NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

A second look at Lamphere's affordable housing.

Terry Lamphier suggests we Are we gambling on growth?, April 30, 2005
Take a theoretical example: a developer proposes a project of 100 houses. City or county planners negotiate with the developer to put deed restrictions on 20 of them so that they are on the market as "affordable" and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Result? Well, the obvious one is that 20 more struggling families may be able to buy and live in our area. But has the community at large "won?" Here are what I see as flaws in this scenario.

First I am against this kind of affordable housing. The 80 home owners are paying for the 20 homes. This raises the prices of the 80 homes, creating even more unaffordable housing in the community. Second, the most valuable asset most families have is their house and the land it is on. If we put deed restrictions on the property to keep it "affordable" the property value will not rise with the market, nor will the home owners wealth. They will be stuck, unable to move to a larger home as the kids grow and need more room, or when it is time to take care of an aging parent. Inclusionary deed restrictions are bad for the home owner and the community.

Tell me what you think

Uninformed planning commissioner

Terry Lamphier suggests we Are we gambling on growth?, April 30, 2005

Mr. Lamphier is a member of the Grass Valley's planning commission, but the statement below indicates he is not well informed on local transportation mitigation fees programs.
Unfortunately, developers are not required to mitigate indirect effects and have no legal responsibility to fix, for example, the growing number of failing intersections. Any improvements are paid for by the government - you and me. How to pay for it? More tax revenue. From where? More new businesses. Leading to? More traffic.
Grass Valley, Nevada City and County have a regional transportation mitigation fee program. Contractors pay fees to mitigate the impact of new growth on roads and intersections, under this program.

The Regional Transportation Mitigation Fee (RTMF) Program is constantly under review and is currently being updated by the NCTC Technical Advisory Committee, which is working with the Nevada County Contractor’s Association and other organizations on issues. Timing and funding for projects have been key issues for the Contractors. They have been paying money for years, yet few improvement have been made, giving the impression that development is causing traffic problems. The problem is the lack of action to complete the projects funded under the fee program.

The proposed RTMF update will be included on the Transportation Commissions May agenda. Maybe Mr. Lamphere should put this meeting on his calendar, and become better informed on the development mitigation fee program and the real problem.

The RTMF program has collected fees for five years, now the Contractors want to know where are the improvements!

Tell me what you think

Union Editor starts blogging Monday

Pat Buttler in todays Union:
Speaking of cyberconnections, I'll be launching my blog sometime on Monday. I plan to write every weekday, and it will likely be short, snappy and to the point. Hopefully, it will be a tool that brings the readers and editor closer together or at least to a point where we better understand each other.
We will be following Pat's blog with some interest, responding when appropiate.

Tell me what you think

Friday, April 29, 2005

The power of web logs and free Internet

Nevada City and Grass Valley now offer laptop users wireless Internet access. These services are called WiFi hotspots. These hotspots really come in two flavors free and for fee. The free ones are being used as economic attraction tools by businesses and communities across the nation. Laptop user looking for coffee and broadband will look for a free hotspot, like the Flour Garden. Vacationers look for towns with free access. Campers look for campgrounds with WiFi access, preferably free. On the otherhand, business men and women, with a company paid account, like the reliability and known location of the pay for service locations, like Starbucks.

You can get a list of Grass Valley and Nevada City WiFi and broadband access locations from the ERC Web Page, or click on this link.

Now the regional telephone providers, SBC, Verizon, Bell South, Quest, etc., are trying to legislate free hot spots funded, or supported, with public money out of existence. They currently have bills in process, under consideration, or signed in 14 states which limit public supported free Internet access. (Corrected 2:45 pm)

Web logger are now tracking this action across the nation, and shining light on this back room process to shut down free wireless Internet access. To counter the web loggers, Issue Dynamic is starting a web log tracking services for the phone companies. Issue Dynamic is in the business of creating grassroots support for issues vital to the regional phone companies. More details on Issue Dynamic meddling in the free wireless municipal Internet access here.

Tell me what you think

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Unique SS Solution

Check out GrownUps, for unique solution to Social Security.

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The Union's Question of the Week

Often when looking at the Union's weekly poll questions, I want a "none of the above" option, or an opportunity to suggest none of the printed answers got to the nut of the matter, and why. Well, it happened! You can now log in and comment on the Union's question of the week. You can also comment on the comments made by other participants. This is the start of an interactive dialog on questions of community interest. This is progress!

If you would like to participate, click on this link and sign up.

Tell me what you think

More robot letter writers?

Various authors concerned about the'Nuclear option' a concern for readers, April 28, 2005

Idea is a concern

I am writing out of concern that the "nuclear option" to seize absolute power... voice our opinion before we lose the right to have that opinion voiced.

Shirley Kinghorn

A dangerous precedent

In the near future, a group of the most zealous of the Republicans in congress will try to use the "nuclear option" to seize absolute power. Initially it is touted as related to the appointment of judges.

Bill Van Roo

Keep Senate rules

I am outraged to learn of a plan to overthrow the existing rules in the Senate and have the Republicans (or anyone) have absolute power over the upcoming judicial appointments.

Jennifer Crebbin

About absolute power

At some point in the near future, the Republicans will try to change the rules to seize absolute power to appoint judges.

Jaede Parsons
These same phrases appread in letters to the editor this morning in the following papers:

Centgral Maine Morning Sentinel, ME
Daily Press, VA
Gloucsterr Daily Time, MA
Billings Gazttte, MT
Santa Maria Times, CA

Do you think all of the above may be more Democratic, or robot letter writers?

Tell me what you think

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Call 511 on Highway 49?

Have you noticed the Call 511 signs on SR-49 just West of the Dorsey Drive over crossing? The signs are posted on both the East and West bound lanes. Call 511 is a traveler information system, that will give you highway status through out California. In fact it is a nation wide system, available in most states. The Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as the national travel information number in July 2000. The first service was launched a year later in Kentucky, and systems are now in place in San Francisco, Sacramento and apparently along Highway 49. More information here.

However, when I call 511 on Highway 49, I get a recording from the Nevada Department of Transportation. I can find out the status of I-80 East and West of Reno, Highway 395, North and South of Reno, but no information about Highway 49 or 20. I wonder how many travelers on Highway 49 find that interesting and useful information?

Tell me what you think

UPDATE: Dan Landon, NCTC Executive Director, contacted David Young at SACOG, who is the 511 Coordinator. "He said that he didn't know why we were getting Nevada DOT instead of California." wrote Dan in an e-mail. " He guessed that it could be "bleed over" from a Nevada cell site or that our cell calls are routed through Nevada switches. I am dubious about either of those ideas." Me too. My cellphone is is great, but it is not so great it can reach across the mountains to Nevada. David said he would look into the situation and get back to Dan. More here when we get the details.

State Reports on Median Income for 2003

The statewide median income on all returns was $32,242, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2002's median income amount. For joint returns, the statewide median income was $58,653, a gain of 1.1 percent from 2002. Full details here.

"Median income" is the point where one-half of the tax returns are above and one-half are below the midpoint of the range of values. Median income represents the income reported by a typical California person or couple.

Marin County recorded the highest median income for joint returns, reporting $94,410, an increase of more than 2.1 percent over 2002. San Mateo County ranked second with $81,621, while Santa Clara County ranked third with $81,233 and Contra Costa County ranked fourth with $78,366.

