Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Justice Dept. Corruption: The Stevens Case

March 24th, 2010 No comments

Months After Ted Stevens Debacle, Justice Department Corruption Unit in Disarray –

prosecutorial misconduct. With that backdrop, lawyers in the department’s Criminal Division, led by Associate Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, earlier this month transferred prosecutors Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan out of the public integrity unit. The decision was controversial at the department because the internal probe was at an early stage and because supervisors remained on the job.

William Welch, the chief of the Public Integrity Section, and Morris, his principal deputy, have continued to work on cases since the transfer of two of their subordinates, but as an administrative review continues, they no longer have management responsibility, the sources said. Other lawyers in the section have taken on supervisory roles in specific cases.

Sources said that among the questions investigators are pursuing is how closely the work of the Stevens trial team was supervised by officials in the Criminal Division. Senior political and career lawyers there may have offered input and monitored decisions about the kinds of material to turn over to Stevens’s defense team at Williams & Connolly, the sources added. Senior officials at the department also made decisions about the composition of the trial team, adding Morris, who had more courtroom experience, only weeks before the trial.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Belief as an Act of Will

March 24th, 2010 No comments

There was an interesting discussion at Prof. O’Connor’s house last night. Here is what I got out of it. A hard question is whether it is morally correct to fight giving in to the false beliefs of a group you are in, do nothing, or actively seek to succumb to them. This isn’t as easy a question as it sounds.

The situation is that someone may join a group because he believes most of what they believe, but he thinks they are wrong on at least one item. Doing nothing, he knows that by hearing only one of the argument, he will tend to modify his belief in that direction. Active resistance would counter that. But there is something to be said for joining with one’s group on non-essential points, even to the extent of changing one’s beliefs.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Lying Evangelicals, and Two Jokes

March 24th, 2010 No comments

There is probably more hypocrisy and lying about their beliefs by evangelicals than by the average American, simply because evangelicals have at least a loose standard of what they’re supposed to believe, and it isn’t the same as what the average person believes. Thus, the evangelical has more temptation to say one thing in church and another thing with secular friends. And he has more to hide, because more of what he says is wrong is legal and hence tempting— abortion, porn, and divorce being prime examples.

It’s worse with evangelical pastors and professors at evangelical colleges. They’d actually lose their jobs if they admitted their actual beliefs. Since their actual beliefs are usually liberal, they don’t have the spine to do that (unlike those who convert to RC or Orthodox). So they lie.

Here’s a joke that Wheaton’s combination of requiring Education professors to believe in inerrancy and Bill-Ayres-style political correctness makes me think of. The joke needs footnotes. Lubavitchers are a sect of Orthodox Jews who try to get other ethnic Jews to act Jewish. A Mezuzah is a tiny box for a door with certain Bible verses in it. Tefillin are boxes with Bible verses and straps that you wear while praying. And Kosher requires a person to strictly separate meat and dairy dishes, even to the extent of not mixing them inside your mouth. So on to the joke:

A Lubavitcher seeking to reclaim secularized Jews went up to a college boy with a yarmulke and said, “Are you Jewish?”

Trapped, the boy had to admit that he was.

“Do you have a mezuzah on your dorm door?” asked the

“Yes, from the hour I moved in.”

“Do you put on tefillin properly before you say your morning prayers?”

“Yes, every day.”

“After you eat meat, do you wait at least six hours before putting any dairy product in your mouth?”

“Yes, I wait at least eight hours, in fact.”

Then why are you eating a ham sandwich?

“Well, I don’t believe in overdoing things.”

There was also
a Pearls Before Swine cartoon strip something like the following.

zebras were trying to improve relations with crocodiles, so they
sent a delegation to have bilateral talks on how to reduce tensions and build bridges between them.

The response came back in the
form of a letter, asking for more zebras to be sent.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Alcee Hastings and the Democratic Party

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Power Line

Hastings was once a federal judge, but he was impeached–it is hard to articulate what a difficult, cumbersome process that is–because he solicited bribes from criminal defendants. That is, he approached the criminals and told them that he would let them off if they paid him. That’s a little extreme, even for a Democrat. Hastings’ efforts to make himself rich in this criminal fashion came to light and he was investigated. He responded to the investigation by committing perjury.

As a result of his multiple crimes, Hastings was removed as a federal judge by the United States Senate, one of the few times in history that has happened. Here is the really astonishing thing: instead of going to jail, Alcee Hastings went to Congress! Democratic voters were not in the least concerned that he is a criminal of the most verminous sort. On the contrary, they elected him to represent them in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District! That, really, tells you all you need to know about the depravity to which the Democratic Party has sunk.

Now, Alcee Hastings, exposed as a criminal and a betrayer of his oath as a federal judge, is playing a key role in the Democrats’ effort to jam Obamacare down the throats of unwilling voters. Here is Hastings explaining that the Democrats have no intention of following House rules; rather, they are just making it up as they go along:…

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Using Ideas

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

   At Prof. O’Connor’s house last time somebody (Notess?) made the good pont that scholarly debate attacks opponents at their strongest point, whereas sophistical debate attacks them at their weakest.  We also talked about the Christian virtue of looking for the good in bad books, not just sneering at the bad. I thought of this just now on reading in
Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

What’s relevant to me is not what Popper “understood” but what he contributed. I think his ideas, including his emphasis on falsification, have contributed a huge amount to our understanding of the scientific process and have also served as a foundation for more sophisticated ideas such as those of Lakatos.

When considering contributors to human knowledge, I think it’s best to take an Earl Weaver-esque approach, focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses, and put them in the lineup when appropriate. (As the publisher of two theorems, one of which is true, I have a natural sympathy for this attitude.)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Public Defenders

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times

Defining Indigent: The wife of Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) was declared indigent this week by a federal judge and assigned a tax-funded public defender to appeal a three-year prison sentence for bribery conspiracy, The National Law Journal reports. Rep. Conyers makes $174,000 a year.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Obamacare’s Future

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Chances for repeal of Obamacare in a few years, once it gets going, are good. If I’m reading it right, the bill is going to make health insurance much more expensive, but (a) you can just pay 2% or so of income (say, $2000) instead, and (b) you can wait to buy insurance till you get cancer. If so, hardly anybody will buy insurance till they get severely sick. Annual premiums will, as a result, have to rise to perhaps $50,000/year (no exaggeration— remember, anybody with brains won’t buy it till they have prospective bills that year of at least the amount of the premium). So insurance will disappear, and we’ll be back to 1940.

Update, March 24.

