Thursday, May 31, 2007

Personal Injury Lawyers


Well, here's a twist on an old story.

DENVER - The tuberculosis patient under the first federal quarantine since 1963 is a 31-year-old personal injury attorney who practices law with his father in Atlanta, a federal law enforcement official said Thursday....

Health officials in North America and Europe are now trying to track down about 80 passengers who sat near him on the two trans-Atlantic flights, and they want passenger lists from four shorter flights he took while in Europe. Patients on the shorter flights are not expected to be as much at risk, health officials said.
Do you suppose they will be contacting another personal injury attorney?

Tab Turner, the attorney who has pursued Ford and Firestone for several years in rollover lawsuits and will present the customers' case next week, said that, if successful, the customers could seek the more than $2 billion in profits they estimate Ford earned from sales of the Explorer in California....

Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said the attorneys for the Explorer consumers could not prove any safety defects with the Explorer. Ford also has assembled data showing the resale values of Explorers closely follows the values of similar SUVs, with no noticeable changes following the August 2000 recall notice.

"The California class action has nothing to do with safety because not a single member of the class has been hurt in any way," she said. "This case is driven by lawyers trying to line their pockets at the expense of the truth and in disregard for the safety of consumers."

Are these examples of litigators gone amok... in oddly divergent ways?


Walk and Use One Sheet of Toilet Paper


Yesterday, Dr. Don Boudreaux posted in Cafe Hayek his take on the environmental movement that says "no" and "no."

When the personal material cost, at the time of individual action, of expressing one's fantasies is near-zero, very little exists to check the expression of those fantasies.
Yesterday, I posted about California's attempt to force automobile makers to produce vehicles that average 43 mpg in 8 years, when the most popular very small vehicles don't achieve that now (the Prius had efficiency claims that were grossly overstated and recently knocked down by the EPA).

This is from the same state that restricts electric power plant development, thereby creating an obstacle to the spread of "plug and play" cars.
When the state's material cost, at the time of legislative action, of expressing its fantasies is near-zero, very little exists to check the expression of those fantasies.
California is quick to create obstacles for industries not located within its boundaries. Perhaps it is time for a Federal "social tax" on California's use of illegal immigrants in its industries... how about $1 per pound tax on California's agricultural products? We can get the stuff cheaper from Brazil anyway so it will only impact California growers. And any tax collected can be applied to offsetting the Federal cost associated with illegal immigration which is centered in California.
When the nation's material cost, at the time of legislative action, of expressing its fantasies is near-zero, very little exists to check the expression of those fantasies.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Energy Wise?


A couple of energy-related items caught my eye today. Somehow, I don't see the answers here.

Fuel economy debate heats up

Automakers call claims misleading

May 30, 2007



WASHINGTON -- In an escalation of a war of words, automakers accused California regulators on Tuesday of misleading federal officials and the public about the costs and benefits of California's proposed 30% cut in global warming emissions from cars and trucks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to grant California's request for a waiver allowing its rules, which would force automakers to improve the mileage of their vehicles to roughly 43 m.p.g. by 2016 [8 MODEL YEARS]. The waiver also would apply to 11 other states that have adopted California's standards; another seven states are debating them.
None of these cars actually average 43 mpg:
40 - 49 mpg [highway] cars [source]

2006 Volkswagen Golf

Fuel Economy City:38 / Hwy:46
Engine(s): 100hp 1.9 L I4

2007 Toyota Corolla

Fuel Economy City:32 / Hwy:41
Engine(s): 126hp 1.8 L I4

2007 Toyota Yaris

Fuel Economy City:34 / Hwy:40
Engine(s): 106hp 1.5 L I4

2007 MINI Cooper

Fuel Economy City:32 / Hwy:40
Engine(s): 118hp 1.6 L I4

2007 Honda Civic

Fuel Economy City:30 / Hwy:40
Engine(s): 140hp 1.8 L I4
I guess we will have to be driving even smaller cars....

Cheaper form of ethanol on the way

MSU prof predicts viable fuel choice

May 30, 2007



Ethanol could become a more practical fuel for Americans who would like to slow the pace of global warming and their dependence on foreign oil, if one Michigan State University professor's predictions about ethanol production are accurate.

MSU professor Bruce Dale says the cost of so-called cellulosic ethanol -- a form of ethanol produced from nonfood plant materials -- could be cut in half, to about $1.30 per gallon by 2012, and fall below $1 per gallon by 2020. Dale said it costs about $2.20 per gallon to produce gasoline at current oil prices.

"By 2020 we will be producing tens of billions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year for much less than $1 per gallon," said Dale, who has been working for more than 30 years on ways to turn plant cellulose into ethanol for fuel. There would still be a markup at the pump, but he says the lower production cost could make ethanol not only a viable alternative to gasoline, but a less-expensive alternative, even on a per-mile basis.
Let's see... Texas alone uses 250 million barrels of gasoline per year. What's the likelihood that we can produce even close to a billion barrels of cellulosic ethanol? Eh, slim?


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Immigration Issues


One cannot generalize about the experience of immigrants. Much depends on their country of origin, their education levels, and their personal resources. As long as immigrants "melted in" to the general population, they have been accepted.

The U.S. and Europe have been faced with a new kind of immigrant: one who has less interest in adapting to their new country than adapting their new country to them.
In the U.S., the greatest problem has been with illegal immigrants from Mexico who have numerous built-in obstacles to "melting in," not the least of which is the constant threat of deportation. A second, and much smaller group, has been the Middle Eastern/Muslim groups who have, in some fashion, attempted to "fit it" without necessarily an inclination to "melt in." Presently, the second group has created only isolated instances of cultural dissonance in the U.S.

Europe has a far greater problem with immigrants who are primarily Muslims from many different countries. With smaller and homogeneous European populations, the Muslim immigrants are being perceived as a threat to the culture and the safety of many European nations.
Muslims have chosen to escalate the rhetoric of confrontation with their host countries, many of which have bent over backwards to accommodate the "special needs" of the Muslims.
The series of "European Backlash" posts that I have written and plan to write is projecting the nature of the conflict between the European and Muslim cultures and the likely outcomes... and giving specific examples as they occur. I maintain that by 2010, there will be no doubt about the nature and extent of the cultural conflict in Europe... and the outcome... in even the most accommodating mind.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., "persons of illegal entry" have become more embolden and participated in marches and demonstrations. Many state and local governments have bent over backwards to accommodate the "special needs" of these "persons of illegal entry."
Don't be surprise to see a similar development in the U.S. unless the government gets the situation under control and "invites" the "persons of illegal entry" to leave.


Monday, May 28, 2007

European Backlash - Step 3


[from Immigration Watch]

New French President Nicolas Sarkozy made immigration a central issue of his campaign. Now, his new minister for immigration and national identity says its time to start paying immigrants to leave the country. France is home to over 5 million immigrants — and the new conservative-led government doesn’t plan on making things any more comfortable for them. While the new regime in Paris is determined to curb illegal immigration, it is also looking to encourage legal migrants to reconsider their decision to stay in France — by paying them to go back home.

New immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, confirmed on Wednesday that the government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. “We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that,” Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio. Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of €6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.

I predicted that Nicholas Sarkozy would win the French election based on what I perceived to be a growing discontent among the "indigenous" population with their new, radical Muslim neighbors. That prediction was really too easy.

I have also pointed out that this discontent is growing in other European countries and that we could expect to see actions to "correct" this situation... anti-Muslim actions; another "easy prediction." What is quoted above is the "1st volley" of these actions. Expect to see similar programs in other countries as the implacable clash of cultures creates a dangerous political environment.

The "civilized" incentives to leave come first.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day - Remembering


War is the most violent of human activities. There will always be those who believe that all war is unjustified and should be handled by "discussions." There are those who believe that war is always justified whenever they perceive a threat to our nation. There are those who will refuse to participate in a war for whatever reason. We tend to forget all of them.

And there are those who will answer the call of duty. This weekend, we remember them.

Each of these wars was unpopular with some section of our citizens. I'm not going to debate the merits or lack thereof for each war. Rather, I am showing a very few of the heroes that answered the call of duty and had an impact on our history. You can read a brief background on each on by clicking on the links below the pictures.

Revolutionary War Hero - Casimir Pulaski

Read about him

1812 War Hero - Winfield Scott

Read about him

Civil War Hero - Frank Haskell

Read about him

WWI Hero - Eddie Rickenbacker

Read about him

WWII Hero - John Basilone

Read about him

Korean War Hero - Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura

Read about him

Vietnam War Hero - Franklin Miller

Read about him

Now we have the "Gulf War" and the "War in Iraq" Someday, we will sort out the politics and recognize the young people who were the heroes of those conflicts. Someday, they will be remembered as those above have been.

Someday, they will be acknowledged as those below.

Picture by Harry Doerr

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Perception of Global Warming


Recently there have been some interesting articles that don't question the idea that global warming could be occurring as much as whether the evidence is really there.

For example: Global Warming Down Under highlighted a study of 4 decades of temperature records in South America (when global warming was supposed to be accelerating) and concluded that what was occurring were fewer cold nights as opposed to higher maximum temperatures. The study concluded that there was a connection between changes in ocean temperatures near South America and overnight temperatures, but the continent did not appear to be overheating.

Also: Bad Paint = High Temperature Readings pointed to inconsistencies in the the condition of weather stations over time that can lead to higher recorded temperatures in some cases.

Another change that affects perception of higher temperatures is the urban island heat sink effect. Cities of brick and mortar and concrete and asphalt have the ability to retain heat as well as creating conditions favorable to more heat... such as generating its own heat from human activities. As these urban islands encroach upon weather stations that were previously surrounded by thinly populated areas or rural areas, the new conditions make it likely that higher average temperatures will be recorded... and that fewer cold records will be set in those areas.

When one looks at the South American study cited above and the history of record high and low U.S. temperatures by state (which is in the downloadable Excel file in the right margin), you begin to see a pattern ... at least in the western hemisphere: warmer nights and no increase in the frequency of high temperature records. Dr. Tim Patterson also looked at records from eastern Canada and found that average temperatures were increasing only in the expanding urban areas and were virtually unchanged in the rural/wilderness areas.

So, you draw your own conclusions from the information above. Just remember that the world's human population has been growing significantly and that more people are living in cities and less people are living in agricultural areas... and more weather stations are "living" in those urban areas.
My conclusion is that our perception of 0.6º C increase in average global temperature over the course of a century is based on curiously inconsistent recording methodologies and biasing conditions that would make the slight change more ethereal than real. Sure, there have been cold periods and warm periods within that century or so... that's the way weather and climate vary over time.

Nevertheless, I'm sure that huge numbers of people are now conditioned by politicians and newspapers and television to see every hot day as evidence of global warming and ignore every very cold day as just a weather anomaly. Yesterday, the temperature was near 90º F and I very much enjoyed a round of golf. Exactly one week prior to that, our same golfing group went out with the temperatures in the 40s and the winds whipping mist around between 20 - 30 mph. We quit after 9 holes; it was miserable.

The average high temperature around here is about 70º F this time of the year. Those two golfing days averaged out to about the average normal high temperature. But the talk today will be how hot it was yesterday; not how cold it was the week prior. We are now cooling back toward "normal" while everyone waits anxiously for the next "record" high temperatures as evidence that our doom is nigh.

Perception distorted by environmentalist polemic.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Google Analytics Beta - 2nd Look


I keep trying to force myself to use the new "beta" version of Google Analytics (website metrics), but I keep concluding that Google has taken a good system, added some bells and whistles, and then taken out some really important features. Kinds of like taking a sports car and adding a convertible top, GPS, full media center, performance tires... and cutting the horsepower.

I have a business website as well as this blog. So when "beta" arrived, I looked forward to the expanded capabilities. I must admit, some features are nice. But here's what is wrong in a nutshell:

I want to know what interests people who visit the websites. I don't just want a count of visits by article or page. I want to know who is interested in what. I want to know if there is a difference of interests by geography. I want to know if a referring source is sending readers for a particular post or for a general topic.

The new "beta" doesn't do that at all from what I can see. The old version had some "crosstabs" capability with regard to content and I thought that would be expanded rather than eliminated.

Here, let me spell it out: cross-reference title, network, location, domain, date, source. A simple database capability... and all of the data is there.
What a disappointment!


Different Perspectives About Immigration


Martin Kelly in Scotland returned to the blogging world after a brief respite. His focus has been about the disruptive influence of immigration in Europe. I have also written about the disruptive influence of immigration in the U.S.

What is at issue is not the concept of immigration, but how it is executed. Immigration in the U.S., until recently, was seen as a positive force... an infusion of new blood and new thought... new energy joining ours to continue the ideals upon which this nation was founded... new individuals wanting to be members of our community.

Historically, immigrants had to either be sponsored or be seeking asylum from oppressive regimes. Today, there are millions who apparently believe that their desire to relocate to the U.S. is reason enough for entry. They could be the kind of people that want to join our community and that we would normally welcome... or they could be criminals or unskilled or uneducated or sociopaths or disruptive for any number of reason... and we would have to have a pretty damn good reason to invite them in.

But now it seems that politics and greed have turned a blind eye to the disruption that unbridled immigration can have on our communities and processes.

Democrats see voter gold in them thar illegals. Republicans see really cheap labor. Communities see social support systems and resources strained into disrepair. When politicans from both sides try to push something that voters from both sides find onerous, you can bet that the s*** will hit the fan.


Most Muslims Don't Support Suicide Bombers


You've all read it and heard about it: most Muslims don't condone blowing us up with suicide bombers.... Whew! I thought we had a problem. Only 25% of those in the age group who would most likely be such bombers support the idea. Only one in four. Count it off. 1... 2... 3... boom!

Welcome to our communities!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Welcome Back Martin Kelly

We hope it is for a long time.


Blaming Industry For Stupid Political Decisions


With all of the concern about global warming and using fossil fuels for transportation and power generation, it seems that the fingers are now pointing toward "big business" again as the evil manipulators of the marketplace who are taking advantage of world energy needs by "gouging" us at the pump and creating brownouts.

Well, before the Nancy Pelosis of the world get on their soap boxes, maybe they ought to recall who has been obstructing oil exploration in the U.S., who has been preventing new refineries from being built, and who has been denying permission for new nuclear power plants.

