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Monday  December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Northeast of England! There's crunchy snow on the ground and a nip in the air!

 A particularly interesting datum lurking in this report is that students from comprehensive schools do better than students from fee-paying and grammar schools at these universities--being able to game the admissions system does not guarantee that the students will do well. <http://tinyurl.com/39xhgaw>

 NHS facing serious problems: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12080056> <http://tinyurl.com/2dfw997>

 Inflation coming to the UK? <http://tinyurl.com/2b2bmwn> <http://tinyurl.com/23rvmc6> <http://tinyurl.com/36j3jhk>

 I hadn't understood how much the Tories in the current government despise the universities until I visited London this last weekend and talked with a Tory politician. They'd like to shut the lower tier and reduce the percentage of students going on to higher education to about 20-25% of the population. Eye-opening. <http://tinyurl.com/2f8s9yo> <http://tinyurl.com/267jxto>

 The UK doesn't understand American liberal arts degrees <http://tinyurl.com/27rh2am>. Most Americans probably don't, either--the small American liberal arts colleges focus on preparing students for masters and doctoral programmes.

 UK Government embarrassed by reports of the training it has provided to Bangladeshi death squads. <http://tinyurl.com/2brbnsy>

 Police in most countries are not known for their ability to foresee consequences. <http://tinyurl.com/32cvzbq> <http://tinyurl.com/245gp6t>

 I suspect Homo is one species, broken into a series of chronospecies. <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/denisovans/>

 Web sites of human rights groups under heavy attack <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12054774>. (Disclaimer: I have provided advice on computer security to the Dahai Lama's organisation.)


If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? (Albert Einstein)

Harry Erwin PhD


Leaked Memo about NHS Cuts 

 See <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/

 They're now looking at eliminating social care <http://tinyurl.com/2fddhut>  and cancer research to make up a £10B funding gap.


Harry Erwin, PhD

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


Gordon Sollars sent you a link that criticizes the salaries paid to stage hands at Carnegie Hall, and you commented. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/

My question is 'Why should I care?'

How does it harm me if roadies organize to negotiate their pay from entertainment producers? I view this as free enterprise. The roadies are selling their labor at a premium, and the producer pays. The producer in turn passes on the his costs to his costumers. If I want his product, I pay his price. If I think his price too high, I don't buy the ticket. What happens? The producers renegotiates with the roadies or moves the performance to a less expensive venue. Or does not hold the performance at all.

I applaud the roadies who have by effort or luck gotten such lucrative positions.

By attacking their wages, I infer James Ahearn, the NorthJersey.com writer of the piece, is saying, "Hey, these guys are doing simple manual labor, and they shouldn't be paid big bucks. Top dollar should be reserved for guys like me who do mental work." As politely as I can say this, fuck Mr Ahearn and the horse he rode in on. If he don't like it, he doesn't have to buy the damned tickets. Else let him organize a protest among season ticket holders, overthrow the management of Carnegie Hall, fire the union roadies he has, and hire non-union roadies. If he can.

Mr Ahearn has the right to speak his mind. I have the right not to listen.

I suspect that many who give money to the Met -- we do, or rather we used to before the crash -- will wonder about the wisdom of doing that given what the money is spent on

Jerry Pournelle
Chaos Manor

That's fine by me. It is your money to do with as you please. If this bit of information inclines you to withhold money from an opera house, well and good. Is not transparency a good thing?

We may be talking past each other. I had two reasons for interest in the story. First, I was in fact surprised: having been involved in community theater management (many years ago) and at one point in the LA Opera League (well, my wife was on the board, so I got a lot of lessons on finance and technical management) I have some awareness of the complexities of the situation. I was not astonished that the average stage hand is paid more than all but the lead singers, but I was surprised by how much more.

My second reason was that I have long noted that "non-profit" doesn't mean poverty: much of the expenditure of many non-profits is on very high salaries and benefits for their executives. Obviously there are exceptions like the Salvation Army, but many old foundations have undergone a sea change over the years and are run as much for the benefit of their executives as for any public benefit.

I don't suggest government action except to repeal federal laws that favor one kind of worker over another, particularly whe it comes to above six figure salaries. Indeed I didn't intend any suggestions at all; illumination and transparency were what I had in mind. I agree that it's not my business who makes how much, and the remedy is, as you suggest, transparency.

As to why you should care, I never suspected that everyone would. I operate this place in the hopes that what interests me will interest many of my readers, but I have never deluded myself that all readers will be interested in all topics. Thanks for being a long time subscriber. Let's hope the other stuff in here is more to your interest. And thanks for being a long time subscriber.


Coldest December in Sweden in 110 years

Another obviously incorrect measurement. The winters can't be getting colder.



John Harlow, President BravePoint

Well, weather is not climate. The question is, what is averaged with what to create the average that is said to be rising uncontrollably (it is almost certainly rising, in the sense that it has been getting warmer all over the Earth since 1789; the question is, has the CO2 increased the rate of warming, and if so by how much, and I don't believe we have the data to know that).

Let me repeat something I have been saying for decades: when faced with expensive alternatives and considerable uncertainty, Bayesian analysis indicates that it's usually -- I'd say nearly always -- more cost effective to spend money reducing the uncertainties, rather than rushing to spend on palliatives. Be sure what you're preparing for is likely. I have never advocated reducing the amounts spent on climate studies. I do think we spend enough that some of that can be allocated to better data collection, since computer modeling can absorb arbitrary amounts and still ask for more. Better data would I think make for more confidence in the models.


Global average temperature

You may be interested in this article:


The short answer is that "We don't know".

"...driving toward the basic conclusion that what we know about global warming is pretty much nothing: we’ve no baseline, so don’t know if it’s happening; we’ve no cost/benefit evaluation so don’t know whether it would be net positive or net negative; if it is happening we don’t understand its causation and if it isn’t we don’t understand why not; and really the only thing we’re pretty sure of is that the people jumping up and down screaming that they have the answers are either deluded or charlatans."


I am not sure I'd go that far. We certainly have evidence that the Earth has been warming since the Revolutionary War. We don't, I think, have accurate enough data to compare how much it warmed from 1785 to 1885 as compared to 1885 to 1985. I am old enough to remember the "The Ice Is Coming!" and "The Genesis Strategy" of Margaret Meade and friends; indeed I was more or less in agreement that it was a matter of concern. The fear of runaway warming is more recent, but I am not convinced that it is based on reliable evidence. Comparing climate trends today to those of a hundred years ago is a matter of many assumptions, all of them defensible, about what the climate was a hundred years ago. But defensible assumptions doesn't mean high confidence in 0.1 degree accuracies in estimating temperatures in 1885 and certainly not in those of 1785. Indeed, I question whether we can have great confidence in 0.1 degree accuracies for world wide averages today.


'New archaeological discoveries show that Iceland was inhabited around AD 800 – nearly 70 years before the traditional dating of its Viking settlement.'


-- Roland Dobbins

It was warmer back then. And Greenland was green -- at least parts of it were. There were dairy farms. They are emerging from the ice now.


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


---- Roland Dobbins



Man makes a living by suing spammers 


Here we have the case of a man who has quit his job, gone to law school, and now makes his living suing spammers in small claims court.





“Everybody was too scared.”


-- Roland Dobbins


'The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.'


--- Roland Dobbins


Do we really need a DEA that does all these things?

Note that this report is based upon U.S. Department of State cable traffic obtained by WikiLeaks:


-- Roland Dobbins 

Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid, with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.

-- Alan Kay


Life on the internet Superhighway


Just some idle musing at the close of 2010.

Some of what I knew as science fiction in my youth is now becoming reality. I am not sure I like it all or even understand it as a cultural phenomena.

Life on the internet Superhighway. I think I am stuck on the off ramp.

Maybe it is a generational thing. 24/7 communication and data overload. I am a 61 year old man, retired, physics & chemistry degrees, and technology/ science literate. On that last, at least I thought I was tech literate, but I am beginning to wonder.

Much of all the hype and noise in tech these days are remote devices iOS & Android. I don't even have such a device and it is all a bit bewildering. And the social network apps are equally bizarre to me as well.

