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Saturday, February 27, 2010


Via Al Fin comes some information from the Canadian government on the effect increased CO2 has on plant growth. photosynthesis increases as CO2 levels increase from 340 to 1,000 ppm (parts per million). Most crops show that for any given level of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), increasing the CO2 level to 1,000 ppm will increase the photosynthesis by about 50% over ambient CO2 levels... For others such as tulips, and Easter lilies, no response has been observed.

Carbon dioxide enters into the plant through the stomatal openings by the process of diffusion. Stomata are specialized cells located mainly on the underside of the leaves in the epidermal layer. The cells open and close allowing gas exchange to occur. The concentration of CO2 outside the leaf strongly influences the rate of CO2 uptake by the plant. The higher the CO2 concentration outside the leaf, the greater the uptake of CO2 by the plant. Light levels, leaf and ambient air temperatures, relative humidity, water stress and the CO2 and oxygen (O2) concentration in the air and the leaf, are many of the key factors that determine the opening and closing of the stomata.

Ambient CO2 level in outside air is about 340 ppm by volume. All plants grow well at this level but as CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates available for plant growth.
To be fair though the article's text says increasing by 1,000 ppm would double plant growth this accompanying graph only shows about a 20% rise. My guess is that either the graph has been corrected to fit political correctness or that the graph, but not the text, refers to the more limited growth opportunities under Canadian sunlight.

However even if we take the graph it shows an increase to 450 ppm (the amount the alarmists claim to be really worried about) would increase plant growth by about 8% further.

Which explains why the Sahara is shrinking.

Which would mean an 8% increase in crops worldwide with no other action from us. So instead of feeding the world's 6.7 billion we could feed another 530 million.

So the downside of "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming" is ----

That it won't happen. "The amount of carbon dioxide emitted from human sources is small in comparison to natural flows:at around 3% emitted from the land and oceans to the atmosphere" according to a government Parliamentary answer given to John Redwood. This means that even if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere went up as little as an extra 40 parts per million the amount extracted would 3% matching all that humanity puts in. We have a very clear negative feedback system in operation.

If the rise in CO2 is caused by humanity, which is an open question but one on which the alarmist case entirely hangs & which they claim is "settled" then that rise, with all its alleged effects, is self limiting.

So we aren't going to have significant warming; nor more food production without working for it; nor vineyards in Scotland; nor the Antarctic becoming a "habitable continent".


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Friday, February 26, 2010


Letter in the Irish Independent today. I sent this out to all the major Scottish, UK & US papers & a few others & today's Google alert showed it had actually been published here.
FOR years the media have told us that there is a "scientific consensus" on catastrophic, man-made global warming with anything up to 99.9pc of scientists supporting it.

I decided to carry out a survey to see if this claim had any merit, and asked journalists, politicians and alarmist lobbyists to name two prominent scientists not funded by government or an alarmist lobby group who have said we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming. As yet, none have been able to do so. Scientists who are seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak.

With more than 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying that man-made global warming is bunkum, if there were anything like a consensus to the contrary it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying so.

I have had a total of two positive responses to my request for the names of independent scientists, who are on record supporting the theory of catastrophic, man-made global warming.

One came from the letters editor of the 'Independent' in London who said she had checked with the paper's environment correspondent who was able to give one name -- Professor James Lovelock. The other came from a South African online journal and also gave only one name -- that of Prof Lovelock.

Prof Lovelock is certainly an eminent and forthright gentleman whose Gaia hypothesis, while not generally accepted, does account for our planet's history. However, to place the entire burden of being the "consensus" among the majority of the world's scientists who are not being paid by government is going too far.

The good name of science has been deliberately abused by this claim of "scientific consensus". There may well be, or may have been, a consensus among politicians and the journalists who have taken their lead from them -- but there is no such consensus among scientists and never has been.

I think it is clear beyond dispute that all those broadcasters, newspapers and "personalities" who over the years have denigrated science by claiming this "consensus" owe an apology to the profession.
The last sentence here was actually put in as a PS to the journalists as I had assumed it was to pointedly critical of newspapers & their employees to be published. All credit then to the Irish Independent for printing it. All discredit to the rest. Would that Britain's Independent were so ... well... independent.

And another letter, in the Wednesday edition of Britain's communist Morning Star.
Paul Levy (M Star February 18) is erecting a straw man argument when he denounces Jean Johnson (M Star February 17) for claiming "a systematic attempt on the part of the climatic research unit to manipulate" in her response to Michael Meacher's playing down of the collapse of the catastrophic warming evidence.

She did not say that the disappearance of data from Chinese sites and the Climate Research Unit's reliance on measurements which have been urbanised or moved or both was deliberate manipulation.

She merely said that it had happened - though untrusting folk like myself may find it improbable that all the errors uncovered here and elsewhere should accidentally be angled towards scaring us.

The urban heat island effect is well proven and indeed it is obvious that cities, using electricity, cars, fire etc will give off more heat than countryside.

With the very rapid industrialisation of China it is equally obvious that this is an even greater effect there. Those claiming to see catastrophic CO2-caused warming by using uncorrected or not fully corrected measurements from urban areas are clearly doing very bad science, if it can be called science at all.

Unfortunately time after time in figures from country after country this is what we see being done.

When Stephen McIntyre found a programming error of this sort in the US figures, he proved that the actual warmest year in the non-urban US was 1933, not 1998.

The alarmists explained that catastrophic warming was still proven by 1998 being the warmest year outside US boundaries, but there must be doubt about that.

