Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friendly Witches and Scenic Graveyards

Was I a good witch or a bad witch for Halloween? Only Eustacia knows, and she is not talking. I rolled through the night with reflective sidewalls and plenty of lights on my bicycle, and I think only good witches do that. Bad ones tend to hide under the cover of darkness.

On this ghoulish night, I present you also with this photo of me and Marianne cycling through Provincetown Cemetery at dusk. I spent part of my childhood in a small New England town, where we lived down the street from a very old graveyard. Its presence seemed entirely normal; my friends and I would even take walks there after dark. Only later did I discover that graveyards freaked other people out. That and old Victorian houses with floorboards that creak even when no one is walking on them. Go figure!

Wairarapa A&P Show 2009

Well, after the absolutely HIDEOUS weather leading up to this show, I was beginning to wonder if we would even make it! I withdrew Rory from the Sport Horse classes on Saturday because I had really had no chance to do any preparation work with him and I felt it was a bit of a big ask to drag him out of the paddock, literally, and chuck him in at the deep end, especially as I didn't have a spare set of hands to help out so, Meg was it!

Yesterday I gave her a bath and scrubbed her legs and wrapped her up as best as possible and put her in a clean paddock. This morning I had to wake her up and get her out of the paddock. She was quite surprised to see me so early in the morning I think.

Loading and travelling was uneventful and she was very settled tied to the float whilst I primped and preened.

First class was turnout - The ONE class I actually have the ability to win, even if up against flasher bred horses so, I always make a real effort here. Turns out I didn't really have to as we were the only horse entered! Still, she looked a million bucks and the judge seemed to agree so we got our lovely red ribbon.

Next class was the mare class and we were up against Steve Muggeridge's multi champion mare, Taungatara Luscars Joanna - We took second. There was never any doubt in my mind that Meg would not beat Joanna. She's a gorgeous mare and Meg is still quite small and immature next to her.

Best footed was our third class and this was interesting as the judge said that she basically had the best shaped feet of all of the horses but they are a bit smaller than ideal. We were given some trimming tips and NEARLY got second but ended up with a yellow ribbon for this class. Meg was the only barefoot horse in the class and technically, for best footed, the horse should be shod but there was no way I was shelling out $180 for one class at one show just show she would be a little more competitive, especially when she doesn't need shoes.

Last class was the walking class. This was always Debi's class as she would always clean it up and we had high hopes for Meg but the judge, again, had some interesting things to say to us afterwards - he seemed to think that she actually had the best front end, lifted her legs well and was straight but he thought she looked as if she was a bit sore in the back. This could very well be because she pulled back on me yesterday when I was trying to wash her face and I would not be surprised if she was feeling it in her muscles today. No matter, we didn't have to be placed at all and we have something to work on for next time now. A green this time.

Finally the championship class - It was always going to be Joanna's day but lovely for Meg to get the Reserve Champion wide.

All in all, a successful and enjoyable day - Can't wait for Masterton in a few months!

Meg with her haul
Cole, Meg, Joanna
Meg walking
Walking class
Cole & Claude
Meg says 'Hi Boys!'
Meg and her Daddy

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects


Steve Addington was the crew chief for Kyle Busch, but Joe Gibbs fired his ass. Nevermind that Busch and Addington were second only to Jimmie Johnson in victories. I would call that a great job. So, who gets fired for doing good work? JGR has some shit-for-brains fools running their organization.


The General Assembly needs to let this shit go. Sanford is the lamest lame duck ever thanks to his scandals. When I talk to people here in SC, no one gives a fuck. I hear Clinton-Lewinsky cited as precedent on this matter. As one guy put it to me, "He got some pussy on the side. So, what? I bet most of the General Assembly is guilty of the same thing."


My leftard friends can't ever believe my arguments that we need less regulation instead of more regulation. But Bernie Madoff admitted in an interview that the SEC was inept and gave him credibility in duping his clients. This is the problem with regulations and agencies. People cease with due diligence expecting the government to take care of it for them. It is precisely because of agencies like the SEC that shysters like Madoff can pull off their schemes. These agencies are incompetent and will remain so forever.


I am fascinated with Red State America. SC is a Red State, so this may explain some of it. But I don't consider myself a Red State type of guy because of my libertarian, anti-war, pro-immigration viewpoints. But I have noticed a few traits of this emerging group of people-

-They love Sarah Palin. She is the Queen of RSA. When I talk to Red Staters, they tell me that McCain did not interest them, but they would readily vote for Palin.

-They love Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart triumphed precisely because Sam Walton went after the rural market, and it has paid off big.

-They love to hunt and fish. If you see a guy wearing camo, it is a good sign that he is a Red Stater. They also have a love for four wheel drive vehicles, tractors, and American made SUVs. It is also a safe bet that a Red Stater has a firearm.

-They love Jesus. Red Staters are solidly evangelical Christians.

-They love country and classic rock. A typical Red Stater will have Garth Brooks and AC/DC CDs in their vehicles along with some contemporary Christian music from people like Amy Grant. Red Staters prefer CD's to iPods which also explains why Wal-Mart sells so many units.

-They support the military. They are not necessarily pro-war because many of them agree with me that Iraq was a mistake. But they believe that military might makes a big difference.

-They want a Great Wall of Mexico. Almost all Red Staters hate Mexicans and have affinity for militia groups like the Minutemen. But this is less about racism than economic ignorance. Being blue collar, they see cheap Mexican labor as a threat.

-They really hate Obama. They could care less that he is black so much as the fact that he is a socialist. They also buy into conspiracy theories that Obama was born in Kenya and has plans for some sort of military crackdown on civilians like them. They see Obama as a Black Hitler.

