The Economy Under Obama

He was either batting 0 or 1000, depending on what the goal was. MEASURING PERFORMANCE: New Data Shows Absolute Economic Destruction During Obama Years.

His eight years did more to destroy America than any of past presidents, be they Democrat or Republican.

Look and study these few charts:

Yes, click thru and study the charts. Student loans, workforce participation, government debt, food stamps, and more.

While the graphs are fascinating, there isn’t much detail in that post. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Obamanomics, Revisited (Updated). Where Hondo, at This Ain’t Hell…, does a deep dive into the data. (There are links to the source, at St. Louis Fed’s Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) site.

So, what’s my take overall? The original GP article is a mixed bag. Its charts are all over the board – some are spot on, while others are accurate as far as they go but fail to tell the whole story. Some are misleading, and one may be flat-out inaccurate. And none cover the entire prior Administration; some cover barely half of it.

Nonetheless, many if not most of the conclusions implied in the GP article are IMO valid. That’s true even though there’s nowhere near enough data presented in the GP article to support its claims.

Anyway, if you’re interested in hardcore economic statistics (isn’t everyone?) I can recommend the second article. The first is good to, but rigor is the word of the day. I am sick to death of the 21st Century’s focus on FEELINGS.


General Relativity: 100 Years of Confusing People

It was 100 years ago today that there was an eclipse that was used to test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The Eclipse That Made Einstein Famous.

Specifically that part of General Relativity that said starlight would be deflected by the gravity of the sun (any star) even though a photon has zero mass.

Einstein first received word of their preliminary results in September, and wrote his mother with the “happy news.” The confirmation was officially announced in November at the Royal Astronomical Society in London, triggering headlines about the ensuing excitement. (“Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations,” one headline in The Times noted.) Einstein bought himself a congratulatory violin.

You can think about it like this. Gravity of a star affects the geometry of space-time, and light is impacted by that changing geometry.

And this is important for several reasons, not the least is…

“His equations allowed cosmology to become a science,” John Barrow, the cosmologist, wrote in an email. “Before him, cosmology was like a branch of art history. You could imagine any type, shape or form of universe you liked.”

Einstein published the theory of General Relativity in 1915. It generalizes the work he started with Special Relativity, which was published in 1905. And you use the results of his work every time you turn on (or consult) the GPS in your phone.

I would include some of the math, as it has been described as being “beautiful.” But it starts in the deep end of the pool as it is. Riemann manifolds, tensors, and lots of “strange” mathematical notations. If you have an interest there is a lot of info available all over the place. (A warning: I find the Wiki to be strangely organized. Best try something else.)

OMG!!! Radiation!!!

In all the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” insanity leading up to March, I completely missed the anniversary of Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. It was March 11, 2011, and of course the thing that people remember today is the damage done to the Fukushima Diiaichi power plant.

But not to worry, the media are still fear-mongering. Radioactive contamination from Fukushima has drifted as far north as a remote Alaskan island, scientists discover.

That’s a scary headline! Let’s all go hide in our fallout shelters. Or maybe not.

Cesium-137 levels some 3,000-times higher than those found in the Bering Sea are considered safe for human consumption under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards, officials said.

Say it again. Levels would need to be 3000 times HIGHER than they are to cause a health concern.

Now this is the Daily Mail, and that is as close to any real information that they want to get. Report the ACTUAL levels of radiation detected? Why would they do that? You might figure out there is nothing to be alarmed over.

Luckily there are more detail oriented media sources, like The Anchorage Daily News.

The tell-tale sample contained 2.4 becquerels per cubic meter, an “extremely low” amount that is thousands of times lower than what the EPA considers unsafe for drinking, Sea Grant’s statement said.

A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity in which 1 atom decays per second. The background radiation for Cesium-137 in that part of the world is ≤ 2.0 becquerels per cubic meter. (Which isn’t in the Anchorage article but in the scientific paper they link to.)

So before you jump head first into the “Radiation!!!” insanity – instigated by the linear no-threshold dose theory – consider that we can detect stupidly small amounts of radiation.

Some other links for your consideration.

That last one is telling.

1600 people died as a result of the panic. And the stress it induced. Panic on the part of the government. On the part of the people. And on the part of Americans and Europeans. Because it is easier to cave into fear than convince you that you don’t know squat about radiation.

Hospital ICUs were evacuated, and people died. Not from radiation. From the evacuation, which was panic driven, because people don’t understand the least little thing about radiation, and they don’t want to. In part, because talking about radiation involves math. It is easier to be afraid. It is easier for the media to try and make you afraid than it is for them to do anything useful.

Radiation is a matter of degree. A little or a lot makes a difference.

We live in a nuanced world of degree. Eating a scoop of ice cream is fine, eating a gallon at one time is bad. Jumping off a chair is no big deal; jumping off a cliff is really stupid. The numbers matter. It’s the dose that makes the poison. There is a threshold to everything.

But then most of the reporting, and most of the government actions surrounding Fukushima Diiaichi have been stupid.

If you don’t look at anything else, you should look at the chart put together by Randall Munroe of XKCD. He published that shortly after the earthquake and tsunami, in the middle of the media insanity. It points out the stupidly small amounts of radiation we can detect, the naturally occurring sources (like the granite counters in your kitchen) and relative size of exposure from Fukushima Diiaichi.

Aside from the links in the list above there are also The Radioactive Tuna, which sounds like a good name for a rock and roll band, The never-ending mission to scare you to death, and to convince you that water is unsafe. There is more, but they get repetitive (and I wrote them.)

Einstein’s Birthday and Pi Day

It is 3.14, after all.

First, Einstein’s birthday: March 14, 1879. Do you ever use a GPS? Then you are indebtted to Einstein for the Relativistic Time Dilation equation.

Because an observer on the ground sees the satellites in motion relative to them, Special Relativity predicts that we should see their clocks ticking more slowly (see the Special Relativity lecture). Special Relativity predicts that the on-board atomic clocks on the satellites should fall behind clocks on the ground by about 7 microseconds per day because of the slower ticking rate due to the time dilation effect of their relative motion [2].

I won’t include the equation, since it won’t add anything. You can find it in many places on the web.

And it is Pi day. π = 3.1415926535… (That is 10 digits, and enough for most applications.)

The video is “A Brief History of Pi.” It is a bit long at just over 16 minutes, but the videos either are just short and entertaining but don’t really explain anything, or they jump into some fairly stiff mathematics and would lose everyone. Go get some pie, and coffee, and enjoy learning a bit of history, and maybe even a bit of math. It won’t hurt, I promise. (Well, maybe for a minute.)

Electric Vehicles Don’t Like Cold Weather

Or perhaps I should say that lithium-ion batteries don’t do well in the cold. AAA confirms what Tesla, BMW, Nissan electric car owners suspected — cold weather saps EV range. Even turning on the car drains power. But then I don’t much like cold weather either.

The reporter is shocked to discover that all manufacturers have the same problem, as if chemistry would work differently for BMW and Tesla than it does for Chevy.

Different factors can affect the loss of range, he and other experts have noted. Simply turning on the electric vehicles, or EVs, AAA studied in 20 degree weather revealed a 12 percent loss in range.

And that is BEFORE you turn on the cabin heat or heated seats.

Using climate control revealed an even bigger surprise, according to Brannon, as range dipped by an average 41 percent — which would bring an EV like the Bolt down to just 140 miles of range.

Again, I have no idea why this should be a “surprise.” (Or why they only list the bad numbers relative to the Chevy, and not relative to say Tesla.) Apparently reporters live in a world where energy – like heat – appears out of nowhere. The author of the piece seems to be genuinely surprised that internal combustion engines have waste heat that they can use, while electric motors don’t, (or don’t have enough for this use) and have to use electric heating elements whose energy comes out of the battery. The proposed mitigation, BTW is stupid.

Grewe has experienced sharp reductions in the range of his own Chevy Bolt, but he also said there are ways to limit the impact of cold weather. That includes storing a battery car in a garage, preferably one that’s heated. And wherever it is parked, it helps to keep the EV plugged in.

Of all the homes I’ve owned in the past 30 years, all but 1 have had a garage. None of the garages has been heated. Indeed, it is a standard to make sure that in an attached garage, fumes from the garage CANNOT enter the house. (This may actually be a part of the building code.) So no vents, heating ducts, etc. and an effort should be made to keep the drywall intact and sealed. Otherwise you risk asphyxiation. So you would need a separate furnace for the garage. And probably a new garage door, and extra insulation, etc. So where did all that energy saving go now? And 20 degrees F? That would have been like a heatwave coming through here last week, the mercury hit minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit. That is BEFORE windchill, so yes, you would need to use ‘climate control.’ (Otherwise the windshield would fog up.)

As for keeping the car plugged in all the time… contact your employer, the local cinema, your favorite Mexican restaurant, Walmart, Starbucks, and anywhere else you might ever go to ensure that every parking space has an outlet. Oh, and don’t ever plan on leaving your car at the airport in long-term-parking, unless that is heated and/or has an outlet.

Electric vehicles also lose range in hot weather, even before you turn on the air-conditioning. (Hat tip to Pirate’s Cove and Not a Lot of People Know That.)

Note: I put this in the “Math is Hard” category, but I should probably make a “Science is Hard” category for it.

Why is it that people have the memory of gnats?

Forget that they don’t remember the drubbing that the Democratic Party took in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they don’t remember the really important stuff – stuff that has to do with money. I just don’t get that.

Of course it probably doesn’t help that the media doesn’t so much report on the financial markets, as use them as a weapon to beat up anyone they don’t like. Mostly because they too have the memories of gnats, and they don’t understand enough math to balance their check books, let alone explain the derivatives market.

So along about the 2nd or 3rd week in December, the media, and the sheep that follow them looked at the Dow Jones Industrial Average – it is the only measure of the markets they know without looking – and saw this big dip. Why was this happening? “It’s all Trump’s fault!” (Pay no attention to what the Fed is doing to interest rates. The Fed really is “the man behind the curtain.”) They don’t know what a correction is. They don’t know what tax selling is – because they don’t do it. (If all your investments are in mutual funds, you have no control over your taxes.)

Click the image for a larger view, and you can find up to the minute info on the Dow 30 at this link. (Well, it is probably actually delayed 15 minutes when the markets are open.)

But people who actually manage portfolios – their own, or other peoples – looked at what was happening, considered the lessons of history, and decided to cut losses and save on taxes. From the view of those ignorant of history (or at least of the history of financial markets), the last week of December must have looked like the end of the world. It wasn’t the end of the world. By selling anything you had at a loss, you can impact your taxes. (While I’m not a tax person or an investment advisor, my understanding is that an uninsured loss – like a capital loss – can be carried forward as much as 3 years. I do know you can write it off in the year in question.) So cutting your losses in a down year, can make sense. I think – though am not sure – there is a minimum time you have to wait before buying the stock back, but I usually sell stock that have lost faith in.

So if the end of December looked like the end of the world, what does the middle of January look like? Sure, we are still in a correction, and maybe it is the start of a bull market, but if you only look at the Year-to-Date numbers, the markets look pretty damn good.

‡ A Quiz on the history of markets and investing after the break.

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2018: The Year With No Violent Tornadoes?

Violent Tornadoes in the US since 1950So they keep telling me that Global Warming (or is it Climate Change?) will create more severe weather, like more tornadoes. 2018 will be the first year with no violent tornadoes in the United States. In fairness, the year isn’t (quite) over yet.

Clicking on the image will take you to the article, where you can find a larger view of the image… You need to page down.

We’re now days away from this becoming the first year in the modern record with no violent tornadoes touching down in the United States. Violent tornadoes are the strongest on a 0 to 5 scale, or those ranked EF4 or EF5.

It could also be a year where we see a record low number of tornado-related deaths.

Hat tip to 90 Miles From Tyranny who asks, How Will Climate Alarmists Explain US Having Fewest ‘Violent’ Tornadoes Ever in 2018?

In August, The New York Times — “All the News That’s Fit to Print” — reported that “Tornadoes on the East Coast May Be a Sign of Things to Come.” And why, you may ask? Well, you probably needn’t have asked.

Go look at the image (linked above) and at the regression lines fit to the data.