Archive for January, 2021

Worth Sharing!

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

1/16/2021 1:33 GMT —Nigel Higgenbotham reports from Washundasee, in the Republic of Uzambongo“The free and fair elections that recently took place in the tiny nation of Uzambongo are now being violently rejected by the followers of current Prime Minister and strong-man Doninga Batrumpe. Members of a pro-Batrumpe faction laid siege to the government building in Washundasee, as election results were being confirmed. The pro-Batrumpe rioters broke windows, smashed through doors, and pushed past government….

Source: (285) Sam Morningstar’s answer to What is the purpose of the Million Militia March that is slated to happen on January 20, 2021? – Quora

What About the Workers?

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

The Economist has noticed that: After years of dithering, companies are embracing automationthough I wouldn’t necessarily consider waiting for development of the appropriate level of DeepLearning-based AI before making the leap to be “dithering”.

“We must build, but we must build surely”

But “What about the workers?”

“What about the workers, indeed …sir

Let them grasp, I beseech you, with both hands (toot! I’m so sorry, I beg your pardon madam) the opportunities that are offered in this new era of unparalleled progress in productivity. I am sure that we can all appreciate the benefits to society at large of the great, nay unlimited, prospects of these new developments. Let us assume a bold front and go forward together….”

(with apologies for the butchery to PeterSellers )

Storming the Capitol

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

 Habib Fanny’s answer to What do you think about the fact that 45% of Republicans said they strongly or somewhat support the storming of the Capitol? correctly points out that the reported figure is nonsense. But the somewhat smaller numbers that may not support the storming but fail to consider it an attempted coup do not really disturb me.

I don’t actually think it was an attempted coup myself, in any but a few of the perpetrators’ and instigators’ minds. What I think most of them thought they were doing is attempting to shame, rather than coerce, the Republican senators into acknowledging the rampant fraud that they were convinced those senators really believed had happened.

And I actually feel some sympathy for the sense of profound disrespect and contempt that people like that correctly sense as coming from people like me.

Also (drifting even a bit more off-topic from the question here) I don’t really mind the doomed-to-fail legislators’ challenges and protests. Whichever way a US election goes there is often an objection at that stage from part of the losing side, and these do need to be heard and voted down.

In fact some of the objecting legislators’ speeches were not so much making claims of fraud as claims of non-transparency, and while I do favour mail-in or internet ballots, both in the current special circumstances and going forward, I think that it is not unreasonable for some to feel that the verification process needs to be reviewed and perhaps modified for future elections – both in the US and here in Canada. For example, when I submitted my mail-in ballot in our recent BC election, I was both annoyed by the silly extra “secrecy” envelope and troubled by the fact that with our current mail-in voting procedures we make a mockery of the idea of a secret ballot as there was nothing to prevent my wife from demanding to see my ballot and offering punishment or reward in order to control how I filled it in. (And I could well imagine churchfulls of fundamentalist bigots getting together for a communal voting event in which there would be a lot of social pressure to conform to the community leaders’ preferences.)

75 year old, black, cancer-surviving congresswoman tests positive after being breathed on by maskless Republicans

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Source: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman tests positive for coronavirus after lockdown with maskless lawmakers during Capitol siege – The Washington Post

Michael Mann is an Idiot (again)

Sunday, January 10th, 2021

A friend recently pointed me to an article at Inside Climate News : Many Scientists Now Say Global Warming Could Stop Relatively Quickly After Emissions Go to Zero –  with the understandable comment “The game-changing, optimistic assertion in the headline is not discussed until the last eight paragraphs of the article (???)!!! And little ink is spent explaining it. Dunno why.”

Well, let’s see.

The article does say that “The idea that global warming could stop relatively quickly after emissions go to zero was described as a ‘game-changing new scientific understanding’ by Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of news organizations covering climate.” And the article linked to does, in turn, refer to two interviews with Michael Mann – one on the CBS News show 60 Minutes and  a companion interview in The Guardian, the latter of which I guess can be taken as the root source of the claim.

According to the Guardian:

 Using new, more elaborate computer models equipped with an interactive carbon cycle, “what we now understand is that if you stop emitting carbon right now … the oceans start to take up carbon more rapidly,” Mann says. Such ocean storage of CO2 “mostly” offsets the warming effect of the CO2 that still remains in the atmosphere. Thus, the actual lag between halting CO2 emissions and halting temperature rise is not 25 to 30 years, he explains, but “more like three to five years”.

Well if Mann said that he’s a scientific idiot. The idea that the oceans will “start to take up carbon more rapidly” if we stop putting it in the air is manifestly ridiculous. The oceans don’t care where the carbon comes from, and the rate of ocean uptake at any time is a function only of the current concentration and other atmospheric conditions at that time – not of their rate of change. Also, there is no way that ocean storage of CO2 “offsets the warming effect of the CO2 that still remains in the atmosphere”. Absorption into the ocean may actually reduce atmospheric CO2, but if it does so fast enough then the effect won’t just be to stop global warming but to reverse it (though the effects of the consequent ocean acidification may in that case be even stronger than in the earlier predictions).

And even if there is some correct science behind Mann’s garbled nonsense, he’s a political idiot for bringing it up in the context of this interview – for at least two reasons.

First, suggesting the possibility of a rapid reversal of global warming completely undermines his claim that another four year delay in shutting of the CO2 tap would be catastrophic.

And secondly, his idiotic claim on 60 Minutes that  “There’s about as much scientific consensus about human-caused climate change as there is about gravity” is undermined by his assertion that “research over the last decade has overturned” the previous consensus that even if all CO2 emissions were halted overnight, global temperatures would keep rising and heatwaves, droughts, storms and other impacts would keep intensifying “for about 25 to 30 years” (as Sir David King, the former chief science advisor to the British government, said in 2006). It is manifestly clear that large swathes of climate science are definitely NOT “settled” in anything like the same sense as that of gravity and to claim that they are is just to unnecessarily invite challenges to those parts where we do have some certainty – either about some of the actual facts themselves, or about our lack of certainty about how bad some other facts might be. (Whatever anyone may speculate, we certainly don’t know that there is anything that will mitigate the harmful effects of spewing GHGs. So we must stop. And, since we don’t really know how long we have, we must do so as soon as possible.)

I’ve always had doubts about Mann. From when his sloppy temperature studies had to be re-done by Richard Muller’s Berkely Earth Temperature Study and when foolish emails about data adjustment used language which virtually demanded charges of fakery and tampering. Unfortunately the most prominent advocates for anything are often not the most credible.