Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Amazon Comes to My Neighborhood (Sorta)

I have wisely refrained from commenting on Amazon’s decision to move one of its new headquarters across the river from me. You see, if you look out my office window, you have a direct view of the East River and on its eastern shore you can see the block of new apartment buildings in Long Island City. You can also see the Citi tower, the one that Amazon is going to take over.

So, I feel directly involved in the decision. And, I confess, I was pleased to see that New York City had attracted a major business. Whereas the city had recently been a function of the financial services industry-- if Wall Street catches cold New York City gets pneumonia-- the arrivals of tech titans like Google in Chelsea and now Amazon in Queens make one more optimistic about the city’s future.

Besides, if notable imbecile and newly elected Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (i.e. Occasional-Cortex) opposes the move, it must have some redeeming value.

But, then again, many conservative writers have expressed outrage that the city and state would have had to bribe Amazon to relocate to Long Island City.

Of course, tax abatements are not exactly my bailiwick, so I have had to rely on other people. And yet, nearly all the commentators on this matter are self-interested, so we step gingerly into the unknown.

New York Magazine explains the deal:

The numbers are big. Amazon plans to spend $3.7 billion to build 4 to 8 million square feet of office space — the equivalent of One World Trade Center two or three times over — for 25,000 workers in ten years, and possibly another 15,000 in the following five years. The state will kick in up to $505 million toward construction and forgo $1.2 billion in taxes. The city is ponying up another $1.3 billion in incentives, mostly in the form of tax breaks that apply to any company (not just Amazon) that moves jobs into the five boroughs.

What’s in it for New York? New York Magazine explains:

Cuomo and de Blasio rely on a report they commissioned, which claims Amazon’s presence will pump $186 billion into the state economy over the next 25 years, generating $13.5 billion in new city taxes and slightly more for the state. It’s hard to know whether business in the city would have grown by that much anyway, without the need for $3 billion worth of giveaways

The magazine adds the obvious point, so obvious that it was overlooked by Occasional-Cortex: without the new business generated by Amazon, the city will not have the money to invest in New York’s failing subway system et al:

Cuomo and de Blasio rely on a report they commissioned, which claims Amazon’s presence will pump $186 billion into the state economy over the next 25 years, generating $13.5 billion in new city taxes and slightly more for the state. It’s hard to know whether business in the city would have grown by that much anyway, without the need for $3 billion worth of giveaways.

Governor Cuomo, for instance, denounced the news organizations who denounced his tax giveaway. As he explained, via the New York Post, these same organizations have also been granted tax incentives to stay in the city:

He [Cuomo] said The Post argues “we should lower taxes for all businesses rather than just provide incentives. Their theory is that if taxes were reduced, you wouldn’t need to incentivize any company to come to this state because taxes would be irrelevant in their economic calculus.”

He said that’s “unrealistic and impossible” because “unless all states had the same tax rate, there would always be economic incentives to move to one state or the other.”
He then took aim at the Times.

“The New York Times is also being totally hypocritical. . . .The New York Times itself makes the same economic decisions and has also received significant tax benefits from New York State and New York City in making decisions on their locations,” Cuomo said.

“In fact, when the Times announced in 2001 that it would move into a new building in Times Square, it received tens of millions in tax breaks from New York City. What’s more, the Times asked the State to use its powers to override city zoning processes over local opposition—the same powers now being criticized for their use in the Amazon deal.”

He noted that CNN, which also rapped the transaction, has “also been the recipient of significant public subsidies receiving over $1 billion in state tax credits.”

Among the more difficult questions for New Yorkers is this: Amazon is surely not going to be hiring members of New York City’s underclass. For whatever reason, these people will not be able to compete for the high tech jobs that Amazon will bring. Keep in mind, the Amazon jobs that involve factory and warehouse work are located in places like Kentucky, not New York City. This suggests that the process of gentrification will continue and that Amazon will be a primary gentrifier. Surely, the same is true of Google. New York City is likely to become even more divided between the rich and the rest.

