December 28, 2009

Heads Should Roll

President Obama had more to say on Dec. 29, 2009:

President Barack Obama said a "catastrophic breach" of security led to the Christmas Day attempted bombing on a Detroit-bound airplane. "A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable. There was a mix of human and systemic failure that contributed to this catastrophic breach of security," he said.

Heads should roll in Amsterdam (and perhaps in the U.S. too) where this terrorist boarded with his bomb materials. The people on that flight were fortunate his scheme failed.

This from the WSJ:

"Investigators in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East are racing to determine how the son of a Nigerian banker became the first person in eight years to try to set off an explosive aboard a U.S. commercial airliner.

President Barack Obama on Sunday ordered a review of government procedures for screening airline passengers and for tracking individuals suspected of terrorist ties. The administration also said it was tightening security procedures, which airlines and passengers say is already causing delays on international flights.

Lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns that the man charged in the Christmas Day attempt to bomb Northwest Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to board an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with a hidden cache of explosives even though he was on a terrorist watch list."

President Obama in an AP story on 12/29/09 is quoted:

"We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us."

This is the right response, but for me "violent extemists" = terrorists. This administration's expunging of the word 'terrorist' from its politically correct vocabulary is foolish nonsense. This bombing attempt was the work of a radical Islamic terrorist.

Kudos to the AP for rightly reporting the story using the words terrorist and terrorism. Obama should continue to use the words, too.

December 27, 2009

Pogo Has It Right

As the year draws to a close, most pundits take stock of what the past year has wrought and push through that minefield with projections about what 2010 will bring.

Perhaps it's because we live in the Twitter and Facebook world of instant, if often banal, communications. Or is it that humankind is naturally inclined toward bad news such as the evils and pending catastrophes that seem to hem us in on all sides? Whatever the stimulus, we have little good news to lift our spirits in this middle time between old year and new.

What I find so terribly frustrating is the state of affairs in our Congress. We see little will or agreement on how to better our country. Instead, nearly everything undertaken in Washington, or at least as it is reported, seems spawned from the pit of politics and power. Winning the political battle overshadows the quest for the common good.

We seem to have traded the country's true need for leadership in very difficult times for the 'get me mine now' constituencies demanding to be accommodated so their votes in the next election will remain with the winners.

This is not how it should be.

Of course, politics and the art of compromise among competing ideas and views fuels our republic, but in today's political battle, the common good has been overtaken by mean-spirited rivalries. Government seems to be winning at the expense of the people.

The answer to this state of affairs lies in our souls and those of our leaders. We can establish rules about campaign finance, term limits and ethics, but until the substance and spirit of the individuals we elect is grounded in a different mindset and belief system, we deserve the leaders we elect.

Last century's swamp philosopher, Pogo, had it right: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

December 16, 2009

MIT Forum on "Climategate"

If you have some time to delve into a discussion of "Climategate" by some very bright people at MIT, here's an opportunity to hear/see enlightened views.

Whatever you believe about climate change and mankind's contribution to it, this video is worth watching. If you can't watch all of it, I recommend the interval between minutes 16:00 and 29:21.

Richard Lindzen is a 'skeptic' on the issue of anthropogenic climate change, but he makes a case that is hard to refute on how the 'science' has been distorted, deliberately or otherwise, by advocates.

December 13, 2009

Google to Start Selling Own Phone Without Wireless Partner by Next Year -

Google to Start Selling Own Phone Without Wireless Partner by Next Year -

My ruminations:

Nexus One will be sold at a substantial discount for those who accept advertising on the device. It will have as a fallback feature the easy ability to use WiFi and Google Voice for calling. GV has all the needed elements for call management and voice mail.

The question is what will the carriers charge for service? And will the phone be available in both 3G GSM and EVDO-Rev A? Verizon's recent decision to partner with Google must have taken into account this Nexus One development. My bet is this will enable Verizon, but also the other carriers to seriously challenge the iPhone's dominance. Time to short Apple stock??

I have not read anything about Google and AT&T striking a similar relationship. That probably won't happen until AT&T's exclusive deal with Apple for the iPhone ends.

One thing to be sure of: the technology pundits will have a field day speculating on this development.

Another certainty: Google launch this phone with a very disruptive business model.

The FCC will love it!

And what will be Microsoft's response?

Digital Domain - AT&T Takes the Fall for the iPhone’s Glitches -

Digital Domain - AT&T Takes the Fall for the iPhone’s Glitches -

So, this story says that AT&T has a wireless network superior to Verizon's and the sullied reputation of AT&T's network is caused by poor design of the iPhone? Who to believe? I don't have an iPhone and so have no personal experience with either that phone or AT&T's network.

For me, ubiquitous coverage and reliability are most important. Since 2006 I have had Verizon's 3G BroadbandAccess service for laptop use on the road. On a U.S. cross-country RV trip in 2006, I found VZ's service to be broadly available and it has served me well since. I recently upgraded to the MiFi 'modem in your pocket' personal WiFi hotspot, and that's a very nice device that allows both Carol and I (and three others) to be connected simultaneously.

The marketing wars will continue, but now that Google's announcement of an Android phone in 2010 unconnected to a wireless provider is a big deal. Yesterday's initial reports did not state whether it would be available both for GSM networks (AT&T) and EVDO-RevA (Verizon). My guess is they will have a phone for both wireless technologies, although early reports said that Google employees recently had a GSM model to play with.

December 12, 2009

Bankruptcy of a Different Kind

Excerpt from November 2009 newsletter of Ravi Zacharias (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries)

"I find it interesting that apart from a few courageous writers who deal with Islam for what it really is, the common theme in reporting today seems to be to challenge the Christian faith. It is not at all surprising that this is happening at the same time that we are witnessing a worldwide crisis in financial and political matters. The economic turmoil that has resulted from living off resources we didn't have and borrowing that which we could not repay is a consequence of our moral indulgence: We have made moral decisions based on a worldview that has no foundation and that is demanding repayment. We are facing bankruptcy of a different kind."


Restructure and Refinance of Vermont's Education System

What if... Vermont decided to radically revamp its school system to match 21st century expectations so that our graduates would be readily employable in the healthy private sector we believe we want.

Then, market the daylights out of the change Vermont has embraced and demonstrated it can produce. To make Vermont attractive to nimble, bright entrepreneurial companies will require a workforce from an education platform that has shown itself to be equally nimble and far-sighted.

Same old, same old gets us nowhere. No-brainer across-the-board-cost cutting without radical change won't deliver what we need. We require transformation of our K-12 education paradigm while simultaneously reducing costs. But the inertial forces (think VTNEA and various interest groups invested in resisting change) work against a new, vibrant vision.

Such a transformational change demands leadership and vision, both of which are sorely lacking in Vermont's political class. Or, if it's present, I haven't seen or heard it.

Next week we'll know more when the Legislative Interim Committee on "Financing and effectiveness of the Vermont education system in the 21st century" charged to "examine potential improvements to the structure and funding of the Vermont educational system in light of the state's limited financial resources.

December 10, 2009

FairPoint and Burlington Telecom Threatened by Wireless Services

(Published in the Colchester, VT Sun Dec. 10, 2009)

Wireless Telecom Threatens FairPoint and BT

Two of Vermont's telecommunications providers are mired in painful difficulties. This pain is inflicted by technology, competition, failed expectations, and dubious public policy filtered through the deepest recession in a generation. The outlook is grim. FairPoint Communications, the state's largest provider, has filed for bankruptcy. Burlington Telecom, the municipal enterprise providing services for Burlington customers is over budget, not fully constructed and short on cash.

Both companies are beset with financial problems driven by excessive costs and insufficient revenue to support their operations.

While the Great Recession is certainly aggravating the companies' woes, deeper reasons have led to this state of affairs. Their unrealistic optimism has hit the wall of competition while costs have exceeded earlier rosy estimates.

FairPoint's pain is caused by too much debt and declining revenues because the number of lines is shrinking more than 10% annually. Customers give up landlines in favor of cell phones, switch to a cable company's telephone service, or make phone calls via the Internet. An unsuccessful conversion from Verizon's operations systems caused widespread customer dissatisfaction and substantial extra costs to fix them and to satisfy angry customers. In addition, Burlington Telecom siphoned off revenue from FairPoint as a few thousand customers switched to BT.

Burlington Telecom suffers from costs exceeding estimates, excessive debt and insufficient revenue. Add to this the taxpayer furor caused by city officials acting in apparent direct conflict with Vermont's regulatory rules governing their franchise.

Burlington's dilemma is deeper yet because it is based on the flawed theory that a municipal telecom system would thrive. That notion was crafted by Burlington ideologues who mistakenly believed that a city-owned business was viable in a highly competitive marketplace in an industry where changing technology regularly upsets business plans.

The harsh reality facing both FairPoint and Burlington Telecom is the rapid growth in wireless services. Many types of valuable services are migrating to mobile wireless technology and when Verizon and AT&T install robust fourth generation (4G) wireless technology in the next 2-4 years, wireline companies will shed yet more revenue.

Finding viable remedies will be tough as customers spend increasing time and money on wireless services.

FairPoint must restructure debt in bankruptcy to dramatically reduce the costs of servicing it. Employee concessions will also be required to reduce operations costs. Deteriorating morale and employee defections may impact customer service. Selling or partnering with a financially stronger company may be in FairPoint's and Vermont's best interests.

Burlington Telecom must convince regulators to accommodate its apparent violation of franchise conditions and remedy them. Simultaneously, Burlington must deal with the problem of financing excessive capital and operating costs and persuade Burlington residents to part with yet more revenue. To have a chance at success, Burlington taxpayers and the Public Service Board must demand a viable business plan, one that accounts for the robust wireless services on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority is charged with creating statewide cell phone and broadband coverage by 2010. They will rely on FairPoint and other telecommunications and cable companies to dramatically expand wireline broadband access.

The smart electrical grid and it's fiber optics component may help provide a more extensive Vermont broadband backbone. Yet, the lion's share of remaining 'last mile' broadband needs may be provided mainly by Verizon Wireless and AT&T using 3G & new 4G technologies.

Widespread deployment and rapid customer uptake of new wireless technologies and services threaten the future revenues of both FairPoint and BT.

Energy Sector Investor - Big Winner

And the winning sector is...

Total return for S&P 500 component stocks
1 yr 5 yrs 10 yrs
S&P 500 Index 30% 2% -8%
Energy 17% 65% 144%
Materials 56% 24% 68%
Industrials 23% -5% 15%
Consumer Discr. 45% -10% -9%
Consumer Staples 19% 35% 58%
Health Care 27% 16% 19%
Financials 23% -45% -27%
Technology 60% 12% -48%
Telecommunication 6% 7% -53%
Utilities 10% 37% 59%
Source: FactSet Research

Peak Oil in 2020??

The peak-oil debate: 2020 vision | The Economist:

And the debate continues to rage.

The best reason to gradually reduce fossil fuel consumption is to stave off a sudden collapse of the world' economy.

The second best reason is to leverage economic power away from unstable dictatorships who support radical Islamists and totalitarian rule.

The least viable reason: Pretending that mankind can control the climate by managing fossil fuel use. That's a fool's errand.

"FATIH BIROL, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), believes that if no big new discoveries are made, “the output of conventional oil will peak in 2020 if oil demand grows on a business-as-usual basis.” Coming from the band of geologists and former oil-industry hands who believe that the world is facing an imminent shortage of oil, this would be unremarkable. But coming from the IEA, the source of closely watched annual predictions about world energy markets, it is a new and striking claim.

Despite repeated downward revisions in recent years in its forecasts of global oil supply in 2030, the IEA has not until now committed itself to a firm prediction for when oil supplies might cease to grow. Its latest energy outlook, released last month, says only that conventional oil (as opposed to hard-to-extract sources like Canada’s tar sands) is “projected to reach a plateau sometime before” 2030."

