Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

December 2009 - Posts

What Ever Happened to Aesop?

Aesop was a slave who lived in Ancient Greece around 600 BC. He is best known for his collection of fables that teach moral lessons of human interaction. While Aesops Fables are often cast as childrens stories today, throughout most of history they were recognized as the deep wisdom of the ages. A few of his more notable titles - taken from a list on Wikipedia, are:

One of my favorites was The Ant and the Grasshopper, which was redone by Disney just a few years ago. In this story the ants are out working in the fields, collecting food for the winter. Meanwhile the grasshopper played and ate to his heart's content, all the while making fun of the ants for the labor. Come winter of course, the ants were safe in their warrens with plenty to eat and the grasshopper was cold and hungry outside. Knowing the ants had plenty the grasshopper came to the anthill and begged for food. But the ants told the grasshopper that what they had was a product of their labor and they weren't going to give it away. The grasshopper, having not prepared, starved to death in the cold. The lesson of course doesn't apply only to food and is generally interpreted as meaning, if you don't take responsibility seriously you aren't going to have what you need in life.

For thousands of years this was taken as a fundamental truth. Even Christianity, which is often referenced when the issue arises, doesn't endorse helping those who are lazy. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 - If any will not work, neither let him eat.) Indeed, this is one of the precepts that has made America great. While you weren't given what you need, the tools were there for you to go out and get it. And those who were willing to work hard would be rewarded for their labors. That is why the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. That is why Europe flocked to our shores. So what in the world is happening?

I honestly don't understand what my nation has become. Far from The Ant and the Grasshopper, the only thing our leadership ever talks about these days is how to give our tax dollars away. In Copenhagen Hillary Clinton has pledged $100 billion (that's $100,000,000,000) yearly to help the third world catch up with the developed world. At the same time she wants to slow the growth - even turn back the progress of - our economy. Now I don't mean to be insensitive but we have in this country what we have because we have chosen to have a stable government and to work our asses off for 250 years. The people in those other countries haven't done that so why should they benefit from our hard work? Why do my leaders think it is okay to take what the ants earned and give it to the grasshoppers, while making it more difficult for the ants to do their job? When did that become wisdom?

While our diplomats are giving away the store to a bunch of uncouth, uncivilized heathans overseas, our legislators are in Washington trying to decide how to give healthcare to those who haven't earned it. Like many of you reading this piece I've worked my tail off for the last twenty years. I studied while others were out partying. I didn't engage in casual and irresponsible sex. I maintained a low debt to income ratio. I kept my body healthy through exercise and moderation. I've gone to work every day even when I don't particularly like what I'm doing. I've provided for my family even when it meant I have to sacrifice for myself. And under the burden of taxation and inflation I have virtually nothing for the future. Sound like anyone else you know? And they want to use the money you and I earn to pay for our healthcare, to buy healthcare for those who partied and screwed around while they should have been on task? And medicate the AIDS epidemic in Africa. This after using half of last year's budget to pay off the banks. While we're in debt up to our eyeballs they are increasing outflow and decreasing inflow. How did these fools wind up in charge?

I drive to work every morning and see the bumperstickers on the cars. You do too. People hate the government and for good reason. Just this morning I saw one that said Elect Nobody. So I ask, how and why are these idiots in power? They can't even balance a checkbook. I don't understand how they made it past the 8th grade without getting hit by a car or falling into a hole. Our leaders have abandoned all reason in their relentless pursuit of being loved by everybody. And we have abandoned all reason by trusting them. We've forgotten about Aesop! We've forgotten what they knew 3,000 years ago.

As far as I can tell, given the only debate occuring in Washington - our Government's plan for the future - is as follows:

  • Cut our economy and use our wages to fund nations wracked with internal strife and corruption.
  • Reduce our healthcare and make us pay for those who won't accept responsibility.
  • Use the wages of the middle class to bail out banks and investment firms and pay their failed-executives' 7-figure salaries
  • Use the wages of the middle class to purchase automotive companies that failed through mismanagement.
  • Use the wages of the middle class to buy cell phones and service for people who can't afford them.
  • Fight wars for nations that have no stability, no educated populace, and deeply corrupt governments.
  • Pay to medicate the sick of an entire nation for a communicable disease that can't be cured.
  • Increase the national debt to pay for today's excess

People - this isn't about Democrat versus Republican. This isn't about conservative versus liberal, or right against left, or Christian versus atheist. This is about stupid, greedy people in power. Greece forgot about Aesop's Fables and look what happened. If we forget them the same thing will happen to us. Re-read Aesops Fables. They are all summarized on Wikipedia. It takes less than twenty minutes to go over them all. You might even see a connection between this wisdom and the values of our Founding Fathers. Ancient Greece was, after all, one of the inspirations for our form of Government. Didn't you ever wonder why so many of our Government Buildings look like Ancient Greek temples? Let's make sure ours don't collapse, because all that is left in Greece is ruins of their former glory.

Futbol Guru,

Climate Change Part 3: The Greatest Danger

It has been said that Christianity would be perfect if there weren't people involved. I guess that's true of many things. Look at the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. As a group of documents they exalt man to a higher level and establish a nation based on freedom and liberty. It truly is a magnificent construct and grants a never before seen level of rights and responsibilities to the public. The biggest problem is that in order for them to mean anything, they have to be administered by people. And people means politics.

Politics is the study, dynamics, and practice of dealing with large groups of people. What motivates them. What inspires them. How can they be controlled. How can they be freed. And people who make a career out of this are called politicians. Some people are very good at appealing to the mob. Fortunately, there are those who use this talent for good. And since positives in the natural world always have negative counterparts, there are also those who use this talent for bad. What is 'good' and what is 'bad' is always left up to the public to decide, and later, to the historians. It is amazing how often politicians viewed as 'bad' by the people of the day are remembered as 'good' by historians. And the opposite is just as true.

Sadly, the climate change football is now in the hands of politicians. If the Left wins, draconian and unnecessary measures will strangle the global economy and ultimately undermine all their hopes. As history has shown with the utmost clarity, economic downturns always lead to significant increases in carbon output as a result of wars, less efficient industrial practices, and population pressures. If the Right wins, nothing will be done and industrial output will continue to rise at a steady pace, lining the pockets of industrialists and flowing ever more treausure into government coffers. Either way, the people lose.

I've stated in other posts that science does not support the doom and gloom interpretation of climatology. In other words, there is no scientific evidence that rising levels of carbon dioxide will result in a runaway greenhouse effect that will end life as we know it. Nor have rising temperatures been definitively linked to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and even more importantly, it is not alltogether clear that temperatures are even rising. Indeed, average global temperature is a meaningless quantity and the apparent increasing severity of weather related phenomenon has much more to do with larger populations moving into ever more sensitive and dangerous areas, and the rapidity with which the global media reports on and disseminates any kind of negative weather event.

Climate change is real. It has always been real. It is as real as weather change. Expecting the climate to stay constant is no different than expecting the weather to remain constant. The only difference is that climate changes more slowly than weather. In fact, up until the last couple of hundred years nobody even noticed climate change because when people died their climate records died with them. Daily weather recording and stable governments are the only reason that climate change is even noticeable. Climate change is real. On the other hand, catastrophic global warming has no basis in rational scientific study. Nevertheless, there is a very real danger of coming catastrophe.

There are two enormous problems facing the biosphere that are far more immediate than climate change: population pressure and habitat loss. Like 'global warming' they are both side effects of an industrialized societies. Unlike global warming, they are real and demonstrable. And unlike climate change, which despite the negotiations in Copenhagen, humans can not alter, we can do something about population pressure and habitat loss.

Population pressure is simply populations growing beyond sustainability. Put some e.coli on a petri dish and let it grow. Colonies will form quickly and healthy growth will soon cover the surface of the dish with a bacterial mat. But at some point access to food will begin to cause bacteria on the outer edges to die. At the same time, those in the middle will begin to drown in their own waste products. Without outside intervention the entire colony will eventually collapse. This is an excellent analogy to human population pressure. While populations in industrialized nations have been stable for the last half century or so, populations in 'developing' nations are increasing geometrically. While this massive growth is causing some migration, that isn't really the problem. The problem is that the growth of these populations is being artificially sustained.

Most developing nations lack both the industrial capacity and the governmental organization to support large populations. And throughout history, nature has limited the size of these populations through natural causes. Infant mortality, malnutrition, plague, internal strife and other factors have combined to keep average lifetimes comparitively low. While this is nature's way of maintaining stability we in the west view it as anathema. Therefore, we in the West have provided food and medical care that has allowed these populations to burgeon far beyond anything even remotely natural. And whether we have done so for religious reasons, political reasons, or simply out of the 'goodness' of our hearts, we have created a situation every bit as unnatural as the industrially-forced rise in atmospheric CO2.

