Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Blogs 2008

The Blog phenom continues. This link takes you to the best of 2008. Huge listing in dozens of categories from fashion to science. Check it out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On Science, astrology, cooked data, the Inquisition and the power of the State

We are about to see a new gear kick in on the Global Warming front. John Holdren, O's new Science Advisor is in lock step with the "Alarmist" and has used his considerable power to bring legal action against the heretical "Deniers".
Read the attached which I copied in its entirity from the Blog Urgent Agenda. It uses the Scientific method, Copernicus, Galileo and the Inquisition to help illustrate what you can expect in the years ahead. If it evloves in the extreme expect Bloggers will be silenced and the debate will become a "whisper". ooopps! did I say Debate? I forgot the Debate is over.

Frank Tipler, the distinguished mathematical physicist at Tulane
University, is an Urgent Agenda reader. We recently asked him for his view
of the global-warming controversy, and he was kind enough to send us this
thoughtful reply. We reprint it in full. Recommended reading:
As regards global warming, my view is essentially the same as yours: Anthropogenic
Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science. A few comments on my
own particular view of global warming: (1) I am particularly annoyed by the claims that the "the debate is over," because this was exactly the claim originally made gainst the Copernican theory of the Solar System.
Copernicus' opponents said the idea that the Earth was the third planet
from the Sun was advanced by Aristrachus in 300 B.C. (true), and had been
definitely refuted by 100 A.D. The debate is over! Sorry, it wasn't:
the Earth IS the third planet. (2) It is obvious that anthropogenic global
warming is not science at all, because a scientific theory makes non-obvious
predictions which are then compared with observations that the average person
can check for himself. As we both know from our own observations, AGW
theory has spectacularly failed to do this. The theory has predicted
steadily increasing global temperatures, and this has been refuted by
experience. NOW the global warmers claim that the Earth will enter a
cooling period. In other words, whether the ice caps melt, or expand ---
whatever happens --- the AGW theorists claim it confirms their theory. A
perfect example of a pseudo-science like astrology. (3) In contrast, the
alternative theory, that the increase and decrease of the Earth's average
temperature in the near term follows the sunspot number, agrees (roughly) with
observation. And the observations were predicted before they occurred.
This is good science. (4) I emphasized in point (2) that the average
person has to be able to check the observations. I emphasize this because
I no longer trust "scientists" to report observations correctly. I think
the data is adjusted to confirm, as far as possible, AGW. We've seen many
recent cases where the data was cooked in climate studies. In one case,
Hanson and company claimed that October 2008 was the warmest October on record.
Watts looked at the data, and discovered that Hanson and company had used
September's temperatures for Russia rather than October's. I'm not
surprised to learn that September is hotter than October in the Northern
It snowed here in New Orleans last week and it was the second heaviest snowfall I've seen in the 25 years I've lived in New Orleans. According to the local newspaper, it was the earliest snow had fallen in New Orleans since records were kept, beginning in 1850. I myself have looked at the relative predictive power of Copernicus's theory and the then rival Ptolemaic theory. Copernicus was on the average twice as accurate, and the average person of the time could tell. Similarly, anybody today can check the number of sunspots. Or rather the lack of them. When I first starting teaching astronomy at Tulane in the early 1980's, I would show sunspots to my students by pointing a small $25 reflecting telescope at the Sun, and focusing the Sun's image on the wall of the classroom. Sunspots were obviously in the image on the wall. I can't do this experiment today, because there are no sunspots. (5) Another shocking thing about the AGW theory is that it is generating a loss of true scientific knowledge. The great astronomer William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, observed in the early 1800's that warm weather was correlated with sunspot number. Herschel noticed that warmer weather meant better crops, and thus fewer sunspots meant higher grain prices. The AGW people are trying to do a
disappearing act on these observations. Some are trying to deny the existence of
the Maunder Minimum. (6) AGW supporters are also bringing back the Inquisition, where the power of the state is used to silence one's scientific opponents. The case of Bjorn Lomborg is illustrative. Lomborg is a tenured professor of mathematics in Denmark. Shortly after his book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," was published by Cambridge University Press, Lomborg was charged and convicted (later reversed) of scientific fraud for being critical of the "consensus" view on AGW and other environmental questions. Had the conviction been upheld, Lomborg would have been fired. Stillman Drake, the world's leading Galileo scholar, demonstrates in his book "Galileo: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford University Press, 2001) that
it was not theologians, but rather his fellow physicists (then called "natural
philosophers"), who manipulated the Inquisition into trying and convicting
Galileo. The "out-of-the-mainsteam" Galileo had the gall to prove the
consensus view, the Aristotlean theory, wrong by devising simple experiments
that anyone could do. Galileo's fellow scientists first tried to refute
him by argument from authority. They failed. Then these "scientists"
tried calling Galileo names, but this made no impression on the average person,
who could see with his own eyes that Galileo was right. Finally, Galileo's
fellow "scientists" called in the Inquisition to silence him.

