Friday, October 31, 2014

Hmm Does the Double-Blind Test Need to be Used for Social Sciences? Maybe Climate Science Too?

This is an interesting article about the biases in the field of social sciences and how they might be influencing the field in general.

For studies and grants, though, even that may not be enough. What is needed in those cases is a blinding of the peer-review system—both in terms of applicants’ names and personal backgrounds and the hypotheses (or findings) of their research. If you want to research Democrats and Republicans, say—or any other ideologically loaded topics—call them Purples and Oranges for the duration of the paper. The methods and research structure will be evaluated without any ideological predispositions. Blind peer review in papers and grants would also solve a number of other bias problems, including against certain people, institutions, and long-held ideas. As for ideologically sensitive papers that have already been published, blind that data as well and reanalyze the premises and conclusions, pairing them with Tetlock’s turnabout tests. Is the opposite approach nonsensical? Chances are, then, that this one is, too.

This is what the biotech field does and it allows for totally unbiased testing for the most part. You have just the data and nothing else there to cloud the issue. Maybe this needs to be done for climate science as well. That way we don't have this supposed 97% consensus that people keep touting like it is gospel. Perhaps some of those 97% can say that it is happening but it won't be too bad after all. Or maybe they don't actually agree with the rest of them but are knuckling under so they won't be called heretics by their colleagues.

It would be nice to just see some dissenting theories be put forth without fear of repercussion. Some scientists even see benefits of warming but seem to be shouted down by the IPCC. When people are afraid to speak out because they will be dubbed a denialist there is a problem with the system. I always thought that questioning the status quo was heroic in science. But climate science (and social science in this article) seems like a monolith that keeps dissent out and only lets money and prestige go toward the catastrophic warming side and nowhere else.

Rate of Returns and Not Scare-Tactics is How High Global Warming Evanglistis Need to Sell Alternative Energy like Solar

This is exactly what environmentalists need to do to sell their ideas to the investment community.

In other words, Altus quickly morphed from using its own money for demos to selling investments in its building projects to commercially minded investors. And the principals developed a sales pitch that eschews talk of rising sea levels in favor of terms like IRR (internal rate of return) and cash flow. “The question any investor asks is how much cash flow they’ll receive,” Norell says. “We have delivered annual returns of 8 to 10 percent to our investors.” (The offering documents he showed me bore that claim out.) And in a world of exceedingly low interest rates—a 10-year U.S. government bond pays interest of only about 2 percent per year—that’s quite appealing.
 They don't have to appeal to scare-tactics that global warming will make the seas 100 feet higher by 2020 or other nonsense. This company Altus, is putting solar panels on roofs and cashing in tax credits and creating a revenue stream out of the power. This revenue stream is pretty solid and recession-proof too because these building owners will be paying their power bill in good times and bad. Also they probably won't be taking these panels off of their roofs if they are cutting their electricity bill by $200,000.

The only thing that would sink Altus would be a cut on solar subsidies. They need some powerful Democratic backers and this kind of thing might appeal to the GOP as well. That party doesn't like the idea of big government going to patronage like Solyndra but public/private partnerships is what the GOP loves. They can also look so anti-environment by backing the idea of solar panels popping up all over the US and allowing investors to make money in the process.

BlackRocks Plan to Have Millennials Convert Student Loan Debt into Home Mortgages Just Might Work

I like this kind of out-of-the-box thinking by a company that would love to get the fees that this transaction would start.

"Fiscal policy initiatives targeted at young workers with high levels of student indebtedness might, perhaps surprisingly to some, have an outsize impact in supporting the housing recovery and financial markets," Rick Rieder, co-head of Americas Fixed Income at BlackRock, wrote in a recent commentary.

BlackRock estimates there are about seven million people in the U.S. that would be eligible for an FHA-approved mortgage but are burdened by student loans. The thinking is that because they are devoting a large chunk of their income to pay down student debt, they probably aren't saving for a down payment on a house. 

