Saturday, March 15, 2008

Has Obama Broken the Law?

I'm not an expert on Senate rules regulating campaign activities. I would like to know if it is legal for a Senator to use his Senate website to further his presidential campaign. Barack Obama has decided to use his Senate website to help his presidential campaign by posting information about the earmarks he has requested as a Senator.

If tax money is used to fund Senate website activities than Obama's action is unethical because it forces taxpayers to subsidize his presidential campaign. The appropriate place to post the list would have been Obama's presidential website.

His disclosure indicates further unethical activity by requesting money for the Chicago Medical Center which increased his wife's salary by nearly $200,000 after he was elected to the Senate . Is this earmark request a payback for a bribe? His supporters have also potentially benefited from his earmark requests.

The Senate, or a federal grand jury, needs to investigate this possibility. This question needs to be resolved before Democrats decide whether to nominate Obama as their presidential candidate. If they cannot resolve the legal issues first they may once again have a candidate running for office with a special prosecutor breathing down his neck.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Global Warming and Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Joseph D'Aleo has applied the cognitive dissonance theory of Leon Festinger to global warming fanatics.

"When discomfirmatory (contrary) evidence is presented, Festinger found one condition that often determined whether the belief is discarded or maintained with new fervor by belief with a strongloy held belief. That was whether or not the individual believer has social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand strong discomfirming evidence. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, you might expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselytice or persuade non-members that the belief is correct even in the face of data suggesting otherwise."

The large number of people who have a vested interest in global warming provide support for those who are merely believers in the concept.

The report by the recent conference by climate skeptics is available online.

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology states that the English floods of last spring were the result of natural factors rather than global warming.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Michael Bloomberg Doesn't Get It

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t understand the problem with the two major parties. After announcing he wouldn’t seek the presidency as a third party candidate, he suggested he would support a major party candidate who leveled with the American people about the issues facing the country. Unfortunately, major party candidates are prisoners of their own parties.

Those running on a major party ticket need the support of party activists who often have an unrealistic oversimplified view of issues. These activists want candidates who will at least give lip service to their views. Many of these activists are what longshoreman Eric Hofer once described as “True Believers” who believe they are right and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

Democrats, for example, want a candidate who will end U.S. involvement in Iraq regardless of the consequences. They don’t care what happens afterwards because they cannot comprehend any negative consequences such as al Qaeda taking control of Iraq or the substantial number of American casualties that might result from a precipitous retreat from a combat zone.

Many Republicans want all illegal immigrants removed from the country regardless of the economic consequences. They would prefer to endure a severe recession or depression than have to share the country with “illegals”. The anti-immigrant group doesn’t understand that we have a shortage of younger workers and will need even more workers as the baby boomer generation retires.

Bloomberg has no national constituency that he could encourage to support either major party candidate so his offer of support to one of them is meaningless. Bloomberg can change the situation only if he runs for president himself. As a third party candidate he would be free to take any position on the issues he felt was appropriate.

Only by running for president Bloomberg could demonstrate that Americans want a candidate who levels with them. Of course maybe Bloomberg is wrong. Maybe Americans prefer a president who lies to them. Maybe they want a president who tells them what they want to hear instead of what they need to know.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Greenhouse Gas Equation Wrong

Hungarian scientist Ferenc Miskolczi has discovered the greenhouse gas equation Arthur Milne developed in 1922 contains a serious flaw. Milne mistakenly solved the differential equation involved by assuming an infinitely thick atmosphere. Miskolczi was working for NASA at the time and NASA suppressed his report which contradicted NASA's claims.

Miskolczi resigned in protest, stating in his resignation letter, "Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results."

Miskolczi rewrote the equations and the modified equations don't indicate a runaway greenhouse effect. His equations indicate a limit to any greenhouse effect. Thus even if there is a greenhouse effect it cannot do what the Rev. Al Gore claims it will do.

Research by Stephen Schwartz also challenges claims of a runaway greenhouse effect.

I haven't studied differential equations for a few decades, but I do remember that guessing at values for variables is sometimes used to solve differential equations because of their complexity. However, there are two values that should never be used, infinity and zero. These two numbers have special mathematical properties that make them unsuitable for this purpose. For example, you may remember learning that division by zero is impossible. However, there is one special case in which division by zero is possible, zero divided by zero. The test to determine if division is correct is multiplication. Zero multiplied by any other number is zero so zero divided by zero can be any number.

In the real world it might be possible to a zero amount of any commodity, but not an infinite amount. An infinitely thick atmosphere would also be infinitely massive, i.e. a super black hole. In an infinitely thick atmosphere it wouldn't make any difference what the gases were because the gravitational attraction would be so high that radiation could not escape.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Peer Review Stifles Science

Dr. Donald W. Miller, Jr., who teaches cardiac surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine argues that the peer review process is stifling scientific research in his essay "The Trouble With Government Grants". Miller says that those in charge of approving government grants "abuse the trust and power of government, which does not know science, to advance their own careers and, in some cases, protect their investments in companies that profit from the reigning paradigm."

He states "When the [federal government] peer review grant system was established in 1946 people assumed that scientific progress occurs in an evolutionary incremental and cumulative fashion." Both the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation continue to use this process. This process discourages funding of those who disagree with the ideas held by those who approve grants such as global warming, according to Miller.

Miller favors switching to the approach used by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which was established after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1958.

. "Eighty project managers, who each handles $10-50 million, are given free reign to foster advanced technologies and systems that create "revolutionary" advantages for the U.S. military. Managers, not subject to peer review or top-down management, provide grants to investigators who they think can challenge existing approaches to fighting wars."

Bell Labs was using a similar approach to research at the time.

It shouldn't be surprising that those in the field of biology would believe that scientific theories developed gradually, because biology made the same assumption about the development of biological life. Those familiar with the history of physics theories realize that science sometimes precedes abruptly with revolutionary changes in ideas. In the 19th century physicists believed that atoms were the smallest particles of matter and couldn't be further subdivided. In 1897 J.J. Thomson forced complete replacement of that theory be demonstrating that atoms were actually composed of smaller charged particles. He proved the existence of electrons and correctly theorized that atoms also had protons and neutrons. During the next 20 years physicists like Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr produced more revolutionary theories

Monday, March 3, 2008

What If the Wind Stops?

Some people suggest wind energy as an alternative to fossil fuels to produce electricity. Texans recently learned that wind energy has a major defect. It is undependable. Reuters reports that electricity was cut off to interruptable customers on Feb. 26, after wind power output dropped from 1,700 megawatts to 300 mw as demand was increasing due in part to a cold front moving into the area. The grid operator for Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was responsible for cutting the power .

Wind generators need a certain minimum amount of wind to operate, but if wind speed is too high the equipment can be damaged and needs to shut down until wind speed drops.