finem respice

Their Charms Proved Irresistible

Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 00:40 (+0100) by ep

Some flow measurement approaching "neverending" seems to make a good candidate for "best descriptive prose" when discussing the number of apologist excuses for various components of the corpus of stolen University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit data. Amusingly, the quality of argument put forth by the many gallant defenders of Climate Science's beleaguered battlements is so desperately weak that it doesn't take but a few hours for one to find oneself suddenly overcome with the impression that one is fishing in a barrel... with dynamite.

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Shocked, Shocked to Find That Fraud is Going on in Here

Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 06:19 (+0100) by ep

you mean you weren't expecting to find that in there?

The Really Big News™ is actually that there is no really big news. Much is being made of the recent hack of the HadleyUniversity of East Anglia's Climatic Research CenterUnit (the "CRU") whereby over a thousand emails along with documents as well as data and code were lifted and published to an FTP site before being linked to by "The Air Vent" blog and then... the world.

The leak appears to show climate scientists shaping results, strategizing on how best to conceal data and analysis from the public, planning public relations to get their message out irrespective of the most recent data setbacks, debating the best way to influence the "man on the street," discussing means to deal with critics via the press and otherwise, and reacting with barely contained glee to the news of an opponent's untimely death. While the general consensus is that the most damaging emails appear to reference the now semi-famous "hockey graph" illustration that has been a favorite of the United Nations (and everyone else pushing radical climate change policy) for a decade, I think something much more insidious (and actually quite ordinary) emerges from between the many subject lines. Rank corruption.

Update: Looks like the "missing" hockey stick data has been found:


If so, that there is the ballgame.

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Thick, Sticky Rhetoric

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 06:41 (+0100) by ep

grease the palms

This is the sort of thing, I suppose, that has turned the health care debate into the smoldering sludge that is left over when a pile of immolated facts are mixed over and over again with thick, sticky rhetoric. Are we really expected to believe that these four doctors, who, between them represent about every minority group you could possibly enumerate in four bodies, just happened to wander over from the hospital in their (spotless) white coats to smile at the President's health care reform plans?

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The Microsoft Hurricane Creation Machine

Monday, July 13, 2009 - 05:05 (+0100) by ep

sea water mix

It is difficult to connect with the concept that complex systems are... well... complex. That is, just pulling a lever or two on the "input" is not guaranteed to get you either the results you want, nor assure you won't get worse results in some other way. This is easy to recognize as the not-a-law "law of unintended consequences," but very difficult to apply critically to grand ideas by charismatic visionaries with a talent for public relations- the somewhat crass art that has become the central skill requirement in modern politics.

This is one of my objections to the conceit of centralized economic policy. "I'll just pour some cash in here and we'll be all good," sounds great (particularly to the people getting the cash). An economy is, most obviously, a complex system. Thus, things are rarely this simple. But if you think that's complex, try weather. Bill Gates wants to, according to Tech Flash. Bill (or proxies therefor) has filed patents I am better leaving Tech Flash to describe:

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There's No Such Thing As A Risk Free Lunch (Revisited)

Friday, July 3, 2009 - 00:40 (+0100) by ep

who will pick up the tab?

The investigative powerhouse of Fox Business has suddenly discovered that years of government tampering with the Florida insurance market has effectively destroyed the ability of Florida residents to cost effectively mitigate their hurricane, wind and flooding risk. Apparently, a bunch of state legislators were not quite as good at pricing risk as they (or their constituents) imagined.

Long time readers of Going Private and finem respice will have had about 18 months on Fox Business in realizing that the combination of incentive mismatch in the political class, populist pandering and anti-market nonsense has caused quite a bit of damage.

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He Have Heart Attack And Fell Out Of Window Onto Exploding Bomb And Was Killed In A Shooting Accident

Thursday, June 18, 2009 - 13:53 (+0100) by ep

time fades all slogans but white paint works quicker

Conveniently for some, Mohammad Asgari, an information technology official inside Iran's Interior Ministry and apparently the source of leaked data purporting to show election fraud, was killed in a "suspicious" car accident. It is difficult not to indulge in conspiracy theorism in such cases. And sometimes conspiracy theorism manages to do quite well. Let's hope this is not one such.

Iran has its work cut out for it. Unfortunately, even daunting protests do not always carry the day against entrenched statist regimes. China has managed to escape almost entirely unscathed almost exactly ten years after Tiananmen while the leaders and middle management of the 1989 movement suffered bitterly thereafter. Like a global economic player, an isolated state already familiar with sanction regimes has very little to lose by brutally repressing its population when they get uppity. Even success might mean little over the long run. Expectations that regime change in Iran will necessarily result in a budding democracy or a free market economy are, to put it mildly, courting disappointment.

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It Is All In The Counting- Or Is It?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - 04:04 (+0100) by ep

red blood on green hope


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Descend Clean Why Don't You?

Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 07:26 (+0100) by ep

looks good from the outside

A finite respite for finem respice as, though delayed for four days, I head now by small plane for the Sierras and then come right to 000 and violate the airspace of the great white north. (Coming back through the ADIZ is worse, you know).

Caution is certainly the better part of valor when dealing with rented aircraft. The damage on the Piper Seneca, patched via duct tape on the interior ceiling covering evidence of foul play, allegedly left by younger flight instructors during an impromptu game of "elevator," is superficial, if not inspiring. No critical instrumentation or systems there in any event. Try to find a decent twin to rent instead. Try to find a decent twin to rent that was never used for makeshift freight. I take what I can get. An old but workhorseish Seneca that has been the butt of flight instructor jokes from time to time will do just fine.

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The Next Bubble

Friday, May 29, 2009 - 12:02 (+0100) by ep

ever ever upward

It has been the habit of the United States, in its capacity as a nation of investors and consumers with a highly developed sense of entitlement when it comes to returns and little or no tolerance for corrections of any kind, to sate the appetite of the cult of buoyancy by inflating various bubbles. This is particularly so when it appears the national vessel is beginning to sit low in the water. Loyal readers will know that finem respice does not go so far as to call for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, or make bleating noises about fiat currencies, but, without a doubt, it is worth looking at the role of various institutions as we confront the next gas-filled, surface-tension-bound, expanding topography. That sort of reflection, culminating in exactly nothing, is about all we can expect. The tools of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are a grant of immense power to the executive, and he or she is unlikely to relinquish it without the sort of battle that resembles a protracted land war in Asia. So serial-bubbology will prevail. Junk Bonds to Dot-Com to Real Estate, for instance. Of course, this means we don't exactly have a large sample size with which to draw conclusions (n=3 perhaps) but it stands to reason that the longer we delay correction and manipulate markets with bloody sacrifice to the minions of buoyancy, the worse the wrath of the deleveraging.

Having taken great pains to ignore this lesson, and to obfuscate it completely no matter form with which it attempts to make its presence felt, it is pretty obvious that the present administration intends to bubble its way out of the latest opportunity to reset prices and moderate debt. Moreover, our leaders intend to do so via massive borrowing to pay for about every government program of any size ever conceived going all the way back to that one that crossed the kickback-addled mind of some flaccid congressman while waiting in line at Disney World back in 1972.

Small sample size or not, it is so clear that the next bubble is on the horizon, or, perhaps, already upon us, that a great deal of time and effort is spent speculating as to which asset class will be next. Oil or energy in general is a popular theory. Gold has its advocates. James Simons likely points to high beta stocks when asked. A few clever commentators have suggested Treasuries. This last is closest to the mark.

Of course, the next bubble (and perhaps the last for a while) is government. The state government bubble is beginning to burst even as you read this. The federal government bubble is next. You might want to open your mouth and plug your ears.

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The Curse (Blessing) Of Anonymous Speech

Sunday, May 17, 2009 - 23:49 (+0100) by ep

they'll kill you one of two ways

These pages have commanded a great deal of attention (not all of it positive or constructive) for relating the recollections of a lone hedge fund manager alleging acts by the present administration that, to these eyes at least, at least flirt with if not outright cross the line between hard negotiation and coercion or, perhaps, even extortion. As has become somewhat routine, attacks directed at finem respice in this connection tend to include references to the reliability (or lack thereof) of anonymous speech. It takes very little analysis to boil down the complaints of such detractors to a basic and simple premise: anonymous speech is prima facie less reliable than what I will call "credited speech." This is a patently absurd and dangerous premise.

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