Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The War on Windchill

Unforeseen Contingencies makes a foray into applied science! I don’t know about other countries, but in the United States and Canada, weather reporting in winter includes “windchill,” always discussed in dramatic and dire terms, and usually explained with “feels like.” It’s become so prevalent and so out of hand that frequently people tell me the temperature, but in fact are reporting windchill, which is not the temperature at all. And asked what “windchill” means, they mumble some vague nonsense about the wind making it colder. This is a sad state of affairs, and “we” at Unforeseen Contingencies will do our part to correct it.

What is windchill?
When I was a child, growing up in Great Falls, Montana, windchill was never mentioned in weather reports, even though Great Falls is notoriously windy.  (On those rare moments when the wind stops, people look startled and say "what's that?!")  When windchill first started being included occasionally, probably around the time I entered college, reports were careful to explain what it really meant. If an unheated object is warmer than its surrounding environment, it loses heat, by convection, until its temperature equals that of the environment. Because the object is transferring heat to the air around it, it’s surrounded by a layer of slightly warmer air, which slows the continued convection. If there’s wind, this layer of air is thinner, that is, it’s blown away, and the object loses heat faster. Windchill is meant to be a measure and predictor of how windspeed accelerates the heat loss.

Windchill was initially developed by scientists, prior to World War II, for military reasons, I think, and was calculated by examining how long it took a bulb of water starting at some temperature to freeze, given various air temperatures and windspeeds. Note that this has everything to do with physical rate of heat loss for an inanimate object. It has nothing to do with perception, “feels like,” or “wind making things colder.” Perhaps it’s useful information for someone planning on spending extended time out of doors, but it gives no important knowledge one wouldn’t have with just temperature and a wind reading.

Why reporting of windchill is bunk.
Windchill is reported as “feels like,” “perceived,” “makes it colder,” and similar nonsense. Windchill is a measure rate of heat loss, for an exposed, motionless, bulb of water, in the original calculations. Don a windproof garment – on yourself, or on the bulb of water, and the windchill changes. Walk against the wind, it changes again. Start running, and it changes again. Turn around, and run with the wind, and it changes yet again; if you time your running speed correctly, there’ll be no windchill at all. Run along on an exposed ridgeline and you’ll get the full force of the wind, and the windchill will depend on whether it’s a headwind, crosswind, or tailwind. But stay behind rows of trees or buildings, or in a protected draw, and you’ll be out of the wind, and the windchill – except for the accelerated heat loss you create by not staying in one place. I have a great difficulty accepting a measure of weather that changes depending on what clothes I wear, what direction I go, how fast, and in what terrain. It’s not a measure of weather at all.

But even stupider is “feels like,” etc. Let’s say, for example, the temperature is 30F with a 50mph. The National Weather Service (U.S.) online calculator rates this a windchill of 18F. I guarantee that (30F, 50mph) feels nothing like (18F, 0mph); I’ve experienced both on more than one occasion. They are very different, they don’t feel even vaguely similar, and I would not dress the same for them. Even goofier is the idea that “the wind makes it colder.” At (40F, 50mph), the windchill equivalent is (25F, 0mph). (Yes, I’ve experienced both.) You can wait all day for your water bottle to freeze in the former, but it will never go below 40. This seems so obvious would I feel silly pointing it out – except that I hear people make this error on occasion. Would these people think, were it sufficiently windy, they could store their ice cream outside? (“Of course not, that would be impractical. Sufficiently strong winds would blow it away.”)

What’s the alternative?
A windchill calculation does not give us information that we don’t have from temperature and windspeed. In fact, it loses information. If one only knows the windchill is 18F, does that call for light insulation and a heavy windproof garment, or fairly good insulation and no windproof? For running, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and other outdoor activities, these are entirely different propositions, and a big deal. It’s much more useful to simply know the actual temperature and whether it’s windy or not. Since windchill will vary with your own direction and velocity, and wind typically blows in gusts and shifts direction, any number is hokum anyway.

And so…
“We” at Unforeseen Contingencies advise that anyone venturing into windy winter weather (i) carry effective windproof outer layer, to be donned as needed, (ii) wear appropriate insulating layer(s), (iii) adjust direction of travel as needed, and especially (iv) stop citing those ridiculous windchill numbers. Join us in our War on Windchill!

Photo: Chief blogger Charles N. Steele cross country skiing at minus 17F (minus 27C) near Great Falls, MT.  Frozen Missouri River in background.

Friday, January 05, 2018

З Різдвом Христовим!

Merry Orthodox Christmas!  (Ukrainian version above.)

For those who, for church purposes, remain on the Julian calendar, January 7 (Gregorian) is Christmas Day.  "We" at Unforeseen Contingencies celebrate both Gregorian and Julian Christmas.  It's a holiday commemorating rescue and redemption, a very hopeful day.  Whether one is a believer or not, it's a good time to remember what a beautiful world we have, to be grateful for our time in it, and to dedicate ourselves to making the most of it.

The Unforeseen Contingencies racing crew is currently in Bozeman, Montana, preparing for tomorrow's FatAss 50K.  Whether any of us will actually cover 50 kilometers is questionable (it's a 5K trail out-and-back, one can run anywhere from one to ten of them and be a finisher) but it is certain we'll have an enjoyable time.

More blogging soon!

Photo: moon setting over Castle Reef, Rocky Mountain Front west of Great Falls.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year!  2018 has already begun some places on Earth.  In Yakutsk, it's a quarter to eight in the morning on January 1st and a balmy minus 27F (minus 32C).  (It's Siberia, that's balmy).  But here in Montana, we're squeezing in the last of the year's activities.  Chaos and I ran this morning and XC skied early this afternoon, racking up a few last miles for the year, and now I'm having a double espresso, my last caffeine of the year.

It's been a remarkably good year, I think, for me but also for the world.  No particular commentary needed here,  just note that 2017 was actually a year of strong economic growth -- that is, of people building and creating and serving each other and bettering themselves -- for most of the world.  That's the big picture.  May 2018 be the same, for us, for our readers (if any) and everyone.

Happy New Year!

Photo: Chaos "dashing through the snow" on last ski trip of the year.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Predictions for 2018

The forecasting team at Unforeseen Contingencies is back in action! After a break at the end of 2017, we are ready to lay out some predictions for 2018. 2017 started in such an unsettled state – mostly owing to the mass hysteria infecting the political class and the left over Trump’s victory, Brexit, and similar failures of the deplorable class to accept their wise guidance. (We’re too full of “mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy…” according to one such “expert leader.”)  (hee hee!) But the swirling of the cup has stopped and the tea leaves settled sufficiently to read the pattern. Here are our predictions for 2018:

Easy Predictions

P1: The “Russian collusion” witch hunt will fall apart, replaced by scandals over the Obama-DNC-deep state-Hilliary conspiracies. Not only were there conspiracies against Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and all other challengers, there were conspiracies by Hilliary Clinton to maximize power and wealth for the Clinton Foundation, conspiracies to protect her, various Middle Eastern skullduggeries to ensure passage of the terrible Iranian nuclear sellout, conspiracies by the IRS against conservative political groups, the “Fast and Furious” conspiracy, illegal interference with the campaign in Israel in the runup to Netanyahu’s re-election, etc. ad nauseum. The political class, including Republicans, would prefer to ignore all this abuse of power, since paying attention is likely to result in the curtailment of power, but we predict they’ll fail.

P2: The DNC “Russian hacking” will prove to have been an inside job, perpetrated by the Awan family. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ IT experts, Imran Awan and the Awan family business, stole emails, reports, data, everything from House Democratic Caucus members. Their criminal activity included much else; we think this helps explain why the DNC refused to give the FBI access to their hacked servers. Of course, DNC collusion with Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele is another reason. I’m sure there’s plenty more dirt as well. But we predict the Awans will be implicated in the leaks.

P3: U.S. economy continues to grow at rates faster than during Obama years. Predicting the economy is always dangerous, because of the vulnerability to things such as interest rate swings, which are potentially volatile. But we predict stability in interest rates. Hence we predict that, comparing December 2018 with December 2017, (i) the unemployment rate will be lower, (ii) the labor force participation rate will be higher (this makes prediction (i) harder to achieve…and actually meaningful), and (iii) at least one month in 2018 will have a higher rate of growth than any month in 2017. That’s three objective criteria, to make up for the lack of such in P1 and P2.

