Big Numbers

In light of our ‘fiscally responsible’ ‘onservative government shovelling money out the door for various infrastructure projects, the failure of McGinty’s ehealth ontario initiative, and of course the impending cornucopia of largess known as Obamacare being offered up in the USA, it is worth re-reading Guns, Fraud, and Big Numbers in Canada to remind ourselves of just how often our political masters screw up basic math:

 The following essay won the Letter of the Week award on 2004-02-24 at Mark Steyn’s web site, http://www.marksteyn.com . In honour thereof, Mr. Steyn graciously sent me a copy of his “The Face of the Tiger”, autographed: “Congratulations. A Great Letter.” ]

My Fellow Canadian ~

I once read an excellent Isaac Asimov non-fiction essay on really big numbers. Humans are in general really bad at understanding big numbers. Because of my math / science / engineering background, I’m maybe a bit better than average, but I’m no Asimov. I have though learned a few ways to help me better understand big numbers, so that I can better deal with them when I need to. This essay shows how some of those methods work.

The initial Government of Canada estimate for the gun registry database system was $1 million. Technically, I think that’s probably a bit low. Based on my on three decades of work in the field of distributed multi-user database transaction processing systems like the registry, and on some systems I’m currently working on which are of that type, I think $3 million would have been a better estimate.

If someone from the Government of Canada can provide me with a simple accounting showing some component of the system that I’ve missed, I’d be more than happy to adjust my analysis of the situation to take that data into account. My current analysis is based on the numbers I have collected from the public media over the last few years.

Given how important it is for state monopolies to serve citizens to the highest possible ethical standard, let’s throw in a factor of three-ish over my base estimate and call it $10 million, to be as careful as possible.

Now, say you had such a $10 million contract with some customers. And then, say you spent three times that: $30 million. Does it occur to you that your customers (in this case, we citizens) might be, oh, shall we say, somewhat angry? Ok, let’s say it’s another factor of three: $90 million. How are your customers doing now? Fine. Let’s throw in another factor of three, so we’re now up to $270 million. How angry are your customers now? In more primitive times than we live in, would you still be alive? But wait, there’s more. How much would we pay for another factor of three? Oh, about $810 million. Say, that’s interesting, the gun registry database system has, according to the CBC, cost $750 million.

It didn’t cost 3 times as much. Or 3 times 3 times as much. Or 3 times 3 times 3 times as much. It cost 3 times 3 times 3 times 3 times as much.
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it may be a failure, but swiss bank accounts will continue to grow

When your attempt at recreating the Congress of Vienna with a third-rate cast of extras turns into a shambles, when the data with which you have tried to terrify the world is daily exposed as ever more phoney, when the blatant greed and self-interest of the participants has become obvious to all beholders, when those pesky polar bears just keep increasing and multiplying – what do you do?

Hold a big environmental sleepover….

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And so it is over. All of the right thinking folks are terribly let down by PMSH – imagining perhaps that he had been elected to hand over a fantastic amount of our wealth to the keptocracies that characterise the developing world; all in an effort to obtain redemption of some sort for our imagined climate debt.  EU Referendum summarises nicely the gnashing of teeth and disappointment of the loony left, but quite rightly notes that it was always all about the money.    The National Post helpfully offers the coles notes version…..

Bottom line: They may be down, but they’re not out. Never underestimate the ability of the Rentier class to extract money from your wallet, all without benefit of democratic legitimacy natch…..

and in circus news, obama snags the big prize

Oct 12 2009:

-8.   Oops – that didn’t work at all…..

…today is the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Obama. The award seems to have had little impact on public opinion among likely voters.  His total approval was at 49% just before the award was announced and it is at 49% today.

There does seem to be a slight increase in intensity.  Since the prize was awarded, the number who Strongly Approve of the President’s performance has increased by three percentage points and the number who Strongly Disapprove has increased by five. The number with strong opinions on both sides is at the highest level in a month.

While the award has had little impact on the President’s ratings, skepticism about the Nobel selection process has grown. Fifty-eight percent (58%) now see politics in the process, up from 40% a year ago.

And the previous awards to Yasser Arafat, Jimmeh and the Goracle were entirely free of ‘politics in the process’?

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Oct 11 2009: 

Update:  His One-ness has just been awarded the 2010 Stanley Cup – That was easy.

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nobel10co1

Oct 10 2009:  

Now that Obama has been awarded* the Nobel Peace Trinket,  the mc-chimpy bushitlers must be gnashing their tooth into dust.   Barely 10 days in office** and the committee had their man.   Apparently, simply saying that you are going to heal the world and keep on saying it often and loudly until enough fools believe you was sufficient to be awarded the bauble.   Mind you, it’s not as if he has actually closed down gitmo, or withdrawn troops from Iraq, prevented the dinner jacket from acheiving his nuclear desires, solved world hunger, secured the olympics for the mob, or delivered socialised health care to the peasants – but hey, IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE….

