Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Omitted variable fraud"

"Omitted variable fraud." I like the term. This concisely describes the behavior I have been observing for as long as I have been paying attention to the issue, ever since Gavin Schmidt took on Jerry Pournelle with the repeated assertion that direct solar forcing failed to explain the temperature change in NASA's models, and that CO2 was responsible. He never acknowledged the gigantic leap of faith he was taking in believing his models over the historical data.

Anyway, I quote the money paragraph first and then some of the background.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/22/omitted-variable-fraud-vast-evidence-for-solar-climate-driver-rates-one-oblique-sentence-in-ar5/

My training is in economics where we are very familiar with what statisticians call "the omitted variable problem" (or when it is intentional, "omitted variable fraud"). Whenever an explanatory variable is omitted from a statistical analysis, its explanatory power gets misattributed to any correlated variables that are included. This problem is manifest at the very highest level of AR5, and is built into each step of its analysis.

Introduction to the "omitted variable fraud" critique, continued

For the 1750-2010 period examined, two variables correlate strongly with the observed warming (and hence with each other). Solar magnetic activity and atmospheric CO2 were both trending upwards over the period, and both stepped up to much higher levels over the second half of the 20th century. These two correlations with temperature change give rise to the two main competing theories of 20th century warming. Was it driven by rapidly increasing human release of CO2, or by the 80 year "grand maximum" of solar activity that began in the early 1920′s? ("Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: new observational constraints," Usoskin et al. 2007.)

The empirical evidence in favor of the solar explanation is overwhelming. Dozens of peer-reviewed studies have found a very high degree of correlation (.5 to .8) between solar-magnetic activity and global temperature going back many thousands of years (Bond 2001, Neff 2001, Shaviv 2003, Usoskin 2005, and many others listed below). In other words, solar activity "explains," in the statistical sense, 50 to 80% of past temperature change.

Such a high degree of correlation over such long time periods implies causality, which can only go one way. Global temperature cannot be driving solar activity, so there must be some mechanism by which solar activity is driving or modulating global temperature change. The high degree of correlation also suggests that solar activity is the primarydriver of global temperature on every time scale studied (which is pretty much every time scale but the Milankovitch cycle).

In contrast, records of CO2 and temperature reveal no discernable warming effect of CO2. There is a correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature, but with CO2 changes following temperature changes by an average of about 800 years (Caillon 2003), indicating that it is temperature change that is driving atmospheric CO2 change (as it should, since warming oceans are able to hold less CO2). This does not rule out the possibility that CO2 also drives temperature, and in theory a doubling of CO2 should cause about a 1 degree increase in temperature before any feedback effects are accounted, but feedbacks could be negative (dampening rather than amplifying temperature forcings), so there no reason, just from what we know about the greenhouse mechanism, that CO2 has to be a significant player. The one thing we can say is that whatever the warming effect of CO2, it is not detectable in the raw CO2 vs. temperature data.

This is in glaring contrast to solar activity, which lights up like a neon sign in the raw data. Literally dozens of studies finding .5 to .8 degrees of correlation with temperature. 

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Inflation-adjusted revenues/outlays for federal government

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/hist.pdf

See table 1.3.

-Max

--
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

If you're so evil, eat this kitten!

Friday, November 23, 2012

"I said, 'Ye are gods'"

K,

This thought may be of interest to you.

-Max.


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Hi J.,

Remember how you were reading your way through the Old Testament the other year? I know you like the whole context to things; do you mind if I share with you some of the most interesting parts of the scriptures, and some associated cultural/historical/scriptural context that goes with it? Form your own opinions of course, but I'll give you what information I can.

One scripture that almost nobody seems to know about or talk about is in Psalms 82. It's not really clear who wrote it or when--it claims to be written by Asaph, King David's court musician--but someone thought it was important enough to include in the Hebrew Bible, and it reveals an interesting attitude toward human beings: we are "gods" ("elohim" in Hebrew, literally "powers", from "el" = "force" and "im"=pluralizer).

Psalms 82:1-8 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. [emphasis added] [BTW, I'm not sure what Selah means, but I think it's a musical term of some sort.]

What is especially interesting about this scripture is that Jesus used it to win an argument which almost got him killed. In John 10, Jesus is in the middle of teaching some fairly radical things, including claiming God for his father, when the Jews accuse him of blasphemy. They weren't stupid--they understood that claiming kinship is claiming similarity; the potential to grow up to be like one's parents. So to them claiming God as his father was basically claiming to be a God, which was blasphemy to them. Jesus basically responds, "Hey, in your own scriptures it calls all of you gods (without approving your conduct). How then can it be blasphemous for me to merely say I'm the son of God, which I actually am, when he sent me and commanded me to teach you in his behalf?" Since they couldn't win the argument, they just went back to trying to kill him. Funny, huh? :)

John 10:23-39 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and noman is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,

What this says to me is that the King James translation of Psalm 82 is correct. There are people who will tell you that Psalm 82 is talking about angels, or false pagan gods, but if these people were right, Jesus wouldn't have used the scripture to win his argument. No, what Psalm 82 says is that we, human beings, are the offspring of God and share his nature--there aren't separate things called "humans" and "angels" and "demons" and "gods". Rather, these are all the same fundamental kind of thing, and which one a given individual turns into in the long run depends upon the individual.

Maybe this is why we find stories about superhumans (Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, Castiel, Rand al Thor, etc.) so interesting: because we sense at some level that this is who we really are, if the scriptures are true--and they are. If you ask God, he will tell you so. He's your Father and you are his daughter, and he cares about you. It's true and I know it.

