THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 631 July 12 - 18, 2010
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July 12, 2010
The climate "debate" continues, only it doesn't. Most of the public puts the global warming crisis well down on their list of things to worry about, and if there was a straight up or down vote among the public on "reduce CO2 even though that costs jobs" there's not much question about the outcome. The public may or may not believe in AGW, or whatever the current term for man-made global warming may be now, but it sure doesn't want unemployment.
It's different in the educated classes. Most of them believe in science, and believe that "science" has settled the matter. This has happened before:
Crichton gives other examples of a consensus that was just dead wrong. Pellagra comes to mind. So does the move in the 90's to discourage pregnant women from taking folic acid. The result of that erroneous consensus was a number of severely retarded children. That story of government trying to do good and causing evil has largely been lost, but you can find it if you look hard enough; and of course the "consensus" now is that pregnant women ought to get plenty of folic acid.
The movement to silence debate about "climate change" or AGW and the rest it continues strong. There are two parts to this campaign: first, the insist that despite Climategate and the revelations about how the leaders of the "consensus" group tried to suppress inconvenient facts by suppressing dissent and dissenters. See Patrick Michaels "The Climategate Whitewash Continues."
Second, continue to poison the wells. "That article was in the Wall Street Journal! You can't trust anything you see there. And it wasn't peer reviewed so it's not science so you need pay no attention to it." Also, publish lists of "peers" whose reviews you will not solicit. Make certain that the only reviews of AGW articles are by people who are not unbelievers. From Michaels's WSJ article about the current spate of articles about Clomategate:
If you reject all journals that publish views differing from the "consensus", of course you will have a monolithic consensus. As there was on childbed fever, and pellagra, and folic acid.
It's easy enough to build a "consensus" if few publish any dissent, and all those who do publish dissent are denounced. Crichton's Cal Tech lecture continues:
Which is the problem in a nutshell.
There are billions at stake in this "scientific" controversy. Cap and trade isn't dead, and we can expect this onslaught to continue. It's not about science any more. The stakes are too high. Grants and careers at the low end; enormous fortunes both personal and corporate on the other. In between are large "non-profit corporations" that pay very large salaries to their executives and some of their staff.
Just don't forget: the Vikings called Nova Scotia "Vinland". Most of us learned that in fourth grade. Most schools don't teach that any more.
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July 13, 2010
Friday the 13th falls on Tuesday this month.**
Status Note: my AT&T MicroCell is set up, all the lights are on, nothing blinks. I have a notice of registration from AT&T. I used my iPhone telephone number to make the registration. There's only one problem: nothing happens. The iPhone acts as if the MicroCell does not exist. I am trying to figure out what to do next; probably go back to the AT&T store and beg, I suppose. I have done everything the manuals suggest. If any of you KNOW what is needed next, or know someone I should contact at AT&T, I'd like a note, but please, no speculations. I am writing this up for the column (which as usual is late) and I am hoping to have a happy ending to this story, and how I fixed my abysmally bad AT&T "service". It doesn't look as if I'll get that before I have to file the column.
My morning papers tell me that the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is today issuing a resolution denouncing the tea parties as 'racist'. I find this unfortunate, but then I find it worse than unfortunate that the NAACP seems to have long been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee. It was not always thus.
The NAACP's action has already gone international.
Worse, though, is the continual defining down of the epithet -- it is no longer as a descriptive word -- 'racist'. There is also the matter that the charge of 'racism' appears to be based on charges that have no discernible foundation.
I suppose that these tactics are very likely to backfire, and those who don't care for the present Congress and Administration ought to rejoice. The NAACP resolution isn't likely to win more colored votes for Obama. He already has about all he's likely to get. It isn't likely to stimulate his base. They're already stimulated. It isn't likely to convert black conservatives, who are perfectly capable of judging things for themselves. It is likely to infuriate the tea party adherents including many of those who attended tea party functions more out of curiosity than conviction, and know that the alleged incidents didn't happen in their presence and don't seem to have any more foundation than most of the denunciations from the usual denouncers.
Obama is in trouble, and this is an act of desperation.
Jonah Goldberg, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite pundits, has an interesting column in today's LA Times. It's entitled "Look who's popular now", but I can't find it on line. Eventually it will I suppose appear.
Goldberg's thesis is that the Republicans have been correct up to now to be "the party of No!", but it's time to come up with more specific plans. He doesn't say, but I am sure it was in the back of his mind, that the Republicans must never forget the lesson of 2008: the country doesn't want no more Creeps no how. Big Government Conservatism (which isn't conservative at all, and never could be) is dead, and attempts by the Creeps to revive that corpse will do nothing but prolong the rule of the Democratic Nuts, who, after well more than a year with supermajorities in Congress and Iron Rule in the White House do not seem to be making much progress in getting us out of the Great Recession and may be conducting us into a second Depression.
He recommends as a personal preference Paul Ryan's "Road Map for America", "a sweeping , bold and humane assault on the welfare state and our debt crisis." While I am not quite as enthusiastic for the road map as Goldberg -- my proclivity is toward wholesale and drastic measures to restore the Old Republic -- as a realist I will say it's a great start, and it's going in the right direction. If you can find Goldberg's column read it.
The Education Establishment, which has managed to destroy the US school system and is doing a pretty good job of wiping out the value of most of our higher education system as well, is now trying to eliminate the competition from private institutions. Thus was it ever. It isn't just capitalists who conspire to eliminate competition. The credentialists and gatekeepers in our education establishment are past masters at this.
Senator Tom Harkin, a long time tool of the educratic
establishment, outlines the new educratic campaign in articles with varying
names like "The for-profit college bubble".
This became inevitable when the federal government took over the student loan business. The tactics are clear enough. Find horror stories. Show college students who fell for blandishments that weren't true. Demand regulation. And for heaven's sake don't point out that someone not smart enough to find out whether the school is accredited to the organization that you need to get your credentials from probably ought not be studying for technician certification in the first place.
Freedom doesn't matter any more.
Charlie Sheffield and I tried to deal with some of this question in HIGHER EDUCATION. You might also see my Exile - and Glory! on just what the education system is becoming.
Jimmy Hogan was an old friend and colleague. We once considered collaboration, but nothing came of that. He lived in Ireland for decades, but prior to that he lived in the Goldrush Country in California, where he bought a large and rambling house with a majestic downstairs area and many tiny rooms upstairs: it needed considerable remodeling. It turns out that it was one the best known house of prostitution in the county, which explains the odd architecture.
We spent many evenings together at conventions, and he was one of the best raconteurs I have ever known.
** For the younger readers, this is an homage to Pogo. Don't worry your ever-loving blue-eyed minds about it.
July 14, 2010
I'm getting the column (late of course) out.
Yesterday I may not have been as clear as I could have been regarding certification and private colleges: in my judgment the certification process ought not be put in the hands of rent-seeking gatekeepers. If you want to be certified as knowledgeable in radio frequency technology, I don't care if you learned it from an "accredited school" or from a medium channeling Marconi; the question is do you know the subject. Credential examinations ought not be restricted to graduates of some privileged school which doesn't have to attract students because it has a monopoly.
The whole credential system needs new examination and revision. Meanwhile, the grants keep coming and education will absorb every cent that comes its way without regard to any need or quality expansion.
And they never catch wise...
They're taking their time about testing the new cap. I have no word on how the new development affect oil collection: can they pump the stuff into tankers and sell it? Must it just be allowed to spill? I am at a limit of understanding here
July 15, 2010
.The July Column is up. http://www.chaosmanorreviews.com/oa/2010/20100714_col.php
I have to take Sable to be washed; it's going to be 107 in the Valley today, and she needs grooming and combing, and her leg has recovered completely from the knee operation. Roberta is back home from going to Seattle for a funeral. All's well here, but I have errands to run before the full day's heat descends upon us...
Flash: the White House has just issued new health care rules regarding what insurance companies must pay for. ObamaCare at work. This is supposed to make us all feel good.
I think they ought to issue a rule making my gasoline free.
