Death of a salesman, part 3 or 4

PXL_20220924_101743338 I must be getting old; or the GW wars are getting old; it seems to be more obituaries than births nowadays. The latest to shuffle off this mortal coil is Tim Ball, who may perhaps be most notable for the number of times he has bounced in and out of wiki. Like a rubber ball, geddit? Anyway, he is there now but not here, so to speak. And as we speak, the talk page is trying to find a [[WP:RS]] for his passing away, the Dork Side not being considered suitable.

As a tribute to him, I can imagine no better memorial than the Youtube video that WUWT recommends, especially TB himself speaking. TB leads off with Global Cooling, but as you'd expect, doesn't talk about the science, instead he talks about a pop book: Lowell Ponte's The Cooling. Then there's a pile of paranoia about Maurice Strong. Then (15:20) he confuses the radiative effects of clouds with those of humidity. Then some paranoia about Soros. Then I got bored.


Patrick Michaels suffers hard delete

Mann vs Ball dismissal: the transcript


Ye workes of ye Francis Bacone

DSC_2891 This summer, looking for something free to read on my Kindle, I stumbled upon Francis Bacon, and thought: why not? The answer turns out to be: because he is a windbag2. I think I was put on to Bacon by something at ACX, but can no longer recall quite what. With that supendous introduction, now read on, bearing in mind that this review is not entirely fair, and is largely reconstructed from my impressions of a month ago dredged out of my notoriously poor memory. However I feel that in reviewing someone who is mainly telling us that his predecessors were wrong, it would be wrong of me to be over kind.

Wiki says that Bacon "has been called the father of empiricism" which isn't his fault. Stanford, normally a bit more sober, goes for "one of the leading figures in natural philosophy and in the field of scientific methodology in the period of transition from the Renaissance to the early modern era". Between those two you can find enough nice things said about him and his works, so I don't need to trouble to do that.

Of his works I consider three: Novum Organum (1620), The Advancement of Learning (1605), and The New Atlantis (posthumous, 1627).

Novum Organum, sive Indicia Vera de Interpretatione Naturae

This is the Big One. Curiously, I find that the LibertyFund has it, so that will do (I read Gutenberg's version on my Kindle). Let's give you some taste of his style:

They who have presumed to dogmatize on nature, as on some well investigated subject, either from self-conceit or arrogance, and in the professorial style, have inflicted the greatest injury on philosophy and learning. For they have tended to stifle and interrupt inquiry exactly in proportion as they have prevailed in bringing others to their opinion: and their own activity has not counterbalanced the mischief they have occasioned by corrupting and destroying that of others. They again who have entered upon a contrary course, and asserted that nothing whatever can be known, whether they have fallen into this opinion from their hatred of the ancient sophists, or from the hesitation of their minds, or from an exuberance of learning, have certainly adduced reasons for it which are by no means contemptible. They have not, however, derived their opinion from true sources, and, hurried on by their zeal and some affectation, have certainly exceeded due moderation. 

It is interesting that Newton's Principia was published a mere 67 years later but is utterly revolutionarily different: eschewing entirely the windbaggery in favour of actual content5.

Bacon gets credit for realising that a lot of the old stuff is wrong: Plato, Aristotle (note that the name NO is a riff on A's Organon), whatever; and that new thought is needed. I shouldn't minimise how hard this is to do, because just waking up is difficult enough. In the beginning he is keen to stress how peaceable he is with "We make no attempt to disturb the system of philosophy that now prevails"; but I think that is just fluff; not long after he says "we regard all the systems of philosophy hitherto received or imagined, as so many plays brought out and performed, creating fictious and theatrical worlds".

B is keen on Induction not Syllogism. By which I think he means deducing general principles from lots of observations; rather than a stepwise logically-impeccable deduction of a chain of truths from... something; or possibly; rather than just Making Shit Up1. I had no great patience with this, so you may prefer wiki's Baconian Method article. His method tends towards the "gather large numbers of observations and facts and from them make theories" kind of thought, which doesn't really work, as it neglects the role of theory in deciding what things you want to observe; though to be fair he does give some role to iteration between the two.

As far as I can tell he believes in "continuous matter" not atoms (This method will not bring us to atoms, which takes for granted the vacuum, and immutability of matter (neither of which hypotheses is correct); and thus he can try things like The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances: it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by fire, melts in a particular manner, is separated and dissolved by particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold. An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms of simple natures; for he who has acquired the forms and methods of superinducing yellowness, weight, ductility, stability, deliquescence, solution, and the like, and their degrees and modes, will consider and contrive how to unite them in any body, so as to transform it into gold. Which is charming: you can move things towards being gold by separately pushing them on axes of yellowness, density, malleability and so on, This is wrong, of course, but that's not the point: the point is that he is doing what he charges the antients with: Making Shit Up3. I don't think he even attempts to postulate the idea of an experiment which might distinguish the two views.

Random: he hasn't realised that biological processes are Really Complicated, and so if you want to investigate, say, heat, you really ought to start by separating organic from inorganic and looking at the latter.

He is fond of lists. A significant part of the book is "Prerogative Instances"; for example We will treat of the instances of divorce as the fifteenth of our prerogative instances. They indicate the separation of natures of the most common occurrence. They differ, however, from those subjoined to the accompanying instances; for the instances of divorce point out the separation of a particular nature from some concrete substance with which it is usually found in conjunction, while the hostile instances point out the total separation of one nature from another. They differ, also, from the instances of the cross, because they decide nothing, but only inform us that the one nature is capable of being separated from the other. They are of use in exposing false forms, and dissipating hasty theories derived from obvious facts; so that they add ballast and weight, as it were, to the understanding. For instance, let the acquired natures be those four which Telesius terms associates, and of the same family, namely, heat, light, rarity, and mobility, or promptitude to motion; yet many instances of divorce can be discovered between them. Air is rare and easily moved, but neither hot nor light; the moon is light but not hot; boiling water is warm but not light; the motion of the needle in the compass is swift and active, and yet its substance is cold, dense, and opaque; and there are many similar examples. I found all that unenlightening.

