The man ain't got no culture

To the British Museum, via the Vets Head, of which more anon.


Pen on oil, various hands, circa 2014. Or, if you prefer a more stringent test of your cultural levels, try to identify the provenance of this:


The main theme for today’s visit was Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art which was interesting, and confirms for me that the older I get and the more I know about other, particularly antient, cultures, the more I realise how little I understand what they can possibly have been thinking. Eventually, when I’m really old, I’ll realise I’ve never understood anyone else at all.

For <reasons> we ended up walking through more of London that usual, which lead me to realise how weird London is, too.


Here’s St Pauls, from Waterloo bridge; and while the overall scene is pleasing in the fitful sunlight, some of the modern buildings are astonishingly stupid. Its like tasteless aliens have dropped giant blocks of Lego on the unsuspecting city. Their architects should be hung from the overhanging sides. Speaking of which, there’s a lovely relief in the BM with giant Assyrian archers, a badly drawn siege engine, appalling perspective on a ladder, and some impaled captives. And, according to the caption, juggling with cut-off heads; but I couldn’t see that.

Lastly, I quite wanted to write about Removing Diurnal Cycle Contamination in Satellite-Derived Tropospheric Temperatures: Understanding Tropical Tropospheric Trend Discrepancies by Stephen Po-Chedley, Tyler J. Thorsen, and Qiang Fu; but I don’t have the paper (h/t Ned; yes I know about SS but I want to read the paper). Anyone? [Updated: its here; my thanks to DA.]

And, errm, lastly again, a snippet from Wolf Hall:

I tell you, Cromwell, you’ve got face, coming here.
My Lord, you sent for me.
Did I? Norfolk looks alarmed. It’s come to that?


* A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission)
* Patrick Moore Gets Called Out, Storms Out of Interview

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an American blogger who runs the climate change denialism website Watts Up With That?

More wiki-fun. Or is this Google Truth in action? (Yeah, I know, the pic isn’t quite right but its good).

Which is more accurate?

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an American blogger who runs the climate change denialism website Watts Up With That?.[2] A former meteorologist,[3][4] he is president of IntelliWeather Inc.[5] and directs the Surface Stations Project, a volunteer initiative to document the set up and maintenance of weather stations across the United States.[6] (link)


Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an American meteorologist[2][3] (AMS seal holder, certification retired by AMS),[4][5] president of IntelliWeather Inc.,[6] and founder of the Surface Stations Project, a volunteer initiative to document the set up and maintenance of weather stations across the United States.[7] He is editor of the blog Watts Up With That?.[8] (link)

Both are arguably true, but which one better reflects his actual status? All right-thinking people will obviously agree that the top one is better; WUWT is denialism, and AW is primarily known as a blogger, not a meteorologist. Exciting discussion of this very point is available on the talk page.

I notice that neither version mentions him as founder of the Open [sic] Atmospheric Society, which is clearly disrespectful.

Update: the new text survives, but there’s a discussion on the “Biographies_of_living_persons/Noticeboard” (from whence it will be archived after a bit, so try here). My favourite, from an uninvolved:

A quick look at the blog site and I don’t see how it could be described as anything else except a denialist site. Disagree with following the majority of sources, we should follow the best sources and it is hard to go past the nature one.

Uupdate: the onwikiwackos won’t give it up, but aren’t making much progress:

”’Denier”’, as in option 2 and firmly reject option 1 per [[WP:WEASEL]]. Every time, the same answer (and usually the same people asking the question). Watts is a climate change denier, the handful of editors who don’t like that fact just need to learn to live with it. The “skeptics” of climate change are [[pseudoskepticism|pseudoskeptics]], and Watts is a very obvious and thoroughly documented promoter of denialism. The fact that some sources fail to correctly make the distinction is a problem, and it’s one we deal with by blowing away the dust. I can find you a million sources that describe stage psychics as clairvoyant, but they aren’t and we don’t call them clairvoyant. This is the same. The absolute most we should say is that he is a denialist who describes himself as a skeptic, but even that is giving undue weight to a fringe view.

Socialism means no toilet paper?

gifted2 In which I teach Timmy about economics1. What can I lose? Its a guaranteed crowd-pleaser; everyone reading here hates neolibs anyway :-).

So: Timmy recommends as “An excellent piece” Art People: Learn Economics, I Beseech You by Franklin Einspruch. And, well, its all more or less the obvious if you’ve been following Timmy or similar, but said quite nicely especially the headings (The Opposite of Greed is Fear is definitely cute). But then! Quelle horreur:

Socialism means no toilet paper.

Especially when its actually:

If you take one lesson from this essay, make it this: Socialism means no toilet paper.

So it would be gross weaselling to say, to take a random possible defence that only the most weaselly of weasels would make, “but that’s a detail from what I still regard as a lovely piece” :-). Ahem.

Bu this is worth knowing, and I think it is worth knowing, as a thought even if not as something you’re prepared to agree with, that what destroys toilet paper is not socialism, but a non-market economy. Or, put into the cutesy style of the piece’s own headings: the opposite of socialism is capitalism, not markets. The opposite of markets is non-markets / central planning, not socialism. More words from Timmy on the same / similar.


1. But only by remembering what he said slightly better than he remembered it. If, indeed, I have.


* Muse album cover sparks collapse of capitalism
* Operation Tamarisk

Engineers and managers answering questions

I was at a meeting today, with a mixed group of engineers and managers, trying to work out when thing X would be complete. So the questions were of the form “is feature Y production quality on branch Z?”. Sometimes the engineers got to answer the question, sometimes management. The engineers response was “yes” or, when appropriate “no”; or sometimes rather more nuanced when the feature’s status required it.

The managers response when asked a question whose answer amounted to “no” was a long sequence of words that generally appeared to be intended as an excuse for “no”. But since it took the “no” for granted, it never actually answered the question that was asked. It was like being in a meeting with the stereotype of a Polite Japanese, who stereotypically will never say no. This wasn’t a meeting with higher-layer management present, so no-one was obliged to defend themselves; yet the auto-response kicked in.

It wasn’t just the “no” answers that were difficult for the managers, though. Even answers that boiled down to “yes” were several sentences long and often hard to parse. With my Dilbert hat on, it was like the managers just couldn’t let go of their meeting, and were determined to prolong it by giving pointlessly prolix answers. Also, if someone is answering a question whose answer is intended to be “yes” with a string of sentences, the natural assumption is that what they’ve actually said is “yes, but” or, and quite often this is the case, they’ve actually answered a different question.

Possibly it works the other way round too, though: the manager, having just asked me “is feature X finished yet?”, is annoyed to receive the plain answer “no”, and is thinking to himself “Sheesh! I just asked politely why the thing is late and when it will be finished, and all I get is a rude no. Talking to these guys is like getting blood out of a stone.”

Currygate and wikipedia

Oh dear, I’ve already had a Currygate. Never mind, the internet has the memory of a goldfish, I’ll get away with it.

The story so far: Leaked Email Reveals Who’s Who List of Climate Denialists. No great surprises on the list; I personally wouldn’t call Curry a “denialist” though I would definitely say things she won’t like; I announced her “departure for the dark side” in 2010. Anyway, the obvious question is, does this make wiki? And it has, but the obvious suspects don’t like that:


If you’re wondering, the disputed text renders as

In March 2015, Judith Curry’s name was among numerous prominant global warming deniers included in an email exchange by S. Frederick Singer seeking to block distribution of the film Merchants of Doubt by legal means.[21][22][23][24]

There are the usual gobbledegook reasons for taking it out.

Anthony Watts (blogger)

People are there for AW, too:


Anthony Watts attended [[Purdue University]]… According to writer [[John Grant (author)|John Grant]], there is no record of him graduating and he has been unwilling to discuss his education.{{cite book|last=Grant|first=John|title=Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality|year=2011|quote=…there’s no record of him having graduated, however, and he’s been reticent in discussing this.

Notice that not only must the information in the article be disappeared, but the direct quote in the reference is whitewashed out too. This is the work of “[[User:A Quest For Ignorance]]”. See talk.


* The Google Conspiracy – and a Google search engine customised for science deniers from Sou. And guess who is invited to the party?

Zhou et al.; or, the Sun’s apparent orbit is not a icosikaitetragon

RT has a nice post on On the Incident Solar Radiation in CMIP5 Models by Linjiong Zhou, Minghua Zhang, Qing Bao and, Yimin Liu.

For the authors, this is a dream paper: you notice something no-one else has, and you get a practically free paper out of it, without having to do any real work or real thought. Just because they had the wit, or the luck, to look more closely at some of the output. In a sensible world the paper would be about two lines and one figure long; but it has to be dressed up in more words for scientific publishing.

RT has a nice explanation of the problem, but I like their fig 2, which I’ve copied below:


This is Annual-mean incident solar radiation at the top of atmosphere from 8 climate models in CMIP5. The color scale has been adjusted to highlight the zonal variation in the tropics.

As you would expect and hope, this was manna to the denialosphere. Its certainly embarrassing for those models that got it wrong. Which is where it gets more interesting. Zhou et al.’s abstract says “many Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) models” (my bold) but carefully avoids quantifing “many”. In fact, most don’t make this error. The ones that get it wrong are bcc-csm1-1, BNUESM, CanAM4, CCSM4, CESM1-CAM5, EC-EARTH, inmcm4, NorESM1-M, most or all of which I’d classify as “minor” (I think the IPCC likes to pretend that all models are equal, but of course they aren’t. I also think I’m on somewhat dodgy ground calling CCSM minor). There’s more; the paper rather excitedly says many Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) models, we find that the incident radiation exhibited zonal oscillations, with up to 30 W/m2 of spurious variations” but again, alas, doesn’t have space in the abstract to mention that only one model is that far out. Its “inmcm4” which I’ve never head of… looks… ha ha, its some dodgy Russian thing. Well, say no more.

The ones that don’t make this error are ACCESS1-0, ACCESS1-3, CMCC-CM, CNRM-CM5, CSIRO-Mk3-6-0, FGOALS-g2, FGOALS-s2, GFDL-CM3, GFDL-HIRAM-C180, GISS-E2-R, HadGEM2-A, IPSL-CM5A-LR, IPSLCM5A-MR, IPSL-CM5B-LR, MIROC5, MPI-ESM-LR, MPI-ESM-MR, MRI-AGCM3-2H, MRI-AGCM3-2S, MRI-CGCM3, which includes all the obvious major models: Hadley, MPI, GFDL and so on. Naturally, if you’re Zhou et al., that’s not the kind of thing you’re going to write in your abstract, because it diminishes the value of your paper. SM points out the only-a-few at WUWT, but predictably it bounces off (and it looks like he posted taht earlier, but was censored out with [snip – no more Mosher drive-bys, make a point with a reference – mod] – clearly, having that info at the top of the comment thread would be bad); these are not the facts you’re looking for. Someone else at WUWT asks is this the kind of error one would expect from ‘state of the art’ climate models? and the answer, which no-one there gives because of course they didn’t look at the list of models, is “No, and its not in any state of the art models”. Hmm, there’s more stupidity there (surprised?): It is interesting that all the CMIP5 and CESM models exhibit the same error. I’ve long suspected that the modelers all borrowed code from one another. Multiple fail: its not in all the models, and its not in the all the bad models in the same way. So, the code-borrowing suspicion is refuted, not reinforced, if you bother to actually read the paper.

While I’m being snarky, there’s an ,a href=”″>almost-sensible comment at WUWT:

Quite silly actually of the model builders not to correct for this, but given the size of the grid they probably just assumed it would all wash out in the averaging. And since the models showed warming and they expected to see warming, they never bothered to look for errors. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Indeed, since it all comes out in the wash, its not easy to see. But what about since the models showed warming and they expected to see warming? What does that tell you about the septics? They keep on saying they don’t think there should be warming – so why weren’t they poring over the output, carefully “auditing” it for problems?

And in the end, does this matter? Well, matter to what? For the projections of temperature change over the next century, no. Because not many models got it wrong, and the best ones got it right. Not everyone does everything from IPCC sphaghettiograms, and those looking at individual model results will have been looking at the good ones. Does it even affect the projections from the wrong models? Not a lot, because these errors average out, so don’t really affect the overall fluxes to anything like the same extent. It will, obviously, affect the local climate; but whether its significant compared to other error sources I don’t know, but I doubt.

Minor factoid, which may or may not still be true: the radiation code in a GCM is quite computationally expensive, so not running it every dynamic timestep makes sense, since it there are no stability restrictions on the radiation timestep. My recollection is that HadCM£ used to run the radiation code every 3 hours. But they did carefully make sure the averages were right, and things like the day/night boundary properly handled.

Amusing postscript

Zhou et al. say The same type of biases was also reported in some climate model in AMIP-2 in the dezonalized anomalies plot [Raschke et al., 2005]. So this isn’t even new. How accurate [sic; clearly they didn’t have Bob Carter available to tart up their English] did GCMs compute the insolation at TOA for AMIP-2? says

The structures with zonal wave-numbers 8 (in the dnm model) and 24 (in 9 others) are due to the use of constant radiation values for the full length of time intervals of 3 and 1 hour, respectively. Computations of convective processes near the surface should be affected. These structures do not occur in models where either the radiation time step is equal to the dynamical time step or adjustments were made to take the change in the Sun’s zenith angle into account.

So, what in olden says was just a throwaway line in a larger paper is in these debased soundbite days a whole paper and fuss.

Tee hee again

Even more amusing – but oddly, rather related – to the last tee hee is the news that the denialosphere is panicking over Google Truth (h/t NS and, apparently, almost everyone else). I’m not sure why they are bothering – its only a research project.

Amusing panics are available from JoNova or AW (via Sou). From Sou, I discover that you can check your page rank. I’m a 6; woo. Scienceblogs as a whole gets 8. RC gets 7. Humble Sou is a 5. WUWT gets a humiliating 3; JN an even more humiliating N/A.

Will we see shorter, more focused IPCC reports from now on? The short answer is no

…says carbonbrief. In turn, I think that’s based on IPCC PRESS RELEASE / 27 February 2015 / IPCC takes decisions on future work. The very second bullet point of that is:

Request the Secretariat and Technical Support Units to command a respectful workplace, emphasizing policies and practices that promote diversity, fairness, collaboration and inclusiveness.

Mmmm… I wonder where that has come from? Most of the rest is meh. The encouraging the Third World stuff is dodgy; that’s what got us the Himalayan stuff in the first place. The two bits that matter are Continue to produce assessment reports every 5 to 7 years (no change: bad) and Parts of an assessment report to be issued within about a year and at most 18 months of each other (stagger WG II and III, good, but probably doesn’t go far enough). In summary, there’s clearly no appetite for any real thinking about the process just minor tinkering, so bad. If you’d rather read a more positive spin, try Sou.

Image courtesy JA via Twitter, I think. Meanwhile, here’s a Ceres Ice Weasel with a woodpecker-shaped fighter craft with lasers and VTOL capability. Dangerous…


*Nominate Judith Curry as the next Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.
* Nominate Willard Anthony Watts as the next Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.
* Judith Curry: What Is Skepticism, Anyway?