Showing posts from April, 2007

Do We Still Hang Traitors?

Josh Marshall links to an appearance of former CIA Agent Ray McGovern on Tucker Carlson's show in which McGovern more less directly accuses Cheney of being behind the forged Niger uranium documents. McGovern claims to have evidence - Congress had better subpoena him quick. Personally, I always suspected the Chalabi axis, but its obvious that the US government has pointedly avoided getting to the bottom of the matter. I think it maybe time. Josh has reported on this story a lot, but hasn't seen any smoking guns. The trail always peters out somewhere in the Italian intelligence service.

Hammer of the Infidels

Eli continues to expose various denialist shenanigans. He has slogged through the hundreds of pages of deposition in Singer's SLAPP suit against Lancaster to dig up the incriminating evidence - the bloody fingered and oh-so-well fitting glove. Masochists should study the complete deposition, linked here via Eli. It's a good lesson on how an unscruplous political operative like Singer, backed by wealthy corporate interests, can use the SLAPP lawsuit technique to waste the time and money of a conscientious individual and ultimately intimidate them. Such lawsuits are no longer so easy, which may be one reason Lancaster now abjures his apology and attacks Singer and friends. E pur si muove!


God answers all prayers. Her most common answers are: "No", "Buzz Off", and "Fill out the paperwork and submit it to my secretary."

Who Was Running The Show?

An excerpt of George Tenet's new book is out in Time . Unsurprisingly, it paints Tenet and the CIA in a relatively favorable light. Perhaps more surprisingly, George Bush doesn't come off as badly as I expected. The biggest villains of the piece are Cheney, Rumsfeld, and his inepticons from hell - Wolfowitz and Feith. While Cheney, Feith and probably Wolfowitz scheme relentlessly on behalf of Chalabi, Rumsfeld seems out of touch and clueless. The President's instincts (in Tenet's telling) are not too bad, but for some reason he can't bring himself to fire Rumsfeld and company or consign Cheney to an undisclosed location. Bush, in this version, seems weak and distractable rather than clueless. I wouldn't be surprised if the evil poison of Rove played a role here too. One thing that's clear is that Bush, the CEO president, had no clue as to how to run a Rotary Club.

Eli, George, John and Al

Every year Harvard and other elite schools turn away thousands of students with truly impressive credentials. The rejected might want to meditate on our current President (BA Yale, 1968; MBA Harvard, 1975) and his Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales (BA, Rice 1979; JD, Harvard Law, 1982). Bush, of course, is a leading contender in each of the following categories: most incompetent President, most corrupt President, most dishonest President, and dumbest President. Gonzales is probably the most crooked AG ever despite the fact that at least one of his predecessors wound up in prison. So what does this say about elite schools Harvard, Yale, and Rice? On the positive side, it seems that a Harvard (etc) education can lead to high office regardless of deficiencies in morals, intelligence and judgement. On the negative side, it can help you get in over your head. So my advice is, that if you are a bit dumb, immoral, lazy, etc., don't even bother to apply. Consequences for all are lik

No More Mr. Nice Eli

Eli is tired of being nice to Richard Lindzen. One prominent legend that climate denialists like to drag out is Roger Revelle's supposed co-authorship of a paper claiming that there was no urgency to deal with global warming. Revelle, you might want to recall, was Al Gore's mentor and the person who first demonstrated antropogenic CO2 increase in the atmosphere. The paper in question was written by former scientist, former ozone skeptic, and long-time denialist hack Fred Singer and some other guy. Revelle, who was dying at the time, somehow agreed to let his name appear on the paper. Eli has the incriminating details . Revelle's student and last assistant has this to say: Anyone perplexed by this Balling/Revelle/Gore story might want to examine the sworn testimony of one S. Fred Singer at the following site: didn't cherrypick Revelle's old views, because Revelle didn't write that Cosmos article to which Ballin

Blankety Blink!

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is still in the Amazon top 100 some two plus years after publication. It's also a badly written, deeply dishonest piece of crap - crap of a type which seems to be highly popular with the public. Obviously, my opinion isn't precisely universal. From the Amazon website blurb : Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stran


Evidently, the Republican Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias resignation due to involvement in the DC Madam scandal was only a preface to many shoes yet to drop. Josh Marshall notes that: Some people are downright giddy that the Bush Administration is about to be ensnared in another scandal. But I would remind them that nothing is more bipartisan than sexual indiscretion. Perhaps most titillating is the hint that some "high profile women" may have been involved in a "professional" capacity. OK, so I'm having a little trouble imagining Lynn, Laura, Hillary, or Condi working tricks for walking around money, so whom are we talking about here? Media whores moonlighting as honest whores? Congressional mistresses who formerly freelanced? ??


