Saturday, March 31, 2007

Too Much Wealth


Yesterday, I got into an online discussion with the left-wing group at Economist's View. The discussion was about the post "The "Dramatic" Reduction in the Progressivity of Federal Taxes." The point many of the commenters were making was that the wealthy are not paying their "fair share." I wrote about a "fair" (but not confiscatory) tax approach here.

Some felt that the wealthy got more "protection" from society ... no, not by society... from society (you and me just taking it) so they should pay more taxes (protection money?).

Others felt that individual wealth was just evil in itself. There was a jolly old guy named Josef/Joseph who spouted the same thing and ended up killing millions of his own countrymen in the name of the "common good."

I had a brief email chat with another gentlemen who, while philosophically far apart from me, can put together more than two words to make a rational sentence. He argued that:

For starters, I simply don't believe that wealth as great as $100 million
(to pick an arbitrary number) is "theirs" in the sense of belonging to any
one person. It requires a large organization to control the resources that
such a figure represents, and the fact that some of that organization is
embedded in the legal system is beside the point. Mega-wealth is not
personal property; it is a command-and-control organization, albeit one that
is sometimes subject to individual whim.
I picked the arbitrary number of $100,000 (why not?). His argument was that we must limit personal wealth for the common good and $100,000 is way more than most people have. Turn it over to the government. Let "Karl" tell us what to do.

"When I look at what Bill Gates has done with his money versus what Diane Feinstein has done with "our" money, I choose Bill Gates."

In case you haven't read about Diane....

Friday, March 30, 2007

Allah Akbar


Christians had the Inquisition as the face of evil for their religion.

That said, read this, then this.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Michigan Taxes and the Truth


Michigan has a problem and it isn't going away. Businesses are leaving, unemployment is high, and the state wants to maintain its level of spending.

Today, it was suggested that the gasoline taxes might be raised since they are low. This chart appeared in The Detroit News:

At 19-cents per gallon, Michigan gasoline is clearly taxed modestly.

Okay, now let's add in the remainder of the taxes... including state sales taxes.


Oh, different story. It's those other state taxes that are applied to gasoline... yes, Federal too, but all states have that... that add just a "few more cents" per gallon.

Now that we've been honest, let me say that I agree that this is the least painful way to address the State's unwillingness to lower spending... in the absence of becoming more efficient and effective.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bernanke Comments


Comments from the Federal Reserve Chairman

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”.

The Federal Reserve chairman also emphasised that the US central bank remains concerned about the threat that inflation will not moderate as expected, arguing that high levels of resource utilisation could still fuel price rises.

He added the US central bank was not as confident in its outlook as it had been a couple of months ago, when it was increasingly upbeat about the prospects for a soft landing.

Mr Bernanke’s remarks - which help clarify a confusing new policy statement issued a week ago - offered no hint that the Fed yet believes that it will have to cut interest rates soon, as the market expects.

But he recognised that “uncertainties around the outlook have increased” and said the Fed would respond in the light of incoming economic data.

I commented about this recently. Nothing has changed.

Energy Policy Not Global Warming Legislation


It's time the government got serious about an energy plan that focuses on practical ways to extricate us from the middle east and other less than desirable sources of energy. Not having an energy plan on which to base an energy policy leaves our economy subject to this sort of nonsense.

If a sound, fiscally responsible energy plan also satisfies those who are on the verge of hysteria about carbon dioxide, great. But an energy plan leading to a strong strategic energy policy needs to come first.

This swiped from an Australian blogger.

Perhaps instead of screwing around with funding bills for our military, the new Congressional majority could focus on an important domestic issue.

Ike's Idea


One of my sons put me on to this article from The Christian Science Monitor:

Fifty-three years ago, when newly elected Dwight Eisenhower moved into the White House, America's southern frontier was as porous as a spaghetti sieve. As many as 3 million illegal migrants had walked and waded northward over a period of several years for jobs in California, Arizona, Texas, and points beyond.

President Eisenhower cut off this illegal traffic. He did it quickly and decisively with only 1,075 United States Border Patrol agents - less than one-tenth of today's force. The operation is still highly praised among veterans of the Border Patrol.
No, silly, you have to read the article.

But on the flip side....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March Warmth and Cold


A warm front came through today and sent the temperatures up to around 80. This may be a daily record for some places in Michigan. The monthly record is 89 set in 1910 in Lapeer which is about 60 miles north of Detroit... just in case you are curious. You can download all of the state monthly records from the link at the right under "Special Analyses" if you are even more curious.

Meanwhile, a cold front is about to hit with thunderstorms and send the temperatures back down into the 40s.

Measuring Climate Change With Oceans

SEARCH BLOG: Global Warming

Climate Science has a couple of interesting articles recently posted.

The first one postulates that oceans, as giant heat reservoirs, are a potentially a better indicator of global warming and cooling than surface temperatures:

“• The earth’s heat budget observations, within the limits of their representativeness and accuracy, provide an observational constraint on the radiative forcing imposed in retrospective climate modeling.

• A snapshot at any time documents the accumulated heat content and its change since the last assessment. Unlike temperature, at some specific level of the ocean, land, or the atmosphere, in which there is a time lag in its response to radiative forcing, there are no time lags associated with heat changes.

• Since the surface temperature is a two-dimensional global field, while heat content involves volume integrals, as shown by Eq. (1), the utilization of surface temperature as a monitor of the earth system climate change is not particularly useful in evaluating the heat storage changes to the earth system. The heat storage changes, rather than surface temperatures, should be used to determine what fraction of the radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere are in radiative equilibrium. Of course, since surface temperature has such an important impact on human activities, its accurate monitoring should remain a focus of climate research (Pielke et al. 2002a)."

I have to admit that I've struggled a quite bit with this one... largely because I didn't have any scientific training in this area. First, I didn't quite understand how "the heat storage changes" would be accurately measured on a global, three-dimensional basis for the oceans... or even the nature of those measurements unless it is temperature changes. My first inclination was to view this information as telling me that because the oceans act as a giant heat reservoir, atmospheric temperatures are moderated by that effect and that was the importance. But Dr. Pielke was quick to reiterate the conclusions above from the paper as the important points.

The concept is intriguing because oceans are far less susceptible to weather fluctuations and short-temperature changes found in the atmosphere (just ask someone who lives in Michigan about that) which are often pointed to as "proof" of global warming or cooling. With this alternative, it is all about whether the oceanic heat storage is level, increasing or decreasing.

Are temperature monitoring (heat storage measuring?) devices located in the oceans around the world? Yes, but my personal lack of knowledge of whether heat conduction from various depths or major circulation patterns mixing surface with deeper water makes a difference in getting accurate readings of heat storage changes, led me to question our ability to measure global changes... at least over short time periods. This abstract is a regional example of what I am saying above.

Therefore, I posed the question of reliability and timeliness of using changes in the oceans' heat storage as a measure of global warming/cooling at the Climate Science site and got this response from Dr. Pielke late last night:

"Hi Bruce - The paper

Willis, J.K., D. Roemmich, and B. Cornuelle, 2004: Interannual variability in upper ocean heat content, temperature, and thermosteric expansion on global scales. J. Geophys. Res., 109, C12036, doi: 10.1029/2003JC002260.

discusses in depth the accuracy in which the ocean heat content can be measured.

This data quite accurately samples the upper ocean."

While I am working through this 13-page paper, I have no doubt that my questions will be answered and that is why I recommend that you take the time to learn about this novel approach, if you are concerned about climate change and global warming or cooling.

Dr. Pielke has been quite helpful in getting me to better understand this issue.


The second article
poses this hypothesis:

One possible cause of the linear increase [in temperature] may be that the Earth is still recovering from the Little Ice Age. World glaciers and sea ice in the Arctic Ocean have been receding since 1800 or earlier; these are not just recent phenomena. It seems to me that most climate researchers are so caught up in the CO2 effect, the Little Ice Age has been all but forgotten.


It is urgent that natural changes be correctly identified and removed accurately from the presently ongoing changes in order to find the contribution of the greenhouse effect. Some details are given at:

As I have said before, "Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems." ... and I hope I got it right this time.

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Computer and Operating System


My wife finally convinced me to give up on a 10-year old laptop that I got for my second son when he started college and was gathering dust when he gave it back to me a few years ago. He has this great education in computers and information systems from the University of Michigan, so he came over to help order the new replacement laptop.

Now I have dual-core processors and SD card virtual memory and Bluetooth Microsoft keyboard and mouse... oh, and LoJack, too! I really don't like typing on a laptop keyboard because, in addition to my wildly roaming thoughts posted here, I enter a lot of data and use the 10-key pad extensively, so that's the reason for the extra keyboard and mouse. There's enough room on the base of the laptop to land a helicopter, so you'd think a 10-key pad could be fit in somehow. I guess most people just don't need it enough.

Naturally, when you put together new hardware and software you always have a bit of a problem. First, things just look different. Vista is a big improvement over XP. I'm convinced of that. But now I have to train my brain to think differently when I want to tell my computer to do something a little out of the ordinary. Then there is always the glitch. I couldn't get my keyboard and mouse to "talk" to my laptop... even with talking to a live support person for over an hour. That's what sons with computer science backgrounds are for... personal IT support. He figured out the problem and talked me through the fix which was really quite simple... when you know what to look for.

As much as I really like this 17" Dell, I really... really... like the Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The keyboard has all sorts of neat shortcuts built in and I love shortcuts. My Excel 2003 setup used 20% of the screen for icons. I have to get used to the different approach with Excel 2007, but I'll figure out how to gunk that up, too.

I'll never go back to a desktop. It just doesn't make sense with the large, bright screens, speed, and functionality... and mobility... of the new laptops. I imagine that more and more people are coming to the same conclusion.

You can bet that a lot of blog posts this summer will be written on our pontoon boat.


Unfortunately, the good things don't always last....

It seems that Vista and Dell and Bluetooth may not be fully compatible. After awhile, the keyboard and the mouse lose some of their functionality and it doesn't return. The good news is I'm not the only one experiencing this issue, so perhaps Microsoft and Dell will resolve the issue and come up with a workable solution.

... further...
Dell has a great remote tech support capability where their support person can take control of your PC and run through all sorts of checks. After about an hour, the problem I was experiencing appears to be a faulty internal Bluetooth card. They will send me the part to replace the old one... a 5 minute job.

I dug through the packaging from my mouse/keyboard and found a USB antenna. After disabling the internal card, I installed the USB device and everything works great. I guess this is a fallback if the new part also doesn't work right.

Yup, nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.

Joe Biden Talks To Don Imus


Wow! I didn't expect my words on Saturday to be so strongly reinforced so quickly.

Today, Sen. Joe Biden, who seems to be a decent sort of guy, talked with Don Imus about funding more armored vehicles for soldiers in Iraq. He claims the Bush administration is dragging their feet in getting these vehicles produced and shipped to the troops.

This from a senator whose party jammed enough pork into the House bill for military funding to have a barbeque for all of the Democrat representatives and senators for the next century. Sen. Biden wants to have $1.5 billion allocated for these vehicles to save our soldiers lives.

Then why didn't his own party put that into their bill instead of all of the funds for shrimp farmers and the like?

Talk about disingenuous!

Don Imus also pointed out that the best rehabilitation facility for soldiers was recently completed with private funding. This is the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio. Of course, Sen. Hillary Clinton was there to grin her way into a photo op. This, by the way, was the work of Arnold Fisher who led the private funding... more than $50 million... for the effort. Another senator from the same party who tries to divert funds from the soldiers needs and then claims the administration is blocking funding efforts.

Perhaps they should rename the party the Janus Party. If you are going to be two-faced, you might as well boast about it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Duplicitous Congress


Recently I wrote that the primary function of government is ensuring that officials can cover their asses by scapegoating someone else and at the same time score big in the publicity department.

Yesterday, I wrote about how that specificially worked at the Walter Reed Army Hospital brouhaha and how some senators from New York really like to play the C.Y.A. game while pretending to protect our servicemen.

Now we have the House politicians joining the Senate politicians in the time-honored practice of screwing the servicemen while raiding the pork barrel in their version of the military funding bill.

Sing with me... Oh I'm proud to be an American... da, da, da, da, da, da, da.... Go, Nancy! No, really, please go.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Walter Reed Hospital and Veterans Administration Update


Recently, I wrote a couple of pieces about government health care. The last one, "C.Y.A." was critical of Congress and the Army, but not of Major General Weightman who was fired from his position as the commander of the hospital. I was not critical of the doctors or nurses who provide the health care within these systems.

I was very critical of Sen. Charles Schumer who was part of the reason the problems exist within these systems, but very recently has tried to portray himself as the protector of military people.

If you are interested in an inside perspective, I suggest you read this. If that doesn't get you upset, then go back to your fundraising for Sen. Schumer. Yuck.

As I said previously, it's about health care budgets, not health care need. Congress has the pursestrings and they were pulled tightly closed until the shit hit the proverbial fan. Now Sen. Schumer and his buddies are suddenly ready with the funds they have withheld for years.

Now, about the V.A.....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Al Gore Confronts Congress


Sometimes it is difficult for a former politician to find a place after his political career is over. Al Gore is one of those few who has a mission in life and is making a pile of money pursuing that mission: saving the planet.

Yesterday, Mr. Gore spoke to congress and said that if we simply place a "ban on any new coal-burning power plants — a major source of industrial carbon dioxide — that lack state-of-the-art controls to capture the gases" we can save ourselves. Well, that's not a big deal. It might cost some to accomplish that, but we can absorb the costs in our electric bills.

Of course, since 50% of our electricity already comes from coal-fired plants, that is not really taking care of the existing "problem."

Mr. Gore also failed to say how he will convince China and India to implement his plan.
Mr. Gore also said that he "favors a “cap-and-trade” program for the U.S. economy, not just specific sectors such as electricity or manufacturing, which would set an overall limit on warming emissions but allow industry to meet the target by trading pollution allowances."
Actually, this might be a good thing for our economy as a whole new commodities trading board will be established and the billions of dollars that speculators will make will eventually "trickle back down " to the lower income people who will pay for those "credits."
Meanwhile... we could have some bad weather because of CO2.
Updated: 10:35 a.m. ET March 20, 2007

MADRID, Spain - Global warming is likely to bring more tidal waves, floods and hurricanes, leading meteorologists said on Monday.

"What we know is that global warming is very likely to lead in the future to more frequent tidal waves," the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told a news conference ahead of a meeting in Madrid on Monday.

"Heavy precipitation events are very likely to become more frequent ... and it's likely that hurricanes and cyclones will become more intense," Michel Jarraud said.

The irony of recent weather was, no doubt, completely lost on Mr. Gore and Mr. Jarraud. Go ahead, take a look at that link. Just when this expert and close associate of Al Gore said global warming was taking away all of the snow and was going to cause a drought in the west.
To be fair, I have said before and I will say again... weather anomalies are just that. They only proved what politicians are saying to the politicians themselves. Scientists can only snicker.
Uh, scientists who aren't necessarily seeking the favor of politicians, that is.


While I don't necessary buy into Mr. Gore's vision of the CO2 doom machine, there is a potential alternative energy solution with a side benefit: significant reduction of landfills. Note that this has nothing to do with CO2 sequestering or carbon credits or creating hardships for low-income people.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CO2 Dangers Everywhere


Occasionally, I have some offline exchanges between bloggers who publish materials that proclaim the next great disaster about to befall us because of anthropogenic increases in CO2... that's CO2 increases caused by human activity. Here is a slightly edited (for brevity) example:

I read your article

 I was curious about the reliability of projections regarding problems to marine life given the longer geological history of CO2 with much higher concentrations (image presented by Dr. Tim Patterson, Professor of Geology and Director, Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center, Carleton University).

It would seem that given the history of CO2 concentration changes over millions (not thousands) of years, the oceans should have suffered significant damage from CO2 concentrations that were much higher than today's. Perhaps there is something different about CO2 and today's oceans? I expect that Dr. Patterson would have written something about that phenomenon if it had occurred and done the damage projected in your article.
His response:
Thanks for your note. The oceans have been more acidic in the past due to higher levels of atmospheric CO2. In fact the worst mass extinction in history may have occurred under such a scenario:
Further, the PETM also resulted in a mass extinction event:
I'm not fully confident in the projections made in the new paper -- I was just just reporting their results and the potential implications of their model. I would be quite surprised in CO2 levels reached 1000 ppm by 2100. I personally think that there may be some natural mechanism that will help moderate the rise ( i.e. more plankton, higher rates of weathering, etc) even if humans don't take steps to reduce emissions. Don't get me wrong, the oceans will likely be more acidic but I think less so than this model projects.
My response:
I understand the connection that is trying to be made between CO2 and possible ocean problems. However, if you look at the CO2 record presented by Dr. Patterson, you will see that extremely high concentrations of CO2 were present for hundreds of millions of years prior and subsequent to this Permian extinction, which would lead one to ask why the event approximately 300 million years ago could be connected to CO2 concentrations...and why not before then... and then how life in the oceans recovered while those concentrations remained many times higher than they are today?

It is more likely that the mass extinction of 300 million years ago was caused by events of the magnitude that occurred 65 million years ago... and we're still not getting "consensus" on that one.

It is worthwhile to look at the world to try to understand the impact of human activity. But there seems to be a general hysteria about CO2 and an effort to link its presence to every real or imagined past, present, and future problem.
This blogger displayed some intellectual honesty with me in this exchange, but his reservations were not noted on his website.


I want to be totally fair to the author of the website referenced above. He just contacted me offline with his comment:
Hi Bruce,

I'm not writing an opinion piece here -- I'm just reporting the potential implications if their model holds. When Dr. Patterson publishes his work, I may well cover it -- I'm not trying to promote some CO2 hysteria agenda.

One must ask if this kind of study (not the website where it was referenced) about CO2 is related to true intellectual investigation or the government funding trough for CO2 alarmist-researchers. After all, this study proposes that over the span of less than a century, mankind is turning the oceans acidic and there is danger of a mass extinction... when somehow marine life survived hundreds of millions of years during times when CO2 levels were much higher.

How about hydrogen sulfide?

Or maybe an asteroid?

Or maybe we don't know?

No, it has to be CO2....

I think we might need a new litmus test.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Government In Action or Inaction?


A few days ago, I posted "C.Y.A." which described the primary function of the Federal Government (and state governments to a lesser extent): ensuring that officials can cover their asses by scapegoating someone else and at the same time score big in the publicity department.

There is a good rule of thumb that the larger a government becomes, the more inherent waste and stupidity associated with that government. Doubt that? Then watch C-Span once in awhile.

For example, the issue of illegal immigration could be solved fairly easily by making employment impossible for illegals.

Don't go after illegal immigrants; go after employers of illegal immigrants. Felony convictions sound about right. How soon until the practice of employing illegal immigrants is stopped? It doesn't take building a 700-mile wall or employing thousands more border agents. It simply takes the stopping of the green. Don't allow employers to accept social security numbers as proof of citizenship. They are a penny a pound. Require personal histories that must be checked. Put the onus on the employer. Oh, that's too harsh! No it's not. The chaos to our communities from illegal immigration is too harsh. This doesn't go far enough.
For example, the Federal government must fund all programs it says the states must have.
Of the $29 billion in unfunded mandates for fiscal year 2004, NCSL was able to identify costs to individual states for $24.4 billion of the total. The map shown above includes individual state costs for No Child Left Behind (Title I grants to local education authorities only), Medicaid, food stamps, special education, election reform and transportation sanctions. Certain costs of No Child Left Behind and certain programs delegated to states by the Environmental Protection Agency could not be quantified on a state-by-state basis.
For example, state governments should have their spending plans reviewed by independent auditors.

I t may seem completely nuts that a state coping with an $800 million budget deficit and considering higher taxes on its citizens would trade a $1-a-year building lease for one that will cost nearly $5 million a year. And it is.

The deal OK'd this week to move the State Police headquarters to a new home being built by politically connected developers is more evidence that the governor and lawmakers are not taking Michigan's fiscal crisis seriously.

The move was approved by the Legislature's Joint Capital Outlay Committee. It will consolidate most state police operations in a new home on the banks of the Grand River in downtown Lansing. The developer is political powerhouse Joel Ferguson, a Michigan State University trustee, and his associate, Gary Granger. Annual costs to the state are estimated at $4.9 million annually.

Based on the way government works today, I think government inaction is preferable to government in action.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Leave Religion to the Professionals


Picture the sweet face of a five-year old child being asked, "Where is your mother?" Then try to fathom the bright smile on her face when she answers, "She has been martyred."

I remember growing up in the 1950s across the street from a large Catholic church. There was also a small convent with nuns. People would go to Mass and then go on with their lives. Some of the kids would go home, change clothes, and come outside and try to hit squirrels with horse chestnut seeds from their slingshots. Mothers would do whatever the mothers did and dads would generally find something to do in the basement or garage. Religion was over for the week. The priests and nuns took care of God's work for the next six days.

But now everyone is in the religion business... or claims to be... doing "God's work." They are out there like surgeons who never took a biology class, but had practice gutting deer after a successful hunt. They repeat mindless phrases and perform mindless acts, fully expecting that God will be pleased.

The problem is that people have tried to do more than attend their religious rites. They have actually tried to interpret how their religion should become the central point of their lives. The problem is that they are not religious professionals. They do not have the training to understand that some parts of what is written or said are merely meant to provide release from reality... not meant to become reality. Professionals understand that. They tend their sheep and prevent them from trying to be anything but the passive recipients of mysterious knowledge.
But mothers of five-year olds should stay at home and fix dinner for their children. And fathers should go to the basement or garage or watch TV. It seems to be a better idea than leaving the children alone with some really peculiar ideas.

Of course, sometimes the professionals can get a bit psychopathic like Hojatoleslam Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr who has recruited "true believers" to his cause. Or Iranian Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei who proudly supports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his quest for Armageddon. Then we really have trouble.
It is really better to leave these "acts of faith" to professionals such as al-Sadr and Khamenei who are well-trained for them. In fact, we should all encourage them to be the professionals they are and take back their professional privileges.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

University of Michigan Keeps Trying


I've written several times about how UM keeps trying to be diverse racially, but doesn't address the fundamental issue of student preparation for college.

Yesterday, the Detroit area papers had articles about UM's new approach: financial aid. Okay, that's a legitimate approach, I guess, depending upon what they actually do. Low income students usually need aid, whether in the form of loans or grants... unless they do as many of the older generation did... work, save, attend lower-priced undergraduate schools, work more, attend better graduate schools.

As The Detroit News reports:

Alan Foutz, attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has been closely watching compliance of Proposal 2 in Michigan, said that while U-M's prescription for more outreach doesn't violate Proposal 2 on its face, it will ultimately come down to implementation.

"It doesn't appear to me that they are going to be charging off in a completely inappropriate direction," Foutz said. Potential violations would occur if U-M is "using a type of outreach effort to a particular racial category but not using that type of outreach effort for any other racial category."

U-M officials say they have outreach programs for all students but believe their targeted efforts toward black, Latino and American Indian students are allowable under the law.

"It's our legal interpretation of Proposal 2 the language does not prohibit us from doing targeted outreach," U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. "The conclusion that other states have reached has varied. These things are a matter of interpretation. ... But we are pretty comfortable at this point that that's the right way to go. And it's essential."

It's a fine line that UM is walking here. Granting economic aid to low-income students who are academically qualified is an approach I have proposed. If blacks and Hispanic make up the largest group of qualified low-income admissions, then aid should be proportional. But, to target a much large portion of aid to blacks and Hispanic admissions than based on a Proposal 2-based admissions process may be in violation of the letter and intent of the law.
What are some of the other options? UM can work with private donors... individuals and corporations... that are willing to establish needs-based or merit-based scholarships to specific ethinic groups. This is permissable as I pointed out previously in the example of what Wayne State University in Detroit showed on its website.
But UM is still dancing around the central issue: it needs to focus its resources on working with Detroit schools to improve the academic performance that system's students who are largely black or Hispanic to increase the number of available qualifying students. This is not accomplished by cherry-picking the low-income black and Hispanic students who happen to qualify under Proposal 2.

Ideology still stands in the way of the solution.

99% Correct - Update


Recently, I upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2007 and find the changes to be largely quite positive. I had complained that the upgrade had knocked out the spell checker in Outlook Express and Microsoft help was no help.

Well, Microsoft should be credited when they take appropriate action. They quietly fixed the problem behind the scenes with their automatic updates.

I probably would upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista if that did not entail reloading all of my other software. When Microsoft figures out how to replace their old operating systems with newer ones without forcing the users to reload everything, they will have a much larger market much faster for their Windows operating system. As it stands, they will get their sales of Vista with new computers, but a lot of XP users will probably get rid of the computer before upgrading to Vista... just because Microsoft makes it such a hassle.

Come on Microsoft, it must be worth billions of dollars to figure this out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Global Warming - It's How You Measure It


What do French workers, Chinese cities, and global temperature increases have in common? Statistics.

And what does that tell you?

Perhaps how average temperatures can be increasing... as measured statistically... while the incidence of record high temperatures... as measured absolutely... is relatively low... at least in the U.S.



I have written a couple of times about the issue of government provided... as opposed to funded... health care at Veterans Administration facilities. The issues there as well as at Walter Reed army hospital revolve around the mind-numbing, Soviet-like process required to obtain outpatient care. What I have written can be boiled down to just a few things:

  • The health care professionals are doing the best they can with what they have as resources
  • The budget process comes before the health care demand levels
  • The health care professionals are not responsible for the budget process or the level of resources available to them
Now the government has taken action at one of their government-provided health care facilities:
The commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center was fired yesterday after the Army said it had lost trust and confidence in his leadership in the wake of a scandal over outpatient treatment of wounded troops at the Northwest Washington hospital complex.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 2, 2007; Page A01
And exactly what did that action accomplish:
  • The army general takes a bullet for the politicians who provide the funding
  • The politicians, like Sen. Charles Schumer, get to stand up and take credit for taking care of our soldiers while really only taking care of their publicity shots
  • There is a flurry of highly visible activity
  • The budget process stays the same
  • The health care process stays the same
  • Everyone waits until the dust settles
  • The soldiers still have the same problem
Of course, this is the same process that takes place in the V.A. The staffs are understaffed; the patients just have to have patience; the budget is whatever the politicians decide. While there is not much that can be done inside the military except C.Y.A., the V.A. can do this (from my last post):
I have argued on other discussion forums that the VA could be improved by providing eligible veterans with a "VA Health Card" that allowed them to seek treatment from any available hospital, clinic, or family doctor for minor or emergency needs. If longer term care is needed, the veteran would receive that at a VA facility if it is within a reasonable distance (to be defined) or continue receiving treatment locally.

This would accomplish two things:
  • Provide quicker care for the veteran while reducing the workload at the VA for short term care
  • Ensure the veteran receives long term care for chronic problems while focusing VA resources toward ensuring long term care is available.
The problem continues to be that VA health care is budget based rather than demand based. Private sector health care systems compete for patients by improving their systems to raise demand. They are limited by the constraints of insurance coverage and the requirement to provide emergency care for those without insurance. Bad systems eventually fail and get replaced by better ones.

With government-provided health care, you get what the government decides is appropriate in the manner it decides is appropriate.
Or, the VA can cover theirs... just like the army and the politicians... and wait for the public interest to be focused elsewhere. I know, how about focusing on the increase in hot air around Washington a.k.a. "global warming?"

By the way, it wasn't the general's fault. He didn't get the time, the money, or the staff to do what was necessary; but he did get the shaft.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Record High Temperatures


Last week I published an update to the U.S. record high temperatures by states by month [600 data points], 1884 through December 2006.

This is the link [also shown on the right side] to the Excel file containing the data and charts that you can exam, if you wish. The file is protected, but you can copy the data if you wish to do further analysis on your own. Saving the file and then opening Excel ususally works best. Scanned with McAfee Virus Detection definition 4983.

I'd appreciate any input regarding erroneous data.

Extreme Temperatures Database and Analysis [Excel 2003 File]

Ides of March

Just thought you'd like to see what greeted us this morning... a couple days after it was sunny and 70. That's Michigan. [click on image for larger view]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why Diets Fail


Yesterday, my wife, who has always perceived herself to be too heavy, but who is really nicely feminine, decided it was time to try yet another diet. So, off to Borders to buy the "Rosedale" diet book.

This morning, she was up at dawn ready to begin her new, thin life.

I stumbled downstairs a few hours later and before she said "good morning" she said "how many ounces in a gram?" Math has never been one of her strong points. So, we went through the conversion process of how many grams in an ounce. Then she quickly examined all of the new products she bought to see how much was a "serving".

She explained all of the wonderful things she could eat and how full she felt after breakfast which strictly followed the instructions in the book. "In fact, I could barely get my vitamins down I was so full." "Amazing," I said. "Yes, it's right here.... Oh, wait, this is for two people! All of these recipies are for two people!"

"Well, I guess I won't have to eat breakfast this morning," I said.

The Sun - No, Yes, Maybe


Is CO2 or the sun driving climate variations over the centuries and the recent decades?

The answers are: no, yes, not sure... in that order... well, actually, those aren't the answers because that was an "or" question... gotcha. But read on anyway.

Don't Blame Sun for Global Warming, Study Says
Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
September 13, 2006
Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says (crazy Russian)
Kate Ravilious
for National Geographic News
February 28, 2007
Sun's Direct Role in Global Warming May Be Underestimated, Duke Physicists Report (Blue Devils... what's that about?)
Study does not discount the suspected contributions of 'greenhouse gases' in elevating surface temperatures
Friday, September 30, 2005
I think I'm inclined to go with the last choice for now. Here's why.

Additionally, here is an article regarding a study done in 2000 that disputes solar sunspot cycle influence on earth's climate. (Author) For those who will object, the George C. Marshall Institute does get grants from Exxon.

"Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems."

Okay, I'm going to presume you didn't click on any of the links above. But you have to click on this one. It shows what happens when you hear all of the words about global warming, but fail to engage your brain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Housing Market Zapped


From The Detroit News and from latest price changes by market.

See this post from March 5. And this from December 18.

6 Women 6 Kids


From LaShawn Barber; no comment needed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle


If you believe you have an open mind, take 75 minutes and watch this video... it may open your eyes. Take special note of what Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, has to say.

From Mangan's Blog: (and many other sources)

The Great Global Warming Swindle, a superb video, not dumbed-down, on the current faddish nonsense of man-made global warming. Oddly enough, the video pinpoints the political origin of the global warming movement with Margaret Thatcher. She wanted to promote nuclear power, and since nuclear doesn't emit CO2, she pushed science which emphasized the CO2's downside. If not already convinced of the idiocy of global warming, as well as the political agenda of its promoters, this film will do the job.

As previously noted, the global warming fad is finished.
My reaction: some anger and more convinced than ever that politics and science should never mix... can never mix... without the subversion of the latter.


Professor Wunsch has now come out and said that he was misquoted and his statement is quoted at

Interestingly, Dr. Lubos Motl of Harvard predicted this two days ago:
Update 3/10/2007
The video is available via:

* Google Video (copy),
* Bit Torrent (high quality, copies: XviD, AVI)
* YouTube (eight 10-minute-long segments)

The documentary is much better than I expected. The director, Martin Durkin, is a "right-wing Marxist" whose main motivation is to allow the third world to get richer. Well, I certainly agree that they have the right. There are some funny moments - for example Margaret Thatcher is painted as the ultimate mother of man-made global warming ;-) because of her complex strategy to promote nuclear energy but there seems to be a lot of good science in the documentary, too.

And there are some minor bugs - e.g. a wrong statement about the amount of CO2 produced by volcanoes. If you want to know which scientist is gonna complain that he has been misrepresented, it is Carl Wunsch. Well, just like in many similar cases, there are two Wunsches. One of them is a rational scientist who has contributed some of his technical knowledge to the documentary. The other Wunsch is controlled by his brainwashing movement and generates scientifically vacuous, alarmist, and unfriendly politicized misinterpretations of the documentary and his role in it on RealClimate.ORG.

If you kindly allow me to add one more minor criticism of Durkin's work, I also think that the self-confidence with which the solar / cosmic ray theory was promoted was a little bit too high. There are several high-profile skeptics I know - including myself - who have certain rather serious doubts about this theory.

The quality of tricks and dramatization is however very good - at least in the same league as Al Gore's movie.
Looks like the good professor from Harvard was correct.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nuclear Future


I have written many times that nuclear power is the only feasible alternative to fossil fuels... too many times to cite here so do the search above. Now from Europe as reported by way of Dr. John Ray:

That old planet sure seems to need a lot of saving

The role of nuclear power in Europe received an unexpected boost yesterday as EU leaders hailed a landmark climate change deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable fuels.

