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Fabius Maximus
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As Kevin points out, I forgot to give the source. This is a graph of mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for Decembers using 6-hour reanalysis data from Ryan Maue of Weatherbell Analystics LLC. See his bio: http://www.weatherbell.com/team-bio/ To see how to use such data to determine how "extreme" it is, I recommend reading the IPCC's "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation" (SREX). It's well-indexed and easy to read. http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/
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Kevin, "Fabius Maximus is a known denier on the climate blog circuit." First, that is false. I am a somewhat dogmatic supporter of the IPCC and major climate agencies. I can cite scores of posts citing that. Can you give anything to support your accusation. Second, how quickly you resort to insults! That tells us much about you. Also, I did not say that this was *from* satellites. I gave a reason for the 1979 date (to avoid the inevitable accusation of cherry-picking). It's a common starting point for climate timeseries. "Note, his own data shows that no December temperature has ever exceeded 0C before." I don't believe you are correctly reading that graph. "The trend is also clear - on the order of 1C per decade." Yes, the world has been warming for roughly 2 centuries, at variable rates in different regions often responding to long-term phenomena such as the AMO and ENSO. Hence, as climate scientists so often say, the need to base trends on very longterm data. What is your point? Extremists on both sides like to point to specific regional trends as a basis to wave their hands and shout "Burning!" or "No Warming!". The rest of us tune them out and rely on the IPCC, NOAA, and the other major climate agencies.
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RW, The Forbes article gives results for one election (note: Google is not inherently your friend as it easily generates pseudo-knowledge). Showing 50 States' results is not 50 tests, as they are related (much like the fallacy of showing 120 monthly rolling stock market results from 10 years as 120 tests). The Wiki entry gives little of the information allowing us to test the skill of his forecasts. We don't know the number of forecasts, the date of the forecasts, or how they differed from that of other forecasts (necessary to determine if he was a lucky coin-tosser or skillful forecaster). On the last point, note one of Karl Popper's criteria for tests from Conjectures and Refutations (1963): "Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory." Running an actual statistical test for Silver's predictions would be possible and interesting to see. That Silver has not paid a statistician to do so, or (less useful) done so himself, gives us information -- useful if we wanted to bet on the result of such a study.
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Graydon, Thank you for your analysis. However, imo amateur analysis is a big reason the public policy debate has collapsed into cacophony. I'll stick with that of NOAA. They have consistently said that this El Nino is among the 3 strongest since 1950 -- not the strongest by most criteria. That's roughly a one-in-33-year event. Not extreme as is, for example, a hundred-year-flood. Context, how to evaluate an El Nino: “Exactly the same, but completely different: why we have so many different ways of looking at sea surface temperature” by Tom Di Liberto at NOAA's website, 20 November 2015. Looking at this El Nino: “December El Niño update: phenomenal cosmic powers!“ by Emily Becker, with comments by Anthony Barnston, at NOAA’s website, 10 December 2015. Also, can you quote anything supporting your forecast that we need worry that "agriculture breaks" soon in the Working Group I (the physical sciences) report of the IPCC's AR5?
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Bloix, Yes, I understand and agree. We can bet on anything. But we have to keep such predictions in a useful context. In this case, that this is just high-class guessing. Esp about Presidential elections, relatively rare events where few forecasters can create a significant record. If Silver posted predictions on a large body of elections, we could get a useful record to determine his skill. My *guess* is that it would be small (like everybody else's).
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This is an example of why the climate debate has collapsed into cacophony, with both sides showing shocking factoids -- such as the daily Tweets of COLD RECORD and HOT RECORD in Smallville USA that clog up my Twitter feed. The IPCC and major climate agencies have published many reports showing how to evaluate extreme weather. The key is to put it a context of past averages and trends. Here's the data for the North Pole since 1979 (when the satellite record begins, providing a consistent global baseline).