If so not only do we not have any catastrophic warming but we have had cooling, not only over the last decade but since 1933.

Never mind. I am sure there will be another eco-catastrophe story along shortly.
I had best admit my error here - it was 1934 not 1933 that was the warmest on record, however that does not affect the argument.

Once again we see that letters which the major papers, even ones whose catchment area contains my address, decide either do not match their normal literary standards or should be deliberately censored, turn out to be ok in papers which, though having nothing else in common, are physically or politically independent. Clearly we are still seeing massive censorship in our own mainstream media (MSM).

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Thursday, February 25, 2010


Jerry Pournelle, who should be compulsory reading for anybody with responsibility in government, regularly says things nobody else either dare or knows enough to understand. Here are some remarks of his from recent posts:

the anti-government sentiments are rising. A few understand that there are no instant fixes. There is no way to jump out of our economic doldrums. There are principles that will work:

transparency and subsidiarity. Put more power back in the hands of the locals. Let us compete on regulation and compassion and taxation. But none of that will be an instant fix.

People will continue to try instant fixes. They won't work, but many will continue to try. The intellectual climate is there: surely something will work! Government can do something! Surely!

No: all that government can do is get out of the way, and that's not going to happen very quickly. The Iron Law has had far too long to operate.

Possony and I long ago concluded that the inevitable course of history is to convert more and more of the output of civilization into structure, until it becomes so congested that supporting that structure becomes the only thing it can do. How long it will take the voting public to understand this I don't know: it's hardly being taught in the schools and universities, which continue to tell people that government can fix things, and never say "The remedy is to do less and get out of the way."

We are in a hole, and we should stop digging, but the intellectuals at Harvard and the other major Universities don't say that; and people continue to listen to them. I'd sure rather have the present junior Senator from Massachusetts in that seat than its previous occupant...

People are scared, and our politicians aren't smarter than economic professors, and they're scared too. The smartest guys in the world got us into this, and don't know the way out

there is more and more evidence that much of the consensus for "do something, now," was manufactured, and that doubt is returning to the scientific community, and more and more real scientists have become Doubters if not Deniers; and that is all very much to the good. I don't think we understand carbon cycles very well, and I am pretty certain that the proposed remedies will not have much effect other than destruction of wealth and complicating recovery from the depression in the west. Now we need to rethink the situation
Bayesian analysis would say that the best strategy when faced with two alternatives of uncertain probabilities, at least one of which requires extremely expensive preparation and mitigation, is to employ information strategy: spend the relatively more modest sums to reduce the uncertainty before choosing the high expense mitigation
If NASA will begin funding real X Projects -- something I have been trying to get going for a long time -- the results will be good
Perhaps real science can win back the public trust. One way would be to support contrarian research -- not all contrarian proposals, but no longer the automatic rejections of "Deniers" we have had recently either.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. And you can sell yourself into bondage...
Cheap energy plus freedom equals prosperity.
I see no reason for US troops to be in Europe. The French want us to sit on Fritz. Everyone welcomes the spending. I don't see what we get from it other than a large base, and I don't see why we need that. I do not encourage entangling alliances or becoming involved in the territorial disputes of Europe or the Near East.
Laissez faire capitalism and free trade are effective at creating goods, more so than anything else, but unrestricted capitalism leads to organlegging and the sale of human flesh in the market place. Command economies don't work. Free trade is usually a good way to limit the power of the central command economy.

Those are general principles, but when you add central regulations that burden domestic industry, then add free trade, you may be entering a death spiral of exporting jobs. We have managed that. We need to do something.

Mining and agriculture are primary occupations, and help balance the trade budget, but they won't provide employment for all the citizens. Without manufacturing, without wealth creation, the only employment is 'service' which at the extreme leads to creating wealth by taking in each other's washing. There has to be a source of that wealth. An economy in which the manufacturing job is exported to create a new job as a sales associate in the Wal-Mart can't lead to full employment or anything like it.

One reason we are not competitive is our regulations. Some are worker safety regulations. Others are economic. Many are "product safety" regulations. Some are environmental protection regulations. All of these are arguably useful in small doses; but need they be Federal? In particular the economic regulations that impose minimum wages and the like do far more harm than good, and are probably unconstitutional in the bargain. By unconstitutional I don't mean the cases haven't been decided by the Supreme Court, of course; I mean that the very idea of a Federal minimum wage would have horrified not only the Framers at the Convention of 1787, but everyone in Congress who voted for the Civil War Amendments that the Court uses to justify the enormous expansions of federal power that happened during the 20th Century, and everyone in the state legislatures when the relevant amendments were ratified.

My proposal for an Industrial Policy is to repeal nearly all the federal regulations and leave those matters to the States

you have to assume that if you give great power it will be used, and given enough power it will attract evil men. It is not a coincidence that the wicked brother often survives to become king -- one of the reasons for not having kings. Government is not villainy. It is, in the words of Franklin, "like fire a dangerous servant and a fearful master"; but he invented the Franklin Stove to make more efficient use of fire, and would no more have given up government than he would fire. That ancients always believed that good government was the gift of the gods, and the Framers understood that good government requires hard work and resistance to the temptation to try to accomplish too much.
You can't spend what you don't have unless someone will loan you the money. You can't build a boom by cutting spending. If you can find some money -- borrow it -- you might make some investments. The trick is to invest in things that will help build an economy. Inflated pensions and salaries aren't the way to do that. There are investment programs that help build an economy; for all the opposition to it, TVA generated energy and kept energy prices low -- a cent and a half a kw/hour when I was a lad. Low cost energy and freedom builds economies. That's an easy conclusion. Incidentally, "investing" by paying out pensions to stimulate spending and thus rebuild an economy doesn't seem to work: see the history of the Townsend Plan and look at Washington State for data on that. Massive environmental regulations don't help economies: look again at Washington State and the aluminum industry. Over-regulated public power doesn't work too well. And so forth.

Public investment doesn't work as well as private investment, but it can help a lot -- if it's investment. The Keynes suggestion of burying jugs of money and paying people to go look for them is not an investment, and we've done some things that are equivalent. They don't work.

when we decide there are topics we can't talk about, we may be making a more serious mistake than we know. I don't like being offensive to the mentally retarded, but they do exist, and their existence has consequences. Those consequences have to be discussed in any forum of public policy.
We live in an era in which that government of the government, by the government, and for the government apparently can never vanish from the Earth, but instead will continue to grow. Possony and I were working on The Strategy of Progress, an attempt to look at what conditions actually bring real progress to human affairs. Our initial conclusions weren't terribly encouraging. Human history consists of a strong and unrestrained pressure to convert output into structure.

The structure may at first be useful, but eventually it merely exists for its own sake, and after a while grows far beyond necessity, even beyond endurance. The Iron Law always prevails. Sometimes there are such rapid gains in output that the structure can't stifle them; but slowly it continues to increase, to regulate, and to control. Examples are the various Industrial Revolutions. The most recent was the Computer Revolution in which the various computer related industries -- Silicon Valley, Silicon Sagebrush, the Massachusetts Corridor -- were able to leap ahead. It's also one of the most discouraging because it shows just how quickly the structure can gain control over a vigorous industry.

There has been a revolution in medical science and capabilities, new drugs with astonishing effectiveness, new treatments for the untreatable -- I'm certainly a witness to that -- in medical equipment. The "health care" bill will end much of that, of course. New treatments are too expensive to give to everyone, so therefore none should have them.

The only remedy to any of this are the twin solvents of transparency and subsidiarity. Power can't really be destroyed once created. It can be fragmented. That was something the Framers very much understood (read the Federalist Papers). Meanwhile, appeals to common sense are futile: we all know the common sense solutions to many problems, but the government of the government by the government and for the government isn't about to allow that.

if NASA is directed to pay for launches, but no launches are paid for, it all depends on commercial returns from space; and that is largely a function of regulation, as with the nuclear power industry.

We're going to space, but what language will be spoken there is not assured.
The Iron LawPournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people. First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers are scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

they won't be paid by those who will benefit from universal university education, but by the taxpayers who won't be asked what they think about having everyone go to university and get a degree if they want to become a manager at Jack In The Box ... in order to get the credentials that prove they are educated and worthy of having a job ... THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO PAY GOVERNMENT WORKERS AND THEIR ALLIES; which means the real purpose of government is to collect the money to pay government workers and their allies.

UPDATE 20th Aug 2011

regulations from Washington are far more stifling, and thus far greater a cause of economic stagnation, than government spending and for that matter taxes. We have had economic booms in times of higher taxes; taxes impede and even stifle, but not to the extent that regulations do. The German Economic Miracle came about from liberation from stifling regulations, not from Marshal Plan spending (the actual amount of capital injected was quite small compared to the capital destroyed by the war and the early Morgenthau Plan implementations) but from relief from regulation. The United States is unlikely to have economic recovery until we eliminate regulatory impediments to economic growth
No representation without taxation: only those who pay something in taxes may vote. It has been proposed before. Indeed, for all of the early days of the republic, a forty schilling freehold was a pretty standard requirement for being a voter.
When the people can vote themselves largess from the treasury, and impose taxed they do not pay, those people are rulers: at one time a small aristocracy, but is it different if it’s just numbers?

I guarantee you that if Congress were elected only by people who have paid more than $500 in income taxes in the previous year we would have a lot more economic freedom. The only thing worse than taxation without representation is taxation with representation in which the people represented are entitlement consumers rather than those obliged to pay for those entitlements

We have already in place regulation exceptions for small businesses. Some are for businesses with ten or fewer employees. Others apply if your business has fifty or fewer. There may be exceptions for those with 100 or fewer, although I am not sure of that.

My proposal is simple: double the exception numbers. Regulations that apply only to businesses with more than ten employees now apply only to those with more than twenty. Those that apply to more than fifty now apply only to those with more than a hundred. Etc. The effect would be to let successful small businesses expand easily. Those that have been making do by using part time employees can now let them become full time. Regulations would remain in place, but now they apply to fewer businesses. This would take effect immediately and be in place for ten years.

