Saturday, October 31, 2009

The coolest Jack O'Lantern ever

This is simply insanely cool.

Noel has a tutorial on how you can make one of these. First, start with a 100 lb pumpkin ...

That's no moon. That's a pumpkin.

I like to carve creative Jack O'Lanterns, like Sailor Curt. I have to admit, this guy has me beat. Although I did have a pretty good one in 2004.

Scary, if you're a St. Louis (or Yankee) fan ...

So what's your Zombie Plan?

In honor of Halloween, via #2 Son.


At least if you're a Gun Controller in Massachusetts. My costume this year is dressing up as Dick Heller.


Spotted at the Chez Borepatch defensive perimeter.

UPDATE 31 October 2009 18:37: This is a better picture, but not as scary. Some may think this is "in your face." Me, I think that was the point ...

Charlie Daniels - The Devil Went Down To Georgia

Platinum hit. #3 on the Rock charts. Grammy award. The final challenge on Rock Band III. An episode of Futurama. Not exactly how the world usually reacts to a Country song.

The world doesn't often see someone like Charlie Daniels.

Six Platinum/multi-Platinum albums and 3 Gold albums shows that he's no stranger to the Country Music scene - as does his induction into the Grand Ole Opry a couple years ago.

This song is without doubt his biggest hit. I must confess that it really wasn't my cup of tea when it came out in 1979, but it has struck a chord in the music world - the song that's launched a thousand spinoffs. It is also without doubt the greatest Country music song for Halloween.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia (Songwriters: Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, "Taz" DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward, James W. Marshall)
The devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind 'cos he was way behind: he was willin' to make a deal.
When he came across this young man sawin' on a fiddle and playin' it hot.
And the devil jumped upon a hickory stump and said: "Boy let me tell you what:
"I bet you didn't know it, but I'm a fiddle player too.
"And if you'd care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you.
"Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy, but give the devil his due:
"I bet a fiddle of gold against your soul, 'cos I think I'm better than you."
The boy said: "My name's Johnny and it might be a sin,
"But I'll take your bet, your gonna regret, 'cos I'm the best that's ever been."

Johnny you rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard.
'Cos hells broke loose in Georgia and the devil deals it hard.
And if you win you get this shiny fiddle made of gold.
But if you lose, the devil gets your soul.

The devil opened up his case and he said: "I'll start this show."
And fire flew from his fingertips as he resined up his bow.
And he pulled the bow across his strings and it made an evil hiss.
Then a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this.
When the devil finished, Johnny said: "Well you're pretty good ol' son.
"But if you'll sit down in that chair, right there, and let me show you how its done."

Fire on the mount, run boys, run.
The devil's in the house of the risin' sun.
Chicken in the bread pin, pickin' out dough.
"Granny, does your dog bite?"
"No, child, no."

The devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.
He laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny's feet.
Johnny said: "Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.
"I told you once, you son of a bitch, I'm the best that's ever been."

And he played fire on the mount, run boys, run.
The devil's in the house of the risin' sun.
Chicken in the bread pin pickin' out dough.
"Granny, does your dog bite?"
"No, child, no."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Martha Coakley: dumb as a rock

No, not because she claims "foreign policy experience" because her sister lives in Europe*. Not because she's yet another corrupt Massachusetts political hack backed by corrupt unions like the SEIU, but because she doesn't see a link between this:
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, talking about criticizing the father who punched out the guy he caught molesting his 4-year-old son in a supermarket men's room (and, who was subsequently arrested for his morally just actions).

"All I'm saying is that...we really try and discourage people from self-help."
... and this:

The security guard who fatally shot a patient who was attacking a doctor in a Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatric clinic said today he had done what anyone would have done and he was happy that the doctor was recovering.

"I just did what anyone would have done, ma'am, that's all," Paul Langone said in answer to a group of reporters' questions as he walked to a car outside the family's home in Reading.


Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said Thursday that, based on a preliminary investigation, Langone may have saved the life of Dr. Desrosiers and others and the shooting appeared legally justified.

Desrosiers was pinned to the floor and being stabbed by Carciero at about 2 p.m. Tuesday in the hospital's bipolar clinic on the fifth floor of a building at 50 Staniford St. As clinic colleagues fled, another doctor tried to pull the 250-pound Carciero off her, but fell back when the patient slashed at him, authorities said.

Langone, an off-duty security officer carrying a concealed handgun, may have been her only chance, authorities said. He entered the room, ordered Carciero to stop, and when he didn't, fired multiple shots, hitting Carciero twice.

Memo to Attorney General Coakley: pick one, and only one. You can either have citizens engaging in self-help, or you can have dead murder victims.


But that isn't what makes this story the winner of this week's Friday Follies. That honor does not go to Coakley, but to the idiot Democrat citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who are going to send this moron to the U.S. Senate. You couldn't assemble enough brain cells to feed a zombie if you collected every Democratic voter in Massachusetts.

To those readers from freer and smarter climes, pity those of us surrounded by these fools.

* You think I'm making this up?

Tina Fey could not be reached for comment.

Anyone interested in the Fitchburg Gun Show?

#2 Son and I are going, because we want to maintain our "non-Bastid" standing. The show is in Fitchburg, MA starting at 0900 tomorrow, 31 Oct 09.

If anyone is interested in meeting up, leave a comment.

Denial of Service

The Volokh Conspiracy is down right now. No, it's not Bad Guys launching a mass Zombie attack - Both Instapundit and Slashdot have simultaneously linked an article. Their poor server is trying to handle eleventy-gazillion requests per second.

See Instalanche, Slashdotted.

The difference between this and a bona fide attack (see Mafiaboy) is that it is a spontaneous action of many web users following a sort of wisdom-of-crowds paradigm, rather than centrally-directed command and control. There's also no malicious intent.

I'm sure that Professor Reynolds could do an interesting article as to whether insufficient scoping of server capacity and bandwidth qualifies as malum in se or not.

The science is settled

Pretty convincing, actually.

Security Smorgasbord, Vol 1, No. 5

There are a number of Firefox security fixes coming your way (at least, if you use Firefox, which you should). You want to get these, since they include (among ten others) a "drive by download" fix that keeps malware from being downloaded and run without you having to click anything.

From the "Help" menu, select "Check for Updates". It will tell you if there are any waiting for you.


In other browser security news, Opera also released a number of security updates. If you use Opera (for example, for electronic transactions - like I recommend), then you should head on over for a plate of security goodness.


If you use Facebook, there is a massive password "phishing" attack under way right now. A phishing attack is to trick the user into thinking that a spam email is from someone you know - in this case, from Facebook.

This one is pretty good. It looks like it's from Facebook, and tells you that you need to change your password. Of course, it steals your password, and tries to install malware that steals your bank account information.

A good rule of thumb is to know that you'll never be asked for your password by Facebook, or your bank. Anyone asking is up to no good. They will never send you something you have to run to get a password, either:

Nobody (legit) sends a password in a ZIP file, or in an executable. They won't send you a password, unless you use their automatic "I forgot my password" reset pages from their web site. If you didn't, but something shows up saying it's just the thing - it isn't.

