29 December 2009

Some less random thoughts on the paranormal

...which is not to say that they aren't pretty random.

Way back when I first started blogging, I had a quick set of suggestions on some things that could be done to help deal with tracking down paranormal activity. There have been a few television series dealing with this topic since that time and I will deal with the latest incarnation of these programs, which is Ghost Lab from the Discovery Channel. The series deals with Everyday Paranormal, a group started up by the Klinge brothers, Brad and Barry, and is based in Texas. The show's basic format is to set up two situations with reported paranormal activity, have some background on the site and activity given by the current owners or other people who have experienced it, and then the Everyday Paranormal team sets up voice recorders, cameras and other equipment throughout the place they will be looking at and then do two night's worth of investigative work.

While the Klinge brothers do haul a lot of equipment around with them, some of it pretty sophisticated, the concept of their organization is to use science to investigate the afterlife, or at least the paranormal. Technical investigative tools does not a scientific investigation make, however. There are three main tools we see in the Ghost Lab series and each of them has strengths and weaknesses depending on how they are employed.

First is the EMF detector which measures variance in the Electro-Magnetic Field in milligauss. Carl Friedrich Gauss developed the equations that from Gauss's law on the electric flux through any closed surface as proportional to the enclosed electric charge. As electricity and magnetism are different manifestations of the same thing, that is electromagnetism, there is also a Gauss's law for magnetism. The gauss is then the measurement of the magnetic field which is 1 maxwell per square centimeter. As a reference the Earth's magnetic field is approximately 0.6 gauss and the variations being measured in the program are in the milligauss range or 0.001 gauss, so when we hear 0.1 milligauss we are getting 0.0001 gauss, as a difference from the surrounding field which is understood to be the Earth's at 600 milligauss. In other words a variation of 1 part in 6,000. While going from, say, 0.5 milligauss to 17 milligauss is a strong variation, that is still a less than 1% change in the Earth's magnetic field locally. Also as these are point recorders, not field or linear recorders, they have a fall-off rate due to the inverse-square phenomena and are most accurate at the point of measurement. As the Earth, itself, can experience variations in the magnetic field there needs to be data review taking this into consideration not only for local, terrestrial effects, but other effects due to the solar output. To get an idea of the strength of a gauss field, a strong permanent magnet made of iron that would be the size of your fist would be 100 gauss according to wisegeek. So a slightly magnetized iron or steel belt buckle could hit in the range that is looked at with EMF fields.

In addition the EMF detector has problems with electronics in the vicinity, beyond just local field variations due to the supernatural, the presence or absence of other equipment such as cell-phones, walkie-talkies, and even such things as electrical photographic equipment and sound measuring equipment all put out EMF from their circuitry. The Klinge brothers do try to get around this by placing isolated EMF detectors with equipment in static use mode so as to get a baseline set of readings, but any other equipment in the region can create EMF and walking around with one while sporadically using a cellphone, Wi-Fi equipment, walkie-talkies, other recorders, etc. means that EMF readings for those recorders are not of the highest value. Ones set up in static environments, with known operating equipment and time to register those equipment outputs, and then introducing a person with NO additional equipment can yield data with better value. With that said the variations are so minor as to be influenced by such things as cosmic rays, local intermittent underground sources (such as cable tv lines, power lines, even electrical sensors with gas lines), and other sporadic effects, that only a full 24-48 hour use of such detectors across normal highs and lows of equipment usage for that locale can give any assurance that an investigation can identify such sources and timing in their investigations. In particular a hard radiation meter with the EMF meter would help to get rid of high speed particles and some radioactivity noise by identifying such noise and when they happen. While the EMF detector can help individuals find equipment with noisy EMF output, its use beyond that is questionable without a better backing for the meters, themselves, and augmenting them with field meters, not just point source meters.



Second are normal visual to light enhanced cameras, fast flash cameras and other oddments in the visual range, which would include the cameras recording the episodes. Here the technology has gone up by leaps and bounds for everything from single frame to super-slow motion photography coming within the realm of the middle class. What we see of the normal cameras are single overview cameras in a room, usually put up on a tripod or otherwise stationed to get a broad view of a room (on a bookcase, say) but only in the smallest of spaces do we see overlapping use of these devices - the video cameras set up per room. Many of these are light intensifying cameras, which is all to the good in low lighting conditions, but that comes with the recognition that you are into grayscale imagery. Along with those are normal visual range (color) video cameras that only see limited daytime use or use in well lit areas. Finally there is the variety of hand-held cameras from fast flash color cameras to light intensifying cameras (still and video), and even such things as cell phone cameras. Of these pieces of equipment in the normal to light intensified range, the stationary video cameras are the ones suffering from lack of blanket coverage and overlap, which should be their highest utility. Cost considerations for all this equipment is paramount, of course, but there are some questions about why much lower cost USB or other cameras are not deployed to gain a more thorough coverage. I had this problem in my original post for IR (which falls in its own venue) where $70 Logitech Web Cams from circa 2004 were demonstrated to be good near-IR cameras once you removed their lens. Each camera would not give good focus, of course, but an array covering a room volume would allow for placement of volumes within a room even without good focus. While the aim of high resolution is to be admired for normal/LI cameras, the lack of good depth cues and volumetric analysis means that anything seen on an individual camera that does NOT have good spatial visualization is then open to question as to placement, size and duration.

The handheld units, while offering the ability to capture before/after pictures for events, are limited in time duration. The use of saturation panoramic coverage is wonderful... the lack of putting those into a panoramic image via software means that you don't get the full volumetric effect of such images. Here the problem is lack of software, which is cheap, and should be used for a 3-D spatial capture of a room that would include all of its contents so that a full before/after review could be performed.

A step up from that is the panoramic camera with parabolic mirror and unwrapping software that gets you that in one shot. That sort of camera arrangement backed by individual overlays from handheld units plus regular fixed cameras to cover areas blocked by furniture and such, would allow for a greater review of what is going on inside of rooms at any given time. Indeed if you hooked up an EMF recorder with a panoramic still recorder and stationary video you could set EMF flux densities over a certain point to trigger panoramic still shots as the EMF spike is recorded. For the cost of a good still camera with panoramic viewing, a tripping system between an EMF recorder and the camera, and a 3-D array of low cost video cameras, an entire room and its contents can be captured in not only LI but full color flash photography (an upwards pointing parabolic source above the camera would do this, but even set piece single flashes would also serve this purpose.

IR cameras, as mentioned above, are used in the hand held FLIR systems which are great on definition (in full video) but useless for volumetric information. High resolution has its uses, of that there is no question. Its utility for a hand mounted platform without image stabilization is questionable. Lesser devices giving ambient room temperature readings are, again, point source devices which are wonderful for those point readings but not so good for linear or volumetric readings. Between them are the other hand held IR devices which we have seen often give reddish/warm to sudden blue/cold phenomena that cannot, unfortunately, be tracked due to the transient nature of the effect, the slowness of the human response system and lack of broad overview IR cameras. In at least one episode there have been events happening down hallways or within rooms that a stationary IR camera would have caught, but the human carried FLIR has only gotten by near accident. At that point the human platform recorders are a PROBLEM not a SOLUTION.

Volumetric IR would be telling for any spot that varies in temperature as it would then delimit the energy available from that volume: find heat change over a volume and you yield net energy change (positive or negative).  That amount of energy then places limits on other phenomena due to that amount of energy having a limit.



Third is sound recording, which has finally progressed from reel-to-reel tape recorders and into the venue of digital, handheld voice recorders with long battery life and continuous operation. In theory, at least. What we get are standard handheld units of limited capture range and sensitivity plus the ubiquitous actual handheld use of same. Of simple parabolic microphones none are to be seen. Nor are directional microphones, ever so handy for pointing down long hallways or down stairwells with open airspace in them between the stair flights. Just like their visual counter-parts, these devices could be used for room saturation coverage with parabolic and/or directional microphones at permanent placements so that any sound above background noise (and there is a lot of that) can then be found and placed by strength of that sound to get distance at a given time for a given place. In this case sensitivity is extremely important, but not for a high end unit, per se, but for its microphone: while a wide area microphone gives better coverage it also collects much more noise across that coverage while parabolic and directional microphones get better depth of coverage and the noise is delimited by spatial sizing and can be REMOVED by noise comparison between multiple devices.

For handheld units, either with or without parabolic/directional capability, a single microphone to feed into a noise cancellation system that is worn close to the person's mouth allows for that noise to be removed on the fly. That might be beyond the state of the art: to remove specific wave forms and leave the noise. I doubt that, however, as it is a technically far more simple task to accomplish.

Motion sensors also fall into this realm, although they are either air or visual space sensors. Their recording phenomena is motion, not sound per se, but an ex post facto of 'something moved here'. That really could be attached to a camera system to cover the area in question, too.

If the team is going to be running cables all over the place, why not multiplex multiple sensors per cable position and then overlay them to get a full LI, IR and audio room overview? I do know that equipment cost is a major factor in this, but for the cost of some single pieces, like the handheld FLIR, a complete full-room array of IR could be purchased and attached to currently owned tripods and other fixtures. Similarly linear EMF, audio and video systems for hallways and other long spaces would yield better total coverage than a lot of point units. What has been striking is that for large areas, like the theater and dance hall/bar the team has been to, which allows for a high amount of overlapping coverage, that the equipment was not deployed in that mode.

There is a large value to be had in multi-spectral/multi-modal recording of volumetric information. I am still waiting for a team to do that.



Some items not seen?

Force meters for doors moving. A very simple device to measure the amount of force being applied to an object via the use of a detachable tension system (such as a spring with magnet).

Air pressure gauges. Very rudimentary and yet if there are changes in atmospherics on the local level then getting an idea of that would be a great help.

Humidity gauges. Temperature, pressure and humidity can tell of passing phenomena in the atmosphere that may have other effects (such as low pressure system increasing the amount of static electricity in an area). More than just what is on the K-2 hand sensors, but something to go with any other piece of equipment and integrated into the readings suite.  Does humidity go up with sudden 'cold spots' or down with 'warm spots'?  Standard work with atmospherics indicate they should, yet if these events have no change in humidity, then something else is going on.

Even the old Kung-Fu bit of a roll of wide rice paper spread down a hallway and having just enough tension on it to show footprints or other imprints would be handy for those stairs and hallways with paranormal phenomena going on... so long as team members walked along the edges, of course. One quick photo and you see if ANYTHING on it has been disturbed. Plastic sheeting and litter pearls could have the same effect, or just about any loose packed yet easy to clean up material on plastic sheeting.



That is equipment, next is methodology.

As has been examined for equipment, the concept of baseline readings over a given period is essential to non-periodic phenomena recording. Anything that has a variation that is irregular, at best, needs large time windows for data capture that must include standard use of facility space so that the activity within a facility can be examined to see how it impinges on recorder use. Anything that is recorded during baseline periods can then be compared per position and for the entire suite of equipment for any given period of time to see if any of the phenomena happen during regular facility use hours and compared to just what is being used at a facility at that period of time. Such baseline recordings must be both before and after any investigation to ensure that deviations to the baseline are recorded, also. This would require more than a standard two-day investigation window, however, which might limit the number of sites covered per month. The payback, however, is a much thorough volumetric examination of any paranormal activity cross-compared with normal activity over a given timeframe. It also allows for a repeatable system of equipment use so that any non-standard use of equipment is thoroughly documented and recorded and that all attempts to handle any situation for recording in the exact, same way are then adhered to for consistency of data capture.

Thus there are no 'special circumstances' and 'trying things out' performed for equipment deployment and usage: standardized, documented and regularized procedures are set down and all deviations, no matter how minor, are recorded. Good scientific data requires that standardization on methodology be performed and adhered to so you do NOT get variation of results AND equipment simultaneously. If the team wishes to postulate about 'energy sources' then capture of those must also be recorded continuously, not on a one time basis but thoroughly from equipment set up to tear down. And as those would ALSO be part of the standardized procedure, there would be deployment of equivalent equipment for those areas, as well. Coincidence of sudden EMF readings with other events is not, of necessity, causation unless the volume between proposed source and destination can show that such a reading is continuous between the two for that given period of time.

Data review by another person or group unfamiliar or unaffiliated with Everyday Paranormal. Pro bono review time is damned hard to get in this world, and only a limited number of subject experts or personal friends and family can do some work and they are biased. Getting wider subject matter experts or even just field experts is something that is lacking in the program and we only see them a few times, like in the Booth episode or with the FLIR anomaly episode. In particular getting sound expertise to enhance background sounds out of noise seems to be at a premium, and as Electronic Voice Phenomena make up the bulk of the program's interesting evidence, it is here that a group of sound experts is needed. Unfortunately the amount being recorded is vast. Between experts and what is with Everyday Paranormal is the realm of software enhancement and identification of sounds.

Because of limited pro bono professional time being available, and there being plenty of those with amateur skills with interest in such phenomena, perhaps an Army of Davids approach can be used, instead. This is also the open source/'many eyes makes good code' way of doing things in which those with interest, skills and time to do the work pick it up on their own. What this would require would be open sourcing the data gathered and then posting resultant data with the exact methods used to get it: document software, hardware and what was done at each step of the way not only for audio, but video and still photography. To do this requires the cost of a server, maintaining it, ensuring that all participants file documents on what they did along with results from any given data source. Here individual expertise is outweighed by multiple skilled amateurs examining the same data sources and deriving their own conclusions. At some point this becomes necessary for all paranormal research to be taken seriously and allow for not only the fans but critics to have their hands on the exact, same information. Being able to reproduce results and understand variations in results is as important, if not more important, than the results, themselves and should lead to better methodology over time.



There has been great criticism of the Klinge brothers, especially Brad, in his rather loud and confrontational attitude towards things.

Well, he is from Texas, after all.

If you are going after phenomena trying to make their presence known, however, and we are not considering them to be omniscient, then making it known that if you do anything within the limits of our recording technology that your actual presence will be understood to be there, then louder just may be better. The 'spooky' way of people looking at each other nervously is great for atmospherics, but has it really gotten the point across? Besides if you TELL whatever is out there you are from Texas, this should be expected...

Still, a point can be taken on that and over a two night period different forms of methodology can be used: the quiet and 'go lightly' form to see if just minor changes in personnel and interrogation get results away from the baseline, and then a louder, more confrontational stance the second night, to cross-compare techniques. That also means detaching emotions from the work, itself, which Barry seems to do quite well. You do not want to bring a biased viewpoint with you when being loud as that will skew what you expect from the results. If there is value in one way or another for doing this sort of work, then part of the evidence will BE the evidence itself. Perhaps all that timid tip-toeing around has led to a lack of results due to that methodology.

This finally points to what is being looked at: the paranormal.

While the show is about 'the dead' and what happens after life, there appears to be different categories that the Klinge brothers, themselves, use for categorization. This makes for an interesting time as they don't treat the categories in a way that would explore them more deeply.

In the realm of the dead we have a few basic phenomena that are reviewed:

1 - The dead as 'spirits' or conscious beings. This comes out in a few places where what is seen and purported has reactivity not only to the presence of people but to their actions. By going through a person's name, what they did in their life and so one, the attempt to see if this is a fully conscious being is performed, yet the times when such responses are garnered have been limited. Rarely have there been actual responses in a novel fashion to interrogation, which would be a keystone requirement for this sort of phenomena.

2 - Partial beings or phenomena. These are those things that do not show a conscious response, of necessity, but do things in a pre-set pattern. Finding tasks left unfinished in a completed state aboard the USS Lexington is a prime example of this and while not pointing to a fully conscious being it can point to a non-conscious routinized system of doing things captured in some form or another. In this are non-topical EVP recordings during interrogations, which points to an environmental response, non-conscious response or conscious response without ability to vary beyond actual past vocalizations. The voice response following the female team member at Alcatraz fits this pretty well, and following of that vocalization may not be a fully conscious response or only a limited capability of thought patterns that continues onwards.

3 - Environmental response or the feeling of recorded events. From all the programs this seems to be the largest amount of responses to the paranormal and is referred to as 'impressions' left in the environment. This category blurs into the previous, but is one that has sentences with their own intonations unrelated to anything current going on: thus the feeling they are recorded by the environment by some mechanism. How this might happen requires further examination, but seems to be a basis for a pretty large swath of the paranormal. In this category would also be 'haunted objects' which may have a higher phenomena involved, but be limited to a certain object and its surroundings.

4 - Other. The grab bag of everything not in 1- 3.



Why are these categories important?

The concept of people leaving 'impressions' behind them has been a long held part of mysticism, the occult and paranormal, and yet it has some decidedly interesting proofs that can be placed against them. The major one is the concept that when dying an individual, particularly in a traumatic state, leaves such an impression behind them. Although lesser states may also be recorded, it is this that opens up the venue to near death experiences from which an individual recovers. If the concept is that an impression is left due to trauma, then there is an opportunity to find the impression of the living individual left elsewhere and recording that phenomena. This is not the average venue for the paranormal, that of someone living having left such an impression behind them, but the conclusion by the line of reasoning is inescapable and would serve as a touchstone for understanding other phenomena. With a near death happening and then that individual recovering and being no where nearby when investigations happen, such things as voice, intonation or even visual phenomena can be compared against the living subject. This is not something I have ever heard about happening, but the logic of it is inescapable.

For such to happen on a large scale is seen at battlefields and there should be far, far more reports or hauntings of at battlefields, ancient and modern, than we currently have. Be it at Alesia, Malta, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Pearl Harbor, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Dresden, Tobruk, or the fields of Kursk, these battles of agony and death should be packed with haunting reports of all three major types. And yet that isn't the case, even with some recordings showing this the intensity and amount of trauma should leave far more than has been recorded to date.

What do we hear at the site of the Twin Towers in NYC? Any directional microphones aimed in that region of the air where they once stood? It is hard to get a haunting report from 86 stories up in empty air...



One does not need to 'believe' to keep an open mind and yet cast a skeptical eye: doing that yielded skepticism from me when I first heard about Anthropogenic Global Warming. Keep an open mind, but don't let your brain fall out.

The paranormal spans a wide variety of phenomena, including such things as UFO chasing, save that the Army of Davids is collecting evidence of them far faster than of ghosts and other phenomena. Individual reports can be faked, individual reports can be made up, but when so many of the same phenomena captured by unrelated people, believers, skeptics and non-believers, starts to pile up due to the ubiquity of recording hardware, then the volume of the unexplained tells you something about it. While ghosts and other paranormal of the less UFO sort have always had a deeply committed following, that ubiquity of recording capacity isn't yielding the same amount of results although there are more of them due to it. Even if all of this is explainable by human interpretation, even that tells us something about ourselves. But that is not the case: when you remove the fakes, hoaxes, and those things explained by normal phenomena, the residue left is no longer scanty due to the amount being recorded.

Thus, like AGW, it comes down to the basics: show me the data.

What did you get, how did you get it, and what other processing was involved?

No conjectures or hypotheses, although they may serve as a basis for recording data, the data, itself, will speak for itself.

Capture it in large amounts that do not have easy explanations and you just might have something there.

I don't need to 'believe' if I have enough data to demonstrate the phenomena and how it works.

The UFO folks could use a bit more of the high tech data capture and perseverance of the paranormal folks, and the paranormal folks could use a bit more of the ubiquitous data like the UFO folks are getting. They might even be the same phenomena.

The data will tell the tale.

26 December 2009

The detritus of past concepts

The past decade has been one of our changing idea of how we, personally, as individuals, relate to institutions and deal with them.  This conceptual change was getting into swing in 1999 and the Dot Com Bubble economy introduced us to it via the ill-conceived, ill-timed and poorly run companies that sprouted up to offer goods and services via the Internet.  That first wave left the Dot Com Bust of 2000-2001 and the outflow of those poorly funded, poorly conceived, poorly run companies that burned through their Venture Capital and vanished in a puff of business projections.  The reality of what was happening was spoken of widely during the years leading up to 1999, but by 1999 it had become an established concept that was being touted as the 'wave of the future'.  It started in commercial areas then slowly leaked over to more staid venues of governments and institutions that soon found a growing call for them to start doing something very different than they had in the past: provide goods, services, information and feedback directly to individuals and NOT go through a subsidiary institution.

A name was attached to this and describes it to this day:  disintermediation.

That term had a use previous to the Dot Com era, which was to move funds from low yield accounts to high yield ones, but that did not even begin to describe what was happening in that era.  For the Dot Com era disintermediation had one meaning, and one meaning only: getting rid of the middle-man.  Doom forecasters predicted the end of shopping malls, strip malls and even the local market, thus forgetting that there are some items which individuals will insist on seeing, having or otherwise obtaining immediately, not just purchase today and wait for it to be shipped.  With the end of the sock puppet era of advertising, came the concept of 'bricks and clicks' that would see a melding of online transactions with brick and mortar establishments (local retailers) so that customers would have options to purchase and have things shipped, have them made available locally or just shop locally.

Other institutions didn't have that option.

Newspapers had been going through a downturn since the late 1970's with the consolidation of local newspapers with many places becoming 'one newspaper' towns.  That downturn continued with the introduction of cable television and then accelerated in the 1990's as the idea of information delivery, which is something newspapers should have been good at, started to eat away at the print revenue base of newspapers.  For newspapers revenue is derived from circulation and that determines advertising rates.  Thus newspapers are advertising delivery systems, not news delivery systems, and subscriptions make up only a tiny portion of revenue for newspapers.  Those delivery substrates became disintermediated from the news they were containing and trying to get ad revenue from digital delivery has proven to be difficult, at best, as end-users can use proxies, blocking software and other means to stop ads from arriving and get directly to the wanted content.

One phenomena would arrive that had started before the Dot Com era, but became a force after it was unheralded and yet common place.  The ability to have one's credit or bank account automatically charged for monthly billing, which would start to remove the paper bill mailed to individuals.  Furthering that was the concept also started pre-Dot Com which was charging things to a credit card, which had been around for a couple of decades in the catalog sales market, but positively boomed in the Dot Com era and afterwards.  Thus the marriage of any business being able to offer sales online with easy charge systems meant that paper catalogs, while still available, would no longer be the timely way to offer or order goods and services.  Over time this has meant that much of the transactions that take place between individuals and companies for many venues have an online counter-part that is usually far faster and as reliable as the paper based system.

After these venues those of charities, not for profit and information based institutions (notably think tanks) also migrated to have online counter-parts and new opportunities for getting donations, input and other interactions with a public that could only have been considered near unreachable just before 1999.  Today everything from religious teachings to managing your finances to planning your vacation can all be done online with little to no interference from a middle man.  The only place where this lags is the one institution that is one of the most conservative and retrograde on the planet.  That is NOT the US Army which adopted to online games and building an entire electronic system of input and recruiting nearly overnight... no it is the institution far above it: the US Government.

As a whole, not by parts as there are one or two shining examples, the US Government has proven the least adaptable, least capable and least able to move into the disintermediation era.  In an era where one can find information about any medication in mere minutes, we depend on a Government that still takes weeks to months to process simple forms.  Fighting this strong tide of putting more power into the hands of the people, the US Government and many State and Local governments, have demonstrated an inability to adapt, a trenchant attitude against being disintermediated and even trying to build NEW intermediation structures that don't exist.  Just in pure sales alone Ebay can be considered the third largest retailer in the US, coming from nowhere a decade ago.  That ability for person-to-person interaction for goods is NOT being mirrored by any government.  A number do offer some activities online, of course, and if your DMV has any online functions that can AVOID the brick and mortar buildings of it, then people are willing and able to do that and avoid the 'personal' interaction of the institution itself.  The IRS is finding extreme difficulties in moving to a modern processing platform, can't give the same answer to the same question twice, mis-returns forms to thousands of businesses, and only with the leanest, sparsest and least complex returns is it able to offer any swiftness at all.  Data leaks from the IRS, however, demonstrate that your local financial institution is more trustworthy for your personal data than is the IRS.

Lackluster is the best description you can give the IRS and the worst ranges down to abysmal, draconian and authoritarian, what with it having separate courts from the rest of the civil court system.  Yet that is the institution that Congress wants to run some form of National oversight on Health Care.

To put it more succinctly:  Congress wishes to create a huge bureaucratic intermediation institution that isolates you further from your health care practitioner than you currently are and then decide what sort of payments for your health are appropriate.  After a decade of the erosion of institutions to becoming leaner, more responsive and more open, the US Congress wishes to make Health Care more opaque, harder to get and costlier than it currently is by inserting the IRS, of all parts of government, to oversee your health.

Of course your local Congresscritter Representative has a staff of over 20 people to help intermediate between their Noble personages and you the peon.  So if they are unfamiliar with 'disintermediation' it is because they have an entire set of intermediaries to shield them from it, which then distorts their views of how the common man lives their life.  These flacks, flunkies, secretaries and so on run the offices of the Congresscritters to the point where they also write the bills that go on to the floor.  Thus the House of Representatives would be, itself, a prime target for disintermediation by upping the proportion of representation and removing all the staff: you would have the same number of people working but they would all be directly accountable to small and compact districts.

Which, in itself, would remove the power of lobbyists, labor unions, and other organizations trying to sway Congress as 9,000 or so Representatives becomes a very, very, very hard target to sway and the cost to bribe even a small proportion of them is huge.  Unlike the current Congress.

The US Government is entrenched in the late 19th to early 20th century Progressive mold of command and control systems, which means an elite class ruling over the common man who is intermediated by government so as to lose liberty and freedom to make decisions on their own.  Anyone seriously wanting a responsive government and having it disintermediated then must look towards the entrenched old line of thought towards government that was formulated in the horse and buggy era of Marxism.  The Industrial, Space, Post-Industrial, Manufacturing, Information and now Disintermediated eras have all eroded the philosophical core of Marxism and its centralized planning systems.  Even Anarcho-Syndicalists fall into this as the concept of 'workers councils' having any concept of what other people want outside of a supply and demand system is one rife with old-line thought of limited goods, limited distribution, and intermediation of the 'workers council' between the common man and his daily living requirements.  No council, no government, no single institution, no matter how wise can accurately predict or run an important facet of the lives of individuals.  The Roman Catholic Church failed with religion, the USSR failed in an entire economy and goods supply, and the US Government fails in ensuring that individual liberty is not encroached on as those elected to run it feel they have every right to tell the common man what is or is not safe, what is or is not good, what is or is not healthy and then tell the common man to pay up for such divine wisdom as is bestowed by the bureaucracy created by the Aristocracy in Congress.

If the Federal Reserve can't figure out that pushing banks to accept government rated 'safe' securities built on loans to those who can't repay them is a BAD IDEA then just what sort of trust should we have with the IRS and your HEALTH?

The tide of disintermediation is leaving a lot of dead fish on the beach, most of them from government although a number from tiny organizations that should never have been started in the first place and are now long gone.  But Congress is trying to land Moby Dick on the beach to flop around and entertain the beach goers... and then rot in the hot sun for all to enjoy providing you with lovely health care benefits while the system decays and collapses entirely.  Right next to Social Security and Medicare which both have a very unhealthy stench to them, and the newly flopping carcass of the mortgage securities landed by Fannie, Freddie and Ginnie.  Soon the entire beach will be rotting whale flesh, and we will be told how good it is as the maggots infest these dying bodies.

Only a Congress unconnected to the actual, real world that the common man lives in could have devised something like this.

And soon we will all pay for the rotten flesh dropping on us from these rotting beasts.

Because bureaucrats know how to run your life better than YOU DO.

And yet you were born free.

18 December 2009

What kind of candidate would I vote for these days?

A very interesting question as I have a very lean outlook on what government is necessary to actually run the Nation.  These days, being mid-DEC 2009, Senator Coburn and  Senator DeMint are starting to speak of the basic things that need to be done by elected representatives, and yet their concept of having one bill and its proposed amendments read out loud, in their entirety, is just a kernel of an idea.  That idea needs to be expanded upon and greatly, so that Americans get small, compact and easy to understand legislation that makes passage of politically corrupting measures nearly impossible.  Thus the type of candidate will back that, thoroughly.

This candidate could be from either major party, any minor party or purely an independent individual wanting to do a hard job in the House or Senate.  Or, more correctly, actually do their job in the House or Senate and not pass it off to staffers.  A candidate of this sort will not be liked by any stripe of progressive, who adores Big Government, and that includes a large swath of members in both major political parties.  And because of that reaction the type of candidate becomes apparent:

The PITA Candidate

PITA = Pain In The Ass

What typifies a PITA Candidate is the willingness to use parliamentary procedures fully, completely and in accordance with every rule in either the House or Senate.  Those who have ever heard of a 'By The Book Strike' in which public employees follow every rule in the book to slow down their work knows exactly how this goes.  Luckily, as each State has representation for the House and Senate, denying the seating of a PITA Candidate-elect because of their stance is a good ground for the State to declare that the State is not being represented properly, in accordance to the wishes of its people, and that all Representatives and Senators are recalled, the assent of the State to perform services for the federal government suspended and that all federal taxation laws are also suspended for the State.

I would imagine this working well in TX or OK or MT, but the financial straights of CA and NY would then make the idea of being able to garnish the federal portion of taxation for the State for 'safekeeping' when the federal government wises-up can't be denied.  Thus the State involved might want some intestinal fortitude, or else it would have a PITA Candidate pointing out how the State does NOT support that Candidate's District or State to have proper representation in the federal government, which is something we fought a Revolution over.

So lets say the House or Senate is wise enough not to do this.  Denying a seat to a Representative who fully wishes to follow the Constitution and all the rules of the House/Senate is NOT grounds not to seat such an individual.  With a certified election, avowal to hew strictly and completely to the rules, and otherwise follow all proper and necessary procedures in either chamber, there would be no grounds, at all, for not seating such a member.  If a comedian can get a seat in the Senate, then a PITA should be able to do so, also, and even act with more civil manners.

What does a PITA do in the House or Senate?

Never sustaining a 'unanimous consent request' for ANYTHING.

Anything to be 'read into the record' gets read, out loud, into the record.

This also goes for the request to later amend and revise remarks, on the grounds that this allows too much into the public record that is not openly presented for the people of the Nation to see and that ALL such documentation worthy of being in the record needs to be publicly proclaimed.  Whenever a member wishes to revise/extend remarks, they must do so in the chamber, orally, in front of the public.  Of course this can be over-ridden with a vote, and the moment that unanimous consent for a voice vote is heard then that, too, is objected to.

All votes for all matters, no matter how procedural, get a real, live, actual, tabulated vote.

Do you see how this is going?  It hasn't even gotten to the introduction of Bills, yet, but just daily procedures.  Like putting the previous day's minutes into the record.  The public really does need to hear those things.

Yes there will be attempts to change the rules, but that is also done with the citation of precedent and that doing so to get around one member is discrimination against a member who was elected to DO exactly what is being DONE, and he is DOING IT as he promised.  Faced with that the house in question either swallows its pride and sticks with history, or chucks out history and goes authoritarian... thus endangering the right of ANY MEMBER to be heard.

Pretty nasty thing to do, that, just to try and get around a PITA.

Very uncivil.  And very, very obvious.

As a PITA Candidate is there to uphold Constitutional government, that means exposing all pay-offs that other politicians pack into bills.  Have all that read into the record.  Point out that 'off budget' deals don't have Congressional backing in the budget and, thusly, cannot get funds allotted to them.  Either things are on the budget or they get passed as separate entities.  A PITA Candidate puts forth that while taking care of pigs is all fine and dandy, the farm is Kosher.

Bills to fund Constitutionally mandated parts of government, such as DoD, DoJ, State Dept, Treasury... all of those with direct mention will get your 'AYE' vote when they are pork free.  Anything else gets a 'NAY' vote.

Wartime funding?  If it needs pork it can't be critical, and if it isn't critical to the warfighter then it needs to be funded elsewhere.  And if it is critical then point out that until offending pork is removed Congress allows the President to have the troops forage, and suggest terrorist bases no matter where they are for food, fuel, and other necessary goods.  Perhaps the Dept. of Agriculture could be raided for a few dollars.  Or Education since they haven't managed to improve the reading rate since Poor Johnny Couldn't Read.

In fact the PITA Candidate has a 'NAY' vote in store for Agriculture, Education, Energy, HHS, and quite a few other things never even whispered about in the Constitution.

How does this 'help' the people back home?  The PITA Candidate is trying to stop up government so that it can't expand and take over more of people's spending money to finance the deficit and the debt.

Are there anything proactive that a PITA can do?  Sure!  First the PITA has no paid for staff and won't accept money for same.  But if the PITA needs something positive to do, then helping Ron Paul to get his Audit The Federal Reserve Bill going someplace would be a great thing to do.  Perhaps work on Privateering legislation to get a few folks monetarily interested in taking down al Qaeda and whatnot.  Kibbitzing on Social Security and Medicare and their insolvency status would be a lot of fun!  And how all the fine folks Upon The Hill can't seem to address the coming bankruptcy of the Federal Government.  Yes, a PITA can get loads of fun pointing out the incompetency engendered by the politically over-elected and the financially under-educated Upon The Hill.

Beyond that take up a fine hobby! 

Cross-word puzzles.  Everyone should have a fine vocabulary, use this as a chance to build it.

Ghost hunting, as there are a lot of dead bills through the decades and more than one of them must have left a ghost behind and you can be the one to capture them.  Hold EVP sessions in the chamber after hours, not that there will be many of those with all the reading of bills going on.  And some very fast flash photography around the Capitol is sure to find the errant ghost or Congresscritter giving you the evil eye.

Find spelling and syntax errors in bills and amendments.  When they are fully read in, ask for the corrected version to be read in.  Remember a badly worded bill is a threat to liberty and you are there to stop that.  This is a fun and exciting past-time.

Put out press releases on each and every day Congress takes off.  Keep a running tally.  Also how many hours Congress is at work during the days it is in session.  Compare your term with those of past Congresses and show how much more work is being done!  You are doing the public a favor by keeping the place open for business.  Take credit for all those hours more that Congress has to work on doing its job.  Because that IS your job, too.  Everyone could use good press because that of a PITA will be abysmal, yet you can point to this as a POSITIVE accomplishment that NO other Congresscritter has ever achieved!

If you are a reader, now is a good time to start Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, unabridged edition.  Or de Vattel's Law of Nations.  The works of Grotius, perhaps?  Actually Law of Nations might give you some hints and pointers on how to be more of a PITA, so I would put that first, then Grotius, then Decline as you can check to see if the US can go faster than you can read the book.

The job might look cushy, but those long, long, long hours running into days, weeks and months which has the Capitol open on a constant basis and Congresscritters tied down to it is actually very hard.  It is not a position for a slacker, but for someone who knows how to put up the greatest amount of civility while ensuring that every rule, condition and voting opportunity is followed COMPLETELY and UTTERLY without remorse.  No liberal or conservative could do it as they all get this urge to 'do something' and then think they can 'make the country better' by spending scads of cash that isn't theirs to spend.  If any of those COULD have done it then it WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BY NOW.  A PITA Candidate will be hated if elected, indeed despised, yet the quiet demeanor of a librarian would be all that was needed.

Plus a copy of Roberts Rules of Order along with the special rules for the chamber involved.

Yes, I would vote for a PITA Candidate and contribute to them.  I don't have the health to do something like this... but it is a job crying out to be done: running as the Immodium-D of Congress.  A dirty job... and Mike Rowe does have his limits.

17 December 2009

Green lights and the common man

Yet another in my commentaries left elsewhere that I'm turning into a blog post. This time it is from Hot Air and the examination of how LED traffic bulbs in cold temperature ranges do NOT melt snow off the facing of the traffic light, thus causing wintertime death and mayhem at intersections.

As always I am presenting my commentary 'as-is' with no refinements, no spell checking, no changes in syntax and all other defects in logic just as they are for the amusement of any readers.

Remember this is personal experiences that I am recounting and YMMV.

Yesterday was the last day for complaints.

The commentary:

In some places in my home CFLs will not last a month, while their incandescent brothers will last nearly a year. That happens in the kitchen where the bulbs are exposed to the vagaries of what goes on in the atmoshpere there. Other replacements in floor lamps and bedside lamps, plus in bathrooms is telling that similar story, and I’ve given four different brands a try-out across all of them and incandescents last longer.

Overhead recessed lighting with protectors around the CFL bulb last over 8 years. But then the incandescents haven’t had to be swapped out in the same fixture type in the same room over that period, which is a replacement rate test I have going on down in the basement back room. So that is a wash.

An outside CFL bulb I put in nearly 6 years ago has lived longer than any of its incandescent counterparts, which lasted barely a year. But then that is a hardened, protected CFL with special dome around it for nasty weather. It is in a fixture that can only be covered if we get 8′ snow drifts, and if that happens I’m shipping the shoveled snow to Al Gore.

Thus my experience is telling me that the bare bulb CFLs are pretty much a dead loss save in fixtures not exposed to much internal environmental change and low usage rates.

Totally enclosed CFLs seem to have a longer life, but their up-front cost is much higher, and only for hard to reach lighting is that worth it (the outdoors fixture or recessed lighting).

I’m a tech person and love LEDs. Just not at their current pricing. CFLs are not battle tested, stress tested and otherwise made to handle the rigors that over a century of trail and error has gotten modern incandescents, and the things just can’t handle exposure to even mild inside environment changes without having that protective shell on them. And those cost more than bare bulb CFLs. Then the question of lifetime replacement cost comes into play… and the amount paid for a protected bulb is nearly equal to their incandescent replacements and minimal energy savings. Mind you Congress feels it has the wisdom to know exactly what I need in all conditions, at all times, for all purposes. There is a cost to over-riding consumer choice and this one will get you a larger mercury handling problem plus increased mercury in the environment due to CFL bulb breakage.

Thus the Green folks love mercury in the environment.

Good job!

Do CFLs last longer?

That is a 'Theory and Practice Conundrum' question.

In theory, under lab conditions and no changes in atmospherics, then YES CFLs do last longer than incandescent lights.

In practice, it depends upon such a wide range of variables from environmental conditions (indoor/outdoor), humidity, house wiring, humidity, and how well the bulb is protected that one cannot say, across-the-board, that theory is correct.

Theory is a fine thing to have, but it should be built on statistical evidence for real-world applications and not upon lab conditions. Many medications work perfectly well in lab conditions, and yet we have a plethora of regimes for testing such medications on larger populations to find out the effects and side-effects of them and even WITH that some godawful medications get to the shelves because they can't test on 10 million people for 10 years and have a viable medicine that is profitable... or even unprofitable come to think of it due to the sunk costs involved. And would you really put up with a fatal or critical disease that has a medication that has demonstrated itself on sub 100,000 populations and yet was still going through the 10 million/10 year test before general release?

CFLs have had NONE of that rigor and they are STILL getting feedback from consumers on their ability, or lack thereof, to stand up to household use. Same goes for LEDs which, all for being solid state, have their own inherent problems which can only be fixed by long-term marketplace use and THEY haven't gone through rigorous testing like we would apply to medications. I don't expect there to be any negative effects of EMF or other stuff from either CFL or LED lighting, but then no one expects that of cellphones, either, and they are only getting long-term use testing due to having so many people using them for so long that any effects can show up... and yet a few years of medical level testing might have shown there to be a problem, say, a decade ago. Which would have delayed their introduction and uptake, of course... yet for a non-medical device that uses power at a greater rate than many medical devices (say, pacemakers or diabetic insulin pumps) and sit right next to the body we get LESS testing for one sort of electronic device and MORE for another based on application.

Yet they all use electrical power in different ways and at various levels of intrusiveness for different periods of time, and someone having a cellphone with them as close as an insulin pump really is not in a different use regime, just a different comfort zone that may or may not be indicated by the purported safety of the device and its underlying regulations. You see, the regulations weren't made to cover medical effects from cellphones and were done in an era of intermittent exposure to certain types of radiation. Does this mean we need newer and better regulations?

Not necessarily.

Better and more thorough testing, yes, and then documenting the effects seen and having them available to a wider research community would be far, far better than regulations that are out of date in days, months, weeks or years. I would rather have commercial testing facilities employing some medical labs to help research effects of equipment than have some bureaucrat who may not be an expert in the field draft up regulations that then have to be applied by non-experts, with those regulations only covering certain phenomena in a limited regimen so that any different effects of different use are MISSED. That gives you an unwarranted feeling of comfort, seeing all those regulatory standards that a piece of equipment passes, and then you go out and use that equipment far out of the regulatory schema for those standards and have the temerity to complain when you get medical conditions stemming from that use... and you can't sue a damned soul as it was your sorry lack of knowledge of the standards that led you to have a false sense of safety. Of course after a number of incidents we will get NEW standards that give a NEW false sense of safety. And employs more bureaucrats, too.

I really don't care if CFLs or LEDs meet US, EU, Japanese or other standards. I want them to work in common household environments for a given set of time so that the investment in them ISN'T wasted and putting more mercury into the trash/recycling system. That would mean throwing out the 'but they live longer and use less energy' trope and getting real world, stress tested bulbs that are guaranteed BY THEIR MANUFACTERER to be useful in a given set of conditions, last an average set of time given standard and accepted norms for household wiring.

To do that means you move from a regulatory paradigm to a guaranteed use/indemnity paradigm and being able to show that YOUR use of anything is within the given and set conditions of the manufacturer and that you are not to blame for using things in an asinine way.

Which would you rather have:

1) A regulatory system that gives you a false sense of security and allows you to sue a manufacturer for a medication that has MET all federal health and safety guidelines, or,

2) A system in which a manufacturer has a set loss indemnity policy for medications so that those that come down with known and persistent side-effects, including those that cause disability, loss of body function or death, have a complete coverage for those cases to care for the disabled and sick due to their lack of testing.

Which do you think would stem class action suits better, as a system, by causing them not to happen?

We have chosen the first route, and yet the second would have cost companies far, far more and put insurance companies on the hook to make sure that manufacturers have actually tested medications out widely and deeply enough to ensure that the common side-effects are well known and the critical, life altering ones also known.

You get better information with the second than the first because of more rigorous testing for actual use, not test use. Standards for basic tests on overdosing and such would be done with them, as they are now, so that even intentional mis-use would be understood. Little known side effects have a hard time in both, but in the latter a single lawsuit can ruin a company's reputation, while in the former things have to get bad enough on a wide enough scale to get ANY attention.

Currently we have so many government regulations with so little oversight that anyone purchasing damned near anything can't trust the health/safety/use information, and individual cases get those lovely warning stickers festooned to everything, which you then blithely ignore. This is a high overhead system, with definite problems to get manufacturing changes done save on the class-action basis, and regulatory reform just adds more regulations to an overburdened regime.

We would be better off where the assumption is that YOU, the poor user, actually KNOWS what you are doing with anything and that when something goes wrong in your use you need to demonstrate that the device failed WITHIN the manufacturer's guidelines, and when you use a folding step ladder to fully extend it to a roof beyond all safety limitations of the manufacturer that you, not the manufacturer, is the one at fault for NOT THINKING about what you were doing.

As it is you assume the manufacturer has made objects/devices/medicines to work far outside their tested area and when you do something asinine you feel that the manufacturer is at fault for your unwillingness to read the five or ten page document that tells the exacting limitations of the device/object/medication. And you constantly pray that some overworked bureaucrat a decade ago had any idea of how the use of devices would change a decade later when they are made to do things and be used in ways never imagined then.

In theory that might work.

In practice it is a piss poor way to do things and not require demonstrated safety for new objects/devices/medication in a constantly changing use environment.

You can decide where you place your safety.

Do you really trust those standards labels to mean anything?

A lot of medications get through FDA screening with harmful side-effects and drug interaction problems, and no doctor can keep track of all the interactions for all the medications for all the patients they have. Do you feel safe in that?

Do you feel that you are doing a good 'Green' job when you experiment with CFLs or LEDs that have not had rigorous, long-term, real-world testing to see how they stand up for both longevity and electricity use? Not to speak of light output, of course.

Do you like the idea that government is actually 'looking out for you' when it is only trying to follow more regulations than can be documented by any organization on the planet? Even the regulators don't know all the regulations, any more, and the actual criminal penalties become so vague that you can't even figure them out IF you can find them.

That is called living by The Law of Rules.

It didn't work so hot for the USSR.

We were supposed to live under The Rule of Law.

But then we used to be superior to the USSR.

Soon whatever isn't prohibited will be mandatory.

And you will have no liberty left to speak of, as you will not be allowed to speak about it.

That might 'hurt' someone, which is discriminatory and will be prohibited.

And you become a slave to government which ministers to you like any benevolent slave owner does.

Don't mind the whip,now.

It is what you have asked for when you ask for so many rules.

You wish to be ruled, not governed, and ruled you shall be.

10 December 2009

What I saw at the Revolution

I have been very fortunate to be at the outskirts of two major revolutions in science while getting my Bachelor's degree. Each of them were very memorable as they showed a side of science that those outside of it do not see and often cannot fathom. Doing science from the inside is not what you see on the outside, and no program, no speech, no series of papers or even books can describe the actual living through of scientific revolutions. As it was in a period of a few years two major changes in geology and materials science would happen during a short span in the 1980's. What science is and how it works changed my perception of it during those few short years of undergraduate work and they remain with me to this day.

Heading towards a geology degree at that time meant I had started after the previous revolution had transformed the field: plate tectonics. Before plate tectonics there were static continents, raising and lowering of land forms that was not well understood, 'land bridges' to explain population distributions of species, and general patching up of the old concept of Uniformitarianism. By finding out that the continents did move, that they floated on the lower and more plastic mantle, and that had currents in it due to heat in the core... all of that wiped away the patches, the bailing wire and the 'we just don't know' of so much that it is hard to conceive of what the science looked like before the mid-1960's. With wartime geomagnetic data in the Atlantic and other places, a lot of unexplained phenomena showed up that needed research, and decade following WWII was a massive sea change for geology. So much was explained that it was thought that ALL the unexplainable would be given over to it for solution, and yet even once we understood what plate motion meant and how it changed our planet and effected life on it, there were STILL problems.

While the Permo-Triassic mass extinction seemed to have deep roots with plate motion, in particular the position of a single continent that was formed by the collision of all the continents and its direction thereafter, the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) was helped very little by plate tectonics. The die-off of the Dinosaurs and much in the way of plant life, plus sea life still had no solution. The Deccan Traps, a large volcanic field in modern day India, had ongoing eruptions, but nothing that left a fingerprint of mass extinction. Our understanding and observation of different, yet highly related species, today saw little ability of any virus or bacteria to go against a whole array of species: being a species meant different genetic make-up while having many shared characteristics the differences meant differential immunity. As an example: West Nile virus is preferential to bird populations, but each bird species has a different level of immunity to it. There was ongoing climactic change, due to continental drift, yes, but the spread of species and the slowness of drift meant that Dinosaurs could be found from their arctic (about what we have on the coast of Washington State or Oregon) all the way to their tropics. Some uplift in the North American continent meant changes, yes, but species have demonstrated in the last million years to be very adaptable and that it was not expected that Dinosauria would have such a rigid environmental need that all would be wiped out. Finally the discovery that birds were, in fact, a type of Dinosaur, meant that they had not all died out. This question had been with geology for a century and looked to be with it for at least another fifty or so years.

I remember the day that our class' Paleontology Professor walked in and said:

"Today we get to do some REAL work."

The paper by Alvarez team had come out recently, a response to its critics, and the Professor had time to digest it and decided now was a perfect time to introduce us to the latest, greatest and, presumably, most likely to fail theory of the K-T Mass Extinction. Luis Alvarez and his son Walter Alvarez were known in the fields of science before their proposition, and Luis Alvarez was something of the 'Old Man' of particle physics who had also worked on RADAR and many other important technologies, and continued his work into the 1960's. His son was a respected geologist and field researcher, and established in the geological community. Their concept of a boloid impact causing the K-T event had raised an uproar in 1980 and a major response article with rebuttal had arrived by the time I was in University. These papers, though lesser known, were essential to geology as it gave the critics time to marshal a response and then get a rebut from the Alvarez's. Mostly Luis Alvarez, but by then he and his team were no longer alone in their stance on the topic. It would, sadly, be one of the last papers that would come out with him included.

Our Professor had told me, some time after, that what Luis Alvarez had done was send a shockwave through geology. Not a shockwave of 'truth' but the shockwave of a dinner gong. Here was a particle physicist coming to tell geologists what went on at the K-T event... and he had crossed all the various old battle lines of germs vs volcanic activity vs deadly gases vs climate vs lack of adaptability. He hadn't paid attention to ANY of that. Indeed that original paper went far, far beyond just the 'here is what we think based on these findings', which could easily turn into a kicked around football for a few decades. No Luis Alvarez was basically saying that the entire geological community had IGNORED the K-T boundary layer and that IT explained the extinction event, so you could easily check this out ON YOUR OWN and DISPROVE HIM if he was wrong. Essentially anywhere you had continuous deposition from the end of the Cretaceous to the beginning of the Tertiary you had the boundary layer. In fact many (if not most) geology labs, universities with geology departments, and museums had samples they could check immediately.

Why was this a dinner gong?

YOU could take down one of the best known physicists of the era by simply demonstrating that the artifacts you found did NOT agree with what he proposed. That was a meal ticket unlike any other in science.

In fact he said you would find OTHER things in the layer that are contingent WITH an impact that you will NOT get with any known volcanic activity of that era.

This may not seem like much to those outside of the sciences, but the attractive target of a Nobel Winning Physicist sticking his neck out in geology and challenging the entire field to disprove him using not only his data but your own data which was IN your labs or specimen collections, changed how geologists viewed the field. Luis Alvarez wasn't alone and, from all accounts, was a rather congenial man. By putting that first paper out his team had taken the just settling field of geology, shook it up and took it out of academic papers and listless arguing and turned it into a full body contact sport. All you needed was good, hard data based on field specimens in which you described their in situ position and how you processed them and what you examined them with. The amazing turn-around time (a few years versus a decade or more) was due to the fact that nearly every lab, university and museum HAD samples and were sending people out to get more. And investigate other things that are associated with the K-T event.

Those papers were the norm in science, but the takedown of the critics by pure analysis and reason was something that was hard hitting.

The Alvarez team did NOT hide data, but welcomed it.

The Alvarez team did NOT engage in personal attacks, but examined the data and criticized it.

The Alvarez team did NOT attempt to suborn journals and periodicals or try to create an in-group that would just check each other.

They welcomed every critic with data, every analysis and proposed alternatives, they welcomed, and I suspect with glee, being able to respond to their critics openly in the forum of scientific investigation.

It was brutal.

I remember field camp the next year and running into an older geologist who was still clinging to the Deccan Traps and volcanic activity, along with poison gases and just refused to see that his theory had chemical fingerprints that would be obvious in the record. From 1980-1987 the entire concept of what happened on Earth had to expand to include what went on in our solar system, which included impact events far after the formation of the planet. In fact, down the road, that would receive a shake-up that would yield answers to how the Earth did form and how the Moon was formed... but that would be some years later. Just like the K-T event, the Alvarez's had brought in a change of perception based on physical data that could be found anywhere the K-T boundary layer could be examined. Since then the detritus of a large tsunami was found miles from the Cretaceous coast in Texas and the actual crater was found just off-shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, and further examination of the layer reveals other artifacts not only of the asteroid but a massive amount of soot put into the air by fires caused by the event.

The other event, and it was far outside of geology, happened in the materials sciences area in the staid and quite dull area of ceramics. What had happened was that researchers investigating the ways materials conducted at low temperatures had formed a rare earths laced ceramic that exhibited superconductivity at higher temps than the previously known metallic superconductors. Something that would be an insulator, or at best a semi-conductor, at normal temps superconducted at lower temps. Within a few weeks physics and materials science labs in universities and commercial labs were cooking up the material and doing desk-top demonstrations. I remember walking into a meeting hall that would hold 700 and found it packed, with all the floor and table space taken, and stood in the back watching the live video feed overhead of the ceramics just created the previous day as they brought them to superconducting temps.

Reports from physics and materials sciences meetings in the weeks following the announcement were ones of all-night discussions and proposals to see if anyone could figure out just HOW this was happening. As that was going on, other researchers were cooking up their own strange brews of ceramics and testing them, and other materials were found that also did this.

Here the physics is subtle and there was no 'proven' method to get superconductive material: it was 'by guess and by golly', with the physicists trying to figure out just how a given material superconducted. As this could be done so widely, at so many sites, the field was awash in tests and still is as refinements on theories start to narrow down just how and why certain materials do this. There is no magic 'key' to this, no specific way to do this, and materials sciences started to see an influx of interested students based on this work, alone.

In this area, which I was purely on the near-outside looking in, as it is an interesting topic, the field had to be open to the freedom of movement of data, materials combinations and techniques. You might not hold the right combo, the right technique nor even the right methodology, but someone else with other materials, techniques and methods might learn from yours and progress further towards a goal of higher superconductive temps. That open movement of data and knowledge shuns in-groups and cliques and 'controlling' journals: if you did that you would KILL the research and slow it to a snail's pace. The reason is that if you can get superconductivity close to room temps, say down to liquid air temps, then you have a way to revolutionize electrical energy storage and transmission, and forms of energy production that would be uneconomical with current technology would be feasible with higher temp superconductors.

The rough and tumble, here, is to not just get the material, but to find out how it does what it does.

It is still trial and error, with proposals going up and coming down as they are tested and proven or disproven by testing materials.

And some materials that might not superconduct at one temp might superconduct at another... which really makes things interesting as researchers go through failed materials and give them a wider testing, often years later. Do you dare to throw away a material that just might be the one you are looking for, you just don't know it now?

This brings me to the recent activity in Climategate.

As a geologist, though not a current practicing one, I went through two Revolutions in the sciences: K-T Impact Theory and higher temperature superconductivity. Their hallmarks are touchstones in science as a whole, as they represent openness, welcoming of criticism (indeed even reveling in it), and the open by-play of scientists and labs as they work to see what is and is not there in the way of what can be found from examination and analysis of specimens. The data gathered is critical to how science works, and the open display of it and willingness to hand it over to critics is something you don't get from much of anywhere else in life.

The very first warning signs on Antrhopogenic Global Warming (AGW) and just plain old GW came from the paleoclimatologists who tried to run the models made for AGW/GW against known climates and what those models would predict for those climates. The models came through with junk, not even getting close to the actual climates they were tested against. When the paleoclimatologists asked for the datasets from those pushing AGW (mainly EA CRU, but elsewhere) they were stalled and rebuffed. Coming just after the K-T event and its aftermath, paleoclimatologists were not slow in criticizing the models, how they did not form into anything resembling known past climates nor did the models explain how those climates changed.

AGW/GW advocates refused to come out an play in the full contact body sport that was geology.

They retreated to the hothouse of academia, environmentalism and seeking to 'extract' government grants for their perfect theory of how bad man was to planet Earth. Apparently they couldn't model how nasty Earth was to life forms during the Permo-Triassic that saw over 95% of all species perish... but then geologists don't put an anthropomorphic form of the Earth on a pedestal and worship her. If you DID anthropomorphize the planet it would come out looking far worse than Pol Pot and all other mass murderers, combined, with just a hint of Charles Manson thrown in for fun. But then those seeking to castigate man don't bother to look at Earth's history, either.

There is no single good source of science nor bad source of science: there is only good science and bad science.

Lysenko convinced Stalin that there was a 'Bourgeois' Science, that was BAD, and a 'Communist Science', that was GOOD. That moving of science into political ideology set the USSR back decades in genetics research which, given what they got up to in their later years, we can all be thankful for. Yet that marriage of politics and science that is Lysenkoism now runs deep in the West: environmentalists are above suspicion because of good intents, and those working in the petroleum industry are evil and not to be believed. Which is Lysenkoism, at its heart.

Science is simply getting reproducible results given a set of circumstances.

You can be funded by the worst possible institutions and still perform science, although it might be immoral (such as the Nazi experiments on concentration camp prisoners) which leaves you with a hard problem of what to do with methodical and repeatable results garnered by horrific and immoral means. Saying that you will give blanket trust to one scientist over another based on who funds them, outside of the Nazi example, means you are acting with a faith that there is good and bad science by its source. And that is Lysenkoism.

Do I 'trust' work done by environmentalist groups?

Show me the data, tell me the parameters and I will test that against the knowns of science and see how it stacks up.

But then I do the EXACT SAME THING with research from ANY source be it government, private, commercial... I may read results for interest in them, but they need to be cross-compared to other work in the field. Yet when any field is being tampered with by researchers seeking to shut some researchers out and only 'allow' others to be published and then seek to 'punish' journals that don't follow their wishes, I have problems. And when the groups doing that are backed by governments and 'international' groups, those become extreme problems.

EA CRU refused to show their data for decades.

They didn't welcome criticism nor engage with critics and examine data outside their realm of knowledge.

They, and their associates, attempted to stifle private and government inquiry, beyond that of their scientific peers, and shut down the free-flow of information that, like in superconductive research, is the life blood of science.

When heads of government agency collude to stymie that free flow of information, as has happened with both NASA/Goddard and NOAA, you get a chilling effect on the free flow of information by the use of the threat of government power, even if there is no reality to it.

Is there 'global warming'?

I certainly hope so as there is a marked difference in global temps between now and 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

Is what we are seeing human caused?

So far as I can see by all data from previous inter-glacial periods: nothing we see now is out of the ordinary. That 'ordinary' typically sees rapid and sudden swings in global temps up and down and there is no good model for it. As no values of measured atmospherics or temps are outside of previous inter-glacial periods, I would say we are within all norms for such periods. If it is 'human caused' it is not outside of those norms. Get back to me when there is better data. EA CRU lost a lot of current stuff and it needs to be re-gathered. Ditto on our government agencies.

Are we a threat to all species?

See the Permo-Triassic above? Earth is a threat to all species. Stop idolizing Mother Earth and demonizing humans as you are doing yourself no good running into the arms of a killer and away from those offering a chance at a better life. I trust Mother Earth to pay ZERO attention to mankind and continue on her normal state of affairs which includes a number of large scale disasters that WILL happen with or without us hanging around, and a few of them just might be OUR silver bullet with OUR name on it. I would like to get out of the clutches of Mother Earth, thanks. The planet needs no saving.

But isn't it right to assume that the Earth is warming?

Show me the data. EA CRU in their own files admit they can no longer: 1) Produce uncorrupted data sets, 2) repeat previous runs on data to get reproducible results, 3) have cherry picked data sets to get certain results. They now have papers with no underlying data, no way to reproduce the results and with artifacts of selectively chosen data sets that are not representative of larger data sets. That is not a good thing to base an assumption upon as it is indicative of fraud, not openness of scientific research. When fraud takes place you default to the last known good state prior to the fraud if you can. Here that means relegating a raft of papers to limbo until they can be re-analyzed. Anything based on the corrupted EA CRU, GISS or NOAA data sets past 1960 are now suspect and not to be considered valid until they are thoroughly re-analyzed in light of current findings. Papers without data, without backing and that cannot be repeated to get valid results are not papers that can be considered doing science. Science is a full contact body sport, no handicapping allowed. No padding either. The Alvarez team is one that I admire deeply as they waded right into the fray and defended themselves in the open process of science, and didn't resort to popular TV to make their case, nor to politicians, nor to issue advocacy groups. The Alvarez team did SCIENCE and joyously. Too bad the AGW/GW advocates can't do that and wish to stifle the free flow of information. That gets you where the USSR is today.

And that is not a good place.

07 December 2009

If you could make a science of society

This is cross-posted from The Jacksonian Party.

What would a science of society look like?

This may seem a rather odd question, but it is one that has been knocking around with me for awhile. We talk of liberty, freedom and equality as subjects, things we do, and as objects, things we desire, and yet they must have a positive value to us for us to value them so highly in both regards. What are these things and how does our society allow us to manifest them in the way we do? And just how strong are they? What are their limits?

We have many works that examine these things from the theoretical or hypothetical side, that is as descriptive works, but very few of the empirical sort, that is placing actual numbers and definitions to these things to allow for measurements to be derived. If you do hand-waving and theory then you are working out definitions, but definitions that measure nothing or are relative in nature only, leave little to work with when trying to find out the magnitude of interactions. With that said, measurements and their attached meanings derive from definitions, and so that is the place to start.

From die.net, the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) definition of liberty:


n 1: immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority: political independence [syn: autonomy]

2: freedom of choice: "liberty of opinion"; "liberty of worship"; "liberty--perfect liberty--to think or feel or do just as one pleases"; "at liberty to choose whatever occupation one wishes"

3: personal freedom from servitude or confinement or oppression

4: leave granted to a sailor or naval officer [syn: shore leave]

5: an act of undue intimacy [syn: familiarity, impropriety, indecorum]

When we think of liberty we most commonly think of 1-3, that concept of being free from servitude or the arbitrary exercise of authority over us, and the ability to use freedom to make choices. Having liberty, then, is the free will exercise of one's ability to choose to do certain activities or think without restraint.

Again from die.net, same source, this on freedom:


n 1: the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints

2: immunity from an obligation or duty [syn: exemption]

When we have liberty available to us, we are free. When we are not permitted liberty we are not free and are not in a state of freedom.

Once again, same source and die.net to help, this time equality:


n 1: the quality of being the same in quantity or measure or value or status [ant: inequality]

2: a state of being essentially equal or equivalent: "on a par with the best" [syn: equivalence, par]

For us this is the concept of equality within society, of no man having more or less privilege than any other man. Thus our concept of being treated equally under the law is one that we enshrine and when we move from equal treatment we no longer treat individuals as equals.

The base state of man is to have perfect liberty, perfect freedom and perfect equality.

That is the state of man without any restraint upon him, with perfect ability to do anything with impunity save for the direct repercussions of the act itself. In that state all men are equal, save for differences in size, strength and cunning. There are no bonds upon man in this state of being, no holds upon him, no accountability save the direct and immediate sort. In its purest form this is man in the State of Nature and answering only to Natural Law.

Here I will use Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England at the Harvard Law School Library (attributed to Henry of Bratton) as the basic guide for our understanding of Natural Law:

What natural law is.

[019] 21Natural law is defined in many ways. It may first be said to denote a certain
[020] instinctive impulse arising out of animate nature by which individual living things
[021] are led to act in certain ways. Hence it is thus defined: Natural law is that which
[022] nature, that is, God himself, taught all living things. The word ‘quod’ is then in
[023] the accusative case and the word ‘natura’ in the nominative. On the other hand,
[024] it may be said that the word ‘quod’ is in the nominative case, so that the definition
[025] will be this: Natural law is that taught all living things by nature, that is, by
[026] natural instinct. The word ‘natura’ will then be in the ablative case.
22 This is what
[027] is meant when we say that our first instinctive impulses are not under our control,
[028] but our second impulses are. That is why, if a matter proceeds only as far as simple
[029] sensual pleasure, not beyond, only a venial sin is committed. But if it proceeds
[030] farther, to the contriving of something, as where one puts into practice what he
[031] has shamefully thought, it will then be called a third impulse and a mortal sin is
[032] committed.
23 And note that for the reason that justice is will, taking into account
[033] rational beings only, natural law is impulse, regard being had to

[001] all creatures, rational and irrational. There are some who say that neither will nor
[002] impulse may be called jus, jus naturale or jus gentium, for they exist in [the realm of]
[003] fact; will or impulse are the means by which natural law or justice disclose or manifest
[004] their effect, for virtues and jura exist in the soul.
24 This perhaps is said more clearly,
[005] that natural law is a certain due which nature allows to each man. Natural law is also
[006] said to be the most equitable law, since it is said that erring minors are to be restored
[007] in accordance with [natural] equity.

Mathematically this is the Ground State of Man, although there will be some provisos in that and a few things granted us by the Law of Nature and our inheritance as a species. Those changes, however, are 'built-in' and instinctual, just as the desire for perfect liberty is part of all animals so we, too, have that desire. Thus these things we get from our background and history as a species are part of the Ground State of Man (GSM). A Ground State can have many values, depending on what is measured, but for simplicity's sake we can set that at Zero.

GSM = 0

With the package of being human we get an affinity to form personal bonds and family groups, and yet many animals also have this as instinct, so we cannot say we are special from Nature due to this trait. What we do have is conscious control over the exercise of it, and in that we can say that this adapted behavior (personal bonds) can be exploited as an aptation to other things. A shellfish may not have control over the colors that its shell gains (and many don't) but when a predisposition towards coloration also gains a benefit, that trait is then one that is used as an aptation: it is not there due to survival characteristics, but may help to enhance survival just the same.

To us this personal bond capability that we get via instinct can be used to further our survival beyond what Nature has provided for. That aptation is part of the GSM. Our ability to consciously use it, and as members of homo sapiens sapiens that comes part and parcel of our heritage, is also part of the GSM, although a distinction with a difference that sets us apart from other species. That distinction is neither a plus nor a minus in moving from the GSM, but has been bestowed upon us by Providence from Nature.

When we consciously choose who is our mate, and then when we choose by that decision to restrict our activities towards that mate, we then start doing something different than Nature has provided. While we may have instincts to stop us from doing harm to that mate, that does not stop such things in a sovereign way in Nature: Natural Law over-rides even that bond if the need for survival precludes it. Thus if threatened with death or injury, a being may offer up its mate to fate to survive and while it would instinctually feel loss that is only due to the absence of the mate, not the decision itself. Once we move to actually self-sacrificing for that mate, to preclude not only other pleasures but to withstand pain and even death for that mate to survive, we create something wholly new. This is Bracton on that topic:

What the jus gentium is.

[017] 33The jus gentium is the law which men of all nations use, which falls short of
[018] natural law since that is common to all animate things born on the earth in the
[019] sea or in the air. From it comes the union of man and woman, entered into by the
[020] mutual consent of both, which is called marriage. Mere physical union is [in the
[021] realm] of fact and cannot properly be called jus since it is corporeal and may be
[022] seen;
34 all jura are incorporeal and cannot be seen. From that same law there
[023] also
35 comes the procreation and rearing of children. The jus gentium is common
[024] to men alone, as religion observed toward God, the duty of submission to parents
[025] and country, or the right to repel violence and injuria. For it is by virtue of this
[026] law that whatever a man does in defence of his own person he is held to do lawfully;
[027] since nature makes us all in a sense akin to one another it follows that for one to
[028] attack another is forbidden.

What manumission is.

[030] 37Manumissions also come from the jus gentium. Manumission is the giving of
[031] liberty, that is, the revelation of liberty, according to some, for liberty, which
[032] proceeds from the law of

[001] nature, cannot be taken away by the jus gentium but only obscured by it,38 for
[002] natural rights are immutable. But say that he who manumits does properly give
[003] liberty, though he does not give his own but another's, for one may give what he
[004] does not have, as is apparent in the case of a creditor, who [may alienate a pledge
though the thing is not his,39 and in that of one who] constitutes a usufruct in his
[006] property.
40 For natural rights are said to be immutable because they cannot be
[007] abrogated or taken away completely, though they may be restricted or diminished
[008] in kind
41 or in part. 42It was by virtue of this jus gentium that wars were introduced
[009] (that is, when declared
43 by the prince for the defence of his country44 or to repel
[010] an attack) and nations separated, kingdoms established and rights of ownership
[011] distinguished. Individual ownership was not effected de novo by the jus gentium but
[012] existed of old, for in the Old Testament things were already mine and thine, theft
[013] was prohibited
45 and it was decreed that one not retain his servant's wages.46 By
[014] the jus gentium boundaries were set to holdings, buildings erected next to one
[015] another, from which cities, boroughs and vills were formed.
47 And generally, the
[016] jus gentium is the source of all contracts
48 and of many other things. What long
[017] custom is will be explained below.

This thing we create is the law of nations and the first and greatest hallmark of it is that protection of others and NOT starting a war on one's own. Self-defense of that most basic bond we decide to form is immutable and a positive liberty. To wage war that endangers it on one's own is a negative liberty. Thus we get the next two parts of how we measure things:

  1. Positive Liberty of War - Self-Defense which we keep to ourselves as an inborn liberty and right. Thus PL(W) = +1.
  2. Negative Liberty of War - The offensive war against others is something that is still within us, but we vest it into society. Thus NL(W) = -1.

We get both of these from the GSM. Each value is your entire liberty in each sub-area.

Thus GSM = PL(W) + NL(W) = 0

This changes our Liberty Index (LIB), that measure of our Liberty with regards to the GSM, which has a neutral value. LIB is therefore the measure of Liberty with respect to the GSM. Each individual will experience Liberty differently, that is part of our nature, yet we each have a maximal amount of Liberty available to us and that maximal amount is absolute: no one gains more than what Nature provides. We may create different venues for expression, but those venues are, themselves, expression of our Liberty available under Natural Law. Thus we may not be able to conceive of ourselves utilizing full Liberty or experiencing it, which is subjective, but that we have it is self-evident with all men being born equal in potential.

Our Individual Liberty: LIB(I) = PL(W) = +1

Our Society's Liberty which is vested in the organ of society we call Government: LIB(G) = NL(W) = -1

For us to be safe from NL(W) we must have society and its organs to govern it, and that allows us the ability to defend ourselves freely using our positive liberty to do so. For this to be done there must be an agreement by ALL individuals in the society to do this, or else we are all put at peril to the individual's whim. Thus we grant freedom to each other to not be fearful of war of man upon man and we, through that vestment of it in society with that negative liberty, increase our positive liberty.

Another division is seen with restraint of actions, and this is also one that divides into a positive and negative liberty.

  1. Positive Liberty of Restraint - Self-restraint, the ability to check one's own actions with regards to our fellow man. PL(R) = +1.
  2. Negative Liberty of Restraint - Restraining others for our own wishes or to enact our own desires, which harms society. NL(R) = -1

The Negative Liberty of Restraint is handed to society and its organ called government so as to allow it to restrain others that would endanger society. Thus we now have more positive liberty, even if we no longer have perfect freedom:

LIB(I) = PL(W) + PL(R) = +2

LIB(G) = NL(W) + NL(R) = -2

This formulation, while not done with math, is described in a way that we can understand it:

Some writers have so confounded society with government,
as to leave little or no distinction between them;
whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.
Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness;
the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections,
the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one
encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first a patron, the last a punisher.

That from Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and it makes perfect sense when seen as a form of mathematics. In this case the organ of society that holds the LIB(G) is called government, while the rest of society is formed by our cooperative use of LIB(I). When we utilize government to restrain those activities that would cause harm to society, we exercise a positive value of control via our LIB(I) via our civil liberty. Thus the Liberty Index gains a Control Value (CV) that is necessary to keep our negative liberties lent to government via society in check. From that the CV must be strong enough to ensure that we are not put in danger by government that holds our negative liberties. In a perfect world that must be equal:

CV(G) = -1 x LIB(G)

At this point we get this replacement:

CV(G) = -1 x -2 = +2

That is, happily, the LIB(I) and thus we would feel secure.

Now I will step through a thought experiment and apply values as I go.

Our PL(W) is for all forms of self-defense, everything from a spit in the eye to a thermonuclear device. Now let us say that we are uncomfortable with the very high end of that scale and say that such things as war making aircraft, ships, and WMDs are to be restricted from our society as they are just too dangerous for the individual to use. Happily they are so expensive that they are out of the reach of most individuals, even the 'super rich' and thus this is a minor fractional impingement upon our LIB(I). Let us say that this Restriction on War (RS(W)) is a mere tiny fraction of PL(W).

R(W) = 0.01 x PL(W) = 0.01

To do this requires that we must increase the magnitude of NL(R), that is put more Restraint(the (R) value) into the system that is held by government and remove it from PL(R). This must be reflected in the Control Value of Government (CV(G)).


PL(W1) = PL(W) - RS(W) = +0.99

NL(R1) = NL(R) - RS(W) = -1.01

CV(G) = -1 x ( NL(W) + NL(R1)) = +2.01

LIB(I) = +1.99

LIB(G) = -2.01

When we want government to do more to restrain our positive liberties, we lose liberty and government gains control power over us. This does not of necessity make society safer as this is a function of control by government on our liberty and freedom and as it is taken away from all individuals society is lessened by that loss. Also, on this scale of liberty measurement, we are now lacking in an amount of personal control commensurate to the differences needed between CV(G) and LIB(I). That is worrying as the restrictions we have coming from government are based on an unsupported control factor from our personal liberty. In short we begin to lack the essential back-up to the control of government which is our positive liberty: there is a liberty deficit equal to that difference or Delta (LIB(DEL)).

LIB(DEL) = CV(G) - LIB(I) = +0.02

That Delta between the necessary control of government and your personal liberty is a meaningful one, as when government restricts your liberty it needs greater control and you are feeling controlled by government. This is also called oppression by authority and such a government is authoritarian. Now for our social good all governments are at least mildly authoritarian so as to help keep order of society within society.

Another area of liberty is economic liberty and it, too, has positive and negative aspects.

  1. Positive Liberty of Economy - Your ability to gain by your own hand from your own work through the utilization of freedom to work. PL(E) = +1
  2. Negative Liberty of Economy - Your ability to take from others and steal their work or otherwise gain by their work by doing none yourself, the act of taking is not considered positive. NL(E) = -1

The sum of your economic liberty is: GSM = PL(E) + NL(E).

As with the previous forms of liberty, we put the negative form into that organ of society of government to control it.

LIB(I) = PL(W) + PL(R) + PL(E) = +3

LIB(G) = NL(W) + NL(R) + NL(E) = -3

CV(G) = -1 x (NL(W) + NL(R) + NL(E)) = +3

Government utilizes the NL(E) in various ways: tariffs, taxation, duties, imposts, and eminent domain.

If we postulate a case where all government taxation via all means and all governments is 30%, then that is the amount your PL(E) is impacted by government. This is the amount of burdening or restraint upon your personal liberty of economy to run the government. This is, of course, an imperfect postulate, but is useful for demonstration purposes.

R(E) = 0.3 x PL(E) = +0.3

PL(E1) = PL(E) - RS(E) = +0.7

NL(E1) = NL(E) - RS(E) = -1.30


LIB(I) = +2.7

LIB(G) = -3.3

CV(G) = +3.3

LIB(DEL) = +0.6

When there is a positive LIB(DEL) > +20% LIB(I) then government is thought of as having more power than the people of society.

When there is a +/- 20% LIB(I) difference a government and its people are in balance.

When there is a negative LIB(DEL) < -20% LIB(I) then government is considered to be subservient to the people in regards to Liberty.

Our CV(G) in the US has, as part of its arrangement, being from the 'consent of the governed'. With that said, the IRS acts as a mandatory agency with its own courts to decide tax issues quite separate from our civil courts, and those courts are rarely reviewed, rarely overturned and act as an arm of government collections. With 'consent of the governed' that LIB(DEL) on the imposition against personal economic liberty is supposed to be moderated, and yet the collections are most coercive and the one place hardest to get an acquittal is tax court. If tax problems were accountable to standard civil courts, then an argument could be made for civil justice, but as it is not that moderating influence vanishes and 'consent of the governed' goes with it. The ability to tax has become a true law unto itself, answerable to no civil justice. That is for the federal side of things, which is a percentage of the RS(E) but a large percent of it, nonetheless.

That RS(E) would be an average across all individuals in society. When we leverage disproportionate taxation, that is change the amount being taxed due to things like income, those who pay less or no taxes do not notice the RS(E) or the LIB(DEL) due to it: the poor don't care much about the full taxation of those who pay taxes.

Inversely those who have great wealth and can shield it via an incremental use of tax gimmicks, hiding income and tax lawyers feel less of a bite than if they had their full share levied upon them. Every exemption that is useful to only the upper portion of those with income lessens their appreciation of the RS(E) and LIB(DEL) via the amount they can shield minus the cost of the shielding. So long as that shielding yields a positive net result, the amount of taxation felt is lessened thus lessening concerns about those who cannot use such techniques to a net positive.

Thus the middle income individuals feel the full brunt of taxation, get only a few 'tax breaks' to mollify them, and have to pick up the load for the poor AND the amount the rich shield from tax collections.  This concept is being used for demonstration purposes, only.

The felt LIB(DEL) is thus changed for those paying taxes. If, say, 30% pay no taxes or no discernable taxes (this is not just income tax but things like sales tax, duties, etc. and is a net 30% as many of the poor do pay taxes, but they are not discernable beyond a modicum, so 30% is an overall net loss from this income bracket) then their LIB(DEL) effectively drops to zero and for those rich who can shield their money, they may only feel, say 80% of the remaining LIB(DEL), thus forcing the remainder LIB(DEL)(REM) to pay the share of the poor:

LIB(DEL)(P) = 0

LIB(DEL)(REM) = LIB(DEL) + 0.3 x LIB(DEL) = 0.78

LIB(DEL)(R) = LIB(DEL)(REM) x 0.8 = 0.624

LIB(DEL)(M) = LIB(DEL)(REM) + (LIB(DEL)(R)-LIB(DEL)(REM)) = 0.78 + (0.624 - 0.78) = 0.936

From this a nominal amount of overall economic liberty delta is not felt by the poor, only just a bit above the nominal average for the rich and predominantly upon the middle class. The rich, by being rich, can get in loopholes into the law via lobbying so as to bring their nominal rate down to near average (and some do pay no income tax but cannot escape other taxes) and the middle class gets the squeeze. In truth the LIB(DEL)(P) is rarely 0 but never reaches an effectively half-average until you get to be un-poor and join the middle class. Even then the lowest part of the middle class has some effects moderated thus shifting burden to the center and upper income earners.

This system works so-so to explain the effects of taxation, but the effects of those who get taxed and feel that they have less control over taxation is for them a much higher amount than average as the tax code favors the poor and the rich, simultaneously although in different ways. Until this point in time all individuals have been considered to share the burden equally, but due to tax policy we can no longer consider that as the case: by favoring some over others government creates inequality in participation and control over the government itself. This is the Equality Quotient (EQQ) which is a measure of the differences in burden from LIB(DEL).


EQQ(P) = LIB(DEL) - LIB(DEL)(P) = +0.6 - 0 = +0.6

EQQ(R) = LIB(DEL) - LIB(DEL)(R) = 0.6 - 0.624 = -0.024

EQQ(M) = LIB(DEL) - LIB(DEL)(M) = 0.6 - 0.936 = -0.336

When one has a positive EQQ they are said to be Favored by government (>= 10% LIB(DEL)).

When one has a near zero EQQ they are said to be Neutral with respect to government (+/- 10% of LIB(DEL)).

When one has a negative EQQ they are said to be Disfavored by government (<= -10% of LIB(DEL)) .

As I have pointed out I am exaggerating with respect to the Poor which will change the position of both the Rich and Middle Class in regards to LIB(DEL). That may actually move the EQQ(R) into slightly positive territory and bring the EQQ(M) downwards, but perhaps not into the 10% range of Neutrality. As this is a difference from the Average a smaller variation in a system professing equality has a larger impact than the absolute comparison between LIB(I) and LIB(DEL) used for the absolute case. Still a government can have a rough correlation of power in balance with its society and still have EQQs that demonstrate unequal dispensation of the use of that power.

This examination is of a government that is given only our negative liberties to safeguard so that we may maximize our positive ones. When we put together a government that doesn't do that, we can start to see some major problems in the reduced liberty of the individual.

Examining a society that hands positive liberties to government changes that balance of Liberty, Control and Equality. To postulate, lets start with a position in which all handguns are prohibited, save for those made at home (along with ammunition), and rifles and shotguns are heavily restricted to the general population, and all other firearms are prohibited. With that we would see only a 20% available positive liberty of warfare for self-defense, and probably closer to 10%.

PL(W) = 1 x 0.2 = +0.2

NL(W) = -1 - (1 - PL(W)) = -1.8


LIB(I) = +0.2

LIB(G) = -1.8

CV(G) = +1.8

LIB(DEL) = +1.6

To achieve this requires a highly authoritarian government. Compare this with a LIB(DEL) for the simple restriction of WMDs to the individual LIB(DEL) = 0.02, and we see a government that must be 8 times as authoritarian compared to that extremely mild government. In this all individuals are considered to be equal, although if the government preferentially allows one group to be armed, say a ruling group, then the EQQ would be very high between those that govern and those they govern.

To examine a society in which government is not only entrusted with the negative economic liberty, but also the lion's share of the positive, say 90% of the positive liberty, we get the following:

LIB(I) = +0.1

LIB(G) = -1.9

CV(G) = +1.9

LIB(DEL) = +1.8

When postulating a government run economy, one is said to have very little control over government nor personal liberty with respect to government with LIB(I) being a mere 1/18th the canceling amount to feel some security from government for one's liberty. This is very close the minimal case of slavery:

LIB(I) = 0

While having 10% control of one's economic future is better than none, it can in no way said that one control's one's own destiny in that realm. If this case were added to the previous case we would see the following:

LIB(I) = +0.3

LIB(G) = -3.7

CV(G) = +3.7

LIB(DEL) = +3.4

That is beyond authoritarian and what we would call a totalitarian state that dictates your life to you and then ensures that you can in no way defend yourself FROM government.

This has been an interesting thought experiment!

The drawbacks of this system:

1) It deals with the absolute realm of liberty in multiple areas, and then sums them, thus making any fast and easy analysis of a government or society difficult. Each area must be dealt with separately.

2) There are no hard definitions on restraint of positive liberty imposed by government. The cases I give are ones in which I just used numbers to represent approximations of restraints, and I used no hard and fast rules on them. Still that could be done given more time.

3) Subjectively each of us deals with our emotional and mental attitude towards our use of liberty differently. With that said it is very easy to assume that one's subjective approach is universal, which, thusly, puts one at odds with even a slight variation of one's outlook. If a large scale outlook is different, then valuations on restraint and even what positive and negative liberties ARE will change valuations. That is why I went the route of the ENTIRE of each, so that the most expansive view of positive and negative to their furthest limits are the full value of them.

4) Each society, beyond just individuals, will approach the magnitude of restraint of liberty by government differently. In trying to use a common, absolute, evaluation, the concept is to give a level staring point and then allow different societies to state their valuations of each restraint so that a cross-society system could be developed. My analysis is 'rough and ready' used to demonstrate some of the basics of how a system like this works.

5) As a society and individuals we have ignored wanting to put such valuations on our liberty, freedom and even such things as our personality. Yet these are not sacrosanct areas, forbidden to thought and analysis. By sequestering a comparative, objective system that encompasses human liberty from our scope of learning, we still wander in a region where the hypothetical rules and the objective, hard and fast definitions are left outside in the cold. While such analysis may seem cold at first blush, it actually helps to examine differences in societies and puts some order of magnitude understanding on the hypothetical works and allows us to review just what various authors are saying and cross-compare how they approach topics. If you want to get to a science of society and governments, then something like this will be necessary and hand waving and hypothetical cases will need to be made into rigorous postulations with numbers put against them that are clearly explained.

The pluses of this system:

1) Personally I was surprised at how some of the things we talk about in comparing governments and personal liberty immediately stand out. Simply putting numbers on these things we talk about helps to regularize understanding and create a cross-comparative review of not only politics but societal attitudes.

2) The interim numbers generated, like the CV(G) turn out to be interesting indicators of the relative power between society and government. While LIB(I) is for all individuals and collective, so is LIB(G). The examination of that Delta between LIB(I) and the positive control necessary for government to function with its negative liberties (or positive ones taken from individuals) is a highly powerful tool.

3) Even without extreme rigor on definitions there are clear indicators of liberty, freedom and equality quickly stand out. When we talk of government taking part in a large section of our economic lives, not only in the Health Care area but in all other areas that we get regulations put in by government, we can see how even small and incremental changes in the balance of Liberty have extreme impacts in our feeling of enfranchisement and if the government is going authoritarian. Thus an intervention on 16% of the economy would be a huge change in our personal Liberty and the necessary control by government is that we would characterize for authoritarian regimes. Under that view most of Europe is under authoritarian regimes.

4) Being nice to the poor and letting the rich get tax breaks means the middle class gets hit and hard by the authority of government. If we were to add to taxation the other regulations controlling our daily lives, we have probably reached a tipping point between a modicum of balance between the people and government and are now in a realm where authoritarianism is possible. While we know that as an intellectual exercise, when one begins to put numbers to it the actual reality of it sinks in much, much faster.

5) I do not deal with Liberties wholly retained by the people, such as religion. Still, as that is wholly retained by the people, and we are restricted on our negative liberties, that leaves us with talking about it, social exclusion and other means to express ourselves that preclude warfare and repression. ANY action taken by government in that realm is a negative... which is a lesson we have already seen in history. That does INCLUDE stopping historical and societal use of religious terms within government and on such things as our currency: as established they are perfectly allowable and trying to get government to CHANGE that basis is actually asking for favoritism. Yet we still have those that will not let sleeping dogs rest without poking them with a sharp stick.

In no way is this review an actual analytical tool.

It is an examination of what a good analytical tool would do if we had one for this purpose... which we don't.

I've been putting this together in bits and pieces over a few days, so the math may not be rigorous.