Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tom Nelson's Bad Understand of Geography

UK surface area: 243,610 km2
Earth surface area: 510,072,000 km2

In other words, the UK comprises 0.05% of the Earth's surface area... tell me again why its weather is being portrayed as representative of the globe as a whole?
Winter may be coldest in 1000 years

BRITAIN’S winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years.

Latest figures reveal that the average temperature since December 1 has been a perishing -1C.
That makes it the second coldest since records began in 1659.

US Life Expectancy is now *Dropping*

It got little-to-no attention, but the latest statistics show a drop in U.S. life expectancy.

That's right, an actual drop:
THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy dipped slightly in the United States from 2007 to 2008, according to a new federal report -- the first decline of its type in 25 years.

Life expectancy for Americans in general declined by a little more than one month, from 77.9 to 77.8 years.

Whoever heard in life expectancy dropping anywhere, anytime in the last 100 years? It seems to be too early yet to suss out the reasons. But this bears watching. You have to wonder if the failing U.S. health care isn't partly behind it.

Quote of the Day

"You have about 5 percent of the market that is green and committed to fuel efficiency," said Mike Jackson, the chief executive of AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the country. "But the other 95 percent will give up an extra 5 mpg in fuel economy for a better cup holder."

-- Peter Whoriskey, Washington Post

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

US v Europe

Tell me again why the US is supposed to be the greatest country in the world?
Der Spiegel:
The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane. 
-- Why Germans Think the U.S. is Insane

Tom Minnery Won't Interview

You may have seen the following video, where various conservatives dismiss environmental concerns, and even call it "dangerous:"

I requested an interview with Tom Minnery, Sr VP of Public Policy at Focus on the Family, who appears in the video, dismissing global warming. I asked for a 20-minute interview that I could post here as a podcast.

Devon Williams at Focus on the Family turned me down. His only reason? "Unfortunately, he is unable to accommodate your request. We apologize for any inconvenience...."

Seems to me that Tim Minnery is afraid to answer some solid questions from someone who knows what he's talking about.

If you're going to make outrageous claims, at least have the courage to defend them in an interview. It's difficult to respect anyone who won't do as much.


The target audience of denialism is the lay audience, not scientists. It's made up to look like science, but it's PR. (David Archer)

- from

Too Good

via: Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth, who interviews the video's creator.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cold Spells From Climate Change?

I have to admit, I never understand these explanations about why global climate change is supposed to be behind the cold, snowy weather such as we are recently been seeing.

The New York Times has such an article today: "Bundle Up, It's Global Warming," Judah Cohen, NY Times 12/26/10.

Let's see: overall warming implies (?) cold weather extremes. But snow in Siberia is [why?] increasing. This affects the jet stream and there is now more moisture and... blah blah blah it's supposed to be colder where it's now warmer, and old air from Siberia spills south into East Asia and even southwestward into Europe, and all that.


OK, he's the expert and I'm just a journalist.

But I am still very dubious and have to admit that this all sounds like sophisticated back-filling.

This article reminds me of one that appeared when I lived back in New England: "Why the global deep freeze," by Paul R. Epstein and James J. McCarthy, The Boston Globe, Jan. 28, 2003

Epstein & McCarthy blamed that cold spell on (as far as I can tell) ocean currents, or something.

I've never understood these kind of arguments. Maybe I'm just not an expert. But there seem so many chains of influence that are each somewhat tenuous to cast significant doubt on the final argument. I honestly can't blame the public for being dubious about these kinds of articles and explanations, about being dubious of the claims that global warming implies these kinds of significant cold spells. For I have no doubt that, if it were now a very warm winter in New England or northern Europe, the climatologists and meteorologists would be offering equally logically sounding arguments about why that should be so.

Like I said, I'm just a journalist. But something doesn't smell right here.

The Immaculate Reception

I had a little personal essay in yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"A Christmas miracle: The gods gave us the Immaculate Reception"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 25, 2010.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Health & Religion

Gallup has an interesting poll out today, that speaks to the health benefits of being religious:
Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious....

Very religious Americans make healthier choices than their moderately religious and nonreligious counterparts across all four of the Healthy Behavior Index metrics, including smoking, healthy eating, and regular exercise. Smoking is one area of particular differentiation between the very religious and less religious Americans, with the nonreligious 85% more likely to be smokers than those who are very religious.
We've seen these kind of result before.... But I never know what to make of them.

