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"

Friday, 30 January 2015

BC raised the posted speed limit and guess what?

The posted speed used to be 80 KMPH on one BC highway and the 85th percentile of drivers were clocked at 98 KMPH.   A senior engineering administrator in the BC Transportation Ministry told me what happened when the posted speed was raised to 90 KMPH in 2014.  The 85th percentile dropped to 93 KMPH.
Reposting the Coquihalla in 20-14

My takeaway:  When you place unreasonable limits on choice, people make their own rules.  When you place reasonable limits, they will often accommodate themselves to the limits.  In this case, raising the posted speed appears to have made the road safer.

Example where force of law is invoked
for an unreasonable limit.
Choice is crushed because we depend
on others to make our bulbs.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


In 90 seconds, Penn and Teller demolish "Vaccination causes Autism" with grapefruit.  If true, you'd still be crazy not to vaccinate your kids. And it isn't true.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Reform is easy

Every time you squeeze silly putty, you re-form it.  Wily politicians who want to massage your wallet and cater to their donor base will introduce "A Bill To Reform Something" and the fifth estate is in rapture.
Yellow blob
being reformed
The presumption should be that every new bill will add some dysfunction and be more costly. Let the burden fall on the promoters to prove otherwise.  "Reform" is an empty term in politics.

ISIS eyes Mecca.

ISIS has an opportunity to become an empire after the death of Abdullah.  It's plausible that an attack breaching Saudi Arabia's northern desert wall will produce the same craven disorder the Iraq attack did.  Saudi troops may flee, abandon weapons and large numbers may swap sides.  (h/t smalldeadanimals for the link to global guerillas.)  Whoever holds Mecca and Medina is the de facto guardian of the spirit of the Islamic world.

Other points at Global Guerillas:  The Saudis have indoctrinated their population with Wahhabi doctrine that tends to like ISIS and small cells of militant believers can stir up mayhem to add confusion while the ISIS warriors race up paved roads in the desert.   Every win wins more recruits and ISIS has to have increasingly spectacular attacks to keep the spotlight and survive.  More borders will be redrawn, the US could end up with soldiers defending oil fields in Saudi Arabia of all places.
Backgrounder map from Global Guerillas
"If this doesn't occur, ISIS missed the opportunity  ...    ISIS is a theocratic network of networks that is both entrepreneurial and dynamic. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a theocratic hierarchy that's risk averse and inflexible. Which one wins?"
Also, we heard about the Israeli attack in Syria that killed an Iranian general but we didn't hear about a demoralizing ISIS attack two weeks ago that used insider information to kill the Saudi general in charge of the northern border.

ISIS in Mecca, no longer a black swan proposition.  The pooh-poohers should expect to be killed in ISIS land.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Government waste in the Stone Age.

The 5200 year old Newgrange monument in Ireland predates Stonehenge and is a perfect example of government waste.   Always and everywhere when the wealth of many is spent by a powerful few, the waste is prodigious.      The $1.1 billion loss to stop building the Oakville gas plant comes to mind.  At least the Neolithic Irish got something to look at.

2% useable space, unfinished.
The 48,000 square foot public monument has 1000 square feet useable inside space.  It was not a "billionaire's tomb".  For that 2% cultic drama space, leaders consumed the labour of two generations of the farming district.  They brought sea-shore stones for miles, apparently strapped to the underside of rafts that were lifted by the tide and dragged up-river and then across fields.  The showpiece rock slabs came from farther afield.  The skinny corridor lines up with the December 21st sun rise.  Well, that's nice but I could get the same effect with a couple sticks lined up in the dirt a hundred yards apart.  At the end of the day, there was a narrative that appealed to the Paddies, something like, "We're going to land a man on the moon" and they stacked rocks and dirt for their superiors instead of farming, finishing a task their dead grandfathers began.

To be clear, I'm not against waste.   It's nice to be rich and a show-off project can be fun.  I don't like someone else wasting my stuff for me.
Newgrange, Ireland, 3200 BC Farm District Project.


"Corrupt investigation produces corrupt reform": Sub-Prime Lending.

Democrats set up a fake investigation into the 2008 financial crash, burning through ten million dollars. 80 staffers were paid for and supplied to Democrats, none for Republican members.  The commission absolved the government, blamed capitalist greed, and called successfully for even more government.  To get there, they railroaded the Republican members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission into a blind corner. A new book by FCIS member, Peter Wallison,  details the shenanigans of Pelosi's friend, Angelides, who was put in charge.

-The commissioners weren't told when 100's of witnesses were being interviewed with no cross examination and under no oath.
-A memo from the Fannie Mae chief credit officer showed government policy drove risky lending. It was suppressed.
-That 3/4 of the nothing-down mortgages ended up on Fanny Mac and Mae books was suppressed.
-The draft was only shown the other commissioners the week before it was published and three quarters of the Republican dissent was deleted from the version sold in stores.

From the Investors.com article:
"As a result, Fannie and Freddie, now under full federal control, are back making low down payment loans to low-income borrowers, and the Dodd-Frank-mandated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is forcing banks to ignore credit risks in the name of affordable housing. A corrupt investigation led to corrupt reforms."
Kabuki Performance

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pravda headline: "Paris unity march brings many war criminals together"

You thought the march in Paris was standing against islamic terror? Pravda notes "Apparently, the president of Ukraine considers himself the most outstanding participant of the march" and ""The participation of scoundrels like Poroshenko in such events minimizes any positive meaning of this action. He tries to show that he is with Europe, marching along with European leaders and he is doing it while resuming military actions in the Donbass."

"USA harbors plans to decapitate Russia within minutes"
"Russia must keep USA at gunpoint"
"USA instructs Russian Central Bank how to strangle Russian economy".
And from the linked article:
"Russia's new sea-based cruise missiles reduce the military power of the United States on a vast geopolitical region from Warsaw to Kabul and from Rome to Baghdad."

You don't find this stuff in the Globe and Mail or Washington Post because we don't talk about our own country that way.  But Russia does.    Posturing and truth aren't very different.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Jihadists and Bank Robbers

Only 1 percent of 1 percent of 1 percent are robbing banks.  About the same number of jihadists are shooting RCMP,  driving over cops and invading Parliament Hill.  That doesn't mean we don't guard banks from thieves.  It should mean we target radicalized Muslims. They are a threat to public safety.

Some protest the Allahu Akbar murder types aren't real Muslims, don't speak for Islam.  But who does?  Islam has no popes and council of churches.  When they quote the Quran, yell "Allahu Akbar" with a weapon, and call us "Kafir",  that works for me.

"Unfortunately it has become a trend to copy the Khaleejihijab style, with people layering their scarves and using hair clips to create big, camel hump hijab styles. This is not only a deception but also a form of Tabarruj which is not only contradictory to the rules of hijab but also a destructive sin in the Sight of Allah swt."

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Put America's Enemies On Notice Now

Roger Simon advises the GOP to talk like a president now "because we don't have a real president at the moment and we are at war with Radical Islam".  Ignore protocol and buy prime time for the bully pulpit.  Say what Obama won't say about radical Islam and skip the State of the Union speech which would be be like "root canal surgery".

Take away line:  "I have a solution for Romney. He should throw caution to winds – BE THE PRESIDENT NOW!"  (Romney has the bucks to buy the time. Other campaign stuff matters less.)

Roger adds that Governor Bobby Jindal may have beat him to the punch with this speech in London.
Take away line: "Let me be blunt about this. I want America’s allies to trust us and respect us, and I want our enemies to fear us"