Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Where does energy come from to run the economy? See trend chart for 150 years.

Courtesy of Zerohedge, with total energy in any year normalized to 100%.
It's interest how stable the coal percent is for the last seventy years.  The oil dominance is relatively recent, since WW2.  We sometimes forget how important muscle has been (and the former importance of slavery).  Despite the hype about solar and wind power which is tossed in with nuclear power, its share in the economy is minor and stable.  Gas is trending to number one.

A note about muscle power:
A few years ago I saw it used to unload motor canoes in the upper Amazon with goods being tossed uphill up a human chain.. Now think about the House of Windsor with its kings and queens.  What does "windsor" mean?  It refers to a similar dock hundreds of years ago in Britain with an astonishing innovation: A winding tool with a rope that could raise loads from the boats.  Replacing muscle is the big revolution and it is only in modern times that this was baked into the pie.  And in England the rulers are named after the only place that had a windlass a thousand years ago.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Your Forgettery Is Working

From Science Daily News: Every time you remember something you suppress competing memories.

"I think a lot of people are surprised to hear that recalling memories has this darker side of making us forget others by actually suppressing them.  .. Forgetting is often viewed as a negative thing, but of course, it can be incredibly useful."
"Over the course of four selective retrievals the participants in the study were cued to retrieve a target memory, which became more vivid with each trial. Competing memories were less well reactivated as each trial was carried out, and indeed were pushed below baseline expectations for memory,"

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

You can't blame the government for everything: The High Cost Of Housing

Sure the government meddles to raise the price of shelter, starting with zoning bylaws that make it illegal to build a single family house under 1000 sq ft.  But how do you explain that houses have been getting bigger and bigger while families get smaller and smaller? A little chart tells all.  In my work I often see roofs over 4000 square feet that cover just one bedroom and a flex den for a retired couple.

Humility can save hundreds of thousands.  If your house were 10 or 20% smaller, would you lose anything important? Does your master bedroom need to be 15 feet wide with double doors, bay windows, a balcony, and a view of the great room for you to have a good night’s sleep? Does a two storey 3-way vaulted living room with sunken floor, Roman columns and a 16 foot high arched window improve your family life?

If there's another rule, it is this: Get along with your spouse.  If you don't need to show off and blow your horn, the place you already have may be enough. Touch up with TLC.

Hillary's Email: Forget The Gotcha. Even GMail Better Than This Security Nightmare.

From Geekwire:  Hillary having a homebrew server for all her State business is like "the CFO of Chase taking billions of dollars in cash home and storing it in the mattress". ...We have no choice but to assume that this server has been compromised by foreign intelligence agents".   She was almost the highest target out there.  America's enemies have the funds and motivation to hire the best of the best to go after her. Count on it.
With these glasses on, no one will
recognize me.
A “homebrew” server was the worst possible choice. Even using a webmail system like Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo would have been better because those companies have the expertise and capability to meet at least some of the threat this class of information would face.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tidy or messy

This picture from The Daily Mail presents a laughable contrast between tidy and messy. The underlying story is that if disorder bothers you, you're probably a good credit risk.  To that I'll add the observation that a business owner is someone deeply discontent when things don't work or promises un-kept and does something about it as soon as humanly possible.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Jeb Organized Lying Optics At CPAC

The press reported that although a few walked out on Jeb Bush's CPAC speech, the hall was well filled and the talk well received.  People who were there saw bused-in amateur actors moving from camera zone to camera zone to supply cheers and warm fuzzies for the folks watching TV.  Link here to a second report.
"Luke warm, at best" 
"..Clips .. showed .. Bush answering a single question on immigration followed by a round of cheers, applause and supportive sounding shouts from the crowd. To act as if this was some version of reality would be an injustice to the audience."
Other politicians use this subterfuge too.  I used to enjoy those impromptu videos of Chris Christie scolding the teacher's union until I learned he paid to have them recorded and released.  Voters should keep Lying Optics in mind. Ask for crowd analysis before you swallow swill.

