Monday, December 28, 2009

Lord Monckton destroys global warming

Lord Monckton spoke in Minneapolis on October 14, 2009. Starting with this quote he demolishes the IPCC:
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not do simple. It wouldn't call a spade a spade. It would call it --
A one-person-operated, manually-controlled, foot-powered implement of simple and robust yet adequately efficacious ligno-metallic composition designated primarily though by no means exclusively for utilization on the part of hourly- paid operatives deployed in the agricultural, horticultural, or constructional trades or industries, as the case may be, for purposes of carrying out such excavational tasks or duties as may from time to time be designated by supervisory grades as being necessary, desirable, expedient, apposite, or germane with regard to the ongoing furtherance of the task or objective in hand or, on the other hand, underfoot, Secretary-General.

The rest is unforgettable. It is 90 minutes long. It's a commitment to watch, but it's worth every minute. It's a refutation by presenting fact, with a bit of humor. (A PDF is available here of a similar presentation he gave to the heartland institute).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's risky-sex czar

That's the title of this editorial from the Washington Times. Warning: the language in the editorial is explicit, and deals with sexual behavior.

It's a story that's largely going unnoticed in the press, possibly because it's hard to talk about without going into nasty detail. Here's one attempt:

The problem with Kevin Jennings is that he's actually supposed to be Obama's Safe Schools Czar. In truth, he's anything but. The only place this seems to be covered well is on the Gateway Pundit blog.

The Federal Government really does know how to weather a recession

USA Today reports that the Federal Government really does know how to weather a recession: sponge off the taxpayers.
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

Be sure to mention this to your representatives when they start discussing the desperate need for "revenue increases."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Google CEO: Privacy is for criminals

Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) said the following in an interview spotted on
I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines -- including Google -- do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.
I like and use Google products, but they continue to worry me. This attitude is the mantra of tyrants. Bruce Schneier (a computer security expert--arguably THE computer security expert) rebutted this back in 2006:
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to the concept of liberty.

A few years ago I worked for a boss who I could only describe as unstable. At one point he decided we all had to rotate our desks so our computer screens faced our office door so our screens could be observed from the doorway by the boss and his minions.

He couldn't understand why we objected. You're not doing anything wrong are you? Well no, but I do check my personal mail at work or maybe go to my banks website on occasion, etc. We all do some personal things at work. The result of that decision was a massive collapse of morale. Employees felt that the first priority of management was to watch everything they did rather than (say) get product out the door. It pegged my fight-or-flight reflex whenever someone would enter my office, etc.

And that was just at work. Imagine how you'd feel if a company that indexes your email, your blogs, your browsing habits, etc. felt that way.

Oh wait, Google owns gmail, blogspot, youtube, ...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting Out

Readers may be shocked that the title of this post doesn't refer to Afghanistan. Mark pointed out a fantastic blog post comparing Texas and California. Here are the key points:
...Both the Brookings Institution and Forbes Magazine studied America’s cities and rated them for how well they create new jobs. All of America’s top five job-creating cities were in Texas. It's more than purely economics and regulation can explain, though. Texas – and Houston in particular – has a broad mix of Hispanics, whites, Asians, and blacks with virtually no racial problems. Texas welcomes new people and exemplifies genuine tolerance. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Houston took in 100,000 people. Not surprisingly, Houston has more foreign consulates than any American city other than New York and Los Angeles...

But, how did this happen? What’s wrong with California, and what’s right with Texas? It really comes down to four fundamental differences in the value systems embodied in these states:

First, Texans on average believe in laissez-faire markets with an emphasis on individual responsibility. Since the '80s, California’s policy-makers have favored central planning solutions and a reliance on a government social safety net. This unrelenting commitment to big government has led to a huge tax burden and triggered a mass exodus of jobs. The Trends Editors examined the resulting migration in “Voting with Our Feet,” in the April 2008 issue of Trends.

Second, Californians have largely treated environmentalism as a “religious sacrament” rather than as one component among many in maximizing people's quality of life. As we explained in “The Road Ahead for Housing,” in the June 2009 issue of Trends, environmentally-based land-use restriction centered in California played a huge role in inflating the recent housing bubble. Similarly, an unwillingness to manage ecology proactively for man’s benefit has been behind the recent epidemic of wildfires.

Third, California has placed “ethnic diversity” above “assimilation,” while Texas has done the opposite. “Identity politics” has created psychological ghettos that have prevented many of California’s diverse ethnic groups and subcultures from integrating fully into the mainstream. Texas, on the other hand, has proactively encouraged all the state’s residents to join the mainstream.

Fourth, beyond taxes, diversity, and the environment, Texas has focused on streamlining the regulatory and litigation burden on its residents. Meanwhile, California’s government has attempted to use regulation and litigation to transfer wealth from its creators to various special-interest constituencies.

