"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bent but not broken

Spotted in back corner of our property while doing a bit of "orienteering" with the Conservancy while wrapping up plans for our easement.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Steve Forbes, on his mentor
James W. Michaels - Forbes.com

Only met Jim once.
Forbes Cruise
Out of Dover and Steve was on board to do the meet/greet

Jim singled me out for photo-op
Well, I was/still am a bit "shaggy" with longish hair and beard ... perfect offset for Steve

Jim had an eye for what worked
I had intended to us it for Christmas card with "thought bubble" of "don't run"
Steve was bright and engaging in person, too wooden on TV

Stick to print

God speed Jim

Monday, October 22, 2007

Photos for the day

Went off to our woodlot this afternoon to cut some cordwood
Stopped to take this shot up one of our trails - these hardwoods haven't been cut.
Leads up to ouir "lookout

Then, while prepping dinner, decided I had to shoot the clouds over the lake.
The few ripples are from a mallard on our beach I spooked


Good overview of what led to the sub-prime/housing bubble and likely impacts:

CFA Institute Publications: CFA Magazine - 18(4):39 - Abstract

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Polar Point of View

With all the talk of Global Warming, potential opening of the Artic Ocean I got to thinking about Buckey Fuller's Dymaxion "AirOcean" Map

Dymaxion map - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The Dymaxion map of the Earth is a projection of a global map onto the surface of a polyhedron, which can then be unfolded to a net in many different ways and flattened to form a two-dimensional map which retains most of the relative proportional integrity of the globe map. It was created by Buckminster Fuller, and patented by him in 1946, the patent application showing a projection onto a cuboctahedron. The 1954 version published by Fuller under the title The AirOcean World Map used a slightly modified but mostly regular icosahedron as the base for the projection, and this is the version most commonly referred to today. "

The map also makes evident the importance of the Artic Ocean and polar air routes
(and ICBM flight paths)

I have a similar map hanging over my desk

Friday, October 19, 2007

It was 20 years ago today

Same date on the calendar, Oct 19th, but different day of the week
20 years ago it was a Monday, aka "Black Monday" the day of the '87 Market Meltdown
I remember it well
I was not on the floor, nor even in New York
I was in little old Holt Michigan, but with cable TV, my old Mac and ... a VCR
Maybe the tape is too old now, but I watched it several times, about 6hours of the old FNN (Financial news Network, the precursor of CNBC).

So what happened?
Not well covered is the impact of Mr. David Ruder, Chairman of the SEC.
(note that he was only in office for a matter of months)

The markets were trending down, there were issues with valuation, an ongoing "spat" with Europe etc.
But there was a key element ... actions and words of the SEC Chair
A week or two earlier, to a group of bond managers/traders, either as a comment or response to a question, Mr. Ruter indicated that , in the case of market turmoil, the SEC would consider closing the exchanges.
This caused a sell off in the bond market

This was not widely covered in the press, but was know on the street.

What did it mean?
Analogy: You are waiting in line for a movie and the management announces that "in case of fire, we will lock the doors"
Are you going to the movie or go have a beer?

Well on Monday, October 19, 1987, the markets were headed down, but was starting to recover.
Mr. Ruter was interviewed. He made a similar statement.
Word spread and any buyers said ... whoa ... I'm pulling my bid.
Market plunged
Then the market started to recover, and the quote was carried on another newswire
Once again ... bids were pulled
Buyers strike

Many other events were triggered
"program trading" triggered additional selling
Paper transaction couldn't keep pace, trades were reported 10-15-30 min late
Banks shut their lending windows to specialists, rumors spread

But the key element was the threat to close the markets - to lock the doors

And the rest is history
It was a good time to buy

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting Meeting

Can't really say what core topic was... yet, but most interesting conversation.

Check David's site:
David T. Hanawalt: Architecture - Land Planning - Community Design - Site Plans

Sleeze... cont.

Looney Dunes: Sleeze: "Sleeze Digging into the practices of the country's largest mortgage generator."

Now the SEC is taking a look
Stock Sales by Chief of Lender Questioned - New York Times
"After starting a plan in October 2006, Mr. Mozilo twice raised the number of shares that could be sold: once in December 2006, when Countrywide stock was $40.50, and again in February, when it hit a high of $45.03. He has had gains of $132 million since starting the October 2006 plan and expects to sell his remaining shares by the end of the week, a move that will generate millions more."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Global Warming Delusions ?

Copyrighted material, but as it will eventually go into the "pay-per-view" archives, I'm preserving for posterity.

A most interesting read
Warming Delusions

Global Warming Delusions
October 17, 2007; Page A19

Global warming doesn't matter except to the extent that it will affect life -- ours and that of all living things on Earth. And contrary to the latest news, the evidence that global warming will have serious effects on life is thin. Most evidence suggests the contrary.
Kilimanjaro's shrinking ice cap is not directly related to global warming.

Case in point: This year's United Nations report on climate change and other documents say that 20%-30% of plant and animal species will be threatened with extinction in this century due to global warming -- a truly terrifying thought. Yet, during the past 2.5 million years, a period that scientists now know experienced climatic changes as rapid and as warm as modern climatological models suggest will happen to us, almost none of the millions of species on Earth went extinct. The exceptions were about 20 species of large mammals (the famous megafauna of the last ice age -- saber-tooth tigers, hairy mammoths and the like), which went extinct about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and many dominant trees and shrubs of northwestern Europe. But elsewhere, including North America, few plant species went extinct, and few mammals.

We're also warned that tropical diseases are going to spread, and that we can expect malaria and encephalitis epidemics. But scientific papers by Prof. Sarah Randolph of Oxford University show that temperature changes do not correlate well with changes in the distribution or frequency of these diseases; warming has not broadened their distribution and is highly unlikely to do so in the future, global warming or not.

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food -- an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life -- I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.

I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

The climate modelers who developed the computer programs that are being used to forecast climate change used to readily admit that the models were crude and not very realistic, but were the best that could be done with available computers and programming methods. They said our options were to either believe those crude models or believe the opinions of experienced, data-focused scientists. Having done a great deal of computer modeling myself, I appreciated their acknowledgment of the limits of their methods. But I hear no such statements today. Oddly, the forecasts of computer models have become our new reality, while facts such as the few extinctions of the past 2.5 million years are pushed aside, as if they were not our reality.

A recent article in the well-respected journal American Scientist explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming. Simply from an intellectual point of view it was fascinating -- especially the author's Sherlock Holmes approach to figuring out what was causing the glacier to melt. That it couldn't be global warming directly (i.e., the result of air around the glacier warming) was made clear by the fact that the air temperature at the altitude of the glacier is below freezing. This means that only direct radiant heat from sunlight could be warming and melting the glacier. The author also studied the shape of the glacier and deduced that its melting pattern was consistent with radiant heat but not air temperature. Although acknowledged by many scientists, the paper is scorned by the true believers in global warming.

We are told that the melting of the arctic ice will be a disaster. But during the famous medieval warming period -- A.D. 750 to 1230 or so -- the Vikings found the warmer northern climate to their advantage. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie addressed this in his book "Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate Since the Year 1000," perhaps the greatest book about climate change before the onset of modern concerns with global warming. He wrote that Erik the Red "took advantage of a sea relatively free of ice to sail due west from Iceland to reach Greenland. . . . Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the climatic and demographic fortunes of the northern settlers, a bishopric of Greenland was founded at Gardar in 1126."

Ladurie pointed out that "it is reasonable to think of the Vikings as unconsciously taking advantage of this [referring to the warming of the Middle Ages] to colonize the most northern and inclement of their conquests, Iceland and Greenland." Good thing that Erik the Red didn't have Al Gore or his climatologists as his advisers.

Should we therefore dismiss global warming? Of course not. But we should make a realistic assessment, as rationally as possible, about its cultural, economic and environmental effects. As Erik the Red might have told you, not everything due to a climatic warming is bad, nor is everything that is bad due to a climatic warming.

We should approach the problem the way we decide whether to buy insurance and take precautions against other catastrophes -- wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes. And as I have written elsewhere, many of the actions we would take to reduce greenhouse-gas production and mitigate global-warming effects are beneficial anyway, most particularly a movement away from fossil fuels to alternative solar and wind energy.

My concern is that we may be moving away from an irrational lack of concern about climate change to an equally irrational panic about it.

Many of my colleagues ask, "What's the problem? Hasn't it been a good thing to raise public concern?" The problem is that in this panic we are going to spend our money unwisely, we will take actions that are counterproductive, and we will fail to do many of those things that will benefit the environment and ourselves.

For example, right now the clearest threat to many species is habitat destruction. Take the orangutans, for instance, one of those charismatic species that people are often fascinated by and concerned about. They are endangered because of deforestation. In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.

At the heart of the matter is how much faith we decide to put in science -- even how much faith scientists put in science. Our times have benefited from clear-thinking, science-based rationality. I hope this prevails as we try to deal with our changing climate.

Mr. Botkin, president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century" (Replica Books, 2001).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Morning light

One of the reasons we love it here...

Just before 8AM
Fog on the lake, wispy clouds above

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Security issues

Jeff Jonas: Six Ticks till Midnight: One Plausible Journey from Here to a Total Surveillance Society:
All tracking all the time...

Panopticon ?

