Sunday, September 30, 2007

Undefeated at the Quarter Pole

... thanks in large part to our Quarterback. GB Game 4 Stats. One announcer says: “He’s never been about numbers which is probably why he has them all”. Beating a division arch rival at their place – great. Getting a record as the player with the most touchdown passes – ever – good too.

Near the end of the game as Minnesota is valiantly trying to score, I find myself concerned the Packers Defense has given up 16 points. Then the final ticks come off the game clock allowing me to reflect on the fact they only gave up 16 points. Not bad for the modern day “treat receivers like china dolls” NFL rule book. All in all, the D gives up only one TD while collecting 4 sacks and a fumble.

Of course the way Brett Favre ran the offense is getting the limelight. He completes passes to ten different receivers, nine of them more than once, and twice for touchdowns. The 1st of those TD throws sets a new quarterback record and the 2nd becomes the first in a hopefully long line of additions to whatever final tally Favre achieves.

With the record comes the bar talk speculation of what it means in terms of greatness. At the highest level of individual achievement in team sports, the discussions are really more about what flavor you like best. Since I’m a Wisconsin Homer, I am proud to defend the primacy of # 4 against his nearest passing rival and I can’t state it better than a news jockey from downtown Marino land.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Just because Marino played only 10 regular-season games outdoors in cold-weather cities in the late part of the schedule doesn't mean he belongs anywhere less than in the pantheon of great quarterbacks. But, if you're going to stand these two men up against each other on what could be an historic Sunday, why not note that Favre played 44 games outdoors in cold-weather cities and that 44 of his 420 touchdowns came under less-than-desirable-playing conditions?

So what? Wouldn't Marino have thrown as many touchdowns if he had played, on average, twice at Lambeau Field every December, or go to Soldier Field in Chicago when the wind whistling off Lake Michigan numbs your nose in about two minutes? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The reality is he didn't have to, and Favre did. Rather than diminish the importance of Marino's 420 regular-season TD passes, we need to further elevate Favre's 420.
So yeah, you can program a robot to accurately guide a football to a predetermined spot, but I prefer a scruffy old coot being knocked on his ass and still able to lead a slant route into a 33 yard pay dirt strike. --- AP Photo/Paul Battaglia.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Its Never Too Soon for Advanced Planning

Because the people in government understand the incredible inefficiency of government, planning committees for the Bicentennial Celebration of the War of 1812 are being established five years in advance. First agenda item: Who Won?

War of 1812, revisited: As early preparations for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 get underway in Canada and the United States, organizers in Canada have run into an unexpected hitch: Their American counterparts seem to think they won.

Although former American president Thomas Jefferson had boasted that conquering Upper Canada, as Ontario was known in 1812, was "a mere matter of marching," the invaders lost a series of crucial battles early in the war and were forced to beat an undignified retreat back across the border.

Although the U.S. army eventually managed to achieve some successes, including attacking and burning down the provincial capital of York (modern-day Toronto) in 1813, they were never again a serious threat to conquer Canada.

In 1814, British forces retaliated for the burning of York by attacking Washington and burning down the White House and Congress, but at the end of the fighting, the borders remained largely unchanged.

Brainstorming here, but how about a dramatic reenactment of the destruction of Congress and the White House? I’m thinking big ratings draw both domestic and international.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Teaching Failure

Earlier this week a National Assessment of Education Progress report on 4th and 8th grade reading points out one area where our unionized government workers are doing a really bad job. Boots and Sabers quote the press coverage and handle the discussion.

Boots and Sabers: The average reading ability for fourth- and eighth-grade black students in Wisconsin is the lowest of any state, and the reading achievement gap between black students and white students in Wisconsin continues to be the worst in the nation.

So if WEAC is failing to adequately teach reading to black children, it is legitimate to ask if the union of the perpetually unsatisfied is accurately teaching history. For example, what post Civil War mass murder occurred on this date in 1868?

Democrats massacred African-American Republicans: On this day in 1868, a mob of Democrats massacred nearly 300 African-American Republicans in Opelousas, Louisiana. The savagery began when racist Democrats attacked a newspaper editor, a white Republican and schoolteacher for ex-slaves. Several African-Americans rushed to the assistance of their friend, and in response, Democrats went on a "Negro hunt," killing every African-American (all of whom were Republicans) in the area they could find.

Since the goal of education should be the mastery of concepts rather than the memorization of facts, Michael Medved explains the intellectual framework which school children should understand in order to keep the present in correct perspective. Let me just highlight the foundation necessary for a valid understanding of the past.

Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery: SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION. At the time of the founding of the Republic in 1776, slavery existed literally everywhere on earth and had been an accepted aspect of human history from the very beginning of organized societies.

I suspect it is a WEAC heresy, but it does not require funding to tell the truth to children.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reason On Economic Biases

The Reason Magazine article on “The 4 Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters” is one of these lengthy concise overviews of the complexities of big complex subjects. In this case, economics and the public understanding of economics. I do like this one little tidbit. It’s cute.

(And we're all stupid voters.) “There are two technologies for producing automobiles in America. One is to manufacture them in Detroit, and the other is to grow them in Iowa. Everybody knows about the first technology; let me tell you about the second. First you plant seeds, which are the raw materials from which automobiles are constructed. You wait a few months until wheat appears. Then you harvest the wheat, load it onto ships, and sail the ships westward into the Pacific Ocean. After a few months, the ships reappear with Toyotas on them.”

Of course, being a stupid voter, I always assumed Toyotas came from Kentucky and Indiana.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kohl’s Paints Their Stores Green

I don’t shop at Kohl’s and a “green marketing” message is not going to change my mind. The executives of the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin based retailer, however, know all the “saving the world” clichés and how to use them in a marketing campaign to lure in consumers who believe they need to help the environment survive.

Kohl's Activates Largest Rooftop Solar Rollout: Today Kohl's Department Stores (NYSE:KSS) flipped the switch on a rooftop solar energy system at its Laguna Niguel store as part of the largest planned U.S. photovoltaic solar rollout to date. … At completion, Kohl's solar program will represent approximately 15 percent of California's photovoltaic installations to date.

