Friday, October 29, 2010

Frank Gaffney at a Tea Party

What I Learned at the Tea Party

Timothy McVeigh Was Not A Christian

Those who cite Timothy McVeigh as an example of a Christian terrorist will probably ignore this, but whatever he may have been born into.... Timothy McVeigh Was Not A Christian

Determining the Correct Climate Sensitivity

John Kehr looks at the effect of CO2 on world temperature. Sensitivity Training: Determining the Correct Climate Sensitivity | Watts Up With That? His conclusion:

The total Greenhouse Effect (GHE) of 30 °C is incompatible with the currently accepted IPCC values of climate sensitivity and CO2 forcing. In order for the GHE to be compatible, the total effect of the greenhouse would have to be closer to 100 °C which would result in a global temperature of ~85 °C. This strong overstatement of the climate sensitivity substantially weakens the idea that CO2 could cause measurable change in the Earth’s climate, much less the type of danger that is often being stated.

This does not mean that CO2 is not a significant portion of the Earth’s greenhouse, but it does limit the role that it plays in the total GHE. The climate sensitivity is what prevents the sum of the parts from being greater than the whole and the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the total observed GHE. If the current estimates of CO2 forcing and climate sensitivity do not fit within the parameters of the total GHE effect, those estimates must be incorrect.

A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data

A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data - Hydrological Sciences Journal

Before we spend trillions of dollars cutting carbon dioxide emissions based on the output from computer models, how about if we get a computer model whose output correlates reasonably well with observations?


We compare the output of various climate models to temperature and precipitation observations at 55 points around the globe. We also spatially aggregate model output and observations over the contiguous USA using data from 70 stations, and we perform comparison at several temporal scales, including a climatic (30-year) scale. Besides confirming the findings of a previous assessment study that model projections at point scale are poor, results show that the spatially integrated projections are also poor.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Separation of Church and State Was Read Into the Constitution

Jim Lindgren discusses How Separation of Church and State Was Read Into the Constitution (Hint: the KKK got its way)

9. In the last part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, nativists (including the KKK) popularized separation as an American constitutional principle, eventually leading to a near consensus supporting some form of separation.

10. Separation was a crucial part of the KKK’s jurisprudential agenda. It was included in the Klansman’s Creed (or was it the Klansman’s Kreed?). Before he joined the Court, Justice Black was head of new members for the largest Klan cell in the South. New members of the KKK had to pledge their allegiance to the “eternal separation of Church and State.” In 1947, Black was the author of Everson, the first Supreme Court case to hold that the first amendment’s establishment clause requires separation of church & state. The suit in Everson was brought by an organization that at various times had ties to the KKK.

11. Until this term, the justices were moving away from the separation metaphor, often failing to mention it except in the titles of cited law review articles, but in the last term of the Court they fell back to using it again.

Wikileaks documents show WMDs found in Iraq « Hot Air

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air notes: Wikileaks documents show WMDs found in Iraq

Wikileaks’ new release from purloined files of the Department of Defense may help remind people that, contrary to popular opinion and media memes, the US did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and in significant quantities. While the invasion of Iraq didn’t find huge stockpiles of new WMDs, it did uncover stockpiles that the UN had demanded destroyed as a condition of the 1991 truce that Saddam Hussein abrogated for twelve years...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dembski Coming Clean - He's a Creationist YEC

Dembski Coming Clean - He's a Creationist YEC

In 2000, Dembski wrote an essay, ID Coming Clean that, among other things, got me interested in the whole ID movement issue. In that essay, Dembski "came clean" about his stance on young-earth creationism:

By creationism one typically understands what is also called "young earth creationism," and what advocates of that position refer to alternately as "creation science" or "scientific creationism." According to this view the opening chapters of Genesis are to be read literally as a scientifically accurate account of the world's origin and subsequent formation. What's more, it is the creation scientist's task to harmonize science with Scripture.

Given this account of creationism, am I a creationist? No. I do not regard Genesis as a scientific text. I have no vested theological interest in the age of the earth or the universe. I find the arguments of geologists persuasive when they argue for an earth that is 4.5 billion years old. What's more, I find the arguments of astrophysicists persuasive when they argue for a universe that is approximately 14 billion years old. I believe they got it right. Even so, I refuse to be dogmatic here. I'm willing to listen to arguments to the contrary. Yet to date I've found none of the arguments for a young earth or a young universe convincing. Nature, as far as I'm concerned, has an integrity that enables it to be understood without recourse to revelatory texts.

