A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating

December 12th, 2009 No comments

I’m not sure how to get this going, but I’d like to have lots of economists sign a petition on ClimateGate. We scholars are in danger of losing a lot of our moral capital because of our tolerance of bad behavior, and I think we’d end up with the public thinking we’re much less scholarly than we really are— at least we in economics, and, I hope, every field but climatology.

I’m not going to the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta in January, but maybe I’ll find somebody who is who is willing to sit in a hotel lobby with a petition for people to sign. Volunteers, and comments on the draft below, are welcome, especially comments from anyone who is a strong believer in both global warming and good scholarly practices.

In the November 2009 “ClimateGate” emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia certain climatologists casually discuss suppressing other people’s research and thwarting efforts to obtain the data and computer code used in published articles. This has hurt the reputation not only of those scholars but of climatology, science, and peer-reviewed scholarship generally. Unless scholars speak out, there is a danger that the public will believe bad behavior is routine in every field of research. The danger is all the greater because even some scholars not implicated have defended the emails as routine behavior or as unimportant.

We, the undersigned Ph.D. economists, wish to inform the public that we condemn those practices. Any economist writing the ClimateGate emails that we quote below would immediately lose the respect of his colleagues, regardless of their political views. We are making no statement about climate change science or policy when we say this. Few if any of we who sign have expertise in the science of global warming. Economists do have much to say about the costs and benefits of various climate policies, and our debates can be found elsewhere. What matters here is that in economics, requests for one’s data and computer code are considered compliments to the importance of one’s work and are routinely satisfied, whether the other scholar is trying to extend the results or refute them.

Authors are expected to make replication convenient even on controversial topics. John Lott’s work on gun control and John Donohue and Steven Levitt’s on abortion provide good examples of authors providing data to people they knew were seeking to find flaws in their work. The
American Economic Review requires data to be made conveniently available unless special circumstances require confidentiality. The policy at http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data.php, says:

“All data used in analysis must be clearly and precisely documented.
All data used in analysis must be made available to any researcher for purposes of replication. See Data Availability Policy.
Any requests for an exemption from the data availability policy must be made in the cover letter when the paper is first submitted. “

We are making a statement about economics, not climatology. We do not know whether the ClimateGate practices are common in that field or not, or even whether some extenuating circumstances exist. Rather, we wish to say that we find the specific emails listed on the attached page appalling and shameful.

Signatures in alphabetical order (with affiliations for identification only)

Jane Doe (Ministry of Governmental Affairs, Wherisitstan)
John Doe (Big Research Institute)
John Smith (Random University)

[put signatures in two or three columns]


The ClimateGate emails, available in searchable form at http://www.climate-gate.org, include the following statements. Boldfacing is added to aid the reader in skimming them.

  1. [January 20, 2005] Proving bad behavior here is very difficult. If you think that Saiers [the editor of Geophysical Research Letters] is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU [American Geophysical Union] channels to get him ousted. Even this would be difficult.
  2. [January 21, 2005] Yeah, basically this is just a heads up to people that something might be up here. What a shame that would be. It’s one thing to lose “Climate Research”. We can’t afford to lose GRL [Geophysical Research Letters]. I think it would be useful if people begin to record their experiences w/ both Saiers [the GRL biogeosciences editor] and potentially Mackwell (I don’t know him–he would seem to be complicit w/ what is going on here).

    If there is a clear body of evidence that something is amiss, it could be taken through the proper channels. I don’t that the entire AGU [American Geophysical Union] hierarchy has yet been compromised!

  3. [November 15, 2005] I suspect that this is the first in a line of attacks (I’m sure Tom C is next in line) that will ultimately get “published” one way or another. The GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there, [Prof. Saiers was removed from handling sumbissions responding to the MM paper, and one response he’d rejected was unrejected] but these guys always have “Climate Research” and “Energy and Environment”, and will go there if necessary.


    Prof. Saiers says

    “This paper caused a bit of a stir and because I oversaw the peer review of this paper, I assume that Wigley inferred (incorrectly) that I was a climate-change skeptic. I stepped down as GRL editor at the end of my three-year term, long after the excitement over the McIntyre and McKitrick paper had passed. My departure had nothing to do with attempts by Wigley or anyone else to have me sacked.” His vitae says: “2004 – 2006 Hydrology/Biogeosciences Editor, Geophysical Research Letters“.

    Saiers indeed remained as Hydrology/Biogeosciences Editor but:

    “It was announced that the editor in chief of Geophysical Research Letters, Jay Famiglietti, had taken over the file for the McIntyre paper and its responses. This was justified he claimed, because of the high number of responses – four – that the McIntyre paper had received. That two of those responses had been rejected and were no longer in play was not mentioned. The reason for the change quickly became apparent though when, at the end of September, the rejected response from David Ritson turned out not only to have been re-submitted but had also been accepted for publication. This was another clear breach of the journal’s rules, which required that an article’s author should be able to comment on responses before they were accepted. Famiglietti however refused to make any on-the-record comments about why he behaved as he did.”


  4. This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the
    “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal!

    So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a
    legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate
    research community to no longer
    submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also
    need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently
    sit on the editorial board…

  5. I think the skeptics will use this paper to their own ends and it will set paleo back a number of years if it goes unchallenged. I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor. A CRU person is on the editorial board, but papers get dealt with by the editor assigned by Hans von Storch.

  6. Tim Osborn has just come across this. Best to ignore probably, so don’t let it spoil your day. I’ve not looked at it yet. It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice!

    I have learned one thing. This is that the reviewer who said they were too busy was Ray. I have been saying this to loads of papers recently (something Tom(w) can vouch for). It is clear from the differences between CR and the ERE piece that the other 4 reviewers did not say much, so a negative review was likely to be partly ignored, and the article would still have come out. I say this as this might come out if things get nasty. De Freitas will not say to Hans von Storch or to Clare Goodess who the 4 reviewers were. I believe his paleoclimatologist is likely to be Anthony Fowler, who does dendro at Auckland.

  7. Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC [the RealClimate.org website] any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.
  8. Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it!
  9. I’ve attached a cleaned-up and commented version of the matlab code that I wrote for doing the Mann and Jones (2003) composites. I did this knowing that Phil and I are likely to have to respond to more crap criticisms from the idiots in the near future, so best to clean up the code and provide to some of my close colleagues in case they want to test it, etc. Please feel free to use this code for your own internal purposes, but don’t pass it along where it may get into the hands of the wrong people.
  10. I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!
  11. Options appear to be:
    1. Send them the data.

    2. Send them a subset removing station data from some of the countries who made us pay in the normals papers of Hulme et al. (1990s) and also any number that David can remember. This should also omit some other countries like (Australia, NZ, Canada, Antarctica). Also could extract some of the sources that Anders added in (31-38 source codes in J&M 2003). Also should remove many of the early stations that we coded up in the 1980s.
    3. Send them the raw data as is, by reconstructing it from GHCN. How could this be done? Replace all stations where the WMO ID agrees with what is in GHCN. This would be the raw data, but it would annoy them.

  12. The next puzzle is why Wei-Chyung didn’t make the hard copy information
    available. Either it does not exist, or he thought it was too much
    trouble to access and copy. My guess is that it does not exist
    — if it
    did then why was it not in the DOE report? In support of this, it seems
    that there are other papers from 1991 and 1997 that show that the data
    do not exist. What are these papers? Do they really show this?

    Now my views. (1) I have always thought W-C W was a rather sloppy
    scientist. I therefore would not be surprised if he screwed up here.
    ITEM X is in both the W-C W and Jones et al. papers — so where does it
    come from first? Were you taking W-C W on trust?

    (2) It also seems to me that the University at Albany has screwed up. To
    accept a complaint from Keenan and not refer directly to the complaint
    and the complainant in its report really is asking for trouble.

    (3) At the very start it seems this could have been easily dispatched.
    ITEM X really should have been …

    “Where possible, stations were chosen on the basis of station histories
    and/or local knowledge: selected stations have relatively few, if any,
    changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times”


    I realise that Keenan is just a trouble maker and out to waste time, so
    I apologize for continuing to waste your time on this, Phil.
    However, I
    *am* concerned because all this happened under my watch as Director of
    CRU and, although this is unlikely, the buck eventually should stop with me.

  13. PS to Gavin – been following (sporadically) the CA stuff about the
    GISS data and
    release of the code etc by Jim. May take some of the pressure of you
    soon, by releasing a list of the stations we use – just a list, no code
    and no data. Have agreed to under the FOIA here in the UK.

