Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Events of the Decade

Technically the decade ends on December 31st 2010 but why not jump the gun a bit?

1. Terrorists attack the US on 911. An event that may have been avoided if the Clintonistas had not dropped the ball with respect to Al-Qaeda during their term in office (remember the Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania attacks). Dubya (for better or for worse - methinks for worse) is given the task of cleaning up the meanwhile airline flights will never be the same again.

2. The collapse of GM, Chrysler, AIG, Lehman Brothers and the US housing mortgage industry (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Both political parties are to blame but so are greed, entitlements, lax banking and affirmative action driven economics.

3. The continued growth of China into an economic superpower - certainly from a manufacturing standpoint - Is there anything still made in the West?

4. Globalization saunters on driven by the power of the Internet - never in the history of our species have so many bad ideas spread so quickly.

5. Considerable time, money, resources and newsprint is spent on the global warming meme despite the fact that no average global temperature increase has been recorded since 1998. Expect more (much more on this topic) over the next decade as wealth distribution agreements such as that of Kyoto, with little chance of influencing climate change, are thrust down the throats of a naive public.

6. The US becomes an even more significant debtor nation as the false doctrine of spending more to stimulate the economy is followed. Not to mention the equally fallacious doctrine of bailing out failed institutions.

7. His holiness Barack Obama is elected president. Most of the muppets who follow BO would place him at #1. His health policies are noteworthy but on the foreign policy front he still seems like a lightweight.

8. The Iraq War and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. I was lukewarm about the invasion myself as I felt that it detracted from the real war on terror and it wouldn't surprise me if Iraq has another strong man ruling the roost by decade's end.

9. Invasion of Afghanistan and the ongoing fight against the Taliban. This seems like one of those never ending sagas to me. The US erred in not fighting this war with a proper commitment from the beginning - my feeling is that the Taliban needs to be hit firmly with one solid strike - after that NATO should pull out and let regional players such as Pakistan handle what is clearly a situation in their own backyard.

10. The Bolivarian Movement in South America is galvanized by Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. Each fully intent on padding their egos by the same absolute margins that they deflate their economies.

11. AIDS continues to be a deadly disease in Africa while many Western sufferers enjoy the benefits of life prolonging cocktail of medicines. In little mentioned news George W. Bush ups aid to Africa, but how much of this will reach the most needy is any one's bet.

12. Substantial economic growth in tech obsessed India is ever more the reality despite the fact that a population of over 1.1 billion souls continues to strain resources.

13. The New Left gorgon manifests itself strongly within the growing Environmentalist cult. Just when you thought Communism was dead you have the sequel......

14. Decline in standards of Educkashun (sic) across Europe. Tick one for leftist dominated institutions rolling back the progress of the Age of Reason.

15. More Attacks on Freedom of Speech as Political Correctness (Hate Laws and Speech Codes) gain ground across the West. Meanwhile the ACLU pimps itself out as the champion of those who would truly deny free speech and human rights to all.

16. Pakistan is plagued by corruption, poor leadership, civil war and internal strife - this wouldn't be much of a problem if they didn't have nukes as well.

17. Iran's Islamic regime becomes all the more belligerent as it follows a policy of nuclear weapons acquisition and development - while at the same time being controlled by a cabal of apocalyptic fanatics.

18. North Korea (who most certainly have nuclear technology - no thanks to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton's appeasement) persist as a regional/global menace...if for nothing else than to p*ss off the West and make some money on the side.

19. Vladmir Putin dominates Russian politics and continues to throw his country's weight around internationally as a foil against the US. He bullies poor Georgia but somehow, in this world of relativisms, gets away with it.

20. Israel hands back the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians and is rewarded for its efforts by a battery of rocket attacks. Both Bush and Obama push for a two state solution while Israel's regional enemies refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

21. South African's elect former thug (and probable rapist) Jacob Zuma as president - soon to be the African Chavez.

22. The Iranian democratic movement fights bravely for human rights for the Persian populace only to be let down by Obama and co. who takes a play from the father of the Iranian Revolution, Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Time Magazines Most Important People

Here is the list with my comments in italics

1. Edward Kennedy - Botched Cold War Politics and should have been jailed for Chappaquidick instead he is eulogized as a modern day visionary...go figure

2. Gordon Brown - Britain's Mr. Blah

3. Christine Lagarde - A Eurocrat who seems to be a positive force on the economic frontier in France

4. Thomas Dart - A real hero to the little man

5. Avigdor Lieberman - A flashback to the day of the no-nonsense Israeli politician...a relief after Olmert and the appeasers.

