Ardnassac

This is a book recommendation. Sadly, it’s out of print, and I can find none in any of the used book sites I have used. The good news is it’s cheap on Kindle.

I found out about it here if you want a short opinion second to the one that follows.

I can’t believe I’d never heard of the book, either.

The flying car topic of the title is used to weave a sort of ‘back to the future’ look at at technology, American ingenuity/entrepreneurialism, and government regulation. There is a strong science fiction presence used to ask “Why did, or did not, the predictions of 1930-1960 SF come to pass?” It’s a good summary of my contention that much of that literature should have been required reading.

Appearances, among many others, by H. G. Wells, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.

The brilliant Dr. Richard Feynman also takes a bow in a discussion of Heinlein’s novellas Waldo and Magic Inc..

I cut my teeth on SF with Tom Swift, and my strong technological optimism arguably started with that series. (I wonder if there is anything comparable now for 10 year olds?)

The author, J Storrs Hall, is a techno-optimist, too, and he suggests that after the 1960’s America became a much less “can do” polity than we had any reason to expect. We went from the Wright brothers to 747s in 50 years, from Goddard (1926) to the moon in 43. Now we’re mired in CAFE standards and cronyism.

Hall does spend a fair bit of time discussing the history of ‘flying cars’ and that alone is fascinating. There’s much more. He also makes very intriguing points about nanotech, nuclear power, AI, cybernetics, economics, city planning, and other topics.

One major consideration is envirostatism (my term), where he contends that the GREEN point isn’t CO2, pollution, or any of the other excuses offered. It is essentially anti-human nihilism.

For example,

“Green ideas have become inextricably intertwined with a perfectly reasonable desire to live in a clean, healthy environment and enjoy the natural world. The difference is of course that in the latter case, the human enjoying the natural world is a good thing, but to the fundamentalist Green he and all his works are a bad thing.”

Lest you think this is hyperbole, he supplies some words from the mouths of the horses-asses:

The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.
-Jeremy Rifkin

Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.
-Paul Ehrlich

It would be little short of disastrous for us for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.
-Amory Lovins

The title of this piece is Cassandra backwards. I closely paraphrase J Storrs Hall,

“There seems to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” speak awful falsehoods, and they are believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seems to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”

We hear California wildfires are caused by global warming climate change, when it’s actually envirostatist mismanagement, and the conscious intent to build windmills rather than maintain power lines. The California satraps agree with Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. In order to cripple the supply of energy, what have their like told us that wasn’t true?

California wildfires are caused by climate change. Gavin Newsom – yesterday
Four billion people will die between 1980 and 1989 from climate change. Paul Ehrlich – 1970
The polar ice cap will disappear by 2014. Al Gore – 2007
The planet will warm by 3 full degrees (0.1, actually). James Hansen – 1988
We will see the ‘end of snow.’ Untrue, no matter how many times it’s been predicted. various – 2000, 2015, 2017, 2020
Air pollution will reduce the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half. – Various – 1970

Amusingly, we also didn’t see an ice age by the year 2000. Kenneth Watt – 1970

Meanwhile, we see the very people who want zero CO2 emissions steadfastly oppose nuclear energy. Which is zero emission, safe, and causes immensely less environmental damage than windmills or solar panels. They are not protecting the environment, they are attacking the very idea of human well-being. This antipathy is in the spirit of Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. It is about authoritarian power in the way Critical Theorists describe it: There are no objective truths. Human history and culture are merely examples of a struggle in relative political power dynamics.

They don’t mean power as in horsepower, they mean justifying the political power of Antifa and BLM riots.

And don’t get me started on Critical Theorists’ “science” on “individuals with a cervix,” or what 2+2 equals.

Anyway. I recommend the book.

What do CAGW and CCP virus have in common?

Models. Models built by sinecured credentialists for careerist advantage; enabling anti-human busybodies, corporate elites and autocratic politicians to demand policies commanding the lives of ordinary people.

That both sets of models, and the ensuing policies, have been failures is not a coincidence. Neither is the refusal of the busybodies, elites, or politicians to apply the policies to themselves.

For example, flying from their mansions to environmental conferences in private jets and ignoring social distancing in BLM marches.

We have always been at war with Thunbergia

For the people who read Orwell as an instruction manual it is not merely a question of whether 2+2=5, or whether “freedom is slavery,” or “silence is violence,” or memory holing contrarian commentary about BLM, or Trans activism, or Feminism, or the CCP virus – climate alarmism must also be made safe from debate.
On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare — Environmental Progress

That article appeared in Forbes for about 24 hours before being taken down.

Shame.

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.