Posts tagged ‘Grand Canyon’

Measure of the Job Market

The other day I sent out an email listing a job opening next summer for camp hosts.  The job was in an out of the way place (in Arizona, north of the Grand Canyon) and had been hard to fill.  I have a list of 22,000 people who have asked to have camping jobs sent to them.

The email batch of 22,000 had a 54% open rate.  That is ridiculously high.

All Is Right With the World Again

Arizona State has climbed back into the top 10 party school rankings.

This is the same institution that is opposing Grand Canyon University's entry into Division I athletics because, as a for-profit university, they are apparently not academically serious enough.  For some reasons GCU's accountability to shareholders isn't as pure and wonderful as ASU's accountability to former customers who will never use their product again except perhaps to attend a football game (e.g. alumni).

I Used to Respect Michael Crow. Never Mind. The NCAA Hypocrisy Never Ends

Arizona State University (ASU) has always had a certain niche in the college world, a niche best evidenced by their making both the top 10 party school and top 10 hottest women lists in the same year.  President Michael Crow has done a fair amount to, if not reverse this image, at least add some academic cred to the university.  ASU has been creeping up the USN&WR rankings, has a very serious and respected honors college (Barrett) and hosts the Origins conference each year, one of the most fun public education events I have attended.

But Michael Crow is now upset that another Phoenix area school has been given Division I status in sports, a for-profit college named Grand Canyon University.  This could really hurt both ASU's athletic recruiting in the area as well as dilute its revenues.  But in the supremely hypocritical world college athletics, he can't say that.  Instead, he says (Via Tyler Cowen)

The conference's 12 presidents signed and delivered a letter dated July 10 urging the NCAA's Executive Committee to "engage in further, careful consideration" about allowing for-profit universities to become Division I members at the committee's August meeting. In the meantime, Pac-12 presidents decided at a league meeting last month not to schedule future contests against Grand Canyon while the issue is under consideration.

"A university using intercollegiate athletics to drive up its stock value -- that's not what we're about," Arizona State president Michael Crow said in a phone interview over the weekend. "... If someone asked me, should we play the Pepsi-Cola Company in basketball? The answer is no. We shouldn't be playing for-profit corporations."...

"Our presidents have a pretty clear view that athletics works for the broader benefit of the university," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "There's a discomfort with the idea that the sole accountability around athletics would be to a company that might use athletics as a marketing tool to drive stock price. There's a sense that changes the dynamics and accountability around athletics."

It is freaking hilarious to get lectured on accountability around athletics by the NCAA.  This is an organization that has been making billions off unpaid workers for years, workers who think so much of the value of the compensation they do receive (a free education) that most of the best of them never complete it.  I wrote more about the NCAA and athletes here.  In short, though, all these schools use the athletic program to raise capital (in the form of donations), likely far more so than a private school's sports team would raise its stock value.  Unless you grew up near the school, what do you know about well-known schools like Penn State, Ohio State, University of Miami, LSU, Alabama and even Notre Dame other than their athletics program?

Michael Crow reveals himself as just another incumbent that does not want competition.

In regards to Grand Canyon specifically, though, it would certainly appear that Crow, who's been spearheading the effort, is driven in part by protecting his own turf. Arizona State has long been the only Division I university in the Phoenix market. And in the bigger picture, it seems a bit self-righteous that the same group of presidents that in 2011 signed a $3 billion contract with ESPN and FOX -- and which last year launched a profitable television network of their own -- would play the "non-profit" card in calling out someone else's motives.

"It's different in the following sense," Crow said of the comparison. "Whatever income we generate from a television network goes to support the swimming team, the rowing team at Cal. We support thousands of athletes and their scholarships, their room-and-board, as part of the intercollegiate spirit of athletics. ... In the case of a for-profit corporation, those profits go to the shareholders."

His last point is a distinction without a difference.  First, I am not sure it is true -- Grand Canyon also has other athletic programs that cost money but don't bring in revenue. They also have a women's swim team, for example.  But who cares anyway?  Why is a student interested in swimming more worthy of receiving football largess than an investor?  Maybe Crow is worried that the people of Arizona that fund so much of his operations (and bloated overpaid administrative staff) might suddenly start wondering why they don't get a return for their investment as do GCU shareholders.

Postscript:  Phil Knight at Oregon and Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State (to name just 2 examples) get an incredible amount of influence in the university due to the money they give to their football programs and the importance of the football programs to those schools.  Boone Pickens says he has given half a billion dollars to OSU, half of which went to the football program.  But it is clear he would not have given a dime if he had not been concerned with the football team's fortunes and the problem of his university's football team losing to other rich guy's teams.  Is this really somehow better and cleaner than being beholden to equity markets?

The link in the original article is broken, so here is a better link to an article and video of how "non-profits" are spending their athletic money, on things like this palatial locker room for the Alabama football team that would make Nero's gladiators blush.

Sequester Madness 2

This just came in over the transom via email.

WASHINGTON, D.C.///February 20, 2013///Sequestration will cut visitor access to the rim of the Grand Canyon, significantly delay the spring opening of key portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite, reduce emergency response help for drivers in the Great Smoky Mountains, limit access to the beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore, and impair the experiences in many other ways for millions of visitors at America’s national parks.   In addition, local, regional and state economies that depend on national parks will take huge hits as visitors are either turned away or skip visits due to the impact of the mindless sequestration budget cuts.....

CNPSR Spokesperson, Joan Anzelmo, former Superintendent of Colorado National Monument said:  “Congress might just as well put a big “Keep Out !” sign at the entrance to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Cape Cod Seashore, and every other iconic national park in the U.S.   This foolhardy path tarnishes America’s ‘crown jewels’ and is a repudiation of the nation’s national parks often touted as ‘America’s best idea’.  Millions of Americans depend on national parks for their vacations and livelihood.  Those Americans are being told that national parks don’t count … that people who use national parks don’t count … and that people who live and work near national parks don’t count.”

A few observations:

  • It's a 5% freaking cut.  I bet Wal-Mart is a more tightly-run organization than the NPS, and I further bet if I forced an immediate 5% cut at Wal-Mart they would do it without cutting store hours or service to customers.
  • Again, we see government officials cutting the most cherished, visible services, rather than the chaff, in order to maximize citizen outrage rather than do their freaking job and set priorities
  • It's a freaking 5% cut.  Did I say that already?
  • I could cut huge chunks from the NPS budget while improving service by having private companies perform many operating functions.  Our company runs nearly 175 parks and in every one we have seen something like a 50% reduction in cost over government operation while simultaneously increasing staffing in the parks.
  • This is absolutely boilerplate from every single agency and constituency that gets threatened with even the tiniest budget cut -- "you are telling XXX group they don't count."  Barf.
  • I was going to make some observations about their budget over the last few years, but all their budget detail pages online seem to be down

I am currently as depressed and cynical as I have ever been today due to this absurd reaction to a trivial spending cut.  I have about zero hope that Federal spending will ever be reigned in.  Politicians of both parties and the special interests that support them will spend and spend until we find ourselves calling Greece asking for a bailout.

A Victory of Sorts

This is a nice but probably meaningless gesture to protecting basic Constitutional rights (Hat tip to a reader)

Just a week after the Virginia legislature approved a law to refuse compliance with NDAA“indefinite detentions,” an Arizona law committing the Grand Canyon State to noncompliance with any attempted federal kidnapping under the NDAA now stands just a signature away from implementation.

I guess I would be more thrilled if I thought the state would have passed this if there were a Republican in the White House, but I can't make myself believe it.

Observation on the Government Shut Down

From a commenter at Instapundit

It seems to me that whenever there is a threat of a government shutdown, it’s portrayed as just this side of a tsunami-level disaster. When government workers – teachers, sanitation workers, etc – go on strike, it’s portrayed as the middle-class worker sticking up for himself. Why is it that a government shut-down caused by a desire to spend less money is different than a government shutdown caused by workers failing to do their jobs – isn’t the effect the same?

Its been a long day here.  As many of your know, my company privately operates public recreation facilities.  We operate nearly 150 campgrounds and other parks on US Forest Service land, helping to reduce the cost of these facilities and keep them open despite declining budgets.

Because we pay all the expenses for the campgrounds and do not accept any government money (we operate solely using the gate fees paid by visitors), keeping these facilities open is not at all dependent on government appropriations.  As such, the facilities we operate have never been subject to closure in past government shut downs.  The Grand Canyon has to close because it is operated with government employees, but the public recreation areas we operate do not.

Or at least that was the position of the Forest Service until last night.  However, this morning, the USFS began to take the position we had to close, despite the fact that the law does not require it.  Through most of the day I have had to be on the phone pushing back against this bad idea.

At first, I thought it was some sort of scheme to purposefully make the cost of the shutdown worse, by shutting down public recreation facilities that did not need to be shut down.  However, I have come to understand that this is likely driven by a need for "consistency."  Senior administration officials were concerned it would be confusing to the public if the National Park Service was totally closed but a substantial number of US Forest Service sites remained open.  I have spent a lot of time trying to convince folks that it was dumb to close literally thousands of the most popular recreation sites in the country merely in the name of mindless consistency.

Hopefully we will win the day, and we are starting to see some evidence the Forest Service will see it our way, and allow private operators who do not take Federal money or use Federal employees to remain open serving the public during the busy Easter week.

Recent Photography

I am a terrible photographer and seem to struggle getting any good pictures.  But with a little patience and some study, my yield has gone up, though it still is well under 20%.  Just for self-motivation, rather than any sense anyone out there is interested, here are a few of my recent photos that I thought came out pretty well.  A couple are experiments with HDR photography.  As usual click for enlargement:

Cinque Terre.   The HDR process in the first one really brings out the details, but like a sharpness filter turned up too high, the image falls apart when zoomed too much.

The next one could have been awesome if I had waited, say, 12 hours for the sun to be in the right place

This is the town of Portovenere

And at night, which was beautiful but I tried a zillion exposures and could never get quite what I wanted

I loved all the little winding staircases.  I struggled to capture the romantic element that attracted me to them.  This one came out the best, but still failed to get what I wanted

A couple of views from the roof of the Milan Duomo.  I really loved walking among the flying buttresses and thought these made interesting subjects.  These are probably my favorite shots from the whole batch. They are both HDR shots.

And here are the spires on the same roof:

The Grand Canyon and Sedona

Haze seems to be my never-ending enemy of good landscape photos.  I have tried filters of various sorts.  In the shot below, I tried HDR which really cut the haze but left the tree in the foreground as a blur (due to its movement between the photos that were combined to make the picture).

Nice Place to Play Soccer

One of the perils of being a small school is that sports requires a lot of travel.   In Arizona (unlike Texas where I grew up) the private schools do not have their own prep league for athletics, but play with the public schools based on their size (e.g. 1A to 5A).  Ours is a 1A school that generally plays 2A because we get more teams to play that way.  In soccer we play 3A, which can be a tough road when a school that has barely 120 boys in the high school play schools with 900+ kids.  But we made it to the state finals last year, so we hold our own.

Anyway, last week we actually played a school within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, just a stones throw from the south rim visitors center and the El Tovar lodge.   That was awesome - nothing like post-game parent cocktails on a deck looking at the sunset over the rim of the canyon.  (I am on the road but will post a few photos next week).

The Grand Canyon is spectacular, but there is something about looking down into it that reduces its beauty.  You only really see its real drama hiking down into it (e.g. the Bright Angel or the harder but more beautiful Kaibab trail from the South Rim).  If you want to talk about really spectacular scenery, I think Sedona beats the Grand Canyon, at least from the rim.

This week my son's team played a small school in Sedona, a pretty old boarding school called Verde Valley HS.  Its got an IB program and a lot of horses and a drop-dead location, and has been getting some popularity in this area and in SoCal.  Anyway, I have seen some nice kids fields, but this one was pretty spectacular.  Unfortunately I only had my crappy cell phone camera but here is a sample:

Where are the "Defend the Border" Folks When You Really Need Them

Via Valley Fever:

There is an unwanted phenomenon happening in California, and Arizona is being pegged to clean up the mess: Chihuahuas -- lots of them.

California is seeing an influx of chihuahuas popping up at animal shelters and it's becoming too much for the state to handle.

Rather than take these unwanted pooches out back, and deal with them Old Yeller style, California shelters are pawning these rat-dogs off on the Grand Canyon State....

Shelter officials are associating the rise in the abandoned pooches to celebutards like Paris Hilton, who popularized the use of animals as fashion accessories. When the reality of having to care for the dogs kicked in, it proved to be too much for a lot of wanna-be heiresses and they dropped the quivering canines off at animal shelters.

According to California shelter officials, more than 100 of the dogs have been driven to other states, Arizona included, for shelters there to deal with because in most states, abandoned chihuahuas are hard to come by.

Instead of stopping human beings from seeking a better life in the United States, maybe the Minutemen can be convinced to fight a real border threat.

Example of Climate Work That Needs to be Checked and Replicated

When someone starts to shout "but its in the peer-reviewed literature" as an argument-ender to me, I usually respond that peer review is not the finish line, meaning that the science of some particular point is settled.  It is merely the starting point, where now a proposition is in the public domain and can be checked and verified and replicated and criticized and potentially disproved or modified.

The CRU scandal should, in my mind, be taken exactly the same way.  Unlike what more fire-breathing skeptics have been saying, this is not the final nail in the coffin of catastrophic man-made global warming theory.  It is merely a starting point, a chance to finally move government funded data and computer code into the public domain where it has always belonged, and start tearing it down or confirming it.

To this end, I would like to share a post from year ago, showing the kind of contortions that skeptics have been going through for years to demonstrate that there appear to be problems in  key data models -- contortions and questions that could have been answered in hours rather than years if the climate scientists hadn't been so afraid of scrutiny and kept their inner workings secret.  This post is from July, 2007.  It is not one of my most core complaints with global warming alarmists, as I think the Earth has indeed warmed over the last 150 years, though perhaps by less than the current metrics say.  But I think some folks are confused why simple averages of global temperatures can be subject to hijinx.  The answer is that the averages are not simple:

A few posts back, I showed how nearly 85% of the reported warming in the US over the last century is actually due to adjustments and added fudge-factors by scientists rather than actual measured higher temperatures.  I want to discuss some further analysis Steve McIntyre has done on these adjustments, but first I want to offer a brief analogy.

Let's say you had two compasses to help you find north, but the compasses are reading incorrectly.  After some investigation, you find that one of the compasses is located next to a strong magnet, which you have good reason to believe is strongly biasing that compass's readings.  In response, would you

  1. Average the results of the two compasses and use this mean to guide you, or
  2. Ignore the output of the poorly sited compass and rely solely on the other unbiased compass?

Most of us would quite rationally choose #2.  However, Steve McIntyre shows us a situation involving two temperature stations in the USHCN network in which government researchers apparently have gone with solution #1.  Here is the situation:

He compares the USHCN station at the Grand Canyon (which appears to be a good rural setting) with the Tucson USHCN station I documented here, located in a parking lot in the center of a rapidly growing million person city.   Unsurprisingly, the Tucson data shows lots of warming and the Grand Canyon data shows none.  So how might you correct Tucson and the Grand Canyon data, assuming they should be seeing about the same amount of warming?  Would you

average them, effectively adjusting the two temperature readings

towards each other, or would you assume the Grand Canyon data is cleaner

with fewer biases and adjust Tucson only?   Is there anyone who would not choose the second option, as with the compasses?

