Monday, May 25, 2015

Krugman caught cherry picking data

FRED housing starts vs interest rates

Prof. Paul Krugman - did you know he got the Nobel Prize? - goes to extremes to present his arguments for more, more government control.

This week he pulled a trick he would not allow a sophomore to do. The data on housing starts vs. interest rates only supported his thesis for a range of years, but not for the other years the data are available. So he took out his scissors and very carefully cut off the first years - about 1958 to 1965 - and the last - from 2000 to 2014.

Then he shouts “The data prove it! Look!"

See Thomas Lifson at American Thinker for the full explanation.

Graph: The full data set from FRED.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mike Banner's 50 years to the top of Mt Rainier

ST Mike Banner summit of Mt Rainier

Mike Banner, my long-time coworker is featured in the Seattle Times this weekend, because last year he accomplished ascending Mt. Rainier dirty years in a row. 50!

You would think he would be single-minded to get to the top. No. He invites rookie climbers, non-climbers, on his ascents. He takes them up - often to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet on Rainier - for a  mini-course in glacier climbing. Of course having inexperienced people on the climb lowers the chances of success. Extra care must be taken on the glaciers in the presence of crevasses, they have less awareness of what they can and cannot do and therefore expend more energy than those experienced. Furthermore weather often  slows or cancels a climb. Of course he does not take them on the more difficult routes, like Liberty Ridge or Kautz icefall.

In 1979 I joined him on the climb for my second time to the top. We had a party of six; I believe two were rookies, not sure. We left Paradise, 5700 feet, at sunset. We were blesses because the nearly full Moon rose and hour later and lighted our path. After reaching Camp Muir toward midnight (as best I recall) we rested for about an hour as people in other parties who had spent “the night” there were getting up and going. We took the Muir-Disappointment Cleaver route, the standard, and got to the summit after sunrise. From reaching the summit crater to cross the crater and ascend Columbia Crest, the highest point, is about a half mile. At 14,411 feet it is real work. So half our party were satisfied to stay at the rim; the other three of us went ahead. Then at the very summit Mike opened his pack and pulled out a full-size watermelon!  Then I got sick, but not before I reached the summit. (My previous climb was in 1964 with the Seattle Mountaineers climbing course.)

I wish I had good photos of that climb, because that year there was an unusual condition in the ice called nieves penitente, that usually happens much closer to the equator in the Andes. Nieves penitente (means praying snow) is little towers of ice - an expanse of them - in our case, one to three feet high. It’s unreal to realize you are walking among miniature ice towers! See Wikipedia

Mike has introduced many people to the mountains. Congratulations to a gentleman.

Seattle Times honors Mike. But they didn’t print the photo of Mike, Clay and myself holding up the watermelon atop Columbia Crest! (He still has it.)

Sen. Hatch blocks disclosing text of TPP before it is voted on

Sen. Hatch blocks disclosing text of TPP before it is voted on Even Hatch doesn’t know what’s in it. Duh.

I have a revolutionary idea: Congress should see every word of every bill and whatever else they vote on. The text should be - must be - disclosed and they should READ every word. To not know what they are passing is irresponsible.

I am looking forward to Honorable Mr. Hatch explaining why it is reasonable, even conceivable, for him to vote on secret text.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How much is enough?

The Washington Education Association is demanding more money in the state budget - and going on strike for it - every day in a different school district. But they never say how much. How much is enough?
Briefly, the current budgets being considered in Olympia add a LOT of money to k-12 education:
"All three budget proposals for 2015-17 — by Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate — give teachers an overdue cost-of-living raise. All three reduce class sizes for grades K-3. All three drop at least $1.3 billion more into basic education funding to comply with the state Supreme Court’s landmark McCleary decision.” - Seattle Times
$1.3 billion is real money to me. How much are they asking for?
Second, these strikes are illegal. Is the WEA telling teachers they are being asked to break well established state law? Not the few I talked to.  See Sound Politics.
Third, consequences: Why can teachers walk off the job and not lose one penny of pay? They have no consequences for breaking the law.
But you and I are not so blessed. If I did a taxpayer strike and didn’t pay my property taxes the county would seize our house, sell it and give us a pittance. A strike by me would have huge consequences. (If I only went out for one day the cost would be less than $100; not a lot, you may say, but it's cash out of my pocket. 
In 2015 when I pay my property taxes on our suburban split-level I am paying over $2,000 to the local school district. $2,000 is real money to me. How much do they expect me to pay?
(We have no kids in school; our youngest child graduated years ago.)

Teacher strikes are illegal

Day by day the teachers in a school district are walking off the job on strike. For only one day, but on strike nevertheless. But strikes by public employees are illegal.
Strikes are illegal, but there are no consequences. If I went on strike I would have lost a day’s pay for each day, but the teachers - they don't.

Freedom Foundation says it succinctly:
  • The law which authorizes collective bargaining for teachers specifically provides that, "Nothing contained in this chapter shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his or her official duties" (RCW 41.56.120).
  • In 2006, the State Attorney General's Office issued an opinion on the legality of public employee strikes, concluding that: "In Washington, state and local public employees do not have a legally protected right to strike.  No such right existed at common law, and none has been granted by statute.” See AGO 2006 No. 3
  • The website for the State Office of Financial Management bluntly notes that state employees "are not permitted or granted the right to strike or refuse to perform their official duties."
Furthermore, Washington Courts have a long history of declaring teacher strikes illegal and ordering educators to return to work, in some cases fining teachers who refused.
  • 2011: Tacoma teachers strike. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chuschcoff ordered teachers to return to work and threatened to fine them if they failed to comply.
  • 2009: Kent teachers strike. King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas issued an injunction to end the strike. The strike continued until Darvas threatened to begin fining teachers and union officials. [Link no longer works.]
  • 2003: Marysville teachers strike. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese orders the strike to end, noting that "Public employee strikes are illegal under the common law of Washington. The [Marysville Education Association] strike violates the prohibition on public-employee strikes and is an illegal strike."
  • 2002: Issaquah teachers strike. King County Superior Court Judge Joan Dubuque declares the strike illegal and threatens to fine teachers who continue to strike.
  • Prior to 2002, state courts issued 24 injunctions against striking teachers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Obama approves Shell Arctic oil drilling

ADN Pew Arctic seasonal drilling limits

Seattle’s greenies are in full panic over Royal Dutch Shell drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic. No, Shell does not want to drill in Elliott Bay or Puget Sound, but in the Arctic. But they are certain this is apocalyptic, so they are training to try to get someone to injure them by getting in the way of legal operations. Seattle Times - and with kayaks

But President Obama has approved Shell’s oil exploration in the Arctic. He upheld a 2008 lease sale on Monday.


Graphic: Seasonal limits for Arctic drilling. Pew Charitable Trush and Alaska Dispatch News

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Debate? No. Students try to cancel senator's degree

Students are Western Washington University are upset that state Sen. Douglas Erickson is not chanting the AlGore global warming, no, climate change, chant. So they will use their skills in research and presentation to debate him. Right? No. They want to be radical. Radicals! So they are petitioning WWU to cancel Sen. Ericsson’s Masters in political science and environmental policy.

Bellingham Herald

But their claim that he denies human-caused climate change is annulled by the wording of SB 5735 inserted by his amendment:

“The Legislature finds that climate change is real and that human activity may contribute to climate change.

Bellingham Herald again

Found at Hot Air.

Read annually - Steven Hayward

Steven Hayward, now of American Enterprise Institute, formerly Visiting Prof at University of Colorado, recommends regular reading of:

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

F.A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society"

CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

— Links and more, especially about dogmatism at Powerline Blog

Monday, May 11, 2015

Middle East running out of water

Crisis in Iran

- Lake Urmia in NE Iran - from 90 km long to less than 20%. LA Times

- The river that runs through Isfahan now dried up.

...Two decades ago, Lake Urmia was still a popular destination for vacationers. Tourists marveled at the flocks of flamingos, pelicans and other bird life that gathered on its shores. Bathers immersed themselves in the saline waters and smeared their bodies with its legendary black mud, said to help heal stiff joints. Some called it Iran's version of the Dead Sea.

"I remember how my late grandmother told us that nobody was in danger of drowning as you couldn't sink in the salty water," recalled Ameneh Saeedi, 33, a secretary in Tehran, who vacationed at the lake regularly with her family. "We used to stay up until the small hours laughing and swimming."

Today vehicles can reach many of the lake's more than 100 small islands that were once a signature feature, havens for wildlife and humans on holiday.

- And -

And the entire Middle East, except Israel. See Daniel Pipes Wash Times

… Israel provides the sole exception to this regional tale of woe. It too, as recently as the 1990s, suffered water shortages; but now, thanks to a combination of conservation, recycling, innovative agricultural techniques, and high-tech desalination, the country is awash in H2O (Israel’s Water Authority: “We have all the water we need”). I find particularly striking that Israel can desalinate about 17 liters of water for one U.S. penny; and that it recycles about five times more water than does second-ranked Spain.

Liberation Theology born in Khrushchev's KGB

Liberation Theology was born in Khrushchev's KGB. The Soviet leader intended to infiltrate Central and South America. His way to do so was to recruit church leaders to his Communist ideology by cloaking it in a class warfare that appealed to them.

