Archives for the month of: February, 2017

We, my wife and I, had a run-in with the police today, but it was the good kind.

George passed this weekend, and the home-health services nurse found him Monday morning. She called 911, and then us.

It took us a bit to get over there, and two policemen were patiently, politely, waiting for us. They explained and encouraged us to not go check personally.

A statement over the phone had Mary seeming slightly defensive on our way over, but talking things out helps.

For Mary, it was a difficult situation, she has been rather stressed, George’s passing adding that much more, and these two police officers both stayed patient, considerate, and helpful. We didn’t give them any reason to be otherwise, but Mary isn’t at her best under pressure. (Of course, that statement applies to most of us.) In a few short years, Ethan passed, Mary helped Jeanette take care of it all. Then Jeanette passed. Mary took care of that, with some help from George, and then Mary’s father passed. Thankfully, the family shared responsibilities quite well. So, the burden was not on Mary, but she still felt the pressure. Then Mary’s mother passed. Again, the family pulled together, but it still wore on Mary. Now, while we were out of town for Charlotte’s funeral, George passed, and there just is no one but Mary. So, you can see the pressure had been building. Mary has handled it graciously, and the professionalism and graciousness of the police officers helped in the best way.

I really do appreciate our law enforcement officers. We really need to help them when appropriate, and we need to appreciate them all the time.

My point here is that the police probably were a bit unsure of Mary, yet, professionalism prevailed. I’m having a heck of a time saying what I mean here. Mary didn’t act inappropriately in any way, but I’ve seen similar situations get sidewise, similar situations with different, various people in different (but similarly stressful) circumstances, and little things can be taken wrong, amplified, and less than ideal interactions follow.

The fact is, the death of anyone close affects us. It throws us off. It messes up our innerworkings. We tend to be a little less rational, a little more variable, a little more offensive, and a little more sensitive to offense. Everyone is different, except that we are all affected when someone close dies. (It makes us reassess and reset proportion and perspective. The unbalance takes time to rebalance.)

We expect a lot of our police. We expect too much, really. We have too many laws. We try to enforce those too many laws in different ways in different circumstances. It isn’t fair to them. We need our officers to be able to handle things like happened here. These two officers really did their jobs, handling a hard situation practically perfectly.

I suppose there are many ways it could have all been handled in the absence of the police with eventual adequate outcome. What needed done would have got done because it had to be done. Yet, our police knew the basics and professionally, patiently, and thoroughly helped us get it taken care of.

So, too many words. It wasn’t much of a big deal, but too many bad things have centered around law enforcement in general lately. I just wanted to make sure I recorded a good thing.

Our law enforcement personnel in nearly all regards are better than average where it counts most, in honor, integrity, and professionalism.

Thank you officers!

I sure appreciated our police today.


For reference.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Charles G. Battig, M.D.

climate-deus1 Image of “Mega Reed’s computer” from the “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” computer game with some enhancements (3D computer room by Anarchixel) edited in by Anthony Watts

Some say that “God” might reside in a computer…the Deus ex Machina, literally means “god from the machine”.  Amongst those individuals are those divining climate with climate computers in which are embedded general circulation models. This has generated a belief system…belief that all variables which drive global climate at all time scales have been identified, quantified as to individual contribution and interactions, and that chaotic variability is foreseeable. At the current state of scientific knowledge, such belief is intellectual hubris masquerading as achieved scientific endeavor.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology pioneering meteorologist and mathematician Professor Edward Lorenz doubted this ability in the 1960’s.  The serendipitous discoverer of chaos theory postulated “is there such a thing as a climate?”…

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Oxygen is toxic in high concentrations. Water is lethal too often. Our world is radioactive. We are built for a fair bit of it.

Many, many people have had much higher short and long term exposure and were none the worse. Marie Curie suffered due to overexposure to radiation, but she took more dose than probably anyone in all of history. She worked with radiation almost continuously for almost four decades. Every day so many cases of so many diseases that have nothing to do with radiation.

Death is a part of life. Fear does not have to be. Live life to the fullest without fear of what you cannot control. Nuclear really isn’t something to fear. We do far more dangerous things routinely, voluntarily, even just for fun.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Roger Graves

In a recent post I discussed the exaggerated fears our society seems to have about nuclear power. One of the primary objections to nuclear power is the belief that all ionizing radiation, at whatever level of intensity, is harmful and carries a risk of cancer. This essay is concerned with the effects that ionizing radiation has on human beings, and in particular whether low doses are harmful.

First, let me say that, although I am a physicist, I am not a medical physicist and definitely not a cancer specialist. Many other, far more knowledgeable people have written on this subject, so what I write here should be considered largely as a summary of other people’s work.


