Author Archives: bleikind

About bleikind

I'm a physicist and an amateur student of economics, history, and current affairs. I am teaching a physics course for non-majors at the University of Tampa. I live in Tampa with my darling wife.

Global Warming XVIII – It’s Mighty Hot Up Here!

My young and thoughtful correspondent, my darling Linnea, Wayne, and readers,

My correspondent noted that it is hotter in upstate New York than in Tampa. I feel a climate change and global warming essay coming.

Weather ReportWeather Report 2

Here you have it: Saratoga Springs is hot, hot, hot; hotter than Tampa.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change



Here’s my opinion about this civility issue.

Civility has rarely if ever been part of our political debate. Although Trump is unusually boorish and uncouth, 19th century political debates, or Jim Crow era debates about racism and immigration, or old War era mudslinging were terrible.

Civility in society at large is another related matter, and concerns how we, social beings, get along together. Of course, in the US we have problems with who the “we” is to whom we are supposed to be civil. Until the 1960s blacks were not included in the civil society’s “we” for example. Our treatment of native Americans was never civil.

Since the 1960s, racism, bigotry, and xenophobia have gradually become unsuitable for polite society. “We” has been expanded to include blacks and others. The racists, bigots, and white nationalists didn’t change their minds about blacks, gays, or foreigners, they learned to keep their thoughts to themselves. But they resented having to do so.

People who complain about political correctness are unhappy because if they say what they really think, people will shun them. They believe that their views about blacks, Hispanics, gays, and foreigners are sensible, reasoned, and based upon the evidence. They resent that they can’t go around making disparaging remarks about blacks or gays.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Trump and the North Koreans: A lesson in profound ignorance


I’m a physicist, not a diplomat. I’m an amateur student of current affairs and of history.

Physicists have circulated in the halls of power since creating nuclear weapons during WW II, and worked with military people, statesmen, and political leaders to deal with the catastrophic consequences of the detonation of even one nuclear weapon on a nation’s territory and people. These catastrophic consequences must be borne no matter the outcome of any subsequent international struggle.

The Trump administration, like all previous US governments, is concerned with the armed truce dividing North and South Korea, and the often bizarre and threatening behavior of the northern governments.

To understand present circumstances in Korea and with the United States, its allies, and Korea’s neighbors, and to understand what Donald Trump is doing and thinking, I have found a reliable starting point with the proposition that Donald Trump is profoundly ignorant, a malignant narcissist, and a Mafia-style bully. Indeed, Trump is worse than profoundly ignorant. He strongly believes falsehoods, including that he is smarter than others, and that he is knowledgeable. He is delusional. All these traits appear in today’s situation.

All Koreans agree that they are one nation, now divided, and that they should have but one state. Their division dates to the end of WW II. Japan had ruled Korea for 50 years as a harsh colonial master, and their army in Korea collapsed in the face of a massive, violent attack by the Soviet Red Army. By agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, their forces occupied southern and northern regions. Eventually Korean governments arose in each of these regions and then fell into conflict during the Korean War. The armed invasion by the North Korean army nearly won with their initial attack that pushed the South’s army and US forces to a small pocket on the southern coast. The United States, working through the United Nations, organized the defense of the South, and eventually pushed the Northern army backward past its starting point all the way to the Yalu River, Korea’s border with China. Then the Chinese army counterattacked the UN forces with a massive invasion of Korea and pushed the UN forces back to the original boundary between the Koreas. This led to an armistice, a stand-in-place by the armies, creation of a demilitarized zone, and 70 years of tense armed hostility.

The US does not recognize the North Korean government, and they have no ambassador to the United States either. Talks, such as they are, occur at the demilitarized zone between military people, or in New York city between US diplomats and North Korea’s UN people. Over the 70 years of tension, no US president has ever talked directly, by phone or in person, with any North Korean leader. All previous US governments have taken the point of view that the two Koreas must negotiate a peace, and when we have participated in talks we have worked hard to include the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Russians. Originally, I might add, the Communist nations sat on one side of the table, and we and our allies sat on the other. In recent decades after the fall of the Soviet Union and the economic transformation of China, North Korea’s behavior has been weird enough, that everyone sits on our side of the table facing them, or at least on the left or right side.

The North Koreans, on the other hand, profess to believe that the US, their main military antagonist during the Korean War, is still a great threat to them. They wish to talk to us, face to face, without bothering with the US lackeys who rule South Korea. Thus, when Donald Trump tweeted his agreement to meet with Kim Jung-Un, without bothering to discuss the matter with his professional diplomats and military people, he conceded to the North Koreans a major point without receiving anything in return.

There are reasons why normal, non-delusional, world leaders make sure that there are lengthy preparations for any meeting between them, particularly between adversaries. In diplomacy, summit meetings are carefully scripted. Each leader knows what he or she will say and has a good idea about what the other leader will say. This is not at all like negotiations between a couple of real estate or golf course moguls. If one of the Wall Street Masters of the Universe wants to demand that the other guy paint the lobby of his hotel blue or the deal is off, well no problem. That’s not the way it works when the survivals of nations is at stake.

Trump is notoriously unwilling to follow a script. He is unable or unwilling to develop a plan and strategy with knowledgeable people, since he believes that he already knows more than they, on any subject. He is unwilling to prepare for this same reason. This Time magazine report says that Trump believes he is ready for the talks and doesn’t plan to spend much time, if any, in further preparation. Here’s the headline of that story: “President Trump ‘Doesn’t Think He Needs’ to Prepare Much for His Meeting With North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.”

I’ll just say that these traits and his inability to distinguish facts from falsehoods are the reasons why his lawyers are so concerned about an interview with Mueller’s investigators.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Climate Change XVIII – Reply to a comment


Our climate change and global warming correspondent, Greg Tomlinson, posted a comment about my post Climate Change XVI. I moved it here to be easily available to our readers and posted my reply below.


Greg Tomlinson

February 14, 2018 at 7:13 am Edit

At this point, I no longer argue about whether the earth is warming or cooling. As I have mentioned previously, I believe that the integrity of much of the temperature data has been severely compromised by numerous “corrections” or “adjustments”. Also, stories about the declining polar bear population and shrinking Antartica ice shelves are simply fiction. On top of that, there is the problem of much of the AGW community (especially the folks at SkepticalScience) tending to attribute every severe weather event to global warming even though meteorologists generally tend to associate such events with cooling. Severe weather usually occurs when a cold front collides with warm moist air. Finally, there is the issue that many of those living in the lower 48 states are not seeing warming, but instead are getting longer colder winters. Of course, none of this would be convincing evidence at all to the AGW community, and I simply don’t have time nor energy to sort out fact and fiction among their thousands of claims, and as a “non-expert”, they wouldn’t take me seriously anyway.

There is one aspect of this global warming/cooling, however, that I still stand firmly behind. Whether the earth is warming, cooling, or neither, and that is that humans cannot possibly be causing it. The “control knob” theory of carbon dioxide is easily refuted by anyone with a home weather station. If the station reports any relative humidity less than 100 percent, then the control knob effect is disproven. Remember that for carbon dioxide to be the control of the radiative forcing feedback loop, the concentration of water vapor (the stronger GHG) must be dependent on temperature only. But the only way that can happen is if the water vapor concentration is fixed to its saturation value at all points in the atmosphere. If the H2O vapor concentration would ever drop below this value at any location, then by definition of saturtion, more H2O vapor could be added to the air without raising its temperature, thereby contradicting the requirement that the water vapor concentration must depend on temperature only. Since humans would need this non-existant “control knob” to significantly affect temperature, there is no way they can cause any reported warming (or cooling).

BTW, there are other other bazaar, anti-intuitive results that can be drawn from this CO2 control knob, including the “frozen” world prediction if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere at the time the earth was formed.


Mr. Tomlinson,

Glad to hear from you again, and pleased that you “no longer argue about whether the earth is warming or cooling.” Informed people know that the Earth is warming because of human use of fossil fuels. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change

Global Warming XVII: “… it was getting too cold all over the place.”


In the week of this year’s Davos conference of world poobah’s and muckety-mucks, Donald Trump spoke to journalist Piers Morgan. There was so much ignorance on display that most commentators neglected to mention this disgraceful exchange: (I copied this extract from a transcript here.)

PM: Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe it exists?

DT: There is a cooling and there is a heating and I mean, look – it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. Right?

PM: Right.

DT: That wasn’t working too well, because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so OK, they’re at a record level. There were so many thing happening, Piers. I’ll tell you what I believe in. I believe in clear air. I believe in crystal clear beautiful water. I believe in just having good cleanliness in all. Now, that being said, if somebody said go back into the Paris Accord, if we could go back into the Paris Accord, it would have to be a completely different deal because we had a horrible deal, As usual, they took advantage of the United States. We were in a terrible deal. Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel… No, no, I like Emmanuel, I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States.

I think that Trump is trying to repeat the climate change deniers’ truism, that the climate is always changing, getting warmer or cooler. Thus, why concern ourselves about the warming that may, or may not, be occurring now?

But what does he mean by “…it was getting too cold all over the place.” I’m sure that he is referring to his December tweets about the bitter cold Eastern weather, calling for “… some of that global warming now.” He misunderstands, or more likely is ignorant about, climate scientists’ predictions for the fate of polar sea ice, in the Arctic and offshore in the Antarctic, and the ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. None of the experts claimed that the Arctic sea ice would be gone by now. They can’t say exactly but it looks to them as if it will be gone in a few decades. Even now the Northwest Passage north of Canada or across the Russian arctic opens each summer to commercial shipping without accompanying ice breakers.

Skipping over his “beliefs”, which apparently are being undermined without Trump’s knowledge by Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, Trump displays his ignorance of the terms of the Paris Climate Accords and the US commitments to the world as part of that deal. Those commitments are voluntary. Each nation volunteered what it would do to meet the world’s goals. In addition, the wealthy advanced nations each promised funds to help poorer and developing nations to achieve their goals while continuing to increase their nations’ wealth. If Trump thinks that the US made imprudent voluntary commitments, all he has to do is issue new ones. There is nothing to re-negotiate, and, indeed, the deal is not open to re-negotiation.

It happens to be the case that the Paris Climate Accords are an excellent deal for the United States, and for all the other nations of the world, each of which has signed on. Trump is turning the US into a rogue state.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change

“The Father of Lies”


The Pope has gotten into the business of denouncing fake news, and we can all applaud his effort. His example of the first fake news, however, has a problem.

The AP reported on the Pope’s annual social communications message (which I read about in the Tampa Bay Times, January 25, 2018). Pope: ‘Fake news’ is evil, journalists must search for truth .

Francis writes that the first fake news dates from the biblical beginning of time, which Eve was tempted to take an apple from the Garden of Eden based on disinformation from the serpent.

“The strategy of this skilled ‘Father of Lies’ is precisely mimicry; that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments,” Francis said of the snake.

The Pope is citing from the second creation account that begins with Genesis Chapter 2, verse 4, and continues into Chapter 3. In case you’ve forgotten your Sunday school lessons from 60 years ago, here are the relevant portions, which I take from the pew bible at my darling wife’s Presbyterian Church, the New Revised Standard Version:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall die.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Confederate Black Troops statue proposed


Responding to the charge that Confederate monuments, flag displays, public school names, streets names, and more are obviously racist because they only honor white Southern men, South Carolina legislators have proposed a monument to the (fictional) black Confederates. Of course, these legislators do not acknowledge that the people they propose to honor have no more reality than unicorns. The headline for another news account of this proposal says Newspaper review of records show no black armed Confederates.

Here are two more accounts, with details, from South Carolina news sources: This from Fox Carolina, Monument sought to recognize blacks who served Confederacy, from October, 2017. This from WIS, Channel 10, in Columbia, SC, 2 Upstate lawmakers call for monument honoring African-American Confederate soldiers at State House, also from October. This last one has illustrations:

African American soldiers in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)

African American soldiers in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Slavery