Nevada County ranked twenty first (21st) with a median income of $32,682 for all returns, $45,793 for joint returns. We were about at the state median for all retruns, but $12,860 below for joint returns. I wonder about the significance of the lower joint return income? Any ideas?

Los Angeles County taxpayers filed 25.8 percent of all 2003 income tax returns in California. They reported median incomes of $27,746 for all returns, and $49,701 for joint returns, ranking 40th and 33rd, respectively.

Remember that Median is not the average. As shown in the LA case, a plethora of low income families can drive down the median.

Tell me what you think

It is baaack, the CDF Fire Tax

Chris Dabis our tax collector writes:
Remember last year when our State legislators wanted to place a State tax on your property tax bill to fund CDF? Remember how CalTax and the California Federal Farm Bureau, and other groups questioned the legal authority of the State to levy a tax on property owners? Well, it's back.
More at Chris Dabis’s web page here. Including excerpts from the CDF report.

The Board of Supervisors are taking a strong position, lead by Supervisor Robin Sutherland. She thinks that we are already paying for fire protection. She is worried, about the impact on agriculture, protection of public lands which cannot be taxed, and the impact on the local economy to due increased fees in a rural county with large forested areas. We will be hearing more from the BOS on this issue.

Tell me what you think

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Let's make NCTV an opt in program

Pat Barrentine has some interesting coments on the “Comcast, NCTV survey,” April 26, 2005
I found it impossible to answer a question in your survey regarding Comcast and NCTV. I am and have been for some time a Comcast customer. I pay for that service. And I understand the community responsibility cable companies must meet as part of their contracts. So do I want to pay for NCTV? Yes, but only as a member of NCTV. I'm already paying for Comcast. I think you'll find that accounts for many of the "No" answers.
This is an interesting idea, let’s have an opt in progam. Those that want NCTC can have a check off box in the Comcast bill, and send in their donation. Those of us who find little value in NCTC, will not have to pay for bad programming.

I would like to know how many Comcast Customers actually watch NCTC. Once Comcast negociates the final franchise fees, and the City and County decide how much of these fees they will allocate to NCTV, we can divide that amount by the number of people watching. This will give other Comcast users and idea of how much they are paying for each NCTV viewer. Too much is my estimate.

Tell me what you think

Monday, April 25, 2005

My Introduction to global weather dynamics

Thanks to Junkscience, I now have a copy the April 28, 1975 Newsweek article that prompted my interest in global warming, or in this case global cooling. I was in Thailand at the time, but when I got to Nebraska in Setember, I bought several books on how the earth warms and cools. So concerned about the coming global cooling, and the growing energy crisis, I designed our dream house to be an energy efficient solar home. But the Nevada County contractor we chose, would not build it. A home sized solar oven he called it. By the early 1980s, the global cooling scare was over, and the world was begining to warm again. If you would like your own copy of the Newsweek article, click here.

Tell me what you think

Barnetts Weekly Digest and Newletter

The Thomas P.M. Barnetts Weekly Digest and Newletter is posted here. He explains why the New Rule Set Reset eJournal will not longer be published, and has been replaced by this Newsletter Digest. From the first edition: Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate WW IV.
Terrorism is but a tactic, not an enemy. Its complete eradication is a chimera. Our goal is to marginalize it as a weapon by delegitimizing its use, and we do that best not by preventing its occurrence completely, but by routinizing its effect to the point of rendering all such acts obviously futile. In Core states, terrorism disrupts connectivity but does not call it into question, because the density of our current level of connectivity is simply too great to overcome through sheer physical destruction. It is our expectation of continued connectivity—indeed our demand for it—that ultimately makes us invulnerable to the tactics of terrorism: no amount of terrorism can turn back history's clock in the United States.
Tom is one of the wisest liberal democrats I know. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but I agree that globalization is here, and can be the leading force for peace in our time. Be sure to check out the glossary at the end, if you have not read The Pentagon's New Map.

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More perspective on Global Warming

Bill Rolland wants readers to “Get real perspective on global warming,” April 25, 2005

Mr Rolland is concerned about letters to the Editor that praised State of Fear by Michael Crichton. It is obvious that he has not read the book, which is perhaps the first fiction book I ever read with footnotes to support the science in the story, a detailed reference section and policy essays in the end notes.
The book's premise is that environmentalists have hyped global warming to extort billions of dollars from an unsuspecting public so these insidious tree-huggers can retire to lavish plantations on Molokai. It's all a get-rich scheme, you see. Seriously.

Now ask yourself: who owns more Hummers and BMWs: Greenpeace or the executive staff at ExxonMobil? Who's living in their parents' basement in Galt: some tie-dyed tree sitter or the president of the American Coal Association? Which call does your congressman take: the president of GM or that skinny kid collecting signatures to increase federal fuel standards?
I guess Mr Rolland did not read the Bee feature article several years ago about about the super fancy offices of the environmental organizations in Washington DC and regional centers. About the first class travel, the limos, and the fancy parties thrown for the big donors.
The verdict on global warming is in: it's real, it's here, and it's caused by people. And that, by the way, is from the non-fiction section.
Mr Rolland provides no support for this statement. Yes we have seen slight warming, mainly from increased out put from the sun. Details and a more “real perspective on global warming” in my March 2004 Other Voices in The Union. Download the original file with full color graphics here. You will also find more on global warming by scrolling down this page.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Townhall's contact your Representative or the Media

I just discovered and interesting feature on the web site. Click on Town Hall, on the left side of this screen. Pick a story, and then scroll to the bottom of the page. You will find two places to enter your zip code. One brings up the e-mail address of local new papers, radio and television stations. The other the e-mail address of your political representatives. You can send individual messages, or messages to all, with just the click of a button. Automated citizen access, no stamps, no trying to find the right e-mail address. Think, compose, reflect, edit and send.

Tell me what you think

The Union to start web logs

Pat Butler's column on Saturday, has the details on the Union's plans to bring readers into the Union's circle of writers and editors. If you do not have a web log, now is the time to start one and get it linked to the Union's. This is going to be a fun experiment in citizen journalism, do not get left out. Participate!

Tell me what you think

Saturday, April 23, 2005

State of the County, Cities & Towns

A Joint Program sponsored by the Nevada County Business Association, Grass Valley Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, and Nevada County Contractor’s Association.

Speakers on 23 April 2005 were:
Nevada County: Ted Owens, Chair, Board of Supervisors
City of Grass Valley: Gerard Tassone, Mayor
City of Nevada City: Conley Weaver, Mayor
Town of Truckee: Beth Ingalls, Vice Mayor

This was an interesting review of where we are, and where our government agencies are headed over the next year. I recorded the meeting and it is available as a .wav file. It is quite large at 64 megabites. Let me know if you want a copy. There is some knife and fork noises at the begining of the recording, as the speakers started before our table was finished with a very nice lunch. Also, a little static is present, but it is a listenable audio file.

