Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This isn't science...

Little bits at a time, I make my way through Gore's 'article'. It's hard to keep my lunch down.

Comparing skepticism in his beliefs/opinions/'facts' to racism...what is this, amateur hour? Encouraging people who know nothing to be abrasive and/or abusive in every day life? Thanks a lot.
The entire *problem* of 'global warming' is that people who don't know what the heck they're talking about express their opinions as fact.
This is a question for legislators, not a question for activists. We have a *representative* democracy for this very purpose.
If I have a problem that's difficult to understand (effects of pollution on climate *definitely* fits here), I convince lawmakers. If I can't convince them myself, I find scientists those lawmakers trust (who *can* understand the issues) and have those scientists convince the lawmakers.

I *don't* take my case to the ignorant public, because then I'm just attempting to manipulate the public (who has *no* way to evaluate for themselves whether I'm right) into serving my purpose.

At *no* time should scientists (of which Gore admittedly isn't one, but he seems to like playing one on TV) suggest that people stop thinking for themselves. That is exactly the opposite of science.

It's guys like Gore who get students in my class to fish for statements from me supporting global warming. When I tell them that I had reviewed what their physics textbook says about the matter and that I agree with everything said there and would say no more ... they shake their heads in disbelief and disappointment. Why would they do this?????? Maybe the textbook is a little to honest about it, but this isn't religion. It's a regime of thought which is completely orthogonal to faith. In science we require publicly provable evidence and reject ideas which are not openly and reproducibly falsifiable.

I honestly don't feel competent to give an opinion on whether global warming is man made.
I'm not even sure I know enough to be anything other than 'lay-scientist skeptical'.
I've reviewed a lot of what people have said, but my niche was laser-plasma interactions, not atmospheric sciences.
I could spend probably less than a year reviewing literature and come up with an informed opinion on the subject, but only if I dedicated a serious amount of time to it.
I'm completely floored by the sacred cow that global warming has become.

It's just incredible that people would follow Gore's advice here. Yet they do. It's not science, it's bullying.

So how can we make it happen? How can we as individuals make a difference? In five basic ways:
First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it's some sort of hoax, don't let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama Bin Laden, Rest In Peace

America eliminated an enormous threat today with the killing of Osama Bin Laden, who was perhaps the most vile person to live since Adolf Hitler.

We really don't know his story, past, present, or future, or what really turned him to his evil path.
We don't really celebrate his death but we celebrate a new freedom from fear.
Perhaps we shouldn't have been fearful, but outside that ideal world, we really were afraid.
Bin Laden's death doesn't completely remove that fear, but it greatly lessens it, and that is reason to celebrate.

Perhaps if I'd lost family members in 9/11, this would be titled "Osama Bin Laden, Rot In Hell", but I would hope not.

The best part of this, is that my children and their generation will not have to deal with the spectre of Osama haunting the world from dark places.

Osama said it himself in distinguishing his fanatics from people of the west: "They love life, we love death."

Roughly translated, "Al Qaeda" means "The Base". As such, this quote will never be more apropos: "All your base are belong to us."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Because it hasn’t in any other developed country in the world?Interestingly, Americans spend less than many other countries on durable medical supplies like eyeglasses, contact lenses, wheelchairs and other such things so I was a bit imprecise in saying the increases were across the board.Long-term care is another big exception.This blog series is essential reading for people who want to understand U.S. health care costs better.  

I read through the blog series. An effective statement that we have a higher ratio of health care spending to GDP than Europe + South Korea (this is an accurate portrayal of the data presented?) Talks about some of the difference in costs, but leaves a region of approximately 60% or so of the difference between the US and the EU unexplained. I was personally glad to see medical malpractice addressed.

Over all, I agree, but why? I think much of this is because a) we have shifting priorities food+shelter --> health and b) we consider health care 'free'.
Had a kid recently. Did we shop around for a best fit in price and reputation of hospitals? No. We went to the best one in the area. Why? Because employer-provided health insurance covered it.

In both socialized and private-insurance healthcare systems, there is a disconnect between those most directly paying for the goods and services and those consuming. This throws market forces completely out of whack as no individuals are being asked to see how spending hits the bottom line.

This is further exacerbated by not even making a consumer directly pay for the health insurance (which is paying for the goods and services), so consumers are removed from decision-making by multiple indirections.

If Obamacare shifted employer health insurance tax benefits to the consumer while trying to solve the insurance availability issue in some other way, I'd probably be more supportive. At least then, even though insurers don't really care about the costs of goods and services (they can often pass it along so long as there's enough regulation preventing competition), at least the consumer cares about the cost of the insurance. Right now, how much people pay for health insurance gets decided by some HR exec and actual consumers can only see it *extremely* indirectly as a hit or bonus to his/her salary.

In this case, we're trying to invoke the 'hidden hand' by gouging our own eyes out and saying "I can't see the hand, therefore it must be hidden"