the eyes of a credulous, frightened and semi-literate audience.

  35. dumbname says

    I’ve actually been watching that show all summer. They follow the markets I want covered. Was at my parents house when they brought ‘father morris’ in last week (they watch it more than me), and ended up getting into it with them about why the hell a business program felt the need to bring in a ‘space fairy’ dude. It’s fox though, so go figure.

    Was surprised to see Silverman on the very next week. Wonder why they did that? Wonder if that show has other viewers like me that screamed bloody murder? Wonder if Lou Dobbs had anything to do with it as that is where he is now (always remember him being an atheist type of guy).

    Anyway, thought Silverman was great. Had me laughing my ass off!!

  36. Phil says

    Hope none of the regular posters and readers in Irene’s way are hurt, but I suspect they know what they’re doing.

    Remind me to make sure I don’t get anyone like those talking arses heads in my group the next time I go walking in Ireland. Especially on The Demon’s Testicles The Devil’s Mother.

  37. Blueaussi says

    The National Weather Service isn’t just for emergencies. A farmer’s livelihood depends on the weather, knowing about a late or early frost can be the difference between a good year and a disastrous one. Anyone who’s job takes them outside uses weather forecasts for short term planning. In the blistering heat this summer, I religiously (heh!) checked the NWS radar image loop for South Carolina every evening to see if there was even a remote chance for thunderstorms to try and cut my ginormous water bill just a bit.

    The information the NWS supplies is useful every day, not just in emergencies. Why do libertarians always go after useful programs?

  38. Phil says

    Blueassi:

    Why do libertarians always go after useful programs?

    Because the ones that are most useful to EVERYONE are the ones least likely to turn a profit, and/or the most likely to be state-funded?

  39. Snowshoe the Canuck says

    Just think what the NWS could do if scientists would only convince the rethuglicans that the NWS was actually part of the National Defence System.

    There would be more PhD’s in atmospheric physics, meterology and computer modelling systems than lawyers and PACs in Congress.

  40. says

    In short, what do atheists do, you’re mocking us you angry man.

    Something about jews and buddhists too, but I was not sure if the catholic was having a dig, or whether she was saying they pray too, like that meant something.

  41. Frere Ogvorbis, mildly cynical says

    Why do libertarians always go after useful programs?

    Because if the service is useful, someone should be making a profit on it. And if private industry can’t make a profit, then obviously, the service isn’t wanted or needed. Either way, the government shouldn’t be doing it. Whatever it is.

  42. Anteprepro says

    Ridiculous all the way down. The spiritual not existing is just the atheist’s opinion. Religious people prepare in normal ways too (and also pray)! God didn’t create the hurricane so he can’t stop it. Prayer gives comfort. “It is not a spiritual comparison”. It’s a pile-on of the pathetic. Glad Silverman got in quite a few good, quick quips. Too bad it was 3 against 1. But that’s “fair and balanced” for ya.

  43. Anteprepro says

    Cosmic Teapot: “Something about jews and buddhists too, but I was not sure if the catholic was having a dig, or whether she was saying they pray too, like that meant something.”

    What I believe she was going at was something along the lines of “How dare you, David Silverman, declare that these varied groups of spiritual people are incapable of preparing for a hurricane!”. Which, of course, he didn’t. But she is far too spiritual of a person to let her rage be focused on something that Silverman actually said. People who don’t live in poverty, and live outside of themselves don’t need to actually pay attention to actual points: all they need is outrage at people who dare to suggest that prayer is pointless. Because, sure, it won’t actually affect the hurricane, but it gives you “comfort”…

    What a fucking mess these people’s brains are.

  44. Dave Dell says

    You’ve got to admire Fox for their recognition of how “slippery” a word can become if used repeatedly. My first thought is that we’re going to have to invent a new word for what everyone means when they use the word “mockery” or “mock”.

    Then I realize that the Fox audience is not likely to think (at all) twice about the shift in the definition.

