Friday, August 31, 2007

Bombs Over T.O.

Last night police arrested Adel Arnaout, 37, a landed immigrant from Lebanon, in connection with a series of letter bombs sent to people around Toronto and Guelph. They caught him at a gas station, and found several explosive devices in his car. Terrorism is not suspected, but as of right now (about noon), the car is being hauled down the DVP to the Leslie St spit in a specially armored trailer. Once there, the bombs will be detonated.

Not surprisingly, the DVP has been closed for the duration of the trip.

Update, 2:57: Three bombs detonated, the DVP back in operation. Not much in the way of detail on the suspect yet. The only hint of a clue as to motive is that one of the guys he went after was a home renovator, another a real estate lawyer.

Conservative Fringe Players: We Still Lose Under MMP

Cherniak gives what I think is a fairly common argument for rejecting MMP (mixed member proportional), which is that, while it may lead to an acknowledged good--the Green Party electing its first members to the Legislature, for example-- it might also lead to a less fortunate result:

Any party that gets at least 3% of the vote would elect an MPP. That means that a party like the Christian Heritage Party would have no goal other than to earn 3% of the total vote. If they were to succeed, they would have an MPP elected. They don't get that much right now, but with the knowledge that only 3% across the province earns a seat, I suspect that there would be more incentive to actually vote for them.

Personally, this is a trade I would be willing to make in the name of fairness: about 10 Green party politicians (Jason gives a range of 6 to 13) in exchange for four radical righties (three per cent of 129 seats). However, it is extremely telling I think that Canada's premier pro-life group, the Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), has just come out in opposition to MMP. They give several interlinked reasons for their position. The first:

Some pro-lifers believe that proportional representation will result in the appointment of Family Coalition Party members at the provincial level and Christian Heritage Party candidates at the federal level. Sadly, neither party has reached the minimum 3% level of province-wide support that most proportional representation systems require to garner seats in parliament. Until there is a sea change in their support, the number of FCP/CHP elected officials would be negligible to effect change.

From the CLC's perspective, MMP's most likely result is the status quo: no suitable candidates elected. But even more interesting is their view as to what likely happens should the magic three percent threshold be exceeded and a FCP candidate make it into the Legislature:

There are very few examples of social conservative legislation being passed in countries with PR. This summer The Interim newspaper had a team of three people examine the records of other countries to track the progress of prolife and pro-family legislation in countries with PR. They found just one significant example. In the Netherlands, the Christian Union Party, as part of the coalition government there, has effected some positive change in closing down brothels, reducing the number of marijuana shops and introducing guidelines requiring cooling off wait times for abortions.

But, for the most part, the researchers at The Interim found the reverse to be true: many countries with PR have experienced an advance of anti-life and anti-family agendas in recent years as left-wing coalitions dance to the tune of the most extreme elements in parliament. We are concerned that the highly likely result of PR in Canada will be thirdplace NDP contingencies dictating social policy to minority governments.

To me this a comforting finding, and I would suggest the following explanation for it (but read the whole article, as the CLC's angle is quite different): MMP, and proportional representation more generally, enshrines the national/provincial consensus. Political outliers such as the Family Coalition will be unable to shift this consensus regardless of whether or not they send a warm body to Queen's Park. In fact, the most likely outcome in Ontario seems to be pretty close to the one the CLC envisions: a permanent Liberal minority forced to pass Progressive/Green policies to remain in power.

The Good Old Days, in other words, when Libs were slow-motion NDPers. And what's wrong with that?

Of course, the central argument against MMP concerns the potential of the "Party Machines" to appoint "list" MLAs in a manner which is undemocratic and non-accountable. This is a subject for another post, but to give a quick response: most Ontarians couldn't pick their own provincial representative out of a police line-up, and very few of them vote on the basis of their personal relationship (through constit work lets say) with a candidate. I doubt people would notice a difference under some form of proportional representation.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chris De Freitas Lets Slip

Chris de Freitas is a prominent climate change denier best known for having diddled the peer-review process at the journal Climate Research so that some really ghastly nonsense by fellow-deniers Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas could make it into print. Now, the justification behind Mr. De Freitas whole conflicted attitude towards peer-review can be revealed: he thinks its a kind of oppression! From the Climate Change Skeptics Cafe:

These reactions of R F Keeling and H Meijer in E&E to Beck´s work in the same journal are revealing.They reveal that a) the two writers view the peer review system as a form of censorship, b) that journals should be condemned for what they publish, and c) that Beck´s work is ´pseudoscience´.

My view of (a) is that, sadly, it is true: it´s called peer-review censorship.

Deniers: rebelling against THE MAN!

Tory Tories Show No Mo

This new SES poll came out yesterday and seems to have gone unremarked:

Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty will likely need NDP support to hang onto a second-term minority government, shows an SES Research/Osprey Media poll.

Forty per cent of Ontario’s voters polled say they’ll vote Liberal in the fall election, compared to 34 per cent who back John Tory’s Conservatives, 19 per cent for Howard Hampton’s NDP and eight per cent for Frank de Jong’s Green Party.

An unnecessarily dark spin to put on the numbers, IMHO. Forty per cent is very close to Majority territory, and unless something unforeseen occurs, John Tory has run out of bullets. Nik Nanos, president of SES Research, thinks the possibility of a NDP/Lib alliance might be enough to drive some into the arms of the Conservatives:

“One of the strategic things that could unfold during the campaign is that if it looks like a Liberal minority government, then the Conservatives are going to be able to dredge up memories of Liberal/NDP government’s past and what they meant for the government and government spending,” Nanos said.

“They’ll be able to bring up that bogeyman, which probably will be quite effective among voters over 40 years of age who still remember that particular government,” he said.

But that's a lot of "ifs", especially since I don't think most Ontarians look back on the Peterson years with any particular animosity.

Furthermore, Tory's campaign is off to a rocky start, having gone negative early and displaying a bit of a testy streak when challenged. No wonder he is showing, as Mr. Nanos puts it, "no momentum". In fact this bit I think he's got pegged:

“And right now, what we’re seeing is an electorate that really isn’t in a mood for change yet,” Nanos said. “There’s not what I’ll say is the ‘Kick-the-bums-out-feeling’ in the electorate at this point in time.”

Tory in 2011? Maybe. 2007? Less and less likely.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lomborg Reviewed

Bjørn Lomborg made his name with The Skeptical Environmentalist, a 2001 book in which he challenged some of the conventional wisdom behind the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Now Lomborg is back with a follow-up entitled "Cool It", which gets an unflattering review here. Elsewhere in Salon, Lomborg is interviewed.

I don't really have time to get into this today, but the interview is pretty tough-minded, especially the parts where interviewer Kevin Berger presses him over the fate of the polar bear and Lomborg's contention that the polar bear can survive by "evolving backwards":

That just seems so shortsighted, Bjørn. The report concludes: "Future challenges for conserving polar bears and their Arctic habitat will be greater than at any time in the past because of the rapid rate at which environmental change appears to be occurring." Now, you write that polar bears "will increasingly take up a lifestyle similar to that of brown bears." Then, in a footnote, you quote from the report: "The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment finds it likely that disappearing ice will make polar bears take up 'a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved.'" Are you saying that polar bears will be OK, that the species will survive if they evolve backward?