He is also fond over vague over-arching "aristocratic" or "dilettante" science, and doesn't seem to have much patience for the details4, where progress is to be found: Men generally make their experiments carelessly, and as it were in sport, making some little variation in a known experiment, and then if they fail they become disgusted and give up the attempt; nay, if they set to work more seriously, steadily, and assiduously, yet they waste all their time on probing some solitary matter, as Gilbert on the magnet.

That's about it I think. Did I miss anything?

Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human

Largely a pre-tread of NO, from my recollection, and so not worth reading independently unless you really want all the latin tags, which I think are fewer in NO. Gutenberg text here.

The New Atlantis

An unfinished Utopia knock-off, which shows us a society which has used his ideas, and whose main content is a loong speech by a worthy of the "Salomon's House" telling us about all the kewl kit they have over there. Ironically but inevitably this exposes Bacon's total lack of any actual rather than meta ideas, since everything they have is just like what England had at the time, only bigger; or better; or hotter; or colder.


1. I supply the example "The circle is a perfect shape; the heavens are perfect; thus planets move in circles" as an example of Making Shit Up.

2. He is also massively over-rated by Ye Populare Mediae, but is hardly unique in that.

3. And also for being pretty vague about it all; try searching the Standford article for "atom".

4. Another instance: the tides: let the required nature be the flow and ebb of the sea, which is repeated twice a day, at intervals of six hours between each advance and retreat, with some little difference, agreeing with the motion of the moon. But he makes no attempt to establish observations of the times of the tides, and compare these to lunar position.

5. Or I suppose Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems of 1632.



The city without zoning / Martha's Migrants


Bad beekeeping, autumn 2022

Not so much to report this time. Summary: before:


And after:


In more detail... the one on the left is mine, and healthy; the one on the right is my friend's, and healthy; the one in the middle is mine, and dead. So I took the two supers of empty frames and gave them to the live hive, which was looking quite full and probably glad of the space.

It has been quite a long time since I've had a proper chance to look into the brood box in the middle. It was not a pretty sight, shall we say. Here's the floor, which should be clear, and was instead littered with the junk of many years, mostly old cells that I've hastily stripped off and let fall; but also the odd snail.


The brood comb isn't in great shape either, but the cobwebs are spider, not waxmoth, so may be saveable. They are just a touch dark though, because I'm very bad at replacing comb. Hopefully I'll get round to a refurbishment over the winter.


I didn't even try to take any honey off, since I have enough for my needs now and it can wait until spring.


* ATTP goes up


Missus Quin her dead

83089283_2925698737451727_9214368273573871616_o Compare and contrast two Twits:

Embassy of Ukraine to the UK:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will forever remain in our hearts as pattern of impeccable public service and devotion to duty. We bow our heads in sorrow together with the subjects of the British Crown around the world.

Barack Obama:

Like so many of you, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service. Our thoughts are with her family and the people of the United Kingdom at this difficult time.

The first is simple, dignified, moving. The second is focussed on the audience of the Twit, then on the Obamas, and only thirdly on her Maj. Despite his brutal barrage of complete sentences, this seems all too typical.

As to what I think: when young I was a good republican, of course; now it hardly seems to matter in comparison to other matters; having someone vaguely sane as a non-political figurehead seems like a good idea.


* Heart of Darkness


Vaclav Smil and Steve Koonin

PXL_20220826_172834416 In a recent interview in New York Times Magazine, energy expert and polymath Vaclav Smil found himself quoting Stoat... that's not quite strictly true; what he said was "I cannot tell you that we don’t have a problem because we do have a problem. But I cannot tell you it’s the end of the world by next Monday because it is not the end of the world by next Monday. What’s the point of you pressing me to belong to one of these groups?". Which is essentially my If it isn’t catastrophic we’ve got nothing to worry about, have we? from 2014: Stoat, always leading from the front!

I wouldn't trouble you with this, except it begins RP Jr's review of Unsettled by Steve Koonin (substack; arch). RP's view is that For well over a decade, the American debate over climate change has largely been a battle between two extremes: those who view climate change apocalyptically, and those castigated as deniers of climate science... Predictably, the categories map neatly onto the extremes of left-versus right politics; and that Koonin had a chance to push back on this "framing"; and (as a what we could generously regard as a side effect) RP gives us his framing. I agree that the "debate" is often largely unproductive; I'm not at all convinced that SK ever had a chance to produce a productive book because of his inbuilt biases and history. And while RP is correct to call out the quality of debate, this is cheap; and I couldn't really recommend his analysis.

This is reminiscent of Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation, which compares so unfavourably to The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation. The man, and all his advisers, are so partisan down to their boots that they're incapable of even seeing it.

I apply the usual "Stoat Test" to Koonin: he is a by-blow in The East is Red and All of this will soon be moot, anyway but the author of a dodgy and pointless amicus brief in the Alsup case.


Nature: Manuscripts that are ideologically impure and “harmful” will be rejected

O’Sullivan’s Law Has A Different Cause

Pinochet, less shit than modern progressives - Timmy

The importance of science communication - ATTP

Gorbachev failed. That's why he was showered with honors

Simple models predict behavior at least as well as behavioral scientists

Tribalism and Electoral Politics - "Clinton put many potential voters, the Trump supporters, in the “them” category. Trump put foreigners who don’t vote, in the “them” category"

* Inflation: Why Didn’t We Think of That Before? by Pierre Lemieux

* The Caplan-Singer Debate: My Opening Statement on “Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share?”