    If you want real mockery watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

  45. Nemo says

    Boo, Silverman has shaved off his Satan beard. Accommodationist.

    Damn those Fox people were stupid.

  46. Algeron says

    I like how he got her to admit that she does not believe in an omnipotent god. She’s not much of a Roman Catholic, is she?

  47. says

    because it’s exploited for political purposes, and because it costs too much.

    Save a billion now, save many billions later.

    If you don’t know about global warming, you don’t have to do anything about, saving huge amounts of money.

    Losing way more to the global warming catastrophe, of course. They just don’t feel responsible for that.

    Glen Davidson

  48. Johan Fruh says

    I do regret one thing though… the part where Silverman imitates a prayer.
    I know a lot here are going to disagree with me, but I don’t think that was necessary.
    He was nicely ridiculing them for being the hypocrite, crybabies that they are….
    That bit of imitating the prayer just gave a tiny bit of weight to their accusations of mockery.

    But it was a great watch :D. Always nice seeing such people get so damn upset, when they were jubilantly expecting to upset the atheists.

  49. raven says

    These goons are only outdone by Ron Paul, who sees no virtue in forecasting and emergency response plans from agencies like FEMA: he thinks “We should be like 1900“.

    The average US lifespan in 1900 was 47 years, 30 less than today.

    During natural disasters, people just died like flies.

    Ron Paul is at least honest about what he really wants. A new Dark Age.

  50. Algernon says

    To me it looked like this:

    “Any time you say something and I look stupid because of it, or I say something and I look stupid because of it that is mocking me. You’re supposed to tiptoe around my sensitive feelings on the subject of religion (unless it’s Islam) because it makes me feel good to do this thing and don’t you dare bring your facts in against my opinions. Facts are opinions too!”

  51. Jan says

    There actually are commercial applications for weather science etc.

    Just look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hail_cannon

    Even though Hail Cannons are pseudoscience with a doubtful method and success rate, many farmers in Europe are installing these noisy crickets (even multiple) on their farms to have some measure of protection against crop decimating hail storms.

    This mostly because hail nets are to expensive.

    With the storms we’ve been hit with over the last 2 weeks (google “pukkelpop storm deaths”), even places that had hail nets installed had limited success in protecting their crops because the hail was so severe, large and sharp.

    These Hail Cannons are accompanied by a weather radar system, either personal to the cannon or hooked into the national weather surveying.

    The people that commercialized these hail cannons made plenty of money with pseudo scientific weather forecasting and manipulation techniques.

    But THERE you see the actual point.

    They are out right exploiting desperate farmers with pseudo science and hackery, just like any other science, if you leave it to money based motives to do the research, what you’ll get is pseudo science and a focus on milking people for money, rather then accurately predicting the weather.

    Just like with EVERYTHING else, the moment you commercialize something without a public check on it, all principles, all rules, all things that make science work, go out the door in an effort to maximize profit.

  52. Randide, ou l'Optimisme says

    I do regret one thing though… the part where Silverman imitates a prayer.
    I know a lot here are going to disagree with me, but I don’t think that was necessary.

    I could mount a decent defense of that on the grounds that the woman was talking about how the religious had their eyes open and he was showing otherwise.

    But I wouldn’t really mean it. I agree with you.

  53. Chris Seguin says

    That last comment by old guy was hilarious – ‘Good luck to you with all your candles and batteries (and other emergency/safety equipment)’ I’m surprised he didn’t add – ‘Because us believers will be safe on our knees with our hands clasped.’ I really don’t know why atheist/secularists participate in this discussion – it’s really not worth it – especially if it gives the veneer that believer’s have something authentic and pertinent to say when they have nothing but childish gobbledygook.

  54. MAtheist says

    I was waiting for the Fox Shrews to try the god helps those who help themselves bs, so that’s why they pray but also board up windows. Talk about delusional!

