Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oh, those Hackers!! Expose "Climate Research" as deserving of quotation marks

Well, this turn of events has resurrected my blogging spirit: Hackers have downloaded and disseminated, in that wily and rambunctious Internet way, the lion's share of files and emails they found on CRU servers. I am very proud to say that I was able to download the files using peer-to-peer, bittorrent means. This made it possible for the files to be distributed at large without the anachronistic notion of rogue ftp servers in Russia (although this is exactly how it started).

You can read about it here, on Steve McIntyre's blog. Steve is fast becoming a legend to me. This guy isn't a government bureaucrat with a PHD in paleoclimatology or a mathematician (I think he works in the field of mineral exploration financing). He is just a regular guy who in response to the BS and nonsense being shoveled by the likes of Gore and Suzuki, implicitly knew that they were full of crap. Now, a lot of people including myself can say that, however, what Steve did after making that decision is the real hero part. He became a specialist on the data that Al Gore was claiming showed the earth was warming dramatically. He quickly deduced that one could not duplicate their results to create the now infamous "hockey stick" graph that really forms the cornerstone of the entire theory of Global Warming. In recent weeks he has proven that the "scientists" that are creating these graphs use shady and non-scientific methods to make the data support their preconceived conclusions. And I am convinced that quotes have to be used around the word because their actions and behaviors make them look very like politicians. Now, Steve has been helped, allegedly, by a hacker (or hackers) who were concerned enough about getting the actual truth out that they were willing to break the law to do it. And they are heroes also by the way (and I hope some day we find out who they are).

Now, there is some speculation that this wasn't really "hacking" per se, but rather this information was exposed by an insider who was acting as a whistleblower. In which case they have done nothing illegal in my mind. Because, and this is also a major revelation coming from the exposed communications, the government employees producing this garbage appear to lie at every opportunity when confronted with an Access to Information request. Steve refers to this as "FOI", Freedom Of Information. It is analogous to the "Access to Information Act" which is Canada's freedom of information legislation. The point is that those working in government who deviously come up with false reasons not to cooperate with an access to information request, and who in fact conspire with each other to delete emails in order to hide information, are the ones who are breaking the laws and should be fired immediately. As far as I am concerned, there should be a technical solution to this involving the massive collection and indexing of email communication of all non-military personnel that is made freely (and I mean "free") available to the public to search and query at their leisure. So that if you are an employee working for the government (or receive funding from the government) your emails (internal and external) would go through this system without the possibility of deletion or interference with FOI requests. This is very much technically possible and is routinely done by private companies to ensure employees are using their email system for work related business.

I think that Steve (and I believe that he works with others at Climate Audit, I just don't know who they are... I should look into that because it isn't fair to exclude them or attribute all of this to Steve if that isn't the case in reality - well, I just went to Climate Audit and it says: by Steve McIntyre right at the top so it is his blog, BUT he refers to a Ross McKitrick so I think they work together on a lot of this stuff) is pretty fixated on the temperature records and the hockey stick graph in particular and he really good at keeping his focus on that. I think this is a good idea since the zealots of the new climate change religion seem to want to change the debate on a weekly or monthly basis (Global Warming -> Climate Change, freak storms, polar bears going extinct, ice melting - not to mention the previous canards: Acid Rain, the Hole in the Ozone Layer). So it is very smart to concentrate on the weak and unstable foundation that is the falsified, oh sorry "tricked", temperature record. The article that I linked to is specific to some of the communications related to this line of inquiry. It is about how they merge data sets that are obtained through two different means. One is from "proxy" temperature records (for historical temperature estimates) and the other is from actual temperature readings (like from a thermometer). It doesn't take a genius level intellect to realize that you can't really compare temperature estimates derived from testing the air bubbles from ice core samples taken from the arctic or derived from the analysis of tree rings to the levels coming off of a thermometer. Being scientists, those involved in the email conversation use words like "dubious" and "specious claim" but I would be more inclined to use words like "retard" and/or "moron" if I were in their place.

