Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Limits of Computer Precision

After reading Jerome Schmitt’s article at American Thinker this morning I decide to post his excellent explanation of the roles and limits of computer models, even before Rush Limbaugh uses the story this afternoon. The Democratic Party is wagering extensive political capital on the completely wrong theory that human activity is bad for the climate. Because they are factually wrong, the collectivist big government do-gooder elitists need to lose this argument with the general public.

Numerical Models, Integrated Circuits and Global Warming Theory: Many other scientific fields besides climatology use similar models, based on the same or related laws of nature, to explain and predict what will happen in other complex systems. Most famously, the US Department of Energy's nuclear labs use supercomputer simulations to help design atomic weapons. Most of this work is secret but we know, of course, that the models are "checked" occasionally with underground test explosions. The experimental method is an essential tool.

Almost all semiconductor manufacturing processes occur in closed vessels. This permits the engineers to precisely control the input chemicals (gases) and the pressure, temperature, etc. with high degree of precision and reliability. Closed systems are also much easier to model as compared to systems open to the atmosphere (that should tell us something already). Computer models are used to inform the engineering team as the design the shape, temperature ramp, flow rates, etc, etc, (i.e. the thermodynamics) of the new reactor.

Nonetheless, despite the fact that 1) the chemical reactions are highly studied, 2) there exists extensive experience with similar reactors, much of it recorded in the open literature, 3) the input gases and materials are of high and known purity, and 4) the process is controlled with incredible precision, the predictions of the models are often wrong, requiring that the reactor be adjusted empirically to produce the desired product with quality and reliability.

The fact that these artificial "climates" are closed systems far simpler than the global climate, have the advantage of the experimental method, and are subject to precise controls, and yet are frequently wrong, should lend some humility to those who make grand predictions about the future of the earth's atmosphere.

The key point is that even with small closed limited atmospheres where all major factors are known with precision, the precision of measuring complex systems is still insufficient to guarantee computer models will produce accurate repeatable results. This is not a flaw with computers or a flaw with human intelligence. It is a product of the real world where every aspect of existence, even the smallest deviation of an outer orbital electron, contributes to the final end result. In other words, in reality, everything counts and no computer knows everything.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

DOW Down 416

The thing about global liquidity is that sometimes an unseen shift can trigger off a big planetary wave. Everyone understands the American economy is completely tangled up with communist controlled China … right?

China Confidential: Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the slide: the Chinese sell-off was unexpected, apparently influenced, or manipulated, by government officials seeking to cool the Chinese economy.

Given China's rampant corruption and inherent instability--companies typically keep three sets of books, the legal system is still a joke, ruling Communist Party officials are on the make and on the take, the astronomical real estate debt can't be serviced, bloated state owned enterprises owe staggering sums to insolvent state owned banks--the idea that the fate of ordinary Americans and people the world over hinges on happenings in the Middle Kingdom, that events in Beijing and Shanghai can wreak havoc on Wall Street ... and destroy what remains of Main Street ... is more than frightening. It is truly terrifying--and downright scandalous.

If the old Soviet Union economy was a massive Potemkin Village the new China may be a collection of demon puppets. The idea of demon puppets comes from Japanese anime where they are soulless but functional illusions, controlled remotely by nefarious individuals. The difference is the Russian false fronts serve only to hide weakness but a demon puppet is a completely functional masquerade of the real world entity it seeks to mimic.

Chinese companies produce good products, hire workers, make self interested business decisions and sell shares to eager buyers, but they are not western corporations. The right to private property and functional legal restrictions on the power of government to usurp private property for political ends is simply a well crafted illusion in China.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Four Inch Threepeat

The Isthmus reports the blizzard of 2007 is going into the local history books according to data from the UW Space Science and Engineering Center. Madison celebrates its very first four inch threepeat.

A blizzard for the record books: Lindstrom notes that while there are many occasions in the historical record when at least four inches of snow fell on two consecutive days (an indication that many such storms have spanned several hours on either side of midnight), this weekend's storm is the first time more than four inches of snowfall has been recorded on three consecutive days. And the historical records date back to 1869.

The National Weather Service reports six inches of snowfall for Madison on Friday, 4.4 inches for Saturday and another 4.9 inches on Sunday, for a weekend total of 15.3 inches.

Lindstrom further notes that with 20.5 inches of snow so far this month, this is the fourth snowiest February on record, after 20.9 inches in February 1975, 21.9 inches in February 1989 and a whopping 37 inches in February 1994 -- the single snowiest month in Madison history.

So … the four snowiest months on record in the last 138 years are all in the last 33 years. Isn’t this how glaciers start start making their comeback? It’s no surprise the globalwarmist fantasists are aiming their scary fairy tale at children. The people most likely to believe mankind effects the weather are those to young to have observed a lot of weather.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

One Europe One History

Czech native Luboš Motl unleashes a rant against a European Union proposal that all schools use a common history book. The idea is being promoted by the German Education Minister Annette Schavan as a means to standardize what all European children are taught. "It is not the idea at all to rewrite history," according to a German government spokesman, but of course this is exactly what a single state approved history requires.

European Universal History Book: What she wants is a synchronization, forcible coordination, making equal. German readers know that the correct translation to German is gleichschaltung. … What does it mean? She effectively wants to eliminate nations from the intellectual map of Europe. ... In the textbook, we will probably learn that the U.S. entered the war by occupation of Normandy in 1944 but the Yankees were finally stopped by heroic allied French and German forces near Pilsen, my hometown.

