Monday, August 31, 2009

U.S. v. Comprehensive Drug Testing and The List of 97

Last week, I had a column on on United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing, where the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the federal government's seizure of computer files which implicated 104 major league players as steroids users violated those players' Forth Amendment rights (Howard discussed this case as well). The names of 97 of those players remain unknown, while through leaks, we now know that Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, Manny Ramriez and a few others are on it.

Here is an excerpt from my column.

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MLBPA could eventually seek a court order that would enable it to divulge the remaining names. The MLBPA could reason that while disclosure might harm the interests of 97 players, it would serve the best interests of the far more numerous number of other MLB players, who would be cleared from suspicion. MLBPA, however, would pursue such a strategy under the peril of being sued by the 97 named players for breach of fiduciary duties. As a labor union, the MLBPA and its officials owe duties of trust and competence to each of the players. Releasing the names would undoubtedly harm the reputations of the named players and possibly jeopardize their player contracts and endorsement deals. Named players could also file a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board.

Unlike the MLBPA, Major League Baseball is not a party to the litigation. If MLB has the list, it could theoretically release it, but doing so would likely trigger a legal action commenced by the MLPBA. As part of the 2003 testing, MLB agreed to an arrangement whereby the players' names would be kept confidential and any records containing their names would be destroyed. MLB's willingness to partake in such an arrangement is significant because the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA imposes duties of confidentially. Although commissioner Bud Selig has not expressed a desire to release the list, the MLBPA would, in all likelihood, immediately file a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board should he do so. It may also argue that the court sealing of the names should effectively extend to MLB, since it co-coordinated the survey testing.

Commissioner Selig could nonetheless argue that the "best interests of the game" authority, as vaguely contained in MLB's constitution (a document originally drafted in 1921 and not one collectively bargained with the MLBPA), accords him sufficient authority to release the remaining names. In Selig's defense, the list has embarrassed baseball and prompted unwanted speculation as to who might be on it. Even worse for Selig, the list returns to the public spotlight every time a name or two is leaked. Selig might understandably feel that the only way the game can move on from the Steroid Era in Baseball would be to release the entire list, a move recently endorsed by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

In releasing the names, Selig would encounter a problem: the collectively-bargained CBA likely trumps baseball's constitution in this context. Expect the NLRB or possibly a court to dimly view any use of the best interests of the game clause to justify releasing the names, particularly since the list remains otherwise sealed and also because, according to the Ninth Circuit, the list should never have been obtained by federal agents.

The remaining 97 names may nonetheless become known through leaks. It appears that attorneys familiar with the list, or former law clerks or staff of those attorneys, are selectively divulging names to the media. By doing so, they violate both a court order and their professional and ethical duties. If caught, the leakers would be subject criminal charges for contempt of a court order and the loss of their license to practice law (or, if they are law clerks, the likely loss of the chance of being certified to practice law in any state). While the 104 players who purportedly tested positive damaged the game of baseball, attorneys and law clerks who leak names inflict the same, if not more, damage upon the practice of law and our system of justice.

Spontaneous Decarbonization in China's Proposed Emissions Targets

The figure above from Reuters shows a proposed set of emissions paths for China from a recent report released by a government think tank in China (previously mentioned here). The Chinese report was heralded by some as marking a significant change of tone from the Chinese, perhaps even making a meaningful international agreement more likely.

In this post I present the assumptions of the rate of decarbonization implicit in the emissions trajectories summarized in the graphic above (I cannot locate the full 900 page report, anyone with a link, please share!). First, here are the annual rates of emissions increases implied by the scenarios above:


I want to call attention to the figures for business-as-usual, which represents a trajectory for emissions increases assuming that no additional policies are implemented beyond those in place today. Does anyone really believe that China's emissions growth will be 3.4% per year to 2020 (much less 1.5% per year to 2050)?

Here are some facts: China's emissions grew at an average rats of 12.2% per year from 2000 to 2007 (!) (data from EIA and the figure above). If China's economy grows at a rate of 6% per year, which is less that its recent growth as well as government targets for growth of 9% to 11% per year, then the assumptions are that the Chinese economy will spontaneously decarbonize by 2.6% per year to 2020 and by 4.5% per year by 2050. If China grows at its recent historical average then the implied decarbonization of the Chiese economy is 5.6% per year to 2020 and 7.5% per year to 2050. For a point of reference, the IPCC assumes a rate of spontaneous decarbonization of about 1.5% per year, a number that we criticized as being overly optimistic in our 2008 Nature paper (PDF). And remember, I'm just talking about the BAU scenario, not those requiring actual "emissions cuts."

The assumptions of spontaneous decarbonization in the Chinese emissions paths are yet another example of "magical solutions" on climate policy. With China's emissions growing at 12.2% per year during the present decade, it is inconceivable that this rate will somehow drop to 3.4% per year to 2020, much less the 1.8% or 0.9% per year implied by the low growth scenarios.

The significance of the Chinese proposal is that it indicates that China is willing to join Europe, the United States and others in a fantasyland of climate policy detached from policy reality. It is hard to believe how that outcome leads some to greater optimism on climate policy.

The Definition of Happiness

The bulk of my thinking on happiness comes from Aristotle. I won't say that my thinking is identical with his since I have the advantage of 2000 years of history to draw upon since his day. But I can say that his thinking stands the test of time especially his thinking on the subject of happiness.

Happiness is a life of rational activity. That's it. This is a very simple and easy definition, but the application of this definition is what makes it so complicated. What is rational activity? That is person relative and demands reason and judgment. Most people are not able to accomplish this which explains the frustration of their lives.

Everyone seeks happiness. It is the endpoint and goal of all our activities. The reason people are unhappy is because their activities are irrational. I will give an example. It has been known for many years that a great way to break someone's will is to give them labor with no purpose. The Marine Corps used this to great effect by making the recruits in their motivation platoons move piles of dirt all day. Nowadays, they just boot these people, but the motivation platoon worked because the human mind abhors such lack of purpose. The Greeks told the story of the myth of Sisyphus condemned to a roll a stone up a hill for eternity. To them, hell was senseless labor. People in real life situations of Sisyphean futility will opt for suicide rather than carry on.

The challenge for any person is to find meaning in all of it which leads to a tautology. The meaning of life is happiness, and happiness is the meaning of life. The reason happiness is like this is because it is the final end. For each of us, we must find our own happiness or end. To accomplish this is to be called "autotelic" which means self-directed. Here's a quotation from Wikipedia:

Autotelic is defined by one "having a purpose in and not apart from itself". It is a broad term that can be applied to missionaries, scientists, and innumerable other vocations.
Autotelic is used to describe people who are internally driven, and as such may exhibit a sense of purpose and curiosity. This determination is an exclusive difference from being externally driven, where things such as comfort, money, power, or fame are the motivating force.

Too often, people look to something outside of themselves for happiness. It could be a drug, a religion, an ideology, a group, or what have you. But these are false roads, and once they dead end, you are left bereft of purpose and meaning. This is why people will cling so tenaciously to these things even when they know they are false. But this is irrational which is definitely not what happiness is all about.

