Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jolly Hockey Sticks

Eli is enjoying aggravating the Weasel who is having a hard time of it trying to deny that there is an ethical dimension to economics. The lad has dug his claws in and is unlikely to let go, but never mind. It's the old perfect intergenerational problem that economics cannot equitably deal with, a situation where current generations impose costs on future ones, if the future is far enough away. One of the "outs" is that future will be richer and better able to take care of itself, or perhaps a miracle will occur (see Institute, Breakthough). Eli tho has always been one to put it crudely.

Those who make the argument that people will be richer in the future and able to deal better with climate change so let's not bother, obviously feel justified in stealing from the future rich.

Yes, yes, Eli knows about taxes:) but that is the admission fee to civilization another argument, another day perhaps, but no denying these intergenerational problems are moral swamps.

This, of course, assumes that people WILL be richer in the future. Go talk to a Roman in 500 AD. Truth is that per capita resources over many millenia, till about 15-1600 or so or so when they took off. Now one can argue that the bad old days are not likely to return, but one cannot claim that progress is never retrograde.

So your guarantee that the world will grow richer is??? Frankly little better than the Breakthrough Boys' "here occurs a miracle" (or not). Point is that there is no guarantee, that for more of history than not the world has NOT grown richer, that much of the richer in the past four centuries has been from exploiting finite resources, both inorganic and biological and what yah gonna do when the music stops??

Ad exasperation and all that

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crowd-sourced screening of abusive/misogynist comments for women bloggers

I've been reading more in the past few weeks about the type of garbage that women bloggers have to put up with, stuff I've never experienced.  A recent comparison:

 As the New Statesmanblogger David Allen Green told me: "In three years of blogging and tweeting about highly controversial political topics, I have never once had any of the gender-based abuse that, say, Cath Elliott, Penny Red or Ellie Gellard routinely receive."
One way to discourage this is for women bloggers to moderate and screen comments so the abusive ones never get printed.  This adds to the blogger's work load, though (and may not be possible at some work blogs), and more importantly, the anonymous abuser still gets away with exposing the blogger to abuse that ranges from mean-spirited to threats of rape.

The idea I'm suggesting is that for the bloggers who want to do so, they should be able to outsource comment screening to third-party volunteers who will kill the abusive comments (or alternatively, set them aside for later review by the blogger if she wants to check, or alert her if comments go beyond misogyny and make actual threats).  This would deprive the morons of their ability to directly insult the women they're targeting.  I suppose they could try and threaten us reviewers, but they wouldn't even know who we are or what our gender is, so have fun with that.

I don't think it would be too hard to crowdsource the screening:  you're reading for abuse, not trying to handle the content, so it would be a pretty quick and easy thing to do.  A confidence rating system like Ebay uses could help bloggers decide if they trust the reviewers.   We'd need some special software so comments could be redirected in this manner, but I can't imagine it would be that difficult.  An enterprising blogging platform could even attach some discrete advertising to make the project pay for itself.

Just an idea I'll thow out there.  I'd even put some effort into it if someone wanted to make it happen.

(Probably should re-emphasize that the best solution is for the particular men making the comments, to stop.  This is a second-best solution, and only for the bloggers who'd want to make use of it.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eli Explains It All Again

From a comment at Bart's

Richard Tol wrote: “under the most ethical frameworks” is a crucial qualification. The imperative for action does not follow from the science, but rather from the ethics. And indeed it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy.”
This is revealing. First, since science assigns no value to anything, it cannot provide an imperative for action. That leaves economics and ethics. Since the time frame separating action to ameliorate climate change’s bad effects and the effects themselves if no action is taken is so large, economics is basically useless. That leaves ethics.

Which means that Stern was right and Tol was Tol. The Weasel still don't get it and Eli has to spell it out for him:

Carbon taxes are only justified by moral analysis of the problem.

[No, not at all. CT is justified by std economic theory. I strongly dislike trying to solve this on the basis of morality, because I think it is doomed. We don't have a common morality, there is no basis for a framework -W]

Go read Gardiner on the perfect intergenerational problem. WRT climate change earlier generations impose problems on later ones in a way that only benefits the earlier ones.

Where economics plays a part is finding the lowest cost method of sharing the problems equitably. You have conceded the argument without realising it.

[Certainly, if you're doing an economic analysis you're obliged to balance costs and benefits - there is no other way (rather in the way that physics fundamentally depends on maths). But your description is inaccurate: if the economic analysis showed that the costs of the problems was greater than the good of emissions, the std economic analysis would be to not do the emissions. Asserting that economics merely shares out the problems is completely wrong -W]

Eli is curious about the economic theory of Stoat that justifies the Bunny paying squat all for the benefit of Wm.'s grandchildren. Back to basics. What has posterity ever done for us?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Godfather's Pizza and Al Gore

The graph shows a partisan change in approval of Godfather's Pizza since Herman Cain declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination (context here).  Republicans like his former company a lot more now, and Democrats a lot less.

I have in the past been pretty dismissive of claims from right-leaning and other analysts that Al Gore's prominence in climate change activism has much to do with Republican denial of climate reality.  Godfather's Pizza argues in favor of those claims, though.

Obviously, opinion on cheap pizza and on the fate of our climate involve different levels of moral responsibility.  If Republicans react poorly to Gore's warnings, that reflects poorly on them and not Gore.  Still, efforts like the We Can Solve It campaign might need a lot more reinforcement:

Of course, Gingrich has backed off of his earlier interest in reality.  There's only so much you can do, if the Republican leadership is so unwilling to do much anything at all.  Maybe there are a enough younger Republican leaders, people like Chris Christie (or maybe others like Romney and McCain if Romney loses next year), to join in the leadership on the climate movement.  Otherwise it's up to the public.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

No Comment Needed


It get's weirder

FWIW this is an edit of the full hearing with the fireworks but the entertainment value is terrific

For the bunny's further amusement the full Young Rant

And the sum up

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Climate related comments elsewhere

At Same Facts, James Wimberley continues to do a good job IMHO of defending the "solar on track to be cheaper than coal" idea. I wrote:

What I’d be most interested in knowing is the rate of starts for new coal power plants, especially in countries with no local coal supplies (therefore no coal lobby). A new plant takes a couple years to build and 30-50 years to pay off, so [Efficient Market Hypothesis] (if accurate) would expect to see a significant dropoff for these.

At Nature, on a post about whether mastodons got stuck in post-earthquake mud and starved over a period of months, I skepticized:

I follow climate change denialism closely, so I'm very suspicious when non-experts proclaim themselves to be personally incredulous regarding a conclusion by experts. 
That said, as a non-expert, I am personally incredulous that partially submerged mammoths couldn't pull themselves out of the soil when liquefaction had ended. 
Tar pits I can believe. Full submersion and immediate suffocation I can believe. But being stuck in one spot and slowly starving to death without being able to pull their legs out of the soil, is something that needs to be a little more convincing. Maybe they need to a mechanical analysis of soil strength and compare it to an elephant's strength.

Sure felt like an article I would read on April Fool's Day, but what do I know. (UPDATE:  the teeming hordes of pro-stuck-mammoth factionalists attack in the comments, all two of them, and I guess they have a point.)

Finally, not a comment but a link to an interesting NY Times article on growing crops underneath trees.  No mention of albedo issues from trees being darker than typical ag, though.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My review of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire: epic meh

So I can't exactly pan his books seeing as I've read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series in less than three months, but if I could go back in time I'd warn myself, don't do it. Or maybe just read the first book, which is the best, and then watch the HBO Game of Thrones show as it gradually recapitulates the books (disclaimer: haven't seen it, but it gets great reviews).

The series is epic, but it's meh. The level of detail is stunning - I've never read a book with such descriptions of each dish of food at so many meals. The battles and intrigues are epic. And they don't lead to anything. Five books later, and I don't have a sense of a plot line that's really advanced from the beginning. The characters just run around in their clown car of a fantasy world, coming and going to various lands and occasionally getting bumped off. It feels like an alternate history, which is fine, even amazing, but after a while it just all fades into one damn thing after another.

Tolkien could wrap up a story arc in three books. Martin hasn't done it in five - he claims he'll do it in seven, but the last two haven't been written yet, so who knows really, and these aren't quick reads like the Harry Potter books. My suggestion is to just watch the show instead (based on all the rave reviews), it saves a lot of time. Of course, it's too late for me - I'll read the books when they come out.

UPDATE:  I half-expected to either get flamed or ignored, but apparently the rabbits agree that Martin's overrated. They provide alternatives.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Peiser relies on deception

Benny Peiser, sadly, appears to be on the upswing in climate change denialism (and possibly wrong elsewhere, although I don't know the Easter Island issues well). My experience with him is that he made an incorrect factual assertion, stopped making it when caught by a knowledgeable audience, and then repeated the original assertion in front of different audiences that didn't know the truth and didn't know about his retraction. This is the person being quoted by news media today.

I laid out the sequence of events here. To summarize, he claimed in a comment thread at Deltoid to have repeated an analysis by climate historian Naomi Oreskes and found a different result. Other comments proved him wrong. Peiser continued to post in the comment thread without but stopped repeating his assertion that he had replicated Oreskes. Several days later he then repeated the original assertion on a different website where people don't know that he'd been refuted. I also found him repeating it in subsequent weeks, despite saying in email correspondence with me "I [Peiser] don't know" if he had done the same analysis.

I know the media has a problem trying to get accurate information on denialists because this type of deceptiveness is so common there, but they should communicate to the public that their sources like Benny Peiser make claims to the public that they refuse to defend in front of informed audiences. A far better approach would be to analyze the denialists, not for the credibility of their claims but for the politics that the denialists are manipulating.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To fluoridate, someday, and a personal announcement

Previous post dilemmaized over whether and how to fluoridate at my next Water District Board meeting, which was yesterday. Here's the news:

Santa Clara Valley Water District OKs adding fluoride to its drinking water

Silicon Valley's largest drinking water provider took the first steps Tuesday toward adding fluoride to the drinking water in most of Santa Clara County, including San Jose, the largest city in the nation without the cavity-battling additive.

After a lively 90-minute debate at a packed meeting, the board of the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted 7-0 to put the district on record supporting fluoridation.

It could've been 6-1 because of a side issue where I disagreed with my colleagues about creating yet another Board committee to oversee this, but they were willing to split up the vote so I could agree with them on the main issue and then get shot down over the new committee.

If you're so inclined, you can listen to a couple minutes of my comments while looking at uninteresting shot of the board room below (source link here):

Get Microsoft Silverlight

I made clear that I wanted public education on infant formula and on reverse osmosis for those who don't want fluoride, and that we keep checking in on the scientific consensus. I think I'll win that fight. When we'll do this and who will pay for it is less clear. I think it's a legitimate expenditure of public funds, but we're not a public health agency. If they want Water District money to fix people's teeth, my vote would be that they have to wait a while. We need to fix our seismic risks at our dams, restore the environment, and reduce flood damages.

So there ends my fluoride series for this blog. My personal announcement is that after nearly nine years at my day job with the Committee for Green Foothills, I gave notice that it's time for me to do something else, starting in January. It's a great place, but it's time for me to do something new. I am very interested in climate change policy work, but am open to other ideas as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen next.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To fluoridate or not to fluoridate, that is the question. Next Tuesday at my Water District Board meeting

I'll reproduce below most of an old post about fluoridation. I had previously expected to see an identical situation with climate change in terms of the debate, but it's not. I think factors overall favor fluoridating, but not quite as overwhelmingly as I expected. On Tuesday, my fellow Directors and I get to figure out next steps.

Fluoridation opponents have made lots of mistakes in my opinion, but supporters have overstated the consensus. In particular, fluoride levels four to eight times the recommended level do have rare adverse effects, which isn't a huge safety margin in toxicity issues (UPDATE: I mean rare and severe effects - some cosmetic problems to teeth are common). Very slight adverse effects on larger groups would also be hard to rule out.

The Center for Disease Control recommends mixing non-fluoridated water in formula for babies that use formula exclusively. I can also attest to hearing from the significant number of people, if still a minority, who are just anguished that we're putting something they consider toxic in their water. Home-based reverse osmosis systems can remove their fluoride, I think.

And then there's the money cost - over $4m to construct and $800k to operate. We might get funding to construct but get stuck with operating, which people forget is the bigger cost.

So. The staff recommendation is to proceed if someone else pays for it. We'll see. If we do go forward, we may need to educate people about infant formula and let people know they can get reverse osmosis kits if they want.

Anyway, here's most of the old post, with the science:

Fluoridating water, or a funny thing happened on my way to backseat driving

I originally labelled this blog Backseat Driving back in 2004 because I anticipated it to be a blog where I would second-guess decisions made by politicians and other people. That worked out fine more or less until November 2010, when for some reason I was elected to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board. Turns out that San Jose is the largest city in the US without fluoridated water supplies (in much of the city, anyway), and the seven of us directors have to decide whether we'll help or hinder the fluoridation process. So I'm pushed into the front seat for this one.

We've got some legal and economic issues to handle (it's not quite as cheap as everyone says, I want to know where the money's going to come from), but the relevant issue here is science. I read the guest post at climate blogger Coby Beck's place, The Case Against Fluoride, fairly closely a while back, especially the raucous debate in the comments. As a spectator with some, limited reading of the available information, I'd say the fluoridators seemed more persuasive than skeptics, but it wasn't the absolute demolishing that I expected.

The fluoride skeptics really hurt their cause when say fluoride doesn't prevent cavities - it's so obviously effective that people making this claim are damaging their own credibility. I'd consider it comparable to denying that the planet has warmed in the last 50 years.

The closer issue is adverse effects, and whether a substantial number of people are very slightly harmed by fluoridation, or if a small number of people are substantially harmed. The 2006 National of Sciences report doesn't condemn fluoridation, but it doesn't absolve it, either:
Bone Fractures

....Overall, there was consensus among the committee that there is scientific evidence that under certain conditions fluoride can weaken bone and increase the risk of fractures. The majority of the committee concluded that lifetime exposure to fluoride at drinking-water concentrations of 4 mg/L or higher is likely to increase fracture rates in the population, compared with exposure to 1 mg/L, particularly in some demographic subgroups that are prone to accumulate fluoride into their bones (e.g., people with renal disease)....There were few studies to assess fracture risk in populations exposed to fluoride at 2 mg/L in drinking water. The best available study, from Finland, suggested an increased rate of hip fracture in populations exposed to fluoride at concentrations above 1.5 mg/L. However, this study alone is not sufficient to judge fracture risk for people exposed to fluoride at 2 mg/L. Thus, no conclusions could be drawn about fracture risk or safety at 2 mg/L....

(In California, 2 mg/L was the limit, and 0.7 is the new proposed goal. -Ed)

Neurotoxicity and Neurobehavioral Effects

Animal and human studies of fluoride have been published reporting adverse cognitive and behavioral effects. A few epidemiologic studies of Chinese populations have reported IQ deficits in children exposed to fluoride at 2.5 to 4 mg/L in drinking water. Although the studies lacked sufficient detail for the committee to fully assess their quality and relevance to U.S. populations, the consistency of the results appears significant enough to warrant additional research on the effects of fluoride on intelligence....

Endocrine Effects

The chief endocrine effects of fluoride exposures in experimental animals and in humans include decreased thyroid function, increased calcitonin activity, increased parathyroid hormone activity, secondary hyperparathyroidism, impaired glucose tolerance, and possible effects on timing of sexual maturity. Some of these effects are associated with fluoride intake that is achievable at fluoride concentrations in drinking water of 4 mg/L or less, especially for young children or for individuals with high water intake. Many of the effects could be considered subclinical effects, meaning that they are not adverse health effects. However, recent work on borderline hormonal imbalances and endocrine-disrupting chemicals indicated that adverse health effects, or increased risks for developing adverse effects, might be associated with seemingly mild imbalances or perturbations in hormone concentrations. Further research is needed to explore these possibilities....

(Removed discussion of bone cancer as not very troubling given its rarity. Ed.)

These were the most troubling findings, mostly about what hasn't been proven, and mostly dealing with levels that are five times what's planned for drinking water. The report expressly ignored the benefits of fluoridation. It's important to balance out potential concerns over rare, severe complications related to fluoride with the certainty that rare, severe complications can result from cavities.

The bottom line as a policy maker in my little arena is that I shouldn't try and figure out the science myself, but I should try to figure out what the scientific consensus is, figure out where the consensus doesn't yet exist, and then plug that information into everything else we have to balance.

The science seems to favor fluoridation, but it's not a slam dunk. And we still have potential policy barriers, and the overall cost issues. Figuring this all out will be interesting.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tidal wetland sediment accretion might keep up with sea level rise in one location. Maybe.

I attended our annual Santa Clara County Creeks Conference last Saturday, with an even better than usual program that included a panel on tidal wetlands restoration in South San Francisco Bay, where we're bringing back 16,000 acres of tidal wetlands from former saltponds (will post a video link when it's online).

The restoration has barely begun, but the land that sank after being separated from tidal flows has gained sediment rapidly, something that's necessary to create a complex environment of open water, partially submerged, and emergent tidal environments. While it's slowed more after the first few years that individual ponds have been opened to the the tides, they're still adding sediment, two inches annually, far more than the worst projections for sea level rise.

So, good for us. Except that California is a geologically young area with lots of gradients, erosion, and sediment flow. Our particular part of San Francisco Bay might also disproportionately benefit from the "backwash" of sediment from the rest of the Bay.

Our tidal wetlands can keep up where they are, for now, but whether that will work in other places is less clear. Still, it's one small piece of good news that demonstrates the value of restoring tidal wetlands, which have been lost to a far greater extent in the US than even freshwater wetlands have.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Science controversies in Physics Today

In the October issue of Physics Today, Steve Sherwood discusses science controversies, past and present. He discusses heliocentrism, relativity, and greenhouses warming. Heliocentrism and relativity had supporters and opponents at the time, and of course both are taken for granted today. Sherwood, who is co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, makes the analogy to global warming.

Naturally this will infuriate the rejectionists. The publication of the article signals that Physics Today is willing to publish soberly written articles that offend the rejectionists.

This is not the first time that Physics Today has published a timely article, to the great consternation of some physicists. Back in October 1989, during the controversy about Pons and Fleischman's purported discovery of cold fusion, Physics Today reprinted a 1953 article by Irving Langmuir and Robert Hall about "pathological science", including the purported discovery in 1903 of N-rays by the French physicist Rene-Prosper Blondlot.

In the case of cold fusion, Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger became a believer in 1989 and tried to publish articles with his theory of the alleged developments. When his manuscripts were rejected by APS journals, Schwinger resigned in protest from the American Physical Society. This ought to put in perspective the resignation (in September 2011) by Ivar Giaever, who resigned from the American Physical Society in protest of its position on global warming. Giaevar won a Nobel Prize in 1973 for tunneling in semiconductors, a field that is light-years away from climate change. Julian Schwinger was a talented mathematical physicist, but his expertise had nothing to do with Pons and Fleischman's cold fusion experiments.

The take-home lesson: some physicists don't always know as much as they think they do. And this is especially true for Nobel laureates. Nothing is more likely to encourage delusions of omniscience than receipt of a Nobel prize.

And if you think Giaever's beliefs are weird, check out the beliefs of his co-Nobel prize winner, Brian Josephson, who is an enthusiastic believer in parapsychology.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Happy Climate Change Denial Season

From the NY Times, by Brian McFadden

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Hints from Heloise Rabett

So Eli thought everybunny knew this, but some he has recently run into didn't. If someone gives you a form to fill out and you threw the old Selectric out after forging George Bush's discharge papers, what to do? Well you could use Ink ©Steve Jobs, but you could also

a. Scan the damn thing
b. Import it into your WYSIWYG word processor (TeX being a sickness of physicists)
c. Place the image behind the text
d. Type over it
e. Print the combo out or create an Acrobat image using pdf995 or your local pdf printer faker.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Schnarenfreude or The Asylum is Running the Inmates

Schnarenfreude** has broken out at Watt's and the editors are on break. Popcorn please. Eli has a copy.

** if you don't know, David Schnare, the ATI lawyer suing UVa for Michael Mann's Email has been caught in several interesting nononos that are going to destroy ATI's case and David Schnare. Go read.

Ideal human population is 100 billion. Off-planet.

My off planet assumptions are for 200-300 years; that the Moon, asteroids, and free-floating colonies have been settled with lots of people; that Martian life discovery protects Mars from colonization; and that Venus hasn't yet been terraformed. And that there's no Singularity - otherwise all bets are off.* There's lots of room out there in space, and changing some of these assumptions make mine a low-end figure.

I think this is the good way to approach it if you're a space nerd who's deeply concerned about population growth and how little any side of the political spectrum has done to address it. We're not anti-human. Live long and prosper! Just as long as it's mostly out there, where you can't take the sky from me.

On planet Earth, we're messing up big time. What the global ideal population would be depends on trading off numbers against resource constraints. If we don't want resource constraints, want everyone to live like kings, and want minimal harm to the environment, then I think we're looking at 100 million people. If you settle for the median American quality of life with some reasonable technological upgrades to reduce environmental impacts, then we're looking at a billion people, one-tenth of what we'll see in 89 years. For larger numbers with modest environmental impacts, the only way I can imagine an ideal life is if people get most of the high quality of life experiences through virtual reality.

It's a rotten shame that the left in the US has mostly forgotten about the population problem due to some overstatements decades ago, and a fear of doing anything that tar them with espousing a policy that's also espoused for racist reasons by racists. The right is even worse, either ignoring the problem for ideological reasons or dog-whistling racist or fear-inducing reasons to control population. All the above gets magnified tenfold when discussing immigration to the US, where we convert the usually-young immigrants into highly impacting Americans, with descendants.

Maybe we can take the latest milestone of 7,000,000,000 people to do something about population, and even about immigration, without playing into the hands of racists.

*I think we'll pass the Singularity point in less than 50 years.

A little money goes a long way

Scott Mandia has set up a defense fund for climate science which, yesterday had a huge victory. After a hearing in the never ending attach on Mann, Va Judge Gaylord Finch held that

a. Mann could intervene in the suit seeking his correspondence against UVa and
b. He would reconsider his earlier decision to grant access to Michael Mann's Emails before the court decided if they should be made public.

More at Scott's site, the Guardian, and information about the suers of record, ATI

The American Tradition Institute was launched in Colorado in February 2009 as the nonprofit Western Tradition Institute, changing its name to ATI last year. WTI, in turn, was a spinoff of the Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) — a 501(c)(4) political advocacy group backed by energy interests.

“They are offshoots from the same poisoned roots,” said Peter Fontaine, the attorney representing Michael Mann in the ATI lawsuit.

WTP, which has since changed its name to American Tradition Partnership (logo above), describes itself as a “no-compromise grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the radical environmentalist agenda.” It was first registered as a Colorado nonprofit in 2008 by Scott Shires, a Republican operative with a checkered past: He was fined over $7,000 for campaign finance violations in Colorado, pleaded guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal grants for developing alternative fuels, and was tied to an illegal gambling ring. WTP was active on behalf of oil and gas industry interests in the 2008 commissioners race in Garfield County, a center of Colorado’s energy industry

Perhaps the churnalist of record and the not quite statistician should do their jobs rather than tut tutting about how people who recognize climate change when they see it should stop drinking soda and releasing CO2?

A scientist is a feather, a lawyer is a sail

Some time ago I guest-lectured to some undergrads in a science curriculum track about environmental advocacy. I said I had read somewhere that a scientist is a feather and the evidence is the wind - the scientist makes no effort to control the evidence but just floats wherever it takes her. Obviously this is an incomplete construct that ignores hypothesis formation etc., but is supposed to represent the ideal of how a scientist reacts to evidence.

The advocate isn't a feather, neutral as to where the wind blow. I didn't have a good analogy then for an environmental advocate/lawyer, but now I think the advocate is a sail and the evidence is the wind - how and where it blows is critical, but you have a role as well in where you're going. I also like the sail analogy instead of a sailor, retaining the ideal that the lawyer is a tool of the client/sailor (ideally) and isn't in charge of the ship.

What the sail analogy doesn't capture is the idea that legal contests are pattern-fitting contests. One side says the present facts and law fit that side's represented pattern of facts and law, while the other side presents different patterns.

Still working it out.