[How come the Left either knows nothing about what the Koch brothers support, or are simply cynical lying sacks of, of, ... well, you know?]
When I read Steve Frisch’s ‘Sustainable jobs, sustainable communities’ piece in this morning’s 28nov14) Union, I almost sprayed my coffee all over the breakfast table. Pre-rainstorm chores kept me from leaping on the keyboard until now. RR already drew some commenting from a couple of readers one of whom, Russ Steele, posted an excellent short critique on his Sierra Foothills Commentary here.
Mr Frisch is CEO of the cynically named Sierra Business Council, an NGO that is an active promoter of all things sustainably socialist in these foothills. SBC is not shy in declaring its commission, plans, and programs that to the best of my knowledge makes it the functional equivalent of the ICLEI – local NGOs charged with implementing the objectives of UN’s Agenda21. (download pdf here and see more RR's posts on Agenda21 here)
(Originally ICLEI stood for ‘International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives’, but that was a bit too revealing. Since Agenda21’s heavy emphasis on ‘smart growth’ and ‘sustainability’ – an attribute never defined – the name was changed to “ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability”. Read about it here, and then compare its look- and work-alike SBC here.)
In his column Mr Frisch promotes wage controls to put a floor on what “sustainable jobs” should pay. He also promotes LEED certification of plans and buildings across the land to allow them to qualify for current and anticipated government favors. “LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, awards buildings points for features that aim to minimize emissions, water use, waste and indoor pollutants. A new commercial building needs 40 out of a possible 100 points for certification.” (more here)
LEED certification is another socialist bamboozle that has not demonstrated any benefit to communities wherein such buildings have been constructed other than increasing their cost, and fostering a mind numbing acceptance of yet another aspect of central planning. The clear aim of our socialist neighbors is to make LEED certification an added requirement in local building codes and operating regulations. A study by USA Today reports -
Across the United States, the Green Building Council has helped thousands of developers win tax breaks and grants, charge higher rents, exceed local building restrictions and get expedited permitting by certifying them as "green" under a system that often rewards minor, low-cost steps that have little or no proven environmental benefit.
And this strain of the socialist disease is already on its way to spreading across the country.
More than 200 states, cities and federal agencies now require LEED certification for new public buildings, even though they have done little independent and meaningful research into LEED's effectiveness. LEED can add millions to construction costs while promising to cut utility bills and other expenses. (more here)
The problem is that, like so many other collectivist bamboozles from which we are suffering, the benefits from LEED certification are unproven and its punishments manifest. Like the arguments of the climateers, the building code central planners ask you, ‘Just trust us.’ No LEED verification is available for very obvious reasons.
Arguing that there is anything ‘sustainable’ about wage controls and increased costs of doing business is a now established tactic by the Left that in recent years has been brought to prominence by Team Obama elites like Cass Sunstein and Jonathan Gruber. The good professor Gruber was so proud of how his pernicious plan to sell Obamacare was implemented that he had the temerity to tell the truth about it over the last three years. Proselytizing that achievement may have earned him a measure of immortality (or at least notoriety) in that he has accurately identified a particularly dim cohort of voters who are now labeled as being gruberized Americans.
It is to these gruberized Americans that people like Mr Frisch direct their commentaries. Everyone else knows the added benefits of Leviathan’s central planning.
Schumer’s post-election epiphany. My comment yesterday on Senator Schumer’s belated insights on Obamacare is being echoed today in various national media outlets that have added some revealing detail. Besides the senator from New York admitting that “the law has been disastrous for Democrats”, he now, yes now, acknowledges what the rest of us argued years ago. The most important statistic he redredges is that only “about 5% of the electorate” benefits from Obamacare. The more important truth is that in the large, 100% of the electorate and everyone else suffers from the steady destruction of one of the world’s finest healthcare systems. And this plague has yet to run its course over our fair land.
The liberal leader of the Senate rues the mistake Dems made in overlooking the economy during the 2009 depth of the depression, and instead focused on something that only appealed to the nation’s weak thinkers. In Schumer’s words – “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: health-care reform.” (more here)
We’re back in illegal alien season again. The lamestream has turned up the volume on referring to them as ‘undocumented immigrants’. This invokes images of old photographs of European refugees in shabby clothes, holding their few suitcases and bundles, waiting patiently and hopefully in line for one last screening by US officials before being granted entry into America. This scene was repeated for decades at ports of entry like New York (Ellis Island and Brooklyn Navy Yard), Boston, and San Francisco. Not everyone made it, hence the worried looks on most faces; some were put back on ships and sent home.
Retired lawyer and Union editorial board member Norm Sauer wrote another letter to the editor yesterday (here) about crime rates and gun ownership that predictably tied some undies of the looney Left in knots. A correspondent advised me that this caused one of these worthies, a critic and former employee of the newspaper, to even (gasp!) cancel his subscription. The point here again is that the Left demands that such voices as Sauer’s should not see print in a community newspaper. As the Gipper said, “There you go again.”
