Friday, November 27, 2009

More on 'Climategate'

For more than a decade, we've been told that there is a scientific "consensus" that humans are causing global warming, that "the debate is over" and all "legitimate" scientists acknowledge the truth of global warming. Now we know what this "consensus" really means. What it means is this: the fix is in.

For any looking at this blog that are new to the topic - AGW "skeptics" had posted a challenge on the ClimateAudit website (here) claiming scientists at the Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at Britain's University of East Anglia had cherry-picked data to manufacture the infamous "hockey stick" graph, the well-publicized chart showing a dramatic runaway warming trend in the late 20th century. After requests made under FOI for access to the CRU's data was rejected, a hacker (disillusioned researcher on the inside?) collected and published thousands of e-mails and data from the CRU computers onto the Web. Officials at the CRU have verified this and acknowledged the e-mails appear to be genuine. These e-mails show, among many other things, private admissions of doubt AND scientific weakness in the global warming theory by its very loudest proponents.

Back in the Good Old days, when science was all about develop-a-theory-then-report-the-facts-and see-where-it-takes-us, if your theory can't predict or explain the observed facts, then it's WRONG. apparently, we have returned to the Inquisition times he-who-shouts-the-loudest-must be-correct, either that or "don't let them kill the golden goose".

In science, you can’t change the rules in midstream. Set forth in advance the test that would falsify (not PROVE) your theory, perform the test, and accept the result if it does contradict your hypothesis. Then move on - either to the next test, or GO BACK and revise your theory. Anything else is word play... and not SCIENCE.

This is an enormous case of organized scientific fraud at the highest levels, but it is not just scientific fraud. It is also a criminal act. There have been billions of taxpayer dollars devoted to climate research, and dozens of prominent scientists have virtually established a criminal racket in which they seek government money to maintain a LIE.

Prof. Phil Jones at CRU has raked in a total of £13.7 million in grants from the British government which was used to falsify data and defraud the taxpayers. BTW - I'm still collecting totals on U.S. spending. (My last set of totals have the U.S. spending almost $80 BILLION Dollars on climate research over the last 20 years.) Oh - and those charges of skeptics and 'deniers' being in the pay of the oil companies? While the US was spending BILLIONS, Exxon-Mobil spent about 23 million during the same period. Worse, that's about 1/5000th of the amount spent on carbon trading in 2008 alone. Incredible.

This is an insidious kind of fraud: a fraud in which the culprits are cheered and feted by an adoring media as public heroes. The e-mails document their own pats-on-the-back as they boast of their manipulation of the data as being intended to 'protect a bigger truth' and prevent it from being "confused" by inconvenient facts and uncontrolled criticism.

The damage here goes far beyond the loss of Billions of taxpayer dollars on bogus scientific research. Civilization - and all forms of human progress - are founded upon the availability of cheap and abundant energy. The real cost of this fraud is the Trillions of dollars of wealth that will be destroyed if a fraudulent theory is used to justify legislation - Emissions-Trading, Cap-and-Trade, pick a buzzword - that starves the global economy of its cheapest and most abundant sources of energy.

If all this Government money (from the taxpayers!) was spent by the Defense Department for weapons systems, etc., and this money went unaudited, the Citizens Watch groups would be screaming so loudly it would probably bring down the Government. But those same groups seem to think you just can’t spend enough on “The Climate.” If you fund development of a fighter jet for $100 million and it winds up costing $1 Billion, at least you get a plane. But we need to keep spending and spending on The Climate, just to make sure The Climate is OK... Egad.

As we uncover the depth and details of this fiasco, remember that there is nothing that can change the mind of a true believer because his MIND is not involved with his true belief. He has FAITH and that faith is his proof. It is a staggering irony that many who deny the existence (or need) for a religious belief somehow line up like the very sheep they deride following their own type of religion.

It only takes about 10% of the population to make a revolution. The most consistent and persistent 10% will win. One side (let's call them "L") has spent several hundred years working to build their 10% and have been both consistent and persistent. The other side (call them "P") has been focused on other things: science, technology, and business - and they have been wildly successful. The L have been focused on taking the results of P's efforts and using those results for their ends. They have been wildly successful. They could not have done what they have done without P first creating the goods and values the L steal and consume.

The challenge is to figure out how to stop feeding L and to allow them to starve to death. (Which, incidentally, is the L plan for P but only after the L" have totally consumed all that the P are able to produce, that is, until all the P die... then the L, like all parasites, will look for a new host.)

