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Monday  September 13, 2010


Following kindly reformatted by Charles Adams


The Space Studies Institute urges the Congress to defeat H.R. 5781 We believe there is a great benefit to our Nation in the opening of the space frontier.  Space is about more than science or exploration.

Frontiers are about creating prosperity and realizing potential. The contribution of American space efforts to our national economy and to human welfare has barely begun. We face many challenges: ensuring a permanent supply of clean, low-cost energy, strategic metals and, providing robust protection against asteroid impact. Affordable space transportation is necessary to enable all of these benefits.


The present House bill will delay the time when space can make a greater contribution to our national welfare. The most useful thing this Congress can do to lower the cost of launch is to create a market for space transportation services. The Kelly Act of 1925, which contracted for private air mail delivery, is a successful example. A consequence of the Kelly Act was the development of the DC-3. As students of history note, the commercial DC-3 ( re-designated the C-47) was an important element in winning WWII.  American industry -- rather than Russian -- will soon be able to supply commercial transportation to the ISS and to commercial space stations. NASA purchase of commercial crew services would accelerate the maturation of this industry.  There is another important role for government to play in space development.  That is financial support of pre-competitive research and development. That is the role the NACA played until 1958. The NACA performed critical pre-competitive research on topics necessary to build aircraft. NACA reports are models of clarity. These reports are still used today in the development of the U.S. commercial space industry. By contrast, little of economic utility has come from the past few years of NASA R&D.

Development of the unnecessary and wasteful Ares vehicle crowded out useful and necessary research.  We support the administration's request to reinstate funds needed to pursue precompetitive research. There are several areas that are critical to America's regaining leadership in space development. The topics of interest require the development of human capital. Congress must give the long-term support needed to develop human capital in the form of engineers and scientists with technical expertise that we have lost.


The magnitude of benefits from space development could be a significant annual addition to our economy within a few decades if the Congress chooses to foster a commercial industry. The benefits include satellite solar power. Clean renewable energy from space could be a $500 billion annual export market in a few decades. Asteroidal resources could supply a resurgent American manufacturing industry with the resources to dominate world markets and ensure prosperity at home.


It is difficult to predict the future. Yet, we already have sufficient knowledge of the resources in space to predict a bright future for space development if transport costs are driven low enough to open the space frontier.


For good reasons, government developed transportation has been costly and uncompetitive. A classic case is Samuel Langley's government funded attempt to invent the airplane. Langley spent one hundred times as much money as the Wright brothers did. They succeeded, and he failed. Another example is the British government-funded effort to build passenger dirigibles between the world wars. The government-funded R101 crashed on its maiden voyage, but the commercially developed Vickers R100 dirigible flew successfully. NASA's failures at every new launcher program in the past two decades are more recent examples.


The competition represented by the government's developing its own unique launch vehicles hinders the emergence of a competitive and improving space transportation sector in the United States. The current House bill perpetuates that mistake.


This Congress can choose to be on the right side of history--or on the wrong side. You can elect to help your country build wealth and prosperity, or you can choose to waste money and talent building an unaffordable rocket to nowhere. History may record your choice in stark terms, but your constituents will thank you now, and in the near future, if you make the wise choice.


Prof. Freeman Dyson, President


Prof. John S. Lewis, V.P., Research


Dr. Lee Valentine, Exec. V.P.



Subject: The Appeasement Mosque

Looks like it's going up.

Maybe we should also put up a big statue of Hideki Tojo on top of the Pearl Harbor memorial.

Those who refuse to learn from the past are forced to repeat it.

Those who refuse to learn from the present are forcing the rest of us to learn Arabic.

Matthew Joseph Harrington

e pur si muove

It isn't up yet. Of course neither is anything else. We built the Empire State Building in 2 years after the stock market collapse in 1929; we don't seem to be able to move that fast now, ten years after the World Trade Building was destroyed in an act of war. We must have had better technology in 1930.


Letter from England: Trainwreck

I've never seen a train wreck before. I'm watching the UK Government handle its budget cutbacks--I suppose they're necessary, but it's like watching the Union Army in 1861. The Business Secretary announced earlier this week that they would be halving research funding and limiting it to world-leading applied science. <http://tinyurl.com/379pq7y> <http://tinyurl.com/28s856l> <http://tinyurl.com/336s2pb> <http://tinyurl.com/2f2hmc8> <http://tinyurl.com/34ljppd> <http://tinyurl.com/35n2ygs> <http://tinyurl.com/34neq8x> (Currently, the UK spends about one third as much as America does per capita, this would reduce the figure to about 1/5th or 1/6th.) Since I've almost never seen applied science in world-leading journals, I assume this means they're really thinking about almost 100% cutbacks. That will shut the UK doctoral programmes down quickly and trigger an exodus of researchers <http://tinyurl.com/29v75k4>. It will be interesting to see how long a first world economy can last without funding research. Canada has relevant experience <http://tinyurl.com/2w5l5tg>.

 There's an interesting chart comparing higher education expenditure in the 9 September Times Higher Education. <http://tinyurl.com/2ud4ah2>. The UK figure shown is prior to the 35% cutbacks. Also the Australian and UK figures are for a 3-year baccalaureate (instead of 4 years in the other nations).

 Apparently there will be a university fee increase <http://tinyurl.com/3685det>. Unlike America, college students in the UK are legally adults, so the new fees will not be funded by families. I actually agree with the fee increase, but I believe it must be coupled with bursaries for the talented poor, or it will have negative effects on the economy.

 Tax revolt in the UK <http://tinyurl.com/2urdqsg> <http://tinyurl.com/2utodln>

 Royal Mail to go private <http://tinyurl.com/337lvdx>

 Hawking's new faith: <http://tinyurl.com/3aee7jb> <http://tinyurl.com/34rs6km>

 * * *

I've been working with a lexico-statistician on the authorship of the Johannine corpus. We're using common function word usage statistics since other studies have found them fairly reliable as an indicator of authorship. Initial results are interesting.

 There seems to be no evidence for more than four major authors, each of whom is associated with a distinct cluster of writings. These are Revelation, the epistles, and two clusters imbedded in the Gospel of John. Revelation is a complete outlier for many words, including the most common, kai (or 'and'), so this confirms the general opinion that it has a separate author. The three epistles cluster together to the exclusion of the remainder of the corpus, which is a mild surprise. The Gospel of John contains two major distinct clusters: the Farewell Discourses and a narrative source--the Signs Gospel--that Robert Fortna previously reconstructed using other criteria. The remainder of the Gospel falls between the two major clusters, suggesting that it is a mixture. Fortna had suggested the Signs Gospel was originally composed by combining a life narrative with a passion narrative, but there is no evidence of different authors.

 The Signs Gospel reads like a much more primitive and very Jewish Mark with concerns appropriate to the decades prior to the Jewish Revolt. The theology is messianic and treats the crucifixion as an embarrassment to be explained away by Jewish prophecies. There are between seven and nine signs used to prove Jesus is the messiah, with the resurrection the greatest sign.


Harry Erwin, PhD

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

I will comment on Biblical authorship another time.


From another conference. We were discussing the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and the subject of the Roman Church came up' certainly the longest lived bureaucracy in history. Having survived 1500 years or so, is there much to be learned from it. Most of the comments were dismissive or derogatory, but Mike Flynn said:


A bit of rambling regarding clerical bureaucracy.

The question does not regard various stereotypes held of the Church but whether Pournelle's Iron Law applies. The history of the church shows both: there are always people dedicated to the mission: feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, and so forth. But there are always those who are in it for their own benefit, and others who sincerely convince themselves that what benefits them is good for the organization. IOW, some are saving souls and some are burnishing the organization. The weeds grow up along with the wheat. When the Iron Law becomes too rusty, a reformer appears: e.g., the Clunaic reformers, Robert d'Abrissel, Francis d'Assisi, and so on.

There is also the Church's rather decentralized nature. First, there are various orders that run their own affairs: the Jesuits, Dominicans, Carmelites, etc. In my area there is a Franciscan friary a short distance away. An African order, the Apostles of Jesus, supply the priests for a local diocesan parish. One may find monasteries, convents, carmels, and sundry other self-governing bodies. There are abbots, abbesses, generals, and so forth. Second, there are parallel hierarchies. One of the local churches here is Arabic and practices the Maronite rite. It falls under the Maronite Eparchy of Brooklyn. The Maronite bishops elect a patriarch, confirmed by Rome. Another local church is Ukrainian and practices the Byzantine rite. It falls under the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. The others are all Latin rite under the bishop of Allentown.

Thirdly, each bishop, though appointed by the Pope (where States have not interfered), runs his own diocese. Dogma is subject to Rome, but discipline is local - unless it breaks down. There is always the "appeal to Rome" as a sort of supreme court. An archbishop has a higher dignity, usually because his city is more important, but he's not the "boss" of the provincial bishops. The province is run by a "conference" of all the bishops in it. (At one time, the whole church was run that way: Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch conferred. Then Constantinople, because that's where the emperor hung out. When pastoral letters were not enough, they called an ecumenical council, and all the bishops got together for a Worldcon.)

At the parish level, the pastor is not the "supervisor" of the congregants; and money is not collected because they think they'll go to hell if they don't put in. The money is collected because the church building costs money to maintain, and because of various programs undertaken. Some of it goes to the diocese because there are programs the diocese can run that would be uneconomical for each parish to run. These programs are described when asking for donations. The parishioners are not threatened with hellfire. Locally, there are clothing drives, food banks, parish "visitators of the sick," parish community events, eucharistic ministers, lectors, and so forth, all carried out by volunteers.

Another possible factor is that to become a priest at all requires several years of study and indoctrination. (That term is meant precisely: mastering the doctrines.) What corporation or agency spends *years* teaching its entry-level managers in the mission of the organization. This may retard the Iron Law and accelerate the Rubber Band. That is, no matter how badly off the beam they get, there is an established standard against which they can be judged.

A last point is a certain kind of recognition. The third bishop of Philadelphia was deeply spiritual and worked hard at ministering to his diocese, which at the time included all of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and much of New Jersey. But he was not a very good administrator or book keeper. So he was given a co-adjutor who was, and who succeeded him on his death. Bishop Woods organized and managed many building projects, set up managerial systems, and all the rest. But it was his predecessor, John Neumann who was canonized saint. This sort of thing also serves as a touchstone or reference standard.

Any list of popes and bishops and eparchs and the like could contain Iron Law examples. The order founded by St. Francis found itself enmeshed after his death in a struggle between the "Spirituals" who wanted to live the simple life of poverty and the "Conventuals" who wanted to set up rules and regulations. I can't say the Conventuals were wrong: a governance structure that works for one charismatic dude and his immediate followers will not work when the number of followers far exceeds a personal following and are scattered among scores or hundreds of friaries across Europe. But I can't say the "Spirituals" were wrong, either, in seeing the ominous shadow of the Iron Law in the writing of many chapters and rules. The Church, as usual, had it both ways and there are today the "OFM" and the "OFM conv."

Can any of this apply to bureaucracies outside these special circumstances?

Mike Flynn


Subject: For those of us that like it hot


Tracy Walters, CISSP


The following is the last in an exchange of letters that began in about the same tone. It purports to instruct me on how we know the temperature of the Earth for a year to a tenth of a degree. You will recall that I asked a couple of space scientists how they would go about getting the temperature of the Earth for a year and expressing it in a single number accurate to a tenth of a degree.

I was asked who these people were:

I was curious about this statement you made: "I have also had conversations with space scientists on just how you might go about getting a single number accurate to a tenth of a degree that represents the annual temperature of the Earth. Unsurprisingly they were nonplussed." What space scientists with what expertise did you talk to here?

Thanks, Mark

I named Yoji Kondo, a rather senior NASA scientist who was in charge of the IUV satellite among other projects, and is pretty well known in space weather research; and the chief scientist of space command.

That resulted in this:

Hello, "Space command"? I think you meant Johnson Space Center from the old Apollo and Skylab missions. Is Yoji Kondo an active climate researcher with published peer reviewed studies in the relevant fields? Usually you look at the relevant literature which is available at UCLA, attend lectures by scientists with proper expertise and who are doing current research and in general spend time educating yourself so you can ask good questions. The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Part of NASA) has all the original data, freely available and some of the foremost climate researchers in the world among thousands of active researchers. There is no noteworthy disagreement among actual experts about AGW. If you are serious about understanding climate research you can start here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/ 

<http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/>  Have you also read the relevant sections of the IPCC reports? To get started look here: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html  And within this section you can find this: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-3-1.html 

Partial quote follows: "There is no single thermometer measuring the global temperature. Instead, individual thermometer measurements taken every day at several thousand stations over the land areas of the world are combined with thousands more measurements of sea surface temperature taken from ships moving over the oceans to produce an estimate of global average temperature every month. To obtain consistent changes over time, the main analysis is actually of anomalies (departures from the climatological mean at each site) as these are more robust to changes in data availability. It is now possible to use these measurements from 1850 to the present, although coverage is much less than global in the second half of the 19th century, is much better after 1957 when measurements began in Antarctica, and best after about 1980, when satellite measurements began. Expressed as a global average, surface temperatures have increased by about 0.74°C over the past hundred years (between 1906 and 2005; see Figure 1). However, the warming has been neither steady nor the same in different seasons or in different locations. There was not much overall change from 1850 to about 1915, aside from ups and downs associated with natural variability but which may have also partly arisen from poor sampling. An increase (0.35°C) occurred in the global average temperature from the 1910s to the 1940s, followed by a slight cooling (0.1°C), and then a rapid warming (0.55°C) up to the end of 2006 (Figure 1). The warmest years of the series are 1998 and 2005 (which are statistically indistinguishable), and 11 of the 12 warmest years have occurred in the last 12 years (1995 to 2006). Warming, particularly since the 1970s, has generally been greater over land than over the oceans. Seasonally, warming has been slightly greater in the winter hemisphere. Additional warming occurs in cities and urban areas (often referred to as the urban heat island effect), but is confined in spatial extent, and its effects are allowed for both by excluding as many of the affected sites as possible from the global temperature data and by increasing the error range (the light grey band in the figure).

A few areas have cooled since 1901, most notably the northern North Atlantic near southern Greenland. Warming during this time has been strongest over the continental interiors of Asia and northern North America. However, as these are areas with large year-to-year variability, the most evident warming signal has occurred in parts of the middle and lower latitudes, particularly the tropical oceans. In the lower left panel of Figure 1, which shows temperature trends since 1979, the pattern in the Pacific Ocean features warming and cooling regions related to El Niño.

Analysis of long-term changes in daily temperature extremes has recently become possible for many regions of the world (parts of North America and southern South America, Europe, northern and eastern Asia, southern Africa and Australasia). Especially since the 1950s, these records show a decrease in the number of very cold days and nights and an increase in the number of extremely hot days and warm nights (see FAQ 3.3 <http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-3-3.html> ). The length of the frost-free season has increased in most mid- and high-latitude regions of both hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is mostly manifest as an earlier start to spring.

In addition to the surface data described above, measurements of temperature above the surface have been made with weather balloons, with reasonable coverage over land since 1958, and from satellite data since 1979. All data are adjusted for changes in instruments and observing practices where necessary. Microwave satellite data have been used to create a ‘satellite temperature record’ for thick layers of the atmosphere including the troposphere (from the surface up to about 10 km) and the lower stratosphere (about 10 to 30 km). Despite several new analyses with improved cross-calibration of the 13 instruments on different satellites used since 1979 and compensation for changes in observing time and satellite altitude, some uncertainties remain in trends.

For global observations since the late 1950s, the most recent versions of all available data sets show that the troposphere has warmed at a slightly greater rate than the surface, while the stratosphere has cooled markedly since 1979. This is in accord with physical expectations and most model results, which demonstrate the role of increasing greenhouse gases in tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling; ozone depletion also contributes substantially to stratospheric cooling.

Consistent with observed increases in surface temperature, there have been decreases in the length of river and lake ice seasons. Further, there has been an almost worldwide reduction in glacial mass and extent in the 20th century; melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has recently become apparent; snow cover has decreased in many Northern Hemisphere regions; sea ice thickness and extent have decreased in the Arctic in all seasons, most dramatically in spring and summer; the oceans are warming; and sea level is rising due to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of land ice"

Digesting and understanding information such as this will, of course, take months of effort on your part if you do it correctly and your questions after getting over the hump of initial effort should properly be addressed to the actual researchers. I am sure there are good ones near you at UCLA.

All the best in efforts to become educated on this grave and growing problem,

Mark Schaffer

I presume this was meant to be informative, although I still do not understand why one should take seriously a tenth of a degree when there are thousands of numbers being averaged in, and some of them are known to be flawed; but this is the answer I was given.

Yoji Kondo is a senior NASA scientst at Goddard, and was in charge of the IUV satellite among other projects. He is recently retired. Space Command is a USAF operational command. It should be clear that the statement by a member of that command that he wouldn't know how to get a comprehensive measure of the temperature of the earth for a year accurate to a tenth of a degree was a private opinion,  in no way an official statement, and not necessarily the opinion of Space Command, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the Government of the United States. To the best of my knowledge Space Command has not been tasked with measuring the temperature of the Earth accurate to 0.1 degree.


I fear that I didn't learn much I had not already been told, but perhaps others will profit from this. I am still unconvinced that any of these techniques including the satellite atmospheric measurements are consistently accurate to 0.1 degree over a period of a year (for example, orbits drift, the latitude at which one is looking changes a bit, and I believe that temperature can be sensitive to latitude). I believe that ground temperature measurements are subject to error. I believe that sea temperatures are subject to error. I have had to monitor temperatures in an altitude/temperature chamber as well as both skin and core temperatures of test subjects under thermal stress, and I have some knowledge of the difficulty of obtaining such measures to fractions of a degree accuracy in a laboratory where I had entire control of the environment and direct access to the measuring -- and recording -- equipment. I know that measures vary even in the lab, and I am convinced there is more than a 0.1 degree standard error of measurement in many of those listed as contributing to the climate temperature. Of course one can believe that if we take enough such measures and average them we will have a number we can trust enough to believe that 0.1 degree changes in temperature are significant. Perhaps so, but for how long have we had such measurements?

From all the data I have seen, we are dealing with a temperature rise of about 0.4 degrees from 1880 to 1940, and another 0.4 to 0.8 degrees from 1940 to present, less from 1940 to 2000 (0.4 tp 0.6). We are told to be alarmed. It is my understanding that there was about 1 degree temperature rise from 1780 to 1880, although I do not think we know the temperature in either 1780 or 1880 to a tenth of a degree.

In any event, I suppose I ought to be thankful for the lesson, which appears to be that we must leave such matters to the specialists, and can safely ignore critics like Freeman Dyson and Fred Singer.

As to whether I have read the relevant secti0ns of the IPCC reports, I presume most of the world has read them.


Re: Under "Taking the Earth's Temperature

Yes, careful science is amazing to watch. Beats the complete lack of research the denialists indulge in. It is also amazing that you have read the relevant literature in one day including references to thousands of peer reviewed research. Or was that just uninformed sarcasm on your part?

Mark Schaffer



"We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted."


-- Roland Dobbins




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This week:


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Tuesday,  September 14, 2010

I will let others comment on Mr. Shaffer's tutorial:



As one of those "global warming deniers," I would respond to Mr. Schaffer Allas follows:

(1) The global warming community has only begun to allow serious peer review of their material by persons who are trained in statistics. The results of the first review confirm what people such as Freeman Dyson -- and I, in numerous comments reprinted here -- have known intuitively: the statistics of their studies is suspect.

As I have said before, is it STATISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE (please forgive the shout, but it seemed appropriate in this context) to close an energy balance to 10 parts per billion (necessary for the errors that the "global warming community" quotes for their 100-year century projection) with the quality of data available. Nothing that the community claims in their data can overcome that basic fact. The fact that their physical assumptions -- and the numerical implementation of those assumptions in their codes -- are both suspect is equally condemning.

I invite Mr. Schaffer to review the data on this site and elsewhere in which independent researchers demolish the physical assumptions and statistical claims of the "global warming community." I also invite him to review www.drroyspencer.com  and Dr. John Christy's papers at http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/atmos/christy.html   for two serious, qualified researchers whose results deny the consensus he cites. The web sites climateaudit.org and http://wattsupwiththat.com/  contain links to the peer-reviewed literature (yes, Virginia, it is peer reviewed) contrary to the consensus.

(2) And in response to his sarcasm, I ask him whether he himself has read the material he cites, and is professionally qualified to judge the quality of the data (which does not require a speciality in the subject). I have a Ph.D. in physics and experience in experimentation, test, and analysis, with some emphasis on the statistical analysis of experimental data (among other things). I have worked with models in areas a diverse as automotive safety and orbital analysis, and have studied long-term weather series data for weather engineering. I have seen overly simple models go grossly wrong in a couple of hundred time steps, and know that the best models go wrong in a couple of thousand. I know that the forecast error in the best possible circumstance -- linear extrapolation from fitting data to a known linear trend -- increases hyperbolically with time, and that the best orbital model projections available sour after just months due to the uncertainties in timing and the variable effects of solar heating of the upper atmosphere. Climate modeling can intrinsically be no better than that.


But we can't measure to 0.1 degree. Well, take a thousand measurements accurate to 1.0 degree, and average them. That will give us accuracies to .001 degree. That ought to do it!

It is astonishing how many climate scientists are, or apparently are, unaware of the fundamentals of statistical inference, knowing little of Bayes and nothing of Savage. Not part of the peer review process. But there is it.

As to qualifications, I am not a climate scientist, but I have had to measure temperatures. For most accuracy to 1.0 degree C was good enough: we were doing heat stress tests at 45 and 50 degree C. At 50 C one wants to be a bit careful although a couple of degrees higher is not that much stress for a subject in long underwear. We were also doing tests of ventilated full pressure suits in a 400 degree F environment, and one had to be careful that the incoming oxygen temperature to the suited subject did not get too high. I know how difficult it was to take measurements to the required accuracy in an electric and thermally noisy environment. One of these days I'll see if I can scan some of the photographs of my lab in thse days (including an enormous bank of Boeing Integrated Analog Computer operational amplifiers doing analog programs to get accurate heart rates and chart temperatures. I know that technology is a lot better now for both taking measures and recording them, but accuracies to 0.1 degree are still not easily obtained.


Taking our temperature

Hello Jerry,

Mark Schaffer, in the courses of his tutorial on the unfolding disaster that is Anthropogenic Global Warming, provides this: "....sea ice thickness and extent have decreased in the Arctic in all seasons, most dramatically in spring and summer;......."

I assume that Mr. Schaffer came to this conclusion based on articles such as this one: "Arctic Sea Ice Extent is Third Lowest on Record", published in October, 2009, since the article contained this "In the video above, Tom Wagner, NASA’s cryosphere <http://www.universetoday.com/59355/cryosphere/>  program manager, describes the shrinking of Arctic sea ice and the significance of the problem for the rest of the planet <http://www.universetoday.com/35923/planet/>  ." in its opening paragraph.

The second paragraph included actual data:

"The ice cover [in 2009--BL] was 970,000 square kilometers (370,000 square miles) greater than the record low of 2007 and 580,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles) greater than 2008."

Now as I understand it, the Arctic sea ice, which we have only been able to measure since 1979, when the crisis du jour was our catapulting into a new ice age, as evidenced in part by the massive, unprecedented amount of Arctic sea ice in the 1970's, reached a record low (of 31 data points) in 2007. Then in 2008 it went up by 390,000 square kilometers. 2009 found an additional 580,000 square kilometers added over 2008. This brought the grand total increase of 970,000 square kilometers in the last two years, with the second year increase greater than the first year increase.

In the world of climate science this data confirms that the Arctic ice cap is shrinking rapidly, at an increasing rate.

Bob Ludwick


GW and Schaffer

Dear Dr. Pournelle;

I can understand why you would not feel enlightened by Mark Schaffer's on Monday. All he did was regurgitate the standard propaganda in an attempt to enlighten what he apparently thinks is an ignoramus. I've certainly had disagreements with you from time to time, but have mostly kept them to myself simply because some disagreements are legitimate and arise from differences in views on a given subject.

The business on global warming is not one of those things.

I'm not surprised that neither of the people you asked either would or could not tell you how to arrive at a temperature of the earth accurate to 0.1 C. Just as my experience of plotting sea temperature on an Atlantic crossing from the Azores to Bermuda to Norfolk, Virginia did not allow us to find the Gulf Stream.

When I was on active duty we were required by the Navy to send regular meteorological reports to Washington. I imagine this still continues.

Part of those reports was sea water temperatures. When a steam driven ship is underway the sea water injection temperature is an important factor in monitoring the efficiency of a Carnot Cycle heat engine. However, when I called main control to ask for the sea water temp they always reported it to 1 degree F. A degree F is 0.556 deg. C, certainly not a precision of 0.1.

NOAA has a number of buoys that reports sea conditions, among which is sea water temp. If I remember correctly, these report temps to 1 degree C.

Airport reporting systems also report to 1 degree F as I recall. But those systems are almost always in heat islands around cities and can not be trusted for much other than the use aviators put them to. We have seen that many of the rest of the stations are in similar situations, even being placed near Asphalt pavements and building air conditioning condensers.

Frankly, unless Schaffer can do better than spout boilerplate I will remain unconvinced. From what I've seen, you would be fortunate if you could arrive at a figure good to 5 degrees, much less 1 degree no matter which scale you chose to use.

Richard L. Hardison, PLS, PE, CFedS Waynesville, NC

But surely if you average enough accurate to 1.0 degree the result will be accurate to 0.1 degree?


Re: 1/10 of a Degree


It is a common theme for quite a few too many years now (actually even one year is too many) that in order to be a credible expert on climate you must hold the required opinion. Never mind that the acclaimed experts uses of statistics are often debunked by statisticians and so on with other fields of specialty. Those who hold the mandated correct opinion are the only ones to be believed. the various researchers (academic and otherwise) who follow the scientific process and have come to varying conclusions are simply not to be believed no matter their actual expertise or the quality of their work.

Climate Science is a religion tended to by Anointed Priests. Hands off, unwashed one!

Keep focusing on the basics. Yes, you will continue to suffer attacks. The reality is not about opinions or exalted status, it is about physics. What is happening is happening regardless of our ability to discover it or whether we have or ever will discover it. The great thing about the scientific process is that it deals in facts. People, alas, deal in politics. When someone says "This is what's happening" but they refuse to publish their data and their calculations and their computer code (I mean publish everything in case I left out anything), it is just a political assertion.

Many of the adjustments made to temperature records before their use for published temperatures of the earth and its regions are left unexplained. That is unacceptable. Much of the original data in critical proxy reconstructions was or is refused publication. Unacceptable. Selecting data that agrees with your preferred conclusion. Unacceptable. Presenting advocacy groups' non-scientific publications in reference lists (2007 IPCC report) as peer-reviewed scientific research. Unacceptable. The list is long.

Anything that is actually science - and I don't give a damn what anybody has been getting away with forever with peer review or anything else, I mean real science - then it can withstand rigorous and complete audit of the data and review of calculations and conclusions.

The only objective judge is when calculations match reality. Past or present doesn't matter, except for people. Whenever people are involved (always, right?) we can only use predictions of future conditions and/or events to help judge the correctness of an idea.

This is all very basic, just like the questions you are asking. Keep asking them. The emperor's tailors will continue to assail you. Such is life.

Regards, George


RE: Your correspondent Mark Schaffer--"Beats the complete lack of research the denialists indulge in"


Your correspondent Mark Schaffer might be interested in this list of 800 peer reviewed journal articles which support skepticism of AGW:


I suspect that Mr. Schaffer feels that peer reviewed articles are only valid if they support one's personal belief system.

It should be kept in mind that the US and other governments have spent $10's of billions on research aimed at bolstering AGW claims, while the Big Bad Oil Companies have spent $10's of millions (i.e., about 1000X less) funding research to dispute these claims.

Also, according to this US Senate report, there are now over 700 prominent scientists who disagree with AGW claims:


I suspect that in this list there are at least a few who have done carefully conducted climatic research.

Finally, here is a list of 31,000 American scientists who have signed a petition rejecting AGW claims:


I guess they have all been hoodwinked (whoops-there goes the sarcasm again).

Best regards,

Doug Ely

Well, I am a signer of the oism document, but I claim no expertise in climate science. I do know something of experimental techniques, and of operations analysis.

If you do not have data accurate to 0.1 degree, it is difficult to draw conclusions from fluctuations of 0.1 degree, or so I would have thought. In particular, I doubt we know the temperature of the Earth in 1880 to any single degree accuracy. We do know that in 1780 it was a heck of a lot colder than it was in 1880, and there is pretty good evidence that in 1680 it was colder than in 1780, but those are inferences from ice thickness on rivers and length of growing seasons mostly in Europe. It is safe to conclude that it is warmer now than in 1880. How much warmer is another story.

Ice formations and glaciers are sensitive to rain and snowfall, which is sensitive to El Nino, and I do not think we know what causes El Nino or how to predict it.


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mark Schaffer replies

: Re: Under "Taking the Earth's Temperature

I just took a look at your postings wrt my emails to you. I would suggest your audience really does need to talk to active researchers as they are poorly informed on this subject and are relying on propaganda sites for their information. As to your continual suggestion about statistics being unknown by climate researchers, why don't you ask what they know before assuming what you think they know? Otherwise you are not being honest about their efforts. I find the assumption of who has read IPCC by you to be hyperbolic at best. Now, have you read the IPCC documents or not?

Mark Shaffer

I fear I have no answer. Of course I have not read the any more than the Policy section of the IPCC document. I Presume some have. I do not believe it is a requirement to have read everything those who want to control about half the world's economy have published before I am allowed to comment. And I am still unable to discern how the 0.1 degree accuracy is defended, yet it is a rise of under one degree in a century that seems to have generated the enormous concern.

Perhaps we are talking past each other but I don't find this a very informative dialogue.



'In January, the peer-reviewed international journal Acta Crystallographica Section E announced the retraction of more than 70 papers by Chinese scientists who had falsified data.'



This sort of thing is common not only in China, but throughout Asia generally.

- Roland Dobbins

There is a fair amount of nonsense published in American and British science journals too. What is taught in undergraduate statistics encourages unfounded conclusions, particularly in social and medical sciences.


Subject: Measuring the surface temperature of the earth - Hansen's view


For some time you've been writing about the difficulty of (or futility of) trying to define and accurately measure something that would represent the average surface temperature of the earth. Apparently, Jim Hansen agrees with you on that point. At least that is what I take from this Q&A that appears on the web site operated by the Goddard Institute of Space Studies:

> http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html


The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)

Q. What exactly do we mean by SAT ?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT ?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day ? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Q. What SAT do the local media report ?

A. The media report the reading of 1 particular thermometer of a nearby weather station. This temperature may be very different from the true SAT even at that location and has certainly nothing to do with the true regional SAT. To measure the true regional SAT, we would have to use many 50 ft stacks of thermometers distributed evenly over the whole region, an obvious practical impossibility.

Q. If the reported SATs are not the true SATs, why are they still useful ?

A. The reported temperature is truly meaningful only to a person who happens to visit the weather station at the precise moment when the reported temperature is measured, in other words, to nobody. However, in addition to the SAT the reports usually also mention whether the current temperature is unusually high or unusually low, how much it differs from the normal temperature, and that information (the anomaly) is meaningful for the whole region. Also, if we hear a temperature (say 70°F), we instinctively translate it into hot or cold, but our translation key depends on the season and region, the same temperature may be 'hot' in winter and 'cold' in July, since by 'hot' we always mean 'hotter than normal', i.e. we all translate absolute temperatures automatically into anomalies whether we are aware of it or not.

Q. If SATs cannot be measured, how are SAT maps created ?

A. This can only be done with the help of computer models, the same models that are used to create the daily weather forecasts. We may start out the model with the few observed data that are available and fill in the rest with guesses (also called extrapolations) and then let the model run long enough so that the initial guesses no longer matter, but not too long in order to avoid that the inaccuracies of the model become relevant. This may be done starting from conditions from many years, so that the average (called a 'climatology') hopefully represents a typical map for the particular month or day of the year.

Q. What do I do if I need absolute SATs, not anomalies ?

A. In 99.9% of the cases you'll find that anomalies are exactly what you need, not absolute temperatures. In the remaining cases, you have to pick one of the available climatologies and add the anomalies (with respect to the proper base period) to it. For the global mean, the most trusted models produce a value of roughly 14°C, i.e. 57.2°F, but it may easily be anywhere between 56 and 58°F and regionally, let alone locally, the situation is even worse.


Now the authorship of this Q&A is not given. But Hansen appears to be the NASA official responsible for the page, so I think it is reasonable to assume that this reflects his opinion on the subject.

Given that Hansen was one of the first to generate a temperature trend line, and compare it to a climate model, this might seem a little startling. So I downloaded some of Hansen's early work, and took a look at how he handled the temperature data from weather stations.

It seems pretty clear that Hansen (and I assume other researchers) are not really attempting to establish an average temperature of the earth from all that weather station data. Rather, they are trying to establish the degree of drift (or anomaly) from the mean value of the data history that is available in each location. In other words, they don't average temperature globally and then look for changes from the mean. Instead, they establish changes from the mean at each location, and then average the anomalies globally. It may seem like a subtle point, but it is the basis for claiming that they know the amount of change accurately, even if they don't know the absolute value accurately.

I'd like to propose that the famous temperature anomaly graph should really be viewed in the following way: It is as attempt to look at the long term drift in weather station data on a global basis. More specifically, it is an attempt to use existing weather station data (with all it's flaws and deficiencies) to estimate what the drift in weather station temperature measurements would be IF such stations were distributed densely and uniformly across the surface of the planet, and run properly over the time span in question. I will leave it to others to decide whether or not they have actually produced a useful estimate, and whether or not that estimate is meaningful to the debate on global warming.

CP, Connecticut.

I understand; but the "anomaly" measurement is no better than the primary instruments.

When my weather man tells me that the Valley temperature will be 95 I understand that he means "hot" and when he says "double digits" he means "really hot." I don't really expect my back yard thermometers to give me the same numbers. Taking an average and then measuring deviations from it won't really give me a lot more information than that. You can manipulate the data, but it will never get any more accurate unless you know of some systematic error such as a badly calibrated thermometer. In my lab we kept one thermocouple in an ice bath; we plotted that output on the same chart as the temperatures we were interested in. Obviously if that drifted we had an instrumental deviation and had to adjust our other data. I also used thermistors which use a different (built into the instrument) calibration to get duplicates of some of my primary data so that we would have those for comparison. Even so, getting an 0.1 degree accuracy in a noisy lab was difficult.

And I repeat: we have many reports of anomalies in data collection. No data for all of Russia for days on end, resulting in "estimates" taken from previous months perhaps averaged with later data. Latitude drift in satellite observations. Discovery that sensors are in an air conditioner outdraft.  I am fairly certain that different assumptions on data "correction" would result in differences in a degree or more in some cases.

One of the policies I have always supported is increasing the primary date in both quantity and accuracy. That's often reasonably cheap, and the finer the data, the better chance we have of seeing real anomalies that may lead to better theories about events such as El Nino which have real and immediate effects on temperatures and rainfall over all of North America and elsewhere. Glacier formation is more dependent on precipitation than temperature -- if the snow doesn't fall, the glacier can only decrease in size.

The Earth is warming. We can all agree. The questions are, how much, how fast, and from what cause? And on those questions we cannot agree, but I would say we ought to agree that more and better data will help. Meanwhile, the numbers I have seen do not indicate to me that it is time to panic. They so say we need to be watchful, and we ought to be investing in means for reducing CO2 atmospheric content: preferably reversible means for doing so, since all of agriculture depends on there being sufficient CO2. It might help if we studied just how much CO2 is optimum, but I have seen few studies that honestly look at  that.  Ah well.


A few points about measurement accuracy:

Consider the simple average of (13±1), (15±1), and (15±1). The sum is (48±3)...divided by the number of data points (3) results in 14.333±1

The accuracy does not improve by averaging several inaccurate measurements: it is still ±1

The fact that punching 48 divided by 3 into one's calculator results in 14.333 does not mean you have 5 (or more) significant digits in the answer. You only started out with 2 significant digits, therefore you can't have more than 2 digits in the answer. The proper result of the average is (14±1). One sees this error often in newspapers, such as "length is about 11.81 inches" because someone told the journalist "length is about 30 centimeters".

One often confuses resolution with accuracy. Accuracy is how much the measurement deviates from the actual value. Resolution is how finely one can resolve differences in the measurement (how many significant digits). With today's digital readings of almost everything, we often assume a more accurate measurement is being made because the digital readout contains a lot of digits. Consider a modern cheap digital thermometer: usually contains a semiconductor temperature sensor accurate to ±2C, coupled to an analog-to-digital converter with a display of 3 digits. It might read 22.6C. It "looks like" the temperature is accurate to 0.1C, but it isn't.

I agree that temperature is probably the most difficult-to-measure physical parameter. For example, voltage, current, weight (mass), frequency are much easier to measure to high accuracy.

Remember that virtually all of the measurements of temperature prior to the last 20 years or so were done with a visual reading of a mercury thermometer inside a Stevenson Screen. I think it is very unlikely that the reader could resolve such a reading to better than ±0.2C...let alone what the accuracy of the thermometer is.

A simple experiment: The next time you are in a hardware store, take a look at the display of thermometers. There are usually a few dozen. Try to read them to 0.1 degree. Then look at the spread of the measurements, even among "identical" devices. Hmmm.

Ted Longman


: Moderate Republicans quaking in their boots!

Jerry ,

Yesterday's Delaware Senate primary outcome will shake up a lot of "moderate" Republicans and members of the ruling class <http://email.spectator.org/ct/
07C43B3BB1E9BB>  .

Of course the ruling class will attack the winner – as they always do – who beat one of their own. Karl Rove, himself a bona fide member, said it clearly when he opined that the winner had "serious character problems," and would cause ordinary voters to not vote for our candidates because of "what they said and what they do."

The outcome will also encourage conservatives who might have been reluctant to throw their hats in the ring. May the rest of those moderate Republicans quake in their boots!

Al Regnery
Publisher, The American Spectator

I would not myself think it desirable that Republican politicians would tremble with fear over the prospect of the election of conservative candidates.

As to the ruling class, yes, there is a great deal to the concept; but it is not complete. One reason for the rise of a professional ruling class is the collapse of the volunteer system, and what de Tocqueville called the associations. When I was actively in politics -- I successfully managed the campaigns of Sam Yorty for Mayor of Los Angeles, and Barry Goldwater Jr, for Congress, and was briefly a city official -- the "ruling class" in America consisted in large part of about 25,000 precinct committeemen in the two major parties. The precinct captains collectively elected the party officials. Of course they mostly voted to keep the leadership they found when they got into precinct politics, but not always. There was always the prospect of a revolt of the precinct workers, and from time to time that happened. The Goldwater presidential nomination was in large part due to a campaign among the precinct workers.

That changed enormously over the past few decades, but one major reason for the change was a total lack of interest in precinct politics by ordinary citizens. The structure is still there. When the American middle class resumes its interest in local politics and regains control of the precincts -- something that can happen at any time -- the nature of the ruling class will change. That doesn't mean that those accustomed to rule, through wealth and influence and positions of intellectual power will go away or cease to have great influence. Such people always have and always will have great influence; but they do not necessarily control the nation, as John Quincy Adams discovered to his horror at the election of Andrew Jackson.

Party political work takes time and effort. I believe Jefferson had this in mind when he wrote on the subject.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. It always has been, and always will be. The Regnery family has done much for the United States (Mr. Regnery's father Henry Regnery was Russell Kirk's publisher among many other publishing achievements, and was a major factor in the nomination of Goldwater and later of Reagan). There will always be a ruling class. The trick is to find a way to join it. Precinct political work used to be the simplest way, and it can still be effective. Much of Heinlein's Take Back Your Government is out of date; but not all of it.


Death to the Political Class


Hopefully, what we are seeing in Delaware and other venues this year is the start of the withering and death of "The Political Class."

The whole concept of a political class is in direct conflict with a Republic and Consent of the Governed.

There is an EMail currently circulating proposing that the States call a Constitutional Convention and draft an Amendment that wool prohibit the Congress from passing any Legislation that did not apply equally to Members of Congress and all Citizens.

If the political class survives this amendment may be the only way to rein them in. (I was tempted to use reign in the previous sentence because their actions seem Imperial.)

Bob Holmes

In 1789 the French dealt death to the ruling class. The result was a large number of French dead of cold and hunger at the gates of Moscow and on the way home. See  See also the comment above. There is always a ruling class, as the people of Russia discovered in 1917 and as the French had found earlier.

I do agree that it is time to change the political ruling class; but then I thought that in 1960 and began what occupied a good part of my time for the next twenty years. It is not a single effort that preserves liberty.


Who Parked the Moon?


-- Roland Dobbins

An  exposition on what we don't know about the Moon. 

Reading it a bit further I don't know much of what it is we don't know.



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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Global Temperatures 

The Increase in Global Temperature: What it Does and Does Not Tell Us By Dr. Robert Balling, Director of the Office of Climatology at Arizona State University Summary The global temperature record is often used to support the claim that the Earth is warming at a rate that is “reasonably consistent” with predictions for warming due to the buildup of greenhouse gases. This paper examines how the Earth’s temperature is taken, examines the reliability of those measurements, and highlights several factors that affect temperature trends and variation. http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/170.pdf 

This is good background information but it does not answer Jerry's not so simple question.

I hold in my hand the IPCC WG1 Report dated 1990. It doesn't answer Jerry's question either but it does have that disturbing Figure 7.1 showing schematic diagrams of global temperature variations since the Pleistocene on three time-scales. What an ice ball of a planet we live on and the Medieval warm period does look very attractive. This report was written long before getting rid of the Medieval warm period seemed 'convenient' and before the IPCC published the hockey stick rubbish.


We know that the planet has been warmer than it is now, and that it has been colder. We have some guesses as to how much warmer and how much colder. None of the models on which we have spent billions actually explain the known history of climate. I believe those are all true statements (in the sense that they have not been falsified by any evidence).


Confession of an AGW apostate 

Dr Pournelle

I am saddened to see Mr Mark Schaffer leave in a huff. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/
mail/2010/Q3/mail640.html#Wednesday  Mr Schaffer seems to think all those who disagree with his opinion to be ignorant and mistaken. Education -- that's the ticket. A little dab'll do ya, and soon you'll spout the IPCC line like Jim Hansen.

When first I read your site, I, too, believed in AGW. But like you, I have experience collecting measurements in a fully controlled environment, and I know how maddening variance can be.

Anyway, some of the posts I read on your site caused me to question the data used to generate the extrapolations on which AGW is based. Shortly I found the measurements came from different sources and are, thus, non-comparable for the precision claimed. Next I found the integrity of the data compromised. Then I found interpolations substituted for missing measurements. The more I looked, the more objections I had to the data.

For me, these problems with the data ended my belief in AGW. I do not care about the AGW models. They may be wonderful. But bad data will not yield good results. GIGO.

Do I believe the Earth is warming? Yes, I do, and God be thanked for it. Do I believe humankind induced the warming? No; I am not persuaded.

I pray Mr Schaffer continues to read your blog. I pray he opens his mind and follows some of the links given Tuesday by, inter alia, Dr Jim.

'Having eyes, do you not see? Having ears, do you not hear?'

Live long and prosper
h lynn keith

PS Thanks very much for the heads up on H.R. 5781. I shall write my Congresscritters to express my desire that they defeat the measure.

Having been at the scene in AAAS meetings back in the days when Global Cooling and The Coming Ice Age was the consensus position of Big Science, I was a bit nonplussed when it shifted - dramatically and suddenly -- to AGW.  The one thing I am sure of is that the Earth has been warmer than now, and colder than now, in historical times, and much warmer and much colder in its lifetime. I do not think we have adequately dealt with the influence of the molten core on the temperature of the biosphere, and I don't think we really understand space weather.

It's all important and worth a lot more study; but not "study" confined to the consensus position. We need more and better data.


Solazyme to announce Navy contract for algae-based fuel -


Solazyme to announce Navy contract for algae-based fuel

I still believe that reducing dependence on foreign oil is a place where AGW adherents and skeptics can agree. I hope this proves to be another step in the right direction.



Precinct Workers -  Hi Jerry,

You said "one major reason for the change was a total lack of interest in precinct politics by ordinary citizens."

I think that is highly correlated with the demise of local caucuses and the growth of primary elections. Why bother going to a precinct meeting if nothing happens there? That's especially true when the primary is 'open' to anyone (why someone who is not part of the party should be able to vote for a candidate is beyond me, but that's another topic). All those meetings turn out to be is a request for donations.

If we want to increase local participation, eliminate the primary election and return to true caucuses. We have a dual system here in Colorado, which works somewhat better. Because I'm involved at the local level, I have access to candidates prior to elections, for both my local legislative and statewide. How many citizens have the ability to have a face to face conversation with their senatorial candidate, or get a personal phone call from their congressional candidate? That'd never happen with a pure primary, but as a delegate to our state assembly, I'm in the unique position of having them lobby me for my vote.

That's much more satisfying than just writing emails that are only read by a staffer and turned into a simple 'for/against' tick mark on a list.



Precinct work has changed, and the skills have changed, but the ground game is still important. Thanks.


Your Tax Dollars at Work


David March

Transportation Coordinator




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Friday,  September 17, 2010


I was a precinct committeeman in Colorado, then a district captain, then a House District Leader. Woo-hoo. It is as Doug says. One time, Margie and I were walking about downtown Denver when, lo, here comes Dick Lamm, the governor, and he stops and calls me by name. At one banquet, I was introduced to the guest speaker, an up-and-comer named Dick Gephardt. Heady stuff. Woo, as I said, hoo. I usually wound up at the county and state conventions and assemblies. (There is a technical distinction: the state was both an assembly and a convention.) Like Doug, I cannot fathom why anyone and his great-aunt Matilda can waltz in on primary day and try to select my party's candidate. (Well, when I had a party.) There was one state convention where Jimmy Carter had locked down the rules to try to keep the Teddy Kennedy threat contained. This didn't set right with a lot of Coloradoans, so Mo Sigel of Celestial Seasonings organized a revolt and we got one third of the delegates to declare for "uncommitted." Take that, Jimmy!

Then I moved to New Jersey and found that matters in the Garden State were quite different.

I was also there when the parties began to fall apart. I could see this when each "franchise" candidate essentially built his own party. Dick Lamm, Tim Wirth, and Gary Hart each had their own "party" in parallel with the party regulars. They had volunteers in each precinct, captains for districts and all the rest. When we knocked on doors, people would say, "You're the fourth person to come knocking. Go away." And so much for the county offices and the state representatives and suchlike folk. So what I did the last couple elections, I rounded up all my precinct people and captains and we all went and volunteered for all three "nameplate" campaigns. That way, at least in my district, we had a single party organization working for the entire ticket. For a while.

Now we have "campaigns" rather than parties; and the cult of personality. And the candidate stands alone and unshielded in the winds of special interest. (The parties used to broker the interests, balance things out a bit; now they can rent individuals one at a time.)

Mike Flynn

This is a comment on yesterday's View. See Today's View for more on the subject of precinct politics and self government.


The nuclear Option and the Tea Parties


Here is my idea:

You don't pick one nuclear plant design, you pick two, and you build 50-500 each of the two designs, and you type certify them the way the FAA certifies aircraft, i.e. the design gets certified ONCE and you build them all the same. The reason I say pick two designs is pragmatic. There are two big consortiums who have very well thought out proposals under consideration, and I don't think the bureaucrats should pick a winner. Build both. Also, for the same reason you want two engine designs when buying fighter jets, even if it adds a little bit to the overall cost, if the absolute worst happens only half your fleet is down while you make repairs.

I also think it is worth building the next generation liquid sodium cooled reactor as a government run facility. This reactor can burn plutonium, and in terms of national security it's worth doing just to remove excess plutonium from the international market. Go ahead and invite international observers. (who cares since the real point actually is anti-proliferation) and just sell the power onto the grid at the market rate. (better yet, build it in NV and just use the power to run Nellis AFB.)

As for the Tea party candidates. For decades the Country Club republicans have been telling us fiscal conservatives "You don't like our guy? Tough. What are you going to do, vote Democrat?" Now it's our turn, and I'm going to enjoy the schadenfreude while it lasts.

Even if the Tea Party candidates lose in the general (some will some won't), they have still won a victory over the establishment, and the establishment will have to compromise and nominate someone a fiscal conservative next time. Whoever it is won't be as conservative as the Tea party folks want, be will necessarily have to be more conservative than the folks we have been getting.

As I recall "Interesting Times" is a curse yes?

Mark E. Horning, Physicist,

It also behooves the Tea Party people to work their tails off for the candidates that did win. Anyone who supports the Tea Party had better be prepared to donate to O'Donnell, and to any other Tea Party insurgent who is in financial trouble. The whole movement depends on there being few losses in places where there was a sure win; on the other hand, the payoff is enormous.

So Christine O'Donnell has a slip of the tongue. Never happened to Krauthammer or Rove. Sure.

I agree that two nuclear reactor designs might be superior. What I really want is to nail down the nuclear option. We need INVESTMENTS, not "Stimulus".


"Protecting us from science"


There’s a website called ThinkGeek, which sells t-shirts & other stuff to celebrate one’s “inner Geek” chic (ahem!). Anyway, it also had this gem of information, “Did you know the Erlenmeyer flask is considered controlled glassware in Texas? You have to fill out a narcotics equipment permit and file it in a public database with Texas's Department of Public Safety.”

Will ceases never wonder, eh? I wonder if the chemistry set I had while a Cub Scout would be legal now? I suspect not.



Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

-Robert A. Heinlein

The stakes are high in these trends. What do we want government to do?


Constitution Day

Hello Jerry,

I ran across this from Paul A. Rahe, a professor at Hillsdale College, as a commentary on the occasion of the 223rd anniversary of 'Constitution Day', September 17, 1787:


To provide some context as to how we have 'progressed' since then, I note that the senior member of the House of Representatives (press release 16 Sept, 2009) and the 8th most senior member (24 July, 2010), both Democrats and both from California, have stated publicly that the federal government has essentially unlimited power over the lives and activities of private citizens, unrestricted by the Constitution.

Sounds like a classic example of 'mission creep', writ large.

Bob Ludwick


Well, here's a new twist on Nigeria!

----- Forwarded Message ---- From: UPS Corporate Headquarters <postal_inspector@post.com> To: Recipients <postal_inspector@post.com> Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 6:22:42 AM Subject: Undelivered parcel

UPS Corporate Headquarters 55 Glenlake Parkway, NE Atlanta , GA 30328

This is to notify you that we have intercepted your parcel and are temporarily holding your parcel IN Spain .We have suspended the delivery process for the following reasons: 1. Our scanning system has detected that your parcel contains valuable items . 2. Valuable items exceeding $250,000, originating from outside the USA are subject to POSTAL INSPECTION by UPS.

Our postal inspection department has verified the authenticity of the package.Concluding the verification on the package our office has ascertained that the package is genuine and has not been illegally acquired.

In order for us to release your package, you are in obligated to obtain a full insurance coverage on the package.You should therefore contact our Spanish agent in Madrid Spain to obtain the full insurance coverage.

While we wait to receive from you the insurance File Number to enable us forward your package to your address. Below is the contact information of our Spanish agent.

Name: Name: Dr Jim Hovey Email address: drjimhovey81@aol.com Contact Number: 011 34 603 181 092

Once you receive your insurance File Number, kindly forward file number or scanned document to drjimhovey71@aol.com In subject please include reference number 8875663-FFID, so we can trace your case file swiftly. Soon as we have received the required insurance File Number We shall forward your package to your shipping address.

Carolyn Ralph Postal Inspector in Charge U.P.S


Gosh what luck! Presumably someone bites on this stuff.


Subject: A Koran defense system

Why not put a Koran on every airplane? Then we can tell Jihadists that if they destroy the plane, they destroy a Koran. This could also be used by the military in their convoys, to reduce the threat of roadside bombs. At the least, it would expose the hypocrisy.

S. Walker


SUBJ: Statistics 

"The average American has one ball and one tit. You now know everything you need to know about statistics." - from _Mr Natural's Rules of Women and the Universe_, circa 1977


But what does it all mean, Mr. Natural?



Jerry, Hopefully this insanity will come to an end soon. WH Science Czar Says He Would Use 'Free Market' to 'De-Develop the United States'

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/


Is he an actual Czar (as Warren will be)? And is that position subject to Senate confirmation? It seems an odd policy for a public official. I cannot believe that running for office on a platform of transforming the rest of the country into Detroit is a good political move.










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Saturday, September 18, 2010

I took the day off.






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Sunday,   September 19, 2010    

I took the day off.




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IF YOU SEND MAIL it may be published; if you want it private SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. I try to respect confidences, but there is only me, and this is Chaos Manor. If you want a mail address other than the one from which you sent the mail to appear, PUT THAT AT THE END OF THE LETTER as a signature. In general, put the name you want at the end of the letter: if you put no address there none will be posted, but I do want some kind of name, or explicitly to say (name withheld).

Note that if you don't put a name in the bottom of the letter I have to get one from the header. This takes time I don't have, and may end up with a name and address you didn't want on the letter. Do us both a favor: sign your letters to me with the name and address (or no address) as you want them posted. Also, repeat the subject as the first line of the mail. That also saves me time.

I try to answer mail, but mostly I can't get to all of it. I read it all, although not always the instant it comes in. I do have books to write too...  I am reminded of H. P. Lovecraft who slowly starved to death while answering fan mail. 

Monday -- Tuesday -- Wednesday -- Thursday -- Friday -- Saturday -- Sunday

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