But my words don't mean anything. You have to ask for yourself, when you're ready. Good luck, be well, be happy!

Love,
M.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Probability

J.,

Two really cool factoids for you. (From http://gamebalanceconcepts.wordpress.com/)

-M.

1.) The Gambler's Fallacy is something we can exploit as gamers. People assume that long streaks do not appear random, so when trying to "play randomly" they will actually change values more often than not. Against a non-championship opponent, you can win more than half the time at Rock-Paper-Scissors by knowing this. Insist on playing to best 3 of 5, or 4 of 7, or something. Since you know your opponent is unlikely to repeat their last throw, on subsequent rounds you should throw whatever would have lost to your opponent's last throw, because your opponent probably won't do the same thing twice, so you probably won't lose (the worst you can do is draw).

2.) There's a variant of the Gambler's Fallacy that mostly applies to sports and other action games. The Hot-Hand fallacy is so called because in the sport of Basketball fans started getting this idea that if a player made two or three baskets in a row, they were "running hot" and more likely to score additional baskets and not miss. (We even see this in sports games like NBA Jam, where becoming "on fire" is actually a mechanic that gives the player a speed and accuracy advantage… and some cool effects like making the basket explode in a nuclear fireball.)

When probability theorists looked at this, their first reaction was that each shot is an independent event, like rolling dice, so there's no reason why previous baskets should influence future ones at all. They expected that a player would be exactly as likely to make a basket,regardless of what happened in the players' previous attempts.

Not so fast, said Basketball fans. Who says they're completely independent events? Psychology plays a role in sports performance. Maybe the player has more confidence after making a few successful shots, and that causes them to play better. Maybe the fans cheering them on gives them a little extra mental energy. Maybe the previous baskets are a sign that the player is hyper-focused on the game and in a really solid flow state, making it more likely they'll continue to perform well. Who knows?

Fair enough, said the probability theorists, so they looked at actual statistics from a bunch of games to see if previous baskets carried any predictive value for future performance.

As it turned out, both the theorists and sports fans were wrong. If a player made several baskets in a row, it slightly increased their chance of missing next time – the longer the streak, the greater the chance of a miss (relative to what would be expected by random chance). Why? I don't think we know for sure, but presumably there is some kind of negative psychological effect. Maybe the player got tired. Maybe the other team felt that player was more of a threat, and played a more aggressive defense when that player had the ball. Maybe the crowd's cheering broke the player's flow state, or maybe the player gets overconfident and starts taking more unnecessary risks.


--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Quote

"My experience is that the situation is never so bad, nor so good as first reports indicate." -Sir Douglas Haig (World War I British general)

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Awesomeness

"We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."

http://dvice.com/archives/2012/10/ethiopian-kids.php

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duel

[Sent this to the White House via their web site]

Dear Mr. Obama,

Your vile and baseless assault on womanhood in your most recent campaign ad compels me to respond. Though I have in the past had a high opinion of you, I say now that you are a varlet and a knave. No honorable man would say or allow such insinuations to be made about any woman, let alone his own constituents. I demand that you immediately disavow and apologize for the Lena Dunham ad and face me on the field of honor, or admit that you are no man at all.

I await your craven response with eagerness.

Sincerely,
Max Wilson

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Elegance

So far, Elegance of the Hedgehog reminds me of an old Asimov question, "How do you justify your existence?" I.e. I exist, yes, but why me and what am I for? This is not a religious question, it's a personal one, and everyone (even God(s)) must find an answer that satisfies them to be happy. For me the answer is "learning, teaching, and love" which incidentally appears to be God's answer too. It will be interesting to see how Renee and the girl answer theirs in the end. The girl obviously needs one. Wouldn't it be awful if she killed herself and woke up dead, and still felt life was absurd? What would she do then?

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Models

The following statement from this article on politics, makes me want to say about models: "The University of Colorado model, which has correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1980, has Mr. Romney taking all nine swing states plus New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Maine. If this plays out, Republicans will more than run the table. It's starting to look like Mr. Obama is behind the eight ball."

Models can be wrong. There are other models predicting exactly the opposite (clean Obama win) which have ALSO "correctly predicted" the results of the last several elections. (I can dig one up if anyone cares, but you've probably seen them in news reports.) Models always make simplifying assumptions, and frequently they are "trained" formally or informally using past results--and testing models against their own training data proves nothing. It's also provable from computer science that purely empirical testing of models will fail: the No Free Lunch theorem establishes that there 
is no optimal empirical method for generalizing statistically from past results to future results. You HAVE to understand the "why", or your model is just black magic and may break at any time.

Ultimately the test of a good model/hypothesis/theory is twofold: 1.) Does it accurately predict outcomes OTHER than the ones used in its own creation, e.g. future outcomes or historical outcomes? 2.) Does it yield useful insights into the underlying causal mechanisms?

Remember this next time someone talks about their (political, economic, climate, etc.) models. Ask, "What data did you use to make this model, and what data did you use to test it? Are the predictions the model makes about human behavior or climate plausible given what else we know about human psychology, meteorology, or physics?" Until you've asked these questions and listened to the answers, their model isn't really telling you anything. Until then, it's just noise.


--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Effort or results

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/10/03/we_fund_dependency_115648.html

WorkForce1 is a program designed to "help people find jobs". That means it's important to fund it as much as possible, right? No, first you need to find what it does, not just what it is ostensibly supposed to do.

