Category Archives: Omnologos

Here We Live…off Air

My personal translation of an old song by Calabrian singer-songwriter Otello Profazio, whose sad sarcasm perfectly describes much of the under-developed conditions of Southern Italy and Sicily. I was born more or less here.


The Italian South is an area very beautiful,
The sun is warm and it never gets any cold,
The sea is sprarkling and blue-green
Here you never see any pollution
We are happy people, we’re super-happy
We never need really any thing ..
Here we live off air .. -Here we live off air!

The Italian South is truly a paradise
If you really want to die you have to get killed
Oh peoples believe me when I say
Here we do not know what illness is ..
And I do not understand what is the reason
They build a hospital in all our cities
It’s all useless! ..
Here nobody ever dies ..
Even the cemeteries don’t exist here!

The Italian South’ climate is amazing
Physiological needs: there are none at all
It is in the North that people drink and eat
And so they need free up their bellies
Oh peoples believe me when I say
We in the South do not feel this need
Here we live off air .. -Here we live off air!
Here we live off air, right?

And what’s going through the rulers’ head?
They want industrialize through us all
Why can’t they mind their business -what need
Could the South have for any industry?
Because what need is there to work
With sky, moon and sea like ours?
Here we live off air .. – Here we live off air, right?

And what’s going through the rulers’ head?
They even want to build us schools
Don’t they know that here in the South
We are all people of sciences and of letters?
Schools are made for those who are ignorant
Not for us that we are intralligent

But you say: if there you live of air
All this emicration, how does one explain it?
One can explain, one can explain!
Because we really like to travel
To know other peoples, other countries:
America, Australia, France,
Germany, Switzerland, Belgium …
And even Italy! Why, do you think Milan is bad?
And Turin, is there anything missing from Turin?
“Ye were not form’d to live the life of brutes,
‘But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.’”
The emicration … One can explain, one can explain!! For sure!

They tell me that in the North the nights are dark,
Them full of fog and them all full of fears
But here it’s always a day so clear
So why would we any electricity really need?
Why did they put up all these streetlights
If there is the moon that can brighten us?
It’s all useless! ..
Here we see very well even at night ..
We’ve got such a moon!
Our moon mood swings start from the morning!

And you have built us super-motorways
Long and wide and forty thousand meters
But why did you have to get them paved?
For we now can’t plant there potatoes!
But not for us,
Because we do not need to eat
But to send them potatoes to the North!
Because we do not need anything
Because here we live off air
Here we live off air

We do not need anything
Never mind do not worry
Nothing needs be done!
Here we live off air, off air, right?
What now, do I need to convince you with a beating
That here we live off air, we live off air, right?
Forget it … you do not have to get upset …
Do not worry! Here we live off air
We live off air! We live off air! No? Didn’t you know?

Six Reasons Not To Panic About Terrorism

What is the long-term perspective of present-day, often suicidal terrorism?

It’s that there isn’t much to fear about, because terrorism is peculiarly idiotic and bound to destroy itself (unless we do anything egregiously wrong)

  1. For the law of diminishing returns, either attacks get bigger and bigger, or the targeted population will choose habituation rather than increased fear. It’s like opening the proverbial bonfire with the stakes too high, and having to destroy one’s forest simply to keep up
  2. With millions of potential victims, some of them will surely come up one day with novel solutions to prevent the killings, making further attacks quite hard to organize: think the Israeli wall, think the changed tactics of the US Navy after the first round of Japanese Kamikaze pilots
  3. Just like then, “the best and the brightest” in the terror organization are bound to blow themselves up. They can be substituted, but it does take around two decades to make another terrorist. In the meanwhile, ranks will be increasingly more replete of coward weasels that couldn’t stomach the suicide they themselves require of others
  4. For the same reason, terrorists will become stupider and stupider, lone losers who will discredit the terror organization by their very existence
  5. Those people want to die whilst the rest of the world wants to live. Guess who’ll be sticking around the longest? On average, both aspirations are bound to be fulfilled.
  6. In the fight against relatively well-organized societies, the only way to victoryfor the terrorists is to get hold of weapons of mass destruction – otherwise the chances of any one person becoming a victim will remain vanishingly small. And what will happen of WMDs in the hands of a suicidal terror organization populated by coward weasels and lone losers? Boom…and there go the terrorists

The only rational response to terrorism is to get on with one’s life.

(a version of the above appeared in this blog in 2006)

You can lead a bear to a wildlife corridor but…can you make her cross it?

I’m constantly amazed by the la-la-land approach of self-styled environmentalists.

Step forward Russell McLendon, opining on grandiose-sounding Mother Nature Network about “Why wild animals need wildlife corridors“.

McLendon like countless before him appears to be spending a lot of energy on stuff that looks good without any worry about effectiveness. It’s a lot of grandstanding without a proper concern for nature, as if environmentalists did it to soothe their soul and nothing else.

In this case I remember reading about the shaky scientific basis of these corridors and bridges. In other words…you can lead a bear to a wildlife corridor but…can you make her cross it?

For the record Wikipedia says

The effectiveness of these structures appears to be highly site-specific (due to differences in location, structure, species, habitat, etc..

Maybe our enviro-friends have more up to date information to share. Or maybe McLendon and friends don’t worry about the small detail of considering what the animals really want/need to do.

Climate Chaos at the New York Times

Follow up to my “ANTI-SOON CAMPAIGN GOES SMEARING WHOLE CATEGORIES OF SCIENTISTS” post, I can now show how Somebody at the NYT noticed exactly what I pointed to, and tried to change history but ultimately failed in the process.

Yesterday I had noticed that casual readers would only get the message that a climate researcher was somehow involved with undeclared corporate interests. This is because the online article was titled “Ties to Corporate Cash for Climate-Change Researcher” with no reference to the outside-of-the-consensus position of Willie Soon, who found himself representing literally any climate scientist.

Given what happens with politicians, it would then be expected that the same casual readers would conclude some form of corruption be endemic to climate science. Not exactly the Narrative favored by the New York Times.

Turns out the same online article has since been changed, at least in the title, that now reads “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher“. Apart from the dramatizing use of “Deeper”, the important bit is the addition of “Doubtful” – removing at last the apparent smear against all climate scientists of every opinion.

A last-minute correction following a blog post? It’s not so simple. Here’s the story as I can see it now

1. The original article (“Ties to Corporate Cash for Climate-Change Researcher“) appeared online before 2AM EST Sunday Feb 22, as per Wayback Machine. It was timestamped “3:05PM”, presumably Saturday Feb 21

Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine


2. The same title appeared on the official Facebook NYT pages, timestamped 12:53AM Sunday – AFAIK, that’s GMT, or in other words, 7:53PM Saturday EST


3. Same title got propagated by various news outlets and blogs

Google Search
Google Search
Google News
Google News

4. Then something happened. The printed (US) edition of Sunday showed the new title (“Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher“). I do not know if more than one printing is done on Sundays: assuming it is not, the change was made in a real hurry as one can only presume 2AM is already a little late for the printers

NYT Sunday A1 page

5. Whoever ordered the change, forgot to distribute it in full. So the International New York Times, printed for delivery on Monday, still carried a version of the old title (apologies for the small size of the picture)

International New York Times Feb 23
International New York Times Feb 23

6. Both versions of the article are visible on the International NYT archive – in fact I am not aware of any material change in the text between one title and the other

International New York Times search
International New York Times search

7. Yesterday I then noticed that the original “Ties” version was on the NYT website – another misdistribution of the correction. But by sometimes in the AM GMT, the online title was changed to the new “Deeper” version too.

On past performance, this is yet another heavy handed intervention by Somebody High Above at the NYT to correct a climate article that had gone astray, just as for this 2010 article, dramatically changed between the IHT printed edition and the NYT website.

(yes I have imagery demonstrating the changes)

In that case, the newspaper of record made Judith Curry disappear, to be replaced by a nobody from the UCS with zero climate science background. And Gavin.


Anti-Soon Campaign goes smearing whole categories of scientists

Whatever one thinks of Willie Soon’s stupid idea of concealing corporate funding – and even admitting the story is not yet another Greenpeace half-baked job – for some reason the NYT has titled the article “climate change researcher” (not “skeptic” or “denier” or “contrarian”) in the website and “climate researcher” in the printed international edition.

In the website the link Soon/denial (of risks) is at the 9th line. Not sure how many went that far.

This means that in the eyes of casual viewers (who would have only read the title) the entire category of “climate change researchers” has now suffered ignominy.

Partially-interested viewers (those who only read the title and the end of the article) will be given the impression that science publications don’t work too hard on enforcing their own standards. Once again, a collective smearing job.

Never say a climate change alarmist is any good for science.

Veteran’s Day: Story of Charles (and Anthony and Frank)

Since it’s Veteran’s Day in the USA, I am posting a recap of the story of Charles J Morabito, killed in the proximity of the Berga extermination camp in the last weeks of World War II, and whose temporary resting place appears in a relatively famous picture taken shortly after the war.

“A special area of the Berga cemetery was set aside for the bodies of 22 Americans, some of whom were buried in the same grave without coffins. The helmet of John Simcox displays the insignia of the 28th Division”. Charles’ helmet and cross are to the left. (NARA photo)

Plus I’ll mention brothers Anthony “Tony” F. Morabito and Frank A. Morabito, Purple Heart both of them, killed in action in December 1944 and February 1945 respectively and currently next to each other at the Épinal American Cemetery and Memorial, France.

I feel particularly attached to these stories having researched them for more than four years before being able to collate some information. BTW I have had the privilege to visit Tony and Frank in France and plan to go see Charles as soon as I can arrange a trip to his cemetery in Cuyahoga County, OH.

I will also travel one day to what remains in Berga.

Charles J. Morabito (1924-1945):

  • Born in 1924 (less probably, in 1916 or 1919) in Cuyahoga Falls, OH (Cleveland area)
  • Son of Santo “Sam” Morabito (Feb 16, 1889-Oct 26, 1975) and Mamie Foll (August 17, 1892-April 24, 1975)
  • Charles’ siblings: brother Frank (d. Oct 1969) , Frances Edith (d. 2004), Grace (March 22, 1930-Feb 8, 1931) and Tony Joseph (d. 1991)
  • Completed first year of high school
  • Listed as “semiskilled chauffeurs and drivers, bus, taxi, truck, and tractor” – somebody able to handle a motor vehicle
  • Last address in America: 9022 Kinsman Rd, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
  • Enlisted at Camp Perry Lacarne in Cuyahoga County, OH on March 3, 1943, “for the rest of the war, plus six months” in the U.S. Army, Service #35050065
  • Probably assigned to the XVIII Infantry Division, Regiment 106, 109, 110, 111 or 112
  • Captured by the German army in December 1944 during the “Battle of the Ardenne”
  • Spent a few months in captivity in Bad Orb, near Frankfurt
  • Became prisoner of war #25084 in the enslavement and extermination camp in Berga, Germany around Feb 18, 1945 (less than three months before VE-day)

    Barracks in Berga, where 200 prisoners were cruelly cramped
  • Described by fellow prisoner Joe Mark as “reckless”
  • Escaped in March 1945, probably on the 15th. Was captured while milking a cow not far from the camp, a reckless act indeed but still done after having been starved for weeks (the cow, has it happens, made a noise)
  • Killed by his captors, probably shot on the spot with wooden bullets
  • After many vicissitudes, the survivors of Berga were freed on April 18 (or 23), 1945. Histomil has more details. There are also a NatGeo video and pictures.
  • Charles’ tomb in Berga (where the body was transferred after the camp was liberated) was photographed by NARA (see photo at the top of this post). In 2006, by pure chance that same picture got printed on the pages of the International Herald Tribune and that’s where I noticed it, kicking off all the search to collect this information
  • The body was returned to the U.S. around 1948
  • Charles’ funeral with family and friends was held Dec 14, 1948 at St. Anthony-St.Bridget Church (appropriately serving at the time also the Italian community from Cleveland’s Haymarket area

    Two views of the Church were Charles’ funeral was held
  • Chales was finally buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cuyahoga County 
  • He is there now with his mother and father. The following pictures were kindly taken for me by volunteers of the Find A Grave project:

Some details about the rest of the family (the whole Cuyahoga area in Ohio is full of people with surname “Morabito”):

  • Sister Frances married Anthony Giancola (d. 1990)
  • Brother Tony lived probably in 4538 Hunting Valley Lane, Brecksville, OH 44141 with his wife, J.A.
  • Descendants of Charles’ siblings: Anthony, Frances, Tina. Maybe Lisa A Morabito, daughter of Tony.
  • Probable relatives: Sebastiano and Carmela Morabito Prefiero, whose son Giuseppe was born Dec 7, 1908 and died Apr 12, 1912; and Giovanni (John) Morabito and Concetta A. Conti

And this is what I know of New-York-State born Anthony “Tony” F. Morabito (1921-Dec 4, 1944) and Frank A. Morabito (1920-Feb 20, 1945), both killed in action and thankfully resting next to each other:

  • Sons of Frank Anthony Morabito and Maria Nicola Salvatore.
  • Last US address: 161 West Avenue, Spencerport, Monroe County, NY
  • Tony enlisted on May 22, 1944 at Fort Dix, NJ. Service #42142051 in the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army
  • Frank enlisted on April 14, 1944 at Fort Dix, NJ. Service #56374374 in the 274th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division, U.S. Army
  • Both ranked Private First Class, noted as mechanics, single, without dependents.
  • Tony and Frank “died of wounds” during action in Germany and France respectively, only 11 weeks apart
  • They had at lest two brothers: Arthur Carmelo Morabito, veteran of WW II, Korea and Vietnam, retired a Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force; and Joseph Bruno Morabito, veteran of WW II as a Tech. 5, 154th engineers and awarded four battle stars having seen combat in Peilelu, Saipan Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima.
  • This means their family might have had four siblings fighting in WWII at the same time 
  • Tony and Frank are buried next to each other in Épinal American Cemetery and Memorial, Vosges, Lorraine Region, France respectively in Plot A Row 36 Grave 51 and Plot A Row 36 Grave 50

Savant Idiots

There was a commenter at a blog I shall not mention who simply could not get anything I mentioned. Anything at all.

There was the blog owner at another unmentioned site who simply could not see anything wrong in people describing a prominent climate skeptic’s work as non accidentally cherry picked bad statistics [that] generated misleading graphs – all in the comments section of a blog post allegedly questioning where the dividing line stands between scientific criticism and libel (on the back of Mann’s latest juridical foray).

There was the anti-GMOer who turned pro-GMO for reasons that virtually coincide with all that’s good in climate skepticism, and still refused to abandon the “planet is doomed, skeptics are evil” party line. And he was not alone.

There was the superstar multimedia physicist who simply could not make any reasonable point about climate change, and wrote what was probably the longest badly thought-out column in the history of the Multiverse. And he was not alone.

There was the accidental Nobel Prize winner who wrote column after column about how fearful climate change is, and how wrong it is to live in fear. Sadly, those points never appeared in the same column.

There was the famous environmentalist who took a February flower for the end of the world, in the first recognized case of weather-related anthophobia.

There was the climate scientist who became the best thing that ever happened to climate skeptics, and would not have been able to win a debate against a primary-school Year-1 distracted opponent.

There were countless climate scientists who were so specialized in their own little field, they started reading and linking to the almighty pile of scientifically sounding garbage written by a cartoonist and the climate blogger with the biggest conflict of interest imaginable, a site where no research was safe from manipulation.

When climate alarmism is around, rooms really look clever.

Curious Continents (Geography has still a lot to discover)

A recent tweet has inspired some curious fact-finding.

It shows that there is little dry land on Earth where the antipodes are dry land as well, instead of just ocean. This can be explained at least partially by there being only 29.2% of land.

In theory then, every piece of land has only 29.2% chance of being a place where “if you drill through the globe, you’ll hit land on the other side” (as written by a commenter on Twitter to describe the situation very briefly). However, since the land is concentrated in huge continents the actual number is likely smaller.

For example Africa covers 20.3% of the Earth’s land, i.e. 5.9% of the total surface. The simplified chance of finding land on the other side of Africa is therefore (remaining land)/(ocean surface+remaining land), i.e. (29.2-5.9)/((100-29.2)+(29.2-5.9))=22% (this is because Africa cannot be at its own antipodes).

End of story? Not quite. A comprehensive look at the situation reveals it as full of tantalizingly curious details.

The world and its antipodes

The picture above (click to enlarge -hope it’s clear enough even if a bit rough!) uses transparency to show what’s on the other side of the world (original Mercator projection by Google Maps -used here as I’m interested in directions – the map by Amazing Maps uses the Peters projection instead).

Among the amazing peculiarities:

  1. Australia seems cut out of the lower North Atlantic ocean. Its coastline follows the contours of the eastern US coast, then the coasts of Venezuela, the Guyanas and Brazil, and even partially the western coast of Africa
  2. Likewise North America has the perfect shape to fit in the Indian Ocean, roughly following the south-eastern coast of Africa and then curving as if to “avoid” Australia
  3. The northern coasts of Russia and Alaska eerily follow (on the other side of the world) the same path as much of the coast of Antarctica: what is land to the north is ocean in the south, and vice-versa
  4. The antipodes of Africa and of most of the Eurasian continent sit comfortably in the Pacific ocean. Europe manages to just touch New Zealand, and only partially so (mostly, this concerns the volcanic northern island of NZ)
  5. The entire path of India’s migration from Madagascar to the Himalayas is antipodal to and follows the contour of the ocean to the west of Mexico
  6. The odd ones out are (a) the area of Chile and Argentina, corresponding to central China and eastern Mongolia; (b) the Antarctic Peninsula, just to the south of Chile and Argentina and jutting towards them and (c) Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago
  7. Note also that almost exactly on the other side of the narrow strip of land known as Central America, there is the elongated archipelago known as Malaysia and Indonesia.

If confirmed with a more accurate map, my impression would be that there is a hitherto-hidden physical law at play here. It seems that continents cannot simply hang about at random locations, and their place in the Big Schema of the Planet depends on something that has been overlooked until now.

For example, consider that Pangea was constituted 300 million years ago and began to break up 200 million years ago. Now, if we reduced 100 million years to just one year, Earth would be spinning at more than 1,000 revolutions a second. From the point of view of a continent, our planet is like a centrifuge. This has to have its consequences.


The Climate Elusion

Some early morning realization here…

What Steven Goddard, suyts, WUWT, the Bish, McI and many others are writing about (and myself at times during the years) is not so much what climate science should be and actually isn’t. Climate science is obviously being done somewhere else. You need time, money, political support, access to mainstream media, and much more, in order to do public health policy-affecting climate science.

They/we are describing the elusion that has taken over much of what passes as climate science.

It was surface temps before it was heat hiding in the deep oceans. It was decreasing snow before it was increasing snow. It was ice extent before it was ice volume. Etc etc. Whatever happens, there is always a new story devised/concocted to “explain” that whatever is happening is wholly compatible with AGW and especially with the “it’s worse than we thought” meme.

And sadly that’s all true. Whatever happens _is_ wholly compatible with AGW. We all know that there is no possible observation that would disprove the idea that the climate is changing for the worse (if anybody knows of of any, please do tell). This has made the whole enterprise extremely foggy, and constantly bordering between science and faith.

We have no way to tell what is scientifically plausible to think about future climates.

Hole in the Fog: an extraordinary visualization of UHI

Says Wikipedia

An urban heat island (UHI) is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The phenomenon was first investigated and described by Luke Howard in the 1810s, although he was not the one to name the phenomenon. The temperature difference usually is larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter.

Does UHI have a large role to play in global warming? Maybe. Maybe not. But it surely has a very visible impact in the Po Valley in Italy.

This is a Eumetsat picture from sometimes on Dec 8, 2013. Can you spot where the city of Milan is?

Po Valley, Italy, Dec 8 2013

Of course you can. It’s the hole in the fog. With just 8 million people and a GDP of $150 billion (not far from New Zealand’s) Milan wouldn’t affect its weather, would it? /sarc

As a rough guide to the areas involved, Milan covers 70 sq mi, and the fog on that day around half of the Po Valley‘s 17,760 sq mi (4 parts in 1000).

(H/T Meteogiornale where the original news appears)

What They Were Looking At…

(original idea by a fan of George Takei’s)

What They Were Looking At

Guardian’s Nuccitelli linked to leading alternative energy company

Remember when rabid arch-warmist Dana Nuccitelli of Skeptical Science and Guardian fame was discovered to be in the pay of an “oil and gas” company (Tetra Tech) (aka Dana’s Dirty Little Secret) and thus probably the worst person to pontificate about eg how bad coal and tar sands could be for the world’s climate?

It actually gets worse.

It turns out that Tetra Tech has a subsidiary company called Tetra Tech Construction, Inc. And what do they do? For example, they do “energy” (of the ALTERNATIVE variety that is):

Tetra Tech Construction expertise in the alternative energy field allows us to support and deliver energy-related projects using engineer-procure-construct (EPC), design-build and/or bid-build models. We provide design and construction services for wind, solar, hydroelectric, cogeneration, geothermal, natural gas drilling and extraction, combined-cycle, waste-to-energy, and electric transmission projects. […]

Surprise, surprise, they are also big in…”wind energy“:

Tetra Tech Construction brings our expertise to support and deliver energy related projects using engineer-procure-construct (EPC), design-build, bid-build models. We provide design and construction services for solar, hydroelectric, cogeneration, geothermal, natural gas drilling and extraction, combined-cycle, waste-to-energy, and electric transmission.

[…] We have completed construction services to clients on 19 wind construction projects in the past two years valued at more than $340 million. These projects supported nearly 1,700 MW of power, over 1,000 foundations, and over 600 turbines installed in states from New York, Alaska, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Texas, Idaho, to Oregon. In fact, the Tetra Tech family of companies has experience on more than 250 wind projects in 34 states and Canada, totaling more than 20,000 MW of wind power generation. Our experience in the construction of wind facilities provides a more practical understanding of front-end activities, including environmental compliance and engineering, thus providing a more complete perspective for achieving project goals.

Wind power is so important for Tetra Tech Construction, it takes special pride of place in their Projects portfolio map:

Tetra Tech Construction, Inc.
Tetra Tech Construction, Inc.

It also means Tetra Tech Construction is in trouble if wind power subsidies disappear, as mentioned in a newspaper article published just two days ago. In what has to be a fantastic coincidence, Tetra Tech is juxtaposed to “interests” linked to “fossil fuels” and the “XL pipeline”:

Renewal of the wind tax credit, which can provide up to $1 million to developers of a large turbine, is a politically contentious issue. In addition to tea party congressional Republicans, opposition to continuing the wind credit comes from the American Energy Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group linked to petrochemical interests that promote expanded drilling for fossil fuels, including in the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and approval of the proposed XL pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Texas and the Gulf Coast.

“This lack of certainty over the wind credit creates a boom and bust cycle, which is really detrimental to wind project developers,” said Valerie Strauss, executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, an Albany-based lobbying group for alternative energy companies.

One such local business is Gloversville-based Tetra Tech Construction. Its website says it has built 21 wind projects in the U.S. It is currently involved in building the Orangeville wind farm outside of Buffalo, owned by Chicago-based Invenergy, and the only wind farm project under construction this year.

A Tetra Tech official declined comment, referring questions to a corporate office; phone calls to that office were not returned.

The article continues revealing another fantastic coincidence: Tetra Tech’s fortunes go down with the expansion of fracking.

Wind energy plans have been shrinking in the state, as the industry faces a glut of cheap natural gas from hydrofracking, uncertainty over federal support and dwindling financing. The amount of wind power expected to one day plug into the state’s electrical grid has fallen by more than two-thirds since 2009 as developers shelve projects.

I think that’s digging enough. Dana Nuccitelli, rather understatemently described by a reticent Guardian as “blogger on […] environmental scientist and risk assessor, and also [contributor to]” has for all intents and purposes an undeclared conflict of interest the size of a planet.

I’ll let readers decide how much such an individual can be trusted with speaking anything near the bare, honest, transparent scientific truth in anything climate change, global warming or even energy in general.

Disclaimer: I never blog or tweet or write on facebook about my day job exactly to avoid any conflict of interest. Because if you write positively about the company you work for, everybody will be entitled to believe you’re brown-nosing or worse. And if you write negatively, you’re immediately out of a job.

Wet Pet Wisdom

Random thoughts inspired by the wettest nighttime walk ever…

  • There is only one enemy to worry about in the world and it’s other people but
  • Inclement skies and falling temperatures make for safer streets
  • Before adopting a dog, get hold of a volunteer who’ll walk that same dog whatever the weather
  • You realize you had it with the stormy deluge when the dream becomes having the same clothes as those guys in “Deadliest Catch”

and finally

  • Nothing like a windswept torrentially rainy English October night makes you understand how much you really really love that dog

When Dilbert channeled a hairy Mann

Incredibly or maybe not, the media collapse of AR5 is being responded by the usual Great Communicators meeting the usual Great Communicators, trying to figure out who is so evil as to prevent them from greatly communicating (when, in fact, it’s obviously their dumb selves).

Soul-searching what are you.

With climate change “science” reduced to a marketing exercise by marketing amateurs, it’s time to remember two Dilbert strips from exactly three years ago.

Marketing isn't a real thing, is it?
Marketing isn’t a real thing, is it? (Oct 1, 2010)
Baby-eating hobos (Oct 2, 2010)
Baby-eating hobos (Oct 2, 2010)

Replace “baby-eating hobos” with “deniers”. There is obviously something about the goatee.


Calvin and Hobbes explain…the IPCC

Dramatic foretelling by Bill Watterson of why the IPCC has become such a risible failure. It also explains why so many unknowledgeable people are so enthusiastic about the work of “scientists” when it suits their pet causes:

Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes

(original run: Sep 21, 1993 – above taken from a recent copy of the IHT)

Calvin (looking at a book):

The more you know the harder it is to take decisive action. Once you become informed, you start seeing complexities and shades of gray. You realize that nothing is as clear and simple as it first appears. Ultimately, knowledge is paralyzing.

Calvin (throwing the book away):

Being a man of action, I can’t afford to take that risk.


You’re ignorant, but at least you act on it.

Top 11 reasons to be cheerful about the Costa Concordia salvage operation

Yes! There’s some silver lining in watching the initial stages of the giant Costa Concordia salvage operation…

11. Expect a vast increase in tourism as treasure hunters will flock to the area when the ship’s gone

10. Everybody knows now about Giglio island

9. The sea looked spectacularly beautiful on TV, metal parts aside

8. Plenty of thriving sea life attached itself to a million different artificial reefs for a year

7. It’s a marvel of Italian engineering (in the field of marine rescue). Navigation skills might need a review.

6. Everybody knows their way around the Costa upper-deck leisure bits (useful if they have the temerity of trying themselves)

5. Something meaningful at last, in the 24h news cycle

4. At least it wasn’t Titanic-size

3. Dismantling to come – you will soon be able to get your own Costa Concordia original plastic seat on eBay

2. Stuff under the mud will still turn up in 2,000 years’ time telling people then the way we were now (due to series of misunderstandings, statues will be erected and babies named after hero Capt. Schettino)

And the top reason is…

1. Widespread discovery there’s more to life than Candy Crush

National Geographic Sep 2013 – what kind of house would want it in?

John M. Fahey, Jr.
President and CEO
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4688

London, Sep 10, 2013

Dear Mr Fahey

As an expiring subscriber let me convey the profound dismay in regards to the inane publication you have the opportunity to direct. With a little thank you though, for some aspects of the September 2013 “rising seas” issue are unlikely what you expected them to be.

After decades of uninterrupted reading I gave up a few months ago, having seen the Magazine slide (fall) from its geography mission to open, fear-based “environmental” advocacy (with a lowercase “e”). It seemed and still seems there is no low you would avoid to reach in order to describe the planet or mostly cute species as either ultimately doomed or irremediably ruined: by evil humans, obviously, including one suspects all of your readers.

I stopped reading the magazine with my son, as there was simply too much to skip over what looked liked unwarranted alarmism. Who in their right mind would want to teach their children how intrinsically ‘evil’ they have been found to be (on a scientific basis!!) just because they are humans.

I was actually ready to send you back the September 2013 “rising sea” issue because, as they say, enough is sometimes enough.

An inundated New York City with a half-submerged Statue of Liberty did look more than enough. Is that something likely to happen? When? Did I really want my son to consider the possibility that our very civilization were going to cause such a major disaster by burning fossil fuels (by living, that is)? And didn’t such a picture look exactly what British leftist think-tank IPPR described in 2006 as “Climate (insert a four-letter word starting with P and ending in ORN here)”, the gratuitous depiction of apocalyptic climate-change related visions of the future? A depiction that titillates the worst parts of the readers, increases circulation and ultimately convinces people there is nothing one could possibly do to care for the environment.

In summary: had the National Geographic gone either completely insane or dishonest?

Then I looked at the front-cover a little better. And it actually said “NO ICE”. It’s almost invisible, but it’s there under the large-font cover title. So the Statue of Liberty would be half-submerged if there were no ice at all on the planet? Interesting. But not alarming at all, in fact: because suddenly it was not a matter of dishonesty; rather, as I said, of inanity.

Say, how long before there is no ice in the world? The inside pages tell us. It’s 5,000 years. Let’s just imagine we can make such a prediction for sure. 5,000 years, that is the seventy-first century. How’s that supposed to be today’s problem? Who would be silly enough to even remotely consider what the issues of the year 7000 will be?

Imagine people of 5,000 years ago, thinking about the internet and globalization? Me neither. Most of them had seen no agriculture yet, there was the third Pharaoh ever, and the first version of Troy was getting founded (source: Wikipedia). Them for us and us for them, we might as well be talking about alien worlds.

Perhaps rising seas will affect the 60th century? Or the 50th? Or even the 30th? Once again, imagine people of the year 1013AD, what could have they remotely done to understand/help us of 2013AD? Stop burning wood? Bury horse waste at sea? Repent for their sins? Obviously, it would all have been pointless. They had no idea about polluted rivers, nuclear waste storage, abandoned plastics. Come to think, even the people of 1973 would have only a rough idea about the issues of 2013, apart from a troublesome Middle East.

So the underlying message of your submerged Statue of Liberty is, in fact, a mix of “don’t care too much about it” and “someone else’s problem”. Well, what can I say, thanks! That’s a good message for the children, at last: “stop fearing the future”. Should be told to them as matter of course, no? Even if, I surmise, it’s not the message you wanted to convey, as it went from insane, to inane.

With that in mind I can now sit and enjoy in peace one of my last National Geographic issues. Look, there is even a map of the world as it would be were there no ice. And it’s an amazingly small area of some continents’ coasts that would disappear (that is, become bountiful, shallow seas). Poor Africa for once will be spared. Oh the boredom of it. Get those flying cars of the 55th century to move a little inland, will you.

Do we need to endanger the well-being of seven billion humans for that? Do we need to spread psychological terror among children with scary stories presented as established facts?

Those people of the 71st century better get used to their world, whatever it is. Just like the people of 3000BC. Is there any other way? Let’s do likewise. It’s called Geography. Not that it appears much anymore in “National Geographic”, alas!

Perhaps one day you will stop wasting time in planetary smut…do let me know if that happens, I’ll resubscribe at once!

(signed, with address)

Man-made warming hits Lake Baikal

by way of wheels, and ice skates

More amazing pictures at (scroll to the bottom of the page)

Obama’s Climate Déjà Vu

Transcript of President Obama’s Inaugural Address (Jan 20, 2009):

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood […] each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

Transcript of President Obama’s Inagural Address (Jan 21, 2013):

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Note how climate change with Obama keeps leading to energy, as always.

Editorial, The New York Times, “New Day on Climate Change”, Jan 26, 2009:

In one dramatic stroke, President Obama has removed any doubts that he intends to break sharply from President George W. Bush’s policies on yet another vital issue — this time repudiating Mr. Bush’s passive approach to climate change.[…] after eight years of inaction, this is a wonderful start.

Michael D. Shear, The New York Times in “Obama Sets Goal to Broaden Equality”, Jan 21, 2013:

The president also singled out the issue of climate change, a subject that he raised in his first Inaugural Address but has struggled to make progress on in the face of fierce opposition in Congress and in countries around the world. In his 2009 speech, he warned about environmental threats to the planet; on Monday, he vowed to confront them.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

Mr. Obama left the details of his second-term agenda for his State of the Union speech in three weeks. But he hinted at the two major legislative battles that he has promised to wage: reform of the immigration system and new laws intended to reduce gun violence.

Note how climate doesn’t make it into the “two major legislative battles” ahead.


Four years ago, I surely thought AGW would

slowly wither away, ironically under an AGWer President just as it kept on growing during the 8 years of an anti-AGW White House Resident

In truth, it disappeared completely from the Presidential campaign. Is AGW coming back now? Or are these renewed empty promises a surefire sign the President doesn’t have much of positive he himself believes in his grasp?

Laden’s stumbling around his own fabrication

There are so many people commenting at WUWT, I seldom if ever write anything here about it.

After all this is a blog for turning otherwise-unturned stones so little appears that has been already dealt by others.

However, my fifteen readers know I cannot tolerate bullying. And in the case of Laden’s filthy anti-WUWT post, echoed in other places such as unwittingly-self-proclaimed climate loser Romm, it’s been a clear case of bullying.

All details of the story here and here. Basically Laden has tried to manipulate his readership by showing a screenshot of the WUWT site cut exactly in the only way that could put the site, and Anthony Watts, in a bad light.

Laden has retorted to the obvious by puerile statements such as

[Watts] is upset because in a screen shot of him talking about a totally absurd pseudo-scientific claim that should have been rejected out of hand, I failed to include enough of the post to show that he was skeptical about the claim […]

I did not need to show that Anthony Watts was skeptical because that wasn’t the point. The point was that it was funny that he was looking at this claim at all. But, fine, if he really needs me to include the snippet where he expresses his laughable skepticism, I can do that. Here, Watts says.

This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up.

… thus indicating skepticism. I’m sorry I did not include that sentence in the … wait, wait, hold on a sec. Hey, I DID include that phase about “if it holds up” in the original post? But Watts is saying that I did not include any of his skeptical language.

However, Laden being disingenuous, a liar or a stupid ignoramus is demonstrated by a simple observation.

The expression “if it holds up” doesn’t indicate skepticism. Nobody who reports astrology, homeopathy or UFO sightings indicates skepticism by saying “if it holds up“.

OTOH everybody who has learned skepticism from the likes of Randi, Shermer, Sagan (and Plait) knows that skepticism means saying “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” or an equivalent statement.

That is exactly what appears in WUWT a single line below the curiously cut screenshot by Laden.

I [Watts] would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

IOW as Laden must have known (unless he truly knows nothing of Randi, Sagan and the others), inclusion of a few inches more would have invalidated his argument completely.

I rest my case.

ps to the enlightened souls proclaiming that the “Meteorite with life” story should not have been published in the first place, see how it has been picked up by MSN. You can also check at the BA blog that the story reached Plait presumably independently from WUWT.

pps IMNSHO the “Meteorite with life” story is complete bunk and the only sin committed by Watts (and Willis Eschenbach) has been their unfamiliarity with Fred Hoyle student N. C. Wickramasinghe. His name is well-known among astronomy buffs and not as a source of likely-true findings.

UPDATE ppps Wickramasinghe’s dreams picked up also by The Huffington Post (look down and hard before Plait and any skepticism show up in that article).

Scientific guide on how to scientifically mention the scientific pause^Hstandstill in global temperatures

Have global temperatures paused in their warming rise? Nonsense, according to SkS. Are we experiencing a standstill in global temperatures in their warming rise? Yes, according to Hansen et al. Have global temperatures continued to increase in their warming rise? No, according to a PR guy meddling with statistics.

So who’s right, and who’s wrong? Well, it depends the on context.

Temps at standstill, and global warming stopped” = WRONG

Temps at standstill, but global warming will resume later” = RIGHT

In fact, you can say pretty much anything and, as long as you add the mandatory “, but global warming will resume later“, the biggest scientific institutions in the world will support you wholeheartedly, maybe Bob Ward too.

Let’s give it a try..

“Polar bears are ok, but global warming will resume later

“Arctic won’t be free of ice any time soon, but global warming will resume later

“A lot of model-based literature is rubbish, but global warming will resume later

“West Ham playing superbly, but global warming will resume later

“Elvis is alive, but global warming will resume later

“Porcine and bovine flight sightings, but global warming will resume later

See? It’s easy, and it gets you a free ride indeed. Citizen science at its best!

Votare PDL Perché: l’Argumentum ad Excludenda

Votare PDL perché? Eppure non è molto difficile.

In due parole, perché non ha senso votare chi non vuole il tuo voto.

Quali sono le alternative disponibili:

  • Non voto: questo è un modo di dire che non importa chi vinca. Quindi, è un voto per chi vince. E non parliamo per favore della bislacca idea della “Dichiarazione del Non Voto“. Scelta illogica.
  • Grillo e Cinque Stelle: seguaci delle idee strampalate di Casaleggio. Andranno in Parlamento determinati a non fare accordi con nessuno, e quindi costretti a stare zitti. Chiusi al mondo esterno, si ritengono settariamente superiori. Impossibili da votare per chi è stato nel PDL.
  • Ingroia: un gruppo di ex-Giudici così interessati alla legalità e alla Costituzione da non pensarci due volte a trasferirsi dalle aule processuali al dibattito televisivo. Determinati a portare avanti le loro battaglie in altro consesso. Ciechi e sordi ai problemi della Giustizia al di là di quelli di categoria. Impossibili da votare per chi è stato nel PDL.
  • Bersani e il PD: reduci cattocomunisdemocratdisinistadessosolodemocratici che hanno cestinato l’idea di Renzi di aprire al voto già PDL, voto che quindi NON vogliono. Basterebbe questo a renderli impossibili da votare per chi è stato nel PDL. Poi aggiungiamo la patrimoniale e la morte collettiva per tasse, e stiamo a posto.
  • Monti: dopo aver tenuto l’indice di produzione industriale in un trend negativo per quindici-mesi-quindici, alleato a Casini e Fini. Descrive gli elettori PDL come topi. Davvero e assolutamente impossibile da votare per chi è stato nel PDL.
  • Giannino e FARE: conosce tutte le soluzioni e le applicherebbe anche, ma passa il suo tempo a spiegare a tutti perché non sia d’accordo con ciascuno dei tutti. Spreca inutilmente energie per unirsi all’antiberlusconismo. Magari un’altra volta: impossibile da votare per chi è stato nel PDL.

Silvio B avrà i suoi difetti, ma le elezioni non sono mai un concorso per scoprire la persona più adatta a governare fra tutti i cittadini della nazione. Sono un modo per scegliere il meglio che c’è.

Al cospetto dei concorrenti, e indipendentemente dal suo programma elettorale, Berlusconi rimane l’unica scelta.

The only thing to worry about is worry itself (and densely networked self-selecting intellectuals…)

or so tweeted on Jan 14 Mark Lynas of various fame including a Six Degrees” book I analyzed numerically a few years back, and recent GMO repentance.

One should be forgiven for finding the juxtaposition peculiar to say the least. Shouldn’t Mark be wary of scares, having just discovered years of activism were not based on science?

Or perhaps he belongs to the category of people that really need to find a worry to be scared about, if only to be activists about something. I suggested

It is actually the right time for making such a guess. has chosen angst for its 2013 theme


(Twitter hashtag: #edgeq13)

There are 152 contributions at that site, too many to mention and probably too many to make a wager about too. Here’s an initial list:

  • Chinese eugenics
  • Black swans
  • Ingenuous viruses
  • Rejection of Darwinism applied to humans
  • Misplaced worries
  • Catastrophic risks
  • Misinformation about science
  • Planetary catastrophes
  • Collective delusions
  • Internet drivel
  • Abandoning politics
  • Debt implosion
  • Search engines as arbiters of truth
  • Shortage of valuable mates
  • Tech fascism
  • Censorship
  • Data-controlling power
  • Loss of patience
  • Underpopulation
  • End of big experiments
  • Tools too strong for our own good
  • Infectious diseases
  • Search for ecstatic experiences
  • Pessimism that makes us accept human destruction as inevitable
  • Cultural homogenisation
  • Misunderstanding free will
  • Prolonged lifespans
  • Limits in science
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Criminal-controlled states
  • Misunderstanding of probability
  • Missing out on non-human sentience
  • Myths about men
  • Science by social media
  • Public lying and cheating
  • The Singularity
  • Nuclear war
  • Squandered opportunities
  • Wrong incentives
  • Misunderstanding of quantum mechanics
  • Enforced global psychiatric standards
  • Too much focus on novel findings in science

On the positive side, it’s not just a collection of miserabilism. I particularly liked this one:

Unfriendly Physics, Monsters From The Id, And Self-Organizing Collective Delusions
John Tooby
Founder of field of Evolutionary Psychology; Co-director, Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara

[…]Because intellectuals are densely networked in self-selecting groups whose members’ prestige is linked (for example, in disciplines, departments, theoretical schools, universities, foundations, media, political/moral movements, and other guilds), we incubate endless, self-serving elite superstitions, with baleful effects: Biofuel initiatives starve millions of the planet’s poorest. Economies around the world still apply epically costly Keynesian remedies despite the decisive falsification of Keynesian theory by the post-war boom (government spending was cut by 2/3, 10 million veterans dumped into the labor force, while Samuelson predicted “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced”). I personally have been astonished over the last four decades by the fierce resistance of the social sciences to abandoning the blank slate model in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is false. As Feynman pithily put it, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” […]


Insanity at the IPCC

A comment by geoffchambers left at the Bishop Hill blog post about Donna Laframboise’s latest IPCC exposé:

A quick look, more or less at random, at “WG2 chapter 10.2.1. Energy Demand” suggests to me that the whole IPCC process is insane, and that anyone taking it seriously is […].

Take the introductory paragraph:

The general patterns are that in countries and regions with already high incomes, climate-related changes in energy demand will be primarily driven by increasing temperatures: heavier use of air-conditioning (hence increasing electricity demand) in warm climatic zones, and lower demands for various energy forms (electricity, gas, coal, oil) in temperate and cold climatic zones, while increasing incomes will play a marginal role.

Take a random ten year period in the future for a random country or region, and think about it. Average income will probably increase by anywhere between 0 and 100%. Gas and oil prices may go up 100% or down 50%. Add in political change, technical change, population growth somwhere between -5% and +20%, and anything else you can think of. Then try to estimate what effect a rise in temperature of one fifth of one degree will have on the use of air conditioners.

It’s insane. And the same insanity is repeated page after page for three thousand pages every five years.

Something happened on the way to Climate Change heaven…

What if (C)AGW is a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing? So they were asking at COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009.

What indeed. But it’s not 2009 any longer. What have we learned?

  1. Enthusiasm for green projects has already damaged the environment eg by producing biofuels from forests and especially rainforest
  2. The Mohammed al-Ajami story has shown that human rights are too easily trumped by green considerations
  3. Green thinking has let dubious claims pollute the scientific discourse, or even kill it
  4. The BBC has lost its face and a lot of money for nothing at all in 28Gate
  5. There is lots of aimless activity on the CO2 emission side
  6. Plenty of bankruptcies and broken green promises in the fields of energy generation and cars

The list could continue for ever and ever. What if there is a Brave New Climate World in front of us instead?

Meet the COP in COP18 – A Secret Policeman (yes, it’s another disaster for environmental journalism)

How apt to learn that as COP18 struts along in Doha, Qatar towards the first ever protesting demonstration in the country (organized, as it happens, by the local Government), a poet is jailed for eternity or a little less….in Doha, Qatar. And after a secret trial where he could not defend himself.

Nevermind…when there is a planet to save who cares about a jasmine?

Perhaps Mohammed Al-Ajami can spend his newly-found free time writing an eulogy of Greenpeace, thereby earning a get-out-of-jail card.

In the meanwhile notice how Reuters talks about the imprisonment but does not mention at all the fact that 17,000 people are in Qatar at this very moment. The BBC fares better this time around but remarkably only speaks of “a major international climate change conference” thereby making sure nobody will find the inconvenient news when searching for “COP18” (or even “global warming”). And The Guardian with Amy Goodman takes no notice at all of any poet.

Ms Goodman has reportedly been seen “contemplating”.

Myself, I have learned this only from an Italian climate-related mailing list, posted by FS on the back of an article published in the website of a solidly-warmist newspaper (check it out in original or with Google Translate, and you will find COP18 well mentioned indeed).

I guess at least in Italy, human rights still take precedence over climate change hype.


CAGW Science – or what if Velikovsky had won

The LRB recently dedicated some thoughts to the Science/Pseudoscience battle at the times of Immanuel Velikovsky. It’s especially interesting considering what has happened since, with catastrophism ruling for years in matters of climate science.

The review (by Steven Shapin) is available for free and in full at the LRB website.

It really reads like a slightly modified version of contemporary CAGW, starting from its enormous, mysterious popularity, inclusive of some cult-like admiration for The Man:

[…] By the late 1960s and 1970s, Velikovsky’s books must have been in most American college dorm rooms. […] Velikovskianism had gained so much traction in America that in 1974 there was a huge set-piece debate over his views at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His scientific opponents reckoned he was ‘quite out of his tree’, while some of his acolytes – and these included an assortment of scientists with appropriate credentials – were of the opinion that Velikovsky was ‘perhaps the greatest brain that our race has produced’.

There was also something akin to the invention of the Hockey Stick accompanied by the deletion of the Medieval Warming Period:

Although Worlds in Collision was a pastiche of comparative mythology and planetary astronomy, its major purpose was a radical reconstruction of history.

Mainstream science of course was not on Velikovsky’s side. Still, the behavior of the “community” won’t surprise anybody familiar with Climategate:

Elite scientists, notably at Harvard, reckoned that they might be able to control what Macmillan published when it was represented as science. A letter-writing campaign was organised to get Macmillan to withdraw from its agreement to publish the book; credible threats were made to boycott Macmillan textbooks; hostile reviews were arranged; questions were raised about whether the book had been peer-reviewed (it had); and, when Worlds in Collision was published anyway, further (successful) pressure was exerted to make Macmillan wash its hands of the thing and shift copyright to another publisher. The editor who had handled the book was let go, and a scientist who provided a blurb and planned a New York planetarium show based on Velikovsky’s theories – admittedly not the sharpest knife in the scientific drawer – was forced out of his museum position and never had a scientific job again.

Just like with Climategate, none of that made the “elite scientists” look any good:

From an uncharitable point of view, this looked like a conspiracy, a conspiracy contrived by dark forces bent on the suppression of free thought and different perspectives – and the Velikovskians took just that view. […] ‘Perhaps in the entire history of science,’ Velikovsky said, ‘there was not a case of a similar violent reaction on the part of the scientific world towards a published work.’ Newsweek wrote about the spectacle of scientific ‘Professors as Suppressors’ and the Saturday Evening Post made sport of the establishment reaction as ‘one of the signal events of this year’s “silly season”’. […]

Einstein, in whose Princeton house Velikovsky was a frequent visitor, was one of them. Interviewed just before his death by the Harvard historian of science I.B. Cohen, Einstein said that Worlds in Collision ‘really isn’t a bad book. The only trouble with it is, it is crazy.’ Yet he thought, as Cohen put it, that ‘bringing pressure to bear on a publisher to suppress a book was an evil thing to do.’

So why would the scientists be doing evil things?

It was American scientists who went ballistic over Velikovsky, not historians, and one purpose of Michael Gordin’s probing and intelligent The Pseudoscience Wars is to ask why they responded to Velikovsky as they did. […] Scientists in the years after World War Two were upset by Velikovsky because, Gordin argues, they felt insecure, uncertain of the new authority and influence they had apparently gained by building the bomb and winning the war. […]

First, there was concern that political support might translate into political control. […] And there were the McCarthyite witch-hunts, some of which targeted distinguished scientists. How much autonomy did American scientists actually have? How vulnerable was that autonomy to the dictates of politicians and to the delusions of popular culture? No one could be sure.[…]

We know that the climate answer to that has been a full cooperation between some politicians and some scientists, mutually supporting each other.

In another analogy with the present, the pseudoscience side went for self-fulfilling diagnoses of mental illness among opponents:

The greatest ingenuity of Velikovsky’s thought lay in its merging of naturalistic catastrophism and psychoanalytic theory. […] what was the violence of scientists’ opposition to Velikovsky’s ideas but a persistence of that same tendency to deny the catastrophic truth of what had happened to the human race, how very close it had come to obliteration? The fact that the scientists were leagued against him was precisely what Velikovsky’s theories predicted. It was further evidence that he was right. What the scientists needed, indeed what the culture as a whole needed, was therapy, a cure for collective amnesia.

Shapin turns the table around, and embarks in a good explanation on why so many people are attracted to catastrophism, an explanation that applies to Velikovsky fans like to Gore supporters:

Here are the reasons for the enormous appeal of Velikovsky’s theories to Cold War America, and, specifically, to the young, the angry and the anxious. Lecturing to campus audiences, Velikovsky told the students what they already knew: the world was not an orderly or a safe place; Armageddon had happened and could happen again:

  • The belief that we are living in an orderly universe, that nothing happened to this Earth and the other planets since the beginning, that nothing will happen till the end, is a wishful thinking that fills the textbooks … And so it is only wishful thinking that we are living in a safe, never perturbed, solar system and a safe, never perturbed past.

Alfred Kazin, writing in the New Yorker, understood that this was part of Velikovsky’s appeal, and tellingly linked the great pseudoscientist with the Doomsday warnings of orthodox atomic scientists: Velikovsky’s work ‘plays right into the small talk about universal destruction that is all around us now’, he said, ‘and it emphasises the growing tendency in this country to believe that the physicists’ irresponsible scare warnings must be sound.’

The review ends with a brief discussion on how to evaluate what is scientific knowledge (with Shapin strangely unfamiliar with Sagan’s famous quote “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“), plus a history of how the term “pseudoscience” came into being, once again reminding the reader of contemporary debates, in this case about blogging:

By 1964, some of Velikovsky’s scientific critics were drawing a […] lesson from the affair: the nuclear chemist Harold Urey was concerned ‘about the lack of control in scientific publication … Today anyone can publish anything,’ and it was impossible to tell the signal of truth from the noise of imposters. We must return to the past, Urey urged, when there was a proper intellectual class system and a proper system of quality control: ‘Science has always been aristocratic.’ In a society insisting on its democratic character, that was not a wildly popular position, though doubtless it had appealed to the scientists who tried to prevent the original publication of Velikovsky’s book and who sought to block his later efforts to publish in mainstream scientific journals.

Even the very end of the review is still relevant:

if it struts around the barnyard loudly protesting that it’s a duck, that it possesses the very essence of duckness, that it’s more authentically a duck than all those other orange-billed, web-footed, swimming fowl, then you’ve got a right to be suspicious: this duck may be a quack.

And that’s where mentions of 2,500 IPCC scientists and 97% consensus spring to mind.


Global Warming? Nevermind the Warming, still nobody knows if it’s Global…

first reported by Fabio Spina on - in Italian

How Global is Global Warming? A very interesting slide from the “WMO Technical Conference on Meteorological and Environmental Instruments and Methods of Observation organized by CIMO WMO (Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observations of the World Meteorological Organization) (Brussels, Belgium, 16-18 October 2012).

The slide is from “Introduction on WMO Priorities” by Wenjian Zhang, Director, Observing and Information Systems Department, WMO. It was in the second presentation for the day, after the introduction by the CIMO President. One might logically assume that Zhang’s was one the most important presentations of the whole conference.

The slide shows Dr Zhang’s thoughts on the “key challenges” as “identified through widespread consultations with experts of key communities“.

Remember, this is from the people that actually observe the globe:

Challenges in Climate Observations
Challenges in Climate Observations

Every “key challenge” would be interesting to explore but of course the one about “Data” is particularly telling: “The current availability and quality of climate observations and impacts data are inadequate for large parts of the globe“.

For all the discussions and conferences and proclamations we have been having since the IPCC AR4 in 2007, one has to wonder how little we have moved on the basics.

Five years ago in fact, two thirds of the landmass was still forgotten from the WG2 chapters. And with 96% of Significant Changes coming from Europe alone, the open question was if “Global” Warming could be just European.

We have twice as many changes that are INCONSISTENT with warming in Europe, than CONSISTENT with warming in the rest of the world.

Thousands are waiting in Qatar right now for COP18 to open in a few hours. This news can’t be good. Unless, as suggested by Fabio, every area of the world is equal in importance for the global climate, but some are more equal than others…

28Gate: The Guardian was for FOI before it was against it

Not a peep on The Guardian about 28Gate. How is it possible, a clear-cut human-rights-cum-FOI case involving a lone pensioner and a big bullying Corporation, the Little Guy against the Establishment, Six Lawyers against Man-and-wife…and still, only silence from the esteemend beacon of progressive albeit evidently at least a tad hypocritical thought?

Nevermind. We can warm up your hearts by reading…The Guardian. Step forward Polly Toynbee (whom I shared guesthood with a few years ago at a lunch offered by the outgoing Italian Ambassador in London). It was 13 Apr 2007, and Ms Toynbee posted this comment to her own piece “Our press, the worst in the west, demoralises us all“: (my emphasis)

on Freedom of Information: there should have been a privacy law to go with it. As it is, the press often uses it as a lazy way to fish out bits of information by firing off a hundred questions, mostly on relatively frivolous stuff. It’s not exactly fearless investigation. Meanwhile, they rarely bother with what is really difficult – penetrating the opaque world of business. Imagine if business had to be as transparent, if shareholders had the same FOI rights to ask anything. That really would shake things up. Why so many petty questions about government costs, and never a word about the ‘executive’ culture of business travel charged up to our pensions?

Way to go Polly. Imagine if the BBC had to be as transparent, if licence fee payers had the same FOI rights to ask anything. That really would shake things up.

In fact, things are being shaken up by FOI at the BBC as we speak

Fast forward last May and FOI campaigner and journalist” Heather Brooke: (my emphasis throughout)

the FOI Act doesn’t work in a timely way…The reason people have to make FOI requests is because the data isn’t there…The culture is that the people in power know best for everyone else. FOI levels the playing field…We need legislation – it is the only way to get the right to know taken seriously by government and public service, with sanctions if it’s not obeyed….the public need to know about the lobbying that went on behind the scenes. FOI gives the people who control the information the power to decide whether they’re going to release it or not. Outside people need to be able to get into the heart of power.

Heather is spot-on. It all applies perfectly to the BBC. And there is more by her:

where you have an exemption, it quickly becomes abused. National security is the ultimate exemption, and sins and incompetencies can be hidden. The reason there is a lot of distrust about the motivation of politicians to want this safe space comes from the Iraq war minutes [the cabinet meeting where the legal status of the war was discussed].That was onGe of the first FOI requests I made, and a lot of journalists made it, and we didn’t get it. Eventually the commissioner ruled it had to be released, but it was a ministerial veto that overturned it.

…By making it clear the public can’t find out how a decision is made, you risk a politician making a poor decision….

Yes Heather! By making it clear the public can’t find how a decision is made, you risk the BBC making a poor decision. Plus you know what? The revolution is being digitised! (my emphasis again)

Book Description “The Revolution will be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War”
Publication Date: 18 Aug 2011
There is more information in the world than ever before – but who is in control?

At the centre is the Establishment: governments, corporations andpowerful individuals who have more knowledge about us, and more power, than at any other time in history. Circling them is a new generation of hackers, pro-democracy campaigners and internet activists who no longer accept that the Establishment should run the show.

In her gripping, revelatory new book, award-winning journalist and campaigner Heather Brooke takes us inside the Information War, from the hackerspaces of Boston and Berlin to the UK’s journalism hub and Iceland’s free speech revolution; from the headquarters of Google and Facebook to Collateral Murder, Cablegate and the murky world of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Along the way Brooke explores the most urgent questions of the digital age: where is the balance between freedom and security? In an online world, does privacy still exist? And will the internet empower individuals, or usher in a new age of censorship, surveillance and oppression?

For one day last week, I have been the pro-democracy campaigner and internet activist (a hacker, not really).

I, the revolutionary! Thank you Heather, thank you Polly, thank you Guardian!

(Shame on you, Guardian!)

TwentyEightGate – the story so far

(translated from Italian following requests)

Brief summary on TwentyEightGate, my last…ahem…second journalistic “scoop” that has now traveled around the world as a nice, clean, legal cybertripping of the FOI bully called BBC.

It is a “scoop” important enough to bring almost 21 thousand visitors on this blog in a single day (November 13).

In a nutshell: the BBC has fought for five years against a pensioner (blogger Tony Newbery at Harmless Sky) to prevent him from getting a list of names of participants in a seminar on climate change, held on January 26, 2006. I found the list (in a perfectly legal way, as it was already on the internet) and facilitated its reading.

Maurizio 1 – BBC 0. In other words, Ordinary People 1 – FOI Bullies 0.

The fact that the list is important is not just an opinion. It has been made important by the BBC itself, and specifically by its decision to spend around £140,000 pounds (€175,000 or $225,000) in FOUR DAYS for SIX yes SIX lawyers to defend a “secret” that wasn’t, while on the other side Newbery was without a lawyer, accompanied by his wife on a trip of a few hundred miles to London.

In the face of such crass bullying, once the Court ruled in favor of the BBC (as if the verdict could have gone the other way!), I literally saw red enough to warrant spending some time looking for the list on the internet. My thought was, given the number of participants (sixty) someone could as well have “outed” the list for whatever reason.

In fact, I found a page of one of the seminar organizers (the IBT) where with a mixture of pride and publicity seeking somebody had decided to put online a list of all the participants in the workshops with the BBC from 2004 to 2007.

The PDF file was no longer on that site, but in plain view on the “Wayback Machine”, a site which keeps copies of many pages on the internet.

Here the original link to my blog where I showed the list to the world.

In English this has been mentioned in many places on the internet, in Canada, USA, Australia, United Kingdom (for example, Bishop Hill has a few links). There are also articles in France and in the Netherlands. Sooner or later I’ll make a list. I also participated as a guest to talk about “28Gate” in the recent online WUWT-TV marathon, organized by Anthony Watts of WUWT (the video will be placed here as soon as available).

The name “28Gate” was given by one of the commentators on WUWT, in consonance with the legendary Watergate and the number of “outsiders” at the seminar BBC, who were just twenty-eight (or so did the BBC say … now one can see thirty of them. Who knows.)

In the print media there is a James Delingpole article on the Spectator, entitled as usual very explicitly as “Here’s a BBC scandal that should really make you disgusted” (it should be kept in mind that, of late, the BBC moves from one scandal to another – notably, the four top executives who have recently resigned or stepped aside were all at the seminar of 2006). Also the Sunday Telegraph spoke about 28Gate in the Christopher Booker column for Nov 18.

This scandal has been mentioned also in Italian by Piero Vietti of Il Foglio (online and in print) and Guido Guidi of Climatemonitor (online). Plus in another blog where the obsession with me has no limits … but when I’m the topic of discussion, there is evidently no need to waste even a link.

Some clarifications:

  • I haven’t been interested in that list, first requested five years ago. I had not even bought the e-book from Bishop Hill.
  • The idea that the BBC really changed its editorial policy January 26, 2006, seems a hoax through-and-through, however a hoax told the BBC itself.
  • It is the BBC and not me which gave importance to that list. It is not my fault if the BBC has decided to throw away £40,000 per day for four days two weeks ago and against a pensioner.
  • The “scoop” is in the fact that I found posted online (by another of the organizers) what the BBC kept claiming it was a secret. Maybe they could have paid one fewer lawyer and get another person to search for the document.

We now know that:

  • The BBC may as well have lied when it said the list was a secret (we’re talking about a list of names, not what they actually said at the meeting)
  • The BBC may as well have lied when it said he was a high-level meeting
  • The BBC may as well have lied when it said that the meeting had changed everything about its climate reporting
  • Neither the BBC nor any of its overpaid lawyers are able to use the internet (as I said I found the list on Monday evening in half an hour).

There could be more serious things to talk about (the presence of a representative from the U.S. Embassy in the seminar would be a violation of the founding principles of the BBC) – but I do not have time for that, at least for the moment.

I also want to say the following:

  • I do not care if the BBC gets its editorial policies from magicians and fairies. I care that the BBC should be explicit, clear, clear and transparent on its editorial policies, and say so when they are inspired by magicians and fairies. It’s a matter of Trust, in every sense of the word.
  • I do not know how many have noticed, but there was no one at that meeting from the Met Office….
  • The BBC has all the rights in the world to use lawyers in court. But to me what matters is that the BBC, after having taken £145/year from me and millions like me, then should not spend that going around bullying FOI requestors – I am still waiting to find one-person-one who will justify the need to hire six lawyers against a pensioner. Not one lawyer (as would have been reasonable), two (if one can afford them), not three (already too many) – but six!