If just one million of them are converted to homebuyers through some form of student debt forgiveness, more than three million jobs could be created, Rieder recently told CNNMoney.
You get to convert worthless debt into productive debt and you let millennial contribute that much more to the economy once they are home owners. They get that mortgage deduction and can get off the rental treadmill and actually build some equity.

It would be kind of a GI Bill for people with lots of college loan debt. Maybe the government could also back some loans at below market rates for first time loan buyers for people that were able to pay for college so they won't get left out. In any case this would be an interesting bipartisan bill because it will reduce debt, forgive crushing student loans, might pay for itself and create jobs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quantum Phenomena Might be Explained by Many 'Parallel' Everyday Worlds Theory: That Explains Ghosts

I read about how physicists might be changing their idea about parallel worlds.

The bizarre behavior of the quantum world — with objects existing in two places simultaneously and light behaving as either waves or particles — could result from interactions between many 'parallel' everyday worlds, a new theory suggests.

“It is a fundamental shift from previous quantum interpretations,” says Howard Wiseman, a theoretical quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who together with his colleagues describes the idea in Physical Review X.

These worlds are supposed to behave similarity to our own and touch and interact with one another but very tenuously. This gives me a good idea of what ghosts are. They are images from a different quantum world that interacts with our own. So we will see a person from that other world for a split second and they might or might not see us as well. Most of the time we only see a ghostly image for a few seconds and then nothing. Maybe "haunted houses" are just areas where that other world bleeds into ours easier for some reason of another. I wonder if physicists did experiments in these sorts of places they would get stronger results?

Another Crowd Walks out on Obama: He is a Team That is 30 Points down

It is sad that a guy that can command a crowd and was a special orator way back when is getting the "beat traffic" treatment from his adoring fans.

For the second time in as many weeks, persons have walked out during a campaign speech given by President Barack Obama. Last week, it happened as the president spoke in Maryland – and this week, it happened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a WND report on Tuesday. It was apparent that the president was still delivering his speech as people were marching out of the venue where he was campaigning for Mary Burke, the Democratic Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate who is trying to take incumbent Gov. Scott Walker’s job away from him in the midterm election next week.

He is like a team that is getting blown out in the third quarter when you see streams of fans heading for the exits. I guess you can call him the Oakland Raiders of politics. They were great way back when but due to mismanagement they are perennial losers. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Good Thing About Millennials: They are Adding to 401Ks like crazy

They are finally getting jobs as the economy improves and are seeing that a 401K is a great way to save for retirement.

In the first half of 2014, the number of Millennials enrolling for the first time in a 401(k) plan jumped 55%, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard. This twice-yearly report examines trends among 2.5 million plan participants with $129 billion of assets under the bank’s care.

The brisk initial enrollment pace is due partly to the sheer number of Millennials entering the workforce. They account for about 25% of workers today, a figure that will shoot to 50% by 2020. But it also reflects a broader trend toward 401(k) enrollment. Across all generations, the number enrolling for the first time jumped 37%, Bank of America found.

Those opt-out 401K forms (instead of the opt-ins of yesteryear) are doing wonders for 401K plan growth. Plus there are apps you can use to manage your account and keep tabs on the amounts going in and growing. I wonder what the numbers are for Millennials re-balancing their portfolios though. Do they set-it and forget it or do they look at it quarterly? Or do they change things around whenever they see something on TV?

Now what the government needs to do is allow people to put more money in 401Ks than ever before to encourage savings. The employee match is one of the few ways a person can accrue wealth tax free left in America and Millennials need to tap that source for all its worth.

Mom and Pop Investors Back in the Market? Is it Time to Sell?

Most of the time when Individual Investors buy stock in a big way the market will drop.