Just tried that. Two bars here in the room with the MicroCell. None downstairs. I have also done hard resets (push top and front buttons and hold until the apple appears). Same result. Alas.
The problem is fixed. See below. I owe AT&T an apology. Incidentally the "put it in Airplane Mode then back on line" suggestions works well and very fast if you want the iPhone to do another search for connectivity.
Incidentally, 3G iPhones DO in fact display "M-Cell 3G" if connected by the MicroCell.
Meanwhile, a little bird told me that Steve Jobs eats small children on alternate Fridays. The bird told me on condition of anonymity, and that he works for Apple but is not authorized to speak for the company. He also told me his friend Ruby, a songbird who resides in Steve Jobs's office, observed the pedophagia. Ruby has not returned calls. Apple spokespeople declined to comment.
The Oil Spill has stopped. As of this moment, the gusher is not flowing. Of course the tests are not done, and at some point they'll probably let the gusher go again, although they may try some methods to recover oil. At this point the debate will begin on what to do next. I suspect they will work toward recovery. Oil is oil, and it's worth a lot of money.
July 16, 2010
The oil torrent is still paused.
My MicroCell works. The story of why it didn't is interesting enough that I've spent the last half hour writing that up into a "July Supplement" column that I'll have up on Chaos Manor Reviews by tonight. As to why, I explain it all in the column. Here's a hint:
The Apple Press Conference on the iPhone 4 business is over with about the result I predicted: they'll give away the case, and if you want your money back you can have it. So far returns are under 2%.
The press conference is said to be available on line, at
It is worth watching if you can get past the entertainment. It won't tell you much you didn't know. Antenna design when you can't have an external antenna is a black art, and everyone has problems. There is a Vulcan Grip of Death for nearly every popular smart phone. Surprise.
Also: a new iPhone software update is available. I'm installing mine now. It's going to take a while: I suspect everyone else is doing that too.
Of course the bottom line really is the song: if you don't like the iPhone 4 don't buy it, if you have one and don't like it, take it back. But they have sold 3 million in three weeks, they like it, and the users like it.
Michael Mann, of the Meteorology Department of Penn State, has told his side of the story of The ClimateGate Whitewash in a letter to the editor published in today's Wall Street Journal. His position is that the papers he didn't like were substandard. There is no example or discussion so it's a matter of his judgment vs. that of others. This does not seem like rational argument to me, but perhaps that is the new standard of scientific discussion. Last time I heard, Mann was the one who refused to release data and formulae used to generate the "hockey stick" graph.
Lost in all this is seems to be the simple fact that the entire graph of temperatures for over a thousand years has a base line of 0 (zero) and it all fit within plus or minus 0.5 degrees Centigrade, except for the very end which is up 0.7 degrees C, making the year 2000 the hottest year since 1000 AD. I have yet to see a good definition of the temperature of the entire Earth (average of the whole surface for an entire year) that is repeatable to 0.5 degrees C. I do not believe any such reliable and repeatable figure of merit exists, even though we today have a world wide network of weather stations, ocean data from ships, and satellite measurements.
It's hot today in Los Angeles. I can well believe it's abnormally hot, but the radio reports say this isn't a record heat day. We measured hotter days. Whether there were even hotter days in times before we had anyone here to measure the temperature is something I can't say -- but I can't figure out how anyone would ever find out. Particularly to half a degree Centigrade.
Mann argues that Baliunas and Soon "gamed" the system to publish a "substandard" paper, and that precipitated the resignation of many from the editorial board of Climate Research. There is more debate about whether papers ought to be published or not. No one tells me how Mann figured out to within 0.1 degree C what was the temperature of the entire Earth over the year 1066 when William the Conqueror invaded England, or in 1529 when Suleiman the Magnificent attempted to conquer Europe and was stopped by the Empire at Vienna, or in 1648 when the peace of exhaustion signed at Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War, or in the following January when the English beheaded Charles I.
