Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mood music for a wintry day in Minnesota

Gustav Mahler's sublime Adagietto from his 5th Symphony, conducted by Zubin Mehta. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Adios, Hugo

This is huge!
Massive Oil Deposit Could Increase US reserves by 10x

America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.

In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951. The USGS did an initial study back in 1999 that estimated 400 billion recoverable barrels were present but with prices bottoming out at $10 a barrel back then the report was dismissed because of the higher cost of horizontal drilling techniques that would be needed, estimated at $20-$40 a barrel.

But wait! The news gets better:
Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth stillwarming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued ... This is not what you'd expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you'd expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up ... So (it's) very unexpected, not something that's being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it's very significant."

Duffy: "It's not only that it's not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there's any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it's put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary."

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn't support their case. "People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?"

Marohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that's what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we're going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling."

Duffy: "Can you tell us about NASA's Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we're now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?"

Marohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

Duffy: "From what you're saying, it sounds like the implications of this could be considerable ..."

Marohasy: "That's right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer's interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point."

If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.

Maybe there is a god?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blogs in the Spotlight: Random Distractions

This week Random Distractions, the outstanding and highly educational blog of Daily Duck friend Monix, has been added to the elite and exclusive BritBlog directory. On behalf of the Daily Duck staff I heartily congratulate Monix on this awesome accomplishment! It is well earned and highly deserved.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kenyon, you stand on the shoulders of giants!

The pioneers that made it all possible!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Semi-Occasional Daily Deliberation #9

Ex-governor Spitzer, who brought "crash and burn" to a whole new level, has made this a fine time to ask:
  • Why is prostitution illegal, while pornography is legal?
  • For that matter, why is prostitution illegal in the first place?
  • Momentarily putting aside the fact I am married, if I was to chat up a woman in the hotel bar and invite her to my room, I would have every reason to anticipate rejection, but none to fear arrest.

    Even if I made that offer to an undercover vice-cop.

    However, if I appended the words "perhaps $300 would make it worth your while," I would be in cuffs faster than the back of Mrs. Spitzer's hand met his face on learning about his special friend.

    Unless I had the foresight to put a video camera in my pocket.

    So, if a woman gives it up for free, or for the silver screen, that's OK. But doing the same thing for a little green is a crime.

    That needs 'splaining.

    Good for Goose, but not Gander

    Women have been breaking all manner of gender barriers. In the sporting arena, Danica Patrick is driving top level open wheel racing cars against an otherwise male field. Annika Sorenstam took a whack at the PGA tour. Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in a Division I college football game.

    All hale the goose.

    However, what is good for the goose is apparently not so for the Gander.

    Kenyon Smith is a male synchronized swimmer.

    I'll pause for a few moments while you collect the pieces of your oxymoron detector. I could hear the detonation from here.

    All set? Okay, then.
    [Kenyon] swims, in unison, with the Santa Clara Aquamaids, a club of synchronized swimmers. All the other Aquamaids are girls. They wear sparkly bathing suits, gobs of makeup and starlet smiles as they splash-dance around the pool. They show a lot of leg.
    What's worse, apparently he is very good.
    He's a phenomenon. His twists and splits and head-down pirouettes are crisp and fast. His rocket [from context, apparently some special swimming move, and not, well, any rocket in his pocket] thrusts him out of the water, pointy-toes first, all the way up to his armpits. He can swim almost 75 yards underwater without blacking out.
    Emphasis added, quite possibly redundantly.

    However, despite -- "because" seems a better fit here -- being very, very, good, no amount of good will earn him a college sports scholarship, or a spot in the Olympics.

    Two things mystify me here.

    First, absent bald-faced, teeth bared, barking hypocrisy, how is it that any attempt to deny, say, Danica, would be met with howls of outrage, yet excluding Kenyon is OK?

    Second why is it we all instantly assumed that a guy who surrounds himself daily with attractive, scantily-clad women is gay?

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Found it!

    After a great deal of research, undertaken despite the absence of any grants, and fueled only by a Tall -- which is to say, small -- Coffee of the Day, I found the uppermost tippity-top summit of the double extra-greasy slippery slope that led to a new victim class: self inebriating, debauched through absolutely no fault of their own coeds who are apparently smart enough to go to college, but too stupid oppressed to know any better.

    We stumbled over the precipice on this day in 1958:
    London: "Débutante" became a word with shaken meaning as Buckingham Palace opened its gates to the last series of young women being presented at court. After the curtsies are made this afternoon, the old tradition of presentations will be discarded, in accordance with Queen Elizabeth II's wishes.

    Thereafter, according to some prophecies in London's upper social levels, the original definition of "débutante" will have lost its anchor and be free to drift into any sort of new and dangerous interpretation.

    The end of the dream world of most ambitious British mothers also is calculated to have a shattering effect in some American homes. This year's trans-Atlantic crop of young women is destined to have no successors bearing the official "court" stamp.
    So, there you have it. Ironically, instead of the ugly unshaven head of empty nihilistic libertine atheism, as some would reflexively suspect, it was all the Queen's fault.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Okay, so I Lied

    Once upon a recent time, I said my next IT purchase would be a shotgun.

    In fact, my next was more IT Stuff: a box of sundry electronic guts and a case to surround them. The man child did all the work, with just a bit of coaching from the side lines.

    So far, XP is far superior to that vista Vista. The thing worked perfectly right out of the boxes.

    I offloaded the original source of all evil as we know it on a local MD's office, at a nearly Bear-Sterns fire sale price.

    The man-child and I have already started on our next task. Per AOG's recommendation, m-c and I are learning Perl. Despite being only 13, m-c has an amazingly long attention span for the gory details of a programming language; e.g., tokenizing, and internal representation of various data types.

    Now, if I could just get him that interested in baseball ...