Wiki madness

The story so far: arbitrator User:FT2 posted a bizarre Arbcomm decision in which a user was, apparently, tried and sentenced in secret. Unsurprisingly, outrage ensued. One other arb then repudiated the judgement, and said it was done “without the approval or prior knowledge of the Committee as a whole”. Unhelpfully, other arbs stayed fairly tight-lipped, so it was unclear who was telling the truth. Appeals to them to comment were ignored. You can read far far more about this than you would want to at Wikipedia:Administrators’ noticeboard/Orangemarlin and other matters. As you can see from that, a story is slowly being stitched together that maybe can be attempted to be believed: its all a matter of “miscommunication”. The DHMO-word is not being spoken, except in dark corners.

All this matters, in the wiki-world (and maybe outside, because a lot of people use it), because wiki won’t hold together without some ultimate authority. The idea of it being a benevolent anarchy is moonshine. Up till now, the arbcomm has been a slow and uncommunicative but generally correct UA. King Log more than King Stork, perhaps, but still there. The re-listing of the OM RFA looks like a mistake, but hopefully one they can recover from.

Sea ice update

Since RC has posted on the sea ice, maybe its a good time for an update.

From we have

<a href="i-f6d9e79ef73a7e3dd54fc0969e8d9a1e-N_timeseries-again.pngi-f6d9e79ef73a7e3dd54fc0969e8d9a1e-N_timeseries-again.png

So its clearly going to be a close run thing. At the moment the trend line favours the good guys (that is to say, me, if you’re in doubt 🙂 but not by much.

mt called me a “polyanna” (presumably by analogy to “polynyas”) for betting on the high side. So let me clarify: my “prediction” was based purely on my reading of the statistics of the time series to-date: a record is rarely followed by another. If we have entered a new regime, then my reasonning is invalid. At the moment, I don’t know. The extent is barely above last years, but the ice is thinner, as as NB points out you can see the cracks. Bets are still (formally) open, especially to anyone so confident of low ice that they are prepared to offer 2-1 odds :-), or even odds on extent substnatially lower than last year.

RC points to the “rather casual” article in the Indescribably over-hyped, which has tense problems. For extra fun, the Indie also says If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above. Notice it doesn’t say “but the good news is…” presumably because for some reason this isn’t good news 🙂 [It really does say “these a bed”, which I presume is “below the sea bed” with the wrong spacing: thats what happens when you rely on spellcheckers to proof read your articles].

Oh, while I’m here, my cunning cryptic wiki edit comment was “BtW T2” here. There is no prize for decoding it but I’ll be impressed.


So, I was down the pub (the Castle) and after a few pints the conversation turned to religion, and the assertion that England (joint with some other country we couldn’t name; I went for Iceland, Andy for Denmark) was the most godless in the world (in some unclear sense involving religious belief) and that the least godly city in England was Cambridge, joint with… Brighton I think.

Bit of a bland subject I know, but does anyone else have anywhere less godly to propose? Not, of course, in the sense of god-forsaken, we all know that is (picks random city that no-one likes).

Just to keep things dull and boring, my contribution to the “Ireland has got less religious as its grown richer, but the US despite being grossly money-fat has piles of wacky christian folk” debate was the idea that you can make piles of dosh by being a pastor in the US, but not in Ireland. Comments?

[Update: thanks for the comments. This survey also applies, but doesn’t support my assertion. Or rather my friends assertion, since I shall now distance myself from it 🙂 -W]

X-Press head

Chesterton came 3rd in the X-Press head though I don’t think thats very useful for seeding crews for the City bumps in July. 9:42 is a passable time, on the right side of 10 mins, though a long way short of City’s 8:59. But the boat was full of subs (like me) so will hopefully go faster once the real crew is in place. Meanwhile, Chesterton 2 is chasing Tabs *8* on the first day, which should be fun.

Satellite stupidity

As Atmoz noted, its a bit of a slow season, but via Deltoid comes probably the most stupid ever explanation for GW: yes, its the microwave radiation from satellites warming us up. This is blindingly obviously nonsense, but John Mashey provides some numbers if you’re in any doubt.

Mind you, the basic lack of power isn’t the sites only mistake, there’s When a microwave transmission is sent to a receiving satellite dish the transmission is sent in a spherical direction or Earths atmosphere is made of water as well as many others. However, overall its just stupid rather than entertaining 😦

Our politicians are bozos

So, nothing new there you may well say.

My morning paper tells me that Broon has won a pointless victory over the bizarre 42-day-detention stuff. He had to buy off the Ulstermen to do this, and the Lords will veto it, and he is only doing it for cheap popularity, and he will fail, and it will all be useless. If he actually wants to increase our security, perhaps he might stop his people leaving “intelligence” documents on the train.

But in a stunning bid to make Broon look competent by competitive incompetence, Tory David Davis has decided to resign and fight a by-election errrm, for some reason or another. The Grauniad describes it as Davis’s move – to “take a stand” on what he said was the “relentless erosion” of freedoms by the government. Quite how it helps, I’m really not sure, and from the look of it not even the Tories are pretending to understand what he is on about. And why he triggered on 42 I don’t know – our current 28 is already madness.

Who is Lawrence Solomon, and what is Energy Probe?

Lawrence Solomon was kind enough to popularise my name. So its time to return the favour, and ask, “who is he”? And indeed, what is “Energy Probe”?

If you read the wiki entry on EP only a few hours ago, you would have found that Energy Probe is a Canadian non-governmental organization which promotes alternatives to polluting coal and nuclear power.[1] Energy Probe’s executive director, Lawrence Solomon, is a prominent environmentalist… Now I admit that it is possible to be an environmentalist and also a frothing-at-the-mouth GW septic, but I don’t think LS has managed that trick. And oddly enough, it turns out that the text was written by… Solomon.

So I tried to find some sources about Energy Probe, and essentially failed. They look very much to me like a pro-property rights right-wing pro-coal astroturf group, possibly one with a better history. Their first principle is We work for environmental sustainability by promoting property rights (private or communal), markets, the rule of law, the right to know, accountability through liability, cost and risk internalization, economic efficiency, competition, consumer choice, and an informed public.

So… if anyone knows anything about them, preferrably with a good source to back it up, do let me know.

[Update: Thanks to all those who commented and/or mailed. Probably the most interesting thing about all this is the lack of info about him, which is curious for “Canadas leading envirnomentalist”. I’ll stick with the astroturf theory for the moment. Also worth looking at is Cloak of Green -W]

[Late 2016 update: Ryan O’Connor, author of The First Green Wave: Pollution Probe and the Origins of Environmental Activism in Ontario (University of British Columbia Press, 2015), contacted me; I’ll quote him: Essentially, Solomon joined Energy Probe (EP) in the late 1970s as a volunteer. Energy Probe was at this point a semi-autonomous sister project of the slightly older Pollution Probe (PP), which is one of Canada’s oldest and most reputable environmental activist groups. Solomon made himself useful as a volunteer and it turned out he had a knack for fundraising. When Pollution Probe and Energy Probe formally severed their relationship and became completely autonomous organizations circa 1980, Lawrence was one of the leading proponents of EP separating. (Members of PP were unaware that EP intended to separate until they were presented with the fait accompli.) Lawrence was from the beginning an advocate for using market solutions in environmental issues, and used his influence over the years as a guy that could raise money for the group to shift EP’s formerly pragmatic approach to one that was in line with his thinking. Now the organization is renowned in Canada as, more or less, a libertarian think-tank.]


Don’t worry, fuel hasn’t gone up that much. No, this one is about food. For quite some time now, ever since I’ve been doing it, certainly more than a year, our weekly family-of-4 shopping bill at Waitrose has been £100, give or take about £20, depending on how much booze or other exceptional items are on the list. Given all the news about increasing commoditity prices, and food riots, and suchlike, I keep expecting it to head skywards, but it hasn’t. Perhaps Waitrose already has such overheads that they have enough fat to cut.

Tax and Dividend?

Its Jim Hansens plan (or is it copied from someone else? who cares) and its pushed again here. The idea: carbon tax, to be returned diurect to the public. As he sez: Principles must be crystal clear and adhered to rigorously. A tax on coal, oil and gas is simple. It can be collected at the first point of sale within the country or at the last (e.g., at the gas pump), but it can be collected easily and reliably.

Sounds good, though notice that the principles don’t allow you to decide exactly where to tax it, so there is plenty of room for argument there.

Later on, it gets murky too: The entire carbon tax should be returned to the public, with a monthly deposit to their bank accounts, an equal share to each person (if no bank account provided, an annual check – social security number must be provided). No bureaucracy is needed to figure this out. If the initial carbon tax averages $1200 per person per year, $100 is deposited in each account each month (Detail: perhaps limit to four shares per family, with child shares being half-size, i.e., no marriage penalty but do not encourage population growth).

So what in the crystal-clear principles allows you to decide if it should be limited to n shares per person? And looking harder, what allows you to decide it should be an equal share per person? Is it only the lack of any other method of division?