You think their plan won’t work? The abject failure in any program they propose and follow and the consequent demise of modern technological civilization *IS* their plan working. You say “but that cannot be true because it's not reasonable.” Reason is not what they use to formulate their plans. They intend to keep everyone focused on the irrelevant minutia while they stay focused on their malignant goal.

This is the scandal of the century. It needs to be thoroughly investigated - and the culprits (not the whistle-blowers) need to be brought to justice.

- Steve

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Integrity of the Scientific Method is in Question

First, I agree that there's WAY too much data for the Average Joe to sift though. Yes, both sides will resort to the analysis of proxies. That's both Good and Bad. There will be an effort to minimize or maximize the details of the situation for the gain of one side or the other. That said, I, for one, hereby refuse to examine an IPCC report or listen to *any* recommendation about AGW especially concerning 'steps that should/must be taken' until they verify the accuracy of the data used.

Chris, this is not simply about who's right and who's wrong. That's why I completely disagree with your statement "how little this has to do with the practice of science".

Huh? Excuse me? This has EVERYTHING to do with the "practice" of science!

You cannot escape that there appears to be legitimate documentation of a concerted effort and - yes, I'll use the word: CONSPIRACY - to MANIPULATE THE DATA! And it's clearly *not* an 'isolated' incident. This is a wide-spread, comprehensive, and DELIBERATE effort on the part of who knows how many self-proclaimed 'objective' and 'unbiased' researchers. They tried to limit discussion of conflicting views. They tried to control who or what qualified as peer-review. They tried to control what the results would show! They weren't just tweaking their own tests, there are charges they were manipulating the data to be used by everyone! This is no school-boy prank without consequences we're talking about - they CHEATED and they did it deliberately on the world stage with the economic foundation of our entire civilization used as a plaything!

Set aside, for a moment, that the issue of climate change itself is so complex, its hard for anyone, even 'professionals, to analyze in the first place. Set aside the simple fact that Climate Models are just estimates or "guesses" about what is going on (albeit that's all we can do). Set aside the fact that the results of MODELS are not REALITY. Set aside the very real complaints (prior to this hack being released) about the specific data which was used and which was not used in the calculations... Simply put, the results of the MODELS - on which the IPCC reports and many of those other studies critically require and base their conclusions upon - are called into question.

How can you have a legitimate "peer-review" process when you can't trust the accuracy of the DATA you started with? And for what? Funding? Political gain? Does following an agenda-driven ideology trump searching for TRUTH? Does this 'end' justify using such means and taking this kind of risk?

This fiasco goes *far* beyond the AGW debate. The science profession is headed for a 'nuclear winter' of its own making. These knuckleheads have potentially damaged the entire scientific establishment in ALL arenas. At the very least, they have severely raised the question: Can you trust any 'scientific' estimate? Has this happened in the past? How has the wool been pulled over our eyes countless times by those we have trusted? Everything I've seen or read from the dump, so far, holds up under an intense light and heavy scrutiny: This is necessary, but IT IS NOT GOOD.

We live in a society which is spoon-fed conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory - JFK, fake moon landings, UFOs, wars, weapons, intentions, etc., etc., etc. - on a Daily Basis. We have politicians and pundits who operate under the theory that if you say something often enough, it doesn't matter whether it is True or not, because if you continually repeat "what everyone *knows*...", eventually anything will become "True".

Now, the integrity of a profession that by its own definition of standards is supposed to be ABOVE such manipulations is at stake. I can understand bureaucrats and politicians pulling this kind of stunt (it's part of their SOP, after all), but for a scientist - a SCIENTIST, for heaven's sake! - to even suggest trying to 'put in a fix' is beyond comprehension. This impact of this situation goes beyond the ramifications of the AGW debate, and even beyond the political upheaval that is sure to follow.

Let me state that, for the record, IMHO - there is NO 'professional' punishment that can be applied by the scientific community with enough severity to right this wrong which allows these jokers to continue pursuing research under the banner of OBJECTIVE SCIENCE. This is too big to ignore or sweep under the rug. They have made a mockery of themselves and their profession. And most importantly, but hopefully not permanently, they have damaged the trust given to the cause of science itself by the public at large. Once proven beyond reasonable doubt - which is where things seem to be headed, albeit slowly - they should be held to the same standard applied by society to philandering televanglists, corrupt politicians, and criminal athletes... loudly and publicly discredited then cast aside, completely and utterly.