Categories: academia, global warming Tags:

The Climate Research Dispute over Publishing Soon and Baliunas

December 12th, 2009 1 comment

From the very good, searchable, ClimateGate document site www.climategate.com comes some emails I haven’t seen discussed anywhere. The bottom email is from an editor criticized for publishing Soon and Baliunas by the CRU crowd; the top email is CRU man Dr. Jones’s reaction.

Dear All,
           Keith and I have discussed the email below.  I don't want to start a discussion of
     it and I
      don't want you sending it around to anyone else, but it serves as a warning as to where
      the debate might go should the EOS piece come out.
          I think it might help Tom (W) if you are still going to write a direct response to
     CR. Some of
      de Freitas' views are interesting/novel/off the wall to say the least. I am glad that
     he doesn't
      consider himself a paleoclimatologist - the statement about the LIA having the lowest
      temperatures since the LGM. The paleo people he's talked to didn't seem to mention the
      8.2K or the 4.2/3K events - only the Holocene Optimum.  There are also some snipes at
      CRU and our funding, but we're ignoring these here. Also Mike comes in for some stick,
     so stay
      cool Mike - you're a married man now !
        So let's keep this amongst ourselves .
          I have learned one thing. This is that the reviewer who said they were too busy was
      I have been saying this to loads of papers recently (something Tom(w) can vouch for).
     It is
      clear from the differences between CR and the ERE piece that the other 4 reviewers did
      not say much, so a negative review was likely to be partly ignored, and the article
     would still
      have come out. I say this as this might come out if things get nasty.
         De Freitas will not say to Hans von Storch or to Clare Goodess who the 4 reviewers
     were. I
      believe his paleoclimatologist is likely to be Anthony Fowler, who does dendro at

     X-Sender: f037@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version 5.1
     Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:29:22 +0100
     To: c.goodess@uea,phil Jones 
     From: Mike Hulme 
     Subject: Fwd: Re: Climate Research
     Clare, Phil,
     Since Clare and CRU are named in it, you may be interested in Chris de Freitas' reply to
     the publisher re. my letter to Otto Kinne.  I am not responding to this, but await a
     reply from Kinne himself.

     From: "Chris de Freitas" 
     To: Inter-Research Science Publisher 
     Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 13:45:56 +1200
     Subject: Re: Climate Research
     Reply-to: c.defreitas@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     CC: m.hulme@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     Priority: normal
     X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c)
     Otto (and copied to Mike Hulme)
     I have spent a considerable amount of my time on this matter and had
     my integrity attacked in the process. I want to emphasize that the
     people leading this attack are hardly impartial observers. Mike
     himself refers to "politics" and political incitement involved. Both
     Hulme and Goodess are from the Climate Research Unit of UEA that is
     not particularly well known for impartial views on the climate change
     debate.  The CRU has a large stake in climate change research funding
     as I understand it pays the salaries of most of its staff.  I
     understand too the journalist David Appell was leaked information to
     fuel a public attack. I do not know the source
     Mike Hulme refers to the number of papers I have processed for CR
     that "have been authored by scientists who are well known for their
     opposition to the notion that humans are significantly altering
     global climate." How many can he say he has processed? I suspect the
     answer is nil. Does this mean he is biased towards scientists "who
     are well known for their support for the notion that humans are
     significantly altering global climate?
     Mike Hulme quite clearly has an axe or two to grind, and, it seems, a
     political agenda. But attacks on me of this sort challenge my
     professional integrity, not only as a CR editor, but also as an
     academic and scientist. Mike Hulme should know that I have never
     accepted any research money for climate change research, none from
     any "side" or lobby or interest group or government or industry. So I
     have no pipers to pay.
     This matter has gone too far. The critics show a lack of moral
     imagination. And the Cramer affair is dragged up over an over again.
     People quickly forget that Cramer (like Hulme and Goodess now) was
     attacking Larry Kalkstein and me for approving manuscripts, in
     Hulme's words,  "authored by scientists who are well known for their
     opposition to the notion that humans are significantly altering
     global climate."
     I would like to remind those who continually drag up the Cramer
     affair that Cramer himself was not unequivocal in his condemnation of
     Balling et al's manuscript (the one Cramer refereed and now says I
     should have not had published - and what started all this off). In
     fact, he did not even recommend that it be rejected. He stated in his
     review: "My review of the manuscript is mainly with the conclusions
     of the work. For technical assessment, I do not myself have
     sufficient experience with time series analysis of the kind presented
     by the authors." He goes on to recommend: "revise and resubmit for
     additional review". This is exactly what I did; but I did not send it
     back to him after resubmission for the very reason that he himself
     confessed to ignorance about the analytical method used.
     Am I to trundle all this out over and over again because of criticism
     from a lobbyist scientists who are, paraphrasing Hulme, "well known
     for their support for the notion that humans are significantly
     altering global climate".
     The criticisms of Soon and Baliunas (2003) CR article raised by Mike
     Hume in his 16 June 2003 email to you was not raised by the any of
     the four referees I used (but is curiously similar to points raided
     by David Appell!). Keep in mind that referees used were selected in
     consultation with a paleoclimatologist. Five referees were selected
     based on the guidance I received. All are reputable
     paleoclimatologists, respected for their expertise in reconstruction
     of past climates. None (none at all) were from what Hans and Clare
     have referred to as "the other side" or what Hulme refers to as
     people well known for their opposition to the notion that humans are
     significantly altering global climate." One of the five referees
     turned down the request to review explaining he was busy and would
     not have the time. The remaining four referees sent their detailed
     comments to me. None suggested the manuscript should be rejected. S&B
     were asked to respond to referees comments and make extensive
     alterations accordingly. This was done.
     I am no paleoclimatolgist, far from it, but have collected opinions
     from other paleoclimatologists on the S&B paper. I summarise them
     here. What I take from the S&B paper is an attempt to assess climate
     data lost from sight in the Mann proxies. For example, the raising on
     lowering of glacier equilibrium lines was the origin of the Little
     Ice Age as a concept and still seems to be a highly important proxy,
     even if a little difficult to precisely quantify.
     Using a much larger number of "proxy" indicators than Mann did, S&B
     inquired whether there was a globally detectable 50-year period of
     unusual cold in the LIA and a similarly warm era in the MWP. Further,
     they asked if these indicators, in general, would indicate that any
     similar period in the 20th century was warmer than any other era.
     S&B did not purport to do independent interpretation of climate time
     series, either through 50-year filters or otherwise. They merely
     adopt the conclusions of the cited authors and make a scorecard. It
     seems pretty evident to me that temperatures in the LIA were the
     lowest since the LGM. There are lots of peer-reviewed paleo-articles
     which assert the existence of LIA.
     Frankly, I have difficulty understanding this particular quibble.
     Some sort of averaging is necessary to establish the 'slower' trends,
     and that sort of averaging is used by every single study - they
     average to bring out the item of their interest. A million year
     average would do little to enlighten, as would detailed daily
     readings. The period must be chosen to eliminate as much of the
     'noise' as possible without degrading the longer-term signals
     As I read the S&B paper, it was a relatively arbitrary choice - and
     why shouldn't it be? It was only chosen to suppress spurious signals
     and expose the slower drift that is inherent in nature. Anyone that
     has seen curves of the last 2 million years must recognize that an
     averaging of some sort has taken place. It is not often, however,
     that the quibble is about the choice of numbers of years, or the
     exact methodology - those are chosen simply to expose 'supposedly'
     useful data which is otherwise hidden from view.
     Let me ask Mike this question. Can he give an example of any dataset
     where the S&B characterization of the source author is incorrect? (I
     am not vouching for them , merely asking.)
     S&B say that they rely on the original characterizations, not that
     they are making their own; I don't see a problem a priori on relying
     on characterizations of others or, in the present circumstances, of
     presenting a literature review. While S&B is a literature review, so
     is this section of IPCC TAR, except that the S&B review is more
     The Mann et al multi-proxy reconstruction of past temperatures has
     many problems and these have been well documented by S&B and others.
     My reading of the IPCC TAR leads me to the conclusion that Mann et al
     has been used as the basis for a number of assertions: 1. Over the
     past millennium (at least for the NH) the temperature has not varied
     significantly (except for the European/North Atlantic sector) and
     hence the climate system has little internal variability. This
     statement is supported by an analysis of model behaviour, which also
     shows little internal variability in climate models. 2. Recent global
     warming, as inferred from instrument records, is large and unusual in
     the context of the Mann et al temperature reconstruction from multi-
     proxies. 3. Because of the previous limited variability and the
     recent warming that cannot be explained by known natural forcing
     (volcanic activity and solar insolation changes) human activity is
     the likely cause of the recent global change.
     In this context, IPCC mounts a powerful case. But the case rests on
     two main foundations; the past climate has shown little variability
     and the climate models reflect the internal variability of the
     climate system. If either or both are shown to be weak or fallacious
     then the IPCC case is weakened or fails.
     S&B have examined the premise that the globally integrated
     temperature has hardly varied over the past millennium prior to the
     instrumental record. I agree it is not rocket science that they have
     performed. They have looked at the evidence provided by researchers
     to see if the trend of the temperature record of the European/North
     Atlantic sector (which is not disputed by IPCC) is reflected in
     individual records from other parts of the globe (Their three
     questions). How objective is their assessment? From a purely
     statistical viewpoint the work can be criticised. But if you took a
     purely statistical approach you probably would not have sufficient
     data to reach an unambiguous conclusion, or you could try statistical
     fiddles to combine the data and end up with erroneous results under
     the guise of statistical significance. S&B have looked at the data
     and reached the conclusion that probably the temperature record from
     other parts of the globe follows the same pattern as that of the
     European/North Atlantic sector. Of the individual proxy records that
     I have seen I would agree that this is the case. I certainly have not
     found significant regions of the NH that were cold during the
     medieval period and warm during the Little Ice Age period that are
     necessary offsets of the European/North Atlantic sector necessary to
     reach a hemispherically flat pattern as derived by Mann et al.
     S&B have put forward sufficient evidence to challenge the Mann et al
     analysis outcome and seriously weaken the IPCC assertions based on
     Mann et al. Paleo reconstruction of temperatures and the global
     pattern over the past millennium and longer remains a fertile field
     for research. It suggests that the climate system is such that a
     major temporal variation as is universally recognised for the
     European/North Atlantic region would be reflected globally and S&B
     have given support to this view.
     It is my belief that the S&B work is a sincere endeavour to find out
     whether MWP and LIA were worldwide phenomena. The historical evidence
     beyond tree ring widths is convincing in my opinion. The concept of
     "Little Ice Age" is certainly used practically by all Holocene paleo-
     climatologists, who work on oblivious to Mann's "disproof" of its
     Paleoclimatologists tell me that, for debating purposes, they are
     more inclined to draw attention to the Holocene Optimum (about 6000
     BP) as an undisputed example of climate about 1-2 deg C warmer than
     at present, and to ponder the entry and exit from the Younger Dryas
     as an example of abrupt climate change, than to get too excited about
     the Medieval Warm Period, which seems a very attenuated version.
     However, the Little Ice Age seems valid enough as a paleoclimatic
     concept. North American geologists repeatedly assert that the 19th
     century was the coldest century in North America since the LGM. To
     that extent, showing temperature increase since then is not unlike a
     mutual fund salesmen showing expected rate of return from a market
     bottom - not precisely false, but rather in the realm of sleight-of-

