Posts tagged ‘Warren Meyer’

My Plea to Stop the White House From Closing Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Parks

Here is my letter to my Congresspersons:

Senator John McCain

Senator Jeff Flake

Representative David Schweikert

 

Help! Administration Orders Shut Down of Privately-Operated Parks in National Forest

Parks that require no Federal money, and actually pay rent to the Treasury, are being required to close

 

Sirs:

My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.

However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.

The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.

I urge you to help stop the Administration from lawlessly taking arbitrary and illegal actions to artificially worsen the shutdown by hurting innocent hikers and campers. I am not asking you to restore any funding, because no funding is required to keep these operations open. I am asking that the Administration be required to only close government services that actually require budget resources.

 

Sincerely,

Warren Meyer

 

"Incivility" Defined: It Means Criticizing Obama

I have had hard time parsing exactly what the intelligentsia means by "incivility."  On the one hand, they often call for more civil discourse and lament the lack of incivility in government nowadays.  But on the other hand, people like Obama very frequently argue by ad hominem attack, preferring to question the motives of the NRA or climate skeptics rather than engage their criticisms of gun control or CO2 limitations.

This has confused me, because I have always defined civility in discourse as the willingness to accept your opponent as a person of good will who merely disagrees or is misguided.  But if this is civility, why the frequent "othering" of political opponents by the same folks calling for civility?

Well, it turns out I have been using the wrong definition of civility.  As Donna Brazille makes clear, "incivility" means criticizing the President or attempting to hold him accountable for missteps of those who report to him.  She actually beings by defining civility in a way with which I mostly agree:

A government of, by, and for the people requires that people talk to people, that we can agree to disagree but do so in civility. If we let the politicians and those who report dictate our discourse, then our course will be dictated.

But then she goes on to say

We, the people, need to stay focused on facts, causes and solutions. Let's begin with the findings of the Treasury's inspector general who uncovered it: That it was bureaucratic mismanagement, but that there was no evidence of any political motivation or influence from outside the IRS.

And that, according to acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who just resigned, the problem started because the Supreme Court's Citizens' United decision created a surge of requests by political groups for tax-exempt status.

LOL - don't let politicians dictate our course - but everyone needs to shut up and take the word for two IRS officials that there is no scandal here (noting that we know from the IRS's own data that the last statement she urges us to accept in the name of civility is definitely false).    Further, she says

Why am I alarmed? Because two "scandals" -- the IRS tax-exempt inquiries and the Department of Justice's tapping of reporters' phones -- have become lynch parties. And the congressional investigation of Benghazi may become a scandal in itself.

So let's of course all be civil, and civility means calling folks criticizing a black President "lynch mobs."

By the way, a bit off-topic, but this paragraph is a textbook example of tricks editorial writers use

The IRS scandal has sparked bipartisan outrage that should require a bipartisan solution. The director who oversaw this was a Bush appointee who was confirmed by a Democratic Congress. Even Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says he doubts very much that Obama was involved

Each sentence here as a master-stroke of the spinmeister's pen trying to defend her guy in the White House.

  1. Note the effort in the first sentence to shift this to a bipartisan issue.  Both sides are upset.  It is a good government issue.    The implication we are supposed to draw is that this no longer can be a critique of this particular administration.  It has transcended.  This is how red-blue team political invective works.  If the outrage is coming from just one party, it should not stick to the President because because it is petty partisanship.  If it comes from both sides, it should not stick because it is a larger issue for all of us that transcends this particular Administration.  In fact, through the article, she actually makes both arguments simultaneously.  Brilliant!
  2. It's Bush's fault.  This is just so well-worn that Obama officials simply cannot help themselves.   How can a man the Left thought to be so stupid and incompetent still be directing affairs four and half years after he left the building?
  3. This one is really funny.  Is, as implied by the structure of this sentence and the world "even", Carl Bernstein the least likely imaginable person to excuse Obama of such a charge?    I think I am going to start writing this way.  Even Warren Meyer thinks climate change has been exaggerated.  Even Kim Kardashian thinks its important to get a lot of PR.  Even Tia Carrere says its OK to make a bad movie once in a while.  Hey, this is fun.

By the way, as I wrote before, it is unlikely Obama gave a specific order to harass the tea party.  However, he has created a strong culture of "othering" his political enemies and impugning their motives as evil, sending a strong signal to his supporters such that actual orders were unnecessary.  No one ordered from the top that Princeton students harass Yale at every opportunity (or even better, Penn).  The culture takes care of it.

My New Favorite Creature

Sea Dragons! (larger versions at the link below the video)

Sea Dragons! from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

If you need any extra encouragement to go to the Monterrey Aquarium some time, try these two jellyfish exhibits

Jellyfish from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

Jellyfish 2 from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

We Are All Terrorists Now

In the future, we may or may not each get our 15 minutes of fame, but it appears will we all be on the terrorist watch list.  According to Kevin Drum, the GAO reported 755,000 records in the the terrorist watch list.  Drum helpfully graphs the growth of the list and extrapolates to 2008:
Blog_gao_no_fly

I had a fleeting warm fuzzy feeling, thinking "well, at least the GAO is on their case."  But in fact, they are not.  Here is the summary paragraph from the report:

GAO recommends several actions to promote a comprehensive and coordinated approach to terrorist-related screening. Among them are actions to monitor and respond to vulnerabilities and to establish up-to-date guidelines, strategies, and plans to facilitate expanded and enhanced use of the list.

The departments that provided comments on the report generally agreed with GAO's findings and recommendations.

No discussion about the size of the list - the sole recommendation is around using the list in more places for more purposes.  The report, while discussing a number of times the number of people detained for matching the list, does not even mention the false positive issue.  This is just criminally stupid, and these numbers underestimate the true cost.  First, there is no way that 755,000 or even 75,000 people traveling in this country are terrorist threats, so the list is dominated by false positives.  But in addition, if every name on the list is shared, on average, by 10** people who have no relation to the suspect but the name, then the results are insane.  Five or ten thousand (at most) truly dangerous people are sharing the list with 10 million innocents.  That's a false positive rate over 99.9%.

**UPDATE: This seems conservative.  This site tells me that Warren Meyer, not a particularly common name, is shared by 80 people in the US.

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
80
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Amazon One-Star Reviews

Have I ever told you that I really like author John Scalzi?  Not just because I love his books, but I do really enjoy his work.  I like him because he spends a lot of time promoting the work of other young writers and promoting the science fiction and fantasy genre in general.

Recently, Scalzi published on his blog all his Amazon one-star reviews.  As a fairly novice writer who will never write as well as Scalzi, I found this quite liberating.  If folks like him endure these bad reviews, maybe I should not let my own setbacks get me down.  He has challenged other authors to do the same, publishing their Amazon one-star reviews online.  In this post, he links a number of authors who have taken up the challenge, including Charles Stross and Jo Walton.

So, though I am not in the league of these other authors, I will post my one-star review for my book BMOC.

I like the concept for the book and like reading Warren Meyer's Coyote
Blog. I don't understand how crude and uncouth became popular and I am
disappointed that is the approach that was chosen with this book. I
should have paid attention to the review by "Warren's mother." I've
returned my copy to Amazon for a refund.

Wow, I actually feel better.  Based on this review, I will warn you as I warn my friends when I give them a copy:  The book has its crude parts, and I have only let my kids read highly edited portions.  That being said, its not Fear of Flying either, and my parent's priest read it without spontaneously combusting.  But don't buy it if you are turned off by harsh language and some sexual humor.  I have two youth novels in the works, you can save your money for them ;=)

Postscript:  This is one of the one-star reviews posted for Anya Bast's Witch Fire:

"Not romance, not erotica, basically porn - what little plot there is
exists to connect the sex scenes, note I didn't say love making scenes.
Altogether distasteful and I won't waste money on this author again."

LOL, if the review is trying to hurt Ms. Bast's sales, I am not positive this is the right approach.

And the Winner Is...

Jeff Charleston, who went nearly wire to wire to win.  Here is the top ten, which yours truly finally managed to crack for the first time.  I picked the fewest correct games, by far, of anyone in the top 10 but got a lot of upset correct and thus scored a bunch of bonus points.  Memphis fans have to be squirming today.  I almost didn't watch the last 2 minutes of the game -- Memphis seemed to have it totally in hand.

Bracket Rank Points Correct Games Upset Risk % Tiebreaker Total Points (diff) Possible Games
Jeff Charleston 1 127 46 16.7 157 (14) 46
Bennett Johnsen 2 126 47 9.5 150 (7) 47
Keith Ehlers 3 115 44 16.7 188 (45) 44
Kevin Clary #2 4 115 42 13.8 176 (33) 42
Warren Meyer #2 5 115 41 21.4 125 (18) 41
Kelly McLean 6 114 47 6.0 135 (8) 47
Kevin Clary 7 113 42 13.7 174 (31) 42
Aj Dote 8 112 42 2.5 145 (2) 42
Steve Jones 9 109 45 11.4 157 (14) 45
Tom Kirkendall 10 108 45 5.2 142 (1) 45

The whole thing here.

