Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Crap * 500 Still Equals Crap

So a while back I was debating a climate change denier friend of a friend on Facebook.  Now, when I say “debating”, it was only a hole in the ground covered by a piece of twig, but it was a debate to her.  As evidence that AGW isn’t real, she provided the following:

  • A quote from Christopher not-even-a-scientist Monckton.
  • A link to a conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute
  • A link to some guy’s blog with his thoughts about the hacked CRU emails.
  • A claim that the word “trick” is nefarious
  • A link to an unpublished paper by professional curmudgeon Richard Lindzen, in which he whines for 30 pages about how much better science was in the olden days, but no actual science.
  • Two links to blogs claiming the IPCC had admitted exaggerating effects.  (Yep, the 2035 Himalayan glaciers mistake and the not-actually-wrong-after-all 40% Amazon sensitivity.)
  • A link to a lawyer’s blog entry about the same two things above.
  • A link to a conservative physicist’s blog entry quote-mining John Houghton.
  • A link to Monckton being shredded in a debate with an actual atmospheric scientist. (that was funny)
  • A link to the standard quote-mine claiming Phil Jones says there has been no global warming since 1995, by yet another person who doesn’t understand the meaning of statistical significance.
  • A quote from Phil Jones in which he accuses McIntyre and McKitrick of getting stuff wrong.  As this was later proved to be true, it’s another funny one.
  • A claim that it was not up to her to provide actual scientific publications refuting AGW.
  • A link to another article about the two one errors in the thousand-page IPCC 4.
  • A claim that she had supplied “plenty of info”.
  • A claim that the retraction of Siddall et al (2009) actually supports her side
  • A link to a blog entry by a materials physicist claiming to falsify Vermeer and Rahmstorf (2009), but not actually published anywhere. And nothing about Pfeffer (2008), which supports Vermeer and Rahmstorf, or the fact that the retraction of Siddall et al was because their sea level rise values were too small.
  • A link to a blog discussing the Zorita letter, in which Zorita explicitly says he thinks AGW is real.
  • A list of non-climate-scientists who think the APS is too strong in its policy statement on AGW.
  • A claim that anything that can be found on is automatically wrong.
  • An assertion that I am a wanna-be engineer, and thus not to be believed.
  • A second claim that it was not up to her to provide actual scientific publications refuting AGW.
  • An assertion that the truth must be in the middle.
  • An assertion that I am an alarmist engineer, and thus not to be believed.
  • An assertion that I have no science training, and thus am not to be believed.
  • An assertion that I am a non-science person, and thus not to be believed.
  • A request to Run along now and play with your circuit board. Leave science to scientists.

And, finally, the first link to actual peer-reviewed literature!!

I was not impressed by the start, and didn’t have time to look at it much, but here I am trying to stay up late so I can sleep on the plane on my way back to my pitiful miserable little engineering life.  So let’s just see how far through that list I can get.

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United by Confusion

Oh look, email.  Let’s see what we got here…

Click here for Online Check-in for: United 9195 – April 17, 2010


Travelport View Trip is providing you direct access to the United Easy Check-In Online ® service.From here, you can check-in online for your flight quickly and easily.


EasyCheck-in: Flight status

A flight in your itinerary has been cancelled. To rebook, please contact reservations at 1-800-589-5582, see a United Representative, or use an EasyCheck-in kiosk at the airport.
Flight From To
United 947
Boeing 777
Upgraded flight

Flight cancelled
Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
Apr 16
Scheduled: 12:15 PM
Estimated: 12:15 PM
Washington, DC (IAD)
Apr 16
Scheduled: 2:31 PM
Estimated: 2:31 PM
Confirmation #: ZKGJ5Y Looking for a different itinerary?

Sweet!  The new itinerary is tied to the old itinerary, what’s been canceled.  But hey, at least I got the automated message that the new flight is ready for online checkin!  So, thanks for that.

Not that either Schiphol or Frankfurt are likely to be open tomorrow anyway.

If We Can’t Put a Man on the Moon…

Here’s something I posted as a comment on Phil Plait’s blog.  Seemed like it oughta be a post of its own;  now if I could just get Phil’s readership.

The concept here is a very common longing for the good ol’ days of NASA, when failure was not an option, and we could get to the moon instead of just going round and round in Low Earth Orbit.  I hear this a lot.


I have worked on both manned missions and unmanned science missions.  I was old enough to watch and understand as Neil Armstrong stepped off the LM pad, and I find that moment to be the high point of humanity.

So, can we do that again?  No.  Not now anyway.  And it’s not about vision, it’s not about taking chances, it’s not about boldness.

It’s about money.

The Apollo program, at its peak, took 4% of GDP.  Think about that.  1 out of every 25 dollars spent in the US was spent on getting people to the moon, at least for a couple years.  The current US GDP is 14 trillion dollars, so a similar level of effort would be $500 billion per year.  That’s more than 25 times NASA’s current budget.

Getting people (safely) into space and back is bloody expensive.  Take Apollo 13.  Yes, it was great dedication and knowledge and cleverness that got them back alive and safe.  But it was also the existence of high-fidelity simulators, a massive infrastructure, and a huge team of ground personnel that made it possible to bring the astronauts back.  That kind of backup costs a lot of money. And most of it is salaries, which means it costs the same in real terms now as it did in 1965.

I won’t argue that today’s NASA isn’t overly risk-averse, and yes, the effect of this risk aversion has been to add layers of review and bureaucracy rather than to really work at improving reliability.  But to actually return to the glory days of Apollo would require not just the mental commitment but the financial commitment of the Apollo days.

The shuttle was over-hyped, but was it actually badly designed?  Well, if it really were so far from optimal, there would be a better solution by now.  Many very large companies with vast resources have been building rockets for decades, with lots of non-NASA customers, and while there have been minor improvements, things really haven’t changed much.  Getting into space is just hard, and expensive.  Doing it with the reliability we expect if there are people on board is that much more costly.  It’s easy to long for the good ol’ days of Apollo, but until we are ready put our moneys where our mouths is, it ain’t gonna happen.

[title of post]

Whoa, another post?  I thought this blog was dead.

But there’s [title of show] playing at Signature, in the smaller (ARK) space, and it’s another one of those that keeps me going back there even though the large space has become home to mega-spectaculars (and Broadway-bound bombs like Glory Days).

Plus hey, Sam Ludwig!  When was it I saw him in Pippin?  Google says 2006.  Google knows everything!  (And Google is wrong; it has to be 2005.)  Yeah, and none of the girls wanted to kiss him in the orgy scene when they found out he was still in high school.  He was so clearly the standout that Jenna and I knew he was destined for stardom right there.  When he showed up to auditions for Assassins at KAT we were all, “Craig, you have to cast him!  Plus he can play guitar!”  He shoulda been the balladeer, but we had nobody who could play Hinckley, and Hinckley does have that whole play-guitary moment at the beginning of Unworthy of Your Love.  And Sam rocked it.

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