Great article by Bryon Acohido. There's more, about Twitter phishing, so RTWT.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stevie Ray Vaughn

Ubuntu 9.1 released

The names (Karmic Koala) are cheesy, but the software is great.

The Koala - due for its official release today - brings faster boot times, a revamped software installer, better disk encryption, online services, and quite a bit more to the popular Linux desktop.

We took the release candidate for a spin and are happy to report that while work remains, Ubuntu 9.10 has plenty of improvements and that it's well worth upgrading your current system.

Good overview at The Register. If you're remotely interested in the tech world, you should check them out every day. Good coverage of the most important goings on, with a generous helping of snark.

Remember, you can make an Ubuntu Live CD, so you can try it out before you make the switch from Windows (or Mac). Kind of a "try before you buy" thing. Except the "buy" is for the low, low cost of free.

Come on - all the Cool Kids are doing it!

UPDATE 4 November 2009 16:55: Maybe you should hold off upgrading for now.

Why you shouldn't game on Windows 98

Consider yourself warned.

Via #2 Son.

Blogroll additions

Mike Riddle left a comment, and when I followed him back, I found a story of him teaching is four year old girl how to track animals:
Then I told her to stare at the last set of tracks again and imagine where the beetle might next step. There was a very small dirt patch about two feet in front of where the insect’s tracks ended and that is where she spotted its next set of tracks.

“There,” she cried out, “I see his tracks!”

I felt very proud of her, she had learned to imagine in her mind’s eye which direction the beetle might have taken and then followed her instincts and found the next set of tracks. It was a moment very reminiscent of the wizard Merlin’s tutelage of a young King Arthur (whom he called “Wart”) in the art of becoming the animal which he happened to be interested in, and seeing the world through that animal’s eyes.

Lucky girl, even if it was a dung beetle.

Also via a comment I found Just John, and this:
"...a study by the Pew Research Center showed that 40 percent of Fox News stories on Obama in the last six weeks of the campaign were negative. Similarly, 40 percent of Fox News' stories on Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, were negative.

On CNN, by contrast, there was a 22-point disparity in the percentage of negative stories on Obama (39 percent) and McCain (61 percent). The disparity was even greater at MSNBC, according to Pew, where just 14 percent of Obama stories were negative, compared to a whopping 73 percent of McCain stories -- a spread of 59 points. "
Knock me over with a feather, but thanks, John.

A Sitemeter trackback led me to Carolina Cogitation, where Casey has been kind enough to blogroll me. He has some very interesting Law Enforcement tales from the field.

Lastly is someone after my own heart: Reboot Congress. His latest post is about how the local New York team party folks are fixin' to take over the GOP. Faster, please.

Welcome to the Borepatch blogroll, y'all!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear NRA ...

I signed back up when your folks called last night. Yes, I know that I let my subscription expire - I'll give you another try. I even signed #2 Son up, because he might even read your kids magazine. But now that we're BFF again, let me give you some advice.

When someone lets their membership lapse, you really should ask them why.

I even tried to tell your folks, but they weren't interested in much more than my credit card number. I guess that's what you pay them for, so I don't have a beef with them. But your membership department lost an opportunity for figure out why one of your members thinks he may drop you like alfredo.

But as I said, we're like totally BFF again, so I'll tell you anyway:

When I look at the legal battle around the Second Amendment, you're not a leader - you're a follower. Leaders lead.

So lead.

Love, Borepatch

P.S. Maybe if you can work to get the Second Amendment incorporated, we could celebrate! I mean, Mom and Dad might even let you come to a sleepover!!!1!

P.P.S. Lead.

Lord Stern: 2009 Upper Class Twit of the Year

Seems that his Lordship offered up a trifecta of fail to The (London) Times:
He ... issued a clear message to President Obama that he must attend the meeting in Copenhagen in person in order for an effective deal to be reached. US leadership, he said, was “desperately needed” to secure a deal.
He said that he was deeply concerned that popular opinion had so far failed to grasp the scale of the changes needed to address climate change, or of the importance of the UN meeting in Copenhagen from December 7 to December 18. “I am not sure that people fully understand what we are talking about or the kind of changes that will be necessary,” he added.

People will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming.

... Lord Stern ... said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”


Lord Stern, who said that he was not a strict vegetarian himself, was speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change.

Well, now.

Lord Stern and I can agree at least that animals are guilty of being full of yummy meat. Unlike his lordship, I cheerfully acknowledge this. Also, I'm not so full of myself that I think I can sweet talk the public to giving up what I won't.

Turn out the light, the competition's over:

Hat tip: Watts Up With That.

Facebook Forest Lawn

Up until now, Facebook has only seemed like Purgatory.

Facebook has announced a new service for the friends and family of dead people.

Monday morning, after some public pressure from Canada's privacy czar, Mark Zuckerberg and company told the world they're now "memorializing" the Facebook profiles of those who graduate to that big social network in the sky.

"When someone leaves us, they don't leave our memories or our social network," Facebook man Max Kelly wrote on the official Facebook blog. "To reflect that reality, we created the idea of 'memorialized' profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who've passed."

This isn't such a bad idea, actually. I have to say, though, that "thoughtful" struggled with "snark" for a while.

But only a while.

You are here

Pundit Kitchen needed a little Photoshop-fu ...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saskatoon bleg

Any shooters in Saskatoon who would be willing to take a new shooter to the range? Let Mulligan know.

Espresso or Late as a self-defense caliber?

Hopefully Caleb will let us know the results of his field test on tonight's Gun Nuts Radio.

Linux virus

It seems that someone got a virus on their Linux computer. They did it on purpose, and had to work pretty hard.

And it was a Windows virus. You see, Linux has a program called "Wine" that emulates Windows, so that you can run quite a lot of your Windows software on Linux. This guy ran the (Windows) virus under Wine:
So I downloaded it. And ran it in Wine. And... well, it turns out Wine emulates Windows well enough to get infected by a Windows virus.


It even went and added itself into the taskbar (which Wine nicely integrated with my Gnome notifications), and added reminders from time to time (read: every 2 minutes) that you're using the unregistered version.
So, do Linux fanboys (like me) need to worry about viruses? Not so much:
To stop it completely, I had to kill Wine. If it managed to infect the Wine registry well enough that it's run automatically, I will have to go into the Wine registry to remove it manually. Or I could run a couple of simple commands:
sudo aptitude purge wine;
sudo aptitude install wine;

That's it!

Plus, remember that Firefox tried to stop me 3 times before I even saw the file. In the case of a Linux-targeted virus, it would probably do just the same. If I downloaded it, I would then have to go run it manually (unless it's a .sh, in which case I may be able to just run it). To do the same amount of harm, it would then ask me for the administrator password, not just a repetitive "Allow/Deny" box that I just instinctively click Allow on. It would then proceed to do its evilnesses, but with one difference: I can still kill it just as easily.

There's a step by step with tons of screenshots. RTWT if that's your bag, baby. One of the more interesting security experiments I've seen in quite some time.

136 Thermometers

The science is settled.

Oh yeah? How many thermometers are used to record the nation's temperature? Specifically, how many are included in the most important data sets used to analyze global warming - NOAA's GHCN data set that feeds the GIStemp?