The GISS data set, created by the Goddard Center of NASA, takes the USHCN data set and somehow uses nearby stations to correct for anomalous stations.  I say somehow, because, incredibly, these government scientists, whose research is funded by taxpayers and is being used to make major policy decisions, refuse to release their algorithms or methodology details publicly. They keep it all secret!  Their adjustments are a big black box that none of us are allowed to look into  (and remember, these adjustments account for the vast majority of reported warming in the last century).

We can, however, reverse engineer some of these adjustments, and McIntyre does.  What he finds is that the GISS appears to be averaging the good and bad compass, rather than throwing out or adjusting only the biased reading.  You can see this below.  First, here are the USHCN data for these two stations with only the Time of Observation adjustment made (more on what these adjustments are in this article).
Grand_12

As I said above, no real surprise "“ little warming out in undeveloped nature, lots of warming in a large and rapidly growing modern city.  Now, here is the same data after the GISS has adjusted it:

Grand_15

You can see that Tucson has been adjusted down a degree or two, but Grand Canyon has been adjusted up a degree or two (with the earlier mid-century spike adjusted down).  OK, so it makes sense that Tucson has been adjusted down, though there is a very good argument to be made that it should be been adjusted down more, say by at least 3 degrees**.  But why does the Grand Canyon need to be adjusted up by about a degree and a half?  What is biasing it colder by 1.5 degrees, which is a lot?  The answer:  Nothing.  The explanation:  Obviously, the GISS is doing some sort of averaging, which is bringing the Grand Canyon and Tucson from each end closer to a mean.

This is clearly wrong, like averaging the two compasses.  You don't average a measurement known to be of good quality with one known to be biased.  The Grand Canyon should be held about the same, and Tucson adjusted down even more toward it, or else thrown out.  Lets look at two cases.  In one, we will use the GISS approach to combine these two stations"“ this adds 1.5 degrees to GC and subtracts 1.5 degrees from Tucson.  In the second, we will take an approach that applies all the adjustment to just the biases (Tucson station) "” this would add 0 degrees to GC and subtract 3 degrees from Tucson.  The first approach, used by the GISS, results in a mean warming in these two stations that is 1.5 degrees higher than the more logical second approach. No wonder the GISS produces the highest historical global warming estimates of any source!  Steve McIntyre has much more.

** I got to three degrees by applying all of the adjustments for GC and Tucson to Tucson.  Here is another way to get to about this amount.   We know from studies that urban heat islands can add 8-10 degrees to nighttime urban temperatures over surrounding undeveloped land.  Assuming no daytime effect, which is conservative, we might conclude that 8-10 degrees at night adds about 3 degrees to the entire 24-hour average.

Postscript: Steve McIntyre comments (bold added):

These adjustments are supposed to adjust for station moves "“ the procedure is described in Karl and Williams 1988 [check], but, like so many climate recipes, is a complicated statistical procedure that is not based on statistical procedures known off the island. (That's not to say that the procedures are necessarily wrong, just that the properties of the procedure are not known to statistical civilization.) When I see this particular outcome of the Karl methodology, my mpression is that, net of the pea moving under the thimble, the Grand Canyon values are being blended up and the Tucson values are being blended down. So that while the methodology purports to adjust for station moves, I'm not convinced that the methodology can successfully estimate ex post the impact of numerous station moves and my guess is that it ends up constructing a kind of blended average.

LOL.  McIntyre, by the way, is the same gentleman who helped call foul on the Mann hockey stick for bad statistical procedure.

From Our Department of WTF

Under what theory of government is this a proper activity of government with our tax dollars?

Gov. Jan Brewer took the stage Thursday with rocker and restaurateur Alice Cooper to persuade Arizonans that dining out is good for the state. Announcing a three-month public-awareness campaign called Dine 4 AZ, they said going to restaurants supports businesses and helps preserve jobs. Brewer noted that restaurants generate 10 percent of Arizona's tax revenues.

"We are working hard to lead the Grand Canyon State forward and out of this recession, and Dine 4 AZ fits perfectly into our plan," she said. "Please treat your family to a meal and we'll get through this together."

It is just seriously freaking frustrating to see the government spend my money promoting other people's businesses.   And since when has dining out been a sign of patriotism?  Why is buying food from a restaurant more stimulative than buying food from a supermarket? On the plus side of all this is the spectacle of politicians taking the stage with Phoenix favorite son Alice Cooper to make a policy speech.  The only thing that would be better would be for the governor to appear with Phoenix-area resident Jenna Jamison to promote the, uh, stimulative effect of spending an evening at your local strip club.

Postscript - by the way, there is almost no point in challenging the numbers in such a stupid article, but I will bet anything I own that restaurants do not generate 10 percent of Arizona's tax revenues.  Update - In fact, based on this report, restaurants were 9.4% of sales tax collections which in turn are 61% of major state taxes, which makes restaurants and bars about 5.7% of state tax revenue, which I will admit is higher than I would have guessed but still well off the number in the article.

Update #2: OK, I am probably overworking this, but the same report referenced above showed Arizona individual income taxes dropping 32.4% in 2009, presumably due to large drops in income.  However, sales taxes only dropped 13.9% in that period.  And within sales taxes, restaurant and bar sales taxes only dropped 5.8%.  I say only, because except for some stable utility and telecom categories, this is the lowest drop of any business sector subject to sales taxes.   General retail down 12.2%.  Amusements down 8.1%.  Hotel/Motel down 11.9%.  So, in response to the down economy, the state government has thrown their weight behind shifting business to... the single retail category that has been least hurt by the recession.

More Thoughts on Historic Temperature Adjustments

A few posts back, I showed how nearly 85% of the reported warming in the US over the last century is actually due to adjustments and added fudge-factors by scientists rather than actual measured higher temperatures.  I want to discuss some further analysis Steve McIntyre has done on these adjustments, but first I want to offer a brief analogy.

Let's say you had two compasses to help you find north, but the compasses are reading incorrectly.  After some investigation, you find that one of the compasses is located next to a strong magnet, which you have good reason to believe is strongly biasing that compass's readings.  In response, would you

  1. Average the results of the two compasses and use this mean to guide you, or
  2. Ignore the output of the poorly sited compass and rely solely on the other unbiased compass?

Most of us would quite rationally choose #2.  However, Steve McIntyre shows us a situation involving two temperature stations in the USHCN network in which government researchers apparently have gone with solution #1.  Here is the situation:

He compares the USHCN station at the Grand Canyon (which appears to be a good rural setting) with the Tucson USHCN station I documented here, located in a parking lot in the center of a rapidly growing million person city.   Unsurprisingly, the Tucson data shows lots of warming and the Grand Canyon data shows none.  So how might you correct Tucson and the Grand Canyon data, assuming they should be seeing about the same amount of warming?  Would you
average them, effectively adjusting the two temperature readings
towards each other, or would you assume the Grand Canyon data is cleaner
with fewer biases and adjust Tucson only?   Is there anyone who would not choose the second option, as with the compasses?

The GISS data set, created by the Goddard Center of NASA, takes the USHCN data set and somehow uses nearby stations to correct for anomalous stations.  I say somehow, because, incredibly, these government scientists, whose research is funded by taxpayers and is being used to make major policy decisions, refuse to release their algorithms or methodology details publicly.  They keep it all secret!  Their adjustments are a big black box that none of us are allowed to look into  (and remember, these adjustments account for the vast majority of reported warming in the last century).

We can, however, reverse engineer some of these adjustments, and McIntyre does.  What he finds is that the GISS appears to be averaging the good and bad compass, rather than throwing out or adjusting only the biased reading.  You can see this below.  First, here are the USHCN data for these two stations with only the Time of Observation adjustment made (more on what these adjustments are in this article).
Grand_12

As I said above, no real surprise - little warming out in undeveloped nature, lots of warming in a large and rapidly growing modern city.  Now, here is the same data after the GISS has adjusted it:

Grand_15

You can see that Tucson has been adjusted down a degree or two, but Grand Canyon has been adjusted up a degree or two (with the earlier mid-century spike adjusted down).  OK, so it makes sense that Tucson has been adjusted down, though there is a very good argument to be made that it should be been adjusted down more, say by at least 3 degrees**.  But why does the Grand Canyon need to be adjusted up by about a degree and a half?  What is biasing it colder by 1.5 degrees, which is a lot?  The answer:  Nothing.  The explanation:  Obviously, the GISS is doing some sort of averaging, which is bringing the Grand Canyon and Tucson from each end closer to a mean. 

This is clearly wrong, like averaging the two compasses.  You don't average a measurement known to be of good quality with one known to be biased.  The Grand Canyon should be held about the same, and Tucson adjusted down even more toward it, or else thrown out.  Lets look at two cases.  In one, we will use the GISS approach to combine these two stations-- this adds 1.5 degrees to GC and subtracts 1.5 degrees from Tucson.  In the second, we will take an approach that applies all the adjustment to just the biases (Tucson station) -- this would add 0 degrees to GC and subtract 3 degrees from Tucson.  The first approach, used by the GISS, results in a mean warming in these two stations that is 1.5 degrees higher than the more logical second approach.  No wonder the GISS produces the highest historical global warming estimates of any source!  Steve McIntyre has much more.

** I got to three degrees by applying all of the adjustments for GC and Tucson to Tucson.  Here is another way to get to about this amount.   We know from studies that urban heat islands can add 8-10 degrees to nighttime urban temperatures over surrounding undeveloped land.  Assuming no daytime effect, which is conservative, we might conclude that 8-10 degrees at night adds about 3 degrees to the entire 24-hour average.

Postscript: Steve McIntyre comments (bold added):

These adjustments are supposed to adjust for station moves - the
procedure is described in Karl and Williams 1988 [check], but, like so
many climate recipes, is a complicated statistical procedure that is
not based on statistical procedures known off the island.
(That's not
to say that the procedures are necessarily wrong, just that the
properties of the procedure are not known to statistical civilization.
)
When I see this particular outcome of the Karl methodology, my
impression is that, net of the pea moving under the thimble, the Grand
Canyon values are being blended up and the Tucson values are being
blended down. So that while the methodology purports to adjust for
station moves, I'm not convinced that the methodology can successfully
estimate ex post the impact of numerous station moves and my guess is
that it ends up constructing a kind of blended average.

LOL.  McIntyre, by the way, is the same gentleman who helped call foul on the Mann hockey stick for bad statistical procedure.

I'd Feel Much Safer If A Government Bureaucrat Was In Charge

Marc Hodak found this gem in a newspaper article about the new Grand Canyon Skywalk:

The Skywalk's builders have said repeatedly that the deck is extremely
durable. It's essentially a huge steel horseshoe, capable of
withstanding 100 mph (160 kph) winds and holding several hundred
200-pound (90-kilogram) people at a time.

I had no reason to doubt them. But out on the edge, my mind was
racing: I tried to remember if any government regulatory agency had
checked how well this thing was anchored to the cliff.

Hodak observes:

News writers are notoriously wary of private agents and their
self-interests versus "the government," as if its agents were somehow
endowed with a greater degree of expertise or caring for their fellow
man. They often can't fathom that, even regardless of their economic
interests, the owners and operators would be any less concerned about
their guests tumbling down the side of the Grand Canyon than some
bureaucrat with a tape measure and some forms to fill out. It kind of
leaves me breathless.

Maybe they can bring in the government crew that built the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge.

More Free Market Environmentalism

My support for the Nature Conservancy and other land trusts who buy land for preservation rather than just expropriate the current holder through changed use regulations in this post garnered more comments than any of my other recent posts.  Presuming this is an indicator of interest in the topic, I point your attention to this article in the NY Times about environmentalists and grazing in southern Utah.  I no longer have much trust in the NY Times to portray such stories correctly, but from what they write, it looks like another great example of environmental activism using markets and consensual agreements rather than public coercion:

Mr. LeFevre wants the ranchers to win this range war against the lawyers and
politicians trying to restrict grazing on the plateau north of the Grand Canyon.
He fought unsuccessfully to stop the Clinton administration from declaring it
the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument because he knew the designation
would mean more regulations, more hikers and fewer cows....

But he is not bitter when he talks about the deal he made with an
environmentalist named Bill Hedden, the executive director of the Grand Canyon
Trust. Mr. Hedden's group doesn't use lobbyists or lawsuits (or guns) to drive
out ranchers. These environmentalists get land the old-fashioned way. They buy
it.

To reclaim the Escalante River canyon, Mr. Hedden bought the permits that
entitle Mr. LeFevre's cows to graze on the federal land near the river. He
figures it was a good deal for the environment because native shrubs and grasses
are reappearing, now that cows aren't eating and trampling the vegetation.

I love to see this.  The alternative Mr. LeFevre faced was steady expropriation of his grazing permits via creeping regulation and legal action:

Mr. LeFevre likes the deal because it enabled him to buy grazing permits for
higher ground that's easier for him and his cows to reach than the canyon. (He
was once almost killed there when his horse fell). He's also relieved to be on
land where hikers aren't pressuring the Bureau of Land Management to restrict
grazing, as they did for the canyon.

"I was afraid the B.L.M. would add so many restrictions that I wouldn't be
able to use the land anyway, and I'd be out the $100,000 I spent for the
permits," he said. "The B.L.M. just shuts you down. Bill said, 'Let's try to
resolve this peacefully and make you whole.' I respect that."

Ironically, this win-win environmentalism is being opposed by the Bush administration. 

The Interior Department has decided that environmentalists can no longer
simply buy grazing permits and retire them. Under its reading of the law - not
wholly shared by predecessors in the Clinton administration - land currently
being used by ranchers has already been determined to be "chiefly valuable for
grazing" and can be opened to herds at any time if the B.L.M.'s "land use
planning process" deems it necessary.

But why should a federal bureaucrat decide what's "chiefly valuable" about a
piece of land? Mr. Hedden and Mr. LeFevre have discovered a "land use planning
process" of their own: see who will pay the most for it. If an environmentalist
offers enough to induce a rancher to sell, that's the best indication the land
is more valuable for hiking than for grazing.

I have no idea why a grazing permit can't be retired - certainly that's legal and proper with emissions permits.  I never, ever thought I would find the NY Times writing something like "why should a federal bureaucrat decide what's "chiefly valuable" about a
piece of land", but I love it. And raspberries to the Bush Administration, who yet again are demonstrating that their lack of dedication to markets and private action.  Its time to admit that the republicans have returned to the bad old days of their 1970's support for big government crony capitalism.

The new policy may make short-term political sense for the Bush
administration by pleasing its Republican allies in Utah and lobbyists for the
ranching industry. But it's not good for individual ranchers, and it ensures
more bitter range wars in the future. If environmentalists can't spend their
money on land, they'll just spend it on lawyers.

Here is Mr. Hedden's site at the Grand Canyon Trust, which unfortunately seems to support lobbying for government coercion at least as much as market-based solutions.

Hat tip to Nature Noted, a great blog on land trusts.