And yet, Amazon will now need to deal with New York’s political class, which increasingly represents the underclass. Those politicians are fanatical about their devotion to diversity… which might mean that Amazon will be funding a new school or two. It is unlikely that the company will start hiring underqualified people in the name of diversity.

Then again, Joel Kotkin, who worked for mid-western cities in the Amazon derby, has pointed out some of the problems that Amazon is going to face, It begins with the brain drain and moves on to the exorbitant price of housing:

As for the “talent” already in New York, millennials and others have in fact been leaving the city at a faster clip in recent years as costs have soared. Many industries, notably finance, are moving jobs to less expensive locales. Last year Brooklyn, the epicenter of the urban gentrification, lost population, as young people look for more affordable places to live and older ones flee cold weather and high taxes. Due in large part to foreign investment and continued strong immigration, New York already has among the most exorbitant housing prices in the country and after Amazon’s announcement speculators—the prototypical New York opportunists—immediately focused on the Queens neighborhood the tech giant plans to occupy and where rents and housing prices are sure to shoot up.

Of course, Amazon will attract talent, all by itself. As for real estate, the Republican tax bill has already damaged the real estate market. With the exception of Long Island City and perhaps Chelsea, prices are down across the board.

Kotkin throws some shade on the deal, for Amazon, that is:

New York City, like cities across the country, is becoming more aware of the forces diminishing its middle class and stripping opportunity from the poor. Amazon is likely to make life for the average New Yorker worse before it even begins to get better, and New Yorkers just might return the favor.

The Case of the Nagging Girlfriend

I don’t want to go all Captain Obvious on you, but the woman who writes to therapist Lori Gottlieb  has failed to provide us with the relevant information about her long distance relationship. She sees her problem in terms of an emotional disconnect… and the fact that her boyfriend is insufficiently emotional-- i.e., he’s not a girl-- and fails to see her own responsibility.

Gottlieb skillfully turns the question back on the letter writer; considering how rare it is that a therapist will call out a woman on her constant whining, it merits our praise.

In the most obvious sense, this woman and her boyfriend are separated. We know that she is in Madison, WI. We do not know where he is. We do not know how the separation was negotiated, whether one wanted it and the other did not. We do not know when and where they ever see each other. And we do not know whether either one of them has been tempted to stray. After all, to be even more obvious, they are not married. They have not made a formal commitment. Thus, they are free to explore. Is there any sense that the one or the other is doing so? Considering how much of a whiner the woman is, considering how much she nags her boyfriend, you might be thinking that he would be justified in looking around for other opportunities. It’s very easy to cheat when you are separated by a great distance.

OK, it’s not that easy. One member of the couple can pick up an emotional disconnect, even over Skype. One member of the couple can sense the importance of a third person by the way his or her beloved talks.

About these relevant questions, the Anonymous letter writer has nothing to say. This tells us that she is avoiding basic issues. It tells us that she is escaping into an emotional soup in order ignore the reality of her situation.

Anyway, Anonymous writes:

I'm in a loving, long-distance relationship with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for three years, and long-distance for one. We’re both graduate students, and, for the most part, I think we have a healthy, caring, and respectful relationship. But over the three years we’ve been together, the same issue has come up consistently: I am an expressive and emotional person who loves affection and attention, and while he will tell me he loves me freely, he is a reserved person who is just not wired to be very demonstrative.

I do my best to be understanding of this and I pay attention to the little things—he’s the most reliable person I know, and takes care of me in many quiet ways. But sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, and I become resentful because it feels like I am putting more effort into our relationship than he is, even though I appreciate that he is trying.
We’ve moved past this issue a number of times, and each time we make some progress, but the fight continues to recur. I want to be a good partner to him, and set reasonable expectations given the human being he is, but I also don’t want to live my life always wishing my partner was just a little more romantic.

Recently, I’ve also been dealing with feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression and have been reaching out to him for support. He’s worried, and tells me he wants to help but doesn’t know how. It does mean a lot to know he wants to help, but I want him to figure out how best to support me—both because I would love if he were more solicitous and because it would reduce his stress as a partner to someone in need.

How do we address this issue in a positive, active way? Do you have specific advice you could give him on being a supportive partner to somebody in an emotional crisis?