His effort was successful until Karol Wojtyla was elevated to Pope John Paul II in 1978. He selected Bishops who would oppose Communism.

Ion Mihai Pacepa was a Romanian 3-star general who defected says he was a key player in the plan. (Romania is a Latin country, they say.)

New American

By the way, a Peruvian poet Gustavo Gutiérrez has always been credited with the inception of LT. But Pacepa says Gutiérrez’ book A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation reads like it was written in KGB headquarters at Lubyanka Square in Moscow.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Activities in the PNW

Actively Northwest shows links to fifteen sites showing activities. The list is family oriented, but not just for going with kids. Lots of ideas.

Highlights from their list:

  • Adventure Awaits - Washington State Parks posts an active idea - highlights a park - sometimes weekly, sometimes not.
  • NW Trip Finder - Camping and non camping ideas from BC to Oregon. Small Towns - Lots on camping - Oregon Coast and Wine tasting.

Seattle Times

Regional Guides hosted by Seattle Times. They are very rich with recent and relevant features:

Update: May, 2015

Ten free things/ideas to do = Seattle Times

Shakespeare in the parks summer 2015:

  • Greenstage July 10 to Aug 15. Most, but not all, are in Seattle parks.
  • Wooden O of Seattle Shakespeare, July 9 to Aug 9. Seattle east to Issaquah and north to Lynnwood.

Year-round - Festal at Seattle Center has over 20 ethnic festivals. Plus the big one: Folklife Festival every Memorial Day weekend from noon Friday till Monday evening

Drama teacher Reuben Van Kempen is retiring

Drama teacher Reuben Van Kempen is retiring from Roosevelt High School. He leaves a huge legacy of accomplishment.

Seattle Times

… “One of the many things that made Ruben a special drama teacher was his vision,” comments Berryman. “This vision created an environment for students like myself to explore, grow, imagine and discover the wonder of theater.”

Van Kempen has also been celebrated by his peers. He was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame, and received a Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award from Theatre Puget Sound, among other honors.

But the ongoing friendships with former students have been especially rewarding for Van Kempen, who was born in The Netherlands but grew up in Seattle. After graduating from the University of Washington and briefly pursuing a career as a performer, he began teaching drama in the late 1970s.

Chad Kimball, a 2010 Tony Award nominee who returned to Seattle to attend the April 23 retirement bash, still relies on his former teacher for advice and support.


Reuben is a friend since before he taught at Roosevelt. And Myrnie.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Mayor Murray plans trip to Israel

Mayor Murray is planning to travel to Israel. To promote gay-queer-etc issues. Oh.

Why is that news? Because the Palestinian hear-no-evil shouters don’t want anyone saying anything at all, even slightly positive about Israel. Murray says he is going to support the LGBQTx community there and because he support Israel’s right to exist. Seems reasonable.

A leader is Seattle U law prof Dean Spade who says Murray is going “to be part of a propaganda conference that promotes Israel as a gay-rights haven in order to cover up the realities of apartheid.” And Spade is promoting a movie that he calls a documentary, but sure sounds like propaganda, "Pinkwashing."

There are defenders. Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge, said, “We hope that having this conference in Israel will begin to move our global LGBTQ community away from the self-defeating strategy advocated by those who insist that we need to shut down the voices of those with whom we may disagree,”

Good for Murray.

Source: Seattle Times

(I add the x to the term LGBQTx because another group will be added to the chain; we just don’t yet know which.)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Good mobility for kids raised here

A study on upward mobility found good results for King and Snohomish Counties. Every year a kid lives in Snohomish County adds .72% to his earnings at age 26. That is a small number, but, since it is per year, it adds up for a kid raised there from birth to age 20. It means an added $3740 per year over the national average - per year! The numbers for King County are .57% and $2960. That puts them at #2 and #7 of 100 urban counties.

On the other end of the scale Baltimore (an independent city which is treated as a county) the kid has a loss every year; he loses .86% per year growing up for a loss of $4510 per year at age 26 as a result of growing up there. That is very sad.

Washington Research Council reporting on a study by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren at Harvard.

Update: I added words to emphasize that both the growth and income gains are per year.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Socialist success - Venezuelans leaving for other countries AND Award from UN

Another demonstrations of socialist success in Venezuelans.

Venezuelans are giving up and leaving for other countries. But few can do this because 80 per cent of the country cannot afford to feed themselves!

El Universal, Caracas (in English)


The United Nations is recognizing a country for fighting hunger… Which one?... You can’t make this up… Venezuela

President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that he would be traveling to Italy to receive an award for Venezuela's "food missions," according to El Universal.

Investors Business Daily

… Currency controls, expropriations and state corruption have left Venezuelans standing in multiple lines for much of the day just to get access to basic foodstuffs. The last official data, issued two years ago, show supplies of basic foodstuffs are 28% below 2004 levels.

Fights are now commonplace in food lines. Medical shortages are so severe that the country has resorted to fingerprinting to catch thieves, and Maduro blames "hoarders" and "CIA plots" for the failures. With scapegoats aplenty, don't expect him to fix the problems soon.

At last month's Summit of the Americas in Panama, there was open talk from Latin American leaders of sending food-aid caravans to ease the hunger.

Yes, this catastrophic situation calls for awards to the leaders who caused. Only at the UN.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Chipotle announces they did, but did not, remove GMO foods

Chipotle announced they removed at GMO foods from their men. They did except for .. a lot of exceptions!

Chipotle gives away their lie, you know, untruth, way at the bottom of their proud statement:

But it is important to note that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed. We are working hard on this challenge, and have made substantial progress: for example, the 100% grass-fed beef served in many Chipotle restaurants was not fed GMO grain—or any grain, for that matter.

Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn.

So you are safe from GMO foods at Chipotle unless your food contains beef, chicken, milk or other dairy product, or any soft drink. That is what GMO-free means to Chipotle??

Read more about the science at National Review Online.

Helping home buying intended to reduce income inequaility - opposite effect

Good intentions, but...

Helping home buying intended to reduce income inequality, but had the opposite effect.

USA Today


Friday, May 01, 2015

Underwater Axial Volcano erupted last week

ST Axial Volcano map

Axial Volcano (or Seamount) is the only active underwater volcano that is “being watched.” Scientists have placed instruments to measure movement, tilt, temperature, etc., and 600 miles of coaxial cable. It rises about 3,000 feet above the ocean floor and is about a mile below the surface; 300 miles offshore of Washington.

Thursday, April 23, there was a major event. Excited scientists!

Seattle Times

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Good riddance to AG Eric Holder

Farewell to the most political AG ever.

Wash Times

The first attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress has demonstrated shocking contempt for the law, and the ability to abuse and corrupt it for the political and social agenda of this president. He has assaulted freedom of speech and press at every turn, stonewalled all investigations into widespread corruption within the administration, undermined and obstructed the work of the agencies’ own inspectors general, and targeted individuals who dared challenge any of it. He has tirelessly protected and promoted corrupt prosecutors and scattered ticking time bombs.

Early in his time in office he dismissed the indictment against former Sen. Ted Stevens, who failed to win reelection days after he was convicted. Did Holder demote or fire the prosecutors who pursued the illegal prosecution? No. Just a slap on the wrist for one of the four.

As for the Stevens prosecutors who were found to have committed intentional misconduct (tantamount to obstruction of justice or subornation of perjury), one served a one-day suspension before the paltry sanctions were reversed on a technical failure of the department itself. Three still work in the department; four moved on to lucrative positions elsewhere.

What did these four learn? That they could perform major malfeasance of their office and suffer no consequences. That’s the Eric Holder way.

The Project on Government Oversight has identified hundreds of instances of intentional or reckless prosecutorial misconduct in the last decade, and Mr. Holder refused to release so much as the names of the prosecutors. Mr. Holder has politicized the department beyond recognition and weaponized every federal agency under it. “Instead of enforcing the rule of law and following legal precedent, he has ignored and twisted the law to suit his president.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Venezuela is censoring news providers and government data

Venezuela MEDIA JOD

In the Chavez heaven of Venezuela President Maduro is getting more and more desparate. He is intimidating and forcing news outlets to close. And he is censoring government statistics. (Yes,  a government can censor itself.) When public health statistics are published the world can see how bad the situation is. Since his Chavismo does not have solutions the desperate dictator hides the data.

More from Fausta.

And The Economist:

Under Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded Chávez as president in 2013, the government is supplementing its relentless propaganda with self-censorship. The apparent goal is to hide from Venezuelans bad news that might weaken their already shaky faith in the regime. The health ministry, for instance, has not published a weekly epidemiological bulletin since early November, despite concurrent outbreaks of three mosquito-borne diseases. Last May Venezuela saw its first cases of chikungunya, a disease originating in Africa, which causes very high fevers and severe joint pains. It took the authorities five months to declare chikungunya a notifiable disease. The most recent bulletin still fails to include it.


Self-censorship is not confined to the health authorities. The National Statistical Institute (INE) has not published poverty data for 2014. No one has provided production figures for PDVSA, the state oil corporation, for the past three months. When officials explain their silence, which is not often, they talk of a need to avoid “political manipulation” of statistics.

Those officials sure know about political manipulation; they are doing it.