Friday, December 11, 2009

SAR #9346

Is it morally wrong to mislead people with statistics?

Point to Ponder: Of the 7.2 million full-time jobs that have been destroyed during the current recession, over 2 million of them were in the auto and real-estate industries. Most of those are not coming back.

Taxing the Goose: Wall Street execs say levying high taxes on their obscene bonuses is likely to drive the best and the brightest out of finance. I doubt it, for there's little evidence that any of the best and the brightest are in finance.

Multiple Choices: The US will occupy 'South Asia' a) until June 2011. b) for a long time. c) forever. d) until the oil runs out. For extra credit, locate 'South Asia' on the map.

Perfection: Comparing computer models with reconstructions of what actually happened in the past has shown that current models underestimate the long term warming from atmospheric CO2 by 30 to 50%. The missing effects in the models are the long term feedbacks from land-ice and vegetation variations. In sum, those scare-mongering climate scientists have been understating the case and things are going to hell in a handbasket.

Be Prepared: Some are asking why the USAF is using a new stealth unmanned recon aircraft over Afghanistan. Since the Taliban have no radar equipment why be stealthy. Remember the Spanish Civil War? As a test ground?

One Per Customer: Going forward, giving birth and getting a hysterectomy should go hand in hand. Or do you really want to have 9, 10, or 12 billion neighbors?

Things vs. People: China, rather disingenuously, has put high protective tariffs on US and Russian steel, claiming “dumping.” This is in reaction to the US putting tariffs on Chinese steel last spring. Nothing like a trade war to pick up the spirits. Couldn't we put a tariff on all Chinese goods on the grounds that they're dumping labor on the US market?

Remedial Reading: Lost in the shuffle of upbeat employment data was this: 592,579 people rolled off the much extended continuing unemployment benefits table and dribbled, unnoticed, onto the floor.

Housing Sets Record: There will be 3.9 million foreclosure fillings in the US this year. That's 20% more than last year's 3.2 million. Foreclosures won't decline until after unemployment peaks and begins to recede. Don't hold your breath.

Decoder Ring: According to the Atlanta Fed, if small regional banks get crushed by the collapsing CRE market, they won't have any money to lend small business, and small businesses are what put people back to work.

Timed Exercise: List the ten most likely geopolitical disasters. Sarah Palin is not one of the answers, and Israel attacking Iran is a gimmie.

Throat Clearing: Brazil's November iron ore exports fell 15% below the average for the previous quarter, following a reduction in Chinese demand. Add that to the sudden slowdown in vessels hired to haul Australian coal to China, and you might think China is cutting way back in natural resource consumption. And you might think that would not be a good thing for commodity prices, either. Don't read too much into one month's data – it might be like the BLS data, just a blip.

Refining: “How can we sustain a modern industrial society on alternative energy?” is too long. “How can we sustain modern industrial civilization?” is still too long. “Can we sustain industrial civilization?” Ah, that's the question.

Depth and Taxes: The recovery is a bit hard to subscribe to when you learn that personal income tax withholding is down 8% y/y and corporate withholding taxes are down 64%.

The Old Order Passeth: Under the terms of the Brussels agreement, which will come into force in two months’ time, the CIA will have access to information on all EU bank accounts, in aid of its terrorist finance tracking program. What's that? Does the CIA do the same thing in the US? Silly question.

Porn O'Graph: The map to nowhere.


lineside said...

ck, re "refining":

greer's error is that he sees things only through the lens of the knowledge and technology that exists today. he takes no account of the substantial probability that the cost and effectiveness of solar and other alternate energy sources will improve exponentially from where they are now (as they indeed have from where they were 20 years ago), or that the energy efficiency per unit of GDP will continue to improve as well (as it has). I'm not saying the transition will be easy, but it is by no means hopeless.


Eric Hacker said...


I think your exponential expectations are not backed up by the real data. Please show links.

A real example: Near me is Solar Now, which was initially funded and built in 1981 through government research into solar initiated by Pres. Carter. Although it would certainly cost a lot less to replace all the solar panels now than when they were initially installed, it still does not make financial sense to do so.

That is, the efficiency of new solar panels has not improved significantly enough in 30 years to justify replacing the old solar panels. Imagine saying the same thing with a 30 year old computer where improvements have been exponential.

I suggest you take a look at for some realistic number crunching on the availability of alternative energy.

lineside said...

eric: thanks for your comment, took a quick scan of the site you suggested, looks like of lot of interesting stuff there.

i'm not suggesting that alternatives will ride the same efficiency curve we saw in computers - few technologies have or will. fortunately we don't need anywhere near that kind of growth to eventually to substantially diminish our reliance on fossil fuels.

one thing worth considering is that there's a whole lot more capital being dedicated to the alternatives proposition today than 10, 20, or 30 years ago, which is likely to result in an acceleration of gains.

also, consider that it's still relatively early days for alternatives, and the possibilities for its eventual productivity are probably hard for us to imagine at this point.

i would bet that if you told someone in 1920 that we would find a way to extract, refine and deliver to market 75 million barrels of oil per day, or told someone in 1970 that we would today be able to access a thing called the internet from ubiquitous mobile phones, they would have called you stone crazy...


Anonymous said...

Taxing the Goose: Wall Street execs say levying high taxes on their obscene bonuses is likely to drive the best and the brightest out of finance. I doubt it, for there's little evidence that any of the best and the brightest are in finance.

There is a "best and brightest"? For the last thirty years in the US, all I've seen is the Worst and the Dimmest which perfectly proves the existence of a self serving and self perpetuating Oligarchy. Since the US is not a meritocracy, the last thing in the World it can produce is a "best and brightest" in any sector of Society.

Anonymous said...

Progressives wanting to emulate China? Why am not surprised?

But if you insist, I don't like China's egalitarian approach to population control; rather, it should be based on means testing. However, that approach would reduce your voting base.

I would be disappointed if we weren't using our drones for spying on Iran and Pakistan. Both countries, together with North Korea, represent a threat to not only the west, but the entire world.

CKMichaelson said...

Anony 2:45. I could admit that my version of population limitation would involve parental testing (knowledge and biologic), educational requirements, intrusive monitoring of child rearing and still a 1 per customer limit. But I'm not going to admit that, so no viscous attacks, please.

TomOfTheNorth said...

re: One Per Customer

According to the CIA World Fact Book, China ranks 150 out of 223 in terms of birthrate (lower ranking = more births). The U.S. ranks 153. In fact most industrialized nations have lower birth rates than China. Equal access to education & civil rights are far more effective tools in this regard than are centralized edicts intruding into the most personal decisions & aspects of peoples lives.

CKMichaelson said...

Yes, education and improved economic security works wonders for birth control. Teaching girls calculus is nearly 100% effective.

But here in the real world, with an economic system that lurches about, how are we to provide education, employment and economic security for 10 - 15 million newcomers each month? We can't (or don't) take care of those who are here now. Not even those here in the USofA now.

I suspect that both government coercion and education are non-starters and that Mrs. Nature will find Another Way.

But it is not a bad idea to get people to think about the problem - maybe someone in a garage somewhere will come up with a solution.