Showing posts from May, 2006


Matt Sludge has up a story about protestors calling for the resignation of the head of the National Hurricane center. This looks like a Rovian disinformation campaign to me, but who knows. There are some idiots on our side too. SILVER SPRING, MD – Hundreds of concerned citizens and leaders from across the nation will join Hurricane Katrina survivors Wednesday to call for the resignation of the heads of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the NOAA Headquarters just outside of Washington, D.C. During an 11 a.m. demonstration, advocates will demand that NOAA stop covering up the growing scientific link between severe hurricanes and global warming while insisting on real solutions to the problem of global warming. The protest comes at the start of the 2006 Hurricane season, which officials at the NHC predict will be “a hectic, above-normal tropical storm season.” Speeches begin at 11 a.m. EDT and protestors will carry dra

Demographic Transition

Brad Delong links to another uber cool tool from Google. In particular, the example is great for looking at the so called demographic transition - the link between per capita income growth and population growth. The initial configuration plots fertility versus per capita income for most of the worlds countries. You can set the graphs in motion to see how things have changed over the past 30 years. The tool also allows you to select individual countries and display their tracks. Very interesting cases are China, India, Mauritius, The Bahamas, Korea, Botswana, and Saudi Arabia. I also like the fact that it pretty clearly seems to show my idea that low fertility precedes rather than follows economic growth. Almost every country with low fertility, however poor, seems to accelerate toward advanced country income levels.

Did the Ecoterrosists Win?

Henry Paulsen, our new treasury secretary designate, seems to be both highly qualified and very Green. He is chairman of the Nature Conservancy and a very generous donor to environmental causes. Brad Delong has this Mr Paulson is expected to be a stronger figure within the administration. He has been chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs since June 1998. He was paid a total of $38.8m last year, $30.1m of that in retricted stock. He has worked in government before, as a member of the White House domestic council from 1972 to 1973 and served as an assistant to the secretary of defence from 1970 to 1972.... "Paulson will make a fantastic treasury secretary but it is hard to see any economic policy of consequence being made in the remainder of the Bush term," said Mark Zandi, chief analyst at Moody's "The president is engulfed with the problems in Iraq and the attempts at reforming social security and the tax system have fallen flat. The only possi


I should write about Haditha , but it's just too damn depressing. One rumor has it that the evidence against the Marines includes a cell phone picture taken by a Marine of another Marine shooting a woman and her children as she knelt begging for mercy. So why did he take the picture? Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. "I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: 'I am a friend. I am good,' " Fahmi said. "But they killed him, and his wife and daughters." An image from a videotape shot by a Haditha journalism student Nov. 19 shows what appears to be a morgue after an alleged retaliatory raid by U.S. Marines. (Associated Press) The 24 Iraqi civilians killed on Nov. 19 included children and the women who w


Brad DeLong quotes Paul Krugman: Paul Krugman on James Hansen Paul writes: Swift Boating the Planet - New York Times: A brief segment in "An Inconvenient Truth" shows Senator Al Gore questioning James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA, during a 1989 hearing. But the movie doesn't give you much context, or tell you what happened to Dr. Hansen later. And that's a story worth telling, for two reasons. It's a good illustration of the way interest groups can create the appearance of doubt even when the facts are clear and cloud the reputations of people who should be regarded as heroes. And it's a warning for Mr. Gore and others who hope to turn global warming into a real political issue: you're going to have to get tougher.... Dr. Hansen was one of the first climate scientists to say publicly that global warming was under way. In 1988, he made headlines with Senate testimony in which he declared that "the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is chan

Memorial Day

Bush decides that the best way to honor those who have given life and limb for his stupid war is to give them more company. Our nation mourns the loss of our men and women in uniform. We will honour them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, by defeating the terrorists, by advancing the cause of liberty and by laying the foundation of peace for a generation of young Americans," Bush added. The US death toll in Iraq is now about 2,470 and has increased by more than 800 since the president's last Memorial Day wreath-laying at Arlington Cemetery, in the Washington suburbs. About ten times that many have been severely wounded, losing limbs, suffering brain damage, etc. The carnage among the Iraqi's in the civil war Bush started is many tens of times as large. The sorriest aspect of this is that the Bushies have apparently now decided that they can't win, or at least can't win without raising taxes, and so have decided to expend a few more thousan


I am going to attempt to phase out haloscan comments. After having three long (and no doubt brilliant) comments trashed by haloscan today, I am fed up. At some point in the future I will remove the feature from my blog. I may also start replying even to haloscan comments in the regular blogger comments.