I suspect that the effect would be dramatic. Possibly it would not, but it isn’t going to hurt the economy
you can improve most schools by a factor of two by firing the 10% least competent teachers. This shouldn’t be surprising: it’s the case with most organizations a bit surprising that parents never catch on, and the best teachers, who are thoroughly aware of all this, almost never speak out. Of course they don’t dare. Teachers unions may claim to be professional associations, but many of them are more than willing to employ tactics that might shock even a mob-controlled garbage collector union.
Freedom produces prosperity. It takes more than just freedom, of course. It takes rule of law. But freedom and rule of law tend to work: note what happened to the barren rocks of Hong Kong as opposed to the far greater resources of nearby Canton Province. In China they had disorder, then Communism, a Great Leap Forward and a Cultural Revolution, and a stifled economy. In Hong Kong they had British Colonial Rule, few physical resources, but stability, rule of law, and economic freedom.
California is doomed, of course. Everyone who can will flee, and certainly it is no place to start a new business in. The only new jobs are expanding state hiring to be financed by more taxes.....Democracies endure until the voters understand that they can vote themselves largess -- entitlements if you will -- from the public treasury. Eventually they run out of other people's money. The usual next step is a dictatorship. The dictator generally comes in as Friend of the People, although some of them, like Caesar, were not simply power hungry tyrants... usually when democracies collapse, the result is Chaos and Old Night.
There ought to be a prohibition against paying anyone in that department (useless piece of bureaucracy)written as an earmark into the next appropriation bill. It needs to be worded properly so it is not a Bill of Attainder, but perhaps they can eliminate a lot of people
A totally unregulated market will end up with human flesh sold in the market place. Growth of regulation leads to concentrations of wealth and the kind of "Permit Raj" that kept India and China in the dumps for so long. All that is obvious -- but it's obvious to those who issue the permits, too.
One of the long term trends in modern America is the increasing Federal transfer of funds from the younger generation to the older. ..... Another long term trend is the cost of health care, which has risen steadily as a percentage of national income to exceed 1/6 and is approaching 1/4. Since most health care expenditures go to older patients, this dramatically increases the transfer of income from younger to older. Note that it is also a transfer from productive to non-productive
The social sciences are also learning that many of their discoveries are based on faulty statistics. Science only works when crucial experiments are replicated; when a theory becomes a creed, it's no longer science and when it becomes heresy to experiment or question a theory, the results are seldom good.
Low cost energy and freedom equal prosperity. Interestingly, I find few who will argue against that statement. It's just that nothing is done to implement it.
Much of economics isn't difficult, or rather, the difficulty is in cooking up arguments to "prove" that common sense conclusions are wrong.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free
a project for those who have time: Government We Can Do Without Just Now
Specific people and offices doing things that perhaps need doing if we are rich, but which we can all pretty well agree are not necessary in an era of borrowed money. The more specific the better: a particular office, and even particular employees, doing things that it is pretty clear we don't need to be borrowing money to do.
the most important resource of a nation is its brightest students, and finding them and nurturing them is more important than all the special needs schools put together -- indeed, if we do not develop our intellectual capital, we will not be able to afford schools for special needs students
The remedy to a lagging economy is low cost energy and economic freedom (meaning chopping out regulations that favor existing institutions over new ones so that start ups have a chance to compete). Capitalism's creative destruction will do the rest: look at the German Economic Miracle after World War II for a picture of what hard work and freedom can do.
We cannot build a great world civilization without energy, and we can't get to that civilization without a period of dependence on nuclear fission power
Parkinson concluded that if government disposes of much more than 10% of GDP, things will deteriorate
Note that China is not going to halt nuclear power construction. The major effect of Fukushima Daiichi may well be a very great Chinese comparative advantage. Cheap easily available energy and freedom are the keys to economic prosperity: the Chinese are moving toward both. The United States is moving away from both. The results are predictable .
"energy prices are a major factor in economic growth, and everyone knows it."
I don't like Gaddafi, but I didn't like Saddam either. I suspect that putting out a contract on Saddam Hussein would have cost a lot less than a $Trillion $Dollars. I would guess that a billion dollars and a US passport -- bring me his head or proof that you killed him, no questions asked -- would do it. Indeed, I suspect that offering a billion dollars to the first winner of a fair election might be a good old college try at nation building...

I have no idea what the mission is in Libya
The goal in the US is to see to it that only the very rich will graduate without a crushing loan burden; thus there will be a number of educated bond slaves to work for those who graduate debt free. Of course the tax burden will make it nearly impossible for anyone to get into the class whose kids graduate debt free. A few will, by going to work for Goldman Sachs and such, but most professionals will no longer be middle class: they will be debtors who can be ordered about.

Welcome to the brave new world. England is used to that sort of thing. Americans are not. Yet.
democracy was not the object of the Convention of 1787. A republic that derived its powers from the consent of the governed was. The Venetian Republic was discussed frequently (Ironically the Serene Republic was ended and looted by Napoleon and his French Republic soldiers not many years later). Democracies tend to limit freedom and liberty, in favor of equality, particularly egalitarianism in property. Preserving the right to property under a democracy is one of the primary problems of political science. Democracies work best in small uniform countries and city-states.
Much of economics isn't difficult, or rather, the difficulty is in cooking up arguments to "prove" that common sense conclusions are wrong. The fact is that many common sense conclusions are quite correct, and it takes a lot of education to get you to believe different. The Laffer Curve is one such: It is obvious that if you have a zero tax rate you will get no income. It is equally obvious that in any kind of free society if you nave a 100% tax rate on income you will get no revenue, because no one will work unless enslaved. There is clearly some kind of curve connecting the two zero points ...............
Laffer's notion, that we use the borrowed money we threw into the Stimulus Plans to pay everyone's taxes, then stand out of the way and see what happens is stunning. I'd add to it: suspend all regulations that get in the way of hiring people. If you want to hire someone and that someone wants to work, let it happen. They work, you pay, and if you don't think they're working hard enough, you can fire them. (Does that remind you of the German Economic Miracle?) .
The more regulation imposed the less competitive the market will be, and the more concentrated it will become. Economic freedom brings about efficiency. Energy plus freedom brings economic boom.
I am rapidly reaching a conclusion, confirmed by a number of those in the rocket entrepreneurial community, and also several Pentagon people: if we stay outside NASA, the technology exists to build a reusable orbiter for under a billion dollars; probably far less than a billion.

This could be done by prizes, and at the moment there are two prize schemes to consider: a single prize of $1 billion, or a first and second prize of $500,000,000 for first and $250,000,000 for second. The notion of a second prize is intriguing but harder to sell. A second insures that more than one firm can raise capital to compete.
Discussion invited. But the astonishing thing is that for a billion or less (with room for profit and operations) we can actually demonstrate reusable, savable orbiters.

$1 billion spent right would in fact develop the technology -- all engineering, no new science needed -- to build an orbital ship that would operate as airlines do. Fly, inspect, refuel, fly again. Once that ship is built, additional orbiters will cost about what big commercial airplanes cost, and operate about the way airlines do. Airlines operate at about 3 to 5 times fuel costs, with about 110 employees per airplane (half of those sell tickets). With orbital access at about the cost of a first class ticket from America to Australia, free enterprise and commerce will take care of the rest
Many years ago I took part in a study at the University of Iowa (SUI in Iowa City) in which we coached students from the drama department to go in for counseling and give textbook responses to see what diagnoses they'd get; the results were not encouraging. Only about half the diagnoses were "correct" in that the therapist came up with the diagnosis that the student was role-playing. In those days the therapy was almost all talk -- there were Freudians, Rogerians, followers of Karen Horney, Gestalt psychologists, Reality therapists, a Jungian or two, and some others I forget, and each had a different treatment for different diagnoses, and none of them knew much about what was really going on. The study made the whole process look farcical, and I think it was never published because it would have terrible effects on departmental budgets;
Transparency and subsidiarity -- i.e. local fiduciary responsibility: those are the keys to good government. See Jane Jacobs Dark Age Ahead for some details and more arguments on how to avoid the Dark Age Ahead -- assuming we can avoid it.
The purpose of the US education system is to insure employment of bad teachers. It is well known that the efficiency of the system as measured by student performance will be about doubled by firing the 10% worst teachers and apportioning their students out among the rest; that is overwhelmingly to be preferred to "smaller classroom size", teacher pay raises, or anything else that might be tried. Of course this won't be tried because the purpose of the whole system is to see to it that the bad teachers are not fired and are allowed to go through ruining lives until they get large pensions.

The second purpose of the system is to insure full employment for professors of education, many of whom have never done any actual teaching, but whose imprimatur is needed to get the "merit pay" advances you can get from "workshops" and various courses in education. Some education colleges actually prepare teachers to teach, but many simply punch tickets; a lot of bad teachers who ought to be fired get "merit" pay for having accumulated credits from education professors. My suspicion is that firing about half the professors of education would greatly improve the efficiency of the system but I don't have any studies or numbers to prove that; but I would bet money that firing the worst 10% would instantly improve the colleges of education just as firing the worst 10% of classroom teachers would instantly improve the schools.

The purpose of the schools is to extract money from taxpayers and pay it in ways that insure that professors of education and bad teachers get paid. It is not to create citizens, or to teach anything; it is not to train future Legionnaires. If we are to have Legions, the first thing we need to do is cut all ties between the Armed Forces school systems for service dependents from the rest of the education system and run it in a rational manner as it has been done in the past. Alas the trend is in the other direction, with more and more of the poison that ruined the US public school system spreading everywhere else.

Schools no longer prepare students to be citizens or to learn the skills to be employed, even in the Legions. They have new purposes now, and they serve them well.
The schools are awful. The remedy is well known: fire the worst 10% of the teachers, and we can increase school effectiveness by about 50%.
If you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less, tax it. If you want more risky investment, lay off taxing the returns from successful investments. If you want more highly conservative investment, tax hell out of anything risky, And so forth. If the purpose of taxation is to raise revenue it requires a different strategy from taxation to "spread the wealth." If you believe that the purpose of government is to protect private property, but you don't like great disparity in wealth, you need to have an open discussion about what you are trying to do. If your goal is to set up enduring bureaus -- well, we know how to do that.

Taxing income rather than taxing spending produces one result; consumption taxing produces another. None of the analysis can be static, either. What government does has a great effect on prudent behavior.
(on 2010 allegedly being the warmest year) I do note that the places where it is said to have been very much hotter than it has ever been are also among the least reliable in past reports, but perhaps that is a coincidence.
My last hard-work assessment of "green" energy technologies was done in the 1980's, when I rated their importance for the future as:

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fuel recovery/recycling

Nuclear Fission (breeder)
Bio-mass waste product combustion (a booster for coal and natural gas, not stand alone)