P4: Republican Party retains control of both houses of Congress. One might wonder why I don’t class this as a “High Risk” prediction, or even why we predict it. On the surface, those doubts seem warranted, particularly because the GOP Congressional leadership behaves like an opposition party, and seems to strongly prefer being in a minority – as a minority, they get to complain and act like know-it-alls, yet never have to make tough decisions or bear responsibility. However, there is one thing working against them – the Democrats. Today the Democrat Party seems to be little more than the party of New Left identity politics, that is, of victimhood, demands for handouts, socialism, and hatred of anyone – including moderate Democrats -- voicing a differing opinion. This is not a winning platform, and it also renders proponents incompetent. For example, for most months of 2017, the RNC has beaten the DNC 2 to 1 in fundraising. Dem leaders are at each others’ throats over Donna Brazile’s revelations, Hilliary’s continued inane excuses, and, as in P1, P2, and P3, the bad news for them will continue. They’ll lose.

P5: Record new firearm sales for United States in 2018.  If I'm not mistaken, 2017 was second highest year for sales, demonstrating the degree to which the Democrat Party is in tune with a large number of Americans... which is to say, not at all, since Dems regard us citizens who are merely exercising our rights both as enemies and as problems to be solved.  We expect the trend to accelerate in 2018, as Dems and the left spin further into craziness... which only increases demand for tools of liberty and self-defense.

High Risk Predictions

P6: Palestinians will grudgingly begin steps toward peaceful negotiations, OR Iran will go to hot war with its neighbors, but not both. All sorts of people have condemned the fact that President Trump kept yet another of his campaign promises, and is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They assure us that now the Palestinians will never negotiate, that this means endless and accelerating violence, and that it’s an enormous blunder. They are wrong, and know nothing about negotiating. The position of progressives, foreign policy “experts,” and the political class in general is that when confronted by an enemy, one should appease them, in order to win them over. If that fails, appease some more. If that fails, redouble the effort. Keep going – one must win them over. And whatever else one does, do nothing to offend or irritate. It’s hard to understand why anyone falls for this sort of “strategy,” but fall for it they do.  (N.B. They don't apply this strategy to domestic political opponents such as classical liberals and constitutional conservatives, with whom compromise in unthinkable; it's reserved for genuine enemies.) President Trump’s approach makes far more sense. Come negotiate with us in good faith, or don’t – but don’t expect us to acquiesce to your demands in the face of your intransigence. Contrary to what “experts” say, the Palestinians are going to begin to understand this and grudgingly make at least small steps towards negotiations…and accepting Israel. The one thing that could upset this is if Iran goes to hot war against Israel, or Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, or all of the above – in which case Hezbollah and Hamas will also be at war, reinvigorating Palestinian fantasies of a “final solution.”

P7: No war with North Korea. This one really seems high risk to me, but the Unforeseen Contingencies forecasting team and the Unforeseen Contingencies Korea Desk both assure me it’s the way to bet. P.R. China is not an honest player in curbing DPRK, but the Chinese will still apply pressure to Pyongyang to keep it from going too far. And the absence of appeasement from President Trump’s foreign policy toolkit is at least as important.

Wild Card Prediction

PWildCard: Extra-terrestrial life discovered! As usual, the wild card prediction from Unforeseen Contingencies is that evidence of extra-terrestrial life will discovered and publicly announced. One of these years we’ll get this one right, and when we do our fame will be assured. “We told you so!”

And so…

That’s seven predictions, plus the wild card (rather upbeat predictions at that). Perhaps before the end of the year we’ll round this out to an even ten with three more, and perhaps not. But regardless, Happy New Year to all our readers (UC Subscription Department asks “we have readers?”) and may 2018 be a very good year for liberty, prosperity, and happiness!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas! ...

Merry Christmas, from all of the staff of Unforeseen Contingencies! Gregorian calendar, of course, we'll have another post for Orthodox Christmas.

Julie, Chaos, and I are making our annual December pilgrimage across the Great American Desert, and have arrived safely in Glendive, Montana.  Tomorrow we will proceed to my mother's place in Great Falls.  The trip has been normal, little to report so far... light snow in UP, even lighter snow in eastern Wisconsin, cold weather in Minnesota (with locals commenting on the unusual warmth), high winds and ground blizzards in North Dakota (with everyone, including me, noting that these were very good driving conditions for North Dakota).

But there was one thing slightly unusual that I noticed. In every single store, restaurant, and motel we've stopped, people have wished us a "Merry Christmas."  By my count, this is increasing in popularity.  I think that's important.  I think it's a sign that political correctness is not sinking in.

Yeah, yeah, this is a small and maybe not-random sample, and I suppose one could say it's so minor as to be meaningless.  I disagree.  First, it's the only sample I have, so lectures on what the sample should have been are irrelevant, let's learn what we can from it.  Second, no, it's not unimportant.  The primary way of controlling people is to get them to do it themselves, primarily through intimidation and guilt.  Cracking down on traditional values and beliefs is away to do this.  Well, it's not working.

There was a time when people seemed a bit afraid to say "Merry Christmas," especially in a commercial setting.  But at least in places I've been that doesn't seem to be true now.  Sure, we weren't in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, or Madison, Wisconsin,or Ann Arbor, MI.  But in saner parts of the country, sanity may well be advancing.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2017

What shall we do with returning ISIS jihadis?

Umm... kill them, maybe?

E.U. authorities are expecting 10,000 Daesh recruits to return to Europe, and are uncertain about what to do.  United KingdomSwedish, and Danish authorities are proposing putting returning Daesh fighters to the front of the line for subsidized housing, education, etc.  Canadians are are also talking about how to re-integrate them back into society.,

The Canadian government also notes it would be difficult to prosecute them.  Of course. That's why declaring them enemy combatants, rather than criminals, is important.  It would also be accurate.  German intelligence already said (last year) they have identified 500 Daesh who've entered Germany, and also believe there's a command structure. That's an enemy battalion. (But they don't know where they are - they came in as refugees, and vanished.)  Criminal prosecutions aren't necessary.  A military tribunal should only have to establish that the accused are indeed Daesh (or Al Qaeda or similar enemies).  Once one is identified as an enemy, that's enough.

In WWII, any country that had an enemy battalion slip in would have hunted them down and killed them. And under laws of warfare, including Geneva Convention, summary execution would have been legal since they aren't in uniform.

These returned Daesh are people who volunteered for an organization that recruited by showing videos of beheadings of Christian prisoners, that gave Yazidi women and girls as prizes and sold them in slave markets (after executing their men before their eyes), etc.  Volunteering often involved great personal expense (although, admittedly, European governments often subsidized them, making it more of a taxpayer expense.  (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, and Belgium subsidized Daesh terrorists via the "social safety net.")

Reintegrate Daesh? Guaranteed terrorism ahead.

The story "10,000 are going to return and no one is sure what to do" defines insanity. Don't let them return; killing them, where they are now, is called for, if possible.  And if they make it back, military tribunals and life imprisonment or execution for anyone who was in ISIS.  That won't happen in Europe, of course. Maybe we Americans will prove more sensible.

I can imagine how today's politically correct progressives would have fought W.W.II: storming Normandy Beach, Tarawa, Kursk, Bagration, etc., racing up to enemy soldiers and reading Miranda rights, or offering counseling and welfare benefits.  Or just surrendering.

"10,000 jihadis are coming back, what should we do?"  This is a problem where there's only a military solution.

Photo: Daesh "fighters."  I nominate Angela Merkel, Pierre Trudeau, Stefan Löfven, and Theresa May to rehabilitate and reintegrate  these guys, if they think this such a good idea.

Google does evil

"Don't be evil."  Anyone who takes that as a motto is almost certainly evil.  If you have to remind yourself to not be evil, it's too late.

Here's an example of Google's malice, courtesy of Daily Caller.  The heads of Google censor expression that doesn't fit with their political biases, while pretending to foster freedom of thought and speech.

Hey, Google... don't be evil!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Last race of 2017

This past Saturday evening Julie, Chaos, and I completed our last race of 2017, Running Fit's "Holiday Hustle 5K" in Dexter MI.  It's a very fun race starting on the edge of downtown and running through nice residential neighborhoods, and Running Fit always puts on a beautifully organized and enjoyable event.  We did not run fast, but we ran, and the three of us crossed the finish line together.  It's the first race I've run since surgery, and felt great.  Now, on to 2018!

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