Vermont Yankee Should Be Relicensed

This excerpt is from an editorial by Emerson Lynn, publisher of the St. Albans Messenger, which has appeared in his newspaper and at Vermont Tiger. We at VEH endorse his view.

Candidates whose rhetoric panders to 'green' constituencies should be pressed to explain why higher energy costs are good for Vermont's economy. The stark reality is that Vermont Yankee nuclear generated electricity is a very good deal for the state, particularly the beneficial revenue sharing agreement that would run until 2022, if VY is relicensed.

The appeal to 'feel-good' emotions that some people harbor about doing 'something' about global warming is a transparent attempt to solicit votes. The truth is that Vermont Yankee relicensing with fair pricing is the best deal for Vermont, providing both low energy costs and maintaining a minimal carbon footprint.

"...Vermont needs an energy portfolio that includes a robust mix of renewable
energy sources. We also need to continue our focus on conservation. But we also need to be honest about what can be accomplished, and at what costs. Even the advocates understand that Vermont does not currently have the potential to meet its energy needs through renewable energy projects dotted across the state. And they also understand that the price of renewables is considerably above that of Vermont Yankee and Hydro Quebec.

Our gubernatorial wannabes should work from this understanding as well. To shrink from this challenge cheats the debate. It also works in direct contradiction to what is going on in the rest of the world. It’s odd that five Democrats from the liberal state of Vermont are actually pushing – by default – a position that would increase the level of emissions the rest of the world wants to curb."

December 8, 2009

Rupert Murdoch: Journalism and Freedom -

Rupert Murdoch: Journalism and Freedom -

Both Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, and Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO [owner of the WSJ], have recently written in the WSJ about the future of news organizations and the role of technology in shaping successful business models. Schmidt's piece is here. [NB: both may have a limited online life because of WSJ's paid subscription service.]

Both pieces are required reading if you care about the future of journalism, but this quote from Murdoch strikes a responsive chord with me (emphasis added in last paragraph).

"The prospect of the U.S. government becoming directly involved in commercial journalism ought to be chilling for anyone who cares about freedom of speech. The Founding Fathers knew that the key to independence was to allow enterprises to prosper and serve as a counterweight to government power. It is precisely because newspapers make profits and do not depend on the government for their livelihood that they have the resources and wherewithal to hold the government accountable.

When the representatives of 13 former British colonies established a new order for the ages, they built it on a sturdy foundation: a free and informed citizenry. They understood that an informed citizenry requires news that is independent from government. That is one reason they put the First Amendment first.

Our modern world is faster moving and far more complex than theirs. But the basic truth remains: To make informed decisions, free men and women require honest and reliable news about events affecting their countries and their lives. Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent—and competitive."

December 2, 2009

State Property Tax rate May Increase

The Burlington Free Press reports on Tax Commissioner Westman's letter to the Legislature notifying them that Vermont's property tax rate (funding education), based on property levels and funding levels will rise approximately $0.02 next year to $0.88 per $100. valuation (residential).

Education spending has the potential of creating a taxpayer revolt as they see education costs continuing to increase in the face of declining enrollment. Add to that the dire underfunding of state employee and teacher pensions and post-retirement benefits, and we have a very serious problem.

This is the question that every person currently serving or running for state office or local school boards should be asked now and in the run-up to the 2010 elections:

What is your plan to constrain education spending?

"The recession means more families qualify to pay their school taxes based on their income rather than on the assessed value of their property, which decreases revenues.

Lawmakers used federal stimulus dollars to help cover some of the annual allotment of general taxes (such as income and sales) for education. When this funding runs out, the annual transfer from the General Fund could jump $60 million -- just when other demands are expected to exceed General Fund revenues by many millions.

Westman noted that the Douglas administration has offered ideas to constrain the growth in spending on schools, but lawmakers rejected most of the proposals. The administration recently offered another set of options to school officials, and a legislative committee is expected to make recommendations, too.

"It is important to see what we can do on the spending side," said Ancel, who serves on the study committee looking at school funding."

Vermont property tax rates expected to rise | | The Burlington Free Press

Vermont property tax rates expected to rise | | The Burlington Free Press:

Taxpayer revolt is in the offing unless the Legislature takes the long overdue steps to decrease education funding and force cost control. Every person running for state office and local school boards should be asked this question in the run-up to the 2010 elections:

What is your plan to constrain the cost of public education?

"The recession means more families qualify to pay their school taxes based on their income rather than on the assessed value of their property, which decreases tax revenues.

Lawmakers used federal stimulus dollars to help cover some of the annual allotment of general taxes (such as income and sales) for education. When this funding runs out, the annual transfer from the General Fund could jump $60 million -- just when other demands are expected to exceed General Fund revenues by many millions.

Westman noted that the Douglas administration has offered ideas to constrain the growth in spending on schools, but lawmakers rejected most of the proposals. The administration recently offered another set of options to school officials, and a legislative committee is expected to make recommendations, too.

'It is important to see what we can do on the spending side,' said Ancel, who serves on the study committee looking at school"

November 30, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist - America vs. The Narrative -

Op-Ed Columnist - America vs. The Narrative -

Thomas Friedman is obviously very frustrated and conflicted, it would seem, about the Arab world's unwillingness to attack "the Narrative." The Narrative is the false message and constant drumbeat that radical Islamists push onto Islamic peoples. That message is: America and Israel are responsible for an anti-Muslim strategy orchestrated to keep Muslims down and jihad against America and the West is the only solution available to Muslims.

Friedman ends his column with the message (emphasis added) that TeamObama should be delivering

"What to do? Many Arab Muslims know that what ails their societies is more than the West, and that The Narrative is just an escape from looking honestly at themselves. But none of their leaders dare or care to open that discussion. In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:

“Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”"

November 29, 2009

Climate change data dumped - Times Online

Climate change data dumped - Times Online

Can this possibly be true? This is not science, this is circus!

Here is another, more extensive, story from the same source published on November 29, 2009.

November 27, 2009

The Climategate Dustup

I have learned that the news media does not report fairly or in an unbiased fashion. It was my belief in earlier years that they did, but learned differently when I became responsible for public relations for my company in Vermont. It's not true that media is unbiased and expecting otherwise is a mistake.

Reporters are often not very knowledgeable about what they report. Perhaps they're better in larger media organizations, where people have a 'beat' to follow and do so for years.

Even more bias is shown by editors who decide what stories to cover and how deeply. The greatest bias is deciding NOT to cover certain stories that have large implications. All media are guilty of these biased judgements.

We must always remember that all human beings, even scientists have biases. We are seeing this so very clearly in the Climategate dust up.

The blogosphere of skeptics is rightfully and diligently poring over the information made available by hackers of the servers at the Climate Research Unit. Mr R.K. Pachauri, head of the U.N. climate research group has released a statement that I believe is directed to the politicians of the world who have agreed with the conclusions contained in Summary for Policy Makers of the latest IPPC report. I have read his statement and it's mostly BS, IMHO, a sad attempt at damage control in advance of the Copenhagen climate change summit.

Andrew Revkin at the NY Times, obviously a true believer in AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) issues a somewhat mild rebuke of the 'tribe' of true believers by publishing a statement on his blog from Judith Curry, a climate scientist apparently of the AGW tribe, who suggests that scientists of the AGW tribe in this mess should take the high ground.

"Take the “high ground:” engage the skeptics on our own terms (conferences, blogosphere); make data/methods available/transparent; clarify the uncertainties; openly declare our values."

Meanwhile, Steve McIntyre, a Canadian who is a long-time vocal leader of the skeptics group is digesting on his blog the data, emails and software from the hack. The results would appear to be very damaging to the AGW tribe.

Mr. Gore will find it difficult to avoid these inconvenient truths much longer.

Now, I wonder how Vermont politicians will react to these revelations? We'll soon know. I hope our AGW media will ask them hard questions. Is it possible?

November 24, 2009

A Dose of AGW Sarcasm for Breakfast

An alarmist modeler’s history of climate change

Climate changes and their causes through the ages, as explained by Gore and modelers

Paul Driessen

Behind the persistent global warming scare is the hypothesis and assertion that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are causing Earth to warm dangerously. The thesis is espoused most prominently by Al Gore, James Hansen, modelers and other alarmists. It is the fundamental assumption behind the computer models that consistently conjure up headline-grabbing climate change disaster scenarios.

A basic principle of geology and other sciences is that the same natural processes we observe today – erosion, plant growth, species evolution and so on – occurred in a similar manner throughout Earth’s history. Therefore, if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing global warming today, they must have done so in the past, and certainly in the recent historic past.

The challenge, then, is to discover the sources of that CO2 climate villain throughout history. This brief summary of key events is intended to aid in that quest, and explain how the Gore-Hansen thesis worked through the ages.

Sea levels have risen 400 feet since the last Ice Age ended, melting mile-thick Pleistocene glaciers, drowning land bridges and creating new coral reefs. The current interglacial period was initiated by rising levels of mammoth flatulence and emissions from cave man fires, the only sources of substantial greenhouse gases (GHG) 11,000 years ago.

In northern Africa, green river valleys were once home to contented hippopotami and happy human villagers. Then, 4,000 years ago, the region metamorphosed into the Sahara Desert, as Egyptian slaves cooked over open fires and breathed heavily, while building pyramids for pharaohs.

Earth warmed further during the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, as fires from constant warfare and sacked cities dramatically increased GHG. The burning of English and Irish villages by Viking raiders raised global temperatures even further, enabling Eric the Red to colonize Greenland. As the Vikings swapped raiding for farming, however, atmospheric CO2 levels declined, and the Little Ice Age set in.

For centuries, peaceable Anasazi Indians built cliff dwellings and farmed the land in Arizona and New Mexico. But then other tribes began setting forest fires to create farmland, and lightning started prairie fires. GHG levels rose, causing a prolonged drought that finally made life unbearable for the Anasazi, who abandoned their magnificent stone villages on the Colorado Plateau.

In more recent times, American families tamed and farmed the Great Plains. But then the automobile, airplane and World War I drove CO2 and GHG to previously unheard of levels. The resultant Dust Bowl devastated the region, forcing millions to leave their homesteads.

Fortunately, World War II intervened, and even higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, dust, and particulates from burning oil and cities ended the warming and droughts, and ushered in a new era of global cooling. It was marked by snows and freezing cold at Stalingrad and the Battle of the Bulge, and later by the “new Little Ice Age” scare headlined by Newsweek in 1975.

CO2 levels continued to “soarall the way from 250 ppm at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution to an unheard of 380 ppm today (from 0.0250% of Earth’s atmosphere to 0.0380% equivalent to 38 cents out of $1000. “Frightening” global cooling gave way to a new bout with “runaway” global warming. But then planetary temperatures mysteriously stabilized around 1998 and then began to decline slightly. The world entered the age of “climate change,” or more accurately “manmade catastrophic climate change,” in which every temperature and weather anomaly is blamed on emissions from human use of hydrocarbons.

This brief recounting of human history is admittedly incomplete, and fails to address historical events in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, historians can certainly fill in those gaps.

Alternatively, scientists, journalists, academics, modelers and politicians could begin to examine the climate change issue from a more scientific, less ideological perspective. They could worry less about perpetuating or expanding the one-track $89-billion (1989-2009) gravy train of federal government grants for breathless studies of how “manmade climate change” causes terrifying increases in everything from house cats, hurricanes and prostitution to malaria, rainfall, droughts and suicides. (An online search under “everything is caused by global warming,” will locate a complete list.)

Gore, Hansen, Stephen Schneider, and Senators Boxer and Kerry could actually engage in a real debates about catastrophic global warming/climate change science and economics.