[My emphasis]

Fast forward ten years: Dembski once again comes clean, and times have changed. This time he clearly states he is a Biblical inerrantist, and as such he is a creationist and he does think that Genesis is historically true.

Let's look at what Dembski has to say now.

[Edit remark: changed "evangelical" to "fundamentalist", in response to a remark by Wes Elsberry.]

Towards the end of last year, 2009, Dembski wrote a book, The End of Christianity, that attempted to reconcile the theology of the Fall, and its relationship with sin and death, to an old earth. In a comment at Uncommon Descent in October 2009, he pointed out that "As I note in THE END OF CHRISTIANITY, I would be a young-earth creationist in a heart-beat if I didn't see the evidence for an old earth as so strong." (Link)

However, given that Dembski teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, his book aroused a lot of resistance from his YEC colleagues. One particular thing that stood out was that Dembski argued that the evidence for the Flood being a local event was strong, writing "Noah's flood, though presented as a global event, is probably best understood as historically rooted in a local event."

This was enough to get Southwestern Seminary's president Paige Patterson involved. According to an article at the Florida Baptist Witness,

Patterson said that when Dembski's questionable statements came to light, he convened a meeting with Dembski and several high-ranking administrators at the seminary. At that meeting, Dembski was quick to admit that he was wrong about the flood, Patterson said.

"Had I had any inkling that Dr. Dembski was actually denying the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, then that would have, of course, ended his relationship with the school," he said.

Oh no! Threatened with being expelled!

And did Dembski take a stand for the strength of the evidence? You know, follow the evidence wherever it leads?


According to an article A Reply to Tom Nettles Review of Dembski's End of Christianity, page 8, Dembski issued a "clarification", which is really a retraction. He says that if he were to write End of Christianity again, today he would say things differently.

In writing The End of Christianity today, I would also underscore three points: (1) As a biblical inerrantist, I accept the full verbal inspiration of the Bible and the conventional authorship of the books of the Bible. Thus, in particular, I accept Mosaic authorship of Genesis (and of the Pentateuch) and reject the Documentary Hypothesis. (2) Even though I introduce in the book a distinction between kairos (God's time) and chronos (the world's time), the two are not mutually exclusive. In particular, I accept that the events described in Genesis 1- 11 happened in ordinary space-time, and thus that these chapters are as historical as the rest of the Pentateuch. (3) I believe that Adam and Eve were real people, that as the initial pair of humans they were the progenitors of the whole human race, that they were specially created by God, and thus that they were not the result of an evolutionary process from primate or hominid ancestors.

and in respect to the flood

Yet, in a brief section on Genesis 4-11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part. Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do. In any case, not only Genesis 6-9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality.

So there you have it: Dembski

  • is a Biblical inerrantist,
  • accepts that Genesis 1-11 are historically true, and thus that the universe, the earth and all life were created in six literal days
  • is furthermore a creationist in respect to human beings, who are not related to hominid ancestors by common descent,
  • believes the Flood was a real universal event (presumably not too many thousands of years in the past),
  • and, since he believes "that what the Bible teaches is true", he "bow[s] to the text."

It can't be any clearer than that. He bows to the text.

If there ever was another nail that needed to be driven into the coffin of whether Dembski's contributions to arguing for ID have any chance of being taken seriously by the scientific world, this is it. He is an fundamentalist theologian: given a choice between the evidence - even evidence that a year ago he said was convincingly strong - and the inerrant Bible, he chooses the Bible. He's lost any possible credibility of being someone who wants "to follow the evidence wherever it leads."

Now an obvious cynical reaction to all this is that he wants to keep his job, and will say whatever it takes to stay in Southwestern's good graces. (Of course, the irony of this in respect to the whole Expelled schtick is breathtaking.)

However, there's another possibility. Dembski, and the ID movement in general, ever since Phillip Johnson devised his Wedge strategy, has been trying to create this illusion that what they were doing was "scientific" and had nothing to do with religion. Johnson has specifically said that the strategy was to get people to accept scientifically that a Creator was necessary, and after that was established the sectarian differences about the age of the earth, common descent, etc. could be worked out in house, so to speak.

This strategy has been a dismal failure. They've lost in the school systems (for instance, Kansas), they've lost in the courts (Dover), they have never got off the ground in the science community: in fact, every time the ground troops get involved in trying to sell ID, their blatant creationism comes right to the forefront.

