Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arctic NOT Ice-Free till 2060 at the Earliest!

According to the UK Met Office the Arctic will NOT be ice-free by the summer of 2020 as many climate "experts" continue to predict. Nope, it will be at least 2060 before that happens. Mark it on your calendars!

Also mark my prediction that "pigs will fly" in 2060, and "hell will freeze over" in the same year :^) Seriously, I have made predictions for 2052 and beyond in my free online novel. The beauty of making predictions fifty years in the future is that most of us will be dead by then and those who are alive will have forgotten.

Good news for the polar bears! Not so good for the shipping companies that planned trans-Arctic routes for transporting oil. Or for Global Warming alarmists.

The full text of the UK Met Office October 15th release is here. Key excerpts (with emphasis added):

"Modelling of Arctic sea ice by the Met Office Hadley Centre climate model shows that ice invariably recovers from extreme events, and that the long-term trend of reduction is robust — with the first ice-free summer expected to occur between 2060 and 2080. It is unlikely that the Arctic will experience ice-free summers by 2020.

"Analysis of the 2007 summer sea-ice minimum has subsequently shown that this was due, in part, to unusual weather patterns. ..."

"The high variability has made it difficult to attribute the observed trend to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, ...

"About half of the climate models involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report, show that ice declines in steps — failing to recover from extreme years. The observed temporary recovery from the 2007 minimum in 2008 and 2009 indicates that the Arctic ice has not yet reached a tipping point, if such exists."

In other words, the low point for Arctic ice in 2007 was mostly due to Natural Cycles in the ocean currents and solar phenomena, and not Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) due to human release of formerly sequestered carbon. About half of the most recent IPCC climate models are wrong about Arctic ice. We are nowhere near any kind of tipping point.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still concerned about the continuing rapid increase in atmospheric CO2. However, we have decades to figure out how to deal with it most effectively without further wrecking our economies via the Cap and Trade scam. I hope the coming decades of stable temperatures, and perhaps a bit of Global Cooling, will allow cooler heads to prevail and chose something like a revenue-neutral Carbon Tax. That kind of Carbon Tax would require minimum government enforcement and political chicanery. It would be hard to cheat on. Most importantly, it would actually work to reduce carbon emissions over time, harnessing market forces to do so.

Ira Glickstein

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grand Illusion of Motion (NOT!)

Double-click on the image to make it larger.

The wheels appear to be turning but I assure you it is a static picture.

If you stare at a black dot, the movement stops in that area.

I don't know what logical or philosophical point this makes.

Perhaps that some politicos claim to be making things happen and change but are not too successful at it. (But, I'm not complaining. Some of the best Congresses have been those that did the least damage!)

Ira Glickstein

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Invention of Lying

This philosophical movie asks the question:

When a society invents the idea of lying, can religion be far behind?

My wife, Vi, and I saw it yesterday and it is highly recommended!

What if there was a society exactly like ours but with absolutely no lying?

Of course, no society could develop, exist and survive without lies - even chimp societies have the equivalent of lying. However, once you get over the basic premise of a society where there is not even a word for "lie" (or "truth") the rest follows naturally.

The main character, played by British comic Ricky Gervais, is a classic loser. He works as a writer for Lecture Films. Since there is no lying there is no fictional dramatization. All films are rather dry recitations of historical facts. Gervais's character has been assigned the 13th century and all he has to work with historically is the Black Plague - not a very inviting subject for a factual movie.

He gets a pity date with Jennifer Garner's character and admits that he is about to get fired and his finances are so poor he is behind on his rent. She tells him frankly that she has superior looks and genes and he is way out of her league financially. She cannot marry him because their children would be stub-nosed pudgy losers.


Gervais goes to the bank to withdraw the $800 rent money. The bank's computer system is down but the teller implicitly trusts him (no one has ever lied). She gives him the $800. A moment later the computer comes back up and reveals he has only $300, but she assumes it is a computer error. He goes along with he "error" and slowly realizes that he can say things that are not true that everyone will believe. For example, he tells his friend that he invented the bicycle, his hand is artificial, he is wearing a wig, and so on. His friend believes him! He goes to a casino and distracts the dealer and moves his bet after the roll. He puts his roulette winnings in a game of chance worth $1,000,000 and claims he won but the machine malfunctioned. They give him the money and an apology! He is rich and buys a mansion!

He is the only person in the world who knows how to lie and he can get anything he wants! But, can he get Jennifer Garner's character? Is he willing to lie to her and suggest that wealth can change genes? Sadly, no.

I don't want to give away the whole story, but there are a few events worth mentioning.

1) Since he can lie, he finds it easy to forge a document from the 13th century and use it to write a blockbuster Black Plague movie. He gets his job back with a promotion!

2) His mother is dying. To comfort her, he tells her that there is a "Man in the Sky" and that dead people go up into the clouds and are restored to full health and vigor and are reunited with relatives and friends who have passed on.

3) His "Man in the Sky" story is picked up by the news media without question. No one has ever lied so this must be the absolute truth! He becomes a media sensation. To satisfy their curiosity and interests, he writes ten commandments (like Moses) to guide society. They are written on the backs of two pizza pie boxes. An image of him holding the two boxes with outstretched arms becomes a cross-like icon worn by believers.

4) Despite his success and surprising charm for a loser, Jennifer Garner's character is still unwilling to marry him because of his inferior genes. Rejected and dejected, he grows long hair and a beard (like Jesus).

How does it all end? GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

Ira Glickstein

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More DEMOCRATS watch Fox News than CNN or MSNBC!

Could it be? YES IT BE!

Analysis of ratings data from respected Pew Research and Neilson
shows that more Democrats watch Fox News than either CNN or MSNBC.

Fox News has come up on this Blog several times. The data in this posting sheds more light on the situation.


The first pie chart shows the distribution of the MSNBC audience. As one would expect, 45% are self-declared Democrats and only 18% are Republicans. The remainder are Independents (27%) and "Don't know" (10%).

The second pie does the same for CNN, with the only surprise being that a higher proportion of Democrats (51%) watch CNN than MSNBC. 18% of Republicans watch CNN.

The third pie does the same for Fox News. 39% of their viewers claim to be Republicans and 33% Democrats.

It might be surprising to see the Fox News "balance" between Republicans and Democrats. 39/33 = 1.18. MSNBC has a balance between Democrats and Republicans of 45/18 = 2.5. The balance at CNN is 51/18 = 2.83.


Fox News has a considerably higher viewership than either CNN or MSNBC. I combined that (from the 2009 Neilson data) with the data from the most recent (2008) Pew Research report, to generate the graphic.

The bars show the number of viewers using Total Audience (all ages) and averaging over the Entire Day. The Blue bars are MSNBC, the Red Fox News, and the Yellow CNN. The surprise is that more Democrats choose Fox News than either MSNBC or CNN. Indeed, if you combine the Democrats who watch MSNBC and CNN, they total only a bit more than Democrats who watch Fox News. If you consider Independents, more of them watch Fox News than CNN and MSNBC combined!

Of course, what appears "fair" or "balanced" to one person on MSNBC may appear biased to another person, and vice-versa on Fox News. This is a subjective issue that each person needs to resolve for him or herself. My personal opinion is that MSNBC leans way to the left and Fox News a bit to the right. CNN appears to me to go right down the middle, or a bit to the left of middle.

The above data indicates that, given a free choice, people who seek out cable TV news and talk tend to choose Fox News over the competition. If you add the presumably "fair and balanced"-minded Independents to the presumably left-leaning Democrats, you find that more of that cohort watch Fox News than CNN and MSNBC combined. And that is true despite the fact that Fox News is available to fewer households.


In the above analysis, I used Total Audience averaged over the Entire Day. I did that because the Pew Research data was for all ages and did not ask people when they watched cable TV. Fox News tends to have a slightly older audience, so had I used the 25-54 year old demographic, the results would have been a bit less surprising. However, they would still have shown that more Democrats and Independents watch Fox News than CNN or MSNBC.

The statistics for Prime Time are also a bit different from averages over the whole day. However, Fox News is also ahead on that measure. For example, for the 25-54 demographic, Fox News leads with 446,000 to MSNBCs 250,000 and CNNs 143,000. For the Total Audience including us old folks, Fox News leads with 2,036,000 to MSNBCs 753,000 and CNNs 621,000.

Ira Glickstein

Monday, October 12, 2009

BBC NEWS: What Happened to Global Warming?

OK, if you don't trust me on Global Warming, how about the good old BBC NEWS? (09 Oct 2009).


"What happened to global warming?

"By Paul Hudson
"Climate correspondent, BBC News

"This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

"But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

"And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

"... last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years. Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers. But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself. ...

"One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up."


I've been on this case for quite a while. See my postings that go back over a year.

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, October 10, 2009


[from John] One of my sons is taking a course on leadership and motivation. The instructor assigned a research paper on "Why do bad leaders hire bad managers". The instructor believes, or teaches, there is just as many bad leaders as there are good leaders, he wants to expand on the leadership topic by including bad leaders. The instructor gives three examples of bad leadership. First are the leaders that only hire managers that are yes men so that he/she can promote their own agenda. The next is the leader that will only hire managers that are under skilled so nobody can make them look bad. The last is the leader that is self-absorbed and they only hire managers that will make them shine, but the managers do not have the skills to manage the employees. The class agrees that the number one reason for the lack of motivation is a result of bad management.

I find the theme strange. It seems a negative approach to teaching leadership and motivation. Still, as we have been discussion motivation it may be a subject to pursue.

"Why do bad leaders hire bad managers?" Obviously because they are bad managers themselves.

While I agree somewhat with the instructor’s examples, I suspect that poor leaders hire poor managers, if they do; it is because they are poor managers themselves. I am also not sure I agree with the instructor that there are as many bad leaders as good leaders. I suspect that bad leaders fall by the wayside while bad managers may stay in their job but not advance.

We must separate leadership from management. A good leader inspires people. He motivates them to perform at their best. A good manager is a good organizer. He motivates people because they are comfortable with their boss and with their jobs and know they will be rewarded for their efforts. Two different things. Let’s explore this further.

Does a poor leader hire poor managers or does he make poor managers?
This is an important question, to use the army, as an example, you must work with the people assigned, good or bad. The task is to make do with what you were given by training, supervision and by making sure, he or she understands what is expected of them.

In the military, or at least the army, where I have my experience, progression up the ranks in interesting. Leadership is the key during the early stages, at the squad, platoon and company levels. As one advances he is assigned staff positions where management skills are developed and as he reaches the higher levels he combines the two skills of leadership and management as do successful CEO’s.

In civilian life, you have the opportunity to interview applicants. You can match your needs against his or her resume. You then chose what appears to be the best applicant. Even with the best applicant, a good leader must train the newcomer. Teach him what is expected of him.

A poor leader may chose the applicant for wrong reasons, but more than likely the applicant will become a poor manager because the leader does not do his job of training and integrating him into the job.

It is also possible that a good leader has a bad manager foisted on him. Internal politics does exist and he may have no choice. A good leader will be aware of the internal politics and work to avoid the problem. A poor leader may be fearful for his job and accept a lesser qualified person.

We have been discussing motivation a lot lately. A person is motivated because he or she can see and achieve some goal. It may just be compliments from your boss or it may be more, but motivation will not exist if the individual cannot derive some benefit from his effort. A poor leader who criticizes and badmouths his employees, who also criticizes his bosses and the company will not have motivated people including the managers below him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Amazing High Speed Robot Hand-Eye Coordination

WOW! Click for a great video of Three-Finger Robot Hand-Eye Coordination.

My still video captures do not do justice to the amazing performance.

The photos show:

o Tossing and catching a cell phone

o Bouncing a ball faster than the eye can see

o Throwing a ball into a basket

This is a video well worth watching!

See more information and videos at Ichikawa Komuro Laboratory (University of Tokyo).

We have become used to machines that are stronger than we humans, and computers that are faster and have greater memory capacity.
However, this Robot Hand-Eye Coordination system is an example of dexterity that will greatly exceed the speed and precision of anything a human hand and eye (and eventually entire human body) can do.

Our Eye/Brain/Muscles cycle no faster than 1/10 second. This thing can go at 1/100 or 1/1000 second. Order of magnitude improvements that will only continue to accellerate.

Ira Glickstein

Friday, October 2, 2009

No OIL in Afghanistan

OIL and the Iraq War

Back in 2007, I posted Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL), agreeing with Alan Greenspan that "The Iraq war is largely about oil ..."
The original name of the operation, was "Operation Iraqi Liberation". That spells out the acronym "OIL".

In my 2007 posting, I linked to the White House website where, on March 24, 2003, Ari Fleisher, President George W. Bush's Press Secretary, is quoted as saying: "The President this morning has spoken with three foreign leaders. He began with Prime Minister Blair, where the two discussed the ongoing aspects of Operation Iraqi liberation." [Emphasis added.]

The name was soon changed to "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - "OIF" and statements were made that Iraq was not about "blood for oil". The 2003 White House posting was available at the time of my 2007 Blog item, but it has since been taken down.

Of course, OIL was not the only reason for the Iraq War. It was certainly important to depose a terrible and dangerous dictator who had used chemical weapons in the past against his own people and who we thought had or intended to get a nuclear weapons program. So, liberation of Iraq and setting up something like democracy were important reasons for the war.

My 2007 Blog posting was written before the surge where Gen. Petraeus used a healthy helping of additional US troops and established the conditions that have allowed the current partial withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. I believe history will conclude our actions in Iraq were justified to assure a level of stability in a country that has a large percentage of the world's oil. The Iraq War was necessary for the stability and progress of the world's economy and for something like peace in a historically turbulent region.

Afghanistan Has No OIL

"Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan" (OEF-A) is the official name for our military action in Afghanistan. (The original name was "Operation Infinite Justice" which offended those who believe the source of "infinite justice" is God.)

According to Wikipedia, "The initial military objectives of OEF-A, as articulated by Former President George W. Bush in his Sept. 20th [2001] Address to a Joint Session of Congress and his Oct. 7th [2001] address to the country, included the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al Queda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan." Multi-national military action began in 2002, just a year after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US mainland.

The Bush administration has been criticized for emphasizing military action in Iraq, which had little or nothing to do with 9/11, rather than in Afghanistan where the Taliban allowed Al Queda to train the terrorists responsible for 9/11. The Obama administration is now being asked by the commander, Gen. McChrystal, to deploy tens of thousands of additional troops there and repeat an Afghan version of Gen. Petraeus's Iraq surge. As in Iraq, the generals say we need US "boots on the ground" to gain and hold territory.

After much reading and consideration, I have come to the conclusion the US should not greatly increase troop strength now. We should revert to the previous Bush administration policy of a "light footprint" that defends key population centers and uses mainly airborne strikes to prevent the Taliban and whatever remnants of Al Queda remain in Afghanistan from making too much progress. Given the terrain, population and history of Afghanistan, there is nothing to be gained by adding more US blood to that already left by the British in the 1800's and the Russians more recently.

I think history will eventually recognize that the Bush strategy of a relatively low-level war in Afghanistan, where our allies took a large percentage of the responsibility, was correct. Those of you who have played chess know it is sometimes safer to hold back and exercise force from a distance, using your Rooks, Bishops and the Queen on clear diagonals and columns, rather than commit your pawns and Knights to a "boots on the ground" attack.

Iraq, a strategic source of oil, required both boots on the ground and airpower. Afghanistan, especially now that we have unmanned air vehicles capable of pinpoint attacks, should be addressed mostly with remote airpower. I believe VP Biden has been advocating a position similar to mine and that Obama will eventually accept that policy.

Lots of OIL in IRAN

I hope it does not come down to it, but, if Iran continues to build its nuclear weapons program, the US and our allies will have to take military action of some sort. That country has a large percentage of the world's supply of oil and it is therefore important to keep it stable and peaceful.

But, Iran is not Iraq. There is a considerable level of well-organized internal opposition to the current leadership and the Ayatollahs are not crazy. Perhaps we can persuade the Iranians to take a more reasonable approach. With the cooperation of the Russians and French, Iran can have a peaceful nuclear power program and we can have guarantees it is not directed at nuclear weapons.

Ira Glickstein