[links] Link salad creaks through the weekend

Always fighting the storm, afraid to suffer the woundLisa Costello on acceptance and coping with my impending death.

Ten Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices — (Via D. Scott Frey.)

Nimoy Sings: 1968 — Given the pattern on Nimoy’s shirt, we can only be grateful this photo isn’t in color.

Apogee’s Full Moon — It’s a mighty cool photo, but be sure to read the copy as well.

Hiroo Onoda, Japanese soldier who long refused to surrender, dies at 91After losing his comrades to various circumstances, Onoda was eventually persuaded to come out of hiding in 1974. His former commanding officer traveled to Lubang to see him and tell him he was released from his military duties. In his battered old army uniform, Onoda handed over his sword, nearly 30 years after Japan surrendered.

Bone fragment ‘could be King Alfred or son Edward’

Scratching out a Living on Ellesmere IslandRetreating glaciers in the high arctic have left behind heaps of debris and new territory for cold-loving plants to colonize.

Three arguments about climate change that should never be used — Yeah, good luck with that. Climate change denialism isn’t an evidence-based process, and reason doesn’t enter in to. Exactly like evolution denialists, climate change denialists argue backwards from an ideological conclusion and try to subvert the language of evidence and reason to support their article of faith. So providing evidence-based reasoning against ideological denialist arguments is pointless.

Company Behind West Virginia’s Chemical Spill Files For Bankruptcy — Mmm, industry self-regulation for the win. All those meddlesome, job-killing Federal regulations wouldn’t have done anything except likely prevent the spill, and ensure the company could cover the damages if the spilled happened anyway. We don’t want that sort of thing in a free society, do we? Also, this. Because freedom! And evil liberals who happen to think clean drinking water might be important!

The GOP’s War on Science Endangering America: Climate Change, Evolution, RegulationThe Republican Party is increasingly emerging as an anti-science party. Since American greatness was built on its science and technology (and not on the odd cult of biblical inerrancy), this development is a danger to the republic, and, indeed, to the world. The US used to be about solving problems, about a can-do spirit, not about denying concrete reality. I would have said, “has long since emerged”. Conservatives will have an enormous amount to answer for in America’s degraded future, but they will never see or understand that.

Judge strikes down North Carolina ultrasound abortion law — Slowly, sanity and morality and justice creep back into America despite concerted conservative efforts to the contrary. (Via David Goldman.)

Christians aren’t being driven out of public life – they’re just losing their unfair advantages One of the prickly issues for a society that attempts to be liberal is how tolerant it must be of the intolerant. Writing in the last issue of this magazine, Cristina Odone says that she feels her rights as a taxpayer, a citizen and a Christian have been trampled on. She warns of a world around the corner in which religion will be a secret activity behind closed doors. So, what is this dystopian vision of the future? A world where if you run a bed and breakfast, you cannot discriminate against gay couples, and you have to abide by the rules of the job you are contracted to do. That’s it, really. (Via [info]rekre8.)

America is becoming more liberal — If true, this offers some hope for future sanity in this country. The Reagan and post-Reagan conservative experiment has failed by almost every conceivable metric. Maybe it’s time to try optimism, growth and tolerance instead.

Obama Outlines 5 Surveillance Reforms — Yet somehow the surveillance state will continue to proper. Color me cynical.

?otD: Did you sleep in today?


1/18/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.75 hours (interrupted)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 239.0
Number of FEMA troops on my block BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI!: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

13 thoughts on “[links] Link salad creaks through the weekend

  1. russ says:

    I like Glenn Greenwald’s dissection of Obama’s NSA “reform”.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/17/obama-nsa-reforms-bulk-surveillance-remains

    > > >
    Obama never hid the real purpose of this process. It is, he and his officials repeatedly acknowledged, “to restore public confidence” in the NSA. In other words, the goal isn’t to truly reform the agency; it is deceive people into believing it has been so that they no longer fear it or are angry about it.
    < < <

  2. homa_bird says:

    With respect: beliefs and convictions surrounding the question of global warming have striking parallels with intolerant religious fervor. Test: When I said “the question” of global warming, did immediate thoughts of blaspemy! How dare you! explode in your head? For sane, scientific discussions re: alternatives to global warming theory, consider scanning articles at this site (unless intolerance for divergent belief systems is too engrained cf: self valorizing Christians) http://wattsupwiththat.com/
    At this site you’ll find independent climate researchers from many walks of life address poor performance of climate models etc. in relevant, fact-backed articles. Consider if you dare.

