Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sarah Palin on Baptism, Waterboarding . . . and 'Torture' | National Review Online

Sarah Palin on Baptism, Waterboarding . . . and 'Torture' | National Review Online

I wonder how much of the reaction to Gov. Palin's remarks are driven by Palin Derangement Syndrome, which seems to be as common among the Country Club Right as it is on the Left.

Sarah Palin’s comparison of waterboarding to baptism, even in jest, was bad judgment. If I were Gov. Palin, I’d lose all the baptism jokes, since they manage to provoke devout Christians and authentic Muslim moderates as much as they do jihadists. But I think it is a mistake so off-handedly to agree with the Left’s political and hypocritical claim that waterboarding, as applied by the CIA to three high-value al Qaeda detainees under careful (albeit controversial) guidelines, amounted to “torture.”
As we discussed ad nauseum during the debate over “enhanced interrogation,” there is no question that waterboarding can amount to torture (and, indeed, can result in death) depending on the technique used. Nevertheless, torture—if we are talking about the crime, as opposed to using loose rhetoric about physical or mental abuse—has a legal definition. It requires the infliction of severe pain and suffering by a government official who deliberately and consciously intends to torture his victim. (Title 18, U.S. Code, Sec. 2340 et seq.) Moreover, to qualify as psychological torture, the infliction needs to be “prolonged mental harm” of the kind caused by the infliction or threatened infliction of severe pain, or “the threat of imminent death.” (It can also include things irrelevant to our consideration, such as use of mind-altering substances or the threat that third parties, like family members, might be tortured or killed.) Waterboarding the way the CIA executed was highly uncomfortable, but it did not cause severe pain, it was of short duration, and it did not cause fear of imminent death (the detainees were told that they were not going to be killed).
As I’ve previously noted, Attorney General Holder conceded in congressional testimony that the use of waterboarding in the training of some U.S. military personnel was not torture because there was no intent to torture. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department adopted the Bush administration’s very narrow legal definition of torture before a U.S. appeals court in a case involving JohnDemjanjuk, the late alleged Nazi concentration camp guard who raised fear of torture in fighting his deportation to Germany. And as Karl Rove has recounted, when bipartisan congressional leaders (including Nancy Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee) were briefed on what the CIA was up to on the interrogation front, their main concern was “whether we were doing enough” to extract information from detainees.
None of this necessarily means the use of physically abusive interrogation methods,waterboarding included, was good policy. People who want a categorical ban on such tactics constantly avoid addressing the ticking-bomb scenario and similar questions that bring the logic of their position into stark relief: forced to choose, they would prefer the occurrence of a preventable atrocity and the loss of perhaps thousands of lives to interrogation that harms a hair on the head of a culpable terrorist. In turn, people who argue against categorical bans (as I have done) often avoid addressing the inevitability that tactics they endorse for dire circumstances will be applied in less dire circumstances—and that our resistance to a ban, even though highly qualified, could encourage rogue regimes in their more routine use of abusive practices.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The World's Resources Aren't Running Out - WSJ.com

How many times have you heard that we humans are "using up" the world's resources, "running out" of oil, "reaching the limits" of the atmosphere's capacity to cope with pollution or "approaching the carrying capacity" of the land's ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.
"We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce, and unless we change course, that number will grow fast—by 2030, even two planets will not be enough," says Jim Leape, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).
But here's a peculiar feature of human history: We burst through such limits again and again. After all, as a Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this "niche construction"—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature's bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.
Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter's tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can't seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.
That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called "markets" or "prices" to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.