But anyway, I truly believe that this is the death knell for the entire movement, or it darn well should be. Call it global warming, climate change, or whatever its nom du jour. It is all just a "cause" or "movement" that is based on falsehood. I am now waiting patiently for my federal government to repeal some legislation so that I can get my 150 watt halogen light bulbs back before I go blind.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Tax For Largesse!

How about this guy, Marc Emery!! (not to be confused with our Prince of Pot, Marc Emery of Vancouver).

I have always been suspicious of these types of events "bringing in millions of dollars into the local economy". As with most "delusions of government grandeur", I always get the same feeling: 'There's something fishy going on here.' What I am talking about is the vast fortune that seems to come with the hosting of the latest sporting gathering.

But the arguments always have the same ingredients:
1. The Trough Sucker: The self serving local politician(s) selling the notion to local people. This person or people always resemble a used car salesman and if you want to know what I mean go and watch around the 2:42 minute mark of the video and look at Gordon Hume. They are employed by the local government (mayors, city councillors, MLAs, etc.) so their livelihood comes from the taxpayer's pockets. However, the real damage comes from the fact that their career is entirely composed of spending other people's money. So these people, whose most meaningful employment, in terms of benefit to society, came when they pumped gasoline in high school, get to spend their days imagining ways to blow millions of dollars on make work programs. No! Scratch that, I can almost guarantee that these types of people never pumped gas in high school. They most likely spent all their time in student's societies and student government and lived off of the allowance dolled out by their parents.

2. The Flawed Investment Argument: No matter how much money is spent on the event, the overall project never seems to go revenue negative and people constantly echo the political catch phrase: "It will bring in millions to the local economy." Well, I am not disputing that the local economy gets a boost, however, the obvious thing is that if you spend millions on an event that brings in millions, then it's a wash and you might as well not bother. These events always "bring in lots of jobs" and have "intangible benefits." Intangible benefits is just another word for all of the stuff that is worth $0. It is intangible, not easily measured, for a good reason because anyone who tries can't come up with anything. And should local government, or any level for that matter, really be so fixated on temporary benefits to the local economy? After all, these "boosts" or "stimulus" dollars are temporary and go away. I would prefer it if politicians concentrated on long term problems such such as crime. I will give an example from where I live. I play soccer and we used to play in these horrifying, dilapidated old hockey arenas. So when Regina hosted the Canada Games suddenly we were the beneficiaries of a brand new indoor soccer facility. Good news right? Not so fast. The local trough suckers and the mob neglected to think any further than the initial cost of the building and didn't add up the costs to maintain the facility after the Games left. So now the local Soccer Association has resorted to begging and endless fund-raisers to raise money every year to do required maintenance (replace the turf when it is worn out). Because if the initial capital expenditure was $1M, the expenses releated to maintaining that capital will most likely be as much as 20% of the initial cost or $200k.

3. The Local Mob: These are the people who live there who can be swayed back and forth depending on the efforts and qualities of the advocates on either side of the argument. Most of the time the Mob is swayed towards the Trough Sucker because they usually devote 100% of their time trough sucking, and get paid for it. Whereas the people opposing the largess are usually volunteers who have to work at real jobs during the day and use their spare time to try to put sense into the Mob.

4. The Big Event: Most of the time these are sporting events, such as the Canada Games, Pan -Am Games (being talked alot about in Toronto right now), or more tragically politicians will beggar an entire province going after hosting the Olympics. I am sure that this has been going on for thousands of years since Publius or Tiberius or whoever raided the Roman treasury to build the Coliseum. In those days little guys like Marc Emery would just be clapped in chains and fed to the lions for their opposition. Personally, I don't get the whole male obsession with sports, but I suspect it has something to do with the sheer boredom that comes with marital life and/or life after children. But I can think of only one thing more useless than spending billions to host the Olympic Games and that is the sponsorship of the film industry. At least with a sporting events there are venues that get left behind that the locals can use. Paying thieving movie companies millions so that they shoot third-rate films locally is infinitely worse.