Obamacare is so screwed up it might actually turn out to be good policy. Here’s what might happen:

1. Employers all stop covering health insurance, because it costs too much and the employer penalty is cheaper (2 or 3 thousand dollars, I think— and remember, top-coverage plans are going to be taxed if they’re offered)

2. Individuals won’t buy insurance till they get cancer. At that point, they will.

3. Since (a) only sick people will buy insurance, and (b) extra mandates also make health insurance more expensive, the price of health insurance will at least triple.

Thus, in the end we’ll be left with nobody having health insurance, and all the moral hazard that’s driving up health costs will disappear. Well– not quite. We’ll still have Medicaid, so anybody who spends all his assets and loses his job will get free medical care after that.

But maybe government subsidies would kick in at some point in time. In that case, maybe insurance would only go up to $20,000/year for an individual, and we would in effect have a ban on our existing style of insurance combined with compulsory catastrophic insurance, financed by taxes.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Peculiar New York Times

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog

Big, Big News!
The New York Times website devotes a top-half-of-the-frontpage spot to headline this overwhelmingly important news story:

Arrest in Racial Case at N.J. Wal-Mart
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The authorities in southern New Jersey said Saturday that they had arrested a 16-year-old boy for activating a public-address system at a Wal-Mart store last week and ordering “all black people” to leave.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Keeping Voting Open

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

A good research question is whether it is good or bad to have a voting rule for public votes that allows a voter to change his mind and change his vote midway through it. Also interesting is the question of whether to vote in random order, predictable sequence, or simultaneously.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Latex, Word, and Zombies

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

Marginal Revolution

“We originally wrote this article in Word, but then we converted it to Latex to make it look more like science.”

The link is here. It is the best analysis of zombification I have seen to date. For the pointer I thank John Chilton.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Statistical Significance

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

<p>Here is something good to keep in mind:

Marginal Revolution: Why Most Published Research Findings are False

Suppose there are 1000 possible hypotheses to be tested. There are an infinite number of false hypotheses about the world and only a finite number of true hypotheses so we should expect that most hypotheses are false. Let us assume that of every 1000 hypotheses 200 are true and 800 false….

  In fact, standard statistical practice guarantees that at least 5% of false hypotheses are accepted as true. Thus, out of the 800 false hypotheses 40 will be accepted as “true,” i.e. statistically significant.

It is also inevitable in a statistical study that we will fail to accept some true hypotheses (Yes, I do know that a proper statistician would say “fail to reject the null when the null is in fact false,” but that is ugly). It’s hard to say what the probability is of not finding evidence for a true hypothesis because it depends on a variety of factors such as the sample size but let’s say that of every 200 true hypotheses we will correctly identify 120 or 60%. Putting this together we find that of every 160 (120+40) hypotheses for which there is statistically significant evidence only 120 will in fact be true or a rate of 75% true….

Ioannidis says most published research findings are false.  This is plausible in his field of medicine where it is easy to imagine that there are more than 800 false hypotheses out of 1000.  In medicine, there is hardly any theory to exclude a hypothesis from being tested.  Want to avoid colon cancer?   Let’s see if an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Brad DeLong and Kevin Lang wrote a classic paper suggesting that one of the few times that journals will accept a paper that fails to reject the null is when the evidence against the null is strong (and thus failing to reject the null is considered surprising and important).

The 5% significance level is just a convention. Even on its own terms, it doesn’t pretend to be more— 5% isn’t an intrinsically meaningful number (50% has a lot more oomph, really).

But it is important to have a convention. It makes it a lot easier to read a table if we can scan for asterisks instead of having to read p-values, or, worse yet, have to figure out what prior the author is using in his calculations.

The problem comes when scholars fail to understand that it’s a a convention. A good referee won’t accept a paper in economics just because the results reach 5%. If the result is surprising, he’ll demand some robustness checks and some theory, and a big sample size (which helps avoid acceptance-selection bias because there it’s harder to draw a million big samples than small samples).

On the other side, a good referee *ought* to accept a paper with suggestive results even if the sample size is too small to get to 5%. This is less likely, because we economists are obsessed with regression analysis and despise the case study. Sometimes, though, there are only 20 data points, and we shouldn’t just throw away that information. Instead, we should do a regression, which will generate insignificant results probably, but then draw graphs, make a table with every data point, and discuss each point’s residual and real world specialness.

  The Ioannides result  reminds me of one of my own papers, on conservative bias in business (or politics, or marriage).  The average potential  business idea has a below-market return. Otherwise it wouldn’t be potential, it would be actual, since a business could accept random new ideas (the nuclear toothbrush, the cardboard credit card, the Nome Dairy Queen…) and make money. In estimating the profitability of new projects, however, there is random error. Suppose 5% is the cost of capital. If a business accepts any idea which has a 6% estimated return, most of the ideas it accepts will be ones with returns of less than 5% which just happened to have positive measurement error, since there are few genuine 6% ideas.  Thus, the business should be conservative, and use a hurdle rate of perhaps 9%.

“Managerial Conservatism and Rational Information Acquisition, ” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (Spring 1992), 1(1): 175-202. Conservative managerial behavior can be rational and profit- maximizing. If the valuation of innovations contains white noise and the status quo would be preferred to random innovation, then any innovation that does not appear to be substantially better than the status quo should be rejected. The more successful the firm, the higher the threshold for accepting innovation should be, and the greater the conservative bias. Other things equal, more successful firms will spend less on research, adopt fewer innovations, and be less likely to advance the industry ‘s best practice.  (

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Democrats and the Rule of Law

March 21st, 2010 No comments

Rules? This. Is. Congress! – Daniel Foster – The Corner on National Review Online

Yes, Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.) just said this in the most powerful committee of the United States House of Representatives. The people’s house:

“There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something. . . .All this talk about rules. . . .When the deal goes down . . . we make ’em up as we go along.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Chess as Help and Hurt for the Brain

March 18th, 2010 No comments

Prof. E. Volokh from  The Volokh Conspiracy:

My father taught me to play chess when I was small. It will help you learn to think better, he said. So I played, and eventually got to be pretty good for a casual player.

At some point, quite a while after I started to win pretty regularly when playing him (so I don’t think his motivation was to stop losing…), he gave me the other piece of advice: Learning to play chess, he said, will help you learn to think better. But only up to a point. Past that point, it will only help you learn to think better about chess.