It looks like weather data isn't fishy just for rural Maine, but for California as well:

Lately we’ve been told that California and the west in general had set a 115 year record for high temperatures. All Time Heat! I called “BS”.

No way was this year even a regularly warm year. My tomatoes were not setting fruit (they can not set fruit below a 50F night temperature unless you use special varieties. I had 2 of the special varieties that were setting some fruit, but far less than in prior years. Further, my Runner Beans were setting seeds. Normally in mid summer they have lots of wonderful red flowers that attract lots of hummingbirds, but they can not set seed over about 93-95 F and in July and August I expect only decoration. I got beans… So I called a big load of BS but could not point to any reason why. That has changed.

Looks like it's not just Joe Sixpack who doesn't believe that things are getting warmer - scientists are even starting to catch on. Unlike Joe Sixpack, a scientist might know where to get the data, and how to look at it. And might find something really interesting in it:
What conditions am I seeing in the GHCN data set? The Thermometer Langoliers have eaten 9/10 of the thermometers in the USA; including all the cold ones in California.
You want to show record warm temperatures? Airbrush the weather stations that don't run warm.
When I investigated, I found California has all of 4 thermometers (assuming I read the LAT and LONG correctly and recognized the place names; someone check me on this.)

San Francisco
Santa Maria
Los Angeles
San Diego

42572494000 SAN FRANCISCO 37.62 -122.38 5 102U 6253FLxxCO15A 1COASTAL EDGES C3 66
42572394000 SANTA MARIA/P 34.90 -120.45 73 120U 62HIxxCO15A 2WARM CROPS C3 23
42572295000 LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA 33.72 -118.27 -999 55U14531FLxxCO 1x-9WATER C3 32
42572290000 SAN DIEGO/LIN 32.73 -117.17 9 39U 2498FLxxCO 1A 1WATER C3 105

IIRC, Santa Maria is a nice little coastal town in Southern California. Everyone knows L.A. and San Diego from Beach Blanket Babylon, The Beach Boys, and Surfer Girl fame. That just leaves San Francisco to stand in for all the rest of Northern California.

SF is a nice beach town, with cool summers, but in winter the ocean keeps it from getting very cold at all. So all the frozen inland, all the Chico frost, Redding hail, Weed snow and all the Sierra Nevada under whatever frozen snow, well they all are represented by a nice 50F to 60F day in San Francisco. Forget Yosemite, Mount Shasta, Truckee / Tahoe, Mono Lake, Trinity and the Cascades, even the cold evenings of the Mojave Desert. It’s all just downtown LA…

In the flurry of weather station closings, it seems that we've lost 90% of our sensors. This is very likely part of the "Peace Dividend", as military bases consolidated and Civil Defense just went away in the Clinton years.

Would You Believe a Little Over 2 Thermometers Per State?

And no, that is not a “Maxwell Smart” imitation.

My “by years” tool told me there were 136 active thermometer records in the U.S.A. in 2008. For the whole thing. Including Alaska and Hawaii. But in fairness, Hawaii got three thermometers, all at airports [Emphasis in original - ed.]

So forget the difficulty in comparing the global temperature from today with that of 1200 A.D. You can't compare global temperature today with that from 1975.

RTWT, including the comments. These are people who live data, and know how to dissect it. Something is very wrong with the data underlying all you read about "warming" and "record temperatures."

UPDATE 11 November 2009 10:45: Welcome visitors from RH Junior Web Comics. There are a bunch of related posts here. A good place to start (and pretty much where I started on this topic, a year ago) is this.

Cry me a river

I'm an unabashed Megan McArdle fan, and her post on the death of the Newspaper industry is typically on-target.

Alas, the plight of the papers moves me not. I speak as a former subscriber to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the (London) Daily Telegraph, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times (again).

Only the Telegraph is worth the bullet it would take to put it down.

The media has used its power too corruptly, too brazenly, and for too long. McArdle's statement hits home for me:
There just aren't enough customers who are willing to pay for their product what it costs to produce it.
Pay what it costs? I wouldn't pay what it's worth, which for the Globe is a negative $242.86. Not only would they fill up my trash, but I'd have to spend as much time getting disabused of the false narratives - or learning about important stories that they refuse to publish - as I spent reading their rags.

Don't let it hit you in the butt on the way out, jerks. You've managed to alienate maybe half your audience at precisely the time that it turned out you needed them to keep from getting your biased rear end laid off. At least you got President Hopey Change elected. We'll see if there's anyone around next year to try for a repeat.

As Insty would say: faster please.,

Monday, October 26, 2009

Requesciat in pace

Lone Star Parson has a death in the family.

Microsoft Linux

Spotted in the wild, from Dell:

Dell is currently flogging a cheap-as-chips netbook that apparently comes loaded with that well-known Microsoft operating system, Ubuntu 8.04.

Anyone dropping in on the computer maker's UK product website will be able to buy an Intel-based Inspiron Mini 10 laptop for £199 a pop.

And, according to the blurb on the site, one ickle mobile computer in its current range is being shipped with Microsoft's, er, Linux-flavoured OS.

They have a screen shot from Dell's site, which describes the "Microsoft Operating System" as "Ubuntu Linux 8.04". Heh.

Now I suspect that the words "Microsoft Operating System" are populated on each page, straight out of a database. They probably get some kickback from the Boys in Redmond to use the term "Microsoft Operating System" rather than the term "Operating System".

That, ot their web team is fresh from Geocities.

But where shall we go for bad web design?

Geocities, we hardly knew ye. Yahoo! (the current "owner") has shut the place down:
Geocities is closing today. Its advent in 1995 was a sign of the rising 'Internet for everyone' era, when connection speeds were 1,000x or 2,000x slower than is common today. You may love it or hate it, but millions of people had their first contact with a Web presence right here. I know that Geocities is something that most Slashdotters will see as a n00b thing — the Internet was fine before Geocities — but nevertheless I think that some credit is due. Heck, there's even a modified xkcd homepage to mark the occasion.
The XKCD simply is outstanding, constructed from 100% Made Of Win and topped with Awesomesauce. Here's a taste:

Click through for the real thing: blinking stars on the background, "under construction" GIF pictures, datk text on dark background, and (my very favorite) a hit counter that reads "0000000036".

OK, Geocities, I guess we did know ye.

And if I recall correctly, my own hit counter here (scroll way, way down all the way to the bottom) may have come from somewhere on Geocities.

Ripogenus Dam

The science is settled.

OK, so what's with the Ripogenus Dam?

You don't get much more rural than that. Way, way up the west branch of the Penobscot river in Maine, it's the sort of place that Boy Scouts go for week long canoe voyages through the wilderness. 1972, Troop 47, a dozen fellow teenagers and I spent a week a hundred miles from any other living soul.

In 1972, there was a Weather station at the Ripogenus Dam. It collected temperature readings every day. Those readings were included in NASA's GISS temperature reading data set. Its readings were included in GISS until 2006, along with data from thousands of other weather stations. There's really only one little problem.

The Ripogenus Dam weather station was decommissioned in 1995.