If I were Dembski, I'd be tired of it. He's a fundamentalist theologian, and he's got a job where he can be one. Why not give up the ID charade, join the flock, and come clean as a YEC.

Looks to me like that's what he's done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comparing like with like - and how unlike they then became

Comparing like with like - and how unlike they then became

When in my teens, in the 1960s, I wondered what rules were best for governing the world, and the nations in the world. Comparisons like this (featured by Tim Worstall at the ASI blog today, he having come upon it here) helped me to decide:


As Tim Worstall notes:

[T]he countries are matched as to rough starting point before the communist armies marched, matched roughly as to culture and so on, and yet after that series of communist experiments we see the same result everywhere.

Exactly. It was the matching of like (to start with) with like that was most telling. And before 1990, we also had the damning comparison between East and West Germany (very near to my English home) to contemplate.

So, said contemporaries who were drawing more nearly opposite conclusions, you want sweatshops like they have in South East Asia? With growing confidence, I learned to say: yes. If people in South East Asia now have sweatshops, that's a pity. They must be very poor. But how will shutting down those sweatshops make them any less poor? You're saying poor with hope of escape is worse than poor with no hope at all. That sounds downright wicked to me.

That time proved me, and all who argued as I did, right was one of the big reasons for communism collapsing where it did collapse, and trying to insert capitalism into itself where it did not.

Some libertarians now live in dread of a time when such comparisons will no longer be possible, because the entire world will be equally stagnant, and nobody except them will be able to see this. Some people are determined to be miserable.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Media Bias, Liberal Cluelessness

Media Bias, Liberal Cluelessness

A month ago, a U.C.L.A. graduate student named Emily Ekins spent hours roaming a Tea Party rally on the Washington Mall, photographing every sign she saw.

Ekins, a former CATO Institute intern, was examining the liberal conceit that Tea Party marches are rife with racism and conspiracy theorizing. Last week, The Washington Post reported on her findings: just 5 percent of the 250 signs referenced Barack Obama's race or religion, and 1 percent brought up his birth certificate. The majority focused on bailouts, deficits and spending — exactly the issues the Tea Partiers claim inspired their movement in the first place.

On one level, as Douthat points out, this is a lesson about desperate liberals making up comforting myths. ("The Democrats are weeks away from a midterm thumping that wasn't supposed to happen, and the liberal mind is desperate for a narrative, a storyline, something to ease the pain of losing to a ragtag band of right-wing populists.") But it is also a cautionary tale about the willful ineptitude and outright laziness of the mainstream media.

A single intern did what not a single mainstream outlet, with collectively thousands of cameramen and reporters, refused to do: get the facts. The mainstream media eagerly recited false accounts of racial epithets but could not be bothered to do a systematic report on the Tea Partiers' actual message.

The media and elected liberals reinforce their own contrived narrative. Liberal leaders proclaim that the Tea Partiers are racists. The media dutifully report the accusations and search out the isolated Obama = Hitler signs. The liberals breathe a sigh of relief as they read the New York Times or watch MSNBC, which confirms that, yes, these people are wackos and racists. The cycle repeats. The only thing missing are facts.

While the mainstream media's bias rankles conservatives, the latter should be pleased that the willful indifference to reality repeatedly deprives liberal officialdom of warning signals and essential feedback on the public reaction to their agenda. It is maddening for conservatives, but it is dangerous for liberals to operate in a world of fabrication.

Neutrons and Coffee

Neutrons and Coffee

One of the vanishingly small number of perks of being on committees for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is that every now and then you get to see some very cool science or technology outside your own field.

Last week as part of our meeting, STFC Science Board visited a bunch of really really big lasers and the ISIS neutron and muon facility in Oxfordshire.

Neutrons are like protons (made of three quarks) but they have no electric charge. All atomic nuclei1 need them in order to stay together.

At ISIS you can put various things into a beam of neutrons. Since they have no charge, they ignore the cloud of electrons round atoms and molecules, and just see the nuclei. How strongly they "see" them depends on the kind of nucleus and, for instance, they see the hydrogen in water much more clearly than the aluminium in an espresso maker. Hence:

... a video2 made with neutrons. Wow.

Scientists and engineers come from all over Europe and beyond to use neutrons from ISIS. Neutron scattering allows physicists to study new materials, and allows engineers to watch how fluid flows round an engine, for instance. Also, bathing aircraft electronics in neutrons allows you to test how likely they are to fail under cosmic ray bombardments when they are at 10,000 metres. As a particle physicist who flies a lot, this appeals to me. As does the fact that ISIS is being used in research towards a international muon collider or neutrino factory.

The video was shown to us by Andrew Taylor, Director of ISIS, who also gave us coffee later. It was actually made at ILL3. ISIS and ILL have complementary applications, since ISIS is a spallation source which produces short intense bursts, whereas ILL is a reactor neutron source and provides a steady stream of neutrons.

The UK runs ISIS. We also own a third of ILL, which is in Grenoble, in another of the vital international collaborations which allow us to keep at the forefront ... I am struggling not to lapse into another "Science is Vital" rant here since the rest of the Science Board meeting was spent gloomily discussing scenarios for possible cuts.

Here's hoping George Osborne, Vince Cable et al are awake and can smell the coffee.


1 Except hydrogen, which is just a single proton.

2 Thanks to Andrew Taylor, and to Andrew Harrison, UK Director of ILL, for permission to use the video.

3 The video, not the coffee4

4 Well, the coffee we drank. Obviously, the coffee in the video was made at ILL. But it would be cold by now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sandy Levinson’s Challenge

Ilya Somin undertakes to answer... Sandy Levinson’s Challenge

Sandy Levinson argues that the recent mostly government-funded rescue of the trapped Chilean miners proves the need for a large welfare state. He also issues a challenge to the Volokh Conspiracy:
Might it be too threatening for, say, David Bernstein, who announced his forthcoming talk to the Federalist Society (with a comment to follow by Jack Balkin) on his new book that attempts to rehabilitate Lochner, to admit that at least sometimes there is a role for the “rescuing state,” which, almost by definition, must take from those who have in order to provide for those who don’t?

He responds in part:

As I pointed out in a recent response to one of Sandy’s co-bloggers, it is perfectly consistent to believe on the one hand that government should provide some degree of assistance to those of the poor who genuinely can’t care for themselves, while also arguing for a massive reduction in government intervention in the economy. That was the view of libertarian thinkers such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. Much government intervention benefits not the poor, but the wealthy and well-organized interest groups, who generally have vastly greater political power than the poor do.
As I noted in my last post, there is actually a lot of historical evidence that private sector institutions often do a better job than the state in aiding the poor as well as the rich and middle class. But even if you believe, as I do, that some degree of government redistribution to the poor is needed, that doesn’t justify anything remotely resembling today’s overgrown government. Indeed, redistribution to the genuinely needy would be far easier to maintain if it weren’t for the looming fiscal crisis created in large part by enormous bailouts and entitlement programs that mostly benefit the nonpoor.

Denying the Catastrophe

Warren Meyer Denying the Catastrophe: The Science of the Climate Skeptic’s Position

Climate skeptics don't necessarily deny that climate is changing. What they deny is to a larger extent that it's all the fault of humans, and most of all, that it's necessarily a catastrophe.

What skeptics deny is the catastrophe, the notion that man’s incremental contributions to CO2 levels will create catastrophic warming and wildly adverse climate changes. To understand the skeptic’s position requires understanding something about the alarmists’ case that is seldom discussed in the press: the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming is actually comprised of two separate, linked theories, of which only the first is frequently discussed in the media.

The first theory is that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels (approximately what we might see under the more extreme emission assumptions for the next century) will lead to about a degree Celsius of warming. Though some quibble over the number – it might be a half degree, it might be a degree and a half – most skeptics, alarmists and even the UN’s IPCC are roughly in agreement on this fact.

But one degree due to the all the CO2 emissions we might see over the next century is hardly a catastrophe. The catastrophe, then, comes from the second theory, that the climate is dominated by positive feedbacks (basically acceleration factors) that multiply the warming from CO2 many fold. Thus one degree of warming from the greenhouse gas effect of CO2 might be multiplied to five or eight or even more degrees.

This second theory is the source of most of the predicted warming – not greenhouse gas theory per se but the notion that the Earth’s climate (unlike nearly every other natural system) is dominated by positive feedbacks. This is the main proposition that skeptics doubt, and it is by far the weakest part of the alarmist case. One can argue whether the one degree of warming from CO2 is “settled science” (I think that is a crazy term to apply to any science this young), but the three, five, eight degrees from feedback are not at all settled. In fact, they are not even very well supported.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Saddam Had to Be Removed

From Pajamas Media: Newly Declassified Iraqi Testimony Shows Why Saddam Had to Be Removed

Contradicting Saddam Hussein’s testimony where he claimed he actually wanted an alliance with the U.S. against Iran, Tariq Aziz describes Saddam as an “anti-American” who was “delighted” when al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The documents do not mention Saddam’s private reaction to 9/11, but we know that his public reaction was to be possibly the only leader to refuse to condemn the attacks, as well as the only leader to openly praise them. His sons and the state-controlled press did the same. This is a critical fact that is often forgotten: Saddam’s regime was the only one to publicly hail the 9/11 hijackers and not hide its desire to see such attacks happen again.

Aziz confirms that Saddam’s regime supported terrorists like Abu Abbas, the notorious mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, providing him with a farm for fundraising for Palestinian terrorists and for use as a training center. They even gave him the AK-47s he needed. We also know that Abu Ibrahim, called “the most dangerous bomb maker in the world bar none during my time as a CIA officer” by former CIA case officer Robert Baer, operated a network from his home in Baghdad. The Duelfer Report confirmed that Iraqi intelligence trained terrorists from around the Arab world, including at the Salman Pak facility known to house a Boeing airliner that defectors said was used to simulate hijackings. We don’t know if these terrorists were al-Qaeda members or not, but that doesn’t change the fact that Saddam not only praised 9/11 but trained jihadists in the tactics necessary to repeat it.
The Iraqi Perspectives Project, which reviewed over 600,000 Iraqi documents, did not find any evidence of operational collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but it did show that Saddam actively helped those seeking to carry out those attacks he was so “delighted” over. The study concluded that “the regime was willing to co-opt or support organization it knew to be a part of al-Qaeda as long as that organization’s near-term goals supported Saddam’s long-term ‘vision.’” The Project found that “Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al-Qaeda … or that generally shared al-Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.”

What this means is that the debate over whether Iraq supported al-Qaeda or not before the invasion is flawed because of a misunderstanding of what al-Qaeda actually is. A direct link between Saddam and Bin Laden or his inner circle cannot be proven. However, a link to the regional groups that shared Bin Laden’s ideology and operated as affiliates of al-Qaeda can be established. Those that say no link has been proven either are unaware of these findings or define “al-Qaeda” so narrowly that it downplays the breath of the organization’s reach.
Thanks to Tariq Aziz’s testimony, we know that Saddam’s attitude towards terrorism against the U.S. was the same in private as it was in public. He may not have been willing to directly engineer a plot like 9/11, but he certainly was willing to help terrorists do it for themselves. And as I’ve previously written, it is now known that Saddam’s regime also had been working on plans to actualize three of the most horrifying scenarios that the West fears the most: the smuggling of chemical and biological weapons into the West, a dramatic attack against Israel that could spark a regional war, and the destabilization of the Saudi royal family, with one 2002 document indicating Saddam actually suggested working with Ayman al-Zawahiri towards this end.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gaza -- not the hell hole it's portrayed as

Peter Hitchens shows us the "other Gaza" -- the one that doesn't make it into the news. PETER HITCHENS: Lattes, beach barbecues (and dodging missiles) in the world's biggest prison camp

How do you take the temperature of a planet?

Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt? Part 3 « JoNova

Big Bang vs "Tired Light"

From the Starts With a Bang blog: Big Bang Alternatives: Could my light just get tired?

No, assuming photons lose energy as they travel along doesn't cut it.

You can plainly see that if you start with a blackbody spectrum, and cool it down without expanding it, you end up with the wrong spectrum for your observed radiation!

So that's the simplest explanation of why tired-light doesn't work. Remember this when you look for alternatives to a scientific theory: it isn't enough to make a better explanation of some of the observations; you have to account for them all.

Thing is, scientists have models sophisticated enough that they can calculate what we'd expect to see, given various changes. If someone wants to propose an alternative to the accepted theories, it needs to account for all kinds of things, not just one or two.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

“Portrait of Obama as a Kenyan Anti-Colonialist”

It seems Dinesh D'Souza has started a fight. Over at Big Lizards, Sachiko Yamada and Dafydd ab Hugh comment in thier posting, “Portrait of Obama as a Kenyan Anti-Colonialist”

Religious Science Fiction?

Hal G.P. Colebatch offers his thoughts on Religious Science Fiction at The American Spectator.
A magazine I frequently write for (not this one) recently published a review of a book of essays advocating atheism. The reviewer pointed out with some enthusiasm that a large number of the contributors were science-fiction writers.

This left me somewhat nonplussed. I publish a good deal of science fiction myself, I have also read quite a lot of it, and I am quite unable to see why writing it should be held to particularly qualify anyone to answer the question of whether or not there is a God.

Professor Emiritus Hal Lewis Resigns from American Physical Society

From a blog associated with the London Telegraph: Professor Emiritus Hal Lewis Resigns from American Physical Society – reasonmclucus - My Telegraph
"reasonmclucus" created his blog on mytelegraph about a month ago. Once you've registered for "My Telegraph", you're offered the option of creating your own blog.
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. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. 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. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

How News Bias shows

Patterico looks at a couple of news accounts and how bias shows up in them. In the first one: Patterico's Pontifications » L.A. Times Headlines Perpetrate Outrageous Distortion of Campaign Finance Figures in California Gubernatorial Election we have a basic pattern for news stories:
Headline Disfavoring Republican in Bold Somewhat longer headline in italics, called the “deck headline,” elaborating on why the story disfavors the Republican

DATELINE — Lead that disfavors Republican.

Second paragraph that disfavors Republican.

Later paragraph, expressed as an aside, that completely undermines point of entire story.
The example he cites is a comparison between Meg Whitman's funding and Jerry Brown's funding.
In another post, James O'Keefe gives his side of the story. And the media is still getting facts wrong.

Bookworm and solar panels

Bookworm Room » My two cents about solar panels on the White House
There are some lifestyle problems with solar panels.
What most people don’t know — at least, under the PG&E system — is that you don’t actually use the electricity your solar panels generate. Instead, you can think of your house as having a line going out, and a line going in. The line going out feeds electricity from the solar panels to PG&E, which buys this electricity from the homeowner. The line going in sells electricity from PG&E to the homeowner, same as always.

Except that it’s not actually the same as always. The way we structured things, in order to recoup our sizable investment on the solar panels sometime before our eventual deaths, is that we operate under “peak, semi-peak, and non-peak” rules. Peak corresponds to the time of day during which our solar panels make the most electricity, semi-peak is medium production, and non-peak is no production. During the summer, peak and semi-peak take one from 10 a.m. to 9 .m. During the winter and on weekends, it’s a little easier, with peak running from only 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. or something like that.

If we use electricity during peak time it costs us both arms, and both legs; during semi-peak we’re charged about 1.5 arms and 1.5 legs; and during non-peak, we’re charged almost nothing.

All of the above sounds wonderful in theory. In fact, that’s not how a household work. My dishwasher and laundry baskets do not fill up with non-peak precision, and magically empty with peak regularity. Instead, they accrue dirty stuff throughout the course of the day. In the old days, I would have run them when they were full. Now, as often as not, their being full coincides with peak or semi-peak, making them too costly to run. And by the time non-peak comes around in my busy household, not only is my dishwasher full, so is the sink and the counter. Likewise, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn so that I have time to both wash and dry not just wash a load during non-peak time, I better hope it’s a cool day, because I can’t get it in the dryer until evening, when non-peak rolls around again. On hot days, while it’s sitting in the washer waiting for cheap dryer time, it tends to get mildew. (The mirror image is true for hot evenings, when I have to stay up late to both wash and dry a load, or risk a washer barrel full of slightly mildewy laundry in the morning.)

The result is that I end up using my appliances more than I ever used to. I run a dishwasher every night, no matter how empty it is, so that I don’t get stuck halfway through the next day with a full dishwasher, and no ability to wash it. I’m using cheap electricity, but I’m using twice as much for ordinary tasks, and doubling my water use too. Laundry turns into a weekend long odyssey, as I try to cram in load after load during the day time hours. We have dirty laundry around all week, and my weekends are not fun.

It’s also very irksome to have someone monitoring my electricity use constantly. My husband checks the meter every day and quizzes me on energy spikes. To his credit, he also praises low energy days, but I really don’t like to be watched that closely. And this is my husband we’re talking about! Wait until we’re all on smart meters, and its our utility company staring over our shoulders with such oppressive fervor.

Obion County blues

Tom Maguire comments on the "pay for spray" fire department. JustOneMinute: Back To Obion County
Per this report, the homeowner had fire insurance which includes a rider obliging them to subscribe to the fire service. However, that rider is rarely in play and never enforced:

If I were running this insurance company I wouldn't sit around wondering whether the client had remembered to pay the $75. I would build the subscription cost into the premium and pay the town myself, to be sure that my clients were on the town list as paid up and entitled to service.

And here is another baffler:
The Obion County, Tenn. family whose home burned on Sept. 29 while firefighters watched from their truck has insurance to payoff their mortgage but not enough to cover everything lost or to rebuild, according to the family and their insurance agent.
So they had a mortgage, yet the mortgage lender wasn't independently verifying their fire protection status?
It looks like several people share the blame for this, quite independent of the Fire Department.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ground Zero Cultural Center

James Taranto (Best of the Web) has observations about the call to investigate those who are opposed to the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. Is Nancy Pelosi Un-American? -
A quote from Pelosi's office:
It was a bit unclear what she was referring to, and now her office sends over a statement from her clarifying what she meant and sort of standing by what she said:

"The freedom of religion is a Constitutional right. Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.

"I support the statement made by the Interfaith Alliance that 'We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.'
Interesting: When people are objecting to it, it's a matter of religious freedom, and the building is a mosque. When people refer to it as a mosque, supporters are careful to point out the building is a "cultural center".

education freedom

Liberty For All » Six soundbites for education freedom
Responses to six issues people have about privatized education.

How the Bush Tax Cuts Worked

Jeffrey A. Miron offers this op-ed at the NY TimesHow the Bush Tax Cuts Worked
Extending the Bush tax cuts — permanently — is a crucial step in restoring economic growth. The Bush cuts provided lower taxes on ordinary income, especially for taxpayers at the high end of the income distribution. These are some of the most energetic and productive people in society; raising tax rates would discourage their effort and entrepreneurship. High-income taxpayers also have multiple ways of avoiding high tax rates, so any revenue gain from raising rates would be modest.

Big Lizards on Gloria AllWet

Daffyd ap Hugh offers his take on the case of Meg Whitman's Nanny. Big Lizards: “Migra, Migra!”
A couple of days ago, grandstanding liberal activist attorney Gloria Allred -- who has donated money to Jerry Brown, Whitman's opponent in the gubernatorial race and an ancient relic of an earlier, loonier time in California history -- called a press conference to announce that she was representing Santillan (in what action?), whom she calls her "client." She triumphantly announced all of the above points, including that Santillan was in the country illegally and had used fraudulent documentation to get herself hired by Whitman. (I'm not sure how this helps her client, unless her real client is Jerry Brown.)
Allred argues that the letter constituted absolute evidence that Santillan was in the country illegally... and that Whitman must somehow have known about it and realized she was employing an illegal all the way back in 2003.

My problem with this hit job is simple: Can somebody please tell me exactly what charge Gloria Allred is leveling at Whitman? I know this can't be right, but it seems for all the world as if Allred -- liberal activist, immigration activist, and feminist activist -- accuses Whitman of failing to harm Allred's client in a timely manner.
I'm no longer sure what Gloria AllWet is after in any given legal action, except maybe getting an extension for her fifteen minutes of fame.

To be sure, if she did in a courtroom a tenth of what she does in front of TV cameras, she'd be in jail on contempt charges.

Only the top 3%?

From the WSJ: Kevin A. Hassett and Alan D. Viard: The Small Business Tax Hike and the 97% Fallacy
...the president and his supporters have repeatedly asserted that the expiration of these cuts will have little impact, because they affect only a tiny fraction of the wealthiest Americans, people who "can afford it."
The impact is far more severe than Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Biden suggest. In fact, the sound bite about 3% of small businesses, which has been picked up by numerous pundits, is one of the more misleading statements in the long history of economic propaganda.

The 3% figure, which is computed from IRS data, is based on simply counting the number of returns with any pass-through business income. So, if somebody makes a little money selling products on eBay and reports that income on Schedule C of their tax return, they are counted as a small business. The fact that there are millions of people in the lower tax brackets with small amounts of business income may be interesting for some purposes, but it is irrelevant for the assessment of the economic impact of the tax hikes.

The numbers are clear. According to IRS data, fully 48% of the net income of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations reported on tax returns went to households with incomes above $200,000 in 2007. That's the number to look at, not the 3%. Would Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Biden deny that the more successful firms owned by individuals in the top income-tax bracket are disproportionately responsible for investment and job creation?
... will the higher rates actually cause a significant reduction in business activity?

Economic research supports a large impact. A pair of papers by economists Robert Carroll, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Harvey Rosen and Mark Rider that were published in 1998 and 2000 by the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed tax return data and uncovered high responsiveness of sole proprietors' business activity to tax rates. Their estimates imply that increasing the top rate to 40.8% from 35% (an official rate of 39.6% plus another 1.2 percentage points from the restoration of a stealth provision that phases out deductions), as in Mr. Obama's plan, would reduce gross receipts by more than 7% for sole proprietors subject to the higher rate.

Is Obama Muslim?

Not according to Obama,
But there are reasons why sane, sensible people might think otherwise.
All the News That's Fit to Print
The great Greg Sargent notes a telling finding in the Pew poll: "A solid majority" of respondents who think President Obama is Muslim "say they 'learned' it from the media." Sarge scratches his head:
I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe some voices on the right have succeeded in creating an alternate reality that really is impenetrable. Maybe traditional news orgs haven't been forceful enough in knocking the lies down. Or, alternatively, maybe there's a segment of folks who are so distrustful of the "MSM" that they believe the opposite of what it tells them.

Maybe they read this article, published during the 2008 campaign:
As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother's Christian background is irrelevant.
Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.
His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is "irtidad" or "ridda," usually translated from the Arabic as "apostasy," but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim's family may choose to forgive).

What right-wing rag published this? The New York Times, of course.
(Hat tip: James Taranto, 8/20/10)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Gloria Allwet and racial profiling

Kim Priestap at Wizbang notes that: Gloria Allred suddenly a fan of racial profiling
She has a copy of a letter from the Social Security Administration alleging a "mismatch" in her nanny's social security number. According to AllWet, this should have been taken as a "red flag" indicating the nanny's illegal status.
...what if Santillan were white, Anglo-Saxon, and protestant, would Allred still insist that the letter should have raised a red flag for Ms.Whitman that Santillan was illegal? I seriously doubt it. So why should Meg Whitman have jumped to the conclusion that Ms. Santillan was illegal? The only possible answer was that she is Latina.

Since when did Gloria Allred become a fan of racial profiling?
I'm curious to know what other things the letter might have been a sign of. It explicitly states it's not to be used to infer anything about the employee's immigration status. What, then? Identity theft, perhaps? By whom, of whose ID?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Not Like The Tuskegee Experiment? Blog Articles » Not Like The Tuskegee Experiment At All

Recently Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley College, made an interesting discovery about the history of the US public health service--in the 1940's, after penicillin, a cure for syphilis, had been invented, American scientists did experiments on Guatemalan criminals in prison, allowing  them to have sex with infected prostitutes, and then curing them with penicillin.

Ann Coulter on same-sex marriage

B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot calls attention to Ann Coulter's talk at Gaycon: Not tolerant because we’re gay but because we’re conservative

One reason I remain skeptical of the sincerity of many of the leading gay marriage advocates is that whenever someone comes out in favor of traditional marriage, instead of arguing with them, they insult them, calling them bigots, haters or worse.

And then there are the more serious advocates of this social change, namely folks like Jonathan Rauch who understand that someone can oppose gay marriage without hating gay people. These individuals take issue with advocates of traditional marriage by acknowledging the points they raise and contesting them with carefully thought-out arguments.

Seems our fellow gay conservatives showed a similar respect for such ideas when Ann Coulter (to her credit) brought up the topic at this weekend’s Homocon in New York.

Lisa de Pasaquale at Human Events writes:

Toward the end of her speech, Coulter gave a reasoned argument for traditional marriage. She said, “The purpose of marriage isn’t for society to honor the strong feelings people have for one another, it’s solely and exclusively to provide children the best environment for developing into law-abiding, socialized, productive citizens—so they don’t end up on welfare or mugging us someday.”

There was no booing. No haughty retorts. No one left the room in a dramatic huff. Members of the audience were tolerant not because they’re gay, but because they’re conservatives. Coulter also offered a proposition that was well-received by the event’s organizers and the crowd. After reminding the crowd of the devastation of single motherhood on children, she said, “Instead of promoting something that’s a terrible idea, that everyone hates and that I know you secretly don’t even want anyway, my proposal is that GOProud demand that heterosexuals start taking marriage seriously.”