Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday afternoon tab dump 

Do you guys like the "tab dump" posts? I sort of like the idea, which I stole from Ezra Klein fair and square, of sharing what I am reading, or hope to read, in the moment. If you disagree feel free to dump your disapproval in the comments.

Anyway, here we go:

The "divergence problem" explained, at least from one point of view. My question, which is not clearly answered in the linked article, is why the "divergence" does not discredit tree-rings as a proxy entirely?

Ezra, linking to some dude named Atul Gawande, on the cost-savings embedded in the pending health care "reform" legislation:

Pick up the Senate health-care bill -- yes, all 2,074 pages -- and leaf through it. Almost half of it is devoted to programs that would test various ways to curb costs and increase quality. The bill is a hodgepodge. And it should be.

The bill tests, for instance, a number of ways that federal insurers could pay for care. Medicare and Medicaid currently pay clinicians the same amount regardless of results. But there is a pilot program to increase payments for doctors who deliver high-quality care at lower cost, while reducing payments for those who deliver low-quality care at higher cost. There’s a program that would pay bonuses to hospitals that improve patient results after heart failure, pneumonia, and surgery. There’s a program that would impose financial penalties on institutions with high rates of infections transmitted by health-care workers. Still another would test a system of penalties and rewards scaled to the quality of home health and rehabilitation care.

...[Lots more like that]...

Which of these programs will work? We can’t know. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office doesn’t credit any of them with substantial savings. The package relies on taxes and short-term payment cuts to providers in order to pay for subsidies. But, in the end, it contains a test of almost every approach that leading health-care experts have suggested. (The only one missing is malpractice reform. This is where the Republicans could be helpful.) None of this is as satisfying as a master plan. But there can’t be a master plan.

All true, but inviting the question, why not pass a bill full of pilot programs without the massive new entitlements? You know, see if the pilot programs work to control costs, then add people to the system. Instead of doing the whole thing on spec.

Watching Olbermann or Maddow can fill you with despair, until you realize that hardly anybody else is watching them...

November 2009 Program Rankers -

No wonder Olby hammers on "Bill-O" all the time.

It has been so long since we had a true Democratic majority in the national government that we've forgotten how quickly they turn on one another:

In addition to targeting key moderate and liberal Democrats, liberal activists now have White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in their sights.

The new anti-Emanuel campaign comes on the heels of reports yesterday that the White House Chief of Staff was urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-D Conn., in order to move the health care reform legislation forward in the Senate.

In the cage match between "liberal activists" and Rahm Emanuel, I go with the meat-eater every time.

Paul Kedrosky has the link to a huge report from Morgan Stanley on the speed with which mobile internet service and usage is ramping. I have not read it, but some of you might find it very interesting.

In buying gas rather than exploring for it, did ExxonMobil make a good trade?

Christmas gifts for that special tax professional in your life.

Via Linkiest, the 25 "most ironic" photos of all time.

Sometimes I think that certain public school administrators are the stupidest people in the entire world.

More prosecutorial misconduct in the war to criminalize business. As I've written many times, we would be much better off if it were unlawful for prosecutors to seek elective office for a period of five years after they leave their job. Compensate them by paying them a much more competitive salary, not by giving them an office for self-aggrandizement.

Bjorn Lomborg. That's all you need to know.

A pair of good ones from Maguire.

More later. Or maybe not. I'm having dinner with accountants tonight, and you know how they can be.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 15, 06:14:00 PM:

Re: divergence

A few of us have been making that point for weeks now: "Divergence" actually suggests that tree rings aren't reliable proxies for temperature. It may be the only scientifically valid conclusion you can draw from tree ring data.

Brian will say that after "divergence" became an issue, Michael Mann & Co came up with other proxies -- presumably ice cores, sediment and/or coral -- that matched the hundreds of years of tree ring data that they had been using. "Problem, what problem?!" Given Mann's record as a serial data molester, this is suspicious.

There's another recurring problem. Not all the tree ring data "diverted", just those in the Northern Hemisphere. To me this is actually a more troubling outcome. It suggests that using any regional data source to infer "global average temperature" is problematic. But AGW scientists do this all the time and not consistently. It's how the Medieval Warm Period was first made to disappear, and then after criticism of this the Medieval Warm Period was excused away as just a local European phenomenon.

Brian & Co continue to cherry pick data sets and studies, even about trends of the last few years.

So who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes.

The Truth is Out There  

By Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette, at Tue Dec 15, 06:20:00 PM:

I like the tab-dumps.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 15, 06:41:00 PM:

Re: Prosecutorial misconduct

There's more to this if you connect a few more dots.

The conviction reversal announced today involved two Broadcom executives and was over option backdating. It's not worth rehashing option backdating -- suffice it to say that there was a wide range of behavior -- from innocent mistakes ... to CEO's personally pocketing millions. One of the Broadcom defendants was billionaire founder Henry Nicholas -- he made a great criminal defendant because of his rather flamboyant lifestyle -- he'd actually put Iron Man's Tony Stark to shame. Can you say "hoes and blow."

There was another option backdating reversal back in August involving two Brocade executives. Many were surprised that these executives were criminally charged at all because the execs didn't personally profit. The CEO said he relied on a lot of others at the company to vet the accounting etc etc. The reversal was over prosecutorial misconduct as the DA knowingly told the jury a fib on a key point.

What's remarkable about Brocade is that the very same fact pattern applied to Steve Jobs at Apple, but Apple and Jobs got a slap on the wrist. ps Al Gore was on the Apple board at the time.

Mad as Hell...  

By Blogger buck smith, at Tue Dec 15, 10:24:00 PM:

One thing kind of interesting about Exxon mobil's buying XTO is that is happened at the same time a bunch of national oil companies made deals with Iraq to develop Iraqi oilfields, supposedly at very low profit margins. On a dollar per BTU basis I bet Exxon got quite a good deal comparatiively.  

By Blogger Kurt, at Tue Dec 15, 11:31:00 PM:

Regarding Atul Gawande, he likes to put himself forward as a thoughtful non-partisan, but in fact, when you examine his history, you can see that he is very much a Democrat partisan. He graduated from Stanford, then was a Rhodes Scholar, then went to work in the Clinton administration on healthcare issues and health reform. He later went to Harvard Medical School. He is now a professor of surgery there. After medical school, he started publishing in Slate. Eventually he started writing for the New Yorker and later published two books. He is also on the lecture circuit. I heard him speak at an event a few months ago. While parts of the speech were very good, at the end he veered into large generalizations and partisan bromides. I've not been able to take his "thoughtful nonpartisan" schtick seriously anymore since then.  

By Anonymous Iowa_John, at Wed Dec 16, 08:35:00 AM:

I like the tab dumps.  

By Blogger Brian, at Wed Dec 16, 10:36:00 AM:

I think tab dumps are fine.

Martin didn't explain the divergence issue, he described it. I think it's inappropriate for him to call the post-1960 reconstruction the "Briffa" reconstruction, since it was Briffa who pointed out the divergence problem and believes it inappropriate to use the tree rings as a proxy after 1960, as Martin has done, because we know they don't work after 1960.

Why they don't work after 1960 isn't clear (to me anyway). As to TH's question of why they're used prior to 1960, it's because they do work for 100 years.

As to Anon's statement that Mann et al. came up with other proxies after the divergence problem was discovered - not true. Other proxies were in use before 1998 when the divergence problem was identified. Many scientists were involved in other proxies, so you need a vast conspiracy theory at this point.

And as to Anon's saying that using regional sources to infer global temps is problematic, we can finally agree on something. That's why the Medieval Warm Period is hypothetical still - we only have regional data. Figuring out how to infer from the data is tricky, so that's where acquiring some expertise is helpful.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 16, 11:06:00 AM:

Tree ring proxies correlated with actual temperatures for 100 years, but then after 1960 the tree rings in the Northern Hemisphere stopped correlating and instead "diverted." We only know this because we can now test tree ring proxies against actual temperatures. No one has yet explained why the Northern Hemipshere tree rings "diverted."

How can we know that any proxy doesn't divert when we try to infer temperatures from 1,000 years ago? The proxies being used are all subject to being thrown off by factors unkown. Even if accurate, they're only measuring a region -- not the planet.

"That's why the Medieval Warm Period is hypothetical still - we only have regional data."
Then how can you hope to determine historical "global average temperature."  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Wed Dec 16, 01:22:00 PM:

Regarding tree rings, it should be intuitively obvious that they cannot be taken as a 100% proxy for temperature, but rather as a general indicator of temperature. Grass doesn't grow as much when it doesn't rain. Trees are shorter in areas with drier climates.

Similarly, without having any data in front of me, it would appear to me that trees wouldn't grow as much in dry years. So tree rings are an indirect measure of at least two factors: temperature and rainfall. Regarding which is more important, I haven't a clue.

Because tree roots are lower than grass roots, trees will be less influenced by rainfall variations than will be grass. However, because water tables do drop during droughts and rise during times of ample rainfall, there will be some influence of rainfall variations on tree growth.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Wed Dec 16, 03:44:00 PM:

Boludo, you will be pleased to learn that people who are experts in the field have considered the issues you're raising:


Anon, I was maybe unclear. We only have regional data demonstrating the MWP. We do have data for the Southern Hemisphere temps in general. My understanding is that evidence for the MWP in the Southern Hemisphere is ambiguous at best, so it most likely either didn't happen there or wasn't strong. That would mean global temps would have risen much less.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 16, 04:43:00 PM:

The top 10 broadcasts are on Fox, and the right's still whining about media bias?  

By Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette, at Wed Dec 16, 04:50:00 PM:

Er... that would be *evidence* of bias, actually, Anon.

Assuming 35% of the population goes left, 35% goes right, and one station has a lot higher ratings than anyone else, it's probable that they're offering something that nobody else is offering.  

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