Gore and Hitler

Joel Achenbach's portrait of Bill Gray, Fred Smith, and some other leading climate skeptics in today's Washington Post Magazine is a masterpiece of science reporting. Achenbach's story has exceptional literary style and vivid dramatis personae. As evidence mounts that humans are causing dangerous changes in Earth's climate, a handful of skeptics are providing some serious blowback IT SHOULD BE GLORIOUS TO BE BILL GRAY, professor emeritus. He is often called the World's Most Famous Hurricane Expert. He's the guy who, every year, predicts the number of hurricanes that will form during the coming tropical storm season. He works on a country road leading into the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the atmospheric science department of Colorado State University. He's mentored dozens of scientists. By rights, Bill Gray should be in deep clover, enjoying retirement, pausing only to collect the occasional lifetime achievement award. He's a towering figure

American Dream

Kevin Drum has up this graph of median income, in 2004 dollars, for men and women since 1947. There are several dramatic features shown, but the most interesting to me was the rapid and continuous income growth for men from 1947 to 1973, followed by stagnation and actual decline since. Per capita GDP has approximately doubled since then, so who got all that money? Women's income increased a little, so they got a small piece of it. Ditto, the young (under 26) and old (over 65). The overwhelming share of it went to the wealthy though. While median wage earners lost ground, the very rich (top 1/1000 and top 1/10000) saw huge increases in their incomes (several hundreds of percent). A more important question is why this happened. Several possibilities have been mentioned: the entry of the baby boomers into the labor force, globalization, and increased immigration. It's hard to disbelieve, though, that a crucial aspect was the dramatic changes in the tax code that increase

Doprah's Book Club

I used to belong to a great books discussion group and enjoyed it. I wonder if it would be possible to do that in blog format. The idea would be to pick a book, or a selection from a book, agree to begin discussion at some later date, read and discuss. If anyone has any interest, I'd like to hear nominations. I have a copy of Lisa Randall's Warped Passages that I really should read sometime. Anyone? Bueller?

Da Vinci Again

Having now seen the movie, and having not been especially disappointed, I have to repeat that the critics are nuts. I do think it was a better book than movie, but that's true of almost every book that's been made into a movie. The particular brand of stupidity the critics exhibit here reminds me a lot of the stupidity of the David Broeders and Richard Cohens. It comes from living in an echo chamber where the loudest sounds you hear are each others voices. Vladamir Nabakov told a story of teaching a university literature class, and asking the students why they studied literature. Most students were able to generate some nonsense in whatever critical paradigm was popular in the day, but one had the nerve to admit to just liking stories. Nabakov thought that was the only sensible answer and I can only agree. Many critics found the dialogue in the movie utterly implausible, but since when is that a literary crime? Is the dialogue in Hamlet plausible? Many of the same critic

Lies, Damned Lies, and "We call it Life!"

The professional climate change deniers have mounted a campaign denouncing climate "alarmism" which started with editorials in major papers by Richard Lindzen and a couple of right wing hacks. The idea seems to be to counter Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth . Phase II from denial central is the so-called "Competitive Enterprise Institutes" pro CO2 ads now running in a few cities. Jeff Masters of Wunderblog , no environmental bomb thrower, takes a close look at the CEI and its ads. He starts by pointing out who it is that is paying: Who funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute? A variety of businesses fund CEI, but the fossil-fuel industry is one of their main contributors. Exxon documents show that the company gave $270,000 to CEI in 2004 alone. $180,000 of that was earmarked for "global climate change and global climate change outreach." Exxon has contributed over $1.6 million to CEI since 1998. Other oil companies, such as Amoco and Te

Advice from the MacDaddy

Matthew Yglesias has this over at TPM . John McCain's victory strategy for Iraq: "One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit.'" Maybe next time John get a chance to hug or kiss Bush he could ask him to too.