Yes, that's certainly how I read it.

But you edited the quote. The whole thing goes like this: "It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario. Their only option would be a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved. In such a case, competition, risk of hybridization with brown bears and grizzly bears, and increased interactions with people would then number among the threats to polar bears." That sounds like the species faces much more dire chances to survive, wouldn't you say?

They're saying that it's difficult. Their only option would be this summer lifestyle. So this is what they can do. Yes, this is not going to be easy, but this is exactly what they can do.

Hard times for the polars bears, in other words, and Bjørn wishes 'em luck. Also some good stuff just following where Lomborg denies that comparing Al Gore to the Inquisition is alarmist.

Sask. Party Accused Of Supporting "POFRTN", Expresses Outrage

Somebody's been smoking too many chickenshit cigarettes, I think. From CTV:

REGINA -- Saskatchewan NDP television ads attacking the Opposition may be porn for political junkies in more ways than one.

The Saskatchewan Party is outraged that as the words Privatization of the Crowns dissolve in one part of the ad, the letters P, O, R, and N stay up a second longer than the rest.

Of course, Kate wants in on the ground floor of the madness. But here's something to consider: Saskatchewan is hub city for Canadian bigfoot sightings, and the Saskatchewan Party shares the first three letters of its name with the native Indian name for bigfoot, "Sasquatch". What does that tell you? Huh? HUH? And don't get me started on Saskatchewan and crop circles. Somehow they fit into the whole matrix. And did I just mention The Matrix? Oh My!

Vote Me! Ooga Ooga!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If Abortion Is Murder, How Much Time Should A Woman Do?

Interesting youtube video which I found, believe it or don't, via the Western Standard Shotgun Blog. In it, an interviewer asks U.S. anti-abortion activists what penalty should be levied against a woman having an abortion, given that abortion is murder. Poster Terry O'Neill writes:

It's a logical and pertinent question, but not a single one of the demonstrators had a well-thought-out answer. Most of them initially suggested that the woman would have to answer to God, but then later displayed some discomfort when the interviewer pointed out that if abortion were simply a matter between a woman and God, then there was no reason to make it illegal.

Fascinating responses in the comments, not all of them predictable. Although Suzanne takes a characteristic hard-line with:

Personally, I think *eventually* women will have to answer for the killing of the unborn child. Maybe not in the beginning, because the first goal is just to have it illegal. Period. But as the population becomes more cognizant of the fact that unborn children are equal human beings, eventually, women will pay a penalty, as there will be no excuse for abortion. Note, though that before the advent of legal abortion, women were excused from prosecution by agreeing to testify against the abortionist.

Just to clarify: I am pro-choice, don't think its murder, and etc.

That's Why He Gets Paid The Big Bucks

Details of the new Strategic Counsel poll, which has Libs and Cons deadlocked at 33%, can be found here. In their desperate attempt to spin this as good news for the Harper Tories, the G&M quotes SC managing partner Tim Woolstencroft as saying:

“The government has made some headway in broadening the potential of its appeal."

Not broadening its appeal, mind you: the "potential of its appeal". Its potential potential, as it were. Go home, Mr. Woolstencroft, you've done your work for today.

Meanwhile, Dalton is back in Majority territory, according to the new Ipos Reid:

The Liberals are now at 42-per-cent support compared to 35 per cent for the Tories, according to the poll, conducted exclusively for CanWest News Service and Global Television. That represents a four-point change from the last Ipsos poll released one week ago when the Tories trailed the Liberals by just three points.

Most of the small bump McGuinty has achieved in the last week is attributed to his opposition to John Tory's policy on religious school funding. Presumably, whoever advised the Conservatives on their educational policy has had their ass kicked back to Mushaboo.

Monday, August 27, 2007

GG Says Talk To CSIS Re UFOs

An open letter from Victor Viggiani, Director of Media Relations for Exopolitics Toronto, to Prime Minister Harper. My favorite bit:

Her Excellency Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean in her May 30, 2007 response to a May 17, 2007 correspondence from Exopolitics Toronto has suggested a specified course of action be taken by us to communicate with the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service to ascertain the state of concern in Ottawa regarding the UFO/ET phenomenon in Canada.

I guess responding to nutters is part of the GG's job description. Mr. Viggiani also wants Harper to "open Parliamentary Hearings" into this issue, and

...announce to Parliament, to the people of Canada and the world of the existence of radically new energy sources that will eliminate the need for fossil fuels, and of the existence of technologies capable of transforming the planet’s environmental chaos into an era of new solutions and environmental sustainability.

Not a chance; Harper's in the pocket of the big oil companies, who would be put out of business by this advanced alien technology.

Great Balls Of Dry Ice: Deniers At Play

Overheard in the Climate Change Skeptics Cafe:

Myron Ebel, Director of Energy & Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is bitching about carbon sequestration. It's expensive, it doesn't work that well, and etc. etc. However, Richard S. Courtney, Senior Material Scientist for British Coal (actually he's a PR guy) steps in and sets old Myron straight. It doesn't have to work; it just has to be, so the skeptical community can say they're for something:

Firstly, the value of carbon sequestration is political: n.b. it is not technological or economic.

There is opposition to power generation systems that emit CO2 as waste (this is similar to opposition to nuclear power systems that emit radioactive waste). A response to the opposition is neeeded until the AGW scare is ended.
And claims of carbon sequestration (cs) provide that needed response although eveybody knows cs would be too expensive for it to be used.
Skeptics know its all crap, in other words, but have to pretend otherwise for political purposes. I think people have always suspected this of them, but its good to hear it from the horses mouth.
However, good old Richard has his own scheme, his own technique for carbon sequestration that is both cheap and effective and can be put in place until such time as this whole global warming nonsense blows over:

Yes, but there is an alternative i.e. [to storing pressurized carbon dioxide underground].
1. Freeze the CO2 to 'dry ice' (i.e. solid CO2).
2. Drop the solid CO2 from a ship over deep ocean.
3. The solid will sink to the bottom and melt to liquid CO2 (yes, liquid at that pressure).
4. The rate of dissolving of CO2 will be very slow thus delaying any possible problem for millenia and giving plenty of time to find a solution to any possible problem.


There can be few legal or political obstacles to a lake of liquid CO2 at the bottom of e.g. the Marianas Trench

To which Douglas Hoyt, senior scientist at Raytheon (retired), objects:

Won't the dry ice just float on the water and boil away?

Now, I was going to dismiss all this as being entirely for giggles, until I realized that I couldn't myself remember from my highschool days whether dry ice floats in water. As the scientific videos available at this site demonstrate, it sinks.

I also did not realize that the notion of dumping big hunks of dry ice directly into the ocean has already (and often) been proposed as a means of sequestering CO2. It has even been suggested that the dry ice pellets be formed in the shape of a "torpedo" so they might conveniently bury themselves nose-first in the ocean floor. Here is probably the most thorough survey of the promises and short-comings of deep ocean sequestration (one shortcoming: all sea life near your CO2 "lake" dies).

