Friday, July 31, 2009

Please Read Climate Progress

It'd sure be nice if people who disagree could debate policy questions based on the merits of the issue. Of course, this is not reality. I have been amused to see Joe Romm, a blogger for the Center for American Progress, find himself unable to respond to the policy arguments that I make, and thus find himself having to instead engage in ever more shrill and personal attacks on me. Most recently he has falsely accused my university of violating my academic freedom by shutting down our blog, Prometheus. They of course did no such thing, and when a reader of both of our blogs called him on it he could not provide the goods (because there aren't any). Does anyone who even remotely knows me think that such a thing would occur and I'd be silent about it?;-) Now Joe says that my positions about climate change are not really my positions, that I am pretending to hold these positions. It is of course much easier to debate someone's views when you just make those views up for them.

To give Joe a bit of a break, he has a role to play for CAP as a bulldog cheerleader for the Waxman-Markey bill. His salary depends upon playing this role which of course explains his about-face on Waxman-Markey and its genesis in the USCAP proposal. The democratic process is full of people on all sides of the aisle who believe that the world is comprised only of us and them and gaining victory over "them" does not mean playing fair, or abiding by the norms of intellectual debate that we in academia find appropriate. It is of course one reason why many people find politics so distasteful. Others like to watch it for the same reason that cage-fights gain a large following -- for some, fights are fun to see, and the blogosphere is no different than anywhere else people interact. The bottom line is that if we academics want to swim in choppy political waters, we have to accept that we can't do so without getting wet.

Joe's increasingly desperate attacks are a good sign that he sees my views as being compelling (or else why attack?) and his inability to confront them head-on a sign that my views are pretty solid. But as with much in the climate debate, things don't work as people would like: Ever since Joe has gone on the rampage about my views, demanding that the media not talk to me and people ignore my views, it seems that my inbox is has been flooded with requests for interviews and to provide commentaries. (Apparently, some in the media don't like being ordered what to do and who to talk to, go figure!;-) Sales of The Honest Broker jump as well. So in the post-modern world of policy debates, you can make stuff up and try to shout people down, but all you really do is draw more attention to their views.

If Joe decides to engage in substantive debate, he is welcome to do so here. If he does not, and wants instead to issue demands to the media and offer what my "real" views are, rather than the ones I actually espouse, well, that is fine by me. I'm pleased for people to read what I write here and also to read Climate Progress (which I strongly encourage) and come to their own conclusions about the arguments that they encounter.

Space Policy Realism

A member of a US government panel examining the future of space policy had this to say yesterday:
“In fact, it is unclear whether NASA has the financing for any scenarios that do anything important beyond low-Earth orbit prior to 2020,” said Christopher F. Chyba, a Princeton professor of astrophysics and a panel member. “If we really want to do this, we have to provide a realistic budget for it. Otherwise, let’s be clear about the limits placed on us by the actual budget.”
NASA has never been too good at living within a budget, or accepting the fact that there is not a strong mandate for the establishment of human colonies elsewhere in the solar system. After Apollo NASA tried to get get around budget and political realities, leading to the mess that it finds itself in today. The story is told in the following paper:

Pielke Jr., R. A., 1993: A Reappraisal of the Space Shuttle Program. Space Policy, May, 133-157.

Welcome Guardian Readers

If you arrived here after reading my "Magical Solutions" piece via the Guardian Environmental Network, welcome. Here is a link to my evaluation of the UK Climate Change Act referenced in the commentary.

Debating the Potential Effects of American Needle

Following on the heels of Lester Munson’s recent report on the American Needle case for – which Howard discussed last week – National Columnist Mike Freeman has written an article similarly forecasting that a Supreme Court victory for the NFL in American Needle would be a doomsday scenario for sports fans (see Sports Law Blog’s significant previous coverage of the case for more background on the litigation). Freeman asserts that if the NFL wins the case, the Supreme Court’s decision “would basically amount to a nuclear winter for sports and fans,” giving sports leagues “unlimited power” and leaving them “free of almost any legal worries.” Like Munson, Freeman believes the NFL and other leagues would use this newfound power to eliminate free agency, lower salaries paid to players and coaches, and dramatically increase prices for tickets and merchandise.

I believe that both Munson and Freeman overstate the practical significance that an NFL victory in American Needle would have on most sports fans. As an initial matter, a Supreme Court victory for the NFL will not give sports leagues complete antitrust immunity. Instead, it would simply render leagues immune from liability under Section One of the Sherman Act, a provision which prevents independent actors from colluding together in restraint of trade. The NFL, NBA, and NHL would still face exposure under other antitrust regulations, such as Section 2 of the Sherman Act, which would continue to prevent the leagues from improperly using their respective monopoly powers. Similarly, the leagues would also still be required to comply with Section 7 of the Clayton Act should they ever attempt to merge with a rival start-up league.

That having been said, I recognize that avoiding liability under Section One of the Sherman Act would be a significant victory for the NFL and other sports leagues, as most antitrust suits against the leagues allege liability under Section One. However, I do not believe that giving leagues immunity from Section One would cause them to implement the damaging policies that Munson and Freeman describe. Indeed, one need look no further than the example of Major League Baseball – which has itself been operating largely free from the constraints of Section One of the Sherman Act for nearly 80 years – to see that the NFL, NBA, and NHL are unlikely to dramatically alter their business practices should the Supreme Court declare them to be single-entities.

Despite its legendary antitrust exemption – originating from the 1922 Supreme Court decision in Federal Baseball Club v. National League – MLB has not used its antitrust immunity to implement the types of damaging business practices that Munson and Freeman fear will result from the American Needle case. MLB has generally run its business in the same manner as the other sports leagues. As but one example, MLB does not use its exemption to charge fans significantly higher ticket prices than the other sports leagues. As J.C. Bradbury, a professor of economics at Kennesaw State, discusses in his recent book The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed, MLB’s average ticket prices are the lowest among the four major sports. While one may convincingly argue that MLB must charge lower prices because each of a team’s 162 games in a baseball season have less individual significance than an single game in the shorter NFL, NBA, or NHL seasons, Bradbury also presents data adjusting the average ticket price to account for the significantly longer MLB season, and finds that MLB’s adjusted average price is still the second lowest of the four major leagues, trailing only the NFL.

This should not come as a surprise, as none of the major sports leagues operate in a vacuum. Each league competes against the other major sports leagues, as well as other forms of entertainment (such as movies, concerts, theater, etc.), for consumers’ entertainment dollars. It would simply be bad business to arbitrarily raise the price of tickets should the leagues receive newfound antitrust immunity. Moreover, as Howard has noted, the leagues are also unlikely to abuse Section One immunity for the simple reason that Congress would be able to step in and take the leagues’ immunity away. Along these lines, Professor Mitchell Nathanson argued in his 2005 article The Irrelevance of Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption: A Historical Review, 58 Rutgers L. Rev. 1, that MLB has ironically been forced to largely abide by the Sherman Act, for fear that Congress would otherwise revoke its exemption from antitrust law.

While I believe that the effects of an NFL victory in American Needle on consumers have thus been overstated by Munson and Freeman, I do agree that a victory for the leagues could be damaging to labor relations with the players. I have previously argued that sports leagues should not be granted Section One immunity for purposes of labor disputes, both because the leagues do not meet the Supreme Court's single-entity standard in the labor market, but more significantly because antitrust immunity would disrupt the careful balance that has been drawn between antitrust and labor law through the so-called non-statutory labor exemption. Accordingly, I believe that immunizing leagues from Section One liability in labor disputes would lead to a deterioration in labor relations. Indeed, in a recent article, Reevaluating the Curt Flood Act of 1998, I argued that MLB labor relations noticeably improved after Congress exposed owners to the threat of an antitrust lawsuit by the players.

Interestingly, however, player-owner labor relations is an area in which many scholars have argued that league antitrust liability has little import, in light of the 1996 Supreme Court opinion in Brown v. Pro Football Inc., which generally requires that players decertify their union in order to file an antitrust suit against ownership. These scholars believe that the chances of union decertification are slim, and therefore that the threat of a potential antitrust suit has little bearing on labor relations between players and owners. If these scholars are correct, then an NFL victory in American Needle would be expected to have little effect on labor relations in the leagues. However, the players unions appear to believe that American Needle presents significant risks to their memberships. Munson’s article shows that the unions appear to be preparing to file amicus briefs in the case, while Freeman quotes an unnamed source in the NFL players union as stating that single-entity status for the leagues “could change everything.” Accordingly, I believe that should the Supreme Court rule in favor of the NFL, it should not extend the leagues’ Section One immunity to labor disputes.

All in all, though, with the exception of the potential effects of the decision on labor relations, I believe that the practical impact of the American Needle decision on sports fans is being overstated by Munson and Freeman. While an NFL victory would have substantial effects on the field of sports law, I do not believe it would significantly harm most consumers.


For more on my personal views of the single-entity issue and the American Needle case, please see my law review articles There’s No ‘I’ in ‘League’: Professional Sports Leagues and the Single Entity Defense, 105 Mich. L. Rev. 183 (2006), and A Proper Analysis of the National Football League Under Section One of the Sherman Act, 9 Tex. Rev. Ent. & Sports L. 281 (2008).

En-Lightened Cycling

We enjoy cycling at night, and we want to be safe and confident doing it. The Pashley Sovereigns come with an excellent lighting system: a hub driven dynamo headlight and an LED rear light. This is sufficient for some night-time riding, but not optimal for the kind of riding we were doing. So we have made some enhancements to suit our needs.


Headlights serve two main purposes:
1. They make your bicycle visible to others
2. They enable you to see where you are going

What we immediately noticed, is that one headlight cannot do a good job at serving both of these purposes simultaneously. If the light is angled for optimal visibility (straight ahead), it does not provide optimal road illumination. If the light in angled for optimal road illumination (downward), it does not make you maximally visible to others.

If you live in an area that is reasonably illuminated at night, you do not really have a need for #2 and one headlight is perfectly sufficient. However, if you live in the country, in the suburbs, or in any other area with stretches of unlit road, you will need to see where you are going. This is especially important for avoiding pot-holes, objects on the road, patches of black ice in the winter, pedestrians dressed in dark clothing, and those cyclists who travel with no lights on (in the Boston area this is alarmingly common!).

Pictured here is a set of Cateye Opticube LED bike lights, attached to the brackets on the front tire of my Pashley Princess, pointed downward. In the first photo on this post you can see how far the beams illuminate the road in the dark.


With rear lights things are simpler, because visibility to others is the only requirement. Still, because we like to travel through poorly lit areas, we added something extra to what Pashley already provided.

We attached these Cateye Bike LD610 tail lights to the stays of our rear racks. These can be set to be solidly lit, or blinking, or lighting up top to bottom and back, like Christmas tree lights. The effects can be quite fun.

And here the same Cateye tail light (just one) is used as a rear light on Marianne (photo on the right). It attaches to the rear rack with a special mounting bracket. In a pinch, you can also use electrical tape. The photo on the left shows the enormous SunLite Low Rider Bullet headlight that I've permanently mounted on Marianne. Since we use the Motobecanes for recreation rather than transportation, the lighting set-up is not as extensive as on the Pashleys.

Having a good lighting system on your bicycles makes cycling in the dark considerably safer and more enjoyable. Rather than rush to get home as fast as we can once it gets dark, we can take nocturnal joy rides on bike trails and country roads. Let there be light!

Winter yetti babies

Took the old Fuji camera out today and snapped the hairy yetti yak babies.

Rory just before he rolled in his supper
Rorror face

Chowin' down

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Plaxico Burress: The Jury Nullification Strategy?

I have a new column on concerning Plaxico Burress' unusual decision to testify before a grand jury. Here's an excerpt:

* * *

Depending upon the prosecutor's style and tactics, Burress may have testified in a very hostile environment. By testifying, Burress may have also unwittingly revealed his potential trial strategy to prosecutors. Even worse, if he ultimately faces a trial and testifies in it, his testimony must be consistent with his grand jury testimony, for otherwise he could face additional charges for perjury and obstruction of justice.

* * *

Unfortunately for Burress, however, any justification and excuse for carrying the gun are irrelevant under New York law. If he possessed a loaded firearm outside of his home or place of business, he committed the crime. It is a bright line matter.

As New York criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor Jeremy Saland of Crotty Saland, LLP tells, Burress' appearance before the grand jury appears driven not by a desire to claim innocence but rather by a desire for jury nullification -- meaning, in this case, the grand jury would decide to disregard the actual law which Burress appears to have broken.

* * *

To read the rest, click here.

The stuff you own ends up owning you.--TYLER DURDEN

Make Money, Sound Impressive. Magic.

From today's FT:

After graduating from Oxford in 1992, Garth Edward did relief and development work for the United Nations in Africa for four years and another year at UN headquarters in New York. But he found the consensus-based UN a "frustrating environment if you want to do things, not discuss things".

In 1998, at the age of 28, he took a job with an asset management company in New York and set up a greenhouse gas trading desk for it. He found he was not just making more money on Wall Street than he was at the UN - he also felt he was doing more good. "Sitting in a room talking with a bunch of people doesn't sound very impressive," he says. "Funding wind farms that reduce emissions by x amount of tons does."

Later in the article Mr. Edward explains that kowtowing to environmental values can only be taken so far:
Although Mr Edward of Citigroup himself came from an NGO background, he now runs a team of typical commodities traders who previously traded coal, gas and electricity. "They would be able to sit on any desk," he says. "If we were hiring someone to be an emissions trader, environmental credentials would be a minor factor compared to commercial competence."

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that so many carbon traders used to work at Enron. Louis Redshaw, who is now the head of environmental markets at Barclays Capital, spent four years working for Enron in London and set up its renewable energies desk. Enron alumni have also ended up on trading desks at other investment banks. Although the company was not involved directly in carbon trading, it pioneered trading in other emissions such as sulphur dioxide.

Make money and save the planet. Sounds magical.

Reilly thinks Spring is coming!

I don't really think these photos require any explanations - Reilly is clearly pleased that spring is on its way ...

If it is fine tomorrow, he's getting a bath and a makeover. Time to get this boy back to work methinks!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Natasha Fuller's story gets more sinster

The big story in New Zealand is about a lady named Natasha Fuller, she wrote on her facebook page that part of her welfare cheque (she is a solo mother with three kids) has been stopped. Under new laws, a training allowance to get welfare reciepents back to work has now been dropped, so thus Fuller is now out of pocket.

She also wrote that her three kids have special needs, and is struggling, and how unfair it is that a allowance to help unemployed people get back to work would be stopped.

She still gets the normal rate for a solo mother though.

Well the sh*t really hit the fan when National Party Politician Paula Bennett released her details to the media to bring fairness to the story. Was it fair to do this? Did Paula breach the privacy act or not?

That has been pushed to the background, with everything that has been coming out about Ms Fuller.

First off, she has a two story lockwood house and a very expensive laptop which she uses for her facebook page , she recieved ten thousand dollars from WINZ (Government wlefare agency) for a business that had failed, she has never been asked to pay it back, she has admitted receiving over $730 a week for her benefit.

It has now come to light, an allegation that she has made secret phone calls to Annette King, a senior member of the Labour Party, before Paula Bennett released her details to the media.

It has also come to light that Ms Fuller may of been living off her partner's credit card and didn't tell WINZ, which would be fraud. Further investiagations shows that she used three different names on public messages boards when telling of her exploits with her ex's credit card.

As each day passes, this story gets worse and worse for Ms Fuller.

The Princess spectator

watching the boats on the Charles river at twilight after a long ride...

Televised Sporting Events

I may have told this story before so stop me if you have heard it.

Once upon a time, I went with some friends on a stay in the mountains. I met this guy who was a friend of a friend, so I started up a conversation with him. I asked him what he liked to do, and he said, "I like sports."

"That's cool. What do you think the Cowboys will do this season?"

"I think you have misunderstood me," he said.

He went on to say that he played sports. He didn't waste his time watching them. The next day he was out on a morning bike ride and was back before the rest of us had even gotten up. I got the distinct feeling that I was wasting my life.

I think about the incident a lot when I am watching a ball game or a race. Instead of watching other people doing shit, I could be out there getting some exercise and losing the gut. But the feeling goes away by the end of the commercial.

Lately, that feeling has not been going away. Maybe this is because they don't play football in the summer, and NASCAR hasn't had any big time drama with Kyle Busch lately. But I do feel like I am wasting my life and need to cut back in some areas. Watching televised sporting events is at the top of the list.

The reality is that big time sports are a fucking waste of life. Unlike watching a movie, you can't find heroes in sports. This is because they are either cheating, using roids, fighting dogs on the side, whining about their contracts, or just being asses. The only decent athlete out there is Tiger Woods, but golf is boring.

I have been intending to drop the sports habit for years now, and I am going to follow through on it. I need to get active and do something with the rest of my life instead of watching shit on the tube as those guys do something with their lives. I think it is as simple as choosing to be a participant instead of just a spectator. So, I'm done watching NASCAR, football, and the occasional UFC slugfest. The time to change is now.

Catching Up on Gillispie v. University of Kentucky Athletic Association

One increasingly interesting, sports-related lawsuit which hasn't garnered much attention here is Gillispie v. University of Kentucky Athletic Association Inc., the suit filed by former University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie. As most are probably aware, Gillispie was fired by Kentucky on March 27, 2009, after completing two years of a seven-year agreement valued at $1.5 million per year.

For the next two months, Gillispie and the University attempted to negotiate an amicable resolution to the remaining term of the contract, until Gillispie finally filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas on May 27, 2009. In his Complaint, Gillispie asserts four causes of action: (i) breach of contract, (ii) fraud, (iii) fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, and (iv) tortious interference with prospective contract. The breach of contract claim asserts that Kentucky failed to agree to pay Gillispie the $1.5 million/year he was owed under the agreement for 4 years following his termination without cause. The other claims effectively allege that the University fraudulently induced Gillispie to sign with the University in 2007, insofar as the University had never intended to pay Gillispie post-termination.

The day after Gillispie filed suit in Texas, the University of Kentucky itself filed suit against Gillispie in a Kentucky state court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the University never entered a formal contract with Gillispie, and therefore does not owe him any additional compensation.

One of the initial issues which must be resolved is whether the litigation should proceed in Texas or Kentucky. The University of Kentucky Athletic Association filed a motion to dismiss in late June in the Texas action, asserting that the court lacked personal jurisdiction. Alternatively, the Athletic Association asked that the case be moved to Kentucky.

Once the courts determine the proper forum for the litigation, the parties will likely focus their attention on two primary issues. First, the parties dispute whether Gillispie ever entered a formal contract with Kentucky. Rather than execute a formal written employment agreement, Gillispie and the University instead allowed their relationship to be governed by the initial two-page Memorandum of Understanding entered in April 2007. In his complaint, Gillispie cites correspondence from the University stating that the MoU "can itself serve as the employment contract" for Gillispie. Meanwhile, the University's declaratory judgment complaint alleges that the MoU is not an enforceable contract, as it expressly left material terms to be negotiated between the parties. According to the University's complaint, the parties were still negotiating a formal employment agreement as recently as February of this year.

A second issue which will be disputed by the parties is whether Gillispie was actually employed by the University of Kentucky or the University of Kentucky Athletic Association, and thus which is the proper party for purposes of the suit. Gillispie has asserted that he was employed by the University of Kentucky Athletic Association, the tax-exempt, non-profit organization which manages Kentucky's athletic operations. The University of Kentucky denies this allegation, and asserts instead that it employed Gillispie itself. The significance of this distinction is the fact that the University of Kentucky is a state agency, whereas the Athletic Association is a private corporation. Therefore, if Gillispie was employed by the University itself, the University would be able to invoke the doctrine of sovereign immunity in its defense, potentially limiting Gillispie to only his breach of contract claim. Meanwhile, if Gillispie was in fact employed by the Athletic Association, the doctrine of sovereign immunity will not be available, and Gillispie will be free to proceed with his fraud and tort claims.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has been tracking the litigation, and earlier this month reported that the University of Kentucky Athletic Association's 2007 tax return listed Gillispie as the organization's highest-paid employee. As the newspaper noted, this disclosure places the University and the Athletic Association in an awkward position. If Gillispie was in fact employed by the University of Kentucky, and not the Athletic Association, then the Association may be found to have submitted false information to the IRS, an action which could potentially threaten its tax-exempt status. Alternatively, if the Athletic Association was in fact Gillispie's true employer, then the sovereign immunity defense will be unavailable to the University, increasing its potential exposure in the suit.

With so many fundamental issues in dispute, it will be interesting to watch how this litigation unfolds in the coming months.

Catching Up with Links

* Rick Karcher was interviewed by the New York Times in a recent story on a class action lawsuit filed this past spring by former college football players against Electronic Arts for using their images in video games without permission.

* Tim Epstein was recently interviewed on a Chicago station to discuss the Ponzi scheme associated with Mike North’s Chicago Sports Webio, an internet radio site for Chicago sports.

* Gabe Feldman discusses a lawsuit filed by Marist Universit against James Madison hoops coach Matt Brady, who left Marist in 2008 and who Marist believes essentially stole some of its recruits.

* Geoff Rapp was interviewed by the National Post on the American Needle litigation.

* Congrats to Professor Alfred Mathewson, a sports law professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law and a friend of many of us here on the blog, on being named Acting Director of the Africana Studies Program at UNM.

* I was interviewed on the Dan Patrick Show last week to discuss a video that's made its way around the Internet on ESPN's Erin Andrews apparently undressing. It's not every day when I get to talk about Peeping Tom Laws, or the precedential value of Pamela Anderson's sex tape.

* I was interviewed on Seattle KJR 950 Sports Radio last week on Mike Gastineau's show to discuss O'Bannon v. NCAA. Jeff Levine of the Biz of Basketball also has a good piece on O'Bannon v. NCAA. Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News similarly does a nice job examining O'Bannon v. NCAA.

* I was interviewed by Scott Drake on the Legal Broadcast Network to discuss the legal issues of the Phoenix Coyotes and their potential relocation.

* I was interviewed by Jeff Montgomery of the Delaware News Journal to discuss the leagues' lawsuit over sports betting and gambling. Online Casino Advisory pools together a variety of views on the same topic and Street and Smith's Sports Journal also does a really nice job pooling together various media sources. Gabe blogged about this same topic yesterday.

* Thank you Darren Heitner of the outstanding Sports Agent Blog for discussing my forthcoming law review article on Judge Sotomayor and sports law. If you have any interest in the work of sports agents, either from a law or business standpoint, there is no better blog to read than Sports Agent Blog.

* Tim Ziller of Fanhouse with a very good argument against the NBA's age limit.

* Brian Baxter covers the bases of sports law in the latest sports law entry on Am Law Daily.

* Mark Alesia of the Indianapolis Star interviews various people for a piece on litigations mentioned above.

* If you've ever watched the film Hoop Dreams, check out this great piece by SI's Seth Davis on William Gates, now 38, and his ministry work back in his old neighborhood. Davis also mentions that Arthur Agee has had less success.

* We love debating age limits on Sports Law Blog, and whenever we do, it's always about age floors -- the minimum requisite age one must be to play in a sport or league. Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press has an interesting piece on an age ceiling for the British Open.

When should you abandon a project?

On "Magical Solutions"

I have a commentary up over at Yale Environment360. Here is how I begin:
Fifty years ago, political scientist Harold Lasswell explained that some policies are all about symbolism, with little or no impact on real-world outcomes. He called such actions “magical solutions,” explaining that “political symbolization has its catharsis functions.” Climate policy is going through exactly such a phase, in which a focus on magical solutions leaves little room for the practical.
Please visit Yale e360 and read it, and then come back. You are welcome to leave comments (positive or negative) here or there. I'll be happy to answer any questions.

PS. Some of the data in the essay about Japan's climate policy proposals comes from a paper of mine just submitted. If you would like a copy, please send me an email request:

Pielke, Jr. R. A. 2009 (under review). Mamizu Climate Policy: An Evaluation of Japanese Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets, Environmental Research Letters.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Maxi gets a card ...

Last time Amy rode, she fell off - Just when her confidence was heading sky high, she went sky high literally and then bit the dust (or the mud and poop). I said to myself, as she sailed through the air, "oh well, there goes that then", but plopped her back on and she amazed me by riding for another 10 minutes, albeit with me on the end of the leadrope and tears drying on her face.

Maxi is very protective of his little girl and I had my GSD bitch in the paddock with us. Maxi decided the wolf was a threat and made chase and I was not quite close enough to grab him. As Jet pinged through the fence to escape the fire breathing Welshie, said fire breathing Welshie chucked in a buck and the rest, as they say, is history. Oops!

That was on Monday. On Tuesday Amy has swimming after school so no time to ride but today she came home and the first thing she asked was if she could ride her pony, "but the dogs can't come today, ok Mummy?".

I am relieved to say that today's ride went well. Amy had made Maxi a card to show him that there were no hard feelings - cute!

Amy gives Maxi his card
Maxi reads his card
In the yards
Happy smiley faces
Pair of posers

The Fate of Sports Gambling in Delaware Might Rest in the Hands of...Bill Simmons

He might now know it yet, but Bill Simmons (aka,’s “Sports Guy”) could play an important role in the outcome of the lawsuit filed by the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA against the Delaware Sports Lottery. The leagues claim that the single-game bets offered by the lottery violate federal and state law. The federal claim deals with the scope of the grandfather clause contained in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”). Unless he has quietly gained an expertise in federal statutory interpretation , Simmons won’t play a role in that claim. He might, however, find himself playing a key role in the resolution of the state law claim.

As I discussed in an earlier post, the state law claim will require the court to answer the classic legal question—How much skill is involved in picking the winner of an NFL game with a point spread?* If chance, or luck, is the predominant factor, the single game bets will constitute a legal “lottery” game under the Delaware Constitution. If skill controls, then the single games are not a “lottery” and are therefore illegal.

So, how would a court determine whether betting on NFL games is mostly skill or luck? In a 1977 case involving the original Delaware Sports Lottery, a federal court noted that the “results of NFL games are a function of myriad factors such as the weather, the health and mood of the players and the condition of the playing field. Some educated predictions can be made about each of these but each is also subject to last minute changes and to an element of the unknowable, or to put it another way, to an element of chance.” That is not a particularly controversial conclusion, and the NFL has worked very hard to create a league where any team (even my beloved Jets) can win on any given Thursday, Sunday, or Monday.

The court also relied on some interesting “scientific” evidence—the success rate of “Jimmy The Greek,” the (in)famous sports handicapper, in picking NFL games. The court determined that the Greek’s mediocre record in picking NFL games supported its conclusion that betting on NFL games was more chance than skill. After all, if an “expert” could not get more than 50% of the games correct, how much skill could really be involved? Notably, all of the games in the original lottery were parlays, which required players to pick the winner of multiple NFL games, so the court never addressed the issue of the amount of chance involved in picking the winner of a single game with a spread.

How will the court decide that issue here? How will it determine if the point spread turns each game into a 50/50 bet, or if it merely ensures that equal amounts of money are bet on both teams? The court might turn to Bill Simmons. Simmons is not quite a modern version of Jimmy the Greek—the 2000’s version of the Greek is probably charging a fee for his betting advice somewhere on the internet. I’m not even sure Simmons considers himself an “expert” NFL gambler. On the one hand, he spends a fair amount of time touting his skill as a sports gambler and has published an “NFL playoffs gambling manifesto.” On the other hand, one of the rules from the manifesto is: “Never bet heavily against a playoff team that has a coach and an owner whose last names both end in a vowel.” And, he frequently reminds his readers: “The lesson, as always? I’m an idiot.”

That said, my guess is that his NFL picks column on is more widely read than any other gambling column on the internet. While the court (and the parties in their briefs to the court) may look to the pay sites for the results from the “real” experts, Simmons’ success rate may at least be instructive (in a "people's champ" kind of way). So, how did Simmons do? From 2006-2009, he picked the winner of every NFL game against the point spread. He finished with 478 wins, 461 losses, and 32 pushes (the data from 2006-2008 was taken from here) That’s a 51% success rate (49% if you include the pushes), not much better than chance. In fairness, Simmons picked every game, and part of the skill in picking NFL games is knowing which games are “good bets” and which games are toss-ups. So, it’s not entirely fair to judge Simmons—or the amount of skill involved in picking games—by looking at the results of every game he picked. He may have had a much higher success rate if he were able to choose only one game per week.

We might be able to learn something more from the results of the 2007 season, when Simmons’ wife (aka, the “Sports Gal”) also picked every game of that NFL season against the spread. The Sports Gal finished 137-110-9, while Simmons finished 119-128-9. And, it is fair to say that the Sports Gal is not the female Jimmy the Greek. Here are explanations for some of her picks:
BUCS (+2.5) over Panthers
I don't care about either of these teams and don't know what cities they play in. (Bill thought I was kidding when I asked if the Panthers were "the Detroit Panthers" a few weeks ago. Nope.) Whenever this is the case, I take the home team as long as the spread isn't too big. A good rule of thumb for ya.

Bengals (-2.5) over DOLPHINS
If it's an all-animal matchup, I always try to weigh that accordingly. Dolphins are cuddly and nice. I don't understand why any NFL team would wear aqua blue unis and call itself "The Dolphins," then not expect to get its butt kicked. They should go with the Spearfishers. I would have taken them if they were the Spearfishers.

Rams (+6) over CARDINALS
Please, a Ram would destroy a Cardinal. Also, I don't even know where the Cardinals play. Baltimore? St. Louis? I told you, this is why I'm 23 wins over 50/50 -- I don't know even the basics.

The “expert” was 9 games under. 500 (48% correct) while the blissfully unaware novice was 27 games over .500 (55% correct). I’m pretty confident that the Delaware District Court won’t cite to the Sports Gal’s picks, but Simmons’ mediocre record may just help push along legalized single-game betting in Delaware.

In fact, the very existence of Simmons’ popular weekly picks column may hurt the NFL’s case. The NFL has claimed that legalized gambling on the NFL will cause irreparable harm to the game. In a letter to Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Roger Goodell wrote that “[t]here is no issue of greater importance to the league. That is why the NFL’s position on legalized sports gambling has remained consistent for decades. State-promoted gambling…creates suspicion and cynicism toward every on-the-field mistake that affects the betting line.”

Yet, as Governor Markell noted in his response to Goodell,
As I understand it, the NFL negotiates contracts with all of the principal broadcast networks and those contracts generate billions of dollars in revenues for the NFL and the team owners. Importantly, each of these companies owns and operates websites that provide the betting lines which are viewed by bettors in every state in the nation, regardless of whether the viewers in that State can legally wager on the games. For example, ESPN's "Pigskin PICK "EM" offers would -be bettors analysis by "Hector the Projector" for each game, including which team to pick with the spread….

Presumably the NFL's decision to allow ESPN and other parties with which the NFL contracts to promote gambling on NFL games reflects your belief that the value of the NFL franchise is enhanced by that programming. In short, the notion that the NFL has aggressively fought against betting on its games is belied by the very programming the NFL indirectly endorses and from which it handsomely profits.…

So, even if Simmons’ .500 record isn’t enough to doom the NFL’s case, the very fact that Simmons is picking games against the spread on the site might do them in.

Roger Goodell will now light himself on fire…

*The case actually involves NCAA, NBA, MLB, and NHL games, but I have limited the discussion to the NFL.

NOAA Explains the Global Temperature "Slowdown"

An advance copy of NOAA's Annual State of the Climate Report has been made available (as low-res PDF here). In it is a box that seeks to explain why it is that global temperatures have not increased since January 1, 1999 (pp. 23-24). The report observes:
Observations indicate that global temperature rise has slowed in the last decade (Fig. 2.8a [ed.- above, caption below]). The least squares trend for January 1999 to December 2008 calculated from the HadCRUT3 dataset (Brohan et al. 2006) is +0.07±0.07°C decade–1—much less than the 0.18°C decade–1 recorded between 1979 and 2005 and the 0.2°C decade–1 expected in the next decade (IPCC; Solomon et al. 2007). This is despite a steady increase in radiative forcing as a result of human activities and has led some to question climate predictions of substantial twenty-first century warming (Lawson 2008; Carter 2008).

El Niño–Southern Oscillation is a strong driver of interannual global mean temperature variations. ENSO and non-ENSO contributions can be separated by the method of Thompson et al. (2008) (Fig. 2.8a). The trend in the ENSO-related component for 1999–2008 is +0.08±0.07°C decade–1, fully accounting for the overall observed trend. The trend after removing ENSO (the "ENSO-adjusted" trend) is 0.00°±0.05°C decade–1, implying much greater disagreement with anticipated global temperature rise.

Caption to Figure 2.8a: Monthly global mean temperature anomalies (with respect to 1961–90 climatology) since 1975, derived from the combined land and ocean temperature dataset HadCRUT3 (gray curve). (top blue curve) The global mean after the effect of ENSO that has been subtracted is also shown, along with (bottom blue curve, offset by 0.5°C) the ENSO contribution itself. Least squares linear trends in the ENSO and ENSO-removed components for 1999–2008 and their two std dev uncertainties are shown in orange.
To explore how rare an event it is to observe no warming over a period of more than a decade the authors ran a climate model (HadCM3) and compared the statistics from those runs to the observations as follows:
Ensembles with different modifications to the physical parameters of the model (within known uncertainties) (Collins et al. 2006) are performed for several of the IPCC SRES emissions scenarios (Solomon et al. 2007). Ten of these simulations have a steady long-term rate of warming between 0.15° and 0.25ºC decade–1, close to the expected rate of 0.2ºC decade–1. ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations (Fig. 2.8b). Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.
What does this mean? It means that model realizations with a long-term trend of 0.15 to 0.25 degrees warming per decade also show periods longer than a decade with no warming. How common are such periods? NOAA answers this question as well:
The 10 model simulations (a total of 700 years of simulation) possess 17 nonoverlapping decades with trends in ENSO-adjusted global mean temperature within the uncertainty range of the observed 1999–2008 trend (−0.05° to 0.05°C decade–1).
Lets see if I can sort this out probabilistically (readers please comment on the following math). In 10 x 70 years of simulation there are potentially 610 different decades (because you can't start a decade in the final 9 years of each simulation). If we subtract from the 610 the 170 decades that would begin as a member of the set of 17, as well as the 153 decades that would begin within the 9 years that precede each of the 17 decades (thus avoiding an overlap) that leaves a total of 287, allowing 278 potential decades. So 17 non-overlapping decades out of a set of 278 + 17 = 295 total decades is 5.8%. This is indeed larger than 5% but not by very much. It is safe to say, if my math is correct. of course, that even in the HadCM3 model simulations 10 years without warming is a rare event.

NOAA concludes by explaining that this discussion is moot anyway:
These results show that climate models possess internal mechanisms of variability capable of reproducing the current slowdown in global temperature rise. Other factors, such as data biases and the effect of the solar cycle (Haigh 2003), may also have contributed, although these results show that it is not essential to invoke these explanations. The simulations also produce an average increase of 2.0°C in twenty-first century global temperature, demonstrating that recent observational trends are not sufficient to discount predictions of substantial climate change and its significant and widespread impacts. Given the likelihood that internal variability contributed to the slowing of global temperature rise in the last decade, we expect that warming will resume in the next few years, consistent with predictions from near-term climate forecasts (Smith et al. 2007; Haines et al. 2009).
Until the "slowdown" reverses you can expect that people will continue to talk about it. Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming.

Climate Activists in Denial

Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, has an incisive column today on the state of international climate politics. He begins:

The phrase “climate change denier” has a nasty ring to it. It links those who dispute mainstream science on global warming with “Holocaust deniers”. They are not just wrong, it implies, they are evil.

But the climate change lobby is in the grip of its own form of dangerous fantasy. It is in denial not about science – but about international politics.

And he concludes:

The state of international negotiations presents a huge dilemma for climate change activists. Most genuinely believe that a failure to achieve an international agreement in Copenhagen would be catastrophic. But they also know that, even if a deal is reached, it is likely to be feeble and ineffective. If they admit this publicly, they risk creating a climate of despair and inaction. But if they press ahead, they are putting all their energy into an approach that they must know is highly unlikely to deliver.

It is a horrible dilemma. But, in difficult situations, it is best to start by facing facts.
We recently offered an analysis of how climate policy might get back on course, starting with a clear-eyed recognition of the failure of the current approach and proceeding to outline a pragmatic way forward.

You can read that essay here:

Prins, G., Cook., M., Green, C., Hulme, M., Korhola, A., Korhola, E.R., Pielke, Jr., R., Rayner, S., Sawa, A., Sarewitz, D., Stehr, N., and H. von Storch, 2009. How to get climate policy back on course. Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Oxford University and London School of Economics, The Mackinder Programme, LSE.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Joe Romm vs. John Kerry

UPDATE 28 July: Welcome Climate Progress readers!

Joe Romm has claimed that someone shut down my original blog. You might ask him, who shut down Pielke's blog? That is a bald-faced lie from Joe. Someone please call him on it.

On whether or not John Kerry (or Nancy Pelosi -- "just remember these four words for what this legislation means: jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs. Let's vote for jobs.") has "pretended" that the "overwhelming reason" for the legislation is jobs?

Joe and I will have to agree to disagree on that one. The factual record speaks pretty clearly.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) explains why passing cap-and-trade is so important:
...this bill is really a bill for the transformation of the American economy. This bill is about jobs — clean energy jobs that stay here in America, that pay people decent salaries.
Joe Romm explains that Senator Kerry is insulting his peers and the American public with his pretend arguments:
Frankly, it is an insult to the public — and to members of Congress — to pretend that the overwhelming reason we are doing this bill is clean energy and jobs.
That is all the Democrats need on cap-and-trade, their loudest cheerleader calling them liars about the promise of jobs. No green jobs? Say it ain't so, Joe.

The Next Opponent for Forrest's Killers: A Felony Murder Charge

Death Penalty Looms as Possibility for Killers of Former Welterweight and Junior Middleweight Champion Under Georgia’s Felony Murder Laws

The emotionally fragile boxing community, still nursing its wounds from the recent untimely deaths of retired legends Alexis Arguello and Arturo Gatti, was rocked again on the night of Saturday, July 26, 2009 when 1992 U.S. Olympian, and former welterweight and junior middleweight champion Vernon Forrest was shot to death in Atlanta, Georgia after a gun battle with two individuals who reportedly robbed Forrest at a gas station. In the end, Forrest perished the way he fought; standing and trading fire like the champion that he was. Although no suspects had been apprehended as of the date of this posting, the die is already cast for the next bout of his assailants: a showdown with the People of the State of Georgia for their lives.

Georgia Law on Felony Murder and the Relevant Component Offenses

Under Section 16-5-1(c) of the Georgia Annotated Code, “[a] person commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.” Section 16-4-1(d) mandates that “[a] person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life.” Under Section 16-8-41(b), armed robbery is a felony punishable “by death or imprisonment for life or by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.”

Georgia is one of about 24 states that allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for those not directly responsible for a murder committed during the commission of a felony. Known as the “agency theory” of felony murder, it allows for co-felons and accomplices to face the same sentence as the one who caused the death of someone else during the course of another felony. The actual killer is, in short, an “agent” of the others that committed the felony alongside him and thus inextricably links them with the killing that takes place during said felony.

Georgia’s Felony Murder Rule as it Applies to Forrest’s Killers

As to the murder of Forrest, the details made public thus far suggest that the two assailants stole several items from Forrest with the use of firearms, also known as armed robbery. Armed robbery is a felony under the laws of the State of Georgia, as it is in all jurisdictions. Forrest was killed during the commission of said felony, thus a felony murder was committed. The “agency theory” of felony murder appears to be a non-issue here, as its been reported that both assailants may have opened fire on Forrest. If, however, the evidence ultimately suggests that only one assailant shot the former U.S. Olympian, the other assailant would still be on the hook for his death under the “agency theory.” Under either scenario, a conviction would mean a death sentence, life imprisonment without parole, or imprisonment for life under Georgia law for Forrest’s killers. If Atlanta prosecutors have their day in court with Forrest’s killers, therefore, the facts released thus far suggest that they will have all of the evidence that they need to score a revenge knockout for the boxing world’s latest fallen son.

Also available at: (including a legal analysis of Arturo Gatti's demise).

Paul Stuart Haberman, Esq. is an attorney at the New York law firm of Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP and a former law clerk of renowned New York City-based criminal defense attorney Joseph A. Bondy. He is also a New York State licensed boxing manager and the Chairman of the Sports Law Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association. ©

Update on Pete Rose

Late update from my initial post on reports that Bud Selig is considering reinstating Pete Rose. The updated ESPN story suggests that initial reports were overstated and that, while Selig is "seriously considering" the issue, Rose's status is not changed and Selig is not necessarily close to lifting the ban.

The updated story also quotes former Commissioner Fay Vincent making several points: 1) Rose may not get into the Hall even if he is reinstated because "[t]here is no indication that there's any great support for Pete Rose to get in the Hall of Fame"; 2) Deterrence of gambling would be seriously hampered if Rose is reinstated; and 3) One plan in the works is for Rose to be reinstated only for Hall purposes, but remaining ineligible to serve in any official function within baseball or any of its organizations.

In order: 1) This is unknowable unless we start hearing from all 65 Veterans' Committee members, but I cannot see players holding onto the same hostility about Rose's gambling and (although I have no empirical basis for this) I remain convinced he will be elected overwhelmingly if reinstated; 2) I agree that deterrence will be lost, which is something I was trying to get at in my original post; and 3) the idea of reinstatement-for-some-purposes-and-not-for-others is utterly ridiculous, both because of the double standard and deterrence gap it creates (Vincent's point) and because it is silly on its face--if Rose should be reinstated, it is because MLB considers his misconduct sufficiently behind him that he should be welcomed back into the game and if not, he should not be welcomed in the Hall.

Rose to be reinstated? Baseball and gambling

Reports are coming out that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is considering reinstating Pete Rose to baseball, this after Henry Aaron spoke in support of Rose at Sunday's Hall of Fame induction. Reinstatement virtually ensures Rose's induction into the Hall, perhaps as early as next year. The only thing that had been keeping Rose out was Hall of Fame Rule 3E, which bars from Hall induction any person on MLB's Permanent Ineligible List. I think the Veterans' Committee will vote him in, probably overwhelmingly; former players typically are more forgiving of player transgressions than writers.

Some random thoughts.

First, I have to get past my instinct to simply conclude that, if Bud Selig is thinking about doing this, it must be a bad idea. The timing is interesting, as this year marks the twentieth anniversary of both Rose' ban and the brief commissionership and untimely death of Bart Giamatti. Selig would be undoing the signature act of, arguably, the last strong non-owner commissioner.

Second, what does this say about our system of punishment? Rose accepted permanent ineligibility from the game and has admitted to conduct (betting on games in which his own team was involved) that, under Major League Rule 21(d) carries an automatic punishment of permanent ineligibility. But now it appears he is going to get back into the game (and probably the Hall) within his lifetime, although the 20 years he lost as a manager, executive, ambassador, etc., certainly are nothing to sneeze at. Is this the equivalent of a commuted sentence--he served his time, he has reformed himself, let him get on with his life? Or is this more like a pardon--a subsequent statement that Rose did nothing wrong? Are the goals of punishment and of MLB furthered by this move, which ultimately gives Rose everything he wanted?

Third, what about the Black Sox? This move would establish precedent that a permanent ban for gambling-related activity is not, in fact, a permanent ban. If Rose can be reinstated after twenty years, is there any argument against reinstating the Black Sox players after eighty? Can there be any rational distinction drawn between the Sox players and Rose that would justify reinstating the latter and not some or all of the former? And does Selig know the Pandora's Box he may be opening? (See # 1).

After all, some of them were suspended for arguably less-serious infractions than Rose--Shoeless Joe Jackson took money but did nothing to lose games; Buck Weaver took no money and was punished only for knowing about the fix and not informing team and league officials. Reprehensible conduct to be sure; but Selig seems to be in a forgiving mood. Moreover, without excusing the Black Sox, context matters. Baseball during the first twenty years of the last century was a few steps above professional wrestling--gambling, fixing games, etc., were pervasive, constantly discussed, and mostly ignored. Talk of fixed World Series games went all the way back to the first Series in 1903 and there was talk of fixes in both the 1917 and 1918 Series, as well as late-season shenanigans in 1917-19. The hiring of Kenesaw Mountain Landis reflected a conscious move by the Major Leagues to shed that image as entertainment and become a true, on-the-level competition. Of course, the gambling problems continued even into the '20s, notably with the forced "resignations" in 1926 of managers (and retired greats) Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb in the wake of allegations of they fixed regular-season games. By the time Rose came along, on the other hand, the rules and the history were well-established and could not have been clearer--gambling, especially gambling on games involving your team, was the ultimate baseball sin; it even was posted on the wall of every Major League Clubhouse. That knowledge arguably makes Rose's conduct more unforgivable.

Fourth, Buster Olney of ESPN argues that reinstatement and enshrinement does nothing to Rose's legacy one way or another; his conduct over the past twenty+ years has tarnished his reputation, although his greatness as a player remains undeniable (if too-often dramatically overstated and overrated). So this presents two questions:

1) Should Rose be inducted into the Hall? Character, sportsmanship, and off-the-field conduct are formally part of the election criteria for voters, although, as everyone so often notes, the Hall is full of racists, boozers, womanizers, and other miscreants.
2) Assuming Rose is elected to the Hall of Fame in short order, should his plaque mention the gambling and the (non-permanent) ban from the game, alongside the hits and games played? This is an argument that often was made about Rose, as well as admitted or suspected steroid users. I have not accepted the argument as to Rose, because Hall Rule 3E is clear that he cannot be voted in. But with the ban lifted and induction imminent, this is something that the Hall must address directly, given that his misconduct and punishment were not about general misbehavior (note I have not mentioned Rose's conviction and incarceration for tax evasion) but went to the heart of the rules and integrity of the game.

Normalized Earthquake Damage and Fatalities in the United States: 1900-2005

At long last Vranes and Pielke (2009) has appeared. We estimate that a recurrence of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake would result in $39-$328 billion in damage and 3,000-24,000 deaths. See the paper for details. For those of you wanting to compare earthquakes to hurricanes, we estimate as much as $450 billion in cumulative losses 1900 to 2005, while Pielke et al. 2008 (PDF) estimate about $1,100 billion in cumulative hurricane losses over the same period. Though the largest potential earthquake in our dataset is as much as twice the largest potential hurricane. This makes for some interesting questions about loss mitigation investments, including R&D.

There is no trend in the dataset over time. However, if you start the analysis in 1970 you will find a dramatic trend in the normalized losses that vastly exceeds the rate of increase in population or wealth (see Figure 6, reproduced in color above). We conclude that this can only be explained by increasing greenhouse gases. OK, that was a joke (referring to those who would apply the same logic to hurricanes based on a similar bit of data mining;-).

It is a big paper with lots of data and analyses, and undoubtedly just a first offering from the academic community on this interesting and largely unexplored topic. Here is the abstract:

Normalized Earthquake Damage and Fatalities in the United States: 1900–2005
Natural Hazards Rev. Volume 10, Issue 3, pp. 84-101 (August 2009)

Damage estimates from 80 U.S. earthquakes since 1900 are “normalized” to 2005 dollars by adjusting for inflation, increases in wealth, and changes in population. Factors accounting for mitigation at 1 and 2% loss reduction per year are also considered. The earthquake damage record is incomplete, perhaps by up to 25% of total events that cause damage, but all of the most damaging events are accounted for. For events with damage estimates, cumulative normalized losses since 1900 total $453 billion, or $235 billion and $143 billion when 1 and 2% mitigation is factored, respectively. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire adjusts to $39–$328 billion depending on assumptions and mitigation factors used, likely the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history in normalized 2005 values. Since 1900, 13 events would have caused $1 billion or more in losses had they occurred in 2005; five events adjust to more than $10 billion in damages. Annual average losses range from $1.3 billion to $5.7 billion with an average across data sets and calculation methods of $2.5 billion, below catastrophe model estimates and estimates of average annual losses from hurricanes. Fatalities are adjusted for population increase and mitigation, with five events causing over 100 fatalities when mitigation is not considered, four (three) events when 1% (2%) mitigation is considered. Fatalities in the 1906 San Francisco event adjusts from 3,000 to over 24,000, or 8,900 (3,300) if 1% (2%) mitigation is considered. Implications for comparisons of normalized results with catastrophe model output and with normalized damage profiles of other hazards are considered.
You can access the paper here or here in PDF.

Snatch & Jerk

Oa jerk 20kg: 5/5
Jerk 2x 20kg: 5
Jerk 2x 24kg: 5, 31/5min, 3
Jerk 2x 26kg: 3

Snatch 20kg: 5/5
Snatch 24kg: 5/5, 30/30

Oa swing 40kg: 10/10

Bar hang 1 set

John Kerry Grants the China Argument

Writing in an op-ed in the FT today Senator John Kerry (D-MA) concedes a political reality:
Today we need China to forgo the carbon-intensive industrial processes that fuelled the west in the 19th and 20th centuries and to pioneer the clean technologies of the 21st. Sceptics are right that if China does not reciprocate, our domestic efforts will be for naught.
China no doubt would respond, "When you forgo carbon-intensive industrial processes you let us know." Of more parochial interest, Kerry's statement that U.S. efforts will be for "naught" without Chinese reciprocation will surely be read back to him many times in the U.S. Senate and elsewhere.

Here We Go

Come on Chelsea, Come on Chelsea, Come on Chelsea.

The Chelsea football team and the biggest country artist in history make strange bedfellows.

But when your Garth, and have spent the past nine years of your life doing charity work, its not so strange.

Garth was made honorary captain of the Chelsea football team for their preseason match against club America in the weekend. Garth's teammates for kids charity has joined with the Chelsea football team's leading children charity to make a difference in youngster's lifes in the UK and the USA.

I think it is high time the critics of Garth got over the Chris Gaines thing and started to give Mr Brooks more credit for the work that he has done over the years, so many superstars in the music world, spend their time in drug rehab and are in jail for assaulting their girlfriends, but Garth has spent his time trying to make a difference, hats off to him and the Chelsea football team for this, I only hope the media do the same thing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


From Nature Geoscience comes this less-than-titillating abstract:

Nature Geoscience
Published online: 26 July 2009 | doi:10.1038/ngeo587

Constraints on future sea-level rise from past sea-level change

Mark Siddall, Thomas F. Stocker & Peter U. Clark

It is difficult to project sea-level rise in response to warming climates by the end of the century, especially because the response of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to warming is not well understood1. However, sea-level fluctuations in response to changing climate have been reconstructed for the past 22,000 years from fossil data, a period that covers the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the warm Holocene interglacial period. Here we present a simple model of the integrated sea-level response to temperature change that implicitly includes contributions from the thermal expansion and the reduction of continental ice. Our model explains much of the centennial-scale variability observed over the past 22,000 years, and estimates 4–24 cm of sea-level rise during the twentieth century, in agreement with the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1 (IPCC). In response to the minimum (1.1 °C) and maximum (6.4 °C) warming projected for AD 2100 by the IPCC models, our model predicts 7 and 82 cm of sea-level rise by the end of the twenty-first century, respectively. The range of sea-level rise is slightly larger than the estimates from the IPCC models of 18–76 cm, but is sufficiently similar to increase confidence in the projections.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Cycling Clothes for the Lycra-Averse

After reading yesterday's Minuteman Bikeway post, you may have been wondering: So what does a girl wear on a 22-mile ride on a fierce roadbike? I am glad you asked!


I am not against athletic clothing when it comes to cycling as a sport. My problem is different, and I know that other women share it: My skin hates synthetic fibers, especially in the heat. Yes, the new synthetic materials are supposed to be feather-lite, super-wicking, fast-drying, ultra-comfort, and so on... But somehow my body just does not agree. If I attempt to wear anything synthetic, my skin goes haywire, and I immediately get this icky, sticky, "get-it-off-me!" feeling -- not to mention horrible rashes and irritations. Sadly, my skin is also sensitive to wool, even very thin, lightweight wool. I can wear wool as an outer layer, but not directly next to the skin.

As far as normally-available fibers go, this leaves me with cottons, linens and silks. Raw silk is the most comfortable of these, and has excellent natural wicking properties. Old-fashioned ski clothing used to be made of rough silk, but now these are super-expensive and hard to find. Cotton and linen are breathable, but not ideal for wicking. Still, if left with no other choice, it is possible to achieve wicking with cotton by wearing it in ultra-thin, gauze-like layers. Gauzy cotton clothing is currently in fashion, and I have taken full advantage of summer sales. The dress pictured in these photos is a good example.

This mini-dress consists of two layers of very thin, gauze-like cotton. I bought it in Europe, but I have seen many like it available in the US, from the Gap, Old Navy, H&M, and many other stores. The loose baby-doll style with large arm openings around the straps provides superb breatheability. Worn over a cotton sports-bra and cotton leggings (the leggings function as "bloomers" -- i.e. underwear and leggings in one), this sort of dress allows the breeze to circulate under the wide hem, through the arm openings, and in between the two gauzy layers, providing amazing ventilation. I had zero sweat stains during the 22 mile ride. It is crucial that this kind of dress be short and wide enough, so as not to get caught on the saddle when mounting and dismounting. Notice also the enormous pockets -- handy for storing hair elastics, mobile phone and camera. The leggings + sportsbra + gauze dress outfit, in several colour variants, is basically my cycling kit for longer, sporty rides.


Simple shoes -- the best bike shoes! I saw a heap of these on clearance at the UGG/Teva Outlet in Wrentham the other day. I remembered reading about these on BikeSkirt some time ago, and decided to give them a try. I wanted something athletic, but summery, that could be worn without socks. The Simples are great, because they have a thick, hard, shock absorbent sole that is extremely effective for pushing down on pedals. The natural canvas material makes them breathable and light in even the hottest weather, but the enclosed rubber toe is great for those times when your toe hits the pedal -- which can hurt like hell on a roadbike in open-toed sandals. I have worn Keds, Converse and Vans, and the Simples work better for me as bike shoes than either of those.

Cycling clothing for the lycra-averse (and the athletic-gear-averse) need not be impractical. I was completely comfortable cycling for 22 miles+ in this outfit and shoes, and could easily have gone for longer. At the same time, we were able to go straight from the trails to one of our favourite restaurants for a dinner out. Of course, everyone's experience is different, and what is comfortable for one person may not be for another. Experimentation and listening to your own needs is key.