For that matter I don't understand how they reconcile all the various records and years, since "the Parliamentary record records the execution of Charles I occurring in 1648 (as the year did not end until March 24), although modern histories adjust the start of the year to January 1 and record the execution as occurring in 1649." England didn't celebrate New Year until Lady's Day (March 25) right up to 1752, making for no end of complexity for historians, but apparently that's not a factor in calculating the average temperature of the entire Earth for an entire year to an accuracy of 0.1 degree C.
I do know that in the year 982 (or thereabouts) Erik Thorvaldsson, usually known as Eric the Red, killed two men and was banished from Iceland, whereupon he explored Greenland and, finding some of it inhabitable, established colonies there that endured for a couple of hundred years. I don't know the temperature of the Earth in 1100 AD to 0.1 degree C, but I'm quite certain that it was a lot warmer than it is now. I have seen strong evidence that Erik's son Leif went further west to what is now called Nova Scotia, and found a land he called Vinland because vines grew there. I am fairly certain that no one today would give the name Vinland to Nova Scotia. I see other accounts of weather and climate in Europe and China in the period 800 to 1300. I have no idea what the average temperature of the Earth was to a tenth of a degree -- nor even to a full degree. I would wager that it was warmer then than now.
I'm even more convinced that it was colder in 1776 than it is now, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with a defensible estimate of the temperature of the Earth to an accuracy of 0.1 C, or to a full degree either.
I would find climate debate a great deal more rational if Mann would spend more time explaining how he comes up with his hockey stick, and less time castigating those who don't agree with him. I find it fascinating that someone can measure the temperature of the entire Earth over a year to an accuracy of a single degree -- and do so, not only today, but in the year 1000 as well. (The error bars on his estimate for the year 1ooo go from 0.7 to plus 0.3). I would certainly like to know more about how such a magnificent feat is accomplished.
The column supplement is up: http://www.chaosmanorreviews.com/oa/2010/20100716_col.php
Full story of the MicroCell and more about iPhone 4.
July 17, 2010
It's still the Silly Season. There's still furor over Apple and AntennaGate. So it goes.
He may well be right. I'd sure hate to be trying to break in to make a living as a full time writer in these times, although I can be done. My essay on how to get my job is still sort of relevant although it was written long ago; and of course I no longer have BYTE and McGraw Hill.
Which gives me another opportunity to thank all those who have recently subscribed or renewed subscriptions.
There is now talk that we'll get Cap and Trade even if Congress doesn't enact it; as regulations from the EPA. I would think that well beyond the authority of the President, but apparently there are presidential legal advisors who think differently. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate shrinks only because many have given up hope and have stopped looking for work. By the odd methods we use to count unemployment that means they are no longer unemployed, and thus that lowers the unemployment rate. The government is hiring (but laid off Census workers) so for the month there was this tiny "decrease" in the unemployment rate, but on the bottom line there are fewer jobs now than there were a month ago.
Recovery is slow, and the new finance bill is not geared to stimulate investment. There are new reporting regulations for small businesses that will put many of them out of business. We have not seen the end of this Great Recession, and it is in part becoming indistinguishable from Depression, except that during the Great Depression we had drastic deflation. I note that the financial reporters and the Wall Street Journal has begun to warn about the dangers of deflation. We haven't had that yet -- much -- but it's certainly a danger.
Deflation works like this: you see something you want, but it's 80 bucks. It's not urgent so you think you'll wait to see if you can get it for 70. There's a sale and it's now 70, but the local tax rate just went up so you decide to see if you can find it for less, either in another tax district or at a better sale price. If this happens a lot, the people who make the widget lay off their employees. No point in making widgets if no one is buying them. Generalize this and you can end as they did in the New Deal when the Department of Agriculture was paying farmers to pour milk out on the ground and sending agents to make them slaughter little pigs so that scarcity would drive prices up and end deflation, and no, I am not making that up. It's a bit more complicated than the bare statement, but that did happen. See Amity Schlaes The Forgotten Man for details. I wish I could be sure that the White House economic advisors, and the economic committee congresscritters have read that book, but I am afraid they have not.
The huge new finance Law is so complicated that I can't analyze its effects, but I will bet that it won't make life easier for small business. I will also bet that it will increase employment of government agents, whose salaries can never be cut, and who will get big pensions and health benefits. Someone must pay for all that. It won't be the government agents. It won't be Congress or its minions. It probably won't be the Legions, although the officer corps and senior NCO's will find their taxes rising.
Sorry to be so gloomy, but it's scary out there. And it's 107 degrees with unhealthful smog levels. Not a cheery day for an anniversary, but that doesn't make the event less joyful.
July 18, 2019
Although this essay is based on the Lessons for the day, this isn't a sermon. Bear with me.
The lesson for the day is from Luke 40.
Luke tells us the story: Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, were entertaining Jesus and his disciples in Bethany, a few miles east of Jerusalem. Martha rushed about the kitchen and household, seeing to the cooking, bringing wash basins, changing towels, and doing the other things needful when one's home has been unexpectedly invaded by a celebrity and his entourage. I give the King James version rather than the rather insipid translations being read nowadays:
The psalm for the day is Psalm 15. Modern translations turn this into something insipid. The best translation I know of is the Coverdale, which is based on both Luther and the Vulgate and to the best of my knowledge isn't contested by Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish authorities. It is inscribed on the tomb of Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and is often recited at the close of Scout meetings -- or used to be, anyway.
There was a time when a large portion of the the populations of England and the United States would have heard these lessons once a year. The translation might differ, and Sunday on which the lesson was read might be different, but a lot of people would have heard these lessons and be familiar with not only the stories, but often the language itself. Authors could count on this: those who could read had probably read those lessons and knew those stories.
Moreover, most people in the US and England, and for that matter most of Western Europe and great numbers throughout the civilized world would not only be more or less familiar with the Psalm, but agree with its sentiments. They might be Jewish or Catholic or Evangelical or Unitarian or agnostic or flat out atheist, but they'd pretty well agree that taking reward against the innocent would not be a moral or ethical thing to do. They might have some quibbles about what it mean to put money upon usury, but they'd pretty well agree that grinding the faces of the poor was a despicable way to make a living; that keeping your word and not disappointing your neighbor even if that wasn't to your best advantage was the right thing to do.
Many might not follow those precepts: if the reward against the innocent is large enough, or the hindrance for keeping your word to your neighbor severe enough, the temptation would be great and one might succumb: but that's another story. A very long time ago historians told stories of those who knew what was right and who actually did right. But there was fundmental agreement on what was right, and moreover, and doing right applied to all those around you. After all, the Lesson of the Good Samaritan had been read a few Sundays before, and that explicitly defined who was your neighbor.
Those who didn't go to church would still have heard much of this in the public schools.
And while the lesson of the story of Mary and Martha is not so clear, Kipling could assume that most of his readership would be familiar with it, and thus he could write The Sons of Martha; and we can all be grateful that there are daughters and sons of Martha. The world doesn't work very well without them.
Of course those lessons are no longer permitted in the schools at any level, lest someone be offended. Perhaps we are better for this, but it is something to be contemplated. A nation must be built on some common agreements, and there are indications that the common pool of agreement is getting shallower every year. When there comes a generation which has no daughters and sons of Martha, can we survive?
So we know now that a project out by Dulles Airport proudly boasts of its $18 million stimulus and the jobs created by that. It turns out that the total number of jobs created by the project is under 20. Perhaps there ought simply be a lottery: give half a million cash, no taxes, to 20 winners. Require each winner to hire someone at minimum wage for a year. They could spend the rest any way they wanted. I am sure they'd spend it, and some might even invest it; and I suspect the effect on the economy would be no worse than achieved with the various projects. It might even be cheaper to run the lottery than to award the project, too. Other savings come to mind.
The paperback of Niven and Pournelle, Escape from Hell, is available. If you haven't read it, I am pretty sure you'll like it. I read it over again the other day and I sure found it readable.
I know no more about it than this, but I did find it interesting that they kept counting until Franken won. And I make no doubt that will happen this November as well. It's always best to have a decisive win. Recounts generally go to the party employing the recounters.
And again, my thanks to all those who have renewed their subscriptions.
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