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I agree with Bloix, Estimating odds of a candidates success a year or more before the election is beyond the state of the art. To mention one obvious factor, events before the election might substantially change the political landscape. A severe recession in mid-2016 or a large terrorist attack by Islamic immigrants -- the shape of the election changes. Whatever their limitations, the match-up polls show Trump only 1-10 pts behind Clinton, a gap easily closed by large events. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_presidential_race.html Also, the assumption that most people have no strong preferences or even knowledge of the candidates is quite daft when they are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Their high name recognition alone shows the fallacy.
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ilsm, "Military recruiting competes with McDonald's!" Somewhat, but most people exaggerate that. The modern military needs a large number of people with skills far greater than those of the average McDonald's grunt. DoD needs a sufficient fraction of those people being both willing and able to serve. That means drug-free (both legal and illegal drugs), in decent physical condition, with a basic education, and at most a light criminal history. The small post-9/11 wars greatly strained DoD's human resources. The post I cited linked to numerous studies by DoD showing that getting enough bodies will become increasingly difficult in the 21st century. Hence their desire to recruit women, despite concerns about health risks (e.g., disability costs) and intense internal opposition.
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Chris, I second your recommendation of Lasch's "Revolt of the Elites". Along with Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind" on the short list of essential reading to understand the New America rising on the ruins of the America-that-once-was.
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Chris, I have visited many rural towns during my 15 years leading Scout treks. They tend to have a small elite that owns everything and a small prosperous middle class (e.g., the doctor, the undertaker, the lawyer). Almost everybody else works as contingent labor in part-time (or very variable hours), minimum wage, no benefit jobs. We're back to the aristos and proles. Or more accurately -- a bourgeoisie who owns everything, an Inner Party (who runs everything), and Outer Party of managers and professionals, and proles. The New America is probably incompatible with democracy. Since WWII we hoped that Latin America would become like America. Instead we have become like them -- a client-patron-prole society.
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Gibbon, Great point! I recently retired after 15 years as a volunteer Boy Scout leader. I was astonished at the high fraction of boys on antidepressants (they have to be disclosed on the boys' medical forms). The high rate of anti-d use plus obesity (both disqualifiers) are one reason DoD wants more women, including combat roles. Between those who are unable to serve and those who don't want to, filling the ranks will become increasingly difficult. For details see... http://fabiusmaximus.com/2015/10/01/military-recruitment-in-the-21st-century-89802/ But it is not just boys using drugs. I have been in the financial field for 37 years. Over that time alcohol use is way down, but my impression is that the increase in drug use more than offsets it -- especially coke and antidepressants. I and many others have speculated that the use of antidepressants has reached a critical point at which it affects investors' aggregate "animal spirits" -- responsible in part for current record and near-record high valuations despite peak profitability levels and slow macro growth.
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Kaleberg states my objections more clearly than I did. However, he might be an optimist. As the struggle for a "middle class" lifestyle (perhaps becoming an anachronistic label) intensifies, what we consider extreme behavior might become commonplace. Already actors and actresses get cosmetic surgery almost as a necessity, as athletes (pro, collegiate, and global-class faux-amateur) take dangerous drugs such as steroids. As drugs to enhance physical and mental performance become more effective, they might become de facto required by employers for anything but drudge-level jobs. Perhaps mood-altering drugs will become de facto necessary to produce the high service levels corporations require in customer service jobs. These will be the "voluntary contracts" Yglesias loves so much. The alternative for most workers being low-level employment, at best. What is Professor DeLong's view on this?
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The comment threat provides a wonderful illustration of how libertarian ideas have taken root among Liberals, displacing what we have learned from history. Bertram: "Indeed, employers could make it a condition of employment that workers undergo the necessary cyber-modifications! Actually, I think Smith missed a trick there, by failing to imagine how this might affect workplace dynamics. Oh well, I expect someone will be along to explain how such contracts would be win-win." Noah Smith at least nods to the legitimacy of this concern: "It is interesting to think about how this would affect employment contracts…that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post…" Yglesias channels his inner Libertarian: "It seems pretty obvious how they would be win-win: They’d be agreed to voluntarily by two mentally competent adults." History overflows with people "voluntarily" agreeing to onerous or (often and) unsafe working conditions to earn a living. Near-serf-like conditions on farms, ranches and ships. Working in hazardous industrial works (e.g., exposure to chemicals and dangerous machines in factories, mines, and oil rigs). Yglesias gives the ancient (and still heard) objection to unions and workplace regulations: the supreme right of workers to voluntarily accept the ugly choices offered by business interests who control the State. Even at Crooked Timber most of the commenters accept this, preferring to debate hypothetical future tech. It's a nice demo of why the Right is winning.