These traits are not a Southern thing but stretch across the entire Southern region to California, the entire Midwest, and Alaska. I also suspect that many Red State minded folks are sprinkled in the rural areas of Blue States.

I like Red State people for some weird reason. This is more for personal reasons than for any political viewpoints we might share. Beyond not liking Obama, I don't have much in common with these people. But I think classifying them as a bunch of rednecks is a mistake. A redneck is a guy who swills beer and lives out in the woods in a trailer and doesn't vote. Red Staters aren't into the redneck thing at all. They live in nice homes, drive nice vehicles, and make good livings in blue collar trades and manufacturing. They read books and watch Fox News. And they vote. The one thing I hear from them over and over again was whether or not I voted in the last election.


There is a reason that NASCAR and football are the most popular sports in America. These are weekend sports. Basketball, baseball, and hockey play numerous games during the week, and only diehard fans can follow the action. People that work and have families prefer their sports in weekend servings. The hype builds up during the week, and people actually have time to watch the games and races. This is why the NFL and NASCAR are 1 and 2 in popularity.

Major League Baseball suffers from a steroids scandal that won't quit and a belief that the league belongs to big money teams like the New York Yankees. As for the NBA, it has been in decline since Jordan retired. Nobody I know gives a shit about basketball. As for hockey, the NHL made a dumb move expanding into areas where people don't play hockey. When the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, no one here gave a shit or even knew the team existed. I shit you not.

Hockey is a great sport, but it is regional. It is the sport of Canadians and Northern urban areas like Detroit, Chicago, and New York. Hockey games in these areas regularly outsell basketball games. The NHL diluted their product by going to places like Texas, Florida, and California. The best thing that league can do is close down those franchises or move them to Canada.

The most exciting in sports these days is mixed martial arts. MMA and UFC are wildly popular among a lot of people I talk to. Boxing is dead, and MMA has replaced it. UFC PPV events are huge especially when you can watch them at Hooters. It is a quality product for the sports fan.

As for NASCAR, the biggest problem with that sport is when football starts. It is hard to watch a race and the Panthers play at the same time. The Chase has done nothing to rekindle interest during football time. It also doesn't help when you have a guy like Jimmie Johnson winning it every damn year.

The NFL, NASCAR, and UFC--the best stuff going.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tom Fuller is Doing a Survey

Tom Fuller has set up a survey on various aspects of the climate issue. Please take a moment to participate. Here are his ground rules:
First, let's start with the ground rules. Your participation is completely anonymous, and no attempt will be made to contact you for any reason as a result of your participation or anything you write in this survey.

Second, this survey is not intended to be used as an opinion poll or a census, and will not be used as such. We are not trying to find out how many people 'believe' or 'disbelieve' in global warming. Our purpose is to try and find out if there are areas of agreement on possible policy initiatives going forward
Here is where you can find the survey.

Dean Hood Model Part 4 - Coach, Wife and Kids

Dean Hood Model Part 3 - Batttle the Extremes

Important New Paper on North Atlantic Hurricanes

A very important paper was published today by Chen et al. in the open-access journal Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Science (of the EGU) titled, "Quantifying changes of wind speed distributions in the historical record of Atlantic tropical cyclones" (PDF). The paper should go some way toward resolving disputes about the behavior of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, as it provides compelling evidence of a bias in the historical record due to observational practices. For instance, the paper finds that no Category 5 hurricane was observed in the North Atlantic until 1924, observing that "if the average frequency of Category 5 TCs during 1924–2008 were to be representative of the entire record, there should have been about 28 Category 5 TCs during the period 1851– 1923." The paper also provides (once again) strong confirming evidence supporting our work on the relative role of societal changes in the economic record of U.S. hurricane losses.

Here is an excerpt as related to that last point:
Focusing on the past six decades, we observe no sustained upward trends in wind speed distributions (Figs. 1 and 3), the mean wind speed at landfall or the annual frequency of occurrence of landfalling segments (Fig. 8). (Note that this annual frequency is specific to landfalling segments and different from the annual frequency of landfalling events since some events have multiple landfalling segments, e.g. in 2005 Hurricane Katrina made landfall in both South Florida and Louisiana.) This being the case, the dramatic increases in total economic and insured losses from TCs, which have been manifest over the past six decades, indicates that the increasing losses must be attributed to the factors other than wind speed alone. This is in accord with recent studies (Pielke, 2005; Pielke et al., 2008; Crompton and McAneney, 2008), which demonstrate the importance of demographic changes in driving the increasing economic cost of hurricane losses.
The paper concludes as follows:
The quality of observational data is central to the ongoing debate between a warming climate and consequences for TC frequency and intensities. Our analyses show clear, anomalous differences in the wind speed distributions between the early historical period and the very recent six decades. While these differences cannot unequivocally exclude a possible Global Climate Change cause, we suggest that data quality issues are more plausible.

An enormous challenge lies ahead for recovering reliable wind estimates in the early historical record, especially for highly dynamic and short-lived extreme TCs. The counting of events by Saffir-Simpson Hurricane categories is determined by threshold wind speeds, and if the wind estimates are themselves unreliable, how can derivative statistics be trusted sufficiently for long-term trend analysis? It is timely to recognise that using the early historical record will inevitably involve some irreducible uncertainties and “fixing” these may not be possible and that more physically-based models are needed to help resolve the data impasse. Conclusions drawn from scientific and insurance applications using the inherently lower-quality components of the record should be treated with caution.
Find the paper here in PDF.

Roger Pielke Sr. is Sure Going to Like This

UPDATE: My father does indeed like this, he comments here.

For years my father has been arguing that:
. . . attempts to “control” the climate system, and to prevent a “dangerous intervention” into the climate system by humans that focuses just on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases will necessarily be significantly incomplete, unless all of the other first order climate forcings are considered.
His views are now being robustly vindicated as a quiet revolution is occurring in climate science. Here is how PhysOrg reports on a study out today in Science by NASA's Drew Shindell and others:

According to Shindell, the new findings underscore the importance of devising multi-pronged strategies to address climate change rather than focusing exclusively on carbon dioxide. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide."

In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements. “Since we already know how to capture methane from animals, landfills, and sewage treatment plants at fairly low cost, targeting methane makes sense,” said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C.

This research also provides regulators insight into how certain pollution mitigation strategies might simultaneously affect climate and air quality. Reductions of carbon monoxide, for example, would have positive effects for both climate and the public’s health, while reducing nitrogen oxide could have a positive impact on health but a negative impact on the climate.

“The bottom line is that the chemistry of the atmosphere can get hideously complicated,” said Schmidt. “Sorting out what affects climate and what affects air quality isn’t simple, but we’re making progress.”

Of note, Shindell et al. cautiously suggest that the entire framework of international climate policy may be based on an overly-simplistic view of the human effect on climate, by focusing on carbon dioxide equivalencies in radiative forcing (i.e.,g "global warming potential" or GWP), from their Science paper out today (emphasis added):
There are many limitations to the GWP concept (25). It includes only physical properties, and its definition is equivalent to an unrealistic economic scenario of no discounting through the selected time horizon followed by discounting to zero value thereafter. The 100-year time horizon conventionally chosen strongly reduces the influence of species that are short-lived relative to CO2. Additionally, GWPs assume that integrated global mean RF is a useful indicator of climate change. Although this is generally reasonable at the global scale, GWP does not take into account the rate of change, and it neglects that the surface temperature response to regionally distributed forcings depends on the location of the RF (26) and that precipitation and circulation responses may be even more sensitive to RF location (27). Along with their dependence on emission timing and location, this makes GWPs particularly ill-suited to very short-lived species such as NOx, SO2, or ammonia, although they are more reasonable for longer-lived CO. Inclusion of short-lived species in agreements alongside long-lived greenhouse gases is thus problematic (28, 29).
The Shindell et al. paper comes fast on the heels of a paper published a few weeks ago in PNAS by Molina et al. which argued similarly that a broader perspective is needed on the human role in altering climate. They write (emphasis added):
Efforts to limit CO2 emissions alone may not be sufficient to avoid or reduce the risk of DAI on a decadal time scale, including the risk of abrupt climate change from committed warming (8, 9). . . there is growing demand among governments and commentators for fast-action mitigation to complement cuts in CO2 emissions, including cuts in non-CO2 climate forcing agents, which together are estimated to be as much as 40–50% of positive anthropogenic radiative forcing (17, 18). . .

The 2008 Major Economies Forum Declaration calls for ‘‘urgent action’’ to strengthen the Montreal Protocol for climate protection (22). The 2009 G8 Leaders Declaration calls for ‘‘rapid action’’ on BC [black carbon] and pledges to ensure HFC reductions (23). The 2009 North American Leaders Declaration commits to phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol (24). The 2009 Arctic Council Tromsø Declaration urges ‘‘early actions’’ on short-lived climate forcers (25) including tropospheric ozone. A Nature editorial in July 2009, Time for early action, calls for ‘‘early action’’ on BC and methane, and on HFCs under the Montreal Protocol (26), and another in April 2009, Time to act, notes ‘‘short-term opportunities’’ to cut BC and methane (27). Wallack and Ramanathan call for action on BC and tropospheric ozone in their 2009 policy paper in Foreign Affairs to produce ‘‘rapid results’’ (28).
This recent research suggests that we must now be open to the possibility that there will not and cannot be a single policy approach to addressing the full spectrum of human influences on the climate system. The recognition of complexity may present an opportunity to move climate policy forward, by providing a justification for reconsidering the flawed (and some would say doomed) approach. My father has argued that (PDF),
. . . humans have an even greater effect on climate that is suggested by the IPCC. The human influence on climate is significant and multi-faceted.
As the community begins to realize these significant, multi-faceted and hideous complexities, it would not be a surprise to learn that a policy framework design 20 years ago is now somewhat out of step with current scientific understandings. The upshot is that as presently designed, international climate policy is both too complex and too simplistic. It is too simplistic because it is built upon a set of scientific perspectives on climate change that are increasingly seen as outdated and appropriate only for dealing with a narrow set of very important human influences -- long-lived greenhouse gases. It is too complex because in trying to deal with added complexity it has become unwieldy and clearly impractical from the standpoint of not just implementation but the politics of even reaching an agreement about implementation.

Climate policy can be improved by reconstructing climate policy from the bottom up. This process should begin by recognizing that no single policy instrument will ever deal with "climate change" (human caused or otherwise). An approach to climate policy that is decentralized and more focused in its elements will be better able to adjust as science evolves (and it will continue to evolve, to be sure) and allows for progress to be made incrementally along a set of parallel paths. The all-or-nothing approach to climate policy that dominates the present agenda is incapable of keeping pace with evolving scientific understandings as they relate to policy implementation, and from a pragmatic perspective, pretty much guarantees the "nothing" outcome.

As Molina et al. accurately point out in PNAS, there are already a large number of policies in place that might be considered as part of a multi-pronged approach to minimizing the human influence on climate. And it is certain that new policy vehicles will need to be developed. The most important short-term step that can be taken is, as my colleague Steve Rayner has persuasively argued to me, to reconceptualize the Framework Convention on Climate Change as a Framework Convention on Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases, which would signify a more focused approach. Dealing with long-lived greenhouse gases presents a daunting enough challenge by itself, and is impossible if burdened with other aspects of climate change. Once reconceptualized, climate policy can proceed upon multiple, parallel tracks, and thus have a greater chance to keep in step with evolving science and actually have a chance to make progress with respect to policy goals.

