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View 577 June 29 - July 5, 2009

 

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Monday, June 29, 2009

 

SCOTUS and the Firefighter Case

Jerry,

The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of the passed over firefighters, and I quote:

"Fear of litigation alone cannot justify the city's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions,"

http://www.nytimes.com/
2009/06/30/us/30scotus.html?hp 

Mark

Note that this was a 5-4 decision. I have only read the news accounts of the opinions, but my interpretation is that this does establish that one can devise a test that is racially neutral, and it remains racially neutral if it causes a racial disparity in outcomes. That would be an important precedent.

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The quiet Sun continues:

http://www.solarcycle24.com/

Some climate theorists believe that periods of no sunspots bring about a lower solar constant -- the energy that the Earth gets from the Sun -- and thus lower Earth temperatures. The longest period of no sunspots coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age. Note, though, that the Little Ice Age had been under way since the early 1300's. The Little Ice Age began at a time when solar activity was falling rapidly, but no one was recording sunspots so solar activity has to be inferred from other measurements. I know of no proof that lack of sunspots is a reliable predictor of colder Earth temperatures, but it is an hypothesis held by some qualified climate theorists.

My view is that the Earth has been both considerably warmer (dairy farms in Greenland, vineyards in Scotland) and colder (Hudson frozen over hard enough to haul cannon across it to Harlem, skaters on the Zuyder Zee  during the William the Silent insurgency against Spain) in historical times, and most of the current warming took place well before any rise in CO2.

It may be irrelevant now. The House has passed an enormous energy tax bill. We don't know what it will do because no one has read it, but by all accounts it's pretty drastic. We can only hope that the Senate comes to its senses and rejects this.

The Global Warming Alarmists, including Waxman, continue to say that this bill is required, the Earth is warming because of CO2, and without this energy tax humanity is headed for disaster. Meanwhile, the international consensus on measures like this has fallen apart. Even if one accepts the CO2 caused global warming hypothesis, there is no indication that this bill would reduce total world CO2 emission by any significant amount; while it would certainly do enormous damage to the American economy.

Of course I have a stake in this: according to this bill I would not be able to sell my house without putting huge investments in replacing my appliances. Regulators get to intervene in housing sales. That should do wonders for the housing market. The implications for political pressures are enormous, of course. Who gets to appoint the regulators?

All internal dissent on the CO2 Global Warming hypothesis have been suppressed. This is not the way of science. The report is large, and I haven't read it. Summaries I have seen suggest it is a reasonable critique of the "consensus" position.

One can hope that Congress will come back into a sensible state of mind, but the prospects don't look good.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009   

Late start this morning, but I think I have recovered from a weekend bug.

I continue to be astonished that the cap and trade bill is seriously considered. This is probably my limitation, but I simply cannot see why anyone would be for it -- except, of course, as a huge tax increase, so that those who benefit from large government cash flows would be for it. I hadn't realized that this group was so powerful as to command a majority of the House of Representatives, but apparently it is so. Yes, I've seen the arguments that cap and trade will start a new green revolution and create a thriving new green economy; but I've seen precious little evidence for this, and a great deal of both scientific and economic arguments with evidence against it. Even in the arguments for the cap and trade bill there is little expectation that it will have much effect on climate. The most optimistic advocates don't give it much chance. CO2 has done about all it's going to do to raise temperatures, and in any even China and India aren't going to cut back on their use of coal and oil.

And unemployment continues to rise.

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The Firemen decision by the court continues to excite discussion, but I can't think why. Four members of the Supreme Court plus two more Appeals Court judges agreed with Sotomayor; hardly an indication of wild radicalism on her part. The decision ran to a surprising 100 pages and I still haven't been through all of it; but it doesn't look to me as if it settles much.

The problem, which every judge and city official is aware of although no one will talk about it, is that any g-loaded test is going to produce disparate racial results. Any g-loaded test will produce disproportionate numbers of Ashkenazi Jews, Orientals, and whites (in that order) at the high scoring end, and of Blacks and Latinos in the lower scoring group. We can argue about why this should be so, but everyone knows that will be the result. One can work very hard to produce a test that has absolutely nothing to do with race. The city of New Haven did just that. One can work very hard to produce a test that is highly relevant to the task, to the work performance to be predicted. The city of New Haven did just that. It will not change the results, which are about as certain as anything known in the social sciences. There will be significant racial disparities in the outcomes.

New Haven was unfortunate in that the result was even more disproportionate than expected: not one Black applicant passed the test. The city council then, in my judgment quite reasonably, feared that if they went ahead with the promotions on the basis of the test, they would face endless law suits which they could not afford. They decided to scrub the test. I don't say I would have voted for that result if I lived in New Haven, but I sure can sympathize with the councilmen who thought that way.

What is needed here is a clear cut decision that says that if a test is properly constructed with no racially connected questions, then those who use the test cannot be sued for relying on the outcome. I do not think the decision does that. I am not sure that any decision ever will do that. Those who have the problem of designing ways to hire and promote while avoiding lawsuits have my sympathy. They need more than that. They need clearcut laws. I don't think this decision gives them that.

