We’re praying for global warming now? 19.01.09

Got this link sent to me. It’s an op-ed penned by John Tomlinson about global warning and the skepticism surrounding it.

I’m going to pick apart his argument. I actually don’t care what side he’s on, but I do care when bad data starts getting thrown around.

If you’re wondering why North America is starting to resemble nuclear winter, then you missed the news.

Climate change is about changes in volatility, not trend.

At December’s U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world’s top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?”

I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he’s right.

650 people sounds like a lot. But the conference had 11,000 participants. That’s a 5% deviance, which is a poor statistical result. Also, David Gee specializes in geology and tectonic plates, not in cliamatology, although he has some experience in the arctic so there may be a vertical there.

The earth’s temperature peaked in 1998. It’s been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.

That’s quite a small data set. If I were to turn around and say that the trend has been up for 20 years, then you would complain about the data set as well. Again, I don’t care about the results of the data but the statistically insignificant sample size.

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What’s more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.

That data may be true, but the conclusions that they are reaching are the exact opposite of what you are advocating.

In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica? But don’t worry, we’re safe now, that was the nineties.

Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan’s Institute of Science and Technology said this: “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other … every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so.” Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?

I found the source that you used, and apparently Dr. Kunihiko is a specialist in uranium enrichment, not the climate. It just seems that his views align with yours so it’s quite convinient to quote him.

This is where the looney left gets lost. Their mantra is atmospheric CO2 levels are escalating and this is unquestionably causing earth’s temperature rise. But ask yourself — if global temperatures are experiencing the biggest sustained drop in decades, while CO2 levels continue to rise — how can it be true?

Once again, bad sample size and bad conclusions.

Ironically, in spite of being shown false, we must now pray for it. Because a massive study, just released by the Russian Government, contains overwhelming evidence that earth is on the verge of another Ice Age.

In the same article you source, the say ‘The Russian academy, meanwhile, did not use its predictions to weigh in on whether greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophic global warming.” Stop using selective listening.

Based on core samples from Russia’s Vostok Station in Antarctica, we now know earth’s atmosphere and temperature for the last 420,000 years. This evidence suggests that the 12,000 years of warmth we call the Holocene period is over.

There’s no evidence that the Holocene period is over. Also, the Vostok ice core sample, although one of the largest ice cores we have taken, has some interpretation problems.

Apparently, we’re headed into an ice age of about 100,000 years — give or take. As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth’s temperature rise, not lead it.

Bad conclusions from the data.

It turns out CO2 fluctuations follow the change in sea temperature. As water temperatures rise, oceans release additional dissolved CO2 — like opening a warm brewsky.

Great analogy for the average joe. It’s a bit of a more complicated system than that.

To think, early last year, liberals suggested we spend 45 trillion dollars and give up five million jobs to fix global warming. But there is good news: now that we don’t have to spend any of that money, we can give it all to the banks.

I hope we don’t give it to the banks, we could discuss economics, but that’s obviously beyond the scope of the article.

This is what happens when politics get involved with science. Selective data and sources are used to prove a point or a political view, but if the data is bad then we should consider the political view to be invalid until proper evidence is garnered.

Once again, I don’t care about the actual political view, it’s the abdication of intellectual responsibility on the part of the author’s to try and match a worldview.

Stop Trying to Bailout “Homeowners” 07.12.08

In attempting to pull on the heartstrings of the US taxpayer, we often hear about how all of these people will be out of a home.


You don’t start building up equity in your house after the first couple of payments. And some of these exotic mortgage deals didn’t allow people to pay down their principal in the first place. And some of these homes have depreciated in value much so they don’t have any actual home equity. And some home equity lines have been tapped out, so there’s no equity there.

The real homeowners are the banks and other firms that own the mortage, via MBS or otherwise.

Say the roles were reversed. If it was financially advantageous for the banks to say they owned the property due to the contractual obligation of a mortgage, there would be no talk of homeowners, there would be talk of deadbeats who are trying to get a free ride by squatting on a house and gaming the system.

And on top of trying to keep people in housing that they are debt-renting, it seems to be in the government’s interest to preserve the price of houses. They try and do this by taking down interest rates. The National Association of Realtors says that housing is local and now is a great time to buy.

Unless prices drop, then people will not buy more homes. It doesn’t make sense to. So we can either bulldoze lots of freshly-built spec houses, or you can drop the bid of house prices.

Looks Like the Auto Execs Took My Advice 02.12.08

After the fiasco of the private jet planes by the execs at $F and $GM, they decided to take my advice from my previous blog post: If Richard Branson Ran GM. News is coming out that they’re taking the road trip I suggested:

GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will drive a Chevrolet Malibu hybrid to Washington for Thursday’s Congressional hearings on bridge loans for the auto industry.


I plan on being compensated for my business consulting to these companies.

If Richard Branson Ran GM 20.11.08

News is coming out about the auto executives taking their private jets to washington to ask for 25 billion dollars from the federal government. Not a good move.

Now imagine if Richard Branson were in the same situation.

Instead of taking the private jet from Detroit to Washington, he’d take an all-electric or hybrid Cadillac Escalade and get it pimped out with a sound system and some 25″ rims, then carpool with the CEOs from Chrysler and Ford. It would become a pseudo-political campaign, making stops in cities and towns with parties every night.

He’d probably go to an Ohio State tailgate with a new line of electric cars (including the Volt). There would be a video blog put up throughout the days leading to the testimony before Congress. He’d have a sweepstakes for someone to win the Escalade they drove in.

And it would all culminate with him coming in front of Congress and showing that there is strong demand for his product and the bridge loan could be sweetened with incentives, like locking in presales for DoD vehicles or a direct investment in clean tech.

But Richard Branson (or someone like him) doesn’t run GM.

And so they take their planes.

Lists of Successful Companies to Get your Startup Juices Flowing 12.09.08

Inspire yourself through the success of others.

If you’re looking to found a tech startup but don’t have a clue what exactly it is you want to be doing, you might want to peruse these links for some inspiration. This is a “list of lists,” and would take a very long time to go through them all in one sitting. The general idea is to look at the companies, see what they do and how they make money, get the bios for the founders, etc.

Also, this is a running list, so if you know of any others let me know so that I can add them on. You can either leave your ideas in the comments section or you can email them to me directly at graduatedtaste at gmail dot com.

Seed Stage Companies

Companies Backed by VC Money

Successful Acquisitions

The Email Filter That Saved My Inbox 28.08.08

I promised myself I’d never write life-hackish articles on here, but this trick I came up with by myself. A stroke of genius that most likely many before me have figured out already. I just implemented this filter and it has worked wonders on my Gmail account, filtering out all the unecessary mail with a very low amount of false positives. Here are the steps:

  1. Find all email with the word “unsubscribe” in the text
  2. Archive it, label it, and read it later

I’ve found that with marketing emails, it’s generally required that you have a way to opt-out of the service. The magic word here is “unsubscribe,” invariably used by mailers. This is the word that you don’t normally see in high value emails either.

So try it out, run a test search, and see how many false positives you get. I didn’t find any for 6 months back.

As said before, I believe that cute little tips like these generally take up more time implementing than time saved, but this one helped me out.

Nonsense 15.08.08

I love politics, but I hate bad sources.

My last 2 cents….

Obama has multiple ties with terrorist nations both in his family (http://www.anobamanation.net/2008/08/obamas-terrorist-connections.html) and supporting his campaign (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1955258/postshttp://noquarterusa.net/blog/2008/02/15/obamas-terrorist-ties/)

That is just two of many articles written about known terrorists that Obama has been known to associate with… and don’t even get me started on Jeremiah Wright http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6326036317339180920&ei=c6ClSODFJ4Lo4QK9npkc&q=anti+Obama&vt=lf&hl=en

Well I took those claims and looked around. Your first source that claims he has family ties with terrorists. I went to the site and it says that Obama’s half brother’s wife’s uncle is a founding member of Hamas. Doing a Google search of this link only brings up the site that you mentioned, with no newspapers or other sources bringing it up. So you have a blog telling you that Obama is 4 degrees away from Hamas, and his source is from “Pablo’s blog” on redblueamerica.

Except it has been irrefutably proven that the claimed half brother, the first link in this chain, is not so. Ralia Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya, is the supposed half-brother. Obama’s father belonged to the same tribe as Odinga, but they are not blood relatives. You can Wiki his name for the source.

All other claims from this op-ed can be refuted in the same way.

The next problem is campaign contributions. The first source you cite comes from freerepublic.com, a conservative/nationalist forum, so there’s going to be some bias and little authority. The “terrorist” that funded Obama’s campaign is an activist named Jodie Evans, who is associated with “Code Pink,” an anti-war activist group. The article goes on to claim that Code Pink financially supports terrorists. While this group may be a bunch of dicks, that doesn’t make them terrorists. Fortunately we have a government structure that protects citizen’s political views, whatever they may be.

The second source comes from noquarterusa.net. The bias is apparent on first glance and should be noted. The source they refer to actually comes from Bloomberg News, which gives it more quality; however, the article seems to have disappeared from Bloomie’s website. Further analysis shows that the original source came from the London Daily Mail, a British tabloid.

The person mentioned is William Ayers, former member of Weather Underground and now professor of education and U of Illinois-Chicago. If he is a terrorist, then UIC needs to be shut down for financially supporting a terrorist.

The fact is that in 2001 Ayers gave a $200 contribution to an Obama re-election fund for Illinois Senate. When Ayers was a member of the Weathermen, Obama was 8. The connection is a stretch, and the accusation quickly died out at the end of April. It’s no longer a campaign issue and should not be used to test the mettle of a Presidential candidate.

The fact is accepting political contributions from a person do not mean that you accept their politics. And it doesn’t mean you have to give their money back. Ron Paul had the same issue when he recieved monies from members of Nazi groups and did not give it back. He simply said that he will take their money and use it for things they were actively working against.

And then there’s Jeremiah Wright. He’s a hack; a pharisee. He uses religion to gain political clout. But a politician’s association with a minister should not be used as an attack on him. If we were to continue along these lines, we could then look at Republican leaders and their association with preachers such as Falwell, Robertson, and Hagee. Remember, Hagee has officially endorsed McCain, and also said that Hurricane Katrina was a curse on New Orleans because of Southern Decadence.

But to have that qualify a presidential candidate is silly. Why not look at policy- domestic, foreign, and fiscal. Why not see who each candidate chooses to be in their cabinet and their veep.

But the media likes noise like this. It gets ratings, and the ratings are good.

Senator Martinez’s Response 12.07.08

I received a follow up to the letter I sent in to Senartor Martinez about the FISA Amendments Act (HR 6304). It’s a bit canned, but I appreciate that a response was sent. Here it is in its entirety.

Dear Mr. Place:

Thank you for contacting me regarding foreign intelligence surveillance. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 provided the U.S. intelligence community with a framework to regulate the collection of electronic surveillance on foreign intelligence targets, while protecting the Constitutional civil liberties of U.S. citizens. FISA was written to distinguish between the collection of information on a physical wire versus collection of signals broadcast in the open air. In 1978, almost all U.S. domestic calls were on a wire and almost all international communications were transmitted via satellites through the air. Therefore, FISA required all U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain a court order to intercept a wire-to-wire communication or any communication transmitted domestically. FISA, however, did not require court orders to intercept and collect wireless communications outside the United States.

On July 9, 2008, Congress presented the President with the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R. 6304) which modernizes our collection of foreign intelligence. This measure clarifies that FISA’s requirement of prior court approval does not apply to surveillance that is targeted at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States in accordance with the bill’s procedures. H. R. 6304 would allow the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to jointly authorize the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year. H.R. 6304 in addition requires prior court approval for surveillance of U.S. citizens who are overseas. H.R. 6304 will provide, upon a certification by the Attorney General, retroactive immunity to carriers that allegedly participated in the President’s Terrorist Surveillance Program. It also provides prospective immunity to participating telecommunications carriers for certain assistance.

Throughout the history of our republic, we have always been concerned about the proper balance between security and freedom. Those who are generally concerned about the power of government to trample on the rights of free citizens when necessity dictates are right to insist on maintaining the individual civil liberties afforded by our Constitution, especially in times of crisis. Keeping our homeland safe from foreign threats is my number one priority as an elected official, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides intelligence professionals with the legal authority to intercept communications from foreign terrorist to individuals within our borders. H.R. 6304 represents a balanced approach to target terrorist planning attacks while carefully respecting civil liberties. It is important to understand that the phone records are not used to spy on the lives of innocent Americans, and instead focus on tracking terrorist who want to harm the American people.

We must remember we are at war with a ruthless enemy that has no regard for human life and exploits the openness of our society to harm us at home and abroad. I am committed to defeating terrorist and their actions that would lead to harm and devastation towards our country. I believe H.R. 6304 is a necessary update to FISA in order for us to continue to protect ourselves from these threats. However, having experienced life under a totalitarian regime, I value our Constitutional civil liberties, and I will continue to protect these rights as your Senator.

Thank you very much for sharing your concerns. Do not hesitate to contact me with any additional questions or comments you may have. For more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at http://martinez.senate.gov.


Mel Martinez
United States Senator

The Letter that I’m Overnighting to My Senator 07.07.08

The FISA amendment act is coming due on Tuesday. I’m overnighting a letter to my Senator and calling him as well. I encourage you to do the same.

To Contact your Senator: Enter your zip at this website and they will give you the phone number to the offices of the officials who represent you.

Here’s the letter:

Mr. Steven Place


Melbourne, FL 32934

July 7, 2008

Mr. Mel Martinez

United States Senator

356 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Martinez:

I am writing to you today in regards to the FISA Amendments Act. As a constituent, I feel that it is my patriotic duty to contact you and explain how this piece of legislation, if passed, will severely damage our democracy and for what it stands.

I respectfully request that you act on these measures:

· Vote “YES” on the Dodd-Feingold amendment, which would strip telecom immunity from the bill entirely.

· Vote “YES” on the Bingaman amendment, which would delay implementation of telecom immunity until after Congress has received the Inspectors General report on the President’s warrantless surveillance program.

· Vote “NO” on the cloture motion to end debate on the FAA.

· Vote “NO” on the FISA Amendments Act.

The reasons for the above request are as follows:

The legislation violates the constitution. The 4th amendment guarantees citizens the right against unreasonable searches and seizures unless a Warrant is issued. The legislation goes directly against what the constitution says and what it represents. If the government wishes to legislate measures as stated in the FAA, it needs to submit a constitutional amendment.

The legislation protects corporations from legal action. This should be decided by the courts, not the legislative branch. By enacting this amendment, it will set a legal precedent with which the judicial branch will lose power over creating legal and civil action against corporations. Furthermore, the bill wishes to grant retroactive immunity for actions that we do not know. Even closed hearings to Senators with clearances on the Intelligence Committee have not proven a rationale for this amendment.

The legislation expands power of the executive branch. By giving the executive branch legal authority to bypass warrants during searches, you restrict the system of checks and balances that our government needs in order to function properly.

The legislation gives the executive branch leverage over opponents. Expanding on the previous point, this amendment would give the executive branch tools with which they could suppress political opposition. If a whistleblower had information that would weaken the position of the executive branch in any way, warrantless wiretapping could be used to bully, blackmail, or manipulate opponents by adding deterrents. This method could be expanded to political opponents, advocates, and even Senators. By giving even the availability to the executive branch, we reduce the principles of our democracy.

This is not about politics, but morals. I ask you to transcend partisan lines as I encourage you to take these points into consideration. By taking the actions as listed above, you would be taking a great step towards a stronger democracy and a better America.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Along with the mailing address above, you can contact me with the information below.


Steven Place

h: [home phone]

w: [work phone]

e: [e-mail]

Iranian Hostage Crisis, Part 2? 25.06.08

Back in 1980, 52 U.S. diplomats were taken hostage in Iran. This incident, during the Iranian revolution, was a major blow to foreign policy and intelligence in the Middle East. After a botched extraction attempt (I personally know people who flew on that mission… disaster), the Algiers Accords were signed.

The incident was a major blow for the reelection campaign for Jimmy Carter. The very second after Regan was elected, the hostages were released. It also helped strengthen the Islamic revolution under Khomeni and showed vulnerabilities of one of the major superpowers at the time.

Is Iran doing the same thing with oil?

Persian Gulf
As of this writing, there were Iranian supertankers in the persioan gulf that hold about 5 months worth of extra crude oil. Why the stockpiling? Of course, you can use it as economic leverage against any attack on their coun

try, but what if the oil is being held hostage until a new president takes office?

The cost of oil, among many other reasons, have dropped the president’s rating to unprecedented levels. Bringing that sort of supply onto the market would create some serious turbulence in the commodities markets, possibly causing a correction in prices.
There are some hidden paralells that come to mind when comparing the two events. The major underlying theme may be that the Iranian government is trying to garner political and economic influence in the West, albeit indirectly.