I think psychologists focus too much on the feeling that comes from autotelic activities or "flow." Aristotle placed happiness within a larger framework of rational activity. This is why he spends so much time talking about the Golden Mean and refuting misconceptions about what happiness is and is not. Happiness is not a feeling but a state of being. This implies objectivity. A person high on cocaine can be said to be experiencing flow but not be happy. His feelings will not reflect reality, and we can say that he is not happy but deluded.

Happiness comes from activity. You can't be idle and also be happy. You have to be doing something. This is why vacations and retirements make no sense. If they are used to pursue some other rational activity, they make sense, but this activity will look a lot like work except you aren't getting paid for it. This is how you get middle aged men rounding up cattle on a dude ranch for a week and paying for it. I have to wonder why they can't experience the same flow on the jobs they are paid to do.

The easiest and surest way to happiness is to fill your life with activities. Happy people do things. If you wonder where they get the energy from, it comes from the flow experience which is energizing. You can find flow in work, a sporting endeavor, a creative act, or studying a difficult subject. If it ever becomes boring, you have to change it up to increase the challenge.

My favorite example of an autotelic person is the character of Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption. The guy was in real shithole of a situation, but he turned it to his advantage. He fought against his attackers. He built a library. He built up the fortunes of the corrupt warden and undid him. And he escaped through a tunnel that took 19 years to chisel in the concrete. You would think a person in this situation would just give up, but he didn't. He found his flow. He did things. He acted. Those 19 years were probably a blur to him.

You will know you are happy when you hate having to sleep. You know you are happy when you wish that your life could go on forever in that state of being. Happiness is not dependant upon having a perfect life in a perfect world. It is finding perfection in the moment and losing yourself in it. This is rational activity. Arrange your life in such a way that you always live in this moment, and you will always be happy even when you die. The word Aristotle used was eudaimonia which means the "god within." This is what autotelic means. It is to have a god within you directing you and empowering you and making you who you are.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This man is a Genius

This man is a Genius and it doesn't take a Genius to figure that out. It does though take a good spell checker to spell Genius right.

So what makes someone take the leap from being intelligent to becoming a Genius??

Well the official explanation is apparently a Genius's work cannot only be original, creative or bright but it has to alter the expectation of its audience. You can according to the those who measure such things, be a Genius in Science, Art, Sportsmanship or Statesmanship.

But I'm thinking they are leaving out one very important characteristic which all Genius's have, they are comfortable in their own skin. Watch any interview with Sacha Cohen when he is not in Character and promoting a role, then is no comments to shock people, he is dressed in a normal shirt and tie, not quoting any 17th century poet, he is comfortable.

Watch some of the guests they have on the daily show, people with decades of experience who study topics such as energy and the environment, they haven't got a large thesaurus out trying to impress, because they feel comfortable with the subject they are speaking on.

Now I decided to write about Genius's when I saw programme they recently had on TV here in New Zealand, that featured two serious interviews one with a guy from a rock band, and one with a writer/comedian. Most of the talk on Internet forums the day after, talked about how these guys are genius's, but I disagree.

The first guy from a rock band, was dressed up in a 1930's outfit, with a little pencil like mustache and started making little wee comments between his smirks, the other was dressed up like Captain James Cook and was very theatrical, I'm guessing they thought it would make them look and sound artistic .

I didn't get that feeling, it smacked of effort, it doesn't take a genius to wear an old hat and grow a mustache and it also doesn't take a genius to dress up as Captain James Cook, for that you only need a good costume shop.

So my advice to people who would like to know if what they are reading is written by a genius or if the performer they are watching is a genius, just ask yourself, Has this person alter your expectation? and are they comfortable in their own skin?

For those that are interested, I'm currently wearing a Garth Brooks teeshirt, and am using my spellchecker over and over again.

No Deterrence? NCAA Rules and the Men's Basketball and Football Players who Don't Follow them

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan has a piece on star NCAA athletes who accept gifts from would-be agents (e.g., Reggie Bush; O.J. Mayo) or who otherwise break other NCAA rules (e.g., Derrick Rose/SAT exam) and how, practically, little can be done to stop that from happening. He interviews me for the column, which is excerpted below..

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[Derrick] Rose has adopted the Reggie Bush defense, which is to take the money and run from accountability. Having made his fortune with the Chicago Bulls, Rose has A) declined to cooperate with NCAA investigators and B) failed to account for the discrepancies that caused his SAT test to be invalidated.

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This is the same evasive and suspicious strategy [Reggie] Bush employed — and continues to employ — when confronted with questions about his cash flow and his parents' living arrangements during his last year at USC.

“I would love to talk about it, but now is not the time,” Bush said on April 27, 2006, two days before the NFL Draft. “There's a time and a place for everything and this isn't one of them.”

Bush said that day he had done nothing wrong and promised to address the allegations, but 40 months later that time and place have yet to be identified. Though the inability to question Bush directly has frustrated the NCAA, more recent allegations involving one-and-done basketball star O.J. Mayo have broadened the scope of the investigation and increased the likelihood that the Trojans will ultimately be sanctioned for a “lack of institutional control.”

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Likewise, any penalties USC may receive as a result of Bush's and Mayo's alleged improprieties will be administered long after they have left campus. Unless the Internal Revenue Service decides to start auditing the tax returns of professional athletes in search of undeclared undergraduate income, there's every reason to believe that crime does pay on campus.

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Michael McCann, an associate professor at Vermont Law School, says the age limits enacted by the NBA and the NFL “create incentives” for short-term students without providing an adequate disincentive to rules-breaking.

“By the time allegations come to the surface,” McCann says, “the player will have already left and there's no way of holding him accountable.”

* * *

“If the allegations against him are true, I think O.J. Mayo took the money because maybe he thought he should have been in the NBA,” McCann says. “Had he pursued any profession other than basketball or football, he would have been able to be a professional.”

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To read the rest, click here. For a related post, see Alan Milstein's "Reggie Bush Sweepstakes" in which Alan argued that the NFL's college draft is a monopsony (the NFL controls the buying of talent not the selling: they are the only source to which eligible players may sell their services).

The Provincetown School of Vehicular Cycling

We often take daytrips to the Cape in the summer, but avoid Provincetown, because it is both too far and much too crowded. However, last week we stopped by. For those unfamiliar with the area, Provincetown is a lively and quirky town at the very tip of Cape Cod, long associated with the arts and with freedom of sexual expression. The main street is lined with galleries, coffee houses, excellent restaurants, eccentric shops, theaters, piano lounges and dance clubs. Rainbow flags are aflutter. Tourists pose to have their pictures taken with drag queens. Ocean waves rise picturesquely in the background. Everything is relaxed and easy; everyone gets along.

We arrived with our vintage 3-speeds and found the town center absolutely packed. The photos don't capture this, but many parts of the long and narrow Commercial Street were filled shoulder to shoulder with pedestrians and bumper to bumper with cars. It did not look like we could walk through the center, let alone cycle. And yet, the place was full of cyclists. They were riding in both directions through the narrow street, blithely passing the slow cars and the meandering pedestrians with dogs and strollers. We got on our bicycles, and what an educational experience it was.

