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Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

Not only are there legitimate criticisms about the interpretations of measurements, but even of the measurements themselves. Prior to the 1920s, most stations around the world providing temperature measurements weren't staffed with trained personnel recording the data. In many cases, the measurements weren't taken at any regular intervals, but rather when someone had free time in between performing other work to do so. In fact, it was often a janitor or other completely untrained staff member recording temperatures because it wasn't viewed as a critical task and being with a degree or two was good enough. This began to change around the 1920s and 30s, especially as radio and television began to take hold and the sciences around climate and weather began to develop.

Accurate instruments didn't even become available until the late 1800s, so any direct measurements taken prior 'til then are highly suspect regardless of who was in charge of taking them. This makes most of the direct measurements prior to ~1930 extremely limited and any direct measurements prior to ~1880 just about utterly useless. It isn't until the 1960s that you really start getting measurements useful to a discussion about 1C of variability in climate worldwide. Earlier climate data is even worse, as that primarily comes from proxy measurements. Two problems there: 1) the proxies lack the precision to be useful in a discussion of 2-3C of climate variation and 2) the proxies don't agree with one another, nor do any of them agree with direct measurements.

Statistical smoothing is used to work around this, and that's where we get into what you stated about problems with interpretations of the measurements and the way in which mathematical principles are applied. You can blur your way out of very minor errors and largely leave the data intact, but you can't do so when your error bars are orders of magnitude greater than the trend you're seeking. At that point, by the time you've blurred away the errors, any reliable data hidden in there has long since been turned to mush.

None of this is to say we shouldn't be working hard on climate science. Rather, it's to say we need to do better work on the subject and stop pretending we understand our world's climate or its history. None of this is to say we shouldn't be working hard on shifting from technologies that pollute and poison our environment to cleaner and better technologies. Rather, it's to say we shouldn't jump to absurd doomsday conclusions and take radical actions like geo-engineering "solutions" to problems we can't yet say for certain even exist.

Good science is honest about its faults; about what it does know, what it should know, and what it can't know. Good science starts with good data, strict methodology, open presentation of work for review, and the ability to accept valid criticism. Unfortunately, climate science has been tribalized into an "us vs them" situation unlike virtually any other science. There are great debates in science about the validity of things like string theory, quantum loop gravity, etc, but those arguments are based on the underlying math and how well it explains what we've actually observed thus far in our universe. The debate around climate science is mostly crap. It's two sides screaming "WE'RE RIGHT, YOU'RE WRONG!" at each other. I'm not surprised that there's a group that will always refuse to believe humans have any impact on the climate of our world because we have a group (and it's largely the same group) that refuses to believe evolution is a real thing despite the fact that we can observe it happening in front of us. No, what surprises (and saddens) me is that there's a group that believes in AGW with a religious fervor on par with the worst of the zealots. Questioning the data or the science behind their dogmatic beliefs is an attack on their very being, and they respond by spewing hate. It's unfortunate, because there are extremely important questions to answer and there needs to be real work done on answering them rather than merely confirming beliefs.

Comment Re:Almost seems destiny (Score 1) 406

The politics of Russia are not the politics of China.

Russia can get away with it because Russians don't really have much in the way of standards and are satisfied to live in shit so long as they can thumb their nose at the rest of the world and get drunk. The Chinese people are far more demanding for the sake of their children. Their acquiesce is entirely contingent on their guarantee that anything they endure ensures a better, brighter future for the next generation. Hence, Putin can push old school Soviet style foreign policy that creates terrible woes for the Russian people, but China has to walk a very fine line wherein they don't burn the bridges that keep them growing.

And China is incredibly smart about it. Look at their activities throughout Africa: they're sealing up deals with the worst of the worst leaders in the region to roll in and extract every natural resource worth anything and they're even bringing in their own people to do it. And they're refurbing old Russian naval equipment so that when some of those leaders threaten to renege on the deals (or new leaders rise to power and murder the older leadership, then threaten to renege on the deals), they can project power to enforce their rights. That's long term, strategic, ruthless thinking and frankly it's the easiest way to get what you want in many parts of the world. They use their money setting themselves up for a future where they control vast amounts of precious resources and we burn ours trying to force peace in places where people don't want it (or us).

And that's why China doesn't want or need to dump our debt. That's short-term, feel-good, short-sighted thinking. That isn't how China rolls. China plays the long game and they do whatever they have to do to rig the game so they win.

Comment Re:Almost seems destiny (Score 1) 406

That would crush their economy far worse than ours.

