Torygraph folk are a bunch of wackos

I quite like reading the Torygraph. Unlike the Grauniad it doesn’t tell me what I want to know. But every now and again it is time for a reality check, and the most recent demonstration of their utter incompetence at reporting GW is Rise of sea levels is ‘the greatest lie ever told’, which uncritically repeats the tripe from “dowsing” Morner (the “facts” in the article are so badly at variance with reality that they aren’t even worth refuting). And there is a good reason why he is the *former* head of the INQUA commission: http://www.edf.org/documents/3868_morner_exposed.pdf will provide some hints.

House of Suns

Well, I read it, so I may as well blog it. If that sounds unenthusiastic, then yes, I am. It is a book, in case you haven’t realised; inevitably it has a wiki page so I won’t summarise it here or even tell you the author. It gets less and less plausible as it goes along, though is fun enough in a space-opera sort of way. Alas, it shares a problem all too common in sci-fi: raising a sense of mystery, and producing interesting puzzles, is far easier than providing an interesting and satisfying solution to such a puzzle. Anathem fails in that way, though it is a better book.

In fact the only reason I’m writing this is to ask if *anyone* has written a decent sci-fi novel which sticks within the known laws of physics (no FTL, no anti gravity, etc) and manages to get civilisation across the galaxy.

Swan attack!

Let’s see if I can post this before Emma does 🙂

As noted elsewhere, during the nesting season some of the swans on the river, and one in particular, can become aggressive. The one at the end of the reach seems partciularly provoked by our white blades. So when we were coming back today we were pleased to see it a fair way off over the river, and while it glared at us we seemed safe, several lengths clear.

But no! As we rowed on, we were treated to the sight of the mighty swan nearly taking off in that way they have, with a flapping of wings and a paddling of feet along the surface, followed by it gliding in for a peck at James who was coxing. Jolly exciting for stern four; I was in the bows and so quite safe and could enjoy the spectacle. Alas I didn’t have a camera, but it is almost worth lying in wait at the end of the reach to film a repeat.

[Update: it gets better: from an email:

> The swan on Plough Reach has become very dangerous. This evening just 
> before 8:00 it flew around Ditton Corner to attack me in my single, causing 
> me to capsize. The swan could not see me when it took off and I was moving 
> away from Ditton, and it landed on my rigger and attacked me with its beak. 
> I was in the middle of the river, away from any banks or reeds so I could 
> not have been threatening any nest...

And makes the CEN: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=406136]

Ecologists don’t understand physics

I hate blogs that force you to jump through hoops to post comments, especially when those hoops don’t work. So I could mail Gareth to complain about my inability to comment on “The inner mounting flame” but I’m too impatient, so instead I’ll just post my minor snark here:

It sez: “This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing.” Not good news.

I agree. It isn’t good news. It means that ecologists (or, to be slightly fairer, one particular ecologist) doesn’t understand the difference between inertia and momentum.

Meanwhile, Gareth asks So why are we worried? Take a look at the latest graph of global methane concentrations, and note the strong upwards jag since 2007… And if you do look at the graph, you’ll see an increase of perhaps 20 ppb from 2006-8 ish. Which is about 0.6%/yr. Is that really a strong upwards jag? It looks strong compared to the near-flatness in the previous decade, true. But compared to SRES, it is low.