    @Cuttlefish(#33) I noticed all the church closings on the local news too, what a laugh. (love your blog too, btw)

    still have power, but still prepared. :)

  55. Anteprepro says

    Chris Sequin: “That last comment by old guy was hilarious – ‘Good luck to you with all your candles and batteries (and other emergency/safety equipment)’”

    It’s even more hilarious considering that the female godbot was tearing into Silverman because she imagined that he said that non-atheists were incapable of those same preparatory measures. He is mocking him for his mere candles and batteries when two minutes prior his fellow attack dog was acting offended at the idea that believers were incapable of dealing with such basic preparations as candles and batteries. Poor Fox News. In their attempts to out-shout, they contradict one another. Which is horrible for them, since they already have a hard enough time not contradicting themselves.

  56. starstuff91 says

    That Fox News video was amazing. When he said to act like an atheist during the storm I thought they were going to die. They made themselves look like idiots (I’m sure it wasn’t too hard for them to do) and it was hilarious.

  57. Lycanthrope says

    What exactly is a “spiritual life” anyway? They all bandied that term around, but nobody bothered to explain or define it.

  58. raven says

    What exactly is a “spiritual life” anyway? They all bandied that term around, but nobody bothered to explain or define it.

    You really don’t know? How strange.

    A spiritual life is when you send money to cult leaders to gain favor with the Invisible Sky Fairy. Cute boys and girls work as well.

    Hang on, getting an incoming message from On High here. Yes, god wants you to send me money.

  59. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Frere Ogvorbis, off on yet another tangent #35

    Conrail went public as a private corporation and, through sale of stock, were able to pay the ‘owners’, that is, the federal government, more than it cost to rebuild the railroad. And Conrail became a great stock buy, making lots of money for investors, for employees, and for the businesses it served. And conservatives pointed to Conrail and said, “See, in private hands it makes even more money so the government should never have gotten involved.”

    You neglected to give the last bit of the Conrail story. Because of Conrail’s success, two of Conrail’s competitors engaged in a takeover battle to control the railroad and expand their systems. In 1997 the two railroads, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway, struck an agreement to jointly acquire Conrail and split most of its assets between them, with Norfolk Southern acquiring a larger portion of the Conrail network via a larger stock buyout. Under the final agreement approved by the Surface Transportation Board, Norfolk Southern acquired 58 percent of Conrail’s assets, including roughly 6,000 Conrail route miles, and CSX received 42 percent of Conrail’s assets, including about 3,600 route miles.

  60. JdRock says

    “I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen we are flat out of time…” translation “Well were losing the argument and look like idiots so lets go to break.”

  61. anchor says

    “So the cost of the National Weather Service is equal to less than 0.1% of the budget deficit?”

    Wonder how much larger the deficit would have been because of extra costs and the loss of life which can’t be enumerated WITHOUT the services provided by the NWS and NOAA. They’re not only innumerate, they’re absolutely daffy.

  62. draketungsten says

    Not one minute after stating as a fact that Silverman’s life is empty because he’s an atheist, the Fox fool rankles at the incivility of being called delusional.

    When Silverman urged the audience to prepare like atheists, and the host replied that religious folks buy flashlights too, I would have liked to seen him respond back with a clarification: “Prepare like your prayers won’t help you.”

  63. says

    @31

    Ron Paul CITED Galveston! He sees it as the ideal to uphold. Picking 1900 wasn’t just an “oops” coincidence that happened to line up with the most deadly hurricane in US history, he meant it.

  64. Dan L. says

    These goons are only outdone by Ron Paul, who sees no virtue in forecasting and emergency response plans from agencies like FEMA: he thinks “We should be like 1900“.

    More evidence Paul is an idiot.

    Immediately after the Galveston storm, owners of working boats formed a monopolistic consortium to fix extortionate prices for transportation of goods and people to and from the mainland. Fortunately for them, there was no FEMA around for competition.

    He also chooses to forget that it was an effort of government that raised the level of the city and created a seawall that saved the city from a storm of similar power in 1915, holding the death toll to 53 instead of the 8,000-12,000 of the 1900 storm.