Global economic inequality: what matters most for your living conditions is not who you are, but where you are


Sawyer, 1972, impartially consider'd

PXL_20220827_132643563 Today marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable research paper on global warming, says CarbonBriefMan-made Carbon Dioxide and the “Greenhouse” Effect by J Sawyer. I have a PDF of it available here, for reasons I can't recall; and Archer has one here; mine appears to be of slightly higher quality. 

It is said that the article makes one of the first predictions of future global warming – that temperatures would rise 0.6C by the end of the 20th century. Which is a bit odd, because the "prediction" just takes the 2.4 CS value of Manabe and Wetherald and scales it to a 25% CO2 rise by 2000. The article got a 35th birthday too (in 2007, oddly enough) but everyone has forgotten that. And ScepticalScience noted it in 2014.

Is this of any importance? No. S, aka M+W, happened to get about the right answer, but this provides little or no confirmation of GW theory; the models were too simple. If they had got the wrong answer, no one would care, so you're not allowed to make much of the right answer; you can't retrospectively make it into a test. Gavin somewhat disagrees with me, but in matters of climate models I know who I'd trust more. I said this about Hansen 1981 somewhere too, but can't find that right now.


A long dry summer

It has been a long dry summer in Europe. This is obvious enough from the news for anyone paying attention; this post merely collects some observations from my recent trip to the Swiss alps. To add a couple of parochial matters: the Great Ouse (half) Marathon was cancelled due to low water levels; as was the Peterborough Summer regatta. But back to the alps...

The path from Felksin to the Britannia hut has dramatically changed since I did it (at about the same time) last year (GPS: traverse; lakes). All the snow has gone, and the glacier shrunk. But do I have the pix to prove it? Not as well comparable as I'd like. Here's 2021:


And 2022:


All the snow is gone. Which is annoying, because snow is much easier to walk on than ice. But the "ramp" down onto the glacier is totally gone too, transforming an easy stroll into a rough path. Further round, the "traverse" route over snow is gone, so you have to go the "lakes" route, which is half an hour longer and more work. Indeed, in theory the route from Felskin is closed from 11th August, and the alternative is to climb up an extra 500 m from Morenia.

The lakes themselves are like this now:


and were like this in 2021:


Although to be fair that isn't convincingly anything other than annual variation.

Higher up, on the Allalingletscher, I don't have good pix for comparison, but what I happily walked on last year solo with barely a "woo, there's some crevasses here under the snow, I really ought to walk carefully" was replaced by a "well we may be roped together but we're having to zig-zag through this ugly crevasse field" because all the snow bridges had melted out. And there was no snow, just bare ice, until about 3300 m.

We had a second similar experience from the Monte Rosa hut. Last year, again, I was at the "woo, there are some crevasses here" stage:


But this year it was "FFS, how are we supposed to get through this?":


That picture actually makes it seem better than it was; what it was, was impassable, at least for us, though some others did get through.

Others: a newspaper article about the ice melting. And several huts had run out of water; either because their snowpack or streams had gone.


2022 was a disastrous year for Swiss glaciers... (arch)


Switzerland, 2022

I'm back; I trust you missed me. Below, Le Grand Combin, very nice. No I didn't climb it.


Switzerland again; some climbing, some walking. A full report will follow. It was a very dry summer. 



ZOMG catastrophe, part n

PXL_20220731_113815293 Or, Climate endgame: risk of human extinction ‘dangerously underexplored’. The latest fad is to argue about the tone of reporting, and complain about or push "doomerism", as an alternative to doing anything useful. Although since the people doing the chattering aren't capable of doing anything useful - that tends to come from the people doing solar panels and windmills - perhaps it is all harmless enough1. It comes from Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios featuring that nice Tim Lenton.

Anyway, I got as far as We know that temperature rise has “fat tails”: low-probability, high-impact extreme outcomes (9) before giving up. Because: ref 9 is, and I kid you not, G. Wagner, M. L. Weitzman, Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet (Princeton University Press, 2015). FFS: it is a pop-sci book. You can't use that as a ref in a serious paper; therefore, this isn't a serious paper.


1. Harsh and not fair; I exaggerate for effect.


With all the hype about the heatwave, it’s worth having a bit of perspective - JA. Heat vs Cold deaths. And a reply from Gavin. And an ACX post; thanks A.

China Is on Track to Double Its Solar Panels From Last Year’s Record

* VV: WATN: The 10th anniversary of the still unpublished Watts et al. (2012) manuscript. Includes actual real data from Coppa 2021. See-also Moyhu.

* Gavin attempts to shortcut the problem, but it doesn't work.

The best case for worst case scenarios: Gavin, 2019.

Reto Knutti seems sane.

* Open Posts, Closed Works, Other Worlds: part 3 - Rich Puchalsky

The Skull Beneath the Skin - Hayek and Atavism; Q: if I look in antient Greek plays, do I find warnings of this?

Blame the Principals - BC


Lovelock shuffles off this mortal coil

death Having had fun with the Dork Side, I suppose I really ought to dunk on everyone's favourite uncle, James "Gaia" Lovelock. Who has recently pegged out, though he had a good run.

But I think my Junk from von S is a fair summary of where he stood on GW: he was confused. I'm not sure his final appearence in Is Bruno Latour a useless ponce? really represents his true value, but so it goes.

And - having just checked wiki - who could forget his spectacularly ill-judged "We need a more authoritative world... You've got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it... Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while". Sigh; we're back to the philosopher-kings so beloved of folks like him and Jim "back to Plato" Al-Khalili. If, say, Farage had said that the Graun would be all over him; but because it is cute-n-cuddly Lovelock, the Graun just rolls over.

I liked Gaia, though.


* Claim: A new bombshell report found that 96% of ConUS NOAA temperature is corrupted (false).

Would You Abdicate If You Could Be the Dictator?


Patrick Michaels suffers hard delete

11999605_975651442499789_7475492872909350438_oTasteless but I couldn't resist. See-also Joseph D'Aleo suffers soft delete or Science advances one funeral at a time. Or perhaps it would be better to see Cainozoic history of southern New Zealand: An accord between geological observations and plate-tectonic predictions. Although if I look at CO2 "Science"'s obitHe leaves a legacy of sound science and dedication to the scientific process is rather pedestrian1. I'm expecting better from WUWT... nope; just a cut-n-paste of the CO2 "Science". Or vice-versa, who knows. By contrast, Kate Carter got "great scholar". Let's hope some of the Watties read this and feel the need to puff PM a bit. I'd like to accuse them of being small for taking a dig at Mann in PM's obit, but that would be rather inappropriate in a post like this.

And now I realise I forgot to do my due diligience: did PM make it into Stoat? And the answer is he's doing better at that; in Death at UAH I gave him "the real septics like Singer and Michaels and Inhofe". In Trump's EPA pick will make Obama regret his environmental overreach? he got "evil arch uber-villain Patrick Michaels" though I was riffing off this, he didn't really earn it all himself. And a few more, like MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen urges Trump: “Cut the funding of climate science by 80% to 90% until the field cleans up’? but there he's a filler that just about makes the cut before I trail off: "Otherwise its Happer, Idso, Michaels… and then tails off into blanks". And "old" Stoat noted PM was a touch shy on the betting front.


1. As well as untrue, obvs.


* Empathy and denialism by Brian

The United States: World Party Central

* Gavin on Twotter: "why Patrick Michaels was scorned by mainstream climate science - it wasn’t because of his policy preferences, but because of his mendacity"

Weather and Climate Disaster Losses So Far in 2022, Still Not Getting Worse - Pielke

Incidence Not Insanity

* Now, Read This Properly, Again: Tim Worstall looks at The oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (£2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years, a new analysis has revealed.

Josh Hawley's UnAmerican Nationalism

* ATTP: Limits to Growth? and my reply. It bounced off, of course.

The Distributive Distraction.


Joseph D'Aleo suffers soft delete

90896053_1428597724003210_5764002353552293888_o Reference Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Joseph D'Aleo. Humiliatingly for Smokey Joe, the final delete reason is "The result was soft delete. Based on minimal participation, this uncontroversial nomination is treated as an expired PROD". Or, in other words, no-one cared. How the GW wars have faded.


Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy

PXL_20220706_174018731 Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is a book by Joseph "Creative Destruction" Schumpeter: "one of the most famous, controversial, and important books on social theory, social sciences, and economics" if you can believe wiki. I recommend it. I read it about six months ago and was going to blog it, but realised I really couldn't remember enough detail to do so properly.

Happily, that nice Pierre Lemieux has recently reviewed it. And he focusses, as anyone who cares must, on quite what did JS really mean? Because, contrary to what all who have read Mises or Hayek know full well, his words say that socialism is possible and that capitalism was on the way out. But was he being ironic? My answer is both yes and no: in describing how socialism is possible, he describes a whole series of modifications to "pure" socialism that would be necessary, and never actually says that at the end of all that, he's pretty well re-invented capitalism1. As to the inevitable end of capitalism, I think there's both an evil influence of Marxist historicism which is, wrong, obvs; quite a bit of poking fun at the worthless "intellectual elite"; and more correctly a recognition of the creeping influence of statist over-regulation, which is correct, alas equally obvs.


1. Ideally, at this point I'd support this with quotes and such, but I'm afraid you're out of luck there.



apo Kavanaugh’s views on EPA’s climate authority and Kavanaugh's other dangerous assault - on the environment? refer. Spoiler: I have little new to say. This post is, of course, occaisioned by West Virginia v. EPA. You may wish to read SCOTUSblog's take. Reading the opinion and dissent, my impression is that both sides seem to be somewhat losing patience with each other.

To recap my opinions: which way to decide this is a matter of interpretation; either way is defensible; overall I'm inclined to agree with the majority.

The Agency ultimately projected, for instance, that it would be feasible to have coal provide 27% of national electricity generation by 2030, down from 38% in 2014

The judgement doesn't make much of this, but I would: the much-vaunted plan was shite to begin with. It aimed to get coal down to 27% by 2030. And by 2022, without the plan in place, coal is... 22%. So what was all the fuss about? The plan was totally pointless. The idiot govt should just stop this nonsense.

Absurd US Supreme Court decision leaves climate leadership in limbo?

From a twit by Mann, this piece by Trenberth, who really should know better. But, as roughly typical of that-kind-of-viewpoint, worth a breakdown. Calling the decision absurd is just wrong. KT leads with "As an expert on the science of climate change..." but hasn't realised that is irrelevant; the science wasn't an issue, as it wasn't in Alsup. He then mixes it up with "The decision is designed to tie the hands of EPA scientists to fight pollution and to protect air, water and our families from the climate crisis" but that isn't really true either. The EPA retains all those "ordinary" powers; what it doesn't get it power to regulate CO2, unless congress clearly states that it should.


Democrats Designed the Climate Law to Be a Game Changer. Here’s How - NYT. A claim that the IRA defines CO2 as a pollutant, to get around this judgement. We'll see.


I dislike rights-based language

PXL_20220621_070453276 I've said this before, alas in the middle of posts that no-one read, so I'm going to say it again to make it more explicit: I dislike rights-based language.

To quote myself from The Trials of the State, chapter three, and Rawls, continued "The model is of course Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press which does not give you a defined right of free speech, instead it prevents the government from preventing your free speech". And this is better because it makes it clear that only the government is constrained. And that is so because only the government is overwhelmingly powerful.

Just like separation of powers it can be helpful and a convenient shorthand to use words like "rights", but only if you are also able to recast your arguments into forms that don't use those words.

In the case of "the govt shall not..." it is clear what is intended, even if there may be some fuzzy edges. In the case of "rights" it really isn't clear what is meant at all.

The problem with SCOTUS looking to whether a “right” is “deeply rooted in our history or traditions” is that our history and traditions are filled with genocide, slavery, brutality and misogyny. Why should we limit our “rights” to things that have only existed for those in power?

I'm kinda padding out a thin post with this, taken from a Twit by George Takei. But he does at least put the word right into quotes. The answer, of course, is that there is no reason for such a limit, and indeed that limit doesn't exist. Things like gay marriage are now permitted; or, better said, discrimination (by govt) against gays is now forbidden. But if you want to create new "rights", you have to create them anew, not by finding them in old texts, where they aren't. The USAnians even have a mechanism for this: constitutional amendments. These only work for things that a large marjority agree on, which is as it should be: "rights" are big important things, and should be things that the mass of the citizenry accepts (I'm being imprecise; "rights" can be granted by Congress too; see for example Legislation: BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA).



Church and State

PXL_20220618_171309980 SCOTUS strikes again: Court strikes down Maine’s ban on using public funds at religious schools. And, as far as I can tell, they were correct. Read the judgement here.

The point at issue is the first amendment clause Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.... But what does it mean? For the case in point, I don't much care about the "free exercise" portion, the interesting  bit is "make no law respecting". The natural interpretation of this would be that no (federal, but by incorporation state) law can say anything about religion. And so banning use of public funds on religion is as prohibited as diverting funds specifically to religion, or any particular religion.

However, there's a "doctrine" of "separation of church and state", which can be reasonably read to say that the state shouldn't fund the church. The dissent (p24) leans heavily on that doctrine: On the other hand, the Establishment Clause “commands a separation of church and state.” But, just as with Separation of powers, which isn't in the constitution, neither is separation of church and state. It is only a handy guide to interpretation; it can't override the actual words.

However, the decision itself it largely based on the FE bit, contra my wise advice, on the grounds it protects indirect coercion or penalties on the free exercise of religion, not just outright prohibitions. This is plausible, but to me rather wifflier. So I guess I'm obliged to conclude that they got the right answer, but not for all the right reasons.


I was looking for someone being really really sad about this, and it looks like Noah Smith is a good example. I think he's talking about this case, and also the Gunz stuff. I'm doubtful his The Court is kind of going crazy right now, with a bunch of activist decisions that most people hate is true; but it is interesting that his solution is court packing; see-also Me on USAnian politics. Since I don't say so explicitly there, I'll say it here: I think packing is a bad idea, at least in part because I don't think the Supremes are crazy.

The New Yorker isn't happy either, but is predicatably long on complaint and short on ideas; it has none beyond the vague "It is long overdue to end the Court’s undemocratic role in U.S. society" which is not actionable.

Another example of having no idea what to do is Op-Ed: How to move forward after the destruction of Roe vs. Wade. Don't be fooled by the title. Yes, I've switch from C+S to RvW without even noticing... because in the matter of dislike-but-don't-engage, things seem analoguous. See-also A [sic] eulogy to Roe.

Uupdate: moah gunz

Gunz, gunz, gunz, gunz, everybody loves gunz. Anyway: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen: A minor impact on gun laws but a potentially momentous shift in constitutional method is reasonably thoughtful. But notice towards the end, where he discusses the balance in the amount of regulation required. Is 16 hours of classroom instruction really needed? His answer is that some was valuable, about 2-3 hours was useful, but 16 was excessive. So I think this looks like over-regulation, and I think it is vulnerable, and in my roll-back-the-state mood, I'd welcome that. But I'd hope that, pre-emptively, DC would reconsider the amount it forces people to take.


* America’s Supreme Court requires Maine to include religious schools in a tuition programme: America’s Supreme Court is eroding the separation of church and state - Economist

The Armalite and the ballot boxGunz: constitutionalism and majoritarianism

* Reason: Alito's Leaked Abortion Opinion Misunderstands Unenumerated Rights: The Supreme Court justice is wrong when he says abortion rights aren't deeply rooted in American history.

Basement Fertility and Immigration Charities, Please Forgive Black Markets and Blame Government Instead - Bryan Caplan

* Who Sees Which Political Falsehoods as More Acceptable and Why: A New Look at In-Group Loyalty and Trustworthiness by Jeff Galak and Clayton R. Critcher via Twatter.

Two Libertarians Debate Abortion

Alito's Junk History About Lochner

Voters in Kansas decide to keep abortion legal in the state, rejecting an amendment. By about 60-40, which the BBC describes as "overwhelmingly".



PXL_20220618_144552047~2Another year over and deeper in debt... this is Caius M2, though it was hard to distinguish them from M11. The separation at the catch is nice, something that this apparently respectable video doesn't like. It was a good year; lots of exciting action; some excellent and some achingly poor rowing; Caius and Newnham retained their headships.

If I was going to say nice things about everyone who deserved it, I'd be here forever, so as a token: congratulations to Queens' M1 for their blades, after a few dull years; and to Christ's W1.

Aanyway, this post is just a link to the full 37 video Mays 2022 playlist. Mays was run for the first time since 2019; I also took a few vidz at Oxford Summer Eights.

Update: alas, no-one qualified.


* Lents, 2022.


1. Because they were good, not because M1 were poor :-). Alas, they only went up three because they only good, not also lucky. And of course they were easily distinguished, since M1 wasn't bucket rigged, but I mean that from the quality of rowing, you couldn't easily tell which was the top boat.

Screenshot_20220620-143440 Screenshot_20220620-145011 Screenshot_20220620-145119


Governments have largely failed to seize their chance to rearrange their energy supplies away from fossil fuels?

PXL_20220604_143648344 In the face of momentous events people who really ought to know better are saying silly things like "Shocking: So far, governments have largely failed to seize their chance to rearrange their energy supplies away from fossil fuels. Instead, we are witnessing a global “gold rush” for new fossil gas production". This comes from stuff like The world is going through a major energy crisis as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far, governments have largely failed to seize their chance to rearrange their energy supplies away from fossil fuels

But what is this "chance" that they are failing to seize? What the fuckwitted Pootin war has given the world is, at least for the moment, effectively a nice large carbon tax. It would be great if theses fools could at least celebrate that, but of course they are too dumb to do so.

But other than that, there's no great "chance" lying around to be seized. Solar and wind have got no cheaper.

Update: other dumb stuff

Climate risk is financial risk by - yes, you guessed it - that nice Gernot Wagner. It is more telling-other-people-how-to-do-their-jobs stuff: we have invented this brilliant new concept called GW that you've never heard of now you must use it for everything no not in that way; in the way we prescribe.


* There is nothing so absurd, says Cicero, which has not sometimes been asserted by some philosophers: but where did I use the Orwell version, about common versus intellectuals? Aaahhh... it was wrt McTaggart.
* Some favourites from RMG.


Why Paternalists Must Endorse Epistocracy?

PXL_20220604_143733338 Via Bryan Caplan but more specifically https://philpapers.org/rec/BREWPM. Generally I hate stuff with wanky philosophic words in it, but in this case Wiktionary tells me it means Rule by citizens with political knowledge, or a proposed political system which concentrates political power in citizens according to their knowledge which I suppose is fair enough. And this is of interest since whenever a discussion on democracy continues long enough someone - quite likely me - will bemoan the general stupidity of the general populace and ponder some means to restrict the francise to non-clowns; which usually means people like them or me; see-also Starship Troopers. Anyway, they say: 

...we are “predictably irrational” in the pursuit of our interests. Paternalists from both the social sciences and philosophy use these findings to defend interfering with people's consumption choices for their own good. We should tax soda, ban cigarettes, and mandate retirement savings to make people healthier and wealthier than they’d be on their own. Our thesis is that the standard arguments offered in support of restricting people’s consumption choices for their own good also imply support for “epistocratic” restrictions on people’s voting choices for their own good...

Which is plausible. In the end, they come up with most of the correct arguement against: Last, there is a practical objection to paternalistic regulation of the vote: state agents might abuse their new powers. They end up dismissing this, but they are wrong to: corruption or incompetence in consumption choice regulation is undesireable, but limited, and fixable within the political process. Corruption of who-can-vote is, potentially, not fixable.


* Education - Our World in Data


Yet moah climate suing

PXL_20220528_181744508 A Peruvian farmer takes on Germany’s largest electricity firm, says El Econo. Peruvians doing wacky things is not necessarily news, but since the Economist is interested, perhaps I am. Previous stuff refers, weakly. From El E: Saúl Luciano Lliuya... teamed up with Germanwatch, a German green NGO, to sue RWE, Germany’s largest power company and Europe’s second-largest emitter, for belching nearly 7bn tonnes of greenhouse gases between 1854 and 2010. This, he says, has put his house at risk of a devastating flood. Mr Luciano Lliuya’s claim asks RWE to pay 0.47% of the costs of implementing it. That calculation comes from a study published in 2014 by Richard "Dick" Heede... which found that the activities of 90 large industrial emitters collectively accounted for 63% of the carbon dioxide and methane emitted between 1854 and 2010. This share is further broken down to the company level, laying the responsibility for 0.47% of historical emissions at RWE’s door.

But that 0.47% is wrong, of course: RWE didn't emit 0.47%. More, why sue RWE? Because the Krauts might be a soft touch. El E adds Court documents suggest that the German judges may consider that climate impacts were foreseeable from 1958, when the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere began to be recorded each day which is really very stupid indeed and will only fly in a heavily politicised court, if even there. Also note that they aren't even suing for damages.

El E adds And in any case that project is well within the local government’s budget. The fact that it has sat around for six years has more to do with bureaucracy and corruption. Local beliefs complicate matters. When sophisticated flood-warning systems were installed in two neighbouring villages, threatened by different lakes, the locals destroyed them.


Bad beekeeping: spring recolte 2022

PXL_20220521_184150443Another post for my record, and perhaps your interest.

Note to self: please make up new frames for the Autumn so I can take out the crystallised ones. At least... five; and better more.

Saturday: to my new apiary aka N+N's garden, to see what state the girls are in. The answer turns out to be:

"East" aka two-super is not in good shape (quite possibly directly related to the aforementioned swarming) with almost no stores, and brood in the top super, and - probably related to that - bees trying to get into the top super from outside. Sigh. 

Well, I tried to shake the bees down into the brood box, and put it back together, and hoped.

"West" aka three-super is much better. All three supers were nearly full, alas of semi-crystallised honey. And that is my fault for doing it this weekend rather than the last; but life has been busy. In my defence the rape is still yellow albeit faded. And so I go through the hive, patiently wiping bees off frames and moving the cleared frames off to a spare super a little way away - see pic. I've never gone for the "clearing" using bee escapes method, since wiping works pretty well. And through all of this the bees were kind and patient. We - Nk helped, the wheelbarrow was full of compost and hence unavailable - humped the frames down to the porch, where the old giant bandsaw provided a helpful table for decapping and spinning.

PXL_20220524_064022465 There things went better than I'd expected: it was not totally crystallised, instead about half or perhaps more span out. That lasted until dusk around 9:30, so more processing was postponed for a day.

Or perhaps two, as it turned out I was busy in London all the next day. Returning on Monday, what had been fairly liquid on Saturday had turned distinctly gloopy, but the worst case - of turning hard inside the spinner, which I've had before - hadn't happened; so I duly drained / forced all the honey out, took it home, warmed it enough to filter, duly filtered it, and now it sits in bowls awaiting jars. And it will probably set again.



Clash of the titans: Mann vs Gates, with a side of Hossenfelder

PXL_20220522_112553822 Mann is sad about Gates' disappointing and somewhat defensive answer to the question I posed to him via the Graun.; Hossenfelder says I'm with @BillGates on this one. Claiming that solving climate change is simple because we have the technology misses the point. This isn't a technological problem. It's a social, political, and economic problem.

Mann's "question" is one of those "it's not really a question it's more of a statement" kind of questions. He begins You’ve said you don’t know the solution for the politics of climate inaction and also that we need a “miracle” to address the climate crisis. But the obstacles aren’t physical or technological at this point (my bold). 

To understand the question you need to know that Mann is referring to Gates in 2016 - which is odd in itself; a lot has happened in six years - and that the word "miracle" doesn't have its conventional meaning of something requiring divine intervention; indeed, it has pretty well the oppostive meaning: of something that is quite likely to happen (another example of a miracle according to Gates is the polio vaccine). Mann continues  "The only real obstacle is having the political will to invest adequately in those technologies and put in place market incentives that accelerate the needed clean energy transition".

Gates's answer It’s weird to have… I mean, how do you think we’re going to make steel? How do you think we’re going to make cement? Most of the emissions are from middle-income countries. And the ability of either asking them to bear the huge premium and cost of clean approaches, or asking rich countries to subsidise that, that collective action problem is not likely to be solved with current green premiums. So it’s almost like he doesn’t acknowledge all the different sources of emissions. That’s weird... I don’t understand why he’s acting like he’s anti-innovation also seems off point to me, although consistent with his previous opinion that we do need FutureTech. I think there are three position: A: we can and will solve GW with TodayTech; B: we could do that but actually we'll use FutureTech at least in part; and C: we need FutureTech. I think B is correct; Mann is too much on A, and Gates on C. And Hossenfelder has misread everyone (Mann isn't saying it is simple-cos-we-have-tech; and Gates isn't saying the problems are primarily political).

Which is uncannily a replay of Half of emissions cuts will come from future tech, says John Kerry. And Mann, there, was again saying "no, we'll use current tech". Mann's point, I think, is "lack of tech is not the problem, and waiting for FutureTech is a bad idea", which is true, but uninteresting at least to me, because everyone agrees... although Gates manages to give the impression that he doesn't: there isn't a huge premium to clean tech; solar is competitive in a great many places. Mann's assertion that the problem isn't "physical" is doubtful; part of the problem is indeed the vast amounts of existing physical infrastructure.

Gates, oddly, makes no reply on the "political will" part. Perhaps he just hates politics and doesn't want to talk about it - many tech folk do, for the obvious reasons - and is counting on tech to solve the problem. Which I think it will, if the pols don't fuck things up too badly.

Score: Mann loses points for a badly phrased question; and for failing to analyse Gates' reply, but Gates loses more for getting the wrong answer.

So, in the end, this is all heat-and-noise with no real progress in the discussion.


* Timmy says No: We don’t want, desire or even care about how much any one company invests in itself. We do care that the system as a whole continues to invest. For investment in doin’ stuff is what makes that future richer.
* Quotation of the Day… from Ludwig von Mises’s The Anti-capitalistic Mentality.


Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

IMG_20220515_162742_752 Misinformation is in the news, with the demise of the regrettable Disinformation Governance Board. Bryan Caplan correctly points out that insufficient attention is given to those doing the believing; and this is something I've been saying for a while and still am. Volockh also like Bryan's post, and quietly like me point to their earlier post on the subject.

My pic: Maggie, winners of Champs Eights head. Vair nice, try to avoid noticing that bowside are fractionally early. More similar.


Deep State Constitutionalism from Volokh: "...taps into a deficiency of the conservative legal movement: namely, its exclusive focus on the law "as it is" at the expense of the underlying abstract normative principles that justify the positive law of our written Constitution".
* The follies of the world: ATTP is still beating back the forces of darkness at World Atmospheric CO2.


A piece of Olde Englande

To Swinbrook, near my mother's house. First a bluebell wood, which is lovely, though there isn't much to say about it. Not strictly speaking public.


There's a line of pollarded willows along a tiny stream, also lovely.


Swinbrook itself is a tiny village mostly hidden behind walls, the marvel is the church, and the Fettiplace memorials. 


A general view. Other pix here.


The older ones are weirder, the postures being so stiff and unnatural; the newer ones are more believable. Yet more proof that our ancestors were weirdos. There's a poem, I think to the one who commissioned the first monument:


See-also the table of benefactions, which shamelessly reveals that they lost Charles Fettiplace's £100 gift of 1713. Outside, some old tombs.


The curious "killer Dougal" effect isn't intentional: the bundle is apparently intended to represent a woolsack, the wealth of the region. And coming somewhat more up to date, the ill-fated Unity Valkyrie.


The nearby Swan Inn is decent, and has tolerable taste in toilet posters.


Recent considerations in Roe vs Wade

ttThe recent events require no introduction. I maintain what I said before, though I think it likely they will uphold the precedent now looks likely to prove unprescient2.

That the dispute is bad-tempered and irreconcilable is itself uncontroversial, but in case you think otherwise, here are some words from the Graun and elsewhere: Samuel Alito has provoked an astonishing outpouring of jarring adjectives this week. “Appalling and heinous” – Vanity Fair; “acidic and extreme” – Slate; “dreadful and repugnant” – the Washington Post; “scathing and dismissive” – Los Angeles Times... will eviscerate federal abortion rights in America... Alito’s attack was so brutal and direct it still left many dumbstruck... Alito will forever be known as the supreme court justice who destroyed a woman’s right to control her own body and who set the US on a regressive course pointing back to the 17th century. I've only provided one side there; but I presume you don't doubt that the other side is just as certain of its fundamental rightness.

Side note: people often say, as the Graun does above, that repealling RvW would destroy "a woman’s right to control her own body". But the RvW judgement explicitly states that "For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health". So RvW does the very thing that people rage about. FWIW, I find this part spurious: it is, or should be, clear that the mother's interest in her own health is higher than that of the state, and therefore the state cannot have any right to legislate, on health grounds, over her interests. But I rather suspect that few would be prepared to accept this obvious point as a general principle. Rather, the only plausible balance to be considered is between rights of the individual and the unborn-right-to-life. No, I am not going to say what I think that balance should be, because why would you care?

Reading Roe v. Wade Is a Bad Decision That Ought to Stand I find "Legal authorities broadly agree on Roe’s constitutional defects... Roe can’t be repaired, much less thrown out, without doing more constitutional harm. For the sake of good governance, the court’s conservatives should rediscover deference to long-established precedent, and leave this rash and wrongly decided law alone". I am sympathetic to this and almost agree, but I also find the argument that it was wrongly decided persuasive. More importantly, I think that it should be decided by politics... perferrably by a generic constitutional item along the lines of "the state shouldn't do things it has no need to do". Again, this unobjectionable point is a principle that few would sign up to when made general.

Alito's leaked draft1 refers to the history of abortion law; and people have disgreed with his interpretation. If you're sufficiently originalist this might matter, but I'm not, so I think I can simply not care about that aspect unduly.

I return to the point of the democratic system: to provide a means for resolving these conflicts, where we've agreed they are irreconcilable. One amelioration, per Sumpers, is people will accept decisions they disagree with as long as they accept the legitimacy of the decision-making process. Which is of course why so much political speech is devoted to making you think the process is unfair. So we learn that leaving these decisions with the Supremes will lead to what we observe: people doing their best to delegitimise the court, which is bad. It would I think be more acceptable if done by state governments: then at least you can say: if you don't like it, vote against it, or move.

Another advantage of deciding at state level is that we have a natural experiment: what happens if <thing X> is banned in some places and permitted in others? We know we are not all-wise; it is good to allow experiment, in moderation.

Another, partisan, advantage, if you're a Dem, is that this would surely lead to more votes for Dems in upcoming elections. That's a fairly important point, and one that in the heat and dust I don't see emphasised as much as it should be.

Finally, I see this - and similar - as symptoms of our water-fatness. We really are so rich, considered as a society as a whole, that we can afford to waste vast quantities of highly paid people's time on this stuff. This makes idiots like Putin think the Cold West is decadent so he can invade Ukraine; but what he missed was the bit about us being so rich.


As so often, a chance by-way provides a far more insightful comment than all the fluff: from Volokh, a review, making the point that there is a deficiency of the conservative legal movement: namely, its exclusive focus on the law "as it is" at the expense of the underlying abstract normative principles that justify the positive law of our written Constitution. This reminds us that even if you "believe" in the constitution, you should not treat it as holy writ, but grounded in "underlying abstract normative principles". But note that doesn't give you leave to simply write what you like into it, or ignore any bits you don't like. Interestingly, the underlying article refs Bostock.


1. 2022/06/24: the final decision is now released. Obama doesn't like it, but underneath the flowery words look for the contradictions. the freedom enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution requires all of us to enjoy a sphere of our lives that isn’t subject to meddling from the state — a sphere that includes personal decisions involving who we sleep with, who we marry, whether or not to use contraception, and whether or not to bear children sounds great, but then our freedoms are not unlimited — society has a compelling interest in other circumstances, for example, in protecting children from abuse or people from self-harm. Asserting that we aren't free to self-harm sounds arbitrary to me; Obama is happy for the state to intervene whenever he wants to, but not when he doesn't. There's no principle; it's just case-by-case whatever he feels like.

2. Abortion got debated in Church and State.


* Via JM on Twatter, a paper The New Abortion Battleground that goes on endlessly about possible legal complications of inter-state juristictional fights. Not very useful, because it comes to no conclusions, other than to show that many things are possible.

Are we living in a land Where sex and horror are the new Gods?


America’s Supreme Court faces a crisis of legitimacy says the Economist, worrying that "Nine berobed judges striking down laws approved by elected politicians poses a “countermajoritarian difficulty”" - ah, so they are in favour of striking down RvW, one assume?

* Pew: A majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but many are open to restrictions; many opponents of legal abortion say it should be legal in some circumstances.

* The Case for Ending the Supreme Court as We Know It by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in the New Yorker. A long whinge, I include it for the brevity and fatuousness of it's attempts to think of what else you might do.

* Someone else (Paul Kahn as it happens) tries to discuss whether the constitution or reading thereof should get priority over precedent. But the discussion is unilluminating, since it has clearly been written to support the predetermined answer. Precedent can be overruled, it decides (anyone who dislikes Dredd Scott has no alternative answer) but the reasoning doesn't really help: The case law is working out the meaning of the principles by which we live. As those principles develop, some past decisions will look like missteps. But it does at least note the conflict between common law and constitution.

More on the Dangers of Price Controls - CH.

* Bryan Caplan: The Putin and the Pea.

* More of me on RvW and RBG: http://wmconnolley.blogspot.com/2020/09/ruth-bader-ginsburg-died-on-september.html

Misinformation About Misinformation - Bryan Caplan. Makes some of the same points I have. "Blaming listeners for their epistemic vices sounds bad. It makes the accuser sound elitist, if not arrogant. Blaming a few high-status liars for the world’s problems is a lot more compatible with Social Desirability Bias than blaming billions of low-status fools who fail to choose to exercise their common sense". Volokh comments and points to demand-side problems.

Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overruling Roe v Wade insists that it endangers no rights other than abortion, but this disclaimer follows pages of reasoning that suggest the opposite - the Economist.

There Is a Reason Why Roe v. Wade's Defenders Focus on Its Results Rather Than Its Logic