A comment on that post quotes Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”:

” …To calculate is not in itself to analyse. A chess-player, for example, does the one without effort at the other. … The higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts than by a the elaborate frivolity of chess. In this latter, where the pieces have different and bizarre motions, with various and variable values, what is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound.”

I share that general view of chess. Go (barduk) is better because it doesn’t have the arbitrary rules of chess.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Pro Bono Procedures and Internal Law Firm Politics

March 16th, 2010 No comments

The American Spectator : Pro-Democratic Bono

As an associate and then partner at Arnold & Porter D.C. (Aug. 1992–Jan. 2006) who had many pro bono clients — National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a refugee relief effort in Kosovo, a pro-democracy-in-Iran foundation, U St. Business & Arts Coalition, D.C. Regulatory Reform Commission, minority indigent crime victims, minority indigent convicts, several Ph.D. scientists seeking the right to advocate for “intelligent design,” the Washington Legal Foundation (in an open-government suit against the U.S. Sentencing Commission), the 1993 Clinton administration transition, the first successful effort to win a Presidential pardon issued posthumously (for the first black graduate of West Point, Lt. Henry Flipper, USMA 1877), the International Sculpture Center, Source Theater (D.C.), and others — and as one of the few Republicans at Arnold & Porter, I have been following with interest the arguments advanced as the motivations for lawyers to represent the Gitmo terrorists.

At Arnold & Porter, there is a “pro bono committee” and any partner seeking to pursue a pro bono matter must make the case to that committee why the client and the matter are in the public interest and why the firm will benefit from taking on the matter (associates do not have the authority to propose a pro bono client). During my six years and six days as a partner I proposed perhaps a dozen such matters, and in every case the pro bono committee approved — even as to the several “intelligent design” matters I brought in that proved to be very unpopular with the vast majority of the lawyers, partners in particular, at the firm. Approval was also required from the “billing and intake” committee, which would take into account the estimated out-of-pocket cash expense as well as the estimated lawyer time. This committee also approved all of my proposals.

I think it likely that the large, prominent law firms engaged in the “Gitmo terrorist” cases also have similar review and approval procedures for pro bono cases, particularly where the cases involve cash-out-of-pocket expenses. And thus the decision to represent the Gitmo terrorists was, in each case, a decision of the leaders of the firms involved, and not merely of the individual lawyers….

Every associate, and every partner who does not have a personal, portable client base, can survive in a firm only by being invited to join in the matters of the partners who have the clients. Every associate, and every client-less partner, must win the friendliness of those partners. Taking on a pro bono case and running it in a manner that advances the political interests of those partners is a good way to get invited onto those partners’ cases. Taking on a pro bono case and running it in a manner that disrupts the political interests of those partners is a good way to be cut out of all paying cases, and is a fast-track to leaving the firm. I experienced this personally by taking on the “intelligent design” matters; invitations for me to join in paying cases dried up, and my cash-earning billable hours declined. I knew this would happen when I proposed those matters to the firm; but a matter of conscience ought not be swayed by such concerns.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Paul Weiss Lawyers Helping Terrorists Illegally

March 16th, 2010 No comments

Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn: Gitmo’s Indefensible Lawyers –

Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, the detainee in whose cell the brochure was first found, told guards he received the brochure from his lawyer. An investigation by JTF-GTMO personnel revealed that Julia Tarver Mason, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, had sent it to Al Joudi and eight of the firm’s other detainee clients through “legal mail”—a designation for privileged lawyer-client communications that are exempt from screening by security personnel. …

At Guantanamo, “legal mail” is strictly limited to correspondence between counsel and a detainee that is related to representation of the detainee, privileged documents and publicly filed legal documents. But even “legal mail,” according to the rules mandated by Judge Joyce Hens Green in a 2004 protective order, prohibits lawyers from giving detainees information relating to military operations, intelligence, arrests, political news and current events, and the names of U.S. government personnel. Lawyers are forbidden from discussing other detainee cases not directly related to the representation of their own client.

The Amnesty International brochure, handed out at a human rights conference in London, was a political advocacy screed in clear violation of that order, which was formulated to protect force security. Maj. Gen. Hood made a command decision. He banned the Paul, Weiss lawyers from access to Guantanamo. The DOJ notified the firm.

Paul, Weiss immediately went on the offensive, backed by what one former Defense Department official, who requested anonymity, called “an armada of habeas attorneys.” They sued the government, demanding that it defend the decision to eject lawyers from Gitmo, making the straight-faced claim that the Amnesty International brochure was a legitimate “report” that was “directly related” to their clients’ defense….

 “It is not a factual report. Instead it is filled with second and third hand accounts, photos of protests that were staged, inflammatory photos from Iraq and provocative story captions.”…



Despite this history, Paul, Weiss attorneys were apparently so confident that the DOJ could be cowed into submission that they provided the court with exhibits—letters, emails and court filings—documenting gross violations of the protective order by other habeas attorneys whose access was not cut off, ostensibly to show that Paul, Weiss was being treated unfairly.

We obtained Justice Department accounts of some of those incidents under a Freedom of Information Act request. Examples included an incident in which a lawyer sent his detainee client the transcript of a virulently anti-American speech that compared military physicians to Joseph Mengele, the Nazi doctor of Auschwitz, called DOJ lawyers “desk torturers” and suggested that the “abuses carried out by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib . . . could involve the President in the commission of war crimes.”

Other incidents listed in the FOIA material included: a lawyer who was caught in the act of making a hand-drawn map of a detention camp’s layout, including guard towers; a lawyer who sent a letter to his detainee client telling him that “we cannot depend on the military to do the right thing” and conveying his message of support to other detainees who were not his clients; lawyers who posted photos of Guantanamo security badges on the Internet; lawyers who provided news outlets with “interviews” of their clients using questions provided in advance by the news organization; and a lawyer who gave his client a list of all the detainees.

If the stated intent was to show that the government had singled out Paul, Weiss attorneys, the unstated purpose was to demonstrate something even more significant to the government’s lawyers. They were outnumbered and outgunned. The Gitmo bar had grown to include some 400 lawyers from as many as 50 law firms that were subsidized by the millions of dollars earned from their paying corporate clients. They had the legal talent, the support of the international press and the judicial wind at their backs. They could bury the DOJ in paper. If one lawyer was taken out, she could be replaced by another.

“They were beaten down by the litigation,” said the former Defense Department official who asked to remain anonymous. “If I’d gotten caught passing war news to detainees, my security clearance would have been pulled.”