Once completed, Kohl’s use of solar power will generate more than 35 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, the equivalent of powering an estimated 3,087 California homes. Additionally, in the first full year of operation, Kohl’s clean energy output will offset more than 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas directly linked to global climate change. Over the span of 20 years, Kohl’s solar deployment will prevent in excess of 515 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

I see. It is all about keeping carbon dioxide out the air because CO2 is “directly linked to global climate change’. Trouble is a direct linkage does not exist outside of computer programming. The myth being sold the public is that CO2 has additive effects or, in other words, the more carbon dioxide the more heat. The truth is carbon dioxide has a weak limited greenhouse effect which pretty much flattens out at the concentration levels that exist now. Of course, reality has very little to do with marketing.

Now if Kohl’s solar stores were to announce a merger with Whole Foods wind powered stores, perhaps then the planet would be safe for the retail green markup and the low prices at Wal-Mart will be banished into the history of failed commercial enterprises.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Farming Good for Wetland Birds

The media loves a freak show so this deformed frog story is getting some distribution today. The source is a University of Colorado Boulder press release about experimental work done in large part in central Wisconsin.

Nutrient Pollution Drives Frog Deformities: The study showed increased levels of nitrogen and phosphorus cause sharp hikes in the abundance and reproduction of a snail species that hosts microscopic parasites known as trematodes. … The nutrients stimulate algae growth, increasing snail populations and the number of infectious parasites released by snails into ponds and lakes. The parasites subsequently form cysts in the developing limbs of tadpoles causing missing limbs, extra limbs and other severe malformations.

The trematode has a complex life cycle that involves three host species, he said. In addition to the infectious stage in snails and the cyst stage in frogs, the parasites rely on predators including wading birds to complete their life cycle by consuming infected frogs and spreading the parasite back into the ecosystem through defecation.

An alternative headline would be abundant nutrition yields increasing food supply for wetland birds, but that lacks the damnation of human activity implied in the word pollution. I would be less suspicious of political bias in this report except for this assertion: "Since most human diseases involve multiple hosts, understanding how increased nutrient pollution affects freshwater and marine food webs to influence disease is an emerging frontier in ecological research." Most? Uhhh - No. That statement is an example of the overgeneralization of limited results corrupting scientific reporting.

Host and parasite interactions are extremely complex co-survival adaptations evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, and it is not surprising that blooms of parasites produce surges of parasitic infections. What is important is not the increase in diseased amphibians but their percentage of all amphibians. The press release fails to include any hard data about the fortunes of the healthy froggy survivors in the waters of abundant nutrition. I suppose any good news would be bad news for the people are bad crowd.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Very Dangerous Human Being

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a very dangerous human being. He is dangerous because he is sane, shrewd, and rational in pursuit of his belief that the god of Islam exalts in the deaths of non-believers. The god of Islam does not love the entirety of creation, only those individuals willing to completely subvert themselves to the social demands declared by the human prophet. The mandate to be feared and followed sounds exactly like something a human psyche would desire.

Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? To understand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's mindset and behavior require close scrutiny of the elaborate and intricate theology of Hujetieh Shiism, perhaps the most fundamentalist of the numerous Shiite sects. … Ahmadinejad, a man driven by his religion, has a spiritual advisor in Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi (the defacto leader of the Hojatieh). The President's advisor is known for his extremist views on Islam and promotes suicide bombings and attacks on civilians in the West.

Let me be very clear. Hujetieh Shiism is a hate group. The fine line walked these last few years has been about how to destroy the hate groups within the practitioners of Islam, in a way that does not make their message attractive to majority of Muslims. The criticism from leftists and academics has been merciless, so it is fair to be merciless criticizing their attempt at dealing face to face with this dangerous man.

Iran's President Got What He Wanted at Columbia: In an apparent effort to mitigate the damage likely to result from providing a prestigious, internationally televised forum for the head of the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, Bollinger called Ahmadinejad "a petty and cruel tyrant" and described his denial of the Holocaust as "ridiculous."

But Bollinger's seemingly well-intentioned introduction of Iran's president could backfire, as shown by the rousing applause he received when he said that in Iran it is not customary to insult an invited guest with offensive comments aimed at "vaccinating" an audience against his views. This will play well in Iran and across the Middle East.

The criticism of Columbia University is well deserved. Giving Ahmadinejad a forum legitimizes him. Walking safely among the non-believers in New York and returning unscathed will be taken as yet another sign of divine blessing by those pursuing the ascension of the Caliphate. No amount of spin camouflages the fact that elitist sensibility fails at a rigorous analysis of good and bad. Tolerance, like freedom of speech, is a broad but not absolute policy to follow. The events of today should bring shame upon everyone involved.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Good Progress Down the Right Road

KGB introduces himself to San Diego Quarterback Philip Rivers a couple years ago. With any luck the acquaintanceship renews at Lambeau Field this afternoon. This is the ninth meeting between the two teams and Green Bay holds a 7-1 series advantage. The west coasters did the Packers a favor by beating the Bears Week 1, so it would be nice if Mr. Gbaja-Biamila says thanks to Mr. Rivers in the Chargers backfield several times today. (posted pre-game at the Wisconsin Sports Bar)

UPDATE: Well, according to the GB Game 3 Stats, KGB did indeed sack Mr. Rivers twice this afternoon. This is just one part of the defensive effort upholding their end of the game. As much as Brett Favre and the offense are deservedly getting credit for this victory, the game was not really in hand until Nick Barnett snags his second interception of the season and runs it down to the two yard line.

The Packers open this year by beating three playoff teams from last year. Given the talent on San Diego, this is arguably the first win against genuine top tier competition since they defeat Seattle in the January 4, 2004 wild card game. Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City are the only teams left on the schedule that make the playoffs last year.

