Naill Ferguson — Smart guy but needs a bit more Education and Training

June 5, 2017

In yesterday’s Sunday Times (4 June 2017) Nail Ferguson had an op-ed piece entitled “The Cool Logic of Trump trampling on Paris”.

He says

“My view on global warming has always been that I am not qualified to judge the science, but I can take a view on the most rational form and scale of insurance. The plausible costs in terms of flooding, harvest failure, and mass migration will end up being borne by our children and grandchildren more than by use. We need to pay an insurance premium on their behalf, and the obvious one is to invest in technology that reduces carbon emissions.”


  • His fears are those forecast by some scientists, but other scientists do not agree. Dr. Ferguson has apparently decided to pick his scientists based judging science, something he says he is not qualified to do.”
  • “Carbon” emissions are already very low. It is Carbon Di-oxide, another molecule completely, that some people are afraid of.
  • He wants to make the “American Way of Life” less dirty. (What “dirt”, specifically, is he referring to? The invisible carbon-dioxide gas?)
  • He things the “obvious way to go” is to live in solar-heated apartments, near our solar-heated workplaces, recycling all waste products, and covering longer distances in electric cars, preferably the safer, driverless variety. I would love to see the energy balance on that idea.
  • He says that “The Paris Agreement asks democracies to make sacrifices for future generations”. But what about asking non-democracies, despots, republics, and dis-functional nations to make same sacrifices? He does not explain how transfer of $billions from democracies to non-elected un-democratic trans-national global institutions fixes anything or demonstrate any facts about how that money will be spent.
  • He is wrong about dangerous rising sea levels are fixed by the Paris Agreement.

My view:

  • My view is that carbon di-oxide a trace gas essential for life on this planet and there is little real science, economics and engineering that can prove it worth to support any significant investment that the risk of removing carbon-dioxide compared to the risks of the cures either not having the intended result or unintended consequences we do not understand.
  • “Dirty” Pollution has significantly decreased in the last half century
  • As in American Thinker, “The futility of the Paris Climate Accord mirrors the futility of the EPA regulations and severe doubts need to be cast on both. As the Institute for Energy Research documents that while child asthma rates rose 131% since 1980, sulfur dioxide was down by 81%, nitrogen dioxide was down by 60%, and ozone was down 33%, Since 1990, Particulate Matter 10 was down by 34%, as child asthma was up 43%. Since 2000, Particulate Matter 2.5 was down 34% as the child asthma rate was flat.”
  • He has no understanding of the large percentage of the earth’s surface that must be covered with solar panels to achieve his goals.
  • If we are so afraid of climate change and rising sea levels, why not relocate everyone away from the seas to land where home and work heating is not required? What is the cost of that compared to the cost of driving everyone into poverty?
  • If we want to buy an insurance policy to protect against the risks of global warming, then buy a policy from an insurance company with terms clearly laid out on what the pay-back would be for, if used.

For more on the Paris Agreement, see “Not a Lot of People Know That”

Also see The Federalist write about Scott Adams 5 June 2017 at

Jason Boxt is kinda full of it

May 25, 2017

I had opportunity to watch Jason Boxt, Washington-based Democratic political pollster and operator (@psbresearch), speak at the Royal Scots Club, Edinburgh, Scotland on 24 May 2017.

He was among friends in Edinburgh. Most of the audience are relatively un-informed of US politics and governance processes and what they think they know this is pretty much based on what the BBC and Guardian tells them to think. Jason did not disappoint because for many he confirmed what is is they think.

Me, however, believe I have a bit more insights to what is happening in the USA. Can’t say I understand everything, but I know “everything” that the BBC, Guardian, and (especially) Channel4 TV news is often biased and just plain wrong.

The event was advertised to talk about the first 100 days of the Trump Administration. While Mr. Boxt did present some numbers (in un-readable graphs on the projected screen) comparing numbers of executive orders, public opinion, and other things (could not tell as could not read slide), he did not outline any accomplishments/disappointments/works-in-progress at all. In fact, he said “Trump hasn’t really done anything yet”, to which the audience of course mumbled full agreement. He spent no time, nor was asked, to comment on the “Russians” and all the so-called scandals–at least that’s what the BBC calls them. I would have been a public service had he explained (fairly) what’s happening. I also was hoping to hear him explain what the US Government did once they “discovered” (by illegal spying on US Citizens) possible Russian interference in the upcoming election? It looks now like they did nothing to “protect” the country. So, how can it be argued that it’s a big deal now? Oh, the opportunity Mr. Boxt missed to help the audience understand.

Jason gave a number of false facts and innuendoes based on falsehoods, e.g.

  • He criticised President Trump for issuing a “raft” of executive orders in his first 100 days without the sanction or agreement of Congress. “Oh Dear”, the audience thought. Little do most know that Executive Orders by the President of the United States are not under the purview or review of Congress and are instructions from the Chief Executive to the Executive Branch about what policies and actions to execute. See The Straight Dope explaining this.
  • He lamented that his best friend, a Republican political operator, is so depressed about President Trump’s election that he is going to form his own political party. This was done in the context to prove how the Republicans are abandoning the President.
  • He kept talking about “healthcare disaster” as if “Obamacare” is about health *care*. It’s about scrapping a fully functional private health insurance “system” with a government-operated, mandated, tax. People in Britian have no clue what the debate about Obamacare is about as they view it through the lens of the NHS and the (myths) that millions of people in USA are denied basic health and dental care, turned away from hospitals, etc. and that Obamacare fixes that. Yea, right. They don’t know about Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA government-run-health-care debacle. They don’t believe me when I say there were always ways for people to get care, even if they could not or would not pay. And anyone could and should buy their own health insurance if not provided by their employer. They dispute that because they saw something otherwise on the “telly”. Jason kep saying “healthcare” which is an emotional word, and he knows it.
  • He tacitly accused President Trump as a racist because he said “he has an affinity for white guys.” Oh dear. How respectful.
  • He expressed frustration that President Trump had not acted on some recent incident involving a white person and a black person and one or the other was killed or injured. I’ve looked at recent media reports, and I can’t find what he’s talking about. In any event, why would President Trump would do that? I don’t know. I did observe that President Obama would often interject himself into recent crimes, especially Missouri, especially if he found a way to attack the police for brutality or racism. I guess Mr. Boxt wants Trump to jump into these incidents, and when he does and does not take on the “correct” side, he’ll get attacked with all the “-ism” words, or something like that. And how about all that federal government action during the Obama Administration to assist Chicago, Mr. Obama’s home town, in their on-going murder problem?
  • While the event was slated to be about the 100 days of President Trump, he said nothing about what was accomplished, or not. He said at one point President “Trump has done nothing.”
  • He said Anthony Wiener was an ex Mayor of New York City and his wife Huma Abedin was a “keen Hillary supporter” in response to someone who asked wha that was all about. Wrong. (This story not covered in UK, so his “porky” was not recognised by most).
  • When asked, apparenly seeking assurance that it would happen, if President Trump would be impeached, Mr. Boxt suprised the audience when he said “No” and followed that up with the comment along the lines of “If you think Trump is bad, Vice President Pence is even worse.” He did not follow-up that assertion with any sort of evidence.
  • A member of the audience asked, with disdain, why President Trump has employed his family members as advisors? Boxt could only reply with with yet more disdain, “dunno.”. “Tut. Tut” from most in the audience as yet more evidence of President Trump’s unsuitability to be President. They did not even consider to discuss and debate the possibility that the family members who are involved are competent and fully trusted. Not everyone in the White House, some hold-overs from the Obama Administration, have either of those qualities.
  • He admitted that he, as a pollster, got the election prediction wrong, but “everybody else did too”, so I guess that’s ok. He said that he forecast the popular vote pretty well, but anyone with basic knowledge of the US Constitution knows that’s not what matters. Many in the room don’t know it and use the fact that Clinton received a few more votes is one more reasons why Trump’s election is invalid. Wrong.
  • He was asked to compare the 100-days performance of the President, along with his adversaries: Congress lesd by Senators Schumer, Polisi, and McCain; Speaker Ryan and Representative Waters; the media; the “resistors” and their funders. In true politician fashion Mr. Boxt admitted that not all of President Trump’s problems are caused by him, but then he went on a tangent and did not address the question.

There were many other “fake” facts and innuendoes expressed. I wish I had a recorder running to do a more thorough report here. He did not do the USA any favours, but surely he impressed his masters in the US Democratic Party and his customers in Scotland, whom ever they are.

When I saw Jason speak in Edinburgh last August, I suggested to him that his analysis was wrong and that Trump would win with about 300 electoral votes. He looked at me disdainfully. When I saw him speak a few days after the November election, I reminding him of that forecast and I suggested that when he returns to Washington he advocate for cooperation and proper governance. He said “I’ll have to think about that”. I guess he decided to become a “resistor”. Sigh.

I’m reminded of what Mark Twain is said to have said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so“.

Essential Software (Updated)

March 13, 2017

First published in 2014, new version here (copy paste then edited since WordPress seems to have lost the original text!

March 2017

I sometimes get involved with helping people help themselves by using good computing tools. Following is a list of tools and products that I heavily rely on and recommend to those with needs that match what these tools do. The key is “need”. Given the need, here’s a list (in “no particular order” and ignoring specialty software used for professional reasons):

Apple Mac hardware. say no more. Accessories: external keyboard (to put wear and tear, including spills, on that instead of the laptop keyboard), wireless mouse, DVD Drive, 27″ Apple monitor (get to as much space as possible).

Scrivener ($). For writing. Outstanding. I wish I didn’t still have to to use Microsoft Word. I have been using word since DOS days in the mid 1980’s. Scrivener is the first thing that has come along which can usurp Word. Starting to experiment with Ulysses…

OmniGroup Tools ($). OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle are terrific to tools. Use OmniOutliner to make (write, edit, re-write, re-edit) then export into Scrivener as an OPML file. Use OmniGraffle for making all the diagrams. Store the OmniGraffle source files in the Scrivener Research folder.

Safari and Chrome. For internet browsing. I list both to make the point that you can use both and not fret about picking one or the other. I tend to use Safari.

Feedly. For doing lots of internet reading. This is supplemented by Instapaper and Safari’s Reading list.

Apple Ecosystem. Apple Mail, Contacts, Calendar, iTunes, iPhoto, etc. Just works, especially with iPhone and iPad synchronisation with each other. Supplemented with iCloud and DropBox.

Apple Terminal. There is so much that can be done at the command line which is so much faster, easier, which more importantly can lend itself to automation. There is no reason for anyone to be afraid of it or shun its use. GUI’s are not necessarily the best way to do everything.

BusyCal and BusyContacts ($). I supplement Apple Calendar with BusyCal and OfficeTime (for time logging for client invoicing). BusyContacts, from the same company who produces BusyCal, is most useful because of its ability to show all emails and documents associated with a contact. Both of these “busy” products use the standard Mac OS calendar and contacts databases so nothing is lost by using these other products. I tried Fantastical on IOS, but found it was just too fancy for me.

Microsoft Office ($). Well, can’t get away from it, can you. Use Excel and PowerPoint. Avoid Microsoft Outlook (which some new Mac users gravitate to because they erroneously justify the decision on “I don’t want to lose my email or contacts”). I am migrating away from Word. While I used it since it was released in the 1990’s, I stopped in the 21st Century and never looked back. There are so many better products which facilitate better productivity. That being said, I now have a Microsoft 365 subscription.

ScanSnap Hardware and Software ($). By Fujitsu. I’m getting good at being paperless. ScanSnap products make it happen. I use an S1100 and S1300, but a few years old. I’d probably go with the XI500 if I was buying now and get rid of all the old paper that is still around but that I want to retain.

Hazel ($). Gosh, but a big impact on personal productivity. Allows me to setup key automation to help save time, especially with scanning and other “paper-work”.

DropBox. Relied on for syncing all my devices. I avoid DropBox for situations requiring collaboration as there is no secure the file from others editing/changing/deleting. For that also use SugarSync

CrashPlan ($). Offsite backup of all machines (Windows, Mac, and Linux). And of course use Apple TimeMachine for routine and continuous backup. Have used often to recover past versions of files. Never used for disaster backup, but I’m confident it will work. Looking at ElephantDrive since CrashPlan is abandoning Drobo.

1Password ($). To securely store the hundreds of bits of sensitive information, e.g. passwords, ids, account numbers, scans of identification, etc.

Text Expander ($). Boy, does that save me time in routine writing. As of today,July 18, 2014, TextExpander tells me that it has saved me 2,063,152 keystrokes and 85.96 years of my life (assuming 80 words/minute typing speed). I can believe it. Update April 2106: the publishers of Text Expander has changed their licensing model to a monthly subscription with the new version having features of no interest to me. Not for me. Like Dr. Drang, I’ll migrate what I have to Keyboard Maestro and in due course un-install Text Expander.

Soulver ($). Terrific calculator. While I do use the HP15 emulated on the iPad, and my “real” one, Soulver is useful.

OmniFocus ($). Absolutely essential. Have used so many ways to keep track of “to-do’s” over the years. The only tools that have stood the test of time were Daytimer 5×7″ notebook system and now OmniFocus. “Things” almost made it into my life, but too simplistic. I also like their OmniGraffle product which I use occasionally for illustrating technical writing. Integration with iPad and iPhone make this the “must-use” product.

DEVONthink ($). A fantastic document management systems. I’m a packrat for interesting documents. I have about five major working databases segregated by business and personal.

Sublime Text 2 ($). For text editing. I like to mess with Python. BBEdit also in use, but tend to use Sublime Text 2.

Jump ($). Helps me while travelling to connect back to my Windows desktop computer at HQ. Used to use the Microsoft Remote Desktop Client, but it was limited to accessing Windows. And it “seems” Jump is faster. I find myself using Jump on the Mac to use the Windows machine that is adjacent. Simpler.

VMWare ($). To run Windows 7 and Linux on the Mac. I used to use Parallels but a recent upgrade bricked a running Ubuntu instance, so was forced to migrate everything to VMWare. Saw no reason to go back.

Apps in heavy use on on iPad include: Drafts (most iPad writing starts here), OmniFocus, 1Password, Calendar/BusyCal, OfficeTime, HP15c Calculator, Soulver, Downcast (Apple’s iTunes didn’t just does not work properly for Podcasts and I never looked back), Kindle, ByWord, iPhoto, Feedly, my Bank’s app, Google Maps, DEVONThink, Terminology.

($) Means purchased software.

New Discoveries about our Planet using Modeling, Eyes, and Brains

December 3, 2015

Today’s New York Times has a fascinating article “Searchers Refine Possible Path of Lost Malaysian Flight 370“.

Investigators have refined the possible flight path of a missing Malaysia Airlines jet using a set of probability tools that they say takes them closer to locating the jetliner in the southern Indian Ocean.

The was struck by the more-detailed explanation what they did:

The report recalculated Inmarsat satellite communications data, aircraft dynamics, wind, air and atmospheric temperature, along with a re-examination of fuel consumption and engine efficiencies to map possible flight paths and then test their validity.

The are reported to be using conventional computer modelling technology along with doing even more detailed assumptions of the modelling parameters and incorporating a probabilistic view. All good stuff. Someday they will find the plane and they will then be able to validate these models. In the meantime, this technology is their best view of what “might have happened”. I applaud their efforts.

The search is also having an unintended benefit of providing new insights, data, and mapping about a part of our planet where humans have never really yet looked. In the areas where they are searching the seabed is reported to be almost four miles deep. They are making discoveries:

The seabed, which has been mapped for the first time, is marked by volcanoes, plateaus and ridges, all of which have made the underwater search using towed sonar devices and an autonomous underwater vehicle extremely difficult.

Next step: How might these newly found volcanoes (they don’t say how many, but my hunch is they have discovered many), affecting the ocean chemistry and temperature?

WhoWhatWhy is Not as Good as I thought

November 27, 2015

Over the years I’ve enjoyed reading, especially Russ Baker’s books. I considered them insightful, interesting, intriguing, and educational. I learned more about critical thinking by reading those books. Sometimes unbelievable, but I gave him a lot of slack as the cases he presented case seemed solid and logical. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that he had a head on his shoulders that worked.

Recently he posted an article “Expert Panel Flunks Republicans on Climate Science” which was a commentary on the recent AP posting of same. The eight scientists were are “Mann, Dessler, Elsner, McCarthy, Bradtmiller, Vincent, William Easterling at Pennsylvania State University and Matthew Huber at the University of New Hampshire.”

Humm. Illustrious list, I guess. I only know of a couple of the names and I wouldn’t call them particularly credible.

I put in a comment, with the best of all intentions that said “Suggest you do a little more research on this “climate change problem”. Start with all the scandals and posted a working link to the list recently posted at Scottish Sceptic. A little bit of learning would go a long way. They kept the start of the comment, but deleted the link.

That immediately got “News Nag” to say back to me: “Hahaha. Scandals. You WISH. But I guess that’s all you’ve got. That and the bogus consensus denial.”

Gosh. Says nothing. Clearly lacking in education or ability to learn.

Later Russ Baker himself provided a rant which clearly does not share my understanding of the situation (which is why I suggested he do a little more research). To that rant I replied that he “Get Prof Judith Curry of Georgia Tech on the phone and discuss. Use in your podcast. Perhaps also consider Prof Richard Lindzen of MIT. There are so many others.”.

Gosh, but they “deleted” that comment!!!!

Can’t stand the heat, I guess. Clearly align themselves with how Fascists think.

DeletedComment is now deleted from my podcast list, and my daily RSS reading list. As are Russ Baker’s book on the Bush family from my Kindle. I was going to read it again. Clearly he has a soft mind and I can’t take anything he says or writes with any authority. Slack and credibility destroyed.

“Being Nixon”

November 19, 2015

I am really enjoying “Being Nixon” by Evan Thomas. I had first heard about the books on more than one podcast I listen to. I’m very much reminded how effective Mr. Nixon was throughout his career. It is a pity he succumbed to the shenanigans we now call Watergate.

Too bad he isn’t around now as President.

Value of Engineers and Engineering

December 22, 2014

Awesome Dilbert from on 18th December.

In a world where in the media recognises only “scientists” (whatever that means) to have a voice on issues related to science, technology, and it’s impact on and use by humans, this is awesome. Chartered and Professional Engineers have legal obligations related to their work that no “scientist” I know has.

Engineers are responsible for so much more than fixing washing machines.