The unique history of the multiple countries in Europe can be a touchy subject. It turns out a compellation of human events is a very complex task, and defining an official summary of the cumulative actions of millions of people back through generations is a goal for fools or tyrants. Still, as long as education is considered a rightful role for government, there will be public servants arguing that efficiency and equality should justify standardization of curriculum.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Freedom Requires Self Defense

H/T to Dad29 for pointing out here and here that the Democratic Party agenda still includes ever increasing gun control zealotry with the unstated belief that an unarmed population is more efficiently ruled. It is good to remember that the United States is the dominant free country because of our revolutionary principles.

Clay Cramer: Let me be very clear about this: the Second Amendment didn't guarantee a right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of hunting. It was widely assumed, and there would have been some serious head scratching by the Framers if you had argued that there wasn't a right to hunt (suitable to appropriate game regulations) on public lands. The Second Amendment didn't guarantee a right to keep and bear arms for self-defense--although that was also assumed. The Second Amendment guaranteed a right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of revolution.

British writer Peter Hitchens has a few provocative thoughts on the propensity of the authorities to claim sole responsibility for the safety of person and property.

Gun law and common sense: Actually, I object strongly to the expression 'taking the law into your own hands'. The law is ours and we made it for ourselves, to protect us and govern us, as a free people. Our freedom to defend ourselves against criminal violence is part of our general freedom to live our lives lawfully. We hire the police to help us enforce the law, not to tell us that we cannot do so. Sadly, the modern British law is not our law, but an elite law, based on ideas which most of us do not share. And the modern police are the elite's police, not ours, which is one of the reasons why they have vanished from the streets, where we want them to be. The disarming of the people, and the cancellation of all their rights to defend themselves, are bad signs.

The police should be the hired help of the citizenry, not the enforcers of the ruling class. Every free person retains the right of defense when confronted with threats, and laws to the contrary are counter to the entire concept of individual liberty. Of course, individual liberty is itself a hindrance to efficient and progressive governance of a population.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Constitutional Reform in Venezuela

Chairperson of the Venezuelan National Assembly Cilia Flores is apparently called Silly Flowers by many less enamored observers. Upon the Assembly granting rule by fiat powers, she is quoted as saying "Long live Hugo Chavez. Long live socialism. Fatherland, socialism or death!" In this context she grants an interview explaining why she can’t explain the constitutional reform process in Venezuela.

Constitutional reform in secrecy: A confidentiality agreement attached to the presidential decree organizing the Council for Constitutional Reform prevents the head of the council, Cilia Flores, who is also the Chair of the Venezuelan National Assembly, from disclosing the matters subject to changes in the Constitution.

Flores would only talk about methods and terms. However, she clarifies that President Hugo Chávez may adopt or dismiss any recommendations the Council for Constitutional Reform makes, because "he is entitled to do so." Chávez also has the capacity to introduce any changes to the proposed reform before the final draft is submitted to the Legislature.

Further, Flores claims that Chávez himself, as the driver of the constitutional reform, is to draft the question (which is to include the corrections the National Electoral Council deems appropriate) of a referendum next August whereby Venezuelans are to approve or reject the changes.

When asked why the debates on constitutional reforms can’t be made public she replies:”A public debate will certainly make people waste time.” Ok – nuff said.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Acknowledging Iranian Meddling

It is time to state clearly to the American people what our military commanders in Iraq have known for years” writes Clare M. Lopez for The American Thinker. All of liberated Iraq would be stable with increasing prosperity except for the direct interference of Iran.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards ARE the Regime: Let us be very clear about what is really happening: the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and secure Iraq on its western border poses a direct and unbearable threat to the totalitarian theocratic police state that Iran has become since its 1979 Revolution. While its clerical leadership does not want Iraq to descend into complete chaos, neither is it prepared to permit it to develop peacefully into a modern democracy allied with the United States.

The IRGC was formed in the early days of the Iranian Revolution specifically to guard and preserve the Revolution at home and export it abroad; the national armed forces were assigned the defense of the country's borders and sovereignty, but the IRGC was to ensure the survival of the Revolution itself.

The Qods Force (Jerusalem Force) is an integral unit of the IRGC. Formed in 1990, the secretive Qods force is responsible for commanding, planning, and executing the extra-territorial operations of the IRGC. Its commander and General Staff report directly to the Supreme Leader. In effect, this makes the Qods Force the terrorist wing of the Iranian regime. The Qods Force deploys its terrorist operatives across the world to equip, train, and support terrorist operations and cells in Bosnia, Chechnya, Lebanon, North and South America, Europe, Northern Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. The Qods Force is the unit charged with liaison with Al-Qa'eda; it is under their "supervision" that Usama bin Laden's two sons and military operations chief have enjoyed safe haven inside Iran for the last five years.

It is time to state clearly to the American people what our military commanders in Iraq have known for years now: the Iranian regime directly deploys its IRGC Qods Force operatives inside Iraq to support terrorist attacks that kill American soldiers. … We must face facts squarely: the Iranian regime is at war with the United States. Stating the obvious doesn't make it any more or less so, but recognizing and dealing with reality is the only way to defend American national security and the only way to achieve a victory for democratic civilization in Iraq.

Republicans lost the congress because they lost the propaganda battle with the American public. I am apparently one of the few people still willing to cut the White House some slack on their inept handling of the communications front in this endeavor. None of us know what deals and discretion have been required with other Islamic countries to achieve the liberation of a brutally oppressed population. It is now time to preserve and maintain the introduction of justice into Iraq, and that means confronting Iranian meddling.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Example of Progressive Government Tactics

Progressive is a modifier and when the left says progressive they mean using government power to gain their self defined outcomes. They mean using government power to achieve the desired goals regardless of principals, law or logic.

