Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interesting Science Stuff

No really,
every now and then you can find the most amazing science stuff on the web.  The National Academy of Science has an annual symposium (at least I think it's annual) that allows leading scientists to bring forth discussions on their area of specialty.  Here is a link to the 2005 symposium.  Near the bottom you'll find a series of 3 presentations on Climate Change in the past.

Why am I linking to these, well for one they are interesting.  But to me they illustrate why I'm a climate skeptic.  The fact is when you approach these with an opinion of I don't think we know enough to say climate change is settled science - you find that these scientists: Eric Stieg, Gavin Schmidt and Clara Deser essentially agree.  Gavin in particular talks about thinks like solar forcing and how much of the climate data is built on assumptions and how small changes to these assumptions have significant impact on the resulting data from the models.

The point of ClimateGate (not my choice of a name) isn't that scientists are evil, but rather that they haven't settled the science, that they know they haven't and that if the rest of us know that we'll wait before overreacting.  There's a good book out called 'Not Evil, Just Wrong' which pretty much sums up my opinion of the current state of climate science conclusions.  There is alot of good heck amazing work taking place but the results are far from final much less carved in stone.  As long as much of the work is based on assumptions it means that the science isn't settled, it means that we have to accept that we still don't know... taken with the discussion of how CO2 in the past isn't a forcing gas but rather a reactive gas (it increases after temperature increases not before) it makes much of the current claims seem like so much garbage.

Are there environmental issue for us - yes some truly huge ones, but CO2 isn't currently one of them, and even if it will be it's 100 or so years from real concern (200 years from an actual crisis).

by the way changing the year in that link from 2005 to say 2006 will take you to the following year...

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Orson Scott Card has what I think is the ultimate explanation of unions in the US and why they are currently more of a problem than an aid.  I think his experience with unions is close to mine. My Father worked both within and outside of a union - and there was definitely more of the 'union time' mentality over time.  There were things that unions did early in the 20th century that were critical to the middle class and exceptional American way of life.  But even 20 years ago certain cracks had appeared. 

Orson's discussion is very balanced in highlighting the good unions can and have done but looking at the issues they now cause:

Should abortion be legal?

So here is one of those hot social issues that has wrapped the country around the opinion axel and really it comes down to how you approach social issues.

For me the issue has a couple sides: 1. Questions about whether abortion is good or right and 2. Questions about whether the state should be involved in preventing or supporting abortions.

The answer to question 1 is that I think on the whole abortion is bad.  I'm against abortion, just as I am against any other form of killing.  HOWEVER, let's look at killing.

Is owning a gun illegal?  No. But guns are used for killing... so if killing is bad aren't guns, and shouldn't we make it illegal to own a gun?  Again, No - why because we have a clear history that shows that while sometime guns are misused in the big picure our society benefits by allowing ordinary citizens to have access to guns.  (I'm not going to argue this point - our society allows guns, even if only controlled access or limited access for some and in the end the core reason has to do with the benefit to society vs. the cost.  You might not agree but it doesn't change what society has decided on that issue.)  I like to think of it as the 'self-defense' exception which basically operates on the idea that not everyone and everything in the world is good.  Sometimes good people run into bad things and guns allow good people to prevent things that are worse than a single killing.

Unfortunately, abortion falls into this category.  Abortion is bad, I do consider it killing.  Having said that, there are many other bad things in the world some of which can result in a pregnancy or can occur during child-birth.  With this in mind there are times when the person involved in an abortion can justify their actions and as such should have a right to take that action. Let's be honest that's where the complexity lies - understanding all the 'edge' cases where a woman needs an abortion to prevent another bad outcome. 

The key is, government shouldn't be involved in this decision.  There should be laws on who can provide an abortion to ensure safety, rules about when an abortion is legal in terms of fetus age (yes I'd rather see a birth early to protect the life of the Mother potentially putting the infant at risk, then just killing the unborn infant for the same result).  But in the big picture we want as little government control in this area as possible.  Regulations to ensure safety, yes but I don't want a board that asks women if they meet the moral criteria for a given abortion.

In the end I see the right to get an abortion in line with the right to own a gun.  I am firmly against getting abortions and just like I don't expect the goverment to buy me a gun I don't want the government paying for abortions.  However, it's not my job to determine if a woman who needs an abortion really just wants one or if she meets my moral standard for getting that abortion.  The governments role should be in ensuring abortions are safe, it is the job of the church and society to explain why abortions are bad.

In my big picture if abortion rights and gun rights are viewed from the same perspective and treated similarly, we are by my moral compass on the right path.

 - theres probably a ton of stuff I could better clarify, but if you are open to the idea hopefully I've communicated why I'm against abortion but for the right to an abortion.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Move the UN Headquarters

Once upon a time it was good to place a 'world changing' organization in a large city. You needed the resources that already existed to support that body. That was 50 years ago.

Today, that body doesn't need a presence in a large city, instead it has the potential to help uplift a mid or small scale location. I know that sounds strange but bear with me as I explain.

The UN like or dislike it has become a large influencial organization. Having it within NY is nice for NY but in the big picture totally unneccessary. Instead I would love to see the UN move to someplace like Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Haiti or some other small country. In such an environment the established influence of the UN in the world would be no less, however, all of the support all of the bureacrats etc. from the organization would suddenly be contributing to the local economy of it's local area.

The impact of the UN on the NY economy is relatively small (or should be) and relocating them to someplace like Haiti would suddenly increase the standard of living across the board in that country. It'll never happen because everyone wants to come to the US as part of their UN boondoogle - but if we could convince the UN to relocate somewhere like Puerto Rico or even somewhere (pretty much anywhere) in Africa)wouldn't the resulting economic impact help make the world a better place?

BTW, I'm not open to Europe, Russia or China which are all old powers - I could be convinced on portions of India.  My preference is for a country with a smaller economy that could be 'lifted' by having the UN support become a major "export" (or whatever you want to call it as a source of income - 'political tourisim'?.)

Friday, November 27, 2009


Why "quidick" and not "Gate" - well "WaterGate" as you will recall was infamous in that the mainstream press investigated a story and brought down a President. Thus if this were about the mainstream press investigating CRU and the released mails, Gate would be appropriate, but it's not. It's about the news getting out in spite of the mainstream media. Much closer to the infamous Chappaquidick controversy (if you are too young to remember that then don't worry since if you don't remember I'm sure you were never taught about it. At this point all of the main actors are dead, so it's just a name.)

As the climate controversy rises I found a good scientific discussion of just the legal concerns of the recent climage data release is at:

Some have said that this whole mess isn't about the data which is "good" or "sound" Well as for the "quality" of the data, here is an analysis I like:
"As someone with a background both in IT and in science (I participated in particle physics experiments as a physics PhD student), I would also add the following lesson to the folks writing scientific code: Don't make stuff up. The released document HARRY_READ_ME.txt contains examples in which the coder, supremely frustrated with the poor quality of his data, simply creates some. Even if the underlying science is sound, "created" data taints the integrity of the entire process. Don't do it, no matter how tempting." (bolding mine) source here:

Of course my personal opinion matches this one:
"One of the reasons AGW flimflam angers me is that it crowds out sane, constructive environmentalism. An environmental lobby that really cared about saving the planet would be agitating for crash programs to replace the burning of fossil fuels with nuclear energy; buying up rainforest acreage to stem loss of biodiversity; funding research into better battery- and supercap-based storage technology so low-density renewable power sources could be aggregated into baseload power. But the envorinmentalists we have won’t do these things, because they’re fixated on the wrong problems and the wrong means of solving even those."

I'll even expand on this and state that the blowback as this issue gains more exposure and the outright lies and manipulation by those who just want power come out is that the real environmental movement has been set back 20+ years. That env. damage I already linked to in China just being the tip of the iceberg as places like Indonesia, Brazil, and others keep pace with China.

The source of that quote is a technologist: Eric S. Raymond, author of "The Cathedral & the Bazaar". He has an excellent analysis of just how corrupt the data is and how it was literally faking a hockey stick on his blog (read the top 3 or 4 posts but don't miss "Hiding the Decline: Part 1") That's where a software specialist show the code that literally embeds the hockey stick into whatever data get's inserted...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Best News in Healthcare Debate

There's only a little good news coming out of the way that Dem's force fed the Healthcare bill was Mary Landrieu... she of the - I got $300 million to vote for the bill.

If it took $300 million for the last vote (and millions more along the way for other votes) that demonstrates just how weak this bill is. Let's face it with another month of debate and opportunities for people to show just how corrupt this bill is support only needs to drop by one or two votes for it to delay or die.

Even if it does leave the Senate how will the House react? Are members of the House really willing to pay off someone like Mary Landieu to the tune of $300+ million?

This bill is poison... the sad part (or possibly good news) is that by the time its hits the trash heap it's likely to take the Democratic party with it.

I remember working against the election of Ronald Reagan (I wasn't a Carter fan, I preferred Anderson) but you know when I compare the "don't trust anyone in power" creed I associated with the Democratic party. Now I see a Democratic party with which I don't associate - they "believe in global warming", they "Believe in a large union based federal government", they "Believe in ..." too many things....

The only thing I 'Believe' in politics is always investigating, always questioning and never following like sheep for 'Change'. Our joke was the slaughter house is change for the sheep but that doesn't mean that after they're there that they'll still be happy with it.
I put Obama's administration in that model and the question is can enough sheep break for the door before the slaughter begins? In that sense, the end of the current Democratic party is possibly good news. The Republicans have a chance at fiscal change reinvigorating their party and it's the Democrats use of Trillion dollar deficits that's making that possible.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alfred still spinning

It's funny part of what reminded me I had set up this blog was one of my first posts... the fact that in 2007 Al Gore was awarded a Peace prize for marketing a global warming scam.

Now it's even better - the Peace prize was awarded to Barak Obama based on 10 days in office. I have a son - he shows a ton of promise and totally believes in peace - I'm submitting him for next years prize since apparently its now 'the thought that counts.'

I refuse to spend too much time on this with the exception of a minor point: I don't blame Obama - he can't grant the award to himself, it was the Nobel committee.

Things have been quiet around here

And are likely to remain so to a large extent. I added a feed reader link... and I may start commenting here again as I read blogs and want to comment on their entries. This is still mainly a side effort that actually have better things then to work on... but woke it up so I could put it to use again.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Global Warming, CO2 and Plants

As an admitted AGW (Anthropomorpic Global Warming) (manmade) skeptic one of the things which always makes me laugh are claims that the increasing CO2 are bad for plants. This makes me laugh because it runs contrary to every experiment in existance. Fact is just like Humans need an atmosphere rich in O2 plants need an atomsphere rich in CO2.

In fact if CO2 levels drop too low plant essentially suffocate. Now a true AGW accolyte doesn't understand this in fact there was a recent blast on many of the AGW blogs about how rising CO2 might make plants more susceptible to damage - read about it here or here

How do those who actually work with plants feel about CO2 - well let's check their supply catalog for the products they use to Increase CO2: Home Harvest Carbon Dioxide Enrichment

Yeah rising CO2 and the plant world - they are friends.

The reality is that the linked articles are classic AGW FUD. FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. AGW is built on FUD, because the idea is to have masses of people do what they are told. Let's take the second link which is where I found this information, it has a four paragraph except of the original article but it is easier to discuss that shorter article.

The best way to introduce FUD is to first start with a true statement - "Widespread damage to plants from a sudden freeze... was made worse because it had been preceded by two weeks of unusual warmth..."

Agreed because it is true, and part of the known behavior of the plant kingdom. When plants that are sensitive to frorst damage start to bloom following a dormancy such as winter a sudden frost causes extreme damage... it's sort of like waking up from a long sleep (hibernation), using your energy reserves to get started and suddenly having all of your efforts stolen... the plants not only take damage but haven't had a chance to build a new set of reserves to restart. (thats a simplification but since I'm agreeing with the authors it shouldn't cause a problem.) The paragraph even goes on to site the addition of drought as another limiting factor in this documented event. In fact I think the entire first paragraph is true.