But why would American lawyers, after 9/11 and the brutal slaughter of 3,000 fellow citizens, hand members of al Qaeda information about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? The records indicate that attorneys were printing news off the Internet and passing it to detainees at the same time that U.S. forces in Iraq were sustaining devastating casualties from IED attacks.

“They would bring contraband in their briefcases, in manila envelopes,” an active-duty officer familiar with Defense Department records on attorney access violations told us. “They did it because they knew the detainees were hungry for news and they wanted to establish trust.”

The desire to establish trust is evident in Ms. Mason’s own affidavit to the D.C. court concerning the status of her firm’s representation of Saudi detainees in habeas cases. The attorneys couldn’t remain as attorney of record and go forward with a habeas case if the detainees wouldn’t cooperate with them. “While we have made substantial progress in developing rapport and trust with our clients,” she stated, “we have not yet been able to secure from all of them written acknowledgment of our representation.” She attributes this to “torture and abuse . . . at the hands of the American military” as opposed to the Islamist mindset that sees no distinction between American attorneys in suits and American personnel in uniform. Indeed, court records reveal that Yousef Al Shehri wrote to the court, “expressing in no uncertain terms that he desires neither representation, nor a lawsuit on his behalf.”

Ultimately, the government would reach a settlement with the Paul, Weiss lawyers. Ms. Mason and her team were allowed to resume their trips to Guantanamo in May 2006. But the DOJ’s surrender emboldened the Gitmo bar even further. Last August, the Washington Post reported that three lawyers defending Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators showed their clients photographs of covert CIA officers in an attempt to identify the individuals who interrogated them after they were captured overseas. Lawyers working for the John Adams Project, formed to support the legal team representing KSM and his cohorts, provided the defense attorneys with the photographs, according to the Post. None of the attorneys under investigation were identified in the Post report….



On Feb. 20, 2007, a post on the Paul, Weiss Web site proudly announced “Paul, Weiss achieves more victories for Guantanamo detainees.” Two detainees were released from Gitmo to their home in Saudi Arabia. One was Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, a recipient of the Amnesty International “report.” The Web site needs an update. The Pentagon has identified Al Joudi as a “confirmed” recidivist who is “directly involved” with the facilitation of “terrorist activities.”

Yousef Al Shehri, the detainee who led his cell block in the feeding tube rebellion, was also released in November 2007. In early 2009 he was listed on the Saudi Kingdom’s list of 85 “most wanted” extremists. Yousef was killed last October during a shootout with Saudi security forces on his way to a martyrdom operation. He and another jihadist, disguised as women and wearing suicide vests, killed a security officer in the clash. Yousef’s brother-in-law, Said Al Shehri, also released from Gitmo, is currently the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the branch that launched the Christmas Day airline attack last year.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Equivocation in Evangelicalism

March 15th, 2010 No comments

Some comments at a Baylyblog thread at :

An idea present in a LOT of Baylyblog posts is the problem of Equivocation: the use of words to mean one things Audience A and the opposite to Audience B. “Tolerance” is a word used for equivocation. A schools says, “We believe in tolerance”. Most people take it literally, thinking it means the school would let a Christian teacher be open about his beliefs. Education establishment people know that it is a code word, meant to reassure them that the school will make life difficult for a Christian teacher. As a result, the school can please everyone, on both sides, with a single sentence.

Equivocation is a special danger to those listeners who take words literally rather than looking for the real meaning underneath them. If you do that with an equivocator, you lose the debate. It’s like agreeing to use pistols in a duel and then permitting him to pull out a shotgun and call it his pistol….

“What a great explanation of why only a simpleton actually believes the claim of tolerance.” Thanks for the compliment, but I think it’s a bit insulting in the present case. True, equivocation fools simpleton. Second, it also fools the inexperienced. I was at an evening study recently where all the over-40s notes how propagandistic and unfair the writer of our discussion reading, The Blue Parakeet, was, and a college study bravely told us that he thought hte reading made real sense and didn’t notice that it was attacking anyone. The reason was equivocation— the words all were fine (and actually pretty bland) if read literally.

In the case of people like the one I was criticizing in this thread, though, equivocation works differently. They’re actually like my breed, the economist. We like to take words precisely and at their true meaning—that is, the generally accepted one— and tend to do that obstinately, because we think it’s like surrendering to subjectivism if we admit that anyone is using them any other way or requiring us to read between the lines. (That may be one reason economists aren’t very good at talking to women.)

Yet another danger from equivocation is that it attacks what is generally a good Christian practice: to treat someone charitably. If you do that with an equivocator, you put hte best meaning on his words, as you would with someone who is merely confused. But that gives him a license to kill. So the “act charitably” rule needs a special subrule for how to treat sophisticated and deliberate speech.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Mozilla Firefox Improvements Needed

March 15th, 2010 No comments

1. In VIEW, have an option for small text, to note take up any more space than icons but to be more understandable.

2. Have a way to save a list of all add-ons, so that when you reinstall on a new computer or after a crash, you can at one keystroke install all your addons.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Obama’s Trustworthiness

March 12th, 2010 No comments

Campaign Spot – National Review Online

I do think that House Democrats would be foolish to pass the Senate bill with a promise that the Senate would fix things. The moment the majority vote is cast, I picture it being taken by courier, and instead of going to the other side of Capitol Hill to the Senate, the courier breaks away to a waiting motorcade and speeds down Pennsylvania Avenue, with several dozen horrified, betrayed House Democrats chasing on foot, mortified that they’ve just been tricked into signing the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback into law in exchange for a pile of magic beans. If fear of this scenario is what drives sufficient number of House Democrats to say, ‘I can’t take that gamble,’ then in one of politics’ perfect ironies, what ultimately kills Obama care will be the inevitable, inescapable, indisputable and ubiquitous expiration dates of the president’s statements and promises. In the end, perhaps his agenda will implode because not enough members of his own party trust him.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Last Words of Those about to Be Executed

March 11th, 2010 No comments

At the   Freakonomics Blog -, Ian Ayres tells us of the Texas Last Words website:

Texas – where more than a third of our nation’s executions have occurred since 1976 – has routinized the administration of justice, and preserves on a single webpage the final statements of the 450 inmates the state has executed since 1982. A 2009 New York Times op-ed cataloged a number of excerpts taken from the Texas site, including:

Nothing I can say can change the past.

I done lost my voice.

I would like to say goodbye.

My heart goes is going ba bump ba bump ba bump.

Is the mike on?

I don’t have anything to say. I am just sorry about what I did.

I am nervous and it is hard to put my thoughts together. Sometimes you don’t know what to say.

Man, there is a lot of people there.

I have come here today to die, not make speeches.

From Allah we came and to Allah we shall return.

Mistakes are made, but with God all things are possible.

I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken. I am sorry for what I did.

I can’t take it back.

Lord Jesus forgive of my sins. Please forgive me for the sins that I can remember.

All my life I have been locked up.

Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.

I am tired.

I deserve this.

A life for a life.

It’s my hour. It’s my hour.

I’m ready, Warden.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Emergency Rooms and Health Costs

March 11th, 2010 No comments

From    Freakonomics Blog 

The overutilization of emergency rooms is often cited as a dangerous symptom of America’s broken healthcare system. But a new Slate article from Zachary Meisel and Jesse Pines offers a rosier picture of emergency room usage, and dispels several pervasive myths. They write that E.R. care represents less than 3 percent of healthcare spending, only 12 percent of E.R. visits are non-urgent, and the majority of E.R. patients are insured U.S. citizens, not uninsured, illegal immigrants. Meisel and Pines also point out that E.R. visits don’t necessarily cost more than primary care visits: “In fact, the marginal cost of treating less acute patients in the ER is lower than paying off-hours primary care doctors, as ERs are already open 24/7 to handle life-threatening emergencies.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Blackmail in Congress

March 11th, 2010 No comments

<p> This is interesting. It seems there is another purpose for the House ethics process besides covering up for Congressmen. It allows the leadership to blackmail them, holding on to sensitive information for months until they need to get someone to vote differently or, as in this case, resign instead of voting the wrong way.  The leadership would naturally want to encourage unethical and ilelgal behavior in their members, since it gives the leadership more power over them. See
Pelosi Aide Knew About Massa Complaints in October – Daniel Foster – The Corner on National Review Online

A House ethics panel has dropped its probe of former congressman Eric Massa, but the story isn’t quite over. It now appears that members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff knew about concerns with Massa’s behavior toward his staff as early as October 2009, months before Majority Leader Steny Hoyer set an ethics investigation in motion.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Government Inefficiency

March 11th, 2010 No comments

The American Spectator : Bribes, Buffoons, and Obamacare

British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, during his travels in India, heard many stories about people on the “edge of destitution.” In his memoirs, Muggeridge recalled an anecdote told to him about a poor farmer who was asked if he hated the government or the money-lender more. “After some thought the farmer replied that he hated the government more, because, whereas it was to the money-lender’s interest to keep him just alive so that he could go on paying off his debt, the government didn’t care whether he lived or died,” Muggeridge wrote.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Evangelical Colleges and Homosexuality

March 11th, 2010 No comments

From Christianity left behind… – BaylyBlog: Out of our minds, too… . The comment section is worth reading.

Christianity left behind…

(Tim, w/thanks to several readers) A prominent evangelical magazine just did a piece on the complaint by Calvin College faculty reps that Calvin’s board has issued policy barring members of their faculty from promoting sodomy. The article starts this way:
The homosexuality debate that has torn apart mainline denominations is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College, and highlights a growing issue facing evangelical schools.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Some Political Math

March 11th, 2010 No comments

Michael Barone: Can Nancy Pelosi Get the Votes? –

There’s a more fundamental problem for the Democratic leadership: Their majority is not as strong as their 253-178 margin suggests.

A Democratic House majority tends to have fewer members with safe seats than a Republican majority. Consider that in 2005 Speaker Dennis Hastert had 214 Republican members elected in districts Mr. Bush carried, just four seats short of a majority. Today Speaker Nancy Pelosi has 208 Democratic members elected in districts Mr. Obama carried, eight seats short of a majority.

The Democratic bedrock is actually slightly smaller than the Republican bedrock was four years ago, even though the Democrats have 31 more members. That’s partly because of Republican gerrymandering earlier in the decade, but it’s more because Democratic voters tend to be bunched in relatively few districts. Mr. Obama carried 28 districts with 80% or more; John McCain didn’t reach that percentage in any district.

A lot of Democrats—most Black Caucus members and many “gentry liberals” (to use urban scholar Joel Kotkin’s term) like Mrs. Pelosi—are elected in overwhelmingly Democratic districts. This means there aren’t that many faithful Democratic voters to spread around to other seats.

As a result, more than 40 House Democrats represent districts which John McCain carried. Most voted no in November and would presumably be hurt by switching to yes now. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s job approval now hovers around 48%, five points lower than his winning percentage in 2008. His approval on health care is even lower.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Why Abort a Viable Baby rather than Deliver Him?

March 10th, 2010 1 comment

Why not let viable babies be born, instead of aborting them? In practically no case would a C-section be significantly more dangerous to the mother than a late-term abortion, so why not let the baby live?

I can think of a couple of answers. I wonder what pro-abortion people say. (I looked a little, but found only evasion of this question.)

1. The baby is normal, but we found out too late our daughter was pregnant and if it’s born, we’ll have to put it up for adoption, and we don’t like the idea of our grandson being off with some stranger. It’s better to kill him, to save having to think about that.

2. The baby is abnormal, and if he’s born, we’ll want to put him up for adoption, but nobody will want to adopt him, and we’ll be legally obligated to take care of him. It’s better to kill him, to save money.

Does anybody know of less callous answers?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Justice Department Lawyers Who Defended Terrorists

March 9th, 2010 No comments

The Volokh Conspiracy says:

Eugene and Jonathan and a host of others have joined in defending the pro bono work that some Justice lawyers did for Guantanamo detainees. To me, though, this seems to be a much harder question than the critics make it out to be.

To start with, some of the arguments in favor of the attorneys don’t hold water. No one had to work for free to make sure the detainees had a right to counsel. Every one of the Guantanamo detainees already had a military defense counsel, paid for by the government. Nor did anyone have to work pro bono to even up a mismatch in power and resources. The military prosecutors are JAGs — and pretty much indistinguishable from the military defense counsel on the other side of the courtroom. It was, by and large, a fair fight. If you think the weight of government resources (such as they are in deficit-strained times) makes the fight less fair, I would note that, unlike practically all other criminal cases pitting government against defendant, there were government resources on both sides of the detainee fight. Kuwait, for example, reportedly funneled millions of dollars into both legal and public relations help for its detainees.

Of course, I agree completely that it’s not fair to simply conflate the views of lawyer and client. But even so, I would argue that, unlike paying clients, pro bono work does tell you something about a lawyer’s views.

Here’s why. As with anything you give away, the demand for pro bono lawyering outstrips the supply. So lawyers have to use other criteria to allocate their pro bono services. If you’ve got a wide choice of pro bono cases, it’s only natural to pick cases that make you feel good about yourself, that enhance your prestige in your social circles, and that help the firm recruit law students. You’ll also favor cases that allow you to demonstrate competence by winning against the odds in a high-profile matter. In short, you’ll take cases that make you and your firm look good.

It seems to me that this is exactly Liz Cheney’s point. These are lawyers who represented avowed enemies of the United States – for free – because they thought it made them look good. If you don’t share that view, she’s saying, maybe you don’t share their other views about how the justice system should handle terrorism cases….

[T]hese lawyers felt so strongly about these arguable principles that they sacrificed paying work and instead went to work without charge for people they loathed – just to turn their principles into law. Doesn’t this tell us something about the strength and content of their principles? And isn’t it fair for Liz Cheney to ask whether the rest of the country shares those principles?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Salaries Not Too Sticky?

March 8th, 2010 No comments

News: Salaries Fell for 32.6% of Faculty – Inside Higher Ed

The percentage of faculty members receiving no salary increase this year is 21.2 percent, while 32.6 percent had their salaries reduced, with a median decrease (among those who saw a decrease) of 3 percent.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Killing Girl Babies

March 8th, 2010 No comments

The Economist’s Gendercide: The worldwide war on baby girls is interesting. China, India, and Korea have been killing lots of girl babies. Korea seems not to be doing that as much now. Christianity? A good question.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Liberal Hypocrisy on Filibustering Illustrated

March 5th, 2010 No comments

From Obama’s Vietnam –

  • “If the Republicans pushing against the filibuster love majority rule so much, they should propose getting rid of the Senate altogether. But doing so would mean acknowledging what’s really going on here: regime change disguised as a narrow rules fight. We could choose to institute a British-style parliamentary system in which majorities get almost everything they want. But advocates of such a radical departure should be honest enough to propose amending the Constitution first.”–E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, March 22, 2005
  • “The Founders said nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster, let alone ‘reconciliation.’ Judging from what they put in the actual document, the Founders would be appalled at the idea that every major bill should need the votes of three-fifths of the Senate to pass.”–E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, March 4, 2010
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Media and ClimateGate

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

Ed Morrissey’s Another American media failure

In the past four months, media outlets like the Times of London, the Telegraph, the Australian Herald-Sun, and even the Left-leaning paper The Guardian have broken important stories (along with bloggers) exposing the fraud, mismanagement, and unscientific behavior of the core group of AGW advocates, such as:

* University of East Anglia e-mails that exposed data destruction, attempts to hide contradictory data, and conspiracies to sabotage the work of skeptical scientists
* The East Anglia CRU threw out their raw data, undermining any effort to check their work
* NOAA/GHCN “homogenization” falsified climate declines into increases
* East Anglia CRU’s below-standard computer modeling
* No rise in atmospheric carbon fraction over the last 150 years: University of Bristol
* IPCC withdraws claim that AGW will wipe out Himalayan glaciers by 2035
* IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri knew Himalayan claim was bogus for months before exposure
* Amazonian rainforest conclusions not based on scientific research but on advocacy group claims
* Mountain glacier claims based on unsubstantiated student theses and anecdotes from climber magazine
* Search of IPCC report footnotes exposes ten more student dissertations presented as peer-reviewed research
* Medieval Warming Period temperatures may have been global, undermining entire AGW case
* Measurements used for AGW case were influenced by urbanization, poor location, bad data sets
* African-crop claims exposed as false
* IPCC researchers excluded Southern Hemisphere data to exaggerate effects of warming on hurricanes
* Hurricane claims further exposed as false by actual peer-reviewed research — including by some AGW researchers
* Major scientific group concludes IPCC-linked researchers “complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices“

None of these — none — were exposed by a major American media outlet.

The Sorry History of Medicare Pricing

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Prof. Boudreaux’s letter to two NPR reporters is good:

Dear Ms. Joffe-Walt and Mr. Kestenbaum:

Your excellent February 26, 2010, report on the history of how government officials chose the different methods that Medicare has used over the years to determine doctors’ pay is frightening because…

… in your report, Joe Califano, a chief architect of Medicare, admits that the first method of determining doctors’ pay was chosen for political reasons, namely, to buy doctors’ support for Medicare.

… you report that Mr. Califano, LBJ, and Congress were genuinely surprised by the rapid cost increases sparked by this first method.

… you reveal that much of the treatment that Medicare paid for was previously provided free by physicians; that is, Medicare crowded out a sizable chunk of private-sector philanthropy.

… you tell how attempts to change this first method of paying doctors were deeply influenced by skilled lobbyists working on behalf of doctors.

… in describing the development of the method currently used for determining doctors’ pay, you (perhaps without realizing it) reveal that this current method is the product of a comically childish labor-theory-of-value analysis – the same sort of analysis that is at the foundation of Marxian economics.

… your report ends with the admission that, because the current method isn’t working so well, Uncle Sam – 45 years after Medicare was launched – is still searching for a sound method for determining physicians’ pay.

Given this history, what reason is there to suppose that Obamacare is a good idea?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Incorporation Doctrine Is Wrong

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Philip Hamburger has a good-sounding article explaining why the 14th Amendmnet does not Incorporate the Bill of Rights from a historical point of view. In VC he explains it:

My thesis focuses on free blacks. Since at least 1821, there was a nationally prominent dispute as to whether free blacks were entitled to the benefit of the Comity Clause. In this controversy, both sides ended up agreeing that Comity Clause rights belonged only to citizens of the United States. In this context, opponents of slavery asserted the Comity Clause rights of free blacks in terms of “the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States,” and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause constitutionalized this interpretation of the Comity Clause.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Meaning of “Israel”

March 1st, 2010 2 comments


Israel – which we get from the Greek, is originally in the Hebrew, “Yisrael”.
Yisrael means, quite literally, “He has striven with God,” or “He has been saved by God,” based on which translation of “sra” was meant to be used.

“Yi”, in the Hebrew, is the masculine form “he”. “Sra”, in the Hebrew, comes from the Semitic root “Sry”, which means “to strive or to save.” The word “El,” in the Hebrew, is a form of the word for God.

When you see ‘el’ in any Hebrew name, it is a form of the word for God. See other names such as Ishmael (God has heard), Michael (Who is like God), and Daniel (My judge is God).

To better understand which meaning of Sra we are to use, we need to understand the origin of the name Israel. The origins came from Genesis chapter 32 where Jacob struggles with a man all night long until he is blessed. The man asks Jacob’s name, then tells him that his name is no longer Jacob, but Israel, because he has striven with God and with man. (Genesis 32:28)

It could well be a pun, with two meanings. The name is apt, given that the nation of Israel constantly fought God, and that the modern Israel, we of the Church, fight with Him too.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Brakes Do Stop Toyotas

February 26th, 2010 2 comments

Car and Driver did a test and found that an accelerator stuck at 70 mph is no big deal, if the driver remembers that the car has brakes:

Certainly the most natural reaction to a stuck-throttle emergency is to stomp on the brake pedal, possibly with both feet. And despite dramatic horsepower increases since C/D’s 1987 unintended-acceleration test of an Audi 5000, brakes by and large can still overpower and rein in an engine roaring under full throttle. With the Camry’s throttle pinned while going 70 mph, the brakes easily overcame all 268 horsepower straining against them and stopped the car in 190 feet—that’s a foot shorter than the performance of a Ford Taurus without any gas-pedal problems and just 16 feet longer than with the Camry’s throttle closed. From 100 mph, the stopping-distance differential was 88 feet—noticeable to be sure, but the car still slowed enthusiastically enough to impart a feeling of confidence. We also tried one go-for-broke run at 120 mph, and, even then, the car quickly decelerated to about 10 mph before the brakes got excessively hot and the car refused to decelerate any further. So even in the most extreme case, it should be possible to get a car’s speed down to a point where a resulting accident should be a low-speed and relatively minor event.

Car and Driver proceeds to talk about various other features Toyotas don’t have but other cars do that would help deal with the situation and concludes that Toyota ought to have them even tho there isn’t really a safety problem. That’s the typical engineer’s attitude— make the car as complicated and costly as possible. Paying extra for unnecessary features is obviously bad. Increasing complexity (e.g. by having software so that three short presses of the on-off button turns off the car) introduces the possibility of dangerous design and driver mistakes.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Trusting Climatologists

February 25th, 2010 No comments

Willis Eschenbach has a great post at Watts Up, Judith, I love ya, but you’re way wrong …. He explains bluntly that the climatologists’ problem is not poor communication, but dishonesty and toleration of dishonesty. This post is a model for criticizing other groups that have bad members and refrain from speaking out.

You wonder why we don’t trust you? Here’s a clue. Because a whole bunch of you are guilty of egregious and repeated scientific malfeasance, and the rest of you are complicit in the crime by your silence. Your response is to stick your fingers in your ears and cover your eyes.

And you still don’t seem to get it. You approvingly quote Ralph Cicerone about the importance of transparency … Cicerone?? That’s a sick joke….

I was disgusted with the response of mainstream climate scientists to Phil Jone’s reply to Warwick Hughes. When Warwick made a simple scientific request for data, Jones famously said:

Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

When I heard that, I was astounded. But in addition to being astounded, I was naive. Looking back, I was incredibly naive. I was so naive that I actually thought, “Well, Phil’s gonna get his hand slapped hard by real scientists for that kind of anti-scientific statements”. Foolish me, I thought you guys were honest scientists who would be outraged by that.

So I waited for some mainstream climate scientist to speak out against that kind of scientific malfeasance … and waited … and waited. In fact, I’m still waiting. I registered my protest against this bastardisation of science by filing an FOI. When is one of you mainstream climate scientist going to speak out against this kind of malfeasance? It’s not too late to condemn what Jones said, he’s still in the news and pretending to be a scientist, when is one of you good folks going to take a principled stand?…

The key to restoring trust has nothing to do with communication. Steve McIntyre doesn’t inspire trust because he is a good communicator. He inspires trust because he follows the age-old practices of science — transparency and openness and freewheeling scientific discussion and honest reporting of results.

And until mainstream climate science follows his lead, I’ll let you in on a very dark, ugly secret — I don’t want trust in climate science to be restored. I don’t want you learning better ways to propagandize for shoddy science. I don’t want you to figure out how to inspire trust by camouflaging your unethical practices in new and innovative ways. I don’t want scientists learning to use clever words and communication tricks to get people to think that the wound is healed until it actually is healed. I don’t want you to learn to use the blogosphere to spread your pernicious unsupported unscientific alarmism.

You think this is a problem of image, that climate science has a bad image. It is nothing of the sort. It is a problem of scientific malfeasance, and of complicity by silence with that malfeasance….

You want trust? Do good science, and publicly insist that other climate scientists do good science as well. It’s that simple. Do good science, and publicly call out the Manns and the Joneses and the Thompsons and the rest of the charlatans that you are currently protecting. Call out the journals that don’t follow their own policies on data archiving. Speak up for honest science. Archive your data. Insist on transparency. Publish your codes.

Once that is done, the rest will fall in line. And until then, I’m overjoyed that people don’t trust you. I see the lack of trust in mainstream climate science as a huge triumph for real science. Fix it by doing good science and by cleaning up your own backyard. Anything else is a coverup.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Jeff Sachs Is Crazy

February 25th, 2010 No comments

I was shocked to read Professor Jeffrey Sachs’s “Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain” in The Guardian. It is a weird ad hominem attack on people skeptical of global warming, closer to what conspiracy theorists say in the comments section of left-wing blogs than even of what global warming claimers say in their op-eds.

I’ve done some fisking below. I’ve left out some of what Sachs wrote.

The fact is that the critics — who are few in number but aggressive in their attacks — are deploying tactics that they have honed for more than 25 years.

Few in number? Not in science or in the blogosphere.

During their long campaign, they have greatly exaggerated scientific disagreements in order to stop action on climate change, with special interests like Exxon Mobil footing the bill.

It would be nice if people making claims like this ever had evidence to support it.

The same group of mischief-makers, given a platform by the free-market ideologues of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, has consistently tried to confuse the public and discredit the scientists whose insights are helping to save the world from unintended environmental harm.

Hah! Anybody who has followed ClimateGate has a different view of who’s trying to confuse issues.

Today’s campaigners against action on climate change are in many cases backed by the same lobbies, individuals, and organisations that sided with the tobacco industry to discredit the science linking smoking and lung cancer. Later, they fought the scientific evidence that sulphur oxides from coal-fired power plants were causing “acid rain.” Then, when it was discovered that certain chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were causing the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, the same groups launched a nasty campaign to discredit that science, too.

Later still, the group defended the tobacco giants against charges that second-hand smoke causes cancer and other diseases. And then, starting mainly in the 1980s, this same group took on the battle against climate change.