Tell me what you think

CEQA has become a no growth tool

Howie Muir thinks that CEQA addresses rural, urban issues, April 23, 2005
Too often the 'rules' simply aren't: a charter city, such as Grass Valley, has few legal obligations to actually follow its General Plan. Too frequently the 'rules' are opaque or vulnerable to reinterpretation convenient to the monied, profit-motivated developer. Planners and contribution-hungry politicians are generally interested in planning as development.
It is too bad that Mr. Muir does not give use some evidence that his opinion has any kernel of truth. Perhaps he will respond with some details.
Long-term rural and urban environmental issues (e.g., future density, traffic, adequacy of infrastructure, habitat) have few advocates other than the concerned citizen. CEQA protects us all.
CEQA has been used as a tool by no-growther’s to impede needed development. The RQC makes demands, threatening law suites unless they get their way. In a study of 300 cities, MIT researchers found that citizen groups, like the RQC, have turn cities into home owner cooperatives.

“Our preliminary evidence suggests that there was a significant increase in the ability of local residents to block new projects and a change of cities from urban growth machines to homeowners' cooperatives.”

More details here.

Tell me what you think

Global Warming Insight

From the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, tenth anniversary edition, April 2005
It appears that public regard for environmental doomsaying is declining. This is most evident from the changing polling numbers about climate change. The Gallup Poll found that the public worries least about the issue that means the most to environmental organizations: global warming. “Last year at this time,” Gallup’s Lydia Saad wrote, “Gallup reported that global warming was ‘a bit of a yawn’ to most Americans. Today, one might say the public is practically dozing.” Almost half of poll respondents (47 percent) say they worry “only a little” or “not at all” about global warming. Global warming ranks near the bottom of the list of environmental issues Gallup surveys. The proportion of respondents who think global warming is generally exaggerated in the news increased five percent from 2003, from 33 percent to 38 percent.“For the first time,” Gallup notes, “this skeptical group outnumbers those saying the issue’s seriousness is underestimated.” The Gallup results closely track a BBC poll in Britain, where respondents ranked global warming last among a list of typical issues including health care, crime, and education. This waning public concern over the mother of all environmental catastrophes, combined with the absence of the environment as a significant, vote moving issue in the 2004 presidential election (despite $15 million in campaign spending by environmental groups), has generated a state of panic among environmental lobbies.
This may explain the spate of Global Warming scare stories appearing in the lefty press, Mother Jones and the New Yorker this month. Links on NCFocus.

Full Index Report here. You will be surprized how much the environment has improved, yet rarely gets reported.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Global warming as myth

A Parliament of Things
Essays by Philip Stott on Nature and Society

A point I have tried to make for a long time, but Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography in the University of London, is more precise.
(W)ill we be able to produce predictable (the operative word) climate change, and a stable climate, by adjusting, at the margins, one human variable, namely carbon dioxide emissions, out of the millions of factors, both natural and human, that drive climate? The answer is: "One hundred per cent, no." This is the seminal point at which the complex science of climate diverges irreconcilably from the central beliefs of the 'global warming' myth. The idea that we can manage climate predictably by adjusting, minimally, our output of some politically-selected gases is both naive and dangerous.
Read the whole essay here. Please note the climate factors on the left side of the page. How many can humans control?

Note to Anna at NCFocus: I could not find any evidence that Professor Stott, a global warming skeptic, is on the ExxonMobile payroll. Perhaps the writers in Rolling Stone, missed branding this skeptic as on the take, or. . .

Tell me what you think

Some thoughts on NCTV

Ron Lowe, wants you to Support our local NCTV, April 22, 2005

However, Mr Lowe has a problem with some of the details.
Comcast has a monopoly of cable TV throughout the area and thus is mandated by federal law to pay to the county 5 percent of gross revenue - i.e. $300,000 a year. Comcast is not doing it. When are these slackers going to step up to the plate and take care of business?
Bill Tozer has done some research and writes:
The Cable Act does NOT manadate that the cable operators pay the Franchise Authorties 5% of gross revenues: rather, it CAPS the amount at 5%. I found many examples of current Franchise agreements from the South to the Midwest to California that payed less than 5%, and most of them were major cities.
In the same letter Bill is worried about the growing discourd fanned by NCTV.
This Comcast vs Dr. McAteer thing really got under my skin. I have an aquaintance who was attending the Audio/Vidoe Production class at Sierra College who came over slammig the evil Comcast. He showed me a DVD that Terry McAteer made for press and class that was so spiteful and so ill-tempered at the end that I became alarmed. The class project was to make an anti-Comcast spot. (Revised)
Mr Lowe calls Comcast "slackers" I hope this is not an extension of Dr. McAteer's anti-Comcast campaign.

UPDATE: Bill makes an important point in another e-mail. All fees are paid to the Cities and County, they decide how much to send to NCTV. Dr. McAteer may want to look to government for his operating budget, not Comcast.

Tell me what you think

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Solar challenge

Doug Keachie, sent me a note and then challenged me to post it. I have added my comments, but I will let you decided its value.

Not up to even having identifable posters having their stuff up before you can change it ?

Not even a moderated post ?

It's gotta go through e mail first ?
The Blogger server limits the length of comments to 300 characters, so I use e-mail. Your comment was over 1800 chacters. I am more that willing to post e-mailed comments of reders who want to be included in the discussion. If they do not give permission in the e-mail, I ask, before posting
Wow !

I thought his point was that the expected temps on the planets as black bodies did not match the actual temps, and I thought he made it very clear he wasn't pushing anything, just making an observation. You seem to have fun twisting the Mars data to fit your agenda.
Please explain how I have twisted the mars data?
A country that built the Atomic Bomb in 7 years. (It was "impossible" in 1938," according to many scientists.)

A country that got to the moon in another 7 years. ( Also decleared impossible or way too dangerous by many.)

Is a country that can't take the equivalent Federal expenditures today, truly adjusted for inflation, and make Super Cheap Solar Power a reality ????? Give me a break ! Look what you pay for air conditioning and insulation during the summer and tell me again there's not enough energy there or "it can't be done." The only thing stopping it is links from those in oil to the power structure, (putting Bush in actually saved a step here) funded by the money we chumps pay at the pumps.

For somebody running "insightworks" I'd say you and those like you have got a sincere case of "not invented here." Or, "I paid for nukes, I want Nukes, and damn the storage problems, stick it to the next generation."


Doug Keachie
Doug, do the math. Look at the power requirements in megawatts, then look at the solar generation capability of a solar panel. Divide the panel output into the megawatts required. Take the area of each panel, and then multiply by the number of panels needed to produce the desired output. How many square miles of panels do you need? One estimate is they would cover North and South Dakota. Wonder how Dakotans would feel about being covered by solar panels.

What is your cost per square mile? You should know, as current solar panel service life is about 20 years, with the output declining each year. That means you will have to over build to meet the declining output, and then replace it all in 20 years. Maybe the folks in eastern Montana should also be worried being covered by panels? Even the most efficient, 100 percent solar conversion, can only produce 1370 Watts per meter squared. Solar arrays will require considerable land area, regardless of the efficiency. Efficiency today is about 12 to 18 percent.

Now, let's look at some more details. Panels output is best between 9am to 3pm, six hours a day. Where does the power come from the other 18 hours? How do we store the solar energy? If you have a three day snow storm in North and South Dakota, where is the back up system? Are you going to but the backup solar array in Texas? As the economy grows, and our power needs grow, where do you locate more arrays?

Nuclear works 24/7 regardless of the weather, it has a small foot print, and new pebble bed technology is maing them safer, while producing less nuclear waste.

What do readers think? Is solar the wave of the future, or should we rethink nuclear?

Tell me what you think

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Watch your ground water

Dave Moller writes about a Groundwater study proposed before county expansion, April 20, 2005
Nevada County could be headed for a disaster if its groundwater supply can’t sustain growth, a businessman said Wednesday.

With little information available about the sustainability of the area’s well water, Steve Baker of HydroSolutions said he would like his company to start long-term monitoring of wells.
Several years ago, one of our local green organizations, I forget which, proposed that we put meters on local wells, to insure property owners were not taking more than their fair share from ground water that they considered a public asset. The no growther’s want to take control of your water. Well monitoring could only the beginning.

Tell me what you think

We are home, posting should increase

Posting will increase now that we are back in broadband land. We stopped at camp grounds that advertised wireless Internet. Promises, promises, but no wireless access. They were working on it, but no access.

Tell me what you think

Climate Research, follow the money

John McDonald writes Global warming pays. April 19, 2005
To reduce the mass of extensive research studies on atmospheric degradation and the work of dedicated scientists to a sleazy get-rich scheme is an astonishing example of head-in-the-sand reaction to bad news.
Mr. McDonald might want to read the following report before he does any more name calling.

Funding Flows for Climate Change Research and Related Activities by Jeff Kueter, President George C. Marshall Institute. Document is here.

This report has some great graphs, and lists of who is getting your tax dollars to do climate change research. The reports Conclusion, in part:

This data analysis reveals two points of interest as the public
considers policy responses to climate change.

First, conservatively estimated, private foundations spend $35-50 million on climate change and related projects at public policy institutes and universities each year. While that amount is trivial in relation to the overall expenditures by foundations every year, funds supporting climate change activities are quite important to the bottom lines of these institutes, universities, and other organizations.

Second, the federal role is even more striking. Even with the crude indicators available, the federal government spends in the range of $1.5-2.0 billion annually on climate change activities, with the preponderance of that support directed to universities. While $2 billion is a low percentage of total federal spending on science and technology, government resources make up an alarmingly high percentage of the resources some universities, and individual researchers, devote to research in atmospheric sciences and related fields.

Tell me what you think

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

More desert beauty

Dateline Lonepine, Boulder Creek RV Park, 19 April 2005.

We have decided to spend one more day in the desert, admiring the wild flowers that are so abundant this year. The record setting winter rains, have filled every open space with desert dandelions, daisy’s, buttercups and other unrecognized yellow flowers. Clusters of purple flowers struggle to be noticed. The yellow flowers wave from the seams in the concrete at the roads edge, up the bank, across the berm, disappearing in the desert haze toward snow topped mountains that glow in a patina of green. The desert is a live with color. At lower elevations, the spring flowers have already vanished in the approaching summer heat. The cacti are round and succulent, filled with moisture, shoots of new growth pointing at the sun, ready for the long days of summer’s dry heat.

The campground advertised high speed wireless internet, but it is busted. “They have been working on for two days,” explained out host. The slooooow dial up will limit our ability to post comments on the news, but I will catch up when we return on Thursday.

Tell me what you think

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Posting limited by Blogger and Starbucks

We are having problems with the Blogger Server, which has limited our ability to post. I will be looking for a new service when we return from our trip. When that happens we will have a new address.

The SPJ Regional Conference was of more interest to newpaper writers and students. We enjoyed meeting a talking with the students, who have a different view of the world than I do. One asked, do you write for the Wall Street Journal? Their liberal professors have given them a twisted view of the the world. More on this theme when we get a more stable connection. Starbucks is booting me out the door.

Tell me what you think

Could these be robot letter writers

Nanci Mason, wants readers to Oppose one-party rule, April 16, 2005
Instead, they can use the courts to pay back big donors who have long agitated to roll back worker protections, privacy rights, and other freedoms we have worked so hard to enjoy - all at our expense.
John J. Bradle, 9 April, 2005 (details here):
Republicans have taken millions of dollars from their corporate backers. Now they're seeking to use the courts to pay back their big donors by overturning protections they have long agitated to remove, like labor rights, environmental laws, and privacy rights.
Think they were working off the same talking points?

Tell me what you think

Friday, April 15, 2005

We need better science than this - Watch out kids

Jim Hurley is worried about Global warming in our neighborhood, April 14, 2005

Let’s look at some of Mr Hurley’s statements:
First, no one disputes the fact that greenhouse gasses are on the increase in our atmosphere. Second, there is ample evidence elsewhere in the solar system of the dramatic effect of greenhouse gases on planetary temperature.
In this we agree, greenhouse gasses are on the increase, as they have during four interglacial periods over the last 400,000 year. As you can see from this chart.


More details on the chart here.

Have humans contributed to the this CO2, certainly, but is it enough to worry about? If we added all the atmospheric gasses up, can compared them to a football field, the total CO2 would be about 8 inches of the total field. Human activity would raise this 8 inches by a total by 1/8 of an inch.

Yes, we are seeing global warming on Mars, details here. Yet, according to Mr Hurley, “Mars is virtually devoid of atmosphere.” Really, please note that Mars has more carbon dioxide in its atmosphere than does Earth, but Mars has a lot less of everything else. The main global warming gas is water vapor, something now found on Mars, nor Venus. It seems that Mr Hurley has an Apple and Oranges argument.
We know that a major source of greenhouse gases is the carbon dioxide liberated through the burning of oil and gas in our power plants and cars.
Really, then what was the source of CO2 during the last four interglacial periods? Cars, SUVs, Power Plants? Please note that in the above chart, that the increase in temperature preceeded the rise in CO2, so how can CO2 be the cause?
So what is our current policy to reduce this pollutant? Continued reliance on oil from the Middle East? Drilling for more oil in the Alaskan Wild Life Refuge?
So, what does Mr. Hurley recommend? A hydrogen economy? Since we can not mine hydrogen, it takes energy to produce hydrogen, more than would be consumed if we just burned gas in our cars Where does this energy come from in Mr. Hurley’s world without oil? Nuclear? He does’t say. He only highlights problems, not sulutions?

As we compete for easy oil in the global market, the price per barrel will increase, until it reaches the point where it is economically feasable to extract oil from Canada’s oil sands, and the United States oil shale. By some estimates that is between $40 and $60 dollars per barrel, and the resource is over a trillion barrels. Who will control the global market then?

Tell me what you think

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wireless Travel

Dateline Bakersfield CA, Palms RV Park, 13 April 2005.

The RV park advertized Found the signal on my Mac, went through the directions, including entering my credit card. Cost $2.50 for 24 hours. Not bad price. But, I could not get logged in. Typed in the sign up info twice, but could not connect. Called Tech Support, and got a voice mail. I guess the system is not Mac compatable and tech support is out to dinner. Call tech support this morning, another voice mail.

Dateline Palm Springs CA, Starbucks, 14 April 2005

We have arrived and found the Starbucks, with a wifi connection two blocks from the RV Park. Stopped at a Flying J Truck Stop, but could not get connected. I will post again tomarrow, I see Jim Hurley has a global warming Other Voices, I will read and review tonight.

Tell me what you think

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the Road

We will be on the road for a few day. Posting will depend on broadband access. We are going to test doing business on the road, using WiFi connections. You can read some interesting stories of doing business on the road here

Tell me what you think

Double Gun Other Voices

Two versions of the save Other Voices showed up in the Union Opinion column this morning. One with references, one without. One we can check the source of the facts, the other we have to take at face value. Which do you prefer?

A closer look at statistics on weapons, April 13, 2005

A closer look at statistics on gun, April 13, 2005

Tell me what you think

Thanks Citizen's Bank

As seniors gain wisdom with age, they have to deal with the other consequences of advancing years, such as failing eyesight. The new Citizen's bank ATMs in Glenbrook and Nevada City, with big color screens, large clean type, and big color coded buttons are certainly senior friendly. Thanks Citizens!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Driving to the store, in a walking friendly city

The Union editorial board, Leaders shouldn't walk away from developer's idea, April 12, 2005
The recent fender bender between developer Phil Carville and traffic planners should be regarded as nothing more than a bump in an important road.
First lets get the full disclosure out of the way, I am a Transportation Commissioner, and was in the mid 90s for two years. I am also a founding member of the Rural Transportation Committee of Intelligent Transportation Systems of America, when I was an Advanced Transportation Systems Strategic Planner for a large corporation.

I have been working with Dan Landon, for over 12 years, and have found him to be open and accepting of new ideas. He is also the most knowledgeable person on transportation issues in Nevada County, through his long experience in working with Caltrans and regional traffic engineering firms. He is the “go to guy” when public officials need advice on transportation issues.

While experts from out of town may have new ideas, they do not have the knowledge that Dan has obtained thru his experience in dealing with local transportation and planning issues.

I remember when Grass Valley was preparing to update their General Plan in the 90s, They invited an out of town expert to come and help craft a vision for Grass Valley. David M. told us how we should make Grass Valley a walking friendly city, by making it unfriendly to cars.

While this was a feel good idea, it failed to recognize that Grass Valley is the center of commerce for the Western County, and 72,000 people ( at the time, more now) live in the rural county, too far to walk to town. They drove to town for the things they need. If Grass Valley became a car unfriendly city, more people living in the rural county would just drive to Auburn, and Roseville for the things they need. Forget car unfriendly Grass Valley.

So, in the process of making Grass Valley a walking friendly city, let’s not forget all those folks that drive to Grass Valley to shop. Dan Landon has a clear vision of transportation growth and the solution we need to maintain our quality of life. Let’s listen to him, before we rush to adopt the ideas of an out of town expert, who has interesting ideas, but they may not fit with our needs.

Tell me what you think

Monday, April 11, 2005

Dueling Blogs - On getting the facts right

Anna at NCFocus critiques my comments in a earlier post. Read the whole thing here.
Russ, is it just the specific case of climate science reporting that you disagree on, or all kinds of science reporting? Do you agree that in the case of alien abduction experiences (which Mooney explains do have a scientific, non-alien explanation), "balanced reporting" does a disservice to the readers? What's your overall (i.e., not attacking a minor point) impression of the April Scientific American editorial on this problem, "Okay, We Give Up"?
Anna, I think that both sides of any issue should be heard. In the global warming case, many government decision makers do not understand stand science and the scientific methods and the peer review process used to validate scientific claims. Validation of a hypothesis comes when a second team of scientist can duplicate the experiment. In the UN IPCC case, Mann used computer models to forecast CO2 was causing rapid temperature increases. Once examined the models proved to be flawed. So if we only listened to one side of the issue, we would never know that global warming based on the IPCC models is bogus. From a recent conference in Australia:

Dr. John Zillman, former head of Australia's meteorology bureau and Australia's leading scientific member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argued its processes were as good as you would get and its science sound. Ross McKitrick from the University of Guelph, Ontario, took the conference through the detail of research which demonstrated as unsupportable the analysis which produced the famous "hockey stick" chart. This chart demonstrated the twentieth century is the hottest on record. See complete report here. It was endorsed by the IPCC which headlined it to support the case that human activity was causing global warming. McKitrick's analysis that the modeling was fundamentally flawed and the data unrepresentative is now regarded as correct. The work behind the chart was not checked before the IPCC endorsed and headlined it.

The case made by IPCC also depends on results from several climate models. Professor Garth Paltridge from the University of Tasmania argued the models were skewed to show warming. They depended on artificially constructed inputs which would just as easily produce a negative result. Another former official of the meteorology bureau, Bill Kininmonth, pointed out the models disregarded the transfer of energy between the poles, a major determinant of climate change, and focused solely on radiation in and out of the atmosphere.

Dr. Roger Beale, the former head of the Australian federal environment department, conceded the IPCC numbers for possible increases in global temperature (the notorious range of 1.4 C degrees to 5.8 C degrees by 2100) were numbers from scenarios, not predictions.
I am no expert in alien abductions, though I thought the explanation given by Mooney was credible. But, we have no scientific proof of abductions, because we can not find any aliens to observe. Key part of the scientific method. As for the April Scientific American editorial. You are aware this was an April Fools Joke? Right?

On the PACNC statistical analysis, I am going to consult some one who knows more than I do. More when I am smarter.

Tell me what you think

Australia looks at global warming science

The IPCC Scientist's were challenged to defend their global warming science in a down under conference.
Professor Bob Carter, a geologist from the University of Townsville, then put the discussion over the IPCC climate change science into an Earth science framework. He considered it suspicious that the IPCC work only used the last 1000 years as the frame of reference. He demonstrated that in a million year timescale we were in one of the few interglacial warming periods and the next expected long term development in climate should be a cooling possibly leading to an ice age. He also produced analysis which showed that the historical pattern is that levels of CO2 in the atmosphere rise after temperature increases, not the other way around, as is supposed in the "official" science of greenhouse warming which presumes increases in carbon dioxide are causing global warming. In passing he debunked the conventional claim that most scientists are agreed on the "official" science.

The debate on science is just starting in Australia. There has never been an independent assessment in Australia of the science of global warming or the implications for Australia. Most focus has been on the economic effects. This was a result of an unspoken decision by government officials and big business over a decade ago not to contest the science. The result is that most Australian officials in government agencies who work on climate change policy are uninformed about the science. This is true in most countries.
It looks like California officials are in good company. They also subscrible to the "official" science, but have little knowledge of the real science of climate change. Full story here

Tell me what you think

Iraq is not Viet Nam

John Keane is concerned with Recruiters on campus, April 11, 2005
Our leaders are deathly afraid of the draft, as it will put their kids at risk. Your complicity will help keep their children safe at home. The truth of this war will arrive with our returning troops and we must prepare to welcome and assist these wounded souls while opposition to the war increases.
Yes our leaders are afraid of drafting slackers, addicts, and malcontents. Today's military of volunteers, are highly trained professionals, many who are reservists. These reservist have been rotating between, home and the war zones, and we have not seen any increased opposition to the war. Reading the liberal antiwar newspapers you will get a distorted view of what is happening in Iraq. I recommend you read some of the web logs coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, written by the front line troops. Winds of Change, Arthur Chrenkoff weekly round up of good news from Iraq is a good place to start.

