Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Monday, July 31, 2017

You know that green pail the city gave you?

I guess they actually want you to use it.  
Mainly for composting food scraps, not for a weed bin or small diaper pail.  

I guess the reason more people aren't using the composting pail is that it so difficult and confusing.  To overcome our city's residents' stupidity, the City got some grant money from the state DEQ to produce instructional videos.  (Even if the money didn't come from the City's general fund, it's still taxpayer money.)

The City didn't consider that people may not be using them because they just don't want to.  Lake Oswegans are not stupid and can get all the information they want from the internet on how to use a compost pail - these are not new inventions.  How do you overcome lack of motivation with a video? How will anyone find the videos on the city website even if they want to see them?  Or how can they  stumble across them in any fashion?
"Following this video, Republic Services will collect data on participation rates in Lake Oswego's composting program and report this information back to DEQ.  The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of Food scraps going to the landfill, which can be measured by increasing green cart weights and volumes."
Raise your hand if you think weighing the gr en carts will yield much information.  After a storm, during leaf season or after heavy pruning, the cart stays full for a month and is rarely less than 3/4 full - of yard waste.
Below is my version of an educational program the city can use (no credit needed.  ;-)).  The city could put the instructions on their website in case someone didn't want to watch the videos, or put them on cheap (compostavle) paper to be included in the Hello LO mailer.  Without a bunch of fancy prose!  Just the facts mam' - I'm a busy person so don't waste my time.  Fast and easy wins the day in messaging and composting.

Composting Garbage in 5 Simple Steps.  
  1. Line compost pail with paper bag or old newspaper.
  2. Put food scraps the pail. (See list of what to include and what to leave out.)
  3. When pail gets full or on trash pick up day, empty it into your big green yard debris can.  Include the paper pail lining.  
  4. Do not put plastic bags or other inorganic things into pail or yard debris can
  5. Wash the pail in your sink with soap and water, or put into dishwasher to clean.  Wash garden cart with a hose.  
  • If pail smells when food scraps are in it, you should empty and wash the pail.  Use vinegar or baking soda to remove residual smells from pail and wash more often.  See video for more involved odor-reducing methods.  
PS:  If instructional videos don't work, will involuntary use of pails and  heavy-handed enforcement measures prompt usage?
From the City of Lake Oswego website:
Residential Organics Composting 

Hello Lake Oswego! Welcome to our LOComposts information portal! Everything you need to know about composting in our City is located here. Lake Oswego is proud to offer curbside composting to its residents, just like Portland and Forest Grove!
Ok, but what does this even mean? How much extra work will this be for me?
We have put together a series of educational and entertaining videos to help you learn the ins and outs of how the composting program works. Let the Beardirific retired Portland Timber and LO resident, Nat Borchers, teach you how to be a master composter!

HD 38 up for new appointment

More of the same  
With another Democrat representing the district in Salem, will he or she hold fast to a progressive agenda and leave a large minority without any representation at all?  Of the past is any judge, the answer is probably yes.

Our American republican democracy requires a pluristic government that respects the rights of minorities of opinion, not just minority races or other protected classes.  If all a majority political party does is further it's own policies and goals, the government becomes a mobocracy.  America's founders wanted to protect the Constitution from devolving into an instrument of tyranny.  Their goal was that government should protect the freedoms and rights of all Americans, not just those of one party.

If one party gains dominance at some point, it needs to consider the opinions and rights of the minority because someday they might be in the minority position and need such protections. Oregon has been a single party state for some time now, and the idealogues of the far left have become more influential.  They flaunt their extremist views openly because they feel protected by the invincibility and rightness of  their causes, not stopping to consider the legitimacy of economic or social facts and other points of view.

Progressive elites are now vying for Ann Lininger's state House of Representatives position seat.  Few so far have shown the respect, deference or humility that goes with the power and responsibility of governing.  They are not worthy of our votes, though this is an appointed position, they need only to appeal to the ruling Democrat Party.