Mississippi Considering Directive 10-289: First, Mississippi regulated flood insurance rates down to a level that it was impossible to make money, so State Farm's property coverage on the coast did not cover flood/storm damage. Then, after Katrina, Dickie Scruggs and company sued State Farm, and others, forcing them to cover storm damage from Katrina that their policies explicitly did not cover and were not priced to cover. So, facing a state government that, by fiat, forces their fees lower and their coverage higher, State Farm is trying to exit the property insurance business in Mississippi, and the state legislature is considering legislation to prevent them from leaving.

When government can arbitrarily supersede market pricing, that’s progressive government. When government can arbitrarily ignore contract language, that’s progressive government. When government can demand payment under the threat of potential legislation, that’s extortion - an exercise wholly compatible with progressive government.

H/T Q and O

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cieslewicz v Allen for Madison Mayor

Ok – the Badgers lose at Michigan State. I spend the entire second half yelling to run the offense and pass on the three point shots which simply aren’t falling any more. I imagine Bo will have a long post game talk about not stubbornly making your game one dimensional on the road.

Congratulations to Ray Allen who comes in second in the Madison Mayoral primary voting and will challenge incumbent Dave Cieslewicz. I have no problem supporting Ray in the difficult challenge ahead because Allen and Muñoz mostly agree on the issues facing this community. Ray will need to appeal to all the citizens who understand Madison is being driven into the financial abyss in pursuit of a holy vision while the real problems are dealt with ‘as needed’.

I voted for Peter Munoz because “Munoz worked for six years as an aide to former Mayor Sue Bauman, whom he considers a political role model for her tight fiscal management”. Bauman was the only Mayor who noticeably reduced property taxes and was promptly voted out of office afterwards. I wish the best for Peter and hope Ray will welcome his advice because Ray will need every Munoz voter he can attract.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Act Like Facts are Beyond Argument

The Canadian blog Small Dead Animals links to a Ranting Stan discovery of globalwarmist propaganda guidelines. The take home line is: "it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective". Or as Stan paraphrases: “just pretend that there is no argument and that we're right”.

This is exactly the type of smoking gun global warming deniers, like me, want the public to see. The only trouble is the link no longer goes to an article at the Institute for Public Policy Research and I can’t locate the quoted source. (UPDATE: the source is a pdf file download from the page) What is available are two similarly worded articles by Simon Retallack going into detail about how and why the environmentalist message needs tweaking to achieve their goal of widespread lifestyle changes.
6/17/2006 Communicating Climate Change: The role of the public is clearly critical and the adoption of effective policies for removing barriers and creating incentives for people to change their behaviour is imperative. So too, however, is the deployment of effective communications. And here we may be getting it wrong.

What the FrameWorks Institute found was startling. It found that the more people are bombarded with words or images of devastating, quasi-Biblical effects of global warming, the more likely they are to tune out and switch instead into "adaptationist" mode, focusing on protecting themselves and their families, such as by buying large vehicles to secure their safety.

FrameWorks found that depicting global warming as being about "scary weather" evokes the weather "frame" which sets up a highly pernicious set of reactions, as weather is something we react to and is outside human control. We do not prevent or change it, we prepare for it, adjust to it or move away from it. Also, focusing on the long timelines and scale of global warming further encourages people to adapt, encouraging people to think "it won't happen in my lifetime" and "there's nothing an individual can do".

As importantly, the FrameWorks Institute found that stressing the large scale of global warming and then telling people they can solve it through small actions like changing a light-bulb evokes a disconnect that undermines credibility and encourages people to think that action is meaningless. The common practice of throwing solutions in at the end of a discussion fails to signal to people that this is a problem that could be solved at all.

8/15/2006 Against the climate pornographers: The problem is real, of course, but to address the sense likely to be derived from the contested nature of the discourse that “nobody really knows,” the basic facts need to be treated as beyond argument, or so taken-for-granted that they need barely be spoken.

As importantly, we need to place the solutions upfront and inject communications about them with the energy and sense of scale that they currently lack. That may mean shifting the focus away from small actions towards the big ones that people can take to address climate change, like switching to a hybrid car, fitting a wind turbine or solar panels, or installing cavity wall insulation, which are more likely to make people feel they could actually make a difference. It may also involve using language which appeals to our collective sense of heroic common endeavor, familiar from times of war.

Above all, it is not enough to produce yet more messages to convince people of the reality of climate change and urge them to act. We need to work in more sophisticated ways, including by harnessing tools used by brand advertisers, to make it not dutiful or obedient to be climate-friendly, but desirable. That perhaps is the greatest challenge.
The entire climate change media campaign is simply a sophisticated political ploy to gain socialist power over first world economies. Man made dangerous global warming is the plausible scenario being sold to the public to justify this power grab. It is a plausible but false story. Followers that they are, the media will cooperate in presenting the facts as ‘beyond argument’ even though no observational research establishes magical planetary powers for carbon dioxide.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Peter Munoz for Madison Mayor

Peter Munoz is the best hope of against the New Urbanist model of municipal socialism being imposed by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. Peter is using the campaign slogan: The best social program is a good job. It’s hard for me to fault that logic.

As the incumbent, Cieslewicz has skillfully used the resources of City Hall, the Dane County Democratic Party and the socialist think tank at the UW Madison COWS Center to change Madison into a high density city with overt hostility to the traditional American dream of home, yard, and car. It is a bit too simplistic to the say these municipal socialists are completely anti-business, but it has been amply demonstrated this government expects business to completely subordinate their private operations to the city's conceptual vision of how people should life their lives.

