Global Warming is Irreversible – We are so going to die

by Terry 1/27/2009 4:27:00 PM

Wow. It is official. Our society is doomed to collapse in an overheated dustbowl, no matter what we do. The only solution is to throw more resources at stopping the inevitable.

“I guess if it's irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it”
- Susan Solomon, ‘who is among the world's top climate scientists’

Actually, what really scares me is the stupidity of this and other recent news releases. This is more truth by repeated assertion than science. Science proposes theories based on observable facts and repeatable experiments. News agencies, no longer journalists I think, have apparently lost the ability to fact check, or differ between a statement of opinion and verified data reality.

For example, New data show much of Antarctica is warming more than previously thought.

Which is refuted here in Antarctica warming? An evolution of viewpoint and Despite the hot air, the Antarctic is not warming up.

The common thread in the initial statements of impending disaster is the underlying theories are presented as unalterable truths when they are really weak theories bases on unverifiable models using admittedly manufactured data. This is not science but a show – shriek for more funding.

Frankly, I could care less if there is global warming or cooling, although I would prefer warming, as it is easier to grow food in a desert than on a glacier. What I do care about is the shrieking call to Do Something, particularly when the something to do is not defined, or is wrapped in vague statements.

We must reduce carbon! Ok, by how much and in what form? How do you know this? Can you account for natural variation? How do you know you have? How do your models change with different assumptions? How do you know your assumptions are correct? What is your margin of error?

In 1999 I was asked to evaluate the compliance with ‘Year 2000’ computing requirements with the company I worked for. I was creating a legal document to verify our company had done its darned best to thwart the specter of a Y2K disaster. My evaluation of the data showed a 60% margin of error. That is, we were likely as bare naked as we were dressed for success. My employer said to me, in no uncertain terms, that I will show that the company is 90% compliant. Sure. That is easy. I will tell the truth. And I told my boss as much, to her great displeasure. My final document said the company was possibly 90% compliant. It also said very clearly that errors were so large we may only be 30% compliant, we may know with greater certainty in January of 2000 and the only way to actually know was to reduce uncertainty.

What is missing from our ‘top scientists’ are actual statements on what is fact and what is fiction. By fiction, I mean what are assumptions and not real data. What our top scientists need to start saying and our news agencies need to start reporting are the truths about the weakness of a reported theory and what in the theory is falsifiable. We need to stop believing in truth because someone said it is so. Maybe I should say this more often.

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Climate Change | Personal | Policy

Furious to the Point of Speechlessness

by Terry 1/27/2009 3:26:00 PM

Seldom do I get my hackles up in anger to the point where I am almost unable to calm down and talk normally. Last night my hackle-button was seriously pushed.

I was on my way home from retrieving my daughter and her friend from school. A neighbor pointed out to me that three young teens where skateboarding on the corner and using some real-estate sandwich boards as ramps. She asked if I would speak to the teen that using other people property was not right. I said sure, knowing by past observation these teens are not so respectful. I can understand she did not want to make a show in front of her own kids and the skateboarding teens

I walked over and told the teens that I understand that there not many places to skateboard in the neighborhood, but could they stop using the signs as their personal toys. It is not their property and they are being destructive.

Here is where my astonishment grew to fury. First, they simply ignored me. When they realized this was not working, one actually said to me, “what do you care, it’s not your sign.” Explaining that who owns the sign was not the point, they continued to ignore me. I repeatedly asked, “Excuse me, do you hear what I am asking you? Will you acknowledge what I have said?”

Eventually one of the boys said, “Yeah, I heard you.” It took another minute, but one boy finally put the sign back and continued to skate around on the curbs. I walked back to my house, about three houses from the corner. Naturally, as soon as I shut the door the teens grabbed another sign and went back to their earlier behavior.

This is where fury grew to speechlessness. I walk back to the corner. I basically cut to the chase. “I will give ten seconds to put the sign back or I call the police.” This prompted another round of, “what do you care, it is not your sign. It was just sitting there.”

At this point I decided these are some of the stupidest teens I have ever met. The brightest of the bunch left without saying a word. The other two continued to alternate between skating over the signs and arguing with me. I dialed the phone and started talking to the police (I live four blocks from the police station). Amazingly enough, I think the two remaining teens thought I was bluffing and continued to argue with me that what they were doing was somehow alright. When they realized I was no longer talking with them, but with the police, they took off down the street, settling with the smarter boy in the school parking lot – in front of the no-skateboarding sign.

If finished my call to the police. Having spoken with the school principle about these kids, I figured the police would give it the priority needed. The point was made and the teens had stopped willfully damaging other people’s property.

What leaves me astonished is the lack of respect these teens have – none for adults, none for property. I can understand the need to have things to do, some of which are less than socially acceptable. My record as a child is not spotless by any standards. I cannot understand how they could believe ignoring me was wise.

Since I was in high school, people have assumed by my appearance that I am either a cop or in the military. I never think of myself that way, but I apparently have a presence. This may be the first time I have been ignored so blatantly.

So, to the parents of these teens, if you have any connection to your children at all, please advise them that their behavior is unacceptable. I am sorry these kids so disconnected. They need something to do. When speaking at the teens (not ‘to’, as ‘to’ would imply more conversation then they were capable of I fear), the first thought that came to me was these kids should take three months of martial arts. It would give them something to do, they may learn some respect and it would likely make them better at skateboarding to boot.

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Martial Arts | Personal | Snoqualmie

Science Fair Demonstrations

by Terry 1/20/2009 3:50:00 PM

I have been asked to make a stage presentation on chemistry at my daughter’s elementary school for the school’s annual science fair. Fortunately, I am not shy on stage, so that is not much of an issue, but I have no experience making a show of chemistry publicly. The PTSA President-elect, who happens to be a good friend, suggested I make a large volume of hydrogen and blow it up. That is all well and good. However, I am open to suggestions for possible demonstrations. There will likely be several hundred parents and children, so some interactivity would be fun.

I considered filling balloons with oxygen and hydrogen, enough to represent giant model atoms in the shape of a water molecule, then using a giant model of a 9v battery to separate the atomic bond.

I also am thinking about building a primitive fire-extinguisher from a 2L cola bottle, water, vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. Like a large version of the experiment in the Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments. The point being chemistry is used to make useful things.

Overall, I want to impart that science and chemistry, is fun, practical and good for society.

Suggestions welcome!

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Cleaning the Aftermath of Floods

by Terry 1/9/2009 4:33:00 PM

I am off to help clean up from the recent flooding here in Snoqualmie. Karen has done something like 16 loads of laundry for a family in town who live in a flooded first floor apartment. Karen spent yesterday afternoon helping gut the home. Tonight is my turn. I am taking Kaitlin with me so she can learn some life lessons.

Except after I posted this, the plan changed. Now I am doing laundry. The remaining cleanup needs to wait until insurance adjusters have their piece. A sock folding I go...

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Lab Progress, of a Sort

by Terry 1/9/2009 4:29:00 PM

I have not been working in the lab much for the last two months. Nevertheless, I keep acquiring items. In addition to the lifetime supply of Anthracite Coal I recently received, I picked up a storage cabinet for the lab.

I happened to be browsing a store over the holidays with Karen. The store sells rubber stamps, but the owner is retiring and selling the display fixtures. For a nominal cost I purchased a sturdy wooden display case. The case is 36 in. wide and 84 in. tall. It has a deep base, shallow top and a dozen variously spaced shelves perfect for displaying small rubber stamps, or for me, lots of small bottles of chemicals. I now have room for a lot of stock. The base of the display case is deep enough for bulky items.

After carting the case home, I cleaned my garage and made space for it at the end of my work bench, bolting it to the garage wall for good measure. The only thing I can add to this case is some doors to the top half. I am thinking of a couple hinged Plexiglas panels with a simple lock. This will protect the contents and any idle hands from harm. Someday I may actually get back to working labs.

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computing | Personal

Christmas Coal, 2008

by Terry 1/9/2009 4:27:00 PM

On Christmas Eve Karen braved the snow and wind to retrieve the mail from the box at the end of the street. She was fully expecting to find a packet of genealogy documents she had been waiting for. She was delighted to find a large box from Pottsville, PA, from a friend who runs the local historical society. Ok, she was a little annoyed carrying a sixteen pound box back to the house through the drifts of snow and wind, but the shear enjoyment on opening the box was worth the effort.

Imagine our surprise when we opened the box to find it full of Pennsylvania Anthracite Coal. To me, this is one of the most humorous Christmas gifts ever, real, big, heavy box of coal.

Karen has been researching her family roots, many of whom settled in Pottsville. Pottsville is an old coal town. Coal is central to the town history. While the gift was not the packet of documentation she was looking for, the gesture and double entendre gave it a brilliant spot in our hearts.

Last weekend Karen and I found a nice glass vase to showcase the chunks of coal in our living room. This left me with two large pieces of coal and some small bits and dust I have since placed in my lab. The irony, for me at any rate, was I was looking at some labs that call for bits of coal only a couple weeks ago. I have no idea where to get coal. Washington State has no coal resources that I know of. The timing of this gift was perfect.

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On Snow, Facebook and Car Loans Boom and Bust

by Terry 1/5/2009 5:17:00 PM

I am back from a break. I just did not have the energy to post for during the holidays. I spent the time with family and friends.

Snow

It snowed, again, last night. Fortunately the school district kept their wits about them and called the delayed start time early this morning. Just before the winter break the schools in Western Washington fell for the collective predictive qualities of our weather service and closed schools across the area. It turns out in our district it would have paid to wait, as it only rained. It was such a knee-jerk, herd mentality reaction that I am almost surprised the district didn’t burn the schools for firewood when it started snowing the day after. As it stands, Kaitlin got a longer winter break and all is normal again.

Facebook

Sometime in the last three weeks I figured out how to incorporate this site (http://www.nerva.com/) into my Facebook page. I am not big on Twitter and the one sentence updates on Facebook. I lose patience for it. I am more interested now that I have my RSS feed fuel my Facebook page automatically. I will continue to poke around with it for now.

Car Loans

I read that Chrysler is getting something like $4 billion dollars in bailout money from the government. I heard on NPR or someplace that the company is lowering the credit ratings needed purchase a new car. This makes the cars attractive to the least likely to be able to make payments on the product. The first thought that struck my mind was this is exactly the mentality that created the housing boom-bust over the last couple decades. Government guaranteed backing and a race to the bottom for buyers with the builder stuck in the middle.

I understand that Chrysler needs to sell its vehicles. A short term business loan in the billions is a big motivator to get the wheels of business turning again. I am not sure what the solution should be, but what I feel is this is a recipe for delayed failure of the company. Sure, sales may pick up, but in a year or two the loans for new cars will have a higher failure rate. Maybe those bad loans don’t affect Chrysler’s bottom line, but it will affect someone.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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