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Chris, Thanks for the update! It is amazing the differnce one storm can make this early in winter.
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This provides much more detail -- but much less optimistic: Snow Pack Conditions by the California Dept of Water Resources, 10 December 2015. Regional totals run 50-60% of average for this date. http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/sweq.action
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Jorgensen , "Nativist movements were active in the 1830s 1840s and 1850s" And the policy actions they implemented to restrict immigration were...? As I said, it usually requires both economic AND social stress to spark policy action restricting immigration.
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ilsm, I agree. But often it requires both economic and social factors to spark anti-immigrant policy action. The Long Depression of 1873-79 probably provided the economic push to existing cultural biases against immigrants -- especially "very foreign" ones like Asians and Catholics -- so that US elites were forced to act. Slowly and incrementally act over the next 50 years.
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Quite Likely, "You seem to be waffling a bit between anti-immigrant feeling being caused by the number of immigrants, and the state of the economy." I said "As the % of foreign-born in the US again passed 13% and the economy slowed, we again got a rise in anti-immigrant feelings. Support for immigration in America appears conditional." I don't see what that is "waffling". There are two factors at work causing opposition to immigration. I doubt the relationship among the 3 is linear.
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I forgot the US Census graph of foreign-born population in the US. Matches well with the rise of anti-immigration feeling: https://fabiusmaximus.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/foreign-born-population.jpg
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Sean, +1. Got to be Best of Thread.
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"Republican likely primary voters ... do not understand and have not internalized America's core freedom-loving and immigrant-friendly values." Could you explain that? Public opposition to immigration increased as the rates increased in the late 19thC while the economy's growth rate slowed. Despite the advantages of cheap labor to business, even the corrupt Congress of that time acted, passing the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the Gentlemen's Agreement in 1907 to limit immigration from Japan, the Immigration Act of 1917, the Emergency Quota Act in 1921, and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924. The Great Depression brought even sterner measures by administrative decree: a drastic reduction of immigration and the forced repatriation of Mexican workers. As the % of foreign-born in the US again passed 13% and the economy slowed, we again got a rise in anti-immigrant feelings. Support for immigration in America appears conditional. This is logical, even if your values produce different preferences.
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Kenneth, Thanks for running those numbers! The numbers for Carter and Bush II are especially astonishing. The first vs. his rep with conservatives. The latter is amazing since he wrecked the government's finances to produce such dismal results.
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Robert, Your comment is not remotely relevant to what I said, which was about the utility of the evidence Prof DeLong gave -- not the accuracy of his message. He could have just as easily shown the FRED graph of percent annual job growth, instead of growth in thousands -- which population growth biases towards latter presidents. To illustrate by the extreme case, growth in thousands makes Obama look like a god compared to every 19thC president. Fun with numbers.
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Professor DeLong, Showing long-term job growth in terms of the number gained rather than percentage growth creates a strong bias towards the present. It is the type of slanted presentation you rightfully complain about when done by conservatives.
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Chris, I agree, but that's not the point. The articles about the "super monster El Nino" and "Godzilla El Nino" don't appear by magic. But they do erode public confidence in the risks of climate change, especially after 2 decades of these. As you note, the climate agencies have been cautious in their predictions. This year they pushed back against the alarmists, but were mostly ignored by journalists and activists. When there is pushback by climate scientists and activists against those who make the "breathless headlines" -- and return news stories to the work of the IPCC and major climate agencies -- then the public policy debate will be one step closer to getting on track.
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