And now for something completely different…

No, not a man with a stoat through his head. Instead, what appears to be an utterly gratuitious waste of time and money:


Yes, its a 5x. WTF? Presumably, these people really do have so much spare cash that they can create a new hull [update: more likely a converted coxed four; though rumour says that German quints exist] just for a video (though some of the shorts of the bow-bobble nearly going underwater suggest they may have got the shape a touch wrong [update: nope, that is probably them being pushed by the barge]). Thats assuming all this isn’t CGI, but I doubt it – some of the shots of them rowing are a bit flaky, though they have clearly had some coaching. But why the Olde Worlde blades?

Please dno’t tell me that 5-‘s really exist. I enjoyed my little rant. Do watch the full video.

h/t: Dr S.

Updates: As JA points out in the comments, there are misc refs to this: Mark Hunter in the ES about teaching them; and a more informative piece in the Henley Standard.

I’ve added a second pic from the video for those from the Blighted States:


A bit shonky I think you’ll agree but they aren’t being held in this section. Also updated 5- to 5x.

Publishing code

Nick Barnes has an excellent opinion piece in Nature. And the comments are good too. There is a comment-on-the-piece by Anthony Fejes which I think is less good: too much like the kind of people who put you off cycling by insisting you have to wear a cycle helmet or walk. And you should read Nick’s follow up a CCC.

I’ve decided that I agree with Nick’s overall argument: yes you should publish your code. Which means, everything that is yours, including the little fiddly bits. Even if no-one will understand them. Even if people will deliberately misunderstand them.
Continue reading “Publishing code”

They make a wasteland and call it peace

No, not the US in Iraq, but a smaller matter: the recent arbcomm case. The case is now closed, and the the usual idiots are as usual getting it wrong (hint: the bit about admin is totally wrong). But then again, no-one from the outside ever understands wikipedia.

At some point I’ll do a long post on this (well, or maybe not. We’ll see. The point is, this isn’t that post). So for now:

The actual decision is available here, though if you prefer to skip over the goo and dribble you can just read the remedies. Though there is a fair amount of goo there too, so you may prfer to skip to just the remedy on me. Note that although that is framed as indefinite, it should probably be interpreted as no-fixed-end rather than permanent. Unless I’m Bad again, of course.

My response is on my talk page; feel free to join in there. One thing that may well be worth noting is that this isn’t a content decision; ie there is no finding at all of whether the climate change pages are in any way biased (so, e.g. Watts is hopelessly wrong. But I told you no-one understands wikipedia from the outside).

It occurs to me that the response may not stay there forever, and anyway maybe you can’t be bothered to click the link, so it is:

Final decision: thoughts

Of the decision:

* the “scorched earth” idea is unthinking and stupid.
* arbcomm demonstrate again an inability to distinguish the valuable from the valueless; indeed, they appear to be too lazy to even try.
* in pursuit of their atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant they have failed to notice that peace has already broken out. For two reasons: the worst of the “skeptics” (MN, M4th, Cla, ATren, TGL) are all gone; and the external forcing (Climatic Research Unit email controversy‎) has been resolved in favour of Climate Science. So all the disruption was for nothing.

About the only good thing about the PD is that it is so obviously bad, it is likely to rebound more to the discredit of arbcomm than anyone else.

Of the process:

* more of it should be open. There were very clearly extensive periods when off-wiki emails between the arbs were the main means of discussion. Some of that must be tolerable, but not to the extent that it is done. The arbs have become as addicted to secrecy as the Civil Service, and it is not good: both because of the dark deeds done in darkness (one example: the unexplained but welcome booting out of Rlevse) and because lack of on-wiki information fostered unease amongst the participants.
* the arbs need to be more involved, and to manage the process. Some are lazy, but none are good. This isn’t acceptable. It has become near-expected practice in arbcomm cases for nothing but a few gnomic utterances from arbs during the case. The sheer volume of evidence and discussion produced by petty back-and-forth needs to be rigourously policed. Arbcomm as a whole is fairly lazy, in that they don’t really evaluate the actual abckground to a case – that would be too much trouble, and they never bother. Instead, they rely on behaviour *during* a case, and part of their technique is a deliberate fostering of the possibility for disorder, in order to give them a lazy way of deciding. In this case, arbcomm gave a clear signal right at the start that evidence limits could be ignored. It was downhill from there.

Of the arbs:

* none of them emerge with any credit.

[ps: I changed the name of this post; the original still appears in the file name]

I’m sure Dr Lewis deserves some respect. But his opinion on climate science does not. Let’s move along

Wise words from David Appell. But this is the blogosphere, so that isn’t going to happen. And Hal Lewis would be disappointed if we did; after all, he is trying to make a splash with his nonsense. As DA puts it So someone named Hal Lewis has resigned from the American Physical Society in a snit over their position on climate change, and this is supposedly “fracturing” the scientific community. Who is Hal Lewis? I’ve been studying physics for 30 years, and I’ve never heard of him. In the unlikely event that you want to read what HL has to say, the usual idiots have it all laid out.

And so the game is: who is Hal Lewis? Almost as amusing as Who is William A. Sprigg, Ph.D.? who was the last mold-breaking Absolutely Key Scientific Figure dredged up by the septics. Anyway, that one is long forgotten, so we need to find HL. He doesn’t have a wikipedia entry as I write this: HL redirects to [[Hal Lewis (Aku)]] (ha, I spoke too soon. [[Harold Lewis]] now exists. And is rubbish. Sigh).

He has written a book: Technological risk (1992): Risks seem to abound in our everyday lives, especially the risks flowing from the explosion of our modern technology, with its pesticides, pollution, nuclear power, microwave radiation and chemical trace elements in food of all kinds. Two questions face all of us: how real are these risks and, if real, how do we manage our lives in order to avoid personal damage from them? The book examines these questions, delving into the nature and true seriousness of risk (as opposed to how bad the risk seems to be), into how we measure risk and how we regulate it. Lewis includes the latest scientific information on carcinogens and the greenhouse effect (my bold). W00t. That sounds nicely relevant. Why Flip a Coin is less so. Anyway, I’ve ordered a copy of the Risk book, so we can have fun with that.

So, where are the papers? You can’t have a scientific career without papers. There are some early ones – The Multiple Production of Mesons from 1948 with Oppenheimer, no less. Or Multiple Scattering in an Infinite Medium, 1950 – worthy maths-ish thing, I’d guess. But past the late-50’s early 60’s it suddenly gets very thin indeed. I’d guess, without knowing more, that he gave up science and moved into admin.

Eli is good at this stuff. Perhaps he’ll chime in. Which reminds me: Lewis was spotted earlier. But back then he was just one sig of several, and no-one cared that they didn’t know who he was.


* Romm getting it right.
* Darth Data Destroyer – Eli poking fun.
* Andy Revkin

We did it

Well, the yanks did. Or maybe not, it really isn’t clear. But what *is* clear is that initial reports that Linda Norgrove was killed by the Taliban were at best unreliable and probably made up. Apparently Cameroon still insists that the reports were “in good faith” which I think is code for “inexplicably wrong but we don’t want to criticise the US in public”. And indeed the entire rescue may have been pointless. That nice Mr Obama says he’ll find out what happened, though.

More random For all those who used to play with it in their bedrooms.

B-52’s: Roam. Beautiful song, though they wouldn’t last 5 minutes outside the coccoon.

RMG shreds someone who thinks Lake Superior is cold because of the last ice age. But he doess so politely and informatively, so it is well worth reading.

Things you find on wikipedia: [[Fuck for forest]], or FFF, is a non-profit environmental organisation founded in Norway by Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen, which raises money for rescuing the world’s rainforests by producing pornographic material or having sex in public. Or even The flying saucer originally started as a proposal for a raiseable platform. However, the project was revised and edited, and by the time the patent was filed had become a large passenger craft for interplanetary travel. Talk about feature creep!

Speaking very vaguely of software, one div zero shares his tips for estimating software timescales. I went on a Scrum course recently; if anyone cares, I’ll write it up.

The Wegman plagiarism stuff is slowly coming out; see e.g. the Wabbit, Coby or DC. Or the WAPO blog or USAtoday. Oddly, by wiki-world’s somewhat mad standards, only the latter is a useable source. I don’t have much new to say, so it doesn’t get a post of its own.

Squishy stuff, so not my bag: Dillon, M. E.; Wang, G.; Huey, R. B. (2010). “Global metabolic impacts of recent climate warming“. Nature 467 (7316): 704-706. doi:10.1038/nature09407

Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

Sea ice: and the winner is… no-one!

Hurrah. That saves lots of effort paying :-). Not long ago it was looking bad for the good guys (i.e., me) with a “douple dip” recession of sea ice. But a strong perforcance from the boys up north in the mushy white stuff stakes saw a sharp rebound at the end of the month, leading to a monthly average for september of 4.90 (thanks for C for vigilance). As a reminder, recent years have been:

2000  9      Goddard      N   6.32   4.31
2001  9      Goddard      N   6.75   4.55
2002  9      Goddard      N   5.96   3.98
2003  9      Goddard      N   6.15   4.01
2004  9      Goddard      N   6.05   4.35
2005  9      Goddard      N   5.57   4.03
2006  9      Goddard      N   5.92   3.97
2007  9      Goddard      N   4.30   2.78
2008  9       PRELIM      N   4.68   2.93
2009  9      NRTSI-G      N   5.36   3.42
2010  9      NRTSI-G      N   4.90   3.02

Or so says Other datasets will give you slightly different answers, of course. Note taht 2010 gets the coveted number 3 spot in terms of both September average and absolute minimum.


The bet for this year was (from Three views of sea ice).

That the september mean ice *extent* be below 4.835; but with a “buffer” where we call it a draw: between 4.735 and 4.935, no one wins. I’m taking the “high” side of this; anyone interested in the “low” side let me know. For my part, 4.835 is arrived at as the 1979-2009 trend extrapolated, minus 0.5 which is the SD. It seems to have become tradiational for people to bet small amounts, which is fair enough if we’re just playing. But this was intended to flush out the “the sea ice is in catastrophic decline” people. OTOH, if there are any “the sea ice will certainly recover this year” people then you can get odds on trend-plus-SD, i.e. ice being above 5.835 if you like (note that those are all spuriously precise but never mind)]

So, if we’d played for just-the-number (without the buffer) I’d have won; but I agree, it is better to include the buffer. Assuming I (or ws it C?) did the calcs right, the trend line was for 5.335, and we’re clearly below that, but by less than the SD, so it doesn’t matter.


* Three views of sea ice – defn of this years contest.
* 2009
* 2008
* Lab Lemming’s pool (I think I’m the very broad green line)
* Tamino got lucky

Update: pressed by C in the comments, I’ve now calculated the trend for myself, and so I’ve added this pic:


which shows the extents, the trend-to-2010 calculated using all previous years, the trend-to-year using all previous years, and the trend-to-2010 only using 10 previous years. I make the baseline prediction for next year 5.235, which agrees with NB, so all is well.