     Prof. Phil Jones
     Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
     School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
     University of East Anglia
     Norwich                          Email    p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     NR4 7TJ
     UK ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Thomas J. Crowley
     Nicholas Professor of Earth Systems Science
     Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences
     Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
     Box 90227
     103  Old Chem Building Duke University
     Durham, NC  27708
     919-684-5833  fax

Categories: academia, global warming Tags:

Christmas, Saturnalia, and Sol Invictus

December 11th, 2009 No comments

I’ve found another instance where consensus scholarship is heavily flawed. I’d always heard that Christmas Day was on December 25 because nobody knows exactly when Jesus was born and that is the date of pagan Roman festival that Christians wanted to supplant. Nope.

The big problem is that Saturnalia was December 17-23, the winter solstice is December 21, there was no traditional Roman holiday on December 25, and the evidence that Emperor Aurelian’s new quadrennial festival of Sol Invictus, first celebrated in 274, was on December 25 is weak, dating from 80 years later. From Wikipedia:

There is no record of celebrating Sol on December 25th prior to CE 354/362. Hijmans lists the known festivals of Sol as August 8 and/or 9, August 28, and December 11. There are no sources that indicate on which day Aurelian inaugurated his temple and held the first games for Sol, but we do know that these games were held every four years from CE 274 onwards. This means that they were presumably held in CE 354, a year for which perchance a Roman calendar, the Chronography of 354 (or calendar of Filocalus), has survived. This calendar lists a festival for Sol and Luna on August 28th, Ludi Solis (games for Sol) for October 19th-22nd, and a Natalis Invicti (birthday of the invincible one) on December 25th.

Thus, Christmas is not like Reformation Day, an October 31 celebration chosen to substitute for Halloween, or like Hannukah. If it were, it would have been chosen to be December 17 or December 21. I have often read that December 25 was chosen because it is clear by then that days are getting longer, after the shortest day on December 21. How idiotic. That argument could be used for any day between December 22 and June 21. It certainly is not the case that the ancients didn’t know that December 21 was the shortest day and had to wait a few days to make sure. Even the people at Stonehenge knew about the winter solstice. I suppose Aurelian chose December 25, if he did choose that date, so as to avoid conflicting with Saturnalia. It’s also possible he did choose December 25, and picked it *because it was a Christian holiday*. He was no friend of Christians, and heavily promoted sun worship. See this:

A. Mellinus writes, “Aurelian was a stern, cruel, and bloodthirsty Emperor by nature, and although at first he had a good opinion of the Christians, he nevertheless afterwards became averse to, and estranged from them: and having, undoubtedly, by some talebearers, been instigated against the Christians, he allowed himself to be seduced so far, as to raise the ninth general persecution of the Roman monarchy against them, which persecution .he, however, did not carry out. For at the very moment in which the decrees written against the Christians, were laid before him by his secretary, that he might sign them, and when he was about to take the pen in hand, the hand of God suddenly touched him, smiting his hand with lameness, and thus preventing him in his purpose, so that he could not sign them.” First book, fol. 87, col. 3; from hopisc. Victor. Eus., lib. 7. Post. Literal, Aug. de Civit. Dei., lib. 18, cap. 52. Oral.. lib. 7, cap. 16. Theodoret. Hilt., lib. 4, cap. 17.

To be sure, as is well described in “How December 25 Became Christmas”
by Andrew McGowan we have no good evidence on how December 25 was established as Christmas Day (or January 6 for the Greeks). He shows that it is much more plausible that December 25 and January 6 were chosen because they are 9 months after March 25 or April 6, the dates (for the two groups) of the Crucifixion. How people came to think that Jesus had to be conceived on the day he died remains unclear. But this seems to be what happened.

Categories: christmas, consensus, history, religion Tags:

What Obama Could Have Said in Oslo

December 11th, 2009 No comments

James Taranto at the WSJ

In fairness to Obama, under the circumstances it would have been very hard for him to display true humility. He could have turned down the prize, but that would have seemed arrogant too. But if he was going to compare himself to other Nobel Peace laureates, it might have been better had he taken the opposite approach:

When I heard about this prize, I didn’t think I deserved it. I mean, what have I done? But then I looked at the list of past recipients. Yasser Arafat? A peace prize for a terrorist? What’s the deal with that, guys? Al Gore? For what, making a movie with charts? And Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter! He endorsed me, and even I can’t stand that sanctimonious little twit!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:


December 10th, 2009 No comments

I’ve decided to use this page for lots of global warming posts. I’ll cut and paste it to the top of my blog every once in a while, so I can have easy access to it. The bottom items in it will be the older ones.

  1. “A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating.” My draft ClimateGate petition for economists to sign, which has lots of ClimateGate email excerpts on the two topics of fiddling with journals and hiding data.

  2. “Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC’s “Talking Points” about surfacestations.org”. Arguments that the US raw temperature record is of dubious value for looking at long-term trends. Very feeble response from the weather station people, it seems.

  3. It’s interesting how comments are so often better informed and wiser than the writer. This Megan McCardle post is about death threats to climatologists after ClimateGate. The comments note that the only evidence that such threats were really made comes from the same scientists who have been discredited in the scandal itself.

  4. Fables of the Reconstruction
    (Or, How to Make Your Own Hockey Stick)
    . This goes through it, supplying the temperature and proxy data and telling you how to download and use OpenOffice to do principal components analysis. I’ll do this myself when I have time.

  5. From Mark Steyn:

    The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

    Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

    I would find that hard to report too.

    Like eight year olds that just found out there’s no Santa. Kind of earth shattering and traumatic. Lied to by those you most trusted.