  65. Patricia, OM says

    Soooooo you’re mocking me is the new christian defense of their idiocy?
    The ones saying they don’t believe in a big man in the sky, that gawd creates hurricanes, and then that gawd can’t stop the hurricanes, just add to the pile of evidence that the holy babble has become so alien even to the minds of gnu dark age christians that they themselves cannot believe it.

    Suppose christianity has evolved over 2000 years?
    *gasp*

  66. Ewan Macdonald says

    Why did Silverman agree to go on this? We’ve seen this before on Fox – they just invite atheists on to bully them and talk over them.

  67. TimKO,,.,, says

    It’s funny when Americans complain that a forecast isn’t accurate beyond a few days. In western Europe a forecast is poor beyond 12 hours due to 3 nearby oceans and multiple regional factors. And there are many countries/entire regions without a decent national weather service. What’s stopping an entrepreneur from making a “better” weather service? If somebody had an idea, they’d bring it to market. Imagine what would happen to the economy if the weather service were cut. Now the massively bloated military, OTOH…

  68. says

    Phew. I was worried for a moment. Looks like the hurricane for north New Castle county, Delaware, wasn’t that bad. All we had was rain for most of the day and 30+ mph winds. Not the 70+ mph that is category one hurricanes. Plus, the electricity didn’t go out. Unfortunately, lots of places didn’t have the same luck.

  69. Jessa says

    Ron Paul CITED Galveston! He sees it as the ideal to uphold. Picking 1900 wasn’t just an “oops” coincidence that happened to line up with the most deadly hurricane in US history, he meant it.

    Yes, he meant it. It’s a dog whistle.

    For those who are unfamiliar with right-wing militia conspiracy theories: those groups really hate FEMA. They believe that the US government, through FEMA, will use the guise of a natural disaster to establish martial law so that they can round up gun owners and put them in concentration camps to be killed by either gas or microwaves*.

    So, Ron Paul’s statement goes beyond the typical “government is BAD” for a certain type of supporter.

    *Yes, microwaves. I first heard of this particular claim shortly after Katrina, from an uncle who buys into pretty much every conspiracy theory.

  70. broboxley OT says

    TimKO #80
    [blockquote]What’s stopping an entrepreneur from making a “better” weather service? If somebody had an idea, they’d bring it to market.[/blockquote]
    http://www.almanac.com/ the book comes out every year

  71. Howard Hershey says

    Even more incredible is that Ron Paul is *from* the Congressional District that includes Galveston! Why would anyone from that district want to elect a Congressperson who has so little regard for their lives?

  72. claimthehighground says

    The Silverman piece was classic. They brought him on to make a mockery of those who don’t rely on faith and prayer in times of natural crisis and though it was three against one he nailed them, held his ground and they ended it mercifully for them with their tails between their legs. When they asked what the priest who prayed that his parishioners would be safe should do, he should have said that gathering two of each animal and building an ark was probably a bit over the top. Chances are Fox will think twice before he is invited on again. Fair and balanced, Ha!

  73. uncle frogy says

    the only good thing about an atheist going on fox news is that there was an atheist on the news, that atheist exist and are not some preacher’s cartoon version. I never ever watch it except sometimes a link here. wow
    I do hope that the troubles that Rupert is now engaged in will bring the whole contraption to bankruptcy and disillusion.

    If I am not mistaken both the airlines and the marine shipping industries take extensive interest in weather information of all kinds.

    I hate the expression “spiritual life” or anything “spiritual”

    uncle frogy

  74. abeo says

    The only upside I could see as a rational argument for prayer is the psychological/stress reduction factor. If a batter really believes his lucky socks work, he can stop worrying about statistical probabilities and just focus on doing what needs to be done and confidently try and hit the ball. After all, he has the Holy Power of the Sock on his side.

    I could see how having a word with an imaginary friend might help quiet down the WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE panic in the face of looming natural disaster. Hopefully it calms them down enough to get back to acting like an atheist and dealing with all the smart, practical, entirely secular things that need doing to prepare.

    What I don’t get is why the FauxNooz people–or anyone else trumpeting prayer–doesnt make that argument. Is it really so threatening to their faith to say ‘prayer helps some people calm down so they can perform tasks without panicking”?

    Then again… realizing the above is part of what broke Catholicism’s grip on me, so maybe I just answered my own question. :)

  75. It'spiningforthefyords says

    Well, I almost made it to the 1:30 mark in the Faux video – that’s near my record for when more than one evil Faux shithead is talking at the same time – and I would at this moment literally whoop for joy if those three slimy Faux scumbags were announced to have suddenly died (I can maintain enough ccmposure to not pray they died painfully).

    I wouldn’t ever advocate violence towards them, even as a strategy, but they are as bad as human beings can be. And they are bad for money.

    I have far, FAR more respect for North Korean TV presenters than anyone on Faux.

    As the mother in “Radio Days” sadly but gently said (about you-know-whos!) “It’s such a beautiful world, except for some of the people.” These people grew up to be undeserving of life (which proves conclusively to me that there cannot be even the gentle God the nicer believers advocate as their excuse.)

    May they someday try to make amends, lest they die without ever having lived a day as an adult human being.

  76. ironflange says

    Ha, it was delightful the way Silverman mopped the floor with those three twits. Best part: when that shrill woman was reduced to sputtering rage when he said the God isn’t all-powerful. It’s always fun to see Fox get owned, and this was one of the best jobs ever.

  77. teawithbertrand says

    As a fairly militant atheist, I prepared sensibly for Irene, which came and went without being much of an inconvenience to me at all. The power never went out, my basement is dry, and the river behind my house rose just enough to be an impressive example of the power of nature. Most of my neighborhood, including the RC church down the street and the home of the obnoxious tea partiers with the Gadsden Flag on their porch, is currently in the dark. The power of non-praying is awesome, I guess.

  78. Christian says

    …that’s European, that is completely European…

    Boo! I’m one of them Europeans. Behold my forked tongue, horns and cloven hooves.

    Dang, the crazy sure is strong in that shrieking woman. Not that the other religites were any better.
    Although I think Silverman’s performance wasn’t bad given the situation, I still don’t get why he agrees to participate in such a travesty.

  79. DLC says

    Yes, because Silverman had the courage to tell the FBN Talking Heads that their belief in a magic man is delusional — what the psychologists call magical thinking — he had to be “mocking” their religion, and insulting them, and calling them fools and stupid. Except he did none of that. I’m actually surprised they didn’t ask him “why are you Meanie Commie Atheist Bastards Opressing us!” You’ll also note that they did not refrain from mocking the Atheist. Typical of Fox.

  80. RedGreenInBlue says

    That Fox video was quite extraordinary. The presenter resorts to mocking someone for buying candles and batteries in preparation for a hurricane which was quite likely to (and indeed did) knock out main electricity supplies. Even a snide references to “with your candles and batteries” at the very end – as if it were a bad thing to be able to see clearly. WTF?

    Oh, I get it – that’s what faith is about. “Preparing” by shutting your eyes and ignoring reality.

  81. mike0301 says

    Watching the Faux Business News cretins: I don’t know if I’ve seen a better illustration of what Dick Cheney was describing as “heads exploding”.

  82. amc says

    Silverman was brilliant – that he was saying what he said on Fox News is a definite sign of the end times (of religion). Yay!

    RedGreenInBlue – wasn’t it weird?! When the host said that I wasn’t sure whether he was trying to take the piss out of Silverman or the two fellow-clown presenters. Opiate for the masses is right.

  83. Naked Bunny with a Whip says

    if it really was useful then private industry would provide the service

    Yeah, I really want to get my weather from the same industry that brought us Fox News.