Monday, November 23, 2009

Climate science fraud and Creationism

Climate science now stands accused of being systematically and fraudulently subverted since the 1990's. The bank of secret smoking machine guns that they have used to globally eviscerate their opponents have begun to see the light of day, as a result of a hacker grabbing some 62 megabytes of their files from East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit in Norwich, England.

The climatologists that claim global warming is caused by rising carbon dioxide levels have infiltrated Western Governments, global political organizations like the United Nations, and educational institutions. Climate history has been fraudulently rewritten to fit the theories of the the Carbon Dioxide crowd. Al Gore has been persuaded to make a movie on this rubbish, and got a Nobel Prize for his efforts. Respectable publishers like Nature have been persuaded to publish articles on this rubbish.

So how did they get a major scientific magazine like Nature to publish this nonsense? Influential scientific publications like Nature have a peer review process, where each article is reviewed by other experts in the field to ensure the article has the support of other scientists before it is published.

Well, the author of the article that was submitted to Nature for publication recommended the reviewers, who were all part of the conspiracy. They gave the article the green light. Nature magazine published.

The infiltration of Governments was achieved the same way, by ensuring that the Government people only spoke to 'scientists' who were part of the conspiracy, who all spoke with one voice, dismissing the scientific dissenters as crackpots. Step-and-repeat, and there goes the United Nations.

Here are some of the more contentious quotes that talk openly of scientific fraud and perversion of the scientific peer review process by the climate conspiracy.

The paper published in Nature magazine dismissed all the known information on global warming and cooling, replacing it with some bunkum theory based on tree rings that simply is not supported by the actual observed history.

Recorded climate history is not just people running around with thermometers. It is people looking through telescopes at sun activity. Clues appear in poetry and prose written at the time, observations about the changes in the weather, and temperatures, that all support the historical flow.

Here is an excellent summary of the science, and the problems with the Nature publication. John Daly nicely summarizes the historical information gathered over hundreds of years and explodes the theories advanced by Dr. Michael Mann. It seems that Dr Mann doesn't know anything about biology either, because he doesn't understand how tree rings form.

John Daly published that article in January, 2005.

Respected historical climatologists like Dr. Tim Ball were baffled by the success of this conspiracy. With his vast knoweledge of the tiny factoids that build the history of climatology, the Carbon Dioxide theory just doesn't hold water.

The released emails show how they perpetrated this fraud. They ensured that the peer review process in every instance, in educational institutions, scientific publications, and Government planning, only included their co-conspirators, people who would give the green light to publish and promote this fraudulent science.

Here is Dr. Ball on YouTube. (Thanks for this link, Wayne. :) )

Dr. Tim Ball has a big reputation as a scientist. He has beliefs, not Beliefs. He accepts new data, but it has to square with the known science. And the Carbon crowd have theories that do not square with anything. He points out the awful truth. These emails are not just a smoking gun, they are a smoking battery of machine guns. To perpetrate this fraud required cooperation from major educational institutions and Government.

So why would Governments cooperate? Why would major universities cooperate?

Follow the money. Governments around the world will collect trillions of dollars in new carbon taxes. They will give billions to large universities around the world, if they are on the inside of this fraud. Organised crime has nothing fraudulent on this kind of scale.

But how can the scientific crowd be so easily subverted, and take Government with them for the ride?

The Carbon Dioxide Climatologists simply followed the scientifically fraudulent Creationist model of scientific and Government subversion, another great American invention.

Creationist conspiracies have successfully infiltrated every level of American scientific and political organizations. Profound Fundamentalist beliefs in Creationism have been used to create pseudo-science in ever more creative ways, morphing into the more easily sold concept of Intelligent Design.

So the climatologists have followed the Creationist model. Their infiltrators have subverted the peer review process in the most important scientific magazines in the world, rewriting scientific climate history in the same way Fundamentalists have rewritten American history, and their tentacles have reached into respected educational institutions in every Western country.

The 62 megabytes of emails and files that were retrieved from an English university chronicle the global conspiracy. Dr. Michael Mann is right in the middle of some of the most contentious emails that suggest scientific fraud.

Look at the Creationist model, that morphed into the equally scientifically fraudulent Theory of Intelligent Design. The same old players, the same old song.

So what will really happen now?

Expect more of the same repackaging from these fraudulent Carbon Climatologists and their co-conspirators.

What can we do?

First, put Kyoto on hold. Stop the trillion dollar tax grab.

Second, stop Believing. Start investigating.

Finally give the George W. Bush White House the credit for doing something right, rejecting the Kyoto protocol, which is based on this bullshit science.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Climate fraud, email, and the real danger.

An old friend of mine, Tom, has been telling me for some time that the carbon dioxide theories of global warming don't hold water. Looks like he may be right.

Meanwhile, see all those links to the right of this article by organizations cashing in on the carbon dioxide theories? Click on them all, and waste their money. As you read on, you will understand .....

It seems that climate science is no longer about Science ... it is about Belief and cronyism.

A 'belief' is an axiom a scientist currently holds to be most likely true, until new information refines or invalidates the axiom. A 'Belief' is something a person holds to be true even in the face of overwhelming proof that it is outright wrong, and that the person is prepared to ignore or fraudulently alter data to support their Belief.

On with the story.

An email server at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England was hacked, and some 61 megabytes of emails were copied, then posted on a Russian server. These emails were communications between 'scientists' who Believe in Global warming, affirmative believers in the concept that the broader picture that humanity generally is causing global warming, and specifically, the mechanism is rising carbon dioxide levels.

Problem is, the studies don't support the theories they are coming out with very well at all. The past ten years, the earth has actually been cooling, which cannot be explained the Global Warming theories.

In their zealous pursuit of their Beliefs, these 'scientists' have been communicating about their inconclusive results with other scientists who have also been getting nothing, to see if there is a way they can put two 'nothings' together and come up with 'something'. They actually suggest 'papering over' the inconclusive data to come up with something that might support their Beliefs.

It is a story of unethical collusion to launder information, and angry, often violent rantings against the opposition thinkers. Read the news story here.

Immediately, the Greenhouse Gas Believers were in an uproar, claiming the emails were stolen, then claiming that they were probably fakes.

Problem is, Steve Macintyre, one of the emailers whose emails have been posted, has verified that every email they posted of his was authentic and unchanged.

For you poor benighted Americans living in the US Police State ( Behave, rhg) where only the Federal Government Carnivore program is allowed to 'collect' everybody's emails, here is an Australian take on the story, and links to the actual files themselves.

Now why is everybody so surprised? Scientific fraud in America has an illustrious history. (I think they inherited it from the British. I can go back to dear old Isaac Newton for the roots on this one! But I digress ....)

American scientific research is about funding. 'Scientists' get on a bandwagon that has some momentum pick up a lot of funding. There is a long history of scientific fraud that repeats this story again and again.

How does it happen? Easy answer: follow the money.

The climatologists who demonize carbon dioxide have given Governments around the world a new, trillion dollar tax potential, taxation on companies' carbon production. Power plants, steel manufacturing, and any industrial process that produces carbon would have to charge more for their products and give the money to Government , effectively raising the tax burden on the entire world by several hundred dollars a year per person.

Time to look at some history.

In just about every area of science, there are axioms that turn out to be dead wrong. The plough that turns this soil over is continuing research, new repeatable experiments or data, that can be replicated by scientists anywhere to show that the accepted axioms are incorrect.

Science is far more driven by Belief than most scientists will accept, They are an emotional, vain bunch, very needy of recognition, and when somebody challenges their Beliefs, particularly if it is in an area where they are a World Authority, they get very snotty indeed.

To look at this kind of fractious evolution of ideas from conceptual birth to acceptance by the scientific community, let's look at continental drift and Plate Tectonics, its trendy new name, now that it is a science.

"Abraham Ortelius (1597), Francis Bacon (1625), Benjamin Franklin, Antonio Snider-Pellegrini (1858), and others had noted earlier that the shapes of continents on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean (most notably, Africa and South America) seem to fit together. W. J. Kious described Ortelius' thoughts in this way:

Abraham Ortelius in his work Thesaurus Geographicus ... suggested that the Americas were "torn away from Europe and Africa ... by earthquakes and floods" and went on to say: "The vestiges of the rupture reveal themselves, if someone brings forward a map of the world and considers carefully the coasts of the three [continents]."

The modern scientific movement began with Alfred Wegener , who wrote paper in 1915 proposing that the continents were slowly drifting around the world. Despite Wegener's eminence in meteorology (his lectures, "The thermodynamics of the atmosphere" had become a standard textbook), the scientific world reacted spitefully and emotionally to his publication.

Now this is actually a standard response for the scientific world when confronted with a new theory that will dim the spotlights on the pre-eminent stars of the time. How could they have missed something so glaringly important in their field of global scientific eminence?

In Wegener's case, his 1915 paper included a large amount of circumstantial evidence. The response of the mainstream American scientific world was not a studious investigation of the facts, but a long-term condemnation of the ideas by professional scientific organizations on a Belief basis. In 1925, the America Association of Petroleum Geologists roundly condemned the theory without any investigation whatsoever! In 1943, the American paleontologist, George Gaylord Simpson, used his enormous influence against Wegener's proposales in a vitriolic attack that stopped further investigation in America dead in its tracks.

It was not until the 1950's that research began to throw up convincing data for Wegener's theories, and it should come as no surprise that this research came from outside the US.

This is an illustration of the history of US science that is repeated again and again.

In the US, most traditional science is based on very emotional Beliefs, which are never questioned until there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This overwhelming evidence often comes from outside the US, or from research that has nothing to do with the field where it is overturning the old thinking. And the slow-down to new thinking very often comes from within the United States.

Far from being the intrepid and independent explorers they profess to be, 20th century American science has a history of being riddled with cronyism and intellectual dishonesty. Almost any area of science you may choose, you will find intellectual dishonesty and reprehensible behavior, driven by Belief, self-interest, and vanity.

Now, this same behavior has been exposed amongst climate-change scientists, as a result of an email server being hacked.

Why is this so important?

America throws money based on Belief. Look at televangelists, who receive hundreds of millions of dollars a year in gifts, simply because they put on a good dog-and-pony show on television, asking for money!

These snake-oil salesman have paved the way for science posing as a movement for the social good. If they can appeal to Believers who will throw money, then that money will be spent trying to prove what their Believers who are throwing money want to hear, even if it means bending the truth.

This fits right in with the scientific principles of almost 50% of Americans, who actually believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Hey, these people can also find 'scientists' in America who will tell them this, and, by the way, these 'scientists' will also take their money.

And this idea of an ancient earth, where the continents drifted apart over hundreds of millions of years, is unfortunately more proof that the earth is more than ten thousand years old. So the money to support a denialist movement comes from the Creationists, who want to stymie any theories that might provide compelling evidence otherwise.

It comes down to 'follow the money'.

So where is the future path?

The United States was blessed in the 20th century. The Second World War thoroughly destroyed Europe's manufacturing capacity, leaving American manufacturing capacity undamaged, and vastly strengthened by the huge increase in wartime industrial production. This set the stage for unprecedented growth, bot internally, and in exports. Along the way, the US dollar became the world's reserve currency, with the added bonus of allowing the US, as the world's banker, to print $600 billion a year in 2007 dollars to provide to other countries for their growing international trade.

Inefficiencies that were introduced into the US scientific process did not matter, in this environment. The US had almost unlimited resources to spend on its endeavors, and Government spending on basic research created entire new industries. For example, the computer chip was a byproduct of the space race. And many of the people who created these technical miracles were imported from other countries, the best of the best from around the world.

Now, we have reached the pinnacle of this trajectory. China, India, and other countries that many Americans still regard as Third World, are chafing at US heels. They have modernized, created a new industrial and educational base, and streamlined their systems to get knowledge into the marketplace in a very efficient manner. Their best and brightest are now rewarded for staying home, and building their own national industrial base.

Their further advantage is they are not hobbled by Fundamentalist Belief. I am sure that scientific fraud is global, based on human vanity, greed, and need for recognition. But I think Belief slows the movement forward of science perceptibly. Dragging this albatross around becomes the American liability in a more competitive world.

However, acceptance of scientific fraud is an inbuilt part of the American scientific scene. It has even reared its head in areas as important as AIDS research, where people who have raised valid questions, which, if answered, might have really moved the field forward, have been hysterically shouted down by Establishment figures, whose reputations hinge on continuing acceptance of the current theories, even if they are wrong.

So let me finish by revisiting the global warming scenario.

Global warming theories are based on a pyramid of theory that does not square with the facts. The theory is that rising carbon dioxide levels will cause the earth to warm up, and as a result the North and South Pole will melt. The problems are, the habitat of many species will be destroyed, which will lead to their extinction, and there will be enormous flooding of coastal areas which are densely populated.

Problem is, this does not square with reality. There is no doubt that the earth is actually cooling, and has been cooling for at least a decade while carbon dioxide level have been rising. But the peculiarity here is that ice has been melting around the world, in Greenland and the Arctic, and even the Antarctic. If the world is cooling, the ice sheets should not be melting, they should be growing larger!

The real problem is going to be rising sea levels as a result of melting ice.

Now what if the melting ice has nothing to do with carbon dioxide?

OK, how about an alternative theory.

Just suppose that maybe this ice melting is caused by microscopic particulate, industrial dust, the result of huge industrialization in China and India? Tiny particles of dust that get into the jet stream, and get carried around the world, and eventually deposit as a microscopically thin layer on everything around the world.

If this dust lands in New York City, it wouldn't even be noticed. But if it lands on ice, instead of that ice reflecting the light, it will absorb it, and the energy from the absorbed light would melt the ice. The increase in blue ocean, which absorbs a lot more light than ice, would accelerate the process.

Now I am not saying that this is the mechanism. I am just proposing it as a more credible alternative to the fictions that have grown up around carbon dioxide.

(Just in case you think I have created a fictitious scenario, have a look here.

These guys are doing really excellent work, but there are far too few of them for the problem in hand, and they have been shouted down by the carbon dioxide lobby already, who consider their research irrelevant.

But what if the CO2 lobby is wrong? What if we are focusing on carbon dioxide when it has absolutely nothing to do with melting ice? We are not fixing the problem. Worse, we are not looking for the real cause, so the disaster of rising sea levels becomes a certainty.

Let me tell you a story.

There is this guy standing on a street corner in San Francisco, waving a stick. A man, observing this behavior, steps up and asks what he is doing. "I'm scaring away the elephants", the stick-waver replied. The man sputters, "There aren't any elephants in San Francisco". The stick waver stops, and looks the man in the eye. "Effective, isn't it?", he says.

Now if this man had a cup and was collecting donations for scaring away the elephants, we have the Belief-driven climate control school who shout down any other scientific research.

There is one piece of information about the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming you may find useful. The global warming theorists who claim there is a past geological connection between high carbon dioxide levels and warm planetary temperatures have omitted one very important fact.

The geological data shows that high carbon dioxide levels have never caused an increase in global temperature, in the geological record.

The carbon dioxide levels rose some 800 years after the global warming took place.

So what if we fix carbon dioxide levels and the poles still melt?

As always, I welcome your comments.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

God, Science, and Intelligent Design

This blog is about rational belief, and irrational belief ("Belief"), and how it explains everything from economic success to theories of Intelligent Design.

Rational belief is based on mathematical theories that can be tested in the laboratory. In contrast, "Beliefs" are not tested against any real-world observations in a scientific setting.

I am going to start with a leading-edge scientific theory, String Theory.

String Theory research illustrates the nature of slow changes that have been happening in science for hundreds of years.

The entire basis of string theory is safe, because it is entirely theoretical. There is no way of currently testing any part of the theory experimentally. The mathematicians who are in this research area, and believe it offers insights to the fundamental nature of matter, are attracted by the elegance of the mathematical solutions, knowing that the ability to test the theory are years in the future.

Accordingly, despite the most elegant mathematics, string theory is not science, because science demands hypotheses, axioms, assertions, that can be tested in the real world by observation of experimentation.

If a theory cannot be tested by experimentation, then it attracts Believers.

Physics addresses the real world, in which experimentation and observations can be used to test the correctness of theory.

In the past, mathematics evolved to explain existing mysteries in the physical world. The order has slowly changed, to the point where mathematical theories today are substantially ahead of our ability to test the ideas.

I think this crossover process began with Sir Isaac Newton. When Newton published his Principia, he was creating new math to explain observations already made by astronomers, and drawing the logical conclusions from them regarding laws of motion. His theories also allowed scientists to make accurate predictions of previously unpredictable events in the physical world. As part of the larger picture, the mathematical tools he invented to assert his theories (calculus) would be used by future generations of scientists, including Albert Einstein, to be able to make mathematical assertions.

The evolution of the history of mathematics in explaining the physical world has been shifting from explanation of the existing physical world, to advancing predictive theories that will be affirmed by future experimentation.

In the world of science today, mathematical theory precedes the affirmation of the theory in the real world, in some cases by decades.

As we look back in history, we see the Greek mathematical theories in geometry could be instantly used to explain past observations. By the time we get to Newton, we still see an explanation of past events (Kepler’s detailed observations of planetary motion to support the Newtonian theory of gravity), but his new mathematical techniques and Laws of Motion would be essential for the development of the new technologies of a machine age. In the Einsteinian equations, we see far more assertions for the first time entirely preceding experimentation or observation. The observations and experiments that supported an Einsteinian Universe continued for at least the next 60 years.

Now we move forward to String Theory. The mathematics makes sense to very advanced mathematicians, but the assertions are not testable. There are no computers powerful enough to analyze the equations, and there will not be computers powerful enough to perform these calculations until sometime in the 2020's! When you consider that String Theory began its mathematical evolution back in the early 1970's, and none of it can be modeled or tested for at least 50 years after the first math was evolved, is a very profound change in scientific method and direction.

So this change shows how physics has changed from an experimental science, where math was developed to explain events that had already been observed, to this new world where math is developed that has to wait years for affirmation by experimentation by physicists.

In other words, the direction of physics is now being directed by the mathematical models that require testing, and in some cases, the initial testing cannot happen for 20 years. This is directing the major course of technological development. For example, String Theory is a powerful motivation for the development of wildly powerful computers, because the field cannot even begin to be properly explored without this capability.

The current mathematicians who are researching String Theory are driven by belief. They have absolutely no reason to believe based on observations in the physical world. Their beliefs are compelled by the completeness of the math, and the way it all holds together in a purely rational intellectual analysis.

Now compare this to tribal beliefs, which are passed down through generations as part of the social glue that binds tribal structures. In every society that we have historical records on, these have used beliefs in higher beings as the foundation for social interactions. The ethics dictated by these beliefs were taught to babies from the cradle onwards, indoctrinating them in the ways of the society in which they were raised.

These beliefs have no rational foundation. They are conditioned beliefs, which are not subject to the scientific method. For example, in the Middle Ages, when the Pope claimed to be infallible, and also stated that the earth was flat, and that the earth was the center of the universe, then in Christian societies these were unquestionable axioms.

Today, we look back and laugh at these assertions. The Roman Catholic Church, rather red-faced at their history, quietly acknowledges some of it errors.

Meanwhile, in the US, we have seen the rise of Fundamentalism, which does not acknowledge the role of scientific investigation. Common Beliefs, such as the earth is only 6,000 years old, cannot be shaken by the huge body of evidence that rejects that assertion, because those people who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old have no training in geology, geography, or any of the related sciences required to analyze the available scientific data rationally.

Rational belief is based on asserted theories, and real world observational affirmation. Irrational belief ("Belief") is based on untested tribal assertions, and is not open to questioning or change.

At last, I introduce Darwin. On his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin came up with a wild-assed theory to explain the things he observed along the way. His early evidence was detailed, but it was supported by a small data set, the results of his five years on the Beagle. Remember, it is a Theory, not a Law. What's the difference? A Law, like Newton's Laws of Motion, can be tested, and ALWAYS give the same result. A theory, like The Theory of Evolution, is a framework in which to understand the progress of life on earth, and like any theory, as more and more data is gathered, it describes the world we live in, and it's past, more and more accurately.

Since Darwin's first publication, his theory has been affirmed by huge amounts of data. There are anomalies, because it is a new science, and our knowledge of the ancient geological world is very incomplete. For example, at first glance, it may seem that we know a lot about the age of dinosaurs, over 50 million years ago. But the reality is, we are discovering new fossils, new species, new connections, every year! And these are HUGE critters that weighed tons. How about a birdlike fossil, discovered in Utah, in the US since 2000, which weighed over a ton? How could they have not found that earlier? (I chuckle at this discovery. God leaving clues in Mormon country? How ironic.)

OK, so why is there this huge US Fundamentalist denial of the Theory of Evolution?

The answer is pretty simple. If we accept the Theory of Evolution, it raises questions about Divine Intervention.

Fundamentalists go to Church and pray, because they believe that God answers their prayers. Their Universe is run by an interventionist God. Every act that happens in the Universe happens by the will of God. Not a single leaf falls that God does not dictate.

The problem with the Theory of Evolution is that it does not require an interventionist God. For Believers, this is also a problem with modern astrophysics. As the Hubble looks out into the stars, it is looking at light that began its journey as long as 14 billion years ago. As yet, astronomy has not found a single shred of proof of an interventionist God. Nothing peculiar has been observed that requires a Supreme Being who could move stars and galaxies around at will. Fundamentalist churches are very quiet on this point, and live in the nether world of possibility. Science has neither confirmed or denied the presence of an interventionist Supreme Being. So the Fundamentalists can continue to claim an interventionist God, because this tenet of their Belief is not directly contradicted by science. So while the presence of an interventionist God becomes increasingly unlikely, as more astronomical observations are made, it leaves a little wiggle room. Religious Beliefs tend to flourish in these areas of uncertainty.

This is why there is such a flurry of activity when scientific findings contradict Fundamentalist Beliefs, such as in the case of the Theory of Evolution. For those who choose to Believe in the biblical Creation story, which includes the Adam and Eve scenario, is denied by Darwinian ideas. Further, it also denies the need for an interventionist God.

What happens to the Fundamentalist Church if Believers question the power of prayer? It is likely the Church will collapse. It doesn't just threaten Christianity. Islamic ritual prayer (Salaat) has a very fixed format and is practiced 5 times a day. How do you think the concept that there is nobody listening would fly amongst Fundamentalist Muslims?

So as science corrals the Believers more and more tightly, they become frenzied fish as their pond shrinks. Beliefs flourish in areas of uncertainty, and the smaller the pond becomes, the more hysterical the attempts at denial.

Intelligent Design is the most recent assault on Darwinism. The reason Fundamentalists cling to Intelligent Design is because it implies that God has played, and continues to play, a day-to-day role in the continuing evolution of the Universe and all the creatures within it. This implies that, if God is actually around on a day to day basis, there is the wiggle room that he is actually listening to their prayers!

Again, we are looking at wiggle room. If the laws of physics were all pre-determined from the moment of the Big Bang, and they are simply taking place as time passes, then the result could be the same as having an interventionist God running the show!

But an interventionist God who determines the destiny of every leaf that falls is even more attractive, because if he is that all powerful, he could have created the geological history of the earth, and the cosmological history of the Universe, as a huge joke on mankind and its scientists! This conveniently explains away every scientific observation that conflicts with the Believer's Beliefs.

Here we have the kind of thinking that marks the Believer. The principle of Occam's Razor, "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily", implies that the simplest solution that explains the observations is most likely to be the truth. In Sherlock Holmes’ eyes, " ... when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth". Further affirmation of the observation that, as their pond shrinks, Fundamentalists become more frenzied in their denial.

This kind of hysterical denial is in line with medieval Christianity, where scientific investigation was heretical, and contradicting the Pope carried a death sentence. Hey, death penalties are a very effective way to channel Beliefs.

However, Belief-driven societies tend to lag behind societies that embrace science.

The European societies which dumped the Pope as their spiritual leader earliest (England, then Germany) became centers of scientific investigation, and the rest is history. While Papist societies floundered in poverty and Feudalism, societies that embraced the scientific method moved forward, creating wealth, and the Industrial Revolution, which raised the living standard of all citizens.

We may see a parallel in the modern world. If the Fundamentalists Muslim world countries did not have oil, they would remain amongst the poorest in the world. In America, where around 50% of the people express Fundamentalist beliefs, and a diminishing interest in science, we may be seeing a shift of technological expertise to more atheistic countries. Unhobbled by their need to fit everything into a denialist world view to fit their Fundamentalist needs for an interventionist God, these other countries are becoming the fast learners, the economic growth centers.

Here is an article that has very interesting information about belief and atheism around the world.

For myself, I don't deny that there may be a Supreme Being. However, the huge amount of irrational baggage that comes along with religious organizations prevents me from ascribing to any particular sect.

So, for the time being, I define myself as an agnostic, simply someone who does not know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recovering disastrously part 1

Ho hum. And so the recession deepens, along with the plot.

Now we hear from TARP Special Investigator General Neil Barofsky that the cost of the financial bailout could reach $23,700,000,000,000 (twenty three thousand, seven hundred billion, or twenty three point seven trillion dollars). I remember the day when a billion was a rather large sum, but it seems the Government can now print 23,700 of them without turning a hair, and still speak optimistically of "little green shoots".

Yes, George W. Bush has left us a legacy that really does move into uncharted territory.

I see in the news today that the stock market is doing well. Caterpillar are being praised for their performance, because they are doing better than they predicted. Funny thing, nobody seems to have noticed that their profit is down 66% on last year. It seems that a lot of these "little green shoots" are somehow related to companies making awful estimates, then marginally beating them. While their performace is abysmal compared to last year, for some reason the fact that they can beat ridiculously low forecasts is regarded with great optimism.

So the secret to successful management seems to be, make really dismal predictions, then marginally beat them. You will still be hailed as a hero of the depression.

Your Government in action .....

Meanwhile, my friend Tom sent me this gem of a website.

Just to make sure that you understand clearly, with no illusions, that oversight and investigations are truly dead, this video explains that concept from the Oversight People themselves. Not only do they not do oversight, but what was the question?

The lady under the gun is Elizabeth Coleman, Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Here is her bio. She has years and years of experience.

I like the bit best which says " The OIG achieves its legislative mandate through audits, evaluations, investigations, legislative reviews, and by keeping the Chairman of the Board and Congress fully informed."

Now for Tom's video. Here is Elizabeth answering questions to the elected officials who are responsible to the voters for ensuring the country is properly run.

So now you know what "fully informed" means to Congress. I hope the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Bernanke, is getting briefings as thorough as this. My, no wonder he is doing such a bang-up job.

I understand they have these same kind of informative briefings for Congress on torture, slavery, moonshining, and foreign wars. I hope they are all equally as informative.

I can't believe he said that!

Now for the gem. As a follow-up to the Matt Taibbi article about that vast, corrupt empire, Goldman Sachs, we now have a wonderful video from Max Keiser, commenting on Goldman Sachs. His opening remarks gently remind is that these people are scum, and then he elaborates. His bio is here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The US economy: Getting worse before it gets worse

Well, here we are, having spent a couple of thousand billion to help the financial sector get back on it's feet. Regardless, it still looks like the wheels are still slowly falling off the economy, and we are at last about to see the financial tsunami arrive for real.

Tens of thousands of pages have been written about all this, most of it wild conjecture, driven by hope and people wearing Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses. Not familiar with them? They were an invention of Douglas Adams, in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and were worn by Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy. At the first hint of danger, they would completely black out, so that the wearer would not be upset by the disaster that was about to befall him.

So take off your JJ200S-CPS sunglasses and listen up. Here is what is going to happen over the next two years, big picture. You can take this information and apply it to where you live, because there will be a lot of variance across the US. Once you understand what is happening, I will give you ideas on where to look for the real figures on your locale.

First, we need to dispose of the "little green shoots" fiction. Why are America's Leaders are all chorusing "litle green shoots" and other positive lyrics? Well, US politicians are all incompetent at the business of managing the country. It is too vastly complex for them to understand, and having a dumbass like GWB in the White House for eight years has made everybody else look like geniuses by comparison, so the average American did not notice how dreadful most of their politicians were.

But one simple thing these chorusing dumbasses all now understand is that consumer spending is 70% of the economy, and if people get really scared, they will stop spending. So they have to keep people ignorant of the facts, and keep them spending money or the economy will immediately implode, (called 'deflation'), with huge increases in unemployment, and more importantly, huge reductions in the Federal, State, County and City tax incomes.

In January 2009, in the political game, the Democrats got possession of the ball for the first time in years, and are doing everything they can to maintain consumer confidence, pumping money into the economy to try to keep it on life support. The Republicans, who lost the ball in the worst eight year play in American history on every front, are trying to torpedo the entire system under their new leader, Rush Limbaugh, who has announced to the world that his most fervent wish is to see America go down. Well, you can't say the Republicans haven't given it their best shot over the past 8 years! The aftermath of their destruction may yet ensure they get Rush's most fervent wish.

OK, so let's get down to business.

