Popular Posts

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vanden Heuval takes it on the chin by fellow Socialist

This is great. Kristina Vandanhoover gets reamed by Lawrence O'Donnel, a liberal and self-proclaimed fellow Socialist, who nonetheless sought fit to point out the political idiocy of the Left on the Health Debate. Watch it on Morning Joe (it starts at about 13:30 on the clip, but the entire discussion is well worth watching).

(Notice how Vanden Heuval has NO sense of humor? She doesn't get what's happening, and just sort of proselytizes, and filibusters, and it's so fun to watch!)


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I thought so!

Orbitz recently changed their commercial. Yahoo! answers' best reply says it was because of thin-skinned letter writers. Complaining about what!??? That an extra "ez" after "Hernandez" is racist, or insensitive to Hispanics? What a crock of shit! This is text book PC: short on any substantive insult, long on folks with a chip on their shoulder and a one-dimensional perspective that is as intellectually sharp as a splitting maul, and used with roughly the same purpose. Imagine that ignoramus, imagine the kind of mind it would take, to get fired up about the extra "ez" in the original commercial, and to take arms against this imaginary sea of troubles. Wow! Wow! WOW!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Philosophy of GW

From a recent email I wrote:

I don't think there's a "Godelian" argument that the models are necessarily poor, but as a horse sense rule, when people tell me they can predict the future, I start wondering. That's an old trick.

The difference between local weather systems-- which are chaotic in the sense that they have a sensitive dependence on initial conditions -- and global temp is that, in the former, we have causes, while in the latter, the causal mechanisms are still unclear.

I mean, in a chaotic system we all know that laws like Boyles etc. etc. apply, it's just that the actual complexity of the system means that there isn't any way to set up some differential equations and get the future state from some specification of the initial state. It's hopeless, actually, as scientists like Lorenz showed as early as the 1960s. (This is why, when we get models of likely trajectories for hurricanes making landfall, they essentially draw out a set of paths that are so broad that Grandma could do the same with a crayon).

With mean global temp, we have to have a causal mechanism that we know reliably pushes the temperatures up, given the presence of the cause. This is the "sufficiency" condition that philosophers speak of: many factors may be necessary, but we need to know what subset of them are sufficient to make the entire temperature of the Earth rise. This is not a chaotic system, but more like the modeling of social science systems, or the economy: too hard to tell what subset gives us the sufficiency condition. So, when we see the mean global temp trend down between 1940 - 1960, even while massive amounts of C02 were getting released into the atmosphere, it's puzzling. Fair minded people ask: if C02 is the sufficient condition, why then doesn't it graph directly? In other historical periods, also, when C02 was much higher than now, why was temperature comparably low, and what have you? This is the sort of stuff that Lindzen at MIT asks, and so on.

For my part, the climatologists can work out the details of ice core records and so on, but I think it's fairly obvious that there's more going on than C02 (it could of course be a necessary condition, or it could be sufficient given background factors N, in which case we should be asking a lot more questions about N, like if N = {water vapor,...}, and so on.)

So this is kind of Popperian philosophy of science, where you have to figure out what you're really claiming, and what falsifies it, etc.

Anyway, as I said, others can work out the details (assuming they're honest about what they're measuring), but I'd like to see the sufficiency case made more obvious, so that we can stop having the debate. (Put it another way, if the sufficiency case is that damn obvious, someone should let us in on it, instead of airing guilt-trip videos of children drowning.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Said in the pleading voice of a little girl:

Please stop using kids as pawns to try to guilt-trip adults into doing what you want. Pleeeaaase.

Why politics can suck (was, why I am so great)

We have this Hotty who visits our office; she's the original Neocon. She's married to a military guy, loves her country, listens to country music, and probably has a stars and stripes bikini (wish I had an image to upload).

So Hotty comes into our office one day, the random pop-your-head in suddenly we're talking politics day. I'm a Ron Paul-type libertarian with shades of standard conservatism (think William F. Buckley, not George W. Bush, though I kind of liked Bush, actually), which means that Hotty and me, our Venn diagram of agreement is working out pretty well on this day.

Then, it happens. The first hint of why politics sucks (was: first hint of my greatness). I mention Palin's a know-nothing (a bit overstated, but most people can see my point), and suddenly she's nodding in that I'm-not-really-agreeing-but-don't-know-what-to-say manner. It occurs to me later that this is just one more case of how politics is like rooting for sports teams. It's so devoid of thought. But we LIKE Palin! What's your problem? She you-betcha's those Ivory Tower snobs! Right, sorry. I should have said: she ain't no know-nuthin' (and if she is, "know-nuthin'" is good!).


Hotty's core argument about Obama was that "he gives really good speeches, he electrifies crowds, he's good at campaining, but he isn't really President material"; he's not really suited for the rigors of the Presidency. "Where's the beef?" is the objection from Hotty, in other words.

But, isn't this exactly the obvious charge against Palin for President? She's great at giving speeches and campaigning, but she can't tell Katie Couric what she reads, or why the proximity of Alaska to Russia confers foreign policy experience on her. Somehow the God-fearin', military supportin', country music listenin' crowd thinks Palin got screwed out of the White House (by the media, I guess, or by them liberals), while they simultaneously think that the guy who currently inhabits the White House is just some good speech giving, fast talking campaigner, who lacks the gravitas that it takes to be President. Huh?

This is why, when thinking about politics, fair minded people realize that it can suck. When we squeeze it, you see, more logic should come out. But we just get a kind of red or blue ooze. Mmmmmm. Ooooooze.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

List of Scientists who Dissent from Global Warming View

For some reason, my GW believer buddies seem perpetually skeptical that there are substantial numbers of reputable scientists who are dubious about anthropogenic warming. It's clear however there are many scientists who are skeptical of the anthropogenic warming claim (i.e., human-caused Global Warming, which I often abbreviate as "Global Warming" or just "GW" on this blog, separate from "global warming" (no caps), which is the claim that the Earth is warming, without specifying a cause).

I found 700 skeptical scientists in the U.S. Senate EPW report here. Wikipedia has a (much smaller, but still significant) list here.

An excerpt from the Senate report:

Highlights of the Updated 2008/2009 Senate Minority Report featuring over 700 international scientists dissenting from man-made climate fears:

“I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” - Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

“Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical...The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system.” - Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”

Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.

“The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists.” - Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Global Warming Rant (or, why there's something rotten in Copenhagen)

This is actually adapted from an email to one of my GW believer friends, but it should be clear enough:

I'm not some right-wing wacko that has knee jerk reactions about Global Warming because of suspicions that it's a device for redistribution from the Left. I'm suspicious of it because the claim is that we can predict the future state of a complex system, and I've spent at least a decade coming to understand how this is a chimera. GW models are actually a species of time sequence prediction, which I've studied (I've studied sequential learning more, of course). I know a little about this general inductive procedure, and it's very vulnerable to the local minima or maxima problem (where are you on the decision surface?). So we really don't know whether the Earth will start cooling in a few years, with the warming period a local maxima.

Add to this, it doesn't add up! The warming of the last century was more pronounced prior to the heavy industrialization of the 1940s on. And then there's the point that C02 is something like .054% of the gasses in the Earth's atmosphere, and of this miniscule amount, only a sliver is human caused (most is from the oceans), and of this sliver, we can only change a sliver of the sliver without ruining our economies. So, fine, I'll put in green bulbs to light my house, but am I really affecting the global climate? Would building windmills or nuclear power plants in place of coal burning plants really lower the mean global temperature? It seems really dubious that any of the proposals would make any difference, even if we've got the core science right, which is in dispute among climatologists, in spite of the "debate's closed now, go home" attitude of the IPCC crowd.

So, the whole thing just seems to scream for a rational discussion, but somehow we never get one. It's the ultimate will-o-the-wisp: question the claim that "GW is anthropogenic", and GW believers throw out facts and figures for a while. The GW skeptic throws out counter facts and figures, say, that while Africa is hottest on record, North America is actually cooling, not to mention Antarctica. The believer then says "look, you idiot, it's not that every place will get warmer, it's that the climate will change." To which the unsuspecting skeptic (idiot) says, but you just used the fact that Africa is hottest on record as evidence for the theory!

This goes on for a while, until eventually the skeptic is frustrated once again, because the believer has now shifted the debate from the original claim (that we can predict the behavior of the Earth's weather), to the costs of not acting. The argument goes something like this: look, we can't prove GW, but we're certain that there's climate change (the most vacuous statement ever, by the way), and we better at least try. Sure, the skeptic agrees, let's try. The debate should now be:

Given the uncertainty with predicting the future states of complex systems, how much economic change makes sense?

This gets the believer into trouble (because the honest answer, alongside other dangers like global economic instability, terrorist acts, geopolitical upheaval, etc., is "not that much"). So the believer performs the final sleight of hand, which is to shift the entire debate away from murky scientific predictions about the future of the planet, into a kind of political shame-you game: "look, idiot skeptic, don't you want cleaner air? Don't you like streams and oceans and national parks?". To which the skeptic (at least my kind of skeptic) can jolly well say "yes"! And this makes the skeptic's whole point--why don't we just ask simple questions about how we can reduce dependence on foreign oil, and reduce industrial pollution, and live better lives? Why hitch the project on this Nostradamus illusion that we know what the global mean temp of planet Earth will be in the next hundred years? Not enough CATASTROPHE! to get the masses moving? (Sorry, folks, but even us idiot skeptics prefer to be treated as rational adults.)

Final point. The IPCC touts its "list" of scientists who accept the anthropogenic claim (there's debate about whether the number is inflated, but leave that aside for now). There's also a list of very distinguished scientists who think that the anthropogenic claim is dubious. Proponents of GW often resort to the argument that the list of believers is longer than the list of skeptics. Are we really at the point where "science" is established by counting the "aye"s and the "nay"s? This is simply unbelievable as a serious scientific proposition. The existence of serious dissent from qualified scientists tells us instantly that the issue is NOT settled, in spite of the Orwellian attempt to shut everyone up who raises doubts or concerns.

Sorry, GW believers, the irony here is that you, not the skeptic, are on the wrong side of history.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Global Warming Dissent Continues

From APS on the need to slow down the climate change discussion, so that we can have an actual scientific debate. Many of these folks are mainstream scientists. Of course, I'd expect that the politicized Global Warming! crowd will find a way to suggest that their mamas are whores. Excuse my language.

Don't Try This at Home

It's part of the new logic in Washington. To stimulate business, create more bureaucracy. What the hell, it's just 200 billion. Not like we have a deficit problem. Oops.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Unpacking Mike's Trick (Thanks, Mike!)

Here's some (it would appear to be) interesting info on "Mike's Nature Trick", in case readers of this blog want some dirt for possible future self-serving uses (for instance, "Loch Ness Tricks", to show clear evidence of the Loch Ness Monster, for those receiving funds to study Loch Ness sightings, and so on). I'm all about making it easier to bilk the unsuspecting masses. As I get more "tricks", I'll pass them along.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Dr. Larson, now

Yes, that's right, I've completed my Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austion. I feel so...., so,...., so,....

Well, it was a feat, in addition to starting the company. I'll say that. And anyway, I love to write, and to do research.