So for ten years, GISS reported temperature readings from a station that didn't exist. How? Filnet.
Part of the USHCN data is created by a computer program called “filnet” which estimates missing values. According to the NOAA, filnet works by using a weighted average of values from neighboring stations. In this example, data was created for a no longer existing station from surrounding stations, which in this case as the same evaluation noted were all subject to microclimate and urban bias, no longer adjusted for. Note the rise in temperatures after this before the best sited truly rural station in Maine was closed.
"Urban bias" is the technical term for when a weather station reads artificially high temperatures because the station is situated in an urban location where there are lots of buildings and parking lots to absorb the heat from the sun. Filnet took temperature readings from other weather stations - stations in urban locations where reading are higher because of the surrounding asphalt heat collectors - and used it for the most rural station in the state.

Remember how 1998 was the "warmest year in a millenium"? Well, it was warmer than it would have been if the Ripogenus Dam's readings hadn't come from Millinocket.

The question is: just how unreliable is the data? Lots.
How can we trust NOAA/NASA/Hadley assessment of global changes given these and the other data integrity issues? Given that Hadley has destroyed old original data because they were running out of room in their data cabinet, can we ever hope to reconstruct the real truth?
Given that there are only 30 or 40 stations that have been providing temperature readings from the Civil War up to today, given that "adjustments" are made to the temperature data via an arcane and opaque process and may represent most or all of the warming in the 20th Century, given that scientists refuse to release their data (or the raw - unadjusted - data has been destroyed), given how some of the data sets rely on tree rings from a single tree, how can we trust the data?

The Ripogenus Dam weather station was giving ghost readings for a decade. How many other non-existent weather stations are still generating new data? The World wonders.

UPDATE 31 October 2009 17:20: David linked. Thanks! Take a look around - there's a lot more on this sort of thing here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Wadda ya mean, I can't fly with a grenade?"

Blogger Bob at the TSA Blog has some compatriots, Lynn posts about how they've been finding people bringing hand grenades through the security checkpoints. Seems they've found twenty one grenades since July (!).


Like Bob, Lynn has what seems to be a decently bloggy sense of humor:
The lesson to be learned here is that even if it’s a gift (gag or otherwise), souvenir or inert, putting a grenade in your carry-on or checked bag is a no-no. I would also suggest not packing the new novelty grenade MP3 player in your carry-on or checked bags. Not only will you be delayed and possibly miss your flight, but you could also end up spending some quality time with law enforcement officers.
"Quality time"? Boy, howdy.

I've spent some time here pointing out some of the more irritating things that the TSA has done. But there's another side to the story, too - some of the folks flying these days clearly don't have enough brain cells to fog a mirror. Lynn has a "grenades" post category. Actually, that makes me a bit envious, although I do have one for Earth Shattering Kaboom.

So well done, Lynn. Offering as a public service, your one stop shop for Grenade Checkpoint Etiquette. Heh.

Post tagged under "Bad Idea" because, well, taking a grenade through the security checkpoint is a bad idea, mkay?

The TSA Blogs

Well, the TSA doesn't, but Blogger Bob at the TSA does, and it looks like he's doing a proper job of it. Bob noticed the post about the little girl on the TSA watch list, and posted a response that's probably worth your time.
Many have been misidentified as a match or possible match for the Selectee Watch List and the only thing they could do is work with the Redress Office to correct the problem.

But who is that I see? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, It’s Secure Flight! Airlines are beginning to ask for name, date of birth, and gender as it appears on the government ID you plan to use when traveling. This is a part of the Secure Flight program. The program will be in full effect for domestic airlines by the first quarter of 2010 and the rest of the airlines will be on board by the end of 2010. It will reduce mismatched names by 99.9%.
He also stopped by here and left a comment in my post. Like I said, it looks like he's doing a proper job, following trackbacks and links.

I have to admit that ty first reaction to his post on Secure Flight was a little grumpy - more information being collected - bah, humbug. On reflection, the engineer in me thinks this is a pragmatic approach to take. I'd still like to see TSA focus more on matching bags to passengers, and I'd like to see them take more of the approach that El Al takes for screening terrorists, but this does look like a positive step forward that will reduce hassles for flyers.

If it's true that there are 100,000 people on the watch lists, then this will get that down to a few hundred, if Bob gets his 99.9%. That's a high bar to set, but kudos for trying.

Filed under the tag Security Kabuki only because people reading through these posts should read this one, for a more positive story.

All in all, Bob has a pretty interesting blog. I like the post about the guy in the wheelchair who forgot his two pistols under the seat cushion. And the one where he posted CCTV footage of the incident where a woman claimed she was separated from her child is IMHO precisely what blogs are good for. It will be interesting if Bob is able to maintain his blog-fu from inside the TSA bureaucracy.

Well done Bob and the TSA.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cap and Trade: stick a fork in it

It's done:
Even as major climate change legislation moves through Congress, fewer voters believe global warming is a very serious problem -- or even think there is solid evidence of it -- a new Pew Research survey finds. ...

According to the poll, 35% of respondents said global warming was a serious problem, down from 44% in April 2008. Even starker is the increase in voters' skepticism: Only 57% said they believe there is solid evidence that earth's average temperature has increased over the past few decades, compared with 71% who said that last year -- a 14-point drop. Also, just 36% said increases in global temperatures are the result of human activity, which was down from 47% last year.

Along political lines, global warming was the lowest-rated priority for both independents and Republicans, and was 16th among Democrats out of 20 issues.
Smart people, that American public. What never fails to astonish me is the belief by Statists that they can - by sheer force of marketing "shock and awe" - make the unwashed masses believe anything. Seemingly, the Statists' self-regard knows no bounds here, even though a cursory examination of the history of marketing would disabuse them of some silly ideas.

For example, that simple repetition of an idea and the suppression of any counter evidence can override people's basic common sense.

It's over, folks. Done. Only a third of the public thinks that Mankind has anything to do with climate change, and this with a one-sided media carpet bombing campaign. That means that it's basically Democrats who think this: the country is divided roughly into thirds (Democrat/Independent/Republican).

But it's worse than that - even Democrats don't care. Climate Change is stuck in the cellar of concerns among even self-described Democrats. If you can't even get the Party Faithful to give a damn, how are you going to get a multi-Trillion dollar restructuring of the World Economy going?

You aren't. Not coincidentally, there is some frustration being expressed by the Environment-Academic Complex:
US President Barack Obama should do more to push for a US climate deal, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Thursday.
"I personally feel he ought to be doing a lot more," Pachauri told reporters after a debate on climate change in Stockholm, adding the president "really has to assert himself to see that the US passes legislation" prior to the Copenhagen summit.


"He (Obama) has to get the Senate to legislate the Kerry-Barbara Boxer bill," Pachauri insisted during the debate, adding he felt the president had not "put his weight behind it."
Since we at Borepatch pride ourselves on being a full-service blog, let me help Dr. Pachauri out here and explain the Obama Administration to him. While you and your fellows at the IPCC have been very helpful to President Obama and his party, you've taken them about as far as you can go. As a stick to beat the Republicans, it's just not working like it used to. Since Chicago politics is all about "what can you do for me today" - as opposed to "what have you done for me yesterday" - your stroke with the POTUS is, sadly, on the wane. You'll have to do a much, much better job showing him why he should risk his entire administration when even his own party doesn't put this issue in the top 75% of Really Important Things To Do.

The American Public has done put me in a good mood. Thanks, American Public!

Hat tip: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Nothing I could write could possibly improve that

From TJIC, regarding the environmentalist's new War On Dogs:
You know, the way to move me from thinking “your side is muddle headed” to thinking “your side is profoundly anti-human, and perhaps should be exterminated” is to tell me that we can’t live with dogs, and joke that we should eat them.
At least they only want to starve children to save Mother Gaia. Most of them. For now.

Tammy Wynette - Stand By Your Man

"The sad part about happy endings is there's nothing to write about."

Tammy Wynette didn't usually worry too much about happy endings. Married five times, critically ill several times, she saw her house burn down shortly before she was hunted by a stalker. Oh, and her father died when she was a baby.

It's no wonder that she kept renewing her cosmetology license each year. As she would tell people, she wanted a fall back plan just in case she had to get a Day Job.

But persistence and luck was on her side, enough for her to get an initial break in 1966. And then it was no looking back: she had a #1 hit each year from 1967 to 1973, including two in 1968: D-I-V-O-R-C-E and Stand By Your Man. That's a mighty interesting pairing.

Country music fans remember her as "the First Lady of Country", with husband #3 George Jones. Political junkies remember the brouhaha in 1992, when Hillary Clinton said, on 60 Minutes, "I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." Fans of the TV show King Of The Hill know remember her as the voice of Hank Hill's mom, Tillie Mae Hill. And a whole generation of Euro-Pop remembers her from her collaboration with the KLF on Justified and Ancient.* That's one eclectic mix.

But nobody argues with her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, or her Grammy Awards. CMT has her at #2 in the Greatest Women of Country, behind Patsy Cline. And VH-1 listed her at #73 in the Greatest Women of Rock and Roll.

Rest in peace, Tammy Wynette.

Stand By Your Man (Songwriters: Billy Sherrill, Tammy Wynette)
Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times
Doin things that you don't understand
But if you love him
You'll forgive him
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him
Oh, be proud of him
Cause after all he's just a man

Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
when nights are cold and lonely

Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
* Just for grins, the KLF with the First Lady of Country Music:

Now that's a long, long way from Tremont, Mississippi.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ever wonder why mass transit is continually FUBAR? Coyote Blog 'splains it:
The Bay Area where he lives is experiencing light rail disease. This is the phenomenon where middle class voters along heavy white collar commuting routes push for horrendously expensive light rail lines. The capital costs of these systems drain transit budgets into the distant future, forcing service cuts, particularly in bus systems that serve the poor. The result is that the city ends up with bigger transit bills, but less actual transit, and progressives like Scott scratch their head and try to figure out what went wrong. It must be because non-users of Transit aren’t paying enough!
Translation: But ... but ... I like Light Rail! How could it possibly not work out?

Medical malpractice reform

Yes, we need it. No, the Democrats won't put it in Obamacare. That's not the point of this post.

The Brits need it more than we do. Suppose your child has a major problem. Suppose you take him to the National Health Service (NHS) hospital. Supposed you begged them to take your son's case seriously. What do you think would happen?
Cheryl Cressey, 48, told how she pleaded to have her son admitted to hospital. She said: “I kept going back and asking for somebody to look at him, but nobody would come. They rolled their eyes at me, they tutted at me, they turned their backs on me.”
A ten year old boy, dead from Meningitis. Sent home from the hospital with pain killers. What does avictim of socialized medicine look like? This:

Here at least, we'd sue them to destitution. The only word for this is evil. State-sponsored evil.

From the place that used to be Great Britain comes this warning, if we're wise enough to listen. This sort of thing happens all the time, so I've started a new tag, killed by socialized medicine.

Hat tip: The Drawn Cutlass.

Microsoft Windows restrospective

Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 to Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7. Nothing but .NET* ...

Good article in The Register.

* Why yes, I am a nerd. Why do you ask?

Now that's how to appologize

Mrs. Sandra Burt likes to sing. She'd sing at the office, until she was asked to stop. By the Performing Right Society, who wanted her to get a performance license:
Sandra Burt, 56, who works at A&T Food store in Clackmannanshire, was warned she could be fined for her singing by the Performing Right Society (PRS).


The village store where Mrs Burt works was contacted by the PRS earlier this year to warn them that a licence was needed to play a radio within earshot of customers.

When the shop owner decided to get rid of the radio as a result, Mrs Burt said she began singing as she worked.

Even the PRS figured out that this was a little over the top, and apologized. A real apology, not one of those "we're sorry if someone was offended" pseudo-apologies:

In response to the furore created by their initial hardline, the PRS contacted Mrs Burt to apologise.

In a note attached to a large bouquet of flowers they said: "We're very sorry we made a big mistake.

"We hear you have a lovely singing voice and we wish you good luck."

Flowers and a proper apology. Well done, lads.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obandoke, omae

Hey dude, feel your soul heal:

A contributor to a mailing list for Japanese-English translation that I read reports that the verb obamu is gaining currency on the Kyoto University campus. He writes, “It means something along the lines of, ‘to ignore anything which appears to make you likely to fail or (be) wrong, and blindly surge ahead (preferably chanting, “yes we can, yes we can”)’.” He adds that he heard a friend jokingly try to cheer someone up by saying, “obandoke, omae.” (オバんどけ、お前.)

If I had to translate that on the fly, it would come out something like, “Lighten up and think positive, guy!”

There do seem to be different interpretations - as you'd expect for a neologism:
I found it as an entry dated 22 September in a collection of slang and modern usage put together by the Japanese Teachers’ Network in Kitakyushu. Here’s what they write:

obamu: (v.) To ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think “Yes we can, Yes we can,” and proceed with optimism using those facts as an inspiration (literally, as fuel). It is used to elicit success in a personal endeavor. One explanation holds that it is the opposite of kobamu. (拒む, which means to refuse, reject, or oppose).

They give the following example:


Or, “Hey, why are you so down in the dumps? Cheer up, cheer up!”

So to those who find themselves newly added to the unemployment rolls, or to one-time allies in Eastern Europe facing alone a newly resurgent Russian Bear, let me just say "Hey, why are you so down in the dumps? Obandoke, omae!"

Ampontan is a very interesting blog that gives you inside baseubaru from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Hat tip: Don Surbur.


Been home in bed, mostly asleep all day. Fever broke this morning, which helped.

Blogging will start again soon, I dare say.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Impertinent, with a hint of berries and tobacco ...

... but leaves you with a bad case of the munchies:

Denver's Westword newspaper has unsurprisingly received more than 120 applications for the post of marijuana reviewer, many of whom are offering to do the job for nothing.

The site is seeking a permanent critic for its "Mile Highs and Lows" column, AP reports, who'll become "the first professional newspaper critic of medical marijuana in the country".

Better hurry if you want to get your name in. But the competition is fierce, from (ahem) professionals:
The paper is now sorting the weed from the chaff by asking wannabe pro dopeheads to outline "What Marijuana Means to Me". One hopeful, a former heroin addict, explains: "it has never let me down. never made me want to rob a bank. never put me in a situation where i felt compelled to prostitute myself".
And this explains why M.J. hasn't been legalized yet:

I guess those gun control laws work

Seems that some terrorists couldn't, like, buy some guns to shoot up a mall:
27-year-old man from Sudbury [Massachusetts] has been arrested on charges he planned terrorism attacks inside and outside the United States, including a plot to use automatic weapons to open fire at shoppers and emergency responders in shopping mall attacks, federal prosecutors said today.


The plot included plans to fire at emergency responders, but was abandoned because the men could not obtain the weapons, authorities said.
This cannot possibly be correctly reported. After all, there is a huge billboard near Fenway Park that says terrorists can get guns at Gun Shows. Clearly this is another example of the Media failing to properly fact check a story.

Hey, don't be like Fox, guys.

Last week's record temperatures

There's a difference between climate and weather. For a while, I've been wondering what the trend is in record temperatures - the hottest or coldest days recorded. For any given location, these aren't too meaningful. Even for regions, it's hard to see relevance without a long period of readings.

But what about the records for everywhere in the country? Probably you'd want to see them over a decent time interval, too.

I haven't found that historical archive, but I did find a site that posts weekly records as reported to the National Weather Service.

It's interesting stuff - click through to the map, which is interactive. Depending on when you click, you may or may not see the same data (they update their map pretty regularly). This is as of 20 October 2009 04:21 PDT.

Here's what the dots mean:
Red - Record High temperature (highest reading of the day is highest ever recorded) (277 stations)

Yellow - Record High Minimum temperature (lowest reading of the day is highest ever recorded) (527 stations)

Blue - Record Low Max temperature (highest reading of the day is lowest ever recorded) (2958 stations)

Purple - Record Low temperature (lowest reading of the day is lowest ever recorded) (330 stations)

White - Record snowfall (most of these seem to be records due to early date of snowfall, rather than deep accumulations) (143 stations)

Green - Record Rainfall (734 stations)
Pretty much everywhere north and east of the Red river saw record cold. The mountain states and Texas saw record heat. Overall, record low beat record high by around four to one.

What does this saw about Global Warming? Nothing, really. However, it's pretty interesting. Run back over 80 years, I think that the records (high vs low) would give a very interesting view of whether we were seeing a hockey stick or not.

Hat tip: Watts Up With That, where there is this very interesting comment:

If, as some warmist suggest, the world temperature has risen by upwards of 2 degrees C in the past 100 years; then no (new) low temperature records should be possible.

I guess we can put that claim to bed.

It would be interesting to see how the distribution of low and high temperature records occurs. Is there a pattern between rural and urban?



Unless Global Warming leads to a greater spread between high and low temperatures, this seems highly counter-intuitive. Or there's no clear warming signal. Should be pretty easy to see if the spread is increasing.

The world's cutest terror suspect

Todd Brown is the proud dad of an adorable little girl. A little girl that he found out, is on the TSA's list of potential terrorists.

It seems that if you're willing to do a fair amount of leg work, this sort of silliness actually gets cleared up. So well done to Mr. Brown, and I guess to the TSA for making the skies safe for cuteness.

Mr. Brown makes a good point, that there's nothing to tell you that you're on the list, and need to grovel your way through the TSA's unhelpful web site to find the required form. You could plausibly claim that this is a security feature - if the special someone on the list actually were a terrorist, you wouldn't want to let them know.

Which ignores the issue that it's idiotic to have someone so dangerous that they shouldn't be allowed to fly, but not dangerous enough to arrest. That's a discussion for another day. Today, the issue is false positives, the erroneous report that someone or something matches a particular categorization, when they actually don't.

This is why you get a second opinion when your doctor tells you that you have a serious disease. Any diagnosis will be less than 100% accurate, and you don't want to go on an expensive and invasive regime if you're one of the 2% that don't actually have the disease.

An anonymous commenter left this, over in Brown's comments:
They efficiently shifted the cost of false positives to you.

A long time ago, I posted about false positives and why the TSA doesn't go after everyone on one of its lists:
If we really thought these folks were actually terrorists, we'd investigate them. A reasonable investigation involves a lot of effort - wire taps (first, get a warrant), stakeouts, careful collection of a case by Law Enforcement, prosecution. Probably a million dollars between police, lawyers, courts, etc - probably a lot more, if there's a trial. For each of the 700 [people in our thought experiment]. We're looking at a billion dollars, and this assumes a ridiculously low false positive rate.

There are on the order of a hundred thousand people in TSA's no-fly or watch databases. Not 700. If you investigated them all, you're talking a hundred billion bucks. So they turn the system off.

And that's actually the right answer. The data's lousy, joining lousy data with more lousy data makes the results lousier, and it's too expensive to make it work. How lousy is the data? Sky Marshals are on the No-Fly list. No, really. 5 year olds, too.
Actually, they haven't turned the system off. Rather, they've shifted the cost of the investigation to Mr. Brown and people like him.

From the TSA's perspective, this makes sense. From our perspective, it's annoying. It's double-plus annoying when there's nothing that tells you that you're likely a false positive in their system. There is, of course, a sure-fire way to reduce your chance of triggering a false positive in the TSA's system to zero. Guaranteed to work every time.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Béla Lugosi

His was quite a career - officer in the Austro-Hungarian army wounded on the Russian front, forced to flee the Hungarian Revolution on 1919, worked his passage to New Orleans as crew on a tramp steamer, Broadway actor, sudden great film success, typecast by his accent, drug addiction, comeback with Ed Wood and Plan 9 From Outer Space. That's some run.

Get College credit for D&D

As long as you're at Carnegie Mellon University on the software team building a proof of concept interface for Microsoft's new Surface.

Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough from Visual Story TAs on Vimeo.

The latent geek in me thinks that's +3 cool.

Neanderthal girl: Schwarzenegger is a girly man

So says anthropologist Peter McAllister in a new book:
An anthropologist has described modern man as “the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet”, with even Arnold Schwarzenegger at his muscular peak no match for a Neanderthal woman in the arm-wrestling stakes.
Well, then. And there's a lot more where that came from:

The prologue of McAllister's book warns blokes just how much of a humiliation they're in for, opening with: "If you're reading this then you - or the male you have bought it for - are the worst man in history. No ifs, no buts - the worst man, period.”

Chaps are then reminded that a Roman soldier was able to march one-and-a-half marathons in a single day, Rwandan Tutsi men could jump higher then the current world record of 2.45 metres, and Huichol Indian dads in Mexico tied strings to their 'nads so that their other half could give a quick tug during labour enabling them to share the childbirth experience.

But don't despair, you can break the family curse:
Those parents wishing to restore the male of the species to his former glory have a few options available: start your son firing arrows from galloping horses at the age of two, the better to emulate deadly accurate 12th century Mongol bowmen; train your offspring to throw an aboriginal hardwood spear 110 metres plus (as did the original Down Under locals, putting the current javelin world of 98.48 metres into perspective); or reserve him a seat on an Athenian oar-driven vessel, whose crew could easily out-row modern oarsmen.
Riiiiight. Or you could teach your son to do this:

And this seems somehow relevant, as a helpful reminder to anthropologist Peter McAllister:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Airport Security in 3 .. 2 .. 1


Ever wonder how someone makes a computer model of a really complicated natural system? Say, the World's Climate? You make a lot of simplifying assumptions. Micro effects are chaotic and can't be mapped to macro effect? Replace it with a seat of the pants estimate. You're an atmospheric physicist but you need to model oceanic thermal transfer? Well, air is a fluid, sort of.

But if some snotty-nosed blogger asks to see your source code or data, you get offended. After all, you were always the Smartest Kid In Class. You're published. In peer-reviewed Journals!

The problem for the in-group is when the out-group is as smart as they are:
I was trained as a physicist and was granted a PhD for my postgraduate work in upper atmosphere physics. In the early 1980s I joined the CSIRO’s Division of Oceanography and worked in surface gravity waves (ocean waves) for a time. Much of the theoretical side of oceanography entails fluid dynamics which, because of its heavy mathematical load, is regarded as a sub-discipline of applied mathematics rather than of physics. Because of this, in my view, many practitioners of oceanography and climatology have a cavalier disregard for experimental testing and an unjustified faith in the validity of large-scale computer models.

Later in my career I was involved in running and refining numerical fluid dynamical models, so I gained some insight into how this modelling is done and how rigorously such models need to be tested. Naval architects and aerodynamical engineers do such testing in wave tanks and wind tunnels.

Meteorologists regularly test model “skill”. Climatologists don’t seem to have a concept of testing, and prefer to use the term “verification” instead—that is, they do not seek to invalidate their models; they only seek supporting evidence.

Sheesh. What would an Atmospheric Physicist who worked on Oceanography know about how the atmosphere and oceans effect the climate? Must be some sort of denier, or something. Reid continues:

Back in the early 1990s when I was still working for the CSIRO and the early versions of the AGW theory started to gain currency, I was rather bemused by the passions which were aroused in my colleagues and the gullibility with which predictions of future climate disaster were accepted. Surely the jury is still out, I thought. I remained agnostic about the theory. More recently, after reading the literature and looking in detail at the output of one well-known climate model (HadCM3) I have changed my stand. I now believe it is nonsense for the following reasons.


Second there are the climate models themselves. In discussions with colleagues, arguments always seem to come down to “But the models show …” Those who use this argument seldom have modelling experience themselves and share the lay public’s naive faith in the value of large computer models.

I have been a fluid dynamical modeller and I know how flaky numerical models can be for even a relatively small chunk of fluid like the Derwent Estuary. The models are highly unstable and need to be carefully cosseted in order to perform at all realistically. One reason for their inherent instability is that the mesh size of the model grid (typically hundreds of metres to hundreds of kilometres) is always much larger than the scale at which friction and molecular diffusion operate (millimetres or less). These are the forces which act to damp down oscillations by converting free energy to heat. In order to get around this difficulty, in order to keep a model stable, it is common practice to set certain parameters such as eddy viscosity unrealistically high to compensate for the absence of molecular friction. This is reasonable if we are using the model to gain insight into underlying processes, but it means that fluid dynamic models are not much good at predicting the future. There is no exact correspondence between model and reality, and the two soon part company.
It's too hard to model the fluid dynamics of one river mouth, but the climate of the entire world? Don't worry, they have it covered.

I must admit here that I'm certainly no climatologist. However, my entire industry (Internet Security) exists because - I'm afraid that there's no good way to say this - all programmers are lousy. If it weren't for bugs (and most of the time, it's bugs that we've seen again and again and again), you wouldn't need our products. There are two types of bugs:

1. Programming mistakes. In security, these aren't bad enough to make the program crash (or someone would find in during Quality Assurance testing, duh). These are the easy bugs. Something's broken, and needs to get patched.

2. Architectural flaws. It's not a bug, it was designed that way. These are bad security juju, because the security "bug" might not be fixable at all, or it requires heroic efforts to fix. Programmers hate these bugs: not only are they a pain in the tail end to deal with, but the other programmers laugh at them because their program is broken as designed.

So, are there any bugs in the models? Speaking professionally, we should expect roughly one security bug per 1000 lines of source code. How many lines of source code are there in something that models the climate of the earth? We don't know, because the scientists won't publish their source code. But don't worry, I'm sure it's all wicked smart and accurate and everything. And well tested. Oh, wait:
A scientific theory is not tested merely by looking for confirmations but by conscientiously trying to “break” the theory, by trying to disprove it. The AGW theory is encapsulated in the IPCC assessment reports. The models discussed in these reports have not been tested in this way. These reports include sections on “Verification and Validation” but none on testing. “Verification” means that only data which support the theory are examined and data which do not support it are ignored. Indeed the authors of this section in the IPCC Third Assessment Report specifically dismiss the need for rigorous testing when they state:our evaluation process is not as clear cut as a simple search for ‘falsification’” (Section 8.2.2 on page 474). Effectively what they are saying is: proper scientific testing is too hard and we are not going to bother doing it.
Testing is hard, and often thankless. And really, really important. A company that doesn't test its products goes out of business, because customers won't put up with lousy output.

Go read the whole thing. This is one of the most interesting articles on the science behind AGW that I've seen in a while, and I look for this sort of thing. The quality control of much - if not most - of the AGW research looks terribly shoddy.

You can't eat yourself thin

Seems that the Congressional Budget Office thinks that Cap-and-Trade is going to kill a bunch of jobs:
A House-passed bill that targets climate change through a cap-and-trade system of pollution credits would slow the nation's economic growth slightly over the next few decades and would create "significant" job losses from fossil fuel industries as the country shifts to renewable energy, the head of the Congressional Budget Office told a Senate energy panel Wednesday.
Some folks don't like them saying this:
Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, pointed to a University of Massachusetts at Amherst study that concluded that the House bill would add jobs to the overall U.S. economy.
I'll keep this simple, so I don't confuse the Democrats and their allies in the media (redundancy alert): you really only have two choices. You can not enforce carbon limits, in which case you will not have any added cost. Or you can have enforcement, with its associated cost. Pick one.

And to Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, let me suggest that while it would be very nice indeed, you can't eat yourself thin. Just sayin'.

In other news of the obvious, we hear from across The Pond of the humanitarian results of their Socialized Medicine "Third Way":

AN 80-year-old grandmother who doctors identified as terminally ill and left to starve to death has recovered after her outraged daughter intervened.

Hazel Fenton, from East Sussex, is alive nine months after medics ruled she had only days to live, withdrew her antibiotics and denied her artificial feeding. The former school matron had been placed on a controversial care plan intended to ease the last days of dying patients.

Doctors say Fenton is an example of patients who have been condemned to death on the Liverpool care pathway plan. They argue that while it is suitable for patients who do have only days to live, it is being used more widely in the NHS, denying treatment to elderly patients who are not dying.

To all the bien pensant Usual Suspects who got their bowels in an uproar over Sarah Palin's comment about "Death Panels", I'm waiting for an explanation on how that won't happen here. Since the Obamacare plan is based on (a) ten years of taxes to fund seven years of benefits and (b) a 21% cut in Medicare costs, the shortfall is going to have to be made up somewhere. I mean, you can't eat yourself thin, nice though that might be. (hat tip: TJIC)

And in what should come as a shock to nobody, but will no doubt take the mouth breathers in both the Contemptable Democratic Party ("But these are our guys!") and Stupid Republican Party ("Gee, let's outlaw Gay Marriage!") leadership, it seems that New Jersey Unionworkers don't much like something. The Democratic Party platform:

LINDEN -- Rowdy union workers today upstaged a campaign kick-off by New Jersey environmental groups opposing a unique, coal-fueled electric plant proposed for the City of Linden that will capture its own carbon dioxide output and pipe it under the Atlantic Ocean.

"We need jobs," chanted two dozen union workers who support the "PurGen" project, as leaders of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, the New Jersey Environmental Lobby, Environment New Jersey and the Edison Wetlands Association held a press conference near Linden’s city hall to lambaste the $5 billion plant as a "dangerous experiment."

Hey, fight the power, man! Up the system! Please explain to the environmentalists that, however much it is to be wished, you simply can't eat yourself thin.

Sheesh, do I have to explain everything?

Blogroll additions

Three additions today. The Supersonic Reflectoscope covers Life, the Universe, and Everything with a techno-l33t panache. A frequent commenter here, some day I aspire to join his blogroll. Hint.

Lone Star Pastor is your one-stop-shop for Episcopal Church inside baseball (to horribly mangle a truly incongruous mixture of metaphors). As a one-time episcopalian who simply cannot relate to the New Age "improvements" that have been made there recently, I can relate to a lot that he posts.

Last but not least is a man who has taken Thoreau's dictum to heart: simplify! Simplify! Did It My Way has simplified his lifestyle in a way that has me envious.  Reading his blog reminds me of Thoreau's comment:
As for the complex ways of living, I love them not, however much I practice them. In as many places as possible, I will get my feet down to the earth.
Welcome to the Borepatch blogroll!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blogger Bleg

Does anyone know how to get Blogger to give you a word count? It's happy to tell me that I've made 1850 posts* but it would be interesting to see how many words that is. My estimate is that it's around 200,000 (!), but that's just a guess.

Does anyone use Google Analytics? Does this provide that feature? No urgent need, just was wondering. It seems that I've been wandering closer and closer to uberpost territory, the last couple months.

* As y'all know, the problem isn't getting me to talk, it's getting me to shut up.

The 95 Theses of Steve McIntyre

Something very strange is happening in the Scientific community right now - something healthy. We see a rejection of Received Wisdom, and in particular of Received Wisdom imparted by a closed circle of the anointed few. We see demands to see the data behind the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (the assertion that mankind's burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, triggering a runaway temperature increase).

The reaction from the anointed few is to close ranks, and to denounce the outsiders. You see, Wisdom has been revealed solely to them. The unwashed masses are unfit to comment; it's all quite decided now, thank you very much. The unwashed masses need the anointed few to lead them to salvation. And if the anointed few receive public honors and financial support (extracted from the unwashed masses), that's purely coincidental.

We've seen this sort of thing before. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to the door of All Saint's Church in Wittenburg on All Saint's Eve (Halloween), 1517. Driven by outrage at financial corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, Luther launched the Reformation, perhaps the greatest devolution of centralized intellectual power ever seen. Faith was henceforth a private, not a public matter, to be accepted or rejected by each individual. More importantly, the sources (especially the Bible) were published in the vernacular, rather than Latin. In a pre-literate world, this was the first opportunity most people had to hear the text that was the ostensible foundation of their religion.

Luther's revolution boiled down to see for yourself and make up your own mind. A closed priesthood could no longer keep you out of Heaven.

Steve McIntyre is, in many ways, the Scientific Community's Martin Luther. By insisting on examining the data and computer source code - and by refusing to accept "no" for an answer - he single-handedly blew Michael Mann's "Hockey Stick" out of the water. He is the reason that you don't hear about the Hockey Stick any more.

McIntyre asks of the Scientific establishment what Luther asked of the Church hierarchy: let everyone see for themselves, and make up their own minds. For a Reformation, as it were, from today's over credentialed academic establishment to an earlier and more vigorous day when participation was encouraged from a very broad section of educated society (think Committees of Correspondence, now enabled via the Internet).

The reaction, not surprisingly, is exactly what Luther saw. The "discussion" about AGW degenerates almost immediately into pronouncements of anathema. The whole "scientific" discussion is now as diseased as the Diet of Worms, as the establishment does what establishments do: try to suppress external voices that threaten the establishment.

McIntyre has a long presentation on the history of the Hockey Stick that should be the starting point for anyone interested in the failings of the Scientific Priesthood. The central issue is the refusal of Mann et al to correct mistakes in their analyses, and rather double down (to the point that Mann refused a demand from Congress for the algorithm that he developed as a public employee).

For me, this debate has become concrete since I find that people link to some of my AGW posts (thanks, Weer'd!). This last week I followed an incoming referral back to a site called OneUtah, and a thread that was debating the BBC's skeptical story "What Happened To Global Warming?" I ended up having a quite polite exchange with Richard Warnick, who seems a decent bloke (this is in stark contrast to the last time at a different site). But it very quickly became obvious that Richard and I were arguing past each other (politely, to be sure, but past each other nonetheless). He insisted on ignoring all but scientists with "peer-reviewed" articles. He was looking only for Priests.

Me, I don't care. If you have an argument, and are willing to put it out where I can see it, I'll read it. While I'm not a climate scientist, I'm confident enough that I can follow a spirited debate. Having been published in the technical literature in my own field of expertise (Internet Security), I'm not willing to cede all quality control to the 3 or 4 reviewers in "peer review". Indeed, McIntyre makes this point forcefully in his Ohio presentation:
I wondered about this in early 2003 in the most casual possible fashion. I thought that it would be interesting to look at the underlying data, rather as I might look at drill data from a mining promotion. Business was slow and I browsed the internet for a due diligence package. I could not locate such a due diligence package nor the underlying proxy data for MBH98. Out of the blue (I was then a Canadian businessman unknown to climate scientists), I emailed Michael Mann, the primary author, inquiring as to the location of the MBH98 proxy data.

To my astonishment, Mann replied that he had “forgotten” the exact location, but that an associate would locate it for me. The associate said that the data did not exist in any one location, but that he would get it together for me. I was dumbfounded. Here was a study that had been on the front page of the IPCC study, used in brochures sent to every household in Canada and there was no due diligence package.
You don't need to think that the whole AGW issue is being used as a political football by Big Environment to advance their policy preferences, or by lots - perhaps the majority - of scientists to get government research grants (although there's ample reason to be suspicious on both counts). The refusal of many scientists to disclose their data does violence to the entire scientific method. The insistence on listening to only a small subset of voices is not only unworthy of college underclassmen (My scientist is Red Hot; your scientist ain't diddly-squat), it's borderline religious in nature.

You may trust a priesthood. As for me, I'll continue to use the intelligence and good sense that the Lord gave to me. Hier stehe ich; ich kann nicht anders.

UPDATE 19 October 2009 12:21: Ann Althouse makes the same point, in fewer words:
The global warming "consensus" is all about telling us to stop talking and bow to expertise. That pose is laughable in a world of new media where you can no longer turn off the comments.