The point to all of this is that there is something fishy about all of these arguments. For one thing if these were true investments, then private companies would have already stepped up. Government would not be needed. Private companies are always relied upon to provide funding for these ventures, however, they never seem to go forward without the government shill ponying up most of the dough.

Yes, there is a boost to the local economy, but it is always overestimated and always temporary. So yes, the local restaurants, hotels, and bars fill up for a couple of weekends, but so what? Do these businesses hire a bunch of new employees? No, that would be incredibly stupid of them due to the temporary nature of the influx of people. Is it a good thing that we have government investment in local facilities that the people can use after the games (new sporting facilities such as pools or fields being improved), of course. But typically, the major investment comes from provincial and federal levels which actually goes against the design of our system of government. Infrastructure is supposed to be paid for and maintained by the local level of government with local tax revenues and if those revenues are not enough to pay for the investment, then it acts as a brake on unwise or unsustainable spending. Did Saskatoon people wish to pay for the new soccer facility in Regina, no of course not, but that is what happened when the provincial government funded the project. In fact, people in Toronto and Charlottetown paid into it too! Local people should decide and pay for local investment.

These things can be good for a city, province, and even a country when done the right way. But it takes prudence, care, and above all integrity and responsibility for limiting spending and keeping things on budget. All of which are almost never present in government projects. Which is why there should never be more than a minimal sponsorship by government using tax revenue. As Marc Emery states over and over in the video, no one is opposed to the events themselves - just the use of tax dollars to pay for it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Theory of Anthropomorphic Global Warming: Epic Fail!

An interesting story is developing about the ultimate disproving of Al Gore's fantasy that is Global Warming... er... Climate Change... well, Climate Staying About the Same.

You can read the meticulous research and minute details yourself, but basically what it comes down to is that the "hockey stick" graph that Gore famously demonstrated in An Inconvenient Truth is not only a total fallacy, but also the result of contrived and/or fraudulent research. "Fudging the numbers" so to speak.

Yes, that's right... the one scene in the movie that everyone remembers in which Gore melodramatically hops on a powered lift and raises himself up to follow the rising temperature graph... is hogwash. A Lie. In other words, the movie should be retitled: A Blatant Lie. Or how about Al Gore's Latest Get Rich Quick Scheme: Hop on Everybody!

Update: There is an excellent article in the National Post Full Comment by Ross McKitrick. In it he clearly explains the investigation that he participated in with Steve McIntyre (hey these "Mc" fellows are a bright bunch) the goal being to accurately reproduce the so called "Hockey Stick Graph". It is a very interesting story (by my standards being an Electronic Systems Engineer) with secret data sets, inadequate peer review done by "peer reviewed" journals, data sets way too small to be used in statistical analysis. Well, like I said, I am an Engineer.

The entire foundation on which Gore and his zealots stand to defend global warming, composed of many studies and articles (most published by supposedly peer reviewed journals) sponsored and trumpeted by the IPCC, is like a large, upside down, house of cards that is precariously balancing on a single scientist's conclusions using a single set of data. That conclusion has not only been proven wrong now, but it looks very much like the data itself was manipulated and contrived!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sask. finance minister rejects flat tax

I usually concentrate on politics at the federal level because I feel the horrifying level of federal income tax that I pay is what affects my life the most. But a recent study released by the board of Enterprise Saskatchewan got me excited. In the report, it was recommended that Saskatchewan adopt a flat tax system similar to Alberta.

I was excited because I thought that maybe, just maybe, the time was right in Saskatchewan to introduce such a simple and elegant idea. With the Saskatchewan Party firmly in control politically, I thought there was no chance that the socialists in this province, the NDP, could screw it up. And besides, Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer announced that "they were seriously considering it."

Well, no sooner had they announced they were seriously considering it, it became obvious that they had not seriously considered it. Another announcement came out a few days later saying they were rejecting the idea of a 10% flat tax in Saskatchewan. With Gantefoer saying: 'Raising tax rates on low-income earners to benefit wealthier residents "is not on."'