Not Such Good Publicity

Juan Cole quotes this story: Palestinians: Settlers once more assault schoolchildren By Michal Greenberg, Haaretz Correspondent Palestinian schoolchildren from the West Bank village of Umm Tubba were assaulted Sunday morning by settlers who approached them from a community called Ma'on ranch, Palestinians said. The children who were making their way to school were escorted by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, but the escort did not prevent the assault. The children said a woman pushed two of them unto thorn bushes at the side of the road. The IDF [Israeli army] has been escorting the Palestinian children to school daily due to the intensified assaults by settlers. On Sunday three soldiers and an army jeep escorted the children, but the Palestinians say that the soldiers did nothing to stop the settlers from assaulting the children. I have no idea how credible this story is, but Haaretz is a generally liberal English language Israeli newspaper. With friends like these, enemies shou

Tree Hugger

Joan Baez is up a tree to save it . Folk singer Joan Baez and tree-sitter Julia "Butterfly" Hill have taken up residence in a tree to raise awareness about a 14-acre urban farm threatened with demolition. Joan Baez is a 1960's folk singing icon and war protester, but is better known to physicists as John Baez's aunt.

Da Vinci and the Critics

For some reason The Da Vinci Code , book and movie, drives critics into frothing mouthed fury. Andrew Brown, for example, creates a whole (and wholly improbable) system of philosophy to explain the book's popularity. The Da Vinci Code really does raises an important and ancient mystery: why do bad books sell better than good ones? (And I don't mean, why do Dan Brown's books sell better than those by other authors named Brown?) ...And even if you think JK Rowling is a bad writer, or a worse one than many children's authors who sell almost infinitely less than she does, it is easy to come up with explanations for her success that involve the things she does well. We say, for example, that the invention and the plotting in her books mask the flatness of the style. Like the Ford Anglia, she may be ugly and unstylish in some ways, but she can fly. This sort of explanation holds that there are worse things than a pedestrian style: plain prose that gets the job done will do

Usual Suspects

It's not that the Bush Administration keeps making mistakes. It's more that they keep making the identical mistake over and over. The New York Times has an extensive series examining the attempt to create an Iraqi police force. As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country. Three years later, the police are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war. Police units stand accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or simple profit. Citizens, deeply distrustful of the force, are setting up their own neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year,

Are We There Yet?

Doctor: I have some bad news for you. You have six months to live. Tom Friedman: Well, uh, I guess that's OK as long as we can keep it that way. FAIR reports that Tom, on the eleventh of this month (5/11/06) said to Chris Matthews, on MSNBC's hardball: "Well, I think that we're going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we're going to have to just let this play out." FAIR's research showed that this wasn't exactly the first time Tommy boy had made such a prediction. For example: "The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time." (New York Times, 11/30/03) "What I absolutely don't understand is just at the moment when we finally have a UN-approved Iraqi-caretaker government made up of—I know a lot of these guys—reasonably de

Days of Rage

Tommy Hilfiger reportedly attacked Axl Rose in a New York nightclub. Tommy Hilfiger really showed his "Appetite for Destruction" yesterday when he pummeled Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose in a dispute over a VIP table at Rosario Dawson's birthday party, sources said. Hey, I would have fought for Rosario Dawson too. Most observers seemed to think that fashion designer Hilfiger was pretty lucky Rose did not choose to retaliate. Meanwhile, Luboš has a great video here of a Czech political dispute. UPDATE: Kevin Drum points out that at the above political dispute, there was no, repeat, no, defenestration involved. A meeting of disgruntled dentists? In Prague? At least no one got tossed out a window. Personally, I'm looking forward to a Rich Lowry - Al Franken cage match.

Dr. Houghton has a Question

John Houghton, in his book Global Warming : The Complete Briefing , has an exercise: “It is sometimes argued that the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is negligible because its absorption band in the infrared is so close to saturation that there is very little additional absorption of radiation emitted from the surface. What are the fallacies in this argument?” Indeed it has been so argued, by Harvard Physics Prof Lubos Motl quite recently. This post is in answer Houghton’s question. As I remarked in a previous post, the energy balance of absorbed radiation and emitted radiation has to be in nearly exact balance. The amount absorbed implies that the Earth has a mean radiating temperature of -18 C, which is to say it emits as much radiation as a black body at -18 C. I need to start with a few more relevant and probably familiar facts: a)The atmosphere gets colder as you get higher, until you reach the stratosphere. b)The surface emits a more or less continuous spectrum cent

GWB: A Modest Proposal

The Great Wall of Bush is a modest proposal for the enhancement of our border security. It is based on two principles: Most immigrants to the US are seeking work, and barbed wire is ugly. No American could be proud of a gigantic version of the iron curtain running along our Southern border, but a stylishly antiqued and crenellated stone fortification could be a tourist attraction of the same scale and character as the Great Wall of China. Of course it would be difficult to find Americans willing to do that kind of hard and detailed manual labor, but luckily, there is plentiful unskilled and eager labor just south of our border. Millions of Mexicans could live in their own country, amongst their own people, availing themselves of the cheaper living conditions there while constructing this beautiful and distinctive American monument. Such a barrier might prove only a fairly slight obstacle to determined immigrants, it’s true, once the work of construction was done, which is where the

The Greenhouse Effect from A to B

(Some notes on the basics of the so-called greenhouse effect.) Sometimes outrage fails, and even I tire of Bush bashing. Reading over Lumo's latest essay in climate science, I realized that there were a number of gaps in my knowledge, not to mention other peoples. I decided (I'm a decider) to write out some notes, mainly for my own understanding, on the fundamentals of the greenhouse effect. I started with a qualitative discussion of first principles as I understand them. I would appreciate comments, critiques, and questions from experts as well as non-experts. Part I follows. Part I: Introduction The Earth is heated by the electromagnetic radiation (light) that it absorbs from the Sun. The Earth in turn radiates heat into space, and the heat radiated by the Earth is almost exactly equal to that absorbed. This balance is a consequence of two fundamental facts: first, that the radiation from the Sun is almost constant, and second, that the heat radiated by a hot body like the E

The CEO Presidency

Josh Marshall finds another little management glich in the war on terra: It seems the whole security clearance process is shutdown indefinitely at the Pentagon because Steve Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management can't work out a silly billing dispute.

Cognitive Dissonance?

Brad Delong has this: The Bush Clown Show: You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff are the clown show. Bush says he is sending the National Guard to guard the U.S.-Mexico border. Chertoff says that that is a really stupid idea: TPMmuckraker May 16, 2006 08:35 AM: Chertoff: National Guard on the Border Would Be "Horribly Over-Expensive and Very Difficult" By Justin Rood - May 16, 2006, 8:35 AM: On the occasion of President Bush's announcement he will post the National Guard along the southern U.S. border, CQ's Patrick Yoest finds this gem -- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff pooh-poohing the idea less than six months earlier on the O'Reilly Factor: "Why don't you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?" 'Reilly asked. . . . "Well, the National Guard is

The Answer Man

CIP: Will 2006 be the hottest year ever? TAM: Yes CIP: Will Democrats take the House this fall? TAM: Yes. CIP: Is string theory falsifiable? TAM: Yes. CIP: Will Karl Rove be indicted this week? TAM: Only if there is any justice in this world! Could definitely be a Rovian disinformation ploy, though. CIP: What should America do about high gas prices? TAM: Get used to them! CIP: About the stock market? TAM: "Stocks will fluctuate" - J P Morgan

Larry Johnson Might Not be a Fan

Are we sure that George Bush is really the progeny of George H.W. and Barbara Bush? Any chance he is the long lost grandson of Joseph Stalin, sent to destroy the CIA from the inside? How else to explain the debacle underway with the Hookergate/Duke Cunningham bribe fest, the resignation of Goss, and the nomination of General Mike "What Fourth Amendment" Hayden? From The Foggo of War at the TPM Cafe.


Luboš Motl has this this post on one attempt to tame the landscape. Lumo has this important observation on the landscape: We're missing something and we should not fool ourselves into thinking that we're not. In the ever popular gotcha department, commenter Marcel catches Lumo in a slight numerical error in calculating the power set of the set of landscape vacua: Moreover, if you want to consider not only random vacua from a set of 10^{350} vacua but even random subsets of this set, let me warn you that there are more than 10^{10^{350}} different subsets of the set of vacua. Wow! I guess I should have participated in these Olympiads - my estimate would have been at least a factor 5^{10^{350}} smaller!

What's the Time?

What's The Time? Well It's Gotta Be Close To Midnight My Body's Talking To Me It Says, 'Time For Danger' ..................... Mimi, in Rent Time is a subject of endless fascination. It seems like most of the songs in Rent feature time as a major character. Proust's great novel is called "The Search for Times Lost" (more or less). Physics has quite a bit to say about time, but a lot of it does violence to our familiar perceptions. Nothing in physics is more counterintuitive than the notion that the present is a sort of illusion. Classical physics, including special and general relativity tend to give us a picture of time as a sort of four-dimensional block, with a continuum leading from past to future with absolutely nothing special about the present. gr-qc/0605049 by G F R Ellis takes on this notion of "block time" and presents a sort of alternative. The Block Universe idea, representing spacetime as a fixed whole, suggests the flow of

It's Official

More Americans now believe that the Moon is made of green cheese than think Bush is a good President. New Washington Post Poll . Not coincidentally, roughly similar numbers believe the Sun goes around the Earth and think Bush is doing a good job on the economy. They are pretty much the same 20%.

The Thane of Feith

Doug Feith is a brilliant strategic thinker. ................ General Tommy Franks OK, so that's not really what Franks said about Feith. What he actually said might offend the tender ears of some of my readers. Via Brad Delong, A Tiny Revolution unearthed an example of Feith's brilliant strategic thinking: Until today I'd never heard of this special Douglas Feith plan after September 11th: Days after 9/11, a senior Pentagon official lamented the lack of good targets in Afghanistan and proposed instead U.S. military attacks in South America or Southeast Asia as "a surprise to the terrorists," according to a footnote in the recent 9/11 Commission Report. The unsigned top-secret memo, which the panel's report said appears to have been written by Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith, is one of several Pentagon documents uncovered by the commission which advance unorthodox ideas for the war on terror. The memo suggested "hitting targets outside the Middle

The Grave Robber?

The Yale Alumni Magazine reports new evidence of a long rumored grave robbing by the President's grandfather and friends. Prescott Bush went on to a distinguished career as a US Senator, banker to Hitler, and multi-presidential ancestor, so a little vampire blood doesn't seem to be any handicap in those regards, but the part of the story that interested me was an AP follow-up in which Stephen Singer listed noted Skull and Bones alums: Only 15 Yale seniors are asked to join Skull and Bones each year. Alumni include Sen. John Kerry, President William Howard Taft, numerous members of Congress, media leaders, Wall Street financiers, the scions of wealthy families and agents in the CIA. Anybody else find it odd that two Presidents named Bush are not mentioned? (Both were members).

We're Number One!

In incarceration rate , convincing crushing old line police states like Kazakstan and Belarus, and handily beating Russia. Locally, Texas is the champ, with one out of each hundred citizens in the slammer. In newborn death rate, the US, with the worlds highest density of neonatal physicians, finishes second. From the bottom, that is (among developed countries - if you can count Latvia as developed). Truly we have the best (as well as by far the most costly) medical care system in the world.

Closing the Ring

W can still fool 31% of the people. Not a modern record, but exceeded only by Truman, Carter, Nixon, and Dad. GW's disapproval rating (65%) is only exceeded by Nixon on the eve of his resignation. The scary thing is that he still has three more years (almost) to contine screwing up the country.

Motl on Baez

I have mentioned before that Luboš Motl was my original provocation for starting a blog. In honor of that, I try to reference his stuff pretty frequently, but lately most of his posts have been sour missives from the Crazytown School of Climate Science. Fortunately, he now has up this article on John Baez's recent This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 230) . Motl's post is rather muddled and distorted in its decription of Baez's article, and is also warped by a juvenile attack on Baez and Peter Woit, though the technical part about string theory might be useful to those who know enough algebra and strings. John Baez's article, though, is a typically facinating introduction to many interesting facets of math. Baez is one of the best, and probably the very best, expositors of mathematical physics. He almost always includes some bits that are intelligible to even the slightly mathematically educated. Baez once advised every aspiring mathematical physicis

Hot Times on the Roof

From the Independent: Global warming is rapidly melting the ice-bound roof of the world, and turning it into desert, leading scientists have revealed. The Chinese Academy of Sciences - the country's top scientific body - has announced that the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau are vanishing so fast that they will be reduced by 50 per cent every decade. Each year enough water permanently melts from them to fill the entire Yellow River. They added that the vast environmental changes brought about by the process will increase droughts and sandstorms over the rest of the country, and devastate many of the world's greatest rivers, in what experts warn will be an "ecological catastrophe". More sandstorms, drought, and spreading desertification are only part of the problem. The big worry is loss of water supply: Perhaps worst of all, the melting threatens to disrupt water supplies over much of Asia. Many of the continent's greatest rivers - including the Yangtze, the Ind

Ho, Ho, Ho

Linker not thinker edition. Josh Marshall : The House Committee on Homeland Security plans to investigate the questionable $25 million worth of contracts the Department of Homeland Security. DHS spokesman Larry Orluskie maintains that the contract is "just perfect." Federal investigators have apparently interviewed prostitutes involved in the Wilkes-Wade parties. At some point the excesses of Republican Criminal Conspiracy (CCC) will become as tedious as the last days of the Roman Empire, but we aren't quite there yet. Hookers & Congressmen makes for a good human interest story. I'm looking forward to Tim Russert's interview.

Good to be King?

Or maybe even minor royalty, in the US. The recent drug problems of Rush Limbaugh and Patrick Kennedy show just how good a deal it is to be in the oligarchy. If Joe, Jose, or Devonte Six-Pack gets high and crashes his car into a concrete barrier while narrowly missing a patrol car, what do you suppose happens? Living in a democratic country where all are equal under the law, my guess is that maybe the cops will pat him on the back, drive him home, and advise him to check into a clinic. Right?

Do You Believe in Magic?

Real Climate has a post on Bill Gray's meetings paper for the 27th Conference on Hurricans and Tropical Meteorology. The post argues that Gray, who attributes Hurricane frequency and some aspects of global warming to changes in the Thermohaline Circulation (THC), is pretty much making shit up. The case they make sounds convincing to me - not that I needed a lot of convincing to be skeptical of a paper that starts with Senator Inhoffe and ends with science fiction writer Michael Crichton. The THC is undoubtedly important to climate, because it transports heat from one place to another. However it cannot do magical things. It cannot created energy out of thin air (or thick water), nor can it make energy mysteriously disappear. Thus, Gray's statement that "The average THC circulation cools the ocean by about 3 W/m2" is a scientific absurdity . My italics. I wrote a comment on this several days ago and submitted it to RC. I quoted the passage above and said, more or

Oh Goody

He said with notable lack of enthusiasm. (via Josh Marshall ) The Wall Street Journal has this on Porter Goss's replacement at the CIA: A senior Bush administration official says Gen. Mike Hayden is the "leading candidate" to be named director of the CIA. The senior official says Mr. Goss' successor will be named "early next week." Gen. Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency, is currently deputy director of national intelligence under John Negroponte. Though he's been in the center of controversy in recent months over the administration's program of warrantless wiretaps of suspected terrorists, he has long enjoyed good relations with lawmakers of both parties. The Journal article also has confirmation of widely rumored investigations of the CIA number three man. Mr. Goss's resignation also comes amid the controversy regarding the man he appointed to the CIA's third-highest post, Mr. [Kyle "Dusty"] Foggo. Mr. Foggo is

Another One Down

CIA director Porter Goss got a perfunctory attaboy and his walking papers today. Speculation in the blogosphere likes the idea that he might be swept up in the hookergate scandal , though more mainstream theories exist - fired for incompetence or lost a turf war, for example. The incompetence theory seems improbable, despite his evident incompetence. Has Bush ever fired anybody for incompetence? Or maybe Josh Bolton just wants a new guy.

What Happened to Wolfgang?

Yo - Wolfgang. You still in the blogosphere?

Richard Cohen is a Funny Guy

Steven Colbert on the other hand... We know all this because Cohen tells us so in a column about Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondent's dinner. First, let me state my credentials: I am a funny guy. This is well known in certain circles, which is why, even back in elementary school, I was sometimes asked by the teacher to "say something funny" -- as if the deed could be done on demand. This, anyway, is my standing for stating that Stephen Colbert was not funny at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner... It gets worse. The commentary, though, is also what I do, and it will make the point that Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Cohen was pretty upset that an alleged comedian took advantage of the President's status as a virtual prisoner at the dinner to confront him with some uncomfortable truths. A friend of mine felt obliged to send Cohen an email: Dear Mr. Cohen, Thank goodness I read your column. All my

We Don't Need No Stinkin' CDM*...N+1?

Charles Francis asks Does a Teleconnection between Quantum States account for Missing Mass, Galaxy Ageing, Lensing Anomalies, Supernova Redshift, MOND, and Pioneer Blueshift? (gr-qc/0604047) Teleparallel gravity seems to trace it's origins to a 1930 attempt by Einstein to unify GR with E&M, and involves replacing curvature with torsion. Charles version involves applying the teleconnection to quantum states. Frankly, I couldn't really understand it. The most dramatic differences appear to be in the interpretations of redshifts at large differences. In particular he claims that it can explain all the effects in the title - an impressive feat if true. It suggests that the Universe is a few gigayears older than current estimates, and in particular that the z=6 redshifted galaxies are several times as old as in the standard model. Perhaps the greatest virtue of his model is that it can easily be falsified - some more high redshift supernovae, perhaps a reanalysis of the p


Scientific Credibility Gap?

Lawrence K Altman, MD has story in today's NYT on a "credibility gap" for the peer-review system: Virtually every major scientific and medical journal has been humbled recently by publishing findings that are later discredited. The flurry of episodes has led many people to ask why authors, editors and independent expert reviewers all failed to detect the problems before publication. He links some of the fraud problems to the embargo policies of major journals, though I'm afraid I can't quite follow the logic. The thing I did notice was that every cited example involved medicine. I'm not sure MD's are more dishonest than other scientists, but there certainly is a lot more money at stake - both for drug makers who sponsor research and for the profit making, advertising accepting journals involved. Physics has mainly moved beyond print journals to the Arxiv. Gatekeeping there is picking up speed, but so far is mainly concerned with excluding authors who do

The Opinionator on Immigration

I was chatting with my opinionated friend, aka, the opionator or TO, as we call him for short, when the subject of the Mayday immigratin rallies came up. TO: A really, really, stupid idea, which pisses off even people who might otherwise be sympathetic. CIP: Well, immigrants sometimes feel invisible, and they want the country to realize how much we depend on them. TO: Americans don't want to depend on illegals! And they crtainly don't want to depend on a bunch of people waving Mexican flags. CIP: Most of the flags I saw were American or Californian - but there were some Mexican flags. So what do you think of the the House bill to make illegal immigration a felony. TO: F*&#ing brilliant. Just what we need. Twelve million more people in prison! CIP: Guest worker program? TO: Yeah, that's worked really well in Germany, right? And, oh yeah, Saudi Arabia. CIP: So smart ass, you don't like anybody else's ideas, do you have any? TO: That's easy - contr