One victim of the President's veto of the Congress's emergency spending bill is the Mine Resistant, Armor Protected vehicle , or MRAP . This V-bottom, armored vehicle has demonstrated a capability to protect our soldiers against IEDs and other threats, and is badly needed. Congress should immediately send the president a bill to fund this one item (assuming that he vetoes the emergency spending bill). It should not be allowed to become a political football. This message, in all probability, has been brought to you by the vehicle's manufacturer, but it is a version of what has been needed for years. There is no excuse for delay on this one.

Intelligent Television?

It sounds implausible, but it appears that there really is such a thing as an intelligent discussion on television. If you doubt it, watch Bill Moyers' interview with Josh Marshall here . I almost remember a time when such was not a rarity or freak, but that was before television news drowned in the sea of dreck that was Crossfire and is all of Faux News and most of CNN.

Temper Tantrum

An elderly (which is to say, even older than I) friend of mine likes to email me all kinds of right-wing propaganda, which she completely believes. When I can find a quick refutation, I often send it back, but some stuff leaves me knashing my teeth in despair. Today's edition was a recycled feel good story about Iraq bragging about how many universites there were, how many schools had been repaired, and so on - all this stuff dating from 2004 or so, and accompanied by the obligatory condemnation of the press for not reporting the "good news." It's essentially all crap, of course. Iraqi universities have largely ceased to exist, because so many professors have been murdered or fled the country. The schools rebuilt have been blown up or crumbled due to the shoddy work done by Cheney's corrupt contractors. I want to scream, pound the table, and say: "Dozens of American soldiers die every month because idiots like you believe this shit and voted for the mons

Mathematical Methods of Physics

There is a sort of mathematical minimum for all the quantitative sciences and engineering: multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, and differential equations. These subjects are now frequently taught in American high schools, but I never saw them before college. Physics requires more. For a long time, much of that has been taught in grab bag courses styled "Mathematical Methods of Physics." In the period just slightly before my grad student days such courses usually concentrated on methods for solving partial differential equations. The classics of that genre were the two volume sets by Courant and Hilbert and Morse and Feshbach. C&H, the original German edition of which dates back to 1930's, is still available in ludicrously overpriced (English language) paperbacks Methods of Mathematical Physics, volume I and Methods of Mathematical Physics, volume II from the blood sucking vampires of Wiley-Interscience. Morse and Feshbach's two vo

Harmonic Convergence

Josh Marshall sees an oncoming "Harmonic Convergence" in the Bushworld scandals. The "abstinence only" AIDS foreign policy czar resigns suddenly because he is implicated in the DC Madam scandal. Vote fraud scam mastermind promoter Bradley Scholtzman is among the Nazghul summoned urgently back to Mordor. Another couple of GOP Congressmen seem to have figured out yet another way to be a burden to taxpayers after they leave office - we are talking about federal prison here - but never mind, we can build more. Meanwhile, the master scandal that dwarfs and subsumes so many others, the corruption of the Department of Justice, grinds slowly along, inching ever closer to the Karl Rove, the personification of the unified field theory of Republican scandals. The late term pardon rolls grow. Another good reason to impeach early, and often - or at least twice.

Impeachable Source

Intrade has a contract out on George Bush - on his impeachment, to be precise. George W. Bush Impeachment BUSH.IMPEACH.EOT George W. Bush to be impeached by House of Representatives before end of his term in office M 6.0 10.0 9.0 284 -4.3 (Bid, Ask, Last, Vol, Chge) His price dropped dramatically today, not sure why. Personally, I would guess that the odds increased with today's more or less direct evidence that Bush, Rove, and Gonzales did manipulate prosecutions for the benefit of Republicans Rienzi, et. al. But I'm still not buying.

IQ Reduction Therapy

Via Brad DeLong , Kevin Drum argues that trying to refute the evidence impervious will reduce your IQ. Surely every moment spent reacting to the increasingly feverish drivel from people like this reduces your IQ by some fraction of a point? And fractions add up. How long before Matt and Brad, Flowers for Algernon-like, end up behind the business end of a mop in an industrial bakery?... Damn! Now where did I put that #$&@ing mop bucket? And stop visiting Lumo's site ! Is an occasional tidbit of knowledge really worth insanity and dementia?

Cap and Trade versus Tax

While the scientific debate over global warming has now pretty much been relegated to the status of illusion in the flat-Earther's minds, the question of what to do about it is profoundly unsettled. How do you regulate a ubiquitous and economically essential activity with global scope? Denialists don't have much logic or fact on their side but they do have a very legitimate concern. Any action capable of limiting global carbon emissions is certain to have important impacts on the freedom of action of individuals and nations. Our first, largely symbolic attempt to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto accord, was an utter failure for many reasons, but above all because the most important players didn't sign on. Without broad international agreement, especially by the US, China, Europe and India, nothing important can happen. Moreover, in addition to agreement, any useful accord will need real teeth. Two broad approaches are commonly discussed: so called "Cap and

You Silver-Tongued So and So, You

Reid: "I'm Not Going To Get Into A Name-Calling Match With Somebody Who Has A 9 Percent Approval Rating" It might wisest not to try to get in a Number-Calling Match either: pollingreport ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Political Figures: C Dick Cheney: favorability · job ratings ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Time Poll conducted by Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs. March 23-26, 2007. N=1,264 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3. "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Vice President Cheney is handling his job?" Approve Disapprove Unsure ............................% % % 3/23-26/07........32 56 11 3/9-12/07.......... 28 58 14

Yes, it's True, Dennis Overbye

Gliese 581c is indeed inhabited . Or at any rate it was before I left. The most enticing property yet found outside our solar system is about 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra, a team of European astronomers said yesterday. The astronomers have discovered a planet five times as massive as the Earth orbiting a dim red star known as Gliese 581. It is the smallest of the 200 or so planets that are known to exist outside of our solar system, the extrasolar or exo-planets. It orbits its home star within the so-called habitable zone where surface water, the staff of life, could exist if other conditions are right, said Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory. Yes, inhabited as well as habitable. And not just by me. There were indigenous life forms of the lower sort, mostly Republicans and Libertarians, but we saw no signs of intelligent life. Unfortunately, the matter annihilating rocket needed to escape its oppressive gravity, not to mention accelerating to .98 of light spee

Shrillblog Nomination: Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca, who saved Chrysler from its first near death experience, voted for Bush in 2000, but now he's sorry. From his new book : Had enough? Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course." Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out! You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass t

Why Bush Liked Fredo's Performance

Despite Senate testimony proving the Attorney General to be a remarkable combination of dunce, incompetent, and a liar, President Bush applauded his performance and expressed renewed confidence in him . Why so? Because Gonzales was willing to abase, humiliate, and degrade himself to take a bullet for Rove - and probably George too. Of course he might wind up with a perjury conviction, but I imagine that the old pardon power will intervene before that happens.

Woodsman, Woodsman, Spare That Tree...

... if it happens to be in a tropical rainforest. Otherwise, ummm, maybe nevermind. The Economist , in this subscription required story reports that a new model shows that trees aren't unequivocally beneficial as a prophylactic against global warming. Dr. Govindasamy Bala and colleagues, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have reported results of a new model which purportedly shows a double-edged role for trees in global climate. On the positive side, they absorb CO2 and tuck it away in their roots, branches, and trunks for a few decades or centuries. On the negative side, they tend to decrease the planetary albedo, especially in the far North, where they absorb more radiation than the snow lying mostly under them. The model apparently shows a net negative effect for trees in the far North and indicates that planting trees in New York City is not so useful as planting them in the tropics. There are a lot of questions I would like to see answered before I take this

Sheryl Crow Kicks Some Rove

Karl Rove apparently suffered a severe fright as a result of a close encounter with Sheryl Crow and Laurie David. He is rumored to be recuperating at Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

First The Good News

Madonna has adopted all the children in Malawi under the age of four. "I've always wanted a big family," she said as they boarded a fleet of chartered 747's for London. Other African nations are looking nervously at Hollywood. She has posted a help wanted ad for a nanny. We haven't heard whether she plans to breastfeed.

Review: Fiasco by Thomas E Ricks

Ricks finished his story of the Iraq war disaster in mid 2006. He had seen modestly encouraging signs in 2005. General Casey, the new man in charge, understood the problem and adopted some sensible strategic principles. In a few cases, like second Iraq tour of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, impressive local successes were achieved. On this tour, the Third ACR was commanded by one on the Army's best, Colonel H. R. McMaster, a warrior scholar with a PhD who had written a notable critique of the command of the Vietnam War ( Dereliction of Duty ). Alas, most of those gains too were subsequently lost. Ricks' finale is a comparison of historical counterinsurgency counterparts and prospects for the future. The most unequivocal past success was in the Phillipines, which the US occupied for half a century, suppressing insurgency through massive carnage and ultimately wiser policy, producing the slightly democratic nation of todday. In the other "positive" examples,

You are Probably an Idiot if...

You write a post implying that some or all of your readers might be too. On the other hand, my wacko-meter has been going crazy ever since I watched Fredo testify. A visit to the climate lumotic asylum didn't help my mood much either. It's like Jonestown with only one lousy flavor of Koolaid. All the inmates have banded together to convince each other that the people outside the bars are the crazy ones. Where's Nurse Ratchet when you really need her? So let me take a different tack: 1) You are probably about as smart as an average (CI) Pig if you think the Bushies have made Nixon's criminal gang look like pikers. 2) You are probably an optimist if you think that the country will be unscathed by the actions of this gang. 3) If you think global warming is a hoax or conspiracy, you have probably been put under a spell by an evil witch or warlock. 4) You are probably *really* an optimist if you think this post is going anywhere interesting. Try to think of it as the ra


I don't know about you, but I'm immensely relieved that in spite of setback and tragedy, the President and John McCain still support the right of unidentified lunatics to buy an arsenal at gun shows. I mean, like, our basic rights are at stake here.

Bush's Brain: Failure to Launch

No doubt looking for another scapegoat, the White House has been looking for a "War Czar." At least three retired four star generals seem to have said "no thanks." From the WP : "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said. That, of course, has been the problem all along. The President is the man without a clue , the man whose concept of strategy starts and ends with empty pieties.

Tommy Thompson on The Jews - But Do They Have Rhythm?

(Not that there is anything wrong with that) Via Eric Kleefeld we learn that Tommy Thompson, GOP presidential candidate, is having a bit of a problem with (cloven) hoof in mouth disease. "What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that." — GOP Presidential Candidate Tommy Thompson, quoted by Ha'aretz in an attempted apology for having earlier said that money-making is "sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that." OK, the part I resent is that my branch of the tribe didn't seem to get that gene. Or at least we didn't get the money.

Wolfie Baby

Ah, these guys never disappoint. As if cosmic incompetence weren't enough, the Bushies always manage to compound it with venality and corruption. Paul Wolfowitz, not content with his role as principal architect of the greatest US foreign policy debacle in a generation, or perhaps ever, manages to get a gig at the World Bank, pick up some bimbo there, and give her a $50,000 pay raise to work someplace else. Naturally, when asked about it, he lied. He's also doing a crappy job. For some reason, his board of directors is not best pleased. Paul D. Wolfowitz’s struggle to remain as president of the World Bank was dealt a crippling setback on Sunday when its most powerful oversight committee delivered an unusually public rebuke of his leadership, expressing “great concern” about the institution’s future and the need to preserve its credibility and staff morale. I personally don't care much about that stuff, but I am looking forward to his war crimes trial.

Bee Still, My Bleeping Cell

This sounds goofy. But could it be goofy enough to be true? It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail. They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well. The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up. I would like to know more about what that evidence is. This: German res

Served Cold

I never expected to write a post on Don Imus. I've only listened to a few bits of his shows and didn't like what I heard, but the whole fascination with the issue seems rather absurd. I did catch the group discussion on MTP this morning, though, and watching Gwen Ifill was pretty interesting. Imus called her "the cleaning woman" ten years ago, and she's been seething since. It was a nasty, mean spirited comment - the worst kind of juvenile humor, making fun of someone's appearance. Well Gwen got her revenge. She was probably the key person who brought down Imus (except for the man himself, of course). Forget Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson - they were just up there doing their ritual shtick. Imus was and is an obnoxious, mean, and nasty jerk. I'm glad to see him go, but doubt that he will stay away long. They say he does good works. Well, good for him. With luck, he'll now have more time to concentrate on them.

Reflections on Tom Ricks' Fiasco

The US probably spends more on it's military that the rest of the world combined. For the price, we should expect a very good miltary indeed. I had long been of the opinion that the fiasco in Iraq was produced almost entirely by "a few bad apples": Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith. Ricks has persuaded me that the rot went a lot deeper - not that this absolves the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis of evil of any of the blame. There is no doubt that our training and tactics produced an elite professional army superbly qualified to fight a certain kind of war - essentially the war we won in Kuwait under Bush I. Our troops and commanders had thoroughly absorbed the lessons of Brigade scale combat operation against an enemy armored force, and despite Rumsfeld's boneheaded micromanagement of the second Iraq war, those skills were very much in evidence when the Army smashed it's way into Bagdad. Once there, however, glaring weaknesses were quick to appear. "

Comment Policy

Inspired by the examples of Eli and Kevin Drum, and depressed by a few egregious examples of the past, I'm planning to take a somewhat harder nosed policy toward the truly mean spirited and nasty comment. Please refrain from calling each other stupid and some other personal assaults. By all means try to demostrate that your opponent is wrong, even egregiously so, but try to keep it polite. Imagine, if you will, that when you make a comment you are making it to somebody who can cut your salary, or beat you up, or something. I probably won't be on enough to be a good policeman, but if you find your comments disappearing, it's probably a sign that you crossed my line. On the other hand, it might just indicate that I'm still having problems with the comment management software. Previously, I tried to take the same sort of attitude toward commenters that I took toward my children when they were fighting - try to ignore it till blood was spilled or I was driven stark ravi

Losing Another War

The United States War on Drugs costs many tens of billions of dollars every year, probably over $100 billion when all costs are included. This war increases crimes of many types, incarcerates more of our population than almost any other country, and disrupts law and governments around the world. Is there a more rational way? I don't dispute that drug use, particularly some drug use (crack, crank, pcb...) is very harmful to the users, but our present policies are failing to deprive users of these drugs and generating lucrative and criminal enterprises from Asia to Europe to the Americas. People take drugs to feel good. For the most part, if a middle class person feels bad, they can get drugs to relieve anxiety, promote mild euphoria, and relieve pain legally and relatively safely. Many of the worst effects of the major illegal drugs are accidental side effects of the drugs themselves. If modern pharmacology could produce drugs that gave some of the beneficial effects of illegal

Abolish the Kiddie Korps

Josh Marshall has a piece on the politization of the Justice Department that sheds some light on the magical "Doofus Factor" that seems to characterize so many loyal Bushies. Bush's Justice placed heavy emphasis on recruiting ideologically correct employees, especially for the Civil Rights division. This emphasis came at the expense of qualifications. Previously, employees had been recruited mainly from elite law schools. Bush lawyers come mainly from right-wing diploma mills (60% of Monica Goodlings class at Regent's University flunked the bar exam on their first try.) Evidently, Monica's Christian education didn't instill enough ethics for her to avoid the legal jeopardy that led to her invoking the fifth amendment. The Democrats could take a giant step forward if they would propose legislation that would prevent this from happening again. Abolishing the vast majority of political appointees in the Justice Department and replace them with senior civil

Don't Worry, Be Happy?

Richard S. Lindzen has a long piece in Newsweek International April 16, 2007 issue . I mostly disagree. Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. So far, this is firmly in the reality based mainstream. It's a useful starting point for a dialog, if there is one. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. Lindzen says this has nothing to do with science, but I don't agree. The question is whether there is evidence that the warming trend produced by the greenhouse gases "will amount to something close to a catastrophe.&quo

Kiddie Korps

One signature of the Justice Department meltdown is the number of giant mistakes by young, inexperienced, and lightly credentialed senior officials. There clearly was a pattern of choosing these people - Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling, etc - on the basis of ideological purity or, more precisely, personal loyalty to Bush, rather than on competence. This is absolutely no surprise - we saw the same catastrophic pattern in the response to Hurricane Katrina, and, most gravely, in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. At one level, the reason for this massive incompetence is obvious: George Bush. He is surely one of the dumbest and most dishonest inhabitants of the oval office ever. Somehow, though, that's not really quite enough of an explanation. How did he manage to attract, recruit, and appoint so many idiots to his cause? It's almost as if the man has some sort of "fifth force" attraction for stupidity and mendacity. There are a lot of smart guys in the US

The Prophet Speaks

Our fearless prognosticator puts his (nonexistent) prophetic credibility on the line to predict: BREAKING! Republican presidential nominee will be Romney. He will win Utah! Maybe even Idaho.

They Really All Are Crooks & Liars

It seems that regulations prohibit Wolfowitz's girlfriend from working under him at the World Bank , so he detailed her to the State Department, and raised her salary to $200k/yr, or more than Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice. I've seen Wolfowitz and I've seen his comb, and she's earning every penny.

Captain Imperio Answers Your Climate Questions

Q: How does the current temperature compare with past temperatures? A: It’s hot compared to the last five hundred years, and maybe even compared to the last several thousand years. It’s cold compared to most of the last 500 million years . Q: How about CO2? How do current CO2 values compare with those in the past? A: Current values are high compared to most of the last several hundred thousand years (see: here ) but much higher concentrations of CO2 occurred in the past. Before life originated, much of the atmosphere may have been CO2. Values for most of the last 500 million years appear to have been much higher than at present, but considerable uncertainty exists here Q: If it was hotter in the past, and there was a lot more CO2, why should we worry? Is mass extinction a threat? A: Mass extinction is already happening, due to habitat destruction, mostly but not entirely independently of warming. Clearly life can adapt to many temperatures and CO2 concentrations, but we,

Fear Factor

Anyone who ever attempted to discuss anything with Luboš Motl is likely to have noticed that he doesn't like to address anything substantive or answer questions. Below are three that I asked on his blog. My questions were met with deletion. He prefers the uniformed adulation of his sychophants. Luboš Bill Nye surely doesn't understand much about climate science, but how about you? It would certainly be easy for someone of your skills to learn the essentials of the radiative forcing problem but I've never seen evidence that you do - you often quote approvingly from those who don't. Why don't you tell us what you believe - or better, what you know, about the following questions: 1)Is human activity increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere? 2)In the first order approximation (no feedbacks), does more CO2 produce warming? 3)If so, do you believe that anthropogenic warming is occurring or will occur? So why is he that way? I'm guessing that it's sort of a fea

Clausewitz on Bush

The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgement that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish...the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, not trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive. ..................Karl von Clausewitz On War In this task, as in every other, Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Franks and their minions failed utterly. Via Fiasco , by Thomas E Ricks.

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, Jerry

There is, of course, no shortage of moments of high idiocy in the Bush administration's conduct of the war, but Paul Bremer is probably more responsible than anyone else for the explosive growth of the insurgency. He had hardly hit the ground when he took three disastrous actions: Firing anyone (Dr, lawyer, indian chief) who was a "senior" Bathist, abolishing the Iraqi Army, and abolishing the Iraqi police force. In one stroke he put most of the most educated people, the best armed and militarily trained people, and the people who understood how the country worked into unemployment. They all instantly were provided with motive, means, and allies for an insurgency. There is a mystery here, however. Were these actions Bremer's ideas? According to Thomas E Ricks in Fiasco , when his outraged subordinates protested, he said: "I have my orders." Rumsfeld, Feith, and perhaps even Wolfowitz were reputed to be out of the loop. We know who wanted these actions

I'm Melting! Oh You Wicked Girl...

Eli has some nice posts on the state of the meltdown. A Jim Hansen quote: Spatial and temporal fluctuations are normal, short-term expectations for Greenland glaciers are different from long-term expectations for West Antarctica. Integration via the gravity satellite measurements puts individual glacier fluctuations in proper perspective. The broader picture gives strong indication that ice sheets will, and are already beginning to, respond in a nonlinear fashion to global warming.There is enough information now, in my opinion, to make it a near certainty that IPCC BAU climate forcing scenarios would lead to disastrous multi-meter sea level rise on the century time scale"

Study the Masters

Study the masters, not their pupils is one of those bits of pedagogical advice more honored in the breach than in the observance. Usually we have good excuses, of course: their notation is obsolete and obscure, or they wrote in Latin, or the literature is too scattered - all true and reasonable. There are happy exceptions. The principal textbooks in string theory carry the names of some of it's greatest masters: Green, Schwarz, Witten, Polchinski. Rarely read, though, are older works by Newton, Maxwell, and Rayleigh. A couple of groups of students have no excuse though. Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is almost entirely modern a century and a half later, and it's a model of lucidity of thought and expression. Equally remarkable is Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations two and a quarter centuries downstream in time. Each laid out the foundations of his science with great clarity and prescience. I'm sure that many undergraduate majors in biology and economic


I used to admire Senator John McCain, but that was before he became a lying piece of s*** and sold his soul to the devil. Catch NBC revealing a bit of background about his stroll through a market minutes from the green zone. His stroll, in an bulletproof vest, was guarded by 100 American soldiers and 5 Army helicopters.