I suppose even those who do persist in resisting the one could be forgiven their skepticism. After all, even mr hope-n-change has adopted the distinctly warlike habit of dropping the odd PEACEFIRE missile or two on occasion.nobel-vending-inc

In the meantime the ungrateful and unwashed hordes have not rewarded*** his one-ness with a deserved bounce in the polls.  What does a man have to do to get some love?

Of course, junior, as a world renowned ‘hater’, ‘disbeliever’, AGW denier and all round obamaskeptic would be expected to sneer; (he has also been known to offer unguarded applause when well deserving targets are scattered into environmentally friendly and biodegradable bits), so in the interests of balance please let me offer my congratulations via Iowahawk:

Dear   BARACK OBAMA  :

Congratulations! On behalf of the selection committee, I am pleased to announce that you have been named a 2009 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of your tireless efforts to   STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND COOPERATION    .

I am also pleased to tell you that as a winner, you have been pre-approved for membership in the Nobel Peace Player’s Club, offering exclusive money-saving benefits available only to laureates like you. Please take a few minutes to look over the enclosed enrollment materials. At only $299.95 per year, I’m sure you’ll agree that membership is a bargain at twice the price! Here are just some of the benefits you’ll receive:

  • A handsome 14-karat gold membership crest badge to display proudly on the grille of your limousine or official state aircraft
  • A framed, hand-calligraphed certificate (add $19.95 for gold leaf)
  • Special discount shopping bargains for for you and your family
  • Great travel packages to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
  • Listing in “Who’s Who of Global Salvation” ($49.95 per copy)
  • Great coupons for Olive Garden, P.F. Chang’s, Six Flags Theme Parks, and more!

Plus, you’ll receive the exclusive Nobel Peace Player’s Club GoldCard entitling you to discount air travel and 5-star hotel accommodations from Kyoto to Darfur. But don’t take our word for it! Listen to these testimonials from some of our current members:

“My career as an international peace activist means lots of air travel — and dealing with pushy Zionists and rude natives. With my Nobel Peace Player’s Club GoldCard, I finally get the respect I deserve – and it makes getting through Gaza airport security a snap!”
Jimmy Carter, 2002 Laureate

RTWT

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*Advice to Norwegian Nobel Committee – Stop huffing the North Sea gasoline, you’ll find it makes appreciation of the situation a little clearer….like how about the succesful candidate actually having achieved something other than simply being elected.

**Nobel nominations deadline: 1 Feb 2009.  Inauguration 21 Jan 2009.

*** To be fair, lets wait until next week to see if any of his aura has transferred to the proles.

afghan elections

UPDATED: Aug 21 2009.

Well, that was hardly unexpected;  the Red Star can barely offer up a grudging acknowledgement that things weren’t all that bad in Afghanistan.   Featuring a column entitled  “millions of afghans vote,  but is it enough“, one rather gets the impression that Ms Dimanno was hoping for a disaster.   

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afghan womenWell, the Afghan elections seem to have gone quite a bit better than predicted hoped by the prophets of doom.   26 Afghans were killed exercising their right for freedom from oppression by the agents of the mad mullahs – that’s it, that’s all. 

Terry Glavin has it summarised nicely here.  Speaking of which, he notes and debunks some weirdness appearing on the socialist worker site.  These loons are right off the rails:

Bush and his coterie of crooks and warmongers told us that only a military invasion could liberate the people, and especially the women, of Afghanistan from the brutal, misogynistic and “medieval” Taliban movement.  

There was no mention, of course, of the substantial support offered to the Taliban regime in the late 1990s when Clinton was president and in the early days of the Bush presidency, nor of the long and ugly history of U.S. intervention in Central and South Asia, which was an important precondition for the rise of Islamism. (WTF? Vietnam, Cambodia = Islamism?)

Ordinarily I wouldn’t give more than about two seconds to contemplate this kind of drivel, but our writer at SW was convinced that even slick willy was in on the whole thing, so I got to thinking.   I understand that Hillary’s long suffering husband wasn’t above execising the Leeden doctrine*, especially when special prosecutors were poking around his habit of poking around –  but  just how much ‘support’ did the Clinton administration supposedly offer to the Taliban, as claimed by ‘Nick’ at SW?  According to the SIPRI database, none, zero, nada.  As in not one dollar of evil imperialistic military industrial complex support delivered to the Taliban / Afghanistan between 1993 and 2000.    Records produced by Defense Department also show nothing in the way of miltary contracts or assistance for period of the Clinton administration.

And as for Dubbya – the entire deliveries of major military equipment to Afghanistan between 2001 – 2008 consisted of 188 M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (I’m thinking ‘hangar’ queens) and in the neighbourhood of about 4000 up-armoured HUMMVs. 

Myth – busted.

*“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”