I am all powerful (part 2)

Actually it turns out that this is part 3! But I’m not going to revise the title now. Part 1 and Part 2 refer, as does some digging.

[Update: this made the [[Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-12-28/In the news]] ]

Continue reading “I am all powerful (part 2)”

Those CRU emails in full

Anyone who cares has found them by now so I won’t trouble you with all the details. James “Gonad Watcher” Annan is fulfilling, with commendable neutrality, the role of arbitrator to which I appointed him, and I don’t think there is much more I need to say. That won’t stop me from saying it, of course. Other people who have said sensible things include Denial Depot, Newtongate, CM and of course RC (apologies if you’re not on the list; oh all right Eli too since he says he needs the traffic). Indeed pretty well everyone with any sense seems to have got the right answer by now.

So I’ll deal with the interesting bit, which is obviously me. I appear in 5 emails; one only incidentally, the rest about an interesting search for the origins of the first IPCC report fig 7.1.c. This is a fun topic; there is even a wiki page about it [[MWP and LIA in IPCC reports]] (yes, of course, I wrote most of it). If you’re not familiar with that issue, go off and read the wiki page. So: at the time of the first report, there wasn’t a good reconstruction of the last 1kyr, and they wanted one, so they found one from somewhere. Unlike just about everything else in that report, the figure is unsourced. If, nowadays, IPCC were to try to include a completely unsourced 1kyr reconstruction they’d get ripped to shreds. However, since that old graph shows a warm MWP plenty of septics nowadays are very keen to throw away all the peer-reviewed stuff we have and go back to this sourceless pic (e.g. [1]). It would be funny if it wasn’t so stupid. Oddly enough, although the text of that email is really jolly exciting – we still don’t have an adequat explanation as to how Jack “cooked up” that figure – I do not believe it was purely out of thin air – no-one seems interested in putting it about. As for Ah, you mean A9(d) (I thought you meant A9(a) for a bit). Yes, that looks pretty similar to IPCC 1990. Though not identical – the scaling is different, but the timing is similar. – well, it is strong stuff.

I was going to write up the wiki-wars on this topic; but its past 10 now so I won’t. Write an encouraging comment and I might. In the meantime, have a look at (and maybe contribute to) [[Climatic Research Unit e-mail hacking incident]].

Also, I recommned looking up “McLean”.

Late news: you thought this couldn’t get any stupider? It has. Reminds me of the good old days in BAS, where the acid test of any rumoured management decision was always “is this really stupid enough to be true?”. Usually it was 😦

[Update: apart from the gonads, which I’ve corrected, I feel obliged to point you towards the comment policy. I was a little late to the party with this post, deliberately so, and while *I*’m allowed to say things that have already been said before I reserve the right to delete silly comments that merely repeat what has been said already. Oh, and did I forget Smoking guns in the CRU stolen e-mails: A real tale of real ethics in science

Update: example of abuse of 7.1.c added

Update: Melanie Phillips is a dull bozo. But you knew that already. “Thanks” Tom

Update: Science historian [Spencer Weart] reacts to hacked climate e-mails is very good -W]

Why wikipedia is like eternal life

Well not in all respects of course. Sometimes people die. But before I get on to that…


Have you noticed that I haven’t posted much recently? I’ve been on holidays. Wales is very nice, I recommend it. I’ll go again. That is Castell-y-Bere, if you don’t recognise it.

Where was I? Oh yes…

The thing I’m referring to is the way memories fade. There is a wonderful book by KSR called “Icehenge” which you should read, wherein parts of the plot revolve around the way that, although people live for centuries due to strange drugs, they still have the same brains and the same fallible memories trying to store more and more stuff, with the result that people forget their own presence at, and even the interpretation or existence of, important historical events.

And the same thing happens on wikipedia. My most recent example is me and User:BigTimePeace who I had tagged in my mind as one of my many enemies, though I had forgotten why. When I eventually felt moved to complain, it turned out that I had nothing to complain about [1], or if I had I had forgotten what, and couldn’t be bothered to look up the diffs, even though in theory they are available. Part of the lesson may be to keep better records; I’ve made a start at the curse of gnome.

And since this seems as good a place as any: will people start leaving their heirs their gmail passwords in their wills? I now have a large part of my life stored online, I hope it doesn’t die, though I can’t see who would want to wade through it all.

Up before the beak again

It is most of a year since my last pointless pointless arbcomm case so it was about time for another, and here it is (that’s the current state, which may not work in a year or a day’s time. Permalink to current state).

I don’t think it will be very exciting, but I’ve been known to be wrong about these things before.

The troubled career of the Advisory Council on Project Development might be more interesting though, in conjunction with its inevitable RFC. This too.

[Update: it has got a bit more exciting: [[Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Abd-William M. Connolley]] is now open -W]

Wiki politics

There is an interesting (if you like that sort of thing) insight into some wiki-politics available from a recent RFA (which stands for [[Wikipedia:Requests for adminship]]. Not to be confused, obviously, with RFA which stands for [[Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests]]). Admins are the folks who do exciting things like blocking vandals (well, and other. My own log is here if you’re interested), deleting pages, and a pile of ill-defined miscellaneous tasks. Once upon a time adminship was handed out to anyone who wanted it and who wasn’t obviously mad; there is still a token pretence that adminship is “no big deal” but it isn’t true, obviously. Edging closer to the politics, there are loose groups of admins (and indeed of other editors) but lacking any interest in wiki politics I don’t know what these groupings are. Charles knows all, and indeed at one point attempted to explain it to me, but alas I failed to listen, since I didn’t care. So who gets to be an admin matters, somewhat, because… well I’m not fully sure. It affects who gets blocked, a bit, at least in extreme cases. The point is that everybody cares, though in my case not enough to bother monitoring RFA’s.

Anyway, the RFA I’m talking about is that of Flying Toaster (as far as I know FT (not to be confused with FT2 of course) is the innocent battleground on which others are playing out their humours). My witty and amusing support vote is here, which will make no sense to most people but is obvious enough to those who were intended to read it (happily enough I would have voted support anyway, not quite sure what I would have done had I felt inclined to oppose. Indulge me here a moment, because now I’ve forgotten how I ended up getting there; a moment before I’d voted for Kotra, which is unusual, as I last voted oh ages ago. I think it must have been this at Wikipedia:Administrators’ noticeboard – that would explain things neatly).

Anyway, I think I’ve at last got to my point, which is there is an interminable “discussion” about how much wiki-management should be done on and off wiki (it long ago became clear that further discussion was pointless and I stopped even attempting to follow it; but people still care). There is a wiki IRC channel (which I read once upon a time, but not for ages) where people, from what I recall, mostly chat. But maybe there are Sekret channels too. Who knows. Anyway people get upset about this, and so you end up with block-voting of the on-wiki folk against the off-wiki folk and so on. Which is what otherwise incomprehensible votes like this mean. Then you get the fanboi’s jumping on the bandwaggon and it becomes rather funny, because when it is pointed out that the “per” they have given is unintelligible, they immeadiately switch to another reason. Tex, at least, had a bizarre sort of integrity: his opposition was incoherent, and remained unapologetically so. I thought it might be fun to tweak him, so I followed up; alas he wasn’t very interesting and was unable to disguise his slavishness.

Incidentally, while I’m talking about wiki to a group of technically literate people, does anyone feel like improving [[Distributed Inter-Process Communication]].

[Update: it all ended in tears (?) -W]

Rouge at last!

Finally, I’ve been promoted to Rouge admin status. It is a game a little like Mornington Crescent: there are no rules, but it would be a dreadful faux pas to break them.

The excuse was quite a suitable one: I blocked a septic who in a huff had said “I’d quite like to be blocked” but who then proved about as consistent as most septics by demanding to be unblocked.

If you’re interested in more heavy-handed wiki humour, WP:GIANTDICK is good (or this version).

Wikitruth Through Wikiorder?

Via Durova I find Wikitruth Through Wikiorder which is worth at least a quick skim if only because, unlike most commentators on wiki, they don’t seem to have totally lost the plot.

Durova points out the obvious lack in their analysis: they concentrate on arbcomm, whereas the everyday activity of admins stomping on fools escapes their notice. For example, I’ve done 500 admin-type things in the past year, most of them blocking people for edit warring in one way or another. That is puny compared to the general block log, which has 500 blocks in the last 10 hours, mostly just for tedious vandalism. Wiki would collapse in a heap fairly quickly if this kind of background enforcement didn’t go on. But since it is fun, people don’t mind doing it.

Bad meets evil

Well I have been listening to Slim Shady recently:

I don’t speak, I float in the air wrapped in a sheet
I’m not a real person, I’m a ghost trapped in a beat
I translate when my voice is read through a seismograph
And a noise is bred, picked up and transmitted through Royce’s head
Trapped him in his room, possessed him and hoist his bed
Till the evilness flows through his blood like poisonous lead
[1]

But no, I mean The AGW party line at Wikipedia (thanks Roger). I’ll leave it to you to decide whether I’m bad or evil; maybe this will help [Update: its moved. Try http://www.heliogenic.net/2009/02/28/the-agw-party-line-at-wikipedia/%5D. I had a quick scout around google blog search but didn’t find anyone else abusing me in an amusing way. Do let me know.

Somewhat off topic, but [[Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-02-23/Philosophers analyze Wikipedia]] may amuse. I couldn’t read the original articles (not because they were such dense epistomological tripe that they were unreadable, but because they are hidden behind moneywalls), but judging from the astracts there is the familiar not-understanding-what-wiki-is-about again. The idea that people don’t have reputations, for example, just shows pure ignorance.

And in yet another late-breaking update, mt’s attempts to understand RP Jr produce some interesting answers from RP himself, which I recommend you to read. To which no-one has produced a substantive response. RP has said this before, of course, though it’s lost in the morass that is the blogosphere.

A weird experience

So there I was, happily settled in Heffers with a nice large cup of coffee, looking forward to reliving the Newton-Leibnitz controversy via “the system of the world” when I thought I’d have a quick browse of “The Cult of the Amateur” by Andrew Keen, since it was on a nearby rack. It’s the std.rant about how the internet is killing our kulture, which drowns its few good points in hyperbole. And indeed, in gross error. So naturally I waded through till I got to the wikipedia bit, and lo and behold, there is my name! (I’m sure I’ve heard this before, but only online, which isn’t quite the same as seeing yourself in print when you’re not expecting to be there). I am, apparently, the archetypical example of what is wrong with wikipedia. Not in the sense of me being evil (phew) but me being an expert and yet not being able to impose my views (ironic really). The Times repeats his mistakes. this blog does a far better job of finding the true story. Which is deeply ironic, as Keen’s main point is that the web is cr*p and fine traditional sources like newspapers are far better.

Wikipedia does indeed have problems, and recruiting and retaining experts is one of them, but the situation is far more complex and subtle that AK’s facile description. FWIW, the 1R parole was declared a mistake a long time ago, certainly before the book was published.

Rowing was good today. Lovely weather – clear blue sky, no wind – and we were good. “Composed” said CW.