Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Rethinking Rangel's tax plan

I might have to be for it, if he meant what he said in this op-ed: (emphasis mine)
By adjusting the top rates and reducing windfalls paid out to some of the
wealthiest individuals in the nation, we can help restore a sense of equity and
fairness that is critical to the success of our voluntary tax system.

Unfortunately, I think it's inconceivable that voluntary means what he thinks it does.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


I may be alone in this opinion

but I think this is a good thing: Democrats Plan a Shorter Workweek.

When you're a career politician, you tend to judge your value by the number of laws you passed, so I understand why some in Congress are decrying this move. But if you, like me, are of the opinion that any federal government iniative is far more likely to make things worse than better (think Hayekian theory of information), then anything that reduces the potential for new legislation is a good thing.

To be fair, I have a similar view about hospitals - I think they're about as likely to accidentally kill you as to make you better so I avoid them unless there's a strong chance that you're going to die without the intervention of a hospital.

I think a similar metric could be established for federal government action. Suggestions?


Saturday, October 27, 2007


Too much scifi?

It's conceivable and I see no reason why humans can't theoretically speciate and the trends are certainly there, but at the same time predicting that we'll have two distinct human species in the future sounds a bit too much like the Time Machine for me to get past the giggle factor.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Competing bandwagons

My brother forwarded me a Team Huckabee recruitment letter which trumpets the following endorsement (emphasis mine):
Over the past few days, we have seen great things happen in our campaign. First, at the FRC Values Voters Summit Mike Huckabee placed 1st among those attending and voting in the strawpoll, winning with 51.26% and a 40.86% lead over Mitt Romney who came in distant second 10.40%. Then, after the Fox News Debtate, a focus Group, claimed Mike Huckabee displayed the best ability to lead our country. And finally, Huckabee received the endorsement from none other than Chuck Norris.

Now I don't know if anyone has lined up the Jack Bauer endorsement (or the Jack Bauer Bunny endorsement) to directly compete with Huckabee in the endorsement arms race, but I will note that Fred has a pretty good, if slightly different, bandwagon appeal as well - the "I have a smoking hot wife" "press" release. (FYI, here's google's image results for Fred's wife and for those on the left, Kucinich's wife is pretty fine too.)


Sunday, October 21, 2007


Should I rethink my opposition to gun control?

I generally subscribe to the theory that guns don't kill people, people kill people (see Rwanda). However, I apparently need to modify my position as this gun actually did kill people. 9 to be precise.

So perhaps my position should be (non-robotic) guns don't kill people, people (and robotic guns) kill people.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Prurient Travel Advice

Are you a single guy trying to pick a place to go on vacation?

Let me strongly suggest New Zealand where the women average 20.4 sexual partners - the highest in the world. On average, the rest of the world's women had 7.3 partners.

(For the ladies - try next door - the Aussie men top the world at 29.3)

(h/t Boortz)


Friday, October 12, 2007


A Travishamockery

I forget where I first read it, but there's a maxim that any charity or foundation that is not founded as an explicitly conservative or libertarian organization (e.g., AEI, CATO) will inevitably become progressive/liberal organizations.

For example, see the Ford Foundation, the Kroc Foundation and the fraud that is the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why do I consider the Peace Prize a fraud? Besides past winners such as Arafat, ElBaradei, Carter, and Annan (I should add that there have been some acceptable winners, e.g., Doctors without Borders), what on earth does climate have to do with the stated intended characteristics of the recipient of the Peace Prize?

to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and
promotion of peace congresses

Add to that the fact that Gore is a particularly bad choice to represent the Global warming movement as anything more than a political exercise (e.g., the recent UK court ruling on an Inconvenient Truth.).

As a bit of a soapbox moment spawned by the highly political and far afield awarding of the Peac Prize, I'm firmly convinced that the catastrophic global warming hypothesis is a sham being foisted on the world by Marxists wearing an extremely thin veil of environmentalism (if we're concerned with temperature rather than controlling all aspects of economic life, seeding the oceans is a far more cost effective solution than the various CO2 restrictions/taxes being floated).

To buttress this claim, see the IPCC's gross misuse of science for which I give a specific example of where I believe the IPCC is being intentionally dishonest - their discounting of the urban heat island effect.

You, me, and virtually everyone else knows that cities are hotter than the country side. Frequently 4-6 F more so than the country side. Because of this, an obvious source of bias when measuring temperature trends is the increasing urbanization of the world. In and of itself, as weather stations have their environment urbanized, temperature trends would be naturally expected to trend upwards. Good climate science makes attempts to correct for this effect (though badly, I hasten to add).

The IPCC, however, went out of its way to claim that deny that the urban heat island effect had any influence on the global temperature trends:

Urban heat island effects were determined to have negligible influence (less than 0.0006 °C per decade over land and zero over oceans) on these measurements.

(For others, parrotting this claim, see realclimate: "The current state of the science is that the effect on the global temperature record is small to negligible")

The paper cited by the IPCC (there's a list of cited papers here) for this claim was Peterson, T.C., 2003: Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found. J. Climate, 16, 2941–2959.

Summarizing the paper:

A 2003 paper ("Assessment of urban versus rural in situ surface temperatures in the contiguous United States: No difference found"; J climate; Peterson; 2003) indicates that the effects of the urban heat island may have been overstated, finding that "Contrary to generally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures." This was done by using satellite-based night-light detection of urban areas, and more thorough homogenisation of the time series (with corrections, for example, for the tendency of surrounding rural stations to be slightly higher, and thus cooler, than urban areas).