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Bo Salisbury on Democratic demographics

Can you learn more in the parking lot, than the front row? Answer

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Road Trip - Palm Springs

This week Ellen and I will be traveling. The Society of Professional Journalist Regional meeting is in Palm Springs on the 15th, 16th and 17th. We are taking our trailer on a shakedown cruse with a new pickup, leaving the Rottweiller and his nanny to guard the house. This is sure to lead to some interesting adventures. Actual route will depend on the weather, SR-395 or SR-99 to I-10. Ellen and I will be checking out WiFi coverage in the communities where we stop, to see if we can maintain this weblog using wireless Internet connections. We will also be stopping to look at the desert blooms, and posting photos when we can.

Once we arrive in at the SPJ Conference, here is some programs I am interested in:
Follow the Money: A rep from the Sonoran Institute and a former journalist will be on hand to demo/discuss their free, online Economic Profiling System - a tool for reporters to get invaluable data on their communities and how to turn it into compelling stories. You will find a Nevada County profile here.

Freelancing Doesn't Have to Suck: Several successful freelancers will share some inspiration and give up their secrets to getting people to write them checks.

Copy Cats: Ethics panel focusing on plagiarism. What, beyond its bad and don't do it and today its easy/tempting with the internet.
My other goals are to eavesdrop on how other newspapers are surviving, with dead tree readership in decline, while online readership is growing. Were does blogging fit in to this mix? I will let you know if it does. Also, planning some Palm Springs interviews for a municipal network story I am working on for the Capitol Journal.

Tell me what you think

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Beale AFB Update - No study

Yuba board postpones action on Beale land use study
By Harold Kruger/Appeal-Democrat

Yuba County supervisors say they support Beale Air Force Base, but Tuesday night they hesitated in agreeing to a joint land use study.

Is Yuba County's commitment slipping, or do they now the game is all politics -- not studies.

Tell me what you think

Some disturbing news over at Yubanet.

Lockyer Issues Statement on Lawsuit Challenging Bush Administration Refusal to Regulate Global Warming Pollution
By: Office of the AG
Published: Sat, 9 Apr 2005

Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued the following statement regarding oral arguments in the court challenge of the Bush Administration's decision to not regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions that pollute the air and contribute to global warming.

"The U.S. EPA's decision that it has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and that these emissions technically don't even count as air pollutants, is wrong, disturbing and dangerous to Californians' health, environment and economy.
Well, I agree with the EPA, CO2 is not an air pollutant. I exhale CO2. You exhale CO2. CO2 can not be an air pollutant. If it is we are all guilty of air pollution.

Now, lets look at what the CARB says about automotive greenhouse gases, mainly CO2 that makes up less than one percent of greenhouse gasses:
A CARB Fact Sheet, December 2004, points out the new green house gas regulations “will not wholly mitigate the potential consequences of climate change in California.”
Lets look at the science of CO2 over over the last 400,000 years, taken from ices cores, mostly without SUV’s spewing CO2. Note that warming precedes CO2 by 400 to 600 years. If warming precedes CO2 how can it be the cause? See discussion here.

It is time for Attorney General Bill Lockyer wake up and recheck the science behind global warming. He is being made fool by the environmentalists, who have adopted global warming as a religion.

Tell me what you think

Let's get our facts right before awarding halos

Anna over at NCFocus is giving out halos for some faulty thinking.

She pats Chris Mooney on the back for writing that the norms of journalism can lead to faulty science reporting. It is bad to present both sides of a science debate according to Mooney. I suggest that Mooney contributes to faulty journalism by not doing his home work. We already have too much one sided reporting on global warming. See details in State of Fear.
In the Columbia Journalism Review article, I argued that the journalistic norm of "balance" has no parallel in the scientific world and, when artificially grafted onto that world, can lead reporters to distort or misrepresent what’s known, to create controversies where none actually exist, or to fall prey to the ploys of interest groups who demand equal treatment for their "scientific" claims. To address this problem, I suggested that when it comes to reporting on science-related controversies, journalists should avoid the trap of "he said/she said/we’re clueless" coverage and instead actually help their readers evaluate the credibility of competing claims. In doing so, journalists should rely on the principle that extraordinary assertions require extraordinary proof to back them up, and bear in mind that the processes of scientific peer review and consensus building should not be discarded lightly, if at all. While some scientific uncertainty remains in the climate field, the most rigorous peer-reviewed assessments--produced roughly every five years by the United Nationsí Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)--have cemented a consensus view that human greenhouse gas emissions are helping to fuel the greenhouse effect.
First, the IPCC assessment Reports are not peer reviewed. It is true that peer reviewed scientists worked on the science sections, but the reports were not peer reviewed.

Second, if you read the full report, not the summary written by non-scientist with a political agenda, you will find a great deal of uncertainty about human global warming.
This position isn’t simply based on deductions from physical first principles (although those are hard to argue with; virtually no one disputes that a greenhouse effect exists or that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas).
Third, the global warming forecast in the IPCC reports is not based on the observation of first principles, it is based on computer models. Computer models are only a simple reflection of a very complex real world. In addition to the uncertainty of climate modeling, Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, found a mathematical flaw in the computer program used to show the rapid increase in temperatures over the past 50 years. When test data made up of random numbers is used in place of 70 climate proxy data files, derived from tree ring growth patterns, the model produced the same results (Geophysical Letters). By the way Geophysical Letters is a peer reviewed journal. More details on modeling errors click here.
In addition to physical reasoning, we are also seeing a string of record temperature years, as well as the early impacts of human-caused climate change--melting glaciers, pronounced Arctic warming, and shifts in the geographic ranges of species, to name a few examples.
Where is his proof that we are seeing a string of record temperatures? We did in 1998 which was an El Nino year. Details of global temperatures here. Note the trend lines in the data. Yes, the glaciers are melting, but their is no proof it is caused by human caused global warming. We are coming out of the Little Ice Age when the glaciers grew due to more snow, created by atmospheric moisture and cold air. In Glacier National Park the glaciers are declining, yet the regional temperature has remained relatively constant over the last 105 years, according to Park Service Records. Humm, some first principle measurements.

Where is the pronounced Arctic warming? The Arctic Assessment Report, reported the warming, yet the data provided in the report demonstrates that the measured temperatures were with in the normal range of variability for the region. Look at the recorded arctic temps here. More first principle data.

Yes, we are seeing more species move farther North, yet this is not proof of human caused warming. This migration would happen regardless of how the warming came about.

As for the PACNC Myths and Facts, see my analysis here.

Anna's halos are beginning to look a little tarnished.

Tell me what you think

Majority rule, the American way

John J. Bradley sees a Power grab in Washington, April 9, 2005
Radical Republicans want absolute power to appoint Supreme Court justices that will favor corporate interests and the extreme right over the rest of us.
Republicans have taken millions of dollars from their corporate backers. Now they're seeking to use the courts to pay back their big donors by overturning protections they have long agitated to remove, like labor rights, environmental laws, and privacy rights.
Does anyone see any problem with this last statement?

First, if Kerry had won, would the writer make the same statement about Democrats?