MySpace, Facebook, FourSquare, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, Gowalla, Tweeter, I don't pretend to understand much of it at all. It is all alphabet soup. And expanding. Smartphones, iTouch/iPhones,iPads, all these make it easier to do all this. With OnStar even your car can be turned off remotely.

I even wonder about the prospect of embedded devices in your body, like RFID technology. Is that just around the corner for all at birth?

WIth GPS, Wi-Fi, & cellular networks, it seem many want to know 24/7 where everyone is, and many seem to equally want to automatically wirelessly announce their location and everything they are doing to all listening on all social networks.

A twenty-something person built a network utilizing these kinds of technologies and is a billionaire now.

I would guess Big Brother (aka George Orwell's 1984) loves it.

If privacy is really gone (as it seems to be rapidly becoming and endangered species) I would not be surprised to see our Congresscritters outlaw stones because we all now live in glass houses.

MIke J




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Tuesday,  December 28, 2010

"We've seen some tailing off of the print sales, but for most companies, the growth of e-books has been so great that there's a lot of revenue coming from that side that's sort of gravy for us."


--- Roland Dobbin

Outies is selling well, with no publisher pushing it.


The Velikovsky Affair

Dr. Pournelle, Just a few comments, the web site monodock.net has been taken down, probably because James Hogan died earlier this year. www.jamesphogan.com is still active. There is a conspiratorial comment from this summer that "the cause of his death is still unknown".

Reading the material made me think of Erick von Daniken. I read "Chariots of the Gods" while in college, and remember being very excited about it. Also read the two follow on books and remember thinking they were shoddy sequels.

The moon landing was a hoax, Alien Autopsy, 9/11, Roswell, doesn't matter how often or hard they are knocked down, they will always crawl back out of the grave. I did buy the book on Roswell you recommended, unfortunately it is now underneath "The Best of Larry Niven", so it will be a while before it is read.

"Outies" was my first Kindle book.

"Coolest California summer on record" LA Times.


Wayne Fiebick

I looked briefly for Hogan's Velikovsky paper, but I didn't find it easily, and I don't think it important enough to search further. For me the interesting part of the Velikovsky Affair was the reaction of Big Science.

Jimmy Hogan liked kicking sacred cows. Some of them deserved kicking, and some were strong enough to kick back vigorously. I doubt truth is irreparably damaged by being questioned from time to time. Indeed, I think that all government science grant systems should have provisions for a portion of the funds going to premise checking and contrarian hypothesis testing, My favorite example on this is the HIV = AIDS hypothesis, which is very likely true; but at one time the discoverer of retro-viruses and one of the best qualified virologists in the world did not believe that HIV had anything to so with AIDS and wanted funds to do crucial experiments. He was ridiculed and essentially drummed out of the science community. It happens that he was very probably wrong; but his crucial experiments would not have cost much relative to the expenditures then going to AIDS research. For more on that, see http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/

Most contrarians are wrong. Many are egregiously wrong. But sometimes the most egregiously wrong turn out to be right, the best example being Ignatz Semmelweiss.

For a summary of my views on climate change and rational debate, see this. In that I came to this conclusion

The point here is not that there is no global warming. It's not that it's a good idea to increase the CO2 levels in the atmosphere or to pump out more CO2. The point is that assuming we know more than we do, and vigorously asserting that we should spend trillions of dollars on remedies derived from the knowledge we do not have, is not a prudent decision.

and I have seen nothing to cause me to change that. Indeed the recent news about Al Gore and the ethanol trade has strengthened my views. We don't know enough to spend money on "remedies" and we need to find out more about which was climate change is going, and how fast, before we start remediation measures.


Next year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address occur on the same day, February 2nd.

As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition of events: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication while the other involves a groundhog."


A bit harsh, perhaps but amusing. Thank you.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DailyTech - Dust Study May Invalidate Most Warming Modeling Work Done to Date 



Dr Alun J. Carr
School of Electrical, Electronic, and Mechanical Engineering
University College Dublin

More fine models wrecked by observation and data? I have no idea whether things are as severe as all that; I understood that parts of the models are very good. I do know that not one of the models can take initial conditions of 1950 and run to the year 2000 with results anything like what actually happened in those years.

So it's maybe back to the drawing board? It is not time to stop trying to model, but perhaps our confidence in the results as advice for policy needs reevaluating.


It's Not-So-Hot in New Zeland

Dr. Pournelle,

A Canadian blog, Small Dead Animals http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/
archives/015678.html   links to Daily Bayonet
Bayonet%29&utm_content=Google+Reader  who notes this:

[New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research] makes the huge admission that New Zealand has experienced hardly any warming during the last half-century. For all their talk about warming, for all their rushed invention of the “Eleven-Station Series” to prove warming, this new series shows that no warming has occurred here since about 1960. Almost all the warming took place from 1940-60, when the IPCC says that the effect of CO2 concentrations was trivial. Indeed, global temperatures were falling during that period.

Wonder if the data set will be to 1/10-th of a degree…?

Happy New Year!

Robin Juhl


Simple Physics - In reality my feather blew up into a tree ( About CO2 as a GHG )


I think the feather analogy is inspired.


Al Perrella

Simple Physics – In reality my feather blew up into a tree ( About CO2 as a GHG ) <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2648572/posts>  Watts Up With That? ^ <http://www.freerepublic.com/%5Ehttp://
simple-physics-in-reality-my-feather-blew-up-into-a-tree/>  | December 28, 2010 | Guest Post by Barry Woods

All too often the ‘simple physics of CO2′ argument is presented to the public by the media, politicians, climate scientists and environmental advocacy groups, in a way that grossly simplifies the issue of the response in global temperature to increasing CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

An excellent response to the simple physics argument is to be found in the comments at Climate Etc <http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/20/
-to-climate-science/#comment-25348>  (Professor Judith Curry’s blog)

In reality my feather blew up into a tree

“….. which is that since CO2 is a GHG it follows that increasing CO2 must increase the temperature (of something). No matter how many times we say that the climate is a system with complex non-linear feedbacks they still love this simple principle of physics.

This is because physics works by isolating simple situations from reality. That was the great discovery of physics, that if you simplified reality you could find simple laws. So far so good.

But as every engineer knows, these simple laws often do not work when reality gets messy, as it usually is. Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.

In reality my feather blew up into a tree.

It is not that the simple law is false, just that there are a number of other simple laws opposing it. In the case of climate we don’t even know what some of these other laws are, so we can’t explain what we see. That is where we should be looking.”

The ‘do you deny the simple GHG physics’ argument is also often an attempt to portray anyone that asks reasonable scientific questions about AGW and the complexity of climate science, as some sort of an ‘anti-science’, ‘flat earther’ denier.

The realities and complexities and unknowns of climate science are described in the IPCC working Group 1 reports, but somehow get ‘lost in translation’ into the Summary for Policymakers, for example (and everyone knows very few politicians even read beyond the executive summary of anything).

IPCC (Chapter 14,, Working Group 1, The Scientific Basis) <http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/

Third Assessment Report: “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

Time and time again the media and environment groups ignore this IPCC fact that the climate is a coupled nonlinear chaotic system and that the worst case scenarios of the computer model ’projections’ or scenarios (because they know they cannot use the word prediction) latest example, 4C by 2060, are just one result of computer model ‘runs’ programmed with various extreme values of these assumptions.

The low-end ’projections’ of temperature by model runs with other values and assumptions are ignored completely by CAGW advocates, the data output or projection of a computer model transmorphs into a scientific fact, the data output of a computer model becomes evidence of CAGW.

Climate Science is often portrayed to the public in simplistic terms as a mature science, narrowed down and focused onto one primary factor - CO2, assuming all else to be equal, and not the possibilities in this type of system that varying one parameter alone, may vary other parameters in non-linear ways, even potentially flipping some from positive to negative feedback (or vice versa)

At the time of the Copenhagen Cop 15 Climate Conference, stunts on TV, rather than the discussion of uncertainties of ‘climate science’ were the order of the day.

The classic demonstration of the ‘do you deny the simple physics of CO2′ argument is a glass tube filled with CO2, heated and then the TV presenter or preferably a senior government scientist says ‘look it has warmed!’ -

As demonstrated by the BBC in their Newsnight <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8418356.stm>  program, Copenhagen Climate Conference time, the BBC’s apparent intellectual response to the climategate emails and documents. Watts Up With That <http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/24/
-on-live-tv-with-indepedent-lab-results-to-prove-it/>  , gave a critique of this particular type of TV experiment and CAGW PR.

I wonder what would have happened if a member of the audience had been able to question their methodology, or even ask simple questions like:

What is the percentage of CO2 in the jar?

ie total atmospheric is ~0.038%, what percentage is in the glass jar – 50% plus perhaps, or more?

[Corrected typo spotted in comments - 0.038% / 380 ppm]

If you were to mention that the CO2 effect is logarithmic, then you are likely to be labelled a ‘climate change sceptic’ or worse a ‘climate change denier’ by any passing MSM media TV presenter, environmentalist group or AGW consensus minded politician, and then they will simply stop listening, because you are obviously a fossil fuel funded denier, such has been the CAGW consensus PR.

I wonder if for a sceptical joke, someone could produce a spoof YouTube video of a feather and a cannon ball in a glass jar experiment (non evacuated) and the TV presenter could say to the audience:

“Proof – The Cannon Ball FALLS faster than the feather – Simple Physics clearly show this”

Someone in the audience could then ask, but you have air in the jar? and then get ridiculed by the group as an ‘anti-science’ denier, the scientist/presenter could even bring out the ‘No Pressure’ <http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/01/1010-exploding-skeptical-children-video-disappears/>  red button to use!

The simple and not so simple physics of a number of climate parameters, are programmed into the climate computer models. Many of these parameters, it is acknowledged, are not completely understood or that there is serious contentious debate about in the scientific literature. ie aerosols, clouds, solar pacific and atlantic oscillations, volcanoes, etc,etc

Engineers (or economists now, perhaps) will advice climate scientists, model are not reality, reality is often more complicated than any computer model. Take a step back, view with hindsight with respect to risk in the financial markets. At the trouble the cream of the last few decades of science graduates – turned computer modellers – left the world’s economy in, following the modelling of credit risk amongst many other economic assumptions.

Next time anyone starts on about the simple physics of CO2, remember the feather and a cannon ball in a very large glass jar analogy, or for the classically motivated, atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Politicians could lay trillion-dollar bets, and dozens of competing scientific groups (publically funded) could even attempt to write a computer models to predict when and where the feather would land…………

Thanks again to Anthony for the opportunity to write at Watts Up With That again. There is a little more about me here <http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/12/the-denizens-of-climate-etc/#comment-11138>  .

Or maybe you could stop by at my new blog, I hope that the Watts Up With That regulars like the name <http://www.realclimategate.org/>  .

Al Perrella

Models are important, but it is also important to know what assumptions your conclusions are sensitive to. That is the main job of systems analysis (see Herman Kahn's paper on that): to make the assumptions clear so you know what you are basing your policies on. In the military you often have to do something: it's important to know what hidden assumptions luck in your analyses. I refer you back to the note that began these letters: that dust studies cast doubt on the models. We have to have policies. I continue to believe that we are better off getting better data than rushing out to Do Something about Global Warming, or Climate Change, or -- but see the next letter.


The name "Climate Change" is so last week.

You appeared to have caught up with the times and discovered that "Global Warming" is now to be called "Climate Change". What you don't know is that this to has been changed, by the presidents climate czar, to "Global Climate Disruption". Man, you are so last week!

See, the thing is, since 1998 the temperatures have flattened, and since about 2005 (when the sun started having a peariod of low magnetism) the temperature has actually gone down. Thus, the word "change" was used since it is always changing, and now we can blame CO2 on practically any change, including cooling. However, people started to notice that it wasn't really changing much, and such change as they might see wasn't really anything bad, so something had to be done. Thus "Global Climate Disruption" was born. The idea is to associate the word "bad" to ANY change, of any kind, anywhere. Thus, if there is any weather someone somewhere dosn't like, it can be called "disruption" and blamed on CO2. This gets rid of the little problem of the unusually cold winders, and late springs and early falls we have been seeing of late, all that CO2 is "disrupting" the climate. It also takes care of the little problems some have been having of late where their "global climate" measurements have been called into question. Now you don't even have to take an average temperature of the earth, simply find some localized weather event somewhere that someone doesn't like and call it "disruption" Hopefully, that will allow them to paper over any such problems such as that the suns magnetism seems to be looking rather like that of the last two little ice ages (causing an increasing number of scientists to use exactly those words). After all, if this "warmest year in history" (which according to the new learning ends in October) turns into a lot of cold and snow, instead of being all emberassed they can simply say "disruption!" and all is good.

However, if you REALLY still like "Climate Change", you can look here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/28/20
warmest-year-list/#more-30425  and see some real change. This shows the last 150 years (3 warmings and two coolings), the last 500 years (a total of 40 changes), and the last 10,000 years, where we see that the current temperature is actually way below average for most of the period since the end of the last ice age.

BTW, if you like little phrases like this, you should know about "The Gore Effect". Defenition: wherever there is a climate conference, either the home countries of the principle warmists, or the climate conferance area itself, or both (as happened at Cancun, a week of record low temeratures there and in Europe), will see record cold.


Well, I have been trying to get rational discussions on the subject. It's not always easy.

Do understand: if there is to be a new Ice Age, there does need to be a mechanism by which all those billions of tons of water gets up into the atmosphere to fall as snow. It's not at all absurd to think that warming might actually trigger some kind of chaotic condition that results in an Ice Age. It's not all that predictable either. The one thing we can be sure of is that it requires a lot of energy to move that water and cause it to cover the land as ice.

We don't really understand that mechanism. We do know it can happen fast: England went from deciduous trees to glaciers in under a century. That's fast.



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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Water Supply


The LADWP monitors precipitation in the Eastern Sierras. The information can be found here: http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp013390.pdf 

As you can see, the current trend is not too far from the wettest year on record, and well above the long-term mean. As everyone selling stocks has to assure you, "past peformance is no guarantee of future trends". It's quite conceivable that the rains will stop, the snows melt, and we'll be back in a drought by April. But I suspect conditions will, at least, not get any worse.

And of course, reclaiming the water discharged by the Hyperion Treatment Plant (and the Tillman, Terminal Island, and L.A.-Glendale Plants) would cut our water demand by two thirds. However, it will take a lot of work to overcome the population's "yuck" factor. You may recall the news storm over "Toilet To Tap", the issue Joel Wachs tried to ride into the Mayor's office. This was a plan to take the output from the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant (TWRP) and discharge it to the Hanson Spreading Grounds in order to recharge the groundwater in the San Fernando Valley. This water would have actually been cleaner than the water already in the aquifer, and in the five years or so it took to work its way to the wells, it would have, at worst, stayed the same. And of course, the DWP would retain the option of further treating the well water once it was pumped from the ground. DWP already has a number of treatment plants designed to filter groundwater contaminants out of the well water, some paid for by Superfund money. (Near the intersection of the Glendale Freeway and the Golden State Freeway, there are large green canisters. These are filled with activated charcoal and the water from the Pollock well field is pumped through them in order to filter out organic contaminants that have infiltrated the aquifer. Recently installed activativated carbon filters at the Tujunga well field are visible from the Hollywood Freeway.) But the "yuck factor" is real, and very loud. All it takes is a press release and a good catch phrase, like "Toilet To Tap", and there's no real choice except to mothball a nearly-complete facility.


Most of the people in the US drink reclaimed water out of utter necessity. The Yuck factor is overestimated. It might result in sales of LA tapwater as bottled water, of course... If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.



: On why CA is bankrupt

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

I was linksurfing this morning and found this:


El Segundo is not too far from you, I believe. Hopefully this will help the basic research for the article you said you were going to write. There's quite a bit of precise info and some interesting links in here.

Regards, Tim Scott

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. Of course much may be destroyed before that happens.




And indeed it is.



Hi Jerry - FYI, an odd variation on organlegging.


Bob G


Served up with no comment

Just read it. I think the comments one might make are obvious.

If Muslims were treated like Christians in America... http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/12



'I'm on track to make over $200,000 on ebook sales in 2011, and have made over $100,000 this year.'


- Roland Dobbins

I'd sure like to get that much, but not so far...


Subject: Time Magazine -- Global Warming causes blizzards...

OMG. Some are so far gone, they actually believe the Alarmist Global Warming propaganda.


 The "cold hard truth" is increasingly obvious. For a dose of reality, check: http://www.climatedepot.com/ 




John D. Trudel

The video is interesting, but I am not familiar with the forecaster. His web sit www.weatheraction.com apparently offers weather predictions -- a sort of almanac for farmers -- but I didn't dig far enough to find out the price. He claims to use astrophysical data on solar emissions and magnetic activity to predict Earth weather, and to have a good track record of predictions including the current blizzards, as well as Siberian warming. What models he employs are not known to me; I didn't do a lot of digging on his site.

My own views remain unchanged. We don't understand climate. We're getting a bit better at understanding weather. Climate trends are extraordinarily hard to predict because we don't have reliable data for any great period of time, and the data we do have is not as robust as it ought to be. The best bet would be to improve data collection for a start.

If anyone knows more about the models used in the weatheraction.com predictions I'd be interested.

As to global warming causing the blizzards, it would have been more dramatic had this observation been made last summer. I do note that many people including me have observed that it takes a of energy to get great quantities of water from the seas and lakes to the clouds and then down as snow to build glaciers.

Ice shrinking certainly changes planetary albedo. What that does to snowfall is not clearly understood, or at least I haven't seen any detailed models. More snow should make the planet brighter leading to cooling, which is to say the feedback loops are negative, but that's merely a common sense observation.



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Friday,  December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

Adobe Acrobat update - NOT


Your Letters column references a "press release" about Adobe Acrobat 2010". I ran the update function in my Acrobat Reader 9 and it said it was up to date. Then I Googled and found this on the Adobe forums.


"I just received a bogus offer to download "Adobe Reader 2010." This is a TROJAN! Don't download it!"

I have not researched it any deeper, but you might want to take the unusual step of amending your column.

Roy Harvey Beacon Falls, CT

As I noted over in view, the important thing is never update any app from anywhere other than the actual publisher web site (obviously there can be exceptions, but that's the rule, and you need to be sure of your source). And it is critical to keep Acrobat up to date, but do so from the Adobe web site, not from any link in any mail or press release.




Below is a link to an Op-Ed that was published in my local paper.


The astonishing premise is that Global Warming causes cold weather and blizzards. I was particularly amazed by the statement that increased polar ice pack and Siberian snow cover cools the planet by reflecting the Sun's light, and thus creates the conditions for record cold and blizzards in England. This astonishes me because Global Warming is allegedly causing the Arctic ice cap to melt. I also find this statement rather astonishing given the fact that solar isolation at high latitudes, especially in the arctic which enjoys perpetual night, during winter is minimal. Given the author's impressive credentials and the basic premise of Global Warming Theology that increased CO2 absorbs IR radiation and thus decreases the effective IR emissivity of the planet, I also would have expected him to consider the effect that ice pack and snow cover has on the IR emissivity northern regions and how this would effect energy balance. Interestingly, the IR emissivity of ice and snow is very nearly one, but the same is also true of ocean water. Given the fact that thick layers of ice and snow are effective thermal insulators, ice pack in the arctic will reduce the ability of the polar regions to radiate away heat, thus warming the planet.

Contrary to the repeated statements of the global warming theologians, increasing ice pack in the polar regions is a negative feedback loop that regulates the planets temperature. If the planet heats up, the Artcic ice cap melts which increases the planet's effective IR emissivity allowing more heat to be radiated into space to cool the Earth. IF the planet gets cold, the Arctic ice cap increases in size which reduces the Earth's effective IR emissivity allowing less heat to be radiated into space which warms the Earth.

I could forgive the Global warming crowd for not being able to get all of the complex details right. However; I'm amazed that anyone can take them seriously when they can't even accurately model the basic physics of radiative heat transfer.

The bottom line is that modern events make the lunacy that Niven and Yourself portrayed in FALLEN ANGELS.

Jim Crawford

As you note, I would have thought that the amount of energy from the Sun in high latitudes during winter is pretty low to begin with, so how much is or is not reflected by snow probably isn't all that important until you get to lower latitudes -- where there is, just now, a lot of snow. That probably indicates that I don't quite understand the models, but then I have been told they are not for prediction to begin with. I would appreciate some explanations, and more to the point, those who are to pay for the costs of CO2 abatement are entitled to better explanations. I doubt we will get them.

I hesitate to say they don't understand the basics; I do believe they don't seem to know how to explain their models to an educated public.


Subject: Weather stations

We live in the low mountains between San Juan and Lake Elsinore. This morning everything was covered with ice. This morning we checked the local weather station ( http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/
queryF?s=ECA&d=30-Dec-2010+20:00&span=12hours ) and it reports the temperature was 90 degrees.

Cynthia Allingham
 El Cariso Villiage California

It will be interesting to see if that number gets into the final data used for the year temperature. I suppose it will be weighted very small so it would have no effect, but that's a presumption. After Climategate I am no longer inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.


Re: your query as regards high pay to directors of tax exempt corporations

Dear Dr. Pournelle:

In one of your recent mail entries to your estimable weblog, which may be found here:


you had pointed out that "one purpose of non-profits and various NGO's is to pay very high salaries to their executives." While I would agree with you that one result of current tax law is that various non-profits pay very high salaries to their executives, my understanding of tax law is that directors may be paid for the reasonable benefits which they give to their corporations. (This is, by the way, the understanding of one who is the director of a tax exempt nonprofit corporation; and that part of my responsibilities are to figure out what the corporation can do under the law). I'm not at all shocked to find that some directors are playing it for all that they are worth.

Whether they can get away with it depends upon whether anyone calls them on it. In the interest of helping those who would call their bluff, and as a public service, I would invite your attention to this provision of the tax code:


If you will examine this, you will find that all 501(c)(3) organizations are required to make available for copying their IRS Form 1023 (in other words, their request for tax exemption), and the last three years of their IRS 990 forms: that is, the forms in which such organizations are required to declare their income, and those to whom they pay it.

It might be reasonable for those who are interested in such matters to request copies of the above documents via pdf from their favorite tax exempt corporations, and to examine them to determine how much of their income is going to the exempt purposes, and how much is being paid to the employees.

Ah, transparency and accountability!

Very truly yours,

Bernard Brandt

P.S. You most certainly have my permission to post this in your excellent weblog.

I was probably in a foul mood: I hadn't intended to blast all non-profits. But I do weary of the "We're non-profit" protests from some of the executives who are being paid more than the CEO of a more useful profit making company. It behooves donors to know where their money goes....


: TSA Continues To Run Wild

Dear Jerry,

I know you've spoken out a number of times about the abuses of the TSA, but I didn't know that they could levy fines against law abiding air travelers for "attitude", among other things:


This has really gone way past tolerable, and having written to my federal representatives I wonder what else I can do to protest these outrageous policies? I do not fly very much at all these days, so I haven't seen the scanners or the pat downs first hand, but I have to say that when I do my closely-checked attitude will be defiant.

If they have the automated face readers on-line by then I'm sure I'll get "special attention". I'm not sure I like living in a police state.

Happy New Year to you and yours,

Bennett Dawson



Time off for good behavior?


Outgoing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson <http://www.foxnews.com/topics/politics/bill-
richardson.htm#r_src=ramp>  has a tough decision to make before his term ends Friday night. Should he or shouldn't he pardon a notorious murderer? The fact that the murder happened in 1878 doesn't make the decision any easier. <snip> ...in dispute is whether the Territorial Governor, Gen. Lew Wallace, had at some point promised to pardon the Kid for Brady's murder in return for testifying in a separate murder trial. Albuquerque Attorney Randi McGinn believes the pardon promise was indeed made. She petitioned Richardson for the Kid's pardon.

Descendants of Wallace, Garrett and some of the Kid's victims are outraged that the issue is even being considered. <snip>

Two questions:

(1) If Billy the Kid does get a partial pardon through this action, would this change his status in Inferno and Escape from Hell.

(2) Why the heck does Governor Richardson even have enough time on his hands to talk about this?


I am inclined toward giving him the pardon, but I never thought that a civil action like that would have an effect in Hell.











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Saturday, January 1, 2010

I took the day off






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Sunday,   January 2, 2010    

TWIT http://twit.tv/282 today. I have taken the day off. Tomorrow I drive to CES




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