Peter Munoz was born in Cuba and escaped to the United States where he becomes a naturalized citizen 1976. He understands that a government ruling from ideology is not a government serving the will of the citizens. The Isthmus has coverage on all four challengers but Peter Munoz has my vote in Tuesday’s primary.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Unsolicited Advice to the Enemies of Hillary

My unsolicited advice to the enemies of Hillary Rodham Clinton is simply this: make her defend the present. Defending the past is mostly only an exercise in guilt. Accuse her of the valid charge of socialism and demand she accepts or rejects charges her policies and goals are the same as the French Socialist Party lead by Segolene Royal and the 21st century socialism being rolled out in Venezuela under the command of Hugo Chavez. What is done is done and she will have practiced defenses in place about the Bill years. But authoritarian and expansive government is on the rise in some countries and any person who covets the leadership of the United States needs to praise or condemn the real time practices of similar foreign politicians. Making her react to the present is the best way to expose her true vision for ruling America.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chief Illiniwek Banished

Political Correctness wins over honorable tradition as NCAA do-gooders force the University of Illinois to banish 81 year old Chief Illiniwek from campus. The Chief is charged with being a racist caricature that stereotypes Native Americans. This is of course pure Barbara Streisand as even some fervent leftists acknowledge.

Americablog: I'm sorry, I never saw the problem. Illinois, which I attended, didn't have an indian mascot the way you might think. There was no goofball running around with a tomahawk pretending to scalp people. The mascot was an honorable position, it was a big deal to get the job, and he only appeared in a half-time show that involved an incredibly exhausting dance that paid homage to our state's native American heritage - it doesn't poke fun, mock, anything.

Being offended is a reaction and it is about time society starts pointing out that a bad reaction is usually a weakness of character or similar fault within the person being offended. If you believe Chief Illiniwek is offensive, you are wrong. Grow up and be an adult. Illinois resident Rick Moran concurs and speculates the PC enforcers will not be satisfied with this perversion of multiculturalism where apparently only the members of a culture can respect that culture.

Rightwing Nuthouse: Rumors are flying that the next target of the multiculturalists will be changing the name of the state itself. “Illinois” is a white man’s bastardization of the Native American confederation known as “Illini” which included the Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Moingwena, Peoria and Tamaroa Indian tribes. Acceptable alternatives to “Illinois” would be “Soyland,” “Cornhole,” “Flatland,” and “Mostly White.”

Of the choices presented, I am leaning toward Cornhole. University of Illinois alumni will now get to experience the same frustrations as Marquette Warrior alumni. Who knows, maybe the U of I administration will suggest changing the Fighting Illini to the Fighting Gold.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Verizon Abandons Venezuela

Can you hear me now Amigo? Verizon (NYSE: VZ) becomes the latest capitalist company to take what they can get and escape the 21st Century Socialism of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

CANTV, Verizon stock down on 2006 profit: Shares of CANTV and major stockholder Verizon Communications Inc. fell Thursday after Venezuela's largest telecom reported stunning 2006 profits, suggesting a nationalization deal with the government may have been undervalued. … The results follow a preliminary agreement struck Monday by President Hugo Chavez's government to buy out Verizon's 28.5 percent stake in CANTV on Monday for US$572 million (euro436 million), the first step toward bringing CANTV under state control.

Redstate offers an insightful analysis of the Chavez offer to Verizon and why Hugo may be creating the model for successful 21st Century Tyranny.

Verizon to Venezuela: "It's a Deal!": The big lesson here is that Uncle Hugo is smarter than your typical banana-republican. He's going to get a nice little cash-cow for his piggybank, and some interesting vertical-integration opportunities with the rest of his growing portfolio. Venezuela may become the latest state in the running to prove that tyranny indeed can be durable when managed in a sophisticated way.

The lesson: the will to suppress the freedom of others hasn't gone out of style, and it never will. What have gone out of style are the old-time religions of Marxism (with its naive faith in human perfectibility) and Maoism (with its ruthless suppression of any kind of nonconformism). Today's sophisticated tyranny is (to paraphrase Debussy) savage, with all the modern conveniences. Chavez shares with Hillary Clinton the desire for total control over the economic productivity of the people who had the absence of mind to vote for him. But he is shrewd enough (or he learned from Castro's misadventures) to know that no tyranny exists in a vacuum and he can't afford to cut off the world's money-people. He's tough and savvy enough to deal with them from a position of strength, however.

At the end of the day, what "21st Century Socialism" appears to be all about is plain old vertical integration.

These new socialists are anti-capitalist but not anti-profit. Hugo is clearly happy to lock up large cash flows for the benefit of his government. When Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle says stupid things like, “Tonight, I propose an oil company assessment of two and a half percent per barrel to support our transportation needs. It will be illegal for them to pass the fee on to consumers … with criminal penalties if they break the law”, it only demonstrates he is still practicing last century’s socialism. The new socialists only hate profits they don’t control.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Germs to Superheat the Atmosphere

Bill Wineke is an ordained clergyman of the United Church of Christ who writes for the Wisconsin State Journal. Perhaps this is why his thoughts today are both disappointing and illustrative of the current level of common sense in Madison. Its bizarro world where microbiologists preach global warming and pastors believe them.

Is climate change doom in the dirt? A UW-Madison microbiologist warns that tomorrow's cause of global warming might be dirt. Yes, dirt.

"As the climate warms, it is predicted that soil carbon is going to be decomposed faster by soil microbes, which means more carbon dioxide is going to be released into the atmosphere," Balser said in a university news release Tuesday. "So there is a very real possibility that you might get this vicious cycle - a positive feedback loop - where increased warming causes more carbon dioxide (to be released from the soil), which causes even more warming."

Yikes! Balser is planning some experiments to prove her thesis, which, she says, is more radical than current climate models.

Wineke has so completely placed his faith in the computer programmed prophecies of academic scientists that he believes it possible that God creates a living universe so fragile that microbes can breathe it to death.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Weaponization of Space

The United Nation is good at having conferences. This time it is the Conference on Disarmament and the United States is accused of being the threat to world peace.