Made in Somerville: The Joys of a Locally Built Bicycle

I tried to hint at this subtly in previous posts, but judging by some recent conversations I was a too subtle. So it is time to announce this formally: I am getting a custom bicycle from Royal H. Cycles.

[Customer's bike, detail. Image from Royal H. Cycles]

No, please relax - it is not the track bike mentioned earlier! My Royal H. will be a classic Randonneur-style mixte, inspired by the early French constructeurs: fully lugged, with twin lateral stays and a touring geometry. Even as I write it, I do not really believe it. Yes, it will be utterly glorious, and no, I cannot afford it. But I've been finding some creative ways to scrimp, save, and earn extra cash, and it's all coming together nicely (the deposit system really helps as well!). The frame will be ready in November, and then I will spend the winter fitting it with components. In the springtime, the complete bicycle shall emerge just as the crocuses come into bloom and the swallows sing their song.

However, what I really want to talk about is not the bicycle itself, but the experience of having it custom made by a local framebuilder. As far as "local" goes, you can't really get more local than this: The Royal H. studio (pictured above) is a 5-minute bike ride from my house, so my bicycle is being built in my own neighborhood. There is nothing quite like this.

I met the framebuilder Bryan Hollingsworth through Open Bicycle, after I saw a purple Royal H. bike belonging to one of their customers and was taken with its elegant styling. "Who made that?" I asked. And the rest was history. I met Bryan in person, discussed my ideas with him, and it was immediately clear that he understood exactly what I was talking about and would enjoy making it. It was an exciting, high-energy first meeting and in the end I had no doubt that this person was the right framebuilder for me. This might seem trite, but it can be very helpful for the framebuilder to get a good sense of the customer's individual style by interacting with them. And getting a sense of your individual style will enable them to use their creativity to make a truly personalised bicycle.

The proximity of Royal H. has also allowed me the unique opportunity to visit my frame at various stages of completion, watch it develop, and give Bryan feedback to any questions or new ideas that came up. I have held the different parts of my frame in my hands before it was a frame - the lugs, the tubes, the dropouts, the little braze-ons! - and I watched Bryan arrange them on his drawing-board. This was a thrilling experience, and it has deepened my sense of connectedness to this bicycle. It is definitely my frame, I was there as it evolved! Thanks to Bryan's generous narration about his process, I have also learned a bit about how bicycles are built in the meantime.

To add a few words about Bryan Hollingsworth himself: For the past three years, he has been a framebuilder for Seven Cycles, where, interestingly enough, he specialises in carbon fiber frames. Recently Bryan has branched out into a private frame building practice and started Royal H., with a focus on classic lugged steel bicycles. The art nouveau aesthetic of his work appeals to me very much, and I often find myself admiring his frames even when the bicycle is completely inappropriate for me - like the cream track bike I mentioned earlier.

[Track bike detail. Image from Royal H. Cycles]

And notice how simple everything here is: No over-the-top lugwork, no eccentric curvature, just a classic, minimalist track frame. But to me, it stands out from other track frames.

Of course my mixte will look very different from the cream track bike, but it will have a similar art nouveau aesthetic and, hopefully, the same feel of understated elegance.

My frame is a fairly complicated one, and there are many special things about it that you will not see on any other bicycle (like these custom dropouts!). Bryan has impressed me on more than one occasion with his ability to combine innovative solutions with classic looks, and I will no doubt dedicate several future posts to boring you with the technical details and pornographic close-ups of my bicycle. But not to worry, that won't be for another couple of months.

[Customer's bike, detail. Image from Royal H. Cycles]

In the meanwhile, I encourage you to get to know your local framebuilders, or to find independent framebuilders in an area of the country that has personal meaning for you. Boston, Massachusetts holds a special place in the history of bicycle manufacturing since the late 1800's, and Somerville in particular was home to several legendary builders, including Fat City Cycles and Merlin Metal Works in the 1980s and '90s. In fact, the Union Square neighborhood where Open Bicycle and Royal H. are located was the former home of these manufacturers. Today, the Boston area boasts famed artisanal framebuilders such as Peter Mooney and Mike Flanigan, the internationally renown Seven Cycles and Independent Fabrications, the innovative Geekhouse, and attention-worthy young builders including Icarus and Royal H. When the context and history of your bicycle's production are meaningful to you, owning it will feel truly special. I plan to have future posts dedicated to local framebuilders, to the framebuilding process, and to the history of bicycle manufacturing in Boston, and I hope that these will be of interest.

The Problem with Exaggerated and Inaccurate Claims

An interesting article in The Times (UK) today is notable because it quotes a number of prominent scientists critcizing the oft-used strategy of overhyping climate change in an effort to motivate action. The end result, as I have often argued inevitably follows such strategies, is a backlash. Here is an extended excerpt:
Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times.

Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist.

Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said. Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture.

The experts all believe that global warming is a real phenomenon with serious consequences, and that action to curb emissions is urgently needed. They fear, however, that the contribution of natural climate variations towards events such as storms, melting ice and heatwaves is too often overlooked, and that possible scenarios about future warming are misleadingly presented as fact.

“I worry a lot that NGOs [non=governmental organisations] are very much in the habit of doing exactly that,” said Professor Sir David King, director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, and a former government chief scientific adviser.

“When people overstate happenings that aren’t necessarily climate change-related, or set up as almost certainties things that are difficult to establish scientifically, it distracts from the science we do understand. The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens.”

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “It isn’t helpful to anybody to exaggerate the situation. It’s scary enough as it is.”

She was particularly critical of claims made by scientists and environmental groups two years ago, when observations showed that Arctic sea ice had declined to the lowest extent on record, 39 per cent below the average between 1979 and 2001.

This led Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, to say that Arctic ice was “in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return”. Dr Pope said that while climate change was a factor, normal variations also played a part, and it was always likely that ice would recover a little in subsequent years, as had happened. It was the long-term downward trend that mattered, rather than the figures for any one year, she added. “The problem with saying that we’ve reached a tipping point is that when the extent starts to increase again — as it has — the sceptics will come along and say, ‘Well, it’s stopped’,” she said.

“This is why it’s important we’re as objective as we can be, and use all the available evidence to make clear what’s actually happening, because neither of those claims is right.” Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics Group at the University of Oxford, said: “Some claims that were made about the ice anomaly were misleading. A lot of people said this is the beginning of the end of Arctic ice, and of course it recovered the following year and everybody looked a bit silly.”

Dr Allen said that predictions of how the world was likely to warm also needed to be framed carefully. While there was little doubt that the Earth would get hotter, there were still many uncertainties about the precise extent and regional impact.

“I think we need to be very careful about purporting to be able to supply very detailed and apparently accurate information about how the climate will be in 50 or 100 years’ time, when what we’re really giving is a possible future climate,” he added. “We’re not in a position to say how likely it is and what the chances are of it being different. There’s an understandable tendency to want to make climate change real for people and tell them what’s going to happen in their postcode, and that’s very dangerous because it gets beyond the level on which current models can operate.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should Bulgaria Pay Brazil?

The BBC has an interesting article (thx DB!) on an east-west split within the EU on financing adaptation under a potential international climate agreement.
On climate change, the EU is keen to reach a united position ahead of December's United Nations Copenhagen summit, which aims to hammer out a new global climate treaty to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol.

Mr Reinfeldt called on EU leaders to agree a "fixed sum" that would open the way for other rich donors like the US and Japan to make similar aid pledges to help developing nations cope with the effects of climate change.

But just hours before the talks, Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said sharing the aid costs equally between all 27 EU nations was out of the question. "The burden-sharing proposal is not acceptable in its current form," Mr Bajnai said.

The Polish finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, told the BBC that nine Eastern European nations were ready to block a deal unless they were allowed to contribute according to their means, not to how much they pollute.

"There are countries there like Bulgaria and Latvia, which are considerably poorer than Brazil, and which would be expected to help Brazil in its adjustments to climate change," he said.
This is not the first time that eastern Europe has proven problematic in EU climate policy. But just wait until it comes time for the US to discuss how much money it is going to send overseas as a part of a climate deal. I can't imagine a situation in which this does not become a political lightning rod in the US -- regardless of the policy merits of doing so. (And to be perfectly clear about my views, I wrote in 1998 that the climate "winners" of the world have an obligation to help the climate "losers" - PDF - this post is about the politics of the issue.). Yvo de Boer, head of the UN FCCC helpfully explains that:
“Money, in fact, is the oil that encourages commitment and drives action”
Money also get the attention of voters, especially when you are reaching into their pockets to take it and then sending it to someone else. And in the United States, sending money overseas has never been politically popular, and I don't expect that it will be in the context either. I'll award a prize to the first person who can provide a quote from a U.S. elected official (POTUS, VP or anyone in Congress) advocating sending money overseas as part of a climate deal.

Blogs vs. MSM

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism provides some interesting data on the focus of attention on blogs and the mainstream media. The graph to the right shows the top issues for the week October 19 to 23. "global warming" is a top topic on the blogs, along with the "balloon boy" and a "cross dressing ban." Meanwhile the traditional media is focused on the economy, Afghanistan and health care.

There are of course plenty of ways to interpret this information, and my first reaction is that if your topic is sandwiched between the balloon boy and cross dressing, and nowhere to be seen in the MSM, then you've probably got a PR problem on your hands.

Pakistan's Coal

Speaking in Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encourages the exploitation of Pakistan's coal reserves:

There is no doubt that energy is at the heart of many of the economic problems that Pakistan faces – the unreliability, the erratic cross-structure, the failure to capture the full load that is produced. It’s just a lot of problems. And one of the things that Ambassador Holbrooke’s team has done is to do an in-depth study of what are the most difficult issues, but what could be addressed in a very systematic way.

So as I said earlier, we made our announcement yesterday. But I appreciate the kind of chicken-and-egg issue that you were talking about – the more access, the more economic development, the greater the energy challenges. And I think that there is no prohibition that I know of internationally, and I asked Minister Qureshi whether there had been any prohibition nationally under developing your coal deposits. Now, obviously, that is not the best thing for the climate, but everybody knows that. But many of your neighbors are producing coal faster than they can even talk about it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact that coal is going to remain a part of the energy load until we can transition to cleaner forms of energy.

So getting the resources to exploit your coal as opposed to being dependent upon imported energy is a choice for you to make, but it is certainly a choice that your neighbors have made. And that’s something that should attract foreign investment and should attract capital investment within your own country. And we don’t know how we’re going to proceed on the climate change issue. We’re working hard to come to some framework before Copenhagen, but coal will be, for the foreseeable future, part of the energy mix. And if you have these kinds of reserves, you should see the best and cleanest technology for their extraction and their use going forward.

Time for a bit of a root 'n scoot'n good time!

The sun shone for a full five minutes yesterday and Ata took the opportunity to stretch his legs a little ...

Check out the lake in the background - and it was looking quite low at that time!

Dean Hood Model Part 2-Acceptance Based Performance

Player Leadership


Very often we talk about players stepping up and taking ownership of the team - truly being leaders. I would like to recognize two such players.