They might be surprised to learn that “climate change” has actually brought benefits to mankind and planet Earth, including a greening of the Sahara Desert over the last twenty years, due to increased rainfall and CO2 levels. Even trees and animals are coming back (four millennia after Egyptian slaves turned a once-verdant region into Earth’s largest desert).

They might be stunned to find that ice core and other data demonstrate that temperatures warmed first during past climate changes, and then atmospheric CO2 levels increased, as warming ocean waters released some of the carbon dioxide that they sequestered during colder periods.

They might be amazed to discover that our ancestors, who were even more dependent on agriculture than we are – and even less technologically advanced – somehow managed to cope with climate change. They adapted! As James Burke, Brian Fagan and other historians have noted, they responded to the Little Ice Age by modifying their houses, heating systems, clothing and farming practices. (Optimists might suppose that our far more advanced technologies will make us even better able to adapt to whatever climate changes nature, or man, might visit upon us in the future.)

Alarmists might be shocked to think the causes of past climate changes were the same natural forces and influences that drive changes in Earth’s complex, chaotic, unpredictable weather and climate today: continental movements and volcanoes, and periodic shifts in water vapor and cloud cover, evaporation and precipitation, ocean currents and jet streams, planetary alignments and the shape of the Earth’s orbit, the tilt and wobble of Earth’s axis, solar energy output, and cosmic rays hitting the planet.

Meanwhile, hard-pressed consumers and taxpayers might finally realize that the fear-mongering over global warming has little to do with scientific evidence to back up the speculation, assumptions and assertions that mankind faces a climate cataclysm. (Models are not evidence.) It has everything to do with money, prestige, careers, power and control over energy use and economic opportunity – and an abiding distaste for hydrocarbons, personal freedom, modern living standards, and real environmental justice.

But don’t hold your breath for a debate. Climate alarmists are scared to death to debate. They prefer to dismiss and intimidate climate realists, assert “consensus,” and assiduously ignore both Earth’s history of natural climate change and the 31,000 “Oregon Petition” natural scientists who vigorously contest their claims of manmade Climate Armageddon.


Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

November 22, 2009

Revelations from Alarmist Climate Change Server Hack

Mainstream media coverage is relatively light on the bombshell information that was revealed from a hack of the servers at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, England This release of information produced many megabytes of emails and files that reveal attempts to manipulate and/or withhold data by key scientists in the alarmist camp of man-made (Anthropomorphic Global Warming [AGW]) global warming.

The Burlington Free Press, which has a Sunday "Green Mountain" special section on the environment, failed to include any mention of this event, although it did run a short AP story .

Meanwhile, the blogosphere is full of coverage, some of the best of which is here in a (so far) five-part series on the hacked information by Thomas Fuller.

"But for The Team [ed note: The Team is a group of scientists in the 'alarmist' camp of global warming], frantically trying to retain a sense of urgency, trying to influence policy makers and major media outlets, drastic measures were needed. The released emails show clearly that political necessity caused them to cut displays of data series to eliminate evidence of a pause in global warming. A sense of paranoia (clearly shown in many of the emails) caused them to conspire to influence the scientific peer-review process, boycotting scientific journals and trying to get more skeptical editors replaced and urging colleagues not to submit to journals that didn't toe their party line.

They traded scientific discipline for message discipline. They acted like any of a number of Young Turks in a variety of professions, convinced that their goal--maintaining that sense of urgency amongst the public and politicians--was the most important thing they could do. In that, are they much different than the financial gurus who convinced us all that house prises (sic) would rise forever, or MBAs who missed their professional ethics classes before leading organisations like Enron to glory? Are they much different than the Blackberry wielding political consultants that have turned Western elections into a choreographed charade?"

NY Times published a story on November 21 by Andrew Revkin. Revkin says:
"The evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument. However, the documents will undoubtedly raise questions about the quality of research on some specific questions and the actions of some scientists."


"The e-mail messages, attributed to prominent American and British climate researchers, include discussions of scientific data and whether it should be released, exchanges about how best to combat the arguments of skeptics, and casual comments — in some cases derisive — about specific people known for their skeptical views.'
Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal writes:

"The release of the documents comes just weeks before a big climate-change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, meant to lay the groundwork for a new global treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and fight climate change. Momentum for an agreement has been undermined by the economic slump, which has put environmental issues on the back burner in most countries, and by a 10-year cooling trend in global temperatures that runs contrary to many of the dire predictions in climate models such as the IPCC's.

A partial review of the emails shows that in many cases, climate scientists revealed that their own research wasn't always conclusive. In others, they discussed ways to paper over differences among themselves in order to present a "unified" view on climate change. On at least one occasion, climate scientists were asked to "beef up" conclusions about climate change and extreme weather events because environmental officials in one country were planning a "big public splash."

The release of the documents has given ammunition to many skeptics of man-made global warming, who for years have argued that the scientific "consensus" was less robust than the official IPCC summaries indicated and that climate researchers systematically ostracized other scientists who presented findings that differed from orthodox views."

In exploring the blogosphere, I discovered that Bjorn Lonborg, one of the most reasoned voices in this climate change debate is making a documentary. Hopefully, it will be a response to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth which, IMHO, is a substantially undocumented call to questionable action based on dubious science.

Gore has consistently refused to debate credible opponents of his views. Lonborg's video response is a hopeful sign. I have read his book Cool It! and find he posits the most credible policy actions if one truly believes (I don't) that mankind can change the climate. But his policy views are right on the money relating to R&D for better energy sources in the future.

November 6, 2009

Review of Mark's Book

My son Mark's new book for children, Diogenes, is reviewed on page 87 in the Nov/Dec issue of Bark magazine. Diogenes follows his first book, Wise Guy, both published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.

Nantucket Sound Wind Farm Delayed by Sunshine Claim

If wind farms are the cat's meow advocated by renewable, green energy zealots, Cape Wind now must take on the Wampanoag Tribe in Mashpee and Martha's Vineyard. This is hilarious if it weren't so foolish. I wish we knew the millions upon millions spent on the unending road to obtain a permit by the developers who began this project in 2001.

The opposition, BTW, includes the Kennedys and others with tons of money whose ocean view would be interrupted. Such a desecration!
Green energy, the salvation of the planet, confronts the sacred 'viewsheds ' of the rich and powerful! A book has already been written about the struggle.

The Boston Globe opines.

"The ploy seems intended to drag out the approval process long enough for some other tactic to emerge. But the opponents will have to work hard to find a mechanism for delay as laugh-out-loud bogus as this one."

Hollywood should make a movie. Perhaps the liberal darling documentary filmmaker, Michael Moore, could do it pitting the green energy capitalist rascals against a besieged Kennedy clan and the Wampanoag tribe who valiantly fight against a project destined to reduce global warming by 0.000000000186 degree Celsius by 2050.

The long, long process to obtain permits to build this 130 turbine installation using 400 foot towers and a complex system of underwater cables has suffered every conceivable ploy by opponents to the project. Without huge subsidies for wind power, the developers would have long ago abandoned their plans.

Perhaps another nuclear plant in Plymouth or at a new site in Provincetown would be a far better solution than enduring this Wampanoag and Kennedy nonsense. Yet the power of the sun may yet overcome that of the wind...such a primal struggle, so exciting!!

"From a blustery perch over a Cape Cod beach, Chuckie Green gestures toward a stretch of horizon where he says construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm would destroy his Indian tribe's religion.

The Wampanoag — the tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims in the 17th century and known as "The People of the First Light" — practice sacred rituals requiring an unblocked view of the sunrise. That view won't exist once 130 turbines, each over 400 feet tall, are built several miles from shore in Nantucket Sound, visible to Wampanoag in Mashpee and on Martha's Vineyard.

Tribal rituals, including dancing and chanting, take place at secret sacred sites around the sound at various times, such as the summer and winter solstices and when an elder passes..."

Pelosi Bill Slips In $6 Billion Slush Fund » The Foundry

Pelosi Bill Slips In $6 Billion Slush Fund » The Foundry:

If this is true, Pelosi's action is outrageous (to use a favorite phrase of Vermont's junior senator). Again, if, true, this becomes a personal slush fund for the Speaker and Secretary of Health and Human Services. Insanity reigns in this liberal Congress. This action engenders the worst possible distrust of our lawmakers. In fact, if true, this is absurd , no obscene!

"This new fund has several unique characteristics that set it apart from the normal operations of Medicaid. First, payments to Medicaid nursing homes are made through states and require a state to match the federal funds. Under this section, there is no state money and the decision as to what facilities will receive the money will be made by Secretary Sebelius (and therefore no state involvement in decision making). Although the legislation provides $1.5 billion for each year in the period 2010-2013, the Secretary could hold the money for 2010 and 2011 and make big lump sum payments in 2012. Second, she does not have to go through any formal rulemaking process to award the funds. Third, her decision is final and is not subject to any type of review. This is important because facilities that receive the money will have a comparative advantage over its competitors. Finally, the Secretary will be required to tell the respective committees of Congress which facilities received the money, but is not obligated to tell anyone else."

October 31, 2009

Amazing Grace!

A beautiful rendition of a marvelous hymn!

Weak Case for Jobs Created or Saved by Stimulus

TeamObama has an uphill battle to persuade people that stimulus spending is saving or creating jobs. This chart from the Heritage Foundation demonstrates that the claims and promises were optimistic, if not hollow.

In Vermont the initial claim touted by the senior and junior senators was for creating or saving ~8,000 jobs via stimulus spending in 2009 and 2010. Granted, keeping score accurately is nearly an impossible task, but using the Federal rules, the revised reported total to date is less than 1,600. I'm trying to find out the split between public sector and private sector jobs.

Portraying optimism at the time when the economy was plunging into deep recession is understandable, but to my knowledge, the 8,000 figure has never been revised. Certainly, as more stimulus money is spent, more jobs will be saved/created, but planned spending cannot possibly offset the loss of Vermont jobs during this recession.

But Vermont has deeper problems, even in 'good' times, because its reputation is not 'business-friendly' with high taxation, long-term government spending that has outstripped the state's tax capacity and little demonstrated willingness by Legislative leaders to seriously prioritize and take the needed actions to chart a different course. Until and unless they seriously cut back spending and encourage private sector job growth, Vermont's economic health will continue its 10 year decline.

October 27, 2009

U.S. Newspaper Circulation Falls More Than 10% -

U.S. Newspaper Circulation Falls More Than 10% -

It's a grim future for print media. It would be fascinating to correlate the home Internet penetration rates with the decline in subscriptions in the coverage areas of the non-national papers.

It's painfully clear that the traditional business model for daily print media is near the point of collapse. It's rate of decline is very similar to the loss of POTS landlines in the telecom industry.

I certainly don't have any magic bullets, but what the country cannot afford to lose is high quality news gathering and reporting. The media outlets need to find a business model that leverages the rapid development and deployment of electronic reading devices.

While print publications will have an audience that desires a tactile reading experience, that audience will die off and the reading (and advertising) experience of the future will be on portable devices. These must be very easy to use and have some built-in serendipity factors that emulates what print media offers as the eyes wander through the content.

Otherwise, the future is not healthy for traditional print newspapers and magazines.

October 26, 2009

Morning Bell: The Transparent Costs of Cap and Trade » The Foundry

Morning Bell: The Transparent Costs of Cap and Trade » The Foundry:

These excerpts from a study by the Heritage Foundation of the Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade bill, if they are at all rational, should give every American pause. If the United States were to see even half the economic impacts from this study, we would be in dire economic straits. Now if I could only find an answer to my question about the cost of implementing Waxman-Markey, not the economic impacts... which have been studied by many... we'd know something about the direct out-of-pocket costs and the contribution to the deficit.

Based on what I've learned so far, Waxman-Markey is a very bad bill economically for Americans and unlikely to have any effect on climate change. I hope our Vermont Senators will vote against it, but I doubt they will.

"On August 6th, the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis released a report detailing the economic costs of the Waxman-Markey. Since energy is the lifeblood of the American economy, 85 percent of which comes from CO2-emitting fossil fuels, the Waxman-Markey bill’s arbitrary and severe restrictions on the current energy supply and infrastructure will not only have direct impact on consumers’ budgets through higher electric bills and gasoline prices, but also cause unnecessary inefficiencies at virtually every stage of production. CDA estimates that Waxman-Markey legislation would cost the average family-of-four almost $3,000 per year, cause 2.5 million net job losses by 2035, and a produce a cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) loss of $9.4 trillion between 2012 and 2035."

And this:

"Waxman also asked if our model quantified any benefits of avoided climate change. Answer: It didn’t. Because according to estimates based on IPCC data, the Waxman-Markey bill would only impact global temperatures by .044 degrees C (about .09 degrees F) by 2050. There simply are no economic benefits from such a minuscule impact."

Perhaps some group will summarize a side-by-side analysis of the various studies on Waxman-Markey so we can see the range of impacts from various groups who have studied this.

October 23, 2009

AARP Supports Vt. Teachers in Pension Fight - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

AARP Supports Vt. Teachers in Pension Fight - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A first rate example of why I refuse to join the AARP. With Vermont-NEA and the AARP linking arms, should we believe that our left-leaning Legislature will do anything to fix the problem (not the 'challenge' as Mr. Leddy describes it) of unfunded liabilities for pension and health care costs for teachers and state workers ? A prime reason legislative players need to be changed.

Behind the War Between White House and Fox -

Behind the War Between White House and Fox -

While some Fox News commentators may in fact be anti-Obama and conservative, the White House will not win this battle agains Fox. Suggesting without any proof that Fox News is not a credible news gathering and reporting organization will not carry the day.

Rutenberg of the Times reports this story quite well. After all, the Times could not let this one pass as it did the Acorn story and the Van Jones story. Both of those are newsworthy, but the liberal Times chose not to cover them while they were 'hot.' Could it be that because they were not 'administration-friendly,' they did not cover them?

The Times, without a doubt, has a liberal slant in its editorials and its opinion journalists. Fox News commentators regularly point that out and I think most Americans believe it to be true, whether they be liberals or not.

Verizon CEO slams Net neutrality | Signal Strength - CNET News

Verizon CEO slams Net neutrality | Signal Strength - CNET News

A fascinating dance the tech giants do! A few days ear;ier Verizon Wireless got in bed with Google with a partnership that includes using Google's Android operating system in a new line of cell devices. Now, Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon pounces on the FCC's proposal for net neutrality principles, which are avidly supported by Google and others.

Well, I suppose it's all about the money and the business models.

Net neutrality's downside is well-expressed by Ivan:

"Seidenberg pointed to telemedicine as an example of how strict rules could hamper innovation. He said that companies like Verizon need to be able to prioritize packets that are transmitting medical monitoring data--over such items like e-mail or spam--to make sure they get through the network quickly. But if rules are in place that prohibit carriers from prioritizing traffic, he said, then such medical services cannot be offered."

October 22, 2009

The Burlington Telecom Fiasco

Just a quick comment on this morning's Mark Johnson show which featured Jonathan Leopold, Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Burlington, discussing the Burlington Telecom financial mess.

[First, my bias: Capital intensive competitive services for general public consumption should be provided by the private sector, not by taxpayer funded entities, like cities and towns]

In the discussion this morning, Mr. Leopold made several references to how the City of Burlington routinely advances funds to the Burlington Electric Department (BED) and the Burlington School Department from the city's pooled cash funds. By making the comparison with the city's actions in loaning funds to BED, a regulated monopoly and a department of the city, to BT, an investor-funded standalone entity that is under construction in a lease-purchase deal with private bankers, is nothing more than obfuscation precisely because BT is not a city entity like BED. Mark missed this point in his questioning of Mr. Leopold.

BT customers are not captive like those of BED. They have choices for phone, TV and Internet access. Unlike BED, no 'captive' revenue stream exists for BT because they are in a competitive business. To put Burlington taxpayers on the hook for BT's operational and financial failures when the city does not, in fact, fully own the assets is wrong and those responsible should be held to account.

The question becomes what to do with this mess. The huge investment to place fiber optic facilities in the 'last mile' by an entity without deep financial resources was not a wise municipal decision, IMHO. I have been opposed to it from the beginning as a municipal venture. We have seen failures of municipal WiFi all around the country, but BT is extraordinarily capital intensive and the build out to serve all of Burlington apparently will require several millions more.

When Verizon and AT&T deploy their wireless 4G technology in a couple of years, BT will be in even worse shape as more and more customers move to mobile broadband which will provide essentially the same services as BT. The city will soon find that a serious mistake was made by believing they can or should compete with the private telecom sector.

Here's a very well done recounting of the latest BT events. However, I find the site overall is generally biased toward municipal systems and against the private sector broadband providers. There are tinges of it in the BT reporting, but overall its a very good summary of recent events.

October 19, 2009

VermontStatePriority.pdf (application/pdf Object)

VermontStatePriority.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Here is Tom Evslin's letter to the NTIA with recommendations for various proposals for use of federal stimulus funds (ARRA dollars) to expand or promote utilization of broadband in Vermont.

Many $ Millions will be required to deliver on Vermont's goal to serve all customers via broadband and cell service by the end of 2010.

Even if/when broadband is delivered to all Vermonters, the big question is what will be the uptake. I think that will be in the range of 80%, based on nothing more than my experience which shows that the world is an 80/20 place and most large scale activities and service involving people, at least in the early maturity stage, typically show 80% takers. I think this applies to broadband because the devices, knowledge and interest for people to take advantage of a broadband connection are not universal, even if the broadband access were provided.

It would be a few years after broadband were provided before the uptake exceeded 80%.

October 18, 2009

Acorn’s Woes Strain Its Ties to Democrats -

Acorn’s Woes Strain Its Ties to Democrats -

Finally, the NY Times has done an investigative report on Acorn. What to make of it?

What I take away from this is that TeamObama is much too close to Acorn and they wish they weren't. It's obvious that Acorn is fundamentally a poitical organization allied with the Democatic Party.

Hopefully there'll be some more serious digging into the intrigue and alliances that make this group suspect. In any event, I don't want my tax dollars headed their way. Too many shenanigans to suit me.

Secretary Donovan may be in trouble, too. I suspect he's hoping his will all blow over before it ensnares him.

October 17, 2009

Senator Sanders Response to My Cap & Trade Question

I asked our junior Vermont Senator a simple question (one which the Congressional Budget Office may have had the answer because part of their job is to evaluate the costs of various legislation): What is the estimated cost to implement S. 2414, Waxman-Markey's American Clean Energy and Security Act?

I did not ask about the impact that this bill would have on America's economy driven by the increase in the cost of energy or inquire about climate change or jobs. He did not answer the question nor explain why he would not or could not.

Instead, as I have found often, our politicians cannot or choose not to answer direct questions. They prefer to shmooze their constituents with their view of the wonderful benefits they believe will come from legislation they support and highlight their role in creating it.

I'm tired of worthless, self-serving communications from politicians to their constituents

Dear Mr. Usher:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with S. 2414, Waxman-Markey's American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). I consider climate change to be one of the most important issues facing our world and I appreciate the opportunity to respond on this very critical issue.

As you may know, the Senate has released the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act - a comprehensive climate bill. Though this bill is similar to ACES Act, there are some significant differences that address some of your economic concerns. I personally have worked to ensure that this legislation address the United States' goal to decrease its' contribution to climate change while promoting green economy growth. This Act provides long-term funding for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants to help Vermonters use less energy and save on their electric bills.

To create jobs, the Senate climate bill also provides funding specifically for the Green Jobs Act, which I co-authored. In order to keep these jobs within the United States, I successfully
pushed to decrease the number of international offsets to ensure that emission reduction and sustainable energy projects are completed in the
U.S. instead of overseas. Please know that I am committed to an "energy revolution" that invests in a clean energy future. This revolution
will score a triple win: green jobs and manufacturing, saving money for consumers, and a better economy and environment.
Expansion of the green jobs sector has the capacity to rejuvenate the ailing manufacturing sector in this country, creating millions of long-term jobs that will occur at every level of education and for every skill set. Indeed, studies have shown that solar and wind power creates more jobs per megawatt of installed energy capacity than their fossil fuel counterparts. As chair of the Green Jobs Subcommittee in the Senate, I am helping to lead the way towards the creation of a whole new generation of well paying jobs in the large areas of sustainable energy and energy efficiency. To read more about the development of green jobs, please visit

Regarding your concerns with oil prices, this bill includes carbon market assurance principles calling for strong aggregate position limits and margin requirements that prevents Wall Street from excess speculation on oil prices. Not related to climate legislation, I address high oil prices and the petroleum industry's excessive profits. I testified at a hearing of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and told Chairman Gary Gensler that "the bottom line is that we have got to make sure that Americans are no longer ripped off at the gas pump by some of the same Wall Street gamblers responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." To read more of my statement at this hearing, please visit

I have also introduced legislation that would require the CFTC to exercise emergency powers
to limit speculation. This bill would direct the CFTC to stop sudden or unreasonable fluctuations
or unwarranted changes in prices. It would subject bank holding companies engaged in energy futures trading to strict limits, and require hedge funds trading in energy markets to register with the CFTC and make them subject to strict speculation limits.

Please know that as the Environment and Public Works Committee - on which I sit - addresses the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, I will keep your concerns in mind. To read more about my approach to climate change, please visit

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. Feel free to contact me again in the future about this or any other subject of interest to you, or for up-to-date information on what my office is working on please visit

While there, I invite you to sign up for my e-newsletter, the Bernie Buzz, at

Please be aware that due to security screening procedures, postal mail to my office experiences
delays that will lengthen the time it takes me to get back to you. The fastest way to contact my
office is by calling 1-800-339-9834.



United States Senator

October 13, 2009

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | What happened to global warming?

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | What happened to global warming?

Oops! The modelers seem to have gotten it wrong.

The End of the Email Era -

The End of the Email Era -

Unless filtering gets a whole lot better and easier ( a global filtering capacity that affects all services would be nice), the new social media tend to be wasters, not savers, of time in my experience. I'm anxious to try Google Wave which seems to have a lot of potential if the adoption rate is high once generally released. To benefit from its full potential, users communicating must all be using Wave.

The adoption rate will likely be slow among mainstream and low-end users. I try mightily to get people to use Google Docs for collaborative editing, which I love and have been using since before Google bought Writely, but most folks are so wedded to email with attachments that it's a very tough sell. They seem to find the learning curve too steep. I do more than 80% of my word processing and also a lot of spreadsheet work in Docs.

October 10, 2009

Gas Extraction Method Could Greatly Increase Global Supplies -

Gas Extraction Method Could Greatly Increase Global Supplies -

This technological breakthrough is a really big deal because of its potential to extend the world's natural gas supplies by 100s of years.

Will it put a huge dent in the construction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tankers and port facilities or increase the demand for transporting all this new found gas to places in the world without a pipeline infrastructure?

A big question is whether this plentiful gas will begin to replace coal as a source of electricity in the next couple of decades. The story is a bit unclear whether environmentalists favor or oppose this inevitable natural gas expansion. However I have read elsewhere that the new shale fracturing technique requires enormous amounts of water, often in short supply in many places. This factor may slow down the NG permitting, drilling and extraction.

On a personal level I have decided to convert from fuel oil to a high efficiency system using natural gas for home heating. The Federal tax credits are substantial for the conversion and Vermont Gas also provides a significant financial incentive for switching,

While I dislike abandoning my loyal and faithful local fuel oil dealer, I believe the economics and less volatile price swings will work in my favor and also increase the value of my house. The new boiler will be installed next week.