Congrats to Jeff, and he can send me an email if he would like a free copy of either of my books.  And no, Bennett doesn't win 2 copies for being in second. 

Bracket Challenge Update

With just three games to go in the tournament, here are the standings:

3 games remaining Must wins for best finish
Current
rank

(score)
Player
(125 total)
Best
finish

(chance)
Worst
finish

(chance)
Final Few Champion
1 (109) Jeff Charleston 1 (25%) 13 (12.5%) Kansas Kansas
2 (108) Ron Gallagher 1 (12.5%) 11 (12.5%) UNC UCLA UCLA
3 (107) Kevin Clary #2 1 (12.5%) 18 (25%) Kansas UCLA UCLA
4 (104) Craig 1 (12.5%) 21 (25%) UNC Memphs UNC
5 (104) Jeff Charleston #2 1 (12.5%) 19 (12.5%) UNC UCLA UNC
6 (103) Jeffrey Peterson 2 (12.5%) 21 (12.5%) UNC UCLA UNC
7 (102) Stan Brown 13 (25%) 32 (12.5%) Kansas UCLA
8 (101) briain's 2 (12.5%) 25 (12.5%) UNC UCLA UCLA
9 (100) Bennett Johnsen 2 (12.5%) 34 (12.5%) Kansas Memphs Kansas
10 (100) Tom Kirkendall 1 (12.5%) 29 (12.5%) UNC Memphs Memphs
11 (100) Wade Condict #2 11 (12.5%) 35 (12.5%) Kansas Memphs Memphs
12 (100) Nathan Lambert 3 (12.5%) 35 (12.5%) Kansas UCLA UCLA
13 (99) Andy Nemenoff 4 (12.5%) 33 (12.5%) UNC Memphs UNC
14 (99) Keith Ehlers 1 (12.5%) 39 (12.5%) Kansas Memphs Memphs
15 (97) Warren Meyer #2 5 (12.5%) 47 (12.5%) Kansas Memphs Kansas

I had show the top 15, of course, just to sneak myself in.  In fact, there are still 6 people who can win.  If you think of the three games yielding 8 possible game outcomes,  Jeff Charleston wins on three of those outcomes, and Ron Gallagher, Kevin Clary, Craig, Tom Kirkendall and Keith Ehlers each will win if one specific combination comes up.

Bracketology Update

Not many people predicted to 12-13 matchups in the second round, but if they had, they would have runup some nice points given our upset-bonus in the scoring system.  Here are the standings to date, which I reproduce only because, well, I am in them:

Bracket Rank Points Correct Games Upset Risk % Possible Games
Jeff Charleston 1 74 37 16.7 52
hopeful 2 71 34 23.4 44
Keith Ehlers 3 70 36 16.7 48
Warren Meyer #2 4 70 33 21.4 46
Ron Gallagher 5 69 36 10.8 47
Nicholas Stergion ii 6 69 32 35.3 43
Dawn Werner 7 69 31 29.2 40
Stan Brown 8 69 30 32.0 43
Wade Condict #2 9 67 35 25.0 44
Craig 10 67 35 10.3 47
Paul Noonan 11 66 31 26.3 42
Warren Meyer 12 65 34 14.3 47

The good news is that both my brackets are in the top 12.  The bad news is that I do a good job every year of picking early upsets and racking up early round points, and then I fall by the wayside in later rounds.  We will see if I can hang in there.  By the way, my loud-mouthed, smack-dealing son is in 76th place.  The leader has 14 of his sweet-16 still intact, while my brackets have 11 and 9 respectively, which are pretty good leading indicators for future problems for yours truly.

One of the reason I like pickhoops.com is that they have some cool analysis tools.  Here is my favorite, analyzing who has the best chances to win:

15 games remaining Must wins for best finish
Current
rank

(score)
Player
(125 total)
Best
finish

(chance)
Worst
finish

(chance)
Super Sixteen Exciting Eight Final Few Champion
1 (74) Jeff Charleston 1 (29.6%) 47 (<1%)    
2 (71) hopeful 1 (7.1%) 90 (<1%)    Wiscon     
3 (70) Keith Ehlers 1 (4%) 85 (<1%)     Memphs     
4 (70) Warren Meyer #2 1 (7.2%) 83 (<1%)        Xavier  
5 (69) Ron Gallagher 1 (<1%) 67 (<1%)    
6 (69) Nicholas Stergion ii 1 (4.3%) 100 (<1%)    
7 (69) Dawn Werner 1 (<1%) 95 (<1%)     Memphs   Xavier   Memphs
8 (69) Stan Brown 1 (19.5%) 92 (<1%)    
9 (67) Wade Condict #2 1 (<1%) 95 (<1%)     Memphs   Xavier   Memphs
10 (67) Craig 1 (1.5%) 68 (<1%)    
11 (66) Paul Noonan 1 (3.1%) 101 (<1%)    
12 (65) Warren Meyer 1 (2.9%) 89 (<1%)    
13 (64) Jeff Charleston #2 1 (<1%) 64 (<1%) UNC       UNC    UNC
14 (63) briain's 1 (<1%) 66 (<1%)    
15 (63) Kevin Clary #2 1 (<1%) 62 (<1%)   Kansas  Memphs    Kansas 
16 (62) Tom Kirkendall 1 (<1%) 74 (<1%)     Memphs      Memphs
17 (62) Andy Nemenoff 1 (1.6%) 85 (<1%)    
18 (62) Random 2x Risk 1 (1.6%) 104 (<1%) Tenn       Tenn   
19 (61) Derek Jankowski 1 (<1%) 93 (<1%)    Davdsn  Stanfd UCLA Xavier    UCLA UCLA UCLA
20 (60) Tony Casciano #2 1 (1.2%) 112 (<1%)      Texas    Texas Texas Texas

See the whole analysis here.  

Perfect Gift for the Holidays!

From the Business Opportunities Weblog:

Continuing my list of my favorite business books of 2007 brings us to another unconventional one: BMOC.
While the book, by Warren Meyer, is fictional, it does contain a number
of interesting business ideas, including my favorite outlandish
business opporunity of all time: fountain coin harvesting.

Amazon link for BMOC here  (sorry, I tried to get the price cut for the holidays but it really takes a long time for that to work through the system).

Letter to Newsweek

Editors-

Oh, the delicious irony.

As a skeptic of catastrophic man-made global warming, I was disturbed to see that Newsweek in its August 13, 2007 issue (The Truth About Denial)
had equated me with a Holocaust denier.  There are so many interesting
scientific issues involved in climate change that it was flabbergasting
to me that Newsweek would waste time on an extended ad hominem
attack against one side in a scientific debate.  I was particularly
amazed that Newsweek would accuse the side of the debate that is
outspent 1000:1 with being tainted by money.  This is roughly
equivalent to arguing that Mike Gravel's spending is corrupting the
2008 presidential election.

However, fate does indeed have a sense of humor.  Skeptics' efforts of the sort Newsweek derided just this week
forced NASA-Goddard (GISS) to revise downward recent US temperature
numbers due to a programming mistake that went unidentified for
years, in part because NASA's taxpayer-paid researchers refuse to
release their temperature adjustment and aggregation methodology to the
public for scrutiny.  The problem was found by a chain of events that
began with amateur volunteers and led ultimately to Steven McIntyre (he
of the Michael Mann hockey stick debunking) calling foul.

The particular irony is that the person who is in charge of this
database, and is responsible for the decision not to allow scientific
scrutiny of his methodologies, is none other than James Hansen, who
Newsweek held up as the shining example of scientific objectivity in
its article.  Newsweek should have been demanding that taxpayer-funded
institutions like NASA should be opening their research to full review,
but instead Newsweek chose to argue that Mr. Hansen should be shielded
from scrutiny.

Warren Meyer

Some Advice for the Local Libertarian Party

For lack of a better term, I call myself a libertarian with a small-l.  I do not, despite this term, feel much allegiance to the formal Libertarian Party.  I tend to like their platforms more than those of the major parties, but many of their candidates seem unserious to me.

Today I got my first press release from the local LP candidate for Governor.  And what is it about?  The LP candidate jumps into the fray on the Arizona 9/11 Memorial:

Libertarian nominee for Governor, Barry Hess weighs in on the only
thing Democrat Janet Napolitano and Republican Len Munsil can find to
disagree about - the great Arizona 9-11 memorial debate.

When asked for his input, Mr. Hess replied, "It doesn't surprise me
that this is all they can come up with to distinguish themselves as a
reason to vote for them.  The problem is that neither one of them ever
seems to posses the ability to go to the root of the issue.  The very
first thing they should have determined is, what is it?  Is it a
tribute to the innocent lives lost on 9-11, or is it a memorial of the
event?
                
