Saturday, August 31, 2019

Twitter CEO's twitter account hacked


I wonder what his password was ...

Travis Tritt - T-R-O-U-B-L-E

This is Labor Day weekend here in the States.  Everyone have fun!

T-R-O-U-B-L-E (Songwriter: Jerry Chestnut)
Well, I play an old guitar from a nine till a half past one I'm just tryin' to make a livin' watchin' everybody else havin' fun Well, I don't miss much if it happens on a dance hall floor Mercy, look what just walked through that door Well, hello T-R-O-U-B-L-E Tell me what in the world You doin' A-L-O-N-E Yeah, say hey, good L double O-K-I-N-G Well, I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E... Yeah I was a little, bitty baby when my papa hit the skids Mama had a time tryin' to raise nine kids She told me not to stare cause it was impolite She did the best she could to try to raise me right Cause mama never told me 'bout nothin' like Y-O-U Bet your mama musta been another good lookin' honey, too Yeah Hey, good L double O-K-I-N-G Well, I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E... Yeah Yeah Well, you're a sweet talkin', sexy walkin', honky tonkin' baby The men are gonna love ya and the woman gonna hate ya Remindin' them of everythin' they're never gonna be May be the beginning of a world war three Cause the world ain't ready for nothing like Y-O-U I bet your mama musta been another good lookin' mama, too Hey, say hey, good L double O-K-I-N-G Well, I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E... I said hey I said hey I said hey I said hey I said hey (Hey) Oh, I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E...

Friday, August 30, 2019

How do you say "This vehicle protected by Smith & Wesson" auf Deutsche?

A post from ten years ago:

From Adventures in Deutschland:
We saw this on our way out of town Saturday. On a Texas highway, I would not have even looked twice. On a German side road, my jaw dropped. So many things about this vehicle screamed mis-placement to us but none more-so than the bumper sticker, "This vehicle protected by Smith & Wesson". Nice.
There's a picture, too. As Lissa would say, "That's a Big Ol' truck!"

I know that I shouldn't joke about the hurricane

But it's kind of ironic that all those Florida liberals are buying generators and gasoline insteam of windmills and solar panels.  Just sayin' ...

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Well that's your problem right there ...

Yesterday we talked about how a jihadi made himself go all 'splody when his drone-bomb ran low on battery power and automatically returned to where it left from.  Today's tip of the dunce cap goes to some British Army drone pilots who watched the wrong screen, crashing the thing.  Apparently the drone has a rearward facing camera and they were watching their selfie while the drone was flying into the ground.

You can watch Trump's wall being built

Well, you can see on the map as new bits get completed.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

So why hasn't Dr. Michael Mann been fired from his job?

My previous post talked (at rather hideously extended length) about climate scientists - and especially Dr. Mann - hiding their data.  The Silicon Graybeard left a comment that others are asking:
And another question: why is Michael Mann still a professor at Penn State? Doesn't the fact that he has been found guilty (in at least parallel legal cases) of fraud, why hasn't he been fired?
We've had this answered, in Hal Lewis' spectacular resignation letter to the American Physical Society:
Hal Lewis [was] one of the Senior Statesmen of American Physics.  He's been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years (!).  His bio lays out his bona fides:
Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making) 
Hal Lewis thinks that Global Warming is an anti-scientific, money-grabbing scam by scientists, and says so in a brutal resignation letter sent to the president of the APS:
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.
His letter is long, and damning for today's scientific establishment.  And he specifically discusses Dr. Mann, and why Penn State did not (and will not) take any action against him:
Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.
Institutionally, the scientific field as practiced today is rotten to the core.  It consumes huge amounts of money with at best modest output.  The field of climate science in particular is feeding destructive governmental policies, but you have to say that the gravy train is good for those who are on it.

Most particularly for Dr. Mann.

I closed my post about Dr. Lewis with words that, looking back from almost a decade in the future, I would not change:
As background on ClimateGate, you might want to look here: For those of you who were, like me, trained as scientists, this scandal is infuriating.  For those of you who, like me, grew up liberal and care about the further impoverishment of the poor, this is infuriating. 
The Iron Law of Bureaucracy touches all establishments, including the scientific establishment.  In all honesty, we could cut scientific research by 80% and not be any worse off.  Heck, we might even be better off.

Why do Climate Scientists keep hiding their data?

Dr. Michael Mann - the most famous climate scientist in the world - has lost a lawsuit.  He sued another climate scientist (Tim Ball) for libel:
Dr. Ball was sued because he said, of Dr. Mann's seminal "hockey stick" work, "he belongs in the state pen, not Penn State." While others came to the same conclusion about the hockey stick, Mann sued Ball for libel. After eight years, Mann refused to provide a single document under the court-ordered discovery.
Dr. Mann has been in the news for a long time.  He was the lead author on a paper that turned climatology on its head.  In the 1990s the consensus view was that climate changed over time, that the Medieval period was as warm or warmer than today and that it was followed by the Little Ice Age that was so cold that millions died.  The Little Ice Age was followed by today's warming that dates back to around 1860 or so.  The UN IPCC wrote this up as the best scientific understanding of climate in the first Assessment Report.