 In the climate debate, for example, pessimists see a limit to the atmosphere's capacity to cope with extra carbon dioxide without rapid warming. So a continuing increase in emissions if economic growth continues will eventually accelerate warming to dangerous rates. But optimists see economic growth leading to technological change that would result in the use of lower-carbon energy. That would allow warming to level off long before it does much harm.
It is striking, for example, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent forecast that temperatures would rise by 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels by 2100 was based on several assumptions: little technological change, an end to the 50-year fall in population growth rates, a tripling (only) of per capita income and not much improvement in the energy efficiency of the economy. Basically, that would mean a world much like today's but with lots more people burning lots more coal and oil, leading to an increase in emissions. Most economists expect a five- or tenfold increase in income, huge changes in technology and an end to population growth by 2100: not so many more people needing much less carbon.
In 1679, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the great Dutch microscopist, estimated that the planet could hold 13.4 billion people, a number that most demographers think we may never reach. Since then, estimates have bounced around between 1 billion and 100 billion, with no sign of converging on an agreed figure.
Economists point out that we keep improving the productivity of each acre of land by applying fertilizer, mechanization, pesticides and irrigation. Further innovation is bound to shift the ceiling upward. Jesse Ausubel at Rockefeller University calculates that the amount of land required to grow a given quantity of food has fallen by 65% over the past 50 years, world-wide.
Ecologists object that these innovations rely on nonrenewable resources, such as oil and gas, or renewable ones that are being used up faster than they are replenished, such as aquifers. So current yields cannot be maintained, let alone improved.
In his recent book "The View from Lazy Point," the ecologist Carl Safina estimates that if everybody had the living standards of Americans, we would need 2.5 Earths because the world's agricultural land just couldn't grow enough food for more than 2.5 billion people at that level of consumption. Harvard emeritus professor E.O. Wilson, one of ecology's patriarchs, reckoned that only if we all turned vegetarian could the world's farms grow enough food to support 10 billion people.

The best-selling book "Limits to Growth," published in 1972 by the Club of Rome (an influential global think tank), argued that we would have bumped our heads against all sorts of ceilings by now, running short of various metals, fuels, minerals and space. Why did it not happen? In a word, technology: better mining techniques, more frugal use of materials, and if scarcity causes price increases, substitution by cheaper material. We use 100 times thinner gold plating on computer connectors than we did 40 years ago. The steel content of cars and buildings keeps on falling.
Until about 10 years ago, it was reasonable to expect that natural gas might run out in a few short decades and oil soon thereafter. If that were to happen, agricultural yields would plummet, and the world would be faced with a stark dilemma: Plow up all the remaining rain forest to grow food, or starve.
But thanks to fracking and the shale revolution, peak oil and gas have been postponed. They will run out one day, but only in the sense that you will run out of Atlantic Ocean one day if you take a rowboat west out of a harbor in Ireland. Just as you are likely to stop rowing long before you bump into Newfoundland, so we may well find cheap substitutes for fossil fuels long before they run out.

 In 1972, the ecologist Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University came up with a simple formula called IPAT, which stated that the impact of humankind was equal to population multiplied by affluence multiplied again by technology. In other words, the damage done to Earth increases the more people there are, the richer they get and the more technology they have.Many ecologists still subscribe to this doctrine, which has attained the status of holy writ in ecology. But the past 40 years haven't been kind to it. In many respects, greater affluence and new technology have led to less human impact on the planet, not more. Richer people with new technologies tend not to collect firewood and bushmeat from natural forests; instead, they use electricity and farmed chicken—both of which need much less land. In 2006, Mr. Ausubel calculated that no country with a GDP per head greater than $4,600 has a falling stock of forest (in density as well as in acreage).
Haiti is 98% deforested and literally brown on satellite images, compared with its green, well-forested neighbor, the Dominican Republic. The difference stems from Haiti's poverty, which causes it to rely on charcoal for domestic and industrial energy, whereas the Dominican Republic is wealthy enough to use fossil fuels, subsidizing propane gas for cooking fuel specifically so that people won't cut down forests.

Robert Popper: Political Fraud About Voter Fraud - WSJ.com

Robert Popper: Political Fraud About Voter Fraud - WSJ.com

In January, Attorney GeneralEric Holder told MSNBC that voter fraud "simply does not exist to the extent that would warrant" voter ID laws, adding that many who favor such measures do so in order to "depress the vote." Vice President Joe Biden claimed in February that new voter ID laws in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas were motivated by "hatred" and "zealotry."
In an April 11 speech to Al Sharpton's National Action Network, President Obama recited statistics purporting to show that voter fraud was extremely rare. The "real voter fraud," he said, "is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud."
These arguments themselves are bogus. Consider the two studies from which Mr. Obama drew his statistics. The first, which he said "found only 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation in 12 years," is a 2012 report issued by News21, an Arizona State University project.