U.S. Fights China, Russia on Space Arms: The United States clashed with China and Russia during a disarmament debate Tuesday over how to prevent an arms race in outer space, and Washington criticized Beijing for its recent test of an anti-satellite missile. Russia and China, in turn, condemned the "one state" that refuses to consider a treaty banning space weapons _ a reference to the U.S.

China and Russia said attempts to have global military dominance by the use of space "are counterproductive and jeopardize the security of all humanity." One country's bid to have "impregnable defenses" is dangerous because it could "lead to new instruments of war and to an arms race," the paper said.

Having observed American military actions with analytical precision, the Chinese conclude that Global Positioning System (GPS) and communication satellites are in effect the American militarization of space. It is their essential rationalization for the ongoing development of multiple types of anti-satellite weapons.

10/15/03 China and the Battlefield in Space: The Chinese security establishment has a sophisticated understanding of the way that the United States envisions the use of space in the future. … Beijing’s strategy to confront the United States in this area is clear: work on public opinion in the United States to make moral arguments against weapons in space, develop international coalitions to limit the way that the United States can use space, and develop China’s own weapons systems and tactics to destroy American satellites and space-based weapons.

The PRC undoubtedly appreciate the way Islamic Jihadists have brilliantly manipulated the western media, so the public may begin to hear the phrase ‘weaponization of space’ repeated over and over in negative context. In time the Democrats will call for a treaty because in leftist logic, safety can not be obtained through impregnable defense.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Life Beyond ExxonMobil

Last month in a burst of true believer euphoria, the Madison Peak Oil Task Force announces the end of civilization as we know it and calls for drastic changes in how people live their lives. When the ‘report’ is released, Jenna posts a collection of links to the radical anti-car movement. I might add, what exactly is utopian in a future of "rickshaws, walking, pedal cabs and horse drawn carriages"?

The sincere and earnest proposals, including a ban on automobile advertising and prohibition of parking spaces in buildings, are so extreme the twist in the wind editorial board of the Wisconsin State Journal finds the courage to call for resistance.

Put the brakes on anti-car drive: The city of Portland, Ore., - one of Mayor Dave's favorite models - has succumbed to pressure from Peak Oil activists and appointed an official committee to study how Portland should prepare for the "post- carbon" age. So far, Madison's Peak Oil Task Force remains strictly an unofficial group spouting unofficial nonsense. Surely, Madison and Dane County leaders will be smart enough to keep it that way.

The Capital Times, however, feeling the need to speak truth to power, decides the immanent and inevitable collapse of the oil economy deserves an airing. What is most interesting is not the goal of a car free city and massive taxes on individuals who insist on driving. It is the reaction of Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s administration.

Oil crisis requires drastic changes in Madison: Cieslewicz hasn't met with Sweet, but the mayor's spokesman, George Twigg, said the mayor got a copy of the report. Twigg suggested that peak oil activists get involved in the sustainability initiatives the city already has in progress, including the Sustainable Design and Energy Committee, chaired by Sherrie Gruder, which is working on initiatives to reduce emissions and energy consumption for city government as well for the community.

The mayor's "Building a Green Capital City" blueprint for sustainability also seeks to address the same issues, he said. Madison is one of the first cities in the nation working on a program designed to "re-engineer city government to make principles of sustainability a part of everything we do," Twigg said. That program is called "The Natural Step."

The administration is smiling at the enthusiastic embrace of the message while pointing out they are working at implementing the vision. Politics means playing games with words and quietly working the levers of power at your disposal. Peak Oil activists are simply groups of the larger New Urbanist view of life which Cieslewicz believes completely. All evidence points to the conclusion that Mayor Dave whole heartedly shares the vision of a car free city, where government protects and provides services to residents living happy healthy lives in a world free of ExxonMobil.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Police Can GPS Your Car

Over twenty years ago, Minnesota law enforcement plants a beeper inside a container of chloroform and follows behind monitoring the beeps as a suspect drives to a remote Wisconsin cabin. In 1983 the U.S. Supreme Court says they have no problem with this police trick concluding: “Nothing in the Fourth Amendment prohibited the police from augmenting the sensory faculties bestowed upon them at birth with such enhancement as science and technology afforded them in this case.” Ain't technology wonderful?

UNITED STATES v. KNOTTS, 460 U.S. 276 (1983): The governmental surveillance conducted by means of the beeper in this case amounted principally to the following of an automobile on public streets and highways. We have commented more than once on the diminished expectation of privacy in an automobile. … did monitoring the beeper signals complained of by respondent invade any legitimate expectation of privacy on his part? For the reasons previously stated, we hold it did not. Since it did not, there was neither a "search" nor a "seizure" within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment.

Just to be clear, the law of the land holds that individuals out in public have no reasonable expectation of Fourth Amendment protection from technologically enhanced government "observation". I doubt anyone is still working on their 1981 build it yourself box kit of a computer. Technology has gotten a whole lot better over the last quarter of a century.

GPS spying on car need no warrant: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that police can place a GPS tracking unit on a suspect's car without obtaining a search warrant. In US v Garcia (2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 2272), decided Feb. 2, Judge Richard Posner found that such a device was a mere "augmentation" of police officers' natural ability to follow a car.

At least for the moment, the Federal Judiciary says if the police want place a GPS unit on your car then sit still and monitor your travels, they can. No warrant needed as long as surveillance is merely an augmentation of the senses given government agents at birth. The First, Second and Fourth Amendments are all under attack by those in power. Authority simply is more efficient when unrestricted so it is no surprise that do-gooders on all sides of the political spectrum desire to weaken the Constitutional constraints on agents of the government. H/T Jim Zellmer.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Take What You Can Get and Go

In the spring of 2000, Dennis W. Bakke meets with recently elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez whom he finds to be a “charming conversationalist”. Chavez smiles and assures Bakke his government will support the acquisition of Venezuela’s largest electric utility by AES Corporation, and the deal goes through. Seven years later Chavez again smiles as the deal goes bad.

The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES) and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the purchase of AES's 82.14% stake in La Electricidad de Caracas (EDC) for US$739,260,000, post the usual yearly annual dividend to be paid in 2007. … The MOU is in effect through March 31, 2007.

Taking What You Can Get: AES will receive $739.3 million for its 82.1% interest in La Electricidad de Caracas (EDC) and it’s a bad lesson in taking what you can get. AES paid $1.7 billion for its stake in 2000, a year after President Hugo Chavez came to power and in the following years, AES has dumped another $600 million into capital improvements.

Just to illustrate that 21st Century socialism has a kind heart, Chavez is fully willing to return 32 cents for every dollar invested with his blessing by the Yankee capitalists. With an electoral mandate and rule by decree powers, this latest experiment with eliminating private ownership of the means of production is all systems go.

On a more local note, the South Central Federation of Labor announces their support for the municipalization Madison Gas & Electric (NASDAQ: MGEE) and will only endorse candidates willing to pursue this deprivatization agenda. The glorious dream of government ownership is alive and activist in both Caracas and Capital City.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Remember Otzi, the Ice Man?

Even at the UW Madison, genuine climate researchers are not convinced Nancy Pelosi flying around burning fossil fuels is a danger to Mother Earth.

Professor Reid A. Bryson: Remember Otzi, the Ice Man? The fellow that was found in the mountains between Austria and Italy a few years ago? He had been shot a little over 5000 years ago, and then covered with snow, and more snow, until a few years ago the snow melted back enough for Otzi to be found. Between his burial under snow and his exhumation by nature there was more snow and ice than before, or now. Are we just getting back to what the snow climate used to be?

When the Vikings settled part of Greenland circa 900 CE, they established a settlement that lasted longer than the United States has been around. There was a considerable amount of traffic between Greenland and Europe, by the standards of the time, so some skippers were making their first trip. The directions were, at first, to sail two and a half days west from Iceland to the shore of Greenland where there stood the landmark Blasark (black shirt) Mountain. Then sail down the coast to Eriksfjord, a beautiful broad straight passage across southern Greenland. Reaching the west coast they should turn right up the coast to the navigation marker on Herjolf’s Ness. (About “Bluie West 3”in WW II.) Turning in to Tunugdliarfik Fjord Erik’s homestead Brattahlid was only 75 miles at the end of the fjord (across from Bluie West 1, for you old timers).

After 1200 CE the directions changed. Sail one and a half days west from Iceland to the edge of the ice pack. If it is clear you might see the mountain Hvitsark to the west (snow covered now?), then go all the way down around hazardous Cap Farvel and up the other coast to Herjolf’s Ness. Eriksfjord was no longer open, nor is it now. As of a decade or so ago there were two valley glaciers blocking it from the sides. Yes, I saw them. If Greenland ice diminishes some, will we be getting back to conditions like it used to be?

One of the well known climatic episodes (to well-educated climatologists) is the Little Ice Age. The hemispheric cooling started in the 1400s, really got going about 1570 (see Frobisher’s journal) and was full-blown by mid-1600s. The Pilgrims picked a lousy time to come to America. After a little amelioration, things got worse culminating in the “Year Without a Summer”. Since then the hemispheric temperature has risen, and we even have thermometers to attest to it. Gee, getting back to what it used to be sure doesn’t sound like the sky is falling and catastrophe looms. Besides, warmer weather reduces the Climatic Overhead and we get more income per unit of energy used.

Incidentally, this sequence can be modeled without even referring to anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

UW Madison’s Center for Climatic Research (CCR) is trying to understand a complex dynamic system and I don’t mean how to control Federal Budgeting or cheat at Campaign Finance reporting.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

First: A Heliocentric World

It is great to see the blogosphere wake up and take notice of the Globalwarmist attempt to seize political control over industrial civilization. The public needs to understand there is no good science behind the scare tactics. Winning the argument with voters will require asking people to use their common sense. First, nothing happens on Earth that is not affected by the sun.

The Sun's domain: All the objects that orbit the Sun - the planets and their moons, the comets and the asteroids - add up to just 0.2 per cent of the mass in our solar system. As far as the Sun is concerned, the planets are insignificant specs, left over from its formation and held captive by its massive gravity.

Second, carbon dioxide exists in the atmosphere at very low levels. It is a trace component existing currently between 200 to 400 parts per million. It is rare in the air because it is constantly pulled out of the atmosphere. It is the most valuable molecule on Earth because it makes photosynthesis, and therefore life, possible.

99.8% of the solar system is the Sun and everything else spins around in cold space, warmed only by proximity to the fire. We know that climate changes all the time and has for billions of years, so why believe change is anything but the result of flickers in the flames?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Globalwarmist Skirmish in Oregon

Still believe the globalwarmists are about science?

State climatologist may lose title: In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, George Taylor holds firm. He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change. Taylor also holds a unique title: State Climatologist.

“Most of the climate changes we have seen up until now have been a result of natural variations,” Taylor asserts. Taylor has held the title of "state climatologist" since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU. The university created the job title, not the state. His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon's policies. So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint.

When a weather researcher concludes that actual data can not support the political policies of the State of Oregon, the reflexive response is to remove the scientist and create a new position that can be filled by some subservient political hack. Science is not about being a yes man to the boss, but partisan politics is.

George Taylor: George H. Taylor is the State Climatologist for Oregon, and a faculty member at Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. He manages the Oregon Climate Service, the state repository of weather and climate information, and supervises a staff of ten. Mr. Taylor is past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and has received certification as a Certified Consulting Meteorologist by the Society.