It is now late June, 2009. The economic indicators have been bouncing along the bottom of the chart for several months, and are not showing any real signs of life. Meanwhile, the various mechanisms that have slowed down the rate of decline have come to an end, and the real damage is about to kick in. Read on.

The Finance sector

The Government "rescue" programs have got the banking sector profitable again, by lending money to the banks at 1.5% , while the banks lend it out at 5.5%. The difference between what banks pay for money, and what they can lend it at, is called "spread". Historically, this has been 2%. Now, at 4% this spread is making the banks more than twice as profitable as they have ever been on their lending. So they are all going to report amazing profitability on their current loan activity, and by the end of year, these results should be rather spectacular. To the order of $200 billion or more. The funneling of this huge margin to the banks is yet another form of subsidy by taxpayers to the banks, because the discounted interest rates mean income the Government doesn't get, and has to make up in increased taxation. Not a problem. Just add it to the money the Government is currently printing.

But there is an 800 pound gorilla in the living room that is now demanding attention. Have a look at this graph.

Courtesy: T2 Partners LLC, published

These are estimates by various organizations of the bank losses that are yet to come. There are January 2009 estimates from Goldman Sachs ($2,083 billion) and Nouriel Roubini ($3,552 billion), then a March 2009 estimate from T2 Partners ($3,778 billion), and an April estimate from the International Monetary Fund ($2,632 billion). I am inclined to plan for the worst of these estimates, because Goldman Sachs are part of the problem, and the IMF is politically driven to lowball their estimates.

Now look at the write-downs to date, of some $1,288 billion, and new capital raised of $1,103 billion. This means the banks are currently in a $185 billion dollar hole, the difference between the money they have raised and the costs to date. The assets of the entire banking sector are around $1,400 billion.

Now the IMF prediction of a further $2,632 billion of bad debts yet to hit the banks should put this all in perspective. There is no way that the banks can earn their way out of this hole, and it is impossible for them to raise that much new capital from investors. The banks are simply not worth that much! It would make more sense for investors to take over the assets of the banks and let the rest fail in the largest corporate default in world history.

And I am more inclined to believe Nouriel Roubini's and T2 Partner's range estimates of $3,500 billion. But what's $1,000 billion between friends? This makes the $700 billion TARP fund look like petty cash!

So what will be the consequences of all this?

First, we will see the financial markets dry up again, which is likely to bring about a further drop in real estate prices. This will further aggravate the banks' losses, because their foreclosure sales will net them much less than the current forecasts.

Here is a current analysis by T2 Partners LLC, published June 2nd, 2009.

It is an excellent summary of the current state of affairs, with a detailed analysis of the Sacramento market starting around page 57, with a newspaper article from early May, 2009, about "little green shoots" in the 'improving' Sacramento market.

Alas, as the report goes on to show, those "little green shoots" were a mirage. On page 63, the predictions are dire. Currently, the market is at a false bottom, and an implosion of higher priced houses is about to happen, with a resumption of the downward price spiral. This spells D-O-O-M for the banks that hold these mortgages.

The awful truth may follow the model that has emerged in the Inland Empire in Southern California. In this article, prices are as low as 50% of the prices in 1989!,0,4802553.story

Maybe these kinds of price drops are going to make the Inland Empire a more attractive place to establish a business. But I doubt it. One of the huge overheads for any California company has been the large premiums employers have had to pay their staff for their cost of living, which was driven by real estate prices. But what kind of businesses could be established there?

It seems that the rest of California is going to follow this lead. In the higher priced areas (San Francisco, Danville, Venice Beach, etc) there will be a gradual implosion of prices of higher priced properties, driven by rising unemployment, which will be further aggravated by people walking away from their homes as the prices plummet well below the mortgage value.

For people with a good income, and the ability to limit their liability on their mortgage, this will present an attractive alternative. The stigma of simply walking away from a large mortgage is going to become more and more socially acceptable as more people do it, which will accelerate the problem.

In summary, the real estate market is about to resume it's downward plunge as we near the end of the high-transaction months of Spring and early Summer, with a lot more foreclosures hitting the market.

The Employment Market

Corporate income is going to continue to fall. As demand inexorably slows, competition will increase, which will squeeze profits. This will in turn push companies into doing more with less, which will result in continuing employment terminations to improve business survival.

Over the past 25 years, manufacturing has inexorably moved off-shore, and the main business of American business is product development and distribution, with the emphasis on getting the product made cheaper, which increases distribution profits. As a result, we have seen an explosion in retail business, with lots more commercial real estate development.

The distribution business is going to take a major hit. This will impact employment, but it will also contribute to further falls in the prices of commercial property, and accelerate loan defaults.

Every Government sector (Federal, State, County, City) has grown their payrolls enormously in the past 20 years, as they soaked up the extra tax windfalls that have landed in their hands, and put it to doubtful use. This is not only going to end, but a lot of the people employed in Government jobs will be terminated as their departments contract, are terminated, or are merged with other departments. The Government can't print money forever.

The work ethic in most Government departments is deplorable, according to contractors who work both industrial and Government sectors. One such example I am familiar with from the inside are the contractors that install high-tech energy-efficient commercial air conditioning systems. They comment on the difference between Government offices and industry. "Walk into a California high tech business, like Google or Electronic Arts, and people are busy, busy, busy. Walk into a Government building, and the staff are all standing around talking about their weekends, their kids, their neighbors, their boats. After a few hours, they are still all standing around chatting."

The problem for Government is there is great secrecy surrounding their administrative activities. Government departmental performance is unaudited, and they spend their appropriations without accountability to independent auditors. This would be regarded as reprehensible in a real business, but is par for the course for Government at every level in the US. In the past, most taxpayers didn't care. Until they do, and until we have some transparency, and performance expectations, nothing will change. Or maybe they will just run right out of money!

Which is about to happen to the State of California, unless the Feds decide they are going to give them a $34 billion dollar loan. OK, currently the State of California is predicting a $24 billion dollar shortfall. I think this will become $34 billion, as a result of plummetting tax revenues. And the Feds have sent a message from Mr. Geithner that they won't be getting any moneyuntil they clean up their wasteful ways.

