Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Libya wrap-up: Nato should stay away from Sirte, Alexander Cockburn should stay away from analysis

1. The hard part in Libya is over, and an easy path to clean, Norway-style petro-democracy lies ahead. (Pssst - no, I don't actually believe that, but so many people are warning us not to believe it that I thought I could drive traffic here by being the only person on the Internet saying it, who could then get linked and debunked by all the wise people out there.)

2. I was pretty unconcerned about Obama's War Powers Act violation, but maybe I can balance it here: Nato/US air support for the final attack on Sirte and maybe Sabha is illegal and unethical, although it might make good politics. I'm not aware of any evidence that Gaddhafi forces are attacking civilians in Sirte, where his tribal affiliations seem to keep him popular. Nato's right of action is to protect civilians, so that legal justification goes away. Ethically, the loss of air support might make the TNC a little more willing to negotiate things to avoid bloodshed. While the TNC has the natural right to revolution and this battle appears to be the final stage of exercising that right, it's their right and not Nato's when civilian protection isn't involved.

3. I am also concerned about a President Rick Perry using the Libya precedent to justify a repeat of the Venezuelan military coup, but this time with US air support in an internal war. Or maybe somewhere else like Bolivia. However, this type of Flubber argument isn't enough to overcome the value of our justified involvement in saving civilians and helping the Arab Revolution continue.

4. It remains mysterious to me why the rebels successfully fought off military force for over two weeks early in the revolution, then collapsed and had to be rescued. This led to my rotten prediction of quick victory in late February, although ultimately it seems correct. The rebels had two weeks of military success in a time period I figured that they would be the most disorganized, so I thought there was no turning back. I've yet to see analysis explain why Gaddhafi was unsuccessful for the first two weeks and then turned things around. I'll guess that he couldn't and didn't trust his own forces and had to fight an auto-coup first, but that's just a guess.

5. News reports generally described the war as a stalemate from late March to end of July, even early August. By mid-May, they were wrong (see the previous link). I think you could start a one-month rule looking forward from that point: virtually no territory rebels held a month earlier would be taken from them a month later, and rebels always held more territory than they did a month earlier. Maybe it was a stalemate in the east, but rebels were slowly winning in Misurata and the west.

6. In the field of Libya predictions that start wrong and stay wrong, let's try Alexander Cockburn, one of the very few lefties who also disbelieves in climate change:

It requites no great prescience to see that this will all end up badly. Qaddafi’s failure to collapse on schedule is prompting increasing pressure to start a ground war, since the NATO operation is, in terms of prestige, like the banks Obama has bailed out, Too Big to Fail. Libya will probably be balkanized.

(Via Juan Cole.) He got his lack of prescience right, at least. I think Cockburn has his own version of hippie punching. He hates liberals from a leftist perspective, so anything moderate liberals believe is therefore wrong. I'm not aware of any evidence that he's backed from his climate denialism, btw, but I'm happy to bet him if he wants to put his money where his mouth is.

7. Domestic politics means the US is locked into a biased position on the Arab-Israeli conflict that will remain a major obstacle in relations with Arabs. However, the same domestic politics creates problems for China and Russia regarding the Arab Revolution. It might take some time, but the US and Western Europe might slowly generate some goodwill, because the Arab Revolution isn't going away.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Climate probabilities have multiple outcomes over time (Roger forgets the Fourth Dimension)

At the risk of repeating Roger Jr.'s mistake of not really knowing what I'm talking about, it seems like the fact's been obscured that we're betting not on one climate outcome at a single point in time but at multiple points in time.

To go back to the betting on a weighted die analogy, we're not just betting on a single outcome, but how often the die face saying "getting even warmer" shows up at each point in time as the die rolls. And we're able to make new bets at each point in time. From a policy perspective, we're able to use past experience with models to decide if we want to continue to rely on those predictions.

A related flaw in the delayist/denier argument is the alleged long-term consequences of policies - based on supposedly incorrect predictions of change - won't actually happen. If the predictions are wrong, we can stop investing in seawalls and solar panels in a decade or two. We'll have multiple outcomes over time to test those predictions.

(Per the comments, the title has been updated.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

No Title Again

The weasel likes to recycle his comments, so why not? RP Sr. has shown up in the comments over at John Nielsen Gammon's blog to defend the family honor (John is not exactly buying, but he is very polite and it is worth reading). Among this that and the other Senior wrote

RPS said:

There is also conflicting information on the other climate metrics that you present, such as glacial retreat. It is more complicated as there are quite a few glaciers that are advancing.
Eli replied

As compared to how many are retreating this is declaring the needle a haystack and a warning sign that the author is playing with 53 cards.

Do not play with a joker who is using 53 cards.

Clowns on Ice

Unhappily for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior Inspector General, PEER has been putting all of the material from their jihad against Charles Monnett on line. Eli has been picking up a few crumbs.

All the bunnies know that Dr. Monnett has been directed to go back to work AND that there is now an investigation of BOEMRE AND that the Department of Justice has declined Eric May's polite suggestion of a criminal prosecution, but Eli can go a bit further by pointing first to the letter of suspension that put Monnett on administrative leave with pay which states in the first paragraph

You will remain on administrative leave pending the final results of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into integrity issues
but now we have the BOEMRE spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz saying

The return of an employee to work does not suggest that future administrative actions cannot/will not be taken. Federal regulations create a presumption against lengthy administrative leaves. Lengthier administrative leaves are reserved for exceptional situations when all other options are considered insufficient to adequately protect the government's interests.
But wait, there is more. The latest letter from the IG's office is not from Eric May, but David Brown, the Special Agent in Charge, they are providing some adult supervision, and Brown is still headed down the yellow brick road.
Regarding the Mineral Management Service's sole source Contract # 1435-01-05-CT-39151, you admitted to assisting Dr. Andrew Derocher in preparing his proposal in response to the government's Request for Proposal (RFP). You further acknowledge that you then filled the position as Chair of the Technical Proposal Evaluation Committee (TPEC) for this particular contract. Accordingly, as the Chair of the TPEC, you were the government official responsible for reviewing Dr. Derocher's Proposal in order to ensure the Proposal met the minimum qualifications of the RFP. Essentially, you admitted that you reviewed a Proposal as the Chair of a TPEC, and thus the government official responsible for protecting the government's interest, that you helped draft.
How does Eli know that the OIG is headed right into the swamp? There is a letter on the PEER site from another contracting officer's technical representative who is [snark] asking for additional training.
Although I have been on Agency Technical Proposal Evaluation Committees (TPECs) for 30 years and a Contracting Officer’s Representative/Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative/Project Officer (COR/COTR/PO) for over 20 years, the issues being raised by Office of Inspector General (OIG) in regard to Dr. Monnett demonstrate that my COR training is incomplete. I therefore request that BOEMRE provide me and other CORs additional training in appropriate COR/pre-COR appointment/ potential contractor/grantee interactions. I recommend that such training be the focus of COR certification renewal training that is required during the current 2-year recertification period. This may be particularly important training for the inexperienced, first-time CORs who have taken over most of Dr. Monnett’s contracts.
and he goes on to ask some embarrassing questions
Sole-Source Contracts State of Understanding:

o I am unclear what I can share in a proposed sole-source contract. Obviously we need to find out whether the proposed sole-source “contractor” is interested and available before it makes sense to try to establish the Solicitation. FAR 15.201 encourages contact and exchange with interested parties until the solicitation is issued; at which time, further exchange of information must start going through the CO. Once the decision to solesource has made past the FedBiz notification period without comment, the language in FAR 15.201 suggests sharing of draft RFPs, one-on-one meetings, etc. with the one potential Offeror (see FAR 15.201(c)) is appropriate and encouraged. The language in FAR15.201 suggests that discussion of a presolicitation draft proposal based on a draft RFP could be appropriate in a sole-source contract for agency “participants in the acquisition process.” However, if the COR participates in any of these presolicitation, encouraged contacts and exchanges and then as usual serves as the TPEC Chair for the subsequent proposal, has the COR, in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft?” Detailed training should be provided on the application of FAR 15.201 in sole-source procurement.
with several further examples
o I am unclear what I can share in a proposed cooperative agreement. We can have
competitive contracting or a sole-source co-op. Obviously, for the latter, we need to find out whether the co-op “contractor” is interested and available before it makes sense to try to establish the co-op. In either case, the meaningful participation role of the PO in the co-op has to be established before the Proposal can be approved. The TPEC-chair PO then reviews the revised proposal and in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft.” Training should clarify why this help in preparing Proposals and then reviewing them is okay for co-op proposals.
The bunnies should remember that the Derocher proposal started as a coop agreement.
o The CMI Program Announcement suggests that “Proposals for topics that may be highly relevant…should be discussed with the CMI Director and BOEMRE contracts in advance of proposal development.” The BOEMRE contact is the PO and in the language of the OIG the PO would have “assisted…in preparing…Proposal.” The PO manages the review of the initial submitted Proposal. Authors of proposals which make it through the subsequent Technical Steering Committee review are told to contact the PO to discuss changes the PO wants in the proposal, including providing a meaningful participation role of the PO in the project. The PO then reviews the revised proposal and has in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft.” Training should clarify why this help in preparing proposals and then reviewing them is okay for CMI proposals.
The snark light is lit. Smoke em'.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Winds of Change

Environmental journalist Eugene Linden, in an excellent article in the Los Angeles Times, writes that climate change is already having bad effects, even (or perhaps especially) on states whose governors loudly sneer at anthropogenic global warming: Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Texas governor Rick Perry proclaimed three official days of prayer, in which the good citizens of Texas prayed fervently for rain, with predictable results.

Linden is the author of a 2007 book, The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations.

The LA Times is a real newspaper. Too bad Las Vegas doesn't have one.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm trying not to porkbarrel, but it's complicated

I haven't written much about my glamorous life as an international spy water district director, but I thought about it today as I spent my Saturday politely sparring with officials from other agencies.

I got elected on an environmental agenda but have spent as much or more time dealing with money and budget issues. That's appropriate - the public doesn't want the Water District dollars wasted.

So here's the real tricky part - I often try to help our taxpayers and ratepayers by fighting with other agencies over who's going to pay for what, but if we're just transferring costs amongst ourselves, are there any real savings?

I think the answer is partly yes - an efficient allocation of resources depends on the communities that receive the benefits being the ones that pay for them (adjusting for any transfers done to fix social problems). Agencies and communities that want our resources without pitching in comparably will demand more than they should, and our community will be willing to pay less than they should.

In today's example, we have a creek flooding issue that crosses two counties, and since more flooding happens on our side, it's somewhat appropriate that we've been paying more. At the same time we also have tidal flooding that will get worse from sea level rise that's partially integrated with our creek flooding (someone tell Roger about that) but is also more evenly spread between the two counties. I supported beginning plans to rebuild the levees to address the tidal flooding, but also said that if damages are more equal between counties then we have to revisit cost allocations. I want the problem addressed and the costs addressed appropriately.

So how does this fit a Stoat post on the failings of politicians? I guess we need to structure elected government so that the ability to win elections derives more from the competence values. If I fight for Water District cost reductions, including some real reductions, maybe that will be rewarded. We'll see.

I also want to see campaign finance reform for our little district, but that's another issue....

Court to Repubs: kill EPA climate regulations and you'll get blowback

The headline is my takeaway from this Jonathan Adler post at the Volokhs, although it may not be his. Here's the appellate court ruling, about whether actions risking the spread of the invasive species, Asian carp, require a preliminary injunction against a public nuisance:

. . . In our view, the plaintiffs presented enough evidence at this preliminary stage of the case to establish a good or perhaps even a substantial likelihood of harm – that is, a non-trivial chance that the carp will invade Lake Michigan in numbers great enough to constitute a public nuisance.... That does not mean, however, that they are automatically entitled to injunctive relief. The defendants, in collaboration with a great number of agencies and experts from the state and federal governments, have mounted a full-scale effort to stop the carp from reaching the Great Lakes, and this group has promised that additional steps will be taken in the near future. This effort diminishes any role that equitable relief would otherwise play. Although this case does not involve the same kind of formal legal regime that caused the Supreme Court to find displacement of the courts’ commonlaw powers in American Electric Power, on the present state of the record we have something close to it. In light of the active regulatory efforts that are ongoing, we conclude that an interim injunction would only get in the way. We stress, however, that if the agencies slip into somnolence or if the record reveals new information at the permanent injunction stage, this conclusion can be revisited.

(Emphasis added.)

American Electric Power was the attempt to bring a public nuisance case against a variety of companies for greenhouse gas pollution. The Supreme Court, with the support of the Obama Administration, threw the case out because the EPA was regulating greenhouse gas anyway. I argued a while back that the Obama Admin positioned itself this way to provide a disincentive to Republicans for killing (or more likely, defunding) Clean Air Act climate regulations and enforcement, that doing so would revive the public nuisance lawsuits.

Now we have a similar issue, expressly citing AEP, that warns that "somnolence" can bring about public nuisance injunctions. As I said in my previous argument, I'd rather have a public nuisance case and EPA regulations, but there is a reason behind Obama's strategy.

Somewhat tangential: Adler is an interesting type, btw. Previously I would've classified him as a delayer/lukewarmist, and dismiss as unimpressive his position of semi-supporting little other than a politically infeasible carbon tax. I think he may have shifted a bit, though, along with a few other conservative intellectuals who are having troubles with the anti-science positions on their side of politics.

Friday, August 26, 2011


The Rat brings word: PEER sums up BOEMRE gate (Eli has not pride)

“By assigning clueless criminal investigators to paw through the scientific peer review process, the Inspector General is generating heat but shedding no light,” added Ruch, pointing out that after nearly a year-long probe the IG still refuses to specify just what it is investigating and why. “Unfortunately, this fishing expedition appears to be as expertly guided as the boat trip to Gilligan’s Island.”
It's clear that the IG, the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement something or other is having to walk this back, but they got hit by their own pie, and others in the IG Office are now auditing the auditors.
  • Fellow BOEM colleagues of Dr. Monnett have come forward to state that his handling of the Canadian study was completely proper and conducted under standard agency procedure;
  • As the IG begins to examine other research contracts, the hard drive of a key BOEM manager was found to have been wiped clean after the IG asked to examine his files; and
  • The IG inquiry into the peer review publication of a paper by Dr. Monnett and a colleague on sightings of drowned polar bears following a storm is drawing outrage from scientists in both the U.S. and abroad and undermining the Obama administration’s posture on climate change.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

For This Eli Pays Taxes

The theater of the absurd continues. From the comments, Charles Monnett has been ordered back to work,

"Chuck is planning to go to work. He just doesn't know what the work is going to be," says attorney Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
and the butt covering has commenced

Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, confirmed in an email that Monnett's administrative leave is coming to an end.

"He was informed that he will have no role in developing or managing contracts and will instead be in our environmental assessment division," Schwartz said in the email.

"The return of an employee to work does not suggest that future administrative actions cannot/will not be taken," Schwartz added. "Federal regulations create a presumption against lengthy administrative leaves. Lengthier administrative leaves are reserved for exceptional situations when all other options are considered insufficient to adequately protect the government's interests."

Time to investigate Michael Mann again.

The Observant Among the Anonymouses. . .

are neither celebrating Ramadan, not fattening up for Yom Kippur, nor out there spotting the tree for Christmas, but rather have noticed that Eli has added another blog to the list on the right, the Idiot Tracker, with its Idiot of the Day feature (and there are some beauts).

Anybunny who wants to start somewhere (and who does not?) could do worse than

Between the science and a hard place:
The intellectual incoherence of lukewarmism.
Part One: jimming the Overton window.

which does a good job of how the break in artists
avoid three major pitfalls of denialism:

1. They do not have to deny the basic physical laws which dictate that greenhouse gases cause warming.

2. They do not have to refute the massive physical evidence that the climate is warming.

3. They do not have to pretend that the vast majority of scientists who accept the theory of AGW are participating in a vast conspiracy to hide the truth about (1) and (2).

The lukewarmist position also allows one to position oneself as a moderate threading the needle between two extremes.
pointing out that
Here's the problem. Lukewarmism doesn't get its adherents where they want to go – because even if we accept at face value their claims, the world would still require intense efforts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in order to stave off disaster.

Scientists estimate a warming of 2C as the upper limit of what our civilization can adapt to, and not suffer disaster on a planetary scale. This is probably an optimistic number:
and that with current emission rates even using a climate sensitivity of 1.1 C/CO2 doubling
put us on course for 2.5C of warming this century. In other words, the lukewarmers' own numbers belie their causal attitude to reducing greenhouse emissions.

Now the deniers – sorry, excuse me, the "lukewarmers" – may say the projected emissions are much too high; that the IPCC is way off with those numbers as well. Or they could take the bull by the horns and claim, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that warm can tolerate warming of 3C or 4C without any major problems (the last time the world was that hot was several million years ago; there were no ice caps to speak of and the sea level was hundreds of feet higher). The trouble with that position is that it undermines the whole thrust of lukewarmism – which is to acquire credibility (or, to be fair, possibly to exercise intellectual honesty) via the advantages (1), (2), and (3).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Crapshooters Dance

Some, not Eli to be sure, think that you can spot a Rabett post by the presence of snark. Now Eli will admit to a fondness for the stuff, but nothing like Ethon who likes his with liver, and has been snacking over at James' Empty Blog

The subject of all this, is as the proprietor over there puts it

But principally, I think it's important to realise that Roger's blizzard of posts is a very straightforward smokescreen to bury the car crash of his original claims. His goal is to get everyone to agree that it's all far too complicated and even experts disagree. But they can't disagree on whether his original idea is credible, because it's obviously nonsense to think that the correctness of a probabilistic claim can be determined solely on the observed outcome. Which is where I came in :-)
Steve Scolnik discusses the Red Queen
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

RPJr is clearly going for a new world record
Mo gets a bit impatient
Concerning JA's last paragraph: Question: what is worse - having somebody tell you your fly is down, zipping it up, then berating that somebody for "snark"? Or, doing the same, except then stomping away petulantly with your fly still wide open?

Answer: I don't know, but today I learned that in the intersection of impenetrable high self-esteem, low competence, and a low standard for argumentation, there exists a hero.
but Bob Grumbine had the nutshell version
.* Scientists should be forthcoming about their uncertainty.
* To be less than 100% certain is to be wrong (by the amount of the difference).

Hokay. A little more subtle than 'heads I win, tails you lose', so I suppose points for creativity
Still that's Ethon's organ meat, Eli is more interested in some science, which goes back to Roger's original claim that
How many claims of the IPCC AR4 are incorrect, answer 28%
based on the idea that the "average" confidence the IPCC panels assigned to their findings was 72% ( it is really not clear how Lunch got this, but no, never mind), rather let's look at the ranges assigned to the measures of likelihood
Virtually Certain (>99%)
Extremely Likely (>95%)
Very Likely (>90%)
Likely (>66%)
More Likely than not (> 50%)
About as likely as not (33% to 66%)
Unlikely (<33%)
Very Unlikely (< 10%)
Extremely Unlikely (<5%)
Exceptionally Unlikely (<1%)
There is, of course, a basic nonsense here, because, as James points out something rated exceptionally unlikely has a 99% probability of being wrong in Roger world and contributed to that 72% mystery, but there is also something interesting in these rankings which Eli has never seen commented on.

Take the ranking of Likely. This does not mean that the IPCC expects that of 1157 such predictions a minimum of 764 will be observed.

What, you say?

Look at the rankings, Likely is for a prediction that has a likelihood of > 66%, Very Likely is something that has a likelihood of > 90% . If the panel thought something had a likelihood of more than 90% it would have assigned a Very Likely rating to it, if it thought the prediction had a likelihood of less than 66% of the time it would have assigned a ranking of More Likely than not.

From this we conclude that the panel thought the likelihood of something the labelled as Likely was between 66 and 90%. Moreover, it is UNLIKELY that a substantial number of panel members or whoever did the rankings would have assigned a likelihood of exactly 66 or 90%, otherwise they would have down or up rated the likelihood, which leaves us most conservatively with a uniform prior across the interval between 66 and 90%, and an average likelihood of 78% over a huge number of instances, or much more likely with some sort of bell shaped distribution centered in the interval whose width is somewhat less than the interval at worst. It is unlikely that a substantial number of panel members would have been holding out for lower or upper limits. It would be pretty silly to rate something that was right on the dividing line.

What's not to like? But you could, if you were desperate, get a paper out of this. Tell them Eli sent you.


Earthquake along the US east coast. Fortunately Eli was eating lunch with a friend from CA who knew what to do: Run outside. Equally fortunately he was a bit gimpy so Eli made it to the door first.

Ms. Rabett who was up on the 10th floor of a building said the whole place shook. Eli's grad student hugged his glass vacuum manifold, and a couple of things fell off the shelf (magnitude 5.9 or so)

We live in interesting times.

UPDATE: Minor damage in DC and along the coast. Traffic jams left and right. Commuter rail shut down, Metro running at a crawl until tracks are inspected. Nuclear plants at Lake Anna near the epicenter are scrammed and running with generator power

Otherwise, beautiful weather so folk are just standing outside talking.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soon to Be Audited

The NSF Inspector General has presented another certificate for not committing research misconduct to Michael Mann. Read the report, and Joe Romm, Richard Littlemore, the weasel, and more. Eli expects the spin cycle has started over at the auditorium. One interesting thing is that from the report it is clear that the NSF IG spoke to the M&Ms and friends. Of further interest it is to be speculated that they may have spoken to Prof. Wegman. The IG pretty much came down where Gerry North and Eli were

The research in question was originally completed over 10 years age. Although the Subject's data is still available and still the focus of significant critical examination, no direct evidence has been presented that indicates the Subject fabricated the raw data he used for his research or falsified his results. Much of the current debate focuses on the viability of the statistical procedures he employed, the statistics used to confirm the accuracy of the results, and the degree to which one specific set of data impacts the statistical results. These concerns are all appropriate for scientific debate and to assist the research community in directing future research efforts to improve understanding in this field of research. Such scientific debate is ongoing, but does not, in itself, constitute evidence of research misconduct
For Mr. Cuccinelli,
Concerning False Claims, 18 USC #287 and 31 USC ##3729-33 and False Statement, 18 USC #1001, we examined the elements of each suggested offense and have concluded that there is insufficient evidence of violation of any of these statutes to warrant investigation.
The CRU email folks
We reviewed the emails and concluded that nothing contained in them evidenced research misconduct withing the definition of the NSF Research Misconduct Regulation. The University had been provided an extensive volume of emails from the Subject and determined that the emails had not been deleted. We found no basis to conclude that the emails were evidence of research misconduct or that they pointed to such evidence.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libya learning and persuasion

I don't expect the right-wingers to learn, let alone acknowledge, their mistakes on Libya. The one intervention that saved civilian lives (probably), killed no Americans, and cost less than one percent of the Iraq-Afghanistan interventions, and the right opposed it. With a few exceptions like McCain.

We'll see whether the opposition on the left has anything to say. And to be fair, there's plenty of time for things to go badly. The big lesson of Iraq, one that I didn't realize in advance, is that chaos can be even worse than the Leviathon of tyranny (somebody should write that concept up).

Apropos of this, one Kevin Drum post:
I've been a skeptic of the Libyan operation from the start, but if this keeps up — and if the revolutionary government goes on to establish a decent regime — then it looks like President Obama's judgment in this matter may indeed have been better than mine. At a modest cost in dollars, virtually no cost in coalition lives, and no requirement for postwar occupation or rebuilding, we've backstopped an indigenous uprising against a brutal dicatator who was on the verge of slaughtering thousands of his own people. Not bad.
My own experience, which I think is fairly generalizable, is that within the course of a single conversation hardly anybody ever changes their mind — including me.
He says he changes his opinion over time, though. What works for me is new information. Even if I'm not persuaded originally, new info might convince me - but maybe not so much because it's new but because it's a crutch, an excuse that lets me shed my stupid original opinion. Anyway, good for Kevin for reacting to Libya.

Human Events takes anti-Renaissance views seriously

New Yorker covered Michelle Bachmann's anti-Italian Renaissance ideology with her favorite documentary by Francis Schaeffer:

The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s “David” and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world
This conclusion by Nancy Pearcey that Bachmann supports also demonstrates her thought process:
There may “be occasions when Christians are mistaken on some point while nonbelievers get it right,” she writes in “Total Truth.” “Nevertheless, the overall systems of thought constructed by nonbelievers will be false—for if the system is not built on Biblical truth, then it will be built on some other ultimate principle. Even individual truths will be seen through the distorting lens of a false world view.”
Bachmann doesn't care if she's wrong on such things as science and history, and has no interest in corrections, because her overall thought system is infallible.

Human Events appears to fall in the same category. They're pumping a (somewhat doubtful) claim of malfeasance on drowning polar bears that Eli has checked, and found this expert conclusion:
“I think it’s very illustrative of the problems with government research on endangered species, and raises the question as to whether government should be in the business of science,” Ramey said.
I think Dr. Rob Roy Ramey and some government-supported madrasas in Pakistan should share notes. Incidentally, Dr. Ramey sez the survey was only intended to look for whales, when the protocol was actually to record all sightings:

ERIC MAY: Okay, you mentioned earlier other mammals, so are all mammal observations recorded in that database?


ERIC MAY: Okay, so give me an example, what other mammals?

JEFFREY GLEASON: Bearded seals, walruses, ringed seals, polar bears, beluga whales, gray whales. That's sort of the big ones.
Also they took photos:

ERIC MAY: When you did take the photos, were you able to tell what they were?

JEFFREY GLEASON: Most of the time, yeah. We saw some dead polar bears at one time, and it was pretty obvious with the naked eye what it was. But the pictures, they just kind of turned out to be a white blob in the photos. And I can't remember, we probably took three or four pictures, and it's sort of white blob floating in the ocean, so it's pretty hard to tell.

A certain Coyote Blog couldn't handle the truth on that one, saying the resulting study was produced without "even getting a picture of them." I'm also impressed by Coyote's assertion that white bears swimming at the surface are harder to see than grey-colored whales that swim below the surface and only come up every few minutes to breathe.

Not to worry though, the denialist overall worldview is infallible. Or maybe is S Molnar is right, and Bachmann and pals will bring us back to pre-Industrial Revolution, pre-Renaissance economies.

Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Polar Bear

Eric May, the Department of the Interior IG investigator is on very thin ice in his jihad against Charles Monnett. Eli is happy that the bunnies are underneath sawing away

Somebunny who knows more about the Polar Bear Follies than most has put up information, about which Eli, who obviously knows it all did not know. It got caught in the spam filter in the original post, but, if this is what they got, the IG is going to be embarrassed.

Keep those cards and letters coming little hares.

Anonymous said...

This has been an interesting discussion, so if anyone is still monitoring here is some information that you may find interesting:

Monnett and Derocher first met on September , 2003 at a polar bear monitoring workshop being hosted by the USFWS in Anchorage, Alaska. At that time, Monnett became aware that U Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service were beginning a massive capture effort of polar bears that offered a unprecedented opportunity to select young animals for collaring to study their dispersive movements. The question of interest was whether the existing politically-based stock designations had any basis in reality. If not that would have profound consequences for interpreting prior attempts at modeling the recovery of the Southern Beaufort Sea population from various oil-spill scenarios.

A draft study profile was created in October 2003, followed by a budget in November that reflected significant cost sharing by the Canadians. This would contradict IG assertions that the study was created to reward Derocher for his favorable review of the 2006 paper. The dead bears were not seen until September, 2004, nearly a year after the original study profile was written. Of course, Derocher was not a peer reviewer for the Journal, as the IG asserted. That should be clear from a reading of the "Acknowledgements" in the published paper. Below are some excerpts from the original October 13th profile. In the introduction:

"The purpose of this study is to create a collaborative study of polar bear dispersal and population structure between University/Government researchers and Native subsistence hunters in villages along the Canadian Beaufort Sea, and adjacent coastlines. It will be complementary with previous and ongoing studies conducted in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Region, but will add new insights because of the emphasis on population genetical mechanisms, particularly dispersal. Approximately 200 polar bears are expected to be captured in the Canadian Beaufort Region, each year for the next 3 years. This study is timed to take advantage of considerable savings in logistics by partnering with that ongoing study."

And the very first method is to:
"1. Develop a partnership between University and Canadian Government polar bear biologists, and Canadian Natives to implement a study of juvenile polar bears using long-lived satellite transmitters for monitoring."

Essentially the same language is published on page 155-6 of the official 2005 Annual Study Plan posted on the BOEMRE website at:

The type of study was shown as an "Intra-agency" Agreement because when the study was conceived it was expected to be an "agreement" rather than a contract since UA and CWS would provide nearly $1M funds toward the objectives.

See also the Annual Study Plan for 2010 pages 109-110 where essentially the same language continues to be used in the introduction and methods:

When it became apparent to the contracting officer that it would be difficult to procure a study with Canadians as an "agreement" the approach was changed to "sole-source", a poor fit for a study that required negotiation of objectives and details about cost-sharing so that funds could be requested through the study planning system at MMS.

A sole-source justification was drafted in late-December, 2003. On December 20, the CO directed Monnett to forward the Statement of Work to Derocher so that he could get started on his proposal as there was a hope to get the study in the field that spring. In a memo dated December 21, the Chief Scientist of MMS also directed Monnett to forward the SOW to Derocher stating that the CO had informed him that the study did not require publishing in Fed Biz Ops, which is the normal protocol for sole-source procurements. At the beginning of the year, the senior CO retired leaving a vacuum until early March when a junior CO was appointed.

After sending Derocher the proposal, Monnett and Derocher exchanged emails on January 10, 2005. In this message Monnett tells Derocher that when he is "happy" with his draft proposal to forward it and they (CM and AD) can work together to "work out any rough spots". Monnett was thinking of the usual rough spots he sees in drafts of cooperative proposals, issues with spelling out the cooperation and documentation of co-funding. Below is a copy of the January 10th email from Monnett to Derocher:

-----Original Message-----"Excellent! I was thinking about you this AM. At this end, I am waiting for a HQ reviewer of the SOW to return from holiday so that I can satisfy all the channels. I believe she is back today so things should start to move at our end, shortly. Email the draft to me when you are happy with it and together we can work out any rough spots. You will get the official RFP from the Contracting Officer after everyone is happy with the SOW. Your proposal will respond to that official contact when it occurs. Hope you had a great holiday. cm"
It turned out that a pretty decent draft was finally submitted by Derocher on April 14th. At that time Derocher was struggling with a new requirement to submit the proposal electronically. Monnett responded with the email message below.
"Sorry to take so long to reply...bit distracting around here. I'm headed to Wash DC area for next two weeks but will monitor my email and try to move your proposal along when I see it. What you have seems on target. The most important thing is that objectives and methodology conform to the statement of work, and that seems to be the case. Put in what details you can and if we have further questions we won't be shy. Hope the bureaucracy doesn't get you down. You or your bean counters should get back to the MMS Contracting Officer if you have questions on that side."
This is apparently the evidence the IG has that Monnett helped "draft" the Derocher proposal.

When the new CO came on board in early March, the new regime approached the procurement much more conservatively and a Fed Biz Ops Notice was developed. A new senior CO took over who eventually signed the award, but she was not involved in the details of the procurement. That senior CO was who the IG interviewed. No surprise she had no knowledge of what had actually taken place.


That sounds an awful lot like v-1.0.

Please cast the video below.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Listen to the Bunny

Since Rabett Run appears to be doing politics, and with the latest developments in Libya, let Eli point to a comment of his over at the weasel's digs in March

The lesson here is Bosnia and Afghanistan early on. You don't need very skilled allies on the ground if the other side can't lift its head out of the sand without being shot up from the air.

Posted by: Eli Rabett | March 21, 2011 12:07 PM

Listen to the Bunny

The Wisdom of Ms. Rabett

"Climate Change: the science is not settled"
Brought to you by the same people who sold "Lung Cancer: the science is not in"

So John Huntsman is doubling down in an interview to be aired tomorrow

TAPPER: These comments from Governor Perry prompted you to Tweet, quote: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." Were you just being cheeky or do you think there's a serious problem with what Governor Perry said?

HUNTSMAN: I think there's a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science - Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.

The Republican Party has to remember that we're drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. And we've got a lot of traditions to draw upon. But I can't remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a - a party that - that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula.

Clearly his strategy is to capture the 30% (hopefully) of the Republican vote that has not gone full metal wingnut, and let his opponents carve up the rest. Hopefully it is enough to set down a marker although it is hard to see it as a winning strategy right now.

Looks like this is politics Saturday

Promoted from the comments

Eli has always been a bunny to favor activities that are designed pour encourager les autres so this from the comments

Wiley Coyote said...

Dear Mr. Dr. Professor Rabbit,

On behalf of the pack, I wish to express our sincere thanks for the relative flurry of recent, animal related posts and comments, covering all manner of interesting topics from polar bears to whales, hemiptera and kissing bugs, and much to our delight, even the pack's current favorite, cladistics, to which are ears are fully tuned, given the breathtaking amount of attention that the former Mr. Dr. Professor Gould devotes to it in his previously mentioned opus. We did not fully appreciate the term "long winded" until we embarked on that tome in our weekly book club discussions. And this even without his consideration of the mysteries of Republican phylogeny, convoluted as they almost certainly are by recent catastrophic mutations, repeated inbreeding and general genomic chaos.

Anyway, to the point. Following your recent posting regarding Mr. Dr. Gore's forceful identification and declaration of various male bovid fecals, I gathered the pack at the library to observe Mr Dr Gore's methods. All were very highly impressed, and could relate, given that we spend considerable time on our various identification skills, and well, natural history in general. I mean after all, we are outside pretty much "24/7", save for our trips to the library in Winslow and of course our thrice daily trips to the local watering hole. Anyway, during our identification exercises, when a fecal, track, or an animal of any kind, is spotted, all members initially--and loudly--call out whatever species they believe is represented, after which our scientific decorum returns, field guides are consulted if necessary, and a consensus opinion is formed.

It is within this background that the unfortunate--but fully understandable given the situation--incident occurred.

Well, we had heard that a live feed of the recent climate conference from the "Heartland" group in Chicago had been obtained by the local "drive-in" theater, and even though same is roughly 120 miles away, we thought it likely to be edifying and worth the trip. Unfortunately, the ardors of the journey took their toll, and the best that most of the pack could do upon arrival was to curl up, as we are wont to do, right in front of the big screen, and allow the remarkably monotonic droning of the various speakers to encourage dreamland, which they most certainly did.

Although the exact course of events is not 100% clear at this point, I believe that it was just as Mr. Dr. Professor Fred Singer, PhD--or perhaps it was Mr. Dr. Professor Patrick Michaels, PhD--was beginning his talk, that Stu, our most senior member, who sleeps with one eye open at all times, spotted that most charming and emblematic equid holdover of the old mining days in these parts, making its way slowly off toward the eastern horizon, well beyond--but just off to the left of--the big screen.

The instincts engaged at once, he leaped almost against his will to his hind feet, which in fact put him on the roof of the adjacent Chevy Subdivision, fully silhouetted by the big projector for all to see, almost as if Mr Drs Singer or Michaels were engaged in some type of canid ventriloquism. Pointing with both paws, he called out in no uncertain terms "JACKASS, 1100 HOURS!!".

Well, this instantly awakened the entire pack and instigated the most awful group howl imaginable, such that Mr Drs Singer/Michaels, though fully animated, were effectively saying nothing. Now this is probably not an uncommon situation, but the synergism of the howling, Stu's sudden screen appearance, and the effectively muted conference speakers was not entirely well received by the automotively entrenched audience.

This state of affairs was helped not at all when my half cousin Terrence, who is also half deaf and was also still half asleep, but knows his fecals like no other, spotted a large pie of male bovine origin, not but 30 feet from our chosen location, and, in a manner of which Mr Dr Gore would be proud, vocally identified it with an enthusiasm that could only be described as startling.

This in turn set off at least three car alarms nearby, but maybe twelve or fifteen, it's hard to say, as some of these devices are apparently connected to the horn system, which in some vehicles of the "4x4" variety, are uncommonly similar to train horns. Numerous exclamations taking a wide variety of forms were almost immediately heard emanating from said vehicles at this point, and a fair volume of popcorn, Milk Duds and beverages were spilt, before the cans were thrown and the guns began to go off.

What followed are unimportant details, but I would just like to say that contrary to the news reports, the number of which was surprising, none of the pack initiated any of the reported exchanges, many of which were blown completely out of proportion. On the positive side, the rocket skates performed flawlessly under considerable duress, and we were glad to have brought them with us.


Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination

My political prediction accuracy rate has skyrocketed in recent years, from "worth your attention for the wrong reason" to "not worth your attention." We'll see if my Romney prediction keeps the trend moving.

I know Perry's kicking butt in Republican polls right now, just like Fred Thompson did four years ago when he jumped in. That doesn't matter much to me.

What does matter is the California Republican Party example from last year. Our state Republican Party is a lifesaver to America due to its incompetence - not just the usual Republican incompetence at state and federal level* in terms of policy, but also incompetent at winning elections. The national Republican Party would be much stronger if its biggest state party wasn't so terrible.

And even this state Republican Party, last year, chose its more electable candidate over the more true-blooded conservative. They didn't win, but they gave it what they could.

I think that's an indication of how Republicans will vote. They might distrust his religion, however much he tries to unite Republicans in hatred of the non-religious, but the Tea Partiers know that the anticolonial Kenyan-born socialist has to be taken out of office, and they'll go with their best shot, which isn't Perry.

Incidentally, it'll be interesting to see if Romney repeats his pattern of loaning his millions to his campaign instead of donating them, which would open a Romney Administration to legalized bribery as after-the-election donations flow right into his personal wallet. There oughta be a law.

And in other predictions, I stuck some cash back in the stock market last week. We'll see how that goes. I've been meaning to make a small bet against gold too, but have never done that before.

And as for Romney v Obama, let's just hope for a good economy.

*the Republicans I know in local office, by contrast, aren't too bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Polar Bear Follies

NPR has a copy of a letter sent by the Department of Interior IG to Charles Monnett and it's pretty much what Eli figured, find something in the contracting

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chairman of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

A lawyer with a group that is assisting Monnett says that what he did was standard practice at Monnett's office, that no other groups were competing for that sole-source contract, and that this letter "confirms our view that they are really on a witch hunt, trying to get Dr. Monnett."

MT has the best cartoon of this entire charade

Eli is seriously wondering about the "investigator", one Eric May, who appears to be on a jihad.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Republican climate cladistics

Might be useful to have some categories for Republican leaders:

Genus: Science Believers

Species: As good as typical Democrats
examples: Arnold the Governator, the eight Republicans who voted for cap and trade in Congress in 2009, Bush promises during the 2000 campaign (more or less)
notes: functionally extinct, unless McCain starts getting mad at fellow Republicans again.

Species: Proactive, but not as proactive as Democrats
example: Chris Christie. Others??
notes: they'll do something, maybe even without having to be forced to do something. But not as much as Democrats, which in turn isn't enough.

Species: Embracing science, rejecting acting on the science
examples: Mitt Romney, John Huntsman. Maybe Bush post-2005.
notes: this is the leftist side of the Republican Party mainstream. Might actually do something, very limited, if elected to office.

Genus: Wafflers

Species: Incoherent action rejecters.
example: Tim Pawlenty. Plenty of others I'm too lazy to track down. McCain on some days.
notes: results will likely vary if elected to office - they won't do much anything to be helpful, but the resistance they have to sane efforts by others could differ from case to case. Might have something to do with what they "really" believe, although considering that issue is a road to madness.

Other waffler species?

Genus: Denialists

Species: Conspiracy True Believers
examples: James Inhofe, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry (Morano-approved)
notes: I suppose you could try to distinguish between the ignorant and the express conspiracy supporters, but it doesn't work too well. These folks will only do what they're legally bound to do, after they've been sued for failing to do what they're legally bound to do.

So the Republican nomination is a battle between action rejecters and conspiracy true believers. Wonderful.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mirrors, We Need Mirrors

Answers are questioned over at Climate Etc. Eli needs to buy a new keyboard.


Claes has some serious credentials

He is widely published and cited in applied mathematics.

Apart from his misunderstanding on this particularly topic, I can’t understand is why he would be hanging out with the skydragon group, and why he would pull a stunt like quoting me out of context after explicitly calling him on it here.

This kind of behavior is really destroying his credibility. Ignoring or insulting such people doesn’t make them go away. Identifying the flaws in their argument and then seeing them demonstrate untrustworthy behavior is the way to diminish any credibility they have.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our permanent robotic presence in space

Nothing insightful in this post, just something in the "space is cool" category that I hadn't seen written elsewhere.

I remember when the International Space Station's Expedition I crew arrived in November 2000 that news media said it could mark humanity's permanent occupation of space. That may still hold true, although it happened a generation before it probably should have. When I read that, I remember thinking that we missed marking one milestone for our permanent robotic presence in space, three years earlier.

On September 11, 1997, the Mars Global Surveyor probe reached Martian orbit. Since then, humanity has had at least one satellite in Martian orbit. Three are operating right now and more are planned, from multiple nations and not just the US. We'll never leave.

Somewhat surprisingly, we may also have achieved permanent presence on the Martian surface. In early 2004, two rovers landed on the surface, one of them is still working and making important discoveries, and an even more powerful one is set to land there next year. If it doesn't crash, I think it could last long enough to be there when more landers arrive.

So where else? The moon's had lots of visitors, but most of them were short-lived. From Japan's Selene mission in 2007 onward though, there's lots of overlap that shouldn't end.

I thought figuring out the start of permanent earth orbit would be hard, but not so (and I'm not counting dead probes, btw, a permanent presence requires operational satellites). Looks like the prize goes all the way back to 1958 with the fourth-ever satellite, Vanguard I, which lasted until 1964. The 1962 probe Alouette operated for 10 years, with countless overlaps since its launch.

My guess is that's it, so far. We have operating satellites at Mercury, Venus, the asteroid belt, and Saturn, but none of them will live long enough to be working when replacements arrive. A probe just launched to Jupiter, but radiation makes that a hard place, and it'll be many decades before we get a permanent presence.

As for future milestones, I think Venus will be the first. A Japanese mission got screwed up going there and is mostly crippled, but the first really operational orbiter that gets there will make things permanent, and I'm sure it'll happen within 10 years. The lunar surface won't be that hard either, maybe 15 years.

A proposed lake explorer on Saturn's moon Titan could get there in the 2020s and last long enough to see a Saturn orbiter years later, so 2020s or 2030s for Saturn. The 2040s for Jupiter, arrival for either a distant weather satellite or a communications satellite to relay info from short-lived probes messing around near its major moons.

I've been foolish enough to speculate this far, but now I'll stop, with no guesses about dates for permanent balloon platforms on Venus, permanent anything near Mercury, the asteroid belts, or elsewhere outside of Saturn and Jupiter. This all assumes no near term fiscal collapse or long term Singularity.

Pretty impressive stuff, overall. The human space program may have stalled out in the last 40 years, but what we've done to get our presence beyond earth has not.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Step Up and Be Counted

In a memoriam for Hugh Carey, former governor of New York, Linda Greenhouse steps up

Unexpectedly, I was asked to speak. Fully aware that the journalism police are quick to pounce on any colleague who dares express an opinion on a public issue or person, I nonetheless said what I thought: that Hugh Carey was the finest public official it had been my privilege to know.
The Revkins, Kloors, Flecks (yes you John) and the Yulsman's of the world should internalize that. Their balancing act has harmed the reputation of many and harmed all of us by allowing the Moranos, Singers and Moncktons to smear at will. Indeed, the power to step up and Al Gore the clowns is, as Joseph Welch showed, important for the survival of our civilization

The attacks on Michael Mann and Al Gore before him, and Joe Romm use any brickbat that can be manufactured to try and get folk to disown them. This removes strong advocates from the discussion.

Too often this tactic has been successful. Eli really doesn’t give a crap if Al Gore is fat, Michael Mann bald has a goatee, and Joe Romm shrill. What they are is mostly right, not perfect, but mostly right.

Some dyslexia corrected. . . .

Might as well disagree with Andrew Dessler too

From my previous post about the To the Point radio show on climate change, Andrew Dessler also showed up on the show to discuss why climate legislation failed. He said that Obama had one bullet and two targets, and for understandable reasons chose to take aim at the target of health care reform.

The way I'd rephrase that is Obama and the Congressional Democrats chose to take a year and a half to fire one bullet, and that killed the chance to push for a second target. There were legitimate reasons for the strategy, but the shared mistake was in failing to simply get the exact same health care reform done quickly in six months and pronounce it the victory that it was, not just the best compromise they could get through Congress. I agree with Andrew that health care was the key to climate action failing, but there's more to it than that.

I'm making this pronouncement having just bought Eric Pooley's book on this subject, The Climate War. I can proudly say the first three or so pages don't expressly disagree with my thesis. Maybe I'll have more to say when I've finished it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RP Jr. says strength of climate denialism in the US "not a limiting factor" in US politics

Roger Pielke Jr. on To the Point, which previously had done a good job in picking speakers (speaking around minute 24):

I would say the evidence suggests pretty strongly that public opinion is not a limiting factor in taking effective action on climate change.

All right then. If public opinion is not a limiting factor then you hypothetically could increase public opinion from what it is so that it matches the opinion of climatologists publishing on climate change, 97% of whom accept human effects on climate, and we still wouldn't have passed a climate bill in Congress in '09 or '10. Sounds a little loony to me.

This isn't Roger "The Battle for US Public Opinion on Climate Change is Over" Jr's first attempt to dismiss denialism while demanding people not talk about it. He also concluded that the claim that 57 US Senators accepted climate reality in 2007 was not a problematically low figure. My math places 57 as less than 60, not even taking account the climate realists who bow to lobbyist pressure and the lost potential votes among the 43 who are unlikely to vote to address a problem they doubt exists.

This isn't to say that the forces of denial are going to win in the long run, just that RPJr's dismissal of their influence doesn't sound like sound political science.

Now hidden in his drive to be contrarian is an interesting nugget - back to To the Point:

Public has at least for 20 years been strongly behind climate science and the idea that action needs to be taken. What we have seen is a big partisan divide....It's become part of the culture wars of the United assumption that many scientists and experts carry with them that if only the public understood the science as they understand the science, the public would come to share their values....As a political scientist I look at issues like the debt ceiling or the war in Iraq or the TARP program and when you look at what public opinion was when action was taken on these controversial topics you find out that the strength of public opinion on climate change is at or exceeding the levels for which action was taken for the other issues. So I would say the evidence suggests pretty strongly that public opinion is not a limiting factor in taking effective action on climate change.

The stuff that's not bolded is either wrong or obvious. The bolded stuff, that legislative solutions with equal public support don't get passed at an equal rate suggest there's more to look at. RPJr goes on to say its the voters choosing the economy over their potential long term interest in climate, an Iron Law that's not so irony in practice. I'd suggest that the Iron Law doesn't exist, but that powerful economic interest tied into ideological backwardness can really screw things up in our democracy, especially when the 60 vote requirement in the Senate isn't very democratic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Well, it really is bullshit

At the end of a long talk at the Aspen Institute (see the right hand column at the link) Al Gore spoke the truth, that the model which delayed action on tobacco, that model

The model they’re using in that effort was transported whole cloth into the climate debate. And some of the exact same people — I can go down a list of their names — are involved in this. And so what do they do? They pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message: “This climate thing, it’s nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn’t trap heat. It may be volcanoes.” Bullshit! “It may be sun spots.” Bullshit! “It’s not getting warmer.” Bullshit!

There are about ten other memes out there. When you go and talk to any audience about climate, you hear them washing back at you the same crap over and over and over again. They have polluted this — There’s no longer a shared reality on an issue like climate even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened. People have no idea! And yet our ability to actually come to a shared reality that emphasizes that this matters — It’s no longer acceptable in mixed company, meaning bipartisan company, to use the goddamn word “climate.” They have polluted it to the point where we cannot possibly come to an agreement on it.

The older may remember the ads with the guy dressed in a white lab coat claiming to be a doctor and telling everyone that there was no problem, he smoked himself and more doctors smoked Camels than any other brand.

The push back against Gore is coming because what he said was both true and powerful. When you find it dear bunnies, ask innocently what is wrong with calling bullshit out. Don't leave Al hanging out there on his own for committing truth.

By the way, perhaps the most important other thing he said was that after 9/11 two thirds of the American Public believed that Sadaam Hussain was responsible. Why and how this happened tells a lot about the current manipulation of opinion.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The All Black Comedy Show

Some, not Eli, might say that telling lies about one of the finest minds on the planet was, well, not possible. You couldn't make it up fast enough to stay even.

Flubber arguments are almost as bad as slippery-slope arguments

I've spent the last week-plus swimming in Sierra mountain lakes instead of watching the Republican Party leadership play chicken with the economy. In the run-up to it all, though, I heard a rehashed version of a bad debating point that I'm calling the Flubber Argument.

Flubber was the fictional material in the film The Absent Minded Professor that bounces back with more energy and a higher bounce than is in the kinetic energy used by Flubber to hit a surface. I've criticized the slippery slope argument in other venues as an excuse to support a position that has little direct support, so some indirect consequence are therefore invented. The Flubber Argument is similar.

In a To the Point podcast last month (sorry I can't remember which), a pollster described a Tea Party argument that debt default was an acceptable price to pay in order to learn to live within our means, and that the ultimate effect would be positive. The Flubber Argument, in other words. In my day job, I've also heard the Reverse Flubber Argument - if we succeed in doing something good to protect the environment, that will just incentivize open space developers to get organized and make things worse than they would have been.

Like other bad arguments, it's not completely wrong. Sometimes the blowback is stronger than the initial effect. What I usually fail to hear, however, is an analysis proving why that's going to be the case.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Clueless Kloorbait

Unless you believe in the Great Sky Fairy, the questions are what kind of world you want to live in and what would you be willing to do to make it so. This stupid book proposes a world nobody would want to live in – therefore it doesn’t matter what their “solution” is.
What can you say?

Eli Rabett's 75 N Challenge

Since everyone is having a sea ice challenge, Eli is going to put one up based on earlier wanderings:

Eli Rabett's 75 N Challenge.

Guess, calculate, model when (and if) this year the main ice pack will be entirely inside 75N

Rules are:
  • Based on the Daily Updated AMSR-E Sea Ice Maps from IUP Bremen sea ice concentrations.
  • If blue water separates the colored area from the piece hanging out there in the ocean, the piece is not part of the ice pack.
  • On the line is NOT inside
Advantages of the Eli Rabett Challenge Series:
  • This challenge can be repeated next year for 60 . . . ? N.
  • Gives the bunnies multiple opportunities to lose, just like real lotteries.
  • For the Eli Rabett 80, 85 and 90 N Challenges, guess the year!
  • Endless arguments about what is not on the line

Friday, August 05, 2011


Here is another way to think about the possibility of catastrophic climate change. Imagine that an asteroid was threatening to hit the earth. Columbia University geologist Peter Keleman explains it all.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


and it ain't film. Feel free to speculate as if this were an open thread

UPDATE: The recent comment thingee appears to have blogspotted so don't worry about it but keep those cards and letters coming.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

We Got Film

Steve Easterbrook points to a series of National Geographic videos on what a global temperature rise of 1 C will bring. One degree is bad enough, 6 C, well, in the words of Nikita Kruschev about nuclear war, the living will envy the dead.

for #6 go over to Steve's place. This is a child friendly blog.