Category Archives: Social issues ( be civil ! )

Happy Fourth of July

Only immigrants truly appreciate this country.  So it’s worth repeating an earlier post about them. Happy fourth of July.

Hitler’s gifts (and Russia’s gift)

In the summer of 1984 Barack Obama was at Harvard Law, his future wife was a Princeton undergraduate, and Edward Frenkel a 16 year old mathematical prodigy was being examined for admission to Moscow State University. He didn’t get in because he was Jewish. His blow by blow description of the 5 hour exam on pp. 28 – 38 of his book “Love & Math” is as painful to read as it must have been for him to write.

A year earlier the left in Europe had mobilized against the placement of Pershing missiles in Europe by president Reagan, already known there as a crude and witless former actor, but, unfortunately possessed of nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands marched. He had even called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire that year. Leftists the world over were outraged. How unsophisticated to even admit the possibility of evil. Articles such as “Reagan’s image in Europe does not help Allies in deploying American missiles” appeared in the liberal press.

The hatred of America is nothing new for the left.

Reset the clock to ’60 – ’62 when I was a grad student in the Harvard Chemistry department. The best place to meet women was the International house. It had a piano, and a Polish guy who played Chopin better than I did. It had a ping pong table, and another Polish guy who beat me regularly. The zeitgeist at Harvard back then, was that America was rather crude (the Ugly American was quite popular), boorish and unappreciative of the arts, culture etc. etc.

One woman I met was going on and on about this, particularly the condition of the artist in America, and how much better things were in Europe. I brought up Solzhenitzen, and the imprisonment of dissidents over there. Without missing a beat, she replied that this just showed how important the Russian government thought writers and artists were. This was long before Vietnam.

It was definitely a Saul on the road to Damascus moment for me. When the left began spelling America, Amerika in the 60s and 70s, I just ignored it.

Fast forward to this fall, and the Nobels. The 7th Chemistry Nobel bestowed on a department member when I was there went to Marty Karplus. The others were Woodward, Corey, Lipscomb, Gilbert, Hoffman, Bloch. While Bill Lipscomb was a Kentucky gentleman to a T (and a great guy), Hoffman spent World War II hiding out in an attic, his father being in a concentration camp (guess why). Konrad Bloch (who looked as teutonic as they come) also got out of Europe due to his birth. Lastly Karplus got out of Euruope as a child for the same reason. Don Voet, a fellow grad student, whose parents got out of Europe for (I’ll make you guess), used to say that the Universal Scientific Language was — broken English.

So 3/7 of the Harvard Chemistry Nobels are Hitler and Europe’s gifts to America.

Russia, not to be outdone, gave us Frenkel. Harvard recognized his talent, and made him a visiting professorship at age 21, later enrolling him in grad school so he could get a PhD. He’s now a Stanford prof.

So the next time, someone touts the “European model” of anything, ask them about Kosovo, or any of this.


Those of you in training should consider the following. You really won’t know how good what you are getting really is until 50 years or so have passed. That’s not to say Harvard Chemistry’s reputation wasn’t very good back then. Schleyer said ‘now you’re going to Mecca’ when he heard I’d gotten in.

Also to be noted, is that all 7 future Nobelists in the early 60s weren’t resting on their laurels, but actively creating them. The Nobels all came later

Correctly taken to task by two readers and some breaking news

I should have amended the previous post to say I mistrust unverified models.  Here are two comments

#1 Andyextance

  • “Leaving aside the questions of the reliability of models in different subjects, and whether all of your six reasons truly relate to models, I have one core question: Without models, how can we have any idea about what the future might hold? Models may not always be right – but as long as they have some level of predictive skill they can often at least be a guide.”

    Absolutely correct — it’s all about prediction, not plausibility.

#2 Former Bell Labs denizen

“And yet you board a commercial airliner without hesitation, freely trusting your life to the models of aerodynamics, materials science, control system theory, electronics, etc. that were used in designing the aircraft. Similar comments apply to entering a modern skyscraper, or even pushing the brake pedal on your automobile.
Perhaps what you are really saying is that you don’t trust models until their correctness is demonstrated by experience; after that, you trust them. Hey, nothing to disagree with there.”
Correct again
Breaking news
This just in — too late for yesterday’s post — the climate models have overestimated the amount of warming to be expected this century — the source  is an article  in
Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2973 — behind a paywall — but here’s the abstract
In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.
Unfortunately the abstract doesn’t quantify generally smaller.
Models whose predictions are falsified by data are not to be trusted.
Yet another reason Trump was correct to get the US out of the Paris accords— in addition to the reasons he used — no method of verification, no penalties for failure to reduce CO2 etc. etc.  The US would tie itself in economic knots trying to live up to it, while other countries would emit pious goals for reduction and do very little. 
In addition, \ I find it rather intriguing that the article was not published in Nature Climate Change   –, — which would seem to be the appropriate place.  Perhaps it’s just too painful for them.

I mistrust models.

I have no special mistrust of climate models, I mistrust all models of complex systems.  Here are six reasons why.

Reason #1:  My cousin runs an advisory service for institutional investors (hedge funds, retirement funds, stock market funds etc. etc.)  Here is the beginning of his latest post 16 June ’17

There were 3 great reads yesterday. First was Neil Irwin’s article in the NY Times “Janet Yellen, the Fed and the Case of the Missing Inflation.”  He points out that Yellen is a labor market scholar who anticipated the sharp decline in the unemployment rate. However the models on which the Fed has relied anticipate higher levels of inflation. Yet every inflation measure that the Fed uses has fallen well short of the Fed’s 2% stability rate. If they continue raising short-term rates in the face of low inflation, then “real” rates could restrain future economic growth.

Second was Greg Ip’s article “Lousy Raise? It Might Not Get Better.” Greg makes the point that tight labor markets are a global phenomenon in many industrialized countries, yet wage inflation remains muted. Writes Greg “If a labor market this tight can’t generate better pay, quite possibly it never will in Germany & Japan.”

Third was an article by Glenn Hubbard (Dean of Columbia Business School & former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush). His Wall Street Journal op-ed was titled “How to Keep the Fed from Following its Models off a Cliff.”  Hubbard suggests that Fed officials should interact more with market participants and business people. And Fed governors should be selected because of their varied life experiences, and they should encourage a healthy skepticism of prevailing economic models.

Serious money was spent developing these models.  Do you think that climate is in some way simpler than the US economy, so that they are more likely to be accurate?  I do not.

Reason #2: Americans are getting fatter yet living longer, contradicting the model that being mildly overweight is bad for you.  It is far too long to go into so here’s the link —

The first part is particularly fascinating, in that data showed that overweight (not obese) people tended to live longer.  The article describes how people who had spent their research careers telling the public that being overweight was bad, tried to discount the data. The best quote in the article is the following ““We’re scientists. We pay attention to data, we don’t try to un-explain them.”,

Reason #3: The economic predictions of the Congressional Budget Office on just about anything –inflation, gross national product, economic growth, the deficit — are consistently wrong —

Addendum 28 June “White house economists overestimated annual economic growth by about 80 percent on average for a six year stretch during Barack Obama’s presidency, according to Freedom Works economic consultant Stephen Moore.

Economists predicted growth between 3.2 to 4.6 percent for the years 2010 through 2015. Actual economic growth never hit above 2.6 percent.”

Reason #4:  Animal models of stroke:  There were at least 60, in which some therapy or other was of benefit.  None of them worked in people. It got so bad I stopped reading the literature about it.  We still have no useful treatment for garden variety strokes

Reason #5:  The Club of Rome,  — dire prediction based on a computer model which got a lot of play in the 70s.  For details see —  The post also has a lot about “The Population Bomb” and its failed predictions and also a review of a book about “The Bet” between Paul Ehrlich and Simon

Reason #6: Live by the model, die by the model. A fascinating book “Shattered” about the Hillary Clinton campaign, explains why the campaign did no polling in the final 3 weeks of the campaign. The man running the ‘data analytics’ (translation: model) Robby Mook, thought the analytics were better and more accurate (p. 367).