Second, why would the Republican, which have an elected majority, want to use the judiciary to remake the laws. The judiciaries role is to interpret the laws made by Congress. If the Republican elected majority wants to change labor, environmental and privacy laws, they can just pass new legislation. The problem we have today, is the way liberal courts are interpreting existing laws, making it apply or not apply to fit their personal views. The Republican Congress, is attempting to bring balance to our court system, by adding a few some strict constitutional justices to the mix. Bring balance to an unbalanced situation. Something the liberals want to prevent, the courts are their only option to bring about their nanny government agenda.

Finally, when the Democrats were in the majority, they did not hesitate to change the rules to meet their constituents needs, why should the Republican hesitate now? Our political system is based on majority rule, not on minority rule. If the Democrats want to make the rules, they need to show the voters that they are the better leaders. Being an obstructionist is not leading.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Beale AFB Update - Guam

My April issue of Air Force came today and I was thumbing through the pages and I spotted this.

"We are looking forward to the Global Hawk being stationed here permanently out there" said Lt Gen Paul Hester, pointing to a slide of the tarmac on Anderson Air Force Base, Guam. He went on to point out that Anderson AFB will be moving from partical caretaker status to have a more active role in Air Force Operations. "PACAF has great plans for Anderson in the future," according to the article. Download Headwinds for the Air Force here.

The question is, will this future come at Beale's cost? Moving the Global Hawk with in striking distance of the Pacific trouble spots is consisent with Sec of Defense, Rumsfeld's new vision for the military. Could Global Hawk be moving to Anderson AFB, not Beale AFB?

Tell me what you think

Union visit and tour

I was invited by Jeff Ackerman, the Union Publisher, to drop by and meet his new editor Pat Butler, the new web editor Kady Guyton, and get a tour of the multimillion dollar modification to the office and printing plant. Jeff is very proud of the changes and the new working environment, with a higher ceiling and more natural light. The current building is more like a cave, with limited natural light. I also talked with Keoni Allan, his company is doing the modifications. He was proud of the work his team is doing, especially their ability to work around the staff while they are publishing the paper. The day to day work continues while his guys and gals are tearing down the old and building the new, with a lot of night shift work. New carpets, ergonomic work stations and G-5 Macs will complete the modifications. I saw some of the new G-5 Workstations in the layout department. Wow, I need one of these for my desktop machine. When the job is done, the staff will have a much improved working environment. Jeff’s hope is these changes will produce a better product for his readers. It looks like a great start.

Kady Guyton came to The Union from the Auburn Journal. She has a strong background in web development, and is making plans to start some blogs at the Union. This will provide more column space, though maybe only in the online version. The goal is a more interactive web site, with more opportunities for readers to comment on stories and issues. The final products are still works in progress, but I am looking forward to some improved reader interaction.

I only had a meet and greet with Pat Butler, so I am looking forward to a future sit down once he has more time to get comfortable in a new job, in a new community. We can be rough group to deal with, so lets give Pat a change demonstrate his vision and talent, before launching editorial attacks. He was less imposing in person than in his pictures on the editorial page. He flashed this visitor a warm smile, even though I broke into his work routine.

It was a short visit, but came away impressed with the changes underway at The Union.

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A question no one has answered

Readers comment on parental notification issue, April 8, 2005

Betty Evans writes:
As a guardian/parent, I was always notified when my grandson broke rules or got hurt participating in sports, along with having to sign permission slips for sports physicals. If an injury occurred, I was advised to take him to the doctor or hospital at my expense, which leads me to ask: Who is monetarily responsible for children with serious conditions seen by doctors without parental consent? What happens after an abortion and treatment for depression or sexually transmitted diseases has been performed and children come home to unknowing parents?

Both Betty and I have the same question. Who pays the bills, when things go wrong, when the teen is depressed and needs on going counciling, or long term medical treatment is required? If it is the parent, then we need to notify them.

I agree with another writer, raise your children right and the situation will become an issue.

Tell me what you think

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A viewpoint worth considering

Union Editorial Board writes, Parental-consent debate leaves families out, April 7, 2005
The question: Should the area's high school district continue allowing students to leave campus for confidential medical appointments without parental notification?

It's a question that forces us to confront some weighty issues - student privacy, parental rights, venereal disease, familial trust, the threat of child abuse and teen pregnancy, just to name a few.

But from the beginning, there have been political overtones that hovered on the verge of hijacking what could be a healthy local debate.
It's OK to support student privacy without feeling you're launching an assault on the American family. It's OK to argue for parental notification without signing up for the Ann Coulter fan club.

When (or if) this debate comes to fruition before the Nevada Joint Union High School board, don't be ashamed to make your feelings known. We've heard from the vocal extremes. Now, it's time to hear from everyone between.
Read the whole editorial here.

UPDATE: A reader writes:
"With all due respect to The Union…….82% of Nevada County agrees with CRI……I don’t think we are extreme. The numbers for NC and GV are even higher if you leave the Truckee numbers out of the survey."
I have to agree. Where is the middle, if 82 percent of citizens agree that parent concent is required?

Tell me what you think (Click here) I would like to hear more community comments.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

CRI Weblog: On the Agenda

Capitol Resource Institute has answeres for Cheryl McCall's editorial in The Union on their weblong: On the Agenda. CRI legal advisors make some interesting comments on McCall's Parents Concent Other Voices. Check it out here.

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No gun crime epidemic

Jeff Kane writes Gun deaths mounting, April 6, 2005
Why do we permit this epidemic? When terrorists kill 3,000 Americans, we go to war. But when Americans annually shoot dead 10 times that number in what amounts to domestic terrorism, we respond either with half-hearted gun controls on the one hand, or on the other hand with proposals to protectively arm the entire populace.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics firearm crimes are declining:
Nonfatal firearm crime rates have declined since 1994, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2002 and 2003.
That does not sound like an epidemic to me. I could not find specific stats on fatal firearm deaths, but if firearm crime rates are going down, the use of guns must also be declining. One should not make sweeping generalizations from reading the headlines.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Some rational thought on school policy

Jeff Ackerman has an excellent column in the 5 April Union, Parents in middle of divergent views
Somewhere in the middle of all of this are the parents. You know ... the ones like me and my wife, who assumed the school district would contact us if they allowed our children to leave campus before school gets out. We assumed that because it seems the schools have to check with us every time our children cough. Some of us are conservative. Some of us are liberal. Most of us, however, are just parents who care about our children and want to know where they are.

It's not that we don't understand the need for some students to leave campus for medical reasons without telling mom or dad. As someone recently pointed out on these pages, these are not "Leave It To Beaver" times we live in, where each home has a mom, dad, two kids and a dog. The policy exists because some parents don't deserve to be parents, so the rest of us must suffer for that. The policy exists for the exception, not the rule, but we pass rules for all. It seems to me the school district ought to be able to make an exception when a student demonstrates a need to seek medical attention without the parent knowing. If, for example, a young woman was raped by her father and needed medical attention, logic ought to dictate that the father probably should not be contacted. In fact, there are supposed to be counselors and school nurses to help deal with those extreme cases.