Second paragraph starts the FUD - "Rising levels of atmospheric CO2 are BELIEVED to reduce the ability of SOME plants to withstand freezing..."
based on what? (Lets come back to plants and CO2)
Next add some more information that is true but unrelated to CO2 culiminating with "A cold spring in 1996, in contrast to the 2007 event, caused little enduring damage because it was not preceded by unusual warmth." - again a true statement. For brevity I'm not too concerned in the remainder we could discuss but again it is a mix of obviously true and FUD statements, but the focus of the claims and what I would like to address is the claim regarding CO2 making plants more susceptible to frost.

So does CO2 make plants more susceptible to frost damage? Keep in mind this article makes two claims - first warming will result in more scenarios similar to 2007 vs. 1996, as a skeptic there is no direct evidence of this (it's the basis of the AGW debate) and no discussion is presented - I see no reason to argue this point as there isn't data.

However, the article implies that plants exposed to CO2 are intrinsicly more prone to frost damage. Again no real evidence is provided but we can consider several studies on what CO2 does to plants and common practices in growing plants to at least consider this which isn't a core discussion point of AGW proponents (for good reason).

The item that should draw your attention is that increased CO2 appears to effect plants in two ways
first there are thousands of studies that show better growth through increased CO2. In short this consists of two elements:
1. One is superior efficiency of photosynthesis. 2. The other is a sharp reduction in water loss per unit of leaf area.

To limit discussion let's not even address item 1 since photsynthesis and freezing aren't directly related, on the other hand the second item is the logical question - what does a reduction in water loss imply.

Well it implies that the plant has more water. Well somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade most science classes explain how freezing works and one of the things which is noted is that it takes a large body of water longer to freeze. Thus if the plant is keeping more water it is actually less likely that that water will freeze. Thus increased CO2 actually makes it less likely that plants will suffer as much frost damage in such an event, because the water contained in their system will be there in greater quantity. (note once the water freezes that portion of the plant dies regardless of the quantity of frozen water.)

Which brings us back around to the CO2 generators which are used by actual farmers and others in agriculture.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Question of Ethics

I hear lots of people talk about ethics and all kinds of statements regarding who is being unethical. I'd like to consider a not-so hypothetical scenario

There is a consulting company - they have specialists that do work in a certain area that clients pay for, the industry isn't important. One day one of the consultants leaves and heads off to a frontiers unknown.

Let's say a few weeks later one of the company's current consultants searches for and finds that ex-employee's name active in one of your client's user database. This current employee who is currently working with that client, recognizing the name of your ex-employee (he did search for it) contacts the customer and says - hey why is this person's account active? The customer says - "well after we learned he left your company we reached out to that ex-employee and offered him some consulting work".

Now the employee that left had previously worked with this client in the past as part of the consulting company. The employee did not leave to work with this client, and did not get work from the client that you necessarily wanted. This was not full-time consulting work or the ex-employees primary employer.

But the company president doesn't know those details. All the president is told is that his ex-employee is now working with one of the company's clients where a damaged relationship exists.
Thus the president of the company decides to contact this ex-employee and tell the ex-employee how upsetting it is that the ex-employee is willing to compete with the company (the parting was on good terms) and take work with one of the company's clients. The president gives the ex-employee an earful and maybe the president even considers a call to the client to give the client an earful. But the ex-employee says - "hey not true I didn't leave to take your work with this client" and even goes so far as offering to let the company have the work (since it's only part time) and even offers to try and work with the client to improve the company's already damaged relationship with the client.

The question; Where are the ethics violations?
Is it ethical for the ex-employee to have done work with your client? (making clear all parties agree there is no illegal relationship)
Is it ethical for your current employee to dig the customer's user database to find an ex-employee and then report to you about the presence of an account?
Is it ethical of you to contact the ex-employee and claim they should give up the work the client contacted them about and offered to them?

I have my opinions with regard to the fact that I think the one who is ethically in question is the employee who took a customer's proprietary data and used it to find an ex-employee in that data, but I'm open to other opinions and debate - but you have to provide any specific context you want to use to justify your position, since my context is a real world scenario. (and no I'm not involved I haven't changed jobs in excess of 5 years and don't have any current plans to do so, I just know one of the parties involved as a friend and don't want to identify parties even by implication)