Tuesday, November 29, 2011

About that AGW

BLUF:  The climate is not nearly as sensitive to CO2 levels as believed by the AGW TRUE BELIEVERS.
One of the key measures of the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide is called the climate sensitivity, which provides an estimate of how much the planet will warm in response to a doubling of the CO2 concentration. This figure has been estimated using a variety of methods, producing a range of values; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the most likely value is 3 Kelvin, but recognizes there's a reasonable chance it could range anywhere from 2.4-4.5K. A new study that uses a climate model to evaluate the peak of the last glacial period, however, suggests that the IPCC's figure might be a bit high, and that very high values are overwhelmingly unlikely.
To look at climate sensitivity, the authors short-circuited the actual role of carbon dioxide, and simply changed its impact by adjusting the amount of infrared radiation that escapes through the atmosphere (carbon dioxide acts by trapping this radiation). Each of the 47 different models has a different value for this escaping radiation, and so models different levels of greenhouse gas impact.
This approach let them set a number of limits on the climate sensitivity. For example, model runs where it was too low keep the planet warmer than it was at the LGM. In other words, if the contribution of reduced CO2levels is too small, the changes in the remaining forcings aren't enough to trigger a deep glaciation. In the same way, high climate sensitivities produce an extremely cold planet, far colder than the LGM. In fact, climate sensitivities above 6K trigger a global glaciation, or snowball Earth—something that has happened in the past, but not for over half a billion years. "Our model thus suggests that large climate sensitivities cannot be reconciled with paleoclimatic and geologic evidence, and hence should be assigned near-zero probability," they conclude.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Judas the Pretense

These poor clowns don't even have the faintest notion of what's wrong - they just think the wrong people are trying to play god, and if they and their kind could get control, rein in human greed and make things more equal (in outcome), it would all be better. 

This is another version of "If I was master and time and space ...".  Fun game, but should anyone be taken seriously when they think and talk like that? 

Yes, there's something wrong with our government, but no, the pretensious ones at OWS don't know what it is.


Euro Lesson

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, investors have focused on credit risk and rewarded Germany with low interest rates for its perceived frugality. But now markets will focus on currency risk. Inflation will accelerate and the euro may break up in a way that calls into question all euro-denominated obligations. This is the beginning of the end for the euro zone.

The premise of socialism is that smart people ("the elite" or the connected or the educated or the studious or whatever you might term those who hubristically think they can direct others and their assets to the benefit of all) could use the state's monopoly power on coercion solve problems.  The idea that something could be had for nothing - "we can reduce the pain and suffering of live just by doing some smart stuff by force that would never happen with coperation."

It seems that after a long experiment with that approach, there are two possible explanations for the results as statist nations face the same problem the world over (and in US state governments, and city governments, as well); the people who get elected either are not that smart except in terms of how to get elected; or, no one is smart enough to use coercion to direct that activities of others to the benefit of all. \

In my humble as ever view, which of these two options is correct does not matter, as either one points to a common solution; stop pretending (or dreaming) that humans with a lot of power are a help vice a hindrance.

How much more evidence would anyone need to know that coercion is not a viable alternative to cooperation?  Who could really think that what we're seeing now is better than cooperation?  Why do we insist that cooperative arrangements cannot better deal with the problem caused by human existence - genetic and environmental inequality leading to unequal outcomes - which means that some will do better than others?

Like the Greeks, we must accept that it is foolish for men to attempt the work of the gods, and especially so if we attempt to do god's work with government.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cali to Business: Get Out! by Steven Malanga, City Journal Autumn 2011


Can the rest of us learn from Cali's buffoonery?

HT:  www.crossfit.com

Did You Think They Would Be Serious?

The deficit committee was charged with trimming deficit spending by just $1.2 trillion, which could have been achieved by cutting that $45.77 trillion in spending by just 2.6 percent. (Really, it would have necessitated cutting spending even less than that, because any cut in spending also reduces future interest payments on the debt.)
To be clear, this wouldn’t have resulted in an actual cut in federal spending. Instead, annual federal spending would still have been 24 percent higher (on average) over the next decade than it was last year. Really, the deficit committee didn’t need to cut spending at all (in relation to 2011 spending). It simply needed to shave 12 cents off of every dollar of projected increases in spending. Yet, in the face of a $15 trillion national debt, the deficit committee couldn’t figure out how to do even this. It couldn’t bear to force the federal government to make do with just $44.57 trillion over the next decade, instead of $45.77 trillion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Very Clear on Post-Obamacare Options

