It’s getting hotter

Hmm. For years the climate change deniers have had pet scientists willing to say that the consensus among fellow practitioners was wrong: the observable changes in climate had nothing to do with anything we humans had done. Never mind that some 95% of scientists agree that we’re the culprits behind sea levels’ rise, ozone layer depletion, greenhouse gases rising, etc. Why would these contrarians keep defying the consensus?

Well, in at least one case, cash payments. Or at least that’s how it appears. Mr. Wei Hock Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics claims that variations in the sun’s energy can explain global warming. Why would he say that?

…newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.


…the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.

Dr. Soon appears to have let himself be bought.

There’s an excellent book titled “Merchants of Doubt” which shines light on these scientists who sell out to corporate interests, sowing uncertainty about the science behind the majority consensus. We’ve seen it work in the tobacco industry, and we’re seeing it in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries as well. It’s a good read.

Author’s appreciations

I always read the author’s dedication first when I open a book. Here’s a wonderful one. It’s from Ben Aaronovitch in his book Foxglove Summer, the fifth book in his “Rivers of London” series.

This book is dedicated to Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, who has stood like a wossname upon the rocky shores of our imaginations — the better to guide us safely into harbor.

Clear vision ahead

Or so I hope. Back here I related the tale of my attempt to go to Wal-Mart or Costco to see how much a pair of single-vision glasses would cost me and my giving up due to traffic woes. A couple of days later I did get to Wal-Mart and got a quote of about $110 even with a $9 pair of frames. That seemed a little steep to me, so I thought I’d try elsewhere. I wound up at this place in the mall at the bottom of my hill. They had frames I liked, and more importantly they said they would make the lenses for no more than the cost of the frames. So I paid about $52 for a new pair of glasses to be used only while at the computer.

Unfortunately they had to send the order to the mainland to get the lenses made. Apparently their in-house lab isn’t equipped for the amount of astigmatism in my 20-200+ right eye. They called me this afternoon to say they came in, so tomorrow I’ll go get them and see how they work.

I don’t know whether to be optimistic or not.

Nobody here did nuthin’!

That could be the family motto, if the family in question was the Connecticut-Texas Bushes. Quoting Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog:

In 1986, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush offered an unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for the Iran-Contra scandal in which the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran in order to finance an illegal war on Nicaragua.

“Clearly, mistakes were made,” Bush said.

In 2004, then-President George W. Bush offered an eerily similar unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for the Abu Ghraib scandal, in which U.S. officials tortured detainees at an Iraqi prison:

“It’s also important for the people of Iraq to know that in a democracy, everything is not perfect, that mistakes are made,” Bush said.

In 2015, former Gov. Jeb Bush offered a practically identical, unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for his brother’s catastrophic war in Iraq, launched under false pretenses, and bungled every step of the way.

“Let’s go to Iraq,” Bush said during the Q&A at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure.”

Somehow in politics when a Bush gets his hands on something and it goes to hell, which on past performance seems likely to happen every damned time, it’s somebody else’s fault. You know the buck that’s supposed to stop at the President’s desk? It gets sidetracked on its way to the Oval Office if the occupant’s named Bush.

The Bushes are like Wall Street banks: they want to privatize the profits (financial or otherwise) from their policies while socializing the losses. Thousands of dead Americans and Iraqis? Not George’s fault. Probably Rumsfeld’s and Brenner’s and oh yeah, don’t forget that Shinseki guy. Prisoners tortured at Abu Graib? Blast that John Yoo! He said torture was okay! Arms for hostages and cash to Nicaraguan contras? It was all Ollie North’s fault!

If the American voters allow Jeb to get the Republican nomination my opinion of them will drop even further than it already has.

Hungry birds

From Events

From filling the feeder till this happened: approximately 10 minutes. If I’d had a camera with a faster shutter speed I might have gotten some detail of one of the ones about to land, but my 35mm film camera is empty and my digital camera is a Canon point-and-shoot.

New books

I now have the entire Archer’s Beach trilogy by Sharon Lee. I also have Andy Weir’s The Martian. Also Keith Laumer’s A Plague of Demons & Other Stories.

Weir’s book was self-published in 2011 and purchased by Crown Publishing in 2014. It’s gotten very good reviews.

Laumer was an interesting character. An ex-Air Force officer, he was also ex-Foreign Service. He suffered a stroke at age 46 but refused to accept the doctors’ diagnosis and developed an alternate form of treatment for himself. That kept him from writing for a few years, and when he was able to resume it’s said he’d lost some of his skill. I’ve read several of his Bolo stories.

There are a few more new-to-me books, but that’s enough to go on for now. I should also mention that I picked up a used copy of Firefly for $15.

Alabama probate judges hoist on Roy Moore’s ego

Today Federal judge Callie V.S. Granade ordered the probate judge in Mobile County to begin issuing marriage licenses to every couple who asks for one, no matter whether the couple is same-sex or opposite-sex.

“If Plaintiffs take all steps that are required in the normal course of business as a prerequisite to issuing a marriage license to opposite-sex couples, Judge Davis may not deny them a license on the ground that Plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples or because it is prohibited by the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act or by any other Alabama law or Order pertaining to same-sex marriage,” Granade writes.

I think with Mobile that means the counties with the biggest urban centers are now all issuing licenses.

There are still 44 counties in Alabama in which marriage licenses are unavailable to same-sex couples. That’s down from 51 on Monday.

Ol’ Judge Moore is going to lose and he knows it, but he likes to put on a show. Ordering probate judges to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples makes him a hero to the no-neck crowd. He thought about running for Governor a few years ago, and this kind of publicity may push him toward contemplating it again.