Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts on Conservative strategy for the 2010 Midterm Elections and beyond

To date the news from the primaries has been mostly good. Conservatives are winning big. That's good, but if we are going to turn this country around we need to be thinking about our message for November. Obviously we want to halt the slide toward socialism, but independents, who may be crucial in this election, will want to know where we are planning to go. For example, we have said we want to repeal and replace Obama Care. Independents legitimately ask, "Replace it with what?" To avoid sounding negative, Conservatives should simply say they want to replace Obama Care with an approach to health care that gives the patient choice and control and won't break his bank account. Some good examples of health care initiatives can be found at the Center for Health Transformation (http://www.healthtransformation.net/cs/health_solutions_lab)

Illegal immigration is another hot button issue that needs to be handled carefully. The first issue that needs to be addressed is border enforcement. Illegals who commit crimes (in addition to violating our borders) need to be criminally prosecuted. But what of the 12 million or so illegal immigrants who work, pay taxes and don't cause trouble? Why not offer those who can document that they have been in the US for say 10 years a path to citizenship? And once the borders are secured a guest worker program should be started to enable those who want to work in agriculture, construction or any other field where they are needed to come to the US for a definite period of time. Since they would be required to register with ICE the opportunity for unscrupulous employers to cheat them on salary and benefits would be limited, and terrorists trying to cross th border could be caught.

One thing Conservatives should unequivocally oppose is further deficit spending. No more "stimulus" bills. Conservatives should also advocate making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Thinking beyond the November election, Conservatives need to develop a strategy to avoid mischief by the lame duck Congress between the election recess and January. Filibusters can be mounted in the Senate. In the House no provision for a filibuster exists. However, Congressmen can begin introducing bills that will be part of their legislative agenda for 2011. Each bill will occupy some House time and thereby delay the Democrat majority bills. Discharge petitions can be used to unlock bills tied up in committee.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Keynesian Economics has not been practiced

Frequently you hear that the government is practicing Keynesian economics because it is running a deficit budget.

Named for John Maynard Keynes, a British economist of the mid 20th century, Keynesian economics was popular in the Depression era, when it indeed led to budget deficits.

But that was not the whole of Keynesian economics. Keynes was preoccupied with stabilizing the economy -- keeping the value of money from going up or down excessively. His approach to doing this was to make government spending counter cyclical. When the economy was good the government should run a surplus, and when it was bad the government should run a deficit. In this way, at least in theory, the government would build up a "rainy day" fund during good times to tide it over during bad times.

Unfortunately, our leaders in Washington have almost never practiced Keynesian economics. They have run deficit budgets year in and year out, leading to today's 13 Trillion accumulated debt (and if the off-budget debt due to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements is included it's much larger)

Should the government practice true Keynesian economics? Well, it would be better than the current situation, but the potential for abuse is great. Economic projections are notoriously inaccurate, giving politicians excuses to pour out benefits in the hope that it will lead to more votes for their reelection. Better to have expenditures in line with the budget Congress adopts.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Are the oceans cooling?

A recent discussion among myself and two friends brought up the contention made by a couple of Climatological web sites that the oceans have been cooling recently. The web sites in question are:
here and here.
Another source of ocean temperature data is here.

Plotting the data from the third source (the NOAA data for 180W - 100W, which covers most of the tropical Pacific Ocean) doesn't give much insight into cooling. A linear regression gives a very slight cooling, but that's probably just an artifact of where the regression starts and ends:



One fact that jumps right out is that the ocean temperature fluctuates quite a bit, and this can translate into greater atmospheric temperature fluctuations near the surface because of the higher specific heat of water.

The decline in ocean temperature my friend and the two web sites were referring to is the decline from late 2009 to the present (latest data May 2010):



This represents nearly a 3 degree (C) decline, but it's not all that much compared to earlier fluctuations (see the first figure). A Google Scholar search turned up a number of papers on ocean temperature, mostly showing warming, but all with considerable up and down fluctuations.

Still, it's of interest to assess the causes of ocean temperature fluctuations. It doesn't seem the oceans should be affected as much by the greenhouse effect as the atmosphere, since greenhouse gases trap rising heat. It would seem the ocean temperature would be more directly affected by the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) and by cloud cover, which in turn is driven (among other things) by cosmic rays. Sunspots affect the TSI, and sunspots are currently in decline, as shown in the following figure:
When sunspots are low, less energy is released by the sun, contributing to less warming due to TSI. Furthermore, the magnetic field of the sun is at its lowest, letting more cosmic rays impinge on the atmosphere. This in turn causes more air to be ionized, which provides nuclei for clouds to condense around, increasing cloud cover and increasing the reflectance of solar radiation back into space. This of course cools the atmosphere. Also, some recent research by Qing-Bin Lu of the University of Waterloo, links the decline of CFC gases (chlorofluorocarbons once used as refrigerants and according to Professor Lu, "well known greenhouse gases") under the influence of cosmic rays to the recent cooling of the atmosphere.

My conclusions:

  1. The study of earths temperature cannot be complete with the main emphasis on CO2
  2. Although the oceans temperature fluctuates considerably, the higher heat capacity of water argues strongly for including the influence of the oceans on earth's temperature
  3. Factors like sunspots and cosmic rays must be taken into account.
References

  1. Cosmic-ray-driven electron-induced reactions
    of halogenated molecules adsorbed on ice surfaces:
    Implications for atmospheric ozone depletion
    and global climate change
    Physics Reports, Volume 487, Issue 5,
    February 2010, Pages 141-167,
    ISSN 0370-1573, DOI: 10.1016/j.physrep.2009.12.002.
    (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6TVP-4XVC4M5-
    1/2/643db802d858c3d6e2ec9b78627fea24)
  2. Galactic Cosmic Rays - Clouds Effect and Bifurcation
    Model of the Earth Global Climate. Part 1. Theory
    Authors: Vitaliy D. Rusov, Alexandr V. Glushkov,
    Vladimir N. Vaschenko, Oksana T. Mykhalus,
    Yuriy A. Bondartchuk, Vladimir P. Smolyar,
    Elena P. Linnik,
    Strachimir Cht. Mavrodiev, Boyko I. Vachev
    The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial
    Physics Vol. 72 (2010) p. 398-408
    arXiv:0803.2765v3 [physics.ao-ph]
  3. Galactic Cosmic Rays - Clouds Effect and Bifurcation
    Model of the Earth Global Climate. Part 2.
    Comparison of Theory with Experiment
    Authors: Vitaliy D. Rusov, Vladimir N. Vaschenko,
    Elena P. Linnika, Oksana T. Myhalus,
    Yuriy A. Bondartchuk,
    Vladimir P. Smolyar, Sergey I. Kosenko,
    Strachimir Cht. Mavrodiev,
    Boyko I. Vachev
    Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial
    Physics Vol. 72 (2010) p. 380-497
    arXiv:0803.2766v3 [physics.ao-ph]
  4. Testing the proposed link between cosmic rays
    and cloud cover
    Authors: T. Sloan, A.W. Wolfendale
    Lancs-HEP/080309
    arXiv:0803.2298v1 [physics.ao-ph]


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Update -- Myeloma

See my post from Friday May 28.
Linda and I drove to Houston June 2 to see Dr. Orlowski, our oncologist at M. D. Anderson. The results of two cycles of chemo look excellent. Not all results were in yet, but the immunoglobulin IgG went from 6200 March 15 to 2330 June 2 -- a 62% reduction. Dr. Orlowski estimates I will need 4 to 6 cycles before the stem cell transplant.

Meanwhile I started the third cycle of chemo yesterday. Today I feel good, which is a contrast from previous cycles. I have been a little anemic, from prior to being diagnosed, and the nurse practitioner suggested I eat liver, dark, leafy greens, etc. She thought that would be better than the constipation that might result from taking iron pills. Since I've had enough constipation to last me the rest of my life, we stopped at Luby's on the way home and I had liver. Maybe that was a factor.

To anyone out there who is praying for me: Thanks. I know many people are praying for me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Tale of Two Registry Cleanup Utilities

My wife has a PC, I use a Macintosh. Several years ago I got a registry cleanup program from Iolo that did a good job of straightening out registry issues. But then Iolo decided to go into the firewall, antivirus, antieverything business and bundled their registry cleanup utility with everything else. However, I was using another firewall/antivirus program and had no desire to switch, After all, I had a license valid for a year, the program worked fine, and I had three total installations, including one under Parallels on the Macintosh and one under VMWare on the PC (the license allows this). Iolo included the ability to detect third party antivirus/firewall programs, but their program failed to detect the antivirus/firewall program I was using. So I got bogus warnings, "No firewall detected. Antivirus not detected."

Meantime my wife's computer ran more and more slowly. Finally I got an email from Smith Micro announcing a registry cleaner called Checkit. I ordered it and installed it last night. I ran it and my wife is happy. The computer runs much faster now. It's a shame Iolo had to take a simple program and tie it together with other layers of code to do much more than I wanted done, but from initial experience, Checkit will do the job.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some fun questons

Following is a list of short questions I've wondered about for years.

  1. Why is Tucson (Arizona) pronounced Tooson? Shouldn't it be Tuckson? Don't tell me it was originally Spanish, because in Spanish it would be Tuckson (or maybe Tookson). Maybe it comes from an Indian word?
  2. Why is Boston cream pie pie instead of cake? Pie has a crust, cake doesn't.
  3. Similarly, why is cheesecake cake and not pie, since it has a crust?
  4. Why do they call movie previews trailers?
Any takers?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Where I’ve been

From sometime in February until this week I didn’t update Bricolagia. Where have I been?

On December 28 I got a call from my doctor, who urged me to see a hematologist ASAP because a blood protein test indicated I might have multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells.
In January, my appointment with the hematologist had to be canceled because I got pneumonia. Multiple myeloma interferes with the making of the various components of the immune system.

Finally in February I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, stage 1. The treatment is chemotherapy until 90 – 95 % remission is achieved, followed by a stem cell transplant. I will get an autologous stem cell transplant, in which my own stem cells will be harvested and reintroduced after intensive chemotherapy to remove all (or most) of the remaining cancer.
Texas Oncology, the cancer treatment center providing the chemotherapy, doesn’t do stem cell transplants, so we opted to go to M. D. Anderson Center Treatment Center in Houston for the transplant. The doctors at Texas Oncology and M. D. Anderson were willing to work together, with M. D. Anderson in charge, so that meant I could get most of my early treatment in Austin.

I began chemo treatment on April 26 – 2 weeks on chemo and one week off, for 2—4 cycles, whatever it takes to get the disease under enough control that I can go on to the next stage. After the first cycle the proteins indicative of multiple myeloma have gone down dramatically and Dr. Kasper, the oncologist at Texas Oncology is pleased.

I am just finishing up with the chemo stage of the second cycle and the results aren’t in yet.

One of the drugs I’m getting is Revlmid, which is derived from Thalidomide, the drug that was given to pregnant women in the 60’s that caused birth defects. The FDA is paranoid about Revlimid and makes you sign your life away to get it. You have to promise you won’t have sex with a woman of childbearing age, or even let her touch the pills. And it’s very expensive, a problem for me since I don’t currently have any drug coverage.

You’ve heard about the various side effects of chemotherapy – they’re different for everyone, but they include constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, general aches and pains, fatigue, etc. I’ve had fairly constant constipation and occasional aches in my rib cage. I lack energy, but all in all it hasn’t been too bad.

You’ve heard how people who are in bad situations and the church is praying for them say they can tell people are praying for them. Well, I can attest to that. I have a huge prayer team – it overwhelms me how many are praying faithfully for me, and I can tell that they are.

I will keep you updated as things progress.