I've written many times about France being right about their energy policy and how the U.S. has been short-sighted and driven by special interest anti-development groups (search blog for France and Nuclear Power). Yesterday, Econobrower ran a post titled "Gasoline prices surge: Thinking about Some Causes." It concluded that:

One bit of policy analysis. The Washington Post article quotes the assertion that the wide spreads are due to policy inaction over the past six years. There is indeed a temptation to ascribe the wide spreads to cartelization, or opportunistic shutdowns of refineries (and I won't rule either of those out -- remember Enron and California in '00-'01...). However, high spreads are also consistent with the view that there is no coordinated reduction of supply and the view that if conservation had been encouraged over the past six years (instead of tax breaks for SUVs), the spread would be smaller. That's because theory predicts that the greater and more inelastic the demand, the greater the resulting price-cost margin.
I went somewhat ballistic over that. First of all, the past six year is the period when cancer has spread to the brain. 3 or 4 decades ago, the cancer began with government acquiescing to anti-oil, anti-nuclear power activists and effectively causing the energy crisis we are facing today. I commented in Econobrowser:

While I agree that government incentives to business in the form of tax breaks for GT 6000 lb. GVW vehicles may have increased some purchases of larger vehicles, I would guess that is relatively unimportant in the imbalance equation.

My "ranting" [previous comment] was purposeful: to point out that whether the meddling was from the government or special interest groups, the effect was the same... reduced domestic oil exploration and refinery capacity. This is exactly the same problem we are facing with regard to generating electricity over the next 2 decades.

Had the "marketplace" been allowed to run its course, the U.S. would have been more likely to find itself in France's position of electric power surplus which could have been used to provide cheap "fuel" for hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile the oil industry would have responded with more wells and refinery capacity to respond to that competitive challenge. We would not be facing activist-induced "price gouging" which is nothing more that the medicine we get for making stupid decisions in the past.

Regardless, with greater oil and electricity capacity, our present options would be much greater. We wouldn't have to ruin the corn market with subsidies to produce ethanol which is only 75% as fuel effective per gallon as gasoline. We would have the electricity capacity to have a massive push toward hydrogen "powered" cars (hydrogen really being a storage medium that requires large amounts of electricity to produce).

You are correct that stupid incentives to buy SUVs when they were not legitimately needed for business contributed to the gasoline shortfall... but that is not the underlying cause of the situation.


Energy Note From Europe


Unlike France, Great Britain muddled along like most of Europe and the U.S. and did not plan for its energy future... or created internal roadblocks for it (see next post).

This from Benny Peiser in the UK:

Flicking a switch and the lights coming on is something that we take for granted. Yet we should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The assumptions we make about where our energy comes from, and how we use it, simply will not hold true in the future unless we plan for it.
We are already seeing how the way we produce and use energy is affecting the environment, with carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels raising temperatures around the globe. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are 35 per cent higher than before the Industrial Revolution and growing by the year. The Stern report showed that without concerted global action the impact of climate change will be equivalent to a loss in world GDP of at least 5 per cent each year, and potentially as much as 20 per cent.

We also face a serious challenge in securing our energy supplies. Britain goes from being 80 per cent self-sufficient to having to import almost all our gas and more than half of our oil by 2020. Increasingly we will be required to look at importing energy from less stable parts of the world, and will be much more exposed to the international energy markets at precisely the same time that emerging economies, such as China and India, are increasing their energy consumption.

As if that were not enough, we are now faced with countries such as Russia, who are prepared to use their energy resources as an instrument of policy. Over ten years I have watched energy policy go from being a relatively quiet backwater to something taking on a strategic importance that could be as crucial to our country’s future as defence.

We need a policy that conforms to the rising concern about climate change and gives Britain the secure, safe and politically acceptable supplies of energy that our livelihood demands. Energy policy is creating new strategic alliances, and new tensions, in international relations. On top of all of this, we face these challenges at a time when the UK needs to replace a third of our ageing electricity generation capacity in the next 20 years.


Act, react, plan... how a plan doesn't come together.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Educating Boys - They Could Have Asked A Man


Plymouth Canton Schools (Michigan) are experimenting with a "new" approach to education: teaching boys without boring them to death
A 2006 Vanderbilt University study found girls had an advantage over boys when tests and tasks were timed, something that's common in classrooms. The study showed boys fared better when studying interesting or challenging material in smaller chunks, and without hard and fast time limits.

In addition, female teachers outnumber male teachers about 3 to 1, according to the Michigan Education Association. The ratio is roughly the same in Plymouth Canton's secondary schools. And women, with the best of intentions, teach classes in ways that are compatible with their learning styles, Strean said.

The result? "School might not be as friendly a place for boys," Strean said.

Well, a couple of January 2006 posts at this site told the same thing and didn't cost a dime.
You're welcome.

I wondered how long it would take for a school district to figure out the obvious.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Michigan Going Broke


Recently, I wrote how some states were benefitting from higher gasoline prices because they had both a base tax and a variable (sales) tax per gallon sold.

There has been a lot of news about Nancy Pelosi wanting to take action against oil companies for gouging consumers now that gasoline is $3.49 per gallon in California. Well, it turns out that Pelosi's California and Granholm's Michigan are both gouging consumers pretty well.

Let's look at gasoline prices in Michigan over the past 6 months:

... and California which really has no higher prices, but a similar increase...


