12/29/2014

Is capitalism enshrined in the U.S. constitution?

The USA Constitution doesn’t really endorse capitalism. It’s a description of the government, its branches, how it works, and a list of individual rights. 

I ran away from a communist dictatorship when I was 14, landed in a refugee camp in Europe, and had time to think and discuss the topic with a very diverse group of people over the years. 

Capitalism, socialism, communism, and other systems are not necessarily linked to democracy or dictatorship. Communism concentrates power, puts a smallish and very fanatic elite at the top, and therefore it ALWAYS creates the conditions for dictatorship. 


Capitalism, if allowed to function with monopolies, cartels, and corrupted government officials, can create the environment for oligarchy and autocratic rule. This is what we have seen in Latin America until democracy seemed to be gaining ground at the end of the 20th century. Capitalism is entrenched in the USA because it has worked extremely well. As far as I can see, it is also creating the conditions for oligarchy to emerge. I have doubts the system will correct itself unless the people focus more on electing honest politicians rather than so many bullshitters. 

On the other hand, communist systems self correct by imploding or moving into Neo fascism, or whatever you want to call that abomination the Chinese use. Overall capitalism is much better than communism. 

Links to my most popular funny stories from 2014

These are links to some of the most popular posts from 2014. I kept out material loaded with politics and global warming scientific papers I like to write. If you want to see the list and the links read on...

12/26/2014

President Obombo opens relations with Cabo Caballo

Kumbasi -- President Patrice Obombo announced a successful prisoner exchange with Waziria´s neighbor, the slave island nation of Cabo Caballo, as well as the re-establishment  of diplomatic relations with the regime led by President Ernesto Kambo.  

Waziria´s President, Patrice  Obombo,  announces
 prisoner exchange  and renewal 
of diplomatic relations with  Cabo Caballo

President Obombo praised the heroism of Wazirian diplomats who traveled to Cabo Caballo to deliver three Cabo Caballo spies, and to recover two Wazirian citizens held by the Kambo regime, and also confirmed rumours that Wazirian diplomats would negotiate the end to hostilities, including the suspension of economic sanctions imposed by Waziria, which forbid trade between the two nations (the only exception being  Wazirian agricultural product sales to Cabo Caballo, as well as the transfer of $2 billion USD per year by Cabo Caballo refugees to their family members).

The president  reminded the Wazirian people that disagreements over Cabo Caballo policies,  between his administration and his political opponent, Senator Bala, could be papered over but would require gifts and perks for the Conservative  Bala faction in the Wazirian Senate. "Many of  them have signed up to support this initiative because they see a huge opportunity for Wazirian companies to profit " President Obombo  said speaking from Greystoke House.

President Obombo also addressed himself to the demands made by  Cabo Caballo refugees residing in Waziria.  These refugees,  designated by the Kambo forces in Cabo Caballo as “capitalist worms”,  moved by the millions into Waziria over the last six decades, and today hold significant political and economic power,  after acquiring Wazirian citizenship and buying up most of the businesses around Waziria´s second largest city, New Yolo.  

"We need to call them what they are, which is Wazirian and Cabo Caballo heroes," said the president, surrounded by loyal politicians and important businessmen representing the “Foreign Interests Investors´Fund” as he spoke in the Greystoke House Royals Room. "They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. However, they must accept that business comes before human rights.  Waziria´s business community and the more progressive factions in our “Change is Coming" party clamor for closer relations with the Cabo Caballo government enterprises. We trade with all sorts of dictatorships and human rights abusers around the world, so what´s the big deal about dealing with the Kambo regime? They aren´t Hamas, and that´s what counts.”

12/16/2014

Global Warming 101 Short Course

I´ve been asked to comment on the “fact” that college educated Republicans tend to be “climate deniers” who ignore “facts” as expressed by “the scientific consensus”. This short course is a comment on this point, with emphasis on teaching the reader about something called "data". 

This short course is intended to clarify some points

The request included a link to “The Ugly Delusions of the Educated Conservative” by Chris Mooney  in  Salon.com (see link below).  The article subtitle:

“Better-educated Republicans are more likely to doubt global warming and believe Obama's a Muslim. Here's why”.

I´m not “Conservative”, nor “Republican”. And I´m not a Democrat either. This makes me an excellent arbiter when it comes to their cat fights. In this short course I will ignore the remark about President Obama being a Muslim (he´s probably agnostic like me and faked being Christian to get elected).

Quoting from the article:

..”the rapidly growing social scientific literature on the resistance to global warming (see for examples here and here) says so pretty unequivocally. Again and again, Republicans or conservatives who say they know more about the topic, or are more educated, are shown to be more in denial, and often more sure of themselves as well—and are confident they don’t need any more information on the issue.”