The News21 website explains that students "under the direction of journalism professionals" sent public records requests to state and federal officials asking for information about voting fraud cases. The project acknowledged significant gaps in its data. Several states made no meaningful response. Counties argued that "public records laws don't require officials to respond at all." Election officials and state attorneys general admitted that they did not track voter fraud. The Justice Department referred News21 to its 93 local U.S. attorneys but, the website reported, "many of those offices, in turn, referred News21 back to the department."
Crucially, News21 noted that "nearly all the data" it received had "some vital piece of information that had been requested specifically but that was missing." Responses lacked "important details about each case—from whether the person was convicted or charged to the circumstances of the alleged fraud to the names of those involved."
Given these limitations, it is hard to believe any valid conclusions about voter fraud can be drawn from this study.
Mr. Obama also cited an "analysis" showing that only 40 voters "were indicted for fraud" from 2002 to 2005. That number is drawn from an Aug. 2, 2005, Justice Department news release—which describes the department's "Ballot Access and Voting Integrity" initiative—and from a related list of federal cases. The release mentioned 120 pending election-fraud investigations, 89 prosecutions and 52 convictions.
It is preposterous to cite that news release as proof that voter fraud is rare. The release contains no information concerning prosecutions in any of the 50 state court systems for violations of state voting laws, even though these are far more common than prosecutions for violations of federal voting laws. Even as a list of federal offenses, the news releasee is inadequate. Justice did not claim to have compiled all convictions, prosecutions or investigations—let alone all known or unsolved cases—involving federal voter fraud. The release was only a list of legal actions relating to what was then a three-year-old initiative.

We do know that this country's decentralized system of election administration offers abundant opportunities for fraud. For example, a February 2012 report by the Pew Research Center on the States, "Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America's Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade," found that 1.8 million deceased registrants were listed as active voters, and that 2.75 million voters had active registrations in more than one state.
In court papers filed last year, Virginia noted that a limited cross-check with 21 other participating states—which did not include California, Texas or New York—showed that 17,000 voters were registered in three or more states. Imagine if the cross-check were extended to all 50 states and if Virginia's results were typical.

If the available evidence suggests that the amount of voter fraud is understated, the evidence that voter-ID laws suppress voting is nonexistent. In elections held after new voter-ID laws were enacted in Georgia and Tennessee, for instance, minority turnout either was stable or increased. In Tennessee, the turnout among Hispanics of voting age rose to 34.7% in 2012 from 19.2% in 2008, according to surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau, even though a strict new photo ID law was in effect in 2012. Turnout among blacks of voting age declined slightly, to 57.4% in 2012 from 58.1% in 2008, but this was within the Census survey's margin of error. In both years, black turnout was around 4% higher than the comparable white turnout.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How kinesin actually moves – Pharyngula

Recently, Carl Zimmer made a criticism of the computer animations of molecular events (it’s thesame criticism I made 8 years ago): they’re beautiful and they’re informative, but they leave out the critical aspect of stochastic behavior that is important in understanding the biochemistry. He’s talking specifically about kinesin, a transport protein which the animators are particularly fond of illustrating.
Every now and then, a tiny molecule loaded with fuel binds to one of the kinesin “feet.” It delivers a jolt of energy, causing that foot to leap off the molecular cable and flail wildly, pulling hard on the foot that’s still anchored. Eventually, the gyrating foot stumbles into contact again with the cable, locking on once more — and advancing the vesicle a tiny step forward. This updated movie offers a better way to picture our most intricate inner workings…. In the 2006 version, we can’t help seeing intention in the smooth movements of the molecules; it’s as if they’re trying to get from one place to another. In reality, however, the parts of our cells don’t operate with the precise movements of the springs and gears of a clock. They flail blindly in the crowd.
The illusion of directed, purposeful movement is a simplifying shortcut: as Zimmer describes, there actually is a lot of noise in the system, it’s just that the thermodynamics of the interactions promote a directionality to the motion. This is Chemistry 101. I figured that everyone with an undergraduate level of understanding of molecules would be able to grasp this.
I did not take into account willful ignorance, however. Jonathan Wells is angry that anyone dared to question the perfect “stately grace” of molecular machines, and accuses proponents of stochastic motion of Flailing Blindly: The Pseudoscience of Josh Rosenau and Carl Zimmer. He has a Ph.D. in biology, and he doesn’t understand what I just said was Chem 101?

Per Bylund: What Sweden Can Teach Us About ObamaCare - WSJ.com

Other stories include people waiting many hours before a nurse or anyone talked to them after they arrived in emergency rooms and then suffering for long periods of time before receiving needed care. A 42-year-old woman in Karlstad seeking care for meningitis died in the ER after a three-hour wait. A woman with colon cancer spent 12 years contesting a money-saving decision to deny an abdominal scan that would have found the cancer earlier. The denial-of-care decision was not made by an insurance company, but by the government health-care system and its policies.
This is why Swedes over the past two decades have been rushing to purchase medical coverage through private insurance, which guarantees and delivers timely and qualitative care. Insurance Sweden, the country's national insurance company trade organization, reports that in 2013 12% of working adults had private insurance even though they are already "guaranteed" public health care. The number of private policyholders has increased by 67% over the last five years, despite the fact that an average Swedish family already pays nearly $20,000 annually in taxes toward health care and elderly care, including what Americans call Medicare.

Sweden has started to self-correct, choosing a more sustainable path: private health-care options that allow for competition, customer choice and better overall care for Swedes. America should learn from Sweden's experience and follow the Nordic country's recent example, turning away from government-controlled health care to embrace a free-market solution.
It is possible to have truly affordable, qualitative and accessible care. But the only way to get this result is through a system where providers freely compete with each other to lower costs and raise quality. There is no short cut to well-functioning, affordable health care. Sweden's undesirable experience shows this very clearly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Liberty and Small Government in Tao te Ching : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

Liberty and Small Government in Tao te Ching : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.
Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.

If you don’t trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
[. . .]
Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself.
[. . .]
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.
[. . .]
Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.
[. . .]
If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.
[. . .]
When they lose their sense of awe,
people turn to religion.
When they no longer trust themselves,
they begin to depend upon authority.
Therefore the Master steps back
so that people won’t be confused.
He teaches without a teaching,
so that people will have nothing to learn.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thomas Sargent Shortest Graduation Speech - Business Insider

I remember how happy I felt when I graduated from Berkeley many years ago. But I thought the graduation speeches were long. I will economize on words.
Economics is organized common sense. Here is a short list of valuable lessons that our beautiful subject teaches.
1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.
2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.
3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts, and their preferences than you do.
4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That is why social safety nets don’t always end up working as intended.
5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.
6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their choices. That is why it is difficult for well-meaning outsiders to change things for better or worse.
7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are some promises that you’d like to make but can’t. No one will believe those promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change. This is how you earn a reputation.
8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.
9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do (but not the social security system of Singapore).
10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.
11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government transfers (especially transfers to themselves).
12. Because market prices aggregate traders’ information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Studies about Conservatives

Studies about Conservatives - karl.lembke@gmail.com - Gmail

He opens with the accusation that fundamentalist religion makes you bigoted.  One could believe that of Muslims  but is it true of Christians?  The evidence Sweetie summarizes in support of his claim is however entirely correlational.  And the first thing you learn in Statistics 101 is that "Correlation is not causation". To believe otherwise is to commit a logical fallacy.   Yet Sweetie boldly asserts: "Religious belief, in other words, causes bigotry". 
In case it is not clear to Leftists why that is stupid, the correlation could be caused by a third factor.  Both religion and bigotry could be caused by (say) poverty.  So religion and bigotry will be correlated but the causal factor is poverty.  Religion itself will have caused nothing.  It's a pity that I have to give lessons in basic logic but where Leftists are concerned you often have to do that.  Fallacies are their speciality.
So that disposes of the first three paragraphs of Sweetie's opus.  Or am I being hasty?  Can I really write off all those correlations?  I will give a second reason why I can.   The correlations will usually be very weak.  Let me give an example that I have commented on before.  There is an article here  which presents evidence that religious people are less "reflective'.  I would have thought that religious people reflect all the time but there you go. 
When you look up the research on which the claim is based, however you find that the correlation between reflection and religion is only .14 even before controls are applied.  In other words, the two variables had only about 1.5% of their variance in common.  There was a correlation there, all right, but it was so negligible to be of no significance or importance at all.  And such low correlations are common in all the literature Sweetie surveys.  Leftist researchers make mountains out of pimples.  Putting it another way, if there were 100 reflective people you were surveying, you would find that 49 were religious and 51 were not religious.  What sort of basis is that for predicting who will be reflective?

But let me now go on to the basic, fatal, underlying flaw in Sweetie's thinking.  He fails to acknowledge what Leftism is.  He makes much of the common Leftist claim that conservatives are "authoritarian", but what could be more authoritarian than Leftism?  The very essence of Leftism is a wish to change society.  But "society" is people.  So what the Leftist wants to do is prevent people from doing things that they ordinarily would and make them do things they ordinarily would not. And the Leftist proposes to do that by various forms of coercion.  How authoritarian is that?  It could hardly get more authoritarian.  The Leftist claim that conservatives are the authoritarian ones is thus a huge case of Freudian denial and projection.  LEFTISTS are the authoritarian ones but they themselves just cannot confront that. 

Minimum Wage Hike Is Offset By Cuts In Fringe Benefits - Investors.com

Minimum Wage Hike Is Offset By Cuts In Fringe Benefits - Investors.com

...the Congressional Budget Office found that if the minimum wage is hiked to $10.10 an hour, expected job losses by 2016 will amount to a scant 0.3% of the jobs affected.
Those in favor of a minimum wage increase are willing to accept these employment losses for the few in exchange for income gains for the many.
But this view fails to recognize that wage income is not the only form of compensation with which employers pay their workers.
Also in the mix are fringe benefits, relaxed work demands, workplace ambiance, respect, schedule flexibility, job security and hours of work.

PJ Media » Obamacare Number Games: How Many Enrollees, Really?

PJ Media » Obamacare Number Games: How Many Enrollees, Really?

Avik Roy — one of the few journalists who has actually been examining the data and drawing his own conclusions rather than regurgitating or looking to justify each of the administration’s assertions — estimates that the actual number of newly covered young people is less than one-third of the number claimed, and perhaps far less.
In fact, the percentage of uninsured Americans aged 18 to 24 has not changed at all from 2008 — prior to the economic collapse — through 2013. And of course, the change in policy did not come free. Roy estimates that family plans now cost $160 to $480 a year more due to the new coverage — and that is for all families, including all those without children who are newly covered.

Michael Saltsman: Why Subway Doesn't Serve a $14 Reuben Sandwich - WSJ.com

Start with Costco, whose CEO, Craig Jelinek, is an outspoken advocate of raising the minimum wage. "At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes good sense for business," Mr. Jelinek said in a statement in March of last year. Mr. Jelinek offers new employees $11.50 an hour, but his narrative omits a few key details. First, Costco charges its customers as much as $110 a year for the privilege of shopping at the store. That's a $2 billion-per-year luxury no grocer or restaurant enjoys.
As a result, the warehouse retailer rakes in what amounts to a more than $10,000 profit per employee, according to data from business research company Hoovers. A casual dining restaurant, on the other hand, earns a roughly $2,000 profit per employee, which explains why most businesses aren't following the president's "just be more like Costco" advice.

Like Mr. Jelinek, Zingerman's co-founder Paul Saginaw supports hiking the minimum wage. He posted a minimum-wage manifesto on a company website last September.
As Mr. Obama relished the perfect sandwich prepared by well-paid employees, he neglected to mention how much he paid for the happy experience: Zingerman's Reuben costs $14. That's about three times as much as a Subway foot-long. When I was an undergraduate student at Michigan, I rarely dined at Zingerman's because it was so expensive.
If every deli could charge $14 a sandwich, then perhaps an $11 or $12 minimum wage would be feasible. But your local sandwich shop cannot match the price points of a shop serving a parent-subsidized clientele in a college town. Expecting restaurants everywhere to do so is a recipe for business failure.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez's March visit to a Shake Shack in Washington, D.C.—again, to promote the company's above-minimum starting wage—was typical. While praising the restaurant's wage structure, Mr. Perez did not mention that the least-expensive double cheeseburger on the menu sells for $6.90, or more than 40% more than a Double Quarter Pounder at the McDonald'sMCD -0.58% nearby.
If McDonald's could raise burger prices by 40% without losing customers, it would have done so already without input from Messrs. Obama and Perez.

The Weekend Interview: A Black Conservative's War on Poverty - WSJ.com

The Weekend Interview: A Black Conservative's War on Poverty - WSJ.com

Mr. Woodson says that many poor communities don't need another government program so much as relief from current policies. "For instance, a lot of people coming out of prison have a hard time obtaining occupational licenses," he says. Aspiring barbers, cabdrivers, tree-trimmers, locksmiths and the like, he notes, can face burdensome licensing requirements. Proponents of these rules like to cite public-safety concerns, but the reality is that licensure requirements exist mainly to shut out competition. In many black communities, that translates into fewer jobs and less access to quality goods and services.

But Mr. Woodson saves his most passionate disdain for those on the black left who all but abandon the black poor except to exploit them. "Around 70 cents of every dollar designated to relieve poverty goes not to poor people but to people who serve the poor—social workers, counselors, et cetera," he says. "We've created a poverty industry, turned poor people into a commodity. And the race hustlers play a bait-and-switch game where they use the conditions of low-income blacks to justify remedies"—such as racial education preferences—"that only help middle-income blacks."

BULLETIN: U.S. Navy Invents Perpetual Motion Machine | The American Spectator

BULLETIN: U.S. Navy Invents Perpetual Motion Machine | The American Spectator

<>All these stories overlook the inconvenient fact that  it takes energy to do all these things. It takes energy to split hydrogen out of water. It takes energy to synthesize it back into a hydrocarbon. And because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, energy is always lost in the process. Consequently, you always end up with less energy than when you started.

Lots of folks don't understand the Second Law of Thermo.
Interestingly enough, though, when I mentioned this in one forum, someone pointed out this would also be the case with the original hydrocarbon-based fossil fuel -- ignoring the fact that fossil fuels represent energy stored over time, millions of years ago. Fossil fuels are useful only because something else stored all that energy that we're now tapping.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Peer-reviewed, with the reviewers listed in the report.

The newest volumes in the Climate Change Reconsidered series, due for release in April 2014, are Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies. Digital versions of the reports’ chapters will be available here as they finish the editing process.

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts constitutes an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the impacts of climate change on plants, terrestrial animals, aquatic life, and human well-being. Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy, and Policies then uses economics and policy analysis to explain the implications of climate change on energy production and consumption and a wide range of public policies.

These two volumes are the fifth and sixth in a series of scholarly reports produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of climate scientists sponsored by three nonprofit organizations: Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), and The Heartland Institute. Previous volumes in the Climate Change Reconsidered series were published in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Those volumes along with separate executive summaries for the second, third, and fourth reports are available for free online on this site.

Whereas the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn of a dangerous human effect on climate, NIPCC concludes the human effect is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.

Climate Change Reconsidered II consists of three parts, the two being released now and an earlier volume, subtitled Physical Science, released on September 17-18, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois USA. Additional release events took place the following weeks in Washington, DC, New York, Florida, St. Louis, England, Germany, Holland, and California. That volume can be viewed here.

Summary for Policymakers
Front Matter (Foreword, Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Introduction)
Chapter 1. Carbon Dioxide, Plants and Soils
Chapter 2. Plant Characteristics
Chapter 3. Plants Under Stress
Chapter 4. Earth’s Vegetative Future
Chapter 5. Terrestrial Animals
Chapter 6. Aquatic Life
Chapter 7. Human Health
Appendix 1: Acronyms
Appendix 2:  Authors, Contributors, and Reviewers
Appendix 3:  Plant Dry Weight Responses to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment
Appendix 4:  Plant Photosynthesis Responses to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment
Summary for Policymakers
Front Matter (Foreword, Table of Contents, Executive Summary, and Introduction)
Chapter 1. Human Welfare
Chapter 2. Climate Economics
Chapter 3. Climate and Energy
Chapter 4. Policy Implications
Appendix 1: Acronyms
Appendix 2: Authors, Contributors, and Reviewers