Here are the first lot - more to come.?  Where are the interviews with Joe Buck and Theresa Kohlhoff?  Why are these missing, or did I miss something in the news?

Lake Oswego Review, July 28, 2017 By Gary Stein

Political consultants, restaurateur say they'll seek appointment to House District 38 seat   

Andrea Salinas, Neil H. Simon, Daniel Nguyen and Moses Ross add their names to a field that already includes two Lake Oswego city councilors

Two longtime political consultants with extensive experience on both the state and national level, a restaurateur whose family immigrated from Vietnam and a Southwest Portland community activist have all announced that they will seek appointment to the House District 38 seat being vacated by Rep. Ann Lininger. 
Andrea Salinas, the Oregon vice president for Strategies 360, and Neil H. Simon, a partner with Bighorn Communications, made their intentions public Friday; Daniel Nguyen, the owner of Bambuza VietnamKitchen, and Moses Ross, the owner of a political call center and communications consulting business, announced their candidacies on Saturday. 
They join a growing list of candidates for Lininger's job in Salem. Just last week, Lake Oswego City Councilors Joe Buck and Theresa Kohlhoff both publicly announced that they, too, will seek the job, and Clackamas County Democratic officials told The Review that they have been approached by at least five potential candidates.

Andrea Salinas 
Those endorsements include former state Rep. Greg MacPherson; Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson; Lake Oswego School Board member Rob Wagner; Doug Moore, executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters; Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon; and Mary Nolan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon
Salinas currently is the Oregon vice president of Strategies 360, a consulting firm with offices in a dozen states and in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she has owned her own legislative campaign consulting business, managed the legislative agenda for the Oregon Environmental Council and worked in a variety of roles for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark and U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley.  These endorsements are not mainstream and indicate a preference for progressive causes that are antithetical to conservative beliefs.  Fine for a private citizen, but extreme for an elected official. Forgotten on most progressive lists of causes are the rights and concerns of those who are not in a liberal-recognized minority class. 

Neil S. Simon
"As an advocate for social justice, I'm proud of the work Clackamas and Multnomah County Democrats are doing to lead the resistance to this sham presidency, and I stand with those leading the effort to block the GOP agenda that would roll back the clock on progressive gains," he told The Review. "But I am seeking this appointment to do more than resist. I want us to reimagine politics.  This person could not ethically take the oath for office - he declares Republican views not as things to be respected, but attacked, and can't understand the concept of political preferences swinging left to right (or vise versa) when political movements become too extreme.  Pluralism be damned!
That means championing health care for all, strengthening education, addressing income inequality and assuring affordable housing," Simon said. When is income "equal?" When we all make the same amount?  Or at some other level of "fairness" he and his cronies (the democratic/socialist mob) determines is right? 

"If we can create more commuter options with mass-transit, bike lanes and express lanes, we can shorten commutes, give people more time with their families, reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming," he said. "We love our pocket of Oregon for the quality of life it brings. Now it's up to us to work to conserve it for the next generation."   Let's see definitive proof that any of these claims are true, especially in the suburbs. Research has shown that these claims, while popula, are not true.

Daniel Nguyen

He sounds more purple than blue.  Can he make it to the top in an increasingly progressive, leftist party?  

Moses Ross
A single father to a 12-year-old daughter, Ross has also served as chair of the Maplewood Elementary School PTA and as chair of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association. He says he believes that all Oregonians, regardless of their age, race, gender or economic status, must have access to health care, free college tuition, a livable planet and a job that pays a living wage
Toward that end, he says his goals if appointed to the HD38 seat would be to:
• Ensure universal access to health care in Oregon through a single-payer system; California can't afford it - Oregonians can't afford it either.  This is a pipe dream for those who would rather have government make health care choices, than protect individual liberties which is the real purpose of government in the US - not becoming a nanny-state. 
• Ensure that everyone pays their fair share toward full funding for public education (with a strong emphasis on K-12 and community colleges). "This means gaining increased revenues from big businesses," he says. What does "fair share" mean other than tearing down the wealthy until there are no wealthy people or successful companies  left to pick on - they will have been bled dry or will have  left the state. Strangling big business with big taxes shows a complete lack of understand of how our economic system works.   Corporations will pass on their costs to their customers and/or leave the state. 
• Emphasize renewable energy solutions that are comprehensive and cost-effective, with an end goal of making Oregon a 100-percent renewable energy state; This can happen only through force, and judging from Germany's decades-long effort towards the same goal, this one is doomed from the get-go.  Energy costs in Germany are prohibitively high, impacting the poor more than ever. More delusional and oppressive Central Planning.
• Create lasting economic opportunity for all Oregonians, with an emphasis on small businesses and working families; and " Lasting economic opportunity" depends on lager economic forces, not merely hopes of state legislators.
•Help the most vulnerable community members achieve independence "with compassion, dignity and respect."That means the vulnerable will gain independence from government support?. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Climate fears impede real change

It looks like we'll always have Paris.  Once a belief is embedded in the collective brain, even if it is wrong, and especially if it is wrong, it doesn't let go easily.  Facts do not conquer emotion, and logical solutions cannot win over mass hysteria.  If only...

Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2017. By Bjorn Lomborg
Al Gore's Climate Sequel Misses a Few Inconvenient Facts  
Eleven years after his first climate-change film, he’s still trying to scare you into saving the world.

Mr. Gore helped ne­go­ti­ate the first ma­jor global agreement on cli­mate, the Ky­oto Pro­to­col. It did noth­ing to re­duce emis­sions (and therefore to rein in tem­per­a­tures), ac­cord­ing to a March 2017 ar­ti­cle in the Jour­nal of En­vi­ron­men­tal Eco­nomics and Man­age­ment. Un­daunted, Mr. Gore still en­dorses the same so­lu­tion, and the new doc­u­mentary de­picts him roam­ing the halls of the Paris cli­mate con­fer­ence.

And for what? Just ahead of the Paris con­fer­ence, the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change es­ti­mated that if every coun­try ful­fills every promised Paris car­bon cut be­tween 2016 and 2030, car­bon diox­ide emis­sions will drop by only 60 gi­ga­tons over that time frame. To keep the tem­per­a­ture rise be­low 2 de­grees Cel­sius, the world must re­duce such emissions nearly 6,000 gi­ga­tons over this cen­tury, ac­cord­ing to the IPCC. A “suc­cess­ful” Paris agree­ment wouldn’t even come close to solv­ing the prob­lem.

In part be­cause of ac­tivists like Mr. Gore, the world re­mains fo­cused on sub­si­diz­ing in­ef­ficient,
u­nreli­able tech­nol­ogy, rather than in­vest­ing in re­search to push down the price of green en­ergy. Real progress in Paris could be found on the side­lines, where phil­an­thropist Bill Gates and oth­ers, in­clu­ding po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, agreed to in­crease spend­ing on re­search and de­vel­op­ment. This is an im­portant start, but much more fund­ing is needed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fatal Conceit: Education

It doesn't take much to look at the myriad protests these days and wonder how and where young people have been trained to think alike and be so adamant about the rightness of their causes. To do as the activists and protesters want, the government would become more tyrannical and our personal freedoms would be lost. It is the highest form of conceit - a fatal conceit - for the progressives of today to assert they have the formula to solve complex problems and seek to change our behavior in the process.  It isn't possible, and the exercise always leads to tyranny.

But you almost can't blame the young and the intelligentsia who consider themselves and their ideas superior, because they have been taught from the time they started school to think and act within a proscribed thought bubble about what a perfect society should look like.  For decades, a progressive educational pedagogy has taken public (and private) education away from pure skills and content learning and down the rabbit hole of socially-correct, utopian educational practices.  Under the "sustainable" and "equity" flags, all curricula is subject to neglect and watering down because each pious progressive cause demands a slice of the educational pie.  Educators have even claimed the right to teach young students appropriate values and proper social and civic actions.

