[While the old sandbox was getting full, the comment thread on the externalities post kind of petered out and segued into looking at the externalities implied by AGW, and then it started circling the old climate change barn again. A request was made to continue it here – fair enough.
But before diving in one more time, I’d like to point out some strongly orthogonal aspects of discussing climate change cum AGW. Having ignored or not understood them in the past has led to the predictable Nowhere. Here’s a partial list –
- Verity of paleo climate records, - Verity of recent – last 50K years – climate measurements,
- Definitions of earth’s atmospheric temperature,
- Definitions of sea levels,
- Data handling methods to create a usable sets of inputs to models,
- Knowledge of climate physics – terrestrial and extra-terrestrial – viz sub-processes and their large scale integration (e.g. the earth’s carbon cycle, cosmic rays impact on cloud cover),
- General Circulation Models (GCMs) – their design, programming, and testing,
- Validating GCMs – data sets used, performance criteria, selection/tuning of model constants, sub-model transfer functions and stabilities (bifurcations to chaos), sensitivity to inputs, …
- Understanding the impact of human interventions on climate (let alonge AGW).
In a reasonable world (not the one we live in), debating climate change between people who understand the science, math, and modeling (of complex, stochastic, dynamic systems), and those who don’t is not possible. One side can cite and interpret the technical literature, and other side can only appeal to ‘consensus science’ or my scientist(s) are smarter than your scientist(s). Nevertheless, in today’s world such debates are exciting, important, and even fun – each side viewing the other as unredeemable troglodytes. When the participants are tired of finally insulting the quality of their opponents’ double helixes, and the debate “is heard no more: it (was again) a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, nevertheless but advising public policies penned by grossly ignorant and hubristic central planners. Have at it. gjr]
'We know best what's good for the people.' - from the Central Planning Bible
Lately several readers have been discussing the whys and wherefores of (economic) externalities. It’s a slippery concept to apply as may be deduced from its definition.
An externality is “a consequence of an economic activity that is experienced by unrelated third parties. An externality can be either positive or negative.” - Investopedia.
If a producer (Agent A1) provides a quantity (Q1) of goods/services to a customer (Agent A2) willing to pay price P1 for them, then we have the costs of production and price driven demand represented by the classical producer-demand curves showing the market realities arrived at by A1 and A2 – that is, Q1 exchanged for $P1. In this situation each agent has satisfied his own utility for money and goods.
Now enters agent A3 who is neither a producer nor consumer, and he determines that there are people out there negatively impacted by such production/consumption transactions. By fiat A3 (usually the government) has the power to assess, attribute, and allocate what it determines is the ‘social cost’ of such unhampered transactions. It attributes such a cost to a given industry (economic activity) and, in its wisdom, allocates a portion MEC (marginal external cost) to A1 - as a tax, tariff, license fee, imposed purchase of, say, carbon credits, etc – that A3 claims is a negative externality. But in reality A1 experiences MEC as an added cost of production to his existing MPC (marginal private cost) of production. This yields a new MSC (marginal social cost) production curve experienced by A1. And the new price point now shifts to P2 at which price A2 is willing to buy only quantity Q2. (See my modified figure below from Environmental Economics.)
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 1 July 2015.]
Today the country is under terror alert, and the FBI is setting up counter-terrorism control centers across the land as the rest of us prepare to celebrate America’s 239th birthday this weekend. We know the world is broken, and when we contemplate the state of our Union, it is clear that we also have a lot of mending to do. Many recognized students of the American scene tell us that today “Political polarization is at unprecedented levels, with large portions of the electorate convinced that the other side is not only mistaken in its political views, but evil.”
Here in Nevada County radicals have threatened to disrupt the annual 4th of July parade when the local Tea Party unit marches by after having been told, “If you continue to support this anti-constitutional, anti-Christian ideology, start packing or pay the consequences of the outing of the cruel inhuman people your T Party represents.” Local law enforcement is taking this seriously.
But in spite of the worldwide killings by Islamic radicals, and the political turmoil that grows inside our borders, we can still reconcile if we remember how we once were as reported by our 19th century visitors. We were seen and saw ourselves as a unique people who were open, neighborly, generous, egalitarian, feisty, and prideful with over the top patriotism. We had a passion to get ahead and see what’s over the next hill. And all those qualities were wrapped up with an undeniable individualism; we knew what made me only me, and no one else.
Because of that we were not of one mold. Our Founders knew that and gave us an America that was not meant to be the same America for everyone; our land was intended to accommodate diversity. Artist, writer, and professor of computer science David Gelernter said, “The founders designed a vast garment for America that hugs where it should hug and stretches where it should stretch; each state creates its own society, and the Constitution stitches them all together into a comfortable, sensible union suit.”
However such an America has not been our recent direction. Long ago we were warned by de Tocqueville that when government “covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform” such that it “compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people”, then we have arrived at the doorstep of tyranny.
Sociologist and political philosopher Charles Murray believes we can begin finding common ground by joining to oppose those patently ridiculous rules and laws which stupefy and compress us all into a bi-partisan misery. Is it not ridiculous that any American lacks the means to live a decent life? Is it not ridiculous that our towns and cities can no longer afford to provide basic services? In a nation as diverse as America, is it not ridiculous to impose one-size-fits-all national policies that involve morally complex cultural differences? Without giving up our core beliefs, we can all work together to eliminate such ridiculous conditions in our land – and that joint effort can serve as a start for more things to mend America that will bring us back together.
We should think about these things as we make plans for this weekend. And may I suggest that we all experience such togetherness this coming Friday evening, 3rd of July, on the Great Lawn of the Nevada County Fairgrounds at the ‘Happy Birthday USA’ festivities. This celebration is brought to you by our own Music in the Mountains. Get your tickets online and bring your camping chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets full of good things to join your neighbors as you listen to great American music and songs performed on stage by Nevada County’s own world class symphony orchestra and chorus. It will be good to experience America again.
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on georgerebane.com where the transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and where such issues are debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
Berlin – the German Ethics Council recommends that the Bundestag remove the legal prohibition of incest between siblings, citing that “in the case of consensual incest among adult siblings, neither the fear of negative consequences for the family, nor the possibility of the birth of children from such incestuous relationships can justify a criminal prohibition.” (more here)
I have no idea of how the Germans got ahead of California on this one, but there is plenty of room for us to take the lead again. We note that the Germans only expanded legal incest to siblings, parents and children having intercourse or making other kinds of whoopee is still prohibited. That is open territory for Sacramento to sweep the field in opening up the pursuit of comprehensive “sexual self-determination”.
LGBTQIA stands for “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual” according to the Urban Dictionary that also informs us “LGBTQIA people are the only minority not federally protected.” Not knowing what ‘intersex’ is, my immediate concern focuses on whether the existing 'I' covers incest, or do we need another one.
In any case, will marriage be next? Consider the possibilities. Given the SCOTUS rulings and all that, will 2015 be remembered as Springtime for Brave New World?
Pot-based tourism in Nevada County is the topic of this week’s Union column by George Boardman whose comments are also often read on these pages. This is a column full of thought provoking ideas, some obviously with tongue firmly planted in cheek. But the gist of a TV series (‘High Country’) concerns local MJ jinks – both high and low – practiced by the natives in these foothills. If well written, I can see many interesting and humorous sub-themes with interwoven characters – e.g. one based on ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ of our sheriff forever on the trail of a certain local RMJ grower. Supervisor Beason’s concern that such notoriety for the county may keep high tech industries from locating here is legitimate, but I think the concern will abate when more closely examined in light of the overall benefit to our community. Good piece (paywalled here) to get this conversation started Mr Boardman.
‘We’re Losing the Cyber War’ and no one is “personally responsible” according to Ms Katherine Archuleta who heads our Office of Personnel Management that has now admitted to mismanaging the safe-keeping of tens of millions of detailed personal files on fed employees, former employees, and contractors with security clearances. Most Americans expect a generous level of systemic incompetence from the federal bureaucracies and their staffs, especially their politically appointed bosses. But Ms Archuleta has really broken new ground here.
The purloining of these millions of files highlights two major concerns – our inability to stop Chinese and other foreign cyber attacks, and the potential damage that the information in those files can do to individuals who work for/with government in sensitive positions. Of most concern are the security background check files that China now has on thousands of government defense managers and contract workers. On active duty I also served as the S-2 Intelligence Officer of a nuclear capability artillery battalion. In my possession and charge were several hundred security clearance files on members of my unit. I worked closely with the local Army intelligence office charged with investigating people regarding potential changes in their clearances, and therefore have read many such files. The contents’ depth and detail of such files is eye-popping, and in many cases can be used to blackmail people who hold/held such clearances to reveal classified aspects of the projects they work/ed on. Serious stuff indeed that will now place a huge additional burden on the various gumshoe agencies who must start much closer levels of surveillance on (tens of?) thousands of vulnerable clearance holders. (Yes Virginia, if you hold a high security clearance, then as a routine you will be periodically very closely ‘monitored’ – foregoing your privacy is the price paid by those of us who work to keep our fellow Americans secure.)
And speaking of China, author and military analyst Peter Singer is making the Pentagon rounds giving presentations to our military warning of the strong likelihood that we will fight WW3 with The People’s Republic(more here). I have ordered Singer’s new book, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, that will be released tomorrow, and is already on the Pentagon’s reading list (as have been a couple of his previous techno-thrillers). So far we can surmise that Obama’s ‘Asia pivot’ has been executed with blindfold firmly in place as we continue to reduce our military’s ability to project force while China's technicians and military are rapidly expanding and exercising their country’s military and technical abilities which they daily exercise ‘in our face’ both in international waters and on the internet.
The big fear is that China has the ability at will to shut down major parts of our country’s infrastructure and critical military systems already deployed on our ships and aircraft. How? Both through advanced hacking technology, but most fearfully through Trojan functions in China-manufactured microchips that are already embedded in our civilian and military equipments worldwide. Meanwhile the incompetents in Washington are dancing in the streets celebrating the victory which is crippling one sixth of our economy with sky-rocketing premiums and reduced access to healthcare for all except our top quintile or two.
[30jun15 update] This morning Union’s print edition informs us that the local loonie Left has sent hate mail to the NC Tea Party, threatening to disrupt this weekend’s 4th of July parade when the TP unit passes by. Limiting free speech by the Left has become an ongoing drumbeat across the country that spawned in our universities, arches across the lamestream media, and now easilty reaches into local communities. It is always the Left that calls for silencing its opposition wherever they encounter it. The threatening writer has a history of hate toward the NCTP, and warns, “If you continue to support this anti-constitutional, anti-Christian ideology, start packing or pay the consequences of the outing of the cruel inhuman people your T Party represents.” Local law enforcement officials are taking the threat seriously. (I could not find this story’s URL on the Union's website. We are now 20 years into the WWW, and sadly The Union still does not have a professional website; its current site is horribly designed and broken in many places. Reminds one of healthcare.gov.)
'Has China’s Stock Market Bubble Burst?’ asks a Stratfor article in its title. When you read the article, it meanders all over the map giving reasons why it may, and then again why it may not have burst. In short, they don’t know. When I read one of these pieces with a questioning title that promises to provide the reader an answer, and then doesn’t, I get really irked (aka pissed to the gills). (Elementary probability tells us how to represent ignorance about the truth of N equally likely competing propositions – you assign them each a 1/N probability of being true. Will the coin land heads or tails? Your correct answer to tell people that you don’t know is that it’s ’50-50’, or with probabilities ½ and ½ that it will land either way.) When an article lays out arguments that equally support all N advertised alternatives, it implicitly assigns 1/N to each alternative. In that case it shouldn’t use a title that implies it has any added information about the outcome. Oh well.
Since its launch in 2007, RR has had an open, seldom mediated comments policy since I did not want this forum to become an echo chamber for near-conservatarian sentiments. The blog’s purpose was to record my thoughts and observations about these eventful and fin de siècle years for humanity on this planet, and given that this worldview is admittedly outrageous to many, I wanted my readers to see and offer compelling counter arguments. The prime audience for all this was intended to be the ideologically mid-road and undecided reader, of course with a considerable nod to my right-of-center compatriots who hopefully would bolster what I was able to stick into the dike against the progressive flood.
RR took off beyond my expectations, attracting readers and (online and email) commenters to compose quite an audience despite that, I have expended no effort to popularize its diverse subject matter. My intent was to attract only the well-read, or at least the well-reading visitors who would make up a cohort of intellectual peers. I have never wanted to write for ‘broad audiences’, and consequently have often been admonished for using a ‘$10 word’ instead of the accepted handful of more folksy, compact, and dictionary-optional $1 words. It is a weakness learned long ago when Buckley often drove me to my always open, unabridged codex of the English language. As Popeye famously said, ‘Iyam what Iyam.’
So I started writing posts that included my Union columns, and still include my KVMR commentaries, and people of all political stripe started commenting. And then some commenters from both sides became irked at what seemed to be obvious errors, misrepresentations, and even displays of moral turpitude from the other side. The subsequently returned punches began landing below belts. And from the stats, traffic grew as more people joined in the fray either as passive readers or as ‘in the pit’ commenters. Soon the comment streams were decorated with mudballs thrown at opposites for what also was clearly for the sheer fun of retorting outrage with greater outrage. But always between the mudball exchanges, commenters took time to write lengthy considered statements, commentaries, and even essays on the topic at hand. Providing such a forum, warts and all, became a raison d’etre for RR.
Of late things have gotten more than a bit out of hand, and readers and commenters in greater numbers are asking that I attempt to restore some decorum. So here goes.
Commenter Rules: To lower the temperature and foster focus on issues, I will do my best henceforth to enforce the following commenter rules –
1. Under topical posts, keep your comments obviously related to the topic(s) posted. Use the nearest RR Sandbox to introduce other topics and invite discussion.
2. Given the scope of comments that have become traditional on blogs, wordsmith your comments to be clear, concise, and complete. And please read them over before you hit ‘Post’.
3. Contend the presented ideas, interpretations, and opinions, and not their author. Maul the message, and not the messenger. If the messenger wraps himself in the message, then make your repartees as churchillian as possible. Junior high school mudballs prohibited.
4. Remember that RR is a long running blog that contains a growing body of thought, and is strongly ideological with multiple posts on a wide range of topics, including a separate ‘Conservatarian Credo’. Please refer to or reference these as necessary to contend/expand an issue – every issue does not have to start with ‘Hello World!’ Either use the RR embedded search function or Google (‘xx’, rebane’s ruminations) to find previous commentaries and comments on any given subject.
5. ‘Praise publicly and punish privately.’ Don’t launch personal attacks on other commenters or me. Most certainly don’t publish other people’s personal information that is unrelated to the posted topic(s).
6. Minimize the use of obscenities and profanities – i.e. do not use them in an obviously gratuitous manner.
7. I invite bylines from RR readers. If you have an extended thought on a topic you’d like to post on RR under your name, email it to me. I’ll make the final determination.
8. No spam or porn.
Not a requirement, but as a courtesy to other readers, please identify by name/timestamp the comment to which your comment pertains. My own format has been 'GeorgeR 153pm'. Other lengthier ones also will serve. Thanks.
We’ll see how these work out. I will do my best to enforce them ‘fairly’, but since that word has no uniformly accepted operational definition, you will almost certainly accuse me of being unfair. Your complaints are welcomed. I am reminded of the old coach who advised his players ‘Never seek justice, only mercy.’
Parting note – please compose and keep your lengthier comments in a Word (or other text editor) document until you see the comment ‘survive’ on RR. I will not take the time to ‘cleanse’ comments that violate the above rules, I’ll just unpublish them. In that case, if you wish, you can edit out the offending part yourself and repost. Note also that these rules are accessible under the upper right margin heading 'RR Fundamentals'.
Given the 25jun15 SCOTUS ruling on ACA, I had to rush off a post on it since RR's readership will not sit idly by and let an occasion like this pass without extensive discussion and debate. And this happening may even fit into these thoughts that I’ll try to weave together on equally impactive geo-political goings on.
William Galston, left-leaning observer and columnist picks up on RR’s ‘beyond the tipping point’ assertion in his ‘Modern Autocrats Are on the March’. Therein he cites David Clark of UK’s Henry Jackson Society who argues that “the great wave of global democratic change that began in the mid-1970s—doubling the number of electoral democracies in the space of three decades—has come to an end. Instead, we are now confronted with a powerful authoritarian backlash that is reversing some of these gains and encouraging a resurgence of anti-democratic ideas.”
This according to many of us, including Galston, who have observed geo-political maneuverings over the last decade or so makes clear that while “the rise of violent Islamism has transfixed the world, another, graver threat—21st-century autocracy—is gathering strength. In the long run, it is sophisticated autocrats, not bearded zealots, who pose the greater menace to democracy.” By this is meant that these sophisticated autocrats are not some conservative or progressive knuckle-draggers wanting to return to yesteryear, but instead are elites who take into account globalization, rising prosperity and digital communications, and, according to Clark, they have developed “new techniques of control and new justifications for monopolizing power that enable autocratic leaders to resist pressure for democratic change.”
As we know, democracy is not a naturally occurring form of governance, and pure democracy is now the established tool of would be tyrants as the enthusiastically swallowed preamble to tyranny. Today these elites “adeptly manipulate the façade of democratic procedures” to “co-opt their countries’ rising middle-classes.” This is most evident in the Asian autocracies that preach to their citizens their cultural exceptionalism in the expression and practice of their ‘Asian values’. And I agree with Clark that “the rise of the new authoritarianism shows that democracy is not the inevitable outgrowth of modernization and economic development.” To confirm this we need look no further than our own shores.
[The last sandbox seemed to have exhausted its old threads and its ability to launch new threads. One can always tell that a sandbox is overfilled when the mudball density goes up. I very much enjoyed the exchange on national healthcare issues and alternatives. Although, I still didn't see any appreciation from the Left that their vaunted EU healthcare programs continue to eat up a greater fraction of GDP year after year while existing services are being rationed and/or cut - the litmus test for unsustainability. But then, that news never reaches the lamestream, and therefore it really is not happening.
Regarding the GDP figure, please see my comment below. gjr]
Another dark day in the history of our Republic. Obamacare (aka ACA) has survived its second encounter with SCOTUS. In spite of the clear intent of Congress to goad states to get into the healthcare business; in spite of progressives in Congress intending the secretly composed and hastily passed healthcare law to promote an ultimate single payer system through the sequential revelation of ACA’s obvious shortcomings; in spite of ACA’s clear statement that subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state”; in spite of all that SCOTUS today struck that language and rewrote the law. Subsidies will be available to all, whether they signed up on state run exchanges or the fed’s disastrous healthcare.gov.
The important part that most people will miss is what SCOTUS really said with this ruling. I will spell it out, and you will read about it elsewhere later. SCOTUS said –
• We know better than Congress what it meant when crafting a law;
• No matter what Congress stated in the law, we know what the law really should have said;
• According to our liking, we have the power to re-legislate and fix laws to make them right for the nation.
It used to be that SCOTUS only adjudicated laws and their application according their concordance with the Constitution.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in a 21-page opinion. But for years the progressives in Congress have openly and often admitted that, while ACA is a flawed and incomplete approach to national healthcare, its obvious problems as they arise will give impetus to a single payer national health service to replace the ACA.
Again highlighted by SCOTUS, the legal industry has used a logic and inference process that is peculiar to itself. It is purposefully intended to be fluid and poorly understood, giving rise to ad hoc interpretations, reinterpretations, and argumentation ad infinitum so as to create and sustain a fully employed and growing priesthood that can live off the productive labors of whatever land it has been able to infect.
In the schooling and professional experience of people like me, such a system of logic would not have underpinned any successful scientific experiment or engineering project. No bridge or MRI or airplane could have been designed and built with it. No correct medical diagnosis could be based on it, no successful search of a massive database could have been conducted using it, and no contributions to our understanding of the universe would occur under its influence.
Most informed people know that our legal system is drastically broken. Today, along with secret courts, draconian federal grand juries, lawless government takings, and citizens being subjected to double or even triple jeopardies, the law industry employs a distinctly Queen of Hearts logic and semantic – words infer and mean when and what they want them to infer and mean.
That this rot today infects our highest legal institution – The Supreme Court of the United States – makes its power complete and totally extra-constitutional. With this extremely important ruling SCOTUS has set new precedence to enable it to fashion laws at will through the new provisos – never mind the language of the law, we know what Congress really meant; and if the law seems broken or as the ACA, “inadvertently poorly crafted”, then we can fix it to say what Congress should have said instead. Now we have a really supreme Supreme Court.
[update] This post would not be complete without the words of Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote the dissent to today's horrendous ruling by SCOTUS.
“This court … rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” And this court goes through “summersaults of statutory interpretation” that lead to “the discerning truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
The majority opinion and ruling, including Justice Scalia’s dissent document may be accessed in its entirety here (starting on p27).
FN reports that the latest polls continue to indicate that the entire country is still not ready to embrace the ACA (or maybe we should really call it SCROTUMscare since it hits the overwhelming number of us in the shorts); anyway 50% of Americans "wish the law had never been passed", and 45% are "glad that it was".
[26jun15 update] SCOTUS is on a roll. Before discussing its ruling on gay marriages, I want to point the reader to two summaries of the Obamacare subsidies ruling that concur with my take on the lasting impact (sea change if you wish) of this decision. The abbreviated dissent by Justice Scalia is available here, and WSJ’s 26jun15 lead editorial ‘The Political John Roberts’ is available here.
So now SCOTUS has upheld “disparate impact” to enforce federal housing law in Texas Dept of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project. “This is the legal doctrine that purports to prove racial discrimination based on different racial outcomes, such as the existence of a neighborhood with few minorities. No evidence of discriminatory intent, or actual discriminatory treatment, is required.” (more here)
Here we see writ large the progressives’ ‘equal opportunity’ as actually being ‘equal outcome’ legislation – something they have denied for decades. That this ruling abets existing racial differences and creates additional ones. Justice Thomas’ dissent cuts to the fundamentals, “To presume that these and all other measurable disparities are products of racial discrimination is to ignore the complexities of human existence.”
And finally today’s SCOTUS ruling that gay marriage is to be legal in all 50 states. First, it is interesting (but not expanded here) to see the shift in the court’s view over the last 30 years of homosexuals marrying each other. Be that as it may, RR has never opposed homosexuals entering into the exactly same, legally binding union that has been traditional for heterosexuals in their institution labeled ‘marriage’. In former times ‘I am married’ carried a distinct meaning and therefore more information when used to communicate such unions. It allowed you to unambiguously identify the relationship within a social and cultural frame. Retaining ‘marriage’ to also label homosexual unions now ambiguates ‘I am married’, requiring something like ‘I am heterosexually/homosexually married’ to transmit the same information.
Without going into the ‘slippery slope’ arguments as to who in the future can marry whom or what, it has seemed to me that expanding the language to give gays their own word for such a long-lasting, love-based union would be productive. In a previous (5apr13) post I introduced ‘garried, garriage, to garry’ to label such a union. Now I find that on 26 June 2013 this was also proposed and included in the ‘Urban Dictionary’. Go figger.
In any event, there will be much more to say about the ins and outs of garriage as regards procreation, child rearing, public accomodations (‘I now identify myself more as a woman.’), couples based social norms, and so on. But one thing is for sure, no one should ever mistake this SCOTUS as anything other than a political instrument advancing the progressive agenda for society and governance.
[27jun15 update] Ramirez is incomparable. H/T to RR reader for the image.
Economic development in Nevada County must address what many of us see as the three legs of the county’s existing economy – IT based industry, tourism, and retirees. Absent public service employees, these are the three main cash importers. There are initiatives in place to attract more IT companies through increased broadband availability and a new business incubator in the plans.
But not much is being done to boost the other two areas. (Yesterday’s NC Bike Race Classic was a sad commentary on tourism.) Additionally, aging retirees who want to downsize from their big houses on acres of land are forced to seek their next abodes elsewhere (quality condos, smaller houses in protected neighborhoods, variable care communities, …). Tourism is suffering because we don’t have enough quality beds at reasonable prices to attract more weekend visitors who want to attend evening performances from our rich palette of cultural offerings – Music in the Mountains, In Concert Sierra, Center for the Arts, theaters, the fairground, … .
People driving up here from the flats would rather have a nice dinner, attend a performance (or two), perhaps enjoy an after dinner libation, and then hit the sack instead of driving two plus hours, tired and three sheets to the wind, to get back home. They would much rather wake up refreshed, have a good breakfast or brunch, and then be on their way. The boost to our economy that such a weekend agenda would provide, multiplied a thousand times, is not hard to imagine. Another decent hotel or two, and a proper performance center would fit the bill nicely.
But in addition to the intrinsic financial risks that such projects normally entail, our county and cities add on their own regulatory and procedural burdens as recently pointed by our RL Bob Crabb in the nearby cartoon filched from The Union. Our electeds deny all this by putting the onus on those dumb and good-for-nothing outsiders who are not bellying up to the Planning Department counters with their project plans. But reality advises otherwise, Nevada County’s ‘development friendly’ reputation is known far and wide. And without our chambers of commerce and planning jurisdictions actively simplifying the development processes, and then inviting people to come up here and see the opportunities, nothing much more will happen in these woods. Tourists won’t come and retirees will continue to leak out at greater than replacement rates.
Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is in the news again with the Pope’s controversial encyclical and the next UN global warming conference in the fall. Here on RR the debate between the Skeptics and True Believers has revived in spades to the point where one reader (True Believer) has challenged another reader (Skeptic) to a public debate in which the TB promises to maximally embarrass the Skeptic, presumably by exposing the Skeptic’s case allegedly based on both weak science and a fundamental misunderstanding of the involved science. Here are my two cents on this challenge.
The problem is that the TB has no technical credentials and bases his belief in AGW on politically sponsored reports, at least twice removed, that cite discredited datasets, ignore major areas of science impacting earth’s climate, and evince profound ignorance about the design, care, and feeding of complex climate models (the so-called General Circulation Models, GCMs). At the same time the Skeptic is a scientifically read and astute engineer, fully credentialed with multiple degrees that attest his technological pedigree. I began thinking about the conduct of such a media reported/recorded debate, and who would derive what profit from it. The bottom line is that I couldn’t think of any way that such a debate between those two would shed useful light on the issue, or in any way contribute toward a resolution of it in the minds of its most likely audience.
This conclusion is abetted when we consider the TB’s more complete resume that includes being a well-practiced and rehearsed activist for almost all the leftwing causes and initiatives that have made California into the taxed, regulated, indebted, and economic basket case that it is today. The TB will have no alternative but to spout today’s made-simple for broad, unread audiences, and politicized ‘consensus science’. And the Skeptic will be forced to take his refuting arguments to the next technical levels where few, if any, will be able to follow – all the while the TB baselessly disparaging every one of those arguments in a manner that elicits uncritical nodding heads among the gruberized, and leaves the others numb. Everyone knows that such audiences have been meticulously prepared to either ignore or mistrust all uncomfortable and confrontational arguments about AGW aka global warming aka climate change.
What’s more disturbing is that the entire True Believer society has for some time been quite comfortable with the way their message has massaged the masses. Team Gore, to their strategic credit, even refuses to put their best scientists on a stage with skeptical scientists to discuss the evidence in front of a technically knowledgeable audience. While the skeptics contend every emerging piece of IPCC’s evidence for AGW in its detail, their arguments are summarily ignored. The only recognition of the Skeptics is a vague reference to them as ‘Climate Change Deniers’, or worse, ‘Climate Deniers’, inferring the existence of a discredited knuckle-dragging, flat earth bunch howling in the wings.
And the saddest part for our overall body politic is that such debates are now beyond the pale for many other socially important issues that relate to numbers and/or science. And, of course, they all do. My conclusion is that polarized dumbth (q.v.) has reached a level in the land such that only slogans shouted across the chasm serve as an acceptable substitute for dialogue.
[23jun15 update] The topic of saving the world’s sovereign nation-statesand distinct, regionally anchored cultures has long been a topic of debate and discussion on RR. The EU is now in the throes of attempting to reconcile a good-sounding but poorly thought theory of how manage fractional or partial sovereignty. And the problem comes down to the question of what is a border. It turns out that having complete control of your borders is fundamental to a people’s self-determination. Europe is rediscovering that now, and we (at least the progressive ‘we’) in America don’t have a clue. A strongly recommended read on this is ‘What Borders Mean to Europe’ by Stratfor’s George Friedman. The piece is like a periscope into our own future, a future that is already underway.
[27jun15 update] In the late 00s I talked Jo Ann into letting me become a student pilot. Reluctantly she gave permission (which I still don’t have for riding a motorcycle) and I started my lessons at Alpine Aviation under the tutelage of owner Gordon Mills. Anyway, I progressed appropriately and on a sunny day soloed – three takeoffs and landings, followed by a longer 'victory lap' solo flight over these Sierra foothills, especially beautiful when you’re alone in the airplane. The cross country phase of training followed with my taking the occasional solo flights in the single-engine, low-wing Diamond DA-20.
In my defense contractor days I was privileged to work with men I consider to be the best pilots in the world – carrier based, light attack – these guys (gals?) fly their F-18s so low as to occasionally get tree branches in their undercarriage. I worked with the squadrons at Lemoore (light attack) NAS and Whidbey Island (medium attack) NAS in the design of advanced in cockpit displays for successful penetration of complex sensor and SAM fields during target in/egress. From my naval aviator colleagues I learned about ‘OK-3’ carrier landings – tailhooking the third of four arresting cables that puts your aircraft in the optimum spot on the deck for rapid repositioning, thereby allowing a tight final approach pattern to get returning fuel-starved aircraft quickly onboard with a minimum of fuss. The logged OK-3 landings on a pilot’s record were very important to good assignments, promotions, and general bragging rights within a talented, exclusive, yet very competitive comradery.
So during a solo flight on final to Nevada County KGOO’s 25 (runway), I decided to nail an OK-3 landing. I picked my precise touchdown point (where my ‘tailhook’ was going to snag the ‘#3 cable’) and set my glide path appropriately. Well guess what? your junior league aviator nailed the KO-3, but in so doing sacrificed my flare so that I touched down what might charitably be characterized as a mite hard – and porpoised, bouncing back in the air. When I brought that bucking DA-20 safely on the runway, I felt pretty red-faced knowing that someone else had probably seen that crappy landing and was grinning ear-to-ear.
Anyway, since landings have always been my favorite part of flying an airplane, I decided to taxi back, take-off again, go around the pattern, and redeem myself. This I did, but as I was making my take-off run, I noticed that the airplane somehow seemed to be underpowered. I was puzzled since the engine sounded normal as I lifted off after a longer than normal run and then went around. After landing again (no OK-3 this time) I taxied back to the Alpine hangar to report on my experience. Gordon came out and discovered that I had shredded six-inches of the propeller’s tips, which explained the weak performance of the aircraft on the second go around. Anyway, that turned out to be an expensive flight, but a valuable lesson in piloting.
I continued my flight training after that, but was convinced by a same-age friend who had abandoned his own flight training, that I should also reconsider going on with something for which I would have limited time in the future. The convincing argument, reinforced by Jo Ann, was that infrequent pilots who do not keep up their hours are a danger to themselves and others when they do climb into the cockpit as Pilot In Charge. The stats tell the story, especially for older flyers. So now I wistfully consider just going back and flying with an instructor on windy afternoons coming in on final in a steep forward-slip, then converting into a side-slip before touchdown. Fun stuff, even if it isn’t an OK-3.
[I am writing this moments from when the earth's northern hemisphere tilts maximally in its summer nod to the sun. And it's also Father's Day, a day when our young'uns take notice and tell us they really did appreciate our being around as they were growing up. I've always thought of Father's Day as being a consolation prize bestowed so as not to leave the blatant worship of mothers and Motherhood in too stark of a contrast on the calendar of annual family observances - giving the old man a nod now and then goes a long way to complete the picture. I invite readers to share a paragraph or two about how their own dads bent the twigs of trees now grown - I'll start.
My own dad was his parents' firstborn on the family farm, soon followed by a brother and sister. His dad (after whom I am named) was a gruff man with little education and a lot of energy and courage - a veteran of both the Russo-Japanese War and the Estonian Revolution. The farm was supposed to go to my dad, but he had been drafted, served in the Estonian Army's Signal Corps, seen the bright city lights, and was discharged as a skilled journeyman electrician. No farm life for this son of the sod.
With a friend he started an electrical contracting business in Viljandi, married mom, and was surprised when I came soon after Hitler and Stalin had started dividing up Europe. My dad's wisdom, recounted elsewhere in these pages, saved our collective hind ends when he got us out of Estonia before the Red Army invaded. During the war he was a hero many times over, saving us and others to enjoy our lives in post-war displaced persons camps and then emigrate to freedom.
My dad knew how to do everything - he was also an artist and artisan, but that's another story. The Rebanes climbed the economic ladder by working any and all kinds of jobs available, and buying and rebuilding fixer-upper homes. As a consequence my youth was filled with lots of work after school - that was not unusual, in those times it was the norm. Starting at the age of 11, my dad taught me to do everything needed to build a house. He was just following in his dad's footsteps, and let me know that I was starting out a little late. On the farm he already knew all the stuff I was just learning. Imparting gratuitous self-esteem was not his strong suit. By the time I was fourteen, dad had taught me to build an entire house from laying the foundation, through framing, roofing, drywall, electricity, plumbing, and painting. My proudest moments were when he came home from work, looked over a piece of work I had done after school, and said "That'll do." before laying out tomorrow's jobs. And then after mom (who also worked) had cleared supper, dad would get to work on the next building task. I grew up in a construction zone.
But my dad never thought for a moment that I would follow in his footsteps, he made sure my Job One was getting an education because I would be going to college, the first in our family to do so. After getting some years under my belt I would look back and see that everything he did was to enable me to have a better life than he and mom did. And then, without first checking with me, he died when I was 31. He left too early, and I still miss him. gjr]