I wonder how long before Governor Jim Doyle adopts this idea and replaces the UW Madison based Wisconsin State Climatologists with DNR based appointees? The whole sorry affair is enough to send AJ Strata into a prolonged rant about the end of scientific free speech in America. Oregon resident DANEgerus has additional links and raises a good question: If there is no agenda why are they threatening him?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

An Accusation of Politics

EXTRA EXTRA: Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in Danger! The Capital Times accuses Madison City Council members of sponsoring a resolution for political reasons.

April trolley vote unneeded: Council President Austin King is right when he says that the sponsors of the resolution are guilty of "galling hypocrisy." The same people who opposed going to referendum on the smoking ban and the paid sick leave proposal now want to rush the council into scheduling a nonbinding referendum that, just coincidentally, will be on the ballot when residents will be voting for mayor and City Council.

"This is a transparently political effort," explains King. The term "transparently political" is generously chosen. Another, slightly less generous, term would be "embarrassingly political." … In other words, they are trying - via the referendum proposal - to turn the April 3 ballot into a campaign commercial. This is the crudest sort of politics, and it has no place in Madison.

Next in the Capital Times: Lawyers doing things for legal reasons, physicians doing things for medical reasons and Jim Doyle doing things for campaign cash. Just kidding about that last one Governor, so please don’t release the Maistelman.
UPDATE: Mayor Dave “convinces” the City Council to vote 16-1 against letting the taxpayers express their opinions on the trolley folly during the Mayoral election. Dissent from the progressive-green party line will not be tolerated in Madison. I completely agree with Vicki McKenna: “our city council cannot conscience the will of the people”.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sidestepping the State

The Financial Times ponders if the perception that government leadership is increasingly the home of the uninspired and uninspiring, may actually reflect a pattern of change based in the type of people willing to engage in public service.

US public sector faces talent drain: “Students don’t see the government as a place you can make a difference,” she said. “The common perception is that if you go into the private sector, you’re an economic entrepreneur, if you go into the non-profit sector you’re a social entrepreneur, but if you go into government, you’re a bureaucrat.”

Red State takes the musings and runs with the idea that the best and the brightest are still making choices about how to change the world, but while the economic entrepreneurs still head for the private sector, the social entrepreneurs are consciously abandoning traditional public life to take action in non-governmental organizations.

Brain Drain: It's not the case that today's graduates are more self-centered than those of the Sixties and Seventies. Business careers are not the only destination for success-oriented young people. Increasingly, they're attracted also to the non-profit (foundation, think-tank and NGO) sector. Our bright young people are still looking for ways to change the world. But they perceive now that government is no longer the place to do it, if indeed it ever was.

In long term historical perspective, the enduring lesson of Viet Nam may be that elected government can be effectively manipulated by well organized propaganda movements. The combination of message, media and legitimate financial entities to solicit and spend tax exempt cash gets results. Why get swallowed by the beast when the beast can be directed from the outside?

TCS Daily goes a step further in commenting on the trend away from traditional nation state authority. Special interest groups can easily transcend jurisdictional borders.

My Own Private Foreign Policy: In his recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Philip C. Bobbitt, a constitutional law professor and former U.S. National Security Council staffer, described how the traditional nation-state structure of the world is giving way to the "market-state," the self-organizing global networks and associations that now make the world function.

The ease with which people, money and ideas now roam the planet is a fertile environment where “a stateless, borderless, decentralized network operating without geographic, bureaucratic, or even legal constrains” can thrive, “completely untethered from state control, being both self-financed and self-directed”. Especially when fueled by ample flows of that sweet, sweet gift money.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

21st Century Socialism

"Beware of the country where only one exercises all the powers; it is a country of slaves." - Simón Bolívar. Venezuela is about to find out the truth of history.

Presidential announcements on February 1st: President Hugo Chávez enacted the enabling law that was approved Thursday at the National Assembly (AN). The law confers him special ruling powers in 11 areas for 18 months. He ordered enforcement of the law as soon as it is published in the Official Gazette.

Chavez Sets Oil Fields Takeover for May: The Venezuelan Head of State expressed his hope that the five foreign firms operating in the Orinoco Oil Belt, which include Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp., British Petroleum PLC, Total SA and Statoil ASA, would remain as minority partners. "I'm sure that they [the foreign companies] are going to accept because we are going to continue being partners, but if they aren't in agreement, they are totally free to leave," he said.

The western left is giddy with excitement. In their view there can be no dictatorship if the people retain power through "communal councils" in every neighborhood and village.

Chávez in charge: Hugo Chávez is a man in a hurry, and this week's decision by the Venezuelan national assembly to grant him additional powers foreshadows the radical changes that are in the pipeline. … Nothing like this has happened in Latin America since the Cuban Revolution nearly half a century ago. It is riveting stuff.

So what is important here is a change in the nature of government rather than a madcap scheme to seize private assets, soak the rich, and nationalise everything in sight by presidential decree. Perhaps the most significant of the planned reforms is the provision of finance and teeth to the "communal councils" springing up in their thousands all over the country. The future "socialist democracy" of Venezuela will depend more on these grassroots expressions of the popular will than the national assembly in Caracas.

Last April, Gregory Wilpert lays out Hugo Chavez's plan for achieving 21st Century Socialism to an appreciative audience at the UW Madison Havens Center. Just to be perfectly clear, the plan is to eliminate private ownership of land and factories. The plan is do away with competitive markets and rules of law that preserve the former. The plan is to completely replace capitalism with socialism. Unsurprisingly, the UW Madison socialists fully support this most recent attempt to impose “the age-old dream of individual freedom, equality, and social justice” on “citizens”.