Imagine: Cars pay attention to bicycles and wait for them without getting angry about it. Drivers and passengers look before opening the doors of parked cars. Cyclists are non-belligerent. Phrases such as "Please, go right ahead!" and "Oh, sorry about that!" and "Thanks!" and "Hey, nice bike!" can be heard all around instead of what is normally shouted in Boston. Can this be Vehicular Cycling Heaven? Cycling in Provincetown - both through the center and through the wider roads with higher speed limits - has made me feel considerably more comfortable about sharing the road with cars.

We did not take many bike photos, but here are a few bicycles spotted in town. A colourful Electra Amsterdam with nice wicker panniers and a sunflower on the handlebars. I believe it belongs to a local painter.

And here is a Rivendell Rambouillet by the marina, complete with fenders, Brooks saddle, rack, lights, and handlebar bag. The owner was pleased and amused that I recognised his bike.

And finally, a solution to the "control issue" in tandem cycling: The Buddy Bike! Now both riders can feel like captains - though I assume this can only be done if the riders are roughly of the same weight.

For more about cycling in P-Town, read about Vee's bike date at Suburban Bike Mama.


I have lost count of the number of times I have cussed Bill Gates and that whore mother of his that gave birth to him. You have cussed the fucker, too. Doubt this? CTRL+ALT+DEL. I rest my case.

Bill Gates is not an innovator. He is a copycat artist. Remove him from history, and we would be here today as we are. Remove Steve Jobs from history, and the world is a radically different place.

I am an ardent capitalist, but Bill Gates gives capitalism a bad name in much the same way that the ebola virus gives evolution a bad name. Gates is an aberration in the history of the free market. He achieved not through innovation and customer satisfaction but from leveraging the impact of prior victories going back to the one single coup of his life--convincing IBM to let him provide an OS he bought off a hacker for $50,000 and then keeping the copyright to the code for Microsoft. This was MS-DOS. DOS gave Microsoft and Gates a stranglehold on the personal computer market which he has defended ever since.

Without a doubt, Gates engaged in anticompetitive behavior in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Of course, I think that act should be repealed. You can't have protection for intellectual property and also call that a violation of the law. One negates the other.

Bill Gates became a bad guy when he ripped off the Apple OS and came out with Windows. Everyone knows it was a rip off. I remember when Windows came out, and I said it was a copy of what I had used on the Mac. Critics will point out that Xerox were the ones that developed the GUI before either Apple or Microsoft. Clearly, the Xerox argument is important, but the fact is that Xerox had no idea what they had and tossed it in the garbage. Left to Xerox, we would still be entering text commands at a prompt.

The Apple vs. Microsoft debate is an important one because it shows two diametrically opposed ways of doing business. The Apple way is to take ideas and to make the best quality products they can. There really are no new ideas, but Apple is innovative in taking things that are already out there and making them better. The Microsoft way is to rip off ideas, offer an inferior product, and leverage market position to gain a stranglehold on the market. They have done this with every product since DOS. First, there was Windows vs. the Apple OS. Second, there was Netscape with their browser which was demolished by Explorer. Then, you have the Zune vs. iPod. Now, we have Bing vs. Google. The only good thing I can say is that Microsoft is slipping. Windows Vista represents the low point for that company.

People use the other products on the market because they genuinely want to use them. People use Microsoft products because they have to. This is the genius of Bill Gates. His career was made not from pleasing the public but from hardball tactics. Compare Gates to a guy like Steve Jobs who is motivated primarily by his pure love of the creative endeavor. Jobs innovates because he wants to. Gates innovates because he has to. Jobs is about thriving. Gates is about surviving.

What Gates learned from the game of the marketplace is that bigger or faster beats better. In the case of Apple, Gates was bigger, so he used that to his advantage. Microsoft virtually patented the not-quite-done method of software development where he shipped products that were incomplete and buggy. Jobs is known for his hesitation and insisting that it be right before it ships. Gates could care less. This is why people revile the man so fucking much. They end up buying shit that doesn't work.

It is one thing for competitors to hate you. It is another thing for your customers to hate you, and customers hate Microsoft. I can't think of any company that engenders so much hatred while simultaneously being so successful. But it all goes back to Gates.

Gates is the ultimate obnoxious nerd. He has been hated his whole life, and when he dies, his gravesite will be littered with garbage, obscene grafitti, and human feces. He might want to consider cremation. This is because everyone who has dealt with the man feels like they came out a loser on the deal. A whole world full of people despise that cocksucker. He is the main reason hackers plague his software and no one else's with viruses. Steve Jobs will have a monument erected in his honor, and people will mourn his passing for years to come. Even now, the health of Jobs is a big concern for a lot of people, and Jobs is an asshole. But he gives good value.

I am an Apple fan, and I am going to make my next computer an iMac. I use Windows machines because I have to, and I will probably keep one around just for that reason. But I hate Bill Gates, and I cuss him endlessly. Computers shouldn't be this way, and I shouldn't feel like I got screwed on a computer especially when they cost so much less than an Apple. But you get what you pay for, and Microsoft products are shit.

As for Gates, his turn to philanthropy is understandable. He wants to buy the love of all those people he fucked. It won't work. If there is a hell, I hope Gates goes there and faces the blue screen of death for eternity. A fitting punishment for a cocksucker son of a bitch.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

They're back and they're Spectacular

What a treat for TV fans, not only is the Office having a reunion, but the greatest show of the 90's and the second greatest show ever behind M*A*S*H is set for a comeback.

The main cast of Seinfeld will appear on six episodes of Larry David's Curb your Enthusiasm.

Seinfeld, George, Elaine and Kramer back together again after 11 year long years.

What can one say? Reruns of Seinfeld don't age, and what Seinfeld did in the 90's will never be match.

The storyline is being closely guarded, as you would expect, I'm personally think this comeback will be the mother of all comebacks. It's going to be close to perfection as you will ever see, this isn't going to be some lame attempt to relieve old glory, they are going to do to television, what they did to television in the 90's and totally blow the whole concept of what a sitcom should be.

Not that's there's anything wrong with that.

The Definition of Rich

Lou Pai was the CEO of Enron Energy Services when he cashed out everything and resigned from Enron in 2001 before the company imploded into the biggest corporate scandal of the decade. His resignation was abrupt, and he is called a "lucky guy" and a "mysterious figure." The reality is that he liked strip clubs and had a stripper girlfriend who he later married. His wife was not pleased with this. Pai left Enron with approximately $300 million.

Did Pai know what was coming? I don't think so. He was never charged with criminal wrongdoing, and the stock sale seemed to coincide with the divorce settlement with his wife. But such a thing did not necessitate his resignation nor the sale of all his holdings. I have a better idea of why he did it. Pai knew he was rich. At that moment, he took his chips off the table.

"Rich" is a relative concept. Compared to Queen Victoria, we are all rich. My current lifestyle is the envy of 96% of the rest of the world, and I am a nobody. Or look at Bill Gates, his wealth is so large that he could own a small country. That is pretty damn rich. Or is it?

For me, rich is related to that cash out point. The reason a guy like Lou Pai raises our suspicions is because we think people cash out of the game the moment the risk becomes too much. But the Pai story is really about those strippers. The guy had a weakness for women, and he knew what made him happy. Enron was just the means to an end. Once the end was achieved, he cashed out. But when do you know when you are rich? What is the definition of rich?

You are rich the moment you have all the material means necessary for your happiness, and you are secure in those means. This will be person relative. A surf bum living in Costa Rica will be rich on far less. The rest of us require a bit more. And when asked how much money was enough, John D. Rockefeller famously replied, "A little bit more."