I find it very disturbing that part of the Danish Inquisition's case
against Lomborg was written by John Holdren, Obama's new science advisor.
Holdren has recently written that people like Lomborg are "dangerous." I
think it is people like Holdren who are dangerous, because they are willing to
use state power to silence their scientific opponents. (7) I agree with Dick
Lindzen that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science.
If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is
a skeptic, then no contract. There is a professor at Tulane, with a Ph.D
in paleoclimatology, who is as skeptical as I am about AGW, but he'd never be
considered for tenure at Tulane because of his professional opinion. No
government contracts, no tenure. (8) This is why I am astounded that
people who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government
funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid
advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no
centralized government funding for science. Einstein discovered relativity
on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the
Einsteins of today? They would never be able to get a university job ---
Einstein's idea that time duration depended on the observer was very much
opposed to the "consensus" view of the time. Einstein's idea that light was
composed of particles (now called "photons") was also considered crazy by all
physicists when he first published the idea. At least then he could
publish the idea. Now a refereed journal would never even consider a paper
written by a patent clerk, and all 1905 physics referees would agree that
relativity and quantum mechanics were nonsense, definitely against the
overwhelming consensus view. So journals would reject Einstein's papers if
he were to write them today. Science is an economic good like everything else,
and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to
control the means of production. Why can't Newt Gingrich understand this?
Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government
funding for science.
We should add that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his famous farewell address as president - the "industrial-military complex" speech - also warned of the intersection between science and government.
This is what he said:
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public
policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
We thank Professor Tipler for his contribution.
December 22,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who are those guys?

My favorite line from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid In the movie "Those guys" were a bunch of hard nosed, kick ass deputies. Today I ask the question because of a news item by the Rasmussen report reporting that congressional approval is down to 9%. That seems way high to me but I guess it is teatament that there are at least 10 million morons out there. WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?

For all you Night Owls

This what you Night Owls are missing in the morning. And Yes, I know this is the best I am going to feel all day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

They earned it....NOTTTTTT!!!!

How more out of touch can our Congress be?
From Gateway Pundit

Worst. Congress. Ever. continues to impress.The Hill reported:
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), anon-partisan group.“This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Euphemisms abound

As I watch our elected representatives flop around on what to do about all the emergencies one thing stands out, the use of euphemisms . One striking example is the term "stakeholders" in the current auto bailout debate. Everyone and his mother gets mentioned by Congrss except the big elephant in the room. . My friend at Planet Moron puts it best: (note: when you think about the dog Rex, think Unions.

Stakeholders consist of two groups:

1) People who own the company.
2) People who do not.

For instance, let’s say you wanted to refinance the mortgage on your house. Your “stakeholders” would include, in addition to you and your spouse, your mortgage company, all your neighbors, the guy who mows your lawn, the county government, the local school district and your dogs.

All you need to do to refinance is to get all these stakeholders, who will at times have opposing interests, to come to an agreement on the specific terms. (Hint: Your dogs’ demand for more squeaky toys is non-negotiable. "I can't go back to my people with this," Rex will say.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chapter 11

Why do we need Congress to Fix the Big 3. Here's a comment I picked up recently that hits to the heart of the matter.

Nancy Pelosi calls the deal a barber shop, where everybody will take a haircut.
There is already an available process for operating companies that cannot meet their obligations where all the parties take a haircut: Its called chapter 11. We have about a zillion man-years of experience with it, in companies great and small. And it does not take idiotic Senators flashing billions of our tax money to mediate it.
The auto industry is tremendously magnetic for wannabee technocrats in Congress, in large part because in perhaps no other industry is there a bigger gap between what the average American wants
to buy and what the country's intelligentsia things they should buy

The next Trillion $ boondoggle

This is something I picked up on ICECAP
I thought it was short and to the point and if you "get it" it might help you when you are discussing Global Warming and the soon to be enacted TRILLION dollar boondoggle our leaders have in mind.

Meteorologist Dave Epstein wrote this excellent letter which he agreed to share with us.
Dear Bryan,
As a meteorologist, I just wanted to comment
on your article in Saturday’s Paper. The headline is a good place to start and I will expound from there. Please take the time to read this as I have spent some time thinking this through for you.
You stated that ‘New US military report
of global warming raises worry’. Why does this raise worry? Let me give you a few facts about global warming that you should have considered before you wrote Saturday’s article. No disrespect, but please read on. I have training in meteorology for over 25 years. I am also an instructor of meteorology at Framingham State and Colby College in Maine. That doesn’t make me an expert in climate per se, but I do know science.
1. Man-Made global warming is a theory. It has not been proven. Models that have been used to come up with the theory that man caused the warming of the 80s/90s are fatally flawed. Believe it
or not, it is possible that aspects of the traditional greenhouse gas
explanation could be largely wrong, and if you think I am crazy, let’s visit an article just published in the prestigious journal Climate Dynamics. (Compo, G.P. and P.D. Sardeshmukh. 2008. Oceanic influences on recent continental warming. Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-008-0448-9). Go take a look. Here is but one line from the report. "Evidence is presented that the recent worldwide land warming has occurred largely in response to a worldwide warming of the oceans rather than as a direct response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) over land."
2. The IPCC is an organization that does NO research, it has never
done ANY research and many of the members of the panel have never done any research. The number 90% confident was made-up. Period. If you dig around you will find that to be the case.
3. The data that shows that we are warming is fatally flawed. I could give you many examples too long and boring for this but here is but one. Did you know, for example in October NOAA said that we had just had our warmest October on record but had to retract that from using SEPTEMBER data. That is just because they got caught by a blogger.
4. Did you know that the planet has been COOLING for the past several years. This year is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released next week by the Met Office. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07.
5. CO2, while increasing is acting OPPOSITE
to temperature for the past 5 years. See last image of the three.

6. Ice in the arctic is poised to go above long-term averages this
year. It has been rapidly increasing all fall and glaciers actually GREW for the first time in 250 years in parts of Alaska.

I am not going to go on and bore you with data.
However, as a journalists isn’t is your responsibility to present the data and not go find data which supports your personal views contradicting what you might not like?
You can find all sort of people to say that man is causing the
climate to change. Guess what, the climate is changing. And it may well be getting cooler not warmer. As a good journalist ask yourself this question. Why do so many people try to shut down debate about a scientific UNPROVEN principle? I would argue it is because they want to change the way we consume/drive/live and this is the best way to get noticed. I am an environmentalist myself. I have preserved land, I started my own weekly gardening/conservation show on the web and I have long been a huge proponent of slowing down consumption in general. However, not by creating some trumped up science.
Look at something else. What is the climate we are trying to get
to? For argument sake, let’s say we all got rid of cars tomorrow. Now based on the science, we should start to cool right? How much? How cold would we get? Would we return to the temperatures of the 1700s and the little ice age? Did you know that the cold of that time caused more damage to the planet, to animals to crops than any warming has. At least look at the graphs I am sending to you to keep this whole thing in perspective. Why are we (man) being blamed for something that has occurred for over 450,000 years of past records? I think
if you dig further you will find number of REPUTABLE scientists who AGREE with the Joint Forces. Remember, when people try to shut down debate on something that has not been proven, that is the time to open up more debate.