In the past, the California State Government has blackmailed the people by threatening to pull social services and cut back on education. This time, this will not work, because the savings they can achieve will be around $2 billion, and the useless juggernaut that needs reforming is the State Government machinery, with mass firings.

So we will see what happens as July 31st, 2009 looms.

The New Enterprise Market

This ties in directly to future investment and employment opportunities.

Why is California so important? Because it has become the birthplace of American ingenuity. It has been attracting the best and the brightest of the new idea innovators for 40 years, and in the process, has built the wealth of the United States, with California becoming the eighth largest economy in the world in it's own right!

California is hated by the Republicans. For the most part, California is solidly Democrat. Our last President loathed California, and wanted to see the rest of the country take over the innovative lead of California.

Unfortunately, this approach has severely disabled the goose that was laying all those golden eggs. Combine the Federal neglect with Californian State taxes, and you have a combination that incents business to leave the State, and makes new business development incredibly expensive. In the process of this business departing, much of it also left the country!

How? By doing the research and development in the US, and moving the resulting product manufacturing offshore.

Since the 1980's, American manufacturers have been moving more and more sophisticated manufacturing off-shore. The biggest savings could be made by firing the most expensive employees, so the best paid jobs that were easiest to relocate went first. Since 2000, this has accelerated, and the companies that no longer manufacture their prodiucts are no longer capable of manufacturing their products. Manufacturing technology has moved on, and product manufacturing is not coming back to the United States. The expertise and technology is now all in Asia, along with a business mentality that actually wants to do the job!

In the past, new technologies have been a soak for unemployed employees displaced from other businesses. Over the past few years, US business has been increasingly about financial shennanigans, not about the business of creating business.

Here is a story from June 2008 that illustrates the problem. Boston-Power wanted to manufacture their batteries in the US, but were quoted huge up-front costs. In China, hundreds of companies lined up for the opportunity at lower costs and no up-front.

Since that article was written, both raw materials and the cost of shipping has fallen by two-thirds, and investment in new manufacturing plants in the US is almost non-existent.

This makes Asian manufacturing even more competitive, and further disincents investment in American manufacturing.

The future for industrial America

The auto industry has imploded. Rescued by Government, GM and Chrysler atre going to take a back seat to Asian manufacturers. The Chinese are getting into new battery technology for vehicles, and will likely pass up the rest of the world in the near future, if they haven't already.

Boeing is still competitive in the aircraft industry. However, with further delays to the Dreamliner, severe competition from Airbus, and both the Japanese and the Chinese vowing to get into passenger aircraft, the field will get more crowded in the near future. China is already pushing the envelope with a new twin-engine jet trainer, which is likely to morph into defense sales.

In computer technology, US companies own the architecture, but increasingly, Asian companies are doing the fabrication of the chips. It is only a matter of time before we see leading-edge chip design coming out of Asia to compete with Intel and other major US manufacturers, allied with open source (Linux) operating systems.

I would appreciate comments to this article to stick to investigated information. I don't want to hear what you believe. I want to hear about your investigations, and the things you have learned that will flesh out this article. This is only a first shot: I know there is a lot of ground I have not covered. Shoot me questions, and I will try to answer them.

But this isn't about what I Believe. It is about things I have Investigated.

As I promised earlier, I would give you suggestions to find out how bad things might be where you live.

Use Google. Search for the City in which you live, and the County, and link the word 'budget', 'deficit', 'unemployment', 'property prices', and anything else you can think of to your City name, then your County name. If you are a real enthusiast, you can do it for your State as well, but the higher you go, typically the less you can find out, because there is a veil of secrecy over Government reporting as you climb higher.

Then summarize it into a comment. Or ask questions.

We all need to investigate better. If we had all had out eyes open, maybe all this bad stuff would not have happened.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unfair and Unbalanced. Clever as a Fox

A very smart friend of mine sent me this link for my commentary.

This video is from Fox’s Fox & Friends, broadcast May 19, 2009.

I watched this "news clip", and saw everything I dislike about American "news channels". 

Essentially, it was a Fox Attack Interviewer, trying to work over an interview victim and losing rather badly, watched amusedly by two other Fox staff who made no contribution beyond their vacant smiles. The reason he was losing was because he was attacking Jesse Ventura, the outspoken ex-SEAL and patriot, who wants to drag the entire Bush team into the courts for what  he sees as their their illegal conduct. (Sounds reasonable to me. Why would the President fear American justice?)

Brian the Fox Republican Interviewer playing the role of a shrill shill for the Bush Administration, was trying to twist Ventura's words and deliberately misinterpret his position, and not doing it well. 

Watching this link really drove home how Fox News is not a news channel. The ruse of putting words in other people's mouths is not the job of a news anchor. Their job is to interview people, and ask them to elaborate on the aspects of their views that would be of interest to the viewing public.

Now this is very common American misbehavior. It is insulting bad manners to say polarizing things to a patriot, like "I suppose you support the terrorists", which involves great leaps of logic, and was never implied in the interviewee. But I hear this kind of logic every day from argumentative Americans I regard as friends, who do not recognize it as incredibly disrespectful, and contributing nothing to the dialog other than move it closer to fisticuffs.

It comes down to respect issues, which used to be described as "good manners".

I have come to the conclusion that one of the reason that Americans will lose their place in the world is because they have bypassed the issue of learning good manners, or respectful social conduct and respecting othger people's views.

It has long been a tradition to see Americans out on the international scene regarded as the ignorant children of a socially retarded and very isolated country, in which business success has been enormously expedited by selling weapons to both sides in foreign wars.

Fox now employ this format, this total lack of manners being exhibited for the entire country to watch, on national television networks. They do it because it makes money.

Now the fact that an Australian owns Fox network is revealing. He built a global network of newspapers and television holdings from his base in Sydney, Australia, by delivering in each country what the locals wanted.

Rupert Murdoch, and his company, News Limited, have grown into a multinational news and entertainment provider, under the acute eyes of their management team. Like any smart entertainment business, they know their audiences in many different markets around the world. They publish the best and the worst with enormous success. Newspapers that range from the hugely respected "Times of London" and the "Wall Street Journal", to absolute sex and sensation rubbish like "News of the World".

Since their invasion of American media in the 1980's,  this management team has been very successful in driving a profitable wedge into the heart of American media, in both print and television. Remember the invention of the Fox network? At the time they started, the common misconception was that there was no room in the US market for another network.

They started out with "Married with Children", and "The Simpsons", which was a revelation to Americans for reality cartooning. The incredible accuracy of this pick as being appealing to the American mass market is proven by the fact that, all these years later, "The Simpsons" is still a very popular show, and re-runs of "MWC" still attracts a popular following.

Their next step in Fox's progress was to get more regional affiliate television broadcasters and extend their advertising reach. They figured the answer was to have the rights to broadcast NFL football games. This had been a traditional preserve of CBS, and it was a tacit non-compete with the other channels that put this in CBS hands every year.

In the News Limited management meetings, in their strategy sessions to beat out CBS, the question was, "How much do we have to bid to jaw-drop CBS out of the bidding?"

They looked at the current CBS contract, in which CBS paid the NFL $300 million. When the Fox offer came in, it was a mind-boggling, paralyzing $1,500 million. There was no competition from CBS.

The rest is history. Fox got the football. As a result, they lined up large numbers of local affiliates, and created a new national entertainment network.

The business follow-up for News Ltd in the US market was to launch a news channel, Fox News.

This was an incredibly bold move, because CNN had a stranglehold on the US news business, which they had cemented during the first Gulf War in 1991. The belief in the entertainment business was that this market niche could not be wrestled away from CNN.

Again, the rest is history. Fox News blew its way into the business, at one point actually overtaking CNN, and now shares that market niche with CNN as an equal.

I don't think the people who watch Fox realize that the Fox channels are├┐all├┐entertainment, designed to attract viewers in order to sell advertising. They think Fox is committed to a particular ideology. Nope. It is simply money.

What are the take-away understandings from this little snapshot of history?

Well, first, we can see that Fox really knows what a large number of Americans enjoy watching. It picked an entertainment niche, in which it has launched the whole idea of adult cartoons, and commentary on American society that is only relevant because it satirizes social stereotypes that people actually recognize! Consider "Married with Children", with a sex-mad mother and daughter, and dysfunctional and stupid father and son. This is a very interesting example of what Americans' like to watch, and this formula has a long history of success which Fox is merely exaggerating a little. Dick van Dyke Show? Father Knows Best? 

Then we have Fox News. I can imagine the management meetings, in which Fox characterized Americans, theorized their target market, and the presentation that would appeal to them. The questions were, "What is the largest market they can find that is not being well serviced, and what can they supply them with in the way of entertainment?".

I doubt that any American company would have tapped into that huge vein of religious irrationality and bigotry as cold-bloodedly as Fox. AS a foreign enterprise, they could dissect the national character of Americans, and the proof of the pudding is how much money they are making. Fox have really mastered their market.

This Fox News video clip is a perfect example of the approach that News Limited uses to optimize their success in the United States in their market niche. It has confrontation, irrational Belief driven accusation, insults, bad manners, and lots of aggressive shouting. And all the while, Fox are absolutely on the money, and making money! They attract large numbers of American viewers who like this kind of presentation, bad manners and all.

I have said for some time that it has been a freak of geography that has allowed America to be successful. American business grew rich selling weapons to Europe through two world wars, and emerged unscathed from both of them. The industrial base provided the springboard for the greatest manufacturing environment the world has ever known.

But in this process, Americans never developed manners or respect. They know what they are when they see them. They yearn for them, at times. But they don't have them.

Fox have analyzed the American taste, and recognize this as part of the US national character of a sizeable market sector. They feed Americans a diet of both entertainment and news through their television channels that shows people who are scraping the bottom of every barrel for behavior that can only be described as really bad-mannered and disrespectful.

It is funny and offensive and appeals to enough Americans to create a major entertainment business.

So in summary, News Limited is sophisticated enough to run the most important business newspaper in the USA, the Wall Street Journal, with the largest foreign reporting contingent of any US business. But their marketing skills have no fear or favor. They can also dish up television programming that keeps them at the top of the charts, mastering their chosen markets. Fox is simply making money, delivering what Americans want.

It should worry Americans that they find ideologues who shout down alternative opinions, and try to put words in their opponent's mouths, as acceptable discourse.

As times get tougher, I predict that this kind of behavior will result in real damage to the fabric of American society, mainly because, if you don't know the truth, you cannot plan for reality.

You see, it comes back to unreasoning Belief. 

Many Americans are True Believers, who do not want to be confused by the facts. They want to continue to believe in what they believe in, so they don't even look at alternative explanations, or evidence that does not support what they believe.

As a result, evidence gets suppressed. Suppress torture photographs? Of course! Suppress alternative conspiracy theories to the "Official Conspiracy Theory" of 9/11? Of course! Hold closed-door hearings to "investigate" 9/11, and avoid interviewing hundreds of eye-witnesses whose evidence conflicts with the Official Conspiracy Theory? Of course!

We Believe. We want to see the evidence that supports our Beliefs! Simply pretend that what we Believe is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Like the property boom, and the economic "success" of 2003 through 2007. Many Believed it would go on for ever, and are still in denial of the recessional reality that is bearing down like a steam train.

The problem of Believing instead of Investigating means suppressing evidence so that the bus we are all traveling in can go straight off a cliff of ignorance.

Unfortunate end to the American Dream? We will find out when the Belief bus actually arrives at its unexpected, uninvestigated destination.

Examples like this Fox "interview" are part of ensuring every destination remains unknown and uninvestigated.

Stop believing. Start investigating.