Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mail bag

A bunch of folks have emailed recently, and I've been sadly neglectful in my replies.  Besides, people only send interesting stuff, and here it is.

2cents emails to point out that even the New Republic is questioning the Received Wisdom of Global Warming:

Especially since scientists themselves aren’t entirely sure what the evidence means.

Damn it, the freaking science is settled!   What is wrong with these people?!
I think that the Press climbed on the ZOMGTHERMAGEDDON!!!1!!eleventy!! bandwagon because if you slice a Journo lengthwise you'll find a reliably leftist Progressive, and the proposed remediations required a massive increase in the power of the State.  They found this to align with their existing preconceived policy preferences.

But what made their stories convincing to the mass of the population was that all this broke out in the late 1990s - Michael Mann and company's famous "Hockey Stick" paper was published in 1998 which was a super El Nino year.  You always see hot and dry weather in an El Nino, but this let the MSM connect with the "Dang, it's hot lately" that everyone was thinking.

The problem today is that there's been no statistically significant warming in something like 17 years, and it's actually been quite cold for the last few.  The "Dang, it's hot lately" has turned into "Will someone turn up the thermostat?" and so we see articles like the one in the New Republic.  Remember, none of the journos are particularly smart, and they certainly don't understand anything about the science, so all they have to do on is their winter heating bills.

James emails to point out the long history of suspicion that the NSA has secret backdoors in popular software and Operating Systems.  This really goes back to the Clipper Chip controversy in the early 1990s where they did have an explicit decryption backdoor in the chip.  You hear rumors that, for example, Microsoft gave the encryption keys or Windows Source code to the Russian government.  My take is that it doesn't really matter - at this point there's so little reason to trust the NSA that you should assume that they can decrypt your data at will.  This is perhaps the strongest reason to use Open Source encryption, because you have the source code if you want.  While a lot of Open Source doesn't get people looking at it, crypto modules do get a lot of review.  I'm pretty confident that if one of these were backdoored, we'd know it.

Dave emails to comment on my post about World War II in the Pacific and the inevitability of American victory:
The one thing the post on the economics in the Pacific overlooks is the political and strategic implications of the Battle of Midway.
I say political, because, had the US lost at Midway, the political pressure would have been immense to shift more effort into the Pacific.  Though the Germany-first strategy made sense to the uniformed types, the citizenry saw mostly the attacks by Japan - and a string of defeats that needed to be avenged.
What if ships and men that were used for Operation Torch in November 1942 had been diverted, due to domestic political pressure, to operations in the Pacific?  How would that have effected events on the Eastern Front in 1943?  (I don't think it would have affected the final outcome, but the Cold War boundary might well have been the Rhein instead of the Elbe, due to the delay in the Anglo-American landings in France.)
Also, if the US had lost at Midway, they would have also lost the ability to challenge the Japanese advance in the Solomons, at least in 1942. (The Guadalcanal landings were in October, 1942.)  This would have left Australia isolated, and quite possibly have removed them from the war.  At any rate, it would have greatly reduced the Allied ability to challenge the Japanese advance in New Guinea, and possibly cancelled out MacArthur's entire SW Pacific campaign.  (Can you imagine the political havoc MacArthur could have caused if, lacking employment in the Pacific, he had returned to DC?)  That would have freed up more resources for the central Pacific advance (the only effort specified in the pre-war ORANGE plan - see Edward Miller's War Plan Orange), but much of what was used in the SW Pacific - especially the short and medium range aircraft, of which 5th AF employed a lot - would have been largely useless in the central Pacific.  'MacArthur's Navy' didn't have any carriers.
The US would probably have ultimately defeated Japan, but the post-war world would probably have looked very different.
I think this is exactly correct.  The political pressure to transfer much of the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific would have been enormous, if only to protect Hawaii.  Long term it wouldn't have made any difference (as my post points out), but it's hard to see a North African front opened up 5 months after the destruction of the American carriers at Midway.  That delay would have delayed the invasion of Sicily, which would have effected the Summer 1943 Eastern Front balance of power.


Brad_in_IL said...

Speaking of MailBag, has Your Lovely and Linguistic Bride had a chance to review the Russian language stuff I sent a while back? You know, the Mosin M44 pamphlet I got that was in Cyrillic. I can resend if you like -- just let me know.



Matt W said...

Except that the New Republic article goes on to say that the recent trends are explainable and actually prove global warming exists.

The only thing of real value to pull from that article is that our climate system is extremely complex and models aren't always right, despite the creator's confidence.