And Google-plex

Techdirt: Denied Entrance Into The US Thanks To A Google Search Of Your Permanent Record:
"For a long time, people have talked about how Google has effectively created the infamous "permanent record" teachers always warned us about in school. And, now, it appears that it's not just being used for background checks on dates and job reference checks, but for official government purposes as well. Joe McEnaney writes in to alert us to a story of a Canadian man who was denied entrance to the US after border guards did a Google search on his name and discovered a peer-reviewed academic paper he'd written years earlier that mentioned his own LSD use over 30 years ago. Setting aside any thoughts one way or the other on whether or not that should be a criteria for entering the US, just think of what this means for teens today who are discussing their lives very publicly on sites like MySpace. We've already wondered what will happen once the MySpace generation runs for office, but right now they might just want to be careful leaving and entering the country."

which may have led to Cory's piece:

From The Magazine : Radar Online : Cory Doctorow imagines a world in which Google is evil: "Scroogled Google controls your e-mail, your videos, your calendar, your searches… What if it controlled your life? By Cory Doctorow "

which led to WSJournal piece

Cory Doctorow’s craphound.com >>Scroogled in the Wall Street Journal

"There are lots of ways in which Google knowing more about you makes Google better for you. But without much regard to what’s happening in the world around us, in an era in which the national security apparatus has turned into a kind of lumbering, savage, giant toddler, it behooves us to not leave things within arm’s reach that it might stick in its mouth. And that includes things like my search history. And I’d prefer that Google not be storing a lot of that stuff, especially today, especially after Patriot [Act] and so on. They’re inviting abuse, I think, by doing that. The steps you don’t save can’t be subpoenaed. And by saving them, Google is inviting a subpoena."

and there was this ...

"I had a really interesting meeting a couple of years ago with some of the [chief information officers] of Danish ministries. We sat down to talk about data interoperability and document retention. Document retention's a really thorny one, because hard drives are cheap, and governments don't really understand why they shouldn't just save everything. Who knows when it will be useful? I started to talk to them about this, and a gentleman put his hand up and said you know, you may need to talk to people in other countries about this, but you don't need to talk to the Danes about this.

Because after the Nazis occupied Copenhagen, they went down to the police station and got from the files all the addresses of the people they wanted to round up and stick in boxcars, and they took them away. We don't retain anything here. As soon as we're done with it, we throw it away because we understand that you can't always predict how information will be used, and the only way to ensure it's not misused is to get rid of it when you're done with it."

Just be careful what you wish for

Good PR, maybe less good science

Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize - New York Times:

"He turned that slide show into ''An Inconvenient Truth.''

The film won praise but also generated controversy. On Wednesday, a British judge ruled in a lawsuit that it was OK to show the movie to students in school. High Court Judge Michael Burton said it was ''substantially founded upon scientific research and fact'' but presented in a ''context of alarmism and exaggeration.'' He said teachers must be given a written document explaining that.

More than 20 top climate scientists told The Associated Press last year that the film was generally accurate in its presentation of the science, although some were bothered by what they thought were a couple of exaggerations. "

From International Herald Tribune:

"Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for the former U.S. vice president, said the judge's decision backed key elements of the documentary.

"The ruling upheld fundamental pieces of the film and the scientific consensus that global warming is real and caused by human activities," she told The Associated Press. "Of the thousands of facts in the film, the judge only took issue with just a handful. And of that handful, we have the studies to back those pieces up."

Burton outlined nine problems — including Gore's claim that sea level rises of 23 feet (7 meters) might occur in the immediate future — something the judge characterized as "distinctly alarmist."

He also cited claims that Hurricane Katrina, the evaporation of most of Lake Chad and the melting of the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro were all caused by global warming. Burton said there was insufficient evidence to back those claims."

Note esp. that the sea level rise is not a fact, but a prediction and among the most graphic conclusions of the film, therefore not trivial.

And I question the position that all warming is anthropomorphic, I believe that the consensus is that human activity has contributed to warming, not that it is the sole cause.

More here:
Too-Convenient Truths in An Inconvenient Truth, Part One on Wired Science: "Too-Convenient Truths in An Inconvenient Truth"

Friday, October 12, 2007

But so did Yasser Arafat

U.S. Home - WSJ.com:
"Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. 5:23 a.m."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Religon in the Oval Office

Just how bad can this get?
What are the risks of an evangelical president?

Journals: 1952-2000 - Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. - Reviewed by Maureen Dowd - Books - Review - New York Times: "...Schlesinger says he “could not bring myself to vote for a man who believes that Adam and Eve once existed and that Eve was literally made out of Adam’s rib ... and believes he has seen flying saucers.”

Schlesinger considers Reagan nutty and passes on an anecdote told to him by Jim McCartney of Knight-Ridder, who sat next to the president at the ’87 Gridiron dinner. Reagan told McCartney that Chernobyl had been predicted in “the eighth chapter of Revelations with the account of the opening of the seventh seal ... a great star falling from heaven causing men to die from the bitter waters. The star, Reagan said, was called Wedgewood, and the Ukrainian word for Wedgewood is Chernobyl. McCartney looked up the passage on his return and discovered that the star was called Wormwood.”"

Oh yeah, the first paragraph referred to ... Jimmy Carter.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Evil does exist

Coverage of the Holocaust
Very graphic proof that there have been evil people

Maybe Ahmadinejad should watch?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Remember Maine

Talk about sea change (prior post)
They have tides in Maine, I mean TIDES
About 10-12 ft while we were there
This is near low tide
Titled "Lobster traps" as there are a few buoy's out past the rocks.

May add more later here: Maine - a photoset on Flickr

Did not get nearly as many good shots as I'd hoped to, just matter of timing