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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Science

Friday April 04 2014

A commenter on one of the climate skeptic blogs, I think at Bishop Hill, provided a link to this fascinating posting, at Coyote Blog.

The Coyote man combines three tendencies that he sees in global temperatures.  First, there is a warming process that has been going on since the Little Ice Age.  Second, there is a slight kink upwards in this graph, very slight, associated with recent CO2 increase.  Third, there is an oscillating wave, for some reason involving a couple of acronyms.  And the result is a graph that seems to fit the recent facts better than any other graph I’ve seen.  Certainly better than that idiot hockey stick.

If Coyote is right about all this, and he is in fact only semi-serious about it, then the global temperature will soon be seen to be inching downwards, until about 2030, at which point it will then turn back towards relatively rapid heating, again, along the lines of what happened from circa 1970 to circa 2000.  So, a few We Will Freeze years, followed by some more We Will Fry decades.

However, we’re talking tiny numbers here.  None of this is remotely describable as a catastrophe, even in the long run.

Coyote says he developed this stuff six years ago.  But I could find no link back to him actually saying this six years ago.  Pity.

Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that I could live another two hundred years rather than for about another twenty or probably less.  What will happen to global temperatures for the next century or so?  How will the politics of it all play out?  I’d love to live long enough to find out.  But, I won’t.

This started out as a jokey posting about climate science.  It ended up as yet another rumination on the process of getting old.  When you are young you are going to live indefinitely.  You will die, eventually.  But too long into the future for this event to be distinguishable for practical purposes from never.  Then, rather suddenly, that all changes.

I recently did another climate science posting at Samizdata.

Tuesday March 18 2014

I still can’t get used to the internet.  I never really will.  You can find all kinds of stuff out in a few seconds.  You know that, and so do I know it.  But, unlike (probably) you, I will never get truly used to this.

Last night, for instance, there was a TV show on about Fossils, fronted by this old Fossil Professor, and mention was made of – and a little sliver of film was shown of – a building (with lots of fossils in it) called the Royal Ontario Museum.  I said, that looks like that Daniel Libeskind museum in Berlin, in the saw cuts in big blocks style.  So let’s see about that Royal Ontario Museum shall we?  Sure enough, that is Libeskind also.

I had imagined that the saw cut style was specifically used only for that Berlin museum, to make you wince when you look at the building, same as you do when you find out the grizzly details of what happened to all those Berlin Jews.

However, it now seems (to me) that Libeskind just likes doing saw cuts.  Am I getting this wrong?

Maybe I could google that question also, and find out if anyone else agrees with the above.  But that’s enough answers for one posting.

Wednesday November 13 2013

… in among all the stuff that does not.

Foster’s flaccid Gherkin used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment.  Personally, I don’t think the Gherkin looks like a penis, more like a vibrator.  Certainly not a gherkin.

And: Synthetic creature could “save nature” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.  Has this woman never seen any horror movies?

Related: Will Jellyfish Take Over the World?

Monday September 16 2013

Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going?  I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:

image

I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.

The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?

Bishop Hill:

The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.

But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have.  The “narrative approach” is their problem.  What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill.  This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this.  That can’t work.

If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.

LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.

Friday September 13 2013

Here.

So, could this also work for cats?

Scroll scroll:

And for all the cat lovers out there, don’t accuse Polimeno of being biased toward pooches. Finding Kitty is in the works.

A lot of the cat stuff I stick up here on Fridays is things I find by googling for “cat” news.  But this I learned about by getting regular google emails that come to me about face recognition.

Face recognition software is, I predict (as do many others I’m sure), going to have all kinds of weird unintended consequences.  This is only the start of it.

For instance, scientists: Which animals have faces that face recognition software can distinguish between, and which not?  What does those answers mean?

What about face recognition errors, joining you up with relatives or long lost twins you never knew you had?

What will face recognition do to the lookalike trade?  “How much like Brad Pitt do I look?  Face recognition couldn’t tell the difference, that’s how much!”

Will face recognition answer the question: Which celebrity do I most look like?

Any more stuff like that that anyone can think of?

Sunday September 08 2013

Regulars here know that I am an admirer of Britain’s short term weather forecasts.  Britain’s Meteorological Office also has a disgustingly politicised long term weather forecasting department, whose prophecies I despise.  But the short term forecasts are the real deal, based on real knowledge.  Pretty much always, these short term forecasts are correct.

Me being a libertarian, I regret that the Met Office is funded out of taxation rather than with voluntary payments from customers.  That it is now corrupted by the addition of that long term forecasting bit is a typical consequence of such compulsory funding, because compulsory funding has an inbuilt tendency to be grabbed hold of by people with dodgy agendas that wouldn’t pay for themselves by voluntary methods.  It is upon the prestige generated by the short term weather forecasts that the politicised long term forecasts sail forth and do all their damage.

None of which alters the fact that the Met Office’s short term forecasts are, as of now, very good, and a big part of the way I now live.

But as a fan of cricket, as well as of short term weather forecasts, I can’t help noticing that cricket people don’t admire short term weather forecasts nearly as much as I do.  I think this is because the only time when weather forecasts loom large for cricket players and cricket watchers is on rainy days, and most rainy days in England are not days of solid rain, but days with rain sometimes but not at other times, and in some places but not in other nearby places.  Now that the top cricket grounds in England mostly have clever drainage systems, cricket can be played at them pretty much whenever it is not actually raining.  But, when exactly will that be?  “Sunny intervals, scattered showers.” That’s a typical weather forecast in these islands.  But for how long, exactly, and where, exactly, will the sunny intervals be radiating their sunshine and the scattered showers be scattering their showers?

In England, the weather on a rainy day can be very local.  I live a walk away from the Oval cricket ground, which is on the other side of the Thames from me.  I have known many a nice day for me when the cricket was washed completely out at the Oval, and other days when they played, but would not have played at all had the weather been as I got it.

A day can be generally rainy, but whether any of the rain will fall, and for how long, on the particular cricket ground that the cricket world happens to be obsessing about that day is in the lap of the weather gods, and beyond the powers of the Met Office to be exact about. 

So, cricket people tend not to admire weather forecasts, or to set much store by them.

The ODI on Thursday in Leeds was a total washout.  I pretty much knew that it would be, because they were forecasting solid rain, which is actually quite rare in England.  But even then, a little local break in the clouds might have meant a shortened game.  They just had to wait and see, although by about lunchtime the game was up.  That was a day when their deep distrust of forecasts got their hopes up needlessly.  The spectators, I believe, stayed away in their thousands.

Today there is the second ODI between England and Australia in Manchester.  Here is the BBC version of the weather forecast for that right now:

A chilly but bright start to the day in many areas, but with showers affecting some western areas. Showers becoming more widespread during the morning with some of these heavy. A cool day with generally light winds.

That tells me, and has actually been telling me for several days, that today in Manchester would probably not be that good day for one of my photo-wanders.  I typically just want to know what kind of day it’s going to be, and that tells me.  If I did venture out, I’d take a brolly and a good book, make an early start, and stay close to transport so I could get home quick if it later turned really bad.  But the cricketers can’t tell from that whether they’ll get a game or not, because everything depends on exactly where the rain lands, and in what exact amounts.  That forecast could mean anything from an almost total wash-out to a great day of cricket.  I will be tuning in to see, but I don’t know what kind of game it will be, and neither does anyone else.

Saturday August 03 2013

For reasons that I may or may not explain some other time (it involved this), I found myself, exactly one week ago today, at the toppish layer of Kings College, London.

There was some hanging about waiting for events to start and for lifts to arrive, and at such times I took (grabbed) photos, mostly through windows, out at London in its various manifestations, near and far:

image image imageimage image image

Just as there is much aesthetically anarchic clutter at the tops of buildings, so too is there similar clutter around the backs of buildings, the bits where you are looking at the stage scenery, so to speak, from the other side.

As for the more orthodox view, of various Big London Things (bottom right), you may think, not much of a photo, technically speaking, and you would be right, but I like it nevertheless, in the sense that it is a technically rather average realisation of a very good shot, like so many of my photos.  Also, I had only a few seconds to take/grab it, and only one go at it, because a lift was even then opening up and demanding my presence.  I was with someone else, which always complicates the taking of photos, I find.

Note in particular the exact alignment of The Wheel with the New Tower (most recently featured here in one of these snaps (3.2)) that they are now finishing off, at Vauxhall, the one where there was all that crane drama.  See also Big Ben and that other Parliament Tower (St Stephen’s), Battersea Power Station, Westminster Abbey, and even the tower with the crazy hairdo in the previous posting.  What the green dome with the Union Jack flying on it is, I do not know.

Plus, who knew that there was a Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at Kings U?  Well, probably Menzies, and the people who study Australia in it.  But who else?

Shame it’s not Austrian, and economics.

Saturday June 01 2013

Commenter Jimmy Haigh (May 30, 3:05 PM), on this at Bishop Hill:

He’s trying to sit on the fence and eat it too.

He is talking about the revolting Tim Yeo, who either has, or has not, changed his mind about Global Warming, depending on who you read.  But either way, he continues to make lots of money out of it.

BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
Me and the Six Nations under the weather
The Qur’an is not science – science cannot be ignored
Steven Pinker’s description of The Enlightenment
Meow
Why I do not share Johnathan Pearce’s admiration for Bjorn Lomborg
What’s up with that?
BMdotCOM Headline of the week
University of California chickens coming home to roost?
Hockey Stick art
Matt Ridley’s demolition of CAGW
Science can relax about the harm done to it by Climategate
“Things appear almost impossible to escape from …”
Animals that like the smell of humans dying
Climate science as make-work for former Cold Warriors
Cats only seem smart and dogs only seem dumb
Cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs
Funny feline ephemeron
A blog posting linking to a science article
Cool cat that obeys Allen’s Rule
A serious disappointment
Lucky we didn’t go to Lords
Thin rings
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
Chimpcam
Towers under the weather - and a steam engine steams to the rescue
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Picture purrfection and a rather good Clive James piece
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
Laughing gas
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
What’s up with this?
Link to a list of peer-reviewed papers supporting skepticism of “man-made” global warming
Shadows on rings
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
Why I vote against AGW
A little archaeology
Friday baby marmoset
Truth is true
Effing newspapers
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
Link to Samizdata piece about arguments from incredulity
The impossibility of God but the possibility of Michael Flatley’s cure and of super-super-flees
How patent lawyers destroyed a mathematician
John Carey on Shakespeare and the high-art/ popular-art distinction
Strange weather
On the nature of the evolution argument
Non-bio oil
Star and stripe
3D!
Man regrows finger
Eusociality
Professor Wenger
More horizontal thinness
Tatiana the normal tiger
Has global warming stopped?
Better safe than sorry
The cat genome is cool
She’s alive I tell you! Alive!
Big Solar System things
Short picture of a long distance
Don’t be a physics teacher
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
The idea that mental illness does not exist
Plastic that conducts heat better
So that’s how you pronounce Csikszentmihalyi
Thomas Edison - from cheat to creator
Alessandro Volta feels electricity on his tongue
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Svensmark – for and against
A basic part of the domestic cat’s heritage
Diamond Synchrotron
On the ideology of the “climate change” debate
New York Times links - owned genes
I am about to become a published photographer
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Something to bore everyone
Blogging takes longer than doing things - a picture - and why does a hot bath make me colder?
Was that you or a tree?
What is a squarry?