"Finally, I met with an 'adviser.' She told me I lacked experience. I know this. I asked for any job she thought I was qualified for, and she scheduled an interview at Pret, a food chain that trains employees. At Pret, I learned that my 'interview' was just a weekly open house, publicized on the company's website. Anyone could walk in and apply. Workforce1 offered no advantage. Despite my 'scheduled interview,' I waited 90 minutes before meeting a manager. He told me that WorkForce1 had 'wasted my time, as they always do.' He said, 'They never call, never ask questions.' He prefers to hire people who seek out jobs on their own, like those who see Pret ads on Craigslist.'"

If this is a real pattern, the program is not worth funding, no matter how noble its purported design goals.

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Math

[Written after the first Romney/Obama debate]

The dangers of mathematical illiteracy: if your opponent wants to cut tax rates in a "revenue neutral" way, and you want to paint him as a tax-raiser, it's useful to understand some math. Just imagine how different it would have seemed if Obama had displayed some policy knowledge. "Okay, you say your rate cuts would be revenue neutral, but with respect to what baseline? Current law or current policy?" Presumably Romney then says, "I would leave revenue unchanged from where it is today." Then Obama would come back and say, "But tax revenues are $300 billion under historical levels because of emergency measures that we've taken to help the economy recover from the Bush recession." [It makes me feel ill even to write "Bush recession", but that's what Obama ought to say because that's how he thinks of it, and how the majority of Americans still think of it.] "You're saying that you're leaving $300 billion dollars a year of your tax cuts unpaid for, $3 trillion over the next decade. That's 60% of your tax cut that isn't paid for? Tell me, how is that responsible?"

The trap is twofold: suck Romney into a wonky discussion of baseline math ("You based your claim that you would 'cut the deficit in half by the end of [your] first time' on emergency spending under Bush! And you didn't even manage it!"), and undermine Romney's credibility.

Because Obama doesn't know any math, he couldn't talk about specifics and couldn't go on the attack. All he could do was repeat, "You have a five trillion dollar tax cut. Somebody told me so. There's a study."

In 2016, the Democrats will nominate somebody from the business world who understands math. The era of nominating Senators from D.C. on the theory that they have "government experience" is drawing to a close.

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Learning programming

Great article on learning programming. Has implications for any kind of UI design, since any kind of GUI interaction is really just another way of "programming" your computer. In particular, has implications for my plans to incorporate programmable AIs into my Android games.

A programming system has two parts. The programming "environment" is the part that's installed on the computer. The programming "language" is the part that's installed in the programmer's head.

This essay presents a set of design principles for an environment and language suitable for learning.

The environment should allow the learner to:

  • read the vocabulary -- what do these words mean?
  • follow the flow -- what happens when?
  • see the state -- what is the computer thinking?
  • create by reacting -- start somewhere, then sculpt
  • create by abstracting -- start concrete, then generalize

The language should provide:

  • identity and metaphor -- how can I relate the computer's world to my own?
  • decomposition -- how do I break down my thoughts into mind-sized pieces?
  • recomposition -- how do I glue pieces together?
  • readability -- what do these words mean?

[snip]

Khan Academy's tutorials encourage the learner to address these questions by randomly adjusting numbers and trying to figure out what they do.

Thought experiment. Imagine if you bought a new microwave, took it out of the box, and found a panel of unlabeled buttons.

Imagine if the microwave encouraged you to randomly hit buttons until you figured out what they did.

Now, imagine if your cookbook advised you that randomly hitting unlabeled buttons was how you learn cooking.


-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Income tax interactive graph

For future reference:

http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/top10-percent-income-earners

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welfare spending now 25% of budget

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/restoring-a-true-safety-net 

I didn't know this. I was still thinking of the budget in 2008 terms, from the Death and Taxes poster.

The Obama years have seen unprecedented growth in spending on what used to be known as the federal "anti-poverty" or "welfare" programs: means-tested initiatives to provide food, health insurance, housing benefits, and income support to the poor. These programs certainly grew during the Bush administration, with spending increasing by a total of about $100 billion over that eight-year period ($12.5 billion per year in 2010 dollars). But that spending increased another $150 billion in just the first two years of the Obama administration.  

The scale of these increases is staggering. In three years, from 2008 through 2010, total annual spending on welfare programs (in 2010 dollars) increased from $475 billion to $666 billion — a 40% increase after accounting for inflation. At a combined annual cost of two-thirds of a trillion dollars, these programs are now on the same scale as the defense budget ($693 billion), Social Security ($700 billion), and Medicare ($551 billion).


--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Organ regeneration

Extracellular matrix + stem cells = regeneration. I wonder how far you can push that. Could you regrow whole limbs? How much capability for regrowth does a human adult retain, or is there something special about the prenatal environment that makes it only work once? (What happens if you try regeneration therapy on a Thalidomide child who didn't grow limbs right in the womb? Can it work correctly this time?)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/health/research/human-muscle-regenerated-with-animal-help.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www 

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Marchetti's constant

J.,

You may find this interesting. Apparently the 30-minute commute may be a universal human constant. :)

http://persquaremile.com/2012/09/13/marchettis-constant/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+psm-articles%2Ffeed+%28Per+Square+Mile%29 

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taste of science

May interest you both: smell (and therefore taste) is directional.

The phenomenon is down to the fact that, although we have sensors on our tongue, eighty per cent of what we think of as taste actually reaches us through smell receptors in our nose.

The receptors, which relay messages to our brain, react to odours differently depending on which direction they are moving in.

"Think of a smelly cheese like Epoisses," Prof Smith said. "It smells like the inside of a teenager's training shoe. But once it's in your mouth, and you are experiencing the odour through the nose in the other direction, it is delicious.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9528936/Why-does-coffee-never-taste-as-good-as-it-smells.html 

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Speeding up Gmail

K.,

I don't know if this guy is right about large mailbox sizes causing Gmail slowdowns (http://jackg.org/gmail-as-a-facade%20) but I know you have a huge Inbox. If Gmail is slow for you, you could try archiving everything. Do it like this:

1.) Go to the search box.
2.) Type "in:inbox" and hit Enter. It will show you everything in your Inbox. This may seem pointless but see point #4.
3.) Now, click on the arrow next to the checkbox and hit "All". (See screenshot.)
4.) Because you are in a search and not just the inbox, selecting "All" gives you the option to select everything, even if it's not in your Inbox. Do so.
5.) Hit Archive and wait, perhaps for a long time, for it to finish archiving your thousands of messages. They will still show up in searches of course.
6.) Your Inbox is now empty, without you having to painfully archive one screenful (20-50 messages) at a time.

Note that you can also search for "is:read" and "is:unread" instead. "in:chat" is also sometimes useful because chats don't normally show up when you search.

Hope that's interesting, whether or not you end up actually choosing to clean out your Inbox in fact.

-M.





--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Note to Mr. Romney

Dear Mr. Romney and Romneyites,

I've been a lukewarm Republican in this contest up until now, but after reading the debate at (http://www.nature.com/news/obama-and-romney-tackle-14-top-science-questions-1.11355) you now have real credibility with me as an effective President. I just want to say good job, and I hope that same style comes through in the debates--if it does you will clean Obama's clock. :)

Good luck!

-Max Wilson

P.S. The web form I am entering this in is broken in Chrome and IE. It smashes all the text together. (http://www.mittromney.com/forms/other) You might want to have someone look at that.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Global warming/positive feedback

From a comment on Judith Curry's blog comes the best explanation I have ever read of how CO2 actually affects atmospheric temperatures. (It's not through the "greenhouse effect," which is basically about restrictiong convection. Instead, it's through raising the altitude and thus lowering the temperature of the CO2 photosphere.)

-Max

Near-IR video cameras aren't much different from visible-light ones. The one in this clip looks pretty sophisticated by comparison.

However I have to agree that the demonstration is nowhere near quantitative enough to infer much about absorption by CO2 of thermal radiation from Earth's surface. A far more accurate method is to calculate it line-by-line from theHITRAN line spectra tables.

However mere absorption of surface radiation is only about 6% of the impact of CO2 on global warming even in the no-feedback case. This is because what heats the Earth is reduction in outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) from the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Only 6% of that radiation is emitted by the surface, the rest is radiation from clouds and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Clouds are not water vapor but droplets, which unlike water vapor but like the surface are much closer to being black body radiators. Although there is somewhat less CO2 above the clouds than above the surface (the difference being the amount of CO2 between the clouds and the surface), it's quite enough to absorb the same bands emitted by the clouds as those emitted by the surface.

Radiation from the atmosphere's greenhouse gases is narrow-band, even at sea level but increasingly so at higher altitudes as the effect of pressure-broadening decreases. Every greenhouse gas emits its own set of lines, and absorbs the same again, so there's a lot of emitting and absorbing going on in the atmosphere.

Looking down from above the atmosphere, a thermal imaging camera sees only the "top layer" of all this radiation. This layer is not sharply defined but rather is a separatephotosphere for each wavelength of IR. To quote the Wikipedia article, "The photosphere of an astronomical object is the region from which externally received light originates." Wavelengths that are absorbed more strongly create more opaque and therefore higher-altitude photospheres. The further below the photosphere, the lower the probability that a photon from that depth will escape to space. The probability is nonzero however no matter how deep, whence the indistinctness of each photosphere.

What increasing any greenhouse gas does is to make it more opaque, thereby raising the altitude of the photosphere associated with each wavelength at which that gas absorbs and emits. The higher you go the colder, namely 10 C/km for dry air (the Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate or DALR) all the way down to 5 C/km for saturated air (the Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate or MALR) when very warm. Hence a higher photosphere is colder. And since radiation follows the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the amount of radiation falls off as the 4th power of this decreasing temperature.

Higher temperatures raise the water vapor in the atmosphere. Hence heating the atmosphere by increasing the CO2 will increase water vapor, another greenhouse gas, which in turns heats the atmosphere even more. This vicious cycle is called a positive feedback, and is believed to add considerably to the basic no-feedback greenhouse effect attributable to CO2.

Richard Feynman said of quantum mechanics that if you think you understand it then you don't. The greenhouse effect is not quite that bad, but it runs a close second. John Nielson-Gammon has offered "The Best Ever Description of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect". I don't know if my account above is as good, but it's only half the length.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gold standard

A little bit over my head for casual reading. I need to think through the ramifications--anyway, I thought it might interest you.

http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2012/09/return_to_the_g.html 

But the essence of a gold standard is that the units used in the above graph would become the units in which wages and prices would get reported and negotiated. Under a gold standard, a dollar always means the same thing in terms of ounces of gold that it would buy. So for example, if the dollar price of gold today was the same as it was in January 2000 ($283/ounce), and if the real value of gold had changed as much as it has since then, the dollar wage that an average worker received would need to have fallen from $13.75/hour in 2000 to $3.45/hour in 2012.

And the problem with that is, for a host of reasons ranging from minimum wage legislation, bargaining agreements and contracts, institutions, and human nature, it is very, very hard to get workers to accept a cut in their wage from $13.75/hour to $3.45/hour. The only way it could possibly happen is with an enormously high unemployment rate for a very long period of time. This strikes most of us as a pretty crazy policy proposal.

[snip: discussion showing that gold demand is not U.S.-driven, and thus that a gold standard for the dollar would not have prevented this depreciation]

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nephite history

A couple of thoughts struck me today while reading.

1.) The Nephites undergo rapid population growth between the time of King Mosiah and the coming of Christ. You can tell by the fact that so many characters (both Almas, Kings Benjamin and Mosiah, Pahoran, etc.) all have multiple sons, which indicates just as many daughters on average. You can also tell by the ever-increasing body counts in their wars with the Lamanites, implying an ever-increasing population to fuel them. This population growth may be one of the overt drivers of the wars, not just between the Nephites and the Lamanites but also among the Nephites. Land scarcity has always been a cause of contention for human beings. (E.g. people of Lehi and the people of Morianton.)  

By Mormon's time, BTW, note that they are throwing armies of 40,000 men at each other regularly. This is about half as large as the main battles of the Civil War. Now it's possible that the Nephites had a greater fraction of their population mobilized for war, but it does make you wonder how large a geographic area the Nephites occupied and what their population size was. It's big, especially later on. Which brings us to our next point:

2.) The Nephites had all kinds of communication difficulties. Their leaders never seem to know what's going on outside their immediate vicinity. In Ammon's time, the converted Lamanites "open a correspondence" to trade with the Nephites, and yet several years later, Alma is surprised to run into the sons of Mosiah and hear about the converted Lamanites--he doesn't know they exist! Whoever the Nephites were with whom the Ammonites were trading, they weren't the same ones Alma was in governing. Later on, Moroni has no idea of the rebellion in the capital until Pahoran sends him a personal letter, in spite of the fact that the rebellion has been going on for some time--you can see hints of the building rebellion in the mystery of lack of troop reinforcement for Helaman from Zarahemla, and certainly it explains why Pahoran never sent troops to Helaman as Moroni requested. Even more telling is that Pahoran sent no response to Moroni's request for troops to Helaman, and Moroni apparently considered that normal! They had no regular communication among their military and political leadership.

I don't know if this says more about the Nephite command structure of the geography they lived in, but it's certainly interesting.

-Max

-- 
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

If you're so evil, eat this kitten!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

BWAPI

Notes to self from getting BWAPI compiling (C++):

1.) Build issue w/ "invalid macro": it turns out that VS2010 has a different way of specifying preprocessor macro values. Change "_secure_scl 0" to "_secure_scl=0" in all projects to fix.

2.) Warnings: MSB8012: $(TargetName) ('BWAPILIB') does not match the Librarian's OutputFile property value 'C:\projects\src\bwapi\trunk\bwapi\Release\BWAPI.lib' ('BWAPI') in project configuration 'Release|Win32'. This may cause your project to build incorrectly. To correct this, please make sure that $(TargetName) property value matches the value specified in %(Lib.OutputFile). This was again a problem with the conversion between VS2008 and VS2010, at least in part. BWAPI's bottom-level C++ .lib file is built by a project called BWAPILIB, and in the VS2008 .vcproj project the output library is just named BWAPI.lib. VS's converter apparently didn't understand this convention, so the new generated .vcxproj TargetName is left unset, so it defaults to BWAPILIB, which produces an output file called BWAPILIB.lib, hence the warning. To eliminate the warning, just explicitly set TargetName in a PropertyGroup in the .vcxproj.

3.) A mysterious, vexing set of template instantiation errors occured inside of the STL vector.cpp file ('_Alloc': must be a class or namespace when followed by '::' / 'size_type' : is not a member of '`global namespace''missing ';' before identifier '_Sizet' / etc.), but VS didn't say what caused it to be instantiated incorrectly. By using msbuild from the command line I was able to get enough info to track it down to these lines of code:

    unsigned int min = abs(x - position.x);
    unsigned int max = abs(y - position.y);
    if ( max < min )
      std::swap<unsigned int>(min,max);

For some reason, explicitly adding the template argument to std::swap causes vector.cpp to go haywire. You have to delete the bolded code. Ultimately I think this is a VS compiler bug because it makes no sense to me as a C++ issue.

Hopefully we will now be able to start writing some AIs.

-M.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Biology! Data! Prosperity and the Heritability of IQ

[Cc D.]

J.,

Long article by Unz. Unz takes data from Richard Lynn, which Lynn used to show a correlation between national mean IQ and GDP, which he implied pretty much meant that prosperity was genetic and couldn't be much altered. Unz shows that Lynn's data demonstrate pretty much the opposite of what Lynn claims: in countries where GDP rises or falls dramatically (e.g. East Germany after re-unification), IQ follows suit in a way which cannot possibly be genetic.

I love this from the conclusion:

We are now faced with a mystery arguably greater than that of IQ itself. Given the powerful ammunition that Lynn and Vanhanen have provided to those opposing their own "Strong IQ Hypothesis," we must wonder why this has never attracted the attention of either of the warring camps in the endless, bitter IQ dispute, despite their alleged familiarity with the work of these two prominent scholars. In effect, I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed.

This article succeeded in changing my mind about how IQ probably works. It's actually philosophically more comfortable for me to believe that "all the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement" (i.e. IQ is somewhat plastic and can be raised) but until this analysis I had no basis to believe that was true, since it doesn't show up in twin studies. It's possible that my mind may change back at some point given the right evidence, but I find this data compelling.

Anyway, I agree that something very odd is going on in the economics/international development scientific community, if no one ever noticed before that Lynn's data doesn't support his conclusions. It suggests that no one is actually listening to their opponents.

I love science.

-M.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Notes from Eugenio and Wang

Quick notes:

Saber parry: from elbow, fairly late, fairly low on blade or guard to prevent whip-around
Saber lunge: rear leg to front arm, diagonal power. DON'T LEAN or twist body--it shortens reach. Don't lead with head--it telegraphs intention and gives you less time to respond w/ bladework. Know my lunge distance--it's further than I think.

Epee: use elevation of bell guard to protect arm while extending. Depends on height of opponent.
Epee: fully extend during hand peck. On second intention remise to body, don't pull hand back, just redirect slightly with fingers.
Lunge: don't overbalance forward. Weight should not be 80% in front of knee, because that makes it too hard to retreat if I missed on lunge.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adam and Eve

Okay, now. Thoughts on Adam and Eve...

The Lord does call it a "transgression" in Moses 6 when he says "I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the garden of Eden." I'm not really sure what to make of this, whether it implies that there was a better course of action, or what that course was. I'm not really sure whether the transgression was partaking of the fruit, period, or not consulting the Lord before he acted, or what. The only thing I can draw for sure from this is that Adam felt bad about his actions in Eden, and it had weighed on his mind.

The original word "sin" was a fairly neutral word. It comes from archery, and it means "to miss the target." In that sense, perhaps "sin" and "transgression" are similar. However, as we commonly use the word "sin," it means something stronger: uncleanness, that which the Lord cannot look upon with the least degree of allowance. Accidental harm (e.g. dropping a piano on someone's foot) cannot be sin in this sense, although it can certainly be transgression and can merit a contrite apology. Note that all the suffering D&C 19:18-19 could be justly attributed to Adam's transgression[1].

Moses 6:53 is a very puzzling verse to me in many respects, not just for the use of the word "transgression" but because it doesn't seem to be a direct answer to Adam's question--which may mean that Adam was asking a different question than I think he was. Maybe the Lord was addressing Adam's subtext.

I'll give you two additional pieces of data, both relating to the book of Moses.

JST Old Testament 2 (the latest version) at one point had this in verse 23:

Therefore I give unto you a commandment to teach these things freely unto your Children Saying that in as much as they were born into the World by reason of the fall which bringeth death by water & blood & the Spirit which I have made & so became of dust a living soul even so ye must be born again of water & the spirit & cleansed by blood even the blood of mine only begotten into the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven

This was crossed out and rewritten as this:

Therefore, I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying that by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death. And in as much as they were born into the world by watter, and blood, and the spirit which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul; even so ye must be born again, into the kingdom of heaven, of watter, and of the spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine only begotten

Something in that paragraph was considered important enough to be worth rewriting for more clarity. The biggest differences I see are emphasizing the causal link between transgression and the fall (and thus, indirectly, to death), and that the rebirth is back into the kingdom of heaven.

Item two is from Moses 7:13. At one point it said (note that this is also the version which is in the Pearl of Great Price),

the Lord said unto Enoch, behold, these thy Brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, & I gave unto them their knowledge in the day that I created them & in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; & unto thy brethren have I said, & also gave commandment, that they should love one another, & that they should Choose me their Father

It was then altered as follows:

the Lord said unto Enoch, behold, these thy Brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, & I gave unto them their knowledge intelligence in the day that I created them & in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man hisad agency; & unto thy brethren have I said, & also gave commandment, that they should love one another, & that they should Choose me their Father serve me their God

To me this emphasizes a couple of interesting things, including the difference between advice and commandment and what it means to "choose" a Father (cf. John 8:44 and Romans 8:17). But the main difference I see is an emphasis on man having intelligence and exercising agency from the very beginning.

None of this adds up to a conclusive answer to your question, but I hope you find it interesting. Further study is merited.

-Max

[1] Well, okay. Except for the very tiny fraction which would have come from Eve alone, if Adam hadn't partaken as well.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Specification-based testing (FsCheck)

This is how I like to write specification tests. Notice the lack of ceremony.
[<Property(Arbitrary=[| typeof<ArbitraryModifiers> |])>]  
let ``Closed under multiplication`` (y : WholeNumber) (z : WholeNumber) =
         (WholeNumber.get y) * (WholeNumber.get z) >= 0
OUTPUT:

Test.Geometry.Closed under multiplication [FAIL]
Falsifiable, after 3 tests (0 shrinks) (StdGen (603380185,295587877)):
(WholeNumber 13118, WholeNumber 227510903) 


In other words, the system is able to automatically prove that whole numbers (implemented on top of .NET Int32) are not, in fact, closed under multiplication because of integer overflow, since 13118 * 227510903 = -514245166.

Then, I change WholeNumber so that it is built on top of bigint (arbitrary-sized integers as in math, not computer architecture) and alter the test slightly to use 0I (bigint version of zero).
[<Property(Arbitrary=[| typeof<ArbitraryModifiers> |])>]  
let ``Closed under multiplication`` (y : WholeNumber) (z : WholeNumber) =
         (WholeNumber.get y) * (WholeNumber.get z) >= 0I
OUTPUT:

Tests complete: 1 of 3
Tests complete: 2 of 3
Tests complete: 3 of 3
3 total, 0 failed, 0 skipped, took 1.790 seconds

Voila! My program now matches my spec.