In the most literal sense he is not there for her. But, of course, she is not there for him. They are separated by a great distance. Again, we do not know whose idea this was, but this couple cannot really synchronize their everyday lives and cannot develop couples routines. Many couples have overcome such obstacles, but it is more difficult to do so when they have no formal commitment.

Happily, Gottlieb picks up on the absurd remark in the last sentence. Anonymous is asking a therapist to offer advice... for the boyfriend. Not for herself. 

Anyway, Gottlieb calls her out, for her unrealistic expectations and for the way her anxiety is pushing her to try to remake her boyfriend, to make him into something that he is not. Again, Anonymous is missing the point. It’s not about who he is, but about where he is. Gottlieb is too tactful to say so, but Anonymous wants her boyfriend to be more like a girl.

Gottlieb tells her that she is the problem and that she is the one needing advice:

The problem is that you don’t think that your boyfriend demonstrates his love for you in a way that you imagine would feel more satisfying. Your response is to try to get him to perform certain behaviors that conform to your ideas about romance; in doing so, you set up him up for failure and yourself up for disappointment. Even though you’ve been through several rounds of this, you continue to focus on changing him, and that leaves you feeling more lonely, depressed, and anxious.

Besides, Gottlieb continues, the boyfriend seems to be a good boyfriend, as boyfriends go. He might not be quite as emotionally labile as Anonymous would like, but he has done nothing wrong…  yet.

Of course you want your boyfriend’s love and support, but what I think you can’t see right now is that he’s giving you both: He’s checking in on you, sharing his concern, and asking you what he can do to help. Beyond that, there’s not much he can do, no matter how strong his love for you, because we can’t create inner peace for the people we love the most (something that’s true not just for our partners, but also largely for our children). Your boyfriend doesn’t have the answers to your emotional struggles—nor is he the answer to them. He can be there for you, but he can’t fix your insides for you.

She continues, astutely:

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to try to become a person you’re not, which is essentially what you’re asking of him.

We are grateful that Gottlieb does not use the shopworn expression “control issues” but clearly, the woman’s imperious demands and her effort to make him into something he’s not… these have put him into a bind. If he does what she wants, she will lose respect for him. If he doesn’t, she will continue to complain… and thus drive him away.

It’s hard to be romantic on command. It’s hard to be demonstrative when you’re walking on eggshells, wondering every time if your efforts will be met with approval or criticism. It’s hard to love someone who can’t always take it in. In these ways, he’s expending a tremendous amount of energy. And despite how hard that is, he’s still choosing to be with you because he sees something wonderful in you. Some might call that romantic.

Gottlieb’s advice: stop complaining, stop trying to make him over… or you will surely lose him. That is, if you already haven’t.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Blown by the Wind

What the world needs now is… renewable energy. So goes the leftist mantra. One suspects that good leftists are merely idolators, worshipping at the altar of the Nature Goddess. One also suspects that said leftists want to repeal the Industrial Revolution and to bring down advanced industrial capitalism.

One way to achieve that goal is to introduce economic inefficiencies… thus, to waste money on boondoggles. Especially on energy boondoggles. And to rationalize it on the grounds that it's more virtuous.

Consider this information, reported in a Wall Street Journal editorial this morning. It comes to us from now-blue Virginia, where the Democrat governor has promoted a plan to allow the state’s largest utility to produce wind turbines off the state’s coast. These two massive turbines will produce enough power to light 3,000 homes. Does anyone believe that the greatest users of electricity are private homes?

Anyway, the Journal reports:

Dominion Energy ,Virginia’s biggest utility, plans to spend $300 million to build the two turbines 27 miles off the coast. Together they will produce 12 megawatts of power, enough for 3,000 homes. This first pair of turbines is a “demonstration project” to let Dominion gather data and experience. Then, as soon as 2024, it could begin dotting the adjacent waters with hundreds more, enough to generate 2,000 megawatts and light 500,000 homes.

The fun fact here is very simple. It’s so easy to understand that even I understand it. It’s the cost. How much does it cost for the turbines to produce energy. And how does that cost compare to the cost of producing energy otherwise.

The two turbines will generate electricity at 78 cents a kilowatt-hour—compared with 9.4 cents for new onshore wind, 5.6 cents for new solar, and around three cents for energy bought on the open market.

One suspects that energy bought on the open market is produced either by coal or by nuclear. Still, the turbine-produced energy will cost 16 time what it costs to buy energy on the open market. Note that onshore wind costs more than 3 times what it costs to buy energy in the open market.

It’s an astonishing waste of resources. If you wanted to undermine economic efficiency you could not do better than offshore wind turbines.

The Transgender Lobby

If this story doesn’t ruin your day,  you have neither a heart nor a soul. If you are not horrified by this story from Once-Great Britain, your mind has been put permanently to sleep. And your judgment has been completely compromised.

It’s about what is gingerly called the transgender lobby. More precisely it’s about a group that was supposed protecting the rights of the trangendered, now working hard to produce more transgenderism. This lobby forbids you to suggest that a boy who thinks he is a girl is not really a girl. But then, it recruits vulnerable young people, especially gays, and persuades them to declare themselves to be transgendered.

Since all science tells us that there is no biological basis for transgenderism, the truth is that the condition is a belief. It’s more mental than physiological. But since it’s possible to manipulate and brainwash a vulnerable mind, it’s also possible to produce more transgenderism.

Now, a story from Once-Great Britain tells us that a large number of children at a British school are changing their gender. Most of them are autistic.

Put that in your pipe and puff on it. Attacking vulnerable autistic children, persuading them to become transgendered… it’s the transgender lobby at work. If you are not appalled....

The Daily Mail has the story:

An astonishing 17 pupils at a single British school are in the process of changing gender, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Most of the youngsters undergoing the transformation are autistic, according to a teacher there, who said vulnerable children with mental health problems were being ‘tricked’ into believing they are the wrong sex.

The whistleblower says few of the transgender children are suffering from gender dysphoria – the medical term for someone who feels they were born in the wrong body – but are just easily influenced, latching on to the mistaken belief they are the wrong sex as a way of coping with the problems caused by autism.

Earlier this year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a third of youngsters referred to the NHS’s only gender identity clinic for children showed ‘moderate to severe autistic traits’.

It means that 150 autistic teenagers were given puberty blocker drugs which stop the body maturing.

The teacher says she felt compelled to speak out to protect pupils, many of whom she believes could already be taking the powerful drugs and may go on to have life-changing surgery.

She believes schools and some politicians have swallowed ‘hook, line and sinker’ a politically-correct ‘fallacy’ peddled by a powerful transgender lobby.

Puberty blocking drugs mutilate a normal human body. The Once-Great Brits must be proud. As should the Americans who are supporting this madness.

The Daily Mail describes the “grooming” process. Note that clinicians who specialize in mutilating children are not supposed to tell parents:

She was advised to keep parents and other teachers in the dark if a pupil claimed to be transgender;

Older pupils at her school who changed gender ‘groomed’ younger, mainly autistic students to do the same;

One autistic teenager is soon to have a double mastectomy;

Pupils who say they were born the wrong sex mimic transgender YouTube stars Carol believes are partly to blame for convincing vulnerable children they have gender dysphoria.

‘Parents are not told about this and there is no way of challenging these pupils who are convinced by others that they have a problem they almost certainly do not have.

Tragically the end result could be irreversible surgical procedures. This is scandalous.’
The teacher, who has her own child, also believes many of those who say they are the wrong sex are simply gay but would face bullying if they were to ‘come out’. By contrast, she says, transgender children at the school are idolised by other pupils.

She has also raised concerns that many teachers are now too scared to challenge students’ claims they are transgender because they fear being sacked or sued for being transphobic.

Amazingly, students who become transgendered are treated as heroes and heroines in their school. Transgender now has cachet; it has prestige. The children become popular:

Over the next four years, the 17 pupils who have ‘come out’ as transgender have become powerful within the school, Carol says.

They wear identical clothing and hairstyles and often adopt the names of transgender YouTube stars. She has also witnessed first-hand how older pupils have persuaded younger ones with autism that they, too, were born the wrong sex – a process she has likens to ‘grooming’.

‘They are just young people with mental health problems who have found an identity and want to be part of a group of like-minded people,’ she said.

And also:

She said what was most worrying is some of them could be taking strong ‘puberty blocker’ drugs that interrupt physical development.

They do this without the knowledge of their parents and without medical supervision, even though the chemicals ‘could give them serious health problems later in life’.
The school, the location of which Carol has asked to keep secret, has 17 pupils who claim they are transgender.

The majority are girls who claim to be ‘non-binary’ or ‘identify’ as boys and a small number of boys who identify as girls. She says they are often bright students who are likeable and popular.

Other girls flock to them as if they are teen idols and some go on dates with them.

In truth, as noted on this blog, many transgendered children are really gay. Transgenderism is the new homophobia:

Carol believes that many of the girls who come out as transgender are, in fact, lesbian. They date other girls who are both trans and non-trans, she reveals.

‘From talking to these girls, the thought of being a heterosexual female is terrifying for them, but being known as a lesbian is also unpalatable, so they become transgender.

I think as lesbians they would face more bullying but as transgender children they almost become popular.’

The attraction, she says, is that by becoming trans these socially awkward children who have struggled to find acceptance suddenly see their popularity rocket.

‘They have girls flocking around them like handmaidens because they look like pretty little boys,’ she says.

‘They mirror teenage fantasies, resembling popstars like Justin Bieber. These trans kids actually become quite powerful in the school.’

Camille Paglia once called it a sign of cultural collapse. The Once-Great Brits are going out of their way to prove her right.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Is It Good to Forget?

Forgetfulness is a blessing. So say two Swedish researchers, Hilde and Ylva Ostby. They want people to understand that momentary bouts of forgetfulness are normal. The human brain cannot function effectively if it remembers everything that has ever happened.

And yet, the psycho world has long since pretended that recalling forgotten traumas is therapeutic. In fact, Freud recommended in his first work that hysterics become hysterical because they have forgotten childhood sexual traumas. He argued that remembering them would heal the wounds. It did not work, but people do still believe it.

The Ostby sisters direct their arguments against those who imagine that the failure to remember a name, the failure to recall a specific detail years after the event...is a sign of pending dementia. The Times of London reports:

When a name, face, appointment or memory escapes us, it causes embarrassment, frustration, even fear. Particularly in middle age and beyond, we worry that it’s the first sign of mental decline. But according to a new book, the good news is that these lapses are completely normal. In fact, they are often a sign that our brain is in perfect working order, says the clinical neuropsychologist Ylva Østby, who with her sister, the novelist Hilde Østby, has written Adventures in Memory — the Science and Secrets of Remembering and Forgetting. It’s not just good to forget, it’s essential.

Modern life and mobile phones mean that we are exposed to a barrage of information throughout the day. Not only is it normal for our brain to discard most of it, it’s also desirable. If it didn’t, our system would be overloaded. “A lot of forgetting occurs very soon after an experience,” says Ylva. “This is a good thing, because we don’t need to hang on to all that information. The brain is tidying up and working functionally.”

The researchers suggest that it’s normal to forget the names of people we have just met. One suspects that it depends on how important the person is. If the person is a business associate or a neighbor, we are likely to recall the name.

You’re introduced to someone and a second later, you’ve forgotten their name. It’s mortifying, and makes you feel stupid, but it shouldn’t. Your brain has merely focused on the more vital aspects of this social interaction. “It’s so common,” Ylva says. “We meet someone for the first time and forget their name shortly afterwards. But we’re actually using our working memory, which only has space for a limited amount of information.”

Our working memory keeps hold of information for only a few seconds, or for as long as we keep thinking of it. “When we meet another person, we’re filling up our working memory with a lot of other information,” Ylva says. “How we might appear to them, what we’re going to say next, who this person is in terms of personality, which is more important than a name, which is a random label. That’s what the brain clings to.” She adds: “It should be OK to ask their name again. It shows you take an interest.”

Without having further knowledge, I would suggest that it’s more important to remember a person’s name than to have a sense of his personality. People are more impressed when you remember their name than when you recall that they have a bubbly personality. I would also add that we have less interest in knowing a personality than we do in knowing their character. Knowing whether they are trustworthy is more important than knowing whether they are gregarious.

As for improving our memory, the researchers suggest that we should worry less and sleep more.

To help this process, there are certain things to avoid. “Worrying is one of the enemies of memory. We fill up our working memory with stressful thoughts,” Ylva says. Poor sleep especially has a negative effect. “A lot of memory consolidation goes on while we sleep. Memories are being laid down, rearranged and put into the right place. Lack of sleep can cause memory problems; you might remember events from the day, but the memories are not properly consolidated.”

We are inclined to remember what matters… and that might mean traumatic experiences. It does make sense that we recall threats and dangers, the better to recognize the early warning signs. Note again, that the Freudian theory whereby we repress traumas by forgetting them seems to run directly counter to the new notion:

If it saddens you that much of early parenthood is a blur except for moments such as a terrifying visit to A&E, your memory is doing its job. “Your brain doesn’t care whether you remember your child’s first steps,” says Ylva. “That’s not the important stuff — it doesn’t always have the same priorities as we as nostalgic people. Its priority is to learn the socially important information about their childhood. Who they are, their likes and dislikes.”

We do not, they continue, remember the specifics of each day’s ride to work. We do generalize the experience and create in our minds something like a stereotypical trip. As noted in a previous post, the human mind does not engage in inefficiencies like judging each individual as a unique individual:

Mundane activities are merged by the brain to save storage space. We don’t remember every individual journey to work because that would be pointless, but we know what it’s typically like — thanks to cumulative memory.

The next point is vitally important. The mind is not geared to recall the past. It functions best when it plans for the future. This also suggests, to me at least, that we do well to recall past successes too. Remembering when things went right will help us to make plans that are more likely to succeed.

You will note that psycho professionals want us to recall bad past experiences and to become mired in our childhood, the better to explain today’s derelictions. They do not seem to realize that recalling only traumas produces depression, a sense that failure is inevitable:

Memory is not a commemorative faculty. Its essential role is to guide us and help us to plan. For this, it works with our imagination. Ylva says, “By using pieces of information from the past, we can construct vivid simulations of the future. This and this happened then, so we can expect similar.” It gives us a way of exploring the emotional outcome of decisions we make. “If I say that to him, how will he respond? How will I feel?”

Simulating future outcomes sounds like policy analysis. We use past experience to guide us toward better decisions about what we should or should not do in the future. This does require some imagination… imagining and evaluating the potential responses to this or that action. It is also true that we make use of our knowledge of the experiences of other people. We study history and we study other cases. We should not give the impression... however inadvertent... that we rely only on memories of our own experiences.

Here's One for the Closeted Sadists

I must have higher standards than the New York Times, but I will refrain from regaling you with graphic descriptions of the horrors that male prisoners visit on female prison guards. The Times has no such compunctions and no such standards of journalistic propriety.

One suspects that the Times was going for the porn effect. One also suspects that Times editors imagined that the world would be outraged at the bad treatment male prisoners in federal prisons visit on female guards. And that this would ramp up their lust for social justice.

And yet, the overwhelming reaction to the flashy expose was noted by several commentators on the Times site. Whoever had the idea to assign female prison guards to male prisons? Can you get any more stupid? (OK, don't answer that?) Does the ideologically driven left really believe that gender is just another social construction, and thus, that gender does not matter? Did they believe that it makes no difference to inmates-- the worst of the worst, the most brutal, degenerate, immoral beasts-- that their female prison guards are not wearing enticing dresses?

It is the height of human ignorance and human arrogance to pretend that male prisoners would naturally show proper deference and respect to female guards. Or perhaps the brilliant bureaucrats who conjured up this policy were closet sadists who liked to hear stories of women being harassed and raped. Or perhaps Times readers needed to get in touch with their inner sadists. Does the Times suspect that such stories will appeal to their readers?

One hopes that the Times is not promoting the story as further evidence of toxic masculinity. One also hopes that they do not believe that these men just need more sensitivity training.

Anyway, in the absence of detail, here is a quick plot summary. Read the rest at your peril:

For women who work in federal prisons, where they are vastly outnumbered by male colleagues and male inmates, concealing every trace of their femininity is both necessary and, ultimately, futile. “They never even see what you are wearing,” said Octavia Brown, a supervisor in Victorville, Calif., of the inmates she oversees. “They see straight through it.”

Some inmates do not stop at stares. They also grope, threaten and expose themselves. But what is worse, according to testimony, court documents, and interviews with female prison workers, male colleagues can and do encourage such behavior, undermining the authority of female officers and jeopardizing their safety. Other male employees join in the harassment themselves.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Global Big Chill

Two days ago snow fell in New York City. Mid-November snow is rare indeed. So rare that the city was unprepared. Politicians were running around covering their butts… trying to explain why a mere 6 inches of snow had nearly brought transportation to a halt.

On a good day public transportation in New York is dysfunctional, a national embarrassment. Perhaps Amazon will come along to fix it, but that is probably a bit optimistic. Led by Comrade Bill de Blasio, city government is fundamentally incompetent.

And yet, hovering over the snowfall was a colossal irony. Climate change activists had been warning us, in typically Chicken Little fashion, that the earth was heating up, that it could only get warmer, that the oceans would rise to engulf all beach real estate, and the the polar bear population would be decimated. Not only that, but they were also telling us that we were at fault, that the climate and the goddess of Nature were punishing us for our excessive expulsion of greenhouse gases… or some such thing.

Settled science, then intoned, as though anyone who did not accept their dogmatic opinion about our own responsibility for the state of the climate should be expelled from polite society… and even jailed. Climate change denial was denounced as roughly akin to Holocaust denial. It was a guilt trip in steroids.

As it happens, the epicenter of climate change activism, California is burning up… as we speak. Villages and towns and cities are being erased by a fire the likes of which we have not seen since the Santa Rosa fires of last year. How does it happen that the most environmentally conscious state in the nation, a state that wants to lead the international fight against the climate, now sits under a cloud of toxic fumes. When San Francisco air is more polluted than the air in major cities in India and China, you know that something is wrong.

What, I do not venture to guess. It could all have been a mere accident, forest fire meets drought conditions. It could have had something to do with the failure of state authorities to manage their forests, especially the underbrush. It could have had something to do with water management.

One man’s pristine purity of nature is another man’s kindling. There will certainly be a lot of blame to be spread around. And yet, as stewards of the environment, California’s “woke” leaders, beginning with Governor moonbeam himself, have obviously not been doing a very good job.

I will assume, without possessing any more information than you have, that they are not working hard to fix the problem and even to prevent it from ever happening again. I suspect that they are sitting around trying to blame it all on Donald Trump.

As though the fires had not sufficiently thrown the general hysteria about global warming into question, along comes a NASA scientist with word that… would you believe it… sunspots have a direct and decided influence on our climate. And that activity on the sun is going to make the world much, much colder. Yikes. Worse yet, it is difficult to blame them on Donald Trump.

We read this on the Metro site (via Maggie’s Farm):

Humanity is facing a long, cold winter which could see temperatures across the planet plunge to depressing lows.

That’s the warning from a Nasa scientist who fears sunspot activity on the surface of our star has dropped so low that it could herald the arrival of a uniquely grim mini Ice Age.

‘We see a cooling trend,’ Martin Mlynczak of Nasa’s Langley Research Center told Space Weather. ‘High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy.

‘If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold.’

Sunspot activity follows a cycle which is believed to last 11 years as the number of patches peaks and drops.

There have been very few spots on the sun for most of this year, meaning that it could be about to get very cold, very quickly. ‘It could happen in a matter of months,’ Mlynczak added.

You would think that this recognition of the influence of the sun on climate would cause our climate scientists to question their idea that human beings are at fault. Not so fast. The scientists are happy to inform you that the new ice age, which will apparently override the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, will give us time to get our houses in order, to reduce carbon emissions and to save the planet.

Or else, to become more like California.