But Doug is right about the dry ice "boiling away" at a rapid pace. How much of the ice-pellets mass would you lose on the way down? Not only that, Andre Bijkerk (who I know nothing about) notes another possible issue with the approach:
But there may be complications, dry ice is -70C or so, so when it is dropped overboard it would freeze the water around it, which may attach to the solid CO2. In temperature above solidus of CO2, it is continuing to evaporate/sublimate underneath the attached ice, producing gas bubbles in the ice,

The conglomerate of heavy dry CO2 ice with normal water ice and captured CO2 bubbles could decrease it's density to less than the water and re-emerge again.

This in fact does occur when you are using dry ice to turn your Halloween punch into a "witches brew":

...when the dry ice is almost gone, a layer of water will freeze around it. This chunk will float to the top. Inside the regular ice is still a piece of dry ice. This must be removed. NEVER injest dry ice, even when it is coated with regular ice. This can cause frostbite inside your stomach!

So you might wind up with big balls of dry ice floating around in the middle of the ocean, out gassing like crazy.

Assuming that these problems can be overcome, there is still the cost in emissions of shipping our frozen CO2 to the dump site. And here, I would like to make my own humble contribution. I suggest employing a giant roman war engine to bodily hurl our ice pellets to their resting place. And I would call this war engine a Carbopult(TM).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Off To Mexico

Every August, thousands of specimens of Danaus plexippus (The Monarch Butterfly) gather together to prepare for their Southward migration to Mexico and points beyond. One of these gathering spots, I discovered yesterday, is a small stand of trees near Wexford Cemetary in Scarborough. Wandering through there, I saw scads of the things perched in the various pine/willow trees. I went by this morning with my digital, and snapped a few pictures of them as they were just waking up:

Doesn't really capture the effect of having several dozen of them fluttering around your head, but not bad.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Doug Kirkland On The Montebello Faux Protesters

Retired Ottawa police officer and security expert Doug Kirkland doesn't think the RCMP was involved with this "rogue" SQ action:

It would be unfair to suggest the RCMP had more of a role in this. Their responsibility was inside the wire and the rest was a joint operation. This looks almost like a bandit operation within the SQ's main plan. It just doesn't feel right that these guys would have been let loose to do what they did - at the very least put them in sneakers, and have them look as malnourished as the rest of the Black Bloc.

(Yeah, Doug, but what if Harper personally forced the RCMP to get involved? You've seen those pictures of him when his eyes start to glow red.)

Lots of interesting background here as to the time before the tape rolled. Doug thinks no inquiry will ever get off the ground because the SQ is still "pretty strong" in Quebec. He also thinks that, internally, "heads have already rolled" and the force may eventually go public with this news.

Fall Election?

Interesting comment from His Nibs yesterday:

Speaking of election, I am still of the view that we Liberals had better be ready to go in the fall. Don't let Harper put out a budget first - that's his plan and we should be trying to throw him off it. Gilles Duceppe has given us an in and we had better not dismiss it out of hand.


1) Bad news out of Afghanistan, prompting Mr. Duceppe to issue threats.
2) Dumb moves on the part of John Baird et al over the Kyoto Law, the issue on which they are weakest, causing all of the opposition parties to issue threats.
3) A burgeoning police scandal.
4) A burgeoning funding scandal.
5) A greater acceptance among the Canadian people and the Liberal Party of Stephane Dion. His English is a little better, and people are more used to hearing it.
6) A demoralized Tory base, as witnessed by the number of Tory bloggers who are throwing in the towel.

The only thing I would be worried about is the Lib's financial state. But if Jason is making pro-election-type noises, I am sure they have been cleared by the higher echelons.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Undercover Cop Says Protesters Gave Him That Rock

A statement so ridiculous that it alone will allow this scandal to drag on for a few more days:

"One of the extremists gave the rock to one of our police officers and he had a choice to make," [Insp. Marcel] Savard said.

"He was asked by extremists to throw the rock at the police, but never had any intention of using it."

And as a partisan Liberal I can only praise Allah that Public Security Minister Stockwell Day was kind enough to repeat this nonsense, thus dragging that Federal Conservatives right into the heart of the cover-up:

"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence," Day said.

"They were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks. That's the irony of this," Day said.

Thank you, Stockwell, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. Because the youtube vid can be seen here and it is clear the three cops arrived with their rock.

And their booze too; no attempt by Stock to explain the open beer in the cop's back pocket either.

Saturday morning update: Oh I like this from The Gazette:

"When they were with the extremists, (the undercover officers) were given a rock and were formally asked to throw it," Savard said.

"I sir, formally ask you to throw this stone! Nay, sir, I DEMAND it!" Do protesters actually talk like that?

Quebec Provincial Police Prepare Another Story

From The Brockville Recorder Times:

MONTREAL (CP) - Quebec provincial police are holding a news conference later today to explain why three of its agents played the part of protesters at this week's North American Leaders' summit in Montebello, Que.

After originally denying it, the Quebec force has admitted the undercover officers were involved in the protest after a video clip of the trio showed up on the popular website, But Quebec provincial police are denying they were attempting to provoke protesters into violence.

Rather, they say the three officers were planted in the crowd to locate any protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating.

The force will hold the news conference at 3:30 p.m. at its downtown Montreal headquarters.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has already rejected opposition calls for an inquiry.

Presumably, the cop with the rock was offering it to other protesters. If any of them had actually thrown it, he would have stepped in.

Flanders To Run Provincially. Predicts Own Defeat, Then Retracts Own Prediction

Flanders from SoCon or Bust(alias John Pacheco) is running for the Ontario Legislature under the banner of The Family Coalition Party. His campaign got off to a disastrous on Thursday with an interview for the Lifesite in which he suggested that any vote cast his way was a vote wasted:

Pacheco is running for the Family Coalition Party, the only provincial party which is 100% pro-life and pro-family. A competent professional in the world of finance and happily married father of four children, Pacheco has no illusions of gaining a large number of votes in the riding.


"I'm not going to win this election that's for sure," he told in an interview today. However, he stated, "if elected I will certainly take my responsibilities seriously but I am under no illusions. We have to take the means legally available to us to get out the pro-life message."

Today, Flanders scrambled to contain the damage:

Regarding the above “I’m not going to win that’s for sure” comment above, I was a tad hasty in my interview on that point. It was a misstatement on my part, and I apologize for making it.

All of which raises the question: if a candidate falls in the forest, and nobody is around who would vote for him anyway, does he make a sound?

Also, get a load of Packy's campaign poster:

What is the message here? "Elect me, because I am a Big Baby." Or, perhaps more accurately: "Elect me, because I am a Giant Fetus."

Either way, it doesn't work for me.

Dalton McGuinty Engages in Cheesy Faux Patriotism. Conservatives Ask: Why Didn't We Think Of That?

Factually, Toronto Sun Columnist Connie Woodcock has it right. Renaming a strip of the 401 "The Highway Of Heroes" is about as crass a political ploy as you can find:

And what about McGuinty's apparent willingness to go along with the idea? Let's not forget there's a provincial election coming up and this sort of meaningless gesture could be politically helpful, appealing as it does to cheap sentiment. And best of all, for a politician, unlike any of the other stuff the premier has promised lately, it's almost free, give or take a few road signs.

Of course, The Sun spent most of June ramming the yellow ribbon campaign down Torontonians' throats, so one can only assume that they're huffed they didn't get to this one first. And frankly, with John Tory sinking under the weight of his faith-based school initiative, who knows if something as simple and emotionally sloppy as this will buy Dalton his Liberal Majority?

Look, there is nothing wrong with wearing a yellow ribbon, but unless the proceeds from their sale are going to buy our troops body armor, you can support them just as effectively by dropping your pants and farting in the general direction of Afghanistan.

And I wish people would grasp the fact that wearing a yellow ribbon has very little to do with backing the troops, far more to do with raising their own spirits re. a war going sour halfway around the world. Renaming highways or wearing yellow ribbons to help the war effort is a lot like attempting to cure World Hunger through masturbation: it makes you feel good, but it doesn't help the hungry.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Struggle For Alberta Fringe Heats Up!

Like Hyenas around the bloated corpse of a water-buffalo, Alberta's right-wing fringe parties have turned from Ed Stelmach's hapless Conservatives and fallen upon one another. The newly founded Wildrose Party of Alberta is trying to poach members of the Alberta Alliance, and they are making use of a contact list appropriated in an immoral and unethical fashion from the AA itself! In fact, Wildrose party Members Eleanor Maroes, Marilyn Burns, and Phil Gamache identify themselves as "former Members" of the AA in their introduction letter, thus making it appear that the latter party is promoting the former.

As a result, raging heck has broken out on the Project Alberta Forum, and AA president Randy Thorsteinson has lashed out:

I have been inundated with messages from outraged members of the Alberta Alliance over an e-mail that they received from Eleanor Maroes, Marilyn Burns and Phil Gamache earlier today. I would like to state categorically that all three of them left the Alberta Alliance Party several months ago to join a rival political party. Their e-mail was unauthorized and done totally without our knowledge. In fact, they deliberately tried to hide their actions from the Alberta Alliance. Additionally, they purposefully hid their current roles on the rival political party Executive as Treasurer, Secretary and Northern Director.

I apologize that they sent you the e-mail, rest assured they did not get your e-mail address from the Alberta Alliance Party but rather from former candidates. It appears the rival party has been given your e-mail address from either Marilyn Burns or Eleanor Maroes. Each received a confidential Alliance membership list during the Alliance leadership election in 2005. Both Marilyn Burns and Eleanor Maroes were given a membership list under strict conditions of confidentiality and by divulging this list they broke their personal word to respect the confidential nature of the list. You have a right to your privacy and I am absolutely sick that these three people have betrayed that right. Unfortunately I don’t know what other information they have shared with the rival party.

Once again I apologize that they have given your information to a rival political party. I thought that they would honour their commitment to respect your privacy, but unfortunately they won’t.

I will do everything I can to remedy this situation.

Best Regards, Randy Thorsteinson

This battle will affect literally dozens of Albertans! Let the bunfight begin.

h/t to The Wildrose Report.

Tory Cop Scandal Blows Up Nice

As of 7:00 AM, 318 stories related to the three dodgy anarchists at Montebello. Were they police officers undercover? Contentwise, we are left in the somewhat unsatisfactory state wherein David Cole's presser seems to have rehashed what everyone already knew (Those crazy boots!). Bad-Press-For-The-Harper-Governmentwise, things are ticking along nicely.

Having now seen the video with sound working, I am sure these clowns were not of the crowd. It is only the pure "stupid" factor that makes me question whether or not they were police. As retired officer Doug Kirkland noted:
More aggressive protesters closer to the hotel entrance were met with pepper spray, tear gas, and plastic bullets in the late afternoon. But a sanctioned operation wasn’t obvious to Doug Kirkland, a retired Ottawa police officer who worked several protests and viewed the YouTube video.
The trio could have been “rogues” or private security personnel, he said. “Honestly, I can’t imagine any police officer who’s in command putting three more mismatched people into that situation,”
Kirkland said. “You don’t take people who are well-fed, muscular, and that much older and think that they’re going to blend in. It’s stretching the bounds of credulity a bit.”
(OT, but,like, what are they feeding college kids these days? I have to say the protesters at Montebello were one of the most pathetic displays of young man-hood I've seen in a long time. And could the Youth Of Today lose those stupid beards? You look awful. Even if your momma won't say so, she thinks it)
The other point to note is that whoever gave these three faux protesters their boots also appears to have issued matching bandannas. Tour the dollar stores of Montebello with a few pictures and you can probably get a positive ID.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yellow Triangles Prove Nothing

This marking on the boots of both riot police and faux protesters at the Montebello summit is the trademark of "Vibram", an Italian company that produces rubber outsoles for footwear. They appear on the Matterhorn assault boot pictured left as well on many other makes and models. So the "protesters" and police are not necessarily wearing the same boot.
Update: BeneD has found a few other possibilities for the boot-bottom logo. IMHO, though, the blow up (link from "this marking") shows something roundish, not triangular--more like the Vibram TM.
Update: Here's a shot that shows both cop and protester boots side-by-side. The only thing is, Vibram makes about dozens of different sole-types that then get slapped on different boots. For example, the one in the picture looks most like their 109 Logger or 134AR Technical Lug, which are both fire/police models. So, again, it could be a case of different boots but the same sole.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Denialist cult is coming to Canada, and getting into the whole Surface Stations shtick. From the comments at Climate Audit:

"I have purchased and am willing to host and donate the name to the investigation of stations in Canada. If anyone want to help identify and catalog Canadian Stations give me a holler at . I’ll be setting up the website in the next few days"

Good luck, but getting face-time with Coren or Adler is hardly the same as appearing on Rush. There is also an interesting side issue: that, if I remember correctly, the whole network was shut down for a time during the Mulroney years.

H/t to Grey Canada.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shocking Fish Picture!

Meet the Zambezi River Tigerfish. Hmm. Wonder why they call it that? More pictures and commentary here.

(Quiz: This picture most resembles the vagina of what prominent Conservative blogger?)

Will The Real Climate Change Denier Please Adjust His Toupée ?

There's much gnashing of teeth over at Climate Audit re James Hansen's recent e-mails on the adjustment to GISSSTEMP's U.S. temperature estimates. McIntyre's readers are especially upset at Hansen's remark to the effect that the episode was a "tempest inside somebody's teapot dome, and that perhaps a light was not on upstairs". There is much speculation as to the meaning of the phrase "teapot dome". For example:

I find Hansen’s choice of words interesting. “tempest in a teapot dome”.

As most students of American History are aware, the “teapot dome” is a reference to a major political scandal early in the last century.It involved bribes and kickbacks and went pretty high up into the executive branch. I believe “teapot dome” itself was a geological formation that held oil.


Teapot Dome was an oil scandal in a Republican administration (Harding) in 1921.

Well, perhaps because my ears are more attuned to purely political discourse, this strikes me as being pretty obviously a bald joke. A teapot's surface is rounded and smooth. Hansen is describing someone within the Denier community as being balding and stupid. The question is, who?

And the problem is, it could probably be anyone! There are more crazy bald-heads in the skeptics camp than there are at a convention of Kojak impersonators. For example, Timothy Francis "Cue" Ball. But for my money I'm betting it refers to Mr. McIntyre himself. Witness the sketch left, the only pictorial representation of Steve I've ever found on the Net.
Now, I'm not entirely sure where this came from before it appeared L. Motl's blog (which I won't link to because it keeps crashing my browser), but it looks like a pic from the Wall Street Journal from around the time of the original McIntyre/Mann clash--lets say from the late 1990s.
I imagine it isn't just the glaciers that have receded since that time.
And to forestall the obvious response: yes, it true, but at least Hansen has enough to attempt a comb-over.
And as a rhetorical flourish, Hansen's choice of words is inspired. A bald man can never become President; they naturally inspire distrust and suspicion: "hide your women... the bald-headed men of Rome have come" and all that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Parade Of Goodies = McGuinty Majority?

The day began with a somewhat bummerish poll proclaiming Ontario Lib Premier to be in "minority territory", capturing a mere 40 per cent of the popular vote against the Tory Tories 35 per cent, and facing a slightly resurgent NDP and Green Party.

The day ended with a promise (backed by Ontario's first balanced budged in gawd knows how long, announced over the weekend) to upload almost a $1,000,000,000 worth of the crap Mike Harris dumped on Ontario's cities during his black reign in the 1990s.

Putting partisanship aside momentarily (because I don't think Dalton deserves another majority), you've got to think things are breaking the government's way. I would have figured the poll hit over Collegate would have been much larger, but no, and unless something new churns up, the effect of this mini-scandal has already been baked in to the final result.

As Jeff pointed out this morning, one thing about having fixed election dates is you know exactly when the vote will occur and, if you're the government, you can calculate precisely when and where to distribute the free candy. In this case--depending on how the distribution of funds works out--McGuinty has bought off David Miller and Toronto City Council.

Add to this the fact that John Tory is just another white guy in a suit, and we've already got one of those running the province, and you're looking at a strong McGuinty Minority or perhaps even another Majority.

David Warren Denies Darwin

The Ottawa Citizen's David Warren's latest begins by invoking Philosopher of Science and Anarchist Paul Feyerabend:

As Paul Feyerabend, one of my scientific heroes, wrote in his 1975 essay, How to defend Society against Science: “In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. Science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.”

Warren then bashes the Global Warming consensus for a bit, before turning to what is really cheesing him off; Darwinism in general, and in particular the cross examination of Creationist and Botanist Michael Behe during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2005. He writes:

There was a show trial in Dover, Pennsylvania, two years ago, in which a local school board was prosecuted for having permitted the teaching of intelligent design. This was publicized by the liberal media as, “Another Scopes trial in America!” The defence called Michael Behe, so the plaintiffs brought Eric Rothschild, a high-powered attorney, to lure him into verbal traps. Rothschild made tendentious points on the definition of “science.” Behe wouldn’t play, and noted, rather dryly, that if the current official definition of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences were enforced, most major advances in modern science would have to be ruled illegal. Rothschild then paraphrased Behe’s position as, “So you believe astrology is valid science.” Needless to say, Behe demurred.

Well, I don't think so. Or at least, here is the transcript to that portion of the trial. Decide for yourself if Mr. Behe's response counts as demurring:

Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

A Yes, that's correct.

(Of course there is far more to it than that. The entire transcript is a good read. Behe got his ass chewed off.)

But what is most striking here is what Warren forgets: Paul Feyerabend himself advocated for the legitimacy of astrological practices, and lashed out against the famous letter condemning Astrology from 180 "eminent scientists". Now, Feyerabend had his reasons. He viewed certain certain aspects of science as being elitist or racist, and saw himself as a kind of activist on behalf of the Knowledge Underclasses.

Furthermore, there was a core of good sense behind Feyerabend's theories of scientific practice. He was correct in noting, for example, that metrics of "explanatory strength" tend to have a Conservative bias. For while one can quantify past results, it is impossible to quantify "promise", so if such metrics were ever applied rigorously, no new scientific theories would ever get off the ground (and no old ones would be left standing, but that is another story).

However, what is important to this particular discussion is Judge John E. Jones reaction to the argument as applied to Intelligent Design, which was made not only by Behe but by social epistemologist Steve Fuller (who I used to argue with regularly on the HOPOS mailing list). The full decision can be found here. I have read it on a number of occasions and consider it to be one of the most important documents of the age, a sign that maybe the light of rationality is not going out on our civilization. In it, Judge Jones, a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, says that Intelligent Design is simply not worth this kind of Feyerabendian activism:

Science cannot be defined differently for Dover students than it is defined in the scientific community as an affirmative action program, as advocated Case 4:04-cv-02688-JEJ Document 342 Filed 12/20/2005 Page 70 of 139 71 by Professor Fuller, for a view [Intelligent Design] that has been unable to gain a foothold within the scientific establishment.

Therefore, while Science does indeed occasionally suppress dissenting views, not all of these views are worthy of the quotas and set asides (which is what the Dover School Board was demanding for ID) required to allow for their full expression.

PS. Weird how we're still fighting Conservative Creationists in 2007; weird how you scratch of Global Warming Denier and, so often, you find a Darwin Denier.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Conservative Race Car Puts In Another Lacklustre Performance

Bourque's car 29, representing the Conservative Party of Canada, ran another mediocre race today at the GP3R 100 (the historic course at Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres), missing the top 10 yet again for a 12th place finish.

I actually watched this race; the driver's go a mere 100 miles (I think about 35 laps). It began at about 12:05 and finished about five minutes ago (12:55). Pretty minor league stuff, done before an audience of about 60,000.

No official story up yet. You read it here first.

Update: Actually looks like Bourque got his first top ten finish. This official result was quite different from what I was seeing on the tv at about one pm. The adjustment must have been made post-race due to caution flags etc.

John Tory Promises Free Booze

John Tory's plan to allow Ontario Casinos to serve free liquor smacks of desperate politics. Why not just promise a six-pack to anyone that votes Conservative? And, as David Caplan suggests, the idea will harm local businesses in places like Windsor:

"If you're going to ask somebody to compete with a government institution which is giving away free booze, why would the patrons want to go to those restaurants and bars when they can go to a government operation?"

My experience of Laughlin, Nevada (a kind of mini-, cut-rate Los Vegas) is that this situation doesn't arise in the U.S. because the town is basically a waste-land around the casino complexes. There are almost literally no businesses to compete against, and all the Casinos are offering the same deal--a lady carrying a tray full of White Russians.

But you do have to pay for your drinks anyway, at least indirectly, in that the service is much better around the $5 slots than the $1 slots, and fairly non-existent around the 25 cent poker machines. So you get served more the bigger you lose. My trick was to follow the serving girl around the floor, then set-up in front of one of the more expensive machines and fumble through my pockets as though I was looking for my betting money.

I lost about $40 over the time I was there, and got about 20 unpaid drinks out of the deal. So it was almost the same as just hanging out in the bar for two days.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still Not Dead, Still Not Funny

I don't know why, but I wandered over here, and, lo and behold, the utterly craptacular "Kyoto's Dog Blog" is still ticking along, albeit at a slower and slower pace,with the posts down to about one a week.