    1. Jay says:

      It’s not a matter of daring. It’s a matter of outsider theories vs what is understood by people who spend their professional lives working with the evidence. Outsider theories are very occasionally valuable in science, but they only work if they can replace the whole edifice of the professional consensus. DIsproving or disputing one particular aspect of the theoretical structure in any branch of science is hardly a meaningful challenge. Science does this to itself all the time.

      Saying “the question of global warming” is like saying “the question of gravity” or “the question of evolution.” It’s not blasphemous, it’s meaningless. I don’t explode “how dare you” when someone says that, I just worry about their level of education and comprehension.

      1. homa_bird says:

        re Global warming: nothing has been proven either way, unless you are talking about computer model “proof” which is not proof at all (models are only as accurate as the input parameters). As a wide open, unconvinced-either-way observer, I worry as well about level of education and comprehension of those who have made up their minds (and tolerate no other opinions) based on inconclusive, conflicting data.

        1. Jay says:

          Actually, there is quite compelling evidence for climate change. And the models evolve constantly, which is the opposite of intolerance of opinion. I think you’re using ‘proof’ in the casual, logical sense, by which definition science has not yet proven the existence of gravity, either. It’s a common confusion for people without a strong scientific education who think they’ve found a major flaw in whatever aspect of science they disagree with.

          1. homa_bird says:

            Yes, and there is quite compelling evidence against the theory of global warming. It is far, far from a “concrete reality”.

            PS: I don’t think either you or I can boast a “strong scientific education.” So perhaps we are both confused. But then, apparently so are many others who do have PhDs in science.

            Here is a recent article in Nature written by global warming theory advocates, admitting the mysterious mish mash of unexplainable, contradictory trends.

            In the end, it’s immaterial to me whether global warming is actually occurring or not. The question is outside my personal construction of priorities. My footprint is amazingly small by choice: I don’t drive, i walk everywhere, I take public trans, I live in a garden shed. Is this because I believe in anthropocentric global warming? No, it’s because this is the way I feel best about living. Neither do I have a single problem or sense of judgment of superiority towards those who live in big houses, fly around the globe or drive gas guzzlers. This offends me not in the slightest. Who am I to judge? There are factors here beyond my understanding. I am passionately joyful with the idea that the largest carbon footprint could be made by a human doing inscrutably important spiritual work.

            I’ve entered into this conversation because close-mindedness, and calling out of those who think differently (labeling them as sinners, not-educated, Christian, ignorant, conservative, liberal, etc etc) shreds the fabric of society, and that makes me sad.

            1. Jay says:

              Science functions on dissent and contrary evidence. The perception that opposition to climate change theory is suppressed or perceived as heretical, and therefore discarded, is a media creation. That the mass of evidence is internally contradictory and inconsistent isn’t an indictment of the science, it’s an endorsement of the science. The fact that so many people see otherwise is a fault in our scientific education, not a fault in the science.

              1. homa_bird says:

                Re Your last post: so you are saying there IS a mass of contradictory evidence surrounding global warming? Ah, we agree.

                But I think, if I read your last sentence correctly, you go on to say those who use these contradictions as a reason not to join the ranks of “believers” do so because of a lack of scientific education. In effect, you are saying: you don’t believe how I do, so you must be ignorant.

                An age old, unanswerable and unfair tactic.

                All I can do, is link to yet another who IS eminently qualified, how bout a statistical mathematician (independent, not on any payroll) who interprets and analyzes climate data for accuracy and quality?

                He deals with pure science and math: (and I daresay is pretty educated) including such crazy and cool shit as Hvitarvatn and Canonical Varves and glacial advance, Shi sediments, etc etc. He is known for his statistical take down of the hockey stick graph.

                Scroll down for some pretty cool math.

                http://climateaudit.org/

                1. russ says:

                  homa_bird, you are surely aware that you can find some scientists who say that there are no adverse health effects from smoking. Do you therefore claim that there is contradictory evidence surrounding the adverse health effects of smoking and therefore no one really knows if smoking has adverse health effects?