Environmentalists complained that an ambitious headline goal to cut Europe's CO emissions by a fifth by 2020 had been weakened by concessions to the main nuclear nations and the biggest polluters in Eastern Europe. Nonetheless, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, will use the agreement struck at the spring EU summit in Brussels to put pressure on world leaders to follow suit when she hosts the G8 meeting in June. China, India and Brazil will join that summit and, like the US, be challenged to accept the principle of binding CO cuts for the first time.

As well as agreeing in principle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, EU leaders pledged to ensure that 20 per cent of Europe's energy will come from renewable sources by 2020. The commitment of all 27 member nations is legally enforceable by the European Court of Justice.

Months of haggling will follow as diplomats argue over targets for individual countries. Each will contribute a different amount, and diplomats made clear that less would be expected of the heaviest-polluting former Communist countries. The Czechs and Slovaks had both complained that they had only just left decades of five-year plans behind them. In a sop to France and the Czech Republic, a country's nuclear power capability will be taken into account when calculating national commitments to renewable energy. France produces 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power stations and insisted that this "noncarbon" source of fuel should be taken into consideration. French diplomats believe this will lessen the EU demand for more renewable sources such as wave, wind and solar power.

Jacques Chirac, the outgoing French President, welcomed the deal as one of the top three achievements of the EU during his 12 years in the Elysee Palace. Tony Blair was also pleased with the concession towards the nuclear powers. The outcome will give a boost to his plans to rebuild Britain's ageing nuclear power stations which suffered a setback last month when the High Court ruled that the consultation process was seriously flawed. Mr Blair said: "There is then the 20 per cent target on renewable energy. In setting that, there will be permission to look at the energy mix that countries have . . . including nuclear technology, which obviously helps the UK as well."

Environmentalists were less enthusiastic. Friends of the Earth said the targets were timid. A spokesman said: "Heads of States gave a modest boost to the uptake of renewable energies, but agreed that the EU should aim low on cutting greenhouse gases, and failed again to agree any concrete commitment towards reducing Europe's appalling waste of energy."

Mr Blair and Mr Chirac were full of praise for the handling of the summit by Mrs Merkel, who faced strong opposition to her climate change ambitions from several nations, not least in eastern European countries such as Poland, which still rely heavily on fossil fuels. But she was determined to give herself the best possible leverage on members of the G8 to persuade them to follow suit and prepare a post-Kyoto global framework for cutting harmful emissions. President Chirac described the outcome as "one of the great moments of European history". He said: "It was not easy, but Mrs Merkel achieved it with lots of intelligence and brio."

Key to any new global deal will be the United States, where Congress refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol, but also China, India and Brazil, which were all excused Kyoto targets because they were classed as developing nations in the 1990s. The EU deal allows Mrs Merkel to challenge other global players to match the EU's commitment - with the extra pledge that Europe will go further and cut emissions by up to 30 per cent if others are prepared to follow suit.


Sometimes the obvious just takes time to be observed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Government Health Care - Update


UPDATE 3-12-07... Looks like Bo Dietl agrees with this based on his statements today on the Don Imus show.
Last week I wrote that the situation at Walter Reed army hospital was not necessarily an isolated instance with the problem of government provided, as opposed to funded, health care.

I know that it is dangerous making generalizations and I got a couple of comments from readers who defended the Veterans Administration system as one of the best in the U.S. My own experience of my father's involvement with the VA processes was one of frustration. The VA is simply not budgeted or designed to handle the mixture of minor to major or short term to long term care that those veterans seeking help require.

My experience was that the doctors and nurses were really trying to do the best they could, but they were as much trapped in the processes and bureaucracy as the patients. This is where generalizations can be dangerous. There are some fine facilities and great working alliances with university hospitals and medical schools. Once you are dangerously ill, you will receive attention as prompt and professional as any other medical system. The problem seems to be with any other condition.

Today, the Detroit News had an article on this subject that simply reinforces my perception.

Last week I wrote this and believe the VA should have this process:
I have argued on other discussion forums that the VA could be improved by providing eligible veterans with a "VA Health Card" that allowed them to seek treatment from any available hospital, clinic, or family doctor for minor or emergency needs. If longer term care is needed, the veteran would receive that at a VA facility if it is within a reasonable distance (to be defined) or continue receiving treatment locally.

This would accomplish two things:
  • Provide quicker care for the veteran while reducing the workload at the VA for short term care
  • Ensure the veteran receives long term care for chronic problems while focusing VA resources toward ensuring long term care is available.
The problem continues to be that VA health care is budget based rather than demand based. Private sector health care systems compete for patients by improving their systems to raise demand. They are limited by the constraints of insurance coverage and the requirement to provide emergency care for those without insurance. Bad systems eventually fail and get replaced by better ones.

With government-provided health care, you get what the government decides is appropriate in the manner it decides is appropriate.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Courts - Biological Father Isn't


From the Detroit News - March 6, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case of a Michigan man who has tried to sue to make a court declare him the biological father of an 8-year-old boy. The boy's birth certificate lists the Van Buren County man as his father.

The court, issuing its order without comment, declined to review a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court last year that barred Michael Barnes Jr. of Gobles from filing suit because the child was conceived when the mother was married to another man.

Under Michigan law, a husband is presumed to be the legal father if a baby is conceived during a marriage.

Barnes had lived with the child's mother, Kim Jeudevine of Kalamazoo, and helped raise the child for more than four years until 2003, when their relationship ended.

Barnes has sought the right to sue for a paternity determination, which he needs to seek custody and parental rights.

Is this unique or what? A Michigan law, probably written in the Victorian era, prevents a father from being a father. In an age when biological fathers skip out of their legal responsibilities for child support and involvement in their childrens' lives, here is the U.S. Supreme Court deciding that it doesn't want to hear from a father who wants to take the responsibility of being a father.

Remember this the next time you read about the courts granting rights for illegal immigrants and other fringe special interest groups. And we wonder what's going wrong with America.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

U.S. Extreme Temperatures Update


When I recently published some charts based on NOAA reported state temperature extremes by month, the data was only through May 2004. I went back to the NOAA site and looked at their monthly summaries for June 2004 - January 2007 for new record high temperatures (February 2007 was incomplete, but indicated one of the coldest Februarys on record for many areas of the U.S.). This was a bit tedious, but you are welcome to double check. Simply download the file from Climate Science and then go through the records shown at NOAA for the updated period with the state/month records listed on the file. Click on the "Temperature Database" tab at the bottom. These data do not yet reflect updates. [UPDATED FILE AVAILABLE ON RIGHT SIDE SPECIAL ANALYSES]
The only instance of a record high state temperature was one for South Dakota in July 2006 that tied a record previously set in July 1936. Based on the way the data was shown last time, 1936 would lose one record and 2006 would be credited with the record (thus the bias toward later years that I wrote about previously).

There were no state record high extremes for the remainder of 2004 or all of 2005. NOAA does report some city records, but no city records equalled or surpassed the existing state/month records within the updated timeframe.

Based on these data, 1936 would be reduced from 30 record highs to 29; 2006 would have 1.

The 1994 through 2006 record count would now look like this:
1994 - 9
1995 - 5
1996 - 4
1997 - 3
1998 - 19
1999 - 4
2000 - 17
2001 - 0
2002 - 1
2003 - 0
2004 - 0
2005 - 0
2006 - 1
Total for 13 years is 62.

Compare this to 1929 - 1941:
1929 - 7
1930 - 16
1931 - 8
1932 - 10
1933 - 6
1934 - 25
1935 - 1
1936 - 29
1937 - 2
1938 - 8
1939 - 12
1940 - 4
1941 - 8
The total for 13 years is 136.

This chart includes years with no records to show the 10-year moving average. Click on image for enlarged view.
Again, these are extreme temperatures for the state. NOAA has been summarizing the data with comments to emphasize how hot temperatures have been lately. Look at the NOAA link to see for yourself.

It is possible that the NOAA data is incomplete with regard to record high state temperatures for the updated period, but I doubt it.

Also see:
Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, W. Parton, J. Moeny, N. Doesken, L.
Schell, and K. Redmond, 2000: Spatial representativeness of temperature
measurements from a single site. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 81, 826-830.

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, L. Schell, W. Parton, N. Doesken, K.
Redmond, J. Moeny, T. McKee, and T.G.F. Kittel, 2002: Problems in
evaluating regional and local trends in temperature: An example from
eastern Colorado, USA. Int. J. Climatol., 22, 421-434.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Economics 1001


From Cafe Hayek:

March 07, 2007 Income and Health

Russell Roberts

Alert, alert. Do not miss this. Best thing I've seen in a long time. Three people told me about in the last two days. And I'm pretty sure someone else told me about it before that and I just missed it. Don't miss it.

So go here. It is a spectacular presentation on how international measures of life expectancy and other measures of health are getting better over time and the relationship to income. It's also has some spectacular examples of how averages can be misleading. But equally compelling is the way the data are presented. This is so cool.

When you're done, more info here.

HT: Avi Hoffman, Ville (in the comments at EconTalk on the Easterbrook podcast) and Ben Parizek.

Dr. Roberts is correct. This is a spectacular presentation. If my econ classes were like this, I'd have majored in that subject.

Denial Thinking


Dr. John Ray from Australia always has articles of interest. Today, he shows an interesting correlation between solar activity and temperature change over the past 1,000 years.

Dr. Lubos Motl, physicist from Harvard, mixes the esoteric with the eclectic. Yesterday, he noted a unique program that will be aired on British television this Thursday. Perhaps someone knows if or when it will be aired in the U.S.

Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., from the University of Colorado, has numerous insights about climate change that you will not see in your local newspaper. Today, Dr. Hendrik Tennekes is a guest columnist who is writing a series about climate science from and engineering viewpoint. Dr. Tennekes happens to have degrees in both disciplines. Part 1 and Part 2. A little whimsical and a lot informative.

Meanwhile, a new 3" coating of snow and a continuation of a month or so below "normal" temperatures. But I have faith; local warming will occur.

Wind: NE at 5 mph
Humidity: 84%
Chance of Snow Showers
28° | 14°

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Government Health Care


The present public airing of conditions at Walter Reed army hospital had come as a stunning revelation to many in the U.S. But it probably comes as no surprise to many Brits or Canadians who deal with the universal health care systems there.

I'm not going to go into an argument about whether privately or publicly sponsored health care is better. My own opinion is that neither approach is perfect. The record of privately funded health care has been pretty good for those who can afford it. The record of publicly funded health care has been pretty good for those who can't afford private health insurance... it's a whole lot better than nothing.

The question of whether publicly provided health care is preferable to privately provided health care is somewhat different. This is not a question of where the funding is coming from, but how the health care is delivered.

The issues at Walter Reed remind me of the experiences of my WWII veteran father who received health care through the VA. Remember, soldiers who come out of the military hospital system may be eligible for VA care. Here were my observations:

  • He would not have lived as long as he did without the treatment he received through the VA. He could never have afforded the insurance or the cost of treatments he received during his last decade. All other points after this must be tempered by this reality.
  • He often had to travel over 100 miles to get treatment when he became ill.
  • He often had to wait in long "sign in" lines before he waited in lines to be seen by the doctor; a minor re-check could take all day.
  • Some of the treatment he received was sub-standard. This a a pretty serious charge, but the VA doctors at a nearby Michigan facility were stunned that, after surgery, the Minnesota doctors did not perform the appropriate follow-up treatment which ultimately led to his death. [Would he have died without the surgery; yes. Would he have lived with the appropriate follow-up; perhaps. Was the fact that he was mis-diagnosed delaying the surgery by 6 months a factor; definitely.]
Now anecdotal "evidence" is not data; perhaps it is datum. But it certainly was etched into my mind that "there had to be a better way."

One of the more successful publicly funded health care systems is Medicare. Sure, there are those who say it only works well with supplementation. But it does work.

I have argued on other discussion forums that the VA could be improved by providing eligible veterans with a "VA Health Card" that allowed them to seek treatment from any available hospital, clinic, or family doctor for minor or emergency needs. If longer term care is needed, the veteran would receive that at a VA facility if it is within a reasonable distance (to be defined) or continue receiving treatment locally.

This would accomplish two things:
  • Provide quicker care for the veteran while reducing the workload at the VA for short term care
  • Ensure the veteran receives long term care for chronic problems while focusing VA resources toward ensuring long term care is available.
This certainly doesn't solve the problem for Walter Reed. That's just an administrative mess caused by the normal "processes must come first" mentality of the government at any level and for any mission. But combining the issues of Walter Reed with the anecdotal experience at the VA convinces me that government funding of health care may work, but providing the actual treatment often leaves much to be desired.

So, the next issues are:
  • How would the government fund its role of a super-insurance agency (massive new taxes)?
  • Would it be an expanded medicare program or a whole new agency with new costs?
  • How would eligibility be determined and monitored (come one, come all or restricted to U.S. citizens meeting specific, provable criteria)?
  • How would it affect the way health care is delivered (would it create an administrative nightmare and reduce the system to something like the British or Canadian's)?
If we have learned anything from Walter Reed and the VA, it should be that the government may be well-intentioned, but it puts administration and rules ahead of the mission too often.

Is that what we want?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Federal Reserve Should Hike Interest Rates


A quick look at the economy:

  • Housing markets tanking; home prices falling
  • Industrial output down for past 6 months
  • Foreclosures rising
  • Many businesses closing major facilities
  • Thousands of factory and white collar employees "separating"
  • Overall savings declining as a result of income not matching expenditures
  • Stock markets are falling
What should the Federal Reserve do? Oh, wait, I forgot. Gasoline prices are going back up. Well, that means inflation.

Okay, Ben Bernanke has been patient with us long enough. If we are going to continue buying gasoline when prices go up just because we have to drive to work, then it is time for Ben to save us from ourselves and raise interest rates once again. We need a good old fashioned recession to show us how to live properly.

What the Fed said: The Committee judges that some inflation risks remain. The extent and timing of any additional firming that may be needed to address these risks will depend on the evolution of the outlook for both inflation and economic growth, as implied by incoming information.

Translation: The inflation rate could rise. That's definitely a possibility, although it's not a sure thing. If the Fed eventually needs to raise rates again to fight inflation, it will do so only after being convinced by the economic data.

Well, what more does Ben want? It's time for action!

Missed Opportunities - Misgivings


Climate Science has a post regarding issues with the IPCC report. In that post is a link to:

A new contribution to the website Scitizen was posted on February 19, 2007. The title is “Missed Opportunity By The IPCC”
A second link in that post is
"from the 2005 NRC Report “Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties” to illustrate the failing of the IPCC Report to accurately represent the perspective of views on the human forcing of the climate system."
An interesting graphic from the executive summary:

Figure ES-2 shows the magnitude of several important forcings as estimated in the most recent synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2001). The largest positive forcing (warming) in Figure ES-2 is from the increase of well-mixed greenhouse gases (CO2, nitrous oxide [N2O], methane [CH4], and chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs]) and amounted to 2.4 W m−2 (watts per square meter) between the years 1750 and 2000. Of the forcings shown in the figure, the radiative impact of aerosols is the greatest uncertainty.

(note the x axis)

FIGURE ES-2 Estimated radiative forcing since preindustrial times for the Earth and troposphere system (TOA radiative forcing with adjusted stratospheric temperatures). The height of the rectangular bar denotes a central or best estimate of the forcing, while each vertical line is an estimate of the uncertainty range associated with the forcing, guided by the spread in the published record and physical understanding, and with no statistical connotation. Each forcing agent is associated with a level of scientific understanding, which is based on an assessment of the nature of assumptions involved, the uncertainties prevailing about the processes that govern the forcing, and the resulting confidence in the numerical values of the estimate. On the vertical axis, the direction of expected surface temperature change due to each radiative forcing is indicated by the labels “warming” and “cooling.” SOURCE: IPCC (2001).

This information is all from the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

So, what is the purpose of showing this chart from the IPCC? Perhaps to point out that the models used to verify the equation that "greater CO2 equals greater global warming" have fairly high levels of uncertainty based on very low level of scientific understanding of how climate is impacted by several important factors.

Interestingly, one of those factors associated with a low level of scientific understanding is aerosols... you know, the stuff we are pumping into the air along with the CO2. Why do those have a negative impact roughly the same as CO2's positive impact? Or do they, since the scientific level of understanding is very low? Well, let's call it an educated guess based on a very low level of understanding. Oooops.
I plowed through the source report... "Radiative forcings..." one evening and it is not the kind of document that will be read by Sen. Levin or any other politician. But it is the kind of information that should be discussed before we start intentionally tinkering with our atmosphere after years of unintentionally altering it... especially at the cost of billions of dollars. So, just click on the link near the top of this post and start reading. Give yourself at least 1/2 day for the first read-through. Then go back through the parts that gave you the headache the first time.
Now about that super-volcano at Yellowstone National Park that is about to annihilate us... nah, too much to think about. (For those who think annihilate and decimate mean the same thing, look them up... I prefer decimation given the two bad choices). The global warming issues don't approach either of those levels... anywhere near those levels... even worst case.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sen. Carl Levin - Communication and Response


About 2 weeks ago, I sent a letter and attachments along with a CD to Sen. Carl Levin of my home state, Michigan.

Sen. Levin Global Warming Issues.pdf

I received this form letter which pretty much shows that neither the senator nor the staff read the material I sent... big surprise!

Dear Mr. Hall:

Thank you for contacting me regarding global warming. I am glad you shared your concerns with me.

There is a consensus among scientists that global warming is occurring, that human activity is causing it, and that we need to act now for the sake of future generations. However, there has been no consensus in the United States about what we should do to stop global warming.

In February 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is made up of hundreds of scientists from over 100 countries, including the U.S., released a report which predicts that if we do not make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth's average temperature would very likely increase between 3.2 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels would likely rise between 7 and 23 inches during this century.

Climate change is a global problem, and it requires a global solution. The most important action that would tackle global warming is to create an effective and enforceable international treaty that binds all nations to reduce greenhouse gases, including developing countries such as China and India. Although the U.S. is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China and India are polluting more and more each year. China, for example, is opening up a new coal-fired power plant every 7 to 10 days. By 2014, China will be emitting more greenhouse gas emissions than the United States. Without actions to limit greenhouse gases worldwide, nothing we do in the United States will really matter. One way to enforce such a treaty would be to allow countries to reject products from other countries that are not on board with greenhouse gas emissions reduction limits. We should also insist that international development agencies the U.S. helps to fund, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the USAID, not support countries that violate international agreements in global warming.

Proposals that mandate greenhouse gas emission limits in the U.S. alone would create an incentive for U.S. businesses to move their facilities, and the jobs that go with them, to other countries that do not have costly environmental standards. The United States must take a leadership role in addressing climate change, but our actions need to move us in the right direction by addressing all sectors of the economy, not by simply shifting industries, jobs, and emissions to another part of the world. By working with industry leaders to achieve new technology breakthroughs, we will help create jobs and spur our economy as well. With significant investments in research and development, public-private partnerships and incentives for manufacturers to invest in new technologies, we can make great technological leaps in hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles and dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions not only here, but around the world.

It is critical that we take steps equal to the environmental challenge at hand and that do not needlessly hurt the economy. This type of global, comprehensive approach is the way to address this very real problem of global warming.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Carl Levin
Well, Sen. Levin, I guess that means we will be insisting that the Chinese build nuclear-powered electricity-generating plants. And will we be doing the same to replace the 50%+ of our electricity generated by coal?

It's amazing how quickly government can turn the opinions of some scientists into billions of dollars of costs for all of us... without considering what other scientists are saying. Still, at least he is saying that the whole world needs to be involved... whether anyone really needs to or not.

The real problem is the word "consensus". There may be a consensus among marketing managers or art critics or politicians... somewhat of an agreement... but I like to think that scientists should "agree" ... not somewhat agree. That" somewhat" part is just a little too loose for scientific accuracy.

Scientific fact is not based on democratic principles. Prove it or lose it.

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Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

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)