But we can not focus all the blame on the third world. While population pressure is at least 50% our fault, habitat loss is 100% our baby. For starters, much of the habitat loss we see is occuring in underdeveloped nations whose populations have been artificially swollen by well-meaning but misguided do-gooders in the West. With tribes far larger than anything ever seen throughout the long (and relatively peaceful) history of these far-flung regions, people in these areas are domesticating areas they'd have never dreamed of colonizing in the past.

Yet that is only half the problem. Back home, our insatiable materialism is driving everything from deforestation to the worldwide collapse of fisheries. And with our emerging love of all things 'green' we have shifted this destruction more and more from our own backyard into the developing countries - out of sight and out of mind - accelerating population induced habitat loss. Even in our own nation we need look no further than our own posh neighborhoods to find the worst culprits of habitat destruction. Whether it is a view of the beach out our backdoor or the removal of a mountaintop to get at the minerals under the ground, we are bit by bit eroding the very habitats that once absorbed changes in the ecosystem driven by climate change. Climate change isn't the problem. The problem is that when the climate changes there is nowhere for the animals to go - and humans are included. And since when is a 10,000 square foot home necessary for a family of four? The resources to build it had to come from somewhere as does the energy to keep to cool in summer and warm in winter.

That is the real danger of the current climate of climate change. Because every idea being discussed is driving the global community the wrong direction. The politicians want to turn citizens of the industrialized nations into paupers while supporting the unnatural growth of third world populations. The kernel of their negotiations centers around artificially limiting the growth of developed economies while artificially accelerating the growth of underdeveloped economies, and using the manpower of the developed contries to make it happen. The only possible result of this can be huge populations with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and with personal futures of the citizens stymied by chronic market saturation. Historically, when this happens, there is always only one outcome. War.

Futbol Guru,

Climate Change Part 2: Why the Lie?

Either the planet is getting hotter or it isn't. Are manmade emissions the cause? Is the world headed for environmental Armageddon? Why is this a political football?

It would seem to be an open and shut case. If the world is getting warmer, if manmade emissions are the cause, and if the climate will cartwheel out of balance because of this, we need to fix things and we need to do it now. Compare it to H1N1. H1N1 has hardly been the global killer that some international aid agencies were hoping - or rather, feared. Yes H1N1 is dangerous and we all understand that. We don't really understand how, when, or if it will morph into the next pandemic strain, and some people are more worried than others, but precautions were taken and the spread kept manageable. There are critics who will say that the government hasn't done enough, some who say we have done too much, and still others who worry only about how it will be paid for. But so far as I have heard no one has advocated doing nothing. And while there are political implications to how this 'crisis' is handled, as there are for any international effort, they are related to the epidimic and not controlling the management. So why is climate change so different?

The underlying fact is that we don't understand climate change. The equations that model climate are non-linear, multi-variable, partial differential equations with multiple boundary conditions, underdetermined initial conditions, and un-modeled dynamics. They can not be solved directly. They can not be fully initialized. They fall under the realm of 'chaotic' systems. Regardless of what anybody says, we don't really understand the complex interactions between sun, atmosphere, ocean, and land. We don't. From the standpoint of science and engineering, when compared to climate, building a nuclear bomb or sending a man to the moon are rather trivial exercises. Just consider how many nuclear and rocket tests were necessary to get these programs right.

Okay, so we don't understand climate. What this means is that information related to climate is subject to interpretation. When a missile is tested either it performs properly or it doesn't. A nuclear test either produces the expected fireball or it fizzles. There are questions as to degree, but success or failure is fairly straightforward and obvious. Climate data, on the other hand, by virtue of the way it is collected, is subject to considerable uncertainty. Climate data is collected over a wide area and most of the EAOS is ignored. The EAOS is the Earth-Ocean-Atmosphere-System and interactions between these realms are what drives climate. The EAOS is so big that 99.9% of it can't be measured. The deep ocean. The upper atmosphere. Far out at sea. Remote locales. Most places throughout the EAOS don't have thermometers or pressure gauges so conditions are inferred from the nearest hard measurement. Which means that 99.9% of what we know about the EAOS is being inferred from measuring somewhere in the range of just 0.1% of it. While there is validity to collecting data this way, it is no small surprise that there is a lot of uncertainty associated with it and how you handle the remaining 99.9% of inferred conditions is subject to a lot of debate. While satellite-based remote sensing is helping to fill the gaps, satellite data is NOT a hard measurement and is itself subject to a host of errors that can only be removed through data processing - a process that requires choices on how the data is to be manipulated.

Okay, so we don't understand climate. We can't really measure the climate. This means people have to make assumptions. And how do we make assumptions? Why we base them on the sum-total of our experiences: our childhood, our education, our training, our personality, our ideological viewpoints, our wordly ambitions. Everything about us goes into making assumptions whether they are about how to treat data gathered from an EAOS observing satellite or how to react to the troop surge in Afghanistan. And everybody's experiences are different which is why there are so many different reactions.

Now I don't claim to know why people act the way that they do. Some people belive that money collected through taxation should be used to help those in 'need'. Some people believe that everyone should stand on their own two feet. Sink or swim. Some people believe the world's problems are caused by the poor. Others believe they are caused by the rich. Some people think that everyone's resources should be pooled so that no one has any want. Others think that everyone should get only what they earn. And of course, for each of these ideological bents, there are countless gradations between the extremes.

For most of civilization the common man had no rights. Hereditary succession, interspersed with the occasional coup d'etat, determined the course of government and the have-nots of the world could only watch in misery and squallor. Until a few hundred years ago, a movement called "The Enlightenment" began to ask if all men had basic rights. From this came two primary schools of thought, both of which maintained that people had intrinsic value. One school believed that each man was a free individual endowed with the right to self-determination. It culminated in the US Constitution, which for the first time ever, spelled out these rights in a legal document. We'll call these people individualists because they believe in the power of individual control. The other school of thought maintained that each man was part of a collective whole and the main focus of society was to ensure that no one existed in the poverty of the ages. This school is what we know today as socialism and saw extreme experiments in the form of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and other interesting places. We'll call these people centralists because they believe in the power of centralized control. Why a person chooses one school of thought over another is partly due to their background and experiences but also comes from somewhere within. It is outside the scope of this essay to answer why people choose one school or another, only to recognize that they do. Nevertheless, it can not be debated that adherents to individualism or centralism are generally quite energetic about their choices. Indeed, most of the world's wars come about as the result of ideological clashes.

Individualism requires relatively open access to resources, goods, and services. The result is a wide disparity in achievement based in part on individual talents, work ethic, and initial conditions. Centralism requires centralized control of resources, goods, and services so that each person can be give some arbitrarily-determined minimum allocation regardless of individual talents, work ethic, and initial conditions. Individualists, therefore, attempt to influence government and economic decisions that promote laws and conditions providing wide access to resources, goods, and services. Centralists, on the other hand, attempt to influence legal decisions that restrict access to these same resources, goods, and services. It can be argued that the outcome of these legislative and regulatory battles between Individualist and Centralists determine the success of one ideological bent over the other.

Now, the crux of the matter. Take a subject like climate change. The data and methodology used to make predictions are both subject to considerable interpretation. One interpretation predicts almost random seeming fluctuations in heating and cooling - sort of the way the EAOS has behaved for the last million years or so - that occur slowly over time. The other interpretation predicts a runaway greenhouse effect - something never before seen or inferred from past climate records - that could potentially end life as we know it in a relatively short period of time. Neither can be proven. Each can be supported by appropriate choices made when data is processed and climate dynamics modeled. I ask, which of these interpretations is going to be siezed upon by a crisis-loving media, and a crisis-driven culture?

People will die and kill for their ideological choices. We see this in Iraq and Afghanistan every day. They will torture, maim, rape, and commit genocide to see their ideological choice reign supreme over another. Endless wars, death, and pestilence have proven it beyond debate. Centralists want to control access to resources, goods, and services. If they can make people believe that the only way to stop catastrophic global warming is to control access to resources, goods, and services, you think they're not going to make assumptions in data processing and climate dynamics modeling that prove their point? They're not even going to be conscious of it. They're getting exactly what they want out of life - a victorious ideology - without even having to talk about politics. This in addition to the fact that they've made themselves the most important scientific figures on the planet with an exponentially increasing revenue stream. Add to that the hype-factor of an omnipresent, crisis-driven media and it is no surprise that public opinion is what it is.

The Climate Change Centralists say the CRU-East Anglia email scandal doesn't change anything, because for them, it doesn't. It's like Nixon saying that Watergate doesn't matter. You can't change the mind of a true believer. And in that sense, they aren't even lying. They are simply making choices that support their world view. They see no more inconsistency in what they've done than communist party leaders who executed former capitalists and then moved into their luxury mansions, or priests who condemned lasciviousness only to descend into debauchery under the protection of papal indulgences. But what this means to the rest of us is that the CRU email scandal is the most important event in climatology since James Hansen stood before Congress in 1988 and predicted the end of life as we know it. It is Jan Huss standing up to the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-Five Theses on the cathedral door in Wittenberg. A ragged, underfunded band of patriots defying George III. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. It is resisting an increasingly oppressive establishment that has become infatuated with its own priveleged status. Like Ms. Parks it is time to keep our seats or we're going to find ourselves walking to work - those of use who still have jobs.

Futbol Guru,

Climate Change Part I: The Making of The Matrix.

I've been watching aghast the last few weeks as the climate change storm sweeps the planet. A few weeks ago we had the release of hundreds of emails detailing a systematic plan to silence and disrepute any scientific data or opinions contrary to the accepted view of anthropogenic climage change. Most chilling perhaps, those implicated in the emails say that their conspiracy has no bearing on the climate discussion. Remember the clergymen who threatened Galileo with death for saying the moon had mountains on it? They too said that evidence to the contrary had no bearing on the discussion. The scientists have become the Church.

At the same time, we have the climate summit in Copenhagen, or is it, Hopenhagen, with the world's leaders gathering to the strains of children singing about our need to save the world. Indeed, Danish PM Lars Loekke Rasmussen, as the conference opened, told delegates the world was looking to them to safeguard humanity. How many horrors have emerged from people trying to save us from ourselves can not be counted. Jim Jones and David Koresh were trying to save people from themselves too. But there was no one to save the followers from the leaders.

And today, the US Environmental Protection Agency declared greenhouse gasses as harmful to human health, opening the door for them to directly regulate emissions. Or, if you prefer, control the US economy through the backdoor as it were. Even though none of the greenhouse gasses are poisonous but have been in the environment as long as people have. It would be no different to say that sunlight was harmful to - oh yeah. They did say that.

Honestly I can find no words to describe the horror taking place before my eyes. Here, at the dawn of the 21st Century, we see the United States rushing headlong towards centralized economic planning - the same system that turned Eastern Europe into the biggest environmental disaster the world has ever seen. All predicated on science that can not be proven, for an effect that hasn't killed even a single person. Yes, you heard me right. Greenhouse gasses have never killed anyone and yet they've been declared hazardous to human health. I wonder how many people died as a result of the recent worldwide recession. I would guess hundreds of thousands due to reduced food supplies and medical care. Not because of a natural calamity, but because of greed by the world's financial leaders. And yet we are now seeking to regulate the very technologies that are responsible for saving and lengthening human life.

Look around the world. Where are people dying? In third world countries with poorly managed governments and centrally planned economies. People without access to health care. People without access to energy and transportation. It is in the industrialized nations, with access to these goods and services, where lifespans have increased and people with formerly life threatening conditions are being saved. And yet we want to regulate not only health care, but also energy and production, and say that these things don't save life, but end it. Truly 2+2 is no longer equal to 4! Truly "yes" has come to mean "no".

I admit, I don't understand what is going on. I happen to be a rocket scientist but I also studied climatology in a 'former life'. Now climatology is hard. Much harder than rocket science. No one understands it, not even the experts. If they say they do, it proves they don't. Sort of like a guy saying he understands women. And you can't simulate it on a computer (any more than you can simulate a woman.) You can't even initialize the simulation. To do so you'd have to know the state of the atmosphere at every point - an impossibility. And chaos theory tells us unequivocally that is does matter. That's why I went back to rocket science. There are no answers in climatology. Only questions and observations. Did you know it is not even possible to calculate the average temperature of the Earth? You'd have to know the temperature at every point on the earth and in the atmosphere and you can't. And I'm supposed to believe that Al Gore understands that? Or Barack Obama? They may be good politicians but something tells me they don't know what a differential equation is, much less a non-linear, partial DE with boundary conditions. (The mathematical tools used to model climate and weather.) How can you make a politician understand that mathematical non-linearities and sensitivity to initial conditions render climate simulations useless? Obviously you can't. But these same people understand the meaning of power. And they are going to get it even though global warming hasn't killed even one single person. Carbon dioxide hazardous? You'd have to remove all the air, and then you'd just suffocate. 

People, we are being duped. We are being lied to. We are being lied to. We are being driven over a cliff by those who would use us for their own ends. Remember the Matrix? That fictional world where machines used humans as bio-batteries? Well, it turns out it is going to be real. It's being set up right now. The only difference is that it isn't run by computers, it is run by the politicians and the wealthy. People who will use our energy to power a world that turns only for them. Luxury has always required labor. Somebody to hold the palm leaf and build the pyramids. All they have to do is make sure we don't wake up.

Futbol Guru,