The first here in this paragraph goes to a Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire website. It doesn´t show anything related to global warming, climate change, or related subjects. The Second here goes to a paper by Malka et al 2009, “The Association of Knowledge with Concern About Global Warming: Trusted Information Sources Shape Public Thinking” (see link below). The Malka et al paper has a flaw: it´s based on population surveys, and these were limited to asking people about “climate change”. Most of it is garbage and it doesn´t back anything. 

12/15/2014

The Lima Global Warming Conference has ended

The UN´s Global Warming conference, held in Lima, issued a very weak resolution. Summarizing, they couldn´t come to an agreement, and postponed further action until after the Christmas holidays. The media has articles which range from ho hum to victory chants meant to disguise this failure. The conference opened with a very moving speech by Ban Ki Moon about Global Warming...

Ban Ki Moon BSing and asking for ´
$100 billion a year at the Lima conference

Yahoo News wrote this about the opening speech: 

Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels.

"But the window of opportunity is fast narrowing," he told delegates from about 190 nations at the Dec. 1-12 talks working on a deal, due in Paris in a year's time, to limit rising world greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is not a time for tinkering; it is a time for transformation," he said.

Ban urged developed nations to "meet and exceed" a wider goal set in 2009 of mobilizing at least $100 billion a year, in both public and private finance, by 2020 to help developing nations.

Uhu, so this is mainly about moving a lot of  cash from A to B. 

12/06/2014

Communist versus capitalist cavemen, a story.

The left is understood to be oblivious to fundamental physics (and economics).  This tale is intended as a brief, simple lesson to explain why communism doesn't work:

Two Paleolithic hunter clans live close to each other  in what today is known as the Neander valley. Their respective leaders.  Grok and Hunk, have cave-comunes.

Cavemen discussing politics

Grok, capitalist by nature, has his hunters spend all their efforts hunting for meat, limit their hunting expeditions to no more than two days' march because the energy spent dragging a dead deer back to the cave exceeds the energy they will get from the meat.

Hunk, on the other hand, is a proto Marxist caveman, doesn't get the idea, and allows his men to hunt up to four days away.

Over time, Grok's clan grows healthier and their children are bigger. Hunk's people, on the other hand are skinny, their children are runts.

Hunk, being a proto Marxist,  starts organizing auto criticism sessions, to have hunters reveal their failure to return with as much meat as needed. He also prepares a five year plan which requires 5 %/year increase in meat catch and a reward system to have a "hunter of the year", whose prize is a cap with red feathers.

The plan fails, and hunters try to abandon Hunk's cave to move to Grok's clan. This forces him to assign 5%  of the clan population to serve as snoops and guard their borders to prevent escapes. The plan fails when the two largest hunters manage to get away with their families, and the remaining hunters kill Hunk, and replace him with Orc, a proto capitalist like Grok.

11/28/2014

Situation in Venezuelan Prisons Worsens

Situation in Venezuelan Prisons Worsens 

From the Editors of VenEconomy

Venezuela’s penitentiary system has been ravaged by the revolutionary "marabunta"  (wolf spider) for many years now.

Recent events include those that took place at the Rodeo I and II prisons (Guatire, Miranda state) in 2011 that left 16 dead and more than 20 people wounded, as well as other detention centers such as Uribana (Lara state), Tocorón (Aragua state) or La Planta (Caracas). The latter was shut down in 2012.

Wounded Uribana prisoner, from Reportero 24.com, 
which reported over 100 prisoners were massacred by 
the venezuelan National Guard in January 2013. 

11/21/2014

Highly Recommended Article about the Cuban dictatorship

The following  is a quote from an article by  Miriam Celaya at 14 y medio:

After the demise of the Soviet Union and of socialism in Eastern Europe, the regime managed, with relative success, an unprecedented economic crisis in Cuba, euphemistically known as the “Special Period”, thanks to two key factors: foreign investment from a group of adventurous entrepreneurs who believed that a virgin market and a system in ruins were sufficient conditions for bargaining advantageously  and the forced establishment of  opening enterprise in the form of small family business, two elements that had been demonized for decades, since the nationalization, in the early sixties, of foreign capital businesses, and seizing of small businesses later, during the so-called Revolutionary Offensive of 1968.

Hugo Chávez with his mentor, Fidel Castro. Today
 Cuba is ruled by Fidel´s younger brother, Raul, who 
in turn is grooming his eldest son  to take over power 
when he retires (photo from Natl Geographic) 

In the late 90’s, however, a new possibility for subsidies appeared on the scene, in the form of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. His deeply populist and egotistical government assumed the maintenance of the Castro system based on the exploitation and ruthless squandering that country’s oil. At the same time, he sustained the Cuban sovereignty myth. This myth is the foundation of the revolutionary anti-imperialist tale (David vs. Goliath), played endlessly in this ignorant and superstitious region by a host of leftist opportunistic intellectuals that thrive in Latin America.

11/17/2014

Obama-China + Europe CO2 Plan Results

The CO2 emissions as per the USA, China, and EU stated goals have been estimated to yield a 0.2 degree C temperature reduction by 2050. This figure was estimated assuming all other nations followed either the USA or the Chinese commitments (I assumed the EU commitment is too stupid to be copied by other nations). 

The USA China agreement is soft, Obama celebrated the deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. He seemed really happy he got the Chinese to stop growing their emissions after 2030. 

Obama toasts the big deal with Xi Jingping 

If we follow my method then we have three sets of CO2 emissions  commitments:

i. EU commitment, 40 % reduction by 2030.
ii. USA commitment, 28 % reduction by 2025.
iii. China commitment, continued growth and no more increases beyond 2030.

Given the lack of stated commitments by other nations, I used my judgment and placed them in one of the three groups above. I also extrapolated these commitments assuming all nations except for Africa would continue reducing their CO2 emissions by 2.1 % per year. This happens to be the reduction the USA has to use to achieve Obama´s pledge to the Chinese.

The Chinese and other Asian nations (except Japan and South Korea)  are the gorillas in the CO2 emissions scenarios. Because they, as well as minor players (Latin America, former Soviet Union, and so on) do not reduce emissions growth until 2030 the total world´s emissions will continue to rise and peak at 20 % above today´s level, as shown in this graph:

CO2 emissions if all nations participate 
in CO2 reduction efforts in three classes…

However, if we assume 50 % of the CO2 emissions do not stay in the atmosphere (this is roughly what happened over the last century), then CO2 concentrations reach 493 ppm by 2050 (versus 536 ppm if we use my estimate of fossil fuel burn rate, documented in a previous post).

11/14/2014

We can blame the USA for low oil prices

World oil prices have been dropping recently, from over $100 per barrel to less than $80 per barrel in November (I expect they will be around $40 to $50 for a while, then start climbing and return to the $80 level by early 2016). 

Low oil prices benefit consumers, hurt tax collectors, and really hurt economically  weak OPEC members like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iran. Lower oil prices also hurt USA producers, who are the ones causing the oil price drop, as you´ll see below...


Drilling rig 

Oil prices are dropping because US oil producers are drilling and fracking a large number of horizontal wells, and this has caused a hefty increase in US oil and other liquids production. However, I should clarify that production from those fracked horizontal wells tends to include a large fraction of very light hydrocarbons, which aren´t real crude oil. These light hydrocarbons are ethane (C2H4), propane (C3H8) and butane (C4C10). These liquids can´t really be considered crude oil.

The USA production increase is also due to higher condensate production (condensate is found in the gas phase in the reservoir, but will turn into a liquid phase at surface conditions). Condensate production statistics are hard to get, but my guess is that a significant fraction of production increases we are seeing are condensates and not crude oil.

11/08/2014

The Global Warming Pause doesn´t exist

The denial propaganda machine has been spreading the idea that global warming has "paused" or is on “hiatus”.   This is seen mostly on Fox News and other extremists media.

This right wing propaganda ignores the scientific basis for global warming, which as President Obama explained is supported by 97 % of the scientists who are scared by this whole issue.

To reinforce your faith I´d like to  quote my fellow warmist Graham Redfern at The Guardian:

There never was a "pause" in global warming or climate change. For practical purposes, the so-called "pause" in global warming is not even a thing.”

I´d like to add a quote from Emily Atkin at “Think Progress”, who wrote:

“It’s one of the most oft-used arguments put forth by climate deniers: that there has been “no global warming” for the last 17 years, as evidenced by a supposed lack of increase in global average surface temperature.”

Dear readers, when it comes to global warming the key is to focus on real data, use the long term trends, and have faith in the climate models. Denialists are like demons, they  like to trick you into losing your faith. They do it by “cherrypicking” the data.

To make you immune to their trickery I´m going to show you a plot of the lower atmosphere temperature published by Dr Mears at RSS:

Temperature plot from Dr. Mears at RSS showing
 there´s  no hiatus if we ignore the flat temperature
 trend after the year 2000. 

10/30/2014

Waziria´s President Obombo vows to maintain open borders policy

Kumbasi -- President Patrice Obombo on Wednesday touted the heroism of health care workers fighting Ebola in Waziria as well as neighboring Liberia, and vowed to maintain open borders to ease the flow of medical personnel as well as patients between Waziria and Liberia.

President Obombo giving another Ebola press conference

The statements emphasized  the disagreement between the President and politicians such as Senators Bala and New Yolo Governor Krumah, who want the borders closed and insist health workers quarantined when they come home.

"All of them have signed up to head straight into the heart of the Ebola epidemic," President Obombo  said during a Greystoke House event honoring Wazirian and American  doctors and nurses returning from Liberia and Eastern Waziria, the Ebola front lines.

"We need to call them what they are, which is Wazirian and American heroes," he said, surrounded by doctors and nurses in the Greystoke House Royals Room. "They deserve our gratitude and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."

Some of the health care workers who shared the podium with President Obombo were within the 21-day monitoring period recommended by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people potentially exposed to Ebola, a Greystoke House official told The Wazirian Times. The official added that the workers have followed the American CDC  guidance and that none were symptomatic before  they were in close contact with President Obombo and other officials.  

President Obombo´s policy has been heavily criticized after it was revealed both the Wazirian and USA military personnel fighting the Ebola epidemic had been placed under a much stricter quarantine protocol than the one used by the Wazirian government for civilians. This “Civilian Ebola Protocol” is identical to the one being used by the American Centers for Disease Control, and is  considered by some American governors as well as foreign governments to be insufficient and extremely irresponsible.

10/29/2014

Are NASA employees color blind?

Last night I read “Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum” by Willis Eisenbach at “Watts Up With That?”. The post shows that ocean surface temperature usually reaches a maximum of 30 degrees C, and very seldom goes beyond this point. This prompted me to look at the latest ARGO ocean temperature data, which confirmed what Eisenbach wrote.

But this morning  I recalled having seen NASA maps which showed sea surface temperatures exceeding 30 degrees C. These maps have always puzzled me, because  about 40 years ago I worked on a project measuring ocean temperatures, and I had never seen anything exceeding 30 degrees C either. So I decided to look up the NASA maps to see what they showed. Interestingly, they have a map here 


This site  shows ocean temperatures exceeding 30 degrees C all over the place. The map legend says it´s May 2001 data obtained using MODIS1.

Because this  NASA map looks so spooky, I decided to check the color palette they used to show ocean temperature (I copied and pasted a simple scale). Then I  cut and pasted the 30 to 31 degrees C color palette range onto the Indian ocean, an area NASA shows was way above 31 degrees in May 2001:



Edited NASA map. I included a numerical temperature
 range on top of the color legend, then copied the 30 to 31 
degree C square on the Indian Ocean to confirm NASA´s map
 showed large ocean areas exceeding 31 degrees C.


10/28/2014

Military defends its Ebola precautions as stricter than CDC’s

Military quarantine protocols are stricter than the CDC´s, the US military is imposing strict quarantine for soldiers leaving Liberia they think may have been in contact with Ebola. The following is from the Washington Post:

“Marine Maj. Gen. James Lariviere, a member of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Defense Department protocols for dealing with the disease “exceed” the standard set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The current outbreak has killed about 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

General Lavarriere explains to Congressional 
Committee the stricter US Army protocol. 

No U.S. troops will directly treat Ebola patients, but the Pentagon’s guidelines, released Oct. 10, call for troops who deploy to western Africa to monitor their temperature twice a day. Those who report potential exposure to the virus will be subject to additional evaluations by medical professional designated by the Defense Department.

Personnel from the US Army Medical Research Institute
 on Infectious Diseases train a US soldier to dress properly. 

In the 10 days before leaving Africa, commanders have the authority to keep troops in a controlled environment where they can receive additional monitoring. Once they have left Africa, individuals with no known exposure must continue to monitor their temperature for 21 days. Those who are removed from Africa due to an elevated exposure risk must be quarantined for 21 days for closer monitoring.

10/25/2014

Waziria´s President Obombo assures population Ebola is under control

The President of the Republic of Waziria, Patrice Obombo, has given assurances to the population that government measures to control Ebola are working fine.

President Obombo at press conference

At a press conference in Waziria´s capital, Kumbasi, President Obombo expressed hopes the epidemic would be under control within a year. He also explained the main problem was in Liberia, where Wazirian troops were already working shoulder to shoulder with volunteers from all countries to fight this terrible disease.

The following are some excerpts from his press conference:

"Let me begin by thanking my great friend, President Barak Obama  -- and his entire cabinet -- for making our fight against Ebola such a success. As you know, our measures are a copy of US protocols and Ebola response plans, which they have kindly agreed to provide us at no cost.  And I want to thank the volunteers from all nations, and especially those from the USA,  who are coming to Waziria on their vacations to work in our hospices and Ebola wards.

