Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
above: Dave is a tiny black dot on Northover with the massive Royal Group behind
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I thought a separate post on this would end a lengthy exchange in the comment section of an earlier post. The media and others are trying to convince me that I have much to fear over an increase in temperature. Lets see what the facts say.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Another summer contract came and went this year. Very early on, I dropped my camera in a river and so I only have a few pictures.
Another odd event involved a jet ranger helicopter we were using to fly the crew. I was
There's always a few amazing wildlife encounters among the hundreds of encounters during the summer. This summer I had a close look at a white grizzly bear. It walked right past me with caution but not fear. I flanked it for a little while making noise as I didn't want it to walk into the next block which had our crew working in it. Very stunning creature and quite rare. I really regretted losing my camera the week before! All together I saw a dozen different Grizzlies this summer which seems like quite a few. I was chatting with someone in town about seeing so many grizzlies, they asked how I knew they were different bears? I said they all looked as
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I can barely keep this blog up it seems but better late than never I guess! This spring I got the opportunity to work for Terra Erosion Control up in Syncrude's oil sands operations. After listening to so many talking heads discuss the pros and cons of the oil sands, it was pretty cool to not just see the whole place, but to be part of the operations. As usual with the work I tend to do, it's satisfying to be part of the "mending" end of things.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
These piles are just the worm castings. What was once table scraps is now very productive (and odorless) topsoil. We even had enough to share with some gardening friends from Calgary.
After scooping into piles, the worms scurry to the bottom of each pile where they can be easily collected and returned to their box.
As I'm off to the woods this weekend for a few months, I'll have to wait till I return to put the soil to use but I'm anxious to see how productive it is.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Ranchers in southern Alberta's Cardston County are in emergency mode after a barrage of spring snowstorms killed hundreds of cattle.
Losses are mounting as melting snow reveals calves that succumbed to the winter-like weather of the past couple of weeks, said Reeve Cam Francis.
The county declared itself a "disaster area" earlier this week, Francis said, noting that some ranchers lost more than 100 calvesRead more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Snowstorms+kill+hundreds+cattle+Cardston+County+declares+emergency/3016251/story.html#ixzz0nmhdfSvM
Monday, May 10, 2010
To see recent malinvestment on a grand scale one only needs to look at the US housing market. Low interest rates for a decade caused a speculative housing boom. Currently there are 20 million empty units in the US! Thats enough vacancy to house Canada! That is the face of malinvestment! It's true that people produced those houses and got paid for their work but now, that capital is just locked up, unavailable and useless. It should be obvious that with that kind of surplus, housing prices must go down. Unfortunately, the government is trying to not let this happen by giving huge tax incentives and reduced interest rates to buy houses. This keeps prices artificially high. It's like a boat filling with water and the government is paying people to get more water in the boat! Given that the vacancy rate is still increasing, that several million houses will be foreclosed on this year, and Fannie will be closing the trough of free money, house prices can be assured to plummet. Anyone who used to build houses will have to find employment doing something else.
The jobs picture in the US is quite funny also. It was reported that some 200,000 jobs were recently created but unemployment rose to 9.9 percent from 9.7 percent. This number bears so little resemblance to actual unemployment it's hard to fathom why it is ever mentioned at all. It's as though temperatures were reported always half their true value! The real number is closer to 22 percent if you bother to include people who don't have a job. For economic stats without the statist political spin see shadowstats. It was started by a finance guy who needed real data for pricing models he built for corporations.
It's ironic that during the recession, minimum wage has risen nearly 40% over the last 3 years. So at a time when wage adjustment is absolutely necessary for economic recovery, the lowest wages are being artificially pushed in the opposite direction. It's difficult to find ways for Main Street to lower prices when wages are rising! Most people who work minimum wage are the young, usually in their first job. It should not surprise anyone then that this is the group with the highest unemployment currently. Disincentives to introductory-type jobs would seem under the circumstances to be exactly the opposite of what is needed.
Government mandates low interest rates and fuels bubbles and then place every obstacle to possible recovery in the way of the economic engine. Then it tries to convince people they are fixing the economy. Terrible.
It occurred to me this week how gullible most stock traders seem to be these days. Today it was announced that the Eurozone had put together nearly a trillion dollars to stabilize the Euro. Of this, 570 billion "comes from" the member nations, 75 billion from the European Central Bank and 300 billion from the IMF. Translation: a trillion dollars got made up.