Of "Values Education"

An easy example of how seemingly benign subject - environmental education - is elevated to a values-based curricula established by the state (along with other states) and heavily funded with materials and teacher training by the EPA and the UN (UNESCO).  What child, or adult, working or learning in such a closed system stands a chance to think differently than what the state wants?

My children graduated from LO schools about 15 years ago, but I can't imagine holding them responsible for these learning goals.  Who decides what is right thinking and acting?

Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan (OELP)
In 2011 the legislature-approved the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan: Toward a Sustainable Future.
The Plan puts forth a vision in which all Oregon students are:
  • lifelong stewards of their environment and community
  • willing and able to exercise rights and responsibilities of citizenship
  • choose to interact frequently with the outdoors
  • understand multi-faceted relationship to the natural world
  • well-prepared to address the challenges the future holds
Integrating regular outdoor activity into a student’s learning and life experience is integral to achieving this vision.
There are too many organizations and entities out there with similar goals and functions feeding into the environmental and sustainable movements to list even a fraction.  Here are a smattering of organizations working to support sustainability in Oregon public education:        

  • Oregon Department of Education: Oregon Environmental Literaxy Plan  (OELP)
  • Environmental Education Association of Oregon (EEAO)     
  • North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
  • State Educational and Environmental Roundtable (SEER) implements the EIC Model (Using Environment as an Integrating Context for improving student learning)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding and training
  • Expanding Capacity in Environmental Education (EE Capacity - formerly Environmental Education Training Assistance Program) funded by EPA
  • National Environmental Education Foundatin (NEEF)
  • My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant ((MEERA)
  • Gray Family Foundation
  • Children and Natur Network (C and NN)
  • The Intertwine Alliance
  • Oregon Department of Education: Oregon Sustainable Schools
  • US Department of Education: Green Ribbon Schools, Green Schools
  • Sustainable Schools Coalition (SSC) Oregon Chapter
  • And many, many MORE local, state and national organizations, privately and publicly funded.  It would take all day to list them and I still wouldn't get them all.  
Whose values do public schools teach?  Should piblic scholls be teaching any valies at all? When is teaching indoctrination?  See portions of a slide presetntatipn by a PSU School of 
Education professor about Education for Sustainable Development, a UN/UNESCO program.  

Can you determine what "sustainability" means from reading this piece?  It seems to mean anything and everything and encompasses all types of social issues that inserts public attitudes and values into personal and family life.  Fatal conceit.  Transformational, subversive education perpetrated on our youth from nursery school through college.  

Education for Sustainable Development Workshop Part II:

What is ESD? 

Rosalyn McKeown, Ph.D.
Portland State University 
Portland International Initiative for Leadership in EcologyLanguage and Culture 

Contributing to a More Sustainable Future: 
Quality Education, Life Skills and Education for Sustainable Development
By Rosalyn McKeown Published by UNESCO, 2005. 

Portland International Initiative for Leadership in Ecology, Culture, and Learning 
Graduate School of Education, Portland State University

The United Nations General Assembly 
declared 2005–2014 as the

U.N. Decade of Education
for Sustainable Development. 

What is education for sustainable development (ESD)? 

In Part I of this workshop, we had a brief introduction to the topic of sustainable development. Now
let’s look at education for sustainable development, which is referred to as ESD. 

Education for Sustainable Development . . .
  • is a key and vital element in moving sustainability forward.
  • will help people to pursue sustainable livelihoods, to continue to learn after they leave school, to participate in community life, and to live in a sustainable manner

What are the roles of education in sustainable development?