But Mann's paper said this wasn't so - that climate was stable for a thousand years before suddenly spiking upwards in the 20th Century:
1998 saw the publication of a blockbuster scientific paper, one that showed that a climate that had been stable for a thousand years had suddenly begun to overheat.  Dr. Mann was the lead author, and this is the famous image from the article: 

This picture was not only used in Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth", it was sent to every household in Canada by the Canadian Government. 

As my post from 2008 says, it was a fraud, and Mann knew it was a fraud.  But he's done it twice more since then.  I'd like to explain how so you see just how deep the rot goes.
Click through to get the background of Dr. Mann's repeated scientific shenanigans.

But that's not the end of the list of dodgy science for Dr. Mann, oh no.  Remember the ClimateGate emails?  One in particular became moderately famous because it has a memorable phrase ("hide the decline"):
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.
The email is from the head of the University department that suffered the Climategate data disclosures.  "Mike" refers to Dr. Mann.  "Nature" refers to Nature magazine, one of the 2 or 3 most prestigious scientific journals in the world.  Specifically, this refers to a paper by Dr. Mann that was published there.

So what was Mike's "trick"?  He was studying long term (1000+ year) climate, and so relied on non-thermometer data (we call these "proxies" because they are closely related to temperature but are not specific temperature measures;  tree rings, ice cores from glaciers, etc).  Dr. Mann removed the proxy temperature data after 1960 and replaced it with thermometer readings.  It's not because he didn't have proxy data up to the present day - he had complete proxy data).  So why replace some of it?

Hide the decline.

This is a short (the first 3 minutes from where this begins playing) and very accessible explanation of what the Climategate crowd did with Mike's trick.  The speaker is Dr. Robert Mueller, a climate scientist and head of the Berkeley climate science team.  Dr. Mueller is not one of those beastly Deniers like me, but he is really shocked at all this manipulation.

This is also a pretty interesting example of how Big Tech is trying to sweep this under the carpet.  There used to be a short clip of just this segment from Mueller's talk, but Youtube has dissappeared it.  So there's the whole hour (which gives a lot of background on climate science shenanigans) but we start at the Climategate bit.

So that's Dr. Mann - the only thing left to add is that he is notoriously thin skinned (he sued Dr. Ball, after all) and also a hypocrite - he sued Judy Curry, then a climatologist heading the Georgia Tech school of earth sciences.

But pride goeth before a fall.  Dr. Mann lost his court case because he refused to release his data to the court.  Even now he's hiding the decline, or whatever it is.  He will be paying some of Dr. Ball's costs.

So what is it with climate scientists and this refusal to release data?  I posted about this ten years ago on this day, but will hide all that below the jump.  The thing to keep in mind is that things have not gotten better in a decade.  Climate science is still diseased in how it is performed, by the lead scientists in the field.

The War On Drugs takes down Oklahoma

I've been very vocal for a very long time about how the stupid War On Drugs is destroying much of this country.  Now we can add Oklahoma to the list.  The Oklahoma State Attorney General sued Johnson & Johnson because (a) there are a lot of Okie opioid deaths and (b) J & J make and sell prescription opiods.  Never mind that science has shown that overdose deaths do not result from prescription medication, an Okie judge awarded the State a half billion dollars in damages.  There are something like 1,000 other lawsuits lined up on the taxiways as other States are salivating for all the shake-down dough.

Buh-bye, Johnson & Johnson.

Aesop has a fine rant about this and you should go right now and read it.  I particularly like this part:
It will start with J&J ceasing all opiate sales to Oklahoma, in perpetuity.
(Hint: they should institute that policy tomorrow. Then refer the howling from hundreds of thousands of agonized senior citizens to Judge Fucktard, and post his home phone number and that of the OK AG on the J&J website for complaints.)

Then every other drug company should follow suit, and will.
His point that this will end up driving firearms manufacturers out of business hits center mass as well.

The one thing that I would add is that this is the modus operandi we should expect from the government: they are incompetent to do their assigned task (win the stupid War On Drugs; sure, it's unwinable but they're the ones who want to fight that battle so this is on them).  Rather than get better at their job, they look for someone innocent to blame while they shake down cash and prizes that is fed right back into their patronage mill.

Pretty sweet scam, right there.  It would have a medieval robber baron taking notes.  Of course, the problem is the same as that faced by the robber baron: you steal half of the merchant goods passing by your castle and soon there won't be any merchant goods passing by your castle.  It's killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

The price of prescription opioids is fixin' to skyrocket, just like the price of cigarettes skyrocketed after the tobacco settlement of the 1990s.  Poorpeople will have to choose whether to eat or to live in pain.  Some will decide to go to the local dealer for the street fare because it will be a penny on the dollar compared with the script their Doc writes.  Some of these will OD.

Nice going, Oklahoma.  You've just about fucked up the situation in every possible way imaginable.

So Aesop, can we now declare victory on the stupid War On Drugs and bring the troops home?  Or should we keep burning the village down to save it?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The inevitable failure of Red Flag laws

It is said that the Wheels Of Justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.  Probably lawyers say this, because everyone else who looks at it thinks it's pretty messed up.  Some of the failure is due to incompetence, but some seems to be due to malice.  We can expect to see this with Red Flag laws, because we see this with capital punishment:
[UPDATE, August 22: After the Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal, Larry Swearingen was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital last night at 6:35 p.m. He took his final breath at 6:47.] 
A little after 6 p.m., the state of Texas will execute Larry Swearingen for a crime experts believe he was unable to commit. 
Journalist Andrew Purcell detailed the events leading to Swearingen's impending death in a thorough investigation.
So Texas very well may have executed an innocent man.  Kamala Harris - who is running for President - suppressed DNA evidence that could have exonerated a man on Death Row when she was California Attorney General.  Why would any gun owner believe that a President Harris would instruct the Justice Department to diligently and fairly enforce hypothetical Red Flag laws?  Quite frankly, there is every reason to believe that the Harris Justice Department would gleefully abuse these laws.

Oh, and the same thing applies to "Universal Background Checks" which, while the government is not supposed to use this to create a back door registration database would do exactly that (same link, above).

UPDATE 27 August 2019 16:06: And another: Man convicted of killing college student found innocent after 40 years behind bars:
RALEIGH -- A three-judge panel found a convicted murderer innocent of the 1979 murder that sent him to prison.

James Blackmon was convicted in 1988 of the murder of Helena Payton at what is now Saint Augustine's University. Payton was fatally stabbed in her neck in a dorm bathroom in 1979. The case went cold until detectives received an anonymous tip in 1983.
But the Courts will absolutely protect gun owners' rights.

UPDATE 27 August 2019 17:47: Here's another example of the justice system failing.  Houston Police Officers charged with murder for falsified "No-Knock" drug raid.

How the Media slants the news, example MCVIII

Oh noes, a Trade War!
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. lobster exports to China have fallen off a cliff this year as new retaliatory tariffs shift the seafood business farther north.


Meanwhile, business is booming in Canada, where cargo planes are coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, to handle a growing bump in exports. Canadian fishermen catch the same species of lobster as American lobstermen, who are based mostly in Maine.

The loss of business has brought layoffs to some Maine businesses, such as The Lobster Co., of Arundel, where owner Stephanie Nadeau has laid off half the 14 people she once had working in wholesale.

“They picked winners, and they picked losers, and they picked me a loser,” Nadeau said. “There is no market that’s going to replace China.”

America has exported less than 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of lobster to China this year through June, according to data from the U.S. federal government. The country exported nearly 12 million pounds during that same period last year. That’s a more than 80% drop.
This story caught my eye, since I grew up in Maine.  Lobster fishing is a hard business, and the government has in the past done any number of bone headed things that have damaged Maine's seafaring economy.  For example, George H. W. "Read My Lips" Bush imposed a tax on yachts that raised no revenue at all while putting boat builders out of business.  So yeah, this could potentially be another example.

But I'm suspicious of the press, and was on the lookout for numbers that would put the situation into context.  Are Maine lobstermen selling fewer lobsters?  All the article dished up is breathless prose:"fallen off a cliff", "they picked me a loser", "80% drop".

Well, the 80% drop is the drop in exports to China, not in total sales.  So what's going on up in Maine?  Are the lobstermen all going out of business?

We're never told.  We're also never given any numbers to establish context - how much was sold last year vs how much sold to date this year.  Until the tenth paragraph, where we see this:
Lobster prices paid by American consumers have remained fairly steady during the trade dispute and there remain many buyers for U.S. lobster.
Oh.  You'd think that if a major market "fell off the cliff" then lobster prices would drop.  Supply, meet demand.  We don't see that here.

Actually, I fibbed here in this post.  If you click the link to (the Boston Globe web site) you don't find the last quote at all.  The Globe edited it out of the AP story (I guess to save newsprint costs on their website or something. /sarc).  But the same AP article is available all over, even at Canada's CBC.

So the whole story is a nothingburger.  It's a tale told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury but signifying nothing.  Actually, it's not so much told by an idiot as told by a liar.  Burying the lede is an old and infamous journalistic trick; the Globe "improves" on the trick by eliminating the lede.

I do like the local paper here because it has started focusing on local news.  That's something that's valuable to me - what's going on around these parts - and I'm happy to pay for it.  But this nonsense from the AP is worse than useless to me; they tell a story that simply isn't true and I'm uninterested in taking the time to get to the bottom of things (unless, like here, I just want to point and mock).

No wonder nobody trusts the media and they're all going out of business.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Opus 13,000

I've posted 13,000 times (well, with help from co-bloggers ASM826 and Brigid).  In celebration of this milestone, all content tomorrow shall be free of charge.

Damn, that's clever

Sunday, August 25, 2019

William Herschel - Symphony No 12 in D major

On this day in 1822, William Herschel died.  He is most famous for the discovery of the planet Uranus, but as with many of the educated men from his day, he was a polymath.  One of his considerable talents was in musical composition - he wrote 18 symphonies among other works.

But his most interesting scientific discovery was now the planet that he tried to name after British King George III (and which instead was named after an ancient Roman God whose name inspires giggles in Middle School boys).  Rather, he noticed that the price of grain was related to the number of sunspots.  This post from 2011 explains it.

What do Occam's Razor, Sunspots, Climate, and Ernst Mach have in common?

Lots of folks are commenting on the recent blockbuster announcement that solar activity is dropping off a cliff and we may be headed into a little Ice Age.  Basically, some of the most prestigious solar scientists have published a study saying that sunspot activity has dropped so low that the next 11 year solar cycle (Cycle 21) may not even happen.  The last time that this happened was the Dalton Minimum - a period of unprecedentedly cold winters around 1800 AD that included "The Year Without A Summer".

This would be very bad news - many more people die in cold events than in hot ones.  Most of those deaths have historically been from starvation, and there's really nothing to suggest that anything is fundamentally different today.  Sure, world wide transport is easy, but world food stocks are the lowest they've been in decades.  So it is much to be hoped that the American Astronomical Society is wrong.
They're probably not.  William of Occam tells us why.  Occam's Razor tells us that if you have two theories that both explain the same thing, the simpler of the two is almost certainly correct.  The classical lesson in scientific reasoning here involves the Ptolemaic Earth-centered view of the Solar System vs. the Copernican Sun-centered view.  The Ptolemaic theory had to resort to ever more rococo ad hoc tweaks like epicycles to explain the orbits of the planets.  Johann Kepler explained the Copernican system simply and elegantly with his mathematical laws.

Occam's Razor says that simple and elegant beats complicated and crufty 999 times out of 1000.

And so to sun spots and climate.  We have quite good records of sunspot activity going back to 1700 A.D.  We have decent records of the price of wheat going back much further - pretty good ones to 1500 A.D., and sporadic records all the way back to 1250 A.D. (!).  The reason is that bread is the staff of life - no bread, and people starved.

In short, grain prices are a pretty good proxy for climate, in the days before thermometers.  Certainly better than, say, bristle cone pine tree rings.  This is important for two reasons, and the combination is very bad news indeed for people who cling to the "Carbon Dioxide is killing Mother Gaia" theory.

First, the price of grain and the number of sunspots have been known to be very closely correlated for hundreds of years.  William Herschel (who discovered the planet Uranus) first published this, back around 1800.  When there are a lot of sun spots, he said, the price of grain is low - harvests are good.  When there are few sun spots, harvests fail and the price of grain soars.

Remember, we have records on this that are so old that this has been known for literally hundreds of years.  You might say that, err, the Science is Settled.

Second, there's a theoretical foundation that explains why these two are linked.  Henrik Svensmark has proposed that Cosmic Rays are linked to clouds.  Specifically, the very high energy (ionizing radiation) rays generate aerosols when they strike high altitude molecules in the atmosphere, and that these aerosols form the nucleation points for high altitude clouds.  These clouds reflect incoming solar radiation back into space, cooling the earth.

Everybody knows that when the Sun's magnetic field is strong, fewer Cosmic Rays reach Earth.  And when the magnetic field is strong, we see lots of sun spots.

The Svenmark Hypothesis was recently experimentally confirmed at CERN, where artificial Cosmic Rays were crashed into an atmosphere.  And aerosols were born.  Pretty cool when a scientific prediction is confirmed.

To understand why this is so incredibly bad for the warmist crowd, you need to compare and contrast with the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (Carbon Dioxide heating the planet).  The theoretical underpinning of AGW predicts a warm zone in the mid-Troposphere (say, 8 miles up or so) in the tropics.  Essentially, this is a heat pump that cycles captured heat from the increased Greenhouse effect down to lower atmospheric levels (rather than radiating out to space).

The only problem is that with maybe a million weather balloons looking for the hot spot, nobody's found it.  Let's call this Epicycle #1.  But the plot thickens.  We're told that the correlation between CO2 and warming is clear.  It's not:
If I adopt this 10:1 ratio by looking at the last 100 years worth of data I find 1910-1940 temperatures rising while CO2 was not. 1940 to 1975 temperatures falling while CO2 rising, 1975 to 1998 temperatures rising while CO2 rising and 1998 to 2009 temperatures falling while CO2 rising. Three quarters of the period shows no correlation or negative correlation with CO2 and only one quarter shows positive correlation. I do not understand how one can claim a hypothesis proven when ¾ of the data set disagrees with it. To me it is the clearest proof that the hypothesis is wrong.
That's Epicycle #2.  But wait - we're not done yet.  CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas.  There are a lot of GHGs, the most powerful of which is Methane, at 1400 times more powerful than CO2.  But the real action is with water vapor, which makes up 90% of all greenhouse warming.  So what's with all the focus on CO2?

We're told that it's positive forcings, where some CO2 leads to increased temperature, which creates more moisture in the air, which makes more greenhouse warming, which makes more moisture, and so on.

So why didn't we see this out of control increase in past warm periods, like the Medieval Warm Period which was at least as warm as now and likely warmer.  Why didn't it spin out of control into Thermageddon, instead of crashing into the Little Ice Age?

Epicycle #3, right there.  And the temperatures are diverging pretty spectacularly from the Climate Models' predictions:

We'll just call Epicycle #4 the Hide The Decline Memorial Epicycle.

At this point, you should hear William of Occam whispering in the back of your head.  The simpler explanation is better.

Or it could be shouted at you.  The most famous failed scientific experiment of all time was the Michaelson-Morley Experiment, which tried to measure the Luminiferous Aether.  The problem of the day was that light was known to be a wave, but space was known to be a vacuum.  A wave needs a medium to propagate through, like waves through water.  Obviously, there was no water in space (or air, for that matter), and so the Luminiferous Aether was proposed.  It was a mathematical formulation, and its properties were derived from the observed properties of light.  Those properties meant that it had to be an exceptionally rigid vacuum.

Ernst Mach (of supersonic fame) was contemptuous of the whole idea.  The whole edifice was constructed from cardboard and tape (err, or nineteenth century words to that effect), and anyone could see that it was wrong.  Michaelson and Morley set out to directly measure the Aether, and failed.  Completely.

Because Mach was right: there is no Aether.  Looking back, this is obvious, and scientists of the day should have thought that a simpler explanation would be forthcoming, as indeed it was (the photon).

And so back to the matter at hand.  William of Occam politely (as befits a church man) suggests that AGW is overly complex.  Ernst Mach sneers that it's plain as the nose on your face.  CERN shows aerosol formation.

Of course, I'm one of those Deniers (Epicycle #5) who don't recognize that the Science Is Settled® (Epicycle #6), and who should be locked up as an Enemy Of The State™ (Epicycle #7). 

Or perhaps e pur si muove: and yet it moves. Instead of a bunch of epicycles, you can look at an elegant hypothesis backed up by experimental confirmation and 300 years of correlated observations.

The house of cards is only held together with tape after all.

UPDATE 19 December 2017 09:42: Updated model vs. temperature diagram and link due to Internet bit rot devouring the original version.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You

Sometimes things are more than they seem.  Country music is full of this - for example, how Ray Charles took Don Gibson's country ballad and took it right to the top of Billboard's Hot 100, R&B, and Adult Contemporary charts in 1962.  Charles released an entire country music album, Modern Sounds In Country Music.  The album was a smash success, and helped to introduce Charles to a bunch of folks who had never heard him before.  Charles took some of the great old country songs and remade them as his own.

More than things seem.

Charles saw a great similarity between Country and the Blues:
"The words to country songs are very earthy like the blues, see, very down. They're not as dressed up, and the people are very honest and say, 'Look, I miss you, darlin', so I went out and I got drunk in this bar.' That's the way you say it. Where in Tin Pan Alley will say, 'Oh, I missed you darling, so I went to this restaurant and I sat down and I had dinner for one.' That's cleaned up now, you see? But country songs and the blues is like it is."
There's a man who would know.

I Can't Stop Loving You (Songwriter: Don Gibson):
I've made up my mind
To live in memories of the lonesome times
(I can't stop wanting you)

It's useless to say
So I'll just live my life of dreams of yesterday
(Dreams of yesterday)
Those happy hours that we once knew

Tho' long ago, they still make me blue
They say that time heals a broken heart
But time has stood still since we've been apart
(I can't stop loving you)

I've made up my mind
To live in memories of the lonesome times
(I can't stop wanting you)

It's useless to say
So I'll just live my life of dreams of yesterday
(Those happy hours)
Those happy hours

(That we once knew)
That we once knew
(Tho' long ago)

Tho' long ago
(Still make me blue)
Still make me blue
(They say that time)

They say that time
(Heals a broken heart)
Heals a broken heart
(But time has stood still)

Time has stood still
(Since we've been apart)
Since we've been apart
(I can't stop loving you)
I said I made up my mind
To live in memories of the lonesome times
Sing the song, children
(I can't stop wanting you)
It's useless to say
So I'll just live my life of dreams of yesterday
(Of yesterday)

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Platonic ideal of a society

Ironically, it's one that rejects Plato.  John Michael Greer (who formerly blogged as the Archdruid) has a brilliant post that masterfully takes today's elites down a peg or three.  The problem, he (persuasively) argues, goes back to the school of philosophical thought originating with Plato.  Plato, you see, got things very, very wrong:
One of the things that makes Plato so significant a figure in the history of thought is that his mistakes were even more useful to future thinkers than his successes ...
Like a great many utopian authors, Plato built his imagined society on a particular view of human nature. It wasn’t a particularly rose-colored view—he managed to dodge that bullet—but it had a subtle but no less fatal flaw. Plato’s model divided up human nature into three basic parts. First was the collection of animal appetites, epithumia in Greek, the desires for food and sex and other creature comforts, which he associated with the belly. Second was a set of character elements for which there isn’t a good English collective term—the Greek word is thumos—which include pride, aggressiveness, and the sense of honor and self-esteem; these Plato associated with the chest. Finally there was the rational part, nous in Greek, the part that seeks to know and understand, which he associated with the head.
To Plato, as to plenty of other intellectuals then and later, there was a strict hierarchy among these parts, with epithumia on the lowest level, thumos above that, and nous above all. What he did in crafting the utopia of The Republic—and what plenty of other people have done since his time—was to turn this into a social hierarchy. The equivalent of epithumia was the working class; the equivalent of thumos was a class of guardians, armed warrior-policemen whose job it was to maintain social order and defend the Republic against all enemies internal and external; the equivalent of nous, of course, was an elite class of philosopher-kings who had received a thorough education to fit them for their roles as the governing caste.
It’s a very common notion, not least because Plato’s impact on the history of human thought is almost impossible to overstate—if you grew up in a Western or Muslim society, dear reader, you use categories and concepts Plato invented literally every time you think. It’s also a very common notion because a great many members of the intellectual class like to fancy themselves in the role of Plato’s philosopher-kings, handing down wise commandments to the guardian caste which are then obeyed without question by the masses. Popular as it is, it’s the biggest bellyflop of Plato’s many bad ideas. We know this because it’s been tried many times and it always fails.
At this point, everyone will have at least a couple examples running through their minds.  Two quotes (from two different ruling elites) that come to my mind are "After us, the deluge" and "Basket of Deplorables".  but that's just me.
The problem is quite simple. Let’s start by granting that every human being is composed, as Plato suggests, of epithumiathumos, and nous.  If that’s the case, then it won’t work to assign any one of these to a social class, because every member of that class has all three, just as they all have heads, chests, and bellies. The working classes aren’t just epithumia; they also have their thumos—their pride, their self-respect, and their capacity for violence—and their nous—their capacity to think, and in particular to wonder whether the laws proclaimed by the philosopher-kings are actually wise commandments or are simply another helping of self-serving cant.
The self described Philosopher-Kings are nothing of the sort; rather, they're what Lenin described as "Useful Idiots".  The term "idiots" applies not just because their vanity repeatedly overwhelms their learning, but also because their learning is so very lacking:
Plato offered a scheme for getting [Philosopher-Kings] to behave as such—basically, giving them a philosophical education—and that was an interesting hypothesis when it was originally proposed. It’s hard to think of a hypothesis that’s been more thoroughly tested over the last 2300 years, though, and the verdict is in:  it doesn’t work.
Boy, howdy.  Smartest dumb-asses around is what they are.

Geer continues applying this model to the failure of today's elites:
Expert specialists are by and large too busy listening to each other and to their preferred sources of data to notice when the data from those sources, and the consensus opinions based on them, have drifted out of touch with the real world.
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, ironically enough, provided an epic example of that kind of failure in action. All through the latter months of the campaign, as Trump flung prodigious resources into the critical northern Midwest states that ended up putting him in the White House, field staffers in the Clinton campaign in those states tried frantically to get the national campaign to notice what was happening and give them the help they needed to fight back. Their increasingly desperate pleas were dismissed by Clinton’s top staffers with the airy retort, “Our models disprove your anecdotes.” That turned out to be the epitaph for Clinton’s presidential ambitions, because models don’t prove or disprove anything: rather, they reflect the real, anecdotal world—or they don’t.
His solution?  A political system that provides a correcting force to the managerial elite's mistakes, via a representative democracy.  This circles back to what used to be taught in school - the genius of the Founding Fathers was to be able to look with clarity at history, and to use history's lessons to craft a political structure.  They saw the repeated failures of Plato's Republic, and designed their own that would fragment power, and then fragment it some more.  This made it hard for an elite to gather all the reins to themselves, and mostly left decision making to be done at the lowest possible level, by the people most effected by the decision.  Genius.

I cannot more highly recommend his post.  It has been said that the first responsibility of a true intellectual is to question their own initial beliefs.  This questioning will, it's said, help identify the sorts of pitfalls that today's Intellectuals stagger into so often.  Perhaps the first questioning should be of the very foundation of their education.  Plato was about as wrong as you can get, and everything you've been taught is based on his ideas.  That's one righteous "Elite", right there.

More Ransomware attacks

I've been posting about Ransomware for a while now.  Basically, it's malicious software that gets installed after an attack.  It encrypts all the data on the computer and demands payment to decrypt the files.  Baltimore got hit hard by it in the last 6 months or so, and there's enough money in the scam to keep it near the top of security threats.

Lawrence has been on top of this as long as I have, and has a breaking story:
Early on August 16, a total of 23 local government organizations in Texas were hit by a coordinated ransomware attack. The type of ransomware has not been revealed, and Texas officials asserted that no state networks were compromised in the attack. 
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources (TDIR) told Ars that authorities are not ready to reveal the names of the entities affected, nor other details of the attack.
So the Bad Guys hit a lot of towns, and hit them hard enough that the towns probably haven't figured out just how bad things are.  Baltimore was pretty bad, with people not being able to pay taxes (so nobody could sell a house).

Lawrence has excellent advice that I heartily second:
Consider this yet another reminder to use strong passwords you can remember, to backup all your files (especially all your important files) regularly, update your virus definitions and security patches regularly (between starting and publishing this piece, I updated both Firefox and macOS), and to never open an email attachment or click on a link unless you’re absolutely sure you know who it’s from.
And props to Lawrence, who made this a couple years back:

We posted about how to back up your data here and here.  I think we need to collect all our backup posts into a single post and highlight it on the side of the blog.

UPDATE 23 August 2019 09:58: The series on backing up your data can be found here.  FYI, I do not recommend Western Digital storage products anymore because they had a hard coded backdoor.  Maybe they've changed since this series of posts but that's such a boneheaded security mistake that I wonder what else they've done.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Amazon is on fire?

Miguel runs down a number of potential causes for why the rain forest is burning.  He left one out:

There is no non-malicious justification for "Red Flag" laws

Do something, for the children!

We hear this all the time from gun banners.  It's almost always stupid and useless, but I am coming around to the belief that it's very often malicious.  The idea that the government can act wisely and judiciously, while sweet, is known to any thinking person to be wrong, wrong, wrong.  Remember Senator Kennedy finding himself on the no-fly list?
In August 2004, Senator Ted Kennedy told a Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the No Fly List that he had appeared on the list and had been repeatedly delayed at airports.[citation needed] He said it had taken him three weeks of appeals directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to have him removed from the list. Kennedy said he was eventually told that the name "T Kennedy" was added to the list because it was once used as an alias of a suspected terrorist. There are an estimated 7,000 American men whose legal names correspond to "T Kennedy". (Senator Kennedy, whose first name was Edward and for whom "Ted" was only a nickname, would not have been one of them.) Recognizing that as a U.S. Senator he was in a privileged position of being able to contact Ridge, Kennedy said of "ordinary citizens": "How are they going to be able to get to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?"
I encourage everyone to go read that link, which discusses notable cases of No-Fly List failures.  Among the people falsely identified as terrorists were the wife of Senator Stevens, multiple Congressmen (including the 3rd highest ranking Republican in the House), Air Marshalls, active duty military (including one returning from Iraq who was denied boarding his flight home and a retired Air Force Brigadier General who was an airline pilot and who was denied boarding his own plane), and children under five years old.

The No-Fly List was intended to keep people safe, to "do something for the children".  And it's stupid and useless.  The government repeatedly fails to act wisely and judiciously.

And so to Red Flag laws.  We are already seeing exactly this same idiocy in action:
I had several readers who sent me this story (much appreciated, guys):
Just last week, a man in Florida had his firearms confiscated simply because he had the same name as a criminal. That’s right. A man was stripped of his Second Amendment right…because the police failed to differentiate a law-abiding citizen with a thug.
This is not a case of mistaken identity:
Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.
The man in question is 5'8. Carpenter is 5'11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.
Seems pretty cut and dry that they have the wrong guy, doesn't it?  But he had to turn in his guns, because Reasons.  There's no way to see this as other than malice on the part of the governmental employees.

In security terms, this misidentification is called a "false positive".  While the problem isn't as bad as it used to be, it was for a while so bad that TV commercials mocked it.  Remember Windows Vista and their UAC security feature?

False Positives are a hard problem to solve, and requires diligence to keep bad things from happening.  This is why you get a second opinion if your doctor tells you that you have a disease that is expensive and painful to treat.  Few diagnoses are 100%, and you don't want to go through that if you're one of the 15% that didn't actually have the disease.

But it costs money, time, and effort to get rid of these False Positives.  The government employees clearly didn't care one bit that the guy didn't remotely fit the description.  Protecting the guy's rights wasn't a priority for them.

This is a type of malice that has been well documented in literature throughout the ages.  Pretty much everything by Franz Kafka covers this, as well as more recent works like Catch-22.  The callousness of uncaring governmental employees is legendary.

To those who would say that this isn't really personal malice on display, the question is how is this functionally different from malice?  OK, so the guy will get his day in court next month, but that's on his dime.  The government has neatly shifted the cost of their False Positive to him.

And quite frankly, this is what we see every time new gun laws are proposed.  The restrictions may not be very big or very expensive, but they always fall on law abiding gun owners.  Every time.  People proposing these laws simply don't care about that.  There's a word that describes someone who wants his fellow citizens to suffer inconvenience, expense, or worse.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

27 years ago at Ruby Ridge

Alex emails to point us to an excellent retrospective on the anniversary of Ruby Ridge.  There's a lot there that I hadn't known - the Fed.Gov paid out almost $4M to the survivors of the siege, that "Cadillac" Deval Patrick found no government wrongdoing (this was before he was Governor of Massachusetts), and that the Agents involved in the shootings all got commendations.


And Lon Horiuchi's whereabouts is currently unknown, although he seems to no longer be the marketing face of H-S Precision firearms.  The ghost of Vicki Weaver whispers to us that we should not forget her, or Horiuchi, or H-S Precision.  In that spirit, allow me to roll this out from many years back:

No man likes to live under the eye of perpetual disapprobation.
- Dr. Sam Johnston 
Mr. Horiuchi is well advised to get used to it.

If you've never heard this story, go read Alex's post and check out the Resistance Library they have there which has much food for thought.  Also think about the Deep State, and how long it's been around.  Remember, Ruby Ridge happened under the Presidency of George H.W. Bush.  Of course, we've known for a while that he's a dirty commie, and the Deep State runs deeper than anyone talks about.

Europeans think they're so very smart

And so much nicer than we are.  Oooooh kaaaay.  Here's an example from ten years ago that highlights this.

Scottish "Government" are idiots

The Scottish "Government" (it's a fake government, like the EU government) has released from prison the guy who blew up Pan Am flight 103. He killed hundreds of people, and was sentenced to "life" in prison.

Funny, he doesn't look dead.

People are predictably in an tizzy over this, and can't understand how the Scottish "government" could do this. Actually, that's pretty easy. All you need is perspective.

Scotland is like Alabama, only colder and not as friendly. Population and GDP are very similar, at around 5 million and $170B/year each. The weather's nicer in Alabama, but other than that, they're both mid-sized industrialized societies. I can personally attest to the fact that both are nice places. Edinburgh has great ancient architecture, but Montgomery is totally charming in a Mayberry-RFD-sort-of-way.

So how come you never see the Alabama government do things of such epic idiocy? Simple: the Alabama government hasn't puffed itself up to think it's a national "Government". Alabama has Georgia (not to mention every Ivy League graduate) to point out their every mistake. So who tells the Scottish "government" that they're idiots?

Besides us, of course.

And so, as a public service to the Scottish "Government", here is where they can get advice on how not to be idiots:

Office of the Governor of Alabama
+1 (334) 242-7150

No need to thank me, it's all part of being a Full Service blog. Just think of it as my little contribution to "Smart Diplomacy".

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Belief in Global Warming depends on trusting the temperature databases

A few weeks back I posted that the so-called "record" heatwave was nothing of the kind:
Oh, hum.  Here's a prediction: not a single US State will register a record high temperature during this heat wave.  None.

You want to see a real heat wave?  Look at July 1936.  ElevenStates set high temperature records that stand to this day.  That Wikipedia page is a little shifty on this, trying to hide the decline in record temperatures.  You'll see an asterisk next to South Dakota, which the Wiki page says means Also on earlier date or dates in that state.  So what was that earlier date for South Dakota?  July 1936.

Oh, and three more States set high temperature records the next month, August 1936.  That makes 14 out of the 50 States suffered record high temperatures in the summer of 1936.  That's almost 30% of the States.
The Wikipedia page confirms that no record high temperatures were set last month in the 50 United States.  No records have been set at all in the entirety of 2019 except for one: a record low temperature of -38°F in East St. Louis, IL.  That's the lowest temperature ever recorded in the Land Of Lincoln.

You'd think that with all this jibber-jabber about THERMAGEDDON!!!!11!!eleventy!! that we'd see record high temperatures, not record low temperatures.  It kind of makes you wonder what the scientists mean about "hottest ever".  I mean, how do they go about calculating this when the records were all set (hey, 15 out of 50 State records in July-August 1936 is about as close as we'll ever see to "hottest ever")?

They change the data, that's how they do it.  They "adjust" the measured ("raw") data in mystical and magical ways that they don't fully explain.  This adjustment has the effect of lowering older temperatures and raising current temperatures.  No doubt this is entirely above board and they'll get right onto a detailed explanation and justification.  Any day now.

I've been writing about this for a long, long time:
So, a major government climate data set is adjusting recent years temperature reading upward, at an increasing rate. This implies that the data as collected at the sensors is getting increasingly inaccurate - after all, we're seeing adjustments on the order of 0.5°F for the 1990s, so the sensors are clearly reading almost half a degree cold.

Does this make any sense? And notice how the sensors are "running cold", never hot, despite the fact that cities have grown much larger since 1960, and many once-rural weather stations are now surrounded by hot asphalt parking lot, rather than cooler meadow? Does that make any sense?

Let's look at this further.

The Fed.Gov says that the lower 48 states have warmed on average by 0.6° between 1940 and 1999. Of that, 0.5° is from adjustments, not from raw data. In other words, 83% of the warming is from adjustments. Well, now.

They say that they have a good explanation. Maybe they do - I'm still fighting off a bad case of "Meh", so let's ask another question: do we see anything like this other places than USHCN?

We do indeed. A week ago, a group called the Climate Science Coalition of New Zealand made a bombshell announcementall of New Zealand's reported 1°C warming between 1850 and 2000 was due to adjustments.
That last item ended up being pretty interesting.  In their court filings, the Kiwi weather bureau (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA) claimed that they were never responsible for the database.  Not theirs at all, nosiree.  And pay no attention to their previous press releases about it all.

And so to trust:
A question that is not (yet) being asked about climate change is how would someone create a scientific consensus in the absence of solid data and computer models? Trusting trust.

Dr. Jones and the CRU team are in control of one of the main data sets that all climate scientists use in their analyses (referred to as HadCRUt; the other major one is NASA's GISStemp - note that NASA's Gavin Schmidt features prominently in the CRU emails as a member of the "Hockey Team").

What is clear about the HadCRUt (as well as GISStemp) is that they are opaque - the data sets are terribly hard to understand, poorly documented, and adjusted in a manner that is not well explained (if, indeed, it is explained at all). In the case of CRU, the original (unmodified) data is no longer available, but seems to have been destroyed.

Yet ever single climate scientist uses these data sets for their analysis of global temperature.

So, if the guardians of these data sets were to want to ensure a scientific consensus that the globe is warming, that this is a recent phenomenon, and that mankind is behind it, all they need to do is modify the data sets. All researchers pick up the modified data sets, have no (easy) way to validate the soundness of the data, and unsurprisingly produce similar results. Hey, the data show conclusively that the planet is warming. Oh noes! Thermageddon!
But Borepatch, I hear you ask, why would a scientist do this?  Well, ideology has been a motivator for as long as we've had ideologies.  But Ockham's Razor says that the simplest explanation is the best explanation, and that means money.  We know that the ClimateGate team got millions of dollars in government funding.  We know that governments have spent around $100B (yes, that's billion) on climate research.  We have seen scientists publicly discussing how this government funding is corrupting the scientific community.  We see governments proposing $50T (yes, that's trillion) "solutions" to the "problem" of global warming.

If the science really were so clear and settled, you'd think that the scientists would make their work clear.  Instead, it's a mill of statistical gobbledy-gook that makes it really hard for other scientists to unpack and to replicate.  And do you know what a scientific discovery that can't be replicated is called? Hint: it's not called "scientific".

And if temperature is at an all time high, wouldn't we see some temperature records being set?  Me, I trust the records, because it's very obvious if someone adjusts them.  There's transparency there, unlike in the rest of the climate data.