Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 20, 2011


That big yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day

It appears the warmist agenda is about to take another hit if this is being interpreted properly:

The chief of the world’s leading physics lab at CERN in Geneva has prohibited scientists from drawing conclusions from a major experiment. The CLOUD ("Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets") experiment examines the role that energetic particles from deep space play in cloud formation. CLOUD uses CERN’s proton synchrotron to examine nucleation.

CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer told Welt Online that the scientists should refrain from drawing conclusions from the latest experiment.

"I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them," reports veteran science editor Nigel Calder on his blog. Why?

Because, Heuer says, "That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters."

Oh … “only one of many parameters”, eh?  You mean like that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day?  

Imagine that  – cosmic rays have a role in cloud formation and the sun is extraordinarily active in how many cosmic rays are able reach the atmosphere and carry out that function.  And  the effect?

The CLOUD experiment builds on earlier experiments by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark, who demonstrated that cosmic rays provide a seed for clouds. Tiny changes in the earth’s cloud cover could account for variations in temperature of several degrees. The amount of Ultra Fine Condensation Nuclei (UFCN) material depends on the quantity of the background drizzle of rays, which varies depending on the strength of the sun’s magnetic field and the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Emphasis mine.   Back to that big yellow thing – what role does it have?:

Since clouds often cover 30 percent of the earth’s surface, a moderate change in cloud cover clearly could explain the warming/cooling cycle.

Svensmark noted the gigantic “solar wind” that expands when the sun is active—and thus blocks many of the cosmic rays that would otherwise hit the earth’s atmosphere. When the sun weakens, the solar wind shrinks. Recently, the U.S. Solar Observatory reported a very long period of “quiet sun” and predicted 30 years of cooling.

Got it?  We’re in a solar minimum and the temp hasn’t risen in the 10 years since it has begun.  Go figure.

So where does this leave us given the CERN gag order?  What can you infer from that?  Nigel Calder does a good job of rounding them up:

Four quick inferences:

1) The results must be favourable for Svensmark or there would be no such anxiety about them.

2) CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation.

3) The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results.

4) The resulting publication may be rather boring.

Indeed … boring only in the sense of reading dense scientific material.  Not boring in its impact.

The CERN experiment is supposed to be the big test of the Svensmark theory. It’s a tipoff, then, that CERN’s boss, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, has just told the German magazine Die Welt that he has forbidden his researchers to “interpret” the forthcoming test results. In other words, the CERN report will be a stark “just the facts” listing of the findings. Those findings must support Svensmark, or Heuer would never have issued such a stifling order on a major experiment.

Can’t wait to watch this one unfold.  But the gag order is very suspicious and certainly infers that the results don’t support the warmist theory … or should I say “assertion” now?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Don’t bother buying this book

Marvin Kalb and his daughter Deborah have written a book called “The Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama”.

I can give you one very good reason not to even bother buying or reading the book.  It comes from an email interview Kalb did with TIME’s Battleland:

Why did you write Haunting Legacy?

The Vietnam War was the only war the U.S. ever lost, and it left a deep scar on the American psyche. From then on, American presidents, whenever faced with the need to send troops to war, worried about getting trapped in another Vietnam, meaning another war without a clear mission, without an exit strategy, without Congressional support. Deborah and I wanted to explore this crucial dimension of recent American history. That’s the reason we wrote the book.

Bullsquat.  “Losing” a war usually means you were there to fight it and got beaten.  That’s not the case with Vietnam, although it is a very persistent myth.  If we lost anything it was the political war (and will), certainly not the war on the battlefield.

So someone who would make a statement like the first in that paragraph has zip for credibility with me.   Our last combat troops left South Vietnam in August of 1972.  Saigon fell in April of 1975.  Who is the “we” that lost the war?   I think we all know who that is and Kalb was right there with the bunch of ‘em painting a picture that wasn’t accurate and is still doing it.

Screw ‘em.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Another "green jobs" success story

And yes, I’m being snarky. The only folks that got anything green was the company that folded. The taxpayers, of course and as usual, got the shaft:

A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

The “money trail”:

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

So here we have government taking taxpayer money and picking "winners". Wonder how many police and fireman all that money would have paid? Wonder who the Salinas government is going to claim it has to lay off first when budget crunch time hits? Because we all know state and local governments in California are doing fine financially, don’t we?

Yet this sort of fiscal nonsense is rampant in government today.  They seem to think it is their job, at all levels, to intrude in areas they have no business intruding and pick winners according to an agenda with little understanding, apparently, as to what it actually takes to succeed in doing so.  You know, like there has to be a market, the firm has to be adequately financed (for more than a couple of months) and it has to have a long-term and viable business plan that actually passes a sanity check. 

Instead it seems, at least based on this story, that “just words” got the Salinas government in a real “hope and change” attitude:

Last year, Salinas city officials said they were excited about Green Vehicles moving from San Jose to Salinas because they wanted to turn Salinas into a hub for alternative energy production.

City leaders wooed Green Vehicles to jump-start the sputtering local company and turn Salinas into an "electric valley." Donohue and Weir both voiced their high hopes for Green Vehicles.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay $700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Ryan had lofty goals, listing his company’s mission as: "To make the best clean commuter vehicles in the world; To manufacture with a radical sense of responsibility; To engage in deep transparency as an inspiration for new ways of doing business."

Green Vehicles designed two vehicles, the TRIAC 2.0 and the MOOSE, which it planned to manufacture.

On July 12, Ryan wrote a blog post announcing that his company was closing.

"The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment," Ryan wrote.

So they invited a company that was obviously already underfunded with promises of money and a great mission statement? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Uh, so as Economic Development Director for the city, Mr. Weir didn’t know that before they made the big offer and threw all the taxpayer money at the company?  No indication of it when the company was in San Jose?

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Oh, well yeah, that’s the important part to be “irked” about – not the half mil of taxpayer money they threw down a rat-hole in an iffy company that officials obviously didn’t check out.

This is why governments should be held to doing only those functions they’re best suited to do.  If I were a Salinas resident, I’d be petitioning for recall elections for the idiots who threw taxpayer money away in a time of fiscal difficulty.  When the mayor tells the people of that city that he’s going to have to lay off cops and fire fighters first, my reaction would be, “oh, no – we think the mayor and the Econ Dev Director should be laid off first since they just cost taxpayers a half mil in a stupidity tax”.

Yes, I know, radical idea – accountability.

Oh … and by the way, who names a car the “Moose”?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Taxation: why all taxes should have sunset provisions

Or, as I’d bet is very common and taxpayers just don’t know it, you’ll have what has happened in Alabama:

The last of the more than 60,000 Confederate veterans who came home to Alabama after the Civil War died generations ago, yet residents are still paying a tax that supported the neediest among them.

Despite fire-and-brimstone opposition to taxes among many in a state that still has "Heart of Dixie" on its license plates, officials never stopped collecting a property tax that once funded the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home, which closed 72 years ago. The tax now pays for Confederate Memorial Park, which sits on the same 102-acre tract where elderly veterans used to stroll.

The tax once brought in millions for Confederate pensions, but lawmakers sliced up the levy and sent money elsewhere as the men and their wives died. No one has seriously challenged the continued use of the money for a memorial to the "Lost Cause," in part because few realize it exists; one long-serving black legislator who thought the tax had been done away with said he wants to eliminate state funding for the park.

These days, 150 years after the Civil War started, officials say the old tax typically brings in more than $400,000 annually for the park, where Confederate flags flapped on a recent steamy afternoon. That’s not much compared to Alabama’s total operating budget of $1.8 billion, but it’s sufficient to give the park plenty of money to operate and even enough for investments, all at a time when other historic sites are struggling just to keep the grass cut for lack of state funding.

"It’s a beautifully maintained park. It’s one of the best because of the funding source," said Clara Nobles of the Alabama Historical Commission, which oversees Confederate Memorial Park.

Well yeah, it gets almost a half a million a year in tax money that should have ended early in the 20th century.   Of course it is “beautifully maintained” and has sufficient money left over for “investments”.  That’s in lieu of taxpayers investing their money for their priorities.

And I’d be willing to bet this isn’t atypical for many taxes on the books today.  They are started for one thing and as that purpose winds down or ends, the money is still collected and used for other things.   Essentially, when government gets its hooks into your purse for a certain amount, they’re loathe to give that up.  So:

The Constitution allowed a state property tax of up to 6.5 mills, which now amounts to $39 annually on a home worth $100,000. Of that tax, 3 mills went to schools; 2.5 mills went to the operating budget; and 1 mill went to pensions for Confederate veterans and widows.

The state used the pension tax to fund the veterans home once it assumed control of the operation in 1903. The last Confederate veteran living at the home died in 1934, and its hospital was converted into apartments for widows. It closed in 1939, and the five women who lived there were moved to Montgomery.

Legislators whittled away at the Confederate tax through the decades, and millions of dollars that once went to the home and pensions now go to fund veteran services, the state welfare agency and other needs. But the park still gets 1 percent of one mill, and its budget for this year came to $542,469, which includes money carried over from previous years plus certificates of deposit.

“State welfare agency and other needs” says it all, doesn’t it?  Instead of recognizing the need for the tax had ended and ending the tax, the state and its legislators continued to collect it for “other needs”.

Tax experts say they know of no other state that still collects a tax so directly connected to the Civil War, although some federal excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol first were enacted during the war to help fund the Union.

"Broadly speaking, almost all taxes have their start in a war of some sort," said Joseph J. Thorndike, director of a tax history project at Tax Analysts, a nonprofit organization that studies taxation.

And consequently, there is no thought to sunsetting it at the time and certainly none after the politicians get used to having the revenue stream.

Revenue is power – every politician knows that.   The only reason this is coming to light and being exposed is because a black politician has become aware of it and the Confederacy is a politically unpopular issue.   Otherwise, the hogs at the trough wouldn’t be saying a word.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO