Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's Going On Here

Lately Eli's thoughts have wandered to building a good, excellent, wonderful lab experiment illustrating the greenhouse effect.  Well there are a fair number of demonstrations on the web that purport to do this, but, they really don't. So Eli is going to put a few of them up for the bunnies to look at, and ask what is going on here

Eli did screw the pooch, answering the question a couple of weeks ago on Twitter, so those of you who saw it sssh now.  There is some didactic purpose in going through a few of these. 

For the old timers there is always Eli's light bulb, a pretty good illustration of a single layer model of the atmosphere.  Chris Colose has a more complex multilayer model.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eric Schneiderman Is Enjoying Himself With Lamarr Smith

There are times, times dear readers where something speaks so well for itself that Eli practically has nothing to add.  Today Eric Schneiderman slammed the ball back into Lamarr Smith's court.  Schneiderman is the New York State Attorney General, Smith the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  Smith has been feebling in defense of Exxon, and subpoenaed Schneiderman for all and everything that the NY Att. Gen had on Exxon.

Schneiderman was amused

The Subpoena is an unprecedented effort to target ongoing state law enforcement “investigation[s] or potential prosecution[s].” If enforced, the Subpoena will have the obvious consequence of interfering with the NYOAG’s investigation into whether ExxonMobil made false or misleading statements in violation of New York’s business, consumer, and securities fraud laws. Although the Committee purports to be acting out of First Amendment concerns, those concerns cannot be anything but pretense as “the First Amendment does not shield fraud.”
Good faith, you want good faith, well the NY Att Gen is willing to play
The Subpoena brings us one step closer to a protracted, unnecessary legal confrontation, which will only distract and detract from the work of our respective offices. Accordingly, we continue to hope that the Committee Staff will be in touch, as they said they would be, to schedule a time to speak, with minority participation, about the Committee’s requests. While the NYOAG will not allow a Congressional investigation to impede the sovereign interests of the State of New York, this Office remains willing to explore whether the Committee has any legitimate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests. Unfortunately, our attempts to initiate such a discussion—by telephone call to Committee Staff and in our written response to you on July 13—were met with a subpoena.
Oh yes, the states rights thing that the Republicans love tastes just loverly. .
The Committee’s demand for documents and communications from the office of a duly elected State Attorney General regarding an ongoing investigation of potential state law violations raises grave federalism concerns.
And oh yes, WTF are you talking about
These problems are compounded by the inability to ascertain the subject under inquiry (due in part to the Chair’s and certain members’ vague and shifting statements), how the Subpoena’s requests are pertinent to that subject, or even the Committee’s source of authority for the putative investigation. See Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 214–15 (1957).
much detailed legal follows but the conclusion is a straight out FU
While the Committee considers these objections the NYOAG will continue to explore whether the Committee has any legitemate legislative purpose in the requested materials that could be provided without impairing the sovereign interests of the State of New York.  We look forward to the opportunity of being heard by the Committee as a whole on these objections.
Oh yes, those interested in tossing Smith a further boat anchor can contribute to Smiths Democratic opponent, Tom Wakely.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean Somebunny Isn't Out To Get You

Now, Eli has been tweeting a bit trying to put some sense into the Bernie Bots who are in the process of screwing the pooch.  Rather than subjecting his loyal readers to what Russell would not approve of, the sense of it is well captured by a tweet from Leah McElrath

And indeed, as Ralph Nader showed in 2000, pure snowflakes can wreak any chance of getting what they want by demanding it all.  That and screwing the rest of us.

However, that is not the point of this post, rather when looking over the Google statistics for the blog Eli saw this rather odd pattern.  AFAEK he really does not have a lot of Russian speaking fans, indeed this is the first time such a pattern has appeared.

What he asks is going on.  Is Mr. Putin looking for another web site to hack after the DNC job?  That, of course raises even more interesting questions.

These questions include why the US Congress is not mounting a full bore investigation into why the Russians are "helping" Mr. Trump out.  There is a good argument that without Russian money Trump is flat broke and two of the advisors closest to him, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are mobbed up with Putin.  Eli uses the term mobbed up with intent.  Russia is not an autocracy, it is a kleptocracy. 

Ms Rabett, who has some experience in such matters on the compliance side of the fence, points out that money laundering violations define the expensive real estate market in places like NY and SF, as brokers have accept money from peculiar sources.  It is certain that the Trump Organization has accepted the money.  What is not certain until law enforcement serves papers, is whether they did their due diligence and reporting.  Eli suspects not, and if systematically done, which Eli suspects so, that is a RICO violation.

Eli must also ask whether Wikileaks is a front for Russian intelligence. Julian Assange more or less admitted that with the usual, you can't prove it.  That puts a different twist on a whole bunch of things they have done in the last five years.  Or perhaps they are just stooges for the Russians, sort of like the dead end Bernie Bros.

This story is moving fast and the reaction of the Benghazi crazed Republicans in the US Congress will provide some interesting tales.  For example, Trump has conceded that his Russian "friends" were behind the hack.

Dear Lord.

ADDED: For those interested in the nitty gritty details that point to Russian intelligence being behind this effort to support Donald Trump, Eli recommends this article in Motherboard
The forensic evidence linking the DNC breach to known Russian operations is very strong. On June 20, two competing cybersecurity companies, Mandiant (part of FireEye) and Fidelis, confirmed CrowdStrike’s initial findings that Russian intelligence indeed hacked Clinton’s campaign. The forensic evidence that links network breaches to known groups is solid: used and reused tools, methods, infrastructure, even unique encryption keys. For example: in late March the attackers registered a domain with a typo—misdepatrment[.]com—to look suspiciously like the company hired by the DNC to manage its network, MIS Department. They then linked this deceptive domain to a long-known APT 28 so-called X-Tunnel command-and-control IP address, 45.32.129[.]185.
and CrowdStrike has even more 

Plan: 1. Agree with Patrick Moore. 2. Scour self with coarse sand

For some reason I subscribed to Heartland Institute's Environment and Climate News podcast and have listened to some. Mostly unsurprising, although one celebrating the return of eastern brook trout to reforested and some suburban areas seemed reasonable. I don't think the reforestation of the Eastern US is a huge secret that environmentalists don't want the world to know, but I also don't see a problem with refuting Breakthrough Institute thinking that civilization and nature are incompatible.

And then there's climate denialist/general denialist Patrick Moore - what a sad and unethical man. It's hard to imagine that he could actually believe his lies, and hard to understand why he doesn't just stop - he doesn't have a long career ahead to advance at this point, so does he really to finish it with gigantic lies? I'm sure he falls somewhere into John Mashey's typology (which I can't find online right now), but I guess it's continuing acclaim that matters to him, even if it's due to him spouting lies.

So what's really hard then is agreeing with much of Moore's diatribes against groups fighting research on GMO golden rice (around 24 minutes into the link). He goes overboard but I think there's no alternative but agree that opposing research on golden rice is clearly unethical. Here's Greenpeace's response, and it's completely unconvincing.

There's a difference between acting unethical in one particular situation and making the lack of ethics the basis of one's career. Greenpeace has messed up on golden rice, but people really can fool themselves on occasion. Patrick Moore must know what he's doing on a daily, continual basis.

Finally it's worth noting that anyone claiming that golden rice somehow justifies the overall application of GMO technology has got to be smoking something genetically altered. Golden rice has been on magazine covers for two decades and have yet to help a single person, while GMO crops take over the agricultural world. Greenpeace is right that GMO proponents have to look elsewhere to point to successes, but wrong to say that just because golden rice hasn't worked yet, we should shut down attempts to make it work.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

70, 75, 80, 85 When. . . ?

Neven, of course, has been tearing it up on the Arctic Ice Blog.  Eli, well Eli learns from Neven and the Nevenettes, and peaks at the Uni Bremen AMSR sea ice maps.  Frankly Neven finds that  this year is pretty confusing compared to the patterns of the past decade or more when Arctic Ice Blogging has been a thing

This being a hot Sunday, Eli took a look

and was scared.  Within a few days there is damn little ice left south of 75 N latitude.  It might be an interesting bet if any will be left before the end of the melting season, and with good enough odds you could probably find a bunny interesting in betting on 80 N.  The experts say depends on the weather, but the weather is really hot up there recently.  

Here, for the obsessive, is a neat site with Arctic station data

Sunday, July 17, 2016

President Mike Pence? De facto President Corey Lewandowski?

If Trump wins, he might not play president for four years. Much more so than in the case of other candidates, we have multiple reasons why:

  • He might quit, getting bored with doing actual work and angry at the criticism dished at him while Rome burns. I'm sure he could find multiple parties to blame for his quitting.
  • Even if he doesn't officially quit, he may withdraw from day-to-day presidenting and let someone else do all the work. He's already decided he'd act more like a Board Chairman than a CEO, suggesting a lighter workload, and he might take it farther. It's also not hard to imagine him getting mad at how his businesses are being run by his kids and reinsert himself in the latest Trump University And Steakhouse dustup, despite promises to stay away from the businesses.
  • The 70-year-old candidate has refused to release any medical records beyond a sycophantic half-page letter from his doctor claiming he'd be "the healthiest individual elected to the presidency." That's an obvious lie (c.f. both Bushes and Obama) which puts the letter's brief assertions of good health in question. For all we know, he could keel over at any time.
  • He could get impeached and removed, or quit to avoid the inevitable. It's hard but not impossible to imagine a Republican House doing this (Trump may not have thought through the implications of making Pence his Veep). Alternatively, two years of chaos leads to a change election in 2018 like the 2006 wave, and then he's gone. Most likely series of events leading to impeachment, btw: Trump gets someone to do something illegal for him on the promise of a pardon, Trump tries to get out issuing the pardon but is manipulated to issue it, and the world finds out the real reason for the pardon.
  • He may trust his judgment of security over that of the Secret Service, and get himself shot.

The risk of someone else running the show is yet another factor in the dumpster fire that is the Trump candidacy. As hard as it is to realize that someone worse than George Bush may become president, we don't know who may actually run the country instead of Trump at some point in the next four years. It could be someone worse yet.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Post Modern Views of Science

A couple of days ago, Eli went off and ranted about an old philosopher, James Blachowicz, and his take on science, which to Eli was, well, given the history of this thing, Eli pretty much thought that Prof. Blachowicz was eating magic mushrooms.

Given the placement in the New York Times, not surprisingly, there were a few other comments, and not surprisingly (to Eli, Eli being always right) they pretty much agreed with Eli

Jerry Coyn, writing under the Rommian title of "Is this the worst popular philosophy piece ever? A philosopher argues that science is no more reliable than philosophy at finding truth" and pretty much concludes that it was

If the NYT can publish tripe like this, perhaps it’s time for someone to pull a Sokal-like stunt, writing a bogus philosophical analysis of science and submitting it to The Stone. But perhaps that’s exactly what Blachowicz has done!
Ethan Siegel in Forbes discusses how Blachowicz' understanding of Kepler (and Galileo) is, to put it softly, lacking and Derek Lowe at Science also has a few words.

For a while now, Eli has been pushing the idea that science is characterized by coherence, consilience and consensus.

The Red Queen can hold any number of contradictory thoughts in her mind before breakfast but that only leads to confusion and is deadly for understanding. The Wikipedia has a useful description of consilience and why it is necessary for reaching a scientific consensus
evidence from independent, unrelated sources can "converge" to strong conclusions. That is, when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong even when none of the individual sources of evidence is significantly so on its own. Most established scientific knowledge is supported by a convergence of evidence: if not, the evidence is comparatively weak, and there will not likely be a strong scientific consensus.
Kuhn pointed out that the consensus was very hard to change for good reasons, because a lot of evidence (consilience) had to be gathered and linked (coherence) to establish the consensus. That the consensus could be changed on very rare occasions is irrelevant because the overthrow (e.g. Relativity, QM) extended a strong consensus into new areas where it really had never previously been tested.  New science EXTENDS old science.

The tough part of this is that one has to have a strong understanding of the various threads which establish the consensus to appreciate the consensus and its strength.  Many do not.

They interpret the ability to modify the consensus as meaning that nothing can be certain, and if it cannot be certain then all statements are equally valid.  Einstein and Kuhn are frequently invoked.

For example, some, not to be named, but including philosophers and lawyers and liberal arts types claim that it is equally true to claim that the Sun revolves around the Earth as visa versa.

As to the Earth and the Sun, if you believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth, you basically don't believe in Newtonian gravity or the laws of motion.  There is some nonsense that should not go unchallenged, but that takes time.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mike Pence. I remember that name....

UPDATE: others are also doing blasts from the past, turns out we should know him as Mike "Smoking Doesn't Kill" Pence.

Here it is, from my old blog back in 2009:


Mike Pence: skeptical of warming, but "reducing CO2 would be a good thing"


There's not much point in reducing CO2 unless anthropogenic climate change is real - it has no other negative impacts.*

Pence is the third-highest Republican Congressman in the House, considered a rising star, and appears to simply be stupid. His latest anti-climate change, plus refusal to acknowledge evolution is here. Yglesias has more on him not being very bright here, here(author of the Republican budget plan with no numbers attached to it), and especially here (couldn't understand the economic concept of moral hazard, even when explained to him).

While a party led by stupid people will be easier to beat, it can still cause a lot of damage in the American political system.

*I highly doubt this Republican party genius even knows about ocean acidification, and if he does, he just groups it into his climate change skepticism.


Interestingly, I just came across this statement from Yglesias yesterday saying he was too hard on Pence way back when, and that Congressmembers are institutionally driven to spend time on anything except learning the subject matter. I'm not buying it - they can and should know basics about the areas they specialize in, and if Pence can't understand a subject like moral hazard when explained to him, that's pretty bad.