Brett Favre looks completely comfortable in the pocket these last two weeks. He is playing like he trusts his offensive line, and is at least comfortable with his receivers as six players catch more than one pass today. His back to back weeks with three touchdown passes and triple digit quarterback ratings are evidence he has bought into the company line about how to play. He’s even running the scout team in practice to help out. What else? Oh yeah, and he is collecting some historical records as he clicks past the milestones.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Salamander Conundrum

I am lifting this post pretty much in its entirety because is reflects the way political concepts have distorted academic thinking in the sciences.

Hybrid Vehicle: A strange duck sent in a link to this story about hybridization between a native and introduced salamander in California. The interaction between the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) is not news in itself (the ISW pointed to research on the subject back in 2003) - Eastern tiger salamanders established in California following the use of their larvae as bait for the past several decades. But now new evidence indicates that the hybrid offspring exhibit what is known as "hybrid vigor" - they are more fit than either parent species.

That certainly doesn't bode well for the endangered California species, whose populations were already on the decline. The researchers are concerned that the greater fitness of the hybrids could lead to the eventual loss of the California species, as over time crossing of hybrids with parent species (and other hybrids) leads to permanent integration of non-native genes into all tiger salamanders in the region.

What is wrong with this? The answer lies in the environmentalist need for the effects of humans to be considered detrimental and the existence of nature to be static. The central tenet of our modern understanding of the biological world is the reality of change of time, through the reproductive competition between short living individual organisms. Over millions of years the specific sets of genes that yield the most successful critters are preserved and amplified.

If the University of Massachusetts will award a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology to individuals viewing hybrid vigor as undesirable when the “hybrid vehicle” arrives with human assistance, it is sign the student is taught that people are somehow not fully normal integrated parts of the biologic world. It baffles me that an example of how evolution works causes a biologist to react as if there is something abnormal occurring.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mr. Hsu meets Mr. Hochberg

I really do not expect the Main Stream Media will cover Clinton fund raising scandals with either objectivity or details. The details, however, are being ferreted out by the Army of Davids, especially people like Flip Pidot who digs into the public records. Norman Hsu – eccentric loner – not. Actually he has lots of friends who are Dems.

Hsocking Hsu Secrets Revealed! If there's one thing that can be said about Clinton financial scandals, it's that they tend to be complex. And thus far, the Norman Hsu debacle is living up to the archetype. … Two points are crucial here.

1) Ever since Hsu became a major fundraiser, there have been notable similarities between his and Hochberg/Lillian Vernon's contributions that strain the limits of coincidence. Not only is there significant overlap among several far-flung candidates who wouldn't typically be of much interest to New York businessmen, but the size and timing of many of the transactions further suggest the efforts are coordinated.

2) Hochberg's political benefaction predates Hsu's by several years. While Hsu didn't get his start until 2003 and didn't really hit his stride until late 2004, Lillian Vernon and the Hochbergs contributed more than a half million dollars to Democrats in the decade prior to Hsu's political foray (and more than a quarter million more since). This suggests the slate of candidates whose palms Hsu has chosen to cross with silver these last few years was not the product of either Hsu's own ideology or any specific partisan motivation. It seems more likely that the pols Hsu began to grease were simply co-opted from Hochberg's list of favored candidates.

And the lily gilder: Fred Hochberg was a member of President Clinton's Cabinet. Yes, Fred Hochberg, a dean at the school where Hsu served as a trustee, one of Hsu's fellow HillRaisers, CEO of the company that officially bundled at least one of Hsu's direct contributions as recently as this summer, and the apparent architect of Hsu's favored candidate slate, was installed as one of the country's senior-most federal policymakers by Bill Clinton.

One list of Clinton Accomplishments includes this snippet. “Fred Hochberg, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration, the first openly gay person to be appointed Deputy in an U.S. cabinet-level agency”. Fred Hochberg goes on to a position at New University as Dean of their Management and Urban Policy graduate program. It seems like only Monday the eyebrow raising amounts of “academic money” pouring into Democratic Party coffers is noticed.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are Our Leaders Clueless?

The idea the United States will allow Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inside our borders is repulsive. The idea of allowing him to visit ground zero is beyond comprehension. All Islamic cults of martyrdom believe the unexpected total destruction of the World Trade Center Towers is a sign their pursuit of world domination is divinely blessed. The jihadists do not think like us. Thinking they think like us is the surest sign of an incorrect understanding of realty. Thinking the danger is a matter of political borders is proof an individual doesn't get it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I am stealing this post from Kate at Small Dead Animals because I can.

What's The Opposite Of Diversity? à UNIversity

"Yes, diversity in all things. Except, of course, in thought. Presumably, Professor Stanton is also “stunned”, “appalled” and “deeply offended” by the over-representation of, say, gay people in the spheres of arts and drama, or of women in the caring professions, or of Indian employees in Indian restaurants. Perhaps some recalibration of those industries is also in order, to ensure suitable diversity.

I might add disproportionate aggregations of hypersensitive emotionally volatile individuals should be balanced out by say, Marines. When you group all the outliers together they convince themselves they are normal.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Question for Anti-War Democrats

It is not worth “debate” with moonbats but I can’t help thinking there are still rank and file Democrats who revere Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and may benefit from a review of history. From the American Thinker.

Why Did FDR Invade North Africa? After the "day that will live in infamy" FDR's first land attack took place in Morocco and Algeria, then French colonies, in alliance with the British.

Why? Morocco is about as far from Pearl as you can get. Why punish the poor North Africans for what the Japanese did to us? Well, FDR understood the enemy, and so did the American people. It wasn't just Tojo who attacked the US on December 7, 1941. It was the Axis imperial alliance -- Germany, Japan and Italy. They were bent on world conquest, had already conquered most of Europe, and had to be stopped at a time and place of our choosing.

Back in the day, the Democrats were in their own way, for the interests of the American common man, with the understanding that American interests come first. This is before the Party of Roosevelt and Truman transforms into the party of global socialist unity. Perhaps I should not be surprised that individuals who aspire to one planet united under one rule, share similar sentiments and find common points of tactical agreement.

FDR understood that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not an isolated incident, just as President Bush understood that the attack on America on 9/11 was not an isolated event. The liberals still don't get that. They who woke up on the morning of September 11, 2001 -- and promptly went back to sleep the day after that. None so blind as will not see.

Al Quaida (and the Khomeini cult) are mujahedeen in the martyrdom tradition of Islamic conquest, willing to commit suicide to bring the world back to the "purity" of a 7th century desert patriarchy. It was violent jihad that spread Islam with amazing speed in the two centuries after Mohammed, racing from small towns in Arabia to conquer swaths of Byzantium, Persia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and even the Iberian Peninsula. The message to each new target was the same: submit or die. That is still the message of violent jihad today.

The anti-war absolutists are so obsessed with the idea of one nation attacking another nation being evil, they fail to accept that a transnational “cult of martyrdom” is a greater threat to their idealized peace. Deposing a violent lawless tyrant in order to establish the “place of our choosing” to confront this cult may be one of the most courageous political decisions ever made, if it works.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Money, Science & Politics in Madison

The dead tree media has very little credibility with me anymore. The newspapers, and their electronic incarnations, are still a handy guide to the activity of the day but not a serious source of reasoned thought. The Wisconsin State Journal, in particular, eludes my attention so I didn’t realize editorial page editor Scott Milfred writes the opinion piece below last Saturday, until I find it on The Wheeler Report tonight.

Bashing Bucky backfires: Conservatives have long accused college professors of turning young minds into liberal mush. But a much more real and direct threat to the right wing are the professors' wallets. University employees are giving far more money to political campaigns than a decade ago. They’re actually giving more than the oil industry and drugmakers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks donations. Almost all of the campaign cash is from individual university employees. And almost all of it is going to Democrats.

I find two things disturbing in the facts outlined in the story. First, that tax paid individuals are using those funds to secure more tax revenues for themselves. Actually, it is normal for individuals to put their own self interest first. The uncoerced interplay of self interest is how the greater good emerges from free people. Coerced money being used to purse more powers of coercion, however, is a legitimate concern.

The second disturbing aspect is that while the Average Joe in the private sector is struggling to make ends meet, our public employees apparently have ample disposable income to play the political shares market.

Editor Milfred tosses in the stereotypes the academics have encouraged themselves to believe about the small government, free market, independent responsible individual, primacy of the private sector - school of thought. Take science for example.

Nationally, the surge in Democratic dollars from academia is largely attributed to President Bush and his perceived hostility toward science. Bush is part of a narrow band of social conservatives who are fiercely opposed to stem-cell research that uses discarded embryos from fertility clinics. Bush also began his presidency belittling if not manipulating evidence of global warming.

Around a year ago the Wisconsin State Journal interviews Dr. James Thompson who in his own words discusses how embryonic stem cells are unlikely to have any near term therapeutic benefits. It is completely wrong to imply opposition to tax funded embryonic stem cell research (which Bush approved) means opposition to stem cell research. Work on adult stems cells is uncontroversial, near term promising and taking place in hundreds of labs with a wealth of private sector money behind it.

As for “belittling” global warming theory, well yes, but the correct word is skepticism. The entire solar system is showing evidence of being in a period of increased solar radiation. This is a long way from any observational evidence of a dangerous man made alteration of the planet’s variable thermal dynamics.

The political right in America is not anti-science but we are against bad science. We are vehemently against tentative and often inaccurate results being represented as consistent independently verified results to the public. Living in the Ivory Tower with the petty politics and group think inherent in all small groups can distort good judgment. Knowledge is often deep, detailed and extremely thin, and not to be confused with wisdom.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just Another Sunday Playing Around

The NFL website is running a blurb saying it was on this day in 1919 that newspaper writer George Whitney Calhoun first calls a Green Bay Football team "The Packers". This would be about five weeks since the acknowledged first meeting August 11th of that year, but it does make a good story on the day eighty eight years later when a Packers player becomes the Quarterback with the most wins ever in the league.

The GB Game 2 Stats will forever show this achievement as a quality victory over the New York Giants (35–13), with Brett Favre connecting for three touchdown passes and a Quarterback rating of 112.4. The 149th time No. 4 leads his team off the field with a Win.

The Packers are now 2 – 0 to begin this year and a lot can happen but I am beginning to believe that General Manager Ted Thompson knows what he has being doing since assuming responsibility for the organization at the beginning of 2005. For one thing, this very young group of players is beginning to perform very well as this is the sixth consecutive victory going back to the end of last season. Equally important, the club is in tremendous financial condition to preserve and expand talent.

Packers in salary-cap heaven: The Green Bay Packers are among the healthiest salary-cap teams in the NFL and in a pay-as-you-go cycle that should keep them in excellent cap standing for the next several years, if not longer. Not only are they $12.2 million under this year's salary cap of $109 million, they have player contracts for 2008 that count about $91 million in cap costs, or about $25 million under next year's projected cap of $116 million.

Thompson was a financial planner after finishing his playing career in the NFL and is, by nature and experience, more conservative with the Packers' money than his predecessors. … It's no different than anybody in any business," Thompson said this week. "You don't necessarily like to borrow into the future for today. It just makes more sense from a business model to do it that way.

Achieving goals in a framework of financial responsibility. I am tempted to do a compare and contract with our Governor, but today is too good to waste contemplating the ugly aspects of life. Congratulations Brett. Go Pack Go. - Photo: Tom Lynn (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fake, Faulty, Bad, and Inaccurate

A large number of people worldwide play golf. Golf is a game with measured results, therefore, all games of golf are comparable and all golfers equally good. umm ... uhh ... no. A large number of people worldwide play science and I’ll leave the rest to Dr. John Ioannidis.

Wall Street Journal: Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By Sloppy Analysis. "There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," Dr. Ioannidis said. "A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true." The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.

Every new fact discovered through experiment represents a foothold in the unknown. In a wilderness of knowledge, it can be difficult to distinguish error from fraud, sloppiness from deception, eagerness from greed or, increasingly, scientific conviction from partisan passion. As scientific findings become fodder for political policy wars over matters from stem-cell research to global warming, even trivial errors and corrections can have larger consequences.

Let me help wave the red flag again. There is a lot of really bad scientific “work” being published in an environment that rewards grant funding based on the weight of the pages published and the networking circles of like minded participants. In all seriousness, the phrase “scientific study” should be given equal weight with the phrase “movie review”.

World Conference on Research Integrity: Addressing the urgent need for fighting fraud, forgery and plagiarism in science world-wide, the very first World Conference on Research Integrity is set to facilitate an unprecedented global effort to foster responsible research in Lisbon, Portugal from 16 to 19 September 2007.

It is about time the scientific community starts serious self-policing efforts. Does anyone remember that true science requires independently reproducible results from full disclosure of methodology? Does anyone remember that one point does not prove a line?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Undocumented Canadian Immigration

The National Weather Service reports a high temperature in Madison, Wisconsin of 56 degrees Fahrenheit which is sixteen degrees below the historical average for this summer day. The areas immediately to the west along the Mississippi River have frost advisories in effect overnight including freeze warnings into parts of Iowa.

Des Moines Register: A cold front from Canada will settle across the state, prompting frost and freeze advisories for most of Iowa. … Record or near record cold temperatures are anticipated overnight, leading to widespread frost.

The paper, being written by objective professional journalists, does not speculate on why cold Canadian air is immigrating to the American Midwest, but as a sensationalist blogger I can assert any wild theory I want. I blame this on global warming. Undocumented Canadian air masses must be fleeing the horrific changes at the North Pole. The science is settled. I will accept no other explanation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reaching for my Bag of Asterisks

Ain’t technology wonderful. The little green dot means this NFL helmet is a $3,000 Quarterback special with encrypted radio transmission capability -- but why stop there? Why not use all available technology to … umm … gather information. Yes, information is good. Information Rulz! Even when it’s against the rules. I suppose it’s all in the creative understanding of intent. Some blurbs from around the internet.

Videogate: At the root of the story is the Pats and their organizational arrogance. They started out as America's darlings when they decided to forego individual player intros and walk out as a team before Super Bowl XXXVI. Everyone was so sick of the fawning over the heavily-favored Rams that it was refreshing to see a team that truly played like a...well, team.

But over the years the same disease that has stricken the Red Sox has taken hold of the Pats: they are no longer underdogs and, in fact, perpetuate the very problem that makes many sane people turn away from sports. They cheat at will (this isn't the first time) and who would have thought the team-first Pats would sign locker room cancer, Randy Moss. These clowns have turned into every juggernaut that think the rules don't apply to him/them: Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, the Yankees, and the 90s Cowboys (aka the Forces of Evil).

Smooth criminals: Good old street crime is one thing. It goes with the history of sports. But this video thing lifts it to a new level of electronic surveillance and into the realm of the hi-tech, white collar crime that we all hate. Put these guys on the business page, for God's sake. There's no place for them in sports.

Doberman on the Diamond: The Patriots have long been suspected of cheating, but like many other sports, football is a fraternity, and unless you knew something for a fact, you didn't reveal you suspicions. Since the Patriots were caught in the act of videotaping other teams signals, nobody had to snitch on them. And now, players across the league are opening up.

ESPN: But if the New England Patriots really were using a video camera to steal opposing defensive coaches' signals -- perhaps even in their game against the Packers last year -- Favre said they might have gone too far. "Can it cross the line? I'm sure it can," Favre said. "It can give you a huge advantage."

Dead Tree Milwaukee: Favre was knocked out of the New England game in the second quarter with an elbow injury and didn't leave the field suspecting the Patriots knew more about the Packers than they should. But after hearing the latest accusations, and thinking about some of the New England games he had studied on tape, he had to admit the thought of the Patriots videotaping signals over the years made sense.

"I think we say that near about every game they play in," Favre said of playing a perfect game. "One game in particular - I watched the Minnesota game because we were playing them the following week or two weeks later - they were just flawless." Asked if it made him wonder about the alleged videotaping, Favre said, "Now, maybe. Before, no."

Yeah, I remember the one half of one game during “the streak” that Favre did not play and a wrist slap don’t make me happy. ***

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lets Not Become British Again

The British Government authorizes the King's Fund to report on the National Health Service and Sir Derek Wanless releases an update to his pivotal 2002 study. The British Press summarizes the new findings in their headlines.

Evening Standard: Billions squandered as the NHS fails to deliver. Times Online: Man who helped NHS to £46bn says it wasted the money and needs more.

Socialized Medicine – Universal Healthcare – Healthy Wisconsin – what ever you want to call it – is not about health care. It is about government controlling the money used to pay for health services. One courageous blogger risks mind numbing dullness and plows through the updated assessment of the NHS finances.

Wanless Shocker: The bald facts are these. Since his first report in 2002, total NHS spending has surged by nearly 50%, or £43.2bn. That's a real terms growth of 7.4% pa, and takes us close to the EU average for health spending as a percentage of GDP. So as of now, nobody can argue the NHS is substantially underfunded.

But as we've said many times on BOM, spending money is easy: it's what you get back that's counts. And across 321 weighty pages Wanless confirms that we've had abysmal value. To start with, getting on for half of the increased spending (£18.9bn) was gobbled up in those big pay and price increases (see many previous blogs on the NHS pay deals). More money has been poured into hopeless projects like the NPfIT, where the report demands a full drains up. Second, although there has been a huge increase in NHS staff numbers - up by one-third to 1.3m - their productivity has fallen sharply.

The massive increase in spending goes to pay higher salaries for more public employees resulting in diminishing productivity. Sound familiar? WEAC, WEAC, anybody? Of course the welfare state has their defenders and this is about as succinct as you can state it.

Caring Choices: it is the state’s duty to guarantee a basic level of care to everyone irrespective of means. That’s what a decent welfare state should be about.