How about some evidence? The best-known global warming skeptics are not associated with anything else, as far as I know. They’re people who got interested in global warming and have no special interest in all these other things.

What is amazing is that, although these attacks on science have been wrong for 30 years, they still sow doubts about established facts.

The environmentalist campaign against acid rain has been completely discredited scientifically by now— the American forests were not being damaged— and the evidence that connected second-hand smoke to cancer has always been a joke, an example of government-fostered junk science. It’s odd to pair those two things with whether smoking causes cancer and whether ozone was being depleted.

The truth is that there is big money backing the climate-change deniers, whether it is companies that don’t want to pay the extra costs of regulation, or free-market ideologues opposed to any government controls.

Again, how about some evidence? There is clearly big big money backing global warming science— government money in the USA, UK, and elsewhere, and environmentalist money. There’s even a lot of corporate money for global warming claimers. (I know I should have links to this last statement— but I can provide them and Sachs can’t.)

The latest round of attacks involves two episodes. The first was the hacking of a climate-change research centre in England. The emails that were stolen suggested a lack of forthrightness in the presentation of some climate data.

Stolen? Weren’t these public property, subject to freedom of information act requests?

Whatever the details of this specific case, the studies in question represent a tiny fraction of the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to the reality and urgency of man-made climate change.

Not a tiny fraction. The scientists implicated are some of the top people, and East Anglia was the biggest source of data on temperature.

The second issue was a blatant error concerning glaciers that appeared in a major IPCC report. Here it should be understood that the IPCC issues thousands of pages of text. There are, no doubt, errors in those pages. But errors in the midst of a vast and complex report by the IPCC point to the inevitability of human shortcomings, not to any fundamental flaws in climate science.

The glacier error was important for two reasons. First, it showed that the IPCC was willing to make claims with zero scientific support– just magazine article claims. Second, the claims were so implausible that anyone who knew anything about glaciers should have rejected them immediately. Those glaciers are just too big to melt in that short space of time even if global warming accelerated faster than anybody is claiming.

When the emails and the IPCC error were brought to light, editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal launched a vicious campaign describing climate science as a hoax and a conspiracy. They claimed that scientists were fabricating evidence in order to obtain government research grants — a ludicrous accusation, I thought at the time, given that the scientists under attack have devoted their lives to finding the truth, and have certainly not become rich relative to their peers in finance and business


Saying they have devoted their lives to finding the truth is to assume the answer, of course. Most of them are not as rich as their peers in business, though Mr. Pachauri has managed to combine climatology and business quite profitably. But lack of riches probably makes them even more tempted by fame and by the chance to supplement their salaries with grant money and consulting income.

But then I recalled that this line of attack — charging a scientific conspiracy to drum up “business” for science — was almost identical to that used by The Wall Street Journal and others in the past, when they fought controls on tobacco, acid rain, ozone depletion, second-hand smoke, and other dangerous pollutants.

I wonder if this is true. I bet not. The WSJ argues for free markets, but I think the “drum up grant money” argument wasn’t made in those cases, though maybe the “drum up donations for environmental groups” was.

We are witnessing a predictable process by ideologues and right-wing think tanks and publications to discredit the scientific process.

This is the common leftwing claim that what their ideologues do is “science”, and that “science” is infallible and pure.

Great scientific minds have learned over the course of many decades to “read” the Earth’s history, in order to understand how the climate system works. They have deployed brilliant physics, biology, and instrumentation (such as satellites reading detailed features of the Earth’s systems) in order to advance our understanding.

And the message is clear: large-scale use of oil, coal, and gas is threatening the biology and chemistry of the planet.

This is so vapid and naive that I wonder if Sachs even wrote it. Could it be that he never even read this article, just agreeing to sign his name to it?

The IPCC and the climate scientists are telling us a crucial message. We need urgently to transform our energy, transport, food, industrial, and construction systems to reduce the dangerous human impact on the climate. It is our responsibility to listen, to understand the message, and then to act.

What he’s really saying is “Listen to the environmentalists and don’t criticize or ask questions. Just do what they say.”

Given this attitude, I wonder if we should check Professor Sachs’s work in economics. Is it based on anything but faith?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Regressions Using the R Package

February 25th, 2010 No comments

“R” is a wonderfully crafted statistics packages with
amazingly bad documentation.
I’ve written notes to show how to make it do the basics of regressions, for my G492 course. Here is how to find them:

R instructions
and input data file. I also have posted the sample session generated by those two files, and the files data3.txt and data3.csv that they create.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Here’s What Happened to Paul Krugman’s Brain

February 24th, 2010 No comments

From The New Yorker:

When he has a draft, he gives it to Wells to edit. Early on, she edited a lot—she had, they felt, a better sense than he did of how to communicate economics to the layperson. (She is also an economist—they met when she was a postdoc at M.I.T. and he was teaching there.) But he’s much better at that now, and these days she focusses on making him less dry, less abstract, angrier. Recently, he gave her a draft of an article he’d done for Rolling Stone. He had written, “As Obama tries to deal with the crisis, he will get no help from Republican leaders,” and after this she inserted the sentence “Worse yet, he’ll get obstruction and lies.” Where he had written that the stimulus bill would at best “mitigate the slump, not cure it,” she crossed out that phrase and substituted “somewhat soften the economic hardship that we face for the next few years.” Here and there, she suggested things for him to add. “This would be a good place to flesh out the vehement objections from the G.O.P. and bankers to nationalization,” she wrote on page 9. “Show us all their huffing and puffing before you dismiss it as nonsense in the following graf.”

On the rare occasion when they disagree about something, she will be the one urging him to be more outraged or recalcitrant….

During the eighties, he thought that supply-side economics was stupid, but he didn’t think that much about it. Unlike Wells, who was so upset when Reagan was elected that she moved to England, Krugman found Reagan comical rather than evil. “I had very little sense of what was at stake in the tax issues,” he says. “I was into career-building at that point and not that concerned.” He worked for Reagan on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers for a year, but even that didn’t get him thinking about politics. “I feel now like I was sleepwalking through the twenty years before 2000,” he says. “I knew that there was a right-left division, I had a pretty good sense that people like Dick Armey were not good to have rational discussion with, but I didn’t really have a sense of how deep the divide went.”

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

New York City bans bake sales.

February 24th, 2010 No comments

New York City bans bake sales in schools. They’re too fattening!

Remember this the next time anybody says that Manhattanites are smarter or more friendly to science than people in Elletsville.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: