THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 598 November 23 - 29, 2009
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November 23, 2009
We had both view and mail over the weekend
both Saturday and
Sunday. There was quite a lot of mail on both days, much of it worth
while. If you want an example of the kind of fuzzy thinking that seems
dominant today, see today's LA Times op ed on "Ft. Hood and the bugaboo of
More here after my walk.
On my morning walk I saw a concrete mixer powered by a diesel generator, a very large one, mounted on the back of a separate truck. The mixer was being fed by an internal combustion engine (diesel or gasoline) small shovel from a pile of sand laid out in the street. I don't know what they are going to pour: the site in question is one of two MacMansions built on the site of a former double lot bungalow on Cantura St. Cantura is the street arched over by sycamore trees that is the setting for a number of TV shows, such as the former Malcolm in the Middle, and is usually what we show when we want to show off Studio City.
Not far away, a shop vacuum cleaner was getting its electricity from a small generator set in the bed of a pickup truck that probably brought the automobile groomer and his equipment. Not all that uncommon a sight, and except for the noise no reason to notice either of those, but I began idly to wonder how much the builders will have to pay Al Gore to make up for the carbon impact, and similarly for the car owner who was getting his car detailed. Possibly nothing yet, but it can't be long now. Selling carbon offsets is nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you have enough influence in Washington.
As it happens, today's Wall Street Journal has another
article by Lomberg on carbon impact and other matters of concern to real
It's worth your attention in that it invites you to think about real impacts on real people right now.
If it cost $300 million to get Landrieu to vote to allow the bill to be debated, what in the world will it cost to get her to vote for the bill itself? And now that she has shown how effective shakedown tactics can be, what will others charge? We may not begin to have seen the deficit spending that the health care bill will cost.
A clueless talk show host is asking how it can cost more to have insurance if there is a government option. Of course it's simple: if the government mandates that everyone have coverage for mental illness, naturopathic medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, homeopathic medicine, pregnancy and pre-natal care, various other things, there is no end to what it will cost. You won't get a choice -- and the lobbyists will control the lists.
Of course the clueless talk show host is railing that "insurance companies make those decisions now" regarding what you have covered. Yes in the sense that you bought a specific policy and it either covered naturopathic medicine or it didn't; you knew that or should have known that when you bought the policy. But I don't expect lawyer talk show hosts to think logically and this one has the usual contempt for anyone who doesn't see things the way he does.
As to pre-existing conditions: if you must cover all conditions, it's going to cost. If someone comes in with a very long term disability and gets the same rate that a young healthy person gets, the premium for the young healthy person is going to rise. Surely everyone understands that? Now it may be right and just to make the young healthy person pay for the man who smoked himself into emphysema (you see him in anti-tobacco TV ads); but that is another discussion. I am still unsure why the young and healthy must pay for the old and unhealthy, but since Medicare Advantage is paying my Kaiser dues for me I can hardly complain. Of course I paid my own Kaiser dues until I turned 65, and I still pay Self Employment Tax, so perhaps I am paying at least some of my own. Perhaps a collective responsibility is a simple requirement for a civilized liberal democracy, and that is the wave of the future: but I still wonder what is the fountain of justice, what is the source of these moral imperatives that are fairly new. I do not mean that the doctrine of being one's brother's keeper is new: but it derives, I think, from the Judao-Christian tradition, and that is verbotten as a source of moral imperative in our diverse society. There are religions that don't accept your obligation to anyone else, just as there are people who insist that you can't even have a manger in the public square. If I can't light City Hall windows in a cross shaped pattern on Christmas Eve, why do you have to pay for Aunt Emma's emphysema?
But I ramble, and I have said this before.
Universal health care is expensive, and we have a terrible deficit already. It will be worse. Keep thinking about runaway inflation. If you missed my thoughts on that Saturday, you might want to have a look.
The bottom line is simple: the Great Recession is not over. Experience of the Great Depression argues that heavy deficit spending will not end it. If you have not read Amity Schlaes The Forgotten Man (available on Kindle) then do so if you want to understand what was tried and what did and did not work during the Great Depression. Alas, it's pretty clear that many in the current administration have paid little attention to the past.
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|This week:||Tuesday, November
It's getting pretty clear what happened. These academics, who were influential in framing the UN climate report on which most of the political decisions on what to do about man-made global warming depend, became alarmed when the data over the past few years didn't support the predictions of their models. At this point they had a choice: to accept the new data and see what that did to the theory, or simply to cover it up because they were convinced the basic theory was correct and the issue was too important to allow the theory to come under serious doubt.
Among those involved was Mann whose "hockey stick" conclusions were the most dramatic argument for immediate action, and who apparently so strongly believed in all this that he thought himself justified in ignoring or blackguarding critics, and who has said he doesn't have to show either his data or his methods. Eventually the more rational elements in the "consensus" theory abandoned the hockey stick as an artifact of data selection and manipulation, and I think that's now the "consensus" on Mann's hockey stick. Now, it appears, the passionate belief in the "consensus" theory spread far beyond Mann.
Now much of this comes out in the form of public exposure of emails published by a whistle blower who hacked into some of the servers used by part of the academic community that generates and supports the "consensus" theory. These emails make it clear that at least part of the "consensus" theory is promulgated and defended by credentialed scientists who don't act as scientists at all. They are advocates.
And like many advocates think that poisoning the well is a proper tactic to win the case.
This is not science; and the world ought not spend trillions of dollars on the recommendation of these "consensus scientists." Science must look at all the data, not find ways to suppress that which doesn't fit.
Time for my walk. More when I get back.
If you are interested in the future of fossil fuels, George Will's latest is worth your time"
We hear today that about 1/4 of the mortgage owners in the US owe more on their mortgages than the house is worth: are "under water" in the popular parlance. We also hear that the FHA is in danger of going broke. And we still inject money into the housing market, which keeps prices higher than they would usually be. The bubble is not over, and won't be for a while. The subsidy puts people into houses when they otherwise couldn't afford it, while some who could afford a house are kept out of the market by the input of money into the system. This will continue.
And since there is no money in the Treasury all that increases the deficit, and deficits of this size are certain to cause inflation. Possibly runaway inflation.
The Great Recession is not over.
25 November 2009
My day has been devoured by locusts.
November 26, 2009
For those interested, there are some pictures of the SFWA
author and editor party at
November 27, 2009
The bees have taken over my hummingbird feeder, and the birds can't get to it. The weather is good here so the hummingbirds have other sources of food -- there are still some blossoms -- and it's not so cold they'll freeze, but it's still annoying to both me and the birds. One hummingbird site says that insects aren't very smart and if you move the feeder a few feet that will do it. I thought I'd try that and for good measure I used the hose set to a center spray to shoot down any bees around before I moved it, moved it quickly, and then shot down more as they came to the old site. That did give the birds a shot and so far the bees haven't found it again, but I don't think it will be long. And standing out there shooting down bees is not a very profitable use of my time.
Actually what I have is an oriole feeder, which is different from a hummingbird feeder although the hummingbirds have no problem using it. Orioles can't hover when they feed. They have to find a perch. Oriole feeders have one. All the orioles have gone south for the winter, though, so the feeder is just a hummingbird feeder for the rest of the winter.
Googling oriole feeders and birds found a site that sells a feeder with a gizmo that closes access to the food if a bird isn't sitting on the feeder. I thought I'd try one of those, which led me to discover that Google has a service to process credit cards for vendors (including the oriole feeder vendor) but to use that you have to sign up for an account, and to do that took an hour and many curses of Google, which may not be evil, but they sure didn't do much user testing and their error messages are no help at all. They have other problems. They sure don't care much for readers and subscribers.
More on that in the column. And now I am about to go have some more turkey and dressing.
Back from lunch. The hummingbird feeder -- oriole feeder only the orioles have gone south for the winter -- is covered with bees. I hope the birds enjoyed their short respite.
I have managed to order the feeder that supposedly covers feed holes unless a bird is sitting on the perch. I suspect it's going to be a lot of trouble to keep it working, but we'll see. I don't think of any other way to keep the bees off my feeder, and they sure drive off the birds.
I see the party crashers are to be prosecuted for lese majeste. It is to be expected. Harry Truman used to walk the streets of DC every morning, greeting those who greeted him. He did so the day after Puerto Rican independence terrorists shot up Blair House where Truman was living while the White House was being renovated. When the Secret Service protested that it was too dangerous for him to go out in public, he said famously, "Comes with the job." But that was then after the US won victory in World War II. Today the President must cower, and those who sneak in to see him must be jailed.
I am listening to an MIT professor who tells me that fiber isn't good for you, there's far too much sugar in fruit, and all the scientists know this; humans are carnivores who can eat fruits and vegetables but don't need them. Soy milk isn't milk and it's not good for you. Vegetables aren't that important. Etc.
Oils, lotions -- most do you harm, but you can eat essential oils.
Science of Great Health is his web site. It sounds a bit goofy. Professorfood.com takes you to http://www.scienceofgreathealth.com/. He sounds like a nut, but he says he is at MIT. The web site looks like a typical carny pitch booth. It doesn't mention his name, and I am having trouble finding it. Here and there are interviews with "the professor" but it takes more patience than I have to find out if he really is at MIT, if so in what capacity, and if there is anything other than his unsupported word on the rather odd things he says. I suspect he has a good PR firm that managed to convince the producer of the radio show I was listening to; convince of what is not clear to me, but I wouldn't buy anything from that web site...
The rage rises to a fever pitch. How dare those people crash that national party? Lese majeste! The entire Justice Department must be put to work on this.
ACORN will get tax money after all: the Justice Department has determined that it's all right to pay them for services contracted before Congress cut off all ACORN funding. Apparently they have maps of buried bodies?
November 28, 2009
I've been cleaning up, and I finished the Chaos Manor Reviews current mailbag today (well, yesterday since I am writing this on Sunday, but anyway the November mailbag, with letters on a variety of subjects from net neutrality to building your own sweet spot PC Box, is now posted.
November 29, 2009
I am frantically trying to get the Mac Book Pro set up and tested for doing a TWIT video podcast in a couple of hours. I have been looking through all Apple Help, and a half dozen books on Macs, and I cannot find the simple command that turns on the iSight video camera so I can preview the lighting. Of course all Mac users know these things, and those who use PC's just have to figure them out. So I'll go poke around on the MacBook Pro to see. Of course when I began looking through it, I found updates that were needed. But I think it's all set, and SKYPE is working, and in an hour or so we'll get started. I would like to see what background the users will see, and how good my lighting is, and how much I need to brush my hair, so I better go poking about on the Mac now.
Hah. Well, Photo Booth (which doesn't appear in any search if you are looking for iSight or Webcam or Camera or Video camera or Video Cam; you have to luck into knowing that Photo Booth uses the iSight camera (as well as other image sources))-- anyway Photo Booth does in fact show what the built in video camera shows, so I can adjust my seating arrangement, see the background, and get ready. The documentation on how to find out how to use the camera is abysmal, but typical for Mac it's easy to use once you know what to look for. Ah well.
Just finished recording TWIT for Sunday 29 November. Good session. Look for it. Apparently it went out live, as well as being a podcast. Interesting.
A number of people keep asking me why I don't Tweet. I just don't think I have much worth saying that can't wait to be put here in View where people can read it when they have time and leisure to do that. I do not think my thoughts and actions are worth interrupting anyone for; at least not anyone I don't live with. Good heavens!
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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