This means that approximately 35% of all household financial assets are “at risk.” In fact, we’re now getting back to investment market participation levels not seen since the third quarter of 2007, during which 34% of all household assets were invested. The two previous peaks before then were Q1 2000 (43%) and 1968 (31%). Bears will note that these moments coincided nicely with the onset of the last three major bear markets, 1966 to 1982, 2000 to 2002, and 2007 to 2009.
 The individual investor is usually holding the bag when the music stops and the pros flee the field. This article points out that these investors are going in using passive Index funds and other more conservative stuff. No or Nifty 50 or other mess as far as I can tell. At least the economy is improving so there really isn't a true reason for a massive drop or recession in our future. 

Darius Foster: The Face of a New GOP?

Well I like his political philosophy already.

With the bulky frame of a former linebacker and a warm, hearty laugh, Foster fashions himself as a Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt Republican.

"The fight-for-the-people Republican. That's what they were. I'm not sure where the Democratic Party was able to hijack that narrative from us. But they did. And they have it. I'm trying to bring it back," he says.

Foster is a 33-year-old business consultant. He's been active in the GOP since he founded a lonely chapter of College Republicans at the historically black Miles College in Birmingham. He's been tapped by the Republican National Committee as a future leader.

So he actually got in the trench and started a College Republican chapter at a historically black college. He also sounds like a happy warrior which the GOP sorely needs. Plus, the idea of the GOP fighting for the average American has been long overdue. Growing the economy so that people can find meaningful jobs and eventually become prosperous is the dream of many Americans. The so called "Compassionate Conservative" should be more than just a buzzword.

His wife has some of my political philosophy as well.

Over breakfast at their neighborhood IHOP, his wife, 28-year-old Setara Foster, a lawyer, talks about growing up black in Houston where her parents were union members and loyal Democrats.

She now identifies more closely with the GOP. But she says she tends to split her ticket.

"I think that when we as a group identify with one party, for one thing, all the time, that party never has to earn our vote. Ever. And so I think that by having a diversity of political ideology within ethnic, racial, gender, age groups, we force politicians to work," she says.

I agree with the GOP on some things (mostly economic growth and taxes) and disagree with them on other things (most social issues.) I think all Americans should have a little of Mrs. Foster's idea that no party should take your vote for granted and have to keep working for it. If minorities had more of this idea then the Dems couldn't just put them in their pocket and to keep doing nothing for them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The First Outrage of the 2014 Election Season: Wasabi Ginger Wins the New Lays Flavor! #OUTRAGE

You got to be kidding me! I enjoy wasabi (with shoyu and ginger afterward) with sushi but on chips? No way!

The entry to the brand’s annual “Do Us a Flavor” contest beat out Mango Salsa, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, and—likely much to the relief of coffee expert Oliver Strand and Yahoo Readers everywhere—Cappuccino. The unique flavors have been on sale nationwide since late July, and chip lovers have been voting on them. We got the winner of the people’s choice award on the horn to tout her flavor combo. 

I cannot believe it beat out the very tasty Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. I actually enjoyed the bacon taste of the chips and hope someone makes a bacon flavored potato chip in the US soon. There seems to be one in England but that doesn't help me when I go to Safeway on a chip purchasing mission.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Way to Fight ISIS is with Mockery and these Iraqi Kurds are SNLing them

I hope the real SNL plays their because it is pretty funny.

“We are bearded, dirty and filthy. … We are brainless with nothing in our heads.”

“We are ISIS. We are ISIS,” the singers declare. “We milk the goat even if it is male.”

“Our music is without rhythm. And our leader is called Qaqa,” they sing. “Our pockets are full of Qatari money. Our language is bullets and cutting.”

Their leader is really named Qaqa? So many jokes and so little time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Obama Just Wrote a GOP Attack Ad

I wonder of he is sabotaging their campaigns for some nefarious reason?

President Obama delivered a blow to Democratic Senate candidates looking to distance themselves from his flagging approval ratings Monday, saying lawmakers avoiding him on the campaign trail were “strong allies and supporters” who have “supported my agenda in Congress.”