Application:  Schools would do very well to teach kids how easy they are to deceive and mislead.  Study some cropped pictures, staged photo-ops, truncated voice clips, and a little insight into how simple magician gimmicks lead the observer to believe what is not true to be true.
Heads of State leading million man march in Paris
We are Charlie Hebdo

Heads of State clumped securely in an entirely different location posing for a
We are Charlie Hebdo photo op.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Government gets big when families get small

Government will have to be better because it won't stop getting big.  That's because it's common to have one baby and quits.   After two generations of one child families, there is no kin group left.  A kid still has two parents and four grandparents but there is no sister or brother. There are no aunts. There isn't a single uncle.  No one has first cousins.  Who do you turn to when you leave home?  The kin network collapses when one child is the rule.   Government steps up, not in loco parentis but in place of kin.

The chart is from The Federalist: "Why we lose with only two children per family".

The Law That Applies To Raising Children Is Parkinson's.

The role of parents has been transformed by downsizing the family to one or perchance two rug rats.  In summer, my generation roamed the neighbourhood and far beyond with hordes of other kids and generally were back in time for supper and bed.  That was it.  No one had time to fuss over every minute of our disorganized lives.

Now it's dawn to dusk supervision by otherwise underemployed adults.  Now it's  the car shuttle to T-ball where your preschooler gets coaches and uniforms.   Junior can't even walk home on his own, balancing on the fence in a back lane, without Mom and Dad being badgered by Social Services.  There are a lot of parents and appended busybodies who are spending time and money that should be skipped.    Is this an employment scam or simply Parkinson's Law that work expands to fill the time available?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Russia re-set: Threatens Informally To Kill Obama

Army Day parade in Russia on February 23rd includes a missile mock-up with the message "To be Personally Delivered to Obama".  Source, twitter feed of mgurmgur

I don't read Russian but see "Moscow" in the text below. This would be a major parade.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Hokey Data In The Maunder Minimum

The stunning lack of sunspots from 1645 to 1715 (Maunder Minimum) and the cool years associated have to be addressed when you talk about the sun and climate change.  Willis Eschenbach  writing at WattsUpWithThat was busy checking into something else (possible links between volcanos and sunspots) when he discovered unseemly holes in the original sun spot diaries.

Johann Zahn
This is the Zahn's data for the year 1632 in Germany.  The -99 number means there were five days that year when no observations were taken.  All the other entries are zero which means that there were 360 un-cloudy days in Germany that year and no spots were seen in all 360.  Eschenbach writes that most of the years just prior to the Maunder Minimum appear to have about two thirds of the data missing.   Bizarrely, during the Minimum, the opposite is the case with only 3% of the data missing.

No one is saying there was no Maunder Minimum but it looks to have been overstated.   The original entries by Herr Zahn may have conflated days with no sunspots and days when no observations were attempted.  There's a lot more detail at the site with links to sources.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Freud was right and nearly irrelevant

Freud made a name for himself finding feces and mother f***ers in the human psyche.  It's almost irrelevant because everything is in there.   The sea outside my window is the same.  Everything that has ever bumped the surface or bumped the bumps has its own waves and ripples criss-crossing.  Jung slung his net into the same water and came up with archetypal stuff.  Adler's trawl brought up birth order and socializing.  Maslow hooked him some esteem and fulfillment along with the drive to eat and reproduce.  Your dreams are a living stew, themes consuming themes with no polite boundaries at all. (Last night a skate wrapped itself around my leg and I almost pushed my wife out of bed to get it off.)

Of course pooh and how you'd treat your parents if you were adult will show up in your head.  So does eating shreddies,  getting a new hairdo,  wondering what will happen when you die, arguing with the neighbours, mating with someone you saw on the bus, remembering what happened in the war, and forgetting a line in the high school play.  Not just everything that's happened in your life shows up.  Not just every human behaviour that is baked into your genes shows up.  Every possible combination of combinations of them all can show up too.

At work, filtering.
Freud filtered the mind to exclude almost everything relevant and found some gold.  Most is missed.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Will the janitor collect your health data?

A fellow at Cornell has been swabbing subway handrails in New York City.  He's collected evidence of the diseases that ebb and flow in the city.  The data is given out free by tens of thousands of riders daily and collected on a primitive device called a pipe handrail.  He found bubonic plague and 15000 more life forms.

Data collector
This could easily be done by your janitor who daily collects the traces of DNA, disease and medication you leave behind. The issue comes up with pooh too.  Who has the right to sample your waste?   Down in the sewers of the city little gadgets can be installed at sewer junctions.  They can sample down to parts in a billion and phone it in to central health and the RCMP.  If a fugitive flushes, he can be detected.  It comes down to the politics of privacy.  Do you want the health monitors in your own toilet, or on the condo sewer outlet, or at the municipal level down by the sewer lagoon?  All three are likely.
a state employee.

The big ticket item is your own DNA.  Who has the right to know it and clone it?  This one is getting away on us.  I think we'll have to live with our DNA super-duper private recipe becoming widely available to insurers, bosses, nosy neighbours, exes, grandparents and researchers.

I'm for the data collection but sorting out who owns it will be a mess.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bi-Bi Sitter

Israelis have a sense of humour.  Netanyahu appears in an election ad candidating to be a couple's babysitter.    I hope we get more politicians who can make light of themselves while making their point.   The couple's thoughts about the alternatives put me in mind of Stephane Dion's wife saying "You don't leave him in a house alone."  It's only a minute long so you can wade past the mugging that opens the clip.

DIY Faith and a Fire Extinguisher for Agnostics.

When I was a teen, CHOV radio, Pembroke, played the top ten rock and roll tunes in an hour-long Thursday night countdown.   Those were simpler times for music and faith.   Today, song lists of 100 for R&B/Hip Hop, Latin, Christian/Gospel, Emerging Artists plus Reggae, Smooth Jazz, New Age and Comedy are always on.  Today too we have a thousand little DIY religions blooming across the land.

In the fifties, my neighbours were, as far as I knew, Christian.  Now I often don’t know, myself included.  Despite the patching together of beliefs about karma and meditation, about sin or the denial of sin, about “making love not war”, about the possibility of big government actually working, about an Eden-like state of nature, about eating vegetarian and blessing homosexual unions, the faith DNA still has that distinctive tang of anything touched by Christ.   It’s like a fire extinguisher on the wall behind a glass door, “Break Open in Emergency”.  It's available, recognizable, useful in emergencies, and rarely called on.

Individuals are patching together their Theory of Everything (T.O.E) like a bride’s trousseau, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  It’s hard to see how in a single lifetime you can master the data, time and wisdom to come up with a customized just-right-for-you faith but folks are hard at it.  I’ve read the Bible carefully enough to know that when friends and neighbours say “I believe in God but don’t go to church”, they have generally stuffed heretic and scriptural beliefs into the same pod, beliefs that are at war with what Christ said.  They seem happy enough.    It’s our nature to make sense of things.  It’s also our nature to take shortcuts and close off inquiry as soon as we have enough explanations to get by.

I think “agnostic”is the humble position to adopt though it may be wrong. When Christ asked Peter:  "Will ye also go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"  My T.O.E.  hasn't enough evidence to follow Peter but I have none better.     I think about a self-organizing universe while humming "Tell Me The Stories of Jesus".

There was no mention of Obama

Jordan's King Abdullah met with the House Armed Services Committee,  He "showed an extraordinary measure of anger"and quoted Clint Eastwood on retribution.  Notable line:  "There was no mention of President Obama during the bipartisan meeting, either by King Abdullah or by any of the lawmakers in the room."  The chief man of the chief nation on earth is not a help.

The savages who triggered the meeting burned the Jordanian pilot alive in a made-for-TV cage.  They posted a quotation from the Quran making clear this is chapter and verse for a good Muslim. Abdullah made clear that the prisoners ISIS wants back will be immediately put to death, a language that ISIS understands well.  "The only problem we're going to have is running out of fuel and bullets".
Staged murder in Made-For-TV cage.
"Highly produced 22 minute video"