A complete health care safety net assuring essential health care for all can be achieved with no individual mandate and no employer mandate, for just a fraction of the cost of Obamacare, actually sharply reducing government in the process. That starts with the provision already in federal law, stemming from the Kennedy-Kassebaum legislation of the 1990s, providing for guaranteed renewability. That means if you already have health insurance, you cannot be terminated because you become sick. That is what the insurance insures against after all, so such termination would actually be fraud, as state law across the country recognized before Kennedy-Kassebaum. Under this regulation, insurers also cannot discriminatorily raise rates for those who become sick while insured. This law ensures that if you have health insurance, you will be able to keep it as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
The second component of a health care safety net would involve block granting Medicaid back to the states, just as was done with the enormously successful reform of the old AFDC program in 1996. Each state would then transform their Medicaid programs into a premium support system which would provide the assistance necessary to purchase essential health insurance for those who are too poor to pay for it otherwise. Each state would decide how much assistance is necessary at each income level in their state to assure the poor could afford such essential coverage.
This would greatly benefit the poor because Medicaid today is structurally an institution serving to deny the poor essential health care just when they are the sickest and most in need of such care. That is because Medicaid does not pay the doctors and hospitals enough to assure such care. But with the above reform, the poor would enjoy the same health care as the middle class because they would have the same private insurance as the middle class, paying market rates for care.
The third component of the safety net is a high risk pool in each state for the uninsured who never get coverage and then become too sick with costly illnesses like cancer or heart disease to buy it. That is like calling an insurance company for fire insurance after your house is already on fire. The uninsured in this case would be able to get coverage as a last resort from the high risk pool, paying what they can based on their income. Taxes would subsidize the pool to keep it afloat. Because only 1-2 percent ever become actually uninsurable like this, this is the least expensive option for assuring an essential safety net.

Hope For Those Who Oppose Coercion

Some hope, and what a marker for the cause of liberty of the SCOTUS makes the call.

The Palin Endorsement?

I am surprised to think anyone's thinking or writing about such a thing.  She's a great American, but of no consequence to the election.  The Palin endorsement?  Should be getting about as much attention as the Apolloswabbie endorsement.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Energy Security R US


All of which provides a new optimism on US energy security – all the more for being totally unexpected. The consequences are only just coming into view. According to Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest, a masterful history of the modern search for energy, America’s tight oil supply is now almost equivalent to Libya’s oil output. Within eight years, it will amount to 3m barrels a day in an ever-bigger domestic spigot that will cut America’s oil imports by more than a third.
Already, imports have fallen to 46 per cent of America’s consumption – down from 60 per cent in George W. Bush’s second term. That number is likely to keep falling. Less than a fifth of the US’s oil now comes from outside the western hemisphere. That could dwindle to negligible levels in the near future. “The Middle East will figure less in America’s energy supply and become increasingly critical to China and India,” says Mr Yergin. “This is likely to have big geopolitical repercussions.”
Go read the whole article, it's worth the time.

The short version - there is an ass load of oil to be had in our hemisphere, rumors of peak oil were somewhat hastily circulated.

It's Not About the People, Stupid

This is one of the funniest lines I've ever read (funny like "REALLY?!" funny, no "funny ha ha), and to think the authors may have actually meant it:
Given her strong public support, she has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington.


This is the sort of delusional thinking that results from a belief that government is an effective tool to "get things done."  This is the backwash of being one who believes that government can lead economies, and put just the right leverage on just the right point to "get the economy back on track."  Better to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which, at least we know as part of that concept, is not real.

President Bill Clinton reached a historic agreement with the Republicans in 1997 that led to a balanced budget.
Another laugher.  Did these people study logic at all, ever?  But of course, if you want to sustain an illusion, you must find compelling narratives to help yourself believe.

Bill and the GOP agreed on something, and then that caused things to go well, it caused the economy to boom, it caused therefore in increase in government revenues, and therefore - Bill and his agreement "caused" the "surplus." 

Well, totally aside from the question of whether it may possibly not be an abominable abuse of power to ever have a government surplus, and totally aside from whether the "surplus" was real or an accounting gimic and a no-lose political talking point - by what rational basis could one assess causality?  Out of the gozillion moving parts of an international economy, the best that could be said is that, as economic growth occurred while a man named Bill was President, he didn't do anything to fully interfere with said growth. 

Mrs. Clinton does not show the slightest inclination towards bipartisanism, nor would it necessarily be good if she did.  Both concepts - that she could provide leadership appealing to both major parties, and that such leadership would produce good outcomes - are absurd. 

The entire structure of the current political system is based a result of an unrelenting, winner take all pursuit of power.  The players of this game will say whatever it takes in order to win and retain office.  It could be no other way.  Those few purists who really want to have power to make things better are eliminated when they refuse to subject their principles to the over-riding imperative of the political wind.

You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
These authors - they need to take the red pill.

