Thoughts On Software Updates

From Lileks:

If they made Frankenstein movies nowadays, the sequels would be odd: the Monster could not go on a rampage until he’d downloaded the latest firmware. “Improves compatibility with villagers, resolves conflicts with fire.”

Seems like he came with malware preinstalled. At least in the Mel Brooks version. “Abby Normal. I’m almost sure that was the name.

What Is Science?

APS has an explanation for the warm-mongers:

Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the universe and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories.

The success and credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to:

1. Expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others. This requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials.
2. Abandon or modify previously accepted conclusions when confronted with more complete or reliable experimental or observational evidence.

Adherence to these principles provides a mechanism for self-correction that is the foundation of the credibility of science.

But, but…it’s settled! We have to save the planet!

We’re All Neocons Now

I haven’t had time to dissect the speech in real time, but I think that’s the headline, even with the attempted slams at the Bush administration. I could say a lot of other things, like his continuing speech quirk about Pahkeestahn, versus Afganistan (as in Laurel). The teleprompter apparently doesn’t do phonics…

But I think that’s the headline.

He seems to have finally learned that it’s a lot harder to govern than campaign.

[Update a few minute later]

Links to more thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have some as well, after seeing the transcript. That’s always the best way to evaluate The One’s speeches. And politicians’ in general, of course…

It’s Really Quite Simple

I think I’ve found the pseudocode for Mann’s temperature charts:

input hockey_stick array
input year_data array
For each year (1000 - 2009) {
   while (year_data_of_year less than hockey_stick_of_year) {
      if (year_data_of_year less than hockey_stick_of_year) {
         year_data_of_year += 0.1 degrees
         }
      }
   plot year_data_of_year
   }

See, nothing to it. Poor Harry wouldn’t have had so much frustration if he’d just stuck with the script.

Here We Go Again

Remember 2000, when everyone was partying in 1999 as though it were the end of the century and millennium, even though it had another year to go? Well, I was reading the American Airlines magazine this morning, and the monthly column from the airline president said that it was his last of the decade. And of course, Newsweek says that it was a “decade from Hell” (presumably because much of it was presided over by the BusHitler), also implying that it comes to a close at the end of the month. I’m not going to go through the explanation again, but the decade doesn’t end until a year from now.

A Working Scientist’s View

Thoughts on Climaquiddick from Derek Lowe:

I have deep sympathy for the fellow who tried to reconcile the various poorly documented and conflicting data sets and buggy, unannotated code that the CRU has apparently depended on. And I can easily see how this happens. I’ve been on long-running projects, especially some years ago, where people start to lose track of which numbers came from where (and when), where the underlying raw data are stored, and the history of various assumptions and corrections that were made along the way. That much is normal human behavior. But this goes beyond that.

Those of us who work in the drug industry know that we have to keep track of such things, because we’re making decisions that could eventually run into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars of our own money. And eventually we’re going to be reviewed by regulatory agencies that are not staffed with our friends, and who are perfectly capable of telling us that they don’t like our numbers and want us to go spend another couple of years (and another fifty or hundred million dollars) generating better ones for them. The regulatory-level lab and manufacturing protocols (GLP and GMP) generate a blizzard of paperwork for just these reasons.

But the stakes for climate research are even higher. The economic decisions involved make drug research programs look like roundoff errors. The data involved have to be very damned good and convincing, given the potential impact on the world economy, through both the possible effects of global warming itself and the effects of trying to ameliorate it. Looking inside the CRU does not make me confident that their data come anywhere close to that standard…

But why should we pay any attention to him? He is, after all, one of those Evil Scientists™ in the pay of Big Business, not a noble one trying to save the planet (with millions of dollars in government and left-wing grants).

As a commenter notes, the biggest casualty of this episode is the credibility of science itself. But if it saves us from those trying to save the planet from us, perhaps it’s worth the cost, if it can be regained.

Too Busy To Blog

I’m heading back to LA in the morning from Denver, but in the meantime, if you were wondering who was responsible for Climaquiddick, wonder no more — it was the oil companies. So sayeth the head of the IPCC. But don’t worry, he has some reassuring words for us:

Dr Pachauri dismissed the suggestion that biased research had crept into the IPCC’s most recent report on the science of climate change. A complex system of checks and balances was in place to prevent bias being insinuated into the panel’s work, he said.

Well, that’s certainly a relief. It probably works like those “layers of fact checkers and editors” at the LA Times.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!