Monday, November 30, 2009

Space: 1969

As I sit here getting ready for my next evil editing marathon -- which starts in, oh, about 17 minutes or so -- I discovered this during my morning blog crawl.

I grew up on repeats of Star Trek, broadcast on some station in Wheeling, West Virginia, whose call letters I've long forgotten. I'm also old enough to have been young when Space: 1999 aired in first-run syndication. (Actually, I'm old enough to remember when Harlan Ellison's The Starlost first aired, but that's a whole other can of worms.) So when I spotted this over at James Lileks' The Bleat, well, it just made my entire morning.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Attention Must Be Paid!

Clearly, this driver has a lot on his or her mind...

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Turkeys

"Did everyone see that? This turkey bowed to me!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THANKSGIVING REPEAT: The Only Two Presents I Need

[Because this is as true today as it was when I wrote it almost a year ago.--Wesley M.]

This Christmas, we're seeing no family. We have the fewest presents under the tree that either of us can remember, and the weather outside is bone-chilling rain instead of heart-warming snow. I've seen more holiday television specials this year while sitting in veterinary office and animal hospital waiting rooms than I have while sitting at home. I never made it to a Christmas Eve service last night and won't make it to a service today, even though attending church this holiday as a believing Christian for the first time since I was 12 or 13 is something I've spent months anticipating.

None of this bothers me, though. I have the only two presents I need:

Earlier this month, I had to face the possibility of losing my wife. Not through a separation or a divorce, but in a car that literally ended its time with us by fire.

And not even a week ago, I had to face the possibility of losing our dog. Not through the poor girl wandering off or because of a move that somehow forced us to leave her behind, but during a long day and even longer night of vomiting, shaking, weakness, and more blood than I ever want to see in one place again.

Sometimes life, or God, or just plain dumb luck forces you to realize what's actually important. I don't plan on forgetting this lesson anytime soon.

Count your blessings, everyone. I know I am.

Merry Christmas, and God bless.

[Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.]

THANKSGIVING REPEAT: Thanksgiving Day 2008

A short classic from Charlie Chaplin:

Still think you have nothing to be thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Neighbor

Dear Neighbor,

It is now the afternoon of November 25th, and your Halloween jack o'lantern is still on display for all to enjoy.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and when I sit down at that table and list all the many things for which I'm thankful, I hope I can include that my neighbor has finally thrown this poor thing in the trash and put it out of its misery.

Thank you. That is all.


Your Neighbor

"Women In The Wind"!

They just don't make movies like this anymore.

Or trailers...

I hereby demand that Hollywood make more movies featuring glorious legions of flying women as they battle the skies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blinders, Part II

Along with wading through all the hacked East Anglia material myself the last few days, I've been spending some time following the comment threads for other online postings about this issue. I've left a comment or two of my own, though I usually stay out of those threads. All too often, they get hijacked by the most extreme voices on either side, and the people actually willing to give the other side a fair hearing -- and to acknowledge the short-comings of their own side, which both sides do have -- get crowded out. Sometimes, it seems like the only thing those two extremes can agree on is that anyone with an "undecided" mind must be insulted and driven from the thread.

As someone who was once absolutely convinced of mankind's role in global warming but, after years and years of editing environmental science papers, found himself moving into the "maybe, but maybe not" camp, I generally walk away from those comment threads muttering "A pox on both your damn houses..."

Most disappointing to me have been the self-proclaimed defenders of "The Science(Trademark)," who are actually acting like political flaks. Not only do they see nothing of concern in the East Anglia material, they can't even bring themselves to say "I think there is absolutely nothing to worry about in these e-mails and other files, but I can understand why it looks bad and why people are concerned." Apparently, in their minds, even that would be giving the other side a "win," and giving the other side a "win" must be avoided at all costs. Just like when someone on your side of the political fence gets caught doing something wrong that you would, quite rightly, skewer someone on the other side for doing. But now the person behaving badly is on your side, so he or she must be defended. At all costs.

Any scientific Joe Lieberman's will be driven from the party.

And the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is an impossibility.

Some of the comment threads really do descend to that level.

