Modeling models

Perhaps if transistors hadn’t been invented then running VisiCalc’s descendant, Excel, on a vacuum tube computer would show you the real meaning of global warming…

Let me back up. I want to talk about computer models, starting with some I was running in the early 1970s.

I worked for a company whose business was replacing the mainframe computers of its clients by renting time on much larger ones we ran for the clients. The clients used various forms of telephone connections, primitive by today’s standard. A 57 kilobit leased line would be a high speed example. No network, a point to point serial line.

Anyway, the modeling we did was to simulate what it would cost prospects to use our services. As input we were able to get quite precise data about the number of bytes read & written, lines printed, CPU cycles consumed, hard disk capacity, number of lines of code executed, etc., for all the computing done on the machine we were proposing to replace. We also did this for clients contemplating new applications.

We had a great deal of complexity to deal with, but it was well documented, well known and precisely accurate. We also had incentive to get it right because, profitability. We exhaustively tested each new IBM system software release against our model. We continually verified its assumptions across several different mainframe architectures.

Not only that, but the easy stuff was 80% of the model. Mostly this consisted in sorting things into different sequences required by the programs. With dependable database software, this aspect of computing has mostly faded away. Well, except for those still running 1970s software, like New Jersey. (The comments at that link are interesting, too.)

Sometimes, though, even given all our knowledge, we discovered there were things we didn’t know. Usually, not knowing these things turned out badly.

Like the cost of a CICS transaction… You don’t care what that means, I’ll spare you the details. Short version, one customer had creatively designed a system that made CICS use 5 times the expensive resources our exquisitely constructed model assumed.

Even in a nearly closed system, with highly accurate and detailed information about a mechanistic process, with monetary incentive – we could get the wrong answer. Because of human innovation.

Anyway, we used 80 column punch cards to construct the individual models and then fed them into the mainframe. Punching the wrong hole, or punching it in the wrong place had serious consequences in this tedious process. The output was checked meticulously. Tweaking a parameter meant changing the whole construct, not just one parameter, and another run on the mainframe. It was labor and compute intensive.

A little later, I purchased a personal computer, a TRS80 Model I. I also obtained a copy of one of the most important programs ever created for microcomputers. VisiCalc.

VisiCalc was intoxicating! I could change one cell and watch the effects ripple through the spreadsheet in seconds. The need to be meticulous didn’t go away, but errors were easily and quickly corrected. Assumptions were testable for reasonableness immediately.

What gradually did go away were constraints on believing the output. I watched this happen in a consulting career using such tools (Lotus, Excel) to advise my clients. Despite my decidedly cautionary advice about what we didn’t know we didn’t know, vanishingly few were appropriately skeptical.

“Yes, I am knowledgeable and trustworthy. Yes, that output reflects what you told me. But, neither of us even can know enough.”

This extended introduction brings us to two sets of models now being used to control our lives: Models of the CCP Pandemic (known to the politically correct as COVID-19) consequences and Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (known, until the next terminology rehash, as “Climate Change”).

Differences between my 1970s models and those: I knew much more about vastly fewer model parameters and their limits; had devastatingly superior, proven data; dealt with a non-chaotic system; and had greater personal consequences for inaccuracy.

The main differences between the CCP and CAGW sets of models is that the CCP models are simpler and have a much shorter time scale.

The similarities for the CCP and CAGW sets of models is that they have been wildly wrong and are used to argue for massive government expenditures, limitations on freedoms, and citizen surveillance.

Some are even connecting the two. I can see why.

Victor Davis Hanson

Brilliant. A must watch.

Victor Davis Hanson: COVID-19 and the Lessons of History | Hoover Virtual Policy Briefing

50 minutes. I watched at 1.5x. Speech is understandable, but is out of sync with video.

Hanson’s recounting of his family experience, through many deadly diseases, in a house they’ve owned for 145 years, is awesome.

His forbears had no expectations that government could solve every problem. When that changed, we started loosing America.

“[T]hey [Government during the Spanish flu, for example] didn’t have confidence that they were all knowing… they were much more humble about their own data and the ramifications.”

Compare and contrast with Gretchen Esther Whitmer.

Then read the quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville and Ayn Rand at the end of this post.

We’re all women now

The coronavirus is killing far more men than women

Amazing that that’s from the Washington Post. I have been reliably assured the WaPo is ‘woke.’

Compounding the transgressive, hateful denial of gender as a spectrum in the headline, they directly insult the LGBTQI2S cabal:

But there are also underlying biological differences between men and women that may make covid-19 worse in men, several researchers pointed out. Years of research have found that women generally have stronger immune systems than men and are better able to fend off infections. The X chromosome contains a large number of immune-related genes, and because women have two of them, they gain an advantage in fighting disease

Trans women are women, except when they don’t have XX chromosomes.

CCP virus don’t care. What your pronoun is.

Your job

…is not to panic. Don’t do it… for the children.

The Extinction Rebellion death cult and the Green Ordeal climate-doom-mongers are attempting to instill existential fear in your children in order to influence you. And they aren’t above abusing vulnerable children like Greta Thunberg.

Here’s a non-hysterical look at what we know. And what we don’t.

Climate ‘limits’ and timelines
-Dr. Judith Curry

“Bottom line is that these timelines are meaningless. While we have confidence in the sign of the temperature change, we have no idea what its magnitude will turn out to be. Apart from uncertainties in emissions and the Earth’s carbon cycle, we are still facing a factor of 3 or more uncertainty in the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2, and we have no idea how natural climate variability (solar, volcanoes, ocean oscillations) will play out in the 21st century. And even if we did have significant confidence in the amount of global warming, we still don’t have much of a handle on how this will change extreme weather events. With regards to species and ecosystems, land use and exploitation is a far bigger issue.

Cleaner sources of energy have several different threads of justification, but thinking that sending CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 or whenever is going to improve the weather and the environment by 2100 is a pipe dream. If such reductions come at the expense of economic development, then vulnerability to extreme weather events will increase.”

Dr. Curry is a valuable resource if you are interested in climate science, and a valiant defender of free speech and the scientific method.

Her Week in review – science edition feature is an excellent curated overview of, well, what it says. An example.

Curry’s post includes this nice summary quote from Larry Kummer on the IPCC’s Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”

“There is nothing in this Special Report justifying belief that the world will end, that the world will burn, or that humanity will go extinct. It has been misrepresented just as past reports have been (e.g., the 4th US National Climate Assessment). The disasters described the Climate Emergency and Extinction Rebellion activists are those of RCP8.5, the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment report – or even beyond it. RCP8.5 is, as a worst-case scenario should be, a horrific but not apocalyptic future that is improbable or impossible.”