Given the increase of more than a dollar per gallon in the past 6 months, I'd have to say that the states of Michigan and California were doing quite well in the revenue department...

and that it was the consumers who were "going broke." The State of Michigan just saw a 7-cents per gallon increase in tax revenues in about 3 months... an annualized rate increase of almost 30 cents. Wow, I'd like to be in that business.

There is absolutely no doubt that the oil companies are enjoying record profits as prices are being "pumped" up. There is absolutely no doubt that the politicians who are shouting the loudest about "gouging" and the "budget crisis" are the ones benefitting the most...

they get the tax revenue and the bullypulpit. The rest of us have to listen to their nonsense and pay for it, too.

By the way, just so you know that the increases are not cost related ... here is the price of gasoline in Michigan related to the price of crude oil.

Michigan energy consumption notes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Allergy Time


After a long cold February to April where winter wouldn't end, May has been one of those hot and cold months in Michigan with plenty of rain. As a result, everything is blooming at once... and my eyes are constantly watery. I also seem to have more aches than usual, but I'll attribute that to trying to catch up with both yard work and my shaky golf game.

If you don't have allergies, you are quite fortunate. My wife can't go near a cat. Grass pollen and dust really bother me... so much so that I got a rider mower years ago. The other day, as I'm cutting the lawn, a cloud of grass cuttings whipped up by the wind blew around me. I was making a turn along our property line when that happened and the grass dust caused me to sneeze. That caused me to jerk the wheel to one side. That caused the mower to head toward a sprinkler head on my neighbors in-ground system. By the time I was able to stop, the sprinkler head was becoming part of the grass clippings.

Fortunately, my neighbor was amused by the incident. Naturally, I called the sprinkler dealer and have arranged for the repair.

Damn allergies.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Global Warming Down Under


When we talk about "down under" with regard to geography, we normally refer to Australia. Today, I am writing about the other "down under": South America.

Most of the focus of global warming studies have been elsewhere in the world. South America tends to be overlooked as that quaint continent where there is a lot of beef (Argentina), sugar cane (Brazil), oil (Venezuela), cocaine and coffee (Columbia) and the great Amazon rain forest. Political revolutions come and go while economies struggle and the rest of the world ignores this isolated piece of real estate.

I was curious about how global warming might be perceived in South America. Sure, we read about the Amazon rain forest and droughts, but we've also learned that the very act of clearing those forests reduces the rainfall associated with them. But what about those high temperature extremes that are supposed to occur with greater frequency. You know, the heat waves predicted by the IPCC. Are they roasting the coffee in South America?

This study

This study presents an examination of the trends in
indices of daily temperature extremes for South
America during 1960–2000. Data quality and homogeneity
assessments are crucial before trends in climate
indices are computed. Erroneous outlier values and artificial
steps due to changes in instrument exposure will
affect the trends in temperature extremes. [see this] In addition,
it is essential to use a consistent methodology to define
and calculate the climate extremes for a better comparison
across regions.

The results show that temperature extremes are
changing in South America. The findings reveal no consistent
changes in the indices based on daily maximum
temperature. However, significant trends were observed
in the indices based on daily minimum temperatures.
The coldest night of the year is getting warmer
and there are more tropical nights. The percentage of
cold nights is decreasing while the percentage of warm
nights is increasing, and these changes are more pronounced
during the summer (DJF) and fall (MAM).

The nighttime warming corresponds to a significant decrease
in the diurnal temperature range over the continent.
Since the stations with significant trends appear to be
located closer to the west and east coasts of South
America, future work could involve an analysis of the
correlation between the sea surface temperature and
the land temperature extremes. [see this] In addition, since
ENSO events seem to have considerable impact on the
surface temperature in the southern part of the continent
(Barros et al. 2002), further work could examine
the relation between the circulation pattern and the
land surface temperature and extremes over the entire
South American landmass.

These results generally agree with what has been observed
in many other parts of the world. The nearglobal
analysis by Frich et al. (2002) has indicated an
increase in the frequency of warm nights, a decrease in
the extreme temperature range, and also a decrease in
the number of frost days. Frost days is not a representative
index for South America since the temperature
remains above 0°C almost everywhere with the exception
of the stations located in the high mountains of
Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, and for those stations located
in the southern part of Argentina and Chile. The
results from the Caribbean region have indicated that
the frequency of warm nights and warm days has significantly
increased since the late 1950s while it seems
that in South America only the warm nights have increased.

I'll refer you to one of my previous posts. Note the graph at the end.
Global Warming Without New High Temperature Extremes?


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Do You Prefer Hot or Cold?


U.S. statistics:

During 1999--2003, a total of 3,442 deaths resulting from exposure to extreme heat were reported (annual mean: 688). For 2,239 (65%) of these deaths, the underlying cause of death was recorded as exposure to excessive heat; for the remaining 1,203 (35%), hyperthermia was recorded as a contributing factor.

During 1999--2002, a total of 4,607 death certificates (annual mean: 1536) in the United States had hypothermia-related diagnoses listed as the underlying cause of death or nature of injury leading to the underlying cause of death. (annual incidence: four per 1,000,000 population).
If I were part of the major media establishment, I would:
  1. ignore the above statistics
  2. state that "during 1999 - 2003 more than 3,400 people were killed by excessive heat related to global warming"
  3. say "you have only a 4 in 1,000,000 chance of dying from the cold"
However, as an independent observer, I will say that:
  1. deaths directly from heat or cold are not a major threat to the U.S. population
  2. for the few deaths that occur from extreme temperatures, there would probably be a net reduction of overall extreme temperature deaths if the U.S. average temperatures increased somewhat.
What is not shown in these statistics is the very large number of deaths due to respiratory infections that occur primarily during cold weather periods. That factor is why, if our climate is warming, we will be healthier as a nation with a higher average annual temperature... shorter, milder winters, if you will.

I suspect that you will find similar statistics wherever winters are severe.


May 17, 1954


Watch here (you'll have to live with the commercial).

After 53 years, there have been some changes, but not as much as might have been expected. Why? Income is the largest factor. Why? Ironically, educational differences.

Why? Maybe this.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

When Religion Goes Wrong


Religion is supposed to bring meaning to humanity's existence and, hopefully, translate mankind from its baser, cruel nature to a higher, spiritual level.

Here is what happens when religion gets usurped by those who simply don't understand the purpose of religion:

Oh, but that was in the past. Things like that can't happen now.

Oh no? Now even some Muslims fear what can happen. Notice any irony?


How Could They Possibly Know?


The Prince will not go to Iraq. It seems Prince Harry has been specifically targeted by the Bin Laden, et al terrorists for kidnapping and execution when he showed up.

Now how could those people know he was coming?


Measurement Results May Vary


If you want to measure the distance between two hill tops, you can try a variety of measurement techniques. You can pace off the distance, you can use a measuring tape along the ground, or you might use a line-of-sight laser. It is unlikely that your results will be the same from one technique to the other.

At Climate Science, there is a post regarding how surface temperature measurements are taken. While the variability may not be as great as my hypothetical example above, the variability is significant... for a variety of reasons... especially when one is trying to assess a 0.6 degree C change over a century.

See also



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The End Of Unions


The sale of Chrysler to a private investment group may have some broader implications among the automobile manufacturers.

This deal is sure to further weaken an already weakened union. Expect concessions and layoffs and spinoffs. Expect Ford and GM to head back to the unions demanding equal treatment. While the unions can hurt domestic companies, they are having a much more difficult effort to force companies to give new or even maintain old benefits.

Automation and globalization have cut the power of unions so dramatically that they are destined to collapse under their own weight. Not in this decade, but soon.

However, when it comes to unions, some things never seem to change.


Monday, May 14, 2007

More High Temperature Extremes


Craig James, a blogger at WOOD TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan picked up on a couple of my posts regarding the lack of new high temperature extremes in the U.S.

This created some animated comments including one from a person who only identified himself as "gingles." He was having a difficult time with the idea of using only state high temperature records rather than daily high temperature records from all reporting locations. He couldn't see how only 600 possible records in the U.S. could show anything.

Well, there are those who don't like the idea of a sample representing a larger population, but this is an approach used in many areas of life... from politics to medicine. Let's examine the issues:

  • only 600 records

    Annual Possible Records "Normal" Annual Number of Records (120 year average)
    Monthly State Records 600 5
    Daily State Records 18,250 152
    Monthly Reporting Station Records 342,000 2,850
    Daily Reporting Station Records 10,402,500 86,688

    • 50 states times 12 months are 600 possible records. The number of states and months remains consistent and I must presume that even Alaska and Hawaii had temperatures recorded as far back as 1880... although they did not become states until 1959.

    • Records that tie existing records are credited to the last occurrence, which bias the record count toward the latter years.

    • monthly records represent the outcome of the total population of month high readings over 120 years... 72,000 possible opportunities to set a record... with each year having the same opportunity to set a record. While the opportunity to set a record is relatively high when there are few years in the dataset, with 120 years, there is virtually no bias for when in the sequence a year's data was recorded... first and last have the same chance to set and retain a record.

    • using daily records for states might change the outcomes somewhat, but probably not significantly

    • using daily records for all measuring stations would skew the results toward the latter years because of the ever-increasing number of recording stations... much higher now than in 1880 (which should also increase the opportunity for recording a state high temperature record in the latter years).

      We see that for the 50 states x 365 days there are 18,250 opportunities to set a state daily record.

      Now, when you get down to the recording station level, the number of opportunities to set a daily record is thousands of times higher.

      "The Master Station History Report is a listing of the approximately 30,000 stations documented in the NCDC Station History Data Base. They are located on all continents but more than 95% are US sites."

      Let's see... that's 30,000 x .95 x 365 days or 10,402,500 opportunities to set a record each year. That would be around 86,000 new records per year on average... "normal"... if there were completely random records. And remember that many of those stations didn't exist in the 1930s.

      How about 200,000 per year for the global warming greater frequency? So a thousand or so reporting station records set on a hot day is really nothing unusual.