There are difficult times ahead. Egad, indeed.

- Steve

Odds and Ends


Regarding the hacked e-mails, I consider it most likely they are genuine. I've read through a few of them as they have been posted at several sites. As you are probably aware, The Heartland Institute is now claiming, on the basis of these mails, that all of the IPCC assessments have been proven to be invalid. I haven't taken the time to survey any other such sites, but I doubt if it will be long before we start seeing the same conclusion offered at similar locations.

The sheer volume of the hacked documents makes it nearly impossible for persons like ourselves to sift through them and reach any kind of worthwhile interpretation independently. We will probably have to wait on our various proxies to look through them for us. No doubt this will ignite a whole new round of debate. What bothers me most about this episode however is how little it has to do with the actual practice of science.

My sense is that there are broadly two types of legitimate scientists involved in this issue. One type is the researcher who simply discovers and compiles raw data. The other type is the one who puts this data into comprehensive models which can then be used to predict future trends. After all, climate science in all its present sophistication owes its initial inception to the simple human desire to know if its going to rain tomorrow.

The position of climate skeptics has evolved from sheer doubts about the science itself (that is, questions about the first type of scientists I just mentioned), to an argument premised on a theoretical, politically driven conspiracy. So, the second type of scientists I mentioned are constantly being accused of creating climate models to advance some sort of hidden, political agenda. Frankly, I think these sorts of accusations are based entirely on the public's vague distrust of scientists generally. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the scientists involved in the hacked mails spent time discussing this situation.

The key question however is whether or not the mails contain actual scientific evidence which disproves the models on which the IPCC assessments are based. I think what we will eventually discover is that, in context, the mails will give us a picture of a few scientists privately debating crucial issues in ways that could easily be misinterpreted by non-scientists. This same kind of debate went on behind the scenes years ago during the time a larger, public debate on CFC's was occurring. You may remember that during that previous debate, every time scientists disagreed on one or another important datum, this disagreement was trumpeted as indisputable evidence that CFC's had virtually no effect on atmospheric ozone. I think AGW skeptics will most likely use these mails to pursue the same pattern of action.

Meanwhile, back at The Heartland Institute, we find this declaration just below the masthead:

"Emails exchanged by Phil Jones and other leading scientists who edit and control the content of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveal a conspiracy to falsify the actual temperature record and silence so-called "skeptics." Anyone who continues to cite the IPCC as representing the "consensus" on global warming is wrong. The IPCC has been totally discredited."

Excuse me?

"People from over 130 countries contributed to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report over the previous 6 years. These people included more than 2500 scientific expert reviewers, more than 800 contributing authors, and more than 450 lead authors."

So I seriously doubt if any hacked mails and other documents from a few of the 450 lead authors will have much effect on the credibility of the IPCC assessment - except of course among those who didn't believe it in the first place.

One last thing. Many of the IPCC lead authors are now asserting that the 2007 assessment didn't go far enough. The Copenhagen Diagnosis constitutes a survey of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers which have been published since the IPCC's last assessment - with the conclusion that the results of AGW are likely to be much worse than the IPCC predicted almost 3 years ago. Have a gander.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“ClimateGate?” - Evidence of an AGW Conspiracy among the Scientists?

While I was down battling a cold and wasn't watching, someone appears to have hacked into or leaked 1079 emails and 72 documents out of the Hadley Centre concerning climate science with 'proof' of an apparent conspiracy to 'manipulate the data'. There is a 60Mb ZIP file (which unzips to over 162Mb, I been told) which is lot to shift through. Naturally, it will take weeks of work to verify, but the sheer size and detail make it hard to argue that *ALL * of it is faked. Supposedly, details on the ALGORITHMS OF THE CLIMATE MODELS is included! At least one individual (Steve McIntyre) has confirmed at least some emails in the released data are accurate. BIG Question: Are there any fakes included among a collection of real messages?

It will be very interesting to watch this unfold and see the responses from Hadley, various governments, and the mainstream media. The full large file is available for download here (among other places): . (No, I don't have it myself... yet.)

One reported e-mail exerpt:
steven mosher:
November 19th, 2009 at 2:31 pm
From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,,
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or
first thing tomorrow.
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual
land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
Thanks for the comments, Ray.
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email

There are reports of other e-mails quoting Prof. Jones saying he would rather destroy the CRU data than release it to McIntyre. There are reports of e-mails with instructions on how to obstruct or evade FOIA requests. (!)