When I was in high school, teachers, the school nurse and the coach were always on the look out for those students that seem to need additional help, "those extreame cases" and took action. They did not need a 1,000 page policy that covered every possibility, they just did the right thing. In the 1950s they were trusted members of the community, who took responsibility. Today, teachers, nurses and coaches are union members. Today they have to rely on a 1,000 page cover their butt policy before they can act. Today no one wants “ to make an exception when a student demonstrates a need to seek medical attention without the parent knowing,” that would be taking responsibility. That would be acting like Clint Eastwood, who advises “just do the right thing”

Tell me what you think

Monday, April 04, 2005

Things are a changin UPDATE

From Mac World
Researchers have found that 29 per cent of North American adults with digital music players have downloaded podcasts from the Internet. Since more than 22 million American adults own iPods or MP3 players, this means that six million adults have listened to a podcast, according to The Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey found that almost half of the digital-music player owners that are younger than 29 have listened to podcasts while only 20 per cent of those older than 29 had done so.
Full story is here.

The population of newspaper readers continues to declines, especially among the 18-24 age group. Could it be these readers are using the internet and podcasting as an alternative to reading dead trees. You can even take your iPod to the bathroom, just like the newspaper. Having something to read in the bath room was one of the reasons newspaper publisher give to bolster their views that the Internet would never replace the newspaper. Hummm....

Tell me what you think

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Numeracy Update

The Citizen Numeracy Project Launches – 3 April 2005, George Rebane

The Nevada County Library and Nevada City Rotary Club are co-sponsoring the launch of the Citizen Numeracy Project. The CNP is an entertaining and informative adult education course to spruce up the numeracy and critical thinking skills that most of us have neglected since we left school. Numeracy is the numbers counterpart of literacy for the non-technical intelligent adult. Long term studies by the Department of Education show the voting age population of the U.S. to be over 35% functionally illiterate and almost entirely innumerate. In what other country is it acceptable to admit in polite company that “I don’t do numbers, I can’t even balance my checkbook.”

For the rest of the story, click here for a longer PDF version.

Tell me what you think

Saturday, April 02, 2005

No Online Union this morning

We were disapointed, no online Union to review this morning.

Tell me what you think

Friday, April 01, 2005

Welfare growth in California

I read an interesting item in the April Republic, Ruffalo’s Corner, page 20, mid page:
“Since 1997, the number of welfare recipients in CA dropped from 2.5 million to 1.1 million. Oddly, during the same time frame, payrolls for welfare workers rose from $1.58 billion to $2.72 billion. Even more strange is that the state had 46,681 welfare workers in 1997, but after welfare rolls were more than halved, we now have nearly 70,000 welfare workers.”

Tell me what you think

PACNC’s bogus analysis

PACNC is the web site supporting the NJUHSD Student Confidentiality Policy. In there Fact Sheet #2 they have some statistics, claiming that Capitol Resources Institute generated a bogus survey. It looks more like bogus analysis by Susan Rogers, Nevada County Citizens for Choice.
Here is the actual survey question and the numbers, per information obtained by a member of the NJUHSD board from CRI program director Karen England and given to Superintendent Maggie Deetz. The question was third in a multi-question automated phone survey. The exact wording was: “Should our public schools required parental consent and notification when a minor student leaves the school grounds for any reason other than an emergency?”

Per Karen England, 1,500 people responded to one or more survey questions. But the number who answered the question on parental consent and notification was only 6.3% of the total 1,500 who responded. This means that only 97 people responded to that question. If 82% of the 97 said “yes” to the question, that is only 80 people or 5.4% of those surveyed.
For the record. A total of 15,000 calls were made countywide. The total number responding was 1,505, however, 558 responses could not be read by the computer. These unrecorded response were tossed out, leaving a response of 6.3 percent. (947/15,000 = 6.3) Of the 947 who answered, 774 or 81.73 percent answered " yes" kids should not be released without a parent approval. Leaving 173 who answered "no", or 18 percent.

Typical survey responses are 2 to 3 percent. This survey’s response was over 6 percent, a valid survey response. It was not a bogus survey, as suggested on the PACNC web site. It was a bogus analysis.

Tell me what you think

Union e-mail Problems

The Union staff, Recent e-mails to The Union may need to be re-sent, April 1, 2005
Because of problems with The Union’s Internet connection in recent days, the newspaper might not have received e-mails — including letters to the editor — sent on Thursday or Friday.
Tell me what you think

Another global warming skeptic

Tom Crosswhite writes Global warming makes money, not sense, April 1, 2005

Nice to have another voice in the global warming skeptics camp.

UPDATE: Support for Tom's Other Voices in this Marshall Institute Report

Funding Flows for Climate Change Research and Related Activities, by Jeff Kueter
April 1, 2005, Marshall Institute

The study compiles and presents publicly available data on grants from the federal government and private foundations. Some of the findings include:

• Private foundations distribute a minimum of $35-50 million annually to non-profit organizations and universities to comment on or study various elements of the climate change debate.

• Climate change-related projects accounted for over 25% of the 3-year total reported grants and contributions received by 10 of the top-20 institutions receiving support from foundations. For 6 organizations, climate change grants accounted for 50% of their reported grants and contributions received.

• The federal government spent nearly $2 billion to support climate change science programs in FY 2004.

• In 28 of the top-30 R&D performing academic institutions, federal financing accounts for more than 50% of the institution’s expenditures on atmospheric R&D.

Read full report here.

Tell me what you think

Depends on how you ask the question

Comcast: Customers won't pay more for NCTV, Britt Retherford,, 1 April 2005
Armed with a recent telephone survey, Nevada County's main cable TV provider says it now has data that show customers don't want to pay more to support a local public-access station.


The survey Comcast is using was conducted by a private consulting firm from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 and included 303 cable customers. While Comcast did not reveal the way questions were phrased, results said that 80 percent of respondents weren't interested in paying more money to finance facilities and production equipment for a public access station.

About 85 percent also indicated that they did not want their cable company to add more public-access channels.

These results contradict those from another survey that was conducted in October 2003, when Foothill Community Access Television was western Nevada County's public-access station. This survey was done for FCAT by the consulting firm the Buske Group in preparation for the fee negotiations with Comcast.

Four hundred people were interviewed by phone - 200 of them Comcast subscribers.

Of those, 75 percent said it was "important" or "very important" to have cable TV channels that feature programs about area residents, organizations, events, schools, and government. NCTV has since replaced FCAT.

Here is a good example of why any survey quoted in the paper, or on TV, with out more information should be suspect. John Allen Paulos, has some great examples in Innumeracy, Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences. Were these truly random surveys? Buske surveyed the public, of which 200 were Comcast customers. It appears that Comcast surveyed existing customers. ”Self selected samples are not much more informative than a list of correct predictions of a psychic.” according to Paulos.

Ask drivers if they want to pay 1 cent more a gallon for better public transportation, the answer is no. Ask the general public if public transit is good, and should drivers pay 1 more cent a gallon for better public transportation the answer is yes. The fewer drivers asked the question, the higher the percentages of yes responses. Buske asked the public, Comcast asked cable customers. It was a self serving survey!

My question is what is Public TV worth? How many of the 10,000 customers actually watch public access TV? We do not know. If it is 10 percent, at $300,000 a year, the cost per viewer is $300 per viewer. If it is 2 percent it is $1,500 per viewer, all paid for by 98 percent of the non viewers. How do you think that 98 percent would answer the question?

What is Public TV worth? Watch Channel 11 for a couple of days before answering that question. Comcast Customers may be right - not much.

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