The president said that Democrats faced a “tough map” and noted that many Democrats in crucial races “are in states that I didn’t win” during a radio interview with Rev. Al Sharpton.

He knows that these candidates are running away from him as fast as they can. So he goes ahead and damages their campaign for his own narcissistic reasons. I guess he figures that the Senate will go GOP and he will have 2 years to cruise and start planning his memoirs.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Could ISIS use Ebola to Attack America and Europe? Very Plausable

I recently read a book on the Black Death a while back called The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time.The book talked about how the Black Plague came to Europe through a biological warfare attack by the Mongols toward a city in Asia Minor call Caffa held by the Genoa in 1347. 

What Jani Beg (the Khan of the Golden Horde) did when the city of Caffa was under siege was use his catapults to toss plague corpses into the city in order to break the siege. The plague corpses infected a number of Genoese sailors who attempted to flee the city (and devestated Caffa) and thus inadvertently inflicted the Black Death on much of Europe. The Black Death caused the death of 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia.

An interesting side note was that Jani Beg was a Muslim. So this got me thinking that what if ISIS decided to send a number of their operatives to West Africa to get their hands on Ebola infected blood. Or maybe even worse infect themselves and become living (not for too long) "Jani Beg plague corpses." All they really need is a blood soaked rag from an Ebola patient in Liberia and every operative can potentially become a living "plague missile."

What these "ISIS plague missiles" could potentially do is send packages of Ebola to various victims in the US and Europe. It would only take a few blood or vomit soaked rags in an Amazon box to be sent to various people in the US and it might be worse than a letter bomb. 

What would be terrifying is that this attack would be nearly impossible to detect. You can detect bomb materials in a box sent in the mail but these are just rags and gauze and things. You cannot use a metal detector or some sniffer to catch this kind of biological warfare attack. Hell, they could just send a bunch of bloody rags that that are not even Ebola infected and it will create the same kind of panic.

The job of terrorists is to inflict terror and this would strait up terrify people. I know it would be fairly difficult to catch Ebola from a bloody rag made in Syria all the way in the US because of the nature of the virus. However, the fear it would cause would be devastating. Each one of those boxes would have to be checked out by health care officials and tested to make sure it isn't virulent. Then disease detectives would have to check the person that opened the box and everyone that person came in contact with. I wonder if the CIA and the FBI are checking to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen. I really hope they are because this attack would be scary in the extreme.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Study Says Natural Gas is Not the Bridge Fuel to Stop Global Warming: I Disagree

Well its seems that 5 sets of scientists are saying that natural gas might even make global warming worse for some reason or another.

Five teams of experts from around the world, using five different sets of computer model simulations, looked at what would happen if natural gas — also known as methane — remains cheap and plentiful and nothing else changes, such as policy mandates. They all came to the same conclusion.

"It doesn't reduce climate change," said study lead author Haewon McJeon, an economist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Two computer models even found that when considering other factors like methane leaks, cheaper natural gas could lead to more trapping of heat by greenhouse gases, the mechanism that drives global warming. Methane traps even more heat than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

First of all why are these models so different than one another? I guess two have methane leaks in them while the others do not. This is assuming that better pipeline leak-finding technology will never be available for 100 years for some reason. 

You figure that profit motive alone will have companies actively screening their pipelines for leaks. I mean a leak might costs $1000s of dollars if it goes long enough. I guess those studies want us to keep burning coal because a train car full of the stuff will not leak and create "greenhouse gasses."  

What actually invalidates much of these studies conclusions is the term "and nothing else changes" which doesn't make sense to me. Solar and wind energy is taking off like never before because if economic incentives. If you put a solar panel on your roof you need less power from the natural gas fueled power plants and thus they burn less of the fuel.