As to why the racial disparities, and what if anything can be done about them: that's another discussion, and involves an enormous literature. The argument generally gets very ugly very quickly.

 

 

 

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Wednesday,  July 1, 2009

Al Franken is now a Senator, thanks to endless recounts. The implications of this are pretty severe. The nation that champions democracy around the world changes the rules after the election.

Meanwhile, several readers have called my attention to actions against Inspectors General. See http://townhall.com/columnists/
MichelleMalkin/2009/07/01/
who_railroaded_the_amtrak_inspector_general .

The campaign continues, this time on Health Care, and more stumping for the energy tax bill. The campaign for change is implacable.

Changing the rules is part of the campaign for change. It continues.

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Thursday,  July 3, 2009

Washington Post publisher cancels the exclusive event for lobbyists. A salon at the publishers house, for $250,000, with exclusive non-confrontational access to a ton of Obama officials. Interesting for several reasons.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/02/
AR2009070201563.html?hpid=topnews

Washington Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth today canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered lobbyists access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Post journalists in exchange for payments as high as $250,000.

"Absolutely, I'm disappointed," Weymouth, the chief executive of Washington Post Media, said in an interview. "This should never have happened. The fliers got out and weren't vetted. They didn't represent at all what we were attempting to do. We're not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom." <snip>

Probably the most interesting aspect is, how could they guarantee the presence of high ranking Obama administration officials at a private fund raising event? A second question would be, how can Katharine Graham's daughter not be aware that the newsroom would be horrified at the whole idea? Does the publisher never talk to the editors? But it does show just how isolated some elites are from the realities of the world.

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Everyone is wondering just how GM can survive the new Fleet Average mileage standards. Toyota is happy enough. They already sell lots of small cars. GM doesn't. GM sells cars, all right, but they sell big cars; no one goes to GM for a small efficient car. So just how will GM sell enough small cars to meet the CAFE standard?  I suppose they just won't. The CAFE standard provides for a big fine for companies that don't meet it; perhaps GM will just pay it, and get a government bailout to cover the fine? Because they sure aren't going to manage to sell enough small cars to meet the standard.

Meanwhile unemployment rises. Companies are part-timing valuable employees to avoid laying them off, and you can be sure they'll bring them back full time rather than hire new people when the economy gets better. Unemployment hasn't hit bottom yet.

I have to admit I am a bit baffled: I am not at all sure how we build a new economy. I see no signs that the smart people in charge know how to build a new economy.  I am convinced that low cost energy plus freedom will do the job -- but we are not likely to have either in the coming years. The good news is that we can recover, and we know how to do it. Eventually we'll understand that.

Now it's back to work on Mamelukes, Lucifer's Anvil, and the next column. Thanks to all of you who have renewed your subscriptions.

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The end of America as a space faring nation?

Minor reprieve from  cap and trade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday,  July 3, 2009

Got some work done on Anvil yesterday. Still hard at work. Also a column is due.

We'll have mail, including thoughts about legal counterfeiting by the states...

Employment continues to fall. There is talk of a new stimulus bill.  One wonders what it will do to curb unemployment? The only reliable means of increasing employment that I know of is lower energy costs and freedom. That is known to work.

And now it's time for my walk.

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Back. There's a lot more mail. And I have got to get hopping...

 

Happy Fourth of July

http://www.halfsigma.com/2009/07/article-239-of-the-honduran-constitution.html 

Article 239 of the Honduran constitution

Article 239 of the Honduran Constitution reads:

Article 239 ó No citizen that has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President.

Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.

Itís not exactly like the U.S. Constitution, but does it violate norms of democratic republican government? I donít think so. The problem of presidents who never leave power is all too common among undeveloped countries, so a very strict prohibition against multiple terms of office seems appropriate.

Zelaya directly violated Article 239 by ordering an election to reform the Constitution in order to keep himself in power beyond his term of office. He was then removed from office as the Constitution of his own country calls for. <snip>

There was according to Aristotle one Greek city state that had a fundamental law: anyone proposing revisions to the constitution did so with a noose around his neck. If his proposal lost he was instantly hanged.

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Play with nukes.

http://safecastle.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-post.html

 

 

 

 

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Saturday,  July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America

I am taking the day off.

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Sunday,  July 5, 2009

I am trying to work. I was listening to Leo Laporte's radio show and he happened to mention the free on-line virus scan fro ESET.com (makers of NOD32, one of his sponsors), and I made a mistake: I decided it would be useful to run that one one of my machines. Hah. I had forgotten just how many people listen to that show. The server must be near collapse: it has been a good fifteen minutes and I am only 6% done downloading the signature database. It's running, but it's going to be a while... My guess is that a lot of people had the same idea I did and at the same time. I think I'll give up.

There's a sort of grab bag of mail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the weekly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending.  (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If  you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.

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