If it is a tribute to the innocent
dead, then the politically-charged slogans are clearly misplaced and
should be removed.  If it is a monument memorializing a tragic event
that is surrounded by a multitude of dubious official explanations of
what actually happened when innocent lives were caught up in something
bigger than them and lost in a politically-induced inevitability, then
the outrage expressed in the slogans is well, and rightfully placed.
                
Why didn't the Republican or the Democrat first establish what it is
supposed to be?  Because they are both just using it as a soapbox, and
it's shameful they would each use it in an attempt to garner votes.
The public really should reflect on the fact that if these are the best
candidates the Republican & Democrat parties could come up with,
maybe neither is their best option for Governor."

When I read the first line, I thought Mr. Hess was going to rightly criticize the major party candidates for focusing on trivia.  But no, he jumps right in himself.  I'm not a big fan of how the memorial turned out, but while the memorial was officially sanctioned by the governor, it was at least all privately funded.  We seem to have many other issues in a state where the government is building the new Berlin Wall that I would think a good libertarian would be more concerned about.

Here would have been my response:

"While the major party candidates focus all their attention on the content of a single
piece of privately-funded sculpture in downtown Phoenix, Warren Meyer criticized both
candidates for their support of a government-funded half-billion dollar monument to
mediocre football
and corporate welfare out in Glendale."

Postscript:  By the way, this government-funded facility is used for its core purpose just 11 days out of the year  (Fiesta Bowl, 2 pre-season games, 8 regular season games) which gives it an occupancy  of 3%.  Supporters will argue that it is used for other events (e.g. a home and garden show) but these events could be held at existing facilities costing 1/10 the amount of Glendale Stadium.  To somehow take credit for these other events is disingenuous, because their move to Glendale likely cannibalizes the revenue of some other government facility, like the convention center.  Most of the cost of the stadium -- visitor amenities, locker rooms, sliding roof, sliding grass floor, seats, etc -- are for football only.  More about why I hate the public funding of stadiums here.

Oops, I Missed Myself In Print

One of the modern world's newest guilty pleasures is Googling yourself.  One of the unsung virtues of blogging is that it tends to help you dominate the Google rankings for, uh, yourself.  Anyway, I Googled myself tonight (Everybody does it.  Really.) and found that I missed a mention entirely in Business Week online, in this article about "blooks", the cutesie name for making a book out of blog content.  My logic for doing so is in the last section.  I will save you the click:

Another benefit of publishing blooks on paper? Archiving. Warren Meyer,
of Paradise Valley, Ariz., first printed out the two volumes -- 400
pages each -- of his blog entries last November as a Christmas gift for
his dad, who is 83.

"He refuses to do anything online," says Meyer, who has been blogging for more than two years. Meyer
has also kept a copy of his blook, based on Coyoteblog.com, discussing
environmental problems, for himself: "Everything I've ever written is
online," he says. "I wanted to archive my writing, and I don't trust
that electronic media is a good archiving tool, because standards and
technology change so much." While few people now use floppy disks,
paper is here to stay.

I have tried to explain this to younger folks without much success.  But for those of you who have used computers for a while, where are your old Compuserve emails?  How about those old files from your Apple II?  Does your current computer have a 5-1/4" floppy drive?  Beware keeping data only in digital form.  It may still be there in 20 years, but will you be able to read it?

Update: Forgot the link.  Added it.

Distracted by My Novel

Blogging has been light, as I have been working on the publication of my new novel called "BMOC".  We're a number of weeks from getting it through Ingram and onto Amazon, etc. but it is available today at my Lulu storefront.  If you order the printed version from Lulu, be careful!  The Lulu UPS shipping options are really overpriced.  Only the regular US mail delivery is a very good deal.  For those of you who have the version with the old purple cover, this is an updated version.

Bmocfrontcover300

Once it gets some broader distribution, I'll be running a special event on this site.  Details later.

Update: Web site for BMOC book by Warren Meyer

NCAA Pool Update

Congratulations to Gene Wright, who has a strong lead in the pool with 151 points.  Michael Gunter is in second with 143, and Bob Houk in third at 138.  For those playing, make sure to check out this page, which takes all the various possible combinations of future wins and losses in the tournament and calculates probability of winning.  This analysis gives Gene a 60.9% chance of winning it all, followed by Bob at 23.4% and Michael at 12.5%.  Don't worry, your faithful author Warren Meyer, despite being at 21st right now, is just lurking to give everyone a false sense of confidence.  I have a 3.1% chance of victory which depends on Texas taking it all.  Hook 'em horns!