Being rich is tied intrinsically to being happy. Happiness is the goal of every life on this planet. Everyone wants to be happy. As someone who understands happiness, I can tell you that you can't be happy apart from some material means. Even our surf bum requires a board and a wetsuit. Plus, he has to eat.

I don't think you have to be rich to be happy despite needing material means to achieve happiness. Being rich is less about the amount needed so much as being secure in those means. Give me a happy person, and I can calculate what that person's "rich point" is. For Lou Pai, it was $300 million. Whether he was happy or not is another debate, but he clearly knew how much he needed.

To become rich, you need to decide what constitutes happiness for you. Without this, it is a waste of time. You will never be rich no matter how much you earn and acquire. Most people substitute status as a proxy for happiness, but this is really dumb. I don't see Lou Pai ever doing this. If he did, he would have stayed at Enron. No, Pai was a guy who didn't give a shit what other people thought. The fucker had stripper parties in his office.

Once you have decided on what makes you happy, all you have to do is extrapolate from there how much money it would cost to maintain that lifestyle. I tell people not to go for a Spartan existence because this is cheating. Living like Diogenes and calling it "rich" is not rich. With that rough figure in hand, you know what it will take to attain material security in your life. For most people, this will not require becoming a millionaire.

I can only speak for myself, but I know where my rich point is. I need enough cash to cover at least 6 months of living expenses. That is it. This would be about $12,000 to $15,000 give or take the inflation rate. The reason why my rich point is so low is because I live to work. For me, happiness will always revolve around my work. I will always have a day job. I will never retire. My avocations of writing and voracious reading cost very little, and I can only do this for a couple of hours per day. I have no interest in golf or yachts or fine wines. Even if I won the lottery, I would never quit my job though I might take two days off each week to go back to school to explore other careers. The six months salary is what I think would weather me through the worst thing that can happen to me--unemployment. I've been sick. I've been homeless. I've been cheated on, dumped, robbed from, and what have you. But nothing in my life has ever felt worse than not having a job.

I never play the lottery, and this is because I have better things to do with a dollar than dream of winning a jackpot. The appeal of the lottery comes from the fact that it frees you from having to work, and for a nation of shitheaded slackers, this is a grand thing. Their lives are miserable every fucking day, and they dream of the day they can sit at home on their asses drinking beer, smoking dope, and watching Jerry Springer. I am someone who lets his paid vacation time lapse unused. I don't like having a day off.

I realize that not everyone is going to be like me. For them, the job is the means to doing something they really want to do. This would be the surfer who tends bar at night, so he can catch waves during the day. Winning the lottery would allow him to quit that job and get some sleep. But the surfing remains. As I said, it is person relative.

So, we have an idea of the amount we need. For me, it is $12K. For you, it might be $12 million. It is different for everyone. But we must also consider the idea of security. You must have some relative security in what you have to be considered rich. Let's use an illustration.

A black jack player has amassed $1 million in chips at the table. It has been a really good night for him. Invested in treasury bonds, the coupons from those bonds will give him a yearly salary of $40K. But until he takes those chips off the table, he isn't rich. Because he has no clue what his rich point is, he will keep playing and lose it all back. This is a very important concept and explains why Rockefeller was never rich.

An entrepreneur can never be rich. The goal is capital accumulation which requires risk. The entrepreneur leaves a state of security for a state of risk in order to gain more capital which he hopes to reinvest in more of the same. He can hedge his bets by buying gold or index funds or whatnot. But if his happiness requires that business he is in, he can never be rich. He can be quite happy but security in the material means for happiness will always be questionable. To give an example, Mark Cuban cashed out of his internet venture to buy a basketball team and start some other businesses. This guy is not rich. He is a billionaire, but he will never be rich. He lives for these risks, and they are substantial.

At this point, people confuse their survival needs with their happiness needs. Someone will take me to task by saying that Cuban could set aside some cash to cover his living needs for the rest of his life quite easily, and I am sure he has done this. Bill Gates has done the same thing. He sold off some Microsoft stock to diversify his portfolio. But take away their respective businesses, and they would be crushed. This is why a fall from a great height feels so much worse than always being a nobody. This is also why superstar athletes are so miserable when the game is over for them. This is why Brett Favre will be playing this season.

Life is not about surviving. This is what animals and white trash do. They survive. They eat, shit, sleep, and fuck. This is not happiness. With this definition, we can say that prison inmates are happy give or take the fucking part. But this will have to be covered in an essay on the definition of happiness.

People envy rich entrepreneurs but only because those people have a ton of money. That wealth will meet our needs easily, but they don't meet the needs of the ones with the money. I'm not saying these people are avaricious and greedy. But they lack security. The archetype of so many stories is the rise and the inevitable fall. We see these people much like the black jack player at the casino. The lesson comes from the fact that for gamblers, it isn't about the money. It is about the thrill of the risk. Playing it safe is not what it is about for them. But such a need requires an infinite amount of money. This does not exist.

This point was brought home to me by Taleb's talking about the "fuck you" money in The Black Swan. Taleb got this money in 1987 when he hedged his company against the stock market crash that year. It set him for life. He continued to work because this brings him happiness, and Taleb strikes me as Aristotelian in this endeavor. But it also afforded him the freedom to work where he liked, pursue his studies, write books, and hit the gym each day. By Taleb's own admission, he could have tried to become the next Soros or Buffett, but his interests are far ranging. He knew his rich point. Taleb knows his life changed in a permanent way in 1987.

I try and balance the issue of money between the extremes of the ascetics and avaricious. Money serves a purpose, so it is important. But unlike others, I acknowledge an endpoint in the endeavor. Taleb did the same thing. Trading was his day job. He likes the job, but his life is diverse in the style of the Renaissance Man. The working stiff wants to be a millionaire, and the millionaire wants to be a billionaire. But for the wise, they just want to be happy. They know when they can cash in their chips.

You are rich when you have all the money you need to be happy and will always be that way until the day you die. Find out what makes you happy. Find out what it costs. Acquire that amount. Secure that amount. This is being rich.

The Great Climate Change Hijack

A BBC News program with the above title will be available from this site for a few more days. Here is the precis:

The BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black investigates if climate change is diverting attention away from other environmental problems such as air pollution, acid oceans and species extinction.

Talk about climate change is everywhere, from the classroom to the UN. It is undoubtedly an important issue, but has our enthusiasm for tackling climate change led us to neglect other pressing and arguably more immediate environmental concerns, such as poor air quality in our major cities? Why has climate change attracted so much political attention and the loss of plant and animal species so little?

Far from being an 'inconvenient truth', could the climate change debate actually be rather politically convenient?

Scientific Arguments as Tribal Politics

Michael Tobis, a climate scientist who can always be relied on to say what he really thinks, provides another remarkable glimpse inside modern climate science as he explains how he evaluated the arguments in Klotzbach et al., our recent paper that he continues to dismiss as "nonsense":
No scientist really knows everything he or she claims to know from direct experience. Most of what we know as individuals comes from two factors: 1) a network of trust and 2) the test of coherence. . .