Another damning e-mail:

From: “Michael E. Mann”
To: Tim Osborn , Keith Briffa
Subject: update
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006 16:51:53 -0500
Reply-to: mann@xxx
Cc: Gavin Schmidt
guys, I see that Science has already gone online w/ the new issue, so we put up the RC post. By now, you’ve probably read that nasty McIntyre thing. Apparently, he violated the embargo on his website (I don’t go there personally, but so I’m informed).
Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.
You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics dont’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone…

NOTE: Mann is the author of the (infamous) “hockey stick” graph. “RC” is an apparent reference to the “RealClimate” website.

Egad... This is HUGE.

"Privacy" Caveat: Phil Jones, Michael Mann and others are public servants. If they were working (as a scientist should) to try to understand our climate and if they had acted in an honest, statesmanlike and transparent manner, there would be no regrets if their emails were made public.

WSJ coverage on the hack release here:

For me - I would *hope* that numerous people and organizations ON BOTH SIDES of the AGW debate will be aggressively looking into (a) is this TRUE, and (b) where do we go from here, regardless. If FALSE - and this is a hoax; simply manufactured to 'look' real - it will be a massively damaging blow to the anti-AGW movement. On the other hand, if TRUE - the consequences will be much more far-reaching on the science *and* political fronts. Beyond just "massive". However, what would be even more interesting would be the ABSENCE of research into the issue by the pro-AGW side (and/or the MSM).

Honestly, though... Rather than get in to WHO said WHAT and WHY - I'm *really* more interested in seeing if real (unwashed) data is included in the hack dump and what *it* shows about climate. I'm also curious in seeing an objective analysis of how the Climate Models work (or don't work).

I'm holding off on jumping on the "we caught ya!" bandwagon for now, but you've got to admit this situation is at least... Very Interesting.

- Steve

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Loaves And a Fish or Two


After posting my last list of annoying things, I went over to the Paulding County Court House to renew some tags. On the way I couldn't help thinking about a bunch of other things which tick me off. And, since its open season, here goes.

I can't stand all of these baboons who never learned how to say "please" and "thank you". One place they seem to congregate is the drive-up window at fast food places. Here's how they talk: "Yeah, I wanna Big Mac. And gimme a large fry and a coke.". Wanna... gimme... and never once a please or thank you. What total, undeserving clods they are! And while I'm on the subject, have you ever noticed how many fat people just have to go to the take out window to order lunch for the Russian Navy? I mean, there they sit, barking out this giant order while their mammoth SUV's single handedly blow holes in the ozone layer. And the rest of us poor slobs who just want a coke and a pop tart have to sit and smolder. Human nature being what it is, it wouldn't surprise me what the underpaid clerks who have to sit through this nauseating display of bad manners are probably doing to the order before they throw it in the sack. And I don't blame 'em a bit.

Another thing that gripes my gonads are people who borrow money from you and then expect you to constantly remind them of it. If I borrow a couple of bucks from someone I always remember to pay them back ASAP - and thank them in the bargain. But for some people that just isn't happening. When you go back to these miscreants for the third time, asking for you money back, they suddenly develop a raving case of amnesia. "Are you sure?" They ask. "Didn't I pay you back last week?" What horse manure. True story: I once loaned a measly ten dollars to a guy at work, then spent the better part of a year asking him to pay me back. I would have given up, but hey, it was the principle of the thing. Anyway, sweet retribution finally came in the form of an accounting error where GM mistakenly sent me a bonus check for $100.00 which should have gone to him. At first I told him I'd pay him the money back (minus my 10 bucks) in the same amount of time he took to pay me. This literally drove him nuts. Nothing ticks off a welsher more than somebody who welshes on him. Anyway, in the end, I gave him a check for his bonus, after subtracting 1. My 10 dollars. 2. One year's interest on my 10 dollars, and 3. compensation (@ $30.00/hour) for the amount of time I had spent ragging on him to pay me back. He didn't get much.

Now I consider myself to be a fairly tolerant person. But if there's one thing I can't stand, its line jumpers - and you see them everywhere. But for my money the worst, most loathsome form of line jumper is the jag off who is standing in line behind you when another register opens up nearby. Whenever this happens to me, I always tap the person in front of me on the shoulder and gesture to to open register. After all, they were waiting longer than me. But the open register creep is the guy who jumps out from behind everyone and makes for the new register like a heat seeking missile. And to heck with the poor lady in front of him who's dealing with a couple of whining brats, or the old guy carrying a 50 pound bag of charcoal. Hooo no, the only important thing to these fatheads is that they get out in front of everyone else. Sometimes you can just imagine yourself tripping them and then watching their cans of dog food and Beefaroni scatter all over the place.

