Tuesday, January 31, 2012

50-Year Old JFK Tapes Released: What Is Revealed....Or Not?

One of thousands of 'Wanted for Treason' posters retrieved from Dallas streets on the day of the Kennedy assassination.

The CBS Morning show today presented the news that 50-year old audio-tapes (roughly 42-43 minutes) made aboard Air Force One en route back to Washington DC after the assassination, were just released after some fifty years. The question emerged as to what new aspects or elements do they show, if anything?

Readers can learn more here:


According to the CBS website info:

" It's been nearly a half-century since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But new information from that day in Dallas has just been released -- audiotape of conversations between Air Force One and Washington.

For the first time, the complete audio record of the flight back from Dallas to Washington is available to the public online, from the
National Archives, for free."

I highly recommend interested readers avail themselves of this audio record for themselves. The CBS site info continues:

"The full audio of transmissions from White House Communications Agency (which captured the tapes) that day includes 42 minutes edited out of the original public version. It's likely to peak the interest of conspiracy theorists who are already asking why this material was cut out of the original.

Then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay had been a frequent opponent of Kennedy's. His whereabouts on the day of the assassination has always been a mystery.

In the newly public audio, we learn that LeMay was airborne, even as JFK's body was being flown back to Washington. And an aide to LeMay tried urgently to reach his boss."

Of course, to say LeMay was a "frequent opponent of Kennedy's" is serious understatement.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962, Kennedy refused to bomb or invade Cuba as he was urged to do by his Joint Chiefs, especially Air Force General Curtis LeMay , who actually compared JFK to Neville Chamberlain, and referred to his actions as “appeasement”. According to one of the first major mainstream news releases after the tapes in the WH situation room were released (The Baltimore Sun, Oct. 26, 1996, 'Bomb Cuba!Le May Urged JFK', p. 2A):

"Tapes of secretly recorded White House conversations released this week show that President John F. Kennedy's military advisers strongly pressured him to bomb and invade Cuba during the missile crisis 34 years ago this month. Indeed, they forecast that war would occur whether he invaded Cuba or not.

Blasting Kennedy's cautious approach, the Air Force Chief, Gen. Curtis LeMay, told the President at a White House meeting on Oct. 19, 1962, "This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich......

Through those days Kennedy was fending off strong pressure for an attack on Cuba from congressional and military leaders such as LeMay, who told him, 'We don't have any choice but direct military action...I see no other solution...

Of course, JFK resisted these insane pleas which - had they been carried out- would doubtless have led to a massive nuclear exchange with the Russians, as former Defense Secrtary Robert McNamara noted in a 1993 interview on NBC Today. McNamara acknowledged that only later did the information become known that Castro had 93 IRBMs aimed at the eastern U.S. So, had JFK not had the courage to face down LeMay and the JCS we wouldn't even be discussing lost tapes.

LeMay and fellow Joint Chief Lyman Lemnitzer were also behind the odious plans for "Operation Northwoods", as revealed in James Bamford's 2001 book, Body of Secrets, Doubleday Books, p. 82. This was described by Bamford as (ibid):

maybe the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government

This treacherous campaign of terror was to include the sinking of refugee boats (carrying Cuban refugees) on the high seas, as well as the killing of innocent citizens on American cities’ streets, plus random bombings carried out in Washington, DC, Miami and other places. The objective? To deliberately incite a war with Castro's Cuba. One can easily see from both the October, 1962 exchanges and also the Northwoods information, that the JCS and especially LeMay - had a major 'Jones' for starting a war.

When I first heard of Northwoods, I had trouble processing how any U.S. government agency or entity could remotely conceive of such foul deeds, far less carry them out. Then I quickly recalled the blowing up of Cubana Airlines Flight 455 over Barbados, on October 6. 1976 by Luis Posada, Freddie Lugo and other renegades sponsored in the extremist Alpha 66 enclave by the CIA. 73 innocent victims perished in that terrorist act, the worst one in the western hemisphere prior to 9/11. Bamford, in his discussion of Northwoods, further notes that the extent of it included getting England (UK) to side with the U.S. against Castro by also launching attacks against Jamaica and Trinidad, both (then) Commonwealth members. Does anyone seriously believe, given the vile extent of such plans, they’d have been the least squeamish about planning to assassinate a president who consistently thwarted and humiliated them?

Evidently the daft and clueless pseudo-historian Robert Dallek does! Quoted on the CBS Morning show he opined, in conjunction with the suspicious nature of 42 minutes edited out of the original public version (presented in the Warren Commission Hearings) and the disappearance of LeMay in the immediate aftermath:

"They (conspiracy theorists) just can't accept that any person as dysfunctional as Lee Harvey Oswald, lone wolf that he was, could have carried out the assassination"

No, sir, we do not! Not when three master marksmen recruited by the Warren Commission failed to replicate Oswald's alleged feat. Indeed, just one of the three expert riflemen was able to get off three shots in under 5.6 seconds – the designated time interval for total shots declared by the Warren Commission. And most to the point: none of the total 18 shots fired in the test trials struck the targets in the head or the neck. In other words, from a technical standpoint of duplicating Oswald’s alleged shots- this trio of experts failed. Another key aspect: for the duration of the 18 rounds, two of the “master” riflemen were unable to reload and fire at the stationary target as rapidly as Oswald purportedly did for the moving limo.

Of course, I had earlier slammed Dallek for his historical amnesia in terms of his historical perspective on JFK's achievements, e.g.


This time I focus on the usual prattle of some that we - the American people - simply can't handle that such an epically evil act could be committed by a little "nobody". In this, Dallek commits the same error as mathematician John Allan Paulos, in his 2008 book, Irreligion: mistaking the low political value of the person assassinated for the high political value of the assassination. In the case of Paulos, he makes a false equivalence (to JFK) using the 1997 example of Princess Diana. Thus, Princess Diana was so loved and cherished by millions, that few were able to accept she perished in a random auto accident.

However, apart from initiating some land mine awareness programs and being the public face for a few charities, Diana’s slaying had no where near the political repercussions down the line that JFK’s had. Any altered timelines extrapolated in the wake of her death would find nothing of the comparable magnitude that occurred with JFK’s demise. Thus, it’s like comparing chalk and cheese.

As for Dallek, he mistakes a conspiracy approach for an inability to cope and reconciling the loss to a "lone wolf", while he confuses possible psychological "dysfunction" of the alleged assassin for serious motivation and a realistic capability to carry out the deed. Indeed, in a 1997 Usenet FAQ for the newsgroup alt.conspiracy.jfk, I showed how anyone with the putative psychological disabilities attributed to Oswald would never have been able to carry out the kill attributed to him. Also, as I showed in a number of previous blogs, the kill shots couldn't even have come from where Oswald was alleged to be (the Texas School Book Depository):



Thus, the dynamics don't even point to Lee Oswald! Apart from that, Oswald's rifle skills were in question. By the time Oswald was discharged from the Marines, he was barely able to qualify in any defined shooter category - with a 191 score (or Marksman). Corporal Nelson Delgado, the marine most familiar with Oswald's skills, referred to his being tagged with the label of 'Maggie's Drawers', meaning he was a lousy shot. In effect, what we see is just the opposite of what one would expect for the alleged assassin. His shooting skills never adequate to begin with, then deteriorating over time, as opposed to improving. It is rather illogical, therefore, to suppose that in an environment ('civilian') which required no regular training and for which no evidence of any extraneous 'practice' existed Oswald's skills significantly improved to the level of being able to make the shots attributed to him. (Let's again bear in mind three professional master marksmen were unable to replicate them - either using Oswald's same rifle, or a different model with 18 shots to do it in!)

At least the other historian, Michael Beschloss, quoted on the CBS Morning Show admitted that people will rightfully question why this 42 min. stretch of tape is only now being released, and why it wasn't with the original Warren records. He went on to state many already believe the Warren Commission was more a "whitewash" citing a recent CBS News poll showing that 73% of Americans didn't believe it. Well, why should they? Any professed "commission" that ignores 200 material witnesses can't be for real, but would have to be a political-PR artifact to shut people up and put the event in the rear window. "Historian" Dallek plays right into this.

Finally, what are we to make of the fact that more than 50,000 pages to do with the Kennedy assassination remain unreleased? This despite the 1992 JFK Records Act by which all these documents were to have seen the light of day by now. (And let's recall Bill Clinton's 1996 Executive order to do this!)

Readers can learn more about this in the salon.com article below:


and in respect of the JFK material:


Note also the letter therein, to the National Archives, to release this material. Why, if no conspiracy took place, the need to hide so much for so long? Surely "national security" can't continue to be used as an excuse given the technology has moved far beyond what spooks used 50 years ago, not to mention all those old sources long since dead. The only logical reason would be to protect actual handlers and agents that had a hand in the Kennedy hit - either directly, or by setting up a patsy to take the fall. People such as George Joannides.

In the end, the release of these 50-year old audio tapes merely adds more fuel to the fire of the conspiracy paradigm, while the silence of the agencies keeping 50 year old files on ice reinforces it! It appears these agencies really do fear the American people. Which seems incredible given that one of the most loathsome plans ever conceived by any government - Operation Northwoods- has already been exposed.

Lastly, the take of a genuine historian: Prof.. David R. Wrone, in writing in The Journal of Southern History(6), February, 1995, p. 188, is the only one that matters:

I believe that irrefutable evidence shows conspirators, none of them Oswald, killed JFK. A mentally ill Jack Ruby, alone and unaided, shot Oswald. The federal inquiry knowingly collapsed and theorized a political solution. Its corruption spawned theorists who tout solutions rather than define the facts that are locked in the massively muddied evidentiary base, and released only by hard work.”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Further solutions to Matrix Problems

We left off with some further matrix problems which are now solved:

Determine which of the following matrices is positive definite:



Check the eigenvalues, viz.

(1-φ ......2)
(2.......1- φ) = (1-φ )^2 - 4 = 0

Or: φ ^2 - 2φ - 3 = 0

And: (φ - 3) (φ + 1) = 0 so φ1 = 3, φ = -1

Since: φ2 is less than zero the matrix is not positive definite



Again, we first find the eigenvalues using:

(1-φ ......-1)
(-1.......2- φ) = (1-φ ) (2- φ) - 1 = 0

Or: 1 - 3φ + φ^2 - 1 = 0

Leading to: φ^2 - 3φ = 0 or φ (φ - 3) = 0

and this yields: φ1 = 0, and φ2 = 3

Only φ2 > 0 so the matrix is not positive definite



Solve for the eigenvalues:

(3-φ ......2)
(2......1- φ) = (3-φ ) (1- φ) -4 = 0


1 - 4φ + φ^2 - 4 = 0 or φ^2 - 4φ - 1 = 0

Use the quadratic formula to solve, viz. φ1, φ2 = {-b +/- [b^2 - 4ac]^½} / 2a

where: b = -4, a = 1 and c = -1


φ1, φ2 = {4 +/- [4^2 - 4(1)]^½} / 2 = {4 +/- [16+ 4]^½} / 2

φ1, φ2 = {4 +/- [20]^½} / 2 = 2 +/- 2 [5]^½

So: φ1 = 2 + 2 [5]^½ and φ2 = 2 - 2 [5]^½

Since: φ2 = 2 - 2 [5]^½ = 2 - 2(2.236) = 2 - 4.472 = -2.472

is less than 0, the matrix is not positive definite.


(3 .........1...........1)

Set out the 3 x 3 matrix to obtain the eigenvalues so:

(1- φ..........2..........3)
(2.........- φ.............1)
(3 .........1...........1 - φ)

Proceed to find the eigenvalues using:

(1- φ ) (-2....... 1)
.............. (1 ......1 - φ) -

(2) (2....... 1)
..... (3 ....1 - φ) +

(3) (2....... - φ)
.... (3 .........1 )

Leading to the eigenvalue equation:

1 - φ( -φ + φ^2 -1 ) - 2(-2φ -1) + 3(2 + 3φ)= 0


φ^3 - 2φ^2 - 13φ - 7 = 0

Which is a cubic equation. One root, call it φ1 = -2.33, is less than zero, hence the matrix cannot be positive definite.

Why The "Naked Ape" Needs Some Hair

A specially (UV) illuminated bed bug about to plunge its proboscis into the bare waiting skin of a student guinea pig.

Since Desmond Morris' smash book of 1967, The Naked Ape, many people have actually thought of humans....those of us who are members of the primate species Homo sapiens, as "naked apes". The evolutionary arguments for this nakedness, meanwhile, have extended to everything from an intermittent "aquatic period" of several million years" (in which case why didn't we retain some residual gills) to competitive advantages in presenting a healthy skin to a possible mate.

Totally missed in all these ruminations, evidently by Morris as well, is that humans aren't really naked apes at all. Per square centimeter, human skin has as many hair follicles as other great apes - the difference it that they aren't as coarse or wide. So much for fancying that we are some special kind of "angel" or being far beyond those of our cousins, the chimps.

The evolutionary question that emerges then, is why did humans arrive with such fine hair hairs that grows from these abundant follicles. It's obviously not to woo mates, and in fact a majority of human females are not terribly turned on by hirsute males. Nor does there appear to be any kind of benefit in terms of camouflage, or even protection. That poison ivy leaf you touch will still carry a sting and an itch!

Now, two researchers from Britain's Sheffield University - Isabelle Dean and Michael Siva -Jothy- appear to have resolved this conundrum of the purpose of human hair. As published in the recent issue of Biology Letters, their research appears to show these fine human hairs servie as an early warning system to alert us before an arthropod (such as shown in the image) creeping under our covers or sheets puts a hurt on us. The most common threats being bed bugs, as well as certain species of lice. Hence, the fine vellus and terminal hairs are there to warn us - if even slightly disturbed by a small alien beastie attempting to make a meal. In effect, the sensation of the beastie making his way toward his dinner generally awakens us and allows enough time to react before becoming a ready blood meal.

In thier study, the Sheffield researchers recruited 29 university students to act as guinea pigs. Each had a patch of skin on one arm shaved and encompassed by petrleum jelly (to fence the bugs in) and the other arm had a similar patch though unshaven. Subsequently, unfed bed bugs were released to do their thing and the students were requested to look away while the beasties were placed on their arms. Clearly, Siva -Jothy and Dean didn't wish to see their charges freaking out before hand.

These human guniea pigs were then asked to press a button whenever they sensed a critter moving across their skin. Siva -Jothy and Dean found a significant difference in frequencies between the two separate arm patches. When a bug traversed a hairy patch, the button signal was depressed on average every 4 seconds. On a shaved patch more than ten seconds elapsed between detections. Further the bugs perched on the hairy skin took nearly 20% longer to attempt to bite their voluntary hosts. (I say "attempt" because the lab workers removed the bugs before they could sink their proboscises into the waiting flesh).

In all the cases, men (who are hairier) fared better than the female volunteers when the bugs were released onto unshaven patches of skin.

Desmond Morris was indeed correct on observing that human hair had "shrunk" but what he missed out was identifying why it hasn't completely disappeared to render a real naked ape.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Solutions to Matrix Problems

We now examine the solutions to the previous problems. Once more:

Check each of the following matrices to determine if positive or positive definite or positive semi-definite (the case where D = ac - bd = 0)


(cos π/2.........-sin π/2)
(sin π/2.........cos π/2 )

Solution: We know:

cos π/2 = 0, - sin π/2 = -1, sin π/2 = 1 so the matrix can be written:


And the eigenvalues φ are found from:

(-φ ......-1)
(1..........- φ) =

φ^2 + 1 = 0 or φ^2 = -1 whence: φ1 = i, φ2 = -i

So they are imaginary. The determinant D = 0 - (-1)(1) = 1

Check that the pivot P > 0 when P = ([ac - bd]/ a) = (0 - (-1))/0 = 1/0

But 1/0 = oo so this test is indeterminate. (Note also we cannot say the eigenvalues > 0)



The Determinant is D = ac - bd = (3)(3) - 0 = 0

The eigenvalues must be > 0. We check with the calculations, using :

(3-φ ......1)
(0.........3- φ) =

(3- φ) ^2 = 0 or 9 - φ ^2 = 0

so: φ1 = 3, and φ2 = - 3

The matrix fails the tests for being positive, positive definite because one eigenvalue is negative.



The determinant D = (2)(18) - (6)(6) = 36 - 36 = 0

Hence the matrix is positive semi-definite, and also since the eigenvalues:

φ1 = 0, φ2 = 20



The determinant D = (2i)i - (1)(2) = 2 (i)^2 - 2 = 2(-1) - 2 = -4

Hence, not positive or positive definite, or positive semi-definite


(-½ i.....i)
(2i....... i)

The determinant D = (-½ i) i - i((2 i) = [-½ (-1)] - (2)(-1) = ½ + 2 = 5/2

Check that the pivot P > 0. P = ([ac - bd]/ a) = ( 2½)/ (-½ i) = -1.25i

SO the test fails for this matrix, or th result is indeterminate.

Additional Problems:

Determine which of the following matrices is positive definite:








(3 .........1...........1)

Why Lisa Kennedy, aka "Kennedy", is a Moron!

Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, talk show radio host and sometime commentator for reason Tv, appeared on the Bill Maher HBO 'Real Time' show Friday night. For the first several minutes, I watched and speculated that an intelligent newcomer find was perhaps made by Bill. While it's always nice to see and hear the usual brilliant guests, like Gore Vidal, Rachel Maddow, and Prof. Michael Dyson, it's great to get the perspectives of new minds too.

Regarding "Kennedy" or Ms. Kennedy (or Ms. Montgomery) the most useful trope applicable in Maher's Friday night show might have been along the lines of "better to remain quiet and be suspected of being a fool, than to open one's mouth and confirm it". In this case, my suspicions were first triggered when the panel discussed the Jan Brewer incident a few days ago, when the Arizona governor confronted President Obama on the airport tarmac in Phoenix and wagged her finger in his face. At least this is what the photograph showed.

As usual, Bill and his other guest Martin Bashir had the correct take that it was the epitome of disrespect. Dana Rohrabacher was somewhat off the wall, saying Brewer was "entitled" on account of the fact "a President is not a King or Queen" - implying that to critique this gauche conduct of the AZ governor was the same as obeisance. I basically wrote Rohrabacher's reply off as the product of one suffering from Alzheimer's and awaited Kennedy's response.

She asserted there was no way that a governor who was male would be criticized like Brewer had been. In other words, to this bubblehead, it was all about sexism and nothing more. Anyway, my suspicions that she was a nitwit had been established.

She then confirmed it with two later remarks-comments in the course of a rapid conversation touching several subjects. One of these was global warming, which of course the libertarian crowd (that runs 'Reason' magazine) doesn't accept. So, one more or less expected a stock, stupid answer and we got it:

"Sunspots!" Kennedy blurted

In other words, all the climate change debate amounted to was blaming manade CO2 instead of the true culprit: the heating from "sunspots".

Personally, I doubt Lisa even knows what a sunspot is, but let's briefly review. According to the standard (sunspot) theory of former Univ. of Chicago astrophysicist Eugene Parker, the "inverse ion hurricane" represented by a large sunspot, enables the basis for the latent energy to translate into a convective collapse process so the luminosity can flow out and around the periphery of spots. This effect operates according to the ionization reaction:

H + (energy) -> H+ + e(-)

backing up the supposition that a super-adiabatic temperature gradient is largest near the surface and its associated latent energy. Thus, what we see happening with accumulation of large spots (see the photo which I took of a mammoth group of spots on Nov. 4, 1980) is the redirection of heat to the periphery of the spot(s) yielding an enhanced solar irradiance. This is counterintuitive, since spots are actually cooler regions in relation to the Sun's surrounding photosphere, which is roughly 1500 K hotter.

The irradiance is just the solar radiance - in watts per square meter per steradian - integrated over the full solar disk."Steradian" denotes a solid angle measure. See, e.g. the definitional details (with diagrams) here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steradian)

Needless to say, solar irradiance has a direct bearing on the issue of climate change and to what degree the Sun is responsible, and especially whether (quantitatively) its irradiance over any one solar cycle or period therein overrides the human-incepted, CO2 -driven, greenhouse effect.

So, at least if "Kennedy" somehow meant this when she blurted out "sunspots" she was in the ballpark. But of course given she didn't elaborate, we simply don't know.

Where the problem comes in, is the actual relative contributions of heating arising from a nonlinear driver or forcing agent from global warming, vis-a-vis the contribution from solar irradiance.

In his lecture at the 40th Meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society ('Solar Irradiance: Recent Results and Future Research Plans'), in June, 2009, Thomas N. Woods of the University of Colorado dealt with the matter as it pertains to the current cycle, and in particular some recent measurements.Woods began by noting the assorted recent periods wherein irradiance measurably varied, including: the Medieval maximum, the Sporer minimum (1400s), the Maunder minimum (1600s), the Dalton minimum (1800s). He noted with emphasis that there was no single uniform value to characterize a time interval or period, since the radiance itself can vary hugely on small or local scales. For example, solar flares can propel radiance increases 50 times over normal and thereby affect the irradiance.

On average though, with such violent inputs smoothed out, the Earth's temperature changes by about 0.07 K (kelvin) over a given solar cycle - but not continuously cumulative, i.e. the temperatures don't keep building but diminish with the next sunspot minimum. Compare this to the 0.6 K change (increase) in global temperatures over the past 100 years arising from human-caused greenhouse effect. Thus, the human component is over 8.5 times greater.

Even if the solar forcing on climate is enhanced by positive feedbacks the amplification is usually no more than a factor 2. So that T= 0.07 K increases become T' = 0.14 K increases. The human component is still more important by a factor 4.2, a point made by Woods when he emphasized that the recent results support the hypothesis that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the primary contributor. This despite all the politicos, think tanks, Libbies and their Reason mags or tv -radio shows and other yahoos who keep blabbering that climate change arises from "natural cycles" - meaning the Sun is responsible. Sunspots obviously enters into this.

Now, what can be conceded here is that we may need to re-examine the standard solar dynamo theory. This is the Babcock-Leighton theory that every 11 years or so, magnetic fields on the Sun attain a high torsional component which causes them to "twist" up and also move from more northerly to more southerly solar latitudes where most active regions (ARs) form.

Typically, this is around 22-23 heliographic degrees. But during the interphase of the current cycle (24) with its predescessor, the torsional oscillation flow for the latter had been hovering near heliographic latitude 33 degrees, nearly 10 degrees off. Even moving at about 7 Mm (mega-meters or 10^6 meters) a year southward, this would take over 2 years to reach a latitude of 23 degrees, where large active regions (and spots!) ought to form.

THIS is what we would need to account for, a time delay associated with sunspots arriving at their "correct" heliographic latitudes. Any such remodeling of the basic dynamo model would, obviously, be difficult and require more detailed analysis of associated cycle tachoclines, and the meriodonal flows inside the Sun. This means MONEY.

But my point here is that while the time delay aspect needs to be re-visited, the relative warming contributions of sunspots vs. the nonlinear climate agents (greenhouse gases) do not. We know CO2 alone is driving up the solar insolation -heating at the increment of 2 watts per sq. meter per year with every 2 parts per million added. The reason as I stated before, is that all greenhouse gases act as primal heat amps on account of their molecular vibration properties. So, maybe if Ms. Kennedy is going to comment on "sunspots" in relation to climate change, she'd best do so by first getting a Physics degree in addition to her Philosophy degree. (I walways wondered where philosophy majors ended up. Now I know, on conservative talk radio shows!)

Anyway, Kennedy's other vacuous, lowbrow remark was that "Atheism is a religion". Bill Maher did his best to rebut this recycled foolishness in the time he had, but it wasn't enough and he moved on to his 'New Rules'.

But let's make no mistake that the claim is absurd on its face. The misplaced strategy, however, is always to attempt to place atheism within the same logical context as religion and then attack it on the basis of occupying an analogous “belief” spectrum. In the end, this is a fool’s errand.

For one thing it turns the very meaning and basis of religion on its head. We know all religions embody centralized beliefs or dogmas that issue from some sacred scripture or a body of theology based on scriptural interpretations.. Atheism has none of these, since there are no central propositions or beliefs with which all atheists agree.

A religion, by contrast, will have a core set of beliefs to which EVERYONE subscribes.

Further, atheists numbered amongst the most dominant version ("implicit atheism") withhold belief, they do not invest it. This alone separates atheists from religionists or people of faith. Second, atheists make no positive claims for any transcendent existent that requires their worship or obeisance. They simply acknowledge no god or entity with which to build a religion in other words. Third, atheists maintain no sacred works, scriptures, or ancient artifacts, from which their “truths” are extracted. They have no analog to a Bible, Qu’ran, Talmud or anything remotely similar. Instead, atheists pursue objective truth via open inquiry predicated on current science, which may provide fewer certainties or answers than if they merely placed their faith in a book.

Fourth, atheists convene no regular rituals, services or ceremonies to honor, or propitiate any entity. By contrast, the centerpiece of 99 percent of religions is precisely some social ritual, for the purpose of assembling together like-minded believers toward a common goal. Moreover, their churches, synagogues, temples etc. dot the landscape, taking up room that could be used to house the homeless in each respective area or locale.

Perhaps most importantly, there is no "acceptance" of atheist core principles from any “congregation” since there’s no homogeneous congregation to bestow it. Atheists often disagree on as many things as they agree on, precisely because no formal coda exists to fix beliefs within a uniform dogma.

Indeed, atheists can't even agree on whether the foundational philosophy of Materialism (actually scientific Materialism) is the cornerstone for atheist thought! Even the ones that do accept some form of Materialism don't always agree on which type. Thus one might encounter:

- Physicalist Materialism (everything in the cosmos has a physical nature)

- Epiphenomenalist Materialism (non-physical processes occur that are contingent on physical origins, organs, etc.)

- Panpsychic Materialism (attributes a mental character to physical entities)

- Emergent Materialism (can attribute vitalist forces to physical nature)

- Dialectical Materialism (mental processes evolve from physical ones)

Despite this, there remain some (evidently like "Kennedy") who insist that if an atheist simply doesn’t believe in the supernatural or God he is expressing a belief, albeit a negative one. If expressing a negative belief, then it's the same as a positive belief such as invoked in religions, ergo he is professing a religion. This is utter nonsense.

It would be akin to asserting that if I decline belief in ghosts I still have “negative ghost belief” and therefore am a Ghostologist ! The error inheres in asserting that an absence of belief is the same as a belief. This error repeats the canard that the onus is on the atheist to disprove the believer’s claim, instead of acknowledging it is impossible to prove a negative. Some sophists attempt to get around this by claiming it isn’t impossible to prove a negative. They argue that they can prove “there are no black balls” in a box by simply emptying the box out and finding all white balls. But this misrepresents the example, since the possibility of “all white” balls was never in question! The analogy is specious because the existence of God IS in question, and isn’t objectively verifiable, unlike counting real balls. The analogy trivializes the deity existence question while not validating the sophist.

The bottom line is that Lisa Kennedy, in her debut on Maher last night, merely showed herself to be another conservo meathead like a former guest Maher had on some time ago, the pseudo-atheist and pseudo-intellectual S.E. Cupp. See, e.g.


Catholics Losing It Over Obama Admin. Contraception Ruling

Among the contraceptives that would be banned if Catholic hospitals etc. rebel against the Obama Administration ruling.

It is frankly difficult to conceive that in this day and age, in the second decade of the 21st century, a major world religion is still attempting to foist its archaic sexual-reproductive standards on its minions.....errrr.... members, and even extend that antiquated codswallop to affect non-members lives! But what else can one conclude when one reads bizarre bilge ('Catholics Hit Rule on contraception', WSJ, Jan. 27), such as:

"Catholic leaders lashed out at the Obama administration's decision to require religious employer's health plans to cover contraceptives, accusing the White House of betraying them on the issue.."

The article then elaborates:

"Catholic leaders say they were surprised by new federal rules that require employers to provide all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration without co-payments or deductibles for health insurance policy holders. Most employers have to comply with the requirement starting in August..""

Say what? Look, these religious twits knew for over six months this ruling was coming, and they also knew the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services had already exempted religious organizations that employ and serve people of the same faith, from having to provide contraceptive services for them, for example. This is natural and reasonable, because it is assumed that within that closed enclave of homologous Catholic faith - most or all of the participants would agree to any claimed principles or dogmas.

However, any birdbrain would have to know that dispensation would have to cease when the general public, including many Protestants and even atheists, secularists that attended a Catholic hospital (maybe because it's the only one in their area) might be prevented from getting contraceptive services they needed. After all, since they aren't Catholics they can't be held to the same moral "rules" as Catholics.

But this is what these Catholic whiners are bitching about!They insist that their pet morality on contraceptives be broadened to extend to ALL employees and institutions, even those that employ mostly non-Catholics! This is insane! They even have the nerve to offer up rubbish such as spouted by the Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York (ibid.), that this rule:

"is a literally unconscionable attack on religious freedom"

In fact, it isn't! Roman Catholics are perfectly entitled to withhold contraceptive services for their own Catholic members, but may not do so for the general public that has no other alternatives or recourse than to go to a Catholic hospital, or work at some other Catholic institution - say like a school. Hence, if I as an atheist am teaching at such a school, I need to be able to secure these contraceptives for my wife if she should need them. To say I can't based on the fact the school is religious, is an infringement of my rights as a citizen. And certainly, if the Catholic Church is to continue to enjoy tax free status as a religion, it needs to keep its nose out of issues that don't concern it, namely those affecting non-Catholic citizens, irrespective of where they work.

Most puzzling is why, if Catholics purport to be against abortion, they'd be against contraception which arguably would cut down on the number of abortions. As one Connecticut lawmaker, Rosa De Lauro (D) observed, the White House actually "handled the decision very well by being open to listening to religious leaders", while adding (ibid.):

"Contraception is about preventing unintended pregnancy"

Exactly, so why on Earth be against something like contraception - in which no lives are taken - that would putatively eliminate the need to take them in the case of abortion? There is no logical reason for this. It's as if Catholics willingly condone the greater evil because they object to a subjectively perceived "lesser evil". That would be like me insisting all vaccinations be banned as "unnatural" based on my wacky religious beliefs of what constitutes the "natural", and demanding it be done for all people who avail themselves of my assistance or hospitals- thereby possibly leading to major pandemics that would engender the much greater REAL evil of death!

What the Church is really hanging onto is an antiquated "natural law" which is absurd on its face. Indeed, Catholic impediments to a sane birth control policy began with the misguided encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968. The Pope at the time, Paul VI, issued this document in direct opposition to his own specially appointed Papal Commission on the matter. Author David Yallop, in his book In God's Name, 1984, has portrayed Humanae Vitae in stark terms indeed, as well as its paradoxical consequences (p. 58):

"On a disaster scale for the Roman Catholic Church, it measures higher than the treatment of Galileo in the seventeenth century "

The implicit assumption in Humanae Vitae and Pope John Paul II's subsequent encyclical Veritatis Splendor, is that procreation takes precedence over any other function of sexual intercourse. This is observably true in most other animals (with estrus cycles) but it certainly doesn’t apply to humans who exhibit a diverse array of sexual play. To devalue sexplay for its own end, while extolling procreation-based sex as the be-all and end-all, is to rob humans of their uniqueness as sexual primates. Or, to refer to the words of one Catholic biologist, Elizabeth Dougherty (in Contraception and Holiness, The Lessons of Zoology, p. 110):

"Why do we call secondary the ends of the sexual act which have been accorded in fullness to us, and why do we call primary the end that we share with the lower animals?"

It is also to invite ecological catastrophe for this planet. Since 1968, for example, the world population has added another two and a half billion which the Vatican merely welcomes as 'more souls for the Church' - potential or otherwise - while ignoring their collective impact on strained planetary ecosystems. Also, ignoring their individual impact on families which are so stretched economically they can't even care properly for the children they have, far less must add!

Catholic voters need to ask themselves if they are really prepared to get their panties into a snit over this, to the extent of either sitting out this election or worse....voting for someone like Mitt Romney,......a multi-millionaire who already has stated intentions to cut or privatize Medicare and to whittle Medicaid down by using "state block grants". In other words, let the burden of Medicaid fall on already budget-busted states to provide care. Most likely by whittling down the threshold acceptance levels to the bare minimum, say maximum income of $150 per month.

So these high-minded Catholic grasp the suffering this will surely cause? Or maybe their precious, antiquated doctrines are more important to them than the suffering of their fellow citizens.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Positive and Positive Definite Matrices

We continue to examine some more aspects of Hermitian matrices and some general properties of all matrices. We will stick in this exposition to simple 2 x 2 matrices, but understand everything treated can be generalized to larger array square matrices. Consider first the case of a positive matrix.

Here, a Hermitian matrix is positive if all eigenvalues > (=) to 0. Let's consider this example for which we are to check whether it's positive: M =

(1 -φ .........i)
(-i.........1 - φ)

Write out:

M = (1 - φ)^2 - (-i)(i) = (1 - φ) (1 - φ) - (1) = φ^2 - 2φ + 1 - 1 = 0


φ^2 - 2φ = 0 so: φ( φ - 2) = 0

whence: φ1 = 0 and φ2 = 2

Thus, the condition is met that the eigenvalues (φ1, φ2) are equal to or greater than 0 so the matrix is positive.

We now consider any general symmetric matrix, i.e. such that A = t^A in the context of when such a matrix is positive definite. The conditions for this are:

i) All the eigenvalues are positive (e.g. φi > 0)

ii) All the determinants are positive (e.g. ac - bd > 0)

iii)The pivots ([ac - bd]/ a) > 0

iv) t^x A x > 0

Example: State whether matrix W =


is positive definite.

Solution: We check each of the conditions (i - iv) to see if they are met.

First, the eigenvalues must be > 0. We check the calculations - see, e.g.

to see : φ1 = 0.096 and φ2 = 20.904

so both meet the condition.

Check that the determinant D > 0:

D = (2) (19) - (6)(6) = 38 - 36 = 2

so the condition is met.

Check that the pivot P > 0.

P = ([ac - bd]/ a) = 2/ 2 = 1

so, the condition is met.

Check to see if: t^x A x > 0

We let: x =


so that: t^x = [x1 ...x2]

Then we obtain the operation: t^x W x =

[x1 ...x2] [2x1 + 6x2]
...............[6x1 + 19x2]

Yielding the quadratic form: 2x1^2 + 12x1 x2 + 19 x2^2

where: a = 2, 2b = 12 so b = 12/2 = 6 and lastly c = 19

Hence, it meets the condition since a, b, c are all positive.

Then the matrix is positive definite.


Check each of the following matrices to determine if positive or positive definite or positive semi-definite (the case where D = ac - bd = 0)


(cos π/2.........-sin π/2)
(sin π/2.........cos π/2 )








(-½ i.....i)
(2i....... i)

NFL Conspiracy Theories: When Losing Fans Get Paranoid

Baltimore receiver Lee Evans has the winning TD catch knocked out of his hands at the end of last week's Baltimore - New England game. Was the game fixed to ensure a Giants-Patriots revenge match?

Some fifteen years ago while working for a radiotherapy software company, a co-worker and I got into an animated discussion over professional football. He basically said he never followed any of it because "most of the games are fixed". I asked him to defend that point of view with some kind of evidence but he refrained, only claiming that I should "Look at some of the most critical plays and the calls of the refs!"

I basically dismissed his suspicions as looney, paranoid nonsense. Then, in the wake of the 15-1 Packers' loss to the NY Giants by 37-20, I saw it surface again on the Packer forums at the Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel. More than one devastated fan, still in disbelief, wrote to the effect that "It is simply impossible the Packers could have been beaten like this, at home, with more than three weeks to prepare, and a record like they have! I believe the game was fixed to enable a rematch of the Giants-Patriots!"

But they did lose! And rather than dream up suspicious fantasies, and let's bear in mind the Pack got the benefit of a fumble call (by Greg Jennings) they never should have! In addition, in today's Green Bay Press-Gazette, defender Charles Woodson admitted that the Giants played better and they "wanted the game more than we did".

A stark admission.

Now after the championship games last W/E the conspiracy meme continues to surface. The NFL had its "chosen teams" - with the best markets, picked for a "revenge match" between Tom Brady and Eli Manning. As with all loosely thought out conspiracy theories, these rest on selective confirmation, and then seeing almost all plays or calls as evidence of that confirmation of a conspiracy. For example, the memes have now extended to the players who for whatever reason boffed critical plays leading to the opponents to get in. Kyle Williams of the 49'ers for example, mishandled one punt during regulation leading to a Giants' extra possession possession and an Eli Manning TD. Then, in overtime, Williams fumbled a punt that led to the winning field goal. "He was on the take!" came the paranoid loser fans bleating. "They paid him to fumble!"

This, of course, is nonsense, and anyone watching Kyle after the game could see the last thing he wanted was to hand the game over to the Giants! (Which is also why it says very little of certain SF fans to have tweeted him threats, including death threats, according to his dad Ken Williams, a coach for the Chicago White sox baseball team). The same goes for insinuations that Baltimore Ravens' kicker Billy Cundiff deliberately botched a 32-yard kick that would have sent the Ravens- Patriots' game to Overtime. That was the last thing Cundiff wanted.

Then there was Baltimore receiver Lee Evans dropped touchdown pass at the end (see image), with barely 20 secs remaining. He makes that catch and the Ravens pack their bags for SuperBowl XLVVI. Maybe he dropped that pass deliberately, paid off several millions to throw the game for the Patriots to win! Again, nonsense, because Billy Cundiff still had the chance to tie the game, it did't pivot on Evans' catch, though yes had he made it it's a Ravens' win.

If there was anything suspicious near the end of the game it wasn't Evans' botched catch or Cundiff's miss, but rather a referee non-call with barely 50 seconds left when Patriots' safety Sterling Moore committed a pass interference penalty against Ravens' tight end, Dennis Pitta. Most serious observers (e.g. Baltimore Sun columnist John Eisenberg) agree it was a non-call that had tremendous consequences and it was also a call totally within the purview of the "Zebras". Had the defender Moore been penalized (as he ought to have been, on watching the play again) the Ravens' would have had the ball on their 1 -yard line and a new set of downs. Almost certainly, they'd have found a way to score 7, and win the game.

This is a harder one to skewer, though one might make the case that the refs were deliberately willing to "let the players play" without interfering. Still, the Ravens were penalized with a number of earlier calls that looked twitchy, while the Pats seemed to have escaped. But again, maybe this is merely looking for "confirmation" of a posited conspiracy. Still, given the game decided who was to travel to the SuperBowl, who knows what might have been had the Pats' defender (the same guy who knocked the ball from Evans' hands) been flagged for a PI.

Eyes are now trained on the coming Superbowl, and the "conspiracy game fix" theorists in SF, Baltimore and Green Bay are now watching carefully to see if Part II of their speculations comes true - that is, the Patriots are allowed to win to assure "revenge" for Brady's Pats in a rematch with the team that ignominously ended their perfect season in 2008. Needless to say, all eyes will be trained squarely on the refs in this game....and Brady and the Pats better earn their Lombardi trophy this time....no help from the Zebras!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Middle class shrunk? Yep, because some got rich!

Every now and then one encounters a nutwhack theory so profoundly at odds with reality that one has little choice other than to subject it to the light. After all, we know that excrement -eating insects as well as offal of all forms - animate and inanimate, thrives and grows best in the dark. Look at some of the worst festering fungi like stachybotrys.

This also applies in the realm of memes and ideas. In this case, a recent article appearing in the Wall Street Journal, 'Lessons from the Grand Expansion' in which we are expected to buy into the bullshit of one "Henry R. Nau" - cited as a "Hoover Institute fellow who teaches political science and foreign affairs at George Washington University". Well, all I can say is if this WSJ piece is emblematic of his teaching or courses, I am truly sorry for his students!

Anyway, Nau would have us believe, seriously, that the documented shrinking of the American Middle Class (as reported by the 2010 U.S. census) is not due to large swatches of families falling into poverty - no, not at all. The shrinkage is instead due to more of the Middle class becoming "rich" and LEAVING IT! All of which shows once again, that one can prove or show just about anything oe wishes with the spurious use of statistics.

In his piece Nau claims:

"Between 1980 and 2007, the world economy experienced what I call a 'Great Expansion' due largely to free market policies that President Obama blames for the last recession. Over those three decades world GDP grew about 145% or roughly 3.4 % a year"

Here, Nau is essentially correct because Reagan's policies of banking de-regulation (i.e. the Bank Holding and Deregulation Act of 1984) combined with his low taxation policies, essentially meant greener pastures for overseas speculators and markets. No surprise then that the infamous carry trade in currencies flourished, enriching tycoons in assorted foreign nations, as well as providing the impetus to send millions of American jobs overseas (since foreign labor became so much cheaper as a result of currency downgrades). Couple these financial loosenings with hideous trade agreements (NAFTA, GATT etc.) and the WTO or World Trade Organization, and one had the basis for a massive flow of capital from the U.S. outward to emerging markets and nations. But, in the zero sum game of global capitalism ...this meant Americans would have to become poorer and they have. (See for example, the attached Excel Chart tracking the incomes in quintiles over the decades).

Thus, this leads to Nau's numero uno canard that:

"None of this global growth came at the expense of the U.S."

Making one wonder what planet Nau inhabits, or if he even inhabits a planet at all! (For more on how the capital in the U.S. as well as wealth was lost, please see the following references: False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, by John Grey, and One World Ready or Not - The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, by William Greider, Simon & Schuster,1996.)

Both of the books I cite above provide the horrendous details of how American wealth has been decimated in the age of mobile global capital. Any one, especially an "expert", who doesn't see this is a liar, a fool or a fraud. It's as simple as that.

Nau then goes on to write, committing the usual statistical error of selective data:

"The U.S. grew by more than 3% per year from 1980-2007 and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants."

Note how he halts his citation at the year 2007, when the great recession commenced, and especially excludes the fallout from the 2008 meltdown during which some 14 million middle class jobs were lost, probably forever. This is why his next statement means next to nothing:

"Per capita income increased by 65% and household income went up substantially in all income categories"

But let's look at the actual data, as provided in the accompanying graphs, one from U.S. Census data, the other from the Economic Policy Institute. The last clearly shows that family income growth across all quintiles from 1979-2010 did not keep pace with income growth over the period 1947-79. Again, I noted the reasons earlier. After 1979 Reagan's deregulating and low taxation policies were enacted, and together with the rise of mobile global capital incepted major capital outflows from the U.S. Naturally this included jobs dispatched as well, and we've seen over 12 million lost since about 1989, along with the 14 million cut in the wake of the recession of 2007-8 and the financial meltdown and credit squeeze. Note that the middle quintiles, applicable to most of the middle class, didn't even make the 0.6% cut! In fact, the lowest quintile, mainly working classes, lost 0.4%.

In the Census graph, note not only the rising Gini index of inequality (extreme left), but also the declining middle class income, especially since the 2007-08 crash.

Nau then has the absolute chutzpah to write:

"Yes, the middle class has shrunk but not because its getting poorer but rather because it's getting richer".

Again, can't this birdbrain read or interpret graphs? How can he say or assert that when the actual quintile data shown, as well as the Census data, don't support it? Not content to appear semi-competent he goes in for more, to emerge as totally incompetent, scribbling:

"According to Stephen Rose of the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce, fewer people today live in middle class households with incomes between $35,000 and $105,000.....where did the missing households go? They became richer!"

But if this is so, how is it that a Wall Street Journal report dated Sept. 10, 2011 (p. A1, charts p. A16)note that "the continued evaporation of the net wealth of the Middle Class (those deemed to earn in the range from $50,000- $140,000) has meant marketers can no longer assume this economic niche can purchase the wares that in the past they had taken for granted"

The article then noted, citing across a broad range of diverse products, how the loss of wealth has been such that it translated into "downscale purchasing" - buying Gain" Laundry detergent instead of the more expensive TIDE, Bounty Basic paper towels instead of regular Bounty, and replacing their regular toothpaste with BAKING SODA! Huh! These are rich folks? Maybe we need a lesson here in semantics, eh Mr. Nau?

How the hell can those downscale-spending behaviors be deemed of the "rich"? In fact, they can't be because the numbers don't add up based on the quintile distributions. There simply aren't the enhance income or net wealth indicators to support either Nau's or Rose's fairy tales. In addition, the article pointedly noted the current U.S. Gini index of 0.48, and we know Ginis in the 0.4- 0.5 range typically disclose 90% of earnings or wealth are being controlled by 5% of the populace. That adds up to maybe 2.5 million people, and given as The Economist has noted ('Who Exactly Are the 1%', Jan. 21-27, p. 31) this richest tier is essentially stable and "the rich marry their own kind" where are the infused middle class coming? Well, not into the 1% ($252,000/yr base threshold income after subtracting federal taxes) and as I already showed not in the $140,000.

So then the influx or middle refugees would have to be entering into the $140,000-$252,000 niche, which numbers roughly 1.1 million households. If more than 90% are stable "inbreds", married into this wealth or via inheritance, than that means the nouveau riche middle class interlopers - newly arrived, could not comprise more than about 20,000 households! Yet the middle class shrinkage has been by at least 10% since 1979. Or likely around 12 million households. (Also supported by earlier Census data).

When it comes time to spouting bollocks and bilge, we may be sure the WSJ and its hacks takes the cake!

The Pseudo-Science Agnotologists Strike Again!

As I noted in an earlier blog:


It's no wonder our college and even high school students are beginning to fall into the snare of climate denialism when supposed "scientists" rush to be a part of the ongoing agnotology. As I have pointed out repeatedly, agnotology, derived from the Greek 'agnosis' - the study of culturally constructed ignorance- is achieved primarily by sowing the teeniest nugget of doubt in whatever claim is made (and as we know NO scientific theory is free of uncertainty).

Moreover, Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor has correctly tied it to the trend of skeptic science sown deliberately and for political or economic ends . In other words, the supporters of agnotology - whoever they may be- are all committed to one end: destroying the science to enable economic profit and hence planetary ruin. Proctor also notes these special interests are often paid handsomely to sow immense confusion on the issue. Just a few years ago, in fact, Heritage Foundation offered $10,000 per article written by a "scientist" to try to refute global warming. We don't know how many takers there were, but I've counted over 200 letters or articles (usually op-eds like the one shown) in which either single hacks or groups of them have attempted to disparage global warming or insist "there's no need to panic". Well, there damned well is need to panic, as this year's unfolding weather disasters, including new heat waves and droughts will show.

But let's look at this latest idiotic article on offer in today's WSJ, in which it is claimed to be "signed by 16 scientists at the end of the article". Before getting to some of their bollocks, let us inquire into exactly WHO these people are. Do they have the gravitas or the disputative basis of real climate scientists? Going through the list, one finds:

Jan Breslow: Head of Biogenetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University

Roger Cohen, fellow American Physical Society. No specialty given, but as a recent commenter has pointed out, he's a "retired ExxonMobil Researcher and Engineer. Also a defender of the serial disinformationist, Lord Monckton (WUWT).He has been doing AGW denial talks for years". Maybe a denier cousin of S. Fred Singer! In any case, we write him off as having zero gravitas.

Edward David: Member, National Academy of Engineering

Michael Kelly, Professor of Technology, Univ. of Cambridge

Richard Lindzen, prof. of atmospheric sciences, MIT

James McGrath, prof. of Chemistry, Virginia Technical University

Bert Rutan, aerospace engineer

Harrions H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut

Nir Shaviv, prof. of astrophysics, Hebrew University

There are also four meteorologists listed and I will tackle them first. At first blush one might believe a meteorologist is perfectly qualified to discuss climate science. But not so fast! The meteorologist generally focuses attention on near term changes and trends, based on high pressure areas, lows, etc. not long term predictions.

Indeed, the Jan.-Feb. 2011 Issue of The Columbia Journalism Review featured a piece entitled ‘Hot Air: Why Don’t TV Weathermen Believe in Climate Change?’

In the article by Charles Homans, assorted reasons were put forward as to why many TV weathermen (especially ensconced in the Weather Channel) as well as a significant number of member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) don’t buy climate change. Among them:

1- Given their familiarity with the defects in their own extended predictions, meteorologists looking at long range climate questions (such as global warming effects) are predisposed to “see a system doomed to terminal unpredictability”.

2- Most skeptic meterologists (like Bob Breck an AMS-certified chief meteorologist at New Orleans WVUE) didn’t properly recognize the limits of their own scientific training – and hence the implausibility of their pronouncing on climate science.

3- Because of (2) the skeptic meteorologists tend to see their own “informed intuition” as the source of some kind of ersatz scientific authority – particularly if the skeptics are also excellent communicators, or fancy themselves so.

Some of the paradoxical statistics that were cited in the article, based on surveys carried out by Emory University Journalism lecturer Kris Wilson, included:

- 29% agreed with Weather Channel mogul John Coleman’s take that global warming was “the greatest scam in history”.

-Only 24% believed that humans were responsible for most of the change over the past half century.

- 50% were certain this wasn’t true and that humans weren’t responsible.

-Only 17% of the opinionated TV weathermen “received a graduate degree, a prerequisite for an academic researcher in any scientific field”.

Similar trends appear to correlate to Australian and European meteorologists but not quite to the same extent as for Americans. In any case, one would not expect to find much in the way of insight or illumination on global warming and its predictions from this lot.

As for Lindzen, about the only atmospheric scientist listed, I already lambasted him in earlier blogs:



Now, what about the others? Do we really, REALLY want to take serious advice on CLIMATE change from biogeneticists, chemists, former astronauts, "professors of technology" or engineers? Give me a break! Even astrophysicists - like Shaviv, are not entitled to be taken with more than a grain of salt unless they regularly keep pace with all the latest information - via professional journals. Though my specialty is certainly in space physics, solar physics, I regularly (weekly) receive and read Eos Transactions of the Americal Geophysical Union, which usually contains at least one current climate article (already refereed) in each issue. Many of my blogs have been based on research from this journal, i.e.


In many of my blogs I've also repeatedly cited the actual results from REAL climate scientists, as opposed to pretenders! Specifically, I've referenced the scientific consensus on global warming reported in Eos Transactions, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22, by P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman found that (p. 24) :

the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

In their analytic survey for which 3146 climate and Earth scientists responded, a full 96.2% of specialists concurred temperatures have steadily risen and there is no evidence for cooling. Meanwhile, 97.4% concur there is a definite role of humans in global climate change.

The authors concluded (p. 24) :

The challenge appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact (non-existent debate among real climate specialists) to policy makers and a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate exists among scientists

The problem, of course, is that so long as pseudo-climate scientists are given large header displays and article space in the likes of The Wall Street Journal, this perception problem will continue and many people will mistake the views of these pretenders for those of actual climate scientists.

Speaking of which, let's end by taking a brief look at some of the crap they've all subscribed to by lending their names. The article states:

"The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas exhaled at high concentrations by each of us and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle"

So these ludicrous morons insult our intelligence with the obvious, while not saying a solitary word about the 800-billion CO2- spewing vehicles sending gigatons of carbon into the planet's atmosphere each year. (Terry Gerlach of the U.S. Geological Survey showed from his time series studies that the projected anthropogenic CO2 emission rate of 35 gigatons per year is 135 times greater than the 0.26 gigatons per year emission rate for volcanoes).

Nor is one statement made on the key central point which one would have thought at least one of these 16 might have noticed: ALL Greenhouse gases' (including CO2 and methane) ability to absorb heat in the form of solar infrared radiation is directly contingent on the molecular vibrations undergone by the particular gas molecule which allows it to absorb and re-emit incident radiation. It is THIS property which confers the capacity to warm our atmosphere if present beyond a certain limiting concentration. And it is the aforementioned CO2 spewing vehicles that create the effect, hence making THEIR effluent a definite pollutant!

The clueless article next refers to a "lack of warming for more than a decade" - recycling once again a profound canard that was engendered by some idiot denier types in assorted tropes and news bytes ca. 2008-09. This bollocks evidently originated in a paper appearing in Nature – written by Dr. Noel Keenlyside et al, and which made a tentative claim for monotonic global cooling since ca. 1998. This 'jumped the shark' and become embedded into the warming skeptics' arsenal of disinfo and set real global warming science education back at least a decade in my estimation.

I say it "jumped the shark" because despite hundreds of efforts to correct it, it still surfaces like a Zombie immune to extirpation, as evinced in this absurd WSJ piece. So now, when one broaches warming anywhere, he is met with specious citations of the Keenlyside et al paper as "proof" it isn't happening.

At the root of this misapprehension by the faux skeptics is misinterpretation of the data appearing in the paper - not at all helped by the media (like the WSJ) which have also misconstrued it. Even Editors who fully know the actual original source still can't be bothered to consult it, they'd rather get their info 2nd hand (like from the 'Investor's Business Daily') then bloviate how global warming is wrong, or "hyped" in sundry editorials.

People prone to the denial weltanschauung then read these superficial reports, miss the key core clues, and bruit it all about that they (deniers, skeptics) were right all along. Instead of taking shortcuts, skeptics could have retrieved the ACTUAL paper from Nature! They could have studied the paper's key figure, the one that looks at past and (forecast) future global temperatures, "Hindcast/forecast decadal variations in global mean temperature, as compared with observations and standard climate model projections".

The first thing they’d have noted about the figure -indeed, one major source of confusion - is that each point represents a ten-year centered mean. That is, each point represents the average temperature of the decade starting 5 years before that point and ending 5 years after that point. Thus, the statistics for potential “cooling” could not possibly have been justifiably extrapolated beyond 1998 + 5 = 2003. Yet imbeciles all over the place (like the 16 who supported this WSJ piece) have insisted it is ongoing.

Second, the skeptics would have spotted the red line in the Nature publication and – if bright enough – beheld that it was the the actual global temperature data from the U.K.'s Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. They ought to have asked: Why does the red line stop in 1998 and not 2007? Again, it’s a running 10-year mean, and the authors use data from a Hadley paper that ends around 2003, In effect, they can't do a ten-year centered mean after 1998.

Lazy deniers, however, have parlayed this simple statistical peculiarity of the data into believing that global warming factually STOPPED in 1998!

Third, at least one genius denier might have spotted the black line in the Figure, which was actually one of the IPCC scenario projections, labeled 'A1B.' It denotes a relatively high-CO2-growth model -- but actual carbon emissions since 2000 have wildly outpaced it. A further check by skeptics of the solid green line - the "hindcast" of the authors – e.g. how well their model compared to actual data (and the A1B scenario) could also be done. The lazy morons would have seen that, if extended (in dashes) through 2010 and finally to 2025, it JOINED up with A1B!
Another grievous source of confusion that has been misused by the deniers is the authors statement:

Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming

But what they really mean by that statement is not what a simple reading of that sentence would suggest: They do not mean that "the global surface temperature may not increase over the next ten years starting now."

What they meant is what the lead author, Dr. Noel Keenlyside, later provided in a clarification letter to the publicaton: They were predicting no increase in average temperature of the "next decade" (2005 to 2015- relative to their data timeline) over the previous decade, which, for them, is 2000 to 2010! And that is, in fact, precisely what the figure shows -- that the 10-year mean global temperature centered around 2010 is the roughly the same as the mean global temperature centered around 2005.

What is dismaying to those who have done research is how deficient the average denier-skeptic is, and how difficult it is to impart correct interpretation of data minus the bogey of ideology which stalks every word written on global warming. (And as Prof. Porter has observed, agnotology always makes its greatest incursion into the most contentious issues - especially those with political or economic consequences. )

As one 'Physics Today' report noted two years ago, it is as if those political and economic facets actually trump the SCIENCE.

That so-called scientists themselves would actually be a party to this spread of such misinformation is a travesty. It signifies for me that every last one of them ought to have their credentials repealed and Ph.D.s sent back forthwith. They don't deserve them!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fed Announces Three More Years of Cheap Money- Markets Go Nuts

Traders at the Chicago Board of Trade get hysterical after the Fed announcement of 3 more years of cheap money for speculators. They are making furious bids even as the yields crashed on 2, and 5-year Treasury notes.

Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve yesterday announced at least three more years of near zero Fed interest rates, and the markets responded as you would have expected. The DOW shot up to 12,756 or its highest mark since May of last year. Meanwhile, traders in the two and five year options pit at the Chicago Board of Trade went ape shit. And why not? The yield on the five year Treasury note hit an all time low on the news. We already saw, 2 weeks ago, the yield on the 30-year Treasury note hit the unheard of low of 3.09%.

Can these all go lower, along with CD, and money market account interest rates, punching savers in the gut? You better believe it! Meanwhile, the Fed has shown again what a hostage it is to the Wall Street Speculators and the already unstable bubble market created- merely awaiting one pin prick, perhaps from spiking oil prices (arising from the Iranians shutting off the Straits of Hormuz - with Russian threats standing behind them) or another European series of downgrades or debt surprises.

Basically, all those in the stock market are living in a fool's paradise.

Savers, that is safety -oriented folks who don't wish to see their 401ks popped and imploding by 40-50%, don't have many choices. Basically it's either passbook savings at about 0.0001% or maybe money market accounts and CDs offering a current whopping 0.6% and which are now likely to head south of 0.5%. That means that $10,000 put in one of these instruments will yield a whopping $50 interest over a year. That's barely enough to go to a movie twice and buy popcorn and cokes.

According to one talking head on MSNBC's "The Street" this morning, the idea is for savers to "go to equities" and try to get dividends and realize once and for all they will only be able to garner chump change until 2015. Trouble is, it was equities that took the main hit in the stock meltdown of 2008, which cost 401k folks most of their hard won retirement bucks, forcing many to look for work - and now hopefully, keep at it until they make those losses back....maybe by 2020.

The hard fact is that conservative savers are left with very few options, other than those of increasing risk. My viewpoint is simple: so long as risky derivatives are unregulated and infiltrating stocks, and mutual funds - and so long as the expenses, commissions in both are downright outrageous, I'm not going into either of them. If that means cutting back on many things over the next year, so be it. But it's better than having to eat catfood or Kibbles the rest of my days.

Bernanke and his Fed mavens argue that the current post-recession economic climate of continuing slow growth supports this move, along with an inflation rate of 2%. As I noted before, that 2% rate is false, and to disprove it all you need to do is make a trip to the gas station or the grocery store. Or....order prescription drugs on Medicare Plan D. But see, the Fed in its computation of inflation rate, excludes the very items, factors contributing most to inflation! How tricky is that? Well, maybe about as much as the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) dropping unemployed folks from the unemployment rolls after 6 months and reclassifying them as "discouraged". Ahhhh,,......the tricks that must be pulled in a market economy to make it appear sound!)

In addition, the Fed continues to mistake a balance sheet recession (of which this economic slow growth is a byproduct) with a standard over-quick recession. In the case of the balance sheet recession, the wiser move would be to eliminate all the Bush tax cuts, which contrary to GOP mythology (which Dems also seem to be buying) that "low taxes create job growth"). No they do not, and The Financial Times analysis (9/15/10) of ten years of the Bush tax cuts disproved that canard.

So long as we have prolonged and regressive tax cuts adding to the deficit, and government, the public and business all under the stranglehold of a low aggregate demand environment, nothing will significantly change,.....no matter how many freebies the Fed tosses the speculators. Worse, the cheap money strategy of the Fed threatens to incept dollar debasement even as it rewards the privileged moneymen, high finance and foreign speculator types with cheap credit while it denies it to small businesses, entrepeneurs and those seeking private mortgages or even college loans. In a word, this is lunacy. The only thing we may be sure of is that another bubble will inflate, and this one may be worse than the one that burst 3 1/2 years ago.

Solution to Linear Algebra Problems

We now examine the solutions for the previous problems:

1) Show that the matrix M =

(1 + i.....2)

is not Hermitian

Solution: Recall that a matrix is called Hermitian if it has complex numbers, and if: A = A* i.e. the matrix is found equal to its conjugate transpose

The complex conjugate of matrix M is M' =

(1 - i.....2)

The transpose is: t^M' =

(1 - i.....2)

But on inspection we see M does not equal t^M' , hence M is not Hermitian.

2) Determine whether the matrix Y =

(1.....(1+ 1i).......5)
((1- i).......2... ...i)

is Hermitian or not.

Solution: First write the conjugate matrix, or Y' =

(1..... (1- i).....5)
((1+ i).......2... ..- i)
(5.......... i...........7)

The transpose of this 3 x 3 matrix is: t^Y' =

(1..... (1+ i).....5)
((1- i).......2... ..- 2)
(5.......... i...........7)

So by inspection the matrix Y is not Hermitian.

3) Determine whether the matrix, X =


is unitary or not.

Solution: Recall that we say a matrix is unitary if: A^-1 = A* i.e. if the inverse of the matrix is equal to its conjugate transpose. This also implies that we have:A A* = A* A = I

In this case, the conjugate of X is X' =


The transpose of this is: t^X' = X* =


and we see t^X = X* does not equal X, hence X is not unitary. We can check this is so, since if unitary we would expect A* A = I (the identity matrix) we therefore take: X* X =

(i......1) (-i.....1)
(1 ...-i)(1.......i) =


Which is not the identity matrix.

4) Let A and B be 2 x 2 Hermitian matrices. Show that (A + B) is Hermitian.

Solution: Let A =

(-bi.....c) and B =


Then: A + B =


And the transpose t^(A + B) =


So: t^(A + B) = A + B, and the sum is Hermitian

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Isn't It Time Business Writers STFU on Climate Change?

I have a serious problem with poseurs and know nothings bloviating on things they know next to nada about. And that starts with FAUX News talking heads and Business writers from The Wall Street Journal. Up to now I've not seen one single solitary rational or fact-based column from any of these twerps, and the latest to parade his ignorance is none other than Holman W. Jenkins, Jr ('How Green Became Obama's Albatross', today, p. A13)

Jenkins' column tries to paint Obama as some kind of Machiavellian pragmatist who "is enough of a free thinker to understand that global warming theory may be wrong." Hardly, because no president could be that dumb, or reckless ....what with the evidence available which little Holman can't seem to locate no matter how hard he tries. Here, of course, I am discriminating between a genuine free thinker (who may be pondering currently whether permafrost melting and methane or CO2 is the biggst nonlinear driver) and a numbnut who thinks the jury is still out when it's been "in" for over 15 years!

To try and bolster his case that global warming isn't a credible theory, Jenkins resorts to snide quotations of Al Gore whose support arises by invoking a "consensus of scientists" or "the respected judgment of scientists" rather than specific data. But nowhere does Jenkins, Jr. cite any materials, papers or evidence that backs up his case that global warming theory is unproven.

Among my gripes is Jenkins' recycling of a long duration canard by the denier brigade which ought to have ended long ago. He writes:

"The temperature data are so noisy that they reveal no pattern connecting rising CO2 in the industrial age with temperature trends".

Leading one to ask if Holman deliberately makes a concerted effort at being an idiot, or if it just happens. As shown from Figs. 1, 2 (attached), there are two clearly indicated patterns that quash Jenkins' denier fantasies. In Fig. 1 we have the well known delta Carbon isotope ratio data (stretching back into antiquity) that gives the 2000-year record of C14:C12 deviations. This was compiled by P.E. Damon ('The Solar Output and Its Variation', The University of Colorado Press, Boulder, 1977).

To conform with solar activity the plot is such that increasing radiocarbon (C14) is downward and indicated with (+). The deviations in parts per thousand are shown relative to an arbitrary 19th century reference level. As the late solar physicist John Eddy has observed concerning this output (Eddy, The New Solar Physics. p. 17):

The gradual fall from left to right (increasing C14/C12 ratio) is…probably not a solar effect but the result of the known, slow decrease in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic moment... exposing the Earth to ever-increased cosmic ray fluxes and increased radiocarbon production.

The sharp upward spike at the modern end of the curve, representing a marked drop in relative radiocarbon, is generally attributed to anthropogenic causes—the mark of increased population and the Industrial Age"

Analyzing this record, it is clear that the magnitude of the Middle Ages' warming period (relative C14 strength of ~ -18), for example, is less than about ½ the relative effect attributed mainly to anthropogenic sources in the modern era (-40). Even if one fourth the latter magnitude is assigned to solar activity (based on solar variability component detected over 1861-1990 amounting to 0.1- 0.5 W/m^2 vs. 2.0 to 2.8 W/m^2 for heating component arising from greenhouse gas emissions, cf. Martin I. Hoffert et al, in Nature, Vol. 401, p. 764) the anthropogenic effect is at least 1.5x that for the last (exclusively solar) warming period.

These results comport with modern findings that the last ten years have been the warmest ever. (Not that warming "has stopped the past decade" as idiot deniers screech!) This is according to data from the World Meteorological Office. For reference: parts of Greenland had an average temperature 5.4 F above normal. Meanwhile, Russian officials have ascribed 11,000 “excess deaths” due to heat, arising from their prolonged heat wave. According to the World Meterological Observatory:

"The year 2010 is almost certain to rank in the top three warmest years since the beginning of instrumental records in 1850.”

If Jenkins had the innate intelligence to look for the patterns, he might also have run into the data graph shown in Fig. 2, which includes data compiled by the National Climate Data Center and NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. As noted here there is a long stable level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (at about 285 parts per million) until humans begin burning fossil fuels such as coal in the mid-19th century. Moreover, this graph and the exposed pattern coincides almost perfectly with the earlier graph of the C14:C12 isotope deviations ratio over time.

Not content to display himself as a half-idiot, Jenkins next blathers away to confirm he is a total one:

"Some say because CO2 is a 'greenhouse' gas, 'Shut Up!' But the known relationship between carbon and climate doesn't actually indicate a reason to worry."

It doesn't? If the graphs of Figs. 1 and 2 don't scare the bejeezus out of you, Mr. Jenkins, then maybe this additional fact should, concerning the contribution of rising CO2 concentrations to a warming world: we are adding CO2 at the additional concentraton rate of 2 ppm/ year and the heating insolation is increasing at 2 watts/yr. The CO2 concentration now stands at nearly 380 ppm, and we believe the threshold to trigger the runaway greenhouse effect will kick in between 480- 500 ppm. This means, and I'm assuming even Jenkins has taken basic arithmetic, that we will hit that threshold in 50 years. But that's assuming we don't amp up the carbon use and deposit even more in the atmosphere, especially as now the permafrost is melting all around the Arctic, releasing gigatonnes of methane, another greenhouse gas.

Oh, and if those pattern graphs don't scare the ass off Jenkins, he might want to take a good long view of this video previously posted, documenting the extent of glaciers melting worldwide.


Anyone watching this documented evidence who isn't terrified, has lost most of his or her brain neurons. We also know that this process provides one of the nonlinear drivers toward catastrophic climate change. Melting of ice caps and glaciers (already occurring) results in diminished albedo (fraction of solar radiation reflected back into space), a darker Earth surface - with more infrared radiation (e.g. HEAT) being absorbed - reinforcing and enhancing global warming. As more ice melts from the polar regions, the positive feedback from lowering albedo proceeds faster.

In the end, Jenkins - like his fellow global warming biz bunch deniers (on the Journal staff), are more media whores in the service of corporate-cultivated agnotology.

Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor has referred to the trend of skeptic science sown deliberately and for political or economic ends - e.g. in imparting ignorance and faux skepticism, agnotology. Derived from the Greek 'agnosis' and hence the study of culturally constructed ignorance, It is achieved primarily by sowing the teeniest nugget of doubt in whatever claim is made (and as we know NO scientific theory is free of uncertainty)

Proctor notes that when a society doesn't know something it is often because special (often paid) interests have worked hard to sow immense confusion on the issue. People read 'A' then see 'B' ostensibly refuting it, and without a hard science background themselves (at least two years of university physics or chemistry plus calculus), are "lost at sea". In this case, a two bit hack like Jenkins knows before hand most of his readers (now mainly chattering over "Obamacare") will never do the research on their own to expose his stupid claims, including:

"To produce worrisome scenarios, climate models must posit 'feedbacks' that magnify the impact of CO2 by 300% to 500%"

But any physicist who's ever toyed with a basic electronic sound system understands the principle of positive and negative feedback. And he will also understand the role of positive feedback in terms of efffect from a changing planetary albedo such as shown in Fig. 3 ongoing near the Arctic. Quite clearly, this moron has never taken a serious physics course in his life which is one reason he shouldn't be expostulating on global warming.

The truth is that anti-global warming hacks like Jenkins are a dime a dozen. The tragedy is that millions of otherwise intelligent people buy into their ignorant bollocks.

Sizing Up the SOTU

President Obama was in high dudgeon last night as he delivered his 3rd State of the Union address, and it is worthwhile to examine the content and the tenor of the speech as well as the GOP comebacks.

First, I thought Obama did indeed strike a populist stance in noting that "American values" inherently call for "fair play". That means if a citizen works hard, keeps his nose to the grindstone, and does his best, he should at least not be left behind while high octane millionaires (one of whom is actually running for the Republican nomination) joke about making $10,000 bets, or pooh-pooh an amount of $340,000 for speaking fees as "not being that much money". Especially when that amount clearly exceeds most Americans' net worth!

I had hoped Obama would also cite the Constitution (which the Repukes are so big on) by noting in the Preamble the role of government to "promote the general welfare" . He could also have argued staunchly that his Affordable Health Care Act (which the Goopers wish to abolish) is going to do just that. He might also have argued that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are also promoting the general welfare.

One mistake made in this context, at least I and many others (e.g. Bernie Sanders, Jeff Madrick, Elliot Spitzer, Robert Reich etc.) believe it to be, was mentioning possible "reforms to entitlements". Let us note here that neither Social Security or Medicare are "entitlements" and neither needs "reform" in the sense of cuts (which a change in COLA would do to S.S.) or privatizing. Indeed, all Americans have paid payroll taxes for at least a decade to receive these benefits, and in the case of Medicare, must bear extraordinary out of pocket costs amounting to nearly $200,000 over two decades. "Entitlements" meanwhile, suggests these benefits are unearned or dispensed gratis like welfare and then one falls right into the GOP language trap.

Second, Obama was absolutely correct about the "trickle down economics" of his Republican predecessors not working. In face, he might have mentioned that all the evidence shows the Bush tax cuts haven't worked, and hence there is no need to extend ANY of them - whether for the wealthiest 1% (which lowest threshold level begins at $340,000/yr) or the middle class. In a blog last year, I detailed the reasons why all of the Bush tax cuts need to be terminated. See, e.g.


This was based on an extensive analysis by The Financial Times. Obama in his speech noted the rich need to pay more, indicating taxes ought to be at least at the "30% level" with no loopholes, but this ought to have been bolder! In fact, if the Bush tax cuts are all sunset, as they ought to have been last year, the wealthiest would be paying at the 39.5% marginal rate and the "no loopholes" provision could have been added to this.

But as others have pointed out (e.g. Jeff Madrick, Bernie Sanders, Elliot Spitzer) the math simply doesn't support that raising taxes only on the wealthiest one percent will do the trick. Madrick points out that this will save an increment of barely $700 billion over ten years, while repealing ALL the Bush tax cuts would save $3.3 trillion and essentially solve this ongoing battle about finding "1.2 trillion" to solve the initial deficit problem. Madrick isn't reciting anything new, as The Financial Times has been harping for more than 3 years that Obama needs to eliminate all Bush tax cuts and cease "playing politics" by obsessing only on those for the wealthiest.

Last night would have been an excellent time to treat all Americans as grown ups, and tell them straight they need to make a choice: Do you want more tax cuts, giving you maybe $500-1,000 more in your pockets each year, OR do you wish to preserve your Social Security and Medicare benefits. You can't have both! Make a choice! But that moment never came, so once again, the Bush tax cuts can be expected to be at the center of another year of horse trading political games with the repukes, and more likely all will once again be extended ....with little economic benefit and even greater deficits demanding further cuts down the line.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has correctly questioned the wisdom of the payroll tax cuts - as I have, e.g.


since they are what provide the dedicated funding for Social Security. If they are extended, and not terminated soon, then Goopers will make the logical case that Social Security needs to be cut since it no longer is bringing in the money to support itself. The next step, a draconian one, will be for Social Security annual funding to be approved by congressional bean counters each year. Again, Americans need to be treated like grown ups and asked what they want: minor immediate gratification from a "payroll tax holiday" or to secure their future benefits when they will most need them.

Third, Obama gave some great narratives (with personal examples) while expatiating on how to rescue American jobs and how he wants "an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills and American workers" and he gave terrific recommendations that companies, corporations should no longer be getting tax writeoffs for outsourcing jobs. Rather companies that set up jobs in this country ought to reap the tax breaks. This is just common sense, but the Republicans in the audience had expressions resembling those who were told they'd no longer be able to spend money on elections!

Obama moved onto shakier ground in several other areas:

1) He opined on using federal land to develop wind farms and solar energy. However, the problem with these alternate forms of energy is they simply don't provide the energy density needed to support a civilization, society like ours. There is no way wind engines, or solar cells will ever power glass or automobile factories, far less the machines to manufacture the new F-35 fighter bombers. If maximum energy capacity is measured in exajoules, then wind, solar and geothermal together barely make the cut collectively at 3 EJ. Meanwhile, our civilization, industrial society (especially if we intend to remain a high octane weapons nation) requires at least 50EJ per year. Only coal and oil can meet that demand, if massive conservation isn't factored in.

2) He warned colleges and universities that they risk losing federal funding if they do not keep tuition costs down. But that is not the fault of most of the universities. For example, here in Colorado the University of Colorado at Boulder, in order to keep its premier staff of professionals, and facilities, needs yearly outlays to support them in the form of tuition. Historically this came from state taxes, but since TABOR (Taxpayer's Bill of Rights ) was passed in 1991, wherein state revenue growth wasn't allowed to exceed inflation rate plus population they've been left behind. Add to that voters' repeatedly turning down tax hikes and there has been no other choice except to raise tuition ...and often by amounts that the taxes would have provided. This has led one Colo. state legislator to ask: What do Coloradans want? Lower tuition and higher taxes, or lower state taxes but much higher tuition?

Again, a difficult choice, but people need to be made to understand that these are the fiscal realities. Americans have to be led by the hand by their leaders to see these realities, as opposed to retreating to la-la land.

3) Obama declared at one point that the nation was not in decline and emphatically stated (true to the ongoing spirit of entrenched American exceptionalism, as if we are somehow historically different from the British and Dutch of past centuries) "Anyone who says America is in decline doesn't know what he is talking about". But I am afraid, Mr. President, that this falls on you. The nation certainly is in decline and has been for decades as I have noted, with extensive reasoning, examples, in earlier blogs, e.g.



4) An unwise (to me) declaration was Obama stating he would do "whatever it takes" to ensure Iran gets no nuclear weapons capability". But this is not being geo-politically practical and takes no account of the fact that the Russians (especially ) have vested interests there, and their Security and Defense chief has already stated that any overt or aggressive intervention by other states will "lead to an all out wider war". What none of us want to see manifested here, is a playing out of the horrific 1983 Brit movie, THREADS. (Which began with a blockage of the straits of Hormuz, led to a NATO bombing of a nuclear plant at Isfahan, then culminated in a full scale nuclear exchange. The actual events in the film center around a family in Sheffield, England and how they get through it all. Let us hope Obama's words were just "macho" talk and none of us ever will!)

The GOP Response:

As predicted, the Republican response was totally predictable, delivered by the clueless governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels. According to Daniels:

"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others"

But Obama didn't "castigate" others, only said that all Americans need to pay their fair share. The fact of the matter is that currently inequality is at an all time high. In the past ten years most Americans' wages and benefits have gone down or remained stagnant while the top 1% have seen their increase 23%. Our Gini index, the main indicator of inequality, now approaches that of Mexico and the Philippines. The main source of this has been the ongoing Bush tax cuts which have delivered the equivalent of a new Lexus each year to the top one percenters, (more like the equivalent of a new yacht to each top 0.01 percenter) while awarding only "chump change" to the average $50k /yr or under earner...and this also at the cost of future benefits.

As for "class warfare" it is the wealthy and the GOP who are carrying that out on the rest of us, e.g.

The GOP candidates lumped Obama into the group with "Saul Alinsky radicals" but these guys would remake our whole economic system so no middle class can exist. I will get into this in a future blog on Mitt Romney's planned policies, he who paid more in taxes in 2010 than the average American earned in his lifetime!

Could any American in his right mind elect some $42 million a year financial maven who would have no possible comprehension of the ordinary American's plight? Who knows? But I do hope people treat this next election seriously. As noted from his SOTU, Obama may not be perfect, but he is a damned sight better choice than any of the goopers on offer. We had better hope he gets in office again, or our decline as a nation will alter from a slow roll to a downhill acceleration!