A quick check at Alexa gives a profile of a blog on the fade:
So lets all give the site a traffic bump, ridicule it mercilessly, and convince the CPoC to piss away more of its ill-raised millions on a hopeless cause (instead of, for example, spending the money more usefully on some exercise equipment for Prime-Minister Doughboy).

How Many Deniers Does It Take search Google? Apparently more than two. Tom Harris runs an industry financed Canadian astro-turf group called the NRSP (National Resources Stewardship Program); Bob Carter has been denying stuff since forever. Together they have teamed up at Canada Free Press to write an op-ed that makes an egregious factual error in its very first sentence:

Virtually overnight, Portland (Oregon) High School student Kristen Byrnes has become a climate change sensation and a role model for freethinking young people everywhere.

Actually, and as the front page of her home page quite clearly states, Kristen Byrnes (the tiniest denier) hails from Portland Maine.

Nitpicking? Sure! But if you can't write six words without getting the two coasts of America mixed up, how can anyone take your claims of a "giant conspiracy" seriously?

(Yo Rush Limbaugh, you want to explore this scandal further? I'm available! If Hansen had done something like this you'd be demanding his resignation. )

Friday, August 17, 2007

Who The Heck Is Steve McIntyre? Portait of The Denier As A Young Man

Most people know Steve McIntyre as the driving force behind Climate Audit, as a man who has acquired a level of semi-fame by pointing out some rather trivial issues with Mann's methodology and GISSTEMP U.S. temperature readings. However, he clearly had a life before CA; in fact his wiki entry suggests he was once "an officer or director of several small public mineral exploration companies."

Prompted by some sleuthing by Steve Bloom, here is what I have managed to discover about Mr. Mcintyre's life in his pre-Denialist days.

Sometime prior to 1998, Steve was an employee for Noranda, a mining company which, at its peak, had offices in 18 countries. However, by 1988 he had left the company, for in that year he helped found Timmins Nickel, a company in which he still holds the position of President (see here, though to view the full story you must be a Northern Miner subscriber). By the early 1990s, Timmins Nickel had developed two mines and employed 120 people, and you can find the occasional brief news story on them in places like American metal market. In 1991, Timmins Nickel acquired a stake in a project run by Dumont Nickel, a company for which McIntyre also served as President.

However, in 2002 Mr. Mcintyre was given the old heave-ho at Dumont:

Mr.Steve Mcintyre, who has been President and a director of the Company since 1991, has resigned from those positions to pursue other business interests.

Now, " pursue other business interests" is often Corpspeak for "fuck off and die", and while it would perhaps be inaccurate (and maybe libelous) to characterize McIntyre's years with the company as a legacy of failure, it is clear from these two documents that the company had struck dust at a number of holes early in the new millennium.

As I say, you still get hits from 2007 for Steve and "Timmins Nickel" in the Northern Miner, so when he claims to still have some personal business holdings, this is probably what he is referring to.

In addition to all this, and as noted in his wiki Bio, Steve until recently served as a "Strategic Adviser" to CGX Energy Inc. and the Northwest Exploration company, two companies engaged in oil and gas exploration.

McIntyre's wiki Bio also claims that he served as "policy analyst at both the governments of Ontario and of Canada." While I have been unable to locate any documents confirming this, there is a record on the Ontario Government website of Steve's 1991 testimony to a legislative committee re. Bill C 70, "An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act to provide for an Employee Wage Protection Program". In his presentation, Steve complains about liabilities for mine directors, bitches about civil service wages, trash talks unions a bit, and whines about environmental regulations.

So, while none of this information is earth-shattering, it does help slot Mr. McIntyre rather neatly on the ideological spectrum as a small business Conservative with interests in the petroleum industry.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jay Hill Politicizes Disaster Response

From Prince George Peace River MP (and government whip) Jay's Hill's weekly column:

Think back to the devastating Tsunami in South Asia on Boxing Day 2004. Over 150,000 people were confirmed dead. Another 130,000 were missing and tens of thousands of survivors desperately needed food, medical attention and clean water.

Nations around the world rushed to send personnel, equipment and medical supplies. Canada’s own Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two weeks later. Why did a supposed “quick response” unit, established to deliver humanitarian assistance and clean water in domestic and international disasters, take so long to arrive? Well, DART had no means to get there.


Well no more. Last week, just eighteen months after taking office, our Conservative Government delivered on our promise to strengthen Canada’s independent capacity to control our own domestic and foreign policy and to defend our national sovereignty and security. The delivery came in the form of Canada’s first C-17 Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft.

Make no mistake; I am glad we're getting the new aircraft. However, Mr. Hill's characterization of DART as a "rapid response" unit is misleading in the extreme, as Tony Gilles of Lakehead University (an expert on earthquake engineering) wrote in 2004:

DART is not a rapid response emergency search and rescue team (although its engineering unit is certainly capable in this area) and, therefore, it is not the team to send into a disaster area in the hours immediately following such an event. Response in the first 24 hours is critical for rescue operations, and there are many international teams highly skilled in this task and equipped with trained dogs and specialised search devices... As a primary care medical unit, the DART team attends to illness, disease and obstetrics, and the demand for these treatments increases in the weeks after a disaster, whereas the trauma units are winding down their role at this time.


These same contributions can be expected in Sri Lanka. It has taken a week or more to understand the enormous scale of the disaster in Asia − recall in the first hours a loss of 12,000 lives was reported; now we are facing a loss which may exceed 200,000 − twice the population of Thunder Bay. DART requires a large physical area to establish its base, and its specialised engineering capacity ideally needs to be located near to a primary water treatment facility in order to establish a long-term water supply. It is, therefore, prudent to take time to assess the scope of the disaster and to select carefully the site for the team so that it can have the greatest impact in the longer term towards the recovery of the community.

These words, written in response to the potshots Mr. Hill's Tories were taking in 2004 with reference to DART and the perceived failings of the Liberal government, still ring true today:

It is an unfortunate fact that even in so huge a humanitarian crisis, some news media and politicians seize on the opportunity to politicise the national and international response. Surely partisan politics can be set aside in these circumstances and the focus turn to investigative journalism identifying the needs and the most efficient and effective response strategies? Had these politicians taken time to educate the public on the capacity and role of DART, the apparent delay in its deployment would be better understood by the public. Canadians should take great pride in the contribution that the DART team will make in the current crisis.

So Mr. Hill should can the crap.

(Note: I can no longer find the link to Mr. Gilles original article. Sorry.)

Gay? You'll Like ABC

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has issued its first GLAAD Network Responsibility Index to measure the "quantity, quality, and diversity" of homosexual portrayals during the Networks' prime time programming. The Big Winner was ABC, which registered an impressive 15 per cent of its broadcast hours graced by LBGT (Lesbian Bi Gay Transgendered) impressions. Of course Fox came up the rear, as it were, with LBGT impressions in a mere six per cent of its broadcast hours. Don't know if that included "desperately suppressed" LBGT impressions, but if so that would probably encompass the Hannity/Colmes show (one day these two will marry) and anything with O'Reilly in it.

Frankly, I think the folks at GLAAD have a bit too much time on their hands; this rather reminds me of attempts to quantify the "Liberalness" on television news-casts by studying how often the host smiles in the presence of Liberal versus Conservative guests. But whatever. I suppose it keeps them out of trouble.

The full study can be found here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Climate Change Skeptic And Creationist Has New Paper Out

Many people have noted the similarity between some of the tactics employed by Climate Change Denialists and Intelligent Designers. Specifically, sow doubt and demand that the media "report the controversy". But before hearing about Roy Spencer, who has guest posts on both Roger Pielke Sr.'s Climate Science and Anthony Watt's "Watts Up With That Blog" , as well as a new paper out, I had never heard of a climate change denier who was in addition an acknowledged IDer. In 2005, Mr. Spencer wrote:

And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as "fact," I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism.

Now, astrologers, water witches, La Rouchians...the ranks of the deniers is filled with their like. But a Creationist? Surely Climate Change Denialism is on the march!

And seeing this guy appear on Watt's site doesn't surprise me. What is strange is the connection with Roger Pielke Sr., who appears to have forgotten the old adage about laying down with dogs and waking up with fleas.

But since he's stooping to this level: yo Roger! I have a midget who insists its all down to C02, and a talking duck that taps out climatological equations with his beak. Can they do a guest post too?

h/t to Steve Bloom.

Have Climate Change Deniers Discovered Marijuana?

During a discussion of the inadequate climate records in China, the boyz from Surface Stations reference some weird plants growing behind a station in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma:


Correct me if I'm wrong... but is that a row of pot plants growing behind the MMTS?

Here are a couple of shots:

Well, I wouldn't smoke the stuff, though I might try and sell it to kids.

So, anyway, have the boyz at Surface Stations refuted global warming YET AGAIN? Have they proven that any temperature increases have emanated from the stoned-out heads of WARMongering NOAA volunteer Greenshirts lollygagging about in the dope fields of Oklahoma?

I doubt it, because smoking marijauna...they say...makes everything coooool.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Those Sneaky Abortionists!

There are certain aspects of the abortion issue that tend to creep me out a bit--particularly the concept of a "partial birth" abortion. However, the futility of a PBA ban can be seen from this story. The short version: since a medical procedure is just "a course of action intended to achieve a result in the care of patients", you can always avoid the ban by changing the physical acts that make up the procedure in question. Which is what they are now doing in Boston, PA. And in fact these kind of "outs" to any Partial Birth Abortion ban were being pointed out by physicians way back in the mid-1990s, when the issue first took off. So, a decade's worth of work on the part of U.S. Evangelicals for nothing.

Avast Ye!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper re-surfaces after a meeting with his cabinet ministers and is transported back to his tank.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pizza & Boobies

Only in Winnipeg, where the land is flat but the women are not, could someone have dreamed up an outfit like Porno Pizza:

Entrepreneur Corey Wildeman said the hot and saucy hook for his Porno Pizza business -- which offers pornographic pictures beneath the pies in delivery boxes -- has caught on in a far bigger way than he had ever imagined.

After launching the delivery service a little more than a month ago, Wildeman is turning to local talent for models after initially using only photographs supplied by a national content provider.

"Researching" this post, I found the website for Mr. Wildeman's little venture. Featured pizza's include the Missionary Position (Old Reliable), Bareback (Western), and Fuzzy Taco (Mexican), which sounds a little unhygenic.

As for the pictures themselves:

“They range from softly-lit, lube-on-the-lens pictures like in Playboy, to raunchy, hardcore photos,” owner Corey Wildeman said.

“The image is revealed as you eat the pizza.”

But do you get your money back if it makes you gag?

A city so ridiculously boring that it gave birth to the frenzied rock-and-roll of both Neil Young and the Guess Who has now spawned this example of entrepreneurial genius. Will Porno Pizza put Winnipeg back on the map?

(Literally: in about 1980 Winnipeg was removed from the map of Canada and replaced with a symbol indicating frozen tundra. Not even people from Winnipeg know where Winnipeg is.)

The State Of Surface Stations

Surface Stations is a project initiated by retired weatherman Anthony Watts. Its purpose is to refute Global Warming by snapping pictures of NOAA weather stations with siting issues and posting them to Conservative websites, where folks who, in general, wouldn't know a surface station from a hole in the ground then cry out "shame! shame!" in unison in the hopes of attracting the attention of Talk Radio.

As of today, the gang at Surface Stations are within a hair of having surveyed one quarter of the USHCN stations--281 to be precise--in the lower 48 states of the U.S.A. Their locations are given in the graphic above. What is fairly clear from this graphic is that SS's efforts have been concentrated 1) on the West Coast (Anthony Watts home state is California), and 2) wherever else their volunteers hail from. For example, surveys from Maine are (I am guessing) largely the work of Kristen Byrnes, the famous denying munchkin. There is a further clear trend towards surveying urban areas, also probably due to the demographics of the people making up Watt's volunteers.
Given that urban stations are more likely to be subject to siting compromises (fewer wide open fields, more asphalt), it is I think significant that only 10 per cent of the sites having been noted as not being in compliance with NOAA . Or at least, Mr. Watts has only felt obliged to scream outrage on 28 occasions.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Am An Excellent Steel Horse: Rock Plaza Central

Canada has been kicking up tons of truly eccentric Indie bands that have nevertheless been finding audiences all around the planet. And while I've never really "got" The Arcade Fire, the latest buzz group, Rock Plaza Central, seems to be more my speed. With a shambolic, folk-rock sound, an singer that sounds better when he is singing off-key (and usually is), and a concept Album ("Are We Not Horses?") for a debut that tells the story of robotic horses that believe they have souls, you wouldn't think there would be much promise to these guys. Nevertheless, tunes like "I Am An Excellent Steel Horse", and "Anthem for the Already Defeated" hold together wonderfully, and the overall result is part pop, part outsider music. Here is the video for "Anthem for the Already defeated":

And here is a live version from my favorite song, "I Am An Excellent Steel Horse":

This might be it for today. I'm planning on spending time in the sun.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hansen On McIntyre

James Hansen is the man who, arguably, sounded the alarm on AGW way back in the 1980s. This makes him Public Enemy #2 in the Climate Change Denialist community, Al Gore currently holding the #1 spot. He has been the target of much blogosphere venom after S. McIntyre uncovered a minor error in the GISSTEMP temperatures for the U.S.A., the care and upkeep of GISSTEMP being one of Hansen's responsibilities. Here is his response to the latest controversy. My favorite bit is the conclusion:

The flaw did have a noticeable effect on mean U.S. temperature anomalies, as much as
0.15°C, as shown in Figure 1 below (for years 2001 and later, and 5 year mean for 1999 and
later). The effect on global temperature (Figure 2) was of order one-thousandth of a degree, so
the corrected and uncorrected curves are indistinguishable.

Contrary to some of the statements flying around the Internet, there is no effect on the
rankings of global temperature. Also our prior analysis had 1934 as the warmest year in the U.S.
(see the 2001 paper above), and it continues to be the warmest year, both before and after the
correction to post 2000 temperatures. However, as we note in that paper, the 1934 and 1998
temperature are practically the same, the difference being much smaller than the uncertainty.

Somehow the flaw in 2001-2007 U.S. data was advertised on the Internet and for two
days I have been besieged by rants that I have wronged the President, that I must “step down”, or
that I must “vanish”. Hmm, I am not very good at magic tricks.

Other responses to the GISSTEMP glitch can be found here, here, and here, where McIntyre tries to cool the rhetoric and again invokes some of the weird, rural good/urban evil (Red State vs. Blue State?) political symbolism that has been creeping into Denialist rhetoric over the past several months.

Usurped By His Sock Puppet?

David MacLean has stepped down from his position as head of the Saskatchewan wing of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. If you don't remember, this was the guy GPM caught making nasty comments in the guise of moneybags4me and several other sock-puppets. Now the rumour is he is being replaced at the CTF by moneybags4me itself. I hate it when they start talking back.
As you may know, I never employ sock-puppets, except when I am pranking stupid online surveys, in which case I rely on my good buddy Galactus, Eater of Worlds. So far, we get along fine.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The "Value" Of McIntyre's Discovery

DailyTech Blogger Michael Asher sees through to the nub of significance within Steve McIntyre's discovery of errors in the GHCN weather data:

The effect of the correction on global temperatures is minor (some 1-2% less warming than originally thought), but the effect on the US global warming propaganda machine could be huge.

In other words, Steve's achievement is a propaganda victory (for the forces of climate change skepticism) more than a scientific one (which is not to dispute the fact that McIntyre's work has uncovered a real error in GHCN collection procedures).

Incidentally, it is disingenuous to, as some media outlets have, refer to this error as a result of the Y2K bug. McIntyre himself writes:

By Y2K problem here, I don’t specifically mean that the error is due to 2-digit date formats, but that the error, whatever its source, is observed commencing Jan 2000.

Or at least there has been no evidence provided yet that the error was caused by this specific bug.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Schmidt Responds To "Problem" In GISTEMP U.S. Temperature Data

Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a regular contributor to the Real Climate blog, has given a quick response to Steve McIntyre's discovery of issues with the Global Historical Climatology Network's data. As noted here, this discovery has led the GHCN to re-organize its U.S. temperature rankings so that a number of recent years come out cooler than originally recorded, while several years in the 1930s come out hotter. What effect does this adjustment have on the overall case for AGW? Mr. Schmidt writes in the comments:

McIntyre noticed that there was an odd offset in the GISTEMP analysis in 2000 which turned out to be related to the transition between USHCN data to the GHCN data. The offset occurred because the USHCN corrections (for Time of Observation bias mainly) affect the more recent values in USHCN but not GHCN (as opposed to only affecting earlier values). Once notified of the problem, GISS investigated immediately, found the error, and added an extra step to the analysis to remove any jump at the transition. This only affected the US temperatures (reducing the mean by about 0.15 ºC in 2000-2006), but since the US is such a small part of the world, it doesn’t effect the global temperatures. Note that this wasn’t a problem with the USHCN data - rather in how the different data sources are melded. It also had nothing to do with any micro-site issues. - gavin]

Furthermore, when a commentator stated:

With this error, it isn’t a small percentage of the world’s temperature that is the issue. It is that the US data is a large percentage of the data available.

Schmidt replied:

[Response: But the global average isn’t simply an average of all the stations divided by the number of stations. You need to adjust for area so that a high concentration of stations in one spot doesn’t bias the mean. If the US is 2% of the area, then a 0.15 ºC correction there implies only a 0.15*0.02=0.003 ºC correction to the global mean (though it’s actually a little higher because of incomplete global coverage). These things should obviously be fixed, but the implications need to be kept in perspective. - gavin]

I suspect that Mr. Schmidt is correct in his assessment, and that the adjustment to U.S. data will only marginally effect the global mean, making the "blade" of the hockey-stick graph infinitesimally less steep.

Which means that Steve Ms work is less a problem for the Science of Global Warming and more a problem for the Politics and PR end of the issue. And here it is a fairly serious concern, because who knows how many more months of delay and inaction it might give rise to? The most obvious argument his work will inspire is: how can we trust ANY of the data, now that we have discovered this particular flaw in in this particular data-set (you might notice how people are already trying to conflate McIntyre's research with the "study" of microsite issues being undertaken by Anthony Watts and the gang at Surface Stations). Secondly, while the U.S. temperature data is only a small slice of the global pie, the fact that U.S. temperatures have not risen as much as those elsewhere may well inspire an "I'm alright Jack" response from American Pols and citizens. Who cares, in other words, if its only Asians and Africans that get fried?

And of course that would be a bad thing.

Blogger Threatens Harper With Death, Gets Away With It

I don't recall the incident that precipitated this case at all, perhaps because "almost nobody visited the blog" in question (and it seems to have disappeared). And the Phantom Observer is the only blogger that seems to have reported on it back in March. Note that this guy is not Allen Varlaki, who once suggested that Harper should have to "take a bullet", although the two incidents both took place in March '07.

But the bottom line seems to be that death threats uttered in the direction of famous people are okay in the context of satire:

....the blog entries were the result of a creative process where he would write as the angry and disillusioned character, Drunken Soldier, poking fun at the idea of blogging and current events.

But of course one can also satirize the non-famous. What happens when you began to issue fictitious death threats against a fellow blogger or the girl who won't go out with you in college?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Give The Denier His Due

Steve McIntyre's weblog Climate Audit has always been a hotbed of Climate Change Denialism, and he has spent much of the last several years flailing about madly in an effort to discredit the science behind AGW. However, it seems he might have hit onto something this time, having detected an error in the Global Historical Climatology Network's data collection procedures which, when corrected, reorders the the ranking of 10 hottest years recorded in the lower 48 states of the United States such that several years in the 1990s and 2000s fall out of the top ten, and several years from the 1930s come into it.

The new and old top ten lists can be found here, and the numbers for the last 120 years, as corrected by NASA itself, can be found here.

Now, there are lots of mitigating factors to consider. For example, the new adjustment does not seem to affect global average values much (these are calculated separately using results from a number of distinct networks). Nevertheless, grist for the skeptics mill, and material that will get huge play over the course of the next several months.

MacKay On The Arctic: You Can't Use It If You Can't Find It

From The Embassy Magazine:

Immediately after Russian scientists planted their country's flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean under the North Pole to bolster their recent territorial claim, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay dismissed it as a "show by Russia."

However, his assertion that the area is actually Canadian property has raised questions about his understanding of the Arctic file as the flag was planted in international territory.

"Minister MacKay demonstrated a clear lack of understanding on the issue by referring to this as Canadian waters on the basis of a long-standing Canadian claim," said Michael Byers, holder of the Canada Research Chair on Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia.

"He got his speaking notes for the Northwest Passage mixed up with his speaking notes for the Arctic Ocean, and I think that's pretty appalling given the importance of this particular issue for the long-term interests of Canada."

The guy can't tell Toronto from Halifax. How do you think he's going to distinguish one hunk of ice from another?

Incidentally, has anyone set odds on MacKay's getting the boot during next week's cabinet shuffle? His name hasn't come up in places like this, but his various screw-ups have left him unpopular on both sides of the political spectrum. Personally, I would not be surprised to see him shuffled.