Our government survives recessions. If they don't show significant growth each year (and much of that is fueled by foreign investment), their people would no longer tolerate the draconian restrictions under which they live. When you talk with ordinary Chinese people, they know all about the freedoms the rest of the world has, but they also know that most established Western nations who have those freedoms see 1-2% annual economic growth versus 6-8% (after removing China's fudge factor for all reported data) at home. So they tolerate their government for as long as that government can deliver huge growth.

We should be so lucky as to see China dump our debt. We'd have a few years of tough times. They'd have a bloody and drawn out revolution.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy... (Score 1) 412

We're talking about a tectonic shift in an industry which effectively constructed the middle class of this country and upon which the entire concept of the American dream is based. One could literally finish some level of schooling (in many cases, not even high school until much later) and get one job that you kept your entire life and which paid enough to buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood, put a car in the driveway, modern appliances throughout, and buy everything needed for a wife and 2, 3, even 5 or 6 kids. More often than not, most or all of those kids did the same thing: finished some level of schooling and went to work doing the same job as dad or something quite similar. Entire towns and even cities were built around this model. Generations of families were built around this model. And not for a tiny number of niche workers in some remote and isolated part of the country: this was the backbone of the United States' economy.

I'm not disagreeing with the substance of what you've said: changes are happening and the old models are rapidly losing their economic viability in most cases. But until the political leadership recognizes the immense cultural and even psychological impact of these changes and provides a specific, actionable, immediately tangible path to a positive outcome, any promise to preserve what has been for a long time is going to get a ton of traction. And when I say immediately tangible, I mean to say it has to be actively happening and visible. These are not the types to be swayed by a 12-point plan of some possible future concept. They need to witness their friends and neighbors actually transitioning on the path to whatever the model may be (perhaps construction and maintenance of these automated factories as part of it?) before they'll be convinced.

So either show them a path forward or promise them a path backward. I don't think anything else is going to resonate with them and I don't think Democrats can win much of anything without them. If state and local Republicans figure this out before Democrats do, watch for a big shift there too. And once they're out of power, those state and local Democrats aren't going to have much ability to put a path forward into practice. I fear Republicans may be perfectly happy to just keep making promises of a return to the past, since they're free, quick, easy, and (at least for now) work.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy... (Score 4, Informative) 412

Trump ran businesses; he didn't set US trade policy and he didn't pass free trade agreements. Did he outsource jobs himself? Absolutely, though his response to that has been that he acted as any businessman would - reacting to changes in the marketplace which occurred (at least in part) because of US trade policy and free trade agreements. Did Trump ship some blue collar jobs overseas? Certainly. Was he "instrumental" in the process? No, just one of many business leaders who did it to save a buck. Does that make him a saint? Of course not.

As for the rust belt workers getting that they were being lied to, there's two pieces there. First, Trump was the only candidate in the general election even talking to them. Whether he was feeding them lies or not, the other candidate was arrogantly explaining to other audiences how great free trade (and all the outsourcing that comes with it) was for America even as blue collar rust belt workers were losing jobs in droves and scared shitless that they (and the families depending on them) were going to be out in the street any day now. Trump may have fed them a lie about saving their jobs, but at least he talked to them and didn't try to "elite-splain" to them why losing the only jobs they've ever known and that put food on their tables was a good thing.

Second, none of us can yet say for certain that Trump was telling them lies. We can assert that even if he reverses US trade policy, there's enough inertia in play to continue bleeding blue collar jobs and the jobs that left won't come back. We can further assert that even if outsourcing were somehow halted that automation would still put a sizable portion of those rust belt workers out of the job all the same. But the fact is that we won't know for sure until a) we see what he even does (and what Congress is willing to go along with) and b) what impact those actions actually have.

And I'm not saying you must or even should "give Trump a chance"; I'm simply commenting on what got us here. And if Democrats want to have any hope whatsoever of retaking much of anything in 2020, they better stop painting the rust belt with a broad brush of racism and sexism accusations and start figuring out what they're going to offer those voters on the economics front to win them back. If this election should have taught the Democratic party anything, it's that a large part of their critical core voters is made up of people who don't vote blindly for "D", but rather who vote for whomever they think will help them keep putting food on the table. And that whomever can include a real asshole if it's their only option, as evidenced by all the lifelong Democrats who showed up at the polls in November and cast a vote for Trump.

Democrats/liberals/progressives need to stop calling them stupid, naive, racist, sexist, and all the other crap flying around and start coming up with a way to address their needs. These are hard-working people watching their entire way of life crumble before their eyes. Help them or lose them, along with every election until they're all dead generations from now.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy... (Score 0) 412

Still waiting for Van Jones to openly, publicly apologize to those voters he painted with the broad brush of being part of some ridiculous "whitelash" on election night. Based on the CNN series where he went out and spoke with those rust belt workers, I do think he actually gets it now that for most of them, this was entirely about putting food on the table. Yet his words still stand, and so long as he allows them to stand uncorrected, he's a lousy hypocrite.

Comment Re:Cue the hipocrisy... (Score 3, Interesting) 412

Clinton said generally (rarely ever actually talking directly to rust belt workers because her campaign took those lifelong Democrat voters for granted) that manufacturing jobs were gone forever and that was a good thing because trade is good for everyone. There was some lip service done to suggest retraining and better jobs were coming at some point, but nothing remotely specific. That was her basic message on the subject and she didn't spend a whole lot of time discussing it.

Trump talked directly to rust belt blue collar workers, telling them that decades of trade policy - much of it championed by the Clintons - was rewarding and accelerating moving American manufacturing jobs overseas at the expense of the American worker, but that he would reverse that policy and stem the flow and even come up with ways to bring jobs like that back to the US.

Somehow we act surprised that so many of the second, third, even fourth generation blue collar rust belt workers who spent decades doing the one job they know, the one job their fathers and grandfathers knew, the job that put food on the table and a roof over their family's head, who always voted for Democrats because Democrats were the union worker's best ally, who have watched their friends and family members lose those great jobs in droves, who've watched entire factories and factory towns disappear before their eyes, who sit at home every night wondering how long they have before their only means of earning a living wage disappears - we're surprised that these voters abandoned the candidate who told them it's better this way and voted for the candidate who promised to fix it.

Or we just call them racists and sexists because we're pissy our candidate didn't win. Either way, it's total bullshit. Rust belt blue collar workers have voted solidly Democrat for generations because Democrats helped them put food on the table. Their entire way of life is now under threat, in no small part because of the work of Democrats (and to be fair, Republicans too!) on things like trade policy. It should be no surprise they'd get on board with just about anyone who will throw them a lifeline, especially when the other side is only offering to throw them a boat anchor.

Comment Re:Paid Informants=Planted Evidence (Score 1) 165

Yes really. Although they only get a portion of the haul, that's not how they pay informants.

If you read the article you'd see that's exactly how they paid informants.

Seems like somebody would have a pretty solid RICO case against the United States Federal government. And wouldn't that be interesting to see litigated in open court?

Comment Re:That's not even all (Score 1) 302

Odd things happen, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, yes.

Well, let's be honest: neither of those incidents were odd or unforeseeable. In the case of Chernobyl, we had an experimental reactor (and I don't mean it was new - I mean it was specifically built for them to screw around with and see what happens) designed with a highly positive void coefficient. It was an insane design that was not passively safe and it was purposely operated in a reckless manner. The "accident" that took that place down happened when they shut off the already limited safety features and ran more experiments. Keep doing that over and over in a design that isn't passively safe and you almost can't help but have it end in disaster. If nothing else, any rational person could easily see that what they were doing was dangerous as Hell. And the Soviets knew what they were doing was dangerous as Hell which is why they did it there and not next to, say, Moscow for instance.

In the case of Fukushima, the plant design's manufacturer (GE) identified design flaws in the plant's containment measures back in the 1970s. And they came up with a remediation plan and published it to everyone running that design. In the 1970s. And the company operating the plant at Fukushima chose not to do what GE told them they needed to do in order to ensure containment in the event of a catastrophic failure. And the regulators in charge of ensuring the plant was operated safely allowed them to do that. So the plant ran for decades with a known design problem and nobody did anything about it. So again, this wasn't exactly a surprise that as soon as something went wrong, bad stuff happened.

Ain't no magic here: if you run known-unsafe designs, you're risking bad things happening. If you run safe designs, then catastrophic failures do not (and, physically, cannot) result in catastrophic consequences.

Comment Re: Nuclear power is proven safe... (Score 1) 302

Contaminating the whole Pacific Ocean? ....

Were you absent the day they taught physics in physics class?

And again, nuclear power is safer for human life. Accounting for Fukushima, accounting for Chernobyl (which by the way wasn't a power plant - it was a research facility conducting extremely dangerous experiments and a weaponized plutonium factory which also happened to have excess power to dump into the local grid, but that's alright, we'll include that one anyway because it still doesn't change the outcome), nuclear power is the safest source of power generation we have. Per kwh generated, it causes less loss of human life than anything else, including wind, solar, and hydro.

It's not hard to understand: if it's safer per kwh generated, then scaling out with other options presents a greater threat to human life and supporting other options is directly supporting the needless deaths of human beings.

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