Monday, April 30, 2007

Europeans Eschew Ethanol


Europeans are, by and large, underwhelmed by the prospects of ethanol replacing oil.

Why? Costs too much, not very efficient, and environmentally flawed.

What looms on the horizon? Biodiesel fuels... a new way to burn wood.


Reports About Iraq


I was up at 4 a.m. so when I saw William S' email with the following links, I began the arduous process of going through them. Most of you hear the nightly "capsules" of information about Iraq. These links are probably more than you can chew on, but do contain some very interesting insights about the politics and military operations in Iraq. I recommend the Charlie Rose interview.

Full Transcript (90 minute interview on Iraq)
A conversation with President Bush
Interview with Charlie Rose, aired 24 April 2007
transcript made available by the International Herald Tribune
or here (a French source):
full transcript in one long page (text size is adjustable):
and video:
Full Transcript (lengthy news media Q&A)
DoD News Briefing with General Petraeus from the Pentagon
April 26, 2007 10:00 AM EDT
U.S. Department of Defense
and video:
C-SPAN video of DoD briefing by General Petraeus - 26 April 2007
(the video may not be available)
March 2007
9010 Report to Congress (45 pages)
Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq
U.S. Department of Defense
and here:
HTML version (excluding charts in the original)
April 2007
Section 1227 Report to Congress
U.S. Department of State
You ought to at least scan the 1227 Report to Congress... and wonder how may congressmen actually heard/read it.

Just one other thought: Americans seem to be fascinated with videos of explosions and the insurgents in Iraq are very aware of this fascination. It's like the sleight-of-hand tricks of the sideshow magician who gets you to focus on one thing and miss what is actually happening.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Failure in Generalship


I received an email from one of my corresponding associates asking me to forward this rather intense article found in the Armed Forces Journal written by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling about the role of military leadership in the current problems the U.S. is experiencing with the insurgency in Iraq.

Although I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, I recognize that I have few qualifications to either support or dispute this article. So I leave it up to you.

When you get done with the article, you may have the same question as I have: if the military leadership had agreed with the precept of this article regarding modern warfare... and they were vocal about it... would the U.S. have committed to this war?

I'll pose just one other question: if the U.S. military was allowed to conduct the war effort as a military operation ... no holds barred... how long would it take to get rid of the insurgents?
Many of you may be too young to remember or know about the "rules of engagement" in Vietnam that contributed to the humiliating U.S. withdrawal. I suspect that there are far too many "rules of engagement" in play now in Iraq.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Education Accomplishments Not Important


One cannot read the newspapers without at least one article appearing each week about how schools are failing our students, the state is failing our students, or the society is failing our students (students don't fail).

Now we hear that the Dean of Admissions at MIT, Marilee Jones, who "rewrote MIT's application, trying to get students to reveal more about their personalities and passions, and de-emphasizing lists of their accomplishments," may have been one of those students failed by our schools, state, and society.

MIT spokeswoman Patti Richards said Jones has at various times claimed to have degrees from Union College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Albany Medical College. But Richards had no immediate information on what degrees Jones actually has or how the matter was uncovered.

Jason Gorss, a spokesman for RPI, said Jones attended that university as a part-time, non-matriculating student from September 1974 until June 1975 but did not receive a degree. Messages left for officials at the other two schools were not immediately returned.

But, wait! She was Dean since 1997! She was correct! Why worry about actual accomplishments when you just have to say you did something?

One has to wonder how MIT could have been fooled for so long. Were there no other qualified women to ensure sufficient diversity? Is Admissions an area that doesn't really require any qualifications?

Lloyd Thacker, founder of The Education Conservancy, a group that is also trying to tone down admissions anxiety, said he was saddened by the announcement.

"She's had a positive impact in the lives of many students and families and has brought inspiration to the profession," Thacker said. "What's happened in no ways discredits the value of her work and her unwavering commitment to helping students, and I sincerely hope she's able to continue with that cause."

You know, maybe our schools, state, and society are failing our students. After all, Lloyd apparently feels that education isn't all that important... as long as you have "a positive impact."

Since I have plenty of time on my hands, I was thinking out some positions at MIT which I could fill... provost, dean, president, da guy in charge. I have to go now. It's time to create an academic history for myself... doctorates from Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Beijing University... sounds good to me. Plus, my eight Olympic gold medals in equestrian events should qualify me to lead the MIT polo team.

Also see: An MIT dean with high school education (or less)

Why Islam Will Not Spread in America


Cultural differences prevent Islam from spreading in the U.S.



Americans don't believe in "submission".

Apparently, many Iranians feel the same way.

Related links:


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Birth Control


As the world's population hovers between 6 to 7 billion people, different societies have various strategies to control their population growth.