I cannot fathom the idea that technology will stand still for a 100 years. I mean the changes in the last 50 or even the last 20 are mind boggling to say the least. Hell, Lockheed Martin is looking to build a fusion power plant and might get one done in 10 years. A few neighborhood fusion reactors or even a backyard one the size of a water heater will do more to change global warming than 100 studies by scientists ever could.

Why Does Alison Lundergan Grimes Keep Ducking the Did You Vote for Obama Question?

She should just admit she probably voted for him twice and put the issue behind her.

It might seem an odd question for a Democrat to keep ducking: Did you vote for President Barack Obama or not?

Can that be so hard?

In her Kentucky Senate debate Monday night with Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes said she won't answer that question "as a matter of principle" because doing so would compromise constitutional rights.

It just makes her look like she is hiding something for pretty much no reason. She is a Democrat and probably voted Democrat for much of her life. I would be shocked if she voted for Romney in the last election. It is sad that people cannot even admit to voting for Obama. I bet she was just besides herself happy to have voted for the first black President back in 2008. Then she doubled down on him in 2010 like many Americans. I voted for the other guy but was proud that our nation elected a black person for the first time in 2008. Too bad he turned out to be such a disaster.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Climate Models off By 17%: Turns out its Plants

It seems that the terrible Climate Change Apocalypse coming in 20 years will be great for plants.

In this new effort, the researchers took a new look at the photosynthesis process and how it might be altered in the presence of increasingly higher concentrations of CO2. They found that as CO2 levels rose, plants altered the way they processed the gas, saving more of it to use as a fertilizer, which allowed the plants to grow bigger or to become more robust, which in the end meant more CO2 was taken out of the atmosphere. Not coincidently, the researchers note, their research showed that when plants were exposed to the same higher levels of CO2 as actually occurred over the past century, they were able to absorb on average 16 percent more CO2, which very nearly coincides with the 17 percent error difference earth scientists have found with their climate models.

Sounds like the forests and fields of the Climate Change future will be quite verdant and thus take more of the CO2 out of the atmosphere then the models predict. In any case it seems that models that are wrong so much of the time need to be fixed in order for us to get the complete picture.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Holy Crap! 1.4 Million People Might Have Ebola by January! 70% Mortality Means 980,000 DEAD!

It isn't the Black Death (17 to 200 million dead) or the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic (25 million in the first 2 years) but these numbers are pretty sobering.

Meltzer helped produce a report in late September that said that at current rates of infection, as many as 1.4 million people would become infected by January. That number, officials stressed, was a straight extrapolation of the explosive spread of Ebola at a time when the world had managed to mount only a feeble response. The more vigorous response underway is designed to bend that curve.

At least people are moving quickly on it and can get this thing under control before it gets worse.

Antikythera shipwreck Yields New Treasures: No Ancient Computer This Time Though

Too bad they couldn't have moved more of the sediment to see what other wonders this shipwreck held.

The vessel, which dates from 70-60BC, was famously first identified by Greek sponge divers more than 100 years ago.

Its greatest treasure is the remains of a geared "computer" that was used to calculate the positions of astronomical objects.

The new archaeological investigations have retrieved tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear.
This weapon was probably attached to a warrior statue, the dive team believes.

Previous expeditions have found several such statues made of bronze and marble.

This article also says that the ship carried a bride and her dowry. It just seems strange to me that a bunch of statues and a geared computer were found in that dowry. You would think it was the contents of a temple being moved from one place to another. Maybe to flee warfare and pillaging in some part of Asia Minor where the ship was from. 

A Ton of Eyes on Comet Flyby of Mars

I'm kind of hoping the comet hits Mars but it is still cool how close a shave it will give the Red Planet.

The space agency has already trained a number of its science assets on Comet Siding Spring, which will zoom within 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of Mars on Oct. 19 — about one-third the distance between Earth and the moon. And NASA's fleet of Red Planet orbiters and rovers will be watching on the big day, studying the comet and its influence on Mars' atmosphere.

It seems we have a ton of eyes on Siding Spring as well.

But the real show will begin Oct. 19. NASA's three Mars orbiters — Mars Odyssey, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the newly arrived MAVEN spacecraft — will observe Siding Spring's flyby from space, while the agency's Opportunity and Curiosity rovers will watch from the Red Planet's surface.

It's pretty cool that Opportunity and Curiosity are getting in on the act as well. That will be the first time a comet will be photographed from the surface of a planet that is not the Earth.

Friday, October 03, 2014

North Carolina College Republican Chairwoman Leigh Thomas Needs to Resign After Trying to Stopping Voter Registration

What is funny is that she seems to have tried to stop a conservative voter registration drive. In fact this group has much of the same values as I have regarding fiscal responsibility, free markets and a brighter future for America. I would probably be a member if they had them around when I was in college. In any case this is what Leigh Thomas said.

North Carolina College Republican Chairwoman was caught on camera allegedly suppressing the voter registration efforts of a non-profit, conservative student group Wednesday afternoon.

The video, obtained by Campus Reform, captures the interaction between Turning Point USA representative Bree Binder and the Chairwoman of the High Point University College Republicans, Leigh Thomas.

Binder asks Thomas for permission to enter the private liberal arts campus in North Carolina, to conduct a routine voter registration drive.

“We’re just registering people to vote,” Binder says. “I can show you all the forms and everything.”
"I understand the registration process,” the College Republican Chairwoman responded, “I'm just not sure if this is something I would want to have on this High Point University campus, the registration of voting [sic]."

When asked why, Thomas clarified that she does not approve of registering students to vote on campus.
“I don’t want to have any voting registration happening on this campus with students,” Thomas says.

“[T]he registering students, it’s just...if it’s not done the way that we did it back in 2012, I’m not—I’m not good with it,” Thomas says.

“I understand the forms, I’ve seen the forms before, it’s not about that. I just do not want to have people being registered to vote whatsoever,” Thomas tells Binder.

Now that last part that I put in bold is something that should get her canned. She might have misspoke here but registering people to vote is the lifesblood of Democracy. In fact I believe that all Americans should be allowed to vote simply by filing a tax return. If you give your hard-earned money to this country you should be able to vote automatically. You paid the bill so you should be allowed to vote on who divvies up the money. 

ODB err OGD in Charge of North Korea? And Kim Jong-un out?

Wouldn't be something of the ghost of Ol' Dirty Bastard was in charge of North Korea. However it seems that Kim Jong-Un is Out.

According to what Vice are reporting, Jang Jin-sung, a former senior North Korean official who worked as part of the the previous leader's propaganda machine, has said that the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) have stopped taking orders from Kim Jong-un. 

The OGD answered only to Kim Jong-il and are extremely powerful and have "effectively taken control of the country", with factions within them arguing over keeping a strict reign over the economy, or opening up slightly to get more money through foreign trade. 

In other words the OGD members got tired of answering to a megalomaniac that might literately throw them to the dogs. I think looking right next door at the fact that nearly everyone at the highest level of government are billionaires might have tipped their hands. Maybe there was a little help (probably a lot) from the Red Chinese and let the scramble for wealth begin. The upside is the North Korean people can stop eating bark and join the rest of the world.

Good Job Obama: You Just Tied Candidates that Are Running Away from You at Full Speed Directly to You

I think part of him wants the GOP to win the Senate. Then he can just blame the last two years on the GOP legislature and start decorating his house and getting his post Presidency speaking engagements ready.

"Now, I am not on the ballot this fall," Obama said in remarks intended to motivate Democrats to vote. "But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot — every single one of them."

Republicans strongly agree and have been expressing the same thought for months. Their candidates have spent the better part of a year trying to plaster Democratic opponents with the unpopular Obama and his agenda in an effort to gain the six seats required to take the Senate majority.

So Obama just made it a referendum election when it really isn't one. Talk about an own goal.