As the paper says, if its conclusion is accepted, then it is necessary to "unravel the mystery of how a global temperature time series created partly from urban in situ stations could show no contamination from urban warming." The main conclusion is that micro- and local-scale impacts dominate the meso-scale impact of the urban heat island: many sections of towns may be warmer than rural sites, but meteorological observations are likely to be made in park "cool islands."

However, Steve McIntyre (the same guy who debunked Mann's hockeystick and found the "bug" in Hansen's code which resulted in the 30s again being hotter than the 90s/00s) got Peterson to email him the list of sites used in the study and looked at the actual trends in temperature measurements over the last 100 years rather than proxy satellite measurements for a couple years. The upshot, using Peterson's classifications of rural and urban stations, urban sites have seen a 0.7 C increase in temperature relative to rural sites - larger than the 0.6 C global increase claimed by the IPCC - clearly nonnegligible.

Further, McIntyre noted that lots of Peterson's urban sites weren't exactly urban (e.g., Snoqualmie Falls, Hankinson, Pine Bluff) which would blunt any observable UHI effects. So McIntyre redefined Peterson's urban site set to only include those cities which have a "major league sports franchise" (perhaps an imprecise distinction, but I think it's a better metric than one which calls Snoqualmie Falls urban). Then examining the relative trends between the major league sports franchise set and Peterson's original rural set, urban sites were seen to have a 2.0C relative gain in measured temperature over the last decade.

Source: climateaudit

So in short, the IPCC claim relies on a proxy measure (adjusted satellite estimates) to forward a claim that no divergence in trends exists when direct examination of the measured temperatures yields the expected ginormous divergence between urban and rural temperature measurement trends.

Returning to the original point and likely colored by my take of the global warming debate, I view the awarding to the IPCC and Gore this year's Peace Prize as evidence of both a) the Peace Prize committee's hard leftward slant, and b) the Peace Prize being intellectually fraudulent (climate change awareness advocacy has nothing to do with the stated goals of the Peace prize and Gore is a particularly bad representative, e.g., Hansen would've been better).

Note, I'm not equating a with b. For example if Rush had won the Peace prize, it would've been evidence of b) but obviously not of a) (and equally as decriable even though I like Rush). Also the landmine prize is intellectually justifiable, but only under a leftist worldview which weights disarmament over promoting fraternity (personally, I think landmines have been a net plus in promoting peace - see Korea).

One last note to respond to what I think will be an immediate question, "OK smart guy, who should've won?"

I think the Anbar tribal chiefs deserve the honor arguably having done the most of anyone to promote peace, fraternity, and disarmament in the last year. (I also think the US Marines are deserving, but I don't think that'll pass the disarmament metric.) As you need a specific recognizable entity to give the award to, the Anbar Salvation Council could've been tagged. Maybe they'll win next year, but I doubt it.

Somehow, this feels related: Craig named to Idaho Hall of Fame. (h/t volokh)

Update 2:

There was some confusion in the comments as to what was being shown in the graphic. Here's what's going on.

Two different data sets are defined from temperature measurements from the Global Historical Climatology Network - Daily (GHCND), one corresponding to rural sites (as originally defined by Peterson) and one corresponding to urban sites (as defined by the major league sports franchise criterion).

To examine just the trendlines (to test the hypothesis that observable global warming is an artifact of urbanization) a 1961-1990 average was computed for the rural data and for the urban data. These two averages were then subtracted from each sample in their respective data sets, e.g., rural[i]' = rural[i] - ave(rural[1961-1990); urban[i]' = urban[i] - ave(urban[1961-1990). This is why both lines are about centered around 0 during the period 1961-1990.

If we were to put them back on the same scale (undo this renormalization), what you would see is a relatively small gap between urban and rural sites before 1900 with it growing to the present day 2-3 C gap.

The implications to be taken from the plot are the following. Urban temperatures have been increasing for a century. However, rural temperatures have been fairly steady over this period. If rural stations aren't showing warming while urban sites are, this is consistent with observed global warming being caused by urbanization and not CO2.

Update 3

I probably combined too many threads (Gore shouldn't have won, IPCC science is really bad) for one post as points keep getting lost. The primary point of the graph and its discussion is to show just how bad the IPCC science is. Specifically when using the same stations as used by the study cited by the IPCC and RealClimate and everyone else which purports to show that there is no urbanization effect on temperature trends a MASSSIVE urbanization effect is observed.

So what about the major-league baseball correction? Well, here's the temperature trends for Peterson's stations without the major-league correction.
Source: climateaudit

Note that there's a difference in Peterson's unaltered data set of 1 C between urban and rural trends. Further as noted above, there were lots of obviously rural stations included in Peterson's urban set which serves to flatten the urban trend line thereby decreasing the difference in trends. If you define a more urban set by only looking at cities with sports franchises as a proxy for what's urban (rural remains Peterson's), then you get the 2 C trend difference noted above.

So the same stations which the IPCC claims shows no difference in trends between urban and rural or for which RealClimate claims shows a (small) negative difference (i.e., rural warmed more than urban!?!) actually exhibit a strong urban temperature increase (either 1 C -Peterson's original definition - or 2 C - redefined urban set) while the rural stations exhibit no increase. This is, I believe, characteristic of the quality of science being performed by the IPCC.


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