                  Or you could find a few scientists who are fooled by self-proclaimed “psychics”. Would you claim that therefore there is no scientific consensus about whether most self-proclaimed psychics are real?

                  ===

                  By the same token, you surely realize that experimental errors and different interpretations occur. This in no way proves that the “big picture” is wrong. (The usual gambit of science denialists.)

                  This happens in most aspects of life. E.g. a crime occurs and the police question witnesses: they receive all kinds of contradictory information. But this doesn’t mean that the crime didn’t occur, or that there is not some general consensus that, e.g., 2 men entered a store and grabbed a television and ran off without paying, even though people may disagree about whether the men were tall or short, or if it occurred at 2:40 or 2:50 in the afternoon, or even if it was 2 men or 3 men. But it doesn’t mean that there’s no consensus about the big picture phenomenon which occurred.

                2. homa_bird says:

                  Russ: Thanks for responding. Lungs visibly blackened by tar, forming invasive cancers over decades is one thing. So no, not a suitable counter-example.

                  I am very, very fascinated by your term “science denialist”. That is some language tweaking. I could just as easily call you that (tho I wont because it’s silly) I’ve provided links to a bevy of scientists who have used science in similar ways to refute, question, contradict GW.

                  We’ve got a lot more goin on here than slam dunk evidence of smoke and tar visibly coating protective cilia.

                  We’ve got decadal oscillations, model breakdowns, temp warming hiatus, retracted claims of rising sea levels. I could go on and on.

                  There is no consensus, actually.

                  What there is, oddly, is the equivalence of a religion forming, with believers pitted against non-believers in pretty fundamentalist-like “you are going to hell (as a social pariah) if you don’t BELIEVE.

                  From where I’m sitting, the term “Science denier” sounds a lot like the “God-denier” witch hunt term of old.

  3. These are the questions I think most pertinent.

    1) Is the climate changing? Yes. We know it’s always been changing because the geological record shows us this. Cycles nested within cycles nested within cycles.

    2) Is the burning of oil-based fuels and coal having an impact on the current climate cycle? Possibly. We know CO2 levels have not been constant over time. This would be true whether humanity was part of the equation or not.

    3) Is the human contribution *driving* climate change? Possibly, or, possibly not. When dealing with a supremely complex system that must be modeled accurately over tens of thousands of years (forward as well as backward) with an amazing array of different factors, it’s not entirely clear if fossil fuel burning is a key component of the current climate cycle, or merely an added variable.

    4) If the human component were removed tomorrow, would it “halt” the current change? Again, almost impossible to say. We don’t have a laboratory or a computer model that can give us any test cases with which to secure a guarantee. Best answer is: maybe, or maybe not.

    5) Can the U.S. or the U.N. force the whole world to curb or halt carbon fuel use? On this one, I am going to say, no. When it comes to economic self interest, nations like Russia, China, India, and especially developing countries in South America and Africa, won’t necessarily do what we tell them to do. Even if we’re emphatic about it. And nobody is going to go to war for climate change. They may do so verbally, but they will never do it militarily.

    6) Assuming not all nations will equally commit to or practice carbon curbing, or the cessation of carbon fuel use, what’s to prevent climate catastrophe? I would say, the predictions of certain catastrophe are probably exaggerated at best. If we must “do” something about the climate, probably we should put time, effort, and money towards hydrogen fuel cells, improving solar collection efficiency, cracking the tritium or deuterium fusion problem, et cetera. To say nothing of reconsidering our love of building cities by the sea. Even if human carbon emmissions cease, over very long time periods the sea levels will gradually rise and fall anyway. Could we devote the next century to preparing our coasts for this eventuality?

    Sooner or later, the fossil fuels *will* run down. These are not inexhaustible resources. It may be that the thing which curbs their use is their actual scarcity in fact. I would like to see the chutzpah and emotion of the climate change “movement” directed towards positive-dividend efforts that we ought to be working on anyway: developing the “next generation” energy resources and fuels. Which will need to be both cheaper and more privately and commercially viable than either coal or oil, in order for them to be widely applied. Especially in developing economies, for whom oil and coal are still a life line between 3rd world poverty and 1st-world quality of living.

  4. Gillian B says:

    If you’re giong to refer to Leonard Nimoy singing, you really can’t go past the best one … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGF5ROpjRAU

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