Consider how I got mixed up with the Klotzbach paper. Prominent naysayer Joe d'Aleo's blog alleged that most warming on land was due to a bias in the land surface temperature record, referring to Klotzbach's paper. Klotzbach's claim was not consistent with my coherence network. Therefore, I resolved to figure out what the unclear claim really amounted to. The deeper I got into it, the stranger it got. Eventually, one of the authors was compelled to admit that the word "bias" did not actually indicate an error in temperature. Further reading revealed many other flaws in the work, although the key one, which appears to have been reported (somewhat at second hand) by James Annan, is something I still don't entirely understand.

This is where the first principle cuts in. Should I further investigate the key claim, still contested by the authors? Well, I know James to be an extraordinarily careful and precise thinker, and it's already demonstrated that his opposition is not. Since boundary layer meteorology is not my forte, and since the rest of the paper is flawed in many ways, I feel satisfied that it's best to put my attentions elsewhere.

The main point for present purposes is that I immediately questioned the result claimed by d'Aleo on the basis of its incoherence with everything else I know. And my questioning turned out to be justified. The publication, though it passed peer review, probably should not have done so. It looks like science from a distance, but up close it looks like nonsense.
Remarkably, Michael admits to having no expertise in the subject of our paper and not to understand the arguments made in it or about it, but because the paper challenges the beliefs that he and his tribe ("coherence network") firmly hold, he concludes that the scientific arguments in our paper must be wrong. He in fact knew this to be the case before even reading our paper. Michael speaks of an "opposition" -- and presumably these are the people in other tribes who hold views that are different than his own. I guess I am in that "opposition" because someone Michael dislikes happened to blog on our paper (d'Aleo). Michael reminds us that, after all, some other climate scientist in Michael's tribe (James Annan) who also admitted to having no expertise in the area of our paper said it must be wrong.

Will Michael's or James' critiques of our work appear in the peer reviewed literature? Of course not (because their critiques are off target and simply wrong). But their critiques do serve an important sociological function by reinforcing the tribal network and also give some comfort to those who evaluate arguments solely by their degree of conformance with views already held. Had Michael been blogging around the time of Copernicus, he would have explained to his readers that the world is in fact at the center of the universe, and that Copernicus guy must be wrong, because Michael and all of his Ptolemian friends said the world was at the center of the universe, so those saying differently must be wrong because they do not jibe with his "coherence network."

The troubling thing about this is not that people evaluate arguments based on trust -- we all do and it is a necessary part of life. What is troubling is that Michael suggests that he has found our paper "is flawed in many ways" but the basis for this is a felt need for tribal affirmation and not having his firmly held beliefs challenged. His scientific judgment on our paper is not grounded in the logic, data or analysis found in our paper which passed peer review and is published in a leading journal in the field. To the extent that Michael's views of scientific arguments are shared among his climate science peers, that community loses its ability to evaluate arguments based on their merits rather than by their putatuve tribal characteristics. I don't think that all or even most climate scientists think or act this way, but my experience is that enough do to create an unhealthy degree of politicization within the community. Michael is to be applauded for his candor, but what it reveals is not a pretty sight.

So here is an offer to Michael Tobis: Write up a serious critique of our paper's logic, data and analysis and I will publish it prominently here. Prove that our paper is in fact "nonsense" based on science and that your evaluation of it is not simply tribal politics played out on a blog.

Google Trends

Jaycee Lee Dugard

Girl kidnapped at 11, imprisoned, and raped for 18 years. This is some messed up shit.


Lot of lottery entries. People must really want to win that jackpot.


Another druggie bites the dust. Man survives a plane crash to eat it like this. What a waste of life. BTW, he used to be a fat ass until he got gastric bypass surgery. I'm sure his pallbearers will be thankful.

Vauban Germany

This city has virtually banned cars, and everybody rides a bike. Don't ask me what they do when it rains. As long as they don't ban the flush toilet next, it must be a nice place to live if you don't mind being dominated by an incringing nanny state. I'd like to tear through there on a big loud Harley and give them all the finger.

PRODUCT-SIGG Water Bottles

The only time I buy bottled water is if my SIGG is in my dish strainer at home. I won't get involved in the debate over whether BPA water bottles are safe or not. The answer is the good old canteen, and SIGG has simply updated the concept for the 21st century.

I love my SIGG, and it is taking some abuse. I have dinged it up, but it takes a beating. It is hardy gear and fits conveniently in my lunch bucket. I fill that bitch up and drain it all day long. Tap water is cheap, and the SIGG has already paid for itself.

Reusable water bottles are a good practice, and the SIGG is a quality product. You can get one at any outdoor supply store or you can order one online at

Ladies and Diamond Frames

Lots of ladies ride diamond frame bicycles, even in a skirt. The lovely Charlotte of Chic Cyclist and the good women of Bike Skirt are just some examples. Recently, I tried riding diamond frames for the first time in my life.

Here is the Co-Habitant's vintage Raleigh. I had to wear platform shoes, because I can't otherwise clear the top tube of his 24" bike.

And here is an Origin8 Cykel, which I tried at the Bike Stop in Arlington, Mass. This time the frame was just the right size, though those super-wide handlebars took some getting used to.

My feelings about diamond frames are mixed. While cycling, I actually find them very comfortable: The horizontal tube helps me feel balanced and in control of the bicycle. But by golly, I don't understand how to mount and dismount gracefully. The Co-Habitant swings his leg over the back in one fluid ballet-like motion, but I seem to be incapable of executing this maneuver without faltering. Plus, in a skirt this can't be done without hiking it up first.

I've tried leaning the bicycle over toward me until the frame is low enough to step over, but that does not seem right either. Ladies, how do you do it? And when you're wearing a skirt?

UPDATE: The graceful Charlotte of Chic Cyclist has now posted a photo-tutorial showing how she rides her diamond frame in a miniskirt. Enjoy!

Can Chicago Win Vote to Host 2016 Olympics?

Answer: It depends.

It all comes down to the 106 voting members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who will decide on October 2, 2009, in Copenhagen.

Ultimately, victory hinges on securing roughly 49 votes, for the following reasons:

1. Invariably, owing to illness or schedule conflict, a few members will not be in attendance.

2. As is his custom, IOC President Jacques Rogge will not participate in the vote, save for a tie.

3. One member, former Samsung chairman, Lee Kun-Hee, is under status akin to suspension pending investigation of a slush fund corruption scandal in Korea.

4. Members (seven at the outset) whose countries are in the running are not permitted to participate in the vote.

Thus, it is estimated that 94-95 votes will be at stake in the first round of voting between the four finalist cities: Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.

In the first and second rounds, the key, of course, is merely to survive and thereby stave off elimination, because the lowest vote getter will be dropped and the voting will proceed to the next round until a city wins a majority of votes cast.

Every city's strategy is built around garnering enough votes to (a) survive the first round and then (b) pick up as many votes as possible from the eliminated city.

In Olympic bid-city elections, there is no "conventional wisdom," because IOC members' decisions are based largely on a personal calculus shrouded in secrecy and protected by the anonymity of the ballot box. Technical merit ratings are irrelevant because all finalist cities are deemed highly competent to host the games. While some have long espoused the virtues of geographic rotation, there is no evidence that the IOC abides by this theory. For the record, Brazil is the only country of the four in the running yet to host an Olympic Games (the USA hosted four summer games, while Japan and Spain hosted one edition each).

In the clubby environment that is the IOC, what really matters are the personal relationships between the IOC members and the principals of the respective bid cities, and secondly, geopolitics (in all its manifestations). Since personal relationships are not always what they appear to be, Chicago's fate lies in the USA's balance of favor as perceived by the aforementioned IOC members. In the positive column is the USA's improved global image owing to the popularity of President Barack Obama, and it is widely presumed that his presence in Copenhagen would provide a mighty boost to Chicago's bid.

On the other hand, the IOC leadership can hardly contain its contempt for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) over its steadfast refusal to renegotiate lucrative deals that deliver 20% of worldwide Olympic sponsorship dollars to the USOC, which is just one of 205 National Olympic Committees. In addition, the USOC receives 12.75% of the $2 billion broadcast rights fee that NBC paid for the 2010 winter and 2012 summer games. To many IOC members, it is a symbol of American greed and arrogance that the USOC insists it should continue to receive a disproportionate amount of Olympic revenue. I believe the revenue-splits issue, more than any other, will end up being Chicago's Achilles' heel.

For what it's worth, here is my prognostication:

Round 1: Madrid eliminated

Round 2: Chicago eliminated

Round 3: Tokyo 53, Rio de Janeiro 44

Note to reader: Check back with me on October 2.

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects


Those who remember Teddy fondly are the ones who used to drink and party it up with the guy. I am sure he was a blast, but you didn't want him behind the wheel because you might wind up dead at the bottom of a river along with Kennedy's presidential aspirations. As the Liberal Lion of the US Senate, Kennedy was largely a piece of shit in my humble opinion. Aside from championing some deregulation, Kennedy was the epitome of a limousine liberal, a person who was born wealthy but feels guilt they must assuage by spending the stolen money of other people. This would be you, the American taxpayer. I'm sure the folks he gave the money to can be counted on to miss Teddy. As for me, good riddance to that fucker. I regret never having the chance to wipe my ass with his face.


The lack of a computer has made the gears of my brain turn a great deal lately, and I have a bunch of new bloviating to drop here at the C-Blog. I'm also going to create links to favorite articles of mine here at the C-Blog.


I do have one bona fide hit article here at the C-Blog and that is "Love is Bullshit." It gets more hits from Google searches than anything I have written. Undoubtedly, the subject of love being a myth hits a nerve with a lot of people. The comments I read on that one are heartbreaking.

My girlfriend asks me if I still think love is bullshit, and I did not hesitate in answering. YES. Love is still bullshit. The science backs me up on this as well as the reams of anecdotal evidence I have collected as well as my own experience. Romantic love serves no function except to dupe people into reproducing. It feels good for a time but crushes you later. It is nature's trick to keep the human race going.

I love my girlfriend, but I don't love her in the same way as all my previous girlfriends. This might upset her, but I hope it doesn't. I've never been with anyone as long as I have been with her. My relationship with her is stable and free of drama. I enjoy being with her. I think this is true love and not the fake kind that nature produces to trick us.

Chemical love is what makes a man like Mark Sanford destroy his career and his reputation and hurt his family. When you realize the false nature of this love, it is easy to say no to the temptation. Scar tissue on the heart is a good thing. It makes you wise. I've been burned so much that it is what keeps me with my current girlfriend. She is the best thing that has happened to me in that part of my life. I'm not likely to find another one like her.


There are certain consumer products and services that I use in my life that I really like. I review movies and books, but I've never had anything to say about consumer items except for a diss on the Dyson Vacuum Cleaner and Fatz Cafe. I thought I would sell out a bit and include links to products and services that I like, and I think you will like as well. I am not paid for these endorsements, so you can rest assured that my judgment of these products are not biased by filthy lucre. I will also post some reviews of these products.


My brother's GT idea has generated additional traffic to the C-Blog here, but I find many of the topics to be irrelevant to the USA audience or is duplicated. I will continue the feature, but I will not be pressed to have a Top 10 list. I'll just comment on the ones that I think are kinda cool and include some links to relevant articles. Part of the continuing evolution here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Office Reunion 2000-2010

On August 30th on BBC2 in England, The Office Reunion will take place, and I'm sure it will be a across the Internet within hours.

David Brent, Tim, Dawn and Gareth along with Stephen Merchant will be there.

How did this slip under the rader?

One of the greatest pieces of art in television history is going to be back on TV for one night only.

The show will of course feature all the usual deleted scenes, out takes and footage never shown before, plus interviews with the actors and maybe the actors themselves in their roles to show the public what has happened to each character.

Not many shows can say the changed television history, Mash in the 70's/80's, Seinfeld in the 90's and The Office, and for a show that only ever had 14 episodes, that is amazing.

Why was it so good???

The writing? the acting? the pauses?

IMHO, it was the directing, every scene was near perfection, they didn't make one mistake, it came off not as a sitcom but as a believable documentary, there was no shaky camera like most mock documentary's have, you didn't see the overhead microphones, they didn't need to do that to create a illusion.

It came off as a show that seem to have no effort put into it, but the truth is the reverse of that. The work Merchant and Gervais put in was beyond belief and that is the Genius of the Office.

What a treat for the fans.

I'm counting down the hours already.

There is no life without java.

Lobstah Gettah?

This spectacular bicycle was parked next to a beach entrance at the National Seashore on Cape Cod. The frame is ancient, but clearly the bicycle is very much functional. The red Raleigh grips look like a comparatively recent addition, but all else seems original - including tires and saddle!

Rear wheel. Note the chainring and guard on the other side. The bolt-on on the stay indicates that it is coaster brake.

Front wheel - note the original parking stand.

The blue plaque between the tubes says "Donut Shop".

The lobster pot is shiny and new. The lid is secured with pink bungee cords, but I wonder how the pot itself is secured to the front rack without the need to make holes in the metal? The owner of this masterpiece was not in sight, or I would have loved to ask. This is one of my most exciting bicycle sightings ever!

Commonwealth of Kentucky v. David Jason Stinson: Should Coaches be held Criminally Liable for Athletes' Deaths?

I have a column on concerning the first case in which a high school coach has been criminally charged with a player's death. The trial will begin on Monday. Here's an excerpt of the column:

* * *
Former Pleasure Ridge High School (Louisville, Ky.) football coach Jason Stinson faces charges for reckless homicide and wanton endangerment, felonies which each carry maximum five-year prison sentences, for the August 2008 death of sophomore offensive lineman Max Gilpin. Gilpin collapsed at the end of a series of wind sprints held in allegedly 94-degree temperatures. When taken to the emergency room, Gilpin's body temperature was reportedly 107 degrees. Gilpin died three days later.

Other facts remain in dispute and will be contested during Stinson's trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday. According to prosecutors, Stinson, despite having been trained on the dangers of heat-related illnesses, subjected Gilpin to "barbaric conditioning" in the form of the sprints, which Stinson allegedly used to punish and motivate underperforming players. There are also conflicting reports as to whether, and to what extent, Stinson allowed players to drink water during certain moments of practice.* * *

. . . [I]f Stinson is convicted or pleads guilty to a lesser offense that carries a prison sentence, his case could produce major changes in high school football and high school sports in general. It could, for instance, compel high school coaches and school districts to treat players with much more care, and to provide them with added safeguards, such as ensuring that trainers are on-hand at all times, that coaches have undergone extensive sensitivity training, and that purportedly harsh practice conditions (e.g., denying a player water at any time; ordering sprints in hot and humid conditions) be eliminated. Practices could thus become more safe though also more regulated and potentially more costly, including for the taxpayers who fund local sports.

Stinson's case may also force coaches and school districts to condition the playing of sports on players' passage of rigorous, possibly invasive health tests. While players are already subject to physicals, the prospect of criminal sanction and prison time accompanying the death of a player may spur coaches to demand greater certainty of players' physical health. In that same vein, the profession of high school football coaching may take a hit. If a player's death on the practice field can lead to a coach facing criminal prosecution, the profession suddenly becomes a much less attractive one. The added possibility of tort liability under a wrongful death civil claim only amplifies that point.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Open Letter to John Dybvig

Hi John, in regards to your appearance on TVNZ, when you downplayed the Tall Blacks Victory over Australia, don't you feel that TVNZ used you for that purpose?

They have a history of downplaying Basketball victories, and downplaying Basketball as a sport, and probably wanted a Basketball Journalist, not a mainstream journalist to give the story more credibility.

You see, the public is use to Journalists like Brendon Telfer and Joesph Romanos knocking any team sport that isn't Rugby Union or Netball, so they thought we better get an insider for this story.

Thye have done this ever since the days of the old national league in the early 80's

Normally I agree with most things you say, but I just think you were used by TVNZ.

Also, didn't Australia have two main players out, not six?

It's just a shame, that this victory which was one of the great sporting achievements for our country, had to be downplayed by our leading news network and the person who downplayed it, was the one guy who I thought would celebrate it.

Shame on the corrupt TVNZ and a sad day for your career.

The First 300 Days: An Assessment of Obama's Energy and Climate Policy

This event at CU next week is mandatory for my students. If you are local, you should come too!

The First 300 Days: An Assessment of Obama's Energy and Climate Policy

Thursday, Sept. 3, 7:00pm
Wolf Law Building
Wittemyer Courtroom

Free and open to the public


The Obama Administration has identified energy as one of its top policy concerns, with a focus on promoting clean, renewable energy and addressing climate change. During the first months of the new Administration we have seen a departure from the previous Administration’s policies on EPA regulation of CO2, cap and trade legislation, climate change, and renewable energy, among others. Please join the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI – formerly the CU-Boulder Energy Initiative) and our panel of policy experts as we assess the accomplishments of the Obama Administration in its first 300 (or so) days.


LISA DILLING, CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research,
University of Colorado

JOE FELLER, College of Law, Arizona State University; senior counsel to the National Wildlife Federation 2008-09

PAUL KOMOR, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Institute, University of Colorado

JANA MILFORD, Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado

ROGER PIELKE, JR., CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado

MARK SQUILLACE, University of Colorado School of Law

MODERATOR: Carl Koval, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute Faculty Director

UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers on Air Capture

The Times reports today:
Giant fly-swat shaped "synthetic trees" line the road into the office, where blooms of algae grow in tubes up the walls and the roof reflects heat back into the sky - all reducing the effects of global warming.

All this could be a familiar sight within the next two decades, under proposals devised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to alter the world's climate with new technology.

A day after John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Secretary, warned that negotiations for a global deal to cut carbon emissions were in danger of collapsing, the institution is recommending a series of technical fixes to "buy time" to avert dangerous levels of climate change.

It says that the most promising solution is offered by artificial trees, devices that collect CO2 through their "leaves" and convert it to a form that can easily be collected and stored.Tim Fox, head of environment and climate change at the institution, said that the devices were thousands of times more effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere than real trees.

In the first report on such geo-engineering by practising engineers, the institution calculates that 100,000 artificial trees - which could fit into 600ha (1,500 acres) - would be enough to capture all emissions from Britain's homes, transport and light industry. It says that five million would do the same for the whole world.
The IME report can be found here. Its recommendations are smart, and not just because they are consistent with my own related work, which you can see here:

Pielke, Jr., R.A., 2009. A Perspective Paper on Climate Engineering, Including an Analysis of Carbon Capture as a Response to Climate Change, Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2009. An Idealized Assessment of the Economics of Air Capture of Carbon Dioxide in Mitigation Policy, Environmental Science & Policy, Vol. 12, Issue 3, pp. 216-225. See FAQ Page on Air Capture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Say Goodbye to the Big Guy

Robert is Gone.

Maybe the fun of Hell's Kitchen is gone too!

Last night, Chef Ramsay told Robert to take off his jacket and leave, in one of his more nicer sackings

I don't think Robert ever stood a chance in Hell's Kitchen.

After last season, where he left for health problems, Robert got a second chance in this series, in which he managed to get through the first few rounds unscathed. A slight relapse of his health, saw him miss one episode, but when he served up undercooked rabbit, that was the final straw.

He was a solid chef, and a decent bloke, but to serve up undercooked food to Rasmay after so many services, meant he was no,t what Ramsay was looking for.

The loud, rude, funny, fat guy has now left forever. The ratings will dip, I'm guessing he will be back for the final episode, to help out one of the two contestants win the big one.

I don't really like reality TV, the only three shows that are done with class IMHO are, Hell's Kitchen, The Apprentice and The Amazing race, and Robert should go into the hall of fame for these shows alongside, The College Boys from the Amazing Race and Brent Buckman from the Apprentice.

Yes he was funny, but he also had a kind gentle, honest nature with all the sincerity you could wish for in a human being. Rumor has it, he is starting his own restaurant, I for one would eat there in a heartbeat, I just won't order the Rabbit.

Gratz on Danny

A cross-post from the ICAT Damage Estimator, by Joel Gratz:

With the current (Wednesday PM) track models showing Danny skirting the North Carolina shoreline and heading toward southeastern New England, I put together a list of similar storms from the ICAT Damage Estimator database.

Alma, 1962
Barbara, 1953
Bob, 1991
Carol, 1954
Edna, 1954
Esther, 1961
Gloria, 1985
Storm #7, 1944
The average damage for these storms if they all struck in 2009 is about $6 Billion per storm. However, these storms made landfall at varying strengths, from Tropical Storm to Category Three. Since Danny is projected to be a Category One storm during the time of highest impact to land, we can massage the historical damages to see how much damage the storms would cause if they were all Category One storms. From our 2008 paper in the Natural Hazards Review:

Damage from Category Two = 6x the damage from Category One

Damage from Category Three = 18x the damage from Category One

After making this adjustment, and holding constant the damage from the two Tropical Storms on the list (Alma and Esther), the average damage per storm is about $435 Million. This provides a good initial damage estimate for Danny. Please keep in mind that this is an estimate of TOTAL ECONOMIC DAMAGE, and insured damage usually runs about 50% of the total economic damage. Let’s see how this works out in the coming days.

Thanks for reading.

Here is a screenshot of the analogous storms:


Ninth Circuit strikes down seizure of BALCO names

The en banc Ninth Circuit today held that government investigators violated the Fourth Amendment when, during a raid on BALCO, they seized the names of 104 MLB players who tested positive for steroids, while acting on a warrant targeted at only ten players. (H/T: Jon Pessah).

The opinion is 63 pages long (I have not had a chance to read it yet); the majority is by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, one of the sharpest judicial minds on the federal bench and someone on the libertarian/conservative side. There are two partial concurrences/dissents and one full dissent. I would predict Supreme Court review, just because of the high-profile nature of the case.


Orin Kerr has a series of posts on the case at the Volokh Conspiracy. Orin knows the Fourth Amendment better than most people, so it is worth a read.

Mixte Lovers, Rejoice: VO Prepares a Little Something

Some of you know that I have been considering a custom bike for next spring. It has been a somewhat tortured search, because of my pickiness when it comes to things like lugs and stylistic detail. Basically, I want the mixte to have the classic twin lateral stays (as opposed to a single top tube), and I want it to be fully lugged (which is nearly impossible to achieve nowadays, as mixte lugs are no longer made). To get the kind of bicycle I want, I basically had three choices : (1) to go with a builder who can hand-make the lugs, (2) to go with a builder who can alter lugs meant for diamond frames into mixte lugs, or (3) to find a builder who has a stash of NOS (new old stock) mixte lugs that they would be willing to use. All three choices are rather costly, and I am not sure whether I am in a position to commit those kinds of funds to the purchase of a bicycle. A more economical option like Rivendell was not possible, because although beautifully lugged, their mixtes are the type with the single top tube.

[image from Velo-Orange]

Enter Velo Orange, which announced in their recent blog entry the release of a fully lugged mixte with twin lateral stays. Thank you, Mr. Kulczycki! The photo above is a prototype frame.

[image from Velo-Orange]

Here is a close-up of the lugs. The projected price is $700 for the frame and fork (!), and the anticipated delivery date is January 2010. Three sizes will be available: 50cm, 54cm, and 57cm, making it accessible for both short and tall riders.

What I love about this frame:
. the lugs,
. the classic construction with the twin stays,
. the choice in sizing (54cm should be just perfect for me),
. the 700c wheels (larger than the wheels on the Betty Foy, which I found too small)
. and the excellent price.

What I don't love so much:
. the colour (if I order it, I would definitely get custom colour or have it repainted),
. the way the rear stays connect to the seat tube (I think this could be more elegantly done),
. and the fact that, like the Rivendell Betty Foy, it is made in the far East.

So what do you think? Regardless of whether I decide to go for this bike, I am very excited that this product has appeared on the market. Now, if only I can persuade VO to alter the rear stay connexions and change the production colour...

Dead Computer

My main machine died yesterday and is in the shop. I am writing this on a friend's netbook. This really sucks because I wanted to hit CareerBuilder. I will see if I can my laptop back from my girlfriend.

In other news, I think Mark Sanford should go ahead and call it quits. They must have the votes for impeachment now if Bauer is having public press conferences. Sanford is done in politics, and I am looking forward to Nikki Haley's campaign.

Ted Kennedy was immoral slime. He was a do-gooder with other peoples money.

The IPCC's Advocate in Chief

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, tries to have things both ways:
"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations," said Rajendra Pachauri when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm)."But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target"

The Latest Really Bad Idea

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to have a "global warming trial":
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.

"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William Kovacs, the chamber's senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

Welcome home Robbie

Well Robbie is back from his holidays serving mares up north and it is lovely to have him back in our paddocks. He's looking a tiny bit the worse for wear after being 'on the road' for nearly a week but I am sure after a few good night's sleep in his old paddock and a belly full of food he will be feeling much better. Poor boy was clearly very tired and I doubt the truck driver getting stuck up our road for half an hour helped! Then it took 10 minutes to get the door to open and then he had to stand at the top of the ramp for ages before he was allowed to walk off - such a good boy, did everything he was told and was a complete angel. Love ya Rob and it's so nice to have you home.

Um, don't try and turn around there Mr Truck Driver

Robbie really just wanted to get off and eat!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Instant Replay and Appellate Review

Chad Oldfather (Marquette) and Matthew Fernholz (J.D. Candidate at Marquette) have posted Comparative Procedure on a Sunday Afternoon: Instant Replay in the NFL as a Process of Appellate Review to SSRN. The paper considers analogies and distinctions between replay review (for which I have expressed my distaste) and judicial appeals. Here is the abstract:

During his confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts famously likened the judicial role to that of a baseball umpire. The increased prevalence of video evidence makes it likely that judges will find another sporting analogue for their role – that of the instant replay official in the NFL. (Indeed, many have already done so.) This Essay explores the analogy. In so doing it seeks not only to consider its appropriateness in a narrow sense (much as many commentators considered the appropriateness of the Chief Justice’s analogy), but also to conduct something of a comparative analysis and thereby to use it as a vehicle for illustrating some general characteristics of a process of decisional review.

New Zealand 100 Australia 78

For the second time in three days, New Zealand has created a huge sporting upset, this time by beating Australia in Basketball by the score of 100-78.

Aussie won the first test by seven points

The margin of 22 points in the second test means New Zealand wins the series, will get the top ranking for Oceania at the 2010 world champs in Turkey, and is also now the holder of the Ramsay trophy.

It was a sublime effort, led by Kirk Penny who once again lead his team with the coolness that was needed, kudos also has to go to unknown player Vukona, who scored 25 points and got 12 boards.

The importance of this victory should not be underestimated by the NewZealand media or sporting public, not for the fact that we won the series or will have a a easier group in Turkey, but for the fact Basketball is a truly global game and Australia is a top team, like our Ice Hockey counterparts a victory in Basketball over Australia is a much bigger acheivement than beating them in Rugby Union, Netball or Lawn Bowls, hopefully our media will acknowlege this, but Im not holding my breath.

So once again congrats to the New Zealand Basketball team for one of the great sporting victories in our Nation's history, and roll on the world champs.

Dryer v. NFL: Retired NFL Players Sue for Use of Identities

As detailed by Nooman Merchant of the Associated Press, a group of retired NFL players are suing the NFL under the Lanham Act over the NFL's use (and particularly NFL Film's use) of their identities. Merchant interviewed me for the story. Here is an excerpt and my comments:

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NFL Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea [#65 above, a defensive lineman who played for the Houston Oilers and recorded a lot of sacks while doing so] and five other players sued the league for using their names and images for profit without their permission.

The players filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Minneapolis. The lawsuit accuses the NFL of exploiting retired players' identities in films, highlight reels and memorabilia to market the league's "glory days" without compensating the players.

"It's really turned into a big property," said Bob Stein, a lawyer for the players.

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Michael McCann, a sports law expert and professor at Vermont Law School, said the lawsuit was similar to a complaint filed last month by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA. O'Bannon is seeking unspecified damages for the use of former players' likenesses in video games and other material. [O'Bannon v. NCAA]

In this case, McCann said, the NFL would likely refer to its collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. The player contract in that agreement gives publicity rights to the league.

"Whether there's sufficient language in there affecting retired players remains to be seen," McCann said.

In June, a group of more than 2,000 retirees won a $26.25 million settlement with the NFLPA over the use of their likenesses in video games, trading cards and other sports products. The retirees sued in 2007, accusing the union of failing to actively pursue marketing deals for such products.

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To read the complaint for Dryer v. NFL, click here.