TJ Cooper (left in the photo) and Dre Banta. TJ is a Senior RB, and one of the best in the state of KY I might add, and Dre is a Junior QB. Both of them are fine young men. Their head coach Steve Frommeyer sent me the following:

This team has improved as much as anytime I think I’ve coached. Player leadership has been the key. TJ and Dre emerging as leaders from your leadership camp with us has been the difference.
This week the teachers unanimously selected TJ and Dre as school-wide students of the month for their efforts and leadership in the classroom!
Take care! Steve

On a related note, Steve is being honored this Friday. He was a Graduate Assistant Coach of the 1979 national championship team at Eastern Kentucky University. He is being inducted into the EKU Hall of Fame. Congrats Steve.

God bless, Lou

Keeping Prediction in Perspective

Mike Hulme, Suraje Dessai and I have a piece out today in Nature Reports Climate Change titled Keeping Prediction in Perspective. Here is an excerpt, which references the figure above:

But evidence that climate predictions can provide precise and accurate guidance about how the long-term future may evolve is fundamentally lacking. Scientists and decision-makers alike should treat climate models not as truth machines to be relied upon for making adaptation decisions, but instead as one of a range of tools to explore future possibilities. A recent example2 from the Australian state of Victoria highlights the perils of relying on the predict-then-adapt mode of planning. In 2005, the Victoria government conducted a study to develop water-supply scenarios for its capital city Melbourne to 2020 under conditions of human-caused climate change. Before then, water planning in Victoria had been done with little consideration of the potential effects of climate change. The exercise resulted in a range of forecasts implying a 3-per-cent decline in storage under a 'mild' effects scenario and an 11-per-cent decline under a 'severe' scenario. The study concluded that the existing plan put into place in 2002 "provided [a] sufficient buffer ... across the full range of climate change and alternative demand forecasts considered in this case study" out to 2020.

If nature has a sense of humour, it is a vicious one. In 2006, water supply to Melbourne dropped to a record low level of 165 gigalitres (Gl), well below the 1913–2005 average of 588 Gl and the recently lower average of 453 Gl from 1996 to 2005 (Fig. 1). In the three years since the 2005 modelling study, the average water supply level was less than half the long-term average and well below the estimated outcome for the 'severe' scenario considered in the study.

Find the piece here. Comments welcomed.

Climate Whiplash

From NSIDC here at the University of Colorado in May, 2008:
Could the North Pole be ice free this melt season? Given that this region is currently covered with first-year ice, that seems quite possible.
From the UK Met Office this week:
. . . the first ice-free summer [is] expected to occur between 2060 and 2080. It is unlikely that the Arctic will experience ice-free summers by 2020.
Climate whiplash is a one good reason why efforts to motivate action should not be built on the backs of predictions.

Will William Connolley do the Right Thing?

In an earlier post I had speculated -- naively and prematurely -- that one small point of dispute between Steve McIntyre and Michael Mann in the wars over the Hockey Stick might be resolved empirically to the satisfaction of all. After all, if I, a mere political scientist can understand the debate and also (and more importantly) see that others far more qualified than I understand the debate and that they have decided to resolve it in favor on McIntyre, then I thought that -- aha -- here we have an issue that can be unambiguously resolved.

As Lee Corso might say, no so fast my friend. William Connolley, formerly of the British Antarctic Survey and the Real Climate blog, steps in and uses my assertion of a resolution as an opportunity to smear me (blogging on climate is a contact sport, fair enough), but more importantly to pledge allegiance to Michael Mann. What is clear from the subsequent discussion spanning several blogs, however, is that Connolley doesn't understand the substantive debate at all, but he does know where his tribal allegiances lie. This is unfortunate because it reinforces the perception that the "Hockey Team" (as they apparently self-named themselves) will never concede a point, never admit to fallibility, and never break ranks. I have been wondering if Connolley will "do the right thing" which in this case would be to familiarize himself with the facts of the matter and render an independent judgment on McIntyre's claims. Connolley shows some signs of moving in his thinking. How far will he go? Where it ends up is the uncomfortable position of admitting that on this issue, McIntyre is right and Mann is wrong. He's even been given a gracious face-saving way out by Jean S, a Finnish statistician who concurs with McIntyre.

McIntyre helpfully explains the issue for Connolley in a new post.

Why does this small dispute matter? Lets be clear, it is not about the overall validity of various hockey stick reconstructions (which involve many, many other issues in dispute, which is why resolving them one-by-one is important). The issue matters because it speaks to trust and credibility, which are two important factors that non-experts use to evaluate the claims of experts. If members of the Hockey Team cannot or will not admit error when such an error is demonstrably shown to be the case (in a manner that even political scientists can understand), for better or worse, for many observers it will say a lot about their credibility on other matters. An important part of science is being about to admit when mistakes were made, to correct them, and move on to further work with an improved understanding. It is not about fighting for one's allies position regardless of what the facts say, there is another word for that -- politics.

Will William Connolley do the right thing? I expect so.

There is a fine line between being loved and being nagged to death.

Getting DVDs in the mailbox has replaced getting them back to the store. Still a pain in the ass.

All-Weather Friend

Yesterday was a horrible, rainy day, and during the worst part of it I had to go out. Looking out the window, it was rapidly growing dark and water was literally pouring in streams from the sky. On a day like that, the question of which bike to take did not even enter my mind: I put on my waterproof trench and grabbed Eustacia Vye.

It was raining so hard, that I felt as if I was swimming rather than cycling: I had to keep wiping water off of my face. Between the darkness and the rain, it all looked like an impressionist painting.

Nonetheless, the ride itself was quite comfortable. Eustacia remained stable and easy to maneuver even through lake-sized puddles. The brakes worked perfectly. The lights shone brightly. I felt safe in traffic despite the wet conditions and the limited visibility. Once I got used to the feeling of water running down my face, it was even fun.

There were almost no other cyclists out, and one of the few I did see had an accident right in front of me: While turning a corner, she rode over some leaves and her bicycle flipped sideways. I knew that this could happen, but have never experienced it or seen it. She was cycling slowly, and it still happened. The cyclist was not hurt (I stopped to make sure she was all right), but still - falling like that could not have been pleasant. It seems that wet leaves really are extremely slippery and it is important to avoid them, especially when cornering.

The fallen cyclist was riding a diamond-frame bike, with tires that looked narrow and worn out. She expressed admiration for my Pashley and said that on a bike like that she bets this would not have happened to her. I am not so sure, as I have heard of people slipping on wet leaves and metal grates even on mountain bike tires. Still, I was acutely aware of how much of a luxury my tank of a bike was on a horrible day like this. I was comfortable, whereas the few other cyclists out there looked like they were miserable - struggling against the elements as well as their bikes' limitations.

Here we are together in the rainy darkness. Not very flattering to either of us, but it captures the mood. My true all-weather friend. I must not forget this the next time I compare her to faster and more nimble bikes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


1. GMAC needs more of my money to stay afloat. This means I will never buy another General Motors product for as long as I live. At least the Japanese give me a car for my cash.

2. Andre Agassi was a druggie. That might explain the hair.

3. Agassi got way cooler when he shaved the 'do.

4. FWIW, I am not on the CIA payroll. You have to be either a dictator, a terrorist, an arms dealer, or a drug dealer to get a check from those guys. I'm just a loser.

5. I will not be dressing up as Bible Man this Halloween. I will go with something completely fictitious--an honest politician.

6. I drove 150 miles past my house on the way home from work. There was hot porn on my laptop.

7. I think redneck jokes should be considered a hate crime. What my sister and I do in the trailer is nobody's business.

8. Janine Lindemulder would make a way better mom than Sandra Bullock because she has a.) tattoos, b.) puts out for money, and c.) Dyke Diner is way better than Miss Congeniality.

9. Who marries a porn star? That's like buying a rental car that everybody still gets to drive.

10. Someone wiped his ass with my "To Do" list. I think I may have done it in a Tyler Durden moment.

I'm not a Journalist, its just My Opinion

I'm not a Journalist, its just my opinion.

This applies to myself and it also applies to the bloggers on

I have been reminded of this fact a couple of times now.

So like all bloggers who have opinions I welcome comments and other opinions.

As Im sure the bloggers from also do.

Take Simon Sweetman for example, he has a opinion, he
says he is not a Journalist, and his blog posts often have
hundreds of comments, pro and negative.

I only wish some of his supporters would realize just because
hes a blogger and not a Journo doesn't mean people can't add
a comment that may question what he says.

Although I seem to be the only person who has been called
out on leaving a negative opinion, perhaps I'm a easy target?

Oh and Garth Brooks doesn't suck.

Carrie Underwood Chooses Garth Brooks

In an interview with CMT, Carrie Underwood was asked
who she would choose to sing a duet with.

Her choice was Garth Brooks.

Garth is now at the stage where he is influencing other
artists, and that is a sign that you have made a real impact
on the industry, if your style is affecting the next generation
of artists, both Taylor Swift and Carrie have credited Garth with
affecting their careers.

Take a look at Kenny Chesney's live show, it has Garth written all over it.

But its not just the big sellers that Garth has had an affect
on listen to the Ryan Adams and Chris Cagles of the world,
they both have a early Garth style.

Success should never be measured by how many albums
you sell, but if you can change a whole music genre and have
such a profound effect on upcoming artists then you can say
you have had a successful career.

Garth has had both.

Hey Telfer, What will the ratings be like?

Hello Brendan, the sporting Focus of Japan will be on one sport,
their national past time. The sport that gets more coverage than
any other, the whole nation will be glued.

I am of course talking about Baseball and the world series.

The Yankees should take this out in six.

Also why is the NZRFU trying to take Rugby to Japan, where
Baseball is king, followed by Football and Basketball.

Isn't this somewhat like trying to get Rugby popular in the
league stronghold of Sydney and Brisbane, it just anit going to happen.

Also on November 14th the All Whites should garner higher
ratings in New Zealand than any other sport, and there wont
be extensive coverage this weekend in Australia on the Rugby.

So my question to you is....

Why do you feel the need to tell the NZ public that Rugby is
getting huge coverage and is popular in NZ?

We know this, we spend our lives having the media
tell us this, are you afraid we might forget?????

Open the other eye Telfer.

Lomu the Liar

Is their one NZ Journalist out there who will call Lomu up on his lies??

Yes I understand that he is courageous for coming back from a Kidney Transplant

I understand there has never been a scandal involving him.

For the past 15 years, we have heard that he is under appreciated and if anyone says anything
negative its just tall poppy syndrome.

But LOMU is spelt L O M U not G O D.

He is human and he can lie, thruout his career he has done interviews where he has thrown out stats about himself stories about his global popularity which our media has never done any fact checking on.

Just last night he told a press conference that he can run the 100 metres in 10.9. Now 10.9 is not fast for a Olympic sprinter, but I doubt if Lomu even did this.

He had no evidence, noone offically timed him, so why take it as goseph. Having followed track and field, I can guranntee you that a man in his mid 30's who is the size of Lomu who hasnt done specific training for the 100 metres wouldn't run that time.

So why didnt our media say anything??????

Because Lomu cannot be questioned in New Zealand, it shows the pathetic state of Journalism in this country that we cant question this guy.

Im guessing if he took up League though, things will change.

I Don't Want You, But I Need You... When Bike Love Turns Irrational

Once in a while, I see a bicycle that is completely unnecessary for my lifestyle, and perhaps even impossible to ride given my skill level... And yet, that bicycle fills me with desire. Here are three bad-boys that evoke these conflicted feelings. (For maximum enjoyment, I suggest playing "You Really Got a Hold on Me" as background music.)

[Rivendell Bombadil, fitted with cream Fat Frank tires. Image from Bearded Peter]

The Bombadil is a clear-coated, lugged steel mountain bike from Rivendell. It is completely rigid (no front or rear suspension), and comes with a double-top-tube frame. I see myself as a Warrior Princess seated high over the fearsome double top-tubes and hopping over roots and rocks with wild abandon - my hair fluttering in the wind like a fiery trail and my face streaked with dirt (attractively accentuating my cheekbones)... Of course, I really should learn to at least mount and dismount a bike properly before entertaining such fantasies...

[A.N.T. Basket Bike, lady's frame, in blue-gray. Image from antbike]

Here is my most recent forbidden love: the A.N.T. Basket Bike, lady's frame. I do not require a specialised basket bike. But every time I look at this photo, I want to cry. It is so beautiful, and I have never seen anything quite like it. (Yes, I know that the idea of a transport bike with a small front wheel is not new, but they did not usually come with such graceful frames.) I absolutely love the classic Porteur chaincase, and that slate gray is one of my favourite colours. The overall look is at once so vintage and so modern and so... poetically eccentric, that my very soul cries out for it. Yes, my soul. These are some heavy feelings I am sharing with you.

[Royal H. Cycles, track bike. Image from Royal H.]

And finally, the most bizarre crush I've had: This is a track bike by Royal H. Cycles. The enormous frame is painted cream, and the lugs are meticulously outlined in a rich orange. I can't explain why I have such a strong reaction to it. I can't ride fixed gear to save my life, and I don't like orange. But I look at it, and it just seems so... perfect. If I gaze at it for too long, I feel the need to learn how to ride fixed immediately. And also to stroke it and feed it caramels while whispering sweet nothings in its ear... Is that wrong?

What is Graham's Bill?

In The Hill, Senator Lindsey Gram (R-SC) talks about the sort of climate bill he'd support:
"I firmly believe that if you had offshore drilling provisions, you would get more votes because people would see energy independence being achieved, and they would tolerate an emission control bill," Graham said. "You don't have to believe in climate change to vote for the bill I'm talking about. You just have to believe that controlling carbon is the way to get to energy independence."
All who believe that offshore drilling is relevant to energy independence please raise your hands? The article explains that:
The specifics of Graham's plan would allow for "environmentally responsible" offshore drilling, revenues of which would be split between states as well as the federal government, the latter of which would use the revenue to reinvest in clean technology.

Graham was not specific as to how his plan would specifically regulate carbon emissions.

Dean Hood Model Part 1

Do Pro Athletes Commit Crimes at Unusually High Rates?

Lawrence Delevingne of The Business Insider explores athletes and crime in a recent piece. He interviews Geoff, Duke Law Prof Lisa Kern Griffin, and me. Here's an excerpt:
But pro athletes aren't actually more likely to commit crimes that the average citizen. It just seems that way because of all the attention their cases get.

"I don't think there's any empirical evidence showing that professional athletes are more likely to commit crimes than the typical person," says Michael McCann, a sports law expert at Vermont Law School.

Most players are "just regular citizens that follow the law and are as good or as bad as the rest of us," McCann says. "We're definitely skewed...because a handful of players get in trouble repeatedly."

Geoffrey Rapp, a law professor at University of Toledo, says he hasn't seen evidence to show there's more criminality among athletes, but the cases that arise make sense. "We're talking about people who their whole lives have been praised...for being violent."

"It's possible that athletes become a bit de-sensitized to the consequences of their actions," says Rapp. Plus, when people are wealthy, they "tend to think they can get away with murder."

But it's wrong to assume pros get off easy.

Lisa Kern Griffin, a professor at Duke Law, says that while sports stars may be better represented because of their wealth, "I don't think that athletes are treated differently in the courtroom." Plus, all the attention can mean they don't get off with small infractions that others may not be prosecuted for, says Griffin.

For the rest, click here.

Have You Stepped on a Secular Religion?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Steven Levitt
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John Stewart has Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt on The Daily Show, and asks about the "sh*t" he has received from certain climate activists. Will Stewart now get the same treatment? The following comment surely won't win Stewart many friends among Levitt's critics:
Have you stepped on a secular religion?

Blue collar jobs are dirty but honest. White collar jobs are clean but dishonest.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FIFA Changes the Rules

FIFA has changed the away goal rule at the worst possible time for New Zealand.

In the past away goals have only counted in normal time, not
extra time, but now for the first time away goals will count
in extra time, what would possessed FIFA to make this
critical change, three weeks before the New Zealand versus
Bahrain match???

Perhaps some in FIFA are trying their best to please the
Bahrain royal family??? If you were a cynical person you
would be watching FIFA officials very closely to see if
they have any new gold watches on their wrist.

Perhaps its unfair to go that far, but it seems crazy to make such
a dramatic rule change to the most important football in the two
nations history.

All I can say is that I will be watching the performance of the
Ref more closely now.

He has a name

Keryn has named her lovely boy 'Winiata' which is Wynyard in Maori. Wynyard has meaning because mum was bred at Wynyard Lodge stud as was his paternal great grandsire, Wynyard Agile. I have started calling him Ata (which means 'morning' in Maori). Lovely.

Was out with my camera this morning as the sun is back! I believe this will be a short lived reprieve from the hideous weather of late but it's so nice for him to have a day of sunshine. It's also a lot nicer for me when I am heaving the poo barrow about the place doing my chores!

Bella should be arriving around lunchtime and is due to foal shortly so we will be back on foal watch as of today - More exciting and sleep deprived times (but I would not have it any other way!).

Here are some photos from today.

Strike a pose
OMG eat him UP cute!
Shed time
Legs eleven
A kiss from Mum
Mum - Hooty the beauty
On the move