Our political future has nothing to do with who the next president is and it does not depend upon "bipartisanship" (it is more likely that gridlock will help than bipartisanship - with gridlock, they can't accelerate the pace at which things grow worse).  It is dependent upon whether some process restores the federal government to its rightful size and scope, whilst we are relieved of the burden of believing that our fate is in the hands of politicans. 

No, I don't know how that can happen, aside from the obvious which is that it would only happen if politicians believe they must re-restrain the federal government or lose their jobs and influence.  Yes, I'm essentially asking for a political red pill, have you seen any?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I don't do enough to do right by our nation's veterans.  I say that even though I am a veteran.

Part of my current experience is that I have not been in harm's way since a 2006-2007 deployment with the US Army in Iraq.  I have my own sense of "what have I done lately?"  The answer is, moved a lot of paper, delivered a boatload of expertise and leadership, and done so with the belief that it all mattered and that things that I've had my hand in are better than they would otherwise have been.  But who knows, really.

I retire next summer.  I have served a year in Iraq.  I saw Baghdad most often across a wall, but once at night from a Blackhawk and enough from the inside of a Hummer to know how fast it could have gone bad.  I spent 3 years working the alternately cold and windy or scorching hot flight deck of the USS ENTERPRISE, including Operation DESERT FOX, when we emptied the magazines on Saddam's special places.  I watched a well trained crew put out a flight deck fire after a fatal crash, and my contribution was paltry but I did all I could, including that made sure the next group of deck hands were well trained.  I logged 218 combat hours flying in and around the Arabian Gulf and over Afghanistan, landed planes with engine failures, flap failures, and in the dark, in the fog, at bizarre little places with short, narrow runways and poor instrument approach systems - and virtually every landing came at the end of a 9+ hour flight with some combination of either sleep deprivation or a completely fragmented sleep cycle.  We logged 150 hours in a month and almost lost a flight because we were too tired to remember to get the flight surgeon's clearance to take off - I told a fellow veteran and airplane pilot that story and he joked "You guys should have a union."

If you can't tell, I feel a reasonable amount of pride in the roles I've been able to play in the uniform of our nation.  I think it's arguable that I got more than I gave, even if some of what I gave felt grievous.  But that brings me to a memory about the people you and I don't do right by.

When I was walking around Camp Victory with a gun all the time, they were outside fighting the irregular forces of Al Qaeda in Iraq.  The blasting was near continuous the last few months I was there, as the surge got into gear.  I would hear the chain gun of the Bradleys and Strykers and be grateful I wasn't one of the poor SOBs on the receiving end of that mess.  But there was someone on the giving end of the Stryker love, and he and his buddies were dodging bullets and rockets all day.  I was in the palace one day smoking a fat cigar with an old friend, and we watched through a hazy, chilly late winter day as the explosions flashed and 25mm pounded and we were as useless as a TV reporter.  The troopers out in the city were unquestionably giving much more than they got.  But they were also paying for the privilege with damage to body, mind and spirit.

I would like to get a pat on the back today.  I would like someone to say thanks for the missed funerals of loved ones, the missed birth of my daughter, the missed 14 of the first 17 months of our second son's life.  I endured and sometimes thrived through the deprivations of liberty, and physical comfort, one does not find when deployed to ship/desert/remote airfield, and etcetera.  I would like a thanks for the care I gave to those I led and perhaps even for bringing back a lot of planes full of American servicemen and keeping a few young folks safe on a dynamic flight deck.

But even if I not so secretly want that sort of acknowledgement, I want even more to make a change, to do something that moves in the direction of helping those who really paid the price for the wars our nation has waged.  Wounded Warrior Foundation?  Yes.  Fisher House?  Of course.

I think my near depressed certainty that we cannot give these warriors back what they gave has led me to a failure of effort ... to this point.

Going forward, even if I can't do enough, I will do something, as many of you already have.
(minor edits, 16 Nov 11)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Calling All Language Police

America still has so much work to do regarding race and racism and “post-racial” is only making that work harder to do. That’s why “post-racial” and its cohorts must be stopped posthaste.

The author presents a long diatribe in which his chief complaint is the term "post-racial" which he describes as an intellectual loch ness monster - a term I quite like, by the way.

I don't know if I disagree.  But let me add to the list of intellectual Nessie's (IN) the phrase "America has much work to do."  What work will the entity described as "America" do?  Who is responsible to make that work happen, describe that work, and define its successful outcome?  Indeed, who could do such work on behalf of that collection of individuals generally known as "Americans"?  A less sensible phrase may never have been spoken - unless of course, we consider the Kennedy pablum about asking "what you can do for your country."

I would add to the list of INs the term "racism".  Why?  Because the terms no longer means what it means.  Here's the Wiki definition:  "Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination."  Let me ask you, dear reader, how many people you know who believe there are inherently different traits in human racial groups as regards qualities other than their physical genetic template (body shape, color or type of hair)?  Do you know someone who believes there is a group of people so remarkable inferior that using the coercive force of the state against them is acceptable? 

If you are like me, I know only one or two people who would articulate such a view.  But more importantly - who cares?  In my observation, belief in the inferiority of an ethnic group hurts only the believer, and not those whom the believer views perjoratively.  Being a racist makes a person, in my view, unlikable and not someone with whom I would like to associate, but other than that, it's just a burden that person has chosen to bear and it is none of my business.  Just like it's none of my business who they would like to sleep with, who they have enjoyed consensual sexual activity with, or how many times they fell short of the mark raising their children.  There are a lot of reasons why I may not like or associate with a person, their racist beliefs would be one. 

Unless ... the racist desires to use the power of the state to violate the creator given rights of those viewed perjoratively.

If you think people that are purple are subhuman, I don't care, but if you try to get the state to force people that are purple to go live in a certain confined area, or to keep the Purples out of public places, or to infringe on their voting rights - or even worse, you act to injure them - OK, now there's grounds for a fight.  And I don't say that lightly because my entire working life has been as one who serves to defend my fellow citizen - police officer or military officer for 25 years.

Sadly, though, this distinction (between those with bad feelings about others and those who act to hurt others or use the state to coerce others) is no longer made, and that is largely because those who wish to make a fuss about "racism" are the ones trying to use the government to deprive the rights of a group of people.  Usually, they wish to gain the sympathy of one group, by promising to help that group at the expense of another group, and with plenty of justification for why that's OK.  Not to mention a dose of rationalization for why I should be ashamed of myself for opposing their attempt to use the government to get by force what they can't get by persuation and cooperation.

So while the author continues to use INs like "America has a lot of work to do", I hope what is really meant is that each of us has to work every day to respect the Constitutionally afforded rights of our fellow citizens while taking responsibility for ourselves and our chosen obligations to our families and those other causes we freely serve. 

And I hope he doesn't mean "we have to use the coercive force of the government to get people to behave in a way that pleases me."

Post script:  Most folks use the term "racist" nowadays when what they mean is "bigot" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigot_(disambiguation))
The KKK is racist, they would love to use force to subjugate others based on race and/or religion.  My friend who associates negative characteristics to some ethnic groups is a bigot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Taleb On Risk and Incentive

The promise of “no more bailouts,” enshrined in last year’s Wall Street reform law, is just that — a promise. The financiers (and their lawyers) will always stay one step ahead of the regulators. No one really knows what will happen the next time a giant bank goes bust because of its misunderstanding of risk.

The Romans even figured out how to deter cowardice that causes the death of others with the technique called decimation: If a legion lost a battle and there was suspicion of cowardice, 10 percent of the soldiers and commanders — usually chosen at random — were put to death.


In this same line of thought - how about the politicians don't get paid unless they keep the budget balanced?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Simple Truth - Cannot Tax A Nation Into Prosperity

For most millionaires, federal tax rates -- the share of income taxed -- exceed 30 percent. Some rich have lower rates. Raising these rates is justified but wouldn’t balance the budget. The plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a 5.6 percentage point surtax on incomes exceeding $1 million would raise an estimated $453 billion over 10 years. Deficits over the decade are realistically projected at $8.5 trillion.

OK, raise some taxes on people but don't pretend it solves the SPENDING PROBLEM!

Make the rich pay more, fix the tax code, WHATEVER!  That does not change the fact that there's a SPENDING PROBLEM!  It is called Medicare and it is a result of the fact that politicians designed a system of interventions in the health care system of this nation that guarantee it will produce less health at a higher total cost.

Growth is a result of liberty and the most predictable possible market conditions.  Stop the interventions.  We could still grow our way out of the mess.

Samuelson rightly concludes:
What liberals don’t say is this: Unless Social Security and Medicare benefits -- the bulk of the budget -- are reduced, we face three dismal choices. Huge, unsustainable deficits. Massive tax increases on the middle class, as high as 50 percent over 10 to 15 years. Or draconian cuts in the discretionary programs that liberals accuse conservatives of wanting to gut.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Divconformity? Conversity?

Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure “diversity of thought and opinion” we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity.

Thank the heavens that George Will is still writing!

Public Sector Unions, Predictable Outcomes

The Dills Act mandated that the state must negotiate collective-bargaining contracts with public-employee unions. This quickly turned the unions into the most powerful force in the state. The result was major increases in the pay and benefits for public-sector workers.

Even FDR could figure out this wasn't rational.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A great read. Covers life, the universe and everything.


"Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later."