Category Archives: Other

Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”

Some of the factors that shape the frequency and severity of wildfire in California, like drought, record high temperatures and strong winds are beyond our control and in many cases, exacerbated by a changing climate. Other factors, such as how we manage our fire-adapted conifer forests, where we build homes and how we prepare and protect our communities are within our control.

Source: The Nature Conservancy – California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History

Media and social media have been quick to blame California’s fires (including recent years and the present) on climate change. Social media instapundits proclaim that “only if we had done X on climate change” this would not have happened. Or if “Politician X was not in office” we would have solved climate change and this would have prevented the fires.

But that makes no sense – what could have been done on climate change, last year, or five years ago or ten years ago or even 20 years ago that would have effected forest fires this year? If we magically ended all fossil fuel usage 20 years ago, the forest fire risk this year would have been exactly the same.

While dealing with climate is an issue, it would have done nothing vis a vis current fires. Nor will spending trillions on climate change in the next 10 or 20 years resolve California’s fire problems – since spending trillions diverts enormous sums to climate change, it  diverts money away from measures that would reduce California fire risk now.

We need to  control what we can control – now. And that is what this Nature Conservancy report says.

Update: More here on how building codes evolved to create safer structures in earthquake prone areas, whereas we have not evolved building codes to make safer fire proof structures in fire prone areas. Fire is a natural part of the California ecosystem – and now, millions of people are living within areas that are dependent on fire.

Continue reading Nature Conservancy: “California: Let’s Stop Making Wildfire History”

When was the last time the media hyped a “drone sighting”? I can’t even remember.

Reports to the FAA of “drone sightings”, used by Congress and the FAA to drive forth draconian remote identification and mandated national surveillance networks using drones, with the goal of pricing drone flying out of the public’s reach – were based on bad data and media hysterics, much of which was false reporting.

  • Remember the Aeromexico flight in late 2018 that had a collapsed nose cone? The media blamed that on a drone. Six months later the official investigation found it was due to a maintenance defect on the nose cone.
  • Remember the Gatwick Airport fiasco? The only confirmed drone sightings were of the fleet of surveillance drones operated by the Sussex Police over the airport.
  • Remember the temporary Newark Airport closure due to a “drone sighting”? That drone report was from 20 miles away from the airport and may not have even been a drone at all.

Take a look at this – drone sightings have magically disappeared: Drone Sightings: The Actual Non-Hyped Numbers Analyzed (Graphs, Trends, etc.)

After awhile, when the FAA isn’t stealing Youtube content, they seem to have been busy making up fake drone reports to justify a remote ID proposal that mandates all drones be connected to the Internet cloud, in real time, and used as part of a massive national surveillance program, collecting imagery and telemetry and potentially sending it to China. Brilliant. Not like any drones would so something like that.

The FAA’s primary goal is to make hobby flying of radio control model aircraft so expensive and cumbersome as to eliminate it entirely. The reason is to clear the low altitude airspace for AmazonGoogleUPS delivery drones. The FAA asserts that it and it alone owns the airspace in your front and backyards from the ground up. Literally, the airspace below your head when you stand outside is controlled by the FAA and they intend to use it for corporate delivery and surveillance networks. (See my comments to see how that works.)

Global Research Institute for Pandemic Nonsense and Rants

My new blog with an entirely facetious title:

Global Research Institute for Pandemic Nonsense and Rants | A diverse, international group of experts analyzing contemporary pandemic responses. Not really. I made that up.

There is so much in regards to the pandemic that makes no sense.

I am watching, for example, that areas with mandated face mask policies since mid-April to May now have a huge increase in new cases.

Simultaneously, places with declining trends are said to have low mask wearing compliance.

And then there is Denmark: they had only a 4 week lock down, a one meter spacing rule, re-opened schools, and no one (just 2%) wear face masks, yet they have one of their milder cases in the entire European Union.

As you look around, the actions and the responses are literally random – indicating no one has a clue what they are doing.

There’s about 90 posts on the new blog already.

Ham Radio ISS – How to Call Space Station Astronauts

It’s a great story—but here’s what NASA told us.

Source: Ham Radio ISS – How to Call Space Station Astronauts

Well written news report.  News reports suggested  a ham radio operator in India  contacted the SpaceX Dragon crew on board Dragon (one of the astronauts is a ham radio operator). The story notes many hams (including me) have, in fact contacted ISS (mailbox/APRS) or crew (two of the crew on board right now are ham radio operators) and that this is fairly common.

In this case it appears the original ham radio operator in India may have gotten confused with a press conference link.

RCAF Snowbirds

In memory of Capt. Jenn Casey and the difficult times faced by the RCAF Snowirds right now. These photos taken at the Oregon International Airshow 2014, Hillsboro, Oregon.

I have been using a photo of the RCAF Snowbirds as the background on my Android tablet for a couple of years.

Disease: Good summary of coronavirus COVID-19 situation

Summarizes possible impacts to the U.S. and economic issues. CDC is planning for possible school and business closure mandates, summer Olympics could be canceled, and hoping the disease, like many, subsides during warm summer conditions.

The total number of COVID-19 cases climbed above 80,200 as of Tuesday with deaths climbing to at least 2,704.