Finally, and maybe this is a little picky, but you know Steve, a book - and I mean just about any book - is a lasting treasure. Truth is, I don't think anyone can really say they own a book. All we are actually doing is holding them in trust for the next person to read. This is why I detest people who roll the pages of a book over the spine when they read it. This causes the spine to curl up and the pages to fall out prematurely. The proper way to read a book is to hold it with both hands, with thumbs holding the pages open and fore fingers pressing in just above the spine. This eliminates strain on the spine and helps keep the book healthy and fit for the next generation. But do any of these conceited, inconsiderate spine rollers give a flying glob of phlegm? Once they're done with a book, the rest of humanity can just go sit and rot for all they care. I think there's a special place in Hell reserved for egotistical snobs like these - and its probably some hamburger stand where they have to sit and listen, eternally, to a succession of ill mannered boobs placing an order for the entire crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Beam me up, Steve!


Loaves and Fishes II

While we're talking about things that bother us, here's my list:

I'm sick and tired of all the mail order companies who employ wealthy dowagers and billionaire CEO's to do their "shipping and handling". I mean, how much does it really cost to shove a pair of pants or a fishing reel in a box, slap a stamp on the box and hand it to the postman? I could do this in a matter of seconds. And yet the precious baboons who do this are always charging $6.95 and up. Heck, "The Video Professor" has to charge $9.95 to slip three dinky CD's in the mail and send them 2nd class! Wake up mail order companies! You're shipping and handling people are a bunch of lazy, over-paid bums.

Driving habits? Don't get me started. I subscribe to the "Three Idiot Rule". This is the rule that says when you are at a traffic light and there are three cars in front of you, chances are all thee of them are being driven by idiots. I also think driving a car opens a window into a person's true nature. And most drivers commit all sorts of gratuitous acts of discourtesy which they wouldn't think of doing in person. Why? Because for most, a car gives them a sense of anonymity which allows their true, swinish behavior to rise to the surface in all its abysmal glory. I could give you a ton of examples. But anyone reading this (except of course for you, my dear Steve) is probably a total jerk when it comes to driving anyway, so why bother? I think there ought to be a law that every car on the road must have a two way radio installed, keyed to an ID number prominently displayed on all sides of the car - and the radio must stay on at all times. That way, when some jackass cuts in front of you or just stops at the start of a merge lane, all you have to do is punch in his ID number and then give him your candid opinion of him and his loutish family, up to and including dogs and cats.

Another thing that cooks my cookies is the "door hog". OK, let me set this up. You walk up to a convenience store and open the door. Just as you start to go in, some dolt squeezes out and almost hits you. Now I have no problem with this if said dolt is a female. After all, its just good manners to open the door for a lady. But what I can't stand are the misanthropes who waddle out, expecting you to stand aside - as if your only purpose in life is to hold doors for them. Lately, I've been using the "bump and run" technique to fight this problem. Since most doors are clear glass, I can usually see when some egotistical slug is preparing to barge out. In these cases, I open the door - pretending I didn't notice - and lower my shoulder into him. Sometimes, as an extra bonus you get a spilled coffee or a dropped sack: mute witness to man's inhumanity to man.

Now being a car salesman I'm fairly accustomed to brutish behavior. Once in a great while you run across a customer who honestly just wants to trade cars and get the whole thing over with. Believe it or not, car salesmen will literally walk through fire for this type of person. But that's far from the norm. When it comes to buying a car, most people went to the same idiotic school. They drive up in some bucket of bolts and act like its Donald Trump's limo. They tell you they don't really have to trade because their car, which sounds like a cement mixer, is running just fine. Then they say their car is "loaded", even though it has crank windows, vinyl seats and no air. Loaded my arse. The only thing loaded is the guy driving it. Eventually it comes out that not only do they still owe a fortune on this rolling scrap heap, they want to trade it in on a brand new car and lower their payments! Are you kidding me? Sometimes its all I can do to keep myself from falling to the ground in a fit of hysterical laughter.

I'm going to finish with a small, but revealing episode in the almost endless annals of human discourtesy. My oldest son was about 13 when he got his first paper route. Now being a fairly decent father, I resolved to get myself a bike and go out with him every morning and help deliver papers. So, we got up, rolled and banded the papers, then pedaled up and down the streets, throwing paper after paper onto porches. It didn't pay a lot. I knew my son was only going to make about 20 or 30 bucks a week - but I thought it would be a good lesson for him in the value of money. Boy did I ever get that one wrong. It was a lesson alright, but one in how far people will go to express their inner jerks. Here's what happened:

A couple of days after we started, the newspaper office started getting calls about the special ways our customers wanted their papers delivered. Some wanted us to tip toe up to the porch, gently open the screen door, and place the (unbanded) paper inside. Others wanted us to open the gate, go around back (mind the man eating dog!) and lovingly place the (once again, unbanded) paper on the back porch. So we tried this for a few weeks and as you might expect, the one hour paper route suddenly turned into a three hour ordeal - which meant my son and I were working for around a buck an hour. Oh and by the way, we never got the first tip from anyone.

Steve, the newspaper costs each royal patron a single quarter! I could see taking special care of it for those who were aged or infirm. But these were big, strapping men and women who, for their measly two bits, didn't feel they should have go through the painful exercise of opening the door, picking up the paper and taking off the rubber band. What bozo's!

Thinking it would only be a matter of time before we had to go inside and actually read the paper to these slobs, I decided to go back to the "band and toss" method. Believe it or not, we had maybe a dozen people who cancelled their subscriptions due to "poor service". I thought this was fitting - since these precocious infants would from that point on have to get dressed, drive down to the IGA and buy a paper - all to save themselves the few seconds it took to walk onto the porch and pick it up.

Towards the end, we fought back. My favorite technique was to politely deliver the paper as requested - that is, inside the door, unbanded - but minus some crucial part like the sports section or the TV guide. My son favored "the stick". This is where you deliver the paper like they wanted, only rolled up and banded so tight that the "jaws of life" couldn't get it open.

Surprisingly, our career in newspaper delivery was rather short. I still wonder why.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Loaves and Fishes

(Yet-another rant in a familiar direction... Sorry: I needed to get it out of my system.)

Ideology doesn't matter if you tell the TRUTH. But if you try to live by blindly following your ideology – e.g., you're a politician – that LAST thing you want to do is tell the truth. Why? Because it's unpleasant. (And that will cost you votes.) Truth isn't “hidden”, it just requires a certain level of intelligence and honesty to find it. Once discovered, however, one should be aware that uttering these “obvious” truths will be placing cross-hairs on a number of scared cows. For example:

= A purely diplomatic solution that doesn't involve military action - or at least the threat of such action - to Middle-East issues is not possible.

= A purely military-imposed solution to Middle-East issues is not possible, either.

= Providing 'unlimited' health care specifically for seniors means that young people will pay more. BTW, it's so expensive to treat older people at the end of their life, sooner or later someone will propose (implement) a policy based on the concept that it's cheaper for everyone to “just let them die”.

= Allowing more people into the health care system will make everyone pay more and is highly likely to lead to reduced care for the same dollar.

= A society that can impose the total financial burden for the society (via taxes) on less than ½ of the members of that society – i.e., where more people are receiving from the system than paying into it – will eventually collapse. This is unavoidable whenever “who votes” is deemed more important than “who pays”. In other words, if you ignore the Golden Rule (“he who has the gold, makes the rules”), those with the gold will take their money and leave for greener pastures.

= Addressing the issue of Global Warming – whether it is man-made or not – at this time is simply not possible without creating a hugely expensive, tax-driven bureaucracy that is highly unlikely to produce any verifiable results in the foreseeable future.

= If we rely on government to control health care costs, there will be “less innovation” in medical technology and you should not expect to live much longer than your parents.

= We're going to have to find a way to pay teachers more for quality public education (which will cost everyone more), and we have to be willing to fire the incompetent ones as part of that process (regardless of what the unions desire).

= Anyone who still relies on an unskilled, repetitive job is going to lose it in the near future (to outsourcing and/or automation). No one can or should do anything about trying to postpone the inevitable either. Encouraging (forcing?) people to be 're-trained' when they have already avoided taking advantage of doing that on their own, is ultimately a futile exercise.

= Increases in the minimum wage doesn't create jobs, to eliminates them, especially at the job tasks most closely associated with those wages. Period.

= Regulatory demands to increase the minimum wage has much less to do with making a guarantee of 'a living wage' than it does with using the power of government regulation to create a salary increase for employment contracts (e.g., union contracts) which base their rate of pay on the prevailing minimum wage.

= Allowing the government to mandate a “minimum wage” will one day lead to a government mandate a “maximum wage”.

= Unless it is completely discarded in favor of a different and re-vamped system, the existing Medicare program is (a) going to bankrupt the country, (b) impoverish the earning power of our younger workers , and (c) eventually reach a point where no one will receive benefits equal to what they paid into the system.

= The best way to increase the 'Human Condition' is to provide new and ever-increasing access to cheap energy. It doesn't matter if it's “green” energy or not - it just has to be cheap and plentiful and effectively provided from whatever source is available. And do it. That means using nuclear power-generating plants instead of geo-thermal, solar, wind, water and other “planet-friendly” options which are hideously expensive with minimal advantages over what we know how to do with nuclear. And until the U.S gets nuclear plant development going and online, we need to use petroleum and coal to our best advantage. Ignore any impact on the so-called 'carbon footprint': we're talking about people's lives.

= The best way to address world hunger (and thereby world poverty), is to eliminate all farm subsides and import/export tariffs on a global scale.

See what I mean? … There's a ideological word that sums up that laundry list of points: “heresy”. A politician that publicly utters these truths would be both unelectable and politically dead forever.

What does this mean? Simple: “You really can’t have something for nothing.” Or as our friend Bernardo says, TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. And politicians, always focused on gathering votes, never want to speak of the obvious; they will always try to have it both ways. Even when politicians choose one ideological path over another, they will always take clear steps to at least suggest they are simultaneously proceeding down two divergent, non-intersecting paths.

The reason politicians continue to survive is that human creativity (usually) rides to their rescue. New knowledge, new resources and new worlds have turned many bumbling hacks into legitimate statesmen. But they are the beneficiaries, not the creators of productivity. It is irrational to expect genuine creativity in a world dominated by politicians.

This is because politicians believe only in “zero-sum” situations. By that, I mean that the size of the pie is not static. Politicians see the world as saying: “If I want more, then you must have less.” They only see things as “win-lose”, and (naturally) they want to be on the winning side (by making sure their supporters are on the winning side). The possibility of a “win-win” - or “lose-lose”, for that matter – never enters into their thought processes.

This is why the effects of taxation is so often misunderstood. If you charge more taxes, people will take actions to the reduce their tax burden. If you charge less in taxes, they take advantage of those conditions to expand their horizons while conditions are favorable. This is because non-politicians understand that Things Change (and one must get while the getting is good).

Returning to dealing with Observable Truths and what to do with them...

It can be very simple. Difficult questions come down to choices. lower costs vs. death counselors; torture vs. intelligence; equity vs. growth; creativity vs certainty, bureaucracy vs innovation; risk vs reward, life vs. death. One can disagree with the choices made, but avoiding making the choices is not possible.

We can live only if we are willing to take the risk. And that Truth is the most uncomfortable and difficult to accept and is the most “unmentionable” Truth of all.

This country was founded on the princple that one's personal success or failure should be due to the efforts one was willing to apply. No safety-net, no bailouts, no 'too-big-to-fail - just actions and consequences. In other words, exactly what Risk are YOU willing to take for the Reward that YOU value most? Today, we are busy trading our Liberties and Freedoms for 'security' and 'safety'. Rubbish.

It's time to get back to the basics.

- Steve

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ayn Rand


Thanks very much for the post. I think I was beginning to read a lot more into your comments as a result of my admittedly brief research on Ayn Rand. As usual, you gave me a more balanced and reasonable perspective.

No, we don't have to go into her philosophy. If you like, we can go forward with more posts on health care. Now that we have each laid out the skeleton of a plan, perhaps we can put some meat on these bones. I think it would be fun to see if we can enter into some kind of horse trading and come up with a plan which we can both live with. That kind of give and take just doesn't seem to be happening in Foggy Bottom.

Yes, back in my salad days I would have called myself a Marxist. That was before I realized that just about every political philosophy comes apart when you consider they all depend on the capacity of human beings to be reasonable - and that is a pretty fragile thing to base any philosophy on.

In particular, I remember reading "State and Revolution" by Lenin - and what a glorious tract that is. I remember thinking, "Why don't people just understand how logical this is?"

So, I've got a little Karl Marx in me and you have a little Ayn Rand in you. But I think we're both reasonable men - and realize that even as disparate as Marx and Rand were, perhaps they have both provided us with valuable insights. Thanks again for the post. Let's get back to health care, shall we?


On Ayn Rand

Expertise in one area does not necessarily indicate expertise in another – but experts often think so...

I sincerely believe a Good Idea (or a good point) can come from anywhere. That said, just because someone has ONE good idea does not mean ALL of their ideas are Good or even desirable. Ditto for Bad Ideas. For example: I do *not* follow the partisan position which proclaims every Democrat that ever spoke only filled the air with empty syllables. As a caveat, I submit that more Good Ideas come from people who have a LOT of Good Ideas, but then defining 'good' requires a certain personal reference point, doesn't it? Just covering the bases.

One point where I disagree with Rand is her radical adherence to Pure Egotism (“it's all about me”). I much prefer her expounding the virtues of reason and self-reliance. Yes, her views on Christianity are troubling to me as well, but – for her – they flow (somewhat) logically from her personal philosophic premise. That doesn't mean she's right about all things. Nor does it mean that if I approve/agree with her position in one area, I am required to adopt ALL her opinions.

I am surprised you have trouble with understanding... By example, while it could be argued you appear to fall in line with many views shared by Karl Marx, I would be most reluctant to 'accuse' you of being an avowed Marxist or Communist (unless such is your actual desire). Having varied positions on a variety of topics - sometimes in apparent conflict with each other - are not only normal, but much desired. They serve as starting points for greater understanding; and there should be no expectation of 'marching in lock-step' when one agrees with another on one or more points. That's not to say that I (and others) sometimes fail to give the benefit of doubt in that situation - it's certainly easier to judge the book by its cover, or define one's character based on who they hang around with (to mangle a cliché or two) - but, occasionally, I manage to remind myself to avoid pre-judging others based on superficial appearances.

Yes, I am attracted to Rand's political viewpoints, predominately with respect to her emphasis on individual rights, laissez-faire capitalism (when enforced by limits on government power), and her rejection of the welfare state. These principles are close to my own – but her viewpoint does not substitute for mine. Her novel Atlas Shrugged is a great example of following a given premise to a (potentially logical) conclusion, as happens in all great speculative story lines. Agree or not, it *is* a good story. At times, it presents a philosophic challenge. In some cases, it is amazingly prophetic considering when it was written; and, not surprisingly, it occasionally borders on the absurd. But it's still a good story, reasonably well presented and raises several valid philosophical points worthy of consideration.

That I (or you, most certainly) disagree with Rand on certain specifics is not surprising, nor unexpected. Demanding a one-size-fits-all philosophy is an exercise in futility – especially in the political arena when one does not desire to drink the kool-aid and switch off their thought processes completely. Would you reject *all * of John Kennedy's social positions because of his military failure at Bay of Pigs? Similarly, would you set aside the purpose of The Great Society because of LBJ's aggressive pursuit of the Vietnam War? Nixon's Watergate fiasco vs. opening relations with China? Jimmy Carter's work with Habitat for Humanity vs. his continuing support ruthless dictators? And so on.

From Wikipedia - “Objectivism holds that reality exists independent of consciousness; that individual persons are in direct contact with this reality through sensory perception; that human beings can gain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic; that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness or rational self-interest; that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism; and that the role of art in human life is to transform man's widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally... Objectivism" derives from the principle that human knowledge and values are objective: they are not created by the thoughts one has, but are determined by the nature of reality, to be discovered by man's mind. ”

In her own words (from Atlas Shrugged) “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

That's a pretty good summary of where she starts with her philosophy. I tend to see an individual's philosophical thought process as leaning towards being an amalgam of multiple ideas from many sources. We could pursue this line of discussion, if you like. That would give us the opportunity to either examine Rand's views, pointing out things we each like or dislike. Or we could follow a path discussing how one can accept certain concepts while rejecting those which 'don't fit'.

I hope this provides some insight, but I can expound further if you need more.

- Steve

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Meaning no disrespect (truly) but I guess I've been having a little trouble understanding why, or maybe how, you so readily accept the ideas of Ayn Rand. She was an admitted atheist and forcefully argued against some of the most fundamental of Christian beliefs, including the morality of service to others and the concept of original sin, and stated categorically that she was opposed to faith. Moreover, she was a social Darwinist in the tradition of Frederich Nietzsche.

I have now started and deleted 4 posts regarding Ms Rand. But the truth is, I know why I don't like her philosophy and why it has no place in my own. However, I am frankly baffled as to how you fit it into yours - and that is the honest truth. Would you mind elaborating?