FsCheck + Xunit = WIN

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fencing notes

Monday 2 July, 2012

Had a lesson today w/ Eugenio. Here's my takeaway:

Drill:
  • Beat 4, peck hand while retreating. Extension and retreat should be simultaneous to retain reach -- it should feel almost as if extension is happening first, but then you automatically get carried back as soon as you hit.
  • Beat 4, peck hand while retreating, evade parry 4 and peck hand again. Again, coordinate extension and retreat -- make sure there are two retreats, not two and a half or one and a half. Make sure you hit the hand not the body. End w/ hand at ear level (see technique, below).
  • Beat 4 while advancing, peck hand.
  • Beat 4 while advancing, evade parry, peck hand.
  • Beat 4 while advancing, choose tactic (below) based on opponent's response.
Technique:
  • For tall opponent, angle bell guard up and in more than usual, not flat and perpendicular to body. Bell guard is protecting hand and forearm from pecks, forcing him to get closer to hit.
  • Practice small parry 6, just enough to get tip around the blade. NOT a sweep.
  • Exploit beats quickly.
  • Practice powerful lunges, take full distance.
  • Relaxed left arm, left shoulder back, esp on lunges.
  • Ear height extensions, including on riposte.
Tactics:
  • Preparation: beat 4 while advancing, peck hand.
    • Hit hand? Done. 
    • He attacks on my beat? Parry 8 wide, take blade in 8, riposte
    • He does nothing? Remise to body.
    • He does nothing? Draw my hand back (while not retreating) to invite an extension, then parry 6 and riposte. 
    • He retreats? Retreat. I have gained half a meter though -- use this to relieve distance pressure when playing for time (if you're ahead).
    • He retreats? Redouble or fleche to body.
    • He retreats? Take in 6 and flech to body.
    • He ripostes to my hand? Take in 6 while advancing and counterriposte to body.
  • While probing an opponent, intersperse w/ different probes or attacks to avoid telegraphing your intention or developing a pattern yourself. 
    • OODA comes into play only once probes and second intention are happening. Goal is to make him react without orienting first.
  • Meta-tactic: some people scream in victory or have teammates scream in order to distract the ref on tricky calls, like hitting just after you pass the opponent.
--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

SQL stuff

Work-related:

If you install VisualStudio to a non-standard location (I put it under \usr\bin instead of \ProgramFiles (x86)) SSDT won't work correctly. In particular, using a "System Database" like master to a SQL project will fail with lots of errors, because database objects which exist in master won't be resolved correctly when you try to use them (e.g. sys.views actually lives in master).

The solution is to put master.dacpac in the place where SSDT expects to find it:

mkdir C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft\SQLDB\Extensions\SqlServer\110\SqlSchemas

copy C:\usr\bin\VS2010\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft\SQLDB\Extensions\SqlServer\110\SQLSchemas\master.dacpac C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\Extensions\Microsoft\SQLDB\Extensions\SqlServer\110\SqlSchemas

-Max

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Morality

Dear J.,

Philosophy and theology bore me, and so does obsessing about moral imperatives and norms. "Should you tell the truth?" as a normative question is less interesting to me than "What happens if you don't tell the truth?" This isn't to say that I'm not interested in doing the right thing, because I am of course. But I'm not really interested in telling people to do the right thing unless they are already interested and motivated to do so. Neither am I very inclined to worry all that much about whether other people think I'm doing the right thing.

Therefore, this blog post seems spot-on to me. He's responding to a guy (Ostler) who is trying to prove that morality in Mormonism has a strong theoretical foundation, just like religions which believe in creation ex nihilo. The writer observes that the theoretical argument is complicated and uncompelling, and maybe even superfluous.

The gospel ("Mormonism") probably doesn't have a theory of moral obligation, and that's probably why I don't either. The gospel is practical, not abstract and theoretical. I hate philosophy.

Happiness isn't something God, from outside of the situation of love, bestows on those who love; happiness is something internal to love itself. It's, in Ostler's appropriate word, a byproduct of love.

I couldn't agree more about all this. My question, then, is simply: Why not begin and end here? Why bother with Kant? I suspect that Ostler's reason is that byproducts aren't enough to ground moral obligation. How can one claim to have a moral obligation to love if one's simply after love's associated affects? (As a byproduct and not simply a product, it might be said that happiness can't be called love's teleology, and so obligation doesn't return in the form of a consequentialist ethics here.) And I think Ostler would be right to point out this problem, were he—as I suspect he would—to do so. But then my question would become: What's so important about moral obligation? Is it so necessary for Mormonism to have a theory of moral obligation? Why can't we say simply that God reveals to us the happy way to live? Why do we need to say that God reveals to us the happy way to live toward which we have an obligation?

All of this is to ask, in the end, why we can't simply agree with the several individuals Ostler refers to at the beginning of the chapter. Why not just confess that Mormonism can't, given its ontological commitments, produce a satisfactory theory of moral obligation? Why not argue that that incapability is one of Mormonism's strengths? Why not agree with the so-called critics that Mormonism is more like training in the good life than exposition of universal moral obligation?

Thoughts? Reactions/response?

Love,
M.

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Science

J,

I wish I really understood the underlying issue here, or had time to think things through. You may want to read the original paper.


Triggered by a comment from Bill regarding the work of  John Ioannidis, I dug through my file of draft posts and found this article by Ioannidis in the Scientific American, about a year ago, entitled An Epidemic of False Claims.  Subtitle: Competition and conflicts of interest distort too many medical findings

Excerpts:

False positives and exaggerated results in peer-reviewed scientific studies have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. The problem is rampant in economics, the social sciences and even the natural sciences, but it is particularly egregious in biomedicine. Many studies that claim some drug or treatment is beneficial have turned out not to be true. Even when effects are genuine, their true magnitude is often smaller than originally claimed.

The problem begins with the public's rising expectations of science. Being human, scientists are tempted to show that they know more than they do. Research is fragmented, competition is fierce and emphasis is often given to single studies instead of the big picture.

Much research is conducted for reasons other than the pursuit of truth. Conflicts of interest abound, and they influence outcomes. Even for academics, success often hinges on publishing positive findings. The oligopoly of high-impact journals also has a distorting effect on funding, academic careers and market shares. Industry tailors research agendas to suit its needs, which also shapes academic priorities, journal revenue and even public funding.

The crisis should not shake confidence in the scientific method.But scientists need to improve the way they do their research and how they disseminate evidence.

-M

--
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mormon Doctrine

Dear K.,


Your friend asks two questions, one about doctrine and canonization and the other about salvation. You asked for my take and I'll give it to you as scripturally and clearly as I can. Hopefully I've gotten all the typos out.


Love,

M.

I. Are prophetic teachings considered canon?

In relation to the first question, "Are the teachings of Presidents of the Church considered canon or just educational material?": while I am comfortable expressing my own opinions, one of the major functions of a prophet is to speak on the Lord's behalf, not necessarily to reveal new and unusual information, but to say it in a way that will touch the heart and enlighten the mind of the hearer. Therefore instead of speaking for myself, I have selected relevant quotations from two past Presidents of the Church (Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee), in which they themselves quote the scriptures and other past Presidents to explain this matter.


[I'm not sure whether the italics in the following are in the original, or if the emphasis was added by me when I threw these quotes into my Gmail account a while back.]


Joseph Fielding Smith - It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside.  My word, and teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them.  Let us have this matter clear.  We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man's doctrine.  You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards of doctrine, only in so far as they accord with revealed word in the standard works.

Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes.  If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it.  If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted." (Doctrines of Salvation, v. 3, p.203-204)

Harold B. Lee - If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion.  The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church.  And if any man speaks a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.  (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 544)

Harold B. Lee – We can know when a man speaks as a prophet. Now, when does a person speak as a prophet?  Do you recall that oft-repeated revelation in which the Lord said:     

"And, behold, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood [and he is talking of General Authorities], whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth-    

"They shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.  

"And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation."  (D&C 68:2-4.)    

This is so when a General Authority is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost.  

Someone has rightly said that it is not to be thought that every word spoken by our leaders is inspired.  The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in his personal diary: "This morning I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that 'a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 278.)

It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write.  I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard Church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator - please note that one exception - you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea."  And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it.  We can know or have the assurance that they are speaking under inspiration if we so live that we can have a witness that what they are speaking is the word of the Lord.  There is only one safety, and that is that we shall live to have the witness to know.  President Brigham Young said something to the effect that "the greatest fear I have is that the people of this church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord" (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 135). 

If upon reading this you find that there are aspects of the standard which rely upon individual interpretation ("how do you know when a prophet is speaking as a prophet?", "was President Lee speaking as a prophet when he said this?"), all I can say is, "Exactly!" There are many things which are true but which are not taught as doctrine, but revealed by the Spirit to an individual as he ponders the scriptures and words of the prophet. Individual study and meditation are a necessary part of the process, including the process of distinguishing where individual interpretation is needed and/or valid. I'm conscious of the irony in this infinite regress: like Hawking's story of the mythical flat earth on the back of a giant turtle carried by other turtles, "It's turtles all the way down!"

(If you've ever studied proof systems in mathematics you'll know that this same infinite regress applies to all proof systems, not just to the gospel.)

II. Who will be saved?

It is fundamental to the gospel, as believed by Latter-day Saints, that not everyone will be saved, and that all who will be saved are saved only through Christ. Alma chapter 1 tells the story of a man named Nehor who "testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life." In practice Nehor's followers were covetous, hard-hearted, and worldly, and they entirely rejected that Christ was needed or would ever come.

It is also true that the word "salvation" has many meanings, depending on the context, both inside and outside the LDS church. (Dallin H. Oaks, as an apostle, gave a General Conference talk on the various meanings which Martin may want to read: link.) Elder McConkie had a specific meaning in mind, in Martin's quotation. I think the best overall explanation is given in Doctrine and Covenants Section 76, from which I excerpt the following out of order:

1.) Those who are (103) "liars, and... adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie..." (106) "are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ... shall have perfected his work" and then receive (89) "the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding".  They are (109) "as innumerable... as the sand upon the seashore."

2.) The (75) "honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men", (79) "who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus... obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God." They receive even greater happiness than the liars and adulterers do, because (91) "the glory of the terrestrial... excels in all things the glory of the telestial, even in glory, and in power, and in might, and in dominion." They (77) "receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father."

3.) Those who (51) "received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial... keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins..." and who (53) "overcome by faith... [and] are just and true" are (54) "the church of the Firstborn" and (62) "shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever." (58-59) "They are gods, even the sons of God—wherefore, all things are theirs," and the glory they receive is (70) "celestial... even the glory of God, the highest of all." Entering into celestial glory requires making covenants, and the reason the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored to the earth was to enable men and women to make and keep celestial covenants.

4.) Finally, there are those who "[deny] the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame... who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels." They are (38) "the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath." They (D&C 88:32) "shall also be quickened [resurrected]; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received."  Usually in the church they are called the "sons of Perdition", which means "loss", and (D&C 88:24) "he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory."

Clearly everybody is "saved" to a greater or lesser degree through the actions of Jesus Christ, even the sons of Perdition who at least receive a resurrection. What kind of "salvation" someone is talking about needs to be judged from the context, but in the Church we tend to talk mostly about celestial glory because that is the Church's raison d'ĂȘtre, and we also want to see everyone attain their full potential. Elder McConkie would, if pressed, admit that murderers and adulterers will receive a kind of salvation, but they will also be missing out on even more, and that is why he said salvation is only available within the Church.

-- 
Hahahahaaaa!!! That is ME laughing at YOU, cruel world.
    -Jordan Rixon

I could not love thee, dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.