Source: Coronavirus live updates: US confirms 53 cases, CDC outlines pandemic planning

U.S. firms discouraging or prohibiting travel by employees to affected areas now including China, Italy, South Korea and southeast Asia including Australia.

Personal finance: “FIRE” doesn’t really mean “retire early”


In truth, “FIRE” should be “FICC” for “financial independence change careers.”

Source: What I learned about the FIRE movement while making a doc about it

I have followed several “FIRE” blogs from people who save aggressively (generally a good thing) and “retire” at 30 or 40. I admire them for practicing frugality (something we have practiced too). I am now retired, albeit, at the age when many people have retired (old dude, ok?)

I too noticed that most FIRE practitioners did not retire, exactly, but often took advantage of their near financial independence to work independently, on their own schedule – instead of the usual corporate rat race. That’s not  bad thing either – in fact, it sounds like a great opportunity for many!

But there are some hidden “gotcha” expenses that may be lurking for FIRE adherents in the near future …

Continue reading Personal finance: “FIRE” doesn’t really mean “retire early” has moved to a new server (this one)

On December 18, 2019, my Internet web hosting provider announced they are shutting down in February 2020. I am now in process of relocating my 5 web sites to a new web host (and once this is done, a 6th site located elsewhere will also be relocated).

This post you are reading right now is on the new web host, however, the final appearance of this page and some other key items still need to be updated. These final fixes will occur over the next week or so. For example, this web site is presently using a self signed SSL certificate and access (https) results in a security alert that the SSL connection cannot be verified, or in some browsers, images are missing or the page formats incorrectly. This will be fixed, in due course.

Continue reading has moved to a new server (this one)

Coldest October temperature in lower 48 states recorded

A weather event is not climate. The coldest ever October temperature in the lower 48 states was recorded in Peter Sinks, Utah on October 28th, at -45 degrees F (-43 degrees C). Peter Sinks is located in the mountains north of Logan, Utah

Source: Winter weather in October: Arctic cold breaks records in Utah, Denver

Utah State University has a page explaining why such incredibly cold temperatures form at this location.

Most electric vehicles will not operate at this temperature; those that do will likely experience up to -50% reduction in range. Many gas cars will not start either at those temperatures.

The cold weather descending from California is the critical factor in why winds have been so high in parts of California.

The Governor blames “climate change”. But are the high winds due to climate change?

“Would this fire have happened if there was no climate change? Probably,” said Paul Ulrich, an associate professor of climate modeling at UC Davis.

Source: California fires: Is climate change making the winds stronger?

Professor Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences says:

Now several folks are talking about this event being associated with global warming.  CA Governor Newson said this in a press conference.  This is simply not true.

But what message is the public hearing? That this event is due to “global heating” even though science does not say that about this event.

The winds were due to a very cold air mass descending south from Canada, which causes high pressure relative to areas further south. This cold air led to 3 low temperature records in my town, one at -3 degrees F.  Spokane, WA experienced its coldest October on record.

This cold air mass, in turn causes strong winds to flow from the high in the north and north east towards California. This is a common event in the fall. If you read the California fires story, above, you will learn of many associated causes of the fires (including more people, building more homes in wild land areas, and PG&E’s historical lack of electrical line maintenance, and uninsulated power lines in close proximity to trees.)

Warmer air, like in California, is often associated with nearby very cold air masses. That’s just how weather systems work.

The problems with models versus the real world

Model-land is a hypothetical world in which our simulations are perfect, an attractive fairy-tale state of mind in which optimising a simulation invariably reflects desirable pathways in the real world. Decision-support in model-land implies taking the output of model simulations at face value (perhaps using some form of statistical post-processing to account for blatant inconsistencies), and then interpreting frequencies in model-land to represent probabilities in the real-world.

The following is something I see nearly every day in the media – where the model output is presented as the real world (even when the real world is different):

As a trivial example, when writing about forecasts of household consumption, energy prices, or global average surface temperature, many authors will use the same name and the same phrasing to refer to effects seen in the simulation as those used for the real world. It may not be the case that these authors are actually confused about which is which, the point is that readers of conclusions would benefit from a clear distinction being made, especially where such results are presented as if they have relevance to real-world phenomena and decision-making.

For what we term “climate-like” models, the realms of sophisticated statistical processing which variously “identify the best model”, “calibrate the parameters of the model”, “form a probability distribution from the ensemble”, “calculate the size of the discrepancy” etc., are castles in the air built on a single assumption which is known to be incorrect: that the model is perfect.


It is not clear why multi-model ensembles are taken to represent a probability distribution at all; the distributions from each imperfect model in the ensemble will differ from the desired perfect model probability distribution (if such a thing exists); it is not clear how combining them might lead to a relevant, much less precise, distribution for the real-world target of interest.

Source: 1662970102.pdf

The last paragraph quoted above is something that has long bothered me about model ensembles.

This paper is a good read. Click on the link above to read the full paper.

Thompson, Erica L.; Smith, Leonard A. (2019) : Escape from model-land, Economics Discussion Papers, No. 2019-23, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Kiel. Retrieved from: