Another year in stoats

Subtitled As the days of my life are but grains of sand.

I’ve tried to not-choose the knockabout stuff, which is all great fun, but ephemeral. But some months were thin and I had little choice.

* Jan: On happiness
* Feb: The sleepwalkers
* Mar: Man slumped after hitting wall (see-also)
* Apr: North Korea ‘may not be performance art’, say experts
* May: Syria: the West makes the usual mistake – which I drag out not because its brilliant, nor because time has proved me wrong.
* Jun: Saturn’s hexagon. See-also Earth from Saturn.
* Jul: Up three to nine. See-also Happy Birthday to Watts’ paper!, an event none of us would wish to fail to mark (I look forward to its second unbirthday too; speaking of which, don’t forget Climategate 3.0 – well, how could you?)
* Aug: This year’s sea ice considered unexciting
* Sep: AR5: cursory review of chapter 4 (cryosphere) mass balance of Antarctica
* Oct: Wyatt and Curry part II: not waving but drowning
* Nov: Thrust
* Dec: Climate science is interesting and fun

Overall, a fairly thin year I’d say. Which was part of the reason for writing this.

Downtime / Uptime

Dscn1358-w-umbrella [Update: and we’re back]

ScienceBlogs is migrating to a new server / service, so I’m told. This will occur on “Wednesday”.

Please look on the main ScienceBlogs page for more details. You should avoid posting any comments that you care deeply about until then; or at least, make sure you take a backup.

I’ve noticed recently that I don’t always get emails about comments received; hopefully the move will resolve that.


1461082_10151973458857350_1113137741_n An advert in the Economist, and here’s the M$ puff online. M$ are trying to persuade the world that Evil Google is invading your privacy by auto-scanning emails to target ads. I can’t get exciting by this. Google, and Gmail, are supported by ads (aside: I’m astonished to discover just how much money their is in ads; only with Google did it become clear how much of such useful infrastructure they could support) and I’d rather they read my mail in order to send me useful and/or interesting ads (like this rather tasteful one I’ve inlined; I got that for searching for same) than spamming me with irrelevance like Facebook does.

And amusingly, the M$ page I ref comes up with: By using this site you agree to the use of cookies for analytics, personalised content and ads.

The Anti-MOOC Panic

I’m not desperately interested in the “MOOC” on-line course thing, though I can see that I might be in future. I don’t have a lot of spare time; for example the 2 hours I had free last night I spent running + recovering, not learning. But others do, and CIP has been talking to “the enemy” – i.e. the tenured professors in minor universities who have the most to lose. John Boy is even more in favour than CIP. However, I don’t want to debate their virtues but do want to note CIP’s:

The flood waters in Colorado seem to have washed away my comments on yet another blog by a historian at a school (CSU Pueblo) I had never previously heard of. One thing these guys can’t stand is dissent, even politely expressed. I can’t really blame them. They are trying so hard to convince themselves that MOOCs can’t do anything right that any contrary message excites pure panic. They, the tenured profs, have a pretty good deal, even if they aren’t exactly teaching at Harvard, and they have worked hard to get it. Of course that keeps them from understanding the real weaknesses of the MOOC or guessing the shape of education a decade or so from now.

What interests me about that is that its exactly the same reaction as the GW denialists. They, too, have nothing interesting to say about their area of interest, because they are scared of phantoms. They don’t know what the weaknesses of GW are, because they are incapable of studying it. Which brings me on to my alternative post title…

On not speaking

Posting here has been thin recently. You can’t see the numerous posts I started in a brief flash of enthusiasm but realised, meh, its either just knocking back a bit more denialism, or, meh, I’m just another voice spouting off. There are plenty of people out there telling you about Syria, or why so many people are clueless about the tax system, or why so many people are scared of free markets. So this is the “misc” post.


End of an era

I’ve been rowing again. I knew you’d want to know.

Real science

Human and natural influences on the changing thermal structure of the atmosphere by Santer et al. in PNAS looks to be worth a read. Though to be honest I haven’t actually bothered to do so 🙂

Judith Curry’s understanding of climate is not helped much by climate models

Or so she says. Personally, I find that my understanding of the deeper aspects of General Relativity isn’t helped by me not taking the time to concentrate on the maths. But at least I’m able to realise that’s a flaw in me, not GR.

Mind you, Curry’s comment does help explain why some of her papers are crap – if you write a paper in which “the model simulations … were the main source of data used in the analysis” and yet you don’t think the models help, you’re not really going to write anything sane.

Tell me something I didn’t know

The NIPCC is drivel. Oh, that wasn’t news? Never mind. Like everyone else, I’ll read a little bit (thanks to Sou there’s a copy here) then get bored. I got to:

IPCC Claim #1: A doubling of atmospheric CO2 would cause warming between 3°C and 6°C.

and thought “that doesn’t sound right”. Then I looked about – because the report, you see, is all sciencey, its got references and everything, its like a dog walking on its hind legs – and thought “hold on, Shirely you’ve referenced that” because otherwise all your stuff is just voodoo. But no, they haven’t. So much so that its not even possible to know what they mean by this – do the mean the climate sensitivity? The equilibrium one? Anyway, rather than trying to interpret denialist junk you’re better off reading the IPCC AR4 which says:

The equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure of the climate system response to sustained radiative forcing. It is not a projection but is defined as the global average surface warming following a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. It is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. Water vapour changes represent the largest feedback affecting climate sensitivity and are now better understood than in the TAR. Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty. {8.6, 9.6, Box 10.2}

So its pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that the NIPCC is simply and blatantly lying. Can you think of a way to avoid this conclusion, other than by not thinking?

Bad beekeepin’, good houseleekin’, loadsasnowin’

I go away for a week and the bees go mad.


I don’t mean so mad that they put their honey in a pot for me – only that they seem to have filled up the hive to the top, probably with rape. And this despite them being a new swarm, in place only since late May. That’s 13 kg of honey (err, with wax mixed in of course, since the frames in the top super were foundationless, because I was in a hurry. They did not put their own comb neatly in rows).

Also while we were away the houseleeks have come out into full flower, even better than last year.


That one is unadjusted, but not really true colour. This one is adjusted and closer to eye.

And lastly, we were in the Stubai again. Sulzenauhutte to Innsbrucker Hutte this time. Some decent days but an awful lot of snow. Here’s the view down to the Blau Lacke and beyond the Sulzenauhutte (just visible nearly center) from half way up the so-called “Aperer Freiger”, “aperer” being a name sometimes given to the lower peaks off main summits (the main summit in this group being the Wilder Freiger). I’d assumed, in previous years, that it meant “lower” but it turns out to mean “snow free”, which fits with being lower of course.