6. Joaquin Guzman - Mexican drug lord - enough said.

7. Nouri al-Maliki - Iraq's Prime Minister - but can he hold the center?

8. Hilary Clinton - Continues the age old American tradition of ineptness in the State Department.

9. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - Could be Indonesian best ever leader but considering the fact that Sukarno and Suharto are his chief competitors this is not saying much.

10. Boris Johnson - London Mayor. Represents an infinite improvement over his predecessor, terror-pandering Ken Livingstone. Could use a good hair brush though.

11. Norah al-Faiz - She is the first Saudi woman minister but don't expect her to make much progress in a Kingdom where Women's Rights are practically non-existent.

12. Elizabeth Warren - Co-ordinated the mass bailout ($700 billion) of the US banking industry that further indebted the federal government.

13. Paul Kagame - Rwandan leader. Helped end the slaughter in 1994 (the one which the Clintonistas and the Rest of the World pretty much ignored). He seems to be on the right political track.

14. Nicolas Sarkozy - Understands the threat to Western Civilization from Islamofascism. For this alone he would get my vote.

15. Angela Merkel - Is a remarkable improvement on Gerhard Schroeder...A tad matronly but Germany is perhaps one country where you don't want the leader to be overly charismatic.

16. Wang Qishan - I don't know too much about this guy but his position as an economic powerbroker in China coupled with China's growing clout in the financial market certainly warrants further investigation

17. Xi Jinping - Could be China's future President - lets home that he is more Deng (with all his faults) than Mao.

18. David McKiernan - The General Petraeus of the Afghanistan theatre...but will Obama and co. give him time to succeed?

19. Ashfaq Kayani - Pakistani general and possible future president. He is fighting the good fight (against Islamofascism) in one of the most corrupt countries on the planet - I wish him all the success.

20. Barack Obama - Seems to be emerging as a centrist. Does not deserve the B+ he gave himself but is still ahead of the D- that Congress rightfully earned.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In the News LXV

Obama wins historic vote on healthcare
For the most part, although I questioned his timing, which was awful in light of the recession, I supported Obama's position on this issue. It is an extremely important piece of legislation that will set in a motion a viable two-tier system. Granted their are problems with the legislation but the do-nothing approach on this issue was simply non-sensical.

Paranoid Chavez goes after the Dutch
The man is a menace, what is most worrisome is the amount of arms he is stockpiling courtesy of Putin and his thugs.

Jimmy Carter apologizes to World Jewry
For years he dragged Israel through the mud, now that he needs the Jewish vote for his grandson he changes his tune. As was always the case Carter is completely untrustworthy. But what can one expect from America's worst ever post World War II president? Point of note - its amazing how many bigots troll the internet adding their comments to articles such as this one that I cited.

A depressing thought - Draft Sarah Palin for President....
She is no Ronald Reagan and if the Republican party (which is still in tatters right now) cannot do better than her than Obama will most certainly triumph in 2012. I still like Rudy Giuliani.

Mugabe fiddles while Zimbabwe burns
He has single-handily destroyed a once prosperous nation. South Africa needs to take a regional stance in removing this demagogue.

Iran is becoming more of a police state
Something has to give..lets hope this time Obama will do the right thing and stand up against tyranny.

11 Fundamental Questions of Physics

As per the National Academy of Science

* What is dark matter?
* What are the masses of the neutrinos, and how have they shaped the evolution of the universe?
* Are there additional spacetime dimensions?
* What is the nature of the dark energy?
* Are protons unstable?
* How did the Universe begin?
* Did Einstein have the last word on gravity?
* How do cosmic accelerators work and what are they accelerating?
* Are there new states of matter at exceedingly high density and temperature?
* Is a new theory of matter and light needed at the highest energies?
* How were the elements from iron to uranium made?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Famous Chess Players Quiz

1. Which country has produced the greatest number of Chess Champions?
2. Who is regarded as Chess' first undisputed World Champion?
3. Which player held the title World Champion for the longest period of time?
4. Who is the only American ever to be Chess World Champion?
5. In which city did Boris Spassky lose the World Chess title in 1972?
6. Who was Chess World Champion during World War II?
7. Who defeated Anatoly Karpov to become World Chess Champion in 1985?
8. What is the name of the Rating system used in Chess?
9. What was/is the nationality of the following players
a. Max Euwe b. Jose Capablanca c. Viswanathan Anand d. Mikhael Tal
10. He was World Champion on three occasions, an electrical engineer and a pioneer in early Chess computing. Who was he?


1. Soviet Union (mainly Russia)
2.Wilhem Steinitz
3. Emanuel Lasker - he was World Champion for 27 years straight (1894-1921)
4. Bobby Fischer
5. Reykjavik, Iceland - he lost his title to Bobby Fischer
6. Alexander Alekhine
7. Garry Kasparov - probably the greatest player ever
8. Elo System
9a. Dutch b. Cuban c. Indian d. Russian
10. Mikhael Botvinnik

Tennis Quiz

1. What are the Four Majors of Tennis?
2. Who won the Gran Slam as an amateur in 1962 and as a professional in 1969?
3. What is the name of the Female Version of the Davis Cup?
4. Which male player has won the most majors?
5. How many Wimbledon titles did Pete Sampras win?
6. Who won Wimbledon five times in a row between 1976 and 1980?
7. Who is the youngest male ever player to win a singles major?
8. As of 2009 how many French Opens has Rafael Nadal won?
9. What stadium is home to the French Open?
10. What was the nationality of the 'Four Musketeers'?
11. Who was the last Brit male to win a Wimbledon singles title?
12. Which female player has won the most majors?
13. Who completed a Grand Slam in 1988?
14. How many Wimbledon singles titles has Martina Navratilova won?
15. In what city is the Australian Open played?
16. Who tennis player recently admitted to using Crystal Meth?
17. Which Australian doubles pairing were known as the 'Woodies'?
18. Who defeated Kevin Curren to win Wimbledon at the tender age of 17?
19. Which tennis player was nicknamed Little Mo?
20. Who is the only Black male player ever to have won Wimbledon?


1. Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
2. Rod Laver
3. Federation Cup
4. Roger Federer with 15 titles so far
5. Seven (to tie him with Willie Renshaw)
6. Bjorn Borg
7. Michael Chang - he won the French Open in 1989 aged 17 years and 3 months.
8. Four - all in a row
9. Roland Garros
10. They were all French male players in the 1920s and 1930s - Jean Borota, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste
11. Fred Perry. He won the thid of his three straight Wimbledons in 1936. Perry was also the first player to complete a career Grand Slam (all four majors).
12. Margaret Court with 24. Steffi Graf won 22, Helen Wills Moody 19 and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova 18 each. Court has also won more singles, doubles and mixed doubles major titles than any other player - 62 altogether (three ahead of Navratilova).
13. Steffi Graf
14. Nine titles
15. Melbourne
16. Andre Agassi
17. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde - arguably the greatest males double pairing ever.
18. Boris Becker - the German won a total of three Wimbledons and six majors altogether
19. Maureen Connolly - she was the first woman ever to complete a season Grand Slam
20. Arthur Ashe in 1975

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Religulous..Movie Review

I finally saw the documentary movie Religulous and my feelings are somewhat mixed. While I generally agree with Maher about 60% of the time on most issues - mainly the Middle East, debunking 911 stupidities, scientific rationalism, free speech etc - his smugness and know it all approach are often nauseating. In Religulous the tone of his arguments as well as his selected editing reflect this sentiment. Nevertheless the movie is worth seeing - if for nothing else in the way it highlights the absurdities that underpin organized belief.

It is clear from the beginning that Maher's principal target is Christianity but he takes bold swipes at Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and Scientology as well. Hinduism is mentioned in a cursory level while Buddhism and Sikhism (not to mention Jainism and Zoroastrianism) are left untouched.

Maher's principal thesis is that religious faith is inconsistent with rationalism and is therefore non-sensical. In such regards Maher fails, in that he uses as does Richard Dawkins, the most extreme examples to make his case. He also conveniently fails to mention the range of debate that exist particularly within Judaism and Christianity on interpretation of the texts and therefore leaves the viewer with the impression that most religious believer are literalists who cannot tell the difference between myth and fact.

In such a regards Maher is intellectually dishonest. He also polarizers (like his buddy Michael Moore) to portray and ironically falls short of the standards of scientific rationalism that he claims to espouse.

Despite such shortcomings he does succeed as an entertainer. Ever the comedian his interviews are highlighted with a quick wit that made me chuckle loudly on several occasions.

While Religulous has its merits it is far (very far) from brilliant. Couple that with Maher's Moral Equivalency rant against all of organized religion (in his closing remarks) and the porosity of his thought is exposed. In short he provides an 'oompa-loompa' treatment of a topic begging for scholastic rigour.

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 Things that annoy me about the climate change debate

1. Misinformation - both sides are guilty of it.
2. People who believe that the science is 100% settled when science is never a 100% settled - that is not how science works.
3. Selective interpretation of data.
4. Extrapolations of convenience.
5. The host of so-called blinkered experts (many with a very limited scientific background).
6. Politics dictating science.
7. Fear mongering as a form of reasoning.
8. Decisions being made on emotion only.
9. The muzzling of the debate
10. Name calling - Warmists, climate change deniers etc.
11. The overplay of the 'think of the children' argument.
12. Irrationalism...tons of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

World Cities

As anyone who knows me can attest - I am a general knowledge/trivia junkie. I therefore take some joy in posting this
Source: World Atlas

1. Tokyo, Japan - 28,025,000 - Still leading by a country mile despite the low Japanese birthrate.
2. Mexico City, Mexico - 18,131,000
3. Mumbai, India - 18,042,000 - has really moved up over the last fifteen years
4. Sáo Paulo, Brazil - 17, 711,000 - Largest city in South America
5. New York City, USA - 16,626,000 - Largest US City
6. Shanghai, China - 14,173,000
7. Lagos, Nigeria - 13,488,000 - Another newcomer - driven by the explosive Nigerian birthrate. Now the most populous city in Africa.
8. Los Angeles, USA - 13,129,000
9. Calcutta, India - 12,900,000
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina - 12,431,000
11. Seóul, South Korea - 12,215,000 - Over a quarter of South Koreans live here.
12. Beijing, China - 12,033,000
13. Karachi, Pakistan - 11,774,000 - Largest City with predominant Muslim population
14. Delhi, India - 11,680,000
15. Dhaka, Bangladesh - 10,979,000
16. Manila, Philippines - 10,818,000
17. Cairo, Egypt - 10,772,000 - Largest Arab City.
18. Õsaka, Japan - 10,609,000
19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10,556,000
20. Tianjin, China - 10,239,000 - China's #3 city.
21. Jakarta, Indonesia - 9,815,000
22. Paris, France - 9,638,000 - Largest City in Europe.
23. Istanbul, Turkey - 9,413,000
24. Moscow, Russian Fed. - 9,299,000
25. London, United Kingdom - 7,640,000 - In 1900 it was the #1 city.
26. Lima, Peru - 7,443,000
27. Tehrãn, Iran - 7,380,000
28. Bangkok, Thailand - 7,221,000
29. Chicago, USA - 6,945,000 - Has been #3 in the US since the 1980s.
30. Bogotá, Colombia - 6,834,000

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In the News LXIV

Continuing with my In the News Series

1000 Environmental Protesters arrested in Copenhagen
Getting arrested seems like a rite of passage for environmentalists..
Not sure why they are demonstrating for...The fact that the conference iws taking place in the first place is indicative of the fact that their message has been heard. I guess the nagging never ends.........

Obama on the Just War in Afghanistan
He is looking more centrist which is a positive outcome. The daggers from the left are being sharpened as we speak.

The US Economy: Sluggish recovery continues
Brings into focus that eternal question....Was the stimulus package really necessary? Or would, as I think, the economy recover more rapidly if just left alone.

Gordon Brown reveals his cluelessness about the scientific process with a ridiculous statement about climate sceptics and their equivalency with Flat Earthers. Counting down until the Brits toss Labour out of Office...

Gaza thugs are back at it again firing rockets at Israel.
Of course if Israel responds they will be condemned by the UN for defending themselves.

More Palestinian stalling on Peace Process
Abbas once again talks through both sides of his mouth.

Three cheers for the Democracy Movement in Iran
Obama let down the Democracy movement on one occasion already...lets hope he gets his act together the next time he is called to do so.

Angela Merkel going for a second term in Deutschland
She seems very matronly but she is a 'helluva' improvement over the scheister
Gerhard Schroder

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Science and Religion.......not again

Its amazing how many people on both sides of the political/worldview divide have the impression that if you believe in G-d you cannot truly be a man of science. My students constantly bring this point up and are surprised when I tell them that the two are not mutually exclusive. While it is true that no definitive proof for G-d exists within the frame of logic that underpins science this in no way invalidates G-d.

Lets not forget that science operates within limits - limits set by empirical evidence and the self-contained rationalism that allow us (as scientists) to infer from the evidence available. Like any system of knowledge it also accepts certain constructs apriori and as Godel showed with his incompleteness theorem, cannot be verifiable within itself. Nevertheless science is the best system for elucidating the mysteries of the universe as it constantly requires more stringent levels of checking and retesting. Couple this with the strength of Popper's falsification argument and it is easy to see why science is successful as a epistemological tool (its also why those who argue that climate change is a fact and that this point need not be debated are in reality anti-scientific).

Science has played a vital role in my life and I am deeply passionate about my commitment to it. However I choose not to succumb to the lure of scientism, a barren locale that seems to attract more than its fair share of individuals. My ultimate belief is that there is simply more out there than what science can ever hope to deliver. Can I prove this? Not anymore than a gnat can understand calculus..... but so what? My life is hardly poorer for the uncertainty (and faith) that I permit and I am no less enthralled by my personal championing of physics - my favourite science.

I am not a biblical literalist in that I see that what purports to be the bible as a mixture (albeit a valuable one) of oral history and ancient mythology. I have also dismissed the scientific validity of intelligent design. Darwin's descent with modification makes sense to me, but at the same time I am skeptical of the random mutation arguments so favoured by the various Neo-Darwinian schools. I am more inclined to see evolutionary changes being driven by systems of self-organization. A methodology that is likely to be explained by science although not within the paradigm from which it currently operates at present.

(Thomas Kuhn was correct in his assessment of how science evolves from periods of gradualism to those of radical transformation - its ironic how this philosophy parallels Gould and Elridge's model of Punctuated Equilibrium).

Physicist-theologian Ian Barbour writes extensively about the interaction of science and religion and from his work I take much solice in an integrationist model that seeks to build connections instead of divide. For me this makes sense and it is from this platform that I see the world - open to reason but at the same time mindful about a greater presence that exists.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

On Obama and Afghanistan

by Peter Worthington (Toronto Sun)
Source: Toronto Sun

As a speech, it was slick and persuasive, but it wasn't Churchill.

No "we will fight on the beaches ... we will never surrender" rhetoric from President Barack Obama, as he pledged 30,000 more American troops to his "surge" in Afghanistan.

While falling short of Churchill in the early dark days of the Second World War, or Henry V's "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" speech before the Battle of Agincourt, it was still a speech that should win support among Americans.

The trouble is, while saying all the right things about defeating al-Qaida and curtailing the Taliban, one wasn't sure just how serious Obama is in his pledge to succeed.

As has been pointed out, his commitment of 30,000 more American troops is three-quarters the number his general running the Afghanistan war, Stanley McChrystal, asked for several months ago, while Obama thought it over.
Again, Obama said his commitment was "to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure" -- but that he's going to withdraw American troops in 18 months.

To some, that doesn't sound very committed.

So he's given the military until July 2011 to crush al-Qaida, roust the Taliban, train and build the Afghan National Army and police into functioning entities that can protect their own country.

Not easy, especially after eight years of occupying Afghanistan and no great improvement in local forces.

Still, Afghanistan is now Obama's war, just as Iraq was George Bush's war.
And while Obama declared the success of Iraq (one hopes he is right, even though he gave no credit to Bush), success (much less victory) in Afghanistan is much more tenuous.

Obama expects, or hopes for, 10,000 more NATO troops joining his "surge." The trouble is, NATO countries mostly shy away from committing fighting soldiers. Some 43 countries are involved in Afghanistan, and if they shared the urgency expressed by Obama, the task would be easier.

Obama made no mention of Canada in his speech -- the country that carried the heaviest load and did most of the gritty fighting in the volatile Kandahar region until the Americans took over.

Canada feels it has done enough, deserves a respite. Obama recognizes and accepts this. It could be noted, too, that Canadian troops have kicked the enemy's ass on every engagement, and set a positive example for the Marines who are going to be taking over.


Obama broke down the present campaign into three goals -- the military, or fighting part; mobilizing civilian competence; cooperating with Pakistan.
All valid, but the latter two hinge on the success of the first -- defeating the enemy in the field and shutting down the Taliban.

Unfortunately, Obama has also to appease, or tranquilize, the lib-left faction of the Democratic party which favours complete withdrawal and isolation. Hence the defensive nature of his speech -- sort of: "We'll try this, hope it works, but we're getting out in 18 months."

That's bound to reassure al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Deadlines or firm withdrawal dates in war make no sense if victory is the goal. Yet politicians feel they must impose them to pacify the electorate.
So perhaps Obama is more determined than he seems.

But don't count on it.

Post on the Genetics of Intelligence

I found this on Dissecting Leftism. Key Ideas are highlighted.

Original Source:

It is obvious that life experiences have some influences on us. Chinese kids grow up speaking Chinese, for instance. But genetics are also powerful and the latest research indicates that they do to a remarkable extent overwhelm environmental influences. Environmental handicaps tend to fade in importance as we get older. Abstract of the latest paper on the heritability of IQ below:

The heritability of general cognitive ability increases linearly from childhood to young adulthoodBy C M A Haworth et al.

Although common sense suggests that environmental influences increasingly account for individual differences in behavior as experiences accumulate during the course of life, this hypothesis has not previously been tested, in part because of the large sample sizes needed for an adequately powered analysis. Here we show for general cognitive ability that, to the contrary, genetic influence increases with age. The heritability of general cognitive ability increases significantly and linearly from 41% in childhood (9 years) to 55% in adolescence (12 years) and to 66% in young adulthood (17 years) in a sample of 11 000 pairs of twins from four countries, a larger sample than all previous studies combined. In addition to its far-reaching implications for neuroscience and molecular genetics, this finding suggests new ways of thinking about the interface between nature and nurture during the school years. Why, despite life's 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune', do genetically driven differences increasingly account for differences in general cognitive ability? We suggest that the answer lies with genotype–environment correlation: as children grow up, they increasingly select, modify and even create their own experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

General Knowledge Quiz

Answers soon............

What is the capital of the Czech Republic?
Who was the loser General at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815?
Which Canadian PM cancelled the Avro arrow?
In which city was the First Modern Olympic Games held?
Who wrote the opera Carmen?
Which actor won an Oscar for Silence of the Lambs?
Which singer was married to Kevin Federline?
Who did Muhammad Ali defeat in the Rumble in the Jungle?
Who sculpted the ‘Thinker’?
Who wrote Don Giovanni?
With what do we associate Joseph Lister?
Who was the French King at the Time of the Revolution in 1789?
Which American General was notorious for his March on the South?
Who headed American forces in Vietnam?
Who was Prime Minister of Britain during the Falkland Wars?
With which Canadian Prime Minister do we associate the FLQ Crisis?
Which biologist discovered the Alpha Helix Structure?
With which field of Science do we associate Hutton, Lyell and Cuvier?
What is the most common Nobel Gas on Earth?
What is the outermost layer of the sun known as?
Who wrote Jailhouse Rock?
Which musical is based on a novel by Victor Hugo?
Who wrote the Three Musketeers?
What was the last Chinese dynasty?
Who was India’s First Prime Minister?
Which Country won Soccer’s First world Cup?
Which two Universities row against each other in an annual race?
Who is America’s longest serving President?
What state was Ronald Reagan a governor?
Who painted the Sistine Chapel?
Who invented the Reflecting Telescope?
Who is the Father of the Printing Press?
With which Baseball team do we associate Ted Williams?
What sport was played by Jim Brown?
Who was assassinated on the Ides of March?
Who are the Three Patriarchs mentioned in Genesis?
What is the Haj?
What in Buddhism is Dharma?
Which religion speaks about the Wheel of Life?
Which scientist is associated with the first Nuclear Chain reaction?
What are the only two elements that are liquid at room temperature?
With which Superhero do we associate Bob Kane?
Which Group wrote ‘Yellow Submarine’?
Who wrote the song “Pretty Woman’?
Who wrote, directed and acted in the movie Rocky?
Which national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key?
What is the largest Pyramid?
Who was the famous son of Philip of Macedonia?
Which Canadian politician won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work around resolving the Suez Canal crisis?
Who defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 US Presidential election?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

CRU Climategate Scandal

This from the NY Times.........
Author: John Tierney

If you have not delved into the thousands of e-mail messages and files hacked from the computers of British climate scientists, let me give you the closest thing to an executive summary. It is taken from a file slugged HARRY_READ_ME, which is the log of a computer expert’s long struggle to make sense of a database of historical temperatures. Here is Harry’s summary of the situation:


That cry, in various spellings, is a motif throughout the log as Harry tries to fight off despair. “OH [EXPLETIVE] THIS!” he writes after struggling to reconcile readings from weather stations around the world. “It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity. ...”

Harry, whoever he may be, comes off as the most sympathetic figure in the pilfered computer annals of East Anglia University, the British keeper of global temperature records. While Harry’s log shows him worrying about the integrity of the database, the climate scientists are e-mailing one another with strategies for blocking outsiders’ legal requests to see their data.

While Harry is puzzling over temperatures — “I have that familiar Twilight Zone sensation” — the scientists are confidently making proclamations to journalists, jetting to conferences and plotting revenge against those who question the dangers of global warming. When a journal publishes a skeptic’s paper, the scientists e-mail one another to ignore it. They focus instead on retaliation against the journal and the editor, a project that is breezily added to the agenda of their next meeting: “Another thing to discuss in Nice!”

As the scientists denigrate their critics in the e-mail messages, they seem oblivious to one of the greatest dangers in the climate-change debate: smug groupthink. These researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause.

Consider, for instance, the phrase that has been turned into a music video by gleeful climate skeptics: “hide the decline,” used in an e-mail message by Phil Jones, the head of the university’s Climatic Research Unit. He was discussing the preparation of a graph for the cover of a 1999 report from the World Meteorological Organization showing that temperatures in the past several decades were the highest of the past millennium.

Most of the graph was based on analyses of tree rings and other “proxy” records like ice cores and lake sediments. These indirect measurements indicated that temperatures declined in the middle of the millennium and then rose in the first half of the 20th century, which jibes with other records. But the tree-ring analyses don’t reveal a sharp warming in the late 20th century — in fact, they show a decline in temperatures, contradicting what has been directly measured with thermometers.

Because they considered that recent decline to be spurious, Dr. Jones and his colleagues removed it from part of the graph and used direct thermometer readings instead. In a statement last week, Dr. Jones said there was nothing nefarious in what they had done, because the problems with the tree-ring data had been openly identified earlier and were known to experts.

But the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom.

The story behind that graph certainly didn’t show that global warming was a hoax or a fraud, as some skeptics proclaimed, but it did illustrate another of their arguments: that the evidence for global warming is not as unequivocal as many scientists claim. (Go to for details.)

In fact, one skeptic raised this very issue about tree-ring data in a comment posted in 2004 on RealClimate, the blog operated by climate scientists. The comment, which questioned the propriety of “grafting the thermometer record onto a proxy temperature record,” immediately drew a sharp retort on the blog from Michael Mann, an expert at Penn State University:

“No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation Web sites) appearing in this forum.”

Dr. Mann now tells me that he was unaware, when he wrote the response, that such grafting had in fact been done in the earlier cover chart, and I take him at his word. But I don’t see why the question was dismissed so readily, with the implication that only a tool of the fossil-fuel industry would raise it.

Contempt for critics is evident over and over again in the hacked e-mail messages, as if the scientists were a priesthood protecting the temple from barbarians. Yes, some of the skeptics have political agendas, but so do some of the scientists. Sure, the skeptics can be cranks and pests, but they have identified genuine problems in the historical reconstructions of climate, as in the debate they inspired about the “hockey stick” graph of temperatures over the past millennium.

It is not unreasonable to give outsiders a look at the historical readings and the adjustments made by experts like Harry. How exactly were the readings converted into what the English scientists describe as “quality controlled and homogenised” data?

Trying to prevent skeptics from seeing the raw data was always a questionable strategy, scientifically. Now it looks like dubious public relations, too.

In response to the furor over the climate e-mail messages, there will be more attention than ever paid to those British temperature records, and any inconsistencies or gaps will seem more suspicious simply because the researchers were so determined not to reveal them. Skeptical bloggers are already dissecting Harry’s work. As they relentlessly pore over other data, the British scientists will feel Harry’s pain:

Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight.