Monday, May 20, 2013

Math is Hard, Climate Edition

Found this article from the BBC about the less warm warming, and while the usual crap still exists in the article, (obfuscation, guesswork, consensus rather than data and actual science), this part really struck me:

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in 2007 that the short-term temperature rise would most likely be 1-3C (1.8-5.4F).
But in this new analysis, by only including the temperatures from the last decade, the projected range would be 0.9-2.0C."

So, it's totally ok to be off in prediction by over 100%? WTH???????

It's all so much guesswork, just read the article. Seriously, what a crock. Highlights for me include phrases like

Since 1998, there has been an unexplained "standstill" in the heating of the Earth's atmosphere.

Climate sensitivity looks to see what would happen if we doubled concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and let the Earth's oceans and ice sheets respond to it over several thousand years.

"The hottest of the models in the medium-term, they are actually looking less likely or inconsistent with the data from the last decade alone," said Dr Alexander Otto from the University of Oxford.

"It is a bigger range of uncertainty," said Dr Otto.
"But it still includes the old range. We would all like climate sensitivity to be lower but it isn't." 
The authors say there are ongoing uncertainties surrounding the role of aerosols in the atmosphere and around the issue of clouds.

The first one cracks me up, it's like economic news reporting here in the states, every increase in jobless numbers or drop in the dollar's value is "unexpected." 
"If" should never appear in a science article, right? I mean, we report on what we know based on observations and data, I thought. maybe I misunderstand the whole "scientific method" thing.
Well, if the models are "inconsistent with the data," then the models are wrong, right?
So, Dr. Otto, you are saying that you are more wrong than you thought you were?
Who cares what anyone "would like?" for Pete's sake SCIENCE IS ABOUT DATA NOT FEELINGS YOU FAKE!
Uhm, what's "the issue of clouds?" That you haven't/can't/didn't account for them in your models? NASA (which has accepted the IPCC crap hook, line, and sinker) can't account for clouds, they are working on it, but it's too complex!!!!! Again, what a joke.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Do You Hate Government, David?

I don't "hate government," but I think it should be limited, right? This week has been full of examples, but here's a subtler one.

Florida quietly shortened yellow light standards & lengths, resulting in more red light camera tickets for you

That isn't very subtle, is it? The ever-growing maw of public spending demands to be fed, so this kind of crap happens. It's happening in Cincinnati right now with the shortfall, the streetcar, the cuts, etc. Every level of government is broke (with a few notable exceptions). Stop spending so much. Encourage business while encouraging thrift. Don't waste.

Most importantly, don't do stuff that the government wasn't intended to do in a representative republic. If you don't, then these traps of spending and cutting and wasting are much less likely.

I'm going to quote myself from a post from last year, it was a part of a conversation, but I think I explained myself fairly well:

The Administration gave...gave away $500 Million to one solar energy company that they knew would fail, and it did, Solyndra. Twice Romney's reported net worth, our tax dollars, given away. That is why I don't care about one rich guy's capital gain rate, it's chump change to the larceny going on by both groups in power in DC, I could grab a Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, or Carter administration example, as could many: if you like imagine how many teachers' taxes went to Solyndra, or whatever. We, the people, as a group, participating in the market, will choose better than the folks at the capital, so I say let us keep more and quit trying to do so much that our wise founders never intended our government to handle.

Before I nod off, I just want to clarify what the Solyndra example meant to me: the problem with empowering govt to do what the reactive market should do. Using our money to pick winners and losers (bank/car maker bailouts) is just wrong, and Solyndra is just one on a long line of what I see as an example of misguided spendings, that taken by itself, is chump change, but shows the flaw in trusting, expecting, or allowing govt to decide: this business shall succeed. Why? The reasons are always political, and I trust the market (that collective decision making of the citizens) over the influence-peddled, lobbied, donated-to, "I really like being a Senator and will do whatever is necessary to keep the job" guys and gals we elect. Now, I realize that opens up a new can o' worms, but let's not get too distracted! This then verges into philosophy (rather than party nitpicking, which I have tried to avoid), but that is where the crux is, isn't it? If you, like me, are a kind of Founding Principles guy, then it isn't a revenue problem, it's a political philosophy one: our Federal Government is doing way more then that wonderful document says it should be, so, the decisions get much easier. If it's not enumerated, no matter how worthwhile, no matter how kindly or whatever, (and here I wish for italics), the federal government doesn't get to do it. That doesn't mean it doesn't get done, there are all kinds of things the states are specifically enabled to do, but not the federal government.

Obviously, that isn't the only political philosophy at play in the country, so there will be a conversation about what should be done, what can be done, and how. I guess I will always fall on the individual liberty side: if the church decides it's wasteful to pay soloists, that it's right, right? Is it the government's job, and do they (or should they) have the right to determine what you called "wealth equality?" How? Seriously, how? Who gets to decide? I think we are all very reasonable people, and I wouldn't trust us to decide that because it isn't for us to decide, in my opinion, nor the govt. I'm back to the idea that no government of any country should be able to say "you get to succeed, but you are on your own" because those decisions are always tainted. One side will say the oil companies lobbied to gain dominance just as others will observe as Mike did, that alternative energy companies did the exact same thing. My thought is that if you remove the creeping ability of the government to reward the benefactors, then there may be no favoritism, as there will be no tax abatements, green energy loans, CO2 credits to curry favor or votes with. Imagine that! Of course, all those lobbyist jobs would be lost, as they will have nothing to lobby for when the Feds have no power to give their industry a dime.
How is it a function of the federal government? Confiscating a portion of one person's income to supplement another's? Again I ask, who gets to decide? Who do we trust? With the changes in power, office holders, etc. how can that possibly work? How's the track record so far for the federal war on poverty? Don't mistake me here, I'm not saying do nothing, just pointing out that of all the ways to help those in need, using a central government is possibly the worst choice, that's all.

Our country is a unique experiment, there is only our short history to try to get some lessons about how our representative republic with it's focus on individual liberty and free(ish) markets have worked, but it's been pretty powerful, I think. The other ways, central planning, benevolent dictatorships, monarchies, tyrannical despots, are all there marching through history saying "tried it, failed." century after century. I happen to think that we are in many ways fighting against very basic human natures, conflicting ones: the scary, yet liberating desire to be free against the desire to have someone, anyone, take care of us, to push away responsibility and say "you decide, fix it for me, you take care of me" because that is so much easier than being an independent, self-actualized person. We head toward wanting more from our government to do stuff because it feeds that side of our nature, and our founders knew this as well. Similarly, I think that free markets are the most humane markets, they provide the most dignity and hope for those that need it, that capitalism has rescued more people from poverty than governments ever have, as it is what exists when there is no imposed economic system. Show me every poor country in the world and we will see closed market, meddling government (usually corrupt strong central, personality-driven Marxist-leaning), despots, many democratically elected.
That's what makes America unique in all of human history. All of human history is a long time. To want or expect or wait for our government, even though they are largely nice people that we chose, to take care of us isn't US!

It absolutely is not the American Way.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Useful Idiots and Willful Ignorance

I had to say something about all the US political news, didn't I?

The media sux.

People are stupid.

Politicians lie.

Bureaucrats are people and they can be petty, or nice, or trustworthy, or slimy.

Irony lives! Say "don't listen to people saying beware of tyranny" on Saturday, have your IRS apologize for acting tyrannical on Friday.


It just keeps geting better, doesn't it? This, my friends, is why guys like me believe in limited government.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Manly Things

I have been discovering a lot of sites, posts, etc., that purport to be "Manly" lately, and here are a few I like:

The Art of Manliness

Which led to a store/blog/whatever called Huckberry which is filled with cool stuff, you have to join, though, it's a discount retailer of sorts.

I also just happened upon a Manly version of Pinterest called Gentlemint which I like better than another one that appeared as well, Manteresting. You may like that one better, it has lots of pictures of beautiful females! They did post this article from The Art of Manliness, however, and that's a good thing!

Friday, May 3, 2013


I got this in my email inbasket today from Early To Rise, and it nails it: I have no additional comments, as I think none are necessary (although I did comment on the post there, one lady was just wrong).

How To Tell If You're Rich

By Alexander Green
One of the biggest points of contention in the last election was whether the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Polls show the majority of voters don't believe they do.

Of course, this raises the questions: Who is "rich" and what is "fair"?

Answers are largely a matter of opinion. But here is a fact: IRS figures show that the top 10% of income earners make 43% of all the income and pay 70% of all the taxes. Is that fair? If not, how much should they pay: 75%… 90%… all of it? And how about the now widely recognized fact – thanks to Mitt Romney's secret videographer – that 47% of Americans don't pay any income taxes. Is that fair? Opinions will vary.

According to the IRS, the top 2% of income earners – the ones that just had their marginal tax rate raised 13% to 39.6% – already pay approximately half of all income taxes. President Obama says it's about time these folks "chipped in." What a kidder.

And who is "rich"? 

For today's discussion, I'll leave aside the truism that you are rich if you enjoy good health, a loving family, close friends, and varied interests. Politicians (and most voters, apparently) seem to believe that a person's wealth can be determined by his or her income. I would argue that you determine real wealth by looking at a balance sheet, not an income statement. But why not look at both?

According to the Tax Policy Center, if your annual household income is $107,628, you are in the top 20% of income earners. If your income exceeds $148,687, you are in the top 10%. You are in the top 5% if it is $208,810. And if your household income is $521,411, congratulations. You are in the top 1%… and perhaps demonized by those who view hard work and risk-taking as a matter of good genes and good fortune.

However, net worth is a far better measure of wealth, in my view. According to the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, a net worth of $415,700 puts you in the top 20% of American households. You are in the top 10% if your net worth is $952,200. (This jives with the findings of Dr. Thomas J. Stanley – author of The Millionaire Next Door – that one in eight American households has a net worth of $1 million or more.)

If your nest egg totals $1,863,800, you are in the top 5%. And – trumpets please – if you have a household net worth of $6,816,200, you are again in the top 1%… and possibly frowned upon by redistributionists who resent folks that live beneath their means, save regularly and handle their financial affairs prudently.

How do you get rich if you aren't currently? 

The basic formula is pretty simple: Maximize your income (by upgrading your education or job skills). Minimize your outgo (by living beneath your means). Religiously save the difference. (Easier said than done.) And follow proven investment principles. 

Most millionaires – folks with liquid assets of one million dollars or more – are not big spenders. Quite the opposite, in fact.

According to extensive surveys by Dr. Stanley, the most productive accumulators of wealth spend far less than they can afford on homes, cars, clothing, vacations, food, beverages, and entertainment.

The wanna-be's, on the other hand, (people with higher-than-average incomes but not much net worth) are merely "aspirational." They buy expensive clothes, top-shelf wines and liquors, luxury cars, powerboats, all kinds of bling, and often more house than they can comfortably afford. Their problem, in essence, is that they're trying to look rich. This prevents them from ever becoming rich.

It surprises many, but the vast majority of millionaires in the United States:
  • Live in a house that costs less than $400,000.
  • Are more likely to wear a Timex than a Rolex.
  • Generally pay $15 or less for a bottle of wine.
  • Have never paid more than $400 for a suit.
  • Are more likely to drive a Nissan than a BMW.
  • Spend very little on prestige brands and luxury items.
Yes, they're frugal. But they're also happy, not to mention financially free. They are not dependent on their families, their employers, or the federal government. What a feeling.

Some can't abide by this important lesson, but the bottom line is clear: If you want to be rich, you have to stop acting rich… and start living like a real millionaire.

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[Ed. Note. Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, andBeyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a "rich" life during trying economic times.]