      But the database for individual reporting stations is "flakey" with multiple identifiers for single sites which means this exercise is futile or requires a lot of "data cleaning" to get to individual site averages.

  • the U.S. is too small to represent "global warming"
    • the U.S. weather is not a closed system; it is influenced from changes around the world
    • the U.S. may be a small part of the earth's surface if oceans are included, but it is a much larger part of the total land area
If anything, the approach I took in my analysis is biased toward showing record high temperatures in more recent years... something the IPCC predicts... but something that is not happening in the U.S.


How To Fight An Insurgency


Saturday night I was talking with a woman from Iraq who has many of her family left in that nation. She mentioned a relative who was kidnapped by foreign terrorists... "those Bin Laden thugs."

She said not to trust the Iraqi government. They are corrupt; no better than the foreign thugs who are causing the problem. The government is part of the reason the U.S. military has had problems cleaning up the foreign trouble-makers.

This is about power, not religion. The actions of the bombers in killing of peaceful, innocent people has nothing to do with religion. It is for the purpose of power, using individuals who are duped into believing it is for a higher cause. She saw that this is about personal power for those in the Iraqi government, too.

I asked her what the solution was and she said the foreign thugs had to be driven out. I told her that the problem was the U.S. military could not easily determine who was a member of the community and who was a "thug" hiding among peaceful people. I ventured that at some point the people of the communities would have to fight them. She shot back, "How can my sister fight them?"

My answer was that I didn't expect her sister to take up arms, but I expected the people in the communities to cooperate with the U.S. military. Surely there must be a way to set up a network of informants who represented the communities. They would know who the outsiders were and could provide "intelligence" to the U.S. troops.

She brightened visibly. Each neighborhood has a defacto "mayor"... someone who is considered the person to address issues within their few blocks. They know who belongs and who doesn't and... if the military was discreet about the interaction... could be the eyes and ears of the U.S. in those neighborhoods. These are mostly extended families and would be very happy to get rid of the outsiders who take over houses and hold people hostage while remaining invisible to the U.S. Just don't paint targets on the backs of those who co-operate.

This is how the communities can fight back. This is how the foreign terrorists can be identified and driven out. Give the people a means to defend themselves and they will fight back.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

From The Mouths Of Basketball Players


This is a politically incorrect interview with Charles Barkley

Isn't it strange that a basketball player and a comedian seem to have a better sense of the world than many politicians?


Friday, May 11, 2007

Are You Getting Warmer or Colder


Here are a few questions to ask when you feel the global warming fear coming on:

  • Did humans originate in:
    • Minneapolis
    • Greenland
    • California
    • Africa
  • Do more people die from:
    • Heat
    • Cold
    • Hiccups
  • The worst malaria outbreak was in:
    • Florida
    • Nigeria
    • Siberia
    • Algeria
  • Urbanization changes temperatures:
    • Downward
    • Upward
    • Skyward
  • Vikings who settled in Greenland were:
    • Lost
    • Farmers
    • Missionaries of Thor
If you said:
  1. Africa
  2. Cold
  3. Siberia
  4. Upward
  5. Farmers
you might then ask yourself ... if there might be factors other than CO2 that are affecting the apparent increases in temperature... are any real increases just getting back to a more "livable" earth... and since I know the correct answers, why am I worried?

If you said:
  1. California
  2. Heat
  3. Nigeria
  4. Skyward
  5. Lost
You qualify for the IPCC Believers Award to be given by Laurie David.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Immigration Plan


Immigration plan puts skills ahead of family

Senators are working on deal to grant visas to 12M illegal immigrants based on work they do.

Carolyn Lochhead / San Francisco Chronicle

WASHINGTON -- Key Senators and the White House are trying to negotiate a "grand bargain" on immigration that would grant visas to immigrants based more on their skills as workers than their family ties to those here.

As part of the deal, the estimated 12 million people in the country illegally would be allowed to remain here.

So, let me get this straight.... We will ignore the 12 million people who are in the U.S. illegally (4% of our population or 1 person in 25 who passes you is supposed to be somewhere else)... and then we'll bring people in based on their skills.

And that "fixes" the problem. The government doesn't have to do their job with respect to 4% of the population that doesn't belong here and then they can have some amorphous test of "skill" to determine who they will allow in legally... while they continue to ignore the next 12 million who will come in illegally.

As they say in Washington: "The fix is in."
Republicans asked [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid for more time, but the Senate leader said a deal must be in place by next week, when he intends to begin debate.
Act, react, plan....


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Big Fuel Economy Face-Off Looming


The Detroit News reports that the Senate is planning to mandate higher fuel efficiency levels for vehicles in the U.S.

Ford Motor Company photo of F-150

Everything is so simple when the government finally takes charge.

Meanwhile, Toyota, known for its highly efficient vehicles, continues to make enormous profits as it rolls out more fuel-efficient vehicles.


Only going to show that you can be environmentally friendly and make money, too... especially if you can have your central bank manipulate your currency and have the government pay for employee benefits.


Google Analytics - Beta

Google Analytics announced a new version of their tracking system yesterday, so I went through it.

The new version is certainly more colorful than the old one, but in general, the new one seems to have lost some key features ... primarily the crosstabs capability of looking at one variable against several other variables... for example, title by city or network or source.

The new beta version also seems to lack the current intra-day tracking and domain identification features as well.

And it just seems... maybe I'll get used to it... but it seems to require more steps to drill down to the data that you want to see.

Most annoying is the ability to set a date range for data and then not have the data presentation adjust to the new range. Okay, that doesn't take Google to figure out that it is not a good idea.

Hopefully, the real version will fix the shortcomings of the beta version... but it is prettier.


European Backlash - Buchanan Comments


In my previous posts about the coming European backlash against Muslim immigration, I said that Nicholas Sarcozy would get elected (and did get elected) because of his position against Muslim immigration... and that was the first step of the general European backlash against Muslims.

Now from Pat Buchanan:

Sarkozy jumped ahead of the pack of candidates because he dealt in no uncertain terms with what is the mind of the average Frenchman. The topic of unrestricted immigration and the impact of nonassimilation by large groups of immigrants. He even mentions the adverse impact of economic migrants who flooded France the last 40 years and are of great concern to the French nation.

It is silly to believe Sarkozy got elected because of his stance on tax cuts, free trade, or even giving longer lunch hours to French shopkeepers. If those were the issues the French were concerned about, Ms. Royale the socialist would have won. Most Frenchman, after all, are socialists.

The obvious is not so hard to see after all.


Exposed: The Climate of Fear


If you missed the CNN broadcast with the other side of an inconvenient truth, you might want to read what Luboš Motl has to say.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bad Paint = High Temperature Readings


I've come across a lot of analyses to question temperature readings (near-surface land), but this one is the most unique... lead from Climate Science.

As English philosopher and Franciscan monk William of Ockham (ca. 1285-1349) said:

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate" or "plurality should not be posited without necessity."

Occam's razor is also called the principle of parsimony. These days it is usually interpreted to mean something like "the simpler the explanation, the better" or "don't multiply hypotheses unnecessarily." In any case, Occam's razor is a principle which is frequently used outside of ontology, e.g., by philosophers of science in an effort to establish criteria for choosing from among theories with equal explanatory power. When giving explanatory reasons for something, don't posit more than is necessary.
Can it be that simply changing the paint on weather station shelters from a high infra-red reflective to a low infra-red reflective type accounts for measured temperature increases?

Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate.


The Climate Debate Is Over


... except, of course, for those many scientists who say it isn't.

Political proclamations aside, there are some troubling issues that won't go away.

From "a member of the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor—created, the U.N. says, to recognize “outstanding achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment.”"

In the first 30 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor? In the first 30 feet, 80 percent, okay?

And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

[source by way of ICECAP]
Go ahead and read the article. You'll be amused and educated.

At Climate Science, there is another interesting discussion about the open issues and the potential for creating environmental havoc by focusing on the wrong thing... CO2. Go back a few days and you'll see several times that I have commented about the environmental, energy, and economic issues being overshadowed by the narrow focus on CO2.

And, for those of you who really want your brains exercised, try this from Dr. John Ray.

No there hasn't even been much of a debate yet. And where there have been public debates, the CO2 forces have found that their positions have been significantly weakened. Only the politicians have certainty... and that is the most telling issue.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Focus On CO2 Foolish and Counterproductive


Recently, I posted an summary sketch of the type of analysis needed to bring some sense to the politics of climate debate. Increasingly, the rush to action by politicians in their zeal to be recognized as champions of the planet has been creating a growing economic friction between the rich western nations and the poorer Asian and African nations. There is an increasing likelihood that the red herring of limiting CO2 will become a very real economic and environmental conflict between the "haves" and the "want to haves."

For example:

The list goes on....

I suspect that until the one-sided approach [CO2] is abandoned in favor of a logical and reasonable approach to assessing vulnerabilities (real or suspected), we will be seeing many more such headlines. Meanwhile, the CO2 debate is far from over... even if the politicians are anxious to cash in.
I want to issue an appeal to our American friends, to tell them that they can count on our friendship, which has been forged in the tragedies of history which we have faced together. I want to tell them that France will always be by their side when they need it, but I also want to tell them that friendship means accepting that your friends may think differently and that a great nation such as the United States has a duty not to put obstacles in the way of the fight against global warming, but on the contrary to take the lead in this fight, because what is at stake is the fate of humanity as a whole. France will make this battle its primary battle.
--Nicolas Sarkozy, 6 May 2007 [from Benny Peiser]
Of course, the French were smart enough to build a power grid based on nuclear power which politicians elsewhere rejected because of... environmentalists... who are trying to regroup under the global warming banner, but find their options getting fewer as major players are rejecting the so-called "green" approach.

Right now it is still a fight between CO2, environment, energy, and economy. It's time to get rational.


Can"t Find It?

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

My photo
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)