They want to be left alone with their own kind

From the statement of Hon. Thomas G. Abernethy, First District of Mississippi House of Representatitves on H. R. 140 before the House Committee of the Judiciary 1957 concerning HR 140 and other Civil Rights Legislation.

“Negroes naturally prefer the association and society of their own kind. .. They know the purpose of this legislation is not just to give them the vote, nor to give them better schools. They know that the ultimate and longtime objective of its sponsors is to force the Negroes and white people to mix in all the affairs of life. . . This the respectable negroes do not want. They want to be left alone with their own kind. . . Even in the small towns and villages they segretate themselves because they like it that way. It is the natural way of life; everything after its own kind.. . ”

Well, silly me. In 1960, there I was as a Princeton undergraduate picketing the local Woolworth’s on Nassau street because of their segregated southern lunch counters

Little did I know that advanced sociological thinking by blacks 57 years later would confirm Abernethy’s thoughts —

Rumor has it that the appropriately named Harvard Board of Overseers — — will further accommodate them by planting cotton and watermelons in Harvard yard so they can feel more at home ‘among their own kind’.

If you are concerned that I’m a bigot or anti-black in any way I suggest that you look at the following earlier post —

A bit of history

I’ve been reading Nature since I’ve been able to afford a subscription, e.g. since about 1972. To put their undoubted coming hysteria about Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement into perspective, consider the fact that they bought the arguments of the Club of Rome, hook line and sinker. The Wikipedia article is quite sanitized, but here’s a direct quote from the jacket flap of the club’s book “The Limits to Growth” which came out in 1972.

“Will this be the world that your grandchildren with thank you for? A world where industrial production has sunk to zero. Where population has suffered a catastrophic decline. Where the air, sea and land are polluted beyond redemption. Where civilization is a distant memory. This is the world that the computer forecasts. What is even more alarming, the collapse will not come gradually, but with awsome suddenness, with no way of stopping it”

Well, it’s 45 years later and their grandchildren have seen no such thing. Nature’s online available archives go back to 1975, but I’ve been unable to find a link to one of their articles. If anyone out there has found one, post a comment.

When we were down in New Haven, I picked up a book by a Yale Prof, Paul Sabin called “The Bet” concerning the intellectual conflict between Paul Ehrlich — he of the population bomb and Julian Simon. Ehrlich said we’d run out of just about everything shortly (presumably because of too many people), so economist Simon bet him that we wouldn’t. The intellectual war began in earnest in the 80’s and dragged on for a decade or so.

I recommend the book. In it you will find John Holdren, Obama’s ‘science’ advisor, also a devout malthusian, although with a degree in physics.

Perhaps Nature has it right this time, and that the models of warming which failed to predict the climate stasis of 17 years duration (the term pause gives away the game implying that temperature will continue to increase) are a reliable guide to the future.

Even if Nature is right, the Paris Agreement was terrible, no verification, no penalties for missing targets etc. etc. A massive expansion of governmental control and clamps on economic expansion, for minimal benefit.

So relax. Protest if you wish, it’s a cheap display of virtue which costs you nothing, even though you’re quite willing to fight global warming down to the last coal miner.

The Leakathon

My late father-in-law did financial forensics for the SEC and on loan to Treasury. His work involved high-profile cases and he put many people in jail. He never, ever, discussed a case he was working on with his wife, my wife and me. He retired in 1972 just Watergate broke. Sam Dash chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee asked him to come out of retirement and trace the Watergate money, saying it would only be a few weeks work, but he wisely refused.

This brings us to “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House Official as a signifiant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.” as reported in the Washington Post 20 May.

This sort of thing is probably criminal and certainly disgusting. Presumably someone in the FBI is doing the leaking. Hopefully Mueller will put a stop to this.

What do you think the odds are, that collusion between Trump (or is campaign) and the Russians will actually be found? My guess is that they are quite low because, despite 7 months of leaks absolutely nothing substantive has been emitted. If the leakers had anything serious, we’d have heard of it by now.

I’ve never bought the idea that second hand smoke was very dangerous, yet we have breathless reports of second hand hearsay — Someone reading Comey’s notes (presumably not the man himself) about something he interpreted Trump to say. I don’t think hearsay evidence is admissible in a court of law.

I never really believed in the Deep State before, but it seems to be in full cry now —

The powers that be at the New York Times have decided that Hillary is toast

Kremlinologists used to carefully look at who was in what position in the stands reviewing the annual May Day parade to understand behind the scenes power struggles and who was currently on top. Here in the States, we are more fortunate. All we need to do is read the letters to the editor on the editorial page of the New York Times.

Just like “Home on the Range”, never is heard a discouraging word (or a letter which disagrees with the editorial stances of the Times).

So today (15 May 2017) 4 letters appeared concerning a column written 7 May by Frank Bruni titled “Hillary Clinton’s Absolution” — all highly critical of Hillary and Bill.

A few quotes:

“The Clintons have been running the Democratic party like a personal fief for 25 years”.

“But to ruminate about how Hillary would have won if only the Russians, WikiLeaks and James Comey didnot do her in — well, I have had enough of this.”

“Frank Bruni” seems obsessed enough about Hillary Clinton’s feelings to write an opera.”

“But it’s also her (Hillary’s) supporters in the DemocraticParty leadership who need to seek redemption for abandoning the working class voters who once formed the core constituency of their party.”

Do you think the publication of these 4 letters was unintentional? By the purest of coincidences publication occurred the very day Hillary announced the formation of a new PAC to oppose Trump —

The same day a full page article title “How Democracy Collapsed” concerning Venezuela. The word elites appears 3 times, the word socialism not at all.

A Touching Mother’s Day Story

A Touching Mother’s Day Story

Yes, a touching mother’s day story for you all. It was 50 years ago (yes half a century ago ! ! ), and I was an intern at a big city hospital on rotation in their emergency room. The ER entrance was half a block from an intersection with a bar on each corner. On a Saturday night, we knew better than to try to get some sleep before 2AM or until we’d put in 2 chest tubes (to drain blood from the lungs, which had been shot or stabbed). The bartenders were an intelligent lot — they had to be quick thinking to defuse situations, and we came to know them by name. So it was 3AM 50 years ago and Tyrone was trudging past on his way home, and I was just outside the ER getting some cool night air, things having quieted down.

“Happy Mother’s day, Tyrone” sayeth I

“Thanks Doc, but every day is Mother’s day with me”

“Why, Tyrone?”

“Because every day I get called a mother— “

Impeach Earl Warren ! ! !

Most of the readership is too young to remember billboards all over the South in the 50’s and 60’s crying “Impeach Earl Warren ! ! ! ” He was the chief justice of the Supreme Court which in 1954 rendered the decision that legally enforced racial segregation was unconstitutional.

Now we have a letter in today’s New York Times arguing for a recall presidential election, and an article in the 8 May New Yorker titled “EndGames What would it take to cut short Trump’s Presidency.” Don’t they wish. Hilarious. Santayana must be loving it. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

Red blooded women at Wellesley

You’ve probably heard that women’s colleges have been taken over by humorless politically correct snowflakes, angry lesbians, oppressed minorities etc. etc. etc.

The following link will show you that there are plenty of red blooded women at Wellesley. Enjoy

Don’t worry some very heavy molecular biology with implications for glioblastoma multiforme, Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism will be posted tonight. In the meantime relax and enjoy the pictures.