Thanks for reading this. I am happy to discuss further.
Dave Epstein, Meteorologist.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Action, not intention matters ...

I recommend this post from Power Line.
The problem instead is why we continuously
consider liberal transgressions as misdemeanors and their conservative counterparts as felonies.
If Plutarch once believed that action, not intention matters (otherwise, as Aristotle noted, we could all be moral in our sleep), we moderns believe the reverse -- that proper thinking can often excuse improper acts.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Piracy vs Terrorism. It's all in the word!!

While the world's shiiping is falling prey to pirates our elected defenders are debating the words. Have you noticed how we justify our reaction based on politically correct concepts. A killer may not get any attention unless it was motivated by "HATE". A robber at sea can't be pursued unless he is a "Terrorist"; God forbid we go after that loveable "Jack Sparrow".

The Bailout - One pcture says it all

Ocean Noise & Sleepless whales- Doncha know?

While the rest of us endure sleepless nights fretting about our jobs, our shrinking 401k retirement funds and deciding where we can furthur cut our budgets it is comforting to note that the guardians of the Green are staying on top of the important things.

GREENHOUSE gases worsen ocean noise by raising acidity levels and causing sound to travel farther, making it ever harder for marine mammals to communicate, UN and wildlife experts said today

How do these things get paid for? Are there that many contributors to these environmental causes or is it tax money? Think about it. This can only be done if it is funded by donations or taxes. Who pays for the UN? "UN and wildlife experts"!!! The US pays more than any other country by orders of magnitude for this playground of bureacrats and this is what we get.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

US Big 3 Car makers competitive edge

Is Big Gov't the answer? Dec 3, 2008

This is the first in a new series I will serve up on my blog to highlight the shear and utter incompetence of our federal government to manage anything. The intent is to get you thinking and talking with your friends about this and stop pointing to Washington to solve everything. The less these folks try to help us the better. Check out the latest fiasco associated with the new Capitol Visitors Center. Key quote below:

Initially conceived in the early 1990s and projected to cost $71 million,
the CVC has become an example of out-of-control government contracting and mismanagement. After costs ballooned and construction schedules spiraled out of control, the three-level, underground monument to congressional excess finally came in at a whopping $621 million and three years behind schedule

Nuclear winter in Chernobyl

Wow!! This is something. A young game develper swings a side trip to the site of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear plant disastor. He gives you a personal tour with geiger counter and pictures. The pics are creepy. Check it out by clicking here.
Here is a quote to remember:

One of my Kiev game dev friends hooked me up with a private tour, so I decided to go for the day to check it out. Every woman in my life told me this was a bad idea. Every man said it sounded awesome.It was awesome, although I really usually fare better when I listen to the women

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Arrogance knows no bounds!!!

My jaw dropped when I read this. It's no wonder the current approval/disapproval rating for congrss is 19%/73%. Harry Reid is utterly clueless. $681 million dollars for an "odor" shield" from us unwashed masses.

The Capitol Visitors Center, which opened this morning, may have tripled its original budget and fallen years behind schedule, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found a silver lining for members of Congress: tourists won't offend them with their B.O. anymore."My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway," said Reid in his remarks. "In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it's true."But it's no longer going to be true, noted Reid, thanks to the air conditioned, indoor space.And that's not all. "We have many bathrooms here, as you can see," Reid continued. "Souvenirs
are available." $621 million well spent.