They go on to make six forecasts:

1. ...expect to see California’s loss of jobs to Nevada accelerate...
2. ...expect to see a backlash in California and across the country against regulations, especially green initiatives that can’t clearly demonstrate a positive ROI...
3. Watch for the smart money, including venture capital, to begin migrating to Texas for start-ups in many areas, including energy, info-tech, manufacturing, and biotech. Just as Delaware’s tax laws once encouraged numerous businesses to incorporate there, even when they had no connection to the state, Texas will become a magnet for new businesses by offering cheap land, a favorable regulatory environment, a business-friendly culture, and a large supply of skilled labor. Unless California revamps dramatically, expect to see its economy languish, even as the recovery takes off.
4. To make its business climate even more business-friendly, Texas will invest heavily in secondary education and work hard to attract the best talent to its research universities (note the recent Tier 1 proposition and funding). Keep an eye especially on the University of Texas, which already has a first-rate campus and faculty. Within 10 years, UT, as the locals call it, may well rival Stanford or Berkeley.
5. Other states will adopt tort reform measures pioneered in Texas. Unlike California and most other states, Texas has been aggressive in minimizing the enormous burden of frivolous lawsuits...
6. Look to Texas to become a cutting-edge cultural mecca. Houston has always offered a vibrant cultural scene, ever since the Alley theater company was founded there in 1947 by Nina Eloise Whittington Vance. In the 1950s, John and Dominique de Menil moved to Houston with one of the most significant private collections of art in the world and began donating art and money to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Both institutions have grown to world-class status since then. In the coming years, this trend will spread to the major cities of Texas, attracting the best talent and money and shifting the cultural balance of the nation away from New York and San Francisco.
This poster focused on the differences between Texas and California, but the original article seems to focus more on America's future path.

A brief look at California shows we're in trouble. From a CNN article on overall American migration:
For years, Americans have been fleeing the Golden State. The population kept growing only because of foreign immigration and births. All through the 2000s there has been a net loss in domestic migration, with 800,000 more Americans leaving than moving in during the three years ended in 2007. As it became more difficult to sell homes, that out-flow eased. That, combined with the newcomers, meant the population fell by only 144,000 in 2008.
That article goes on to try to tie California's domestic population loss to Florida's more recent population loss, blaming it on the housing market. Given that California has been losing domestic population since long before the housing market woes, it defies logic to make that claim.

California's high taxes and massive regulation (on businesses and individuals) are the causes people and businesses cite as their reason for leaving.

Applying that to America, if we follow the California model for governance, the nation will see our population flowing to Canada and Mexico, but we won't see greater prosperity. Eventually, as California's are doing, massive U.S. social programs would collapse under their own weight. For success we'd need to look to the Texas model.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Health care solutions like Lasik

Reason TV covers simple reform to health care: follow the models that worked, not the ones that have failed to bring down prices and improve care.

In Massachusetts, for instance, the price for health care has gone dramatically up, and the state Medicaid rejects vastly more claims than private insurers. Meanwhile, Lasik (which isn't covered by insurance) has plummeted in price and improved in quality since its introduction.

Watch the whole video. It's worth it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Death of a Scumbag: The Maurice Clemmons Story

We were all shocked when the news came out about four Seattle, Washington police officers shot and killed in an apparently targeted shooting.

Worse yet was the news this man shouldn't have been out on the street. You may recall during former governor Mike Huckabee's bid for the Republican nomination for the 2008 Presidential election, a lot of controversy came out that the man had pardoned hundreds of really awful criminals based on their supposed conversion to Christianity. It turns out Maurice Clemmons, the Seattle cop killer, was one of those men.

Please remember this if Huckabee ever runs for office again. He can't win. He won't be backed by law enforcement. The post linked above mentions:

The possibility that Huckabee will run for president in 2012 has moved from "less than likely" (see sidebar) to "not a chance in hell." Which, is the way I like it. He always was just a populist with a Bible. His shameful Mormon-baiting in Iowa ultimately gave us McCain last year.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know Huckabee is anti-Mormon. They won't vote for him, and they're a small voting block, but they're also a block that does vote. Huckabee has also made statements that indicate he doesn't think much of Catholics, either. That simply isn't going to work for national office.

This isn't all about the man who could have prevented the slaughter of four police officers by not pardoning a scumbag, though. Clemmons was free on bail while awaiting trial on multiple crimes. Why would any Washington court believe this guy deserved bail? His crimes included raping children, and that's one crime we all can agree deserves the harshest of our punishments and no bail until the matter is settled. Children, our future, are too precious a resource to risk in such a cavalier manner.

Fortunately, one of the slain officers had put a round into Clemmons, and evidently he succumbed to that wound. I'm happy this guy is off the streets and won't be raping or murdering any more innocent citizens, but I'm also deeply disappointed in Governor Huckabee for his reckless pardons and our court system for failing to keep an awful career criminal behind bars where he belonged. Those failings cost society far more than Maurice Clemmons ever should have been allowed to take.

Gold hits $1200/oz

How's your portfolio? Gold is trading above $1200 today.

Remember waaaaay back on January 8 it was $855. That means it's up 40% in the last year, or that the dollar has lost that much value in a single year. And we're not done yet.