Space Solar Power as a long term future

In about that order. ....If we are forbidden to use nuclear energy to get out of the energy shortage, perhaps the best course would be a large x-project power plant (x-project: build the best we can build with technology existing a year after the contract is awarded; don't rely on something yet to be developed).....OTEC is a good idea, but it's not likely to save the world since the places you can use it tend to be places where it's hard to get the energy from there to somewhere that it's useful.
the purpose of TSA is not security, it is to convince the American people they are subjects, not citizens. Salve, Sclave! [save yourself slave]
I do note that a great deal of innovation now comes from American corporation laboratories and think tanks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Given the American school system this is likely to gain importance.
Many colleges consider The Federalist Papers to be too difficult to include in undergraduate non-major classes. They were, of course, originally letters to the editors of newspapers, intended for the general literate population. Were it my choice, I'd assign them in high schools, but I suspect that is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment in today's courts.
if you set up education programs designed in three or four syllibi -- one for the University bound (top 10%, say), one for the College including Community College bound (say another 25%), one for the "tech school" or Trade School bound (say another 35%) and the rest for all those not actually retarded, you will get far better outcomes than we get from any one size fits all education program; but you will also have what appears to be racial segregation, even though you do not choose students on the basis of race. Your top class will have some Blacks, but fewer than the Black proportion in the population; it will have far more Jews and Orientals than their proportion in the population; and more Whites than their proportion would predict. The next class will be the same, although the Black discrepancy won't be so obvious. The next down will have proportionately too many Blacks. And so forth. This will result in law suits
the education system can be raised by the simple expedient of firing the worst 10% of the teachers, with the result that some of the poor Black kids will start looking like success stories. The potential of an IQ 90 to 110 kid is considerably higher than the actual academic achievement of such kids in our present school system. But then our present system is designed largely for keeping bad teachers employed at the expense of the students in their classrooms
The film (Richard Curtis' government funded film of a teacher blowing up children for questioning CAGW) was made by greens who actually thought it would help their cause. ... I have a PhD in Psychology and I was not able to imagine a group delusion of that magnitude. One or two people, perhaps, but an organization with no one able to see the folly of this?
(on friendship with Vietnam & a US base) Had Kennedy pursued US interests and understood what he was doing, it is a result that could have been achieved without all the US casualties. But that's alternate history. (Jerry was a supporter of strongly prosecuting the Vietnam war on the grounds that one should fight to win, but this shows he was not a knee jerk hawk)
All our modern "smart cars" are vulnerable to wireless attacks that could stick the accelerator at full on, or lock the brakes, or disable all the cars on the road at rush hour.
Long term observations of the [radioactive] emissions of some substances like silicon-32 (half life 172 years) show something very strange: the radiation emitted certainly adds up to that expected by a half life of 172 years, but there is seasonal cycle, a wobble, with radioactive output peaking when the Earth is at perihelion and at minimum when the Earth is as aphelion. The closer we are to the Sun, the more radioactive output. The variation is fairly small, but it's there. There are observations of other periodic radiation, some in periods of 7 seconds. Since no one has been looking for any such thing, there's no predicting what else may be found on closer observation.
I've been one of NASA's most stringent critics -- I am told that when the rumor went around that I was going to be appointed Administrator there was sheer terror at NASA headquarters -- but I am no advocate of leaving research and development vital to the future of the human race entirely to commercial forces. It is the duty of government to look into the far future long past the time when you can predict return on investments.
"corollary to your iron law- The half life of a new governmental program is 2 years. Every two years, half of your effective people leave. Half of the replacements are "typical government workers" who never leave. Within 10 years, the government program is useless since 3% of staff will be effective workers. ".
It certainly has the immediate look of truth...
We cannot do without state workers, but we cannot do without responsibility either, and the civil service system as it has evolved (or degenerated) from the original premise has not proven to be correct.

How can one have careers in civil service, get experienced people to do the jobs, be fair to them -- and avoid what we see as the result?
Cutting taxes and spending won't bring back the economy, but it won't hurt, either. What is needed is cheap energy and more freedom. What is needed is an economic miracle. We are still capable of that.
I am no expert on monetization. I did advise readers to buy gold back when it was $400
I have never met an architect who understood heat flow. Frank Lloyd Wright understood earthquake stresses, but his houses are notoriously hard to heat
IQ is the best single predictor we have for performance in tasks that use symbol manipulation and complex abstract tasks. Best single predictor doesn't mean it's all that good, and a combination of data such as was used in the University of Washington Grade Prediction Program is considerably better. Alas the court forbade use of the Grade Prediction Program because it predicted lower grades for certain racial groups
If we are to take back our government there must be people willing to take it back -- and to be part of a new government. One of the benefits of self government is that not many think of it as a full time job. They have other lives. Yes, there will always be professional politicians; what must not happen is that the professional politicians also control the party structures. Self government means that the people governed take part in the whole governing structure; some hold political office, some become major party officials, some become minor party officials, some simply work a few hours a month on party matters; and those who do none of this pay attention to what is going on. ,,,,
Machiavelli said that if Republics rely on mercenaries for their defense, they take great risks; better to have citizen soldiers. Today the danger is not from our Legions... but from our hired political class. We have opted to entrust our political lives to mercenaries: career politicians, political managers, paid operatives and organizers; what we used to call political machines.
Tribalists live on tradition and custom. Barbarians live on strength and conquest. Citizens live by rules. The three types of human civilization cannot coexist in equality in the same territory. Barbarians respect strength and fear retaliation; they have no other reason not to take what they can. They have shed the tribal customs, and they have not learned the self discipline of citizenry.
We have barbarians within the walls, and we do not require them to be citizens, yet we do not make them fear us. That is sowing the wind.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010


2 months ago I sent a letter on the alleged "scientific consensus" on catastrophic global warming to newspapers & alarmist websites asking them, if they chose not to print it, to say what the basis for their claim of "scientific consensus" was. Since then I have had a Google alert on the phrase & replied, or attempted to reply to claims of consensus wherever they have appeared. I usually put up a wording like this which, including the online readers & journalists at the various papers must total several 10s of thousands now.
I would like to take issue with the idea that there ever was a "scientific consensus" on global warming.

I have asked journalists, politicians & alarmist lobbyists now totalling in the tens of thousands to name 2 prominent scientists, not funded by government or an alarmist lobby who have said that we are seeing a catastrophic degree of warming & none of them have yet been able to do so. I extend this same invitation here.

There is not & never was a genuine scientific consensus on this, though scientists seeking government funds have been understandably reluctant to speak. If there were anything approaching a consensus, with over 31,000 scientists having signed the Oregon petition saying it is bunk, it would be easy to find a similar number of independent scientists saying it was true. Let alone 2. The whole thing depends on a very small number of people & a massive government publicity machine, both very well funded by the innocent taxpayer.

I have been banned from a number of "environmental" sites in particular treehugger, which continues to use the term, David Brin's (where he permitted somebody to make a clearly false personal attack on me & then censored my purely factual reply - I previously respected him), & I had long been banned from the Guardian which also continues to use the term. On the other hand I have seen, even over 2 months, a massive change in when the term is used. It is rarely now used editorially as if it were factual. Even the BBC's Roger Harrabin has come close to apologising for them using the term recently.

That is a very good step because the claim of "scientific consensus" threatened to tie the whole of science to this scam. It is vital that it be accepted that there is not & never was a genuine "scientific consensus" simply a political & media one which misused the name of science.

I have also had a number of online responses saying "you prefer scientists funded by Exxon"; "almost anybody can name" such scientists but I can't be bothered; all climate scientists are likely to be funded by government anyway; a couple of people who work for government & IPCC; & more generally that I am a conspiracy theorist so there.

I can also confirm having 2 responsive responses to my request for the names of only 2 independent scientists, worldwide, who are on record as supporting CAGW.

One came at the beginning from the letter editor of the Independent who said she had checked with their "environment correspondent" who was able to give one name - Professor James Lovelock.

The other came from a reply on a South African online journal and also gave only 1 name - that of Professor James Lovelock.

I don't agree with Lovelock on this or on his Gaia theory but do respect him as being sincere. He is almost the only catastrophic warming supporter who has been consistently on record as supporting nuclear power. I regard this as a touchstone of the integrity of those claiming to believe we face catastrophe since CO2 is obviously far preferable to catastrophe. Nonetheless it is a strange worldwide "scientific consensus" which has only 1 member among the large majority of scientists who aren't government funded.

a scientific consensus in person

The good name of science has been deliberately abused by this claim of "scientific consensus". There may well be, or have been, a consensus among politicians & the journalists taking their lead from them, but there is no such consensus among scientists & never has been.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We are used to getting a new health scare story fed to us almost daily - passive smoking, AIDS, salt, obesity, butter, margarine, fish, meat etc etc - all of which require more government regulators to save us from by stopping us doing things we like to do.

Here is a scare, as damaging as real smoking (& infinitely moreso than the passive kind) which we have not seen blanket coverage of & perhaps coincidentally, is one which government bullying cannot ameliorate because it is responsible for it.
Researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom found that mortality rates for people suffering from depression are similar to those who smoke.

The joint study, conducted by research teams at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Institute of Psychology at King's College in London, compared results from a 60,000-person survey with a mortality database. Scientists found that smoking and depression increased the risk of death by a similar margin.
In fact studies have shown that government control is a major factor in reducing happiness
The data show that neither higher rates of government redistribution nor lower levels of income inequality make us happier, whereas high levels of economic freedom and high average incomes are among the strongest correlates of subjective well-being.
This is on top of the previous BMA evidence that each 1% change in living standards leads to an increased/reduced death rate of 21 per 100,000. The government parasitism of all these regulators is paid out of the productive part of the economy seriously impoverishing us all.

Whatever all these nanny state bullies may do to increase government employment we can say with certainty that, unless the "problem" they are "dealing with" is significantly more dangerous than smoking (heroin might count) & they are clearly being successful (heroin obviously wouldn't count) they are not improving health but unambiguously making it worse.

Yet more proof that the purpose of government programmes is to pay government workers & their friends & that the official purpose of the programme is, at best, secondary & in this case the health fascist scares are known to be damaging to their nominal purpose.

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Monday, February 22, 2010


This is from Wikipedia.
Between 1907 and 1925 the Daily Mail newspaper, initially on the initiative of its proprietor Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe,[1] awarded numerous prizes for achievements in aviation. The newspaper would stipulate the amount of a prize for the first aviators to perform a particular task in aviation, or to the winner of an aviation race or event. The most famous prizes were the £1,000 for the first cross-channel flight awarded to Louis Blériot in 1909 and the £10,000 given in 1919 to Alcock and Brown for the first transatlantic flight between North America and Ireland.

The prizes are credited with advancing the course of aviation during the early years, with the considerable sums offered becoming a much-coveted goal for the field's pioneers.

1906 -----1910 ---London to Manchester flight 10,000
Louis Paulhan
1907 -----1907 ---Model aeroplane competition 100
Edwin Roe, W. Howard
---------1908 ---Quarter mile out and return 100
Henri Farman
1908 -----1909 ---Cross-channel flight -------1,000
Louis Bleriot
---------1909 ---Circular mile --------------1,000
John Moore-Brabazon
---------1910 ---Second cross-channel flight 100
Jacques de Lesseps
1910 -----1910 ---Best cross-country aggregate 1,000
Louis Paulhan
1910 -----1911 ---Round-Britain flight -------10,000
André Beaumont (Jean Conneau)
1912 -----1912 ---Aerial Derby cup -----------105
Thomas Sopwith
1913 -----1913 ---Aerial Derby cup -----------105
Gustav Hamel
1913/1918-1919 ---Transatlantic flight--------10,000
Alcock and Brown
1913[5] -- Round-Britain flight for British "waterplanes" 5,000
1914 -----1914 ---Aerial Derby cup -----------105
W. L. Brock
1919 -----1919 ---Aerial Derby cup -----------210
Gerald Gathergood
1923 -----1923 ---Economy flight for motor gliders 1,000
1925 -----1926 ---Economy flight British aircraft 3,000
P.W.S.Bulman (Hawker Cygnet)
1930 -----1930 ---Solo from England to Australia 10,000
Amy Johnson
Consolation prizes
1906 -----1910 ---London to Manchester flight -105
Claude Grahame White
1910 -----1911 ---Round-Britain flight --------200
Jules Védrines
1913 -----1913 ---Round-Britain seaplane ----1,000
Harry Hawker
1913 -----1919 ---Transatlantic flight ------5,000
Harry Hawker, Kenneth Mackenzie Grieve

Because of inflation £1000 now isn't quite what it used to be. In fact adjusted £1000 in 1914 is now
£71,530.83 using the retail price index
£92,836.79 using the GDP deflator
£373,307.88 using the average earnings
£441,900.89 using the per capita GDP
£588,646.19 using the share of GDP

When working out the modern equivalent for a Daily Mail we should probably use per capita average earnings as a comparison of what could be afforded now. Sky, ITV or some other more modern news disseminator should compare with the current GDP proportions.

That means the equivalent of the 1st & runner up prizes for the first transatlantic flights would be £8.8 million slightly more than the Ansari X-Prize for the first private spaceship. Equating to the US economy that is $70 million. However we now have worldwide media corporations & since the world economy is 23 times Britain's the equivalent for a global player would be as high as £200 million ($320 million).

Note that though Harmsworth probably wanted to support aviation technology for its own sake he was an extremely astute businessman with a lot of shareholders rather keen on their dividends. The Mail put up these prizes not out of niceness but because they realised the positive advertising & news exclusives it gave them were worth the money. In fact news & entertainment are a far larger part of society now than then because we spend a much smaller proportion of our incomes on basic survival. Thus these figures may be erring on the conservative side, certainly they don't overstate the situation. If, as a society, we just had the gumption.

And an X-Prize for 1st & 2nd prizes totalling $750 million would get humanity an orbital shuttle.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010


Jerry Pournelle has posted a comment from me about the suggestion I reported on an earlier thread here that the net effect of government funding of science has been negative.
"...a devastating critique of states' failure to fund economically useful knowledge, and suggests that all spending on "technologies of the future" is likely to wind up down the drain.

Professor Kealey is not promoting some off-the-wall, right-wing economic theory. A comprehensive 2003 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development titled "The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries," found that the only useful R&D came from private sources and that public R&D funding tended to have negative consequences.

Professor Kealey provides the history and psychology behind this inconvenient truth, and sets out to explode the pervasive notion -- first propounded by the prototypical 17th-century English policy wonk, Sir Francis Bacon -- that science is a "public good" that needs to be promoted by governments.

In a sweeping analysis, Professor Kealey notes that advances in both science and technology have -- from the steam engine to radio astronomy -- come overwhelmingly from the private sector. "Powerful" states, from Egypt through China to modern Russia, have held up technological advance rather than promoted it....

Professor Kealey notes that government funding tends to corrupt science, but unfortunately does not go into the currently most dangerous example: that of state-funded "climate science" -- although he does refer to the establishment pogrom against the environmental skepticism of Bjorn Lomborg."

Original here

Counterintuitive that all that money spent could have negative effects but the OECD, a pan-governmental bureaucracy, is unlikely to overestimate the harm caused by government bureaucracies. If true "catastrophic global warming" may be just the tumour that has broken the skin. I would hope that as X-Prizes, though government funded, don't control who gets them or the methods they use, they would minimise the negative effects while maximising the positive.

Government funding tends to work on the basis of finding the desired answer & backing it. When it guesses the right answer, such as supporting railways in the 19thC, that works very well but when it guesses wrong, as in global warming, radiation hormesis, AIDS, environmental catastrophism, all the way down to subsidising declining industries, it is not only harmful but, because government has close to a monopoly of power there is no negative feedback & so it keeps on pushing the nonsense long after it is clear, by any objective measure, that it is nonsense. I am not sure if there are any examples of western governments getting it unambiguously more right than industry & science since the 19thC - I couldn't think of any. That means government funding has stored up a mountain of bullshit wrong ideas they are still pushing.

Jerry's comment was
It is possible to create technology on demand -- see Strategy of Technology by Possony and Pournelle -- but it has to be done right and the Iron Law will defeat most attempts. Alas.

NSF* was once the best use of tax dollars we had, but I suspect it no longer is. The Iron Law always wins.

*NSF - National Science Foundation, which in turn promoted the various X-Projects - ok make that 1 example since the 19thC

The book Strategy of Technology is available online from him here. It is set to the theme of defeating the USSR in the cold war, with which I am in little sympathy since I think the USSR's aims were always heavily defencive as they correctly feared that the best they could get from trusting to the peaceful & honourable intentions of the west was what Yugoslavia got. However the longer term lesson is not just that technological progress can be stimulated to improve us compared to the USSR but that technological progress can be stimulated to improve us.

I haven't yet read it but am going to. Meanwhile here is a link to Chapter 3 The Nature of Technological Progress I am very glad Jerry has thought this through before me because it means I can safely assume that, however counterproductive other forms of government "support" of technology are, X-Prizes, by not being able to exercise control over anything but what technology is demanded rather than how or by whom, does indeed maximise positive effects & have very minor negative ones.

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