In that statement is the crux of budget stalemate in the Wisconsin legislature. There are people who want government to have primary responsibility for the lives of the population and there are people, like myself, who believe government should be the last resort of help, for free and independent individuals.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Very Sophisticated Sabotage II

I agree with Chris, our country is not standing united against the dangers that confront us and I agree with Jib when he questions the proper way to remember our history. At the risk of sounding offensive, I am finding the repetition of names and stories a tad boring. The way to honor the past is to focus on the present so the evil of prior days is kept repressed.

If you don’t want to be blindsided by large scale violence then focus on where the violent people are getting active. For reference, a Terrorist Organization Reference Guide. Socialist guerilla group EPR (Ejercito Popular Revolucionario) - or one of their splinter groups - is becoming very active pursuing their expressed desire to overthrow the Mexican government and reverse the current free market policies.

Houston Chronicle: Targeting valves, above-ground sections and transfer terminals in 30- to 48-inch pipelines, the explosions went off nearly simultaneously in various locations, some of them hundreds of miles apart.

Investors Business Daily: The shadowy group isn't bluffing. In a mere two months, it blew up a Sears building in Oaxaca, tried to blow up a bank, called in three bomb threats to the tallest building in Latin America to force the evacuation of 11,000 people, and left a car bomb in the garage to show their intents. Sunday's pipeline attack is their worst act to date, and shows far more calculated planning and resources.

Busting up 48-inch welded steel pipelines is no easy task yet EPR pulls it off at several key above ground junction points, hundreds of miles apart for maximum system disruption. As desired, the local physical damage immediately causes widespread economic disruptions. Thousands of Mexicans suddenly get unexpected and unpaid time off.

CNN: Hundreds of companies which rely on natural gas to function were forced to temporarily lay-off workers in ten states in the centre and east of the country.

AP: Volkswagen AG said it suspended production at its sprawling car factory outside the city of Puebla - the company's only North American manufacturing site - on Monday because of a lack of natural gas. Glassmaker Vitro SAB also said it was temporarily closing six plants across central and western Mexico.

Somalinet: The EPR had taken credit earlier for pipeline bombings on July 5 and July 10 in the Mexican states of Guanajuato and Queretaro, hundreds of miles northeast of Veracruz. Those attacks forced the closure of giant multinational factories run by U.S. and Japanese automakers and companies that make Kellogg's and Hershey's products.

It is not going unnoticed that the attacks appear designed to disproportionately impact large foreign corporate interests at the same time Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in India promoting his country as a strong emerging market. A growing Mexican economy takes immigration pressure off the US. A retreat towards a socialist fantasy like Chavez is imposing on Venezuela is the worst thing that can happen for hopes of a peaceful prosperous continent.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Very Sophisticated Sabotage

Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom. Six explosions go off at four different natural gas pipelines in the pre-dawn hours this morning. No one in the Mexican government or government owned Pemex Corporation even bother doing the “wait until the facts are in” song and dance. This is an act of sabotage against the North American energy infrastructure.

Houston Chronicle: Mexican officials sought Monday to calm the public and energy markets about the severity of the threat. They said the fires resulting from some of the explosions were quickly brought under control by Pemex crews. "Pemex's fundamental installations are adequately protected by our armed forces," said Francisco Ramirez, Mexico's interior minister. "We will act energetically to find those responsible."

The sophistication required to coordinate multiple simultaneous attacks makes this something a little more serious than a small band of discontents with matches.

Al Qaeda in Mexico? Pemex is reporting six coordinated explosions in a large-scale act of sabotage of its eastern natural gas pipelines. Well, you hear that, and, if you've got a brain, you think, "terrorism," or at least, "Chavez." Turns out there's evidence linking the EPR, who's claiming responsibility, to al Qaeda.

WorldNetDaily: Another Pakistani document shows the links between al-Qaida and Mexico's Popular Revolutionary Army, EPR. The documents reveal that al-Qaida sees EPR as collaborators in attacks in Mexico on foreign targets – "especially those of the United States and Britain." It also says that EPR can play a key role in allowing al-Qaida operatives to enter the United States through the busiest land crossing in the world – Tijuana.

EPR: The Popular Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Popular Revolucionario, EPR) is a socialist group that was created in 1996 with the goal of toppling the government of Mexico. The EPR's main region of influence is the southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas; however, more recently the group has splintered into a number of smaller groups operating in the south of Mexico.

The recent splintering of EPR is a concern. It may indicate the most extreme individuals are choosing to freelance and are in the market for benefactors. The Al Qaeda lineage groups are very good at planning coordinated assaults so it is reasonable to ask if Islamic terrorist groups are assisting Latin American socialist guerilla groups.

It is well known that Hugo Chavez is pouring money into socialist causes and the Venezuelan President is actively partnering with Iran and their Hezbollah Army of God. Rebels can be extremely dangerous with only small arms. Given financial support and access to military grade explosives, their power to be destructive goes way up.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nick Barnett

46 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The GB Game 1 Stats reinforce the concerns about the Packers coming into the season as a one dimensional offence. The Packers defense did hold McNabb to a 60.7 passer rating but then the Eagles defense held Favre to a 58.2.

Nick Barnett is clearly the defensive player of the game with over twice as many individual tackles as anyone else, plus the interception he leaps up and steals out of midair. The youngest team in the NFL finds a way to seize and capitalize on opportunities and emerge with a win. Yeah Cheese!

Cross posted at The Wisconsin Sports Bar

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Sub-Prime Summer IV

The big question this summer is whether the economy is more Weebles or Jenga. Friday was just another in a series of big stock sell offs and finger pointing this round goes to a jobs report that was bleak to say the least.

It's Worse Than the Bulls Thought: As for the jobs report itself, it was indeed a horror show as an expected 105,000 job gain turned into an actual 4000 job decline in payrolls. So what if the unemployment rate didn't fall. This was a harsh reality for the markets to digest.

At this juncture, any talking head who views the recent market dips as that proverbial "buying opportunity" is either a fool or secretly loading up on his shorts. Clearly, the market worm has turned and stocks are in a technical downtrend. For those with weak stomachs for shorting, cash is king, at least for a month or two.

In an arbitrage world full of computer assisted derivative manipulations the foundation of the economy remains grounded in the real world.

U.S. Stocks Fall After Payrolls Drop: “If people lose their jobs, they stop spending, they default on debt, they can't pay their mortgage,'' said Neil Wolfson, who oversees $48.1 billion as president of Wilmington Trust Investment Management in New York. ``That's the worst-case scenario that people are worried about.”

Tanta at Calculated Risk is writing up lengthy and technical explanations of the changes in mortgage lending practices and markets. Our present situation is extremely complex but I do like this part of her summary.

Mortgage Origination Channels for UberNerds: In the old days, the depository lenders had “loan officers.” They were actually officers, and they actually decided whether to lend people money or not. In and around the 1980s, an idea arose that “loan officers” should primarily be “salespeople,” not credit underwriters, because they could reel in more borrowers that way. We took them off salary, put them on commission, and sent them to sales seminars in which everything they ever knew about evaluating credit risk was rinsed out of their brains in a deluge of sales tactics and lead generation and unspeakable “motivational” rhetoric. This resulted in a horrifying pile of terrible loans.

“Loan officers” became pure salespeople, who turned over their applications to underwriters, who were salaried and paid a lot less, in most cases, than the loan officers. These underwriters were stuffed into cubicles in “back rooms” where they were expected to uphold the institution’s credit standards in the face of an aggressive sales force who didn’t get paid unless the underwriter caved in. Since loan officers were paid on volume, not profitability or loan quality, the LO just wanted to get to the closing table as often as possible. The underwriters got paid whether the loan closed or not, but they quite often didn’t get paid enough to want to be beaten to a bloody pulp by salespeople and branch managers and production vice presidents.

Generally the underwriters reported up to the chief credit officer, who reported to the CEO. The loan officers reported up to the senior production manager who reported to the CEO. The CEO settled arguments based on either the good of the company or the bonus pool.

Think of this description as one Jenga block in the whole construction. Perhaps the question to focus on is not if the tower is going to fall, but rather how many Weebles get broken when it happens.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Old Sick Lion Surfaces

Osama Bin Laden, like Fidel Castro, is somehow using the depth of his hatred for the United States to cling to life. There is some speculation the Al Qaeda mastermind’s grasp on mortality is being assisted with some help from Iranian medical facilities. It is difficult to maintain dependable electricity to a cave in Pakistan but Iran has some old transmission lines and plans to upgrade them once their peaceful nuclear generation capacity is completed.

The DANEgerus Roundup has a link to the Gateway Pundit Roundup which dissects the transcript of ‘the message’. I particularly like this observation.

Do you suppose that the line about "19 young men were able, by the grace of Allah the Most High, to change direction of its compass" will get the 9-11 Truthers to admit finally that they are wrong about 9-11?... That it was Al Qaeda behind the attacks and not Bush? ... Me neither.

Madison’s own Truther extraordinaire Kevin Barrett is part of the 42% of Democrats who tell pollsters that President Bush either planned or allowed the attacks six years ago. If you want to ask the Truthers why Bin Laden keeps lying about his role in the events of that day, there is a good opportunity to meet them at the next meeting of the Madison Area Peace Coalition: Sept. 11th, 2007, 6:30 pm, Wil-Mar Center 953 Jenifer St. Madison. I’m sure they picked the only date that worked for everybody’s schedule.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Stupid Political Neophyte Nominee

Brandon Buchanan is an Eau Claire City Councilman and self proclaimed Christian who has written the single stupidest thing I have read about the Democrats proposed Healthy Wisconsin tax funded socialized medical financing plan.

Healthy Wisconsin is best choice: Like a number of people in Wisconsin, I consider myself to be a man of faith. I go to church twice a week, I pray every day and I read my Bible. … My Christian heart goes out to her and everyone else suffering from sickness and disease who cannot afford medical treatment.

In the time of Jesus, people wrongly believed that being sick was a punishment from God; thus, sick people were often blamed for their own illness. Today's Republican leaders do the same thing by arguing that health care is a free market choice. If someone gets into a car accident or develops cancer, that's his or her own fault. If Jesus had believed the same, he would have told the lepers, "but if I heal you, you will have no incentive to avoid leprosy." But Jesus didn't think like that. He didn't blame the sick for their illnesses; he just healed them.

The teachings of Jesus found in the Gospels demand we give compassion and help to our fellow human beings. The most frequent miracles Jesus performed were to heal the sick. So I say unto my friends in the Republican Assembly: "go forth and do likewise."

Wow. Brandon. Jesus did not charge people for his services. The Disciples did not run a billing department and no one set up a reception desk asking for proof of ability to pay and collecting co-payment fees upfront. I have no problem with free health care but there is no free in Healthy Wisconsin. And Brandon, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t impose mandatory taxation on the population. Perhaps you are confusing Jesus with Ceasar Augustus. Jesus was the one on the side of “thou shall not steal”.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sanity in Mad City

There is evidence the adults are beginning to reassert control over Madison.

City Council stays on task: The Madison City Council continues to show that it is getting back on track and prioritizing core city issues. The trend seemed to start with last spring's city elections, when nearly half of the City Council turned over and the far-left political party Progressive Dane lost another seat.

A slew of successful city candidates promised to concentrate on local issues such as crime, traffic congestion, safe drinking water, housing and business development. They said they did not want to waste precious time and energy dabbling in national, international or intergalactic affairs that local officials don 't control.

Near the end of Tuesday's marathon City Council meeting, which lasted until nearly 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, most council members showed that they 're sticking to their words. They rebuffed a resolution calling for impeachment investigations against President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

People forget that Madison was represented by Republican Congressman Scott Klug from 1991-1999 and it took redistricting to abolish effective two party checks and balances in Dane County. In the ensuing monolithic power structure the lowest rungs of elected government were seized by children who wanted to play politics. The absurdity of endless City Council meetings about inappropriate topics extending late into the middle of night was noticed by the voters this last election, and the excesses are being (slowly) corrected. Thanks for noticing Owen.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Universal Care: What’s In Your Mind?

I doubt the compassionate souls who want health care to be simultaneously comprehensive, inexpensive and community rated (to be fair to everyone) intend to force a debate on the proper relationship between the individual and the state, but this is what we are going to get.

Earlier this week Presidential candidate John Edwards raises eyebrows with comments about mandatory preventive care, and today British conservative party leader David Cameron sets off yipping by proposing withholding care for those living inappropriate lifestyles. No matter how you glitter up the packaging the fact remains, if you turn responsibility for your body over to the government you no longer have control over your body. Oh yeah, and history teaches that what is proclaimed to be good for the community is not necessarily good for the individual.

It is against this backdrop that the advances in understanding the brain need to be evaluated. TCS Daily has interesting article ostensibly about how medical science is getting much better at identifying neural predispositions to social pathology. It begins with recalling the killings at Virginia Tech then gets into what is now possible.

We Can Stop Mass Killings: I recently toured the University of Georgia's sparkling new Clinical and Cognitive Research Laboratory with its director, Dr. Brett Clementz. The lab has three multimillion dollar machines never before assembled under one roof and devoted solely to brain research. The fMRI machine enables researchers to tease out which brain tissues are active when the test subject performs specified tasks. The high-density electroencephalograph records electrical activity from 257 locations simultaneously. The magnetoencephalograph presents the subject with visual, auditory and somatosensory stimuli and "reads" the magnetic reaction from several brain locations at once. And the responses from both fMRI and MEG can be aligned by computers in a single visual presentation.

Suppose such a facility had produced studies of the brains of several dozen mass killers against which the Radford hospital psychiatrist who examined Seung Hui Cho could have matched. He most certainly never would have declared him no threat and sent him back to campus with a "recommendation" for out-patient treatment.

The point being that if it is in the interest of society (for the common good) to mandate every person be screened for disease, then there no reason not to screen for all potential behavior threats to the communal harmony. My operational definition of freedom is the ability to say no to the government without punishment. There are a whole lot of meek do-gooders who want to legitimize authoritarian control of health care and I’m sure they reflexively dismiss the idea that government can use health care as crowd control.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day COW Mooing

Googling the phrase “The State of Working Wisconsin” correctly lists the University of Wisconsin Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) as the lead source – with the Google warning that “This site might harm your computer”. Why Google is tagging this warning to a taxpayer funded website is a mystery to me, but following Joel Rogers and his COWS for several years now, it is clear to me that his think tank might harm our country.

Each Labor Day, the socialists at COWS put out a report to serve their agenda. They alternate between years of full reports and updates and 2007 is an update year. WisPolitics (of the timed out links) dutifully posts the party line.

COWS Press Release: From 2005 to 2006, the Wisconsin economy added 18,600 jobs, but wages were down slightly, and private health insurance coverage declined, according to The State of Working Wisconsin, Update 2007, a report by the UW-Madison-based Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS). The report also documents continuing racial disparity in the state: Blacks have half the median income of whites, and one in three of the state’s black residents lived in poverty in 2006.

The COWS website is loaded with proposed solutions involving increasing government oversight, regulation and control of the private sector. Reading them makes it clear these form the intellectual foundation of the Democratic Party public policy initiatives. Joel Rogers actively supports John Edwards in the primaries for the 2004 election and there is every reason to believe his heart still lies with the ambitious pretty boy who is unlikely to critically analyze complex academic proposals.

This Labor Day, candidate John Edwards picks up two big private sector union endorsements as he holds on to the hope the Democrats come to realize that Hillary could loose to a familiar friendly avuncular face from television. Of course, big is a relative term when discussing private sector union membership.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

San Francisco v Delta Smelt

I have this sneaking suspicion that San Francisco liberals will find someway to justify not changing their lifestyles just to save a type of minnow. Does anyone think Mayor Gavin Newsome is going to insist his city stop drinking tap water?

Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus): The delta smelt is a small, slender-bodied fish, with a typical adult size of 2-3 inches. … Delta smelt are found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Estuary (the area where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers flow into San Francisco Bay. Delta smelt are found in brackish water. They usually inhabit salinity ranges of less than 2 parts per thousand (ppt) and are rarely found at salinities greater than 14ppt. … Delta smelt are fast growing and short-lived with the majority of growth within the first 7 to 9 months of life. Most smelt die after spawning in the early spring although a few survive to a second year.

These tiny and short lived creatures are prey for many larger predators in the estuary ecosystem. Since they usually live only one year the reproductive chain can potentially be broken in that time frame. Almost certainly two consecutive years without any new baby fish sends the species to extinction. The last several years the observed populations in the wild have plummeted and environmentalists have run straight to the courts.

Judge sides with smelt: A U.S. District court judge late Friday agreed with environmentalists’ claims that the tiny Delta smelt is endangered by current pumping levels of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, the vast water systems that serve about 25 million Californians.

If it survives expected appeals, the ruling would restrict water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California. "Judge Oliver Wanger's decision is a devastating blow to our water supply system and state economy,” says Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a written statement Friday night.

Now I am ardently against the environmentalists because their motivations are, in large part, driven by a desire to use government to control society and what I consider a seriously flawed and ideologically dependent understanding of the natural world. I am, however, a conservationist which means supporting preservation and protection of important habitats. It’s also no secret that the population of California has historically drained off excessive amounts of fresh water from the environment.

In this light, I would recommend that San Francisco understand they can import water in plastic bottles carried by gasoline and diesel fueled transports. Seriously, their ban on bottled water is based on two false beliefs that carbon dioxide and plastic are bad for the environment. Ecosystems are not as fragile as the environmentalists love to portray them, but even conservationists know there is a point where human stress on a unique location should be restrained.