The Meaning of 21st Century Socialism for Venezuela: Moving away from capitalism, however, does not, by itself, mean that a society is moving towards socialism. After all, it could move towards feudalism or towards some other form of undesirable social organization. What, then, would constitute socialism or, more specifically 21st century socialism? … The real test of the extent to which the government is willing to go in this direction will come if and when private capital is forced to become marginal in the overall economy.

Once more the idea that good can be imposed on people by human design is going to be tested. Past performance does not guarantee future results, however, this is a capitalist phrase the socialists probably believe they can ignore.

Friday, February 02, 2007

IPCC 4th Edition Report Reviewed

Christopher Monckton reminds everyone the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) previously published reports about climate change in 1990, 1995 and 2001. The summary report released today is the fourth revision so the latest conclusions can and should be compared to the past track record. Monckton provides us with this comparison in a 10 page PDF format. Let me highlight a few points.

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report 2007: FIGURES in the final draft of the UN’s fourth five-year report on climate change show that the previous report, in 2001, had overestimated the human influence on the climate since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third. Also, the UN, in its 2007 report, has more than halved its high-end best estimate of the rise in sea level by 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches. It suggests that the rate of sea-level rise is up from 2mm/yr to 3mm/year – no more than one foot in a century.

UN scientists faced several problems their computer models had not predicted. Globally, temperature is not rising at all, and sea level is not rising anything like as fast as had been forecast. … The report’s generally more cautiously-expressed projections confirm scientists’ warnings that the UN’s heavy reliance on computer models had exaggerated the temperature effect of greenhouse-gas emissions. Previous reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 had been progressively more alarmist. In the final draft of the new report there is a change in tone. Though carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, global temperature is not.

Computer models heavily relied on by the UN did not predict the considerable cooling of the oceans that has occurred since 2003 – a cooling which demonstrates that neither the frequency nor the intensity of the hurricanes in the year of Katrina was attributable to “global warming”. The UN’s models also failed to predict the halt to the rise in methane concentrations in the air that began in 2001. And they did not predict the timing or size of the El Nino which hiked temperature in 1998. Without it, the satellite record shows little or no greenhouse warming. Landbased temperature records may accordingly overstate the problem. Likewise the UN’s models have recently been found to have over-projected the observed rise in sea temperatures, which has had to be corrected downward to allow for over reading by incorrectly-calibrated instrumentation.

The UN’s draft Summary for Policymakers contains no apology for the defective and discredited “hockey-stick” graph that erroneously abolished the warm climate of the Middle Ages, arousing in some minds the suspicion that the intellectual honesty of the IPCC process is deficient. Ambiguities in the report, and considerable discrepancies between it and its predecessor, show that there is no scientific consensus on many points for which consensus is often claimed. Overall, however, the report is drafted so as to allow environmental extremists to cite its high-end projections as evidence of the need for urgent action.

Dangerous Human Induced Climate Change is a lie. A lie being perpetrated by political forces (i.e. Hillary), with the unquestioning assistance of a scientifically illiterate media. A lie designed first and foremost to justify political control over the energy supplies that have created both the wealth and individual personal freedom of the industrial world. Fortunately, real science is exposing flaws in the computer software predictions required to create guilt, fear and acceptance of lost liberty in the population. Remember, real science requires and welcomes both doubt and skepticism.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Wise Enemy is Better Than

Last week CNN is on air with live coverage of high tension confrontations between two factions of Lebanese students in Beirut. When the situation resolves during the course of the day, the incident fades from the consciousness of the American media which obsesses over suffering but is indifferent to depth of understanding.

The Tehran-Riyadh Line: It took no more than one hour of telephone calls between Riyadh, Tehran and Beirut to end Lebanon's unavoidable clashes that blockaded the capital with fires and barricades and even shootouts in some parts. Although such contact has demonstrated that the Lebanese battles are in fact puppet shows manipulated from above or stopped from outside, what matters the most is that they have now been put to an end.

However, the issue is more than just an hour of communication. It is a years-old, slow relation-building process between Iran and Saudi Arabia that has finally led to such joint action and proved that many fires could be put out through regional cooperation.

Despite how much we differ with them on serious issues in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, the Iranians are characterized by their ability to practice self-restraint and avoid being dragged into crises. They are clever regarding political calculations, keeping them outside of the shooting range whilst close enough to keep watch. A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.

There are extremely rich Muslims in the Middle East who achieved wealth and power through intelligent cunning and mercenary ruthlessness when necessary. This means there are regional interests that stand to suffer from further descent in the direction of anarchy and destruction. President Bush needs them to stabilize the Persian Gulf.

Persian Presences in the UAE: Following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the UAE witnessed a wave of Iranian immigration, many fled in apprehension of the revolution and its impending impacts. According to semi-official statistics, the number of Iranian residents in the UAE is estimated at about 500,000 throughout the emirates, with an estimated 400,000 people in Dubai, their stronghold, most of who immigrated after the Iranian Revolution when the Shah was overthrown.

In mid-October 2006, without drawing too much attention, Washington launched a diplomatic mission in Dubai that specialized in Iranian affairs in the emirate. The US State Department's ‘Iran Regional Presence Office’ is the first of its kind since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the severance of the Iranian-American relations. The office sits inside Dubai’s US consulate and has started act with caution as bilateral relations deteriorated recently after escalation over the Iranian nuclear standoff. Just 150 kilometers from Iran, the US found an important location in Dubai to watch Tehran and reach out to its people, according to analysts.

Without fanfare, the Bush Administration establishes the equivalent of a pressure valve for US – Iranian relations. The Iran Regional Presence Office in effect establishes a tiny channel for communication between the two governments, including an official avenue by which a few Iranians can visit the US, and a few Americans can visit Iran. It is side door through which wise enemies can eyeball each other.