Who doesn't want to be healthier, right?

But at what cost? I feel that I don't have any choice -- I am an atheist because, simply put, there is no evidence of "God" or any gods. It's not about what is or isn't good for me. It's about the truth, as best I can determine it.

Am I supposed to relax my intellectual integrity for the sake of gaining the added health benefits of religion? I can't do that. Maybe some people can, but I can't.

I don't doubt that there are health benefits to being part of a community, such as a religious community, even when it it founded on nebulous facts.

I've just never felt I had a choice, any more than I have a choice over Newton's Laws.

op-ed: "Wikileaks response exposes U.S. hypocrisy"

I have an op-ed in last Friday's Oregonian: "Wikileaks response exposes U.S. hypocrisy":

A Guide to Cherry-picking Temperature Data

With enough cherry-picking of the starting and ending years, you can usually get any temperature trend you want. Here is a nice diagram that shows that -- and that shows that you have to cherry-pick hard to cover up the long-term warming trend:

Here's how to read this diagram: the value plotted at point x = 1980, y = 60 corresponds to the 60-yr trend (°C/yr). (Note: trend is per year, not per decade.) The data source is Hadley's global temperature data (HadCRUT3).

This is from a new paper in BAMS: "Influence of choice of time period on global surface temperature trend estimates," Brant Liebmann et al, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Nov 2010 p 1485. As the authors write:
It is evident that time segments of a few decades or shorter can exhibit either warming or cooling trends, while trends for longer segments are mostly positive, though quite weak compared to those present in shorter segments.

Here's an different presentation of the same data, that shows total temperature change for any interval, versus (as above) the trend:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


"Generally speaking, the smarter move is to invest in the Tiffanys of the world—and shop at the Wal-Marts."
-- Brett Arends, Why I Don't Want an iPad for Christmas, Wall Street Journal

Today's Depressing Statistic on Space Travel

Voyager 1 has been traveling for about 33 years and is now the most remote human-made object, about 16B km from Earth, or 115 AUs (astronomical units). That's about 2.7 times the average distance to Pluto (from the Sun), which sounds impressive until you calculate that it's only 0.0017 light-years.

The nearest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light-years away. In other words, Voyager (traveling about 15 km/sec) has only covered 1/2500 of that distance. In 33 years.

At this rate it would take until the year 84,000 A.D. to get to our nearest star, if it were traveling in the right direction. (It's not.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Strange Photo from Hubble

I hadn't seen this Hubble photo before, but just noticed it on the Boston Globe's Bigpicture Blog: a photograph of a very weird starfish-like object, thought to be the result of a collision between two asteroids:

Time to Polarize the Hull Plating

The AP says that "More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined."

The guys who have to pay for this ought to know, right?
Disasters from the Earth, such as earthquakes and volcanoes "are pretty much constant," said Andreas Schraft, vice president of catastrophic perils for the Geneva-based insurance giant Swiss Re. "All the change that's made is man-made."
"Through Nov. 30, nearly 260,000 people died in natural disasters in 2010, compared to 15,000 in 2009, according to Swiss Re. The World Health Organization, which hasn't updated its figures past Sept. 30, is just shy of 250,000. By comparison, deaths from terrorism from 1968 to 2009 were less than 115,000, according to reports by the U.S. State Department and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory."


In the summer, one weather system caused oppressive heat in Russia, while farther south it caused flooding in Pakistan that inundated 62,000 square miles, about the size of Wisconsin. That single heat-and-storm system killed almost 17,000 people, more people than all the worldwide airplane crashes in the past 15 years combined.
The excessive amount of extreme weather that dominated 2010 is a classic sign of man-made global warming that climate scientists have long warned about. They calculate that the killer Russian heat wave - setting a national record of 111 degrees - would happen once every 100,000 years without global warming.
There are lots more interesting facts in the article.

Surprising they don't mention 2004, the year of the Boxing Day Tsunami, which killed about 230,000. That shocked me and still does. But until I read the AP article I didn't realize that the Haiti earthquake was about the same, killing 220,000. Why don't I feel the same degree of shock over that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gallup News, Good and Bad

Good News and Bad News from Gallup Polls:
  • Only 45% of Americans now get their health insurance via their employer. This is down from 50% only three years ago. Three years ago, 14.8% of Americans had no health insurance coverage. Now it's at 16.1%. Does anyone complain? Are there any protests? Do Republican Congressmen even notice? Do Democratic Congressman notice? Why isn't this considered a crisis of the highest order?
  • 40% of Americans believe in "strict creationism." That is, they "believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago." 
This last point raises the question: does a country of such incredible stupidity deserve to continue into the future? Maybe global warming and the our other environmental/scientific problems are Nature's way of weeding out those societies who are too irrational to make the cut, who are too... well, too stupid to deserve to continue.

The End of DADT

Wow, something positive just actually happened in this: Don't Ask, Don't Tell will end and gays and lesbians will be able to openly serve in the US military. (Or, as a commenter on Kevin Drum's blog put it, "now gay people are free to help the neocons terrorize the middle east and otherwise sow chaos throughout the world. Yeah!")

As Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, "I don’t care who you love. If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are."

This is a big victory for what America is all about (and naturally, those who consider themselves the biggest patriots screamed the loudest against it). And it was an inevitable victory, as these things always are, though it took far longer than it should have. MLK Jr said "...the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Now it bends a little more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Watts Up With This Error?

Here is why you shouldn't take blogs for your scientific advice:

Anthony Watts writes that GISS's global temperature anomaly is (suspiciously) higher than that obtained by satellite measurement by UAH:
Hansen feels the need to explain why GISS is high in the midst of frigid air
I was working on a general report yesterday, but in checking background for it, I discovered this recent missive from Dr. Hansen. I suppose when your agency is the “odd man out”, you feel a need to explain yourself. Note the difference in November 2010 global temperature anomaly metrics:
UAH: 0.38 GISS: 0.74°C
Apparently it never occurred to Watts to actually compare the numbers scientifically -- that is, to note that GISS's baseline is 1951-1980 and UAH's baseline is 1981-2010. So it's little wonder that GISS gets a higher number.

This is how, I suppose, you get elected one of the best scientific blogs of the year. How reassuring.

Energy Pipe Dreams

Here is an interesting review of the quest for renewable energy, straight out of Green Central (Portland, Oregon):
In April 2001 the Portland City Council under the leadership of Mayor Vera Katz approved an aggressive plan aimed to combat global warming by decreasing carbon emissions by 10% from their 1990 levels by 2010, thus making Portland an icon in the renewable energy movement. An important part of this plan mandated that the City of Portland acquire one hundred percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010. This would be accomplished through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from public utility companies, renewable energy installations at city and county facilities and the sponsorship of local renewable energy projects. Nine years later the City of Portland has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of a government-led push for renewables by utterly failing to achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy. As of 2010 only 9% of the Portland city government’s power comes from renewable energy sources.
Via the Oregonian, via a report by the (free market) Cascade Policy Institute.

Is there any reason to believe that anyone, anywhere, can make reductions in their CO2 emissions until we admit that these reductions cannot be made by willpower alone but require a massive, almost total rebuilding of the energy infrastructure, at all levels?

PS: Beware, though, that the Cascade Policy Institute is another of those conservative astroturf organizations who won't reveal their funding. They aren't interesting in solving the problem, just raising doubts about it.

Today's Nugget of Wisdom

"You have been negotiating all my life," 21-year-old Mima Haider of Lebanon told delegates at the United Nations climate negotiations in Cancún. "You cannot tell me you need more time."
-- from "The Cancun Compromise" by Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation, Dec 16, 2010

Climate Poll

Everyone else runs unscientific polls, so why can't I?

Over on the right side of this page is a simple question: compared the the start of this year, are you more or less confident that average global temperature can be kept below 2°C, compared the preindustrial baseline? (Right now world temperatures are at about 0.7-0.8 °C above baseline.)

Remember, 2.0°C = 3.6°F.

Voting closes at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Incredible -- Mooney on AGU Board!

This is impossible to believe -- Chris Mooney has been appointed to the board of the American Geophysical Union!

Jesus--are there no standards anymore, anywhere?

Mooney has repeatedly shown himself to be a disaster as far as science and science communication is concerned. He is utterly biased politically and has demonstrated no objectivity -- first writing an utterly biased book that attacked the right but ignored all the massive leftist misconceptions of science (such as GM foods and Alar and the like), and, worse, acted like "opinion journalism" is a valid way to encounter science. It is not, but merely the weak fall-back position of someone who cannot be bothered to actually study and understand the relevant science.

Mooney's second book, on the the supposedly stormy weather that the world is supposedly bound to experience, has been an utter bomb, as shown by (among other studies) Ryan Maue's tabulation of Accumulated Cyclonic Energy (ACE) for the last several decades -- currently at a 35 yr low.

Mooney is an ENGLISH MAJOR! He knows nothing about science, let along the geosciences, and has demonstrated this time and time again with utterly bad and irrelevant advice. He thinks that he, a mere liberal arts major who probably doesn't even know what a differential equation is, can dare to tell PhD scientists how they should behave.

Has the AGU suddenly lost all concern for scientific competence?

Don't You, Sort of, Miss College?

Interesting Things

Some interesting stuff:
  • "The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth's Climate History," talk by Richard Alley (Penn St Univ), AGU Fall Meeting 2009
  • Currently, the desert (U.S.) Southwest uses 76 percent of its total surface water to support its population. This will rise to 86 percent with a doubling of urban population (expected in 50 to 100 years). Sustainable balance for the region is achieved when 40 percent of total surface water is used.
  • More evidence that money does not buy happiness: "Across a worldwide sample of 37 countries, rich and poor, ex-Communist and capitalist, Easterlin and his co-authors shows strikingly consistent results: over the long term, a sense of well-being within a country does not go up with income.
  • Wimps or victims? We're getting sicker...."A 20-year-old today can expect to live one less healthy year over his or her lifespan than a 20-year-old a decade ago, even though life expectancy has grown."
    "A male 20-year-old today can expect to spend 5.8 years over the rest of his life without basic mobility, compared to 3.8 years a decade ago — an additional two years unable to walk up ten steps or sit for two hours. A female 20-year-old can expect 9.8 years without mobility, compared to 7.3 years a decade ago.
    "There is substantial evidence that we have done little to date to eliminate or delay disease while we have prevented death from diseases," Crimmins explained. "At the same time, there have been substantial increases in the incidences of certain chronic diseases, specifically, diabetes."
  • Calculating carbon footprints can be quite uncertain....

Wikileaks and Government Secrecy

Some recent links on Wikileaks I have come across, especially regarding government secrecy:

The Atlandtic: Wikileaks vs the growing culture of official secrecy & 
stilling of public discourse

In context with Wikileaks vs habitual secrecy, Wash Post. "Top Secret 

Bill Moyer's Journal. Rick Karr on Government Secrecy (video).

More on the growth of gov. secrecy. Bill Moyer's Journal - The Need to Know.

RT @DanielEllsberg EVERY attack now made on Assange and @wikileaks was made 
against me and release of Pentagon Papers

RT @wired Military bans disks, threatens courts-martial to stop new 
#WikiLeaks -

RT @fastcompany With @WikiLeaks Looming Large, @StateDept Announces Hosting 
of Press Freedom Event

Infoworld: WikiLeaks persists despite massive, multifaceted attacks

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oregon's Gas Tax

Oregon is raising its tax on gasoline by 6 cents/gal when the new year starts (to repair bridges and roads, politicians say), and naturally people are whining about it. But, in fact, in real dollars OR's gas tax, even with the increase, will be the the lowest it's been in about 20 years - and quite low by historical measures:

Funny thing is, Oregon's roads are generally in pretty good shape, in my experience, compared to roads back east, because they don't undergo significant/any thaw-freeze cycles. (I never knew about "frost heaves" until I moved to rural New Hampshire, but they can be legendary.) On the other hand, there is a bridge in Portland, the Sellwood Bridge, that everyone expects to crash down at any minute.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


“You are complete joy to me,” Mrs. Edward wrote. “I hope you will always know that. Wherever I am, wherever you are, I have my arms wrapped around you.”
-- Elizabeth Edwards, letter to her children

What Science Isn't

Phil Mote, Oregon State University:
"You can't just spend a weekend with an Excel spreadsheet and issue comments. I wanted to make sure that what we were passing out was scientifically vetted." (Oregonian, Nov 27, 2010).

Climate Stuff

  • GISS's data says last month was the warmest November in their records: +0.74°C. That's a lot higher than RSS or UAH and perhaps a bit suspicious, or maybe that they have better polar coverage.
  • GISS also said that 2010 was the warmest meteorological year (Dec 1 - Nov 30) in their records: +0.65°C above the 1951-1980 baseline. (2005 is in second place.)
  • If a country is inundated by rising seas, does it still exist?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Actors at Any Age

In the upcoming remake of "Tron," actor Jeff Bridges is digitally altered to look much younger. He thinks this is a good thing:
In "Tron: Legacy," which opens Dec. 17, 61-year-old actor Jeff Bridges will play Kevin Flynn, at his natural age, and a computerized avatar called "Clu," who hasn't aged since around the time he was first created in the original Tron in 1982.
Clu bears Bridges' face, altered to make him about 35 years old, but it's grafted onto a younger actor's body.
While it may be eerie for audiences to see a new performance from a younger-looking Bridges, it was no less strange for the actor himself.
"It's bizarre. It's great news for me, because now it means I can play myself at any age," Bridges said.
I am not so sure. I think audiences like seeing actors they are familiar with play different roles, and they like seeing their evolution over time. They don't want to see them playing roles they should have played 30 years ago.

(I didn't understand this until recently. I remember being a kid and being puzzled about why my parents and/or grandparents were so keen on identifying actors in movies and equating them with previous roles. Now that I'm older I understand it and I understand why we like seeing familiar actors in new roles in new movies.)

As just one example: Jeff Bridges was wonderful in the 1973 version of "The Iceman Cometh." I only saw this performance last year, and you really have to see it if you like good, old-fashioned drama. It's a wonderful movie of a wonderful play, and Jeff Bridges did a very memorable job in it (as did several other actors).

Bridges' youth was a crucial part of his role in TIC. It was indispensable. But you can't put a 61 year old's face on that body and get the same play, or put a 25 year old's face on that body and get the same play. It's more than a matter of looks, but one of attitude and inflection and diffidence. Any actor must know that.

I'm sure Bridges would like to extend his career. We all would, or will, at his age. But it can't be done.

And yet, I'm sure it will be done, and the art of acting will suffer for it -- though producers and studios will make lots of money off of it so that, like all things, it will turn into profitable crap.

Travel Trade-Offs for Scientists

A letter in the most recent issue of Science puts it bluntly -- scientists have a large carbon footprint. Is this bad? I don't know.... I suspect that the carbon footprints of all professionals in all fields are larger than average -- but then, so is their impact. In fact, I would expect (but cannot prove) that their impact and carbon footprint are correlated.. But how do we decide such things? Should there be a straight, proportional cost for one's carbon footprint?
Almost certainly, as individuals, scientists are responsible for an order of magnitude more greenhouse gas emissions than the average global citizen, in large part due to travel associated with our scientific interactions, presentations, and service to the scientific community....

Scientists must lead the charge against “business as usual” by demonstrating a different way of doing business. The technology is available, and it is time for us to find ways to promote scientific progress without contributing so substantially to the climate change problem we study.    
-- "Travel Trade-Offs for Scientists," Ingrid C Burke, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Science v 330, 10 Dec 2010, p 1476

PS: But it's going to be a very boring world if we all have to stay home and do everything by teleconference....

Consensus, or Not?

Isn't it funny how climate change deniers stomp up and down to insist there is not such thing as "consensus" in science... and then repeatedly make lists about all the scientists on their side?

Basic Physics

"If  you put heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, it will trap heat. It's basic physics."

-- Waleed Abdalati, Director of the Earth Science and Observation Center, University of Colorado.

China's Response to the Nobel Prize

Liu.pngWatching official China stomp and whine after the Nobel Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo is really quite amusing (and, as well, rather sad). They seem like a six-year old -- or, rather, like any bully who ever lived. James Fallows nails it:

The Chinese central authorities no doubt intend all these as demonstrations of strength. In the rest of the world's eyes, of course, there could be no more dramatic demonstration of weakness and insecurity

Ai Wei Wei, a Chinese artist who was recently prohibited from leaving the country:
"If the Chinese people ... don't know why this prize should be given to Liu Xiaobo, now they should understand."

Too Good Not to Post

Arctic Sea Ice (Extent) Again at a Minimum

These things fluctuate, but right now Arctic sea ice extent is the lowest it's been, for this date, in JAXA's nine year history. I'm just sayin'.

Ice volume (the better metric) looks as scary as always.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hillary Clinton Before Wikileaks

Hillary Clinton, Jan 2010:
In many respects, information has never been so free. There are more ways to spread more ideas to more people than at any moment in history. Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.
During his visit to China in November, President Obama held a town hall meeting with an online component to highlight the importance of the internet. In response to a question that was sent in over the internet, he defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity. The United States' belief in that truth is what brings me here today.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


“In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble,”

-- Ron Paul

Sunday, December 05, 2010

On "American Exceptionalism"

Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State puts it accurately and succinctly:
After the European settlement, strange ideas about "manifest destiny" were used as an excuse to push Native Americans from their land. Later, in the antebellum South, some preachers routinely endorsed the thesis that slavery, American-style, was endorsed by God. Today's "exceptionalists" are really no different, a theologian's equivalent of the child in the backseat telling his sister that "Mom likes me better than you!"
God doesn't play favorites among nations. Any "exceptionalism" in the United States is because of the character of her people and a structure of government which doesn't pick sides in theological debates either. When we start thinking that God is patting us on the head more regularly, we'll be "exceptional" only for our vanity and pride.

Christopher Booker Has No Shame

Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker has such a incorrect, stupid, and dishonest sentence (in an otherwise incorrect, stupid, and dishonest column) that it's impossible to believe it could appear in newspaper at all concerned with its reputation -- or even simple honesty. Booker writes:
"Far from the oceans acidifying, their pH currently ranges between 7.9 and 8.3, putting them very firmly on the alkaline side of the threshold, at 7.0."
This is just unbelievably stupid. I can't even believe even Booker thinks this is an accurate description of ocean acidification, which is, of course, about the ocean's pH getting lower, regardless of its starting point.

As others have noted, "ocean acidification" is not perhaps the most compelling term, especially in a scientifically illiterate world that seems to need every little detail spelled out. But Booker's statement is akin to saying that a temperature increase from -10°C to -5°C isn't "warmer" because it's still below the freezing point.


Leaks, China vs U.S.

Commenter in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The U.S.government is doing the same thing to Wikileaks that the Chinese government did to Google.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Schizophrenia in Action

Washington Times, Dec 2: "Wave Goodbye to Internet Freedom"

Washington Times, Dec 2: "Assassinate Assange"

Ron Paul on Wikileaks

Ron Paul Tweet:
"Re: Wikileaks - In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble."

Thursday, December 02, 2010


"Anytime's A Good Time To Move On."
-- "Anytime," My Morning Jacket

Oregon's "Civil War"

Here in Oregon the annual football game between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University is referred to at "the Civil War." This year it happens this Saturday.

I'm not sure why, but I've always found this offensive.

620,000 Americans died in the (real) Civil War. (So horrible was this war that more were killed than wounded.)

If the same happened today, the equivalent number would be over 6 million. That's impossible to even imagine.

Of course, Oregon barely existed during the real Civil War. It got statehood in 1859, and had a "whites only" clause in its state Constitution. Some of its men went east to fight, but Oregon saw little-to-no blood.

Maybe it's because I grew up in Pennsylvania, but the Civil War was always big in my mind. I probably went to Gettysburg six times by the time I was 15, on various field trips or vacations, and each time (it seemed) we'd go to the the theater-in-the-round and see the electronic map of the battle and then go see Little Round Top and the field where Pickett's charge took place. I still remember an exhibit in a Gettysburg museum of two bullets that met in mid-air and fused together. Can you even imagine?

If I believed in reincarnation I'd swear I was killed behind a certain stone wall in Devil's Den.

Anyway, the Civil War seemed real to me. But I don't get the impression here that it seems very real here. So it's easy to name a football game for it. Lots of states have competing universities who are rivals on the field. But no one else thinks it's the Civil War. I think Oregon is treating a terrible tragedy too cavalierly, and usurping something they didn't earn.

Some Interesting Stuff

The WMO says 2010 will be one of the three warmest years since record keeping began in 1850. More significantly, the first decade of this century will be (by far) the warmest decade. "There is statistically significant warming above the normal variability," says the WMO's Director General.


The Oregonian has a nice profile of OR State Univ climatologist Phil Mote, who heads the Oregon Climate Change Research Center.