how to talk to complete idiots

There are three basic ways to talk to complete idiots.

The first is to assail them with facts, truths, scientific data, the commonsensical obviousness of it all. You do this in the very reasonable expectation that it will nudge them away from the ledge of their more ridiculous and paranoid misconceptions because, well, they’re facts, after all, and who can dispute those?

Why, idiots can, that’s who.

Faced with this mountain of factual obviousness, the bewildered fundamentalist will merely leap back as if you just jabbed him with a flaming homosexual cattle prod, and then fall into a swoon about how neat it is that angels can fly.

projections for long-term

not the worst case scenario

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein – Thu Sep 24, 6:13 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Earth’s temperature is likely to jump nearly 6 degrees between now and the end of the century even if every country cuts greenhouse gas emissions as proposed, according to a United Nations update.

Scientists looked at emission plans from 192 nations and calculated what would happen to global warming. The projections take into account 80 percent pollution cuts from the U.S. and Europe by 2050, which are not sure things.

rallies that change nothing

Sylvia Paull:

If I sound cynical it’s because I’ve seen too many cycles of change that change nothing. Public rallies for saving universities miss the point.

Education is being transformed by the free flow of information enabled by search engines, public encyclopedias and other repositories of information, and open curricula. And it’s people both in the universities and in the business world who are wreaking this change.

the real death panels

MIT’s Paul Raeburn noticed investigative reporting at the Buffalo News:

In a well-written, considered op-ed in the Buffalo News, he offers a few useful tidbits I hadn’t seen anywhere else. We know that insurance companies are prone to cancel the insurance policies of people who get expensively sick.

One detail I hadn’t heard was that insurers make these decisions in what are called ‘rescission committees‘.

Andrew Skolnick uncovers the real death panels – a compelling argument that insurance companies must be regulated.

I was wondering today if it’s odd that many journalists say, for example, “I was out covering a story”, “I covered that story” and so forth. Isn’t it much better to say, “I’m working on uncovering a story today” or “I’m flying tomorrow to uncover a story”? In these days of dominating corporate media, how often does covering a story mean just that?

dangerous institutions

John H. Cochrane, University of Chicago, at House Committee on Financial Services:

We need Wall Street to reconstruct the financial system so that as much of it as possible can fail, with pain to the interested parties, but not to the system…

Too large to fail must become too large to exist. [pdf only]

live rent free for a year

Strategic Foreclosure:

There were 217,000 loans in July where the borrower hadn’t made a payment in at least a year but the lender hadn’t begun the foreclosure process – 17% of home mortgages that are at least 12 months overdue.

more tax ax and destruction

Meg Whitman kicked off her campaign for California governor choosing to be introduced by former governor Pete Wilson. Here comes another round of regurgitated jingoism, policies of tax reduction and the hands-off doctrine already painfully disproved.

She’s immediately pledged to castrate California’s emerging renewables sector on her first day in office by repealing the State’s efforts to build green business.


Offering sensibility, Mark Newsom points out:

California’s challenge is competitiveness, grasping as much of the share of these markets as possible by being the industry leader in greenhouse gas abatement technology. To date, we’ve done a great job – California captured $6.6 billion in green capital between 2006-2008. And all these start-ups need workers; so green jobs have the potential to be for California what the defense industry was in 1980s.

what’s beyond safe?

Scientific American:

Johan Rockström of Stockholm University and his colleagues are proposing nine “planetary boundaries”.

From climate change to chemical pollution, the boundaries are meant to set thresholds, or safe limits, for natural systems with respect to human impact.

Rockström says. “What are the Earth-system processes that determine the ability of the [planet] to remain in a stable state?”

climate of arguing

The Utility That Quit The Chamber:

Peter Darbee, chairman and CEO of California’s Pacific Gas & Electric, on Tuesday, took a very public stand against the US Chamber of Commerce for what he calls “disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort” the facts around global climate change.

To oppose regulation, the US Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group that represents three million USA businesses, argues that climate change is not a result of human activity.

late to stimulate

It’s late and I’m tired and wandering. As I get older I am remembering my friends, and discovering some are gone.

Transportation in Orbit, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 345, No. 1, 130-142 (1963), George Fox Mott:

Transportation has now no geographical frontiers.

Its role is so vital to modern civilization that it has become more than a service function—it has become a partner of the government, the commerce, and the society which it serves and represents the occupation and livelihood of a large section of the population as well.

Having developed piecemeal, it has been subject to patchwork regulation and is uneven in its performance.

By the nature of the dilemmas facing the industry, transportation administration and co-ordination lag far behind transportation technology. This state is critical today, and a renaissance in transportation has been taking place and is on the verge of great acceleration.

Many leaders in transportation areas are active in planning for and carrying out improvements in transportation policy and operation. Many inequities and operational lags need to be corrected.

Common carriers, the backbone of the system, are operating under financial, political, and manpower difficulties. The rivalry of air and highway carriers has faced the railroads with competition which their heavily regulated quasi-public-utility status has not helped them to meet. Full advantage cannot be taken of technological improvements, due to regulations which are now inequitable or inappropriate or simply unworkable or unwieldy. Labor, from an embattled position at the beginning and during the flush period of transportation expansion, has now become an equal protagonist with management in the transportation system.

Transportation labor and management have not yet reached full co-ordination for total utilization of their resources.

Transportation capital has not been freed of its fetters; costing and pricing have become increasingly unrealistic and inoperative in the market place.

Political pressures now carry equal weight with economic and service factors.

Transport leaders in a pool of experience and knowledge are aware of the imperfections of the system, and many of them have sound plans for replacing dislocation and loss with co-ordination, profit, and the full service efficiency the system is capable of offering.

The last time I visited with George Fox Mott was at the great St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco during the early 80s convention of the Democratic Party. He had been USA Inspector General of Allied Government in Korea and Japan after World War II, and later the Director of the American-Korean Foundation from 1952 until 1962. We were both on the board of Monorail.

A Good Boston Fellow who had known in his life every Secretary of Transportation ever put in office he liked to say.

returning ain’t normal

Economists must grasp living.
We will hold them more accountable than thieves.

New approach to macroeconomic modeling by means of jump Markov processes by specifying transition rates appropriately in the backward Chapman-Kolmogorov (master equation); solutions of master equations to obtain aggregate dynamic equations, and fluctuations by solving the associated Fokker-Planck equations.

Modeling and analysis of multi-agent models to investigate such things as herding behavior and return dynamics, i.e., power-laws in share or stock markets; Modeling and analysis of multiple country models by state space time series technique; aggregation of economy with heterogeneous agents by neural network methods; adaptive learning algorithms.

It’s utterly clear now.
We can’t escape each other.

these boosts are made for walkin’

Cut energy use in office buildings in half by 2015:

The Real Property Association of Canada, whose members are property investors representing more than $150 billion in real-estate assets, has formally adopted an energy-consumption target for office buildings equal to 20 kilowatt-hours of energy use per square foot of rentable area per year, and they’ve pledged to reach that target by 2015.

“The target represents a reduction of up to one half of today’s energy use in Canadian office buildings by 2015.”

Yup. Because they aren’t worrying.

teaching us to guess

  1. The importance of Bayes’ theorem is that it provides a very precise measure of how much a new piece of evidence should make us change our ideas about the world.
  2. Bayes’ theorem provides a yardstick by which we can judge whether we are using new evidence appropriately.
  3. Our brain is a Bayesian machine that discovers what is in the world by making predictions and searching for the causes of sensations.
  4. Our brain never rests from this endless round of prediction and updating.
  5. Inside your head there is an amazing labor saving device.

a win for the citizen

FCC articulates new USA policy on our Internet:

“Historian John Naughton describes the Internet as an attempt to answer the following question: How do you design a network that is “future proof” — that can support the applications that today’s inventors have not yet dreamed of? The solution was to devise a network of networks that would not be biased in favor of any particular application.

The Internet’s creators didn’t want the network architecture — or any single entity — to pick winners and losers. Because it might pick the wrong ones.

Instead, the Internet’s open architecture pushes decision-making and intelligence to the edge of the network — to end users, to the cloud, to businesses of every size and in every sector of the economy, to creators and speakers across the country and around the globe.

In the words of Tim Berners-Lee, the Internet is a “blank canvas” — allowing anyone to contribute and to innovate without permission.”

hockey mom of legend

Most folks seem to feel Levi Johnston is exploiting fame, a task he wouldn’t achieve alone, but I think he’s sincere; in a huge stew, but not taking the risk of lies.

Levi Johnston at Vanity FairMe and Mrs. Palin, at Vanity Fair

“After Tripp was born, Sarah would pay more attention to our son than she would to her own baby, Trig. Sarah has a weird sense of humor. When she came home from work, Bristol and I would be holding Trig and Tripp. Sarah would call Trig—who was born with Down syndrome—’my little Down’s baby.’ But I couldn’t believe it when she would come over to us and sometimes say, playing around, ‘No, I don’t want the retarded baby—I want the other one,’ and pick up Tripp. That was just her—even her kids were used to it.”

As a commenter roughly characterizes Levi, as easily pointing to Sarah Palin, “It’s kind of sobering to see so much assassination applied to such little character.”