While we’re on The Union, the paper’s 20nov14 edition featured its lead editorial written by hard Left syndicated columnist Amy Goodman railing against the Keystone XL pipeline. Her argument centers on the claim of massive environmental damage that the pipeline will cause. Peripheral implications in the piece are the insane economic arguments made by our President and other prominent socialists. What she and her ilk will never understand is that it is only the richer and freer countries that can afford to maintain a good environment. Poor countries, especially of the collectivist kind, have had no ability whatsoever to successfully manage their environments. The poster children here are the USSR (now Russia) and China. Destroying a country’s economy is a sure way to guarantee that the country’s environmental concerns will disappear from its list of public priorities.
On amnesty and immigration reform we heard from President Obama last night that legalizing the residency of millions of illegal aliens is now something that he wants to abet, continue, and institutionalize in America’s new immigration policy. The actual process that this now formalizes consists of three steps – 1) get pregnant and sneak across the border, 2) lay low and give birth to a new American citizen, 3) apply for permanent residency as parents of an American child. The process, of course, has more steps that are the real reasons why our America Last political factions are in favor of Obama’s executive orders. For the recently interested in national affairs, these consist of 4) vote the Democrat ticket, and 5) support the Reconquista goals of La Raza and MALDEF.
Democrats are already denigrating their constituents by lying to them that Presidents Reagan and Bush1 did the same thing as President Obama. The truth is that the former presidents fixed an amnesty law with some oversights that was initially passed by Congress. This president is overwriting existing immigration law with imperial diktats fashioned from whole cloth - Congress has had no part in what Obama now intends.
In opposition to the continued porous border and lax immigration law enforcement policies is a growing group of the nation’s sheriffs and members of Congress. Organized by Sheriff Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts, they will gather on the steps of the Capitol on 10 December 2014 to join their voices in protesting the unconstitutional actions of our current federal government (more here). Sheriff Hodgson writes –
“As you know, the policies of recent years that encourage immigrants to illegally enter our country have created serious threats to our domestic and national security. The citizens of our nation are counting on the American Sheriffs to fulfill our oath to preserve law and order and live up to our responsibilities as guardians of the United States Constitution. Given the fact that 25 people in the United States are killed each day by illegal immigrants, and our schools are becoming overcrowded and more costly, our public health is threatened by new diseases and ailments introduced by people living in our communities illegally, and the fact that benefits are being given and violations of laws forgiven for a select group of non-citizens, makes clear our obligation to act now before we erode the confidence and faith citizens have in Sheriffs across the country and throughout our history.”
[update] Congressman Tom McClintock made this statement regarding the President's new immigration decree -
Last night, the President asserted a power to nullify existing immigration law by ordering the executive branch to ignore it. Further, he has ordered 34 million green cards to make possible the employment of illegal immigrants despite federal law that makes their employment a crime. This is a direct violation of his responsibility under Article II to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and a usurpation of legislative authority which Article I grants solely to Congress.
The rule of law established in our Constitution forbids the President from selecting which laws he will enforce and which he will ignore or from choosing who must obey the law and who is above the law. It explicitly forbids him to make law by decree. This is the fundamental difference between a nation of laws and a nation of men.
Fortunately, the American Founders provided a variety of checks available to both the legislative and judicial branches. I expect these will begin now to be invoked.
[24nov14 update] RR reader/commenter and Union columnist George Boardman wrote what could be considered a hit piece on Sheriff Keith Royal in this morning’s paper. He led with the child porn investigation of county supervisor Terry Lamphier, but then spread out to cover other cases that Boardman thought was overreach by the Sheriff’s Department. The charge regarding Lamphier was that the sheriff, with undue haste, started what may turn out to be an unwarranted investigation that is now being pursued with unusual vigor.
What I missed in the column was the mention of any evidence that the sheriff had a choice in the matter of launching an investigation. Today the trafficking in and consuming of child pornography is a serious crime which when reported, especially in connection with a public official, must be duly investigated. In short, Keith Royal had no choice but to start an investigation as required by law.
And I also saw no evidence presented to back the column’s allegation that somehow the investigation has been prosecuted in an imprudent manner. To my knowledge there has been a minimum of information about the investigation released by the sheriff’s office, and most voices in the community are willing to wait for the facts and where they may lead. Supervisor Lamphier is innocent until proven otherwise, and would benefit from a timely resolution of this cloud over his head.
So the bottom line is that, while impugning Sheriff Royal, George Boardman did not connect the sheriff to the disclosure about Lamphier’s computer that led to the allegations and subsequent investigation. And neither did he substantiate anything amiss with the ongoing investigation. (But I will join Mr Boardman in being somewhat surprised that it required five, count them, five sheriff’s cruisers to assault the supervisor's residence in order to search the premises. By nature, experience, and reputation in the community, Mr Lamphier has been a most agreeable and non-violent person imaginable.)
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast of 19 November 2014.]
Last night, after six years of delays, Dirty Harry finally brought the Keystone XL pipeline vote to the floor of the Senate where it failed to pass by one vote. This vote has been put off for more hokey reasons than you can count, and was finally allowed by the Democratic Senate only to give Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana one last chance for re-election on the claim she has been a strong proponent of our national fossil fuels energy program, which is not even close to being true. But such is politics.
Had the bill passed, it would have joined its twin in the House, and wound up on the president’s desk. There, according to the president’s own words and recent pronouncements from the WH, it would have been vetoed. Now why, you ask, would President Obama veto the construction of an obviously beneficial piece of national infrastructure that creates jobs, carries crude in the most environmentally safe way, while generating revenues and taxes in the process?
Taking the president at his word, the answer lies in some combination of the man’s profound ignorance of economics, his embrace of leftwing ideology, and/or an utter contempt for the intellectual acumen of his voter base. First, he has no idea how global markets work when he claims that the piped Canadian oil would be exported from Louisiana refineries, thereby having “no effect on fuel prices in the United States”. The rest of us know that crude oil is a fungible commodity on the world market – supply or demand in one part quickly affects prices all over.
In the revelation of this ignorance the president was joined by Sen Markey of Massachusetts and a number of other Democratic senators. Still, some wonder why we have had the slowest economic recovery on record, and that leftwing governments worldwide continue to have problems with their economic policies.
Then there’s our own Senator Barbara Boxer opposing the pipeline on environmental grounds, citing that fracked oil is the “dirtiest” crude in the world, and concluding that stopping the pipeline would somehow reduce production of such oil and protect our environment. The fact that Keystone would have no impact on the amount of fracked oil produced and its transport to market is a foregone conclusion. Regardless that eventually it will be safely piped across the US or Canada, makes no impact on the mind of this woman. She is ignorant or a cynical liar, you decide.
Finally, the Democrats hold their voters in the lowest regard when it comes to debating the pros and cons of their socialist agenda for the country. This was most recently confirmed as Obamacare was sold to the demonstrated and subsequently admitted “stupid American voter” with the biggest pack of government lies in recent memory. And according to the administration’s arguments against Keystone XL, stopping that pipeline deserves nothing less.
But today not all the news from the energy sector is bad. While America’s energy reserves and production are approaching all-time highs, we hear that Sunfire, a German company in Dresden, has finally demonstrated a commercially viable way to convert water and CO2 into synthetic petroleum-based fuels like diesel and kerosene. The process involves using electricity to convert water to steam from which the oxygen is removed leaving hydrogen. Using what is known as the Fischer-Tropsch process, CO2 which is harvested from the atmosphere, is then combined with the hydrogen to produce the end products. The potential for this method of making synthetic fuels has been known, studied, and variously applied for years, but now Sunfire has finally shown how it can be done at commercially viable conversion efficiencies. And the environmental benefits of its large scale applications using wind and solar sourced electricity are obvious. (H/T to reader and more here)
But not so fast. Given the perfidy of governments, the way to market for such a technology is yet not certain. Sunfire’s CTO says, “It is now a matter of regulatory factors falling into place in a way which gives investors a sufficient level of planning reliability. Once that has occurred, it will be possible to commence the step-by-step substitution of (extracted) fossil fuels.”
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 debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
RR has reported on the many studies that show people of conservative bent vastly outspend liberals in contributions to private charities (and that, dollar for dollar, private charities are enormously more effective in helping the poor and disadvantaged than are government programs). The intuitive reasons for that are easy to grasp, at least for many of us, and they are backed by an analysis of the data.
The 2013 report - ‘Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States’ - from MIT by Michele F. Margolis and Michael W. Sances attempts to recover from this embarrassment by arguing that if you control for certain factors, then we can see both the Left and Right in a more equitable light, even though the Right still gives more than the Left. (H/T to a reader working on a related report for the link to this one.)
For those recently arrived on Earth, the proximal reason for the disparate giving is that liberals, who are mostly secular humanists, look to an all-encompassing and providing government to take care of the needy, while conservatives are taught and practice that it is an individual responsibility to fill that gap. The interesting corollary is that most of the tax dollars for such ‘government giving’ then also comes from the conservatives as implied by Margolis and Sances. (BTW, to see where in the country who gives how much, here is an interesting website by Chronicle of Philanthropy.)
In any event, the Margolis and Sances report turns out to be a secular humanist bamboozle of the kind in which the Left is a demonstrated and practiced expert (cf. most recently MIT’s Jonathan Gruber’s apologetics for lying about the construct and operation of Obamacare to the “stupid American voters”). They use a lot of statistical mumbo-jumbo to paper over their revealing introductory admission that the results come about by having ‘controlled’ for disparities in income/wealth and religiosity between the two ideological cohorts.
Well yes, in the aggregate conservatives have life philosophies that to a greater degree promote individual initiatives and risk taking enterprises that garner more income and wealth, all which then allows them to give a larger dollar amount to the charities of their choice. And yes, conservatives are more religious, therefore they do a lot of their giving through faith-based organizations like churches and synagogues. And, of course, they do not trust wealth redistribution through government or lackey NGOs, so they don’t direct their monies to the needy through those channels – that’s what makes them conservatives in the first place.
But what the non-technical reader (let alone the nation’s innumerates) don’t catch in such reports is the statistical bamboozle of ‘factoring out’ or ‘controlling for’ to achieve support for your desired conclusion. These processes have the panache of rigorous science that the layman seldom questions. You should know that it is always possible to factor out the main causal variables in a dataset so that you can essentially wind up with a blob of scattered noise equally distributed between contending cohorts that then appears to give any level of desired parity – in the present case that there’s not much difference in the giving behaviors of conservatives and liberals.
The conclusion is so much bovine scat as any tally of sourced monies going to the poor and needy through (secular or religious) private charities demonstrates. And this conclusion is even visible in the contorted presentation by Margolis and Sances. ‘Touche Monsieur le Puuzy Kat!’ (Remember the famous musketeer Tom & Jerry cartoon?)
Random thoughts on a Saturday morning. The beautiful fall foliage on our trees is now on the back side of the power curve, but still saying ‘look at me’ as the last leaves drift to the ground. At our house I make a big breakfast on Saturday morning. It is always a panful of vegetables sautéed in spices and olive oil, and then my piece de resistance Eggs Rebane. The latter is a multi-layered frittata that has all kinds of goodies in it of different kinds of meats, cheeses, spices, layered squashes in season, etc. During the summers starting about the end of June, Jo Ann’s ‘farm’ starts pumping out veggies of marvelous varieties that overwhelm our table and larder, and become a steady supply to friends who are similarly addicted. Sunday was the last harvest of late tomatoes and squashes. Now the farm will be readied for the long winter with just a few ‘perennials’ like chard and parsley left to weather the weather.
This morning was double duty for me since it was also Bread Day at our house. When Jo Ann decides we need more bread, she takes out my two jars of sourdough starter from the bottom drawer of the frig, and sets them on the counter. That tells me that the next day I make bread, a process that begins with recharging the starters in the evening and letting them bubble up overnight. First thing in the morning I start my process of making two to four loaves of the requested breads, usually of two types. I am now into my 17th year of being the family’s baker of literally all the bread we have eaten. I use only my own natural leaveners and make the whole thing by hand, not even the KitchenAid mixer gets to play. Our neighbor has also caught the baking bug, and we often ‘talk bread’. Some day I threaten to make an outdoor baking oven that I can pump up to 700+F for that awesome oven spring.
We eat breakfast with our print copies of The Union, the WSJ, and the everpresent iPad for online news, commentary, and answers to reference questions served up by the very responsive Siri, Ms Google, and WolframAlpha. This morning’s WSJ front page had the nearby picture of Germany’s Angela rubbing noses with a Maori dancer during her New Zealand visit. I thought it wonderful how a European head-of-state (OK, Chancellor) can easily pay her respects to a foreign culture through such ceremonies and observing other local customs while on their travels.
Our presidents and diplomats have also shown such deference in similar situations – I always note how our guys and gals awkwardly keep both feet flat on the floor when sitting with Arabs and other Muslim notables. Showing the soles of your shoes communicates disrespect in the world of Islam.
But these thoughts always remind me how asymmetrical are such international displays of cultural sensitivity. On our part, we don’t ask or even expect our foreign guests to reciprocate our American customs. From less developed countries their diplomats almost always arrive wearing some trappings of national or ethnic dress. And when we feed, entertain, lace their palms with cash, or sit with them, we continue to defer to their sensitivities. There is no reciprocal ‘When in Rome …’ behaviors required of or extended by our visitors (save wearing the odd cowboy hat at a ranch BBQ). It is as if we were ashamed of our own cultural customs both overseas and at home. For some reason we have to be the ever-sensitive ones while they bear no such burdens. I don’t much cotton to such kow-towing because it brings us no profit here or around the world.
You are spared more because my bread dinger-ding just went off.
[Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admits multiple times that "stupid Americans" had to be lied to in order to get President Obama's 'landmark achievement' into a law that now daily exposes how cynical and autocratic our government has become, and how the lickspittle lamestream is supporting the Big Lie (more here). But then RR reported that way back when it was happening.]
Income inequality in America was badly misrepresented in the recent book by Piketty and Goldhammer. Their Capital in the 21st Century (2014) continues to receive progressive paeans and lamestream’s lip service on a daily basis. Therein the authors cite the now notorious study by Piketty and Saez that is so full of holes in both reasoning and facts that it has motivated other economists to reexamine the data and point out the obvious fallacies with which Capital is littered.
Economists Phil Gramm and Michael Solon summarize the major errors in their ‘How to Distort Income Inequality’. There they write -
What the hockey-stick portrayal of global temperatures did in bringing a sense of crisis to the issue of global warming is now being replicated in the controversy over income inequality, thanks to a now-famous study by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, professors of economics at the Paris School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. Whether the issue is climate change or income inequality, however, problems with the underlying data significantly distort the debate.
Collectivists of every stripe have latched on to their erroneous conclusions to justify a new bevy of socialist economic policy initiatives that they would like to have made into law and imposed on the ever shrinking cohort of Americans who create the country’s wealth. Gramm and Solon remind us again that –
Simple statistical errors in the data account for roughly one third of what is now claimed to be a “frightening” increase in income inequality. But the weakness of the case for redistribution does not end there. America is the freest and most dynamic society in history, and freedom and equality of outcome have never coexisted anywhere at any time. Here the innovator, the first mover, the talented and the persistent win out—producing large income inequality. The prizes are unequal because in our system consumers reward people for the value they add. Some can and do add extraordinary value, others can’t or don’t.
How exactly are we poorer because Bill Gates , Warren Buffett and the Walton family are so rich? Mr. Gates became rich by mainstreaming computer power into our lives and in the process made us better off. Mr. Buffett’s genius improves the efficiency of capital allocation and the whole economy benefits. Wal-Mart stretches our buying power and raises the living standards of millions of Americans, especially low-income earners. Rich people don’t “take” a large share of national income, they “bring” it. The beauty of our system is that everybody benefits from the value they bring.
And speaking of the infamous AGW hockey stick, did you hear what our President and China’s Xi Jinping are supposed to have agreed to during this week’s embarrassment in Beijing. The short of it is that the US will commit to immediately ramp up even more drastic cuts in carbon emissions while China will see what it can do over the next decades to reduce its emissions. Hopefully the new Congress will have none of it, but the big liberal guns are already unlimbered and touting this as ‘A Game-Changing Climate Agreement’ celebrated in an article of the same name by Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
In there Krupp revisits the joys of centrally planned economies that mandate arbitrary industries and market sectors which are supposed to produce marvelous new wealth from politically correct products, systems, and operations. Such nostrums have never worked before, and there is no promise that they will work now, no matter how many guns the government points at Americans to change their behavior. But that makes no never mind to people like Krupp who admits that the US will take an economic hit in its forced abandonment of fossil fueled energy production. He devoutly believes that we will overcome that self-imposed hardship by magically creating new wealth-producing industries –
I am an optimist about America’s ability to innovate and adapt. The price of solar panels has been cut 75% since 2008, and the U.S. added more solar capacity in the past two years than in the previous 30 years combined. Texas and Kansas are showing what is possible with wind power. (One day last year, wind generated nearly 40% of Texas’ electricity.) In Nevada, Tesla is building the world’s largest advanced automotive-battery factory. In New York, Solar City is building a massive solar-photovoltaic factory. Market leaders like Google and Wal-Mart are making huge investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The U.S.-China agreement will only increase the pace of this trend—which will, in turn, make the goals set this week easier to achieve.
So he and his have an ultimate and unfounded faith that our overregulated, overtaxed, and vilified (see above) entrepreneurs will ignore all market realities to commit their time and treasure chasing will o’ the wisp business enterprises whose success will depend solely on an eternal stream of ample subsidies from a cynical government that is already submerged in debt beyond counting, and that must continue to borrow heavily at artificially low interest rates just to service existing debt, having long ago abandoned any hope of stabilizing, let alone reducing, its principal amount.
Scary words indeed. It almost goes without saying that nowhere in Krupp’s piece does he evince a hint that AGW can at best be viewed as debatable science, and at worst as part of an obvious political movement to promote the fundamental transformation of America. The beat goes on and grows louder.
Bet you thought I was going to wax eloquent on some deep philosophical or socio-political issue, a behavior for which I have a weakness as witnessed numerous times in these pages. Fooled you. In another life I am currently working on a couple of very intriguing technical projects involving uncertainty and algorithmics, the kind that I often have to take off at least one shoe in order to get past the sticky parts. One of them involves a nifty and little known method to calculate probabilities about the termination of a kind of realworld and practical processes.
Suppose you live in a metropolitan area where the atmosphere is becoming more polluted by NOX gases as measured by their concentration in the air over the city. And all you know is the record shows that this pollution began about 37 years ago. You need to decide whether to continue living in the city, or to move away, and an important factor in the decision is whether NOX will be brought under control within the next four years. Since this question involves uncertainty, you want to compute the probability that the NOX trend (process) will terminate some time in these four years. And all you know about the process is that it is 37 years old.
Well lucky you, there is a computable answer which turns out to be 0.098, or just under 10% chance that the NOX trend will be brought under control sometime in the next four years.
The solution for such problems comes through a simple formula derived from arguments first presented by physicist J Richard Gott in a quickly forgotten 1993 paper published in Nature - ‘Implications of the Copernican Principle for our Future Prospects’. In an effort to revive the physicist’s thinking, Kierland and Monton made a somewhat cumbersome attempt to explain Gott in their ‘How to Predict Future Duration from Present Age’ (Philosophical Quarterly, 2006). Save for a small flurry of debate, Gott’s discovery was peacefully put back to rest.
And then I came along – ta-daa!! Plowing through the paper I was struck by the apparent unrecognized utility of Gott’s theory to the analysis of what we may call minimally known processes (MKPs). It was immediately clear to me that in our daily round we are awash in such processes, but very few of us are able to identify them as MKPs, and fewer still have heard of Gott. Since my professional activities continue in various areas of uncertainty, I recognized a diamond in the rough and got to work. My humble contribution from the effort has been a clear derivation of a simple and elegant formula for Gott’s probability, that I then extended to support dealing with arbitrary future time intervals, and finally demonstrate the complete scalability of the theory. (For those still awake, we will carry on and promise an intriguing reward to the persistent reader. Nothing beyond clear thinking and the ability to punch numbers into a couple of simple formulas is required.)
Let’s open up the horizon with another example modified from Kierland and Monton. If you visited a park in New Zealand’s South Island that contains various geysers, and saw from a sign near one geyser informing you that it has been spouting steadily for the last 15,000 years, you could ask for the probability that it would stop doing so within the next couple of hours that you plan to remain in the park. Instinctively, you would conclude that the chances of that process terminating in that short interval would be very low indeed – i.e. the chance (probability) of that happening would be somewhere between slim and none (actually 0.000000015).
Walking onward you come upon another geyser encircled by recently erected yellow plastic ‘Keep Out’ tape, and a nearby sign stating that this geyser started spouting just three days ago. If you now considered the same question, what are the chances that this MKP will terminate in the next two hours, you would naturally conclude that that probability would be much higher (actually 0.027). Well, the Gott theory quantitatively captures those observations in a manner that is totally lucid when examined with the help of the formula we modestly here name Gott-Rebane1 or GR1. Let’s take a look.
[To continue reading this post, please download its pdf here - Download TN1411-1-and this too shall pass]
The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago today. Many people are celebrating that milestone in human history, but Vladimir Putin rues the day as the beginning of greatest human tragedy of the 20th century which ended the horrors of the USSR and its spreading of international communism. As a young lieutenant stationed in Germany in the early 1960s I took a weekend leave with Jo Ann to visit a divided and tense Berlin. Because of my job and security clearances – at the time the S-2 (intelligence officer) of our only STRAC nuclear capability artillery battalion in Europe – we had to travel on the daily diplomatic train from Frankfurt to Berlin. By the Potsdam treaty the train was a rolling piece of US sovereign territory that was sealed before entering East Germany and again unsealed in the western zone of Berlin. The trip across the leading exemplar of communism’s workers’ paradise (the USSR and other places were much worse) was an eye-opener for those who had just read about what communism does to a people. In Berlin we went to the Brandenburg Gate and stood looking across The Wall; the difference between the two sides of the same city was stunning. (It would be another 25 years until from the same spot President Reagan would demand, “Mr Gorbachov, tear down this wall!”) While most visitors to West Berlin were allowed to tour East Berlin on busses; because of my status, I was not. The most chilling part of the visit was Checkpoint Charlie where a platoon of our mainline battle tanks faced their equivalents in the Red Army, separated by about 100 yards with their leveled main guns pointed at each other. WW3 was literally a trigger pull away in those days. It was quite a weekend.
Today President Obama finally admits to a very peculiar responsibility of his administration in the Democrats’ devastating loss last Tuesday. On ‘Face the Nation’ he finally acknowledged that his party had taken a drubbing, and as its leader he was culpable, saying, “… the buck stops right here at my desk.” But the problem for the nation is that the man doesn’t understand that his demonstrated policies were rejected on their substance. Instead he believes it has only been a problem in communicating his “good ideas” to the American people – in other words, he didn’t put enough lipstick on that herd of pigs that he and his let loose on the country.
[update] Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) on Fox News Sunday demonstrated the utter contempt in which Democrats hold their own constituents’ intellectual capacity. Reporting on Friday’s lunch at the White House, Becerra was asked about what topics were discussed around the table. He said that because Speaker Boehner raised the comprehensive immigration issue with regards to Obama’s threatened executive order to end-run of Congress, that there was no time for the President to talk about anything else – Obama took the entire allocated time to talk about immigration reform.
‘Allocated time’??!! Yes, you see according to Becerra their lunch had a time limit because Obama had a scheduled Pentagon presentation by high ranking military officers for right after the lunch. Utter bullshit! When you have the newly and historically elected leaderships of a heretofore multi-year dysfunctional Congress assembled specifically to come together and talk about the way forward for the next two years, the Commander-in-Chief can and should have his row of four-star generals standing at parade rest outside the dining room door with their pocketed powerpoints for as long as it takes – even if the meeting needs to go on until 1AM the next morning. To tell the nation’s Democrat voters – no Republican would be dumb enough to swallow such crap – that this important meeting was time limited because of a previously scheduled military briefing simply boggles any reasonable mind so exposed (which, of course, excludes the sheeple who voted for and continue to worship their messiah).
Given these shaky beginnings, I don’t see anything possible for the next two years except for the Repubs to do everything they can to stop the business-as-usual from the White House as soon as possible.
[10nov14 update] Harvey Silvergate in ‘Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts’ brings us up to date on the latest efforts to shut down free speech and discussion of issues in our universities have become little more than conclaves of collectivist thought and socialist propaganda. Silvergate opens with –
On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal-arts education can’t survive.
He then goes into some detail on a truly unbelievable albeit fully documented conference at Smith College named “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts”. The principal exchanges (including the now de rigueur use of ‘Trigger Warnings’) and their aftermath at both Smith and Holyoke illustrate the long-known ‘freedom and liberty are only one generation deep’, and could have taken place at any of the party educational meetings that workers were required to attend in the USSR. Silvergate concludes –
Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement—a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day. What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.
[11nov14 update] Gas prices are down, and guess who wants to assign credit to whom? It's the lamebrained lackeys of the same Messiah who promised to raise energy prices through the roof, worked his tail off to accomplish same, continues to impede developments to lower energy costs, and promises to also transform that part of our economy. But fracking on private lands (government lands are a no-no) has produced a surfeit of gas and oil to the extent that huge tankers now lie at anchor in bays across the world, used as floating storage tanks because the land-based ones are full. Isn't central planning wonderful?
[12nov14 update] Germans land instrumented probe on comet. This is a big deal that has been ten years in the making. Mission controllers in Darmstadt announced that the spacecraft Rosetta, orbiting in formation with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, had successfully launched and now landed its probe Philae on the comet's surface. We are now in great anticipation awaiting the first picture taken by Philae from the comet's surface. As a lifelong worker in the control & estimation field (I am a California professional engineer in the Control Theory field, and a former DoD 'missile scientist'), my hat is off to the engineers who calculated and controlled the very complex sun-orbital maneuvers Rosetta executed during its ten-journey to 'sync up' with the comet, and then precisely aim, release, and control Philae to a soft landing in a 500m diameter area. The last worry is that Philae will land on the edge of a boulder and tip over, thereby screwing up the lander part of the Rosetta mission. Realtime control is not possible since the whole thing is taking place about 26 light-minutes from earth, so the problem is being solved locally by an onboard Bayesian brain. (more here)
[Recall the little dustup between two Union editorial board members Ms Cheryl Cook and Mr Norm Sauer that was introduced here in 'Deconstructing America' that resulted in Ms Cook's resignation from that board? Well, all the dust has yet to settle as we read Letters to the Editor in the 7nov14 Union (here). There we see that one or two residual burrs remain under the liberals' blanket regarding Mr Sauer's reply. Today Ms Judith McCarrick's letter is an almost embarrassing yet important expose of more misdirected meanderings of muddled minds. Nevertheless, this kind of instructive voices should never be stilled, and The Union is to be lauded for bending backward to provide us such a 'balanced' voice which writes -
I was surprised to read Norm Sauer’s attack upon his fellow Editorial Board member at The Union, Cheryl Cook, and was appalled at his lack of civility and respect. ... While he vehemently defends the sanctity of the Constitution, he finds it acceptable to use words such as “rant,” “diatribe,” “contempt” and “destruction” to belittle Ms. Cook’s own First Amendment rights. Hers was a thoughtful discussion of issues that Americans of conscience are concerned about in our current climate of violence, a climate that the framers of our Constitution could never have anticipated. Mr. Sauer lectures Ms. Cook about “our God-given inalienable (sic) rights that all men are created equal,” when, in truth we know that many groups of Americans are still not treated equally and women remain economically disadvantaged. But it is his disrespectful tone, directed specifically at the character of Ms. Cook, who is his equal, that I find most offensive. ... Mr. Sauer’s verbal assault on a colleague raises questions about the composition and purpose of this board as effective representatives of our community.
Judith McCarrick, Nevada City gjr]
[This is the addended transcript to my regular KVMR commentary aired on 5 November 2014.]
As someone once said, elections have consequences. And today this makes possible several different ways forward that can slow the surge toward socialism we have endured since Democrats took over Congress in 2006. President Obama nailed it this year when he declared to both heartened conservatives and duck-and-cover liberals that this election was really a report card on Team Obama’s policies. It would let voters assess everything that this administration and its congressional supporters have done to give America its ‘2% economy’, uncounted scandals, incompetent governance, international disdain, and partisan polarization, all rolled up in one package that many argue represents a new low point in the country’s history.
Nationally, the election was indeed a so-called Republican wave, both in Congress where the GOP will have historical majorities, and in the state houses. Does that constitute a mandate? Well yes. Even liberal pundits this morning acknowledged that we now have a popular mandate to roll back regulatory overreach and reduce the size of government. But that is not the way that the diehard Left is spinning the message sent by the people. Led by Harry Reid and repeated in our local echo chambers, they claim that the real message from Americans is that government should now work together. But that desperate interpretation fails on all accounts.
Government does best to grow the economy when government does least to grow the economy.
The election is shaping up to be a testimony to national polarization like we haven’t seen since Civil War days. Some interesting points to consider -
1. Voter ID debacle that continues to be the main dog whistle to the ignorant Democrat constituencies. There is not one shred of evidence that requiring voters to present their readily obtained bona fides has diminished minority voting – in fact, the evidence points exactly in the other direction. Here’s the acid test. If there existed ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE (emphasis mine) that what the progressives maintain is true, then they would immediately trot out the individuals who were so denied. But they cannot because 1) they don’t exist, and 2) if they tried to fabricate such occurrences, then the conservative press would take them to the cleaners for being doubly crooked – first telling the lie, and then conspiring to produce shills to abet the lie.
2. Harry Reid’s PAC is one of the biggest in the land, matching Republicans on every front. This is the man who has single-handedly put a hold on over 350 House passed bills so that Democrats in the Senate would not have to vote on them and declare their true colors as the true obstructionists. All the while the Left led by Obama and lickspittled by the lamestream keep screaming that it is the Republicans who are keeping Congress in gridlock.
3. Using the manufactured gridlock argument we will now see Obama put to use, during the lame duck session, the tens of millions of ‘don’t worry about ever being deported’ cards that he has had printed up. If that is not a scumbag tactic, then why is he keeping that a pre-election secret from his reading-disabled constituents.
4. Locally we lost our second ‘No on S’ election sign from the street – the third one has replaced it. These signs have been disappearing by droves all over the county. A neighbor saw members of the Measure S scumbag patrol pull into his driveway to take away his sign. They saw him and vamoosed. Their description matches what you would think that imported seasonal MJ workers would look like – not people you would invite to dinner. But these criminal antics sure confirm what Measure S is all about.
5. As Obama has amply demonstrated, the nation’s dormant Islamists know which side their global goals are buttered on in America. David Rusin of PJ Media reports on what Islamist Watch has discovered (here). The followers of Allah have contributed twelve times as much money to Democrats as to other candidates in this election. Money talks, bullshit walks. (H/T to reader)
6. (astute readers are welcome to contribute more pre-election shenanigans)
All of these points are documented and documentable. We hope that our Left leaners counter these points with equivalent credentials.
[4nov14 update] Well, today is election day, and you see all kinds of 'Please Vote!' exhortations on signs, in the media, including the blogs. They all seem to be unconditional invitations for citizens (and some to non-citizens) to get off their couches and into voting booths, regardless of what they know about the election - candidates and issues - fogging a mirror qualifies you. As you might expect, that is not the message of RR. Here we ask you to stay the hell out of the voting booth if you have not informed yourself about who the candidates are and what they stand for, and/or how they have voted on things that are important to you. The same goes for the issues. Don't be a soundbite voter - 1) inform yourself, 2) then vote. Otherwise stay home, have a glass of your favorite adult beverage, and just watch the returns or Brady Bunch reruns or whatever. But then, you knew that.
Free speech again on the progressives’ chopping block. The Left is ever busy to squelch the First Amendment in America since they have no counterarguments against liberty, constitutionalism, fiscal prudency, constitutionalism, etc that can stand in a forum of the even mildly read voter. Their solution du jour is to start branding anti-Left political speech as “hurtful”, and then seek to broaden legal remedies they have already emplaced to stop such speech under the categories of ‘hurtful racism’, ‘hurtful homophobia’, and so on. As John O’Sullivan points out (here), the new category will claim that ‘offensive’ speech will also be deemed ‘hurtful’, and banned accordingly. People promoting this are not stupid, but evil? Yes! Another paean to the Great Divide.
Quarantining has a long and successful history in the US. Peggy Noonan reminds us of that (here) as she recounts her great-aunt’s Atlantic crossing to Ellis Island –
On a bookshelf in my home in a glass-and-brass frame I keep my great-aunt’s Ellis Island health card. It’s cardboard, about as big as your hand. She wore it on her coat during her nine-day journey from Ireland. Every day the ship’s surgeon (possibly brusquely, probably officiously) examined her for signs of acute or long-term illness. The card noted her details—immigrant, steerage, age about 20—and other facts. SS California out of Londonderry, 1909, Mary Jane Byrne, last residence Glenties. On the back it says, “Keep this Card to avoid detention at Quarantine and in Railroads in the United States.” If she failed the physicals she would be held at Ellis Island or sent back. There’s a little notch to mark each day the doctor found her healthy. In the end there were nine.
By the time of the great post-WW2 migrations the US government got much smarter when ‘screening’ and quarantining immigrants. As I recount in a couple of ‘My Story’ pieces (here and here), the screening of immigrants during 1949-51 involved a quarantine in Germany where we were kept locked up for weeks at former German military bases behind barbed wire while being examined daily for anything bad that might have been cooking in our bodies. The process was unquestionably a wise one given the untreatable infectious diseases of the time. And it continues to be a wise policy today, albeit still rejected by the ruling regime on political grounds, given the infectious diseases that we can’t successfully treat today.
[2nov14 update] Our 'NO on S' was stolen on Friday from Cement Hill Road. It seems the election sign stealing scumbags are particularly busy on the medical marijuana issue. We put up a new one yesterday. Russ Steele has more on this here.
[3nov14 update] The meteorological mavens at the NOAA's National Weather Service reported on NPR this morning that California's chances for above normal rainfall in November were a bit over 30%. Then with equal confidence in their voice the meteorologist went on to say that the chances for near normal rainfall were around 33%. And no one cracked a smile or recognized that the weather guys don't have a clue about rainfall in November. They just described a flat probability distribution which is the probabilistic definition of total ignorance. But hey, no one does numbers any more. It's the authoritative sound that counts to keep us sheeple content that they are cared for by another government agency. Now, you wanna talk about climate change?