There are two schools of thought on the effect of ionizing radiation on human beings. The first holds that all ionizing radiation is harmful, and that any exposure…

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Worth sharing. Worth documenting. Bills Nye the fake guy.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

I’m aware of two occasions in which the Science Guy has misled the public. But the New York Times says he’s saving us from misinformation.


Eleven days ago, the New York Times ran a story headlined: “In an Age of Alternative Facts, Bill Nye’s New Show Brings Real Ones.” How charmingly naive. If you’re in a rush, and want to know about Nye’s misleading video as well as his misleading article in the very same New York Times, scroll down to the navy-coloured text below. But the longer story is entertaining.

The notion that some people are a source of real facts, while others are a source of fake/alternative facts, is currently being pushed hard by the mainstream media. Journalists have decided that a major part of their job is to tell the rest of us who to believe.

Their message isn’t that skepticism is always necessary, and that even smart people are often wrong. Rather, this is an attempt…

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Willis makes good points. The difficulty is in balancing these points against freedom and liberty in general.

I’m for liberty, but it cannot be blindly so, or too many will be taken advantage of. Still, we need less government, less regulation, less law. We can’t do with less law enforcement. We are a nation of laws. We must enforce our laws. Accordingly, let’s reduce our laws so our law enforcement has a more reasonable task. (Willis’s example from his youth is an excellent example of laws we need to pare back.)

Again, the key is balance, and though Willis is smarter than you and me, he still doesn’t have a straightforward and effective plan. Even if he were to come up with one, we have no hope of achieving full consensus. That is life as we know it.

Mostly, we need to all take what action we can to do good and promote what we hold as the highest ideals. We need to work for the good, not against the bad. The bad tends to shrivel and fade when the good is fully supported and succeeding.

We are all in this together. No matter our skin tone, no matter our nationality, even the bad with the good, we are all in this together. Keep that in mind, and work for the good best you know how.

Skating Under The Ice

I keep hearing that the reason that we need workers from Mexico and Central America to pick our crops is because working in the fields is “work that Americans won’t do”. I say that that sentence is chopped off in midstream.

How do I know that’s only half a sentence? Because that was the first work I ever did. I worked summers all through high school. My first job was in 1961, when I was 13 years old and weighed about 120 pounds (55 kg) soaking wet.

I just looked it up, and at the time, the Federal minimum wage in current dollars was $8.12 per hour. The California minimum wage was $9.34 per hour. Interesting, not a lot different from today.

In current money, on my first job I made two dollars and forty-four cents an hour. I worked ten hours a day, bucking hay in the fields. It was totally illegal for me to be doing the work…

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Hey fellow Oklahomans,

We all know about the selenite crystals in our salt flats. Here is an informative article centering around the ginormous ones down in Mexico.

Cognitive dissonance is an affliction we like to hold on to until it hurts too much. It’s easy to let go of if we are determined to uphold truth, no matter how it presents.

Naturalis Historia

Nine hundred feet below a Mexican desert hundreds of giant white crystals, some more than 90 feet long and 13 feet wide, fill a hot (137 F) and humid cavern.  Pictures of people exploring this crystal palace look as if Rick Moranis had shrunk them down to the size of an ant and then put them into a the center of a geode.


These massive selenite (calcium sulfate) crystals are unusual not just for the colossal size but also for their purity of composition.  These features alone suggest an ancient origin of these crystals.   This cavern is just a small part of a large mining operation beneath Naica, Mexico.   Mining operations in 1985 drained the hot salty water from this chamber stopping crystal formation at that point.  Now dozens of scientific studies – see references – have been performed on the crystals to estimate their age and how they grew…

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Do we really need to outlaw plagiarism?

Does copying someone else’s work without attribution pose a threat so grave that we must send armed forces to stamp it out?

I think not.

It truly is important to think through every law. We must stop and say, if my grandmother was engaging in this prohibited action, do I think it worth pointing a loaded gun at her to try to make her stop, and is it justifiable to pull the trigger if she refuses compliance?

If we review our laws that way, I think we will repeal most of them.

First, an aside, am I justified in calling all law to be so scrutinized? I don’t think justification is involved. That is what we do. If we pass a law, we are threatening to send aggressive, armed forces, law-enforcement, to coerce compliance. When we write a parking citation, we are counting on most people to simply comply and pay the fine, rather than challenge the authority, because when the sheriff shows up, we don’t want to risk the fact that the deputy will probably eventually pull the trigger and put us down permanently because the law backs the enforcer.

It isn’t an academic question. It is what we do. We enforce all law, tax law, civil law, criminal law, and environmental regulations, by putting a loaded gun to the head of violators, held by enforcers willing to pull the trigger if ultimately needed to enforce compliance. It is what we do. We have institutionalized coercive violence and prettied it up such that we can pretend it is a tame beast, but it is not. It, all of it, the institution and the violence and all that pertains, is a fearsome, destructive monster, always ready to pounce whenever unleashed, even in the smallest of instances.

Again, we pretend it is not so harsh because we count on individuals to comply before violence ensues, before the guns come out, but ultimately, if the individual (or the group, or mob) determines to be noncompliant, the bullets will eventually fly. Coercion is evil, but most of the time it is easy to pretend otherwise.

Back to plagiarism: How do we know what anyone wrote before Anne?

Mostly, we know who wrote what, and who originated ideas, because of the honor system. For the most part, replicators of ideas or writings wanted to attribute the origin because of credibility. It was more for personal honor and reputation than for honor of the originator. There was limited commercial value before the printing press. And, since ideas mattered, the surest way to have your ideas gain purchase was to attribute properly, especially to persons who already held the respect of their peers, especially if fame extended to the masses. Attributing your idea to Einstein just might get it accepted even if Einstein never thought of it; just provide a plausible story to make the connection.

It seems at least partly that copyright originated to protect the publishers, not the authors. Monopolies were extended, and that can never be counted good, even if at times it might be argued necessary.

It seems copyrights and intellectual property rights are primarily intended to protect those earning profits from it, not the originator who is the actual rights holder. Copyright and intellectual right, together, are simple; if I wrote it, if I originated the idea, I hold property right to it. I really see a huge disconnect between that simple idea and implementation and enforcement. Freedom and free-market interplay will work better. We need simple protection of the property right, not the profiteering rights.

I think those calling for liberty in intellectual property are on the right track. We really don’t need the guys with the guns to enforce honorable action in ideas, speech, writing, free thought, and all the related spread and influence of information.

We can let freedom ring.

Let’s work for freedom.

Sure, TANSTAFL, but it sure seems everything works out better the more freedom, and everything works out worse for more regulation and centralization.



Source: How did Europe become the richest part of the world? | Aeon Essays

Good stuff. I find it interesting that the authors specifically says Christianity played no part, yet then go on to point out that elements of shared culture were key, primarily the commonality of Christianity and the Church structure (and Classical heritage) were most important. Perhaps the most important element was willingness, and ability, to share.

I recommend the article.

The authors point out structure hindered in Asia and in the Ottoman Empire. That is, conservative forces (perhaps better thought of as the status quo) repressed innovation. Of course, stability has it merrit; specifically, the Byzantine-Ottoman structure amounted to the most stable, longest lasting governance of all time. Stagnant, but stable. I’ll advocate for freedom. Our hearts long most for being unhindered by external plans. Bureaucracy kills our souls. The labyrinth of government requirements and impositions kills us actively in body and soul. Stability eventually will passively kill our souls as well. Freedom is essential. (Why do you think God made us free? Our souls are intended to thrive, not simply get by.)

It is obvious that we must have relatively open borders and mostly unfettered free trade, especially in ideas and speech. We MUST have freedom of speech. We must let ideas, facts, and data be open to all. Let the haters hate, let the liars lie, let the maniacs rave, let the extremists shout, let the propagandists make it all purdy, but most of all, publish the truth. (That’s your job. Reason is the key.)

Listen to those clued in about what we call persuasion. (Scott Adams, #ScottAdams, @ScottAdamsSays,; of course, Scott Adams suggests some reading, his and others. I hope you will take his insights to heart. I tend to think he’s missing the point by focusing only on what works, not none on what’s right, but he may have the heart of the matter. What is right might just be along for the ride, and we just have to keep waiting for it to find purchase amongst the noise of what keeps everything going, whatever happens to be motivating people at the moment. It is obviously messy. I keep hoping reason can win out, but like Adams says, just look at the best and brightest minds of all time. One finds rather significant differences in their understands of what we esteem the important things.)

A comment in the article about the printing press reminds me what an unruly mess that matter was. Everyone with an inkling got hold of a press and printed anything that would sell. Tabloid journalism at its best. Fake news. Imaginary news. Plagiarism sometimes, but usually just unauthorized publishing of another’s work without compensation back to the author. There were hardly any restrictions on copying. Copyright was not a thing during the greatest expansions of Europe’s thinking. Copyright considerations were hardly significant until after the rise of the United States. It makes one wonder if we should chuck the whole notion of intellectual property rights and count on a sense of decency. (Yes, some will suffer and be deprived unjustly, but the overall growth just might make even the deprived better off soon enough.)

Ideas are important. It is important to share ideas.

Here’s a good point:

Fifty years after the publication of William Harvey’s text on the circulation of blood De Motu Cordis (1628), the English doctor and intellectual Thomas Browne reflected on Harvey’s discovery that ‘at the first trump of the circulation all the schools of Europe murmured … and condemned it by a general vote … but at length [it was] accepted and confirmed by illustrious physicians.’

I point it out because the consensus is never a valid indicator. Acceptance of the idea was no more important than its original rejection. Consensus didn’t matter. What mattered was whether the idea proved out. As Harvey’s notions were tried, probably often in contempt, they proved out. Well, sooner or later the cognitive dissonance loses sway, and what works takes over. Consensus long after the facts is simply comfortable and productive. It is never authoritative.

Side note: Gravity. While the consensus on gravity as a fact of life, water running downhill, and all that, there really is no consensus among the learned experts. Even the most certain in the standard model and accepted theories of gravity worry that they are missing something. No one ever addresses gravitational theories with reference to the consensus. Gravitation theories are always addressed in terms of what works, and what just might prove to work better.

I hold government regulation and bureaucracy as the gravest threat to modern society. The experiment of the USA is mired in a Byzantine quagmire that must be ended. The US is not alone. Government regulation and bureaucracy is killing us. If anything can set the world back a few centuries, it is the power of the State. We must pull back that power. We must establish freedom. We must kill off regulation from central authorities. I honestly think it is happening before our eyes. Technological advancement is outpacing coercive authority. Technological capabilities in the hands of the masses are empowering us to overcome our governments’ restrictions little by little. I can’t promise an easy road, but I believe it is a road we are travelling, and we will complete the traverse come hell or high water. We are going there even if it kills most of us. The moral arc bends slowly, but it bends toward justice, and government regulation and bureaucracy is the harshest impediment toward justice extant today. This impediment will be overcome no matter how harsh the accomplishment proves.

We need to enforce our laws, because we are society of laws. Yet, we need to improve our laws. We need openness and more freedom. We need to protect ourselves and our culture, but we must not act in fear. Our culture has a heart, here in the USA, and we need not fear influx of other culture. Our heart, “The American Way,” may evolve, but it will hold up; it will remain true to its essence. We believe in open exchange between individuals. We need to extend that up and out. We need to uphold the principle of free exchange above fears and above prejudices. Let freedom ring. Enforce our laws, but keep making our laws more open and less restrictive. Most of all, we need to keep lessening our laws. It is the burden of so many laws and regulations that hold us back. It is that same burden that makes us fear each other and allows us to fall to violence and coercion, pretending the law is on our side, even when we know the Truth and the Right are against us. It matters. Do what is right, not what is lawful or winnable in court.

Another noteworthy statement:

In such systems, once the process gets underway, it can become self-propelled. In that sense, knowledge-based growth is one of the most persistent of all historical phenomena – though the conditions of its persistence are complex and require above all a competitive and open market for ideas.

The authors included a variety of topics, a bit of a hodgepodge, and my own comments obviously wander afield with little aim. Oh well. I mostly wanted to record my thoughts, and hopefully encourage a reader or two.

Those authors pointed out that it didn’t have to happen. Coercion could have held sway and stifled the innovations and progress. Progressivists forget that the key to progress is freedom, not central control, not central planning. Power corrupts. Centralized authority of any form always becomes corrupted to the detriment of most while unfairly enriching the few with that authority.

Freedom is paramount. Let freedom ring.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

In closing, the article that prompted my writing is long. It is worthwhile. I cannot recommend it enough. Did you read it?

Good to know.

They didn't say it

Here’s one for the feast day of the Dumb Ox:

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

Attr. St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas discusses remedies for sorrow in the Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Question 38. You can read it for yourself at the above link. Here’s the tl;dr version:

  1. Any pleasure is a remedy for sorrow (not necessarily the best remedy, but it does work).
  2. Weeping is a remedy because it provides an outlet for the sorrow.
  3. The sympathy of friends is a remedy (and good friends are a treasure).
  4. Contemplation of the truth is a remedy. St. Thomas regards this as a subset of “any pleasure” because contemplation of the truth is always pleasurable.
  5. Finally, sleep and baths are a remedy; in essence, sorrow drains the body of energy, and these things help restore that energy.


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Good point. And, for reference.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Many messages emanating from the world of science are entirely bogus.


After eight years in which my focus has been mostly on climate matters, I’ve lately pulled back the lens to take another look at science’s bigger picture. In this respect, a 2001 book by Daniel S. Greenberg, a journalist who spent more than 40 years covering US science, is an eye-opener.

It provides mountains of evidence that the leaders, advocates, spokespeople, lobbyists, and public relations personnel of the science world have long promoted narratives that are fundamentally incorrect.

It’s true, for example, that much of the public knows little about science. But that hasn’t prevented science from being generously funded. Gushers of money have been allocated to scientific research decade after decade. Support for such funding amongst the public, as well as on the part of politicians from both major political parties, has been beyond enthusiastic.

Nevertheless, entire organizations and numerous careers are devoted to maligning the public that funds scientific salaries…

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Fabius Maximus website

Summary: Our long war, with its failure to achieve its objectives despite the expenditure of so much money and blood, has been marked by serving officers protesting the madness of our tactics — as we copy tactics of other foreign armies defeated by local insurgents using fourth generation war. Here is another, by Captain Wadell (USMC) — speaking from his hard-won experience. Since Trump seems determined to continue the long war, doubling down on failure, we should listen to list to the Captain’s advice.

“There is a powerful article in the February issue of the Marine Corps Gazette by Capt. Joshua Waddell, a company commander in the 1st Marine Division. It is so heartfelt that it kind of jumps off the page.”
— Thomas Ricks in “A powerful attack on the Marine Corps leadership — by a serving Marine captain“, 7 February 2017.

Joshua Waddell Capt. Waddell tests communications gear…

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“It is absurd to consider scientists’ understanding of gravity, with their history of remarkable predictions, equivalent to their understanding of climate — with a history of false or unproven predictions. It’s the kind of exaggeration which has produced three decades of failure for climate crusaders.”

Fabius Maximus website

Summary: Trump’s election, solidifying the Republican’s dominance at all levels of the US government, has disheartened climate activists. A new article in The Atlantic attempts to build support, but only shows the weakness of their beliefs. Perhaps the skeptics have won this round of the climate wars, but only the weather will determine which side is correct.

Climate nightmares

For 29 years advocates for public policy changes to fight climate change have struggled to convince the US public to support their agenda. They have failed. Polls show it ranks near the bottom of American’s policy priorities, and the increasingly dominant Republican Party has little interest in their recommendations.

It’s taken a while, but it looks like climate activists have worked through the process of accepting their failure. Paul Rosenberg’s January 2 article at Salon and now Meehan Crist’s article at The Atlantic suggest activists are moving into the fourth stage of the Kübler-Ross process

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Pay attention to the dates listed.

Fabius Maximus website

Summary: In February 2014 I examined surveys of climate scientists and found (as had others) that they showed broad agreement with the IPCC’s headline statement about warming since 1950. However time brings new research, such as a major survey that digs deeper and finds that only a minority of climate scientists agree with the full key statement of AR5 about greenhouse gases — the most recent IPCC report. That’s important news.  Also see the important update below.

The climate consensus From JoNova’s website.

Update: fame from Politifact!

The good liberals at Politifact did a hit pieced on this post. Tskilled disinformation with the assistance of climate warriors in academia. It’s an interesting story of noble lie corruption, which I describe in

This post produced quite a frenzy among the alarmists. Linda Qiu Politifact published a bizarre rebuttal, ignoring what I said and replying to things I didn’t say (this is a favorite…

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A first-rate climate scientist and hurricane expert. She was an alarmist. She started noticing some difficulties in the warmist claims. She started reaching out to the fact-based skeptics (as opposed to those who mostly rely on hype), and she changed her mind. She still thinks human actions gives us cause for concern, but you don’t have to listen long before you know she is not part of the consensus in alarmism. (And the alarmists have treated her harshly because of it.)

She is also a grandmother and a very caring professor. She is very concerned for the future for both her family and her students. She sees more harm coming from the politics and alarmism of it all than from any possible dangers of burning fuels.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin


Dr. Judith Curry conducted an interview on British radio on February 6th  addressing, among many topics, how the politicalization of climate science created and driven by the UN IPCC process has robbed scientists of the opportunity to explore the legitimate, extremely important and yet unaddressed issues of how natural climate change drivers impact the earth’s climate. Her excellent broadcast can be found here:

During the course of her interview Dr. Curry addressed the underlying assumptions contained in the UN IPCC process at its very beginning which simply assumed without establishing scientific evidence that anthropogenic activity was driving “global warming” (which was  subsequently modified to “climate change” after the global temperature “pause”).

This theme was effectively captured by her characterization during the broadcast when she noted the failures of climate models to address pre 1950 natural climate variation –  “If science can’t explain climate shifts pre…

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