  6. The Harry Read Me file is worth having a link to. Here are some excerpts. One of them: “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option — to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations … In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad …”

  7. In my regulation class this week, a Taiwanese student jokingly suggested that the way to solve global warming would be to kill any children born to a family that already had one child. Then this Op-Ed appeared in one of the top Canadian newspapers:
    “The real inconvenient truth:
    The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy”

  8. Megan McCardle very gently brings up the Darwin data fraud and politely asks if there’s some reason it’s not as bad as it looks. She hopes the warmist blog RealClimate will say something about it. I’ve been checking that site regularly, and they seem to have adopted the strategy of saying very little about ClimateGate and related scandals, probably because they can’t give good answers and they don’t want to even give their readers access to any details that might upset their views.

  9. Look at the comments on this Boston Globe blog in which Harvard Prof. McCarthy tries to dismiss ClimateGate. The amount of scorn heaped on the Globe is amazing.

  10. Bellamy: Twenty-Eight Years on TV, Then Blackballed for Challenging AGW

  11. Global Warming US Cities Getting Warmer: This is a You-Tube video a geneticist made with his son showing how only the urban temperatures in the US are going up, not rural stations. “A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.” The emperor really does have no clothes. I’ve wondered about that myself, but I thought people in the field had surely looked at something so simple.
  12. Climate Scientist to Revkin: “we can no longer trust you” to carry water for us. Another incredible email leak. A well-known U. of Illinois scientist condemns a NY Times liberal writer for making light of global warming and threatens to cut off his sources. These people have no shame, and no sense of humor either.
  13. It is worth keeping in mind that maybe people who say they don’t believe in absolute truth and who believe that the most important things for scientists to do is to help people, not to advance science, actually mean what they say, in which case they believe that a scientist has a duty to lie about his results if he thinks that will advance social justice. And if they believe that, they’ll do it.

  14. Nature
    has an editorial belitting the importance of ClimateGate and making misstatemetns such as that Antarctic sea ice is diminishing. Read it, and think less of that journal.

  15. A good Levitt-Dubner comment on why anything happening with glaciers is unrelated to global warming (for example– where glaciers are melting, temperatures aren’t rising!)
Categories: global warming Tags:

"Baby You Can Drive My Car": Copenhagen Full Limos and . Empty Buses

December 10th, 2009 No comments

Categories: global warming Tags:

Dealing with Reporters on a Regular Basis

December 10th, 2009 No comments

Via Sailer, “The Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods Model: Why It Will Never Work With The Media,” . The title has it wrong, but the article is good. The strategy is to intimidate reporters and cut off access to any reporter who ever prints anything critical. The drawback is that if the athlete’s stock ever falls (e.g. Tiger Wood’s), even the hitherto friendly reporters hate him and have repressed stories to tell. The tradeoff can be worth it, though.

Categories: game theory, media, reputation Tags:

The Precautionary Principle

December 9th, 2009 No comments

Sensibly applied, the idea behind the Precautionary Principle could be useful for global warming. The idea is that we should worry a lot about catastrophic low-probability events. The standard warmist scenario is not at all catastrophic. Adjusting to even a rise of 10 degrees Farenheit over 100 years is just not that bad. It’s the difference between Philadelphia and San Diego, and people do find the heat bearable when they move to San Diego. (Or use Boston and Atlanta if you like. But one thing I wonder about is how much of global warming will just be to make winters milder. The Highs in the Tropics are not higher than in the Midwest— they just last longer.)

But there is a possible catastrophe. It would be because of runaway effects caused by, for example, methane being released from Siberian swamps.

Correct use of the precautionary principle would say that we should forget about little things like cap-and-trade and instead (a) study possible catastrophes very hard,and (b) work on geoengineering, since mere cutbacks don’t address the problem (we could well be heading to catastrophe just with our present warming, and maybe it’s too late to go back unless we can get rid of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere).

Thus, the precautionary principle really has the opposite implication of its standard use, which is to call for expensive CO2 cuts that won’t help with the small-probability, really-bad outcomes.

In fact, we could go a step further. Suppose we are limited to spending at most one trillion dollars dealing with climate change. Suppose, too, we think that(a) there is a 99% chance that if we do nothing, the temperature will rise and cause 3 trillion dollars in harm to the global economy , (b) there is a 0% chance that the temperature won’t rise, and (c) there is a 1% chance that the temperature will rise dramatically, killing off 90% of the world’s population. The standard global warming line is that we should spend the trillion dollars on substituting other inputs for energy, to reduce CO2 output and prevent the loss of the 3 trillion dollars. The precautionary principle says that we shouldn’t waste the trillion dollars on that— we should spend it on geoengineering research and technology to deal with the 1% probability of disaster, instead.

You may be tempted to reply that both the CO2 reduction and the geoengineering projects should be undertaken. Well, suppose we have 5 trillion dollars to spend. Why shouldn’t we spend all 5 trillion on dealing with the 1% probability of disaster? The more we spend, the higher probability we avoid the disaster, so why divert any of the funds to non-disaster scenarios?

Snowballs, Not Lines

December 9th, 2009 No comments

A good thought of Prof. Ribstein: (my boldface, as usual)

The best legal scholars, like the best lawyers, are those who bring a variety of tools together in responding to a legal problem. They are creative, insightful, and broad, making connections among different fields and with their other work. Their careers end up looking like snowballs rather than lines. They can use these skills to teach both lawyers and policymakers how to solve new problems.

Categories: academia, research, thinking Tags:

Robert E. Sullivan’s Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power

December 7th, 2009 No comments

It sounds as if Harvard University Press has severely embarassed itself by publishing
Robert E. Sullivan’s Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power. See the WSJ review. It argues, quite convincingly that Prof. Sullivan of Notre Dame has no understanding whatsoever of Victorian times, seeing, for example, gushy language in letters to Macaulay’s sisters as evidence of incestuous desire rather than commonplace Victorian sentimentality. It sounds as if there must be a good story in how Harvard came to publish it.

Categories: history, publishing Tags:

How to EXTRACT & SAVE PICTURE From an Microsoft Word (MS Word) Document

December 6th, 2009 No comments

All the top googled webpages on this topic do it wrong or require special software, so this is important advice. The hard part is to save the undegraded, full-quality, image file that is entangled in the MS-Word document. I finally found that WebCoolTips does aone of its three methods right, so here it is.

MS Word, typically stupid, provides no obvious way to do this. One’s first thought for a workaround is to Save As the file as an HTML file with embedded images. MS Word does that, and even saves every single one of the images in both a big and a small size. That’s just a devious Microsoft trick. The big-sized image is still much worse than the original– 4 to 10 times as small, by my two trials. You need to do something different. (The HTML approach, by the way is what you get from the official Microsoft support site—idiots! They’d make more profit if they spent a little more and hired talented staff.)

Here is what to do.

  1. Launch Microsoft Office Picture Manager (It was provided with my version of MS Office, in a subfolder named something like “Accessories”)
  2. Open your MS Word Document.
  3. Right click and copy your image.
  4. Go to Picture Manager
  5. Browse to the folder of your choice, and do Edit-paste to save the clipboard content as an image.
  6. Go to that folder to get your image.
Categories: computers, microsoft, writing Tags:


December 5th, 2009 No comments
Categories: global warming Tags:

ClimateGate Jokes

December 5th, 2009 No comments

Q. What’s the proof that global warming is man-made?

A. The East Anglia emails— a man made up the temperatures.

Q. How many trees does it take to make a hockey stick?

A. Twelve.

Q. How many trees does it take to make a hockey stick?

A. None– just two lines of computer code.

Categories: global warming, humor Tags:

Replication in ClimateGate

December 4th, 2009 No comments

Irritatingly often I see comments on Climategate blog posts saying that economics and climatology aren’t real sciences. I don’t mind Econ not being classified as a science; rather, it is the scoffing tone that I don’t like. Econ is not a science; it’s better than science. But I won’t argue that here.

Rather, the main issues in ClimateGate are not special to science. Peer review and intimidation of editors and other scholars is not. Close linkages with supposedly unbiased blogs and newspapers is not. Violating freedom-of-information laws is not. Sloppy scholarship is not. And, finally, the refusal to allow replication is not.

By that I don’t mean to say that all these sins are common in every field. Far from it! But they are possible in every field.

Consider replication. The issue in ClimateGate is the temperature data series. The scientists started with raw data from hundreds of weather stations covering 150 years, and their end product is a monthly average temperature for every sector of the globe (and a global average too). They did not measure the temperatures themselves– they used data thousands of other people collected over 150 years, 95% of which is publicly available, much of it on the web. Their task was to process the data. They had to choose which weather stations are reliable and average different weather stations within a sector, for example. If one station only existed from 1850 to 1917 and the next one in the vicinity lasted from 1935 to 2009, they had to figure out what to do. They had to worry about the Urban Heat Island effect— what happens when a city full of hot air and concrete grows around a weather station that started out in an empty field. So there was a lot of processing.

What East Anglia would not reveal is which weather stations it used for what years, and how exactly they made the adjustments to get their sector averages. Thus, nobody can replicate their work. Indeed, they can’t do it themselves— they have admitted that they destroyed much of their input data, and the ClimateGate leak tells us that even if they had it, their computer code is too poorly written for anybody to understand, even themselves.

Now, back to the general case. This is not a failure of the scientific method, especially. It could happen in any field with sufficiently low standards for publication, if any other such field existed. Analogies:

  1. A mathematician claims to have squared the circle. He gives us the axioms and the proposition, but keeps the proof secret. “I need to use some of the techniques for future research,” he says.
  2. An economist claims to show that sales of Twinkies are a good predictor of recessions. He shows us a graph, and the results of many regressions that have high R2 and significant coefficients, but he keeps the Twinkies sales data secret. “The company that gave it to me did so on condition that I not reveal their sales to competitors,” he explains.
  3. An English professor claims that contrary to what Mencken claims in his famous essay, the American South has produced more good literature than any similarly sized region in the world. He says there are 127 great novels from the South, but he doesn’t say what they are or why they are great, or what other regions have produced. “This is the consensus of the people in my field, though I won’t say exactly who because that is too personal, and the people in my field are very smart and have studied books a lot more than amateurs,” he says.
Categories: global warming, science Tags:

Timid Scholars

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

Judith Curry in the National Journal tells how she is finding out that academics are cowardly:

Curry: Somebody who was named in those e-mails e-mailed me and was rather upset about my lack of support and my speaking about this. Out in the blogosphere, a lot of people picked up my message and seem to like it. But in terms of the people that I would see at conferences, they have not spoken out publicly and I’ve received only a few e-mails. I’m getting e-mails from people with Ph.D.s in chemistry or physics saying, “Thank you for what you’re doing, can you come give a talk at my professional society meeting?” So I’m getting favorable feedback from serious people in other branches of science who are interested in the climate issue and see too much politics in the science.

My issue is that everybody [in the climate science branch] wants to fly below the radar screen on this because it is a hot potato. Most of the scientists out there are busy in the retreat-to-the-Ivory-Tower mode, and they don’t pay much attention to the public discussion on this topic…. People don’t want to be distracted from their research by a lot of noise, and they don’t want to be put in a position where their personal or scientific integrity will be attacked.

Nobody [in the climate-science sector] wants to talk about this. When I put my essay out on climateaudit.org, I thought I would be one of 500 people out there making statements, but oops, I’m out there by myself.

Scientists want to avoid publicly criticizing other individual scientists, [and] I have my own position about who did something wrong here, but I want to give them the chance to defend themselves and let the investigation proceed.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Rabbinical Judaism vs. Karaites, Sola Scriptura

December 3rd, 2009 1 comment

Here is my modification of a story I got from economist David Friedman’s blog. (The Torah is the Bible; the Mishna and Talmud are commentaries.)

A young scholar came to the Rabbi and he said “Rabbi, I have been studying the Torah, and it is a trial and a tribulation to me. It goes into great elaboration over the heave offering, and the first tithe, and the heave offering of the first tithe, and the second tithe, and the poor man’s tithe, and gleanings, and the corners of the field, and I know not what else, and I cannot follow the tenth part of it all. What am I to do?”

And the rabbi said to him, “Do you know anyone who has a copy of the Mishnah that you might study?”

And the young scholar answered, “my uncle has a scroll of the order “seeds,” and no doubt would permit me to study it.”

“Then go,” said the rabbi, “and for the next month study the Mishnah, and then return to me.”

A month later, the young scholar appeared before the rabbi, still more distraught and unhappy.

“Rabbi,” he said, “The Mishnah is a terrible confusion. It gives one rule from one sage and another from another, and a third from a third sage, and it tells me that the school of Hillel said this and the school of Shammai said that, and I cannot tell for all it says what the law is or how I am to act. I am weary and confused and know less of the law than I did before I began to study it. Rabbi, what am I to do?”

“Do you” the Rabbi asked “know anyone who possesses scrolls of the Talmud, and would let you read in them?”

“My wife’s brother, Rabbi, possesses scrolls of one of the orders of the Talmud, and no doubt would permit me to study it.”

“Then go, and for the next month study Talmud, and when that time is done return to me.”

“Oh Rabbi, the Talmud is a terrible confusion and mess and tangle, and I can make nothing of it. For not only does it give one answer from one sage and a different from another, but those commenting on the answers offer two explanations for the first, for neither of which any rhyme or reason is presented, and three for the second, and make the two sages to agree on one rule, or agree on the other rule, but never tell me what the law is, and if there is any in the whole community who knows less of the law than I do after reading for a month in the Talmud I cannot guess who it could be. Rabbi, what am I to do?”

“Have you still the scroll of the Torah?”

“Indeed I do, Rabbi.”

“Take it down and read it, that you may learn the law.”

A week later the Rabbi met the young scholar, and he said to him “How go your studies.”

“Wonderfully well, Rabbi. I have been studying the Torah, and nothing could be clearer. For each case it gives one rule, not two or three, and it spends no words at all on explaining away the disagreements of the sages, but merely tells what the law is in plain words.”

Categories: religion thinking humor Tags:

Simple Ideas and Complicated Models

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

My comment on a VC post.

Thank you for linking to the Hakes article. It rings true.

The problem it concerns is not exactly poor writing, though. Rather, it is the problem of the brilliant but simple new idea. If you explain it simply, people say, “That’s obvious”, even if they would never have thought of it in a million years. Thus, you have to math it up, or disguise it in a convoluted hypothetical, or quote in foreign languages to get it published.

When I visited Chicago back in 1989 I was amazed at what George Stigler and Gary Becker could do in seminars. They’d ask a simple one-sentence question (“Have you thought about X?”) and entirely demolish (or expand) somebody’s paper. Unfortunately, many of us refuse to recognize that kind of Feynmannian brilliance, which, indeed, is distinct from IQ.

I was just thinking of this topic today because I have what might be a novel idea on why deposit insurance is useful. It’s so simple that I could write the paper in words, with no equations. But I wonder whether a top journal in economics would publish it then, even if the editor believed that the idea was worthy of a Nobel Prize.

What’s the solution? One is to wrap up the idea in unnecessary math modelling. Another, which is often used, is to have two parts to the paper. The first part is to explain the idea in words or with a numerical example. Everybody reads that part, and referees decide whether to accept the paper based on it. The second part is the general model, all mathed up. Referees require that part, but they don’t really read it.

I should add that I am a conventional modern economist, constantly building math models and believing that they are utterly necessary for most economic research. But not every idea needs a math model.

Categories: research, writing. mathematics Tags:

Climate Dementors

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

Marc Hendrickxs has a good post on The Climate Dementors but he doesn’t get it quite right:

Categories: global warming Tags:

The Huckabee Pardons and Methodism

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

Joe Carter has an excellent article on the Huckabee pardons at First Things. He reviewed them as a researcher for the Huckabee campaign. His article is sympathetic, but it casts serious doubt on Huckabee’s judgement.

After reviewing hundreds of cases and interviewing numerous people involved in the process, I concluded to my own satisfaction that the governor’s actions and judgment were generally defensible. Yet there remained about a half-dozen situations in which even after reviewing all of the information I was unpersuaded that justice had been served. Although I was sympathetic with some of the justifications offered for making the decisions, I found them inadequate for a number of reasons….

For instance, the politically prudent tactic would have been to simply refuse to grant any leniency—ever. Other governors with their sights set on higher offices had learned that doing nothing—even to correct obvious instances of injustice—was unlikely to cause any long-term political damage. Keeping an innocent man in prison is less harmful to an ambitious politician than freeing someone who may commit other crimes.

Huckabee would certainly discover this political reality the hard way. Initially, I chalked it up solely to extraordinary political courage. Later, I tempered this view when I realized that this courage was mixed with a large dose of cluelessness. The governor seemed genuinely surprised that he was held responsible for the criminal acts committed by those whose sentences he had commuted as governor. It was as if he believed that simply having noble intentions and a willingness to make tough decisions would provide political cover. The notion that he should be accountable for future crimes committed by these men seemed as foreign to him as the idea that he should refuse all leniency. …

Judging from the records, the governor also seemed to put a lot of weight on conversion stories—a common trait among evangelicals, who believe the gospel is sufficient for restoration and redemption of character.

Carter quotes someone else as saying

What Huckabee misjudged is his ability to judge the character of a convicted murderer and rapists, a lapse out of a character for a pastor who believes in the sinful nature of an — or a lapse in character for a pastor who believes in redemption.

Here’s my comment

Very astute. We evangelicals are suckers for redemption stories. It is good that we believe in miracles. The problem is that the dominant belief in America is no longer the Puritan Total Depravity but the Methodist Moral Perfectibility, even though (or perhaps *because*) the pastors don’t teach theology to their flocks. Thus, we have the idea that church people don’t sin— at least not most church people— reinforced by nobody wanting to admit that they sin. Just one step further, and we have the idea that somebody who has converted will stop sinning.

And of course we’re rather gullible too, easily satisfied with words. We trust someone who says he’s changed and become a slave of Jesus even if he’s living with his girlfriend, shirking on child-support payments to his ex-wife, and selling pornography at the gas station where he works. It isn’t considered polite to question whether someone else’s faith is true.

Categories: Huckabee, law, pardons, religion, thinking Tags:

Periods and Commas: Inside Quotation Marks or Outside?

November 29th, 2009 No comments

(1) At VC, commentor John Blake said,

…. a direct quote requires enclosed quotation marks: “No more of this,” he said. Said he, “No more of this.” In the second instance, a period after the last quotation mark would be redundant.

Citations or indirect quotes do NOT enclose quotation marks: Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us”.

Those are good examples for the problem. Pure logic, the defense commonly used for the British rule, requires that redundant comma:

Said he, “No more of this.”.

The Norsemen quote looks funny. The period at the end is too far from the final word, because the high-up quotation marks separate it off. Also, the reader expects some punctuation at the end of a sentence, and there isn’t any at the end of the quoted sentence. If it ends there, adding a period would be fine as part of the quotation. If it doesn’t, then really there should be three dots, like this:

Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us…”.

or this:

Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us….”

I don’t like the look of either sentence. What should I do?

(2) The tradeoff is not really Form versus Function. The aesthetic problem here is not completely subjective, and is not distinct from clarity. The period is objectively far from the last word, under the British rule. And if something looks odd in a paragraph, it distracts the reader, reducing clarity.

Commentor Henry Schaffer said:

Several people have pointed out that the American rule alters the quoted material. A long time ago I wrote a short computer manual, and put gave an example — essentially _quodlibet_’s one — I wrote the equivalent of:

Enter the command “cp foo/bar”.

The editor changed this for the distributed version to read:

Enter the command “cp foo/bar.”

This version of the instruction didn’t work, but the defense was that it was grammatically correct and mine was not.

Another commentor says:

As to following sentence ending periods with two spaces, that is an excellent rule, even with non-fixed width fonts because it distinguishes sentence ending periods from abbreviation marks. Also, fixed width fonts are the best for any and all computer work, and even for e-mail.

Another commentor gives these examples:

Jones assured me, “You have nothing to worry about.”

Hale said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Still, Obama assures us, “We will be better off after this reform bill passes”!

What makes you think that your only choice is, “Give me liberty or give me death”?

He spoke of “blue skies,” “black nights,” and “green grass.”

He spoke over and over of “blue skies,” “black nights,” and “green grass”; I got bored and left.

Another gives

“Kicking the ball through the uprights is called a ‘field goal’, and is worth three points.”


Categories: writing Tags:

Godless Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations

November 28th, 2009 No comments

Here’s a comment I posted at the Baylyblog, on the subject of Obama’s godless Thanksgiving Proclamation:

I’m glad Threegirldad checked previous proclamations. He’s right that Ford 1975 and Carter 1978 omit God.

Carter 1977 and 1979 carefully talk about other people giving thanks to God without doing so directly in the Proclamation (like Obama 2009, which does quote George Washington thanking God). Carter 1980 does thank God (“As we pause on Thanksgiving to offer thanks to God…”) Maybe losing the election earlier that month chastened our born-again President.

He’s wrong on Nixon 1969, though:
“Yet Lincoln knew that the act of thanksgiving should not be limited to time of peace and serenity. He knew that it is precisely at those times of hardship when men most need to recognize that the Source of all good constantly bestows His blessings on mankind.”

Ford 1975 has quite a modern ring:
“On the eve of our 200th year, Thanksgiving Day should be a day of special reflection upon the qualities of heart, mind and character of the men and women who founded and built our great Nation. Let us join in giving thanks for our cultural pluralism. Let us celebrate our diversity and the great strengths that have come from sharing our traditions, our ideas, our resources, our hopes and our dreams.”

Ford 1974 is more traditional:
“It is a time when the differences of a diverse people are forgotten and all Americans join in giving thanks to God for the blessings we share – the blessings of freedom, opportunity and abundance that make America so unique.”

Ford 1976 is actually the most God-laden Proclamation I’ve seen. Maybe almost losing the primaries to Reagan and then losing the election to Carter improved his focus (and got him to fire some liberal speechwriters):

“Traditionally, Americans have set aside a special day to express their gratitude to the Almighty for the blessings of liberty, peace and plenty that have been bestowed upon a grateful Nation.
The early settlers of this land possessed an unconquerable spirit and a reliance on Divine Providence that remains a part of the American character. That reliance, coupled with a belief in ourselves and a love of individual freedom, has brought this nation through two centuries of progress and kept us strong.
As we cross the threshold into our third century as a sovereign and independent Nation, it is especially appropriate that we reaffirm our trust in Him and express our gratitude for the unity, freedom and renewed sense of national pride we enjoy today.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States of America, in accord with Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1976, as a day of national thanksgiving. I call upon all Americans to join on that day with their friends and families in homes and places of worship throughout the land to offer thanks for the blessings we enjoy.

Let each of us resolve this Thanksgiving Day to make the coming year one in which our every deed will reflect our constant gratitude to God. Let us set a standard of honor, justice, and charity against which all the years of our third century may be measured.

Let us make this Thanksgiving a truly special one.

Categories: religion, Thanskgiving, writing Tags:

Should Victims Be Able to Sue Corrupt Judges

November 28th, 2009 No comments

From VC:

Now comes news that the judges are immune from suit arising from any and all of their “judicial acts” in connection with the sentencing of these juveniles. [Stories are here and here; the opinion in the case conferring absolute immunity on the defendant judges (Middle District of PA, Judge Caputo) is here). Judge Caputo’s opinion conferring the immunity is thoughtful and well-reasoned…

My comment:

Very interesting problem, and you’re right that it’s not an easy one. We definitely want the judge to have criminal liability, I think (some people might want to limit it to impeachment) and we want the corrupt cases to be subject to review, so the only question is whether the victim— the losing side— should be able to sue the judge or the government for money damages besides.

What is the case with corrupt policemen? (Section 1983?) Can they be sued personally?

We also have a second-best situation. As the Court says, we’d have a huge amount of meritless litigation harassing judges. I say that is “second-best” because it is the fault of bad policy created by the judiciary itself, which for the past 50 years has encouraged nuisance suits generally. If judges would use their powers to punish lawyers who bring meritless suits, the problem would dwindle. Maybe making judges personally vulnerable to legal harassment and wacko juries would change the judiciary’s mind about whether trial lawyers should be given every freedom to sue corporations.

Categories: administrative law, judges, law, research Tags:

ClimateGate, New Zealand Fakery

November 27th, 2009 No comments

I’m really enjoying this. It’s the best things since Dan Rather’s faking of the George Bush letter. I’ll use this post to list some of the best articles.

  • The Climate Audit denier blog has had lots of good stuff.
  • Iowahawk Geographic: The Secret Life of Climate Researchers “The Alpha Grantwriter in our hive has been very successful indeed. He has earned three publications, a keynote address, and attracts the attention of a suitor from the symbiotic grant-giving predator genus Lucra Ecologica Hysterica. The suitor’s grant bags are bulging with carbon credits and tax revenues harvested using the hive’s last graphs, and the pair once again engage in their annual cross-pollination ritual”

  • REGIONAL TEMPERATURE CHANGE Vincent R. Gray. “The high Russia/Soviet figures indicate a common trend of large temperature rises in remote rural sites in severe climates. Other examples are Canada minus W Yukon (+0.96°C), North Pacific (+0.90°C) Spitzbergen (+4.06°C) and South Georgia (+1.91°C). The main reason would surely be the pressure to improve living conditions in these remote sites, involving better heating in the buildings, provision of roads, and the tendency for vegetation around the sites to be encouraged. The narrowing of the diurnal temperature range for many of these sites (Easterling et al. 1997) is further evidence for this tendency. “

“Courtillot and his colleagues were forced to turn to other sources of temperature measurements. They found 44 European weather stations that had long series of daily minimum temperatures that covered most of the 20th century, with few or no gaps. They removed annual seasonal trends for each series with a three-year running average of daily minimum temperatures. Finally they averaged all the European series for each day of the 20th century.”