This is a Ponzi scheme in it's simplest form. Borrowed money must come from savings which are derived from production. Without this saved production, one is forced to print more money if one wishes to spend it. Thats exactly where this money comes from. One fiat currency bails out another. Eventually the music stops and everyone scrambles for a chair. If I were American, I would be in disbelief that my own country, which is totally insolvent, is in any position to prop up a currency with no value. And yet, this news was enough to rally markets? I'm not sure how much of Canadian tax money ended up in this package, but if it's anything, it's too much.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Will Greece, Spain and Portugal prove to the world that "Austrian economics" explains economic crashes and that Keynesian policies causes them? Greece, rather than merely levy taxes on its citizens, issued bonds which are bought by European banks and then used as collateral to secure loans at the EU central bank. In this way, Greece gets to distribute currency dilution throughout Europe. It also gets to live beyond its means. No one seems to notice that the same mechanics are working within the US. Curiously, measures to control such practices were in place but ignored. All member countries agreed on deficit to GDP restrictions but these were then summarily ignored by everyone. Sadly, these problems can be soon expected with other fiat currencies controlled by clueless Keynesian central banks. I suspect this will be blamed on someone's "greed" and then Keynesianism can go on it's merry way destroying capital and currency. In the short term, the US dollar gets a lift as capital flies out of Europe. It's hard to know how much Euro panic is already priced in, but I would expect gold to do well this year as markets lose this year's gains.
I heard on the radio the other day someone lamenting that if we leave Afghanistan before "the job is done" our soldiers will have died for nothing. I wondered why giving Canadians a meaningful death was one of our mission parameters. Talk about mission creep!
SEC is investigating Goldman Sachs. Seems like early campaign hi jinx. If you bought a car without looking at it and then complained that it was a dud, you wouldn't get much sympathy let alone a court date. The fact that the seller was going to sell it to the scrapyard hardly relieves you of due diligence. As always, if you don't see that the market is a series of voluntary actions, you are doomed to never understand anything.
Arizona passes new law that formalizes how every poor Latino living near the border already gets treated. I'm not a fan of armed men demanding to see my identification, but outrage seems late to the party. Only a few citizens actually enjoyed the rights that are now being trampled. Frankly, I can don't see much difference in the erosion of liberty after this bill.
Glad to see the Canadian government resisting the urge to appear to be doing something lately. Flaherty seems deaf to the cries of the populist bank regulation cries. As unbelievable as it may seem, there have been calls to tax banking products to create a future bailout fund. It's hard for me to put into words how backwards a plan like this is. Many people research MP3 players more thoroughly than their banks and certainly more than their RRSPs. Why the apathy? Because their money is safe because the government insures it. What incentive is there to pull your money from your bank because they have risky practices? The availability of bailout money eventually makes it necessary to bailout a bank! It's kind of a moot point anyway since interest rates are so low that saving is non existent. Since there is no incentive to save, savings are replaced by speculations like the stock market and real estate. Which get over inflated and adjust sharply causing huge losses and the cycle goes on and on. Unfortunately, suppressed interest rates are popular with voters and thus we have institutionalized economic instability.
"Hide the Decline" climate alarmist Mann is being investigated by the Virginia attorney general. Since Mann's work was paid for by the state, the AG is looking at whether any of his actions violate those contracts. It should be an interesting test case that will at least shine a light on the level of professionalism applied to tax payer money. The Va University investigation was a joke, as was the UK parliament inquiry on the climategate emails. Unlike the other investigations to date, this investigation promises to have some testimony by experts with opinions different from the accused.
Monday, March 01, 2010
While Dr. Phil Jones prattles on about withholding code and data being “standard practice” The Royal Society of Chemistry has made a statement to the Parliamentary inquiry saying they as an organization support open data sharing. They now join the Institute of Physics in making a strong statement on the practices of UEA/CRU.
“…the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.”
Dr. Jones position of “standard practice” isn’t looking good. Not good at all.
Here’s the statement published on the UK parliament website:
Memorandum submitted by the Royal Society of Chemistry (CRU 42)
· It is essential that the public and all non-specialists remain truly confident in the scientific method to provide a sound scientific evidence-base on which strong decisions can be made. Correspondingly, it is in the interest of scientists and the public that society as a whole has an understanding and an appreciation of science.
· Access to reliable, up-to-date information is vital to advancing research and enabling the discovery or development of solutions to global issues. Sharing information is especially important in multi-disciplinary research, where progress is very much dependent on willing and effective communication between different speciality areas.
· The RSC firmly believes that the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.
1. The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) welcomes the opportunity to submit formal written evidence to the consultation on the disclosure of climate change data from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia.
2. The RSC is the UK Professional Body for chemical scientists and an international Learned Society for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a network of over 46,000 members worldwide and an internationally acclaimed publishing business, our activities span education and training, conferences and science policy, and the promotion of the chemical sciences to the public.
3. The document has been written from the perspective of the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is noteworthy that the University of East Anglia is a member of the RSC Partnership Scheme, however this in no way constitutes a conflict of interest. The RSC’s Royal Charter obliges it “to serve the public interest” by acting in an independent advisory capacity, and we would therefore be very happy for this submission to be put into the public domain.
· What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?
4. The apparent resistance of researchers from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to disclose research data has been widely portrayed as an indication of a lack of integrity in scientific research. The true nature of science dictates that research is transparent and robust enough to survive scrutiny. A lack of willingness to disseminate scientific information may infer that the scientific results or methods used are not robust enough to face scrutiny, even if this conjecture is not well-founded. This has far-reaching consequences for the reputation of science as a whole, with the ability to undermine the public’s confidence in science.
5. It is essential that the public and all non-specialists remain truly confident in the scientific method to provide a sound scientific evidence-base on which strong decisions can be made. Correspondingly, it is in the interest of scientists and the public that society as a whole has an understanding and an appreciation of science. The RSC strongly supports the dissemination of chemical knowledge to foster and encourage the growth and application of the chemical sciences, as stated in its Royal Charter. This includes the dissemination of scientific knowledge as a means to advance public understanding and the learning of science.
6. The dissemination of scientific information is central to progressing scientific developments, as it is based on a sound knowledge of preceding research. Access to reliable, up-to-date information is vital to advancing research and enabling the discovery or development of solutions to global issues. Sharing information is especially important in multi-disciplinary research, where progress is very much dependent on willing and effective communication between different speciality areas.
7. It is also imperative that scientific information is made available to the wider community for scrutiny: the validity and essence of research relies upon its ability to stand up to review. In fact, advances in science frequently occur when the prevailing view is challenged by informed scepticism, this is fundamental to the scientific method and should be encouraged, even if controversial. The RSC firmly believes that the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore, research needs to be presented in an accurate and reliable manner in the correct context in order to optimise this process. It may also be necessary to incorporate an independent auditing system into peer review with the ability to demand access to raw data sets to ensure best practices are being adhered to.
8. With the increased use of electronic media, access to information is widespread for scientists and the public alike. While this is a great benefit to society, the quality and validity of information available raises complex problems as valid scientific information and general opinion are presented side by side. The inability to decipher which information is legitimate, results in confusion, misinterpretation and may lead to mistrust of ’science’. There needs to be a clearer understanding in the public domain of what constitutes a reliable source, including an appreciation for the process that is used for disseminating research and the advantages of peer review.
9. The peer review system is central to the credibility of science: its purpose to prevent the dissemination of unwarranted claims and unacceptable interpretations. Formally published scientific research is subject to this authoritative process whereby a community of qualified, impartial experts examine the information and possess the ability to prevent publication. Authors generally protect their data until it has been peer-reviewed and published in a formal publication due to the competitive nature of research.
10. The issue of misinformation in the public domain must also be tackled. Just as the scientific community must be open with regard to their evidence base, those who disagree must also provide a clear and verifiable backing for their argument, if they wish their opinions to be given weight. When disagreements occur, the validity of the analysis must be established before credence can be given to any opinion. Increased understanding of the process of scientific research, firstly in the government, but also within the media and general public, is vital in order to foster a more open sharing of information.
11. Support from the scientific community is needed to provide context and to explain the process by which conclusions are reached. Encouraging scientists to openly engage with the public can only be achieved if researchers are given the necessary backing in the face of any unfounded arguments against their work. This support must come from the highest levels, sending out a strong message on the importance of scientific methodology and research and promoting open sharing of information between scientists and the wider community.
· Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?
12. The terms of reference and scope of the independent review are adequate, although some wider reaching aspects must also be examined. The effect on other researchers working in this area such as independent researchers, as well as those collaborating with CRU, should be explored. The impact of this incident on the public perception of the CRU and UEA as a whole should also be considered as a measuring stick for the implications of such actions in the public domain. The manner in which the findings from the items set out are interpreted and applied will determine their value.
13. As has been set out in the review, it is necessary to investigate the email exchanges which were discovered along with other relevant CRU information to establish whether data have been manipulated or suppressed. This is, not only needed in order to identify any unacceptable behaviour, but also to verify the results which have been published. This is vital in clarifying the severity of the acts carried out by those scientists at the CRU involved, i.e. whether it was a misguided protection of their work or a malicious misrepresentation of data.
14. The review of practices surrounding CRU’s use of peer review and dissemination of data should be used to shed light on how these comply with established best scientific practice. Any failings in this area should be examined in the context of the research methods used and any deviations should be assigned either to the individual researchers or to inadequate updating of the best practice to suit research in the digital age. This will beget more valuable information on the motivation and the reasoning behind the conduct of researchers at CRU.
15. Research institutions should review established protocols regarding the management of, and access to, research data to ensure that they remain up to date and clear. This process must be developed in collaboration with researchers so that its importance can be understood. The current practices in CRU and UEA must be examined to ensure the unit and the institution fulfil public regulations and that they offer support to researchers to ensure compliance.
16. The review of the security issues surrounding the release of information is an important internal issue for CRU and UEA. Furthermore, the RSC supports investigations into the highly irregular manner in which information was obtained from the researchers.
· How independent are the other two international data sets?
17. From the information available, the RSC cannot comment on this issue.
Royal Society of Chemistry