Mes: mayo 2015

Labels, persuasion and Richard Tol´s cloak

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I just finished reading an item about Richard Tol and his cloak. Richard is a famous  economist who created a stir when he quit his job with an Intersomething Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) group writing a report for politicians (see reference below).

I thought the criticism was harsh, and it also missed wide off the mark. As far as I could see Dr. Tol was trying to be diplomatic in a formal meeting with high level British government types. I bet he even dressed up…

So here´s what I wrote…

“I first started reading seriously about this subject about 5 years ago. It didn´t take me long to realize there were mutiple debates being waged in several interelated fields (“climate science”, “engineering”, “statistics”,  “economics”, and “politics” come to mind). I also found there were labels being used which I found really confusing. For example, I read some were using the term “climate denial”. However, when I dug into the meaning of this term I realized the proper term was closer to “skepticism about ANTHROPOGENIC warming” (the US military would use the acronym SAAW).

Why do I bring this up? Because the debate ought to be centered on the word anthropogenic. I don´t think anybody denies the climate exists. However, there sure is plenty of argument going on over the anthropogenic part.

Now let´s move to persuasion.  Decision makers, bosses,  and higher ups come into those fancy conference rooms knowing they are smarter than we are, and that they happen to be on top because they know much more about almost every subject about to be discussed. Therefore a frontal attack on their belief structures and opinions is completely useless. Try it a few times and you will not get invited into that conference room at all, and if you keep trying it in real life you´ll be performing  studies about the impact of tropical cyclones on the Haitian mango industry.

So what is this about? I´m not on any side. I happen to think everybody is wrong. So I have to thread really carefully so nobody gets mad at me, and this means you are now being treated like those higher ups I used to convince to do  what I wanted to do by always, always using extreme care when dealing with them.”

This global warming subject sure is fascinating, isn´t it? From forest fires to droughts to energy sources and these debates, it has a bit of everything for everybody…

Climate activists are playing a very important role in the fight against global warming. Some, like Al Gore, the loser of the 2000 USA presidential election, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless activities in favor of future global cooling. Others write in their blogs, and others superglue themselves to building doors.

Cindy Baxter tears into Dr. Tol at Demosblog.com

http://richardtol.blogspot.nl/2014/04/ipcc-again.html

Here´s a note Dr. Tol wrote in his blog

http://richardtol.blogspot.nl/2014/04/ipcc-again.html

And another note Tol wrote recently after enrolling in a brain washing course (I can´t help piling it on)

http://richardtol.blogspot.nl/2015/05/denial101x.html

Here´s Anthony Watts gloating because Tol tore into the IPCC

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/26/two-scathing-reviews-by-scholars-working-with-the-ipcc-show-why-the-organization-is-hopelessly-corrupted-by-politics/

And for the sake of balance here´s something Agricultural Science Honors graduate “Sou Bundanga” wrote in her blog about Tol

http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2013/06/denier-weirdness-dont-count-climate.html

 

 

 

 

 

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Improving Communication About Potentially Catastrophic RIsks

Posted on Actualizado enn

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.

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.

Blackouts like the one in 2003 will likely be much more frequent when wind and solar penetration exceeds 15 %. We face a disaster of enormous proportions, but lack the means to communicate this awful truth to the public.

So how do we avoid these shortcomings and achieve more effective communication about the risks of high  wind and solar power penetration?

The engineering assessments of wind and solar power penetration differ in significant ways from the formal risk assessment methods successfully employed in other fields. We outline a ‘good practice’ approach to the identification, assessment and communication of potentially catastrophic risks based on examples from organizations such the American Geophysical Union, political campaigns, as well as speeches by Rajendra K. Pachauri and Christiana Figueres.

We illustrate how this ‘good practice’ approach could be applied to provide a better presentation of some catastrophic tail risks that are outlined in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Wind and Solar Power Use.

The risks we consider include the possibility of ‘extreme’ drops  in electricity voltage and supply lying outside the central projections described in the report, and the plausibility of significant economic disasters resulting from brownouts and blackouts taking place on a very frequent basis. The risks can also be illustrated with substation transformer explosions and similar events.

Using these illustrations, we examine how engineering researchers can improve their communication about wind and solar power penetration to assist decision-making, and how policy-makers and politicians might respond differently to alternative presentations of information about the tail risks.

1 Here we define high wind and solar power penetration as having a grid in which these sources deliver over 15  % of the electric power,  in a self-contained and isolated grid system with trailing response power storage capacity  less than 5 % of the total 10 day load.

Reference

https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm14/preliminaryview.cgi/Paper21533

http://www.world-nuclear.org/

Interview with an oil man

Posted on Actualizado enn

 This is part one of a six part set of interviews I made in Texas,  to discover the secret behind the oil industry  conspiracy to kill the  renewables industry. 

“We wanted to break the renewable´s  backs, to show that electric cars are glorified golf carts” says J.R. Sanders, CEO of “Black Gold”,  a privately held  company engaged in the oil business all over the world, and Member of the Board  of a secretive oil company organization called “American Petroleum Institute”.

“We sat down with the Saudis, the guys at the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby, made some agreements, and so far it looks like we´re gonna get it done”

I wanted to find out how the Oil Mafia conspires  to stop renewables, so I had gone to Texas in late 2014 to get in contact with their people. To my surprise, I found they were  secretive, but some of them were very talkative. My first “inside” contact was a Dallas banker who didn´t say much. He put me in contact with a French “service company” manager, who refused to discuss anything after he found out I was a  media spy from Ohio. But this guy agreed to send an email to Mr Sanders´s executive secretary, who set up my interview in Sanders´ personal office in Houston.

With large boots  on his desk, Sanders looked  annoyed when I asked: “So you are the ones behind the 2014  oil price crash? ¿And this is supposed to make renewables disappear?” 

“At first we thought we could buy the US Government outright and make them pass laws to outlaw renewables, but pretty soon we found out that was way too transparent,  and the politicians wouldn´t go for it.  The tobacco lobby and the lawyers agreed to sell out after we put enough cash on the table, but we found out the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby wouldn´t risk exposing their side”.

He picked up a can of chewing tobacco, offered me some, and after I politely turned him down he put a huge wad in his mouth and mumbled:  “We knew we had to move fast before renewables got too popular, so we called the Saudis, asked for extra cash and made our move.”

To my surprise, he spoke slowly  and allowed  me to take notes as he rambled on: “We didn’t take renewables seriously at the beginning, but the global warming topic started coming out in the press all the time… we already had enough trouble  getting the Pentagon to invade Iraq, and that didn’t turn out the way we wanted,  too many made members didn´t want to risk another blunder. But we had to defend market share, and those electric vehicles sure looked competitive after the California  government started subsidizing them”.

I repeated my question, asking him to clarify his organization´s role in the fight against renewables, and he went on:

“That wasn’t  just to put the kebosh on renewables, it actually hurts the little oilmen, but not us,  and this business is a war of attrition . My outfit is small compared to Exxon and Chevron- this year we will produce oh, about one and half million barrels of oil, but the big guys produce a bit more. Technologically we got them beat because we hired a bunch of engineers from a French service company, and now we´re gonna get a lot bigger”.

“And that’s the whole idea” he continued; “our goal is to eliminate renewables as a viable competitor, get the little guys out of the way, and move on to squeezing oil out of the ground in New York, Greenland, wherever we can find it using the very best technology we can buy”. 

Seeing he was talking so much I asked him about the deal with the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby:

“Simple, the weapons builders weren´t getting enough business, and the Israelis are getting a lot of pressure from inside their own mafias. The weapons builders own the Pentagon, but we own the CIA, so the idea was to start trouble somewhere in Eastern Europe, to make the Europeans worry and buy more weapons, preferably the expensive kind.

The CIA staged a coup in Ukraine, we got the Israel Lobby to back us using the media to scare the beejezuz out of everybody, and there you are…we got a civil war going on, the Russians got pissed, and we even got the Europeans to put sanctions on them. But they haven´t bought any weapons, and that sure has the weapons guys worried.

We go through all that trouble and those perfumed pussies  think we´re going to send the First Armored Division all the way from Waco to fight the Russians? No way. By the time we´re finished we´re gonna have the French driving  main battle tanks to work”.

Then I asked him to fill me in about the Israel Lobby´s role, and why did they back the move to stop renewables:

“Look, they only own 20% of the government, but they are savvy, and they got their territory”,  answered Sanders. “After we got the Muslims  aboard,  we let the Jews  know what was coming down, and they started playing with those high yield junk bonds. In six months they´re going to own all the little oil  guys, sell them to us, and use the profits to buy Israeli bonds. They got a really good deal out of it”.

Black Gold is  involved in the oil business all over the world, but I felt he was bragging a bit, so I asked him if the lower oil prices weren´t going to hurt oilmen, even the top professionals like geologists. But he laughed:  “That´s one of the biggest jokes in the world, real oilmen are grown, not made. Look at those guys in the picture, do you see a geologist standing there? Of course not. Geologists are the oilman´s best friend, but they got their place in the pecking order. And when an oil company forgets it, and puts a geologist in charge, what do you get? You get  Tony Hayward” And he laughed at his own inside joke as he made a gesture for us to move on to his private dining room…

The birth of Scientology

Posted on Actualizado enn

Last year I found the way Scientology was invented by L. Ron Hubbard when I  was looking up old science fiction stories I could download. Just be sheer accident I found a web page which copied an unusual post in alt.religion. scientology newsgroup, dated May 2nd, 1995.

The following excerpt was taken from a magazine called “Saturday Evening Wings,” which was printed for awhile in the 1970s. In this interview Harlan Ellison, the science fiction writer, claims to have been present the night L. Ron Hubbard decided to write “Dianetics.” Note: Dianetics is  the first Bible of Scientology.

Portions of Ellison´s  interview in “Wings” follow:

Ellison: Scientology is bullshit! Man, I was there the night L. Ron Hubbard invented it, for Christ Sakes! I was sitting in a room with L. Ron Hubbard and a bunch of other science fiction writers…he was famous among science fiction writers because he was the first one to have an electric typewriter.

Wings: He claimed to have written “Dianetics” in a weekend, and nobody can deny it.

Ellison: That’s true. He wrote “Dianetics” in one weekend…We were sitting around one night. … who else was there? Alfred Bester, and Cyril Kornbluth, and Lester Del Rey, and Ron Hubbard, who was making a penny a word, and had been for years. And he said “This bullshit’s got to stop!” He says, “I gotta get money.” He says, “I want to get rich”.

….And somebody said, “why don’t you invent a new religion? They’re always big.”

We were clowning! You know, ” You’ll make a fortune!”

He says, “I’m going to do it.” Sat down, stole a little bit from Freud, stole a little bit from Jung, a little bit from Alder, a little bit of encounter therapy, pre-Janov Primal Screaming, took all that bullshit, threw it all together, invented a few new words, because he was a science fiction writer, you know, “engrams” and “regression”, all that bullshit. And then he conned John Campbell, who was crazy as a thousand battlefields. I mean, he believed any goddamned thing. He really believed blacks were inferior….and he got him to run this article on Dianetics, the new science of mental health.

Ellison: Right. And science fiction fans will go for any goddamm thing. They’ll believe anything, man, they will believe in the abominable snowman and the Bermuda Triangle, in Pyramid Power, in EST, in Scientology, in the Second Coming, they’ll believe in any goddamm thing, they don’t give a shit. They go to see “Star Wars”; they think it is for real!

So science fiction fans picked it up, they began proselytizing, he started making money, when he had made enough money he was able to spread out a little more….Then he wanted to get tax-exempt status, so he called it “The Church of Scientology”.

Now, they’ve gotten so big that they own property all over the country, and it is impossible to stop it. They infiltrated the FBI, they infiltrated the tax department, … the funny thing is, Ron Hubbard and I still occasionally communicate with each other. Every once in a while, a couple or three times a year, we exchange letters. And I write to him, you know, and I say, “Hey Ron, when is this bullshit going to cease? and he says, “It’s the good work, it’s the good work.”

….I guess he got too busy counting his money…..

Source: http://www.islets.net/faq.html#Anchor

A Chinese meal in Baku, Azerbaijan

Posted on Actualizado enn

Right after the fall of the Soviet Union,  the Republic of Azerbaijan began to do business with companies abroad. Eventually I found myself visiting the capital, Baku, with a group of friends.

We stayed at the Intourist, the best hotel in the city at that time. The hotel also housed the American consulate. The US government was working with a shoe string budget,  and the US consul complained all the time because he couldn´t use a phone which wasn´t  recorded by the KGB. That guy was so cheeky he used to visit  our suite to use our satellite phone, and had us  leave the room so he could  “talk to Washington.” I believe he was calling his wife to say he would return some day and please don´t  forget to change the oil in the car.

We were visiting Baku to talk to  newly minted Azerbaijani national oil company officials  and make them wonderful offers so we could take their oil. But these guys were really busy trying to get a handle on things after they kicked out the Soviets (ie Russians), so we had plenty of free time. I read a lot, and  I went sightseeing with the boys, including visits to the beach and other popular sites such as the monument to Beria and the Caravanserai.

The food in the hotel was terrible. Every day we ate chicken and rice: greenish chicken chips  on a plate with white rice and bugs. It was always the same. I was so bored with the Azerbaijani chicken I would have eaten haggis. The others, who didn’t have the stomach  training I had, suffered a lot.

One day, one of the boys enthusiastically informed us he had found a Chinese place. As you can imagine, we were very happy when he heard  his proposal to go to the place that night.

After such a  long time chewing  on green chicken that Chinese restaurant sounded like heaven. That night we went in two taxis, all dressed  up with suit and tie to eat Chinese.

The restaurant was quite far from the Intourist hotel. I remember it was  in the new part of the city, which was characterized by its beautiful Soviet prefabricated construction. Block after block of very symmetrical buildings, all the same, all covered with very artistic graffiti.

When we arrived, we were amazed. The restaurant had Chinese architectural ceiling tiles, exterior columns painted red, and a spectacular gate. Because it was so  far from the hotel, we arranged with the taxi drivers to pick us up later,  and walked inside. 

We sat at one of those  big round tables with the spinning gizmo in the center, and asked for the menu. Behold that  menu! It had about 30 pages, with a huge list of food, all labeled  with numbers. We settled to choose our individual plates, and then call the waiter to order.

The first asked:

“I want the number 32, the duck with prunes”

And the waiter replied, “Sorry, we are out.”

Then our number two  said:

“Fine, I´´ll have Number 16, please, pork with walnuts”

Waiter: “No”

The third one of us, his voice trembling, suggested 74 …

Waiter: “No sir”

Then it was my turn, and knowing what things were like in communist countries (or countries  just emerging from communism)  I asked:

“Mate, what do you have?”

And the waiter replied: “Chicken with rice”.

Horrified, my colleagues insisted on pointing at the menu pages and babbled the  numbers they wanted. For my part, I knew we had no choice. So I convinced them not to leave because we had to eat something, and reminded them the taxis were not going to come back  for a while. So we all asked for  the damn chicken with rice.

 

The boys began to drink beer to calm down, dinner  came after they had drunk a few bottles  and they  ate everything with gusto.  Drinking had drowned their sorrows,  they  were happy and no longer cared if their plates had  worms and were covered with  green mucus sauce. It was a happy dinner which got better as they consumed alcohol as if they were Europeans just escaped from Saudi Arabia.

Then dinner was over. It was time we left,   we thought the taxis  would come soon, so we went out and stood around waiting . And waited. And  waited.

After half an hour waiting for the taxis to show up, we realized they probably weren´t  coming, so we walked back and asked the waiter, who had remained near the door, if he could call us a taxi. Unfortunately his phone didn´t  work, but he advised us we could  walk ten blocks to a corner where they had a bus stop, and that bus line would take us near the  Intourist hotel.

So we set off and we started looking for the bus stop. We walked a lot, so much  we thought we were lost. The problem was that all the buildings were the same, all had broken windows, all the streets were covered with a little trash, and even the potholes in the street looked the same.

To make matters worse, my friends had drunk an enormous amount of beer, and began to complain that they had to urinate in a hurry . Soon thereafter  they began to walk with their legs held tight together.  This just wasn´t going to work. Our translator, a very practical man, suggested they urinate against the wall right there.

This led them to organize  a debate (some were lawyers, and  a lawyer would never be found urinating in public  without having a debate over the legal merits thereof, whereby incarceration was an option, and have  a judgment issued before he could urinate successfully). 

Evidently  the most pragmatic side won that  debate,  they  stood against the wall in a row, and began urinating all together at the same time. I wasn´t in the  group because I hate beer and I don´t drink water in suspect places, so I was dehydrated and could be designated the official  lookout. 

 

That´s when bad luck struck, because immediately after they began to urinate  we saw a light and  heard an approaching bus engine.

The boys tried to rush and urinate faster, but forget it. The bus turned the corner, and pointed at them with its bright headlights.  They knew they were convicted:  right there, fully visible in the shining bus lights, they looked just like a bunch of urinating drunks instead of distinguished foreign visitors.

And to make matters worse  the one who was more exposed  could be seen real  good from the bus, so he turned right to hide his pecker, and that made him  piss on the feet of  the next guy, who was so startled that he in turn  jumped and spun while he was urinating…. and urinated on the buttocks of the third, and then all hell broke loose and they formed a circle of well dressed gentlemen  urinating on each other.  It was pretty funny to watch them run down the street  to get away from the bus, which was quite useless because the bus was moving in the same direction.  I almost fell on the street  rolling around and laughing.

Fortunately, the bus  driver was in good humor, so he  stopped the bus.  Our translator told him these foreigners had been invited  to visit Azerbaijan by their big shot  Aliyev, and that convinced the driver to put ​​the bus at our disposal.  So we all climbed aboard. However, the driver gave us orders not to sit down because he didn´t  want the bus to  smell like urine. 

We had to give him a large  tip so he would drop us off a few meters from the Intourist hotel, but we arrived in one piece. Somehow my friends went through lobby security  and up to their rooms without further mishap.  The next day they had another adventure when they took their clothes to the cleaners. But that’s another story.

Shadow Warrior

Posted on Actualizado enn

In 1980 the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa directed the film “Kagemusha” (The Shadow Warrior). In Japanese the word Kagemusha means political decoy. The film is a work of art, tells the story of a humble man trained to impersonate the Takeda clan leader, the “Daimyo” Shingen.

Here we see when  the double is presented to the general.  The double looks so much like the Daimyo,  and is so well trained to imitate his gestures,  that all his generals, including his son and heir Katsuyori,  think the double is the real Daimyo until the truth is revealed.

The Kagemusha, or double, is not considered very useful until the Daimyo Shingen has the misfortune of being wounded during the siege of an enemy castle. When he realizes he´s mortally wounded he call his generals, including the heir (his son Katsuyori), and tells them he´s  very sick and  is going to die, but that his death should be kept a secret.

The Daimyo was very concerned that his heir wasn´t  ready to take over the clan´s leadership. Knowing that his enemies would seize the opportunity to destroy the clan if they saw  it weakened by an inexperienced leader, he decided to be temporarily replaced by his double until Katsuyori learned the job.

In the film the two characters, the Daimyo and his double are the same actor. Therefore it´s  not surprising to see they look and make the same gestures. I guess in real life, if this happened, the Kagemusha must have looked a lot like the general, because at that time there wasn´t  plastic surgery. He also must have practiced the general´s gestures and his way of speaking to have done such a perfect job.

The film ends when the heir Katsuyori fired the double, ignored the advice of his generals,  and attacked the rival clan at the wrong time, which lead to the defeat at the Battle of Nagashino.

Since the double was such a perfect actor, history can´t tell us the exact  time when the double began his performance and when the real Daimyo Shingen died. The Kagemusha dies at the end of this battle along with Katsuyori and most of the Takeda clan´s army.

History tells us the victory at Nagashino allowed the great Tokugawa Ieyasu  to win the Japanese civil war and to become Japan´s  Shogun.

Battle of Nagashino by Nathan Ledbetter

http://www.samurai-archives.com/ban.html

Tokugawa Ieyasu´s Biography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokugawa_Ieyasu

I beg one thousand pardons to the People´s Republic of China

Posted on Actualizado enn

I wish to use  this opportunity to apologize to the People´s Republic of China,  the members of the Communist Party´s Politburo,  its top leaders, and especially former President my friend Hu Jintao, as well as  other important people like Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang and Madame Yeoh .

My Chinese friends, when I saw that my blog was being read in China I was very happy. But then I realized that I had a single reader who was sitting at a desk in a state security agency. And that has left me a little scared, because the governments of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Russia, Italy, UK, Israel and the Vatican already have their agents watching me. Not to mention the American empire´s agents, and the Catalans who persecute me because I wrote their team represented Qatar instead of Barcelona.

I am a humble mouse, a coward who kneels and asks forgiveness for calling you sell outs to capitalism,  and  for saying  you, the great Chinese people,   would be willing to join the British Empire if they paid you cash. 

I am a big  fan of Peng Liyuan, my favorite song is “People of Our Village”, and I hate the corrupt Bo Xilai. I don´t  practice Falun Gong and I like Chinese food (which I eat with chopsticks as protocol requires).

To show you my friendly attitude I can help persuade the British people to become a province of China and build a replica of Tian’anmen square with ramps for heavy vehicles in central London.

Once we are in control we  won´t allow the British to raise a ruckus and imitate the Chinese guy who stood in front of the tank column in Beijing during the Tiananmen incident in 1989.

Moreover, to prove my loyalty to the party and win the confidence of the Politburo, I support building a large wall around Hyde Park, and the construction of a Ming style tower in its  center to symbolize the union of the Chinese and British peoples. This architectural marvel will give  tourists something beautiful to photograph, because as we know Windsor Palace  has little aesthetic value and the tourist industry requires fresh attractions.

 Now that I think about it, we could also bring the Dalai Lama to London and give speeches about Chinese civilization.