Categories: global warming, science Tags:


November 25th, 2009 No comments

Thanksgiving. This webpage is for things useful in celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. For printing out to read at the table, see first-thanksgiving.pdf , more-proclamations.pdf, 2006.proclamation.pdf, and We- gather-together.pdf song lyrics. See also the page on original Thanksgiving foods via James Lindgren.

When a person is thankful, he is of course has to thanking someone—“to thank” is a transitive verb, requiring an object. Thanksgiving is a time to thank God, as the government proclamations traditionally say. These proclamations make nonsense of the claim that the American Constitution forbids a place for Christianity in public affairs, though it is noteworthy that Thomas Jefferson, unlike his two predecessors, refrained from issuing any Thanksgiving Proclamations. The 2006 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation is here.

Below are excerpts from some Thanksgiving proclamations from across American history. Pilgrim Hall Museum has a complete list.

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God’s Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ. (1676, Connecticut)

Before going on to other proclamations, let’s look at some history. Karen Knelte writes

Most of us have been taught since childhood that Thanksgiving originated in 1621 when the Pilgrim survivors of the first winter, the following autumn had their first good harvest and celebrated for 3 days with their Indian friends who had taught them much about how to survive in this new land. This event did happen and is described by Edward Winslow, in a letter dated December 11, 1621. However, the later Thanksgivings are not commemorations of this event, as we will see. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

Our corn did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown, they came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom; our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Edward Winslow, December 11, 1621, in: [Mourt’s Relation] A Relation or Journall of the beginning and proceeding of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in New England, by certaine English Adventurers both Merchants and others. London, Printed for John Bellamie, 1622. p.60-61.

Back to proclamations:

“Forasmuch as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such further Blessings as they stand in Need of: …(1777, Continental Congress)

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:… (1789, Washington)

Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation,… (1795, Washington)

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation;… (1798, Adams)

As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration , nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities;.. (1799, Adams)

I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union. (Lincoln, 1863)

Let us now, this Thanksgiving Day, reawaken ourselves and our neighbors and our communities to the genius of our founders in daring to build the world’s first constitutional democracy on the foundation of trust and thanks to God. Out of our right and proper rejoicing on Thanksgiving Day, let us give our own thanks to God and reaffirm our love of family, neighbor, and community. (1996, Clinton)

Each year on Thanksgiving, we gather with family and friends to thank God for the many blessings He has given us, and we ask God to continue to guide and watch over our country. (2003, Bush)

  • 1676, Connecticut
  • 1777, Continental Congress
  • 1789, Washington. Also, here is description of the debate in 1789 over whether to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation.
  • Some other noteworthy proclamations:

  • A Pilgrim Hall Museum page has the proclamations from Clinton in 1999 to Obama in 2009. Notice how Clinton’s 1999 proclamation refers to God twice, Bush 2008 three times, but Obama 2009 not at all (except in the quote from George Washington). Very possibly that is a first in American history, and a significant one. Obama does use the phrase “in the year of our Lord two thousand nine”, but that’s probably boilerplate whose religiosity was overlooked.

  • From: Plimoth-on-Web Plimoth Plantation’s Web Site (as of 2003 a dead link)

    In 1777, the Continental Congress declared the first national American Thanksgiving following the providential victory at Saratoga. The 1777 Thanksgiving proclamation reveals its New England Puritan roots. The day was still officially a religious observance in recognition of God’s Providence, and, as on the Sabbath, both work and amusements were forbidden. It does not resemble our idea of a Thanksgiving, with its emphasis on family dinners and popular recreation. Yet beneath these stern sentiments, the old Puritan fervor had declined to the extent that Thanksgiving was beginning to be less of a religious and more of a secular celebration. The focus was shifting from the religious service to the family gathering. Communities still dutifully went to church each Thanksgiving Day but the social and culinary attractions were increasing in importance….

    National Thanksgivings were proclaimed annually by Congress from 1777 to 1783 which, except for 1782, were all celebrated in December. After a five year hiatus, the practice was revived by President Washington in 1789 and 1795. John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799, while James Madison declared the holiday twice in 1815; none of these were celebrated in the autumn. After 1815, there were no further national Thanksgivings until the Civil War. … The New England states continued to declare annual Thanksgivings (usually in November, although not always on the same day), and eventually most of the other states also had independent observations of the holiday. …At mid-century even the southern states were celebrating their own Thanksgivings.

    By the 1840s when the Puritan holy day had largely given way to the Yankee holiday, Thanksgiving was usually depicted in a family setting with dinner as the central event. The archetypal tradition of harvest celebration had weathered Puritan disapproval and quietly reasserted its influence. Newspapers and magazines helped popularize the holiday in its new guise as a secular autumn celebration featuring feasting, family reunions and charity to the poor. …

    It is interesting that the same person who was a leading figure in the domesticity movement, Sarah Josepha Hale, also labored for decades to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. A New England author and editor of the influential Godey’s Ladies Book, Hale lobbied for a return to the morality and simplicity of days gone by. Each November from 1846 until 1863 Mrs. Hale printed an editorial urging the federal government to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She was finally gratified when Abraham Lincoln declared the first of our modern series of annual Thanksgiving holidays for the last Thursday in November, 1863. Lincoln had previously declared national Thanksgivings for April, 1862, and again for August 6, 1863, after the northern victory at Gettysburg. …

    Lincoln went on to declare a similar Thanksgiving observance in 1864, establishing a precedent that was followed by Andrew Johnson in 1865 and by every subsequent president. …In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to the last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving. Considerable controversy (mostly following political lines) arose around this outrage to custom, so that some Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the 23rd and others on the 30th (including Plymouth, MA). In 1940, the country was once again divided over “Franksgiving” as the Thanksgiving declared for November 21st was called. Thanksgiving was declared for the earlier Thursday again in 1941, but Roosevelt admitted that the earlier date (which had not proven useful to the commercial interests) was a mistake. On November 26, 1941, he signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday in November as the national Thanksgiving holiday, which it has been ever since.

    And here is Psalm 100 ( KJV)

    “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

    I found a page of Thanksgiving song lyrics, including this one:

    We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
    He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
    Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.
    Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
    So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!
    We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
    And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
    Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free! Amen

    For some well-researched facts on Thanksgiving (but undue hostility to the Colonial side in King Philip’s War), see Karen Knelte’s “History of the Modern American Thanksgiving”, August 9, 2001.

  • Categories: holidays Tags:

    Principal Components Analysis

    November 24th, 2009 No comments

    From Wikipedia, Principal Components Analysis:

    PCA is theoretically the optimal linear scheme, in terms of least mean square error, for compressing a set of high dimensional vectors into a set of lower dimensional vectors and then reconstructing the original set. It is a non-parametric analysis and the answer is unique and independent of any hypothesis about data probability distribution.

    Categories: global warming, math, statistics Tags:

    Spelling Out Numbers vs. Writing Them Using Digits

    November 23rd, 2009 No comments

    Professor Eugene Volokh has a good idea:

    Any thoughts on what the rule should be here? My sense is that numbers written using digits are much easier to quickly absorb, so I tend to write them that way whenever they refer to something that people might want to use in calculations or comparisons. I’d say, for instance, that “These books tend to sell for 20% below their list price of $8 to $10,” rather than “These books tend to sell for twenty percent below their list price of eight to ten dollars.” But when counting people or things in contexts where the count likely doesn’t need to be grasped as a number suitable for calculation or comparison, I spell out the number, for instance in “There are eight reasons why this law is a bad idea.”

    Categories: writing Tags:

    Two Degree Below Winter Ale

    November 23rd, 2009 No comments

    This is a pretty good beer, and I like the bottle shape a lot.

    Categories: beauty, drink Tags:

    The Climate Change Email Leak

    November 23rd, 2009 1 comment

    From an op-ed at the London Times:

    Moreover, the scientific basis for global warming projections is now under scrutiny as never before. The principal source of these projections is produced by a small group of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), affiliated to the University of East Anglia.

    Last week an apparent hacker obtained access to their computers and published in the blogosphere part of their internal e-mail traffic. …

    Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.

    There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question.

    From the New York Times, which as I recall published the top-secret Pentagon Papers:

    The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.

    Below is a comment I posted on Marginal Revolution:

    My reaction is like that of physicist David Wright: it is appalling that the scientists in the emails are concealing data and trying to suppress their rivals’ research. I haven’t heard of that in economics. (I am not surprised at this in climate science, but I would be in almost any other area of science.) Indeed, there are a number of episodes in which mistakes have been found in famous economics papers because of close scrutiny of data voluntarily supplied by the writers to scholars they know will search for every flaw. Examples are the Feldstein social security programming error, Lott’s work on gun control, and Levitt and Donohue on abortion and crime.

    Of course, all work has some mistakes, and a sophist could use trivial mistakes to try to discredit a paper, but in the profession trivial mistakes are expected and do not discredit, and we are all aware that big mistakes are very possible too, even from top researchers. Moreover, the custom of revealing one’s data and methods is a deterrent to deliberate fraud. I haven’t heard of deliberate fraud in econ published papers, but if climate science does not have the custom of making data and methods publicly available, we should predict that fraud will occur.

    Categories: global warming, media, science Tags:

    The Singular "They"

    November 21st, 2009 No comments

    I just posted something like the following at VC as a comment on a post on grammar.

    Prof. Volokh, I’d value your opinion on what is a much harder question than whether “Everyone thought they were right” is valid, which is the singular “they” as applied to organizations. Here’s an excerpt from a student paper:

    “The US Navy took the lead in this research. They saw an opportunity…”

    This is common in educated speech, but it is against the rules of style. It is contrary to parallelism, but in accord with the good realization that organizations are not real persons. What should we do?

    Categories: writing Tags:

    Teaching Sheriffs the Bible

    November 21st, 2009 No comments

    From the Baylyblog comes a story about demonstrators at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Bloomington:

    For the past year or so Ginger and I have been reading Scripture in an orderly fashion down at Planned Parenthood. Due to various constraints we end up reading Scripture mostly to the escorts and the pro-abortion sheriff who are there every week.

    We always read Romans 1 & John 3, alternately. In addition, Ginger had the idea to start reading a different chapter each week so as to finish whole books. Our goal, of course, is to ensure that these people hear God’s Special Revelation each week but we hardly dared hope that our goal of forcing them to know Scripture would really work.

    I wasn’t there today but as Ginger was reading Romans 1, she had to cough and during her pause the sheriff, Todd, finished her sentence with mockery, “and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” Then he realized what he did and looked annoyed with himself. Ginger smiled and thanked him for “hiding Scripture in his heart.”

    Here’s Romans 1:

    1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with F3 my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    Categories: abortion, Bible, religion Tags:

    Obama’s Double Backwards Flip on Health Care

    November 20th, 2009 No comments

    Romesh Ponnuru sums it up succinctly:

    In the primaries, Obama distinguished himself from Clinton on health care by opposing an individual mandate. In the general election, he distinguished himself from McCain by opposing taxes on health benefits. So now he is trying to pass bills with both an individual mandate and taxes on health benefits — and his supporters are saying that Congress should go along because he won the election.

    Categories: health care, obama Tags:

    Medicare Fraud

    November 20th, 2009 No comments

    I found a Washington Examiner article that says the government’s estimate of medicare fraud is an astounding 12% of payouts. If true, that pretty much kills the administrative costs argument (unless private insurance companies have a 12% rate too). See


    Categories: health care Tags:

    A Good Sentence

    November 20th, 2009 No comments

    A good sentence from Jonah Goldberg:

    Indeed, some of us will always be sympathetic to Mrs. Palin if for nothing else than her enemies. The bile she extracts from her critics is almost like a dye marker, illuminating deep pockets of asininity that heretofore were either unnoticed or underappreciated.

    Categories: liberals, writing Tags:

    Major Hasan’s Treasonous Powerpoints

    November 18th, 2009 No comments

    The Washington Post has posted Major Hasan’s powerpoint presentation on why Moslems should not fight Moslems, why the US army cannot reasonably expect loyalty from Moslem soldiers and so should let them resign, and how Islam requres Moslem states with non-Moslems as second-class citizens. It’s amazing.

    Categories: army, Islam, liberals, Major Hasan Tags:

    Leibniz versus Newton on God’s Intervention in Nature (and Leibniz on Locke too)

    November 17th, 2009 No comments

    Professor O’Connor pointed me to two interesting passages from the famous correspondence of Leibniz with Samuel Clarke, a philosopher and follower of Newton. See
    number 192-193.

    IT appears that even natural religion is growing very much
    weaker. Many hold that souls are corporeal ; others hold that
    God Himself is corporeal. Mr. Locke and his followers are
    at any rate doubtful whether souls are not material and
    naturally perishable….

    Mr. Newton and his followers have also
    an extremely odd opinion of the work of God. According
    to them God has to wind up His watch from time to time.
    Otherwise it would cease to go. He lacked sufficient fore-
    sight to make it a perpetual motion. This machine of God’s
    is even, on their view, so imperfect that He is obliged from
    time to time to come to its assistance especially out of the ordinary course, and clean it, and even to mend it, as a clock-
    maker might his handiwork; and the less skilful the workman
    is, the more often is he obliged to rehandle and correct his
    work. According to my view, the same force and vigour
    goes on existing in the world always, and simply passes from
    one matter to another, according to the laws of nature and to
    the beautiful pre-established order. And I hold that, when
    God performs miracles, it is not to uphold the needs of nature,
    but for those of grace. To think otherwise would be to
    have a very low opinion of the wisdom and power of God.

    The web source says:

    Clarke thinks that the passage to which Leibniz is referring
    is the following, from Newton’s Optics: ‘ Whilst the comets move
    in orbs very eccentrical, with all variety of directions towards
    every part of the heavens; ’tis not possible it should have been
    caused by blind fate, that the planets all move with one similar
    direction in concentrick orbs; excepting only some very small
    irregularities, which may have arisen from the mutual actions of
    the planets and comets upon one another; and which ’tis
    probably will in length of time increase more and more, till the
    present system of nature shall want to be anew put in order by
    its Author.’ (The translation from Newton’s Latin is Clarke’s.)

    Categories: intelligent design, religion, science Tags:

    Major Hasan and the Media Parody

    November 11th, 2009 No comments
    Categories: humor, media Tags:

    Government Harming People

    November 10th, 2009 No comments

    Via Jay Nordlinger, from Frederick Douglass’s “What Shall Be Done with the Slaves If Emancipated?”

    Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone.

    Categories: conservatism, race Tags:

    Major Hasan and Nuttiness

    November 9th, 2009 No comments

    First-rate Mark Steyn from The Corner:

    For the purposes of argument, let’s accept the media’s insistence that Major Hasan is a lone crazy.

    So who’s nuttier?

    The guy who gives a lecture to other military doctors in which he says non-Muslims should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats?

    Or the guys who say “Hey, let’s have this fellow counsel our traumatized veterans and then promote him to major and put him on a Homeland Security panel?

    Or the Army Chief of Staff who thinks the priority should be to celebrate diversity, even unto death?

    Or the Secretary of Homeland Security who warns that the principal threat we face now is an outbreak of Islamophobia?

    Or the president who says we cannot “fully know” why Major Hasan did what he did, so why trouble ourselves any further?

    Or the columnist who, when a man hands out copies of the Koran before gunning down his victims while yelling “Allahu akbar,” says you’re racist if you bring up his religion?

    Or his media colleagues who put Americans in the same position as East Germans twenty years ago of having to get hold of a foreign newspaper to find out what’s going on?

    General Casey has a point: An army that lets you check either the “home team” or “enemy” box according to taste is certainly diverse. But the logic in the remarks of Secretary Napolitano and others is that the real problem is that most Americans are knuckledragging bigots just waiting to go bananas. As Melanie Phillips wrote in her book Londonistan:

    Minority-rights doctrine has produced a moral inversion, in which those doing wrong are excused if they belong to a ‘victim’ group, while those at the receiving end of their behaviour are blamed simply because they belong to the ‘oppressive’ majority.

    To the injury of November 5, we add the insults of American officialdom and their poodle media. In a nutshell:

    The real enemy — in the sense of the most important enemy — isn’t a bunch of flea-bitten jihadis sitting in a cave somewhere. It’s Western civilization’s craziness. We are setting our hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer.

    Categories: liberals Tags:

    Loyalty Oaths

    November 9th, 2009 No comments

    There’s an easy fix to detecting traitors of the Major Hasan type: a better loyalty oath. Something specific, like this:

    “I swear to defend the United States by fighting against its enemies even when they are Moslem, and in particular I swear to oppose Al Qaeda and the Taliban until my superiors release me from that obligation. If my duty ever conflicts with my religious principles, I will inform my superiors immediately.”

    Of course, Major Hasan wanted to quit the military, so he perhaps wouldn’t mind a dishonorable discharge for disloyalty,but at least it would have removed him from an opportunity to hurt us.

    Oaths are not much use for protection against liars, but principled people such as religious and political extremists are often unwilling to betray their gods.

    Categories: Uncategorized Tags: