Open Thread 15

Time for a new open thread.

Comments

  1. #1 Voodoo Ben Franklin
    November 17, 2008

    Gotta question about trendlines and graphs…

    I’ve been playing around with graphing data sets in Excel once I realized the program could do it last week… I was looking at UAH data after Gunter’s latest brand of stoopid was referenced during an online discussion. Though I don’t know the statistical relevance of it, I think his trendline is an order 6 polynomial. Is this the usual skeptic cherry picking? Moving averages and linear trendlines are self explanatory and *clearly* show warming, but I don’t quite get what the polynomial is. It was the only one that didn’t.

  2. #2 DavidONE
    November 17, 2008

    No burning questions, but thanks for dispatching the climate denier nonsense as it surfaces.

  3. #3 bi -- IJI
    November 17, 2008

    What on earth is this “New Coalition for Economic and Social Change”, and why does it share an IP address with the Heartland Institute?

    This stuff keeps getting weirder and weirder.

  4. #4 Richard McGuire
    November 17, 2008

    Does anyone have backround knowledge of Norwegian geologist Tom Victor Segalstad ? He was cited in a letter to the Crikey web site, just over a week ago, as one contrarian who has no obvious links to the fossil fuel industry. A search of the internet turned up his web site and a Wikipedia page. Segalstad is not shy about self promotion. On his web site he claims to have been, among many other things, an expert reviewer to the IPCC. An odd claim from someone who states, “CO2 simply cannot cause global warming.” His website was last updated January 31st 2005. Segalstad has a Wikipedia page which was only recently modified, October 12th 2008. At face value his roles at the University of Oslo and a stint at Pennsylvania University sound impressive. If true how does one hold such positions while promoting such pseudo science ?

  5. #5 ChrisC
    November 17, 2008

    Richard McGuire@4

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Segastad. However, on the topic of being an IPCC “expert reviewer”, keep in mind that the IPCC review process is open. The only requirement is that you sign a contract stating that you will not talk about the contents of the IPCC reports publically until they are officially released. No formal qualifications, affiliation or invitation is required.

    Many, many contraians have used this to pump up their credientials (in fact, people throwing out their status as an IPCC expert reviewer is one of the most obvious signs that you’re dealing with a crank). Amongst the more notorious are Vincent Grey and Viscount Christopher Monckton.

  6. #6 James Haughton
    November 17, 2008

    Can someone direct me to a good source on the El Nino/La Nina mechanism and its effect on global temperature? I am a bit mystified as to how this cycle affects the global average temperature as opposed to just moving the heat around.

  7. #7 Phoenix Woman
    November 17, 2008

    Hey, Tim! Your favorite dorkwad, John “Mary Rosh” Lott, is at it again — this time lending his statistical, erm, expertise to the Senate race recount in Minnesota, USA:

    http://firedoglake.com/2008/11/17/franken-coleman-update-on-to-the-recount/

  8. #8 ben
    November 17, 2008

    And just when I was going to stay out of it. Don’t know much about what Lott has to say on the matter, but Franken is one of the grandest A-holes on the planet and looks to be trying to steal the election. Good grief, what has this country come to when Al Franken is this close to becoming a United States Senator. Ah, right, a nation of complete ignoramuses:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm1KOBMg1Y8

    On a brighter note, at least we won, no thanks to Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Biden, and the rest.

  9. #9 PSC
    November 18, 2008

    Voodoo-

    I’ve not looked at Gunter’s latest stuff in detail, however I can make the following comments.

    You’ve got to be very careful in fitting curves to data and then drawing conclusions from it. There are two things you can do. The first is to interpolate, that is use the curve to fill in a gap in the data where there are points on either side. Using polynomials for this kind of application is generally fine, if you’re reasonably sure there’s not too much noise.

    The second is to use the curve to extrapolate, that is to look into the future, or examine places where there is real data only on one side of the curve. Here polynomials perform very poorly. A polynomial will inevitably increase or decrease without limit. As you go further away from the real data, the curve will get dominated by the highest order coefficient of the curve. It’s difficult to estimate this highest order coefficient. So using the curve for extrapolation will lead to nonsense.

    Imagine for instance the curve had stopped at 1998. A polynomial fitted to the curve would have been trending sharply upwards at the end, and implicitly be predicting we’d all be roasting today. It’s just a very poor way to use the tool.

  10. #10 Boris
    November 18, 2008

    Wow, ben, they interviewed a DOZEWN voters. Gosh, we’re all impressed down here, I can tell you.

    Now, a majority of which party’s voters believed that Al Qaeda was behind 911 and that we had found WMD in Iraq?

    But you don’t want to talk about that…

  11. #11 Barton Paul Levenson
    November 18, 2008

    ben –

    Had I lived in Minnesota I would GLADLY have voted for Al Franken. He is one of the few political writers in this country who assert their liberalism in an era when Limbaugh, Coulter et al. are trying to make “liberal” a dirty word. And he punched through every major recent right-wing argument in his books, starting with “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” and continuing with “Lies — And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” and “The Truth, with Jokes.” Go Al! If he doesn’t win this time, I hope he runs again until he does.

  12. #12 ben
    November 18, 2008

    Now, a majority of which party’s voters believed that Al Qaeda was behind 911 and that we had found WMD in Iraq?

    Like, um, who was behind 911 then?

    Well, there’s the difference, Barton. I would not have voted for Limbaugh nor Coulter since they are freaks just like Franken. Further, I have a bridge to sell you if you think that Franken is honest in his books.

  13. #13 BobClip
    November 18, 2008

    Just a bit of light relief :-

    A Cricketing Metaphor for Global Warming :-

    An obit. the other day for a cricketer that I had the pleasure of meeting in my teens struck a chord with my thinking on AGW as follows:-
    (Acknowledgements (& apologies) to Freddie Trueman – not him who died BTW))

    PS For USA readers ‘howzat’ means a question to the umpire like “I/we think the batsman committed an error and should be dismissed “.

    …………………….

    Characters :-

    Bowlers – Climate Scientists.

    Batsmen – Contrarians

    Umpires – recruited from a USA ‘Institute’

    Crowd – Rest of world scientific community & politicians.

    Ground – Somewhere in Bali

    1st ball
    The bowler delivers a medium- paced straight-as-a-die ball, nicknamed ‘James Hansen’s testimony’ on account of it’s dead straight honesty with no bending the facts. An audible click is heard all players and most of the crowd. The ball smacks into the diving Wiki-keepers gloves) and the bowler wheels around and, in synchrony with other players, howls ‘howzat’ at the umpire.
    Umpire is unmoved.

    A few balls later,
    Bowler delivers another of his specialities – this time nicknamed the ‘hockey stick bender’ on account of its’ late swerving & sharply rising properties. The batsman steps back and the ball hits his pads plumb in front of the wicket. The bowler wheels around and, in synchrony with other players, howls ‘howzat’ at the umpire.
    Umpire is unmoved

    A few balls later,
    Bowler delivers another speciality, nicknamed the AR4 because of its’ 95% certainty in beating the batsman
    The ball smashes into the batsman’s wicket. Strangely, no ‘Howzat’ from anybody – but bowler, with a malicious grin on his face, quietly turns to the umpire and says :-

    ‘Nearly ‘ad the bu**er then’ !!

    The crowd boos as batsman is shamed into walking.

  14. #14 Boris
    November 18, 2008

    Yeah, that should be a majority thought Iraq was behind 911. Good catch, ben. I’m even more impressed.

  15. #15 ben
    November 18, 2008

    Who? Who believes that Iraq was behind 911? Nobody does.

    And your own Bill Clinton is on record as believing that Iraq had both WMD’s and intentions to pursue more.

  16. #16 Ian Forrester
    November 18, 2008

    Bobclip #13. If it was an Australian contrarian, such as Kinnimouth or Carter, who was batting then an over of bodyliners from the likes of Larwood would be appropriate.

    The batsman would not need to “walk” he would be carried off ;-)

  17. #17 bi -- IJI
    November 18, 2008

    Holy cow, does ben have a life outside of right-wing talking points?

  18. #18 Richard McGuire
    November 18, 2008

    4# I’ve just looked at the list of reviewers for the IPCC’s third report. Tom Segalstad’s name does appear, as part of Norway’s delegation. Hard to reconcile when one looks at Segalstag’s web site. A bit like a “flat earther” becoming a space shuttle astronaut.

  19. #19 David B. Benson
    November 18, 2008

    James Haughton | November 17, 2008 9:07 PM — Unfortunately I don’t know of a link, but try Wikipedia.

    El Nino/La Nina indeed just moves heat around and has no long-term impact on global temperatures. Deep ocean residence times define long-term, several centuries.

  20. #20 James Haughton
    November 18, 2008

    Ben, you keep claiming you have this bridge to sell. I demand photographs and further details of this infrastructure investment! To save paper in this age of recycling, I suggest you print it on the back of any reports of uranium purchases in Niger you might have lying around the place.

  21. #21 Jonny82
    November 18, 2008

    Just to let your readers know that Andor Technology plc are running a competition for the scientific community. $400 to the charity of your choice, will be awarded for the winning entry in thttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k85yzCSdhrche 2008 Christmas Card design contest, plus the opportunity to promote your work on http://www.andor.com – Check out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k85yzCSdhrc

  22. #22 Jonny82
    November 18, 2008

    Just to let your readers know that Andor Technology plc are running a competition for the scientific community. $400 to the charity of your choice, will be awarded for the winning entry in the 2008 Christmas Card design contest, plus the opportunity to promote your work on http://www.andor.com – Check out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k85yzCSdhrc

  23. #23 saurabh
    November 18, 2008

    Does anyone know this dude William Campbell Douglass?
    He has this global warming report:
    http://www.douglassreport.com/reports/global-warming.html
    Doesn’t seem very credible, but the guy seems interestingly cranky. E.g. he’s also opposing fluoridation of water.

  24. #24 Boris
    November 18, 2008

    Who? Who believes that Iraq was behind 911? Nobody does.

    Harris Poll 2005

    * 47 percent believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001 (up six percentage points from November).
    [...]
    * 36 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded (down slightly from 38% in November).

    Harris doesn’t have the party splits, but those were widely reported in other polls as well. I guess you were napping.

  25. #25 Robert
    November 18, 2008

    A [2003 PIPA/Knowledge Networks study](http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/international_security_bt/102.php) concluded that a considerable fraction of the American public held misperceptions about the Iraq War, and that the misperceptions were related to source of news. For example, respondents who reported that their main source for news was Fox had more misperceptions than those who reported getting their news from other sources.

  26. #26 ben
    November 18, 2008

    A 2003 PIPA/Knowledge Networks study concluded that a considerable fraction of the American public held misperceptions about the Iraq War…

    A considerable fraction of the public probably has a lot of misconceptions about a lot of things. Did you not watch the video above? I don’t think too many of those chowder heads watched Fox news.

  27. #27 Chris O'Neill
    November 18, 2008

    A considerable fraction of the public probably has a lot of misconceptions about a lot of things.

    I wonder which misconception will be the next one used to start a war.

  28. #28 Robert
    November 18, 2008

    ben wrote:

    A considerable fraction of the public probably has a lot of misconceptions about a lot of things.

    Wait a second. In #15 above you claimed that nobody held misperceptions about the Iraq war. So now you’re saying that the public holds misperceptions about a lot of things, but that somehow Iraq wasn’t one of them? Hmmm.

    In any event, the interesting thing isn’t that Americans hold misperceptions. What was interesting was that the misperceptions were related to the source of their news.

  29. #29 ben
    November 19, 2008

    By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.”

    What was interesting was that the misperceptions were related to the source of their news.

    Right… I wonder what source of news those Obama-voting idiots typically viewed?

  30. #30 Chris O'Neill
    November 19, 2008

    By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.”

    Classic.

  31. #31 Lee
    November 19, 2008

    “Who? Who believes that Iraq was behind 911? Nobody does.”

    “By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.””

    No wonder discussing things with you so often ends being useless exercise, ben…

  32. #32 pough
    November 19, 2008

    `I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    ben smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    `But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    `When I use a word,’ ben said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said ben, `which is to be master — that’s all.’

  33. #33 Robert
    November 19, 2008

    ben wrote:

    By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.”

    Hmmm. Well, I suppose that’s good to know, and perhaps even better to remember. Um, when you say “two” do you actually mean “seven”? Or is “purple” closer to the mark?

  34. #34 WotWot
    November 19, 2008

    By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.”

    Following that line of reasoning we can therefore conclude that nobody is a AGW denier, that nobody voted for the Repubs in the recent US election, and that nobody ever abuses children.

    Phew, that’s a relief.

  35. #35 Tim Lambert
    November 19, 2008

    Nate Silver’s [interview with the guy responsible for bens video](http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/interview-with-john-ziegler-on-zogby.html) is pretty amusing.

  36. #36 cce
    November 19, 2008

    I wonder if the average Republican voter knows:

    Who John Boehner is?
    Who Mitch McConnell is?
    Who Spencer Bachus is?
    What political party Palin addressed earlier this year and told to “keep up the good work.”
    Which candidate congratulated G. Gordon Liddy on his “continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”
    Who Charles Keating is.
    Which candidate picked his home state because it had an open senate seat.

    My guess is that a lot of them don’t, because they were too busy watching Reverend Right on an endless loop. But they do know which one is the Socialist Muslim with a fake birth certificate who pals around with terrorists and wants to raise their taxes.

  37. #37 cce
    November 19, 2008

    Reverend Wright, that is.

  38. #38 Vagueofgodalming
    November 19, 2008

    I see Obama has told the US state governors that combatting global warming is his highest priority and has set out specific targets and commitments. I confidently expect to see new heights of self-serving stupidity as people duck and weave to resist him.

  39. #39 Jeff Harvey
    November 19, 2008

    “By “nobody” I simply meant “less than a majority.”

    That sure wasn’t the case just prior to the invasion, when more than half of the US population believed that Saddam was behind 9-11. Nowhere else on Earth where similar polls were conducted was this figure even close to that in the US. It shows how mezmerizingly awful the MSM is over there, as well as being beholden to elite interests. In effect, the media sold the war to the public without much of a concern that the Bush administration was peddling utter falsehoods to do so. They merely channeled and amplified the lies for public consumption. In the end, it was one of the biggest and most mendacious propaganda campaigns ever waged on the US public by the government and mass media – and it worked.

  40. #40 ben
    November 19, 2008

    When I use a word,’ ben said, in rather a scornful tone,it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    Right, just like Bill Clinton. Anyway, seems I stepped on a rake, and you guys took full advantage like I knew you would. Whoo-hoo!

    I’m sure you can find a majority of democrats who think the old “assault weapons” “ban” (a) could have a favorable effect on crime, and (b) did have a favorable effect on crime, which is logically impossible if you know anything about “assault weapons” and have read the old law. And hence we’re going to see them try their darnedest to reinstate something similar to, or more draconian than, the 94 ban.

  41. #41 pough
    November 19, 2008

    Right, just like Bill Clinton.

    Well played! Bill was caught lying about the placement of his penis (nobody lies about cheating), which totally lets you off the hook for saying 47% of the population is nobody.

    Anyway, seems I stepped on a rake, and you guys took full advantage like I knew you would

    You stepped on a rake on purpose? Lose FTW?

  42. #42 ben
    November 19, 2008

    Well played! Bill was caught lying about the placement of his penis (nobody lies about cheating), which totally lets you off the hook for saying 47% of the population is nobody.

    I was thinking more about what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

    As to the rake, nope, not on purpose, I just goofed.

  43. #43 pough
    November 19, 2008

    @saurabh: I just glanced around that Douglass website. He’s awesome! When i saw his name I thought, “who?” But it turns out he’s “medicine’s more notorious myth-buster”! Who knew?

    There’s a lot of great stuff on his site. (Did you know that climate researchers are making MILLIONS? Somebody needs to tell them!) I think maybe Orac should check out what he has to say about vaccination – turns out it’s not a good idea, after all. Oh, and I found a quote I really like:

    This theory that eating meat causes an inflammatory response is based on another theory – evolution. And people call me a quack. Anyone who bases a scientific opinion on something as ignorant and far-fetched as evolution has some serious credibility issues.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  44. #44 pough
    November 19, 2008

    Bah! I may have made a few typos, but Bush has done worse!

  45. #45 bi -- IJI
    November 19, 2008
  46. #46 Majorajam
    November 19, 2008

    Oh Ben. I too love that Fox News. Only that’s because I like my enemy pig ignorant. Speaking of which, you’ll notice this is a poll, not a push poll or a Jaywalk through an artfully selected precinct…

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/09-04-2004/0002244238&EDATE=

    NEWSWEEK POLL: REPUBLICAN CONVENTION 2004

    18. Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, or not?

    BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS

    Yes No DK
    Current Total 42 44 14
    Republicans 55 32 13
    Democrats 32 54 14
    Independents 37 48 15

    17. In general, do you think going to war with Iraq has made Americans safer from terrorism, or not?

    BASED ON REGISTERED VOTERS

    Yes No DK
    Current Total 45 50 5
    Republicans 75 20 5
    Democrats 21 76 3
    Independents 38 57 5

  47. #47 Chris O'Neill
    November 19, 2008

    seems I stepped on a rake

    More like, “I stepped on a rake and thought, ‘let’s do that again’”.

    It’s the second time that’s the incredible one.

  48. #48 ben
    November 19, 2008

    Now, Majaorajam, a claim such as “huge stockpiles of WMD’s were not found in Iraq” can be presented as a fact. However, the claim “going to war with Iraq has made Americans safer from terrorism” is mere opinion at best, and can hardly be presented as a fact, correct or otherwise. A position on that claim is at best an arguable opinion.

  49. #49 David Irving (no relation)
    November 19, 2008

    Indeed, pough @ 44, After all, a typo almost never bombs a village full of innocents just for a start, nor does it start an illegal war as a rule.

  50. #50 Holly Stick
    November 19, 2008

    I havwe questions for the scientists here who don’t mind pissing off large greedy corporations…

    There are news reports about people who die after being tasered by police. Some of them supposedly died of “excited delirium”. One of several symptoms of “excited delirium” is excessive sweating, according to wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excited_delirium

    Now here is some advice on using cattle prods, including this: “…Do not shock wet animals, as there is the potential to increase the shock intensity when cattle are wet…”

    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/beef/facts/01-049.htm

    So the questions are: Will the shock from a taser be intensified if it is used on a person who is sweating a lot? How much? Are there other factors that might intensify a shock? And would multiple shocks have a cumulative effect?

    Of course all sorts of other questions would arise, depending on what the science says, but those would be more political.

    And here is background about tasers and taser deaths:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/tasers/

  51. #51 Majorajam
    November 20, 2008

    Indeed Ben. Never mind the intelligence estimate that stated the invasion had actually increased the threat of terrorism, the fact that ante-bellum Iraq had zero relationship with terrorist organizations or history of targeting US citizens or interests (they released unharmed all their western prisoners before the first Iraq War for heavens sake), the fact that Saddam Hussein had that country under his tyrannical iron grip and had no motive to give his Western enemies casus bell- all that is opinion, just like the fact that greenhouse gases influence climate is a matter of opinion. It’s just self-righteous people like me and Al Gore who think fact and evidence have anything to do with anything. Please tell us some other funny stories you heard on Fox News.

  52. #52 Majorajam
    November 20, 2008

    Oh, and I think the juxtiposition and high correlation in those two sets of numbers is very telling of Republican capacity to perceive differentiation amongst the swarthy Muslim masses, or amongst swarthy types more broadly and their attendantly limited ability to be informed. See the dangerous Muslim terrorist black militant racist guy named Barack Obama that Fox News and your good pal the pollster spent an awful lot of time warning us about.

  53. #53 Bobclip
    November 20, 2008

    I post occasionally against contrarians in another website and typically their arguments are based on ‘it’s cooling now’ or the ‘Hockey Stick has been debunked’ etc.
    Failing that they resort to ‘it’s hoax’ but when you ask by whom you get vague grunts about a New World Order, the Bilderbergers, the commie EU, or Envirofascists etc. (YES YES – there are nuts out there who believe this!!!!)

    However, one recently posted a link, (which tweaked my curiosity), to our old crackpot friends the nzclimatescience group which claimed variation in Barycentric orbits create a 179 year cycle which ‘happens’ to coincide nicely with low sunspot indexes and therefore, of course, to cool periods on Earth.
    Obviously there are no figures & equations or peer-review refs) but see what you make of it.
    http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=377&Itemid=1

    To help those of you whose astronomical knowledge is wanting, see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_of_mass
    &

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-body_problem

    (BTW, if this has been covered before, please direct me to it and ignore this here further)

  54. #54 Robert
    November 20, 2008

    Bobclip wrote:

    which claimed variation in Barycentric orbits create a 179 year cycle which ‘happens’ to coincide nicely with low sunspot indexes and therefore, of course, to cool periods on Earth. Obviously there are no figures

    Here’s a [figure relating global temperature to sunspots](http://anonymous.coward.free.fr/temp/temp-co2-spots.png).

  55. #55 ben
    November 20, 2008

    Never mind the intelligence estimate that stated the invasion had actually increased the threat of terrorism

    Strange then how when the threat of terrorism was supposedly lower we suffered two fairly remarkable terrorist attacks, but while the threat of terrorism is now supposedly higher we have suffered none.

    Strange also, Majorjam, how you think the Iraqi’s enjoyed living under that tyrannical iron grip, and have not seemed to consider how much better off those people are today. You could maybe stop and think about that for a moment. Yes, they paid a terrible price, as did the free world during WWII. And they would never have gotten out from under that iron grip without us.

    See the dangerous Muslim terrorist black militant racist guy named Barack Obama that Fox News…

    Always with the “Fox News”. I don’t have cable TV and I have never watched Fox News. I do, however, recall the one-sided demonization of Sarah Palin by all the other news outlets (on the internet). I suppose they aren’t biased in your opinion.

  56. #56 sod
    November 20, 2008

    Strange then how when the threat of terrorism was supposedly lower we suffered two fairly remarkable terrorist attacks, but while the threat of terrorism is now supposedly higher we have suffered none.

    there are slightly more places on earth, than “homeland”.

    http://icasualties.org/oif/USDeathByMonth.aspx

    feel free to ask their families about a lack of terrorist attacks…

    And they would never have gotten out from under that iron grip without us.

    if a shii-sunni confrontation was the version of “freedom” that you are after, they had a pretty decent chance after the gulf war…

    at several times in history, simply not (shock!) SUPPORTING saddam might have made a difference…

  57. #57 Lee
    November 20, 2008

    You can’t be serious, ben.

    The Bush administration has claimed publicly that they have stopped 19 terrorist attacks on US soil, people and plots caught in the US, since 9/11. If true – and I’ve come to distrust everything this administration says – that is a remarkably high level of terrorist threat. Even if only a fraction of them are real, that is a level of high terrorist threat. That they have been caught here on US soil, does not indicate that Iraq made us safer.

    Not to mention those attacks that DID happen here since 9/11. Remember anthrax. And our ongoing backgrounds of domestic terrorism? Church burnings? Abortion targetings?

    Not to mention the worldwide terror environment. This is a list of only major incidents, from 9/11 through the middle of 2006. There have been more since then.

    July 11, 2006, India: Muslim terrorist attacks on rail system in Mumbai kills 182 people, injures 770.

    November 9, 2005, Jordan: Coordinated bombings at three Western hotels in central Amman kill at least 67 people and leave another 150 wounded in early reports.

    October 29, 2005, India: Three blasts in New Delhi ahead of Hindu Diwali festival kill 59 people and wound 210 more. Sponsored Links:Losing Hair? Click Here for Products and Services

    October 13, 2005, Russia: A large unit of suspected Islamic militants attacks Russia’s North Caucasus city of Nalchik, with a reported 130 people reported killed before security forces repulse the group in fierce street fighting.

    October 1, 2005, Indonesia: Three suicide bombers kill 22 in triple blasts on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali. Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant group, is suspected.

    July 23, 2005, Egypt: At least 64 people including foreign tourists are killed in a series of bombings in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

    July 7, 2005, Britain: In Western Europe’s first suicide bombings, four Moslems blow themselves up on London’s transport system. The attacks on three underground trains and a bus kill 56 people and injure 700. Sponsored Links:Migraine Pain? Treatments and Information

    October 10, 2004, Egypt: Twin attacks on resorts in Sinai leave 32 dead, injure 120.

    September 1, 2004, Russia: A group of 30 armed men and women seize a school on the first day of autumn classes at Beslan in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia, taking 1,100 hostages. More than 300 children and adults are killed in a bloody end to the siege.

    August 24, 2004, Russia: Two Russian airliners crash within an hour of each other in the south of the country after explosives are detonated on board. A total of 90 people confirmed dead.

    May 29, 2004, Saudi Arabia: Twenty-two people, mainly foreigners, die in attacks on an office and an apartment block used by Westerners in al-Khobar.

    March 11, 2004, Spain: Ten bombs explode on four commuter trains in Madrid killing 191 people. The attack is blamed on Moroccan Islamists. Suspects escape, but several later are killed in explosions. Sponsored Links:Dieting – How to Lose Weight

    November 20, 2003, Turkey: Bombs explode outside British-run buildings in Istanbul killing at least 33 people. Five days earlier, more than 20 passersby were killed in attacks on two synagogues.

    May 16, 2003, Morocco: Forty-five people die in five attacks by Islamists on Western and Jewish targets in the port city of Casablanca.

    May 12, 2003, Saudi Arabia: Thirty-five people are killed in a series of bomb attacks on residential compounds housing mainly foreigners in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

    November 28, 2002, Kenya: Three suicide-bombers blow up a car outside an Israeli tourist hotel in the resort of Mombasa, killing 18 people.

    October 12, 2002, Indonesia: Double bomb attack on discotheques on the island of Bali claim 202 lives.

    April 11, 2002, Tunisia: A suicide-bomber blows himself up in an attack on a synagogue on the island of Djerba, killing 21 people.

    September 11, 2001, United States: Islamic terrorists hijack four U.S. passenger planes. Two are crashed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre, one targets the Pentagon in Washington while the fourth crashes in a field in Pennsylvania. Around 3,000 people die.

  58. #58 Lee
    November 20, 2008

    “Yes, they paid a terrible price”

    Somewhere between 200,000 (almost certainly improbably low) and a million dead. 4.5 million plus refugees, internal or external. The ethnic purification of major Iraqi cities – much of the decrease in violence over the last 2 years has been due to the fact that the ethnic purification has already succeeded – we failed in our goal to protect people in their homes. All in a country with a population of about 27 million – that means 1 out of 5 Iraqis are either dead or displaced. Even with the lower violence, much of the population is still oppressed,unable to leave their homes without daily risk of violence, including rape and murder. Yeah, it was a terrible price. Its an ongoing terrrible price, and its still an open question whether what they are going to get, will be any better than what they had.

    A terrible price for us, too. It required the near abandonment of Afghanistan, where the resurgence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda is a direct ongoing threat to the region, and to us. It has terribly damaged our military, left us with terribly reduced ability to respond to threats – including the resurgent threat in Afghanistan.

  59. #59 Lee
    November 20, 2008

    “I do, however, recall the one-sided demonization of Sarah Palin ”

    When reality is one-sided, it is not biased to report that reality.

  60. #60 ben
    November 20, 2008

    It has terribly damaged our military…

    ?

    When reality is one-sided, it is not biased to report that reality.

    The reality was not nearly so one-sided.

  61. #61 ben
    November 20, 2008

    Let’s change the subject. I have a question that I think you all will actually find interesting. Let’s start with an example to illustrate the point I’d like to make. I’m sure that we’d all agree that statements like “Asian people are not as good as black people” or “Black people are no good in general” are racist.

    Here’s the question: are the statements “taoist people are no good” and “muslims are no good” racist? I have heard friends of mine react to statements read online or heard elsewhere such as these by claiming that the person who wrote or uttered them was racist. I pointed out that “muslim/taoism” are not races, and I was surprised that my University educated friends would not back down.

    In our friendly argument yesterday, my friend stated that he considers racism to be defined in the following way

    Racism is prejudice by one group against another group because of racial and/or cultural differences

    I find this definition strange. I asked him “would it then be racist for a group of people of Irish descent who happen to like wearing pants to be prejudiced against another group of Irish people who prefer Kilts?”

    He replied that it would! Among the problems with this view… words should have precise meaning, and by letting the term “racism” apply so broadly, it loses its real meaning. And the word is associated with people who are so obviously bad “actual racists” but then gets glued to people who are less bad “culturalists, irish kiltists, etc” but uses the weight of the history of actual racism against them.

    Well?

  62. #62 Barton Paul Levenson
    November 20, 2008

    Marjoram posts:

    the fact that ante-bellum Iraq had zero relationship with terrorist organizations

    That’s not quite true. Saddam was paying $25,000.00 to the family of every suicide bomber, and Abu Nidal lived there unmolested until they decided to kill him.

  63. #63 Barton Paul Levenson
    November 20, 2008

    Sorry, I got your name wrong — should be Marjorajam, I think?

  64. #64 ben
    November 20, 2008

    …every suicide bomber in Israel, that is.

  65. #65 Chris O'Neill
    November 20, 2008

    ben:

    The reality was not nearly so one-sided.

    If you say so.

  66. #66 James Haughton
    November 20, 2008

    I’d like to call your attention back to the fact that we had an actual science question asked here @ 50.
    My thought on it is that being sweat-soaked would definitely lower the resistance of the skin, ensuring that a higher current flowed through the person. It’s not widely known that pure water (H2O) is not a particularly good conductor. It’s the mineral salts within normal tap water that make wet floors and electricity a bad combination. Sweat is very salty and would have much lower resistance than pure water or dry skin.
    I also think that multiple shocks under such conditions could easily disrupt the rhythm of the heart, causing fibrillation and death.

  67. #67 z
    November 20, 2008

    but, the question arises regarding the delivery capacity of the taser. lowering the skin resistance would increase the current of the shock, providing the internal resistance of the source was not limiting and providing there is enough charge to deliver. however if those are limited, reducing the skin resistance won’t make a difference. for instance, you don’t get shocked any worse from static electricity if your hand is wet when you grab the doorknob. same for a charged up capacitor of reasonable capacity, as might be found in an electronic gadget. like maybe a taser.

  68. #68 ben
    November 20, 2008

    Note also, than many/most cops get tazered as part of their training. For what that’s worth. I got to see my buddy’s tazer training video from when he was a cadet last year. Hilarious!

  69. #69 llewelly
    November 21, 2008

    James Haughton, #6:

    Can someone direct me to a good source on the El Nino/La Nina mechanism and its effect on global temperature? I am a bit mystified as to how this cycle affects the global average temperature as opposed to just moving the heat around.

    It’s not clear what you mean by ‘global average temperature’. Usually this means ‘global mean surface temperature’, or GMST. But sometimes people use ‘global average temperature’ to mean the average temperature of the climate as a whole. GMST, being only the surface, will underrepresent total climate average temperature if heat is disprotionately beneath the ocean’s surface.

    El Nino/La Nina – also known as ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) – does not significantly warm or cool the Earth’s climate as a whole. It does warm or cool the global mean surface temperature. Heat is being transferred from ocean to the atmosphere. In simplest terms, when the Pacific is in a neutral state, the East Pacific is dominated by a pair of large high pressure zones – one in the northern hemispehre, roughly between California and Hawi’i, and the other in the southern hemispehre, somewhere northwest of Easter Island. These two high pressure zones drive persistent winds which blow from east to west, pushing East Pacific surface water warmed by the sun into the West Pacific. This results in the East Pacific having a very shallow layer of warm water, while the West Pacific has a very deep layer of warm water. In addition – the winds cause water to ‘pile up’ in the West Pacific, resulting in substantially (a few milimeters) higher sea levels.

    See NOAA’s pages on El Nino for more info. A good book on this topic is El Nino In History: Storming Through The Ages .

  70. #70 BobClip
    November 21, 2008

    Robert,
    Thank you for your link in post #54

  71. #71 Jeff Harvey
    November 21, 2008

    “…how you think the Iraqi’s enjoyed living under that tyrannical iron grip, and have not seemed to consider how much better off those people are today”.

    Ben, how much of this crap can you keep dishing out? First, the US provided immense economic, logistical and military support to Saddam under his ‘iron grip’. The US actually invited Iraqi scientists to the US in the late 80s under the auspices of teaching them how to develop their own nuclear technology. When Robert Dole visited Iraq in 1989, he assured Saddam that he was getting a ‘bad press in the west’ and that this angered many in the Bush I administration. As long as Saddam followed orders, the US was quite happy to see that he was in power – recall too that Saddam’s regime committed its worst crimes during the period of strongest US support. Why? Because this ensured Washington’s idea of ‘stability’, whereby they called the shots. Once Saddam slipped the leash, he had to go. He was no longer an ‘obedient and trustworthy’ dictator. Human rights had nothing to do with it, and never has, in US foreign policy (for that matter, it has little or nothing to do with the foreign policy of most nations, but the problem is that we in the west profess high standards of morality that are completely ignored in foreign policy – its all in the planning documents). I recall one of Bush I’s senior staff, Brent Scowcroft, saying in 1991 after the Gulf War of his serious concern that the Shia would rise up and oust Saddam – this worried US planners because they wanted an ‘iron fisted leader’ in the vein of Saddam, but not Saddam himself.

    Then to go on and say how much better things are today is the ultimate farce. The country is now first or second in the world in terms of being a ‘failed state’. Nir Rosen, a historian who spends a lot of time in the country, recently said ‘Iraq has been destroyed, never to rise again; our only hope is that the damage can be contained’. The mean wage of Iraqis is less than one-tenth of what it was in the mid 1980s. More than 40% of the population have no access to clean water. The place is a living hell. Lee sums it up in his posts. And all of this for the simple reason outlined by the State Department in 1950: “The region is the greatest material prize in history and a source of stupendous strategic power”. Or George Kennan, a few years ago: “Any country controlling the region has veto power over the global economy”. Zbignieuw Brezinski, “Cotrol give the US critical leverage”. The key is CONTROL and not access; once the oil is on the high seas it can be purchased. These wars are all about hegemony, especially with the emerging power of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its signatories. This explains US military actions in Iraq, as well as their presence in Afghanistan. How anyone can think the motives are any different is beyond me.

  72. #72 ben
    November 21, 2008

    Ben, how much of this crap can you keep dishing out? First, the US provided immense economic, logistical and military support to Saddam under his ‘iron grip’.

    That may be true, but how were they to now get out from under said grip? “The US” is not a static entity, so while the blame may be with the past generation, that does not make the next generation culpable, and neither does it mean that the next generation of “The US” cannot undo the mistakes of the previous one.

    Iraq is in a state of transition. The people have the chance to do something about it now. Under Saddam there was no chance. I know you always see the worst in the US, and I typically see the best, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    By the way, I saw the new Bond movie last night, and I just have to ask… were you involved in writing the script? Sure seemed like it.

  73. #73 Boris
    November 21, 2008

    I find this definition strange.

    I’d agree, though you must realize that there are ethnic components to what some American–especially one bent on bigotry–might think a “Muslim” or even a “Taoist” is. For instance, after 9/11 many people who appeared Muslim (i.e. Arab), but were not, ended up being attacked. (IIRC, there was an attack on a Sikh and on some Lebanese Christians).

  74. #74 ben
    November 21, 2008

    For instance, after 9/11 many people who appeared Muslim (i.e. Arab), but were not, ended up being attacked. (IIRC, there was an attack on a Sikh and on some Lebanese Christians).

    Correct. The intention of the bigot was to attack someone’s race (arab, which isn’t really a race, but is close enough), and missing the mark. That makes the attacker a racist. So it depends on the intention then?

  75. #75 dhogaza
    November 22, 2008

    So the questions are: Will the shock from a taser be intensified if it is used on a person who is sweating a lot? How much? Are there other factors that might intensify a shock? And would multiple shocks have a cumulative effect?

    If the taser’s barbed electrodes penetrate the skin I wouldn’t think it would matter of the skin were wet with sweat or not. But if little or no penetration occurs, then, maybe so.

  76. #76 dhogaza
    November 22, 2008

    Iraq is in a state of transition. The people have the chance to do something about it now.

    Those who are alive and still living there, in areas that aren’t under the armed control of people who aren’t eager to give them a chance to do much of anything of their own choice.

    Ben and his ilk have an interesting definition of “improvement”.

    Before you trot out the old comparisons with Germany and Japan in 1945, keep in mind that we began our post-conflict occupation and transition planning in early 1942. We had detailed plans in place for Germany, Italy, Austria and France (due to Vichy and the uncertainty of their level of resistance to an invasion) by the time of the North Africa invasion.

    Unlike invading Iraq, where we trusted to predictions of flowers being strewn at the feet of the liberators etc to comfort ourselves that no post-invasion planning was necessary.

  77. #77 bi -- IJI
    November 22, 2008

    The Goracle has once more granted our wish to make our enemies look stupid.

    All Hail the Great Goracle!

    :-B

  78. #78 ben
    November 22, 2008

    How’s that Kyoto thing going over there in Europe anyway? Is it a miracle? Has it stopped global warming? Have emissions been reduced at all?

    Oop, seems it is a massive failure. Nope, didn’t see that coming. :P

  79. #79 bi -- IJI
    November 22, 2008

    By “failure” ben probably meant “not a 100.00000000000000000000% success”.

  80. #80 jodyaberdein
    November 22, 2008

    Re: 78

    You can see the EU emissions (and play around with the data) here:

    http://tinyurl.com/599po5

    So questions then. Ben, would global warming stop if we instantly reduced all emissions to pre-industrial levels? Why would you say Kyoto hasn’t even lived up to its admittedly meagre aims? Which countries would you say hindered the process the most?

    J

  81. #81 sod
    November 22, 2008

    Oop, seems it is a massive failure. Nope, didn’t see that coming. :P

    EU emissions have been pretty stable, while the US (which decided to boycot KYOTO) has INCREASED emission by 20%.

    several countries that reduced CO2 emissions did profit from their move, when oil prices jumped last year.

    reducing emissions is good for the environment and a sound economic decision. fact.

  82. #82 Holly Stick
    November 22, 2008

    Thanks, James Haughton at #66 and others, for the responses. So far they seem to be inconclusive.

    I know that policemen get tasered in training, but I question whether they are apt to be sweating excessively at the time. I also wonder if they are usually warned about using the thing on a wet subject. I think if they even followed the instructions for using a cattle prod (at my link in #50) they might be killing fewer human beings.

  83. #83 Donald Johnson
    November 22, 2008

    Ben, on your racism question, I’m somewhere between your friend and you, but closer to him. Yes, technically a criticism of “Muslims” isn’t racist, because being a Muslim isn’t a biological category, but the same is true of “Jews”, and most of us realize that there’s a pretty close kinship between anti-Semitism and racism. (This aside from claims that many Jews are in fact descended from the ethnic group that wrote the Old Testament and parts of the New. That may be true, but one can convert to Judaism, so it’s not a biological category.)

    We could use the term “bigotry” for people who are anti-X, where X is some religious or cultural group. There’s not a huge difference in the thinking of bigots and racists, which is why I don’t find your friend’s extended definition all that strange.

  84. #84 ben
    November 22, 2008

    EU emissions have been pretty stable…

    Isn’t that on account of the fall of the Soviet Union as stated in the LA Times peice I linked to? Did that have anything to do with Kyoto? You’re looking at the emissions as a whole and the reason for the “stability” has nothing to do with Kyoto. How about show me how all the countries in Western Europe have done since 1990?

    Say, here we see that per-capita emissions for the USA have been pretty darn “stable” since 1980. And we didn’t even try. But notice that Russia has seen a large scale reduction relative to 1980 levels. So the EU has been “stable” because of the colapse of the USSR?

  85. #85 Bernard J.
    November 23, 2008

    Ben.

    Why is it that whenever you are called on about one of your regular scientific/logical faux pas you respond by shifting the goalposts, and often by simultaneously erecting a strawman or several?

    Kyoto was not intended to be the definitive answer to AGW. Nevertheless, Kyoto’s intended functions would almost certainly have been more completely addressed had two self-absorbed, hypocritical and rich countries – Australia and the US – not dragged their heel on it for so many years.

    Kyoto’s symbolic significance is powerful whatever its practical success, and this is probably one reason why it is so vigorously loathed by denialists everwhere.

    The problem is not with Kyoto: it is with the countries who have shown, by their actions rather than by their words, what their real attitudes are with respect to participating in the resolution of the AGW issue.

  86. #86 dhogaza
    November 23, 2008

    But notice that Russia has seen a large scale reduction relative to 1980 levels. So the EU has been “stable” because of the collapse of the USSR?

    Russia’s not part of the EU.

    Some eastern bloc countries are, but most wouldn’t be considered “Western Europe”, and some are thriving.

  87. #87 sod
    November 23, 2008

    Say, here we see that per-capita emissions for the USA have been pretty darn “stable” since 1980. And we didn’t even try. But notice that Russia has seen a large scale reduction relative to 1980 levels. So the EU has been “stable” because of the colapse of the USSR?

    as dhogaza told you above, russia is not part of europe, nor the EU.

    and actually the EU-15 doesn t even include any warsaw pact members… (ignoring east germany for a moment..)

    http://tinyurl.com/5bsonx

    do you understand the meaning of a “stable per-capita emissions” in highly developted countries?

    such stability is the CAUSE of our problems, not the solution!

  88. #88 bi -- IJI
    November 23, 2008

    You see, my friends…

    If the USSR hadn’t collapsed and Soviet bloc emissions had increased, this shows that the USSR regime is a bunch of hypocrites who merely want to bring down capitalism as exemplified by the glorious US.

    If the USSR hadn’t collapsed and Soviet bloc emissions hadn’t increased, this also shows that environmentalists are in cahoots with the USSR to turn the glorious US into a Bolshevist nation.

    If the USSR had collapsed and Soviet bloc emissions had increased, this shows that a growth of emissions is an inevitable by-product of a switch from the horrible, murderous communism to wonderful, glorious capitalism.

    Therefore, my friends, libertarianism is a perfectly scientific theory.

  89. #89 llewelly
    November 23, 2008

    ben, #84:

    [sod, #81:]

    EU emissions have been pretty stable…

    Isn’t that on account of the fall of the Soviet Union as stated in the LA Times peice I linked to?

    Russia isn’t part of the EU. Neither is Belarus, or Ukraine. Those three regions accounted for the overwhelming majority of Soviet emissions. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union.
    Together, Estonia (13Mt CO2), Latvia (1.8Mt CO2), and Lithuania (1.9Mt CO2) account for about 17Mt CO2, or fewer emissions than either Greece (70Mt CO2) or France (170Mt CO2). It’s about 8.3% of the total EU25 CO2 emissions (1.99Mt CO2). I think I can safely presume that adding in the other greenhouse gasses would not substantively change this analysis.

  90. #90 llewelly
    November 23, 2008

    My apologies. Total EU25 CO2 emissions are 1.99Gt, not 1.99Mt .

  91. #92 z
    November 23, 2008

    “EU emissions have been pretty stable…
    Isn’t that on account of the fall of the Soviet Union as stated in the LA Times peice I linked to? ”

    “a 12% drop in emissions from the accord’s industrialized countries over the 1990-2005 period.
    It was an illusion.
    The progress wasn’t due to a global embrace of green power, but rather to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which shut down smoke-belching factories across the region.”

    Soviet Union’s collapse was finalized in 1991, after 5 years of offical disassembly and god knows how long unofficial decay. Is the hypothesis that in 1991 the government of Poland, for instance, suddenly said “at last, we are out from under the antienvironmental thumb of moscow, and can immediately close up those stinky power plants as we have longed to do for so long”?

  92. #93 toby
    November 24, 2008

    Ben & Barton Paul Levenson

    I’m with Barton on this one – it was Al Franken who woke me up more than any other writer to the crazy stunts being pulled by Bush, Cheney and their wingnut buddies.

    Ben, you should note that it was the Republicans starting with Reagan who popularized the notion that it was acceptable to elect ignorant people like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin to critical public offices on the grounds that they were visceral or “gut” patriots who knew “instinctively” how to respond to a crisis.

  93. #94 z
    November 29, 2008

    cool graphic, “Global Exergy Flux, Reservoirs, and Destruction”:

    < http://gcep.stanford.edu/pdfs/GCEP_Exergy_Poster_web.pdf>

  94. #95 bi -- IJI
    November 30, 2008

    What happens when free-market believers try to understand the Wal-Mart worker tragedy.