More misc

DSC_8645-quince Just some random jottings, none of which amount to much. I’m making quince jelly. Last Sunday was the first anniversary of my half-marathon running career, which I celebrated at Grunty Fen. Next Sunday will see me sculling the Boston marathon for the first time, after being in the ladies VIII last year. We’ve been painting the club blades recently; Amy has some nice pix.

Arctic sea ice may have hit its minimum this year and be on the way up. Neven certainly thinks so. I think it is likely; a few more days will make it clear. Its quite early, though, for a minimum, but probably not unprecedentedly so. The familiar end-of-season post will appear at some point.

With all the fuss about the Euro and so on, Timmy would like to tell you about taxes and transfers. I’ve recently taken to reading Bronte Capital too. That is the problem with not being impecunious: you have to worry about where to put your pennies. Lest I be thought to blatantly libertarian, Bruce Schneier has a nice example of how regulation helps.

Eli has some stuff to say about the weird Trial of Charles M. Speaking of which,
I’m close to giving up KK for a bit; too many trolls.

[Update: JF notices Piers Corbyn, Twitter spammer?.]

More random stuff

Every now and again I’m surprised by the contrast between the sanity that you’ll find on good blogs, and the madness that reigns in our useless press. In this case, its dead children again which is very sad, but should not be used as entertainment schlock-horror fodder as our gutter press does.

Mind you, I’m less impressed by Timmy on the Greeks. For all I know the conclusion is correct, but the reasoning – small fraction of bonus – is faulty. By putting it that way Timmy is trying to minimise the numbers, which might work, until you realise that a large fraction of profits are paid out as bonuses. But at least its better than green folk trying to do economics.

Briefly on climate, Mabinogogiblog tried the old trick of “it its science, it must (in theory) be refutable, so what could refute your position, Oh sceptics?” But Benny Peiser is canny enough to reply we should wait 20-30 years until we know the magnitude of AGW. “If we were to experience a decadal warming trend of 0.3 to 0.5 in the next 20-30 years, I would consider global warming to pose a potential long-term problem” which stuffs that one. Peiser is a wazzock, of course, but he isn’t going to be caught that easily.

Back to Timmy who explains why increasing manufacturing just isn’t a big source of employment any more. Its an interesting argument, and not one I’ve heard before. If you can dent his numbers, please have a go.

For all the peak oilers out there, Early Warning, and in particular “Latest Saudi Oil Stats” is fun. From the end of that post Saudi Arabia is managing its oil production in a completely reactive manner with very little planning ahead for forseeable rises in demand. They only start amping up the rig count when they actually hit a situation where they’d like to produce more, or maintain production at a certain level, but can’t. There’s then a significant delay before they can restore/increase production. is, in some ways, a bit scary, because of what it says (if true) about the Saudi structure. It confirms, in my mind, the image of a bloated plutocratic dictatorship (am I allowed to call things both? I don’t know) that doesn’t really know what it is doing, dedicated to nothing other than staying in power. Arab summer here we come?

And in true dog-bites-man style, Bob Carter has been talking utter bollocks again, in fact pretty much the same bollocks as ever. Tim L rips him up and by odd chance the Phytophactor picks up on the same point.

Lastly, wikipedia. There is a minor leak of some arbcomm mailing-list material onto wikipedia review. Nothing terribly exciting so far, and indeed suspicions that the material has been rather heavily selected pre release. But worth a browse.


* ACE – wossat, then?

Suggestions for coding standards

rowing-and-running-pace-and-speed Actually, its just another pile of links thinly disguised.

We thought that mandating python-style indents with pre-processing back into C might be nice. Alternatively some scheme whereby indent levels reflect coder status, so you can see immeadiately what not to fiddle with. And of course, what font should the code be in?

Watching the Deniers says There will be no US Congressional investigation into “Climategate”: or how global warming sceptics got duped. And may be correct. Even the wackos aren’t really wacko enough to take on the science, it seems: the froth is just for the voters, who are easily fooled.

At last, Tamino confesses all: yes, Phil Jones was wrong. Hopefully that will make the septics happy. Actually that looks possibly publishable. It does however raise the issue of how your dof should be adjusted when you remove “noise”. I’ve asked there, belatedly.

If you don’t erg, Cracknell versus Pinsent will mean little. What I like is the way you can’t tell who has won, afterwards.

Tim Worstall channelling Harry Hutton is worth a larf.

I don’t really do bio-diversity here, other than being generally in favour of it and recognising its loss as being one of the important but hard-to-quantify costs of GW. But Eli makes an effort.

James in ungrateful but can you blame him?

And to conclude, I’d like to say: TF-288! TF-288! TF-288!.

ps: Joke, from the letters page of the Economist: Three religions are asked, “when does life begin?”. At conception replies the Catholic priest. At birth, says the Calvinist parson. When the children grow up and leave home, says the rabbi (that one is for Kevin).

pps: even though I’m late to the party, because it looks like being popular, Getting things right (from RC, about the silly NGO that managed to convince itself of 2.4 oC warming by 2020; see-also Bart’s take)


Via TW (who says Inflation’s a tricky thing you know) this interesting inflation calculator.

From the Torygraph, the Jetlev flyer. A ridiculous boys-toy, but it did cause my daughter to say “I must have one”. Did I mention that reading the Torygraph in the Waitrose cafe is one of my guilty pleasures? Its not quite as good as it looks, because not only do you have a huge hosepipe trailing after you, there is also the jetski-like boat you’re tied to (that’s the Jetlev, not reading the TG).

Also from the TG a delightful story about Empty wine bottles sell for £300 in China because, of course, if you’re cunning you can take an empty Lafite ’82, refill it with merely good wine, and resell it for £2000. Because (again, of course) the people buying them don’t know good from bad: the stuff is a mere status symbol (I suspect this is true the world over and not just in China). But what really made me laugh out loud was a delightful quote from one of the counterfeiters:

“The bottles need to be in the best condition possible,” said another dealer, called Mr Ye, at a Shanghai company. “It is very important. And I only want genuine bottles, no fakes,” he added.

Yes, that is right: he is happy to sell fake wine, but wants to do it in genuine bottles. Which makes sense: it is a lot easier to inspect a bottle to see if the label looks faked than to inspect the wine.

Again from TW, nice to see him standing up for principle. He didn’t add, so I will: terrorism is a trivial threat to this country. We are not justified in using extraordinary measures to fight it. Wake me up again when terrorism deaths/year exceed 10% of those on the roads.

The pic is from xkcd, obviously, though via SE.

And lastly, from the astoundingly, eternally, unbelievably hyperbolic Phil Plait, a video of the solar eclipse seen from satellite. What I thought most interesting about it was how little the sun’s surface changes. because all the sfc features look like fires, I expected them to flicker and burn and so on. But no, they are still. Too big, probably.

The year in stoats

carbon-tax-now A post a month, chosen not quite at random, and I couldn’t always restrict myself to one post. Somehow, I feel that not a great deal happened scientifically during the year. But I still enjoy writing this stuff, and people still read it, so on I go.

* Himalayan glaciers to disappear by… when? an obligatory reference to the CRU nonsense, but its a spin-off, so that’s OK.
* Death at UAH (and Wolf Hall)
* Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi – its not all chance folks (and Hobbes again, and 400 ppm CO2)
* Currygate, part 3: the key papers exposed – no round-up of the year could be complete without at least one dissing of Curry. Oddly, her blog has gone from oh-how-exciting to oh-dear and now down to not even bothering clicking the links in my feed reader & close to unsubscribing (so really I shouldn’t have mentioned her at all. But I seem to have sooo many posts). Still, others seem to like her stuff (Round in circles with Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice? also refers, if you want your prejudices confirmed).
* Three views of sea ice – the summer minimum this year was a nail-biter and the current extent is interesting too.
* Dumb America. An all too frequent phenomenon by no means restricted to Americans. Meanwhile, I am old.
* Every now and then I think I’m oblige to re-state What I think about global warming even though the answer is unexciting and largely unchanging. A classic from the Climate Scum is a fun interlude, but I should not forget NN who did indeed write a bloody paper about it, then.
* August is full of holidays but I found time to read and write Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem? and by golly it is a stinker.
* Then I had my Big Fight with PZ which was jolly exciting, briefly. But the Boston Marathon was more fun.
* Not much fun was They make a wasteland and call it peace but that post is still rather prophetic (and there is some follow-up here). That Jimbo Wales is a twat, you know?
* The Wegman story is still ongoing – what will 2011 bring? Presumably GMU can’t stall forever.
* I rather like the recent Explaining too much but Can’tcun is also important. I can’t point you to the carbon tax now post, because I haven’t written it yet.

Best wishes for the New Year to All. Your year’s proverb is There’s no light the foolish can see better by.

[Update: jealous of other people knowing their site traffic, I looked at Alexa, and discovered something related:

The top queries driving traffic to from search engines. Updated monthly.

Query	Percent of Search Traffic
1	pharyngula		3.10%
2	sign out		1.40%
3	science blogs		1.02%
4	respectful insolence	0.60%
5	pz myers		0.56%
6	pz			0.23%
7	stoat			0.18%
8	nifty stories		0.16%
9	phd comics		0.14%
10	science blog		0.13%

Obviously PZ wins, but I’m doing OK too.]


* Best posts of 2009
* 2010: best posts, and personal reflections – PW
* Top Inkstain posts of 2010 – JF
* My top ten (or so) list of climate-science related events of the 20th century in chronological order – mt
* 2010 blog round-up (Bart) and his blog highlights.

Snowy again

DSCN1569 Time for a few linky type things. The first couple point to the New Blog in case you’ve missed it.

* Snowy again by me, about the recent weather.
* Christmas Head
* xkcd Christmas Tree (thanks Mayank) and on wikileaks 🙂
* Lamest edit wars on wikipedia. The Bot wars section is good. Of course, wikipedia is soft nowadays, with the block-fingers too poised. We had real edit wars in the old days.
* Beautiful supernova fragments via Bad Astronomy. As a species we are frequently rubbish but occaisionally sublime.
* J+J go to AGU but don’t find much except Macs. A nice dig at Curry’s incoherence, but the apparent lack of much new confirms my vague impressions from the outside.
* Infinite Growth and the Crisis Cocktail – Guest Posting looks to me like a fine example of wishful and woolly thinking. I left some questions; it will be interesting to see the answers.
* [Late in] Why Velikovsky was right by Tim Ball – ht to the Baron. You just couldn’t make this stuff up.

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.


10400230_575987898473_1201_n The latest crop of links-n-stuff. First up is this superb photo – ht TS’s google reader feed. It won second prize but for my money is far and away better than any of the others (higher-res version – thanks BD). Its tagged as a “condensation rainbow” but it isn’t, I think (wrong shape). It is probably diffraction not refraction – see [[Iridescent cloud]]. Tom said I saw this elsewhere (can’t remember where) and I think the explanation given was that the plane was making a sharp turn and adiabatic expansion resulting low pressure one side of the wing lowered the temperature enough for an ice(?) cloud to form. It seemed a reasonable explanation so I’ll go with that. The same photographer, Bernardo Malfitano, has another good one at here.

[2019 update: gosh, it’s still a gorgeous picture. And I still think it isn’t a rainbow, but my reasons have shifted. I think the not-a-circle-arc is bogus, the region is too small to show that. But, the sun is behind the plane (no?) and rainbows form away from the sun so I still think it’s probably diffraction.]

Meanwhile, on the perennial issue of the costs of GW: A new mechanism to consider when measuring climate impacts on economies.

On the very very silly end of GW, on wiki we’ve been having a Big Argument about [[Climate change alarmism]]. What became really weird was me having to explain (see here) that yes indeed my own paper really wasn’t a good source for what the septics were trying to push (here). This appears to have been so extreme that it has even got through to at least some parts of arbcomm.

[Update: but I forgot to link the the far more amusing spoof PD.]

And for all you physicists out there, an old favourite I ran across again recently How to do physics.

Melting Rate of Icecaps in Greenland and Western Antarctica Lower Than Expected says ScienceDaily but its wrong: what it means is, less than previously measured. The GRACE folk have recalibrated their isostatic rebound, it seems.

Knol is a “new” thingy from google. Actually not very new, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it. Wiki has some ruminations on it. It appears to have the advantage that you can write what you like, untramelled by the trolls. But the disadvantage that the trolls can write what they like, uncontrolled by the sane. And there is no structure.

Heiaheia is yet another track-your-fitness website that AN inveigled me onto, but it is cute and funky and brightly coloured. Hopefully they’ll integrate it to garmin connect sometime.

Down at the scummy end: In particular, any “predictions” and “projections” about the future must be entirely based on observations. A must-read. As are the latest episodes of Harry Potter and the methods of rationality (up to 46 at last count).

Local news: I’ve just done my first erg for ages (7606) and Phoebe is a fleabag.

Finally, and belatedly, the LOLcat bible: Nebuchadnezzar sed: “ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US”

Special bonus pic at the end (saintgasoline via 4chan):

[Update. Oh, and I forgot the ridiculous kerfuffle about Hawking’s latest. See Penrose in the FT (the after-coffee anecdote makes Penrose sound like a twat, which for all I know he may be, but the rest is OK) or Woit rip Hawking to shreds. Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t make you right.

Listening: Martin Carthy: Famous flower of serving men.

More late stuff: Science scorned says Nuture (Volume: 467 ,Page: 133 Date published: (09 September 2010)): There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts… Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the movement. (ht: Romm).

Yet more misc

Who says GW is bad? Climate change stops fighting between India and Bangladesh says Nurture. [Err, see comments. And also, JA nailed this -W]

David Appell wonders about “Livestock’s Long Shadow” – the odd thing is that I swear I’ve done this one before, and *I* didn’t really believe their numbers either. But it might have been on wikipedia… can anyone help me out?

And, briefly, some science: Unmanned planes take wing for science. Bit of a dobber-substitute, no? There is a downside: Flying instruments on the Global Hawk isn’t cheap or easy. NASA charges the same price — US$3,500 per hour — to use the Global Hawk as for various manned aircraft so maybe this is just PR by the gents with guns. [ps: BAS did some stuff too but on a much smaller scale.]

Om NOM NOM! Doughnuts: a guide for the perplexed: Tesco: astonishingly cheap and fairly cheerful. Sainsburys: a bit sugary-er, perhaps too “fat”. Waitrose: too far away. Co-op: OK but not memorable.

p4 resolved” – isn’t that useful. I never knew that. No more lost files. I must read the rest of the manual some time.

HORR: full report to follow, but here is an unflattering pic and here are the results. We’re 302.

Observation from Popper: a commitment to clarity in language is part of the obligation of rationalism. Gosh, which neatly ties into McLean et al.. How tidy. [Thanks to [JA].

Time considered as a helix of semi precious stones

From William Leeman but found via SkepChick, in turn found via The Penguin.

(If you’ve never read Time considered as a helix of semi precious stones you should; though it isn’t quite as good as its title).

While I’m here, do you fancy some of that John “wacko” Donne?

BATTER my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,

But am betroth’d unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;

Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,

Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

All a bit intense. Maybe Marvell.