Friday, January 21, 2011

SAR #11021

What middle class Americans need is middle class jobs.

Peak Food?  When oil prices zoom upwards the explanations are either 'peak oil' or 'speculation'. With food it comes down to supply/demand and speculation based on supply/demand. Either way, the chickens have come home (to America) to roost. GM, Kraft and Kellogg have begun hiking prices on their products. Hope they got The Chairman's approval, because Mr. Bernanke is pretty sure that (a) there is no inflation and (b) price increases on food and fuel don't count.

Health Care, The Substitute:  The Republicans have revealed their plan to improve America's health care: Stop all those pesky malpractice suits and keep people from suing the doctors who injured them. That's it. Feel better?

Cyberwar as Boogeyman:  An OECD study concludes that 'cyberwar' is mainly a boogeyman designed to frighten the public and control internet activity while increasing the budget and profile of cyberwarriors. Just don't ask Iran about the Stuxnet worm.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines:  A bankruptcy court has ruled that Vallejo, CA can void contracts with public employee's unions as part of a bankruptcy. The city has already informed its unsecured creditors that they would receive as little as 5 cents on the dollar from the city. Pension plans in Illinois are about $200 billion in the hole and unlikely to bridge the gap – another blow to public employees. In Los Angeles whole departments will be eliminated and employees terminated. And on it goes. Even as JPMorgan forecasts increasing numbers of munincipal bankruptcies, Bernanke repeats his view that the Federal Reserve's authority will not permit the Fed to rescue bankrupt cities. Only their banks and stockbrokers.

100% Unlikely:  Some pathetically optimistic folks are claiming that building 4 million wind turbines, etc. etc. by 2030 is possible and would produce enough energy to replace fossil fuels. That's 700 new wind turbines a day, every day, for 20 years. In what world, with what governmental system?

Ben Tre:  Last October the Afghan town of Tarok Kolache received 25 tons of bombs from General Petraeus's counterinsurgency offensive. But, the military assures us, there were no civilian casualties. And now no town, either.

Department of Duh: “FBI: MLK parade bomb may have been racially motivated.”

Bonding:  Goldman Sachs says holders of Greek Bonds are unlikely to be repaid in full. Maybe in half. Ireland is offering its bondholders 70 cents on the dollar, which BNP Paribas urges them to take. Can you hum the tune to Sovereign Defaults Don't Happen?

Can You Hear Me Now?  ExxonMobil expects global carbon emissions to rise by nearly 25% in the next 20 years, in effect dismissing hopes that runaway climate change can be stopped. And that assumes only a 40% increase in demand for energy and the use of “less carbon-intensive fuels.” The Pollyannaish forecast of only a 2.1ºC to 3.7ºC rise this century is hopelessly beyond reach.

Doubled Trouble:  Funny thing, scientists now admit that they underestimated the amount that the melting of Arctic ice and snow would contribute to global warming. By half.

Health Care Reform Explained:  A short presentation by those who think America is too great to improve.

Yes, But:  “If the cost of labor increases, someone has to pay for it. Laborers may pay in the form of decreased work opportunities, investors may pay in the form of decreased returns on capital, or consumers may pay in the form of higher prices required by increased costs.” But if the cost of labor decreases, someone benefits, either the investors or the consumers. Oh, wait. The consumers are also the laborers and thus have lost even more of their ability to buy what they make and that will cost the investors money, too. Slave labor is a good idea as long as you have a large pool of consumers who are immune from slavery. Did Mises have a formula for that?

Porn O'Graph:  Stopping the starts.


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

re food price inflation (and yes, it never ceases to amaze me that food and fuel don't get counted in the consumer price index) - not so long ago - during the 21st century - it was normal for a half gallon of ice cream to have a half gallon in it, or two quarts. However - 1.85, 1.75, and now 1.5 quarts is the normal size.

I shouldn't complain, I guess - at least I'm reducing use of onions because they're too expensive, as they are in India.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

NOT reducing.

Sky said...

|| ExxonMobil expects global carbon emissions to rise by nearly 25% in the next 20 years...||

...ah, but look in paragraph 10, how Exxon expects U.S. consumption to have fallen back to 1960 levels.

My god. You know as well as I do that Americans won't all be hugging trees and riding bikes to Walmart in 20 years.

1960 levels. Wow. Canape, anyone?

CKMichaelson said...

Sky - I thought Exxon was being wildly optimistic or else factoring in a long hard depression followed by an economic retreat for the US and China. I take their comments as endorsing business as usual with a great deal of smoke, mirrors and unwarranted optimism - in short, we're screwed.

But we all know this, just pretend we don't.


lineside said...

CK, re: "Double Trouble".

I'm not sure it's accurate to say "scientists admit they underestimated the amount that the melting of Arctic ice and snow would contribute to global warming by half."

What the article actually says is that a new study suggests that the prevailing climate models incorrectly predicted the amount of melting that would be caused by global warming, not the other way around.

If the study is correct, it would also suggest that climate modeling is still very much a work in progress...if the models are off by 50% over a thirty year period regarding just one variable, how much confidence should we have that all the other variables will miraculously model out exactly as forecast through the year 2100?

I may be jaded by my past experience, but I've encountered folks with advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, and computer science who also thought their models had it all figured out..the so-called "rocket scientists" of the mortgage trading arena.

So I'm all for doing right by our planet, but I don't hold a religious belief in forecasting models of any enormously complex system.

Have a great weekend.-

kwark said...

Re what lineside said Yeah, models suck until they don't. So it looks like the models UNDER-predicted the globe's decrease in albedo. Wonder how denialists will massage that bit of bad news? So my grandchildren will be in even deeper shit than we thought. Party on.

OSR said...

100% Unlikely
To paraphrase the First Law of Thermodynamics: Gas, grass or ass--nobody rides free. Thus, at some point, the number wind turbines will began to influence the climate. The same argument holds with solar panels and all the other green technologies. Unfortunately, the Laws of Thermodynamics are impervious to lobbying and campaign contributions.

CKMichaelson said...

Laws - It'd be an interesting engineers exercise to figure out how much wind-energy turbines take from the wind at some 'average' windspeed. How many turbines would it take to significantly alter the windspeed and thus influence the local weather (if not - ripples in a pond - regional climate).

And what about that portion of the wind's energy that is turned to heat by friction in the turbine - with b'jillions of turbines would the extra heat have significant impacts?

Damn, everything's connected. And maybe we should spend more time and effort on figuring these things out before we get surprised.


lineside said...

Kwark, with respect, the fact that the model was off by 50% in underestimating albedo over an extremely short period of climate time does not prove anything in support (or refute) of warming.

"Models suck until they don't" - well, the same could be said about a broken clock, because it would be right fourteen times a week. But most would agree that such a clock would have very little value.

I'm not saying that the study highlighted by the article proves the model wrong - it doesn't. But to suggest that a 50% miss should increase one's confidence in any model's predictive capacity is turning logic on its head.

CKMichaelson said...

Why is it that propensity for science to improve by finding errors in previous science is not seen as the very basis for the betterment of theory. If all existing science explained everything perfectly we would not need scientists, just priests. Finding errors and correcting them is the bread and butter of science, not a failing.