In terms of economic development:

  • To reduce poverty.
  • To facilitate development through creating an educated workforce that can move beyond a agricultural and extractive economies.
  • To help everyone do their job better by reducing environmental impact and creating more just and equitable workplaces.
To create wise consumers
In terms of society:
  • To raise social tolerance, equity, and justice.
  • To create life-long learners who can adapt to societal changes.
  • To reduce the population growth rate and the hardships and inequities that accompany rapid population growth. 

In terms of awareness: 

  • To raise the level of public understanding of sustainability.
  • To develop a voting citizenry knowledgeable about sustainability issues.
  • To enhance public support or demand to implement policies related to sustainability

In terms of community decision making:

  • To assist the public develop the skills to be engaged in the dialog about their future.
  • To assist citizens develop the skills to analyze local issues and propose and implement solutions. 
Education: Promise and Paradox

Education is conceptualized as a great hope for a more sustainable world. However, we know that the most educated nations leave the deepest ecological footprints. Clearly, simply educating citizenry to higher levels is not sufficient. 

Note the difference

  • Education about sustainable development is an awareness lesson or theoretical discussion.
  • Education for sustainable development is the use of education as a tool to transform our societies to achieve sustainability. 
More than an awareness lesson or a theoretical discussion is needed to move countries
toward a more sustainable future. 

The Strengths Model
ESD is such a large task that efforts from many people and disciplines are needed to make progress.
Elements of the Strengths Model:
  • Every discipline can contribute to ESD.
  • Every teacher can contribute to ESD.
  • Every administrator can contribute to ESD.
  • No one discipline should claim ownership of ESD. 

Reorienting Education
Question: How is education for sustainable development (ESD) different than the education we are currently providing our students?

Answer: An appropriately reoriented education includes more principles, skills, perspectives, and values related to sustainability than are currently included in most educational systems. 

  • An appropriate and relevant curriculum is reoriented to integrate environment, economy, and society.
  • The curriculum balances looking back to traditional ecological knowledge and looking forward to a more sustainable society.
  • Occurs at all levels - nursery school through university. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Painting the Cosmos

FastCompany, July 24, 2017. By Meg Miller
This Artist Uses Subatomic Particles To Paint The Cosmos

blow up 279 – the long goodbye – subatomic decay patterns and the Orion Nebula, 2015. [Image: Kysa Johnson/courtesy Von Lintel Gallery]

Artist Kysa Johnson works on a scale both incredibly minuscule and astronomically large. Her frenetic drawings celebrate massive cosmic phenomena—nebula, star clouds, neutron stars—that lie thousands of light years away from Earth. Yet Johnson depicts these subjects using patterns made by some of the smallest things in the universe: subatomic particles.

At first glance, the ink-on-board drawings, which make up a current show called  As Above, So Below at Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles, resemble neither of the things they are said to represent. They look more like colorful explosions of lines and figures against a black background—maybe fireworks in a night’s sky, or maniacally-scribbled equations on a blackboard. But Johnson’s work is incredibly scientific and precise. She is replicating the patterns made by subatomic particles as they decay.

In particle physics, decay looks like this: one particular particle (a so-called “mother particle”) disappears and is replaced by two or more decay particles (also known as “daughter particles”). Those can turn into “granddaughter particles” and so on and so on. As these unstable particles morph into stable ones, they make patterns of movements, almost like a play-by-play diagram you’d see in a basketball game. The “tracks” that these particles make have been recorded by physicists studying the phenomena for decades.

Johnson takes these patterns and layers them to illustrate other natural phenomena: the patterns that star clusters and nebula make in the sky. Her work takes the microscopic and morphs it into the telescopic. See the pieces in the slideshow above

Watch a garden come to life!

Watch a Garden Come to Life in This Absolutely Breathtaking Time-Lapse

Journey through a blooming garden of dancing flowers in this incredible four-minute short film. Visual effects artist and filmmaker Jamie Scott spent three years shooting the stunning springtime imagery in this continuous motion time-lapse.

Music composed by Jim Perkins. Follow Jamie Scott on Vimeo.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the world and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. To submit a film for consideration, please email sfs@natgeo.com. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Science and politics

Fatal Comceit: Scientific Theory vs Free Market Capitalism

While still on th subject of junk science producing predetermined outcomes, I ran across this commentary about Michael Crichton's 2004 book, State of Fear. The writer, David Heinrich, makes the point that public policy should not be driven by biased research and used Crichton's views on the environmental movement as an example of how propaganda perverts fact and overstates outcomes that cannot be known.  Activists and planners display a "fatal conceit" that they understand and can control complex systems.  

When I first started reading the book, I had a sinking feeling, as it was initially told from the environmentalists perspective. There was predictable egotistical talk about saving the world from "industry". However, as the reader slowly learns, the author does not agree with the environmentalists he is portraying. Issues the book tackles include: the fatal conceit of believing that we can "manage" complex systems; the politicization of science; the unimpressive "evidence" for global warming; the folly of numerous regulations; and a brief touch on the environment under the care of the free market vs. socialism.

Much of our political life is wrapped around climate change (is the globe still warming?) and  sustainability, and most people accept as fact the cataclysmic predictions of environmentalists if we don't behave as they tell us we should.  
Environmental activist, Naomi Klein, rejects capitalism and sees it as the root of global social and environmental ills.  Klein's dislike of capitalism and profit-seeking convince her that by changing the economic system, a climate disaster can be averted, even though there is no proof that this is so, and plenty of examples to demonstrate the opposite.  The "state of fear" evoked by some environmentalists avoids reality and treats theory as fact.

From Klein's book  "This Changes Everything: Climate vs Capitalism
But as emissions have soared and as tipping points loom, that is changing rapidly.
Even Yvo de Boer, who held the U.N.’s top climate position until 2009, remarked
recently that “the only way” negotiators “can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut
down the whole global economy.”48
If we are to avoid that kind of carnage while meeting our science-based
emissions targets, carbon reduction must be managed carefully through what
Anderson and Bows-Larkin describe as “radical and immediate de-growth
strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations.”*51
.. accept ... the prospect of changing the fundamental,growth-based, profit-seeking logic of capitalism.  
Crichton takes aim at junk science in "State of Fear."  His Author's Statement includes his own thoughts on climate change and environmentalism.  (Emphasis mine.)
  • We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, and human activity is the probable cause.
  • We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a four-hundred-year cold spell known as the “Little Ice Age.”
  • Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon.
  • Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.
  • Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400 percent, de facto proof that nobody knows. But if I had to guess—the only thing anyone is doing, really—I would guess the increase will be 0.812436 degrees C. There is no evidence that my guess about the state of the world one hundred years from now is any better or worse than anyone else’s. (We can’t “assess” the future, nor can we “predict” it. These are euphemisms. We can only guess. An informed guess is just a guess.)
  • Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.
  • I think for anyone to believe in impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false alarms, is kind of weird. I don’t know whether such a belief today is best ascribed to ignorance of history, sclerotic dogmatism, unhealthy love of Malthus, or simple pigheadedness, but it is evidently a hardy perennial in human calculation.
  • There are many reasons to shift away from fossil fuels, and we will do so in the next century without legislation, financial incentives, carbon-conservation programs, or the interminable yammering of fearmongers. So far as I know, nobody had to ban horse transport in the early twentieth century.
  • I suspect the people of 2100 will be much richer than we are, consume more energy, have a smaller global population, and enjoy more wilderness than we have today. I don’t think we have to worry about them.
  • The current near-hysterical preoccupation with safety is at best a waste of resources and a crimp on the human spirit, and at worst an invitation to totalitarianism. Public education is desperately needed.
  • I believe people are well intentioned. But I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.
  • I have more respect for people who change their views after acquiring new information than for those who cling to views they held thirty years ago. The world changes. Ideologues and zealots don’t.
  • We haven’t the foggiest notion how to preserve what we term “wilderness,” and we had better study it in the field and learn how to do so. I see no evidence that we are conducting such research in a humble, rational, and systematic way. I therefore hold little hope for wilderness management in the twenty-first century. I blame environmental organizations every bit as much as developers and strip miners. There is no difference in outcomes between greed and incompetence.
  • Nothing is more inherently political than our shared physical environment, and nothing is more ill served by allegiance to a single political party. Precisely because the environment is shared it cannot be managed by one faction according to its own economic or aesthetic preferences. Sooner or later, the opposing faction will take power, and previous policies will be reversed. Stable management of the environment requires recognition that all preferences have their place: snowmobilers and fly fishermen, dirt bikers and hikers, developers and preservationists. These preferences are at odds, and their incompatibility cannot be avoided. But resolving incompatible goals is a true function of politics.
  • We desperately need a nonpartisan, blinded funding mechanism to conduct research to determine appropriate policy. Scientists are only too aware whom they are working for. Those who fund research—whether a drug company, a government agency, or an environmental organization—always have a particular outcome in mind. Research funding is almost never open-ended or open-minded. Scientists know that continued funding depends on delivering the results the funders desire. As a result, environmental organization “studies” are every bit as biased and suspect as industry “studies.” Government “studies” are similarly biased according to who is running the department or administration at the time. No faction should be given a free pass.
  • I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Who owns science?