We’re at a time of testing.  The Ebola epidemic threatens our vision of a Waziria that is whole, free and at peace.  And I want to thank the outside help for giving us the resources and the volunteers to meet the Ebola challenge.

We must be resolute in reassuring our population everything is fine in spite of the 853 deaths we have suffered thus far.  We have provided for the USA and European visitors to provide two week rotations of additional volunteers in Eastern Waziria for as long as necessary. This has been arranged with the group of visitors from several dozen NGO´s and countries who arrived in Kumbasi yesterday. 

10/23/2014

Improving Communication About Potentially Catastrophic Risks

Engineering assessments of future high wind and solar power penetration tend to focus on central estimates and may understate or ignore the significance of low probability outcomes that may have extremely severe consequences (extending to but no limited to catastrophic risks). This relative neglect of tail risks is partly a result of traditions in prediction and forecasting, and conservatism about phenomena  for which very few data and information exist.

Wind Turbine on Fire (Daily Mail UK)

The misinterpretation of such engineering assessments can have adverse results. Even though the central estimates of high(1) wind and solar power penetration scenarios present obvious dangers, the tails of lower wind and solar power penetration scenarios still contain very serious risks which may be overlooked by policy-makers. Economic analyses may omit the possibility of catastrophic impacts, leading to substantial under-estimates of damage caused by high wind and solar power penetration.

10/22/2014

Nuclear Plants Construction: a Proposal for Africa

The world´s surface temperature is changing in a fashion that doesn´t fully support widely accepted climate models (the data doesn’t fit the model predictions).  Most climatologists  agree that none of their models are correct because they are rough mathematical descriptions of the real world. This weakens the case being made for an urgent switch from fossil fuels to some other energy source.

However, the world will replace fossil fuels with some other form of energy and slow down greenhouse gas emissions. This will happen simply because we´ll have run out of oil, natural gas, and coal. The timing is highly uncertain, the changeover may be driven by climate change hysteria, or by astronomical fossil fuel prices.  

If you find the logic unconvincing, you are not alone. Some will think  it is obviously wrong; but it doesn´t matter. Change is inevitable, and don´t forget this:  you read it here first.  

This change requires a starting point, the development of alternative energy sources for the third world. Given its enormous population in this work we propose  the construction of sixty nuclear power plants in sub Saharan Africa. 

Koeberg, sub-Saharan Africa´s only nuclear power plant. 

Such a project would be an enormous triumph for the environment. Also, the first, 60 plant Phase I, would consume over $1 X 1012 US Dollars (that´s  one trillion greenbacks for Americans), and generate hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

The outcome, unfortunately, is not a completely safe one. After we get the first 60  nuclear plants buit, the conditions may not be optimal and lead to a(many)  nuclear incident(s).  From this perspective, a nuclear power plant doesn´t solve the problem, it merely changes the kind of problems we would be facing.

10/21/2014

Is Venezuela Running out of oil?

Reuters has reported that Venezuela is importing light crude oil,  to dilute with the Orinoco Heavy Oil belt crude,  a technique which allows the blend to be exported to overseas refineries. According to PDVSA´s official story,  the crude is being imported because they are shutting down an oil upgrader they own,  together with Total and Statoil,  for planned maintenance. However, they left out Venezuela´s shortage of internally produced light and medium grade crude oils, which PDVSA could have used as a diluent.

PDVSA-Total-Statoil´s Heavy Oil  Venezuela Upgrader 
(so much for the oil industry being"nationalized" by Chávez)

The following sketch shows Venezuela´s extra heavy oil fields and associated production, treatment and export systems. Added to these systems is the import crude oil and naphta stream, a relatively new development, which appears to be required due to production drops at Venezuela´s medium and light oil fields.

My own sketch of Venezuela´s Orinoco Heavy
 Oil Belt Production and Export System showing 
the new incoming tanker loads of imported crudes

10/15/2014

Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire...

This is a plug for Rockwell´s “Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card…”. What follows is a quote from Rockwell´s website. 

Lew Rockwell himself

“The respectables of left and right do not deign to show where we’re wrong, of course. The very fact that we’ve strayed from the approved spectrum is refutation enough. That’s why I’ve called these people the thought controllers, the commissars, or the enforcers of approved opinion.

Let me modify that: once in a while they do try to show where we’re wrong, but they can almost never manage even to state our position correctly, much less muster an effective argument against it. These purpose of these alleged replies is not to shed light, but to demonize libertarians in the public mind.

In Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion – my first book in nearly four years – I take aim at these critics and their arguments.

Part I covers foreign policy and war. The regime has fostered more confusion among the public over these issues than any other. Conservatives, of all people, wind up supporting courses of action that (1) expand the power of the state over civil society; (2) are justified on the basis of propaganda they’d laugh at if it came from the mouths of Saddam Hussein or Nikita Khrushchev; and (3) violate the absolute standards of morality that conservatives never tire of telling us are under assault. The antiwar reputation of left-liberals, meanwhile, is almost entirely undeserved; the mainstream left supported every major U.S. war of the twentieth century.

10/13/2014

Human Adaptation to Climate Change Stressors

An animals’s individual personality may be among the factors that could improve chances of successfully coping with environmental stressors caused by climate change (Cockrem 2014).  This applies in particular to humans. Differences in the level of the stress hormone secreted when exposed to stressful  climate change stimuli have been measured, and confirm that people can suffer when exposed to climate change information. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts temperatures could jump by over 6 degrees within 100 years, turning the word into an extremely hot desert (Figure 1). 

Figure 1. The world of the future according to the IPCC. 
This vision can really stress some people. 

10/12/2014

Ebola: Who is failing to protect the USA?

Summary:  Response to the Ebola epidemic has been woefully weak. This is a new type of menace which the government, in spite of all the supposed emphasis on Homeland Defense and Health Care, hasn´t prepared for properly. The lack of preparation is shown by the scrambling we see to fix gaps identified by the Dallas Ebola case (which has already led to a second infection in Dallas).  The weak Government preparation and response was caused by the  “nobody is in charge” and “rookies control the top post” syndromes. 

Neither Homeland Security, nor Health and Human Services seem to be fully in charge, and their heads are new on the job. Homeland Defense´s Jeh Johnson, a lawyer,took over the job in December 2013.  Health and Human Services´ Sylvia Burwell, a management type took over the job in June 2014.  They weren´t chosen because they were top notch at stopping an epidemic.  

The inadequate responses to the Ebola threat by both Federal, State, and local authorities in the USA are evident. The fact that a man landed in the USA after being in contact with an Ebola patient who died a few hours later, got sick with fever, went to a hospital in Dallas, was sent home with an aspirin…

10/09/2014

The Ebola Hotspot: History of the American Colony of Liberia

The Ebola epidemic´s hotspot appears to be Liberia, a country founded by colonial settlers from the USA. The following is a brief overview of the country´s sad history, including the events which led to the health system´s collapse, which in turn allowed the Ebola epidemic to become much more deadlier than in nearby nations.  

Liberia in 1830, map prepared by the American Colonization Society

Founding of Liberia, 1847

The founding of Liberia in the early 1800s was motivated by the domestic politics of slavery and race in the United States as well as by U.S. foreign policy interests. In 1816, a group of white Americans founded the American Colonization Society (ACS) to deal with the “problem” of the growing number of free blacks in the United States by resettling them in Africa. 

10/06/2014

Two strange murders in Caracas

Update: The Nuevo Herald from Miami reports Serra was murdered by his homosexual lover, who also served as his bodyguard. The Nuevo Herald article  (in Spanish) is here

 http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/venezuela-es/article9529172.html

The ordinal post starts here:

Venezuela´s dictator, Nicolás Maduro, and his mentors in Havana went ballistic after the murder of Robert Serra and his girlfriend on Wednesday, October 1st. Serra, a member of the National Assembly (which today is a rubber stamp body) was a lawyer with top notch red credentials.

What really got to Maduro was the way they got to Serra and emptied his safe even though he had been provided with several bodyguards. To Maduro´s horror the  guy was found in his armoured house in La Pastora, a low rent district in Caracas, together with his “secretary” (which is also reported to have been his lover). Both had been stabbed numerous times, and wrapped like mummies in masking tape.

The dead guy, Robert Serra,  mouthing off

Speaking at Serra´s burial service, Maduro said the murder´s  “intellectual authors” were outside Venezuela, mentioned Colombian ex-President  Alvaro Uribe, and said the “murderers will be captured” (1) . 

As we know by now, ex Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is now a mental vegetable, but the regime continues to use him as a prop.  From Havana an official source said the old geezer was outraged, felt the CIA was involved, because the murder just couldn´t be an accident.

So what´s the big deal about a couple of murders in a country where 20 thousand are murdered a year? 


10/04/2014

Qualitative Analysis of President Obama´s Speech at the UN

Qualitative analysis of President Obama´s speech, given at the United Nations on September 24th, has been performed using word count statistics and my own bias as points of departure. Social psychology principles allow qualitative analysis without statistical data. This includes observation and interviews. Qualitative research should emphasize the analysis may not be extended to a general population when the sample is small (Hsieh 2005).

Figure 1. President Obama at the UN on Sept  24, 2014. 
The facial expression and hand movements displayed a 
typical homo sapiens “alpha male” posture.

Content analysis of President Obama´s speech was carried out using WORDTM software. This powerful tool allows the systematic analysis of political speech. As Stemler wrote: “It also allows inferences to be made which can then be corroborated using other methods of data collection. Krippendorff (1980) notes that "[m]uch content analysis research is motivated by the search for techniques to infer from symbolic data what would be either too costly, no longer possible, or too obtrusive by the use of other techniques" (Stemler 2001).

The raw statistical analysis of the President´s speech yielded results which confirmed the author´s previous bias. The speech mentioned America or Americans 26 times. This was followed by the word “war” (24 times). Words associated with the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, ISIL) merited 25 mentions, and Israel/Israelis 6 mentions. On the other hand, Energy was mentioned twice, oil wasn´t mentioned at all.

10/01/2014

How to Survive the Climate Zombie Threat

An emerging threat posed by climate zombies has been confirmed by a series of interviews, media articles, and blogosphere items seen in the past 30 days.  This newly created  “How to Survive the Climate Zombie Threat” effectively communicates  information to the public, government agencies, first responders, and the private sector what to do to reduce risk in the face of unquantified statistics. At this time we lack the modeling capability to describe the probability of anything happening. Therefore you should use the Practical Precautionary Principle (PPP). 

Practical Precautionary Principle  practitioner kevlar vest

This advice is based on my personal experience surviving a civil war,  kidnap attempts by right and left wing death squads, surveillance by several secret services, Russian Mafia threats, as well as living for several years  in a very high crime area called Venezuela.

9/29/2014

Chikunguya virus epidemic collapses Venezuela´s health system

This weekend we have seen increasing reports about an African fever (chikunguya) epidemic in Venezuela. This fever seems to be quite debilitating and has after effects, but it only kills about 2 to 3 victims per thousand (?). 

Here's a quote from the Venezuela-Europa blog:


"On 17 September 2014 the government reported 398 confirmed cases of chikungunya.

On 27 October 2014 the government admitted to about 7072 cases. Last November an opposition politician from Western Venezuela said the cases would be around 25556.

Alejandro Ríguez, epidemiologist of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and not precisely an amateur, declared on 11 December at least over one and a half million people are suffering from chikungunya in Venezuela and that figure, he said, would be extremely conservative. He based his estimates on reports from the Ministry of Health, reports that are now arriving later and patchier than ever."


This item may be of interest to those living in the USA because the first case of native (not traveler´s ) chikunguya was already reported in Florida.  

Here´s a snippet taken from the Centers for Disease Control website:

----- The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci, Ph.D., chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch.

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both species are found in the southeastern United States and limited parts of the southwest; Aedes albopictus is also found further north up the East Coast, through the Mid-Atlantic States and is also found in the lower Midwest.----

9/26/2014

A New Parameter to Predict Tornado Frequency Increase as a Function of Global Warming

Fernando Leanme and Amedeo Abruzzo

Journal of Climate Science Peripatetics

Ninety Seven Percent  of expert scientists agree that human CO2 emissions are altering the world’s climate (Cook 2013), but segments of the public stubbornly remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence (Lewandosky, 2012).  Climate models provide a glimpse of the future, and while they do not agree on all of the details, most models predict a few general trends (Randall 2007). First, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will increase temperatures (IPCC 2013). More uncertain outcomes of an increase in global temperatures include increased number of storms, including mid-latitude tornadoes (Riebeek, 2005). According to a very complex study, in 2005, US$2 to US$14 billion of the recorded annual losses could be attributable to climate change  (Estrada el al, 2015). 

Tornadoes (abc.go.com)

Here we report the results of a data manipulation used to derive what we term the “F” parameter or index, which can be used to predict future tornado frequency increases as the earth warms.  Paralleling previous work by Lewandoski, Cook, and others, we have used a conception of free style conjoining of widespread parameters we have selected  to mathematically prove what we did.

We additionally show that the climate anomaly for the USA state of Missouri is a key player in tornado frequency for the continental USA. This provides empirical confirmation of previous suggestions that connecting temperature anomalies to other factors can yield acceptance of science which will be strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.

9/25/2014

At the Earth´s Core

The sensation was frightful. For a full minute neither of us could do aught but cling with the proverbial desperation of the drowning man to the handrails of our swinging seats. Then Perry glanced at the thermometer.

Perry glances at the thermometer 

"Gad!" he cried, "it cannot be possible--quick! What does the distance meter read?"

That and the speedometer were both on my side of the cabin, and as I turned to take a reading from the former I could see Perry muttering.

"Ten degrees rise--it cannot be possible!" and then I saw him tug frantically upon the steering wheel.

As I finally found the tiny needle in the dim light I translated Perry's evident excitement, and my heart sank within me. But when I spoke I hid the fear which haunted me. "It will be seven hundred feet, Perry," I said, "by the time you can turn her into the horizontal."

"You'd better lend me a hand then, my boy," he replied, "for I cannot budge her out of the vertical alone. God give that our combined strength may be equal to the task, for else we are lost."

9/24/2014

I´m going underground

After watching Kennedy Jr´s  statement calling me a war criminal and suggesting I should be jailed I decided it was time to worry. Inspired by Kennedy´s words,  I searched “punish skepticism”,  and found a bunch of really creepy articles about the subject. Reading that stuff made me feel like I was about to become  like a Jew in 1930´s Germany.

For those of you who haven´t heard, here´s the scary quote that got me going:

“I think it’s treason. Do I think the Koch Brothers are treasonous — yes, I do…..They are enjoying making themselves billionaire by impoverishing the rest of us. Do I think they should be in jail — I think they should be .(garbled)…. at the Hague with all the other war criminals. Do I think the Koch brothers should be tried for reckless endangerment? Absolutely, that is is criminal offense and they ought to be serving time for it.”


I´m not a Koch Brother, but I did work for an oil company. And when it comes to the slippery slopes of  self-righteous inquisition and repression I´d rather not wait until they come to arrest me. 

9/22/2014

Why does the NY Times Editorial Criticize Venezuela’s Maduro?

The NY Times criticized Venezuela´s dictator, Nicolás Maduro, in an editorial,  "Venezuela’s Crackdown on Opposition¨. Venezuela has been undergoing a tragic black comedy since 1999, when Hugo Chávez took power after deceiving the people as to his true political beliefs. The New York times editorial tries to summarize recent events. But it leaves out the ugly details...

When he took over in 1999, Chávez´political beliefs seem to have mirrored Fidel Castro´s (he never hid his admiration for the Cuban dictator). 

The early planning  days: Fidel Castro 
greets Hugo Chavez in Havana (elmundo.es) 

Fidel´s ideas in turn have been changing over time. The Soviet Union´s fall, China´s conversion to a fascistoid state/corporatist/capitalist entity with very high inequality, the rejection of communism by Eastern Europeans and Russians, and the inability by some of his former communist allies (Vietnam, Angola)  to implement the communist utopian state must have had an impact.

9/16/2014

The Criminal Case of the "Republic" of Venezuela vs. Ricardo Hausmann

Venezuela´s dictator, Nicolás Maduro, ordered his ministers to prepare a criminal investigation  against Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard University professor who criticized his regime.

Harvard Kennedy School 
Professor Ricardo Hausmann

The following statement, by Harvard Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood and Harvard University Provost Alan Garber defends Haussman´s rights to write about Venezuela´s government: 

Statement in Support of Harvard Kennedy School Professor Ricardo Hausmann

 “We stand in strong support of Harvard Kennedy School Professor Ricardo Hausmann's freedom to express his views in the public arena, where others are free to question and debate the merits of his arguments. The most important issues that any nation faces are often subjects of great controversy as well as great interest. Without the opportunity to hear a range of opinions on such issues, both public understanding and the quality of decisions suffer. That is why we are deeply troubled by reports that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has instructed his attorney general and public prosecutor to take actions against Professor Hausmann for voicing his opinion on matters of public debate. Whatever their intent, such tactics intimidate and can stifle the expression of dissenting ideas. 

9/13/2014

Burn baby burn (CO2 Atmospheric Concentration from Fossil Fuels)

The following documents an estimated worldwide  CO2 emissions profile to the year 2075.  It was triggered by my curiosity after reading the following statement made by Christiana Figueres1:

"There is no doubt that most of the fossil fuel reserves we have world-wide will have to stay in the ground"….."Two-thirds of the fossil fuels we have will have to stay in the ground.2"

In other words, Figueres believes we can´t burn two thirds of our fossil fuel reserves?. She says this is necessary  to keep the world´s surface temperature from rising 2 degrees C versus the temperature prior to the mid 18th century.

Note: in a later post I compare the case I describe below with the results from the Obama, EU, and China proposals: http://21stcenturysocialcritic.blogspot.com.es/2014/11/obama-china-europe-co2-plan-results.html

Christiana Figurers as shown in The Guardian
 (Photograph: Scott Eells/Getty Images)

I´m very  familiar with the oil and gas industry, and I know a little about coal. My background really helped, this estimate took me about three hours….