China, for example, has limited families to one child (with some recent exceptions in rural areas) and that has had the consequence of female infanticide which has led to a dramatic shortage of available brides for young men... a socially dangerous situation.

Other nations, such as Italy, have suddenly found that they have a declining population as young people have rejected the large family, village oriented lifestyle of their parents for the urban-chic, singles approach to fun and fortune first. There, young men will live with their parents for food and laundry services and keep a little place for entertaining young, willing women.

Other areas such as the Middle East have prolific birth rates which apparently are kept under control by sectarian warfare or "jihads" against "infidels".

Mexico, with the largest Spanish-speaking population of any country in the world (over 100 million), shuns infanticide, birth control pills or condoms, and warfare, so they have come up with a uniquely Mexican approach to birth control:


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The End Of Civilization - A Perspective By Scipio


An interesting post at "The Return of Scipio" (aka Mike Austin) today.

When you are done, go back and re-read this and this.

And then, finally, this.

Economy: Is Bad Good?


The DOW passed 13,000 today for the first time

Given the extremely soft housing market and the cost of oil/gasoline going up [hint: inflation... Federal Reserve... interest rates], it seems that this may be another bubble getting primed to burst.

Then again, the stock market has not always followed the consumer market.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

VA Redux


Earlier this year I had several posts regarding the VA health care system for veterans.

My position was that the outpatient care process was:

  1. Inefficient and extremely time-consuming for the veterans
  2. Diverted scarce resources from long-term, higher-difficulty rehabilitation efforts
My solution was a VA card, similar to a Medicare card, that would allow veterans to seek outpatient or emergency care at any hospital or clinic, thereby reducing the wait for help and the drain on VA doctors' time from rehabilitation or serious illness care.

I received several comments supporting the VA. I also support the VA; I just don't support this aspect of its health care process.

Here is further support for that position


Monday, April 23, 2007

European Backlash - Step 1 Taken


The first phase of the European backlash against Islamic corruption of the European cultures is taking place in France, the bedrock of cultural protectionism... something I have several times said would happen.

French voters are coming out for the end of the dilution of their culture by Islamists and you can bet that Segolene Royal will get the royal boot when the final election takes place against Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy, the 52-year-old head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), has pledged a "clean break" from the politics of the past consensus. His campaign has centered around themes such as the work ethic, national identity and economic liberalisation.
I'll take that as code for "no more 35-hour work week unions, accept the French culture or leave, and business is going to be open for business instead of welfare."
Royal, who would be France's first woman president, promises to protect the country's generous social welfare system and has tabled left-wing economic policies.
I'll take that as code for "vote for me and I'll make sure you are taken care of no matter who you are, what your attitude is toward France, or whether you do a day's work in your life."

Sure, the French like the cushy approach to life, but they like the "French first" approach better.


In related news, Dr. Sanity, a psychiatrist, suggests you can't negotiate with cancer or Islamists.

I guess the French are beginning to understand that. The rest of Europe is not far behind.


Do People Fear Warmer Climates?


While it is obvious that there are both political and organization agendas to promote a fear of possible global warming, what are the average citizens in the U.S. saying with their money and their feet?

This is a map of the U.S. showing population change in percent from 2000-2006

The darker green represents the highest grow rates; the light tan represents the lowest growth or population losses.

"That's not a fair way to look at things," some might say. People are just going where the jobs are.

Here's a question for you. What's driving the jobs? Well, maybe people have more faith in Jeb Bush or Arnold Schwarzenegger than Jennifer Granholm. But it might just be that as people retire (which a lot of "baby boomers" are doing), they are seeking more warmth. Maybe people choosing to live in warmer climates are creating growing economies in those states and driving jobs growth for those seeking work.

Could it be that most people really aren't terrified by moving from a climate with an average temperature of 48F to one with an average annual temperature of 70F?

What about all of the malaria and squalor? Oh, wait. There is western civilization in the warmer states, too. Perhaps the government will have to ban air conditioning to validate its new concerns.


Effect of Not Warming


Yesterday, I posted pictures of some unfortunate people. One was of people in a watery quagmire in Bangladesh with a caption commenting on the government's poor effort to combat mosquitoes and disease.

Another was of a soldier frozen to death.

Those who fear a few degrees more warmth are inclined to believe that warmth = bad and cold = good.

Just a point of clarification regarding mosquitoes and malaria. If you haven't read this before you should know that one of the worst outbreaks of malaria occurred in Siberia... yes Siberia....

Professor Reiter on malaria in the "Little Ice Age":

I wonder how many of your Lordships are aware of the historical significance of the Palace of Westminster? I refer to the history of malaria, not the evolution of government. Are you aware that the entire area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was once a notoriously malarious swamp? And that until the beginning of the 20th century, "ague" (the original English word for malaria) was a cause of high morbidity and mortality in parts of the British Isles, particularly in tidal marshes such as those at Westminster? And that George Washington followed British Parliamentary precedent by also siting his government buildings in a malarious swamp! I mention this to dispel any misconception you may have that malaria is a "tropical" disease.

All this occurred in a period—roughly from the mid-15th century to the early 18th century—that climatologists term the "Little Ice Age". Temperatures were highly variable, but generally much lower than in the period since. In winter, the sea was often frozen for many miles offshore, the King could hold parties on the frozen Thames, there are six records of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland, and the Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct.

Despite this remarkably cold period, perhaps the coldest since the last major Ice Age, malaria was what we would today call a "serious public health problem" in many parts of the British Isles, and was endemic, sometimes common throughout Europe as far north as the Baltic and northern Russia. It began to disappear from many regions of Europe, Canada and the United States as a result of multiple changes in agriculture and lifestyle that affected the breeding of the mosquito and its contact with people, but it persisted in less developed regions until the mid 20th century. In fact, the most catastrophic epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Malaria persisted in many parts of Europe until the advent of DDT. One of the last malarious countries in Europe was Holland: the WHO finally declared it malaria-free in 1970.

I hope I have convinced you that malaria is not an exclusively tropical disease, and is not limited by cold winters!

But moving beyond that, how do humans generally fare in colder climates? Well, how about Scotland? That's a northern country with a climate somewhat moderated by the Gulf Stream. What does the medical establishment have to say about cold weather and human health in Scotland?
Could it be that humans, originally tropical creatures, really do better in warmth and that warmth does not necessarily mean squalor? Just because conditions are bad in Bangladesh, does it follow that conditions must also be bad in Singapore? Will a temperature increase of a few degrees suddenly destroy all of mankind's knowledge about controlling his environment... or his ability to adapt to it?
I would venture that those who fear any warming... from natural forces or from man's activity... may be doing so more from ignorance than reality.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Avoid Global Warming - Why?


There are a lot of pictures depicting the future if earth's temperature rises a few degrees. Most of them look something like this:


The world will overheat, everything will turn into a quagmire of starvation and disease, and billions will die. As one commenter on another blog responded to my position that this was highly unlikely: "go back to Bangladesh."

I really can't see why anyone would believe that is the future facing the world. With today's technology and knowledge, this is much more likely if temperatures increase:


"But we can't take the risk!"

Why? Suppose earth cooled instead of warmed. Have you lived anywhere that gets really cold. I spent 5 winters in North Dakota. This is what cold looks like for 5 or 6 months:


This is what cold can do:



Saturday, April 21, 2007

2nd Green Vanity Issue


I read my wife's copy of Vanity Fair (at her insistence) because it was written by the sponsors of the superfluous condemning the rest of the world for its misuse of the planet.

Let's see, there was the four-page spread by the hair products maker who was going to "protect our animals and ensure the rights of all people." Ooooooo. That was a bit presumptuous.

I loved the "Rainforest Alliance Certified" coffee ad. Buy our coffee so the Amazon survives.

And the one with the 12-year old made up to look 18 who was going to "do amazing things" like "lead the way to cleaner oceans."

Of course there were ads for cross-over vehicles and clothes that didn't cover much so they were "global warming ready."

The bottled water ads were a good juxtaposition to the problems the Chinese have with providing fresh water to their population. Somehow having western businesses come in to solve the problems the Chinese are experiencing is a bad thing because they are going to charge money for that. Somehow, Vanity Fair didn't put two and two together and come up with the notion that a corrupt socialist approach to the Chinese economy for 50 years might have been the source of the problem. Rather it was the corrupt, right-wing, western companies that were taking advantage of the poor Chinese people by charging for the privilege of fixing a bad system's mess.

Rush Limbaugh got a lot of well-wishing such as "may the grasses of his favorite golf courses go forever yellow and dust storms whip from the sand traps." Catchy, but nonsense. Polar bears are going to disappear because of him, you know.

The "Letter From Washington" was apparently written by Al Gore's documentary writer. Basically, any position that questioned the new global warming dogma was simply wrong and the questioner was simply wrong-headed. Too many dire predictions to be counted in that article. Warm is bad; cold is good... really? For whom; for what?

But perhaps the irony of all ironies was the article with a picture of a man eating a mountain and a caption that read, "An economy based on more and more consumption must eventually collide with the reality of Earth's limited resources." This from a magazine based on conspicuous consumption? Does this mean they will cease publication next month? Wow, that's really putting your money where your mouth is!

Meanwhile, after a really, really cold February to mid-April, we've finally gotten some relief and can turn off the CO2-producing furnace... for a few days... and then it's back on again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

States Not Preparing Students For College


There were a series of articles about the problems of education... failing students, cost, facilities... but this one caught my eye.

"Clearly, states are falling down in equipping college-bound students with the necessary skills in science and math."
And then I saw this article.

Somehow, I'm not convinced it is the state that is failing students when it is clear that there is more to high achievement than classroom facilities and teachers... perhaps parents and the students themselves?

But that doesn't support the need for more government programs and higher taxes, so let's just ignore the second article and focus on the first one.


What's My Line?


In the early days of television, there was a show called "What's My Line?" People would come on the show and a panel of celebrities would try to guess what their occupation was by asking a series of questions.

Okay, what's my line?

Answer is here. Anyone over 50 gets it wrong.

My wife says no one will understand my point.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Does Color Really Matter?


I saw this ad in today's local paper.

Next to it, was this one.

Same engine, same AWD, same tires.... Apparently whites use more gas and create more CO2 than reds.

Good to know.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

European Backlash


Over the last two years I warned about it:

It may be starting: from the AP today....


Global Warming Maps


How do we measure a "global mean temperature"? I was a bit curious about that and Steven Bloom, a commenter at Climate Science, provided a link to the NASA site that has a database and neat maps to show all of that global warming.

The map below shows the really cold spell in North America and arctic Russia, but the vast areas of heat in the polar north and central Asia. There are some gray areas but the planet is pretty well measured. Right? Well, maybe not. This happens to be a map with a 1,200 km (500+ mile) "resolution". Kind of like watching a TV with 1" pixels. You kind of, maybe, could make out the picture.

Note the scale which is "variance from seasonal normal." Minus 8 degrees to plus 8 degrees. Most of the heating is in the northern hemisphere.

Now let's take a look at the data from the database plotted out to a finer resolution of 250 km (100+ miles).

Whoa! Where are all of the measurements? What happened to Canada and Africa and Australia and those overheating polar regions? Suddenly most of the planet looks gray!

And the scale is different, too. The minus 8 degrees to plus 8 degrees suddenly becomes minus 21 degrees to plus 10 degrees.

Okay, lets presume no one is fudging the data, but this is what happens when you build some algorithms to "fill in the blanks".

You can read my additional climate at Climate Science.

363 Days Until Taxes Are Due


Just a reminder that there are 363 days until 2007 taxes are due - you get an extra day because of leap year.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Climate Incredulity


"Skeptics," the word is spit out with scorn. For scientists, it is the "N" word. It is an attack on the person rather than the position. If you are a "Skeptic," you have a scarlet "S" on your chest. But it doesn't stand for "Superman."

In classical philosophy, skeptics argued that nothing could be known with certainty. Other branches of philosophy attacked that thinking with all sorts of logic. Language is good for that because it is not purely logical. Ludwig Wittgenstein attempted to develop a purely logical language in his "Tractatus" but, alas, it was essentially without application when he finished. Likewise, the logical attacks on skepticism were accomplished with logically impure language.

Regardless, Skeptics may have the last laugh. In the 20th century, along came physicists with their formulae and frameworks. The "real, logical" world was due for a shock. As we examine with increasingly finite lenses the framework of our universe, we discover that at its basis is "uncertainty." We really can't "know for certain."

True, we can live with that for all practical purposes. But we have our limits. Right now that limit has been pushed to the "11th dimension." While physics can be and is an "exact science", there is always the very tiniest element of "uncertainty."
So much for philosophy and physics. When it comes to climate science, we find that there is an enormous gulf between "consensus" and "certainty" much less an "exact science." Yes, principles of physics and other disciplines are part of this relatively new discipline, but it is far from matured.
We have pointers and bodies of evidence. But if truly pushed, the "Consensus" must ultimately admit it is their estimate of what is happening and may happen. They can attempt to come up with "probabilities" of outcomes. But in the end, they are guesses based on fairly fragile measurements and models that don't quite fit reality... for example, Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties (2005). Don't even try that one unless you have a strong mathematical bent.
So, while I might be honored to be called a "Skeptic," I can only claim "ordinary incredulity" about the claims and connections of those who believe "the climate debate is closed." Perhaps that is because there is far too much conflicting or "uncertain evidence."


Monday, April 16, 2007

Alternative Fuels


Every so often, an old technology comes to mind when I'm hearing or reading about alternative fuels.

Today, there was another article in the paper about how ethanol production was screwing up the corn markets. No, let's not get into the price of tortillas, etc.

The point is that there always seems to be a downside with alternatives to gasoline as a primary fuel for motor vehicles. That got me to thinking about how the great global warming crises has been politically maneuvered into defacto energy policies and the implications of such.

Ethanol is the poster child for unintended consequences (see my post yesterday). But batteries tend to fall into that same arena. So, besides an ethanol/electric hybrid or a soot spewing diesel, what are the choices for a "greener" motor vehicle?

Over a decade ago, Ward's Auto World was asking if the flywheel might be the next great thing. Ohio State University Physics Department thought so.

So what happened to that idea? Consider this: if electricity is generated by nuclear power and used to spin flywheel vehicle drive systems, no CO2 is generated at all for transportation energy. None.

But trying to find current efforts on this technology leads to... not much. Perhaps because a flywheel alone cannot sustain power to a vehicle for enough duration to be practical. Perhaps it might have to be combined with batteries to provide enough driving range to satisfy vehicle owners... flywheel/electric hybrid?

Early flywheels were monstrous disks that had monstrous implications in a moving vehicle accident. New flywheels are more cylindrical and considerably more stable. Is it cost? Is it ignorance? Is it not enough political clout?

Just asking. I think this is a case when a perfectly perfect solution may be overlooked.

Anyone have any info on this? Please comment.

UPDATE - after some further searching I came up with two sources with information within the past two years about this potential technology:

Neither is exactly what I had envisioned.


al-Sadr's Next Move


From BBC:

Mr Sadr's bloc, which has six cabinet ministers, is trying to press Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to set a timetable for a US troop withdrawal.

Mr Maliki has refused, saying a pullout depends on conditions on the ground.

Analysts say Mr Sadr holds great power among Iraq's Shia majority, but the unity government is likely to survive.

Last week, tens of thousands of people attended a rally in the Shia city of Najaf organised by Mr Sadr to protest against the continued presence of US-led troops in Iraq.

Mr Sadr did not appear at the rally in person. US officials say he has fled to Iran, but aides say he is still in Iraq.
A couple of things come to mind as possibilities:
  1. al-Sadr believes his power is sufficient to challenge the Iraqi government and the U.S. and is severing political ties in preparation of escalated violence with the support of Iran and Syria... or
  2. al-Sadr believes the U.S. is ready to escalate its efforts to weed him out and is desperately trying to rally the population and his troops to fend off attacks against him until U.S. public's patience runs out and Democrats can pull off a withdrawal at any cost
In either case, there is nothing positive about al-Sadr's continued existence. As I said repeatedly, Muqtada al-Sadr is the single greatest threat to peace and prosperity in Iraq. Nothing has changed to dissuade me.

Making Important Decisions

With all of the decisions each of us face each day... how to save the planet from global warming, controlling the possibility of runaway inflation, how to terror-proof our homes and communities... perhaps none is more critical than determining how to obtain a really good cup of coffee without spending $6 a cup.

Keeping that in mind and knowing our coffeemaker was no longer doing the job, my wife began a 3-day quest to pick the perfect replacement. She considered some of the lower priced models and determined that they probably wouldn't meet our objectives.

So she considered a more sophisticated solution, but decided we might have to remodel the house to make room.

She found a lot of people recommended this, but decided that the method was just too much bother.

Finally, she settled on my original suggestion:

That way, if she doesn't like the results... I gave her really lousy advice.


March Arrives Late


March weather arrived in the northeastern U.S. today offering millions hope that Spring would soon follow.

...from The Weather Channel

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Unintended Consequences


One theme that you'll see here often is the idea of unintended consequences. It usually happens when a person or group is so focused on their specific goal that they fail to consider how achieving that goal will adversely affect something or someone else.

Here is a great example that my wife pointed out this morning.

This appears to be a major oops!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Climate Models That Fail


Here's an interesting comparison of what climate models say is happening... and what is happening.

I believe this site was put up specifically for this one post so don't look for more. When you examine the graphs, the vertical axis is in atmospheric pressure, so the lower the value, the higher the altitude. Data sources are shown.

The point of this analysis is that data from 3 separate measuring sources verifies that the model's expected heating is simply not happening... except at latitude 90 degrees (north polar region - no corresponding heating at south polar region).
The author also provided an historical temperature chart for all latitudes going back over a century (south pole data sketchy prior to 1955)

For more discussion on this, go to Climate Science.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Last Word About Don Imus


The last you will read here.


Pakistan: The Next Afghanistan?


From Bill via email:

Radical Islam spreading in Pakistan

If the Pakistan government falls, what happens to its nuclear arsenal?

What's our Plan B on this one?
Indeed. [Pakistan Nuclear Sites]

And what would India do?


Iran: Nuclear Gatekeeper?


From National Review Online via Blonde Sagacity:

Today is the day of crazier than fiction stories...

"...On April 9, 2007 there was a United Nations believe-it-or-not moment extraordinaire. At the same time that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad declared his country was now capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, the U.N. reelected Iran as a vice chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Commission.

...the very U.N. body charged with promoting nuclear nonproliferation installed in a senior position the state that the Security Council recently declared violated its nonproliferation resolutions.

So in Iran at the Natanz nuclear facility Ahmadinejad gloated: “With great pride, I announce as of today our dear country is among the countries of the world that produces nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.” And in New York, courtesy of his U.N. platform, Iranian Disarmament Vice-Chairman Seyed Mohammad Ali Robatjazi railed against “noncompliance with the NPT [nuclear nonproliferation treaty] by the United States” and “the Zionist lobby.” (You must read the entire article)

Can all the people that were holding onto the arcane idea that the United Nations is built on altruism or retains any relevance please admit that this has become a bad Saturday Night Live sketch...?! Or should I just give up? USA out of the UN --and then UN out of the USA! And take all your law breaking, raping, non-ticket paying diplomats with you!
Can you say, "Fox watching henhouse"?


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Humor Is Verboten


First Don Imus; now Alan Mulally.

When it comes to public figures, leave comedy to the professionals.

I said the same thing about religion previously.

It's a good thing we have the press protecting us from these people.


Forests: Love 'Em or Lop 'Em


This is an article
that I first noticed at Dr. John Ray's site and then again this morning at Harvard's Dr. Luboš Motl's.

This morning, Dr. Pielke of the University of Colorado's "Climate Science" site had a separate, but related, post:

A New Paper - “Climate change In Amazonia Caused By Soybean Cropland Expansion
Perhaps it is time for Al Gore and his fans to recognize that in life, love, and science, "Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems."


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I've become aware of a large number of readers referred from the National
Review Online
(see their post of 4/10) to look at my April 1 post of "Scientists and Predictions".

That post along with "Google Flush With New Ideas", were intended to be in the spirit of the day.

While I remain a skeptic about anthropogenic-based CO2-caused global warming, that post was meant to be apocryphal rather than factual.


Vermont and Automobile CO2 Levels


Now Vermont wants a piece of the CO2 notoriety.

I believe that states should have the right to make their own stupid decisions and live with them until their residents realize the unintended consequences.

In the case of limiting CO2 output from vehicles, the choices are hybrid gas/electric, diesel, or... or... well hybrid gas/electric or new generation diesels such as the one Toyota introduced in Britain. Of course, the latter may not be available in the U.S. because of the different regulations regarding overall emissions in the U.S. versus Europe.

So, one can envision Vermont citizens driving around in their subcompact cars and driving their full-sized pickups loaded with maple syrup "powered" by 4-cylinder engines up the local mountains. No, I can't quite envision that.

Careful what you ask for Vermont.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hazardous Waste


[photo source]

It makes baseball in the pasture hazardous, to be sure. But should manure be federally classified as hazardous waste?
[Detroit Free Press]

Sounds like a vegetarian plot to me.


H20 Needs More Attention Than CO2


Last week I had an offline discussion with "movie guy" who is a frequent commenter on economics blogs and sought me out for some one-on-one idea exchanges. He has a background in water resource management and has experience in working through disputes among states for water rights.

I followed up our conversation with this email:

Thought you might be interested in this article after our conversation the other day.

You don't have to attribute changes to global warming to know that there are issues.
What's the point? Very simple and very obvious: CO2 is not the problem; H2O is the problem. The growing human population is creating cities where desert or scrub land used to be. Rainfall always has been and always will be in short supply. Only so much water can be diverted from rivers to satisfy the water needs of these desert dwellers. The aquifers are being drained. Soon there will be demands to divert water from large inland lakes like the Great Lakes which would put those bodies of water in peril.

CO2 is a red herring for all sorts of causes. But just as CO2 is a small constituent of greenhouse gases compared with water vapor, CO2 is a small problem facing humanity when compared with clean, available water issues.
Yet governments around the world are preparing to spend billions... trillions... of dollars to contain CO2 and hardly anything to address the looming water problems facing this planet. The next time you travel to Las Vegas or Phoenix, ask yourself, "Where is the water coming from for this place?" Yup, that's the problem.

What can happen when water is mismanaged.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Imus Pulls A Zoeller


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Well, CBS isn't exactly Congress.

In the world of entertainers, famous white entertainers must always remember that their stupidity is not protected by the 1st Amendment. Fuzzy Zoeller lost a pile of endorsement money. Now Don Imus is being skewered by the likes of Al Sharpton, that paragon of racial equanimity, and has had his show suspended for two weeks by CBS.
I think that there is a misconception among whites that the unsophisticated prattle often portrayed by Hollywood as common within racial/ethnic groups means it is okay for whites to parrot that kind of language or lack-of-thought process. This lapse in judgment by white celebrities is especially egregious because they should 1) know better and 2) have more class... did I say they should have more class? Even if there may be truth to the Hollywood version of intra-racial/ethnic vulgarisms, it should stay there... and it would still show a lack of class.
When you have the public ear, use a variation of the old carpenter's law: think twice; say once.

That said, Don Imus' public persona does not necessarily reflect who he is and what he does.


Luboš Motl Strikes... Mariners and Indians Strike Out


I guess I'm not the only one poking fun at Al these days.

While you are there, try this one, too. If you can translate that to me in "normal" IQ language, I'll probably believe anything you say.


Even More On Media Bias




The French Were Correct... And Still Are


Over two years ago, I wrote the the French were correct about nuclear power.

Here's a segment from 60 Minutes.

I guess if 60 Minutes agrees, it must be true. Well, maybe this time.

Also see.

It's really logic 101.

What is really ironic is the very environmentalists who fought nuclear power are the same ones being alarmists about CO2 and, as a result, are forcing another look at nuclear power. I don't have a problem with idealism... except too many idealists have no clue about the unintended consequences of their positions. In this case, it may be a good thing that rectifies the problem they caused 30 years ago.

There are some other interesting things that might show up in 10 or 20 years... like Thorium reactors. Go ahead and search the blog about nuclear power.


Just one other thought. The Bush administration has not supported the idea of anthropogenic CO2 based global warming until very recently, but has generally supported the idea of energy independence... including nuclear power plants. Could it be that President Bush has managed to get his way by turning the eco-alarmists' messages against them???

Sunday, April 08, 2007

More On al-Sadr


Yesterday, I wrote a piece about Muqtada al-Sadr which referenced an earlier post to the effect that al-Sadr must be eliminated by any means necessary.

If there is any doubt in anyone's mind about that, read this.

There are some really evil people in this world and al-Sadr qualifies as one of the top 1%.


More On Media Bias


The other day I wrote a brief article about the bias that often seems to appear in the press. Here is another example.

It's not surprising. We all have our biases. The other day I posted what I thought was a light-hearted comment about golf and cold weather... and poked a little fun at Al Gore... and got a sarcastic comment to the effect that I wasn't being serious enough about this very important issue (global warming). Obviously, I have my own bias with regard to that. So, I'll refer you to the second link above ("another example").
I'll admit that one person's "obvious truth" is "bias" to another who doesn't agree. The "proof in the pudding" is the degree of certainty one can provide to back up one's position.

For example, there is no bias... no "consensus"... about the speed of light in a vacuum. There is only tested, verified, fact. On the other hand, there is no tested, verified fact about the political "consensus" surrounding global warming. There are opionions; there is "empirical information"; there is inconclusive interpretation of data; there are calls to action in the name of "risk management"... in other words, "we can't prove our contention, but we want to be safe rather than sorry."
Then there is this and this. Go ahead, look at them.


Happy Easter

Photo credit

Saturday, April 07, 2007

al Sadr and Women


From Yahoo News:

Dozens of people have been killed in Diwaniyah during the past weeks and the attacks have been blamed by residents on the Mahdi Army, al-Sadr's militia.

Many women, accused by the hard-line and fundamentalist militiamen of violating their interpretation of Islamic morality, are among the dead.
Here is how al Sadr and his militia demand their women appear.

No wonder his militia prefers to be out fighting all the time.

Perhaps it is time for a "Kaddafy" (kaboom) strategy with regard to al Sadr.

But there is more to this story.


Spring Golf Cancelled


Something is wrong. After watching Al Gore get his Oscar, I burned all of my heavy clothes, bought a new set of golf clubs, and made daily tee times for the next year.

Something is wrong... very wrong.

Not what I had in mind...

But, some people seem to like it this way...

!#$!ing Idiots?


This is definitely a headline you don't see very often:

It's a phrase being repeated by millions in Michigan.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Is The Press Biased?


You can judge for yourself here.

Cited by several other bloggers.


Ethanol As An Alternative Fuel - Hope, Fear, Reassurance


Hope from Scitzen:

"Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol is The Most Competitive Renewable Energy Worldwide."

14 Mar, 2007 11:31 am

Interview with Jose Goldemberg, a Brazilian physicist and the current Secretary for the Environment of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in which he explains the potential role of ethanol in the world energy market and the Brazilian Ethanol model.

Fear from Mongabay:
A proposed ethanol alliance that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to forge with U.S. President George W. Bush later this week poses both opportunities and risks for the environment, a top U.N. environmental official said Monday.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nation's Environment Program, said growing international demand for ethanol and other biofuels on the international market threaten the Amazon rain forest if safeguards are not put in place because the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness is a target area for agriculture.

Brazil's main biofuel is ethanol made from sugarcane. While sugarcane cultivation is minimal now in the Amazon, some environmentalists fear growing demand for the fuel could push cane growers into the Amazon.

"I think at the end of the day ... it's a question of whether the Amazon is sufficiently protected and whether the expansion of the ethanol production happens in the context of government policies that try and direct that growth potential in a sustainable base,"
Reassurance from Reuters:
Brazil ethanol output won't hurt rainforest: expert
Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:25PM EDT

By Peter Blackburn

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil has abundant farmland available to plant sugar cane to satisfy surging world demand for biofuels without damaging the environment, a leading ethanol expert said on Monday.

"There's no need to cut a single tree in the Amazon rainforest either to grow food or produce ethanol," Roberto Rodrigues, Brazilian coordinator of the Inter-American Ethanol Commission, told a workshop on agroenergy's environmental impact.

A former agriculture minister who now heads the agribusiness center of the Getulio Vargas think-tank, Rodrigues said Brazil had some 220 million hectares of livestock land.

It included 90 million ha of degraded pasture which could be used for crops with 20 million ha for sugar cane.

He said that sugar cane occupied only 6 million ha of the 62 million ha of Brazil's cultivated farmland. Roughly half the cane area is used to produce ethanol and the rest for sugar.
Based on what has already happened in the Amazon basin, I'd say that sugarcane is not the issue. There are plenty of other actions destroying vast tracts of that ecosystem. Remember, the U.S. once had vast forests covering the eastern half of its territory.


Global Warming Empirical Evidence


From the New York Times

Emissions Already Affecting Climate, Report Finds
Published: April 6, 2007

BRUSSELS, April 6 — Earth’s climate and ecosystems are already being affected, for better and mostly for worse, by the atmospheric buildup of smokestack and tailpipe gases that trap heat, top climate experts said today.

And while curbs in emissions can limit risks, they said, vulnerable regions must adapt to shifting weather patterns and rising seas.

The conclusions came in the latest report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has tracked research on human-caused global warming since being created by the United Nations in 1988. In February, the panel released a report that for the first time concluded with 90-percent certainty that humans were the main cause of warming since 1950. But in this report, focusing on the impact of warming, for the first time the group described how species, water supplies, ice sheets, and regional climate conditions were already responding.

At a news conference capping four days of debate between scientists and representatives from more than 100 governments, Martin Parry, the co-chairman of the team that wrote the new report, said widespread effects were already measurable, with much more to come.

“We’re no longer arm waving with models,” said Dr. Parry, who identified areas most affected as the Arctic, Sub-Saharan Africa, small islands and Asia’s sprawling, crowded, flood-prone river deltas. “This is empirical information on the ground.”

The report said that climate patterns were shifting in ways that would bring benefits in some places — including more rainfall and longer growing seasons in high latitudes, opening Arctic seaways, and reduced deaths from cold — but significant human hardship and ecological losses in others.

The panel said the long-term outlook for all regions was for trouble should temperatures rise 3 to 5 degrees fahrenheit or so, with consequences ranging from the likely extinction of perhaps a fourth of the world’s species to eventual inundation of coasts and islands inhabited by hundreds of millions of people....

From Climate Science:
Dr. Ben Herman
Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona
Published: April 6, 2007

Now, the models also predict that the mid tropospheric warming should exceed that observed at the ground, but satellite data [empirical information] contradicts this. We have been looking into this problem here at the University of Arizona, and have concluded that the satellite temperatures from the UAH group are the most accurate, and these, after being corrected for stratospheric cooling, orbital drifts, hot target changes, etc. still show less tropospheric warming than do the ground temperatures. A paper addressing this will be submitted for publication shortly. If the models cannot accurately predict the temperature trends in the mid-troposphere, how accurate can they be at the ground?

I am also puzzled by the local area predictions that are becoming almost a daily happening. Here in Arizona, we are told we will experience severe drought, unbelievably hot temperatures, etc. If the climate warms enough, we would expect the global weather patterns to migrate poleward. While this would likely diminish our winter rains here in Arizona, it would also advance the Monsoon easterlies further north in the summer, likely producing more summer rains and a longer summer rainy season.It would also cause cooler summer temperatures as the sub-tropical high would be further north and we would not be exposed to the subsidence that results in our high temperatures now. The increased cloud cover due to the increase in monsoon rains would also help cool daytime temperatures Whether the net result would be a decrease, an increase, or no net change in rainfall I can’t say, but the models can’t predict this either. Yet the forecasts of what will happen are being made.

Another point I would also like to make is with respect to the rather rapid increase in temperatures that we have experienced over the past 10-15 years. Can the models explain this by the addition of greenhouse gases? I don’t believe the increase in CO2 has taken on a similar shape.

The above are but a few examples of uncertainties that exist. There are others. I point them out only to raise the question as to how statements about our past warming, and even our future weather can be made with 90% certainty while such important questions still exist.
I guess it all depends on where you look for your empirical evidence.

With regard to the concept that warmer climates will bring extinction of 1/4 of all species... that does not jibe with the paleontological record. I'd like to understand that assertion a little better. This is the kind of prediction that showed up the other day in material I quoted about the Amazon dying from global warming. If you read the link to the history of the Amazon basin, you would have learned that the only major reduction of the rainforest was caused by the ice ages, not the hotter climates of the past.


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CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)