Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

Causation Vs. Correlation!

From The Economist January 14th 2010

“Liberal democratic governments can make all manner of blunders, but they are less likely to commit mass murder. Amartya Sen, a Nobel prize-winning economist, has famously argued that no country with a free press and fair elections has ever had a large famine. And research by those three CFR scholars found that poor autocracies were at least twice as likely as democracies to suffer an economic disaster (defined as a decline of 10% or more in GDP in a year). With no noisy legislatures or robust courts to hold things up, autocracies may be faster and bolder. They are also more accident-prone.”

I wonder how someone who states that “…no country with a free press and fair elections has ever had a large famine.” wins a Nobel in anything let alone theology…..I mean economics. This is the argument you attributed to the economist Amartya Sen. Does Mr. Sen and The Economist for that matter not understand the dangers associated with conflating causation and correlation? Large famines are largely functions of climate, external demand, and agricultural subsidies. Are they related to free press? Doubtful if there is a linear connection. Are they related to fair elections? Probably but this is a correlation that I would not get passed peer-review.

Thank you Senator Cantwell!

That is what California should do in putting forth their latest effort to curb their CO2 footprint (

I commend California for taking an important and bold step to curb their CO2 footprint. However, it is worth noting their proposal is a duplicate of Washington Senator Maria Cantwell’s CLEAR Act (The Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s renewal). CLEAR would bill would cut national GHG emissions 20% and 83% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 2050, respectively. Seventy-five percent of refunds would be returned to the taxpayer and 25% to green energy technologies and infrastructure. The refunds would amount to $1,100 annually for a family of four according to Senator Cantwell’s calculations. We could make more money off emissions if we assumed a higher range, which Senator Cantwell’s office set at $7-21 per ton of C02 in 2012, with annual floor and ceiling increases of 5.5 an 6.5%, respectively. This seems like an idea that even those that don’t believe in climate change could support given the non-trivial contribution to their bottomline and those of us on the left will accept is an acceptable, albeit not ideal, first iteration.

Good With The Bad

So I have not entered the cellphoneisphere at this point and I don’t have a Facebook or Myspace or Twitter account. This blog is as close as I have gotten to such exhibitionism. However, it is our right to engage in all these activities even if the 30-35minutes on average US citizens spend on their Facebook or is it MySpace? Whatever same difference. Anyway even if this 30-35 minutes a day or 7.6 days annually is a complete waste of time, energy, and cloud space ( we have the right to waste this time as we see fit right? Right.

Well the other component of this continuous digital footprint is the idea that some in law enforcement would like to use this data to find, construct, and prosecute criminal behavior across the board. Okay well that is a complete and utter violation of our privacy as citizens of this country BUT lets say it isn’t and lets for the sake of argument Hallelujah to this ancillary benefit of the web, smartphone technology, and GPS. Well wouldn’t the logical extension be that if a citizen witnesses a crime and happens to have a cellphone/smartphone with a camera or video recorder that individual would be obligated to capture said crime with said device? NOPE!! Not according to the Boston police and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in a 4-2 ruling (

The court stated in it’s majority opinion “”Secret tape recording by private individuals has been unequivocally banned, and, unless and until the Legislature changes the statute, what was done here cannot be done lawfully”

However, in a dissenting and what appears to be more rational take on the case Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote “Citizens have a particularly important role to play when the official conduct at issue is that of the police. Their role cannot be performed if citizens must fear criminal reprisals when they seek to hold government officials responsible by recording, secretly recording on occasion, an interaction between a citizen and a police officer.'”

I have always been very concerned about the personal and more recently digital privacy we have bequeathed to large and remote multinational corporations as well as law enforcement. Now I am even more worried because it appears that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander! Do as I say not as I do! And this from a supposedly progressive and erudite state like Massachusetts…I can’t wait to see what happens when folks like Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal here about this. Maybe we aren’t all Socialist America haters up here after all.

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, and……..1+1 = 3!

Holy Cow!

This is architecture on viagra.

worldstallestbuildings1I can’t help but wonder if something more long-lasting or as the U.K.’s Adair Turner ( would most likely say “socially useful” could have been done with the materials used to build these phallic symbols of excess and upper 1-2% decoupling from the rest of society? I am sure the folks in Malaysia could think of a couple of things and those that have been displaced from the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans would most assuredly have some ideas for what could be done with the $3.2 billion being spent on NYC’s rising symbol of patriotism 1 Word Trade Center.