1.31.2006

Apologies

What I should have done is rounded up some stuff about Bush's SOTU energy-independence stuff.

What I actually did do was have some cocktails at the Avalon with a bunch of folks from my show.

I am on the absolute verge of being unable to spell; this tells me I made the right choice.

Also, and I feel like I'm the at the very end of the line in recommending this, R. Kelly's Trapped In The Closet will make you proud/perplexed to be an American.

1.30.2006

Dusty Baker

is the man who invented the high five? Maybe they should have called it the "Dusty Five".

PS -- Not much heatup news; just some what's the big deal over the BBC report on the potential for climate change being worse than we think (the conference happened last year, James Annan notes).

1.28.2006

Placeholder

James Wolcott beat me to appreciating
this post by Roy Edroso, but I had one or two cents to add; however, I have guests this wknd. so I'm just posting this to remind myself to get to it.


If I never get to it, which is SOP, this post will come down.

1.27.2006

Free calling!

Cringely is not so worried about what the NSA program is actually doing, although the principle bothers him (not enough, in my view). But I really like the story at the end of the quote :

"So why couldn't they just tell us? Why couldn't they have simply amended the FISA law to take such activities into account? Because they like to be sneaky, tend to distrust even the people who pay them (that's us), and because they for some reason think that the bad guys won't figure this out for themselves.

Duh.

This is far from the first instance of such unartful phone tapping, as my friend Mike Class reports from Chicago. Though I didn't know it until we'd been e-mailing back and forth for years, Mike is the Socius to the Provincial -- effectively the number two Jesuit in the Windy City:

'Here's one more tidbit on wire-taps: They get you free phone service! The feds tapped the phone of the Sisters of Mercy in Washington D.C. because of some anti-war stance or something they took in the 1980s. The good sisters noticed some kind of clicking on the phone at times, and finally decided that someone must have tapped into their phone. Their solution: Don't pay the bill so the phone company will have to shut off the phone. The phone never went dead, and they quit sending them bills! The Feds wouldn't let Ma Bell shut them down, and probably began paying the bills. The sisters talked long and free with their friends across the country!'"

1.26.2006

Heatup Roundup: Mmm, Rendered Fat Edition

Forgive the Simpsons quote but we start off with Rob McMillin's report of a plan to convert rendered animal fat to biodiesel. The animal-fat car should race against the vegetable-oil car. Then humans will truly have dominion!
Gary Jones, however, is skeptical of biofuel. We'll need all the corn to feed our growing population!
• There's going to be 2.3 assloads more floods in our climate changed world, according to a report by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also known for its spicy crosswords. Link
• Speaking of floods, RP Jr. points out that our national flood insurance policy still thinks it's 1945 or something and is not ready for the 2.3 assload increase. (Note: his post incompletely skimmed by me.)
• But how will we insure our climate-changed future? By using money!
• I'm not statistically inclined, but this post makes me think that the Climate Audit website hates the RealClimate website. Wait, that's not news.

1.25.2006

Earnestness

Anent this: What bothers people like Dowd about people like Gore is earnestness. They don't share in the Lotus-Eating irony that people like her (and me) enjoy. This is the problem with Democrats in general, always obsessed with their plans about fixing things. Chill, dude! Leave the earnestness to our future Chinese overlords!

1.23.2006

Why I can't do "Heatup Roundup" after some wine

From Stoat today:

The problem is that Cai is using a 4-box coupled atmosphere-surface moist radiative-transportive climate model to illustrate the dynamical amplification of the high-latitude surface warming due to an anthropogenic forcing. And the WV feedback isn't done properly, The water vapor feedback has been crudely parameterized using an ad-hoc formula Equation 5 to mimic the strong dependency of the atmospheric absorption of longwave radiation to the amount of water vapor. Specifically, the total atmospheric effective emissivity in the model is made of two parts: a constant part e0 representing the absorption due to other gases, such as CO2, and a part that varies as a function of the total amount of water vapor in an atmosphere column.


In the words of Stan Lee, whose style this resembles not at all, "'Nuff said!"

I think I wrote a character like this in a pilot

At a meeting in early October at Ford Motor Co.'s big design-center showroom here, an employee asked Mark Fields, then fresh in his job as head of the company's North and South American auto operations, if workers should be worried about their pensions.

"Yes, yes, you should," Mr. Fields says he replied. "That's a great motivator."

For Ford workers, the idea that the family-controlled company, still commonly called "Ford's" by longtime employees, might not pay promised pensions is a shocking concept. "I decided this was a chance to get people moving; to get away from the 'this too shall pass' mindset we've had," Mr. Fields says.

As Ford this morning rolls out a sweeping restructuring plan, much attention will be paid to the plants that will be shuttered and the jobs that will be cut. But for Mr. Fields, the 44-year-old executive drafted by company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. to lead the company's second big overhaul in four years, the central challenge at Ford is fixing the company's culture, which past and present employees describe with words like "toxic," "cautious," "cliquish," and "hierarchical."


(via WSJ; sub only, emph added). I mean, I don't doubt that the culture of Ford is "toxic" &c. But there's a little bit of a difference between "changing a toxic culture" and "not paying people the pensions you promised them because it's motivational."

And my pilot? It didn't get picked up, in part because the character who talked like this was felt to be too cartoony.

Now I hate the New York Times

You can't listen to WQXR, the classical station it owns, if you have a Mac. Not even if you're a Times subscriber!

Talk about Old Media!

TimesSelect

I'm not a huge fan of the program, but I find myself agreeing with my man Tobias :

"In a world trying to navigate tricky waters for the general good of its 6.6 billion inhabitants (five more born just since you began reading this sentence), with their myriad conflicting beliefs and interests, the New York Times – while surely not perfect – is one of our most precious assets.

Instead of focusing on how to avoid paying anything to read it, why not...sign up for the full run of the paper on-line? It’s a tremendous resource, and you’ll be tossing in a dollar a week to support a crucial voice in the national debate."


I already pay for the WSJ online, I think it's well worth it.

1.19.2006

Heatup Roundup: Waiting for Studio Notes Edition

One of these days I will outline the majesty of the sitcom development cycle, but while there's a break in it, the following.

Scary article in The Indpendent: warming oceans will cause the plankton to die, killing off plankton feeders and a carbon sink for us human dudes. Of course, I always think these studies have their nuance stripped off during processing for newspaper articles.

• Pielke Sr. questions the idea that 2005 was the warmest year in a century. It's hard for me, a humanities major, to figure out why, though.

• Pielke Jr. asks the musical question:

"What behavior of the climate system could hypothetically be observed over the next 1, 5, 10 years that would be inconsistent with the current consensus on climate change?"
Cooling ocean temperatures, his commenters say, although I may be misreading them. He also has a good post on Gaia Guy's jeremiad. Brian Schmidt also rolls his eyes.

Rob McMillin, who I always enjoy, is back. Iceland's trying to go gasoline-free. More for us!

1.17.2006

Gone writin'

This is the week when pilots really need to be turned into the network; otherwise you're clearly late. And I still have some last-minute carpentry and uneven table legs to deal with on mine. So nothing till Friday, unless I really need to blow off work.

1.16.2006

Heatup Roundup: Interesting Times -- Interesting and Doomed! Edition

• Big article in The Independent about how James Lovelock, the man who gave us the Gaia hypothesis, thinks

...before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
At last, you're thinking, a scientist who's giving me a good reason to take up smoking. But wait! William Connoley and James Annan cry "bullshit," or, in Annan's words, "alarmist nonsense." Connoley:
Obviously, billions of people *will* die before the end of the century; I will probably be one of them to die of old age. As long as I don't fall of a mountain or some other accident. Will I die of climate change? At the moment it seems unlikely to me.
Note, however, that both scientists are thinking a 2-3oC rise in temps during the century which will still be quite unpleasant.

• I also enjoyed this article in The Independent about how Michael Palin is in trouble with an environmental group he's involved with because he flies so much ("It is estimated that Palin's journeys have, between them, created more than 44 tons of carbon dioxide.")

Palin's reply is: "Yes, I obviously am generating a lot of carbon emissions, but with the programmes I make I am bringing the world closer to a lot of people." This seems like hooey, or at least hooeyesque. TV programmes, or "shows," as we call them, maybe brought the world closer to a lot of people in, like 1960. Nowadays, though, no one programmmmmme has any cause to feel so proud of itself. Yes, not even Amazing Race.

• Finally, in honor of MLK, this post from Brian Schmidt, which I'm going to post in full without regard to fair use, as if I were Brad DeLong:

I think that environmentalists have received a bad rap for the accusation of only having one rhetorical tool, the "I Have a Nightmare" argument, in contrast to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" rhetoric. One thought I had that might prove the bad rap was to look at what King himself had said, because I suspected there was a fair amount of nightmares in King's speeches.

So I borrowed a library book with King's speeches and checked the dream to nightmare ratio, first in the original Dream speech, and then in a eulogy for the schoolgirls that were killed in a church bombing. It didn't back up what I thought I would find. His Dream speech had about twice as many hopeful lines as it had fearful lines. Even the eulogy for the murdered schoolgirls was about equal in the dream to nightmare ratio, talking about the girl's happiness in the afterlife and the hopes that their sacrifice would instill to work for a better future. Other speeches I skimmed were similar. King definitely emphasized hope over fear.

I still think the Nightmare rhetoric of activism is an essential one, pointing out the problems that will occur if things are not changed, but King's hopefulness is also something to remember.

1.15.2006

Heatup Roundup: The Wine Remembers edition

• Bryan Lawrence notes
that things may get too palmy for European viniculture. But is it good for the Kiwis?

• Brian Schmidt
blogs
on the disappearing-frogs-of-South-America story, and isn't quite sold:

While the extent of climate change and the warmth that we currently have exceeds anything in the last thousand years or more, that is just a wink of an eye in the biological lifetime of a species. These frog should have faced prior similarly warm global temperatures, which presumably would have had similar microclimate effects. If the frogs made it through similar periods in the past, why are they in so much trouble now?

But adds:

The difference between me and my conservative friends who deny global warming is that the denialists would rely on this amateur doubt to conclude that the experts were complete frauds, and stop thinking about it any further. In my case, I haven't even read the original scientific articles, and because I'm not an expert I acknowledge that I might be missing something.

Huzzah for that attitude!

• Roger Pielke Jr. pooh-poohs the Sunday's New York Times Op-ed that stated that Al Gore's orbiting spaceship, now killed, could have helped say more about climate change.

Thanks

All y'all probably saw this, but I enjoyedthis Henry Alford piece in the Times Book Review. Henry Alford is an oxygen-rich breath upon the dying embers of print humor, he said blurbingly.

1.14.2006

Confidential to James Wolcott

Could this be like 39% more dandyish, please?

P.S. -- I love it.

NHL Blogging: Irrational Behavior of Delicious

I'm doing household chores and, naturally, I'm turning on the NHL on NBC, because I'm pulling for it, I want it to do well. But why do I want it to do well? I can afford the Center Ice package, so it's not like I'll never see hockey on television. In fact, if hockey were less popular, maybe Center Ice and the occasional game would be cheaper. Yet I'm still rooting for it to do well. I don't get it.


P.S. -- Using the rink at Rockefeller Center for the studio show? Nice.

PPS -- I still don't like the idea of regional games. Pick one, tell us why we should be watching it, why it's worthy of Network Broadcast, and make it a big deal.

1.13.2006

Heatup Roundup: "Is Bill McKibben a sociopath, second-rate, or just a second-rate sociopath?" edition

• Gary Jones provides our title by hating on Bill McKibben. Warning: scenes of graphic violence perpetuated on straw men.

• Calvin "No Relation" Jones discusses appliances that turn themselves off when the power grid is being taxed, perhaps with a little ringtone to the tune of "Too Darn Hot".

• Weekly Standard columnist endorses carbon tax, scoffs at climate change, wants to stick it to Saudis. (Via A Change In The Wind.)

• Tim Haab has had it with anti-wind-power environmentalists. I feel you.

New Orleans note

My impression is that the cooler comedy circles look down on Harry Shearer's Le Show somewhat. I still like it, and since Katrina (Shearer lives part of the time in New Orleans), I think it has become less jokey in an interesting way.

All of which is just throat-clearing, because last week's show (which I just listened to on my iPod) is an very interesting discussion of what's going on in New Orleans with a couple of writers and the woman who owns Commander's Palace. I recommend it. It's available at iTunes in the podcast section, or here.

1.12.2006

In which I abandon my usual pose of aristocratic hauteur and speak sincerely, seriously for a moment

I believe that the comedy formula "I likes me some X" is played out. I never liked it, however, so I recognize that others may still want to spend time at the feast.

Improbably foul-mouthed old ladies, though? Still hilarious!

1.11.2006

Agreed

I'm trying not to do politics so much, because a million blogs do it more faithfully, but I'm not sure a lot of people readArms and influence and I really like the way Kingdaddy puts it:

"Our Constitution survived when the British burned the White House, half the country tried to secede, we were fighting in both the Pacific and European theaters of WWII simultaneously (and don't forget the pro-Nazi bunds that were a quite real 'enemy within'), and the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at us. We also went to the brink of nuclear war in 1962, an event to which I'll devote some attention in coming posts. At no time did the President claim the sort of powers that George W. Bush believes are necessary to prevent another group of hijackers from getting lucky."

Heatup Roundup: Bafflement edition

• RealClimate dudes baffled by news that living non-swampy plants can emit methane:

Once the dust settles though, the situation may not be so different to before - some emissions may turn out to have been mis-identified, this source may not be as large as these initial estimates (10-30% of total sources) suggest, or it might radically challenge our current understanding of methane's sources and sinks. However, the process by which this is decided will demonstrate clearly that the scientific method is alive and well in the climate sciences. That is, as long as a work is careful and the conclusions sound, papers that upset the apple cart can appear in the major journals and have a good chance of ending up being accepted by the rest of the field (providing the conclusions hold up of course!).



Gary Jones isn't as sanguine. Unfair paraphrase: this just goes to show that climate scientists have their head up their ass. Check out the update on the post for a theory that Amazon deforestation may have more of a role to play in warming that we previously thought -- I can't quite follow it myself, but that doesn't signify.

• My man Rob McMillin blogs about an MIT-related proposal to convert power plant exhaust into algae and then into biodiesel. Note that this doesn't really reduce CO2 emissions, it's just that we get more use out of the same quantity. (Note also that this was in USA Today, so I shouldn't really have needed to get it from a blogger -- except that I no longer have to write daily monologue jokes so I don't have to read USA Today all the time as I once did. Therefore I can't defend it as much as I used to, but I always think it got over-criticized.)


1.10.2006

Post in the manner of Atrios

When is Dennis Hastert going to stop grooming his jowls and start doing something about all his corrupt confederates?

1.09.2006

Heatup Roundup

I'm with Bill McKibben:

Climate change somehow seems unable to emerge on the world stage for what it really is: the single biggest challenge facing the planet, the equal in every way to the nuclear threat that transfixed us during the past half-century and a threat we haven't even begun to deal with...That lack of preparation and precaution dwarfs even the failure to prepare for the September 11 attacks, and its effects will be with us far longer. It's not, of course, that America could in two decades have prevented global warming. But we could have begun taking the steps to keep it from spinning entirely out of control, steps that grow ever more difficult to take with each passing season.

Though I'm too shy to wring my hands so publicly as McKibben. Nevertheless, because this could possibly turn into a fantastic test of civilization itself -- a test that is almost as interesting to follow as professional hockey -- I've been adding climate blogs to my RSS feed; and, with apologies to Rob McMillin, who does daily baseball-blog-roundups, I thought I'd share some of the highlights from today:
A Change In The Wind concludes its own roundup thusly:
...for those of us who live on the West Coast, the news that the little-known Pacific Decadal Oscillation appears to be speeding up radically could be much bigger news. A study just published in Science finds that the Pacific is warmer than it has been at any point in the last 1400 years. Usha McFarling, a reporter for the LATimes, checked this study out:

Bill Peterson, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, agreed with Field's conclusions of a long-term warming trend. Peterson also said that, for unknown reasons, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation might be speeding up from alternating 20-year cycles to three- or four-year cycles.

"It's not behaving like it used to behave," Peterson said.

Given that the PDO is widely believed in the field to influence El Nino/La Nina, which has huge effects on our weather, this could be big news, and deserves following closely.

Backseat Driving covers "The Prius and the Burger" story that was in the British papers.
• Gary Jones endorses a "Left Popperian" (which I leave to the philosophy majors) view of the debate and recommends a skeptical, adaptative pace rather than going for McKibbenesque radical change.

1.07.2006

All Time Top 40

I wish Alex Ross would have comments on his blog, for what mayhem would ensue over this!

1.03.2006

For the New Year

I posted this stanza of Don Juan in comments at Obsidian Wings but it's worth repeating:

Oh Pleasure! you're indeed a pleasant thing,
Although one must be damn'd for you, no doubt:
I make a resolution every spring
Of reformation, ere the year run out,
But somehow, this my vestal vow takes wing,
Yet still, I trust, it may be kept throughout:
I'm very sorry, very much ashamed,
And mean, next winter, to be quite reclaim'd.

1.02.2006

What it comes down to

Some reader of Talking Points writes about not letting the lawyers do all the work of the Abramoff investigation:

It would be wise of those of us who are offended by the realities of [Abramoff] to resist the temptation to view [it] as a fundamentally legal matter. Rather we should debate it within the arena of political and social ethics. If we cannot win the contest on the basis of these ethical principles then no legal system can save us from ourselves.
Emphasis added for emphasis. I also feel this way about the NSA-spying-on-Americans thing: if nobody gives a shit, if people become more outraged by some random quote by Simon Cowell, then it's all over, and those of us who believed the line about "a republic, if you can keep it" were, in a real way, too smart for our own good.

(There's also the point about whether you can even have a republic, in the sense that Franklin or Lincoln or even the Roosevelts understood it, under our modern military-industrial-infotainment conditions. But that issue I leave to the unreadable political thinkers.)