It's not the scientific theory I learned in school.  It appears one can buy science.  Science should be free to follow the facts wherever they lead.  Policy should follow scientific data, not have policy drive scientific outcomes.
What's going on?

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has loaded its advisory panels with scientists who receive money, typically grants for research.  The committees - Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Committee - can even peer review their own research.  One "independent" panel giving advice on the effects of airborne particulates had 17 out of 20 of its members receiving some form of compensation from the EPA.  (See blow.)

As the new EPA Director, Scott Pruitt is cleaning house by replacing biased committee members.  (Wall Street Journal, "A Step Toward Scientific Integrity at the EPA," July 18, 2017)  in many cases, advisory members are from activist groups; scientists with opposing views are rejected.

Many people who supported the EPA's (questionable) agenda on environmental issues maintain this is a "war on science."  This is a case of twisting language to avoid truth and casting a shadow on the opposition.  The real war on science is a government department devoted to manipulating "science" to fit their agendas with predetermined outcomes created by compromised scientists.

Is the politicization of science another battlefield of the culture war?   Who and what can we trust for unbiased information anymore?  When is a fact just a theory, and why do we put so much of our faith in the imperfect, biased arena of science?  It may be the best thing we have, but it is still best to "trust but verify" or better still, "be skeptical and verify."


EPA stacked ozone science panel with $192 million worth of paid cronies

The best “science” money can buy.
The EPA’s rules were endorsed by a panel of scientists required by law to review them — called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Both the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act required that CASAC panels be independent and unbiased. 
So was the panel independent and/or unbiased?
Below are listed the panel members at the amount of money they received in EPA grants, according to documents obtained from the EPA:
  • Dr. H. Christopher Frey, North Carolina State University — $3,136,162
  • Mr. George A. Allen, North east States for Coordinated Air Use Management — $3,907,111
  • Mt., Ed Avol, University of Southern California — $67,163,221
  • Dr. Michelle Bell, Yale University — $27,216,035
  • Dr. Joseph Brain, Harvard university — $15,641,225
  • Dr. David Chock, Independent Consultant — $0
  • Dr. Ana Diez-Roux, Drexel University — $33,575,181
  • Dr. David A Grantz, University of California, Riverside — $0
  • Dr. Jack Harkema, Michigan State University — $26,918,114
  • Dr. Daniel Jacob, Harvard University — $14,135,578
  • Dr. Steven Kleeberger, National Institutes of Health — $22,456,958
  • Dr. Frederick J. Miller, Independent Consultant — $0
  • Dr. Howard Neufeld, Appalachain State University — $0
  • Dr. Armistead (Ted) Russell, Georgia Institute of Technology — $22,310,139
  • Dr. Helen Suh, Northeastern University — $16,680,251
  • Dr. James Ultman, Pennsylvania State University — $18,750,000
  • Dr. Sverre Vedal, University of Washington — $8,000,000
  • Dr. Kathleen Weathers, Cary Institute — $0
  • Dr. Peter Woodbury, Cornell University — $308,120
  • Dr. Ron Wyzga, Electric Power Research Institute — $0
So of the 20 CASAC Ozone Panel members, 14 (70%) received grant money from the EPA. 
The total amount of unique grants involved (some panel members shared grants) is $192,342,943, an average of $13,738,781.64 per grantee.
The EPA’s CASAC panels work on a consensus basis. So with 70% of panel members on the receiving end of $192 million in grants, a “consensus” supporting the EPA was not difficult to achieve.
Though listed as an “independent consultant” by EPA, Frederick J. Miller is a former EPA staffer.
Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.30.08 AM
Though not listed as a “principal investigator” on any EPA grants, Kathleen Weathers’ employer, the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies,” has received $3,570,926 worth of grants from EPA.
Though not listed as a recent “principal investigator” on any EPA grants, Howard Neufeld was a “principal investigator” on an ozone-related grant from the EPA as follows:
Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.35.59 AM
So 17 of the 20 CASAC Ozone Panel members have current/former, direct/indirect EPA financial ties.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Oh no! Not rent control!

Landlords dodged a bullet this year.  
But what about next year?
And the next? 
And the next?  

Let's face it.  Rents are not going to come down no matter what anyone does or what laws are passed.  Rent control severely stymie rent growth, but not enough to help landlords and probably too much for tenants.  Rent control and other dastardly regulations did not make it into law this year, but advocates in the state legislature are promising to bring it back next year.  It's a bone they won't give up.  

Rents are a factor of supply and demand.  

Along with other cities tat are experiencing economic growth, Portland is seeing an increasing demand for housing for new workers and other in-migration. A shortage of housing has created a sellers' market in both single family houses and rental units and predictably prices go up.  

High rents prompt developers to risk investment in creating new housing - new housing is always expensive to build, and when there is a building boom, there is a shortage of materials and labor that also pushes costs for new housing higher.  These new units will not be affordable to most renters.

This sets the stage for tenants to demand rent control.  Uninformed, timid and politically-driven politicians will not listen.  Landlords have been popular scapegoats for centuries, so willful ignorance overtakes common sense and pushes the political system toward predictable and destructive solutions for high housing costs.  Government cannot control the market, it can only distort it to absurd and undesirable results.  Hubris and political correctness are difficult to overcome with logic and facts.  

Note:  I am a landlord.  I own apartments and have been in the business for about 20 years.  While "rent control" strictly refers to price caps, many economists also use it to define any method of government control of rent pricing ("secondary" or "soft" rent control).  For landlords, other regulations can act like rent control because they severely limit a landlord's income (aka profit, or return on investment) - relocation fees and elimination of no-cause evictions are two.  If regulations are extreme, the same consequences will occur as for rent control.  

If you don't know much about rent control, and even if you think you know all about it, this video is for you. Call it Rent Control for Dummies, though one doesn't have to be dumb to be ignorant about an industry they only see from the outside.  93% of economists from all political spectrums agree that rent control measures do not work. (Should rent control supporters be called "Deniers?")  A simple search of the economic research on the subject will be informative.  Warning - news stories and statistics from any source other than the original research are suspect at best.

Below is a link to one of the best books on the subject.  No one should declare a position for rent control until they read this book.  The only supporters left would be socialists who believe government should control the economy and that capitalism and profit are bad.  

PDF Book of Economic Research 
(Book is out of print):  
Rent Control Myths and Realities 

If rent control and other stabilization laws do not work and cause harm to the people they are trying to help,