Categories
Omniclimate Science Skepticism

Gould (and Lewontin) on Skepticism

Quotes from Richard Lewontin’s “The Triumph of Stephen Jay Gould“, The New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 2 · February 14, 2008:

About the necessity of taking scientific findings with a pinch of salt:

What is important about [Gould’s “Measuring Heads: Paul Broca and the Heyday of Craniology“] essay is not that it reveals what we already know to be true about the existence of racism and sexism, but that it shows how any claim that something is “scientifically demonstrated” should be treated with the same skepticism that we invoke when there is any reason to think that the investigator has something to gain, either ideologically or professionally, as we do when financial gain is involved.

About the instinctive abhorrence we should all have against “just-so stories” masquerading lack of predictive powers with retroactive explanations with no basis in reality:

The important point is that it is easy to make up adaptive stories out of one’s imagination for any feature of any organism, but that there are concrete realities of growth and physiology that need to be taken account of before lapsing into unchecked fictions.

Categories
Data Omniclimate Policy

About Droughts and Fires in Southern California

Something to remember next time panickers will yell about the consequences of anthropogenic climate change…

From “Diary”, by Mike Davis, The London Review of Books, n. 29, 15 November 2007:

Brown Hills (1938) – the second in a brace of carefully observed memoir-novels – is the diary of a long drought similar to the current aridity in Southern California. (My twin toddlers, like the calves in Van der Veer’s book, scarcely remember what rain looks like.) ‘Should a good fairy ask me what I wish, I know what I would say! I wouldn’t ask for a golden palace, or Arabian horses, or a handsome lover. I would wish for rain.’ But instead of rain, an October Santa Ana howls over Black Mountain and blasts her Ramona ranch

Yes you read it right: it’s the long drought of… 70 years ago.

Perhaps it’s the awareness of history that inspire Mr Davis’ wise words on the underlying problem: 

The loss of more than 90 per cent of Southern California’s agricultural buffer zone is the principal if seldom mentioned reason wildfires increasingly incinerate such spectacular swathes of luxury real estate. It’s true that other ingredients – La Niña droughts, fire suppression (which sponsors the accumulation of fuel), bark beetle infestations and probably global warming – contribute to the annual infernos that have become as predictable as Guy Fawkes bonfires. But what makes us most vulnerable is the abruptness of what is called the ‘wildland-urban interface’, where real estate collides with fire ecology. And castles without their glacises are not very defensible.

Categories
Italia Italiano Partito Democratico Politica

Tante Scuse al Partito Democratico

(o forse no!)

Nei mesi presenti, passati e futuri non ebbi/ho/avro’ mai remora nell’esprimere tutte le mie critiche riguardo il Partito Democratico…il fatto e’ che il PD, per un motivo o per l’altro, continua a suscitare in me inarrestabili moti di riso.

Sono riusciti a incasinare anche la semplicissima operazione del “corriamo da soli”, con le porte chiuse ad alcuni e socchiuse ad altri (in un’ignobile serie di meschinita’) .

Intendiamoci, l’idea di fondo del PD e’ buonissima, anzi andava gia’ fatto venti anni fa. Speriamo pero’ che Veltroni abbia il coraggio di fare quello che c’e’ da fare, altrimenti rimarra’ un “partito crudo”.

Anzi, comincio a temere che in caso di vittoria PD ad Aprile, ci
ritroveremmo con un governo sgangherato all’estremo. Ecco un altro motivo per Silvio Berlusconi di fare tanto chiasso per avere le elezioni adesso.

E un po’ di costruttivita’ ? Eccola:

(1) APERTURA del PD a tutti gli interessati
(2) SMANTELLAMENTO IMMEDIATO delle gerarchie pre-esistenti
(3) Costruzione di un partito NUOVO partendo dalle fondamenta e non da vertice

E’ la ricetta del “Partito delle Liberta’“, tutto sommato, di facciata o meno che sia. E invece quelli sono ancora a fare i giochetti fra di loro come ai tempi di Botteghe Oscure…

e quindi adesso si torna a parlare di conflitto di interessi, quando potevano risolverlo (almeno, nel caso di Retequattro) due mesi fa: mentre comandavano loro

Categories
Christianity English Ethics Humanity Islam UK

The Archbishop of Canterbury Is a Christian…

…hence his words are cause of scandal and upheaval among “humans”.

You see, it’s all written in Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians:

1, 23: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1, 27: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
4, 10: We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
4, 12: And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
4, 13: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

This means that for once we have solid evidence that a person high up in a Christian denomination’s hierarchy is actually a Christian in the fullest sense of the term.

A bit like with Pope John XXIII, “a real Christian” in the carefully camouflaged words of Hannah Arendt, that went on wondering “How could that be? And how could it happen that a true Christian would sit on St. Peter’s chair?” (“The Christian Pope“, The New York Review of Books, Volume 4, Number 10 · June 17, 1965).

For now: Monday 11 Dr Williams’ own Synod will meet with more than one participant asking for his resignation. Let’s check instead what Paul recommended to the Christians in Corinth:

5, 13: But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person