Ok, so is an 11% flat tax in Saskatchewan, "on"?

Because by saying such a stupid statement to the press, you are sounding a lot like a member of the NDP party, Rod. And not even the finance minister of said party.

For starters, who said anything about raising the tax rate on low income earners? Did you miss the part in the report about raising the personal exemption, which would in fact lower taxes for all taxpayers and eliminate a lot of the lowest income earners from paying taxes? And how could simplifying the tax code, lowering taxes for everyone, be considered a "benefit to the wealthy"?

I had seriously thought that we finally had a conservative party in power in this country that wasn't afraid to talk about conservative policies and even had the power to implement them. My hopes were dashed after hearing our Finance Minister doing his best impression of an NDP Minister of Central Economic Planning.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Economic "rights"

Although I haven't watched and will never watch Michael Moore's new film Capitalism: A Love Story, I discovered that near the end he quotes FDR's "economic Bill of Rights." Here is what FDR proposed as economic "rights":
  1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.
  2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
  3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
  4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.
  5. The right of every family to a decent home.
  6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
  7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
  8. The right to a good education.
While at first glance these "rights" seem banal or innocuous, they are in fact a deception. The deception starts with what is omitted in these statements. The considerations that would take these from proposals to actual rights are left out.

1. What determines a job's usefulness? How remunerative should each job be? And more importantly, who decides usefulness and remuneration? Also, humans in general are notoriously dynamic in nature. What seems "useful" and well remunerated at first will undeniably become mundane to the average person. In which case, who will organise the mass transfers between jobs and industry caused not by insufficient remunerations, but by sheer boredom?

2. What level is "adequate" and who decides?

3. This is basically a regurgitation of #1.

4. This "right" is by far the most irrational: First of all, in planned and controlled economies there would be no "business men" large or small, but rather government employees. And competition is what thwarts the monopoly so how can you inhibit competition (what is "unfair" competition by the way?) and still eliminate the monopoly? Put another way, a government that plans the economy by definition destroys competition, and is an implicit monopoly!

The rest all suffer from the same weakness to the question regarding the definition of "adequate" and more importantly the "who decides" question. I wasn't alive to be ruled by someone such as FDR and for that I am very grateful.

It is the "who" question that highlights the most evil part of this proposed system of "rights", which seems to me the most glaring and unavoidable flaw in the design; however, this is never mentioned by people such as Moore (and the entire Democratic party in the US). Because once you give a group of people ultimate power over people's lives (and make no mistake to implement these "rights" you would have to do so) there is no countering force left to limit that power. And thus the end result is dictatorship.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Liberal Hypocricy

Quite often I try to think of the most significant difference between conservative minded people and the more left wing. I am interested in one quintessential difference that maybe sits at the root of our many disagreements.

While I am not there yet, I do think that there are some things going on today in Canadian politics that hit close to the heart of the matter. Take a look at some of the current Liberal press releases and talking points making the rounds these days.

"Harper's reluctant coalition" - Ibbitson/Taber; Globe and Mail
And Iggy on CTV the other night, while not insulting the host, claiming that Harper is forming his own coalition with the NDP. (It was actually very funny when Iggy insulted the host about sleeping through his press release because the host dead-panned him and said: 'Well, I wasn't asleep at the beginning.' hahaha)

What Ignatieff's Liberals (assisted by their allies, the left wing media outlets, G&M, TStar) are attempting to do is dilute the veracity of the criticisms leveled against them because they formed such a sinister coalition and tried to steal power. Hypocrisy is at the heart of every Liberal and I think that is a defining characteristic. Whenever the Liberals say anything of substance, you don't have to look back more than a few days to find them saying precisely the opposite. It is a party that has no rudder and no bedrock foundation. They will say anything and do anything to become popular enough to regain power.

So as an example, these days the Libs are flogging the notion that somehow the Bloc and/or NDP voting with the government on a confidence motion equals a coalition. And they are whining: 'See! Harper is forming a coalition. He's bad.' But for the past year we have been forced to listen to how horrible Harper is behaving because he won't work with the other parties to form legislation. So the minute the Conservative propose a bill that the other parties can agree with, there isn't even a lull in the negativity as left wing media attempt to straddle both sides of the argument (closely resembling those Las Vegas contortionists in the process). Harper is bad because he won't work with the other parties. And similtaneously Harper is bad when he creates legislation that they other parties agree with; he is forming a coalition. Yeah, ok, now put the other leg behind your ear.

Toss into the mix the fact that the Opposition to this day still denies forming a coalition. Despite the fact that there are probably 50 - 100 videos on youtube that any Canadian, at a moments notice, can pull up showing all three of them signing legal documents saying they will form a coalition.

There is great danger when a party abandons principles in favour of 'which way is the wind blowing,' populism. For the same reason that it is foolish to let go of the tiller on a sail boat in a stiff breeze.

Stimulate Shmimulate

There has been a lot of crazy ideas that have come out of this recession, but by far the most idiotic has to be this idea of stimulus spending bringing us out of recession.

It is the most natural thing in the world for politicians to want to spend money like it is water. That's because they didn't have to earn it. They confiscated it from the citizens through forced payroll deductions and it magically appears in the coffers thanks to our modern financial system. It comes to the coffers so easily they now call it "Government Revenue". No, "revenue" comes from real work, a business. I think "spoils" or "booty" is the accurate descriptor. Anyway, the crazy thing is how the everyday person has been hoodwinked into allowing it! Or hoodwinked into believing it! The stimulus.

Get this: The Keynesian fools were actually claiming that tax reductions as a stimulus were bad because, wait for it, people would NOT spend the money. This has to be the most absurd argument I have ever heard in the face of these economic times. I realize that everyone wants the economic recovery to happen as fast as possible and for the stock market to rebound right back up where it was before the crash, but wake up! It isn't going to happen! And how can the idea of saving be considered bad in this environment, really? With millions of people losing their homes, their jobs, maxing out their credit cards and only paying the minimum every month, do we really want to demonize the concept of slowing our spending and saving a little?

'We can't lower taxes because people might not spend their tax refund right away.' For one thing these people must not have friends like I do. Because if they did, they would know that the surest thing in the world is how fast the tax refund gets spent. So right there their argument is blown out of the water and in fact is the exact opposite to reality. People spend their tax return immediately, so there is no faster, more deterministic way to stimulate an economy than by lowering taxes retroactively. Because you know that within 1 year there will be a massive spending spree had by virtually all.

Right, so what about those evil people (like myself), who actually discipline themselves enough to take their tax return and... oh the horror... save it. Well, you are covered there too because all my savings go into some form of investment. So the worst case scenario is you have a large portion of the stimulus spent immediately on useless depreciating assets, yearned after by people incapable of differentiating between wants and needs (cash for clunkers anyone?), and a small portion who provide capital to private business as an investment, or help out the banks with their deposits.

Instead, what did we get? We got the government blowing years of disciplined budgeting, turning to massive deficit spending. But all that means is that a few government bureaucrats will get to do all the spending instead of the regular folk. And they are spending our money! Here is a perfect example to illustrate my point: I heard that the city of Toronto used stimulus money to hire Bill Clinton at a speaking engagement, however, they are having trouble selling the tickets! So the regular folk don't want to see Bill Clinton, but that doesn't matter because the government bureaucrat has already spent the money. How the hell is that a stimulus? And the bureaucrats go on and on about the absolute crisis that we are apparently enduring with our infrastructure. Like at any moment all the sewers are going to explode and destroy all the city streets. So we should go out and replace it all at the same time! Now! Before it is too late! Give me a break.

What we have now is a huge $50B - $60B deficit being added to the massive federal debt that we racked up the last time our government went Keynesian. And we have been trying to get out from under it, without success, for the past 30 years!! See, government fat cats understand the first part of Keynes theory, about the massive deficit spending during the lean years, but they always lose their train of thought when the good years return and they conveniently forget about using the surpluses to pay off the debt.