Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Got into a bit of a groove yesterday; did a couple returns, talked to a dozen or so people on the phone, another dozen or so walk-in's. Still nowhere near hitting the numbers that I'm supposed to be hitting, but I have a feeling that those were over-optimistic by a factor of five or six. For one thing, the little strip mall we're located in doesn't seem to have much traffic. Combine that with a new location in a state where there is only one other office about 100 miles away, and it's going to take a while to build up. The work itself is easy; the knowledge required to do the federal taxes is pretty minimal given that almost all of them are just a w-2. The killer is the state returns. It takes twice as long to deal with those as it takes to complete the federal return. Worse, because states out here are the size of counties, most people have to file multiple state returns. I'm sure once I do it a few dozen times, it won't be a big deal, but right now it's a bit of a pain.

It begins already. Less than a week into the massive rescue operation in Haiti, people are already bitchin' that we're not doing enough even as we do more than anyone else, and that we are using a natural disaster to build an empire. (Side note to Mr. Chavez: If we were going to build an empire, we would take over someplace that has something we want, not a place where people are reduced to eating dirt in an attempt to stay alive. Someplace that has... well... lets say oil. Like Venezuela, to pick a completely random example.) Some things will never change.

It is simple human nature to emphasis whatever confirms your beliefs while ignoring what doesn't. It's how the brain is wired. Millions of blogs (including this one) prove that every day. Scientists, including climatologists, are no different, which is why there are mechanisms in place to counter that affirmation bias. This is what makes the habit in climate circles of hiding raw data behind copyrights, claiming patent infringement when someone reveals a bug in your computer model, and threatening the livelihood of anyone who dares disagree so damaging. Leaving aside the question of whether there is warming or not, or whether it is man-made or natural. The unethical conduct of those at the center of the global warming apocalypse movement is bad not just for climate science, but all science, giving ammunition to the real nutters out there like the anti-vaxxers who do real damage in the form of dead children.

All that to say this: once again, the IPCC has been caught red-handed stating facts that in fact, are not. Mark Twain is rumored to have said that it's not what you don't know, it's what you know that ain't so. The IPCC knew that the Himalayan glaciers were going to disappear, all because one guy made an off-hand speculative comment on the phone. At yet anyone who expresses the least doubt about anything emanating from the IPCC is a denier worthy of death.

Speaking of bad science, here are a few points to ponder for those who believe that solar and wind power are completely benign and have no environmental impact whatsoever. There are no magic wands. Silver bullets are just an expensive substitute for lead ones. Utopia is not an option. I'm not sure how else to get the point across: If you like living the modern lifestyle; if you like having effortless clean water, flush toilets, safe, cheap and abundant food; if you've become attached to this internet thing; if you enjoy birthing your babies in a clean hospital assisted by knowledgeable people instead of pushing the little tyke out while squatting over a dirt floor; [insert rest of endless list here]. Guess what? They all depend on energy, and that energy has to come from somewhere, and no matter how you do it, there is going to be a cost paid by someone, somewhere, sometime. It's about trade-offs and compromises, not ideology.

And the Security Kabuki Theater continues at our airports. One confused old dude wanders through an unlocked door that leads into a high-security area, and one of the largest airports in the nation is thrown into chaos. Remind me again how this helps us win against the terrorists?

That's all for now; time to get ready for work.

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