Friday, June 26, 2015

Michigan Voters Stumped They Can't Vote on Fundamental Rights

Today's ruling by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges that states have to recognize and license marriages for same-sex couples has left many in Michigan wondering what sort of totalitarian Council of Nine can decide whether the voters within the state have the power vested in them by the Constitution to ignore the Constitution.

"I don't understand why my vote to keep homosexuals as second-class citizens now counts for nothing," said Cheryl Smith, 54, of Grandville, MI.  "Apparently the judges think that they have the power to apply the Constitution against the wishes of the voters of Michigan."

This sentiment appears to have risen up amongst all parts of the state now, with petitions now calling on Governor Snyder to remove the four liberal justices from their spots on the Supreme Court.  One man from the City of Novi, 62 year-old Jeffery Anderson, has decided to go door to door over the weekend, passing out flyers to notify his neighbors that their votes no longer count for anything and encouraging them to sign his own petition.  He told local news early Friday afternoon that he was "disappointed" that this decision has "removed our Constitutionally-guaranteed superiority".  His petition in particular asks the Michigan Legislature to vote to secede from the Union if the Supreme Court does not reverse its decision within two weeks.

Meanwhile in a press conference earlier today, Governor Snyder spoke about how his administration would "comply with the decision to the best of [its] ability".  Snyder's office did not respond to requests for comments on what he meant when he muttered "thank God we have Courser", before this publication.

Friday, June 12, 2015

SD v. SE (of the mean)

A few days ago I wrote an article criticizing a post from Dr. Ross McKitrick about Karl et al. (2015), and one of the points that I brought up was that Mckittrick's use of the standard deviation of sample measurements to describe the uncertainty of the mean was incorrect.  I said that the standard error of the mean is instead the correct figure to use.  Several commenters at other blogs (such as here and here, examples from I think the same person) have either asked which of us is correct, or otherwise suggested that I am incorrect.  From the comments that McKitrick and I exchanged on my post, it seems that we have an understanding that the standard error of the mean is correct; however, there are some area-weighting issues that still exist that McKitrick pointed out, and which I have very briefly talked about here.

I think some may still be confused on the difference between standard deviation and standard error of the mean, though.  This post will help to illustrate that difference, and the application each serves as.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Area-Weighting: A Crude, Crude Alternative for Karl et al.

Dr. McKitrick and I have been having a nice discussion in the comments of my previous post criticizing his guest post at WUWT.  He has pointed out that the globally averaged buoy correction (originally from Kennedy et al. (2011B); see previous post for links) used in Karl et al. (2015) was applied without a consideration for area-weighting, and he is correct.  The global average was made by weighing each value according to observation count.  However, since most observations are from the northern oceans, this means that the global average, calculated as such, will naturally be close to the values in said regions.

This can be problematic because some values from other large regions, such as the tropical Indian or Southern Pacific, have pretty high correction values, roughly double the global value given by Kennedy et al.  What more, the standard deviations from each region are pretty comparable (excluding the Southern Ocean).  So an alternative global measure could be to attempt some crude, crude area weighting for each value, and then come up with a global value that way.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Other Bad WUWT Commentary

My previous post detailed several errors and outright falsities in Ross McKitrick's discussion and halfhearted rebuttal to Karl et al. (2015), which corrected biases in sea surface temperature measurements to ultimately conclude that the global warming "hiatus" since 1998 probably does not exist (see previous post for links to papers, so on).  In that post I promised further discussion on one topic that I didn't get around to, since McKitrick was not the particular author at WUWT that made this mistake, so I will do so here.  I'll also include a bit about a recent piece by the comically wrong Mr. Monckton, who also tries to refute the paper.

A First Look at Ross McKitrick's "A First Look"

[edit: Ross has been kind enough to reply here, and in fact continued to be kind so I will adjust some of the language here.  He has written an updated version of his article, which can be read here.  I'll also add edits as necessary to reflect our exchange (or language fixes) in the comments; they shall be in red. - 06/08/15, 3:00pm EST]

Recent corrections to buoy and ship temperature measurements have resulted in a renewed global temperature dataset that shows global warming "hiatus" since 1998 probably doesn't exist.  Karl et al. (2015) comment on the effects of three corrections in particular:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ed Caryl Can't Figure Out MODTRAN Buttons

(Please also see my edit close to the end, since I missed an updated version of the post that corrects for the very thing I complain about here!  Well, sort of corrects.)

The Dee Dee Way

I got into an argument with someone recently on NOAA's Facebook page about how we know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.  Long answer short: because physics, and the models we based off of those physics are really, really good at predicting observations.  In my search to find a good explanation though, I stumbled across a blog post from Tallbloke, guest-written by one Ed Caryl, a lifelong electronics expert who has had some experience on hurricane- and typhoon-tracking aircraft.  So, not quite a climate guy, but a respectable CV nonetheless.

True to his CV, Caryl starts right off the bat by claiming that the expected radiative forcing from CO2 is a fate in the anthropogenic global warming religion analogous to the Christian Hell, and yada yada about sinners.  If that wasn't pleasant enough, he goes on to present what he thinks is evidence, using the MODTRAN model held near-and-dear to serious people for its accuracy, that an increase in CO2 will not lead to any increase in radiative forcing.  Apparently literally everyone who has ever used this model just missed that!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Religious Freedom" and Bullying in Michigan—Throwback Thaturday

Since the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision—which granted closely-held corporations protection under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act from the PPACA requirement to offer health insurance plans to employees that would have included birth control without copay—and the clarification that the RFRA only provides protection from federal laws, many states have taken those as a cue to pass their own version of the RFRA to "protect religious freedom" from "substantial burden" by state and below-state governing bodies.  This is, of course, a dominantly Republican push.

Michigan is one such state where Republicans are trying to pass such a law, and considering that it was one of the first bills to be drafted for consideration by the State Senate during the 2015-2016 calendar (being only #0004), it's easy to see that religious people must be on the verge of some pretty harsh persecution.  Or something.  SB 0004 follows HB 5958, which passed the House at the end of the 2014 session with what appears to be language identical to that in the senate bill.  So, if the new bill gets to the House, it's likely it'll just get passed again and head to Snyder's desk.  (However, I am not sure if Snyder will sign it.)

Many groups opposed to this are afraid that the bill will allow companies to discriminate against LGBT couples by refusing service to them.  To be fair, this is speculative, but only because of current conservative outrage over anti-discrimination legislation that actually is keeping religious companies from doing just that.  And, you know, because that's even what the House Speaker says it's for, and because an amendment affirming the bill is not for that purpose was voted down by (you guessed it) Republicans.  While these might not be as extreme of some purported effects that won't take place, such as an EMT refusing to help a dying gay person, anyone who thinks that refusing service to someone based on that customer's demographic is acceptable in any circumstance should probably go back to the 1950s where they (also don't) belong.

The intent is clear explicit in-yo-face, and our own group opposes the legislation as well.  However, I recently thought of one other possible "un"intended consequence, as I recall a particular bill that was introduced and passed in the State Senate back in 2011.  That bill was "Matt's Safe School Law" (SB 0137), and within that bill was a clause that stated the following (my bolded emphasis):
Sec. 1310.B(8): "This section does not abridge the rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the 1963 of a school employee, of a school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian.  This section does not prohibit a statement of sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian."
This language was balked at nationally (even Colbert mocked it), and was removed in a subsequent version introduced in the House and ultimately signed into law by Snyder.  I've had a suspicion for a while that such language wasn't rolled back because the original authors had some miraculous change in heart, given that some other bills (like here and here and here) have been introduced that would allow, say, employees in the medical field to refuse service to people due to a sincerely held moral belief, or adoption agencies the right to refuse service to homosexual couples, so on.  One can probably see how this idea of religiously-motivated bullying being A-OK could, potentially, raise its ugly head again.

The Michigan version of the RFRA gives people protection from acts of "government" (the definition of which, in the bill, would include school districts) that substantially burden exercises of religion, and subjects such restrictions to strict scrutiny, i.e. the government interest in enacting those provisions has to be compelling, narrowly tailored to actuate that interest, and a least restrictive means.

But what in the world does this mean for the policies that school boards had to put in place to come under compliance with Matt's Safe School Law?  What is the least restrictive punishment for a student that bullies a student out of religious conviction for being gay?  A note on that student's record?  A stern talking-to?  Are suspensions a valid punishment, expulsions or withholding diplomas?  Are punishment tiers least-restrictive enough for multiple offenses?  Is a letter to the perpetrator's parents (required by MSSL) too restrictive on the students' religious convictions?

I'm not terribly worried that any student will actually succeed in making a good case since students tend to have restricted rights in school matters anyway.  That's not really to say that some students (or their parents) won't try to make such a case and sue districts for punishing religiously-motivated bullying.  I think that I'll be using this type of case as a litmus test of sorts, though, for what religious conservatives themselves think this bill will allow.  We'll win in this type of battle; but, we'll also see if it even has to be fought.  And probably be quite sad if it does.