Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Gun Control Enthusiasts Would Do Better to Tell the Truth

I don't often go to VOX and every time I do I'm reminded why I don't go there. The writers there don't tell the truth. Like here. The falsehoods start in the first line.

Every day in America, about 31 people are killed in gun homicides. It's a grisly death toll — one that no other developed nation has to deal with.

No, the gun homicides in America for the 5 years between 2010 and 2014 have been between 8,000 and 9,000 and in 2014, it was very close to 8,000. Let's do the math. 365 times 31 is 11,315. That's closer to the number of total murders not the gun homicide which are less than 70% of American murders each year. A journalist trying to give the facts, the truth, to his or her readers would not make such a transparent mistake. 8,124 (the 2014 rate of gun homicides in America) divided by 365 is 22 murders with guns per day. That seems like a lot, and it is, but for the third largest nation by population, it's 3.9 per 100,000. That's not the highest in the developed nations. Not by a long shot. Here is a partial list of the developed nations with a higher rate: Brazil (18.79); Columbia (23.93); Costa Rica (5.92); Mexico (6.34); South Africa (12.6); Uruguay (4.78); Venezuela (39); Russia (10.7)

So that's two transparently false statements in the first line. I wish I could say it gets better.

The basic recommendation of the VOX article's argument is to have concentrated police involvement in the areas with the greatest amount of gun violence. Sounds racist to me but I'd be willing to give it a go.

The article praises the gun confiscation in Australia in 1996 and '97 and refers to another VOX article which is here and states this:

In 2011, Harvard's David Hemenway and Mary Vriniotis reviewed the research on Australia's suicide and homicide rate after the NFA. Their conclusion was clear: "The NFA seems to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved."
What they found is a decline in both suicide and homicide rates after the NFA. The average firearm suicide rate in Australia in the seven years after the bill declined by 57 percent compared with the seven years prior. The average firearm homicide rate went down by about 42 percent.
Now, Australia's homicide rate was already declining before the NFA was implemented — so you can't attribute all of the drops to the new laws. But there's good reason to believe the NFA, especially the buyback provisions, mattered a great deal in contributing to those declines. (Emphasis added).

Why do they only talk about the seven years after the confiscation of approximately 20% of Australian guns? That would take us only to 2004. Have there been no statistics since then. Well, yes there have and I've written about it, a lot. The suicide rate in Australia did decline for a few years and the gun suicide rate, already going down a lot, went down even more. But then the suicide rate went back up and is now higher than it was before and during the confiscation. All the gun grabbing did was change the method of suicide. In what way is that saving lives?

The same is true about gun homicides. Actually the rate went up immediately after the confiscation and then declined but only at the rate it was declining prior to the legislation. That's not saving lives now or then and the non gun-crime rate, especially rape, is much higher than it is here. I'm all for saving lives but not at the cost of helpless female victims.

I'd be willing to meet halfway the people eager to take away guns but not when I don't believe they are being honest.

UPDATE: The mandatory buy back program in Australia in 1997-97 was supposed to take in 20% of the guns but the Aussies are not sheep and there was a lot of non compliance. To fill the vacuum of effective self defense weapons, a black market run by criminals sprang up and is doing land office business to this day. You can get any gun you want, apparently, even full auto. So I'm moving soon.


Monday, March 28, 2016


Lake Oroville, California



 El Niño comes through for California.


Friday, March 25, 2016


Kristof Off the Template But Still Clueless

In yesterday's New York Times, columnist extraordinaire Nicholas Kristoff displays (here) not only his inability to tell the difference between an accident and a murder, but reveals his deep seated inability to discern much of anything. Kind of a problem for an opinion piece writer. Behold.

Are terrorists more of a threat than slippery bathtubs?
President Obama, er, slipped into hot water when The Atlantic reported that he frequently suggests to his staff that fear of terrorism is overblown, with Americans more likely to die from falls in tubs than from attacks by terrorists.
The timing was awkward, coming right before the Brussels bombings, but Obama is roughly right on his facts: 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014 (the most recent years for which I could get figures).
Gee, I wonder if there was a year not too long ago when the number of Americans killed by terrorist far outnumbered the bathtub drownings? Why, yes, there was. 2001 had about 3,000 American deaths by terrorists. So even the average over the new millennium, about 220/yr. dead from a terrorist attack, is comparable to the deaths from falls in the tub (not drownings, which are a different matter). And that's just in America; the death rate from Muslim terrorists worldwide is much higher than here in the USA. Thanks for the global sympathy, Nick.

Then comes the Michael Kinsley type gaffe: Kristof tells the truth about himself but doesn't realize it.

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.
Right, like thinking the weather getting slightly nicer is any risk at all to us or that the risk of an accidental fall in a bathtub is a risk to ordered civilization greater than Muslim terrorism.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.
And why is there a yawn, O Kristof? Is it because James E. Hansen has been spectacularly wrong in his predictions ever since he began to make predictions? (See here, here and here). Is it because the "new" paper by Hansen is horrible science? (See here and here).

Except for the exotic fauna living off the hydrogen sulfides in the undersea hydrothermal vents, all life on Earth depends on CO2. An atmospheric concentration of it below 150 parts per million kills everything except the vent life. Below 1,000 parts per million and the plants that evolved over 60 million years ago (which is most of them) suffer from CO2 starvation and the Earth is much less verdant than it should be. It would take a concentration of 40,000 parts per million for CO2 to cause any risk to us at all, and 100,000 for it to be lethal (like on the alien moon in Prometheus). What is the atmospheric concentration now? 400 ppmv? 405? We've watched that rate rise from near plant starvation of around 300 to a more beneficial but not yet fully verdant concentration. The rate of change of the concentration has been fairly steady at 1.517 ppmv per year for the past 56 years; so at that rate, it will only take 26.36 million years for it to endanger us at all. I think I feel another yawn coming on.

I know that Kristof and his ilk are talking about increased temperature, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, as the risk, but CO2 caused atmospheric temperature rise is asymptotic (that's the opposite of exponential). After a while (and we're already to the flat part of the curve) it takes many doublings of the CO2 concentration to raise the atmospheric temperature at an appreciable rate. And the curve keeps getting flatter. So it would take, according to my careful calculations, over 16,000 years for it to raise the Earth's average temperature 2 degrees, Celsius, which is about the lower limit of the change in ambient temperature we are able to perceive.

Who's systematically misjudging the risk of additional CO2 in the atmosphere now? Back to Kristof.

The upshot is that Brussels survived this week’s terrorist attacks, but it may not survive climate change (much of the city is less than 100 feet above sea level).

The tidal gauge derived rate of sea level rise is 1.7 mm/yr. The corrupted rate from our federal government is 3.2 mm/yr. The tidal gauge rate is almost certainly right and the NOAA rate is almost certainly wrong, but let's use the higher rate. At 3.2 mm/yr it will take 9,525 years for the sea to cover the low parts of Brussels. So they have a little time to prepare. I'm yawning again.

Actually, in less time than that the next ice age will role around for reasons that have been as regular as celestial clockwork for the past few million years and have nothing whatsoever to do with CO2 concentration in our atmosphere. At the full onset of the next ice age the sea level will have dropped 400 feet and many of the current coastal cities will retreat inland.



Neo-Reaganites Say This Now

The scariest 20 words in the English language are:

I'm from the Government and, despite my intentions, my extraordinary incompetence is only going to make things worse for you.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Sometimes I'm Better at Prediction

Here is my post from June 2015 about what would happen to the weather in California during the Winter of 2015/16. Money quote:

There is a quite good El Nino forming up in the equatorial Pacific so rainfall this Fall and Winter should be better and perhaps good in the whole of California and western Nevada and the Sierra Madre snow pack should be about 70% of normal by the first day of Spring, 2016.

And 5 days from the first day of Spring, here are the snowpack and reservoir data.

I was under but still predicted the beginning of the end of the drought and the return of snow to the California mountains. And it was all entirely natural. Not a human produced CO2 molecule involved.

Here are the drought conditions in the US. Still bad in Southern California, Idaho and Montana. Everyplace else is good.


Thursday, March 10, 2016


Thought of the Day

Pope Francis, who as an economist is one hell of a theologian, insists that we can have capitalism if we will care for the people, which gets it exactly backward: We can care for the poor if we have capitalism. The mandate that we feed the poor presupposes that we have something to feed them. Production necessarily precedes consumption, which means that it necessarily precedes redistribution.

Kevin D. Williamson


Saturday, March 05, 2016


Paraphrasing From Hell

The New York Times continues its sad devotion to blaming the tool, guns, in this rather slimy editorial today. Here's some background.

The Congress passed a law in 2005 stopping lawsuits against gun manufacturers, suppliers and dealers, etc. for criminal use of the guns they make or sell. The prohibition of such suits is very short and to the point. The statute's details are nearly all in the definition section which is here. The Sandy Hook parents are ignoring the law and suing the manufacturer, supplier and dealer for the criminal use of a semi-automatic rifle at the elementary school years ago. It will be a legal travesty if the suit is not dismissed soon. Here are the truly objectionable parts of the NYT piece.

The weapon was a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle adapted from its original role as a battlefield weapon. The AR-15, which is designed to inflict maximum casualties with rapid bursts, should never have been available for purchase by civilians.
What rapid bursts? The NYT zealots have apparently never been able to wrap their somewhat pointy heads around the conceptual difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic. There are no bursts from semi-automatic weapons. One trigger pull produces one round fired with semi-auto and no more. Full auto means you pull the trigger and the gun fires until it's empty or you're not pulling the trigger anymore, which ever comes first. There are 'three-shot-burst' settings on some weapons we call fully auto; but that's a limitation designed to save ammunition while still having multiple rounds going down range, that is, having some firepower. That's the full auto side. Also, the AR-15 in semi-auto came first from its inventor Mr. Stoner and others, then was adapted to the full auto M-16 and its 4 versions and then the M-4 version and its versions. The Times has it backwards. The AR-15 is not designed to inflict maximum casualties. The M-16 and M-4 are designed to do that.

Almost all handguns not revolvers today are semi-auto. Many rifles are semi-auto and fire as rapidly from the same type of removable box magazine as the AR-15. They are as lethal as the AR-15 but the Times writers never mention them. The AR-15 looks mean, looks military. The others, such as the Mini 14 from Sturm, Ruger, look like wood and steel hunting rifles. Saying that the AR-15 should never be sold to civilians is saying 80% of modern guns shouldn't be sold to civilians. Sorry, that idea is clearly unconstitutional. OK, on with the article.

The Sandy Hook parents argue that their suit should continue because that law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, allows claims against companies — gun shop dealers, for example — if they knew or should have known that the weapons they sold were likely to risk injury to others. The parents contend that the maker of the Bushmaster is no less culpable because it knowingly marketed a risky war weapon to civilians.

Well, the Sandy Hook parents are wrong. The AR-15 is not a risky war weapon. But the exception to the ban on lawsuits they are looking for, the so-called "knew or should have known that the weapons they sold were likely to risk injury to others" is as phony as their description of the AR-15. Here's what the law actually says.

You can't bring "a civil action or proceeding or an administrative proceeding...against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, [a gun], or a trade association, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief, resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a [gun] by the person or a third party..." (Emphasis added).

There are a few exceptions but none of them apply to the tragic shooting at the elementary school. Here are the exceptions:

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;
(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;
(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including
(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or
(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18
(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;
(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or
(vi) an action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18 or chapter 53 of title 26.

I've looked and looked through that part of the statute and I just can't find the " if they knew or should have known that the weapons they sold were likely to risk injury to others" exception. That's mainly because it isn't there. All guns have the ability to cause injury to others. That's an essential purpose. We all know that. You really have to marvel at the stupidity of this piece and the lawsuit it talks about. Then, there's this.

Beyond seeking damages, the Sandy Hook parents aim to force the AR-15 off the market. “The AR-15 is the weapon of choice for shooters looking to inflict maximum casualties, and American schools are on the forefront of such violence,”

This is utter rubbish. Well less than 3% of murderers using guns involve rifles, and that's all rifles including the bolt action ones. Hand guns are the main weapon used by murderers, including mass murderers.

The grieving but litigious parents would have served themselves better had they sued the shooter's estate, instead. He's the only one responsible for the criminal use of the guns used at the school.

The reason the '05 law is such a good idea (despite the NYT calling it foolish and shameful) is that no manufacturer is liable for the criminal misuse of the product. You can't sue Sears if someone uses a Craftsman framing hammer to murder someone else. You can't sue Ford if someone murders another person by running them over with a Mustang. Congress realized that nuisance suits would be used by anti-gun zealots to do what the Constitution (and amendments thereto) prohibits, namely, ban ownership of guns because all the makers and sellers would be bankrupt. And the best proof of the wisdom of Congress in 2005 is this nuisance suit now pending in Connecticut.

UPDATE: Matt Vespa, at Townhall, gets to this party a little late here. He and I agree the editorial is worthless and shame-worthy.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?