On the other hand, I've also found myself coming to respect some in the man-made global warming camp even more than I often already did. Dr. Judith Curry, for instance, is hardly a "denier." The Chair of Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and best-known to the general public for her research into hurricane intensity, she's also an example of intellectual honesty and what goes into "good" climate science, acknowledging that the field does often have a problem with the availability and openness of the data and methods used, particularly in regard to the reseachers in the East Anglia material:

Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. The HADCRU surface climate dataset and the paleoclimate dataset that has gone into the various “hockeystick” analyses stand out as lacking such transparency. Much of the paleoclimate data and metadata has become available only because of continued public pressure from Steve McIntyre. Datasets that were processed and developed decades ago and that are now regarded as essential elements of the climate data record often contain elements whose raw data or metadata were not preserved (this appears to be the case with HADCRUT). The HADCRU surface climate dataset needs public documentation that details the time period and location of individual station measurements used in the data set, statistical adjustments to the data, how the data were analyzed to produce the climatology, and what measurements were omitted and why. If these data and metadata are unavailable, I would argue that the data set needs to be reprocessed (presumably the original raw data is available from the original sources). (emphasis added)
And then there's George Monbiot, environmental activist, author, and again, hardly anyone's idea of a climate "skeptic," who proves that you can reject both the idea of a worldwide global climate science conspiracy while still acknowledging and going after potentially bad or even fraudulent climate science:
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.

Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
Read the whole Monbiot article, by the way. The hypothetical "hacked e-mail" he includes (to "The Knights Carbonic") to show what he would need to believe that all of climate science was a sham is a hoot and a half. And after the last few days, I think we all could use a hoot and a half, wherever you fall in this debate.

RELATED: An excellent, even-handed article by Declan McCullagh over at the CBS News website, highlighing problems in the CRU's temperature databases and code.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Maybe Not Fraud, But Definitely Some Blinders

By now, most people who spend time online have probably heard that the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, home to some of the strongest voices supporting the existence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), recently had its servers hacked, leading to a massive amount of potentially embarrassing e-mails and other files being publicly posted. A good summary for many of the e-mails involved (and links to specific e-mails) can be found here. The full archive can be found here.

By now, most people who spend time online have probably also heard that most of this material seems to be genuine. It's hard to know if something fraudulent has been slipped in among the real deals, but after several days, I'm not aware that any particular item has had its authenticity challenged.

I've held off blogging about this until now, because I wanted to look over as much of this material as I could before saying anything. And maybe even more interesting than the hacked material itself has been seeing the reactions in the comment threads of the various websites discussing this. Those comments range from people who are convinced this material completely debunks the existence of AGW to people giving a knee-jerk defense for every single potential issue in that material.

As of this morning, put me somewhere in the middle.

I agree that “trick” is most likely just an unfortunate choice of wording. Having been a science editor/ghostwriter for more than 20 years now, I've dealt with a lot of peer-review studies and publications. And I’ve seen enough unfortunate wording from brilliant people who should know better to last me a lifetime. “Hide the decline” seems a lot harder to explain away, though, and should throw up enough red flags to make even the hardest-core AGW proponent demand that a second, closer look be taken at the specific work in question.

I agree that a lot of these e-mails are cases of smart guys with big egos behaving like utter and absolute a-holes. And that should surprise no one who has ever worked with noted scientists at the top of their field. But when they start talking about deleting e-mails, data, and code to keep them out of anyone else’s hands, that should also throw up enough red flags that make anyone, on either side of the AGW debate, who actually does care about legitimate science demand a second, closer look at the work by these particular researchers.

I also agree that the majority view among scientists is that AGW exists, especially in the peer-reviewed literature. So when you have noted researchers not just complaining about AGW-skeptical papers making it through peer review, but also discussing having the journal editor in question removed, how to prevent other skeptical articles from seeing print in the primary literature, and how to de-legitimize a peer-review journal that has published such articles, well, one would think that might give those who uses the "consensus" of the peer-reviewed literature as their argument for AGW at least a moment’s pause. And, again, want the work of those researchers to be thoroughly reviewed -- if only to protect the integrity of the argument for AGW and show there really is no room for “bad” science on their side.

I don’t know if these researchers have been deliberately committing fraud. I get the impression, though, that they’ve become so convinced they already know the answer, they’ve stopped looking for problems and holes in their own data and methods in the way that they should. And that’s usually when a lot of bad science starts to happen.

There’s a lot to be concerned about in this hacked material. And whatever their intentions, the people who are denying that fact aren't defending good science.

Even Saturday Night Live Is Catching On...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Not To Wake Up In The Morning...

How do I prefer not to wake up in the morning? By hearing, right next to my ear, that repeated horp-glorp as the dog heaves beside the bed, preparing to vomit up something really, really nasty she had managed to eat off the street the day before during that one moment I wasn't paying attention.

By throwing off the covers and jumping out of bed, still half-asleep but instinctively ready to guide the dog out of the bedroom, down the apartment hallway, and to the safety of the easy-to-clean tile in the guest bathroom.

By my sleep-addled, fumbling fingers not catching hold of the dog just right as she runs down the apartment hallway ahead of me, past the hoped-for tile in the guest bedroom, and on into the living room.

And by having the poor girl finally vomit up that nasty street-treat onto the carpet not quite a foot short of the easy-to-clean kitchen tile.

Then again, our girl is worth it. And it still beats those early puppy days when she was being house-trained and was too young to sleep through the night.

Pop Quiz: Harry Reid Re-Election Edition

Which of the following is the best campaign commercial related to Harry Reid's bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate?

A) Harry Reid, "Determination":

B) Danny Tarkanian, "The Reid Files":

(Hint: Well, Senator Reid does have a reputation for, ah, "determination"...)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho-liday Economy!

Extra points if you can name the noted local bluesman depicted here as Santa.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Limbaugh and Coulter and Beck, Oh My!"

I know Steven Crowder and Alfonzo Rachel generally get most of the comedic buzz when it comes to the people on PJTV, and I do enjoy watching their work as well.

Andrew Klavan, though, is the one who really keeps me coming back for more:

And no, I don't think Limbaugh and Coulter and Beck are paragons of untainted virtue and received wisdom. I just don't think they're the stereotypes of unparalleled wickedness and diabolical hate they so often get painted as by the other political side.

Okay, maybe Glenn Beck, just a little. At least when he starts crying, but I guess that's really just more annoying than it actually is wicked. (Please stop crying, Glenn.)

Because I Know My Wife Reads This Blog...

Yes, I bought you another Christmas present today.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what this one is, either.

Pre-Thanksgiving Christmas Overkill

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Conan O'Brien: The Lost Episode

"Thank you for having me back on the show, Conan. I appreciate this chance to clarify those remarks I made last night about the interior temperature of the Earth."

"That would be how the interior of the Earth is extremely hot, right? Several million degrees, in fact."

"That's right, Conan. You see, since last night, many anti-science right-wing zealots have latched onto this remark as a way to claim, again, that my scientific presentations are riddled with factual inaccuracies."



"HA! So the interior temperature of the Earth really is several million degrees."

"Well... no... Technically, it's a lot less."

"Really? How much less?"

"Well, Conan, the current scientific consensus is that it's only somewhere between 3,000 and 9,000 degrees Celsius. And as you know, good science is all about the consensus."

"So you were wrong."

"I was imprecise, Conan. What I meant to say is that the interior temperature of the Earth feels like it's several million degrees. Kind of a reverse geological wind chill factor. And all those pressures deep inside the Earth kick up some mighty strong winds, which fortunately for us can also be used as alternative sources of clean, carbon-free energy."

"So your science was right. Take that, Sarah Palin!"

"Well said, Conan. Well said."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Someone Likes My Neighbor

Recovery Pong!

"Okay, here's the deal, guys! I land this one in that little cup over there, and we add another 7,000 jobs saved or created at! No one's actually gonna checks those numbers we're putting up, right? Like the President said when he put me in charge of overseeing the stimulus, nobody messes with Joe!"

Reason #129...

Reason #129 why I'm no longer a Democrat...

Is it fair to send people to jail for not buying health insurance? Well, what better way to make sure someone doesn't get sick, go to the emergency room, and send the bill to all of us than to send that person to jail, which means losing all the tax revenue from his or her employment, paying tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars per year to feed and house this person, and then providing the new prisoner with quality health care paid for by ... all of us?

And if jail time for not buying health insurance actually is a "myth" about Speaker Pelosi's House version of the bill -- as "Karina" over at the Speaker's blog writes, even if "Karina" does simultaneously allow for "criminal prosecutions" under "extremely rare circumstances" -- then why not just say that, Speaker Pelosi? Unless maybe you don't even know what's really in that 1,990-page bill.

Or unless you're trying to have it both ways.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Loneliness of the Starbucks Patio

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stimulus Quote of the Night

From Mark Steyn:

Reading those jobs numbers, I can't be the only resident of New Hampshire's Second Congressional District who dreams of relocating to the "00 Congressional District", land of 2,873.9 newly created jobs. What a great name! Because in the Obama budget you can always use a couple extra zeroes.

Pop Quiz: Creepy "V" Edition

Which of the following is the creepiest version of the sci-fi semi-classic V?

A) V (1984, NBC)

B) V (2009, ABC)

C) V (2009, GOV)

(Hint: Is it just me, or does Anna have some Obama-niscent hair going on?)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Should Have Gone to Hooters Instead

My wife and I went out to dinner the other night, to one of the few restaurants in our area that we hadn't yet tried. It's a seafood place down near the 10, right beside the Hooters. So when my wife and I saw the mostly empty parking lot, we both made the obligatory joke about going to the Hooters instead, because then, if we were served terrible food, we could at least gaze at some nylon-clad legs and maybe a tight t-shirt or two.

We should have gone to Hooters instead. And I say that as someone who hasn't been able to even think about actually setting foot inside a Hooters ever since I found out that O.J. Simpson had a Hooters VIP card, which apparently got a lot of use.

Now, as my wife will tell you, I'm easily pleased at a restaurant. Not because I don't have standards, but because I've known too many restaurant people in my life. All those friends who were (and still are) waitresses, hostesses, chefs, and even owners have made me kind of easy-going. Bring me the wrong drink? If it's something I also like, then no problem. Bring me the wrong food? I'm usually so hungry by that point, I'll take it anyway. And enjoy it. Life's just too short, right?

Like I said, we should have gone to Hooters instead.

I could deal with the low, semi-romantic lighting suddenly getting turned up to the nuclear-fired intensity of a thousand white-hot, flaming stars. I could deal with the cola I ordered being one of those weak, watered-down fountain sodas. I could deal with not one, but two employees stopping by our table seemingly every minute-and-a-half to see if "everything was all right," even though most of the restaurant people I know are savvy enough that when they see a couple holding hands across a table and leaning almost forehead-to-forehead, they realize that couple wants to be left alone. I could also deal with the appetizer order somehow getting lost and forgotten back in the depths of what apparently passed for a kitchen. I could even deal with the entrees themselves turning out to be bland and unappealing.

What I could not deal with was simply the most unappetizing thing I've ever heard a waitress say. Ever.

And just what did this paragon of service say?

"I'm sorry. I've been off work for a month sick with Swine Flu, and this is my first day back."

Both our appetites died immediately. Our eyes went wide, and we set down our forks. Then we both leaned back and went, Ewwwwwwww...

In our heads, we both knew she wasn't contagious at this point, but in our guts? You just don't want to hear the woman serving -- and breathing on -- your food talk about her recent infectious disease, which sometimes also just happens to be fatal.

Again, Ewwwwwwww...

We really should have gone to Hooters instead.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Courtyard Conversation about China

A conversation between my neighbor's two young boys earlier today as we all played with my dog in the courtyard:

"Which gets born first, people or dogs?"


"I think dogs."

"No. People in China get born first, because everything's made in China."

Eric Beck, or Glenn Cartman

I don't care what your politics are, or what you think of Glenn Beck, because this is just flat-out funny.

(Warning: Strong language ahead)

Now remember, fellow conservatives, we're supposed to be the ones with a sense of humor who can laugh at ourselves, right?


Exclusive Info: Inside President Obama's Afghan War Council

"Let me say this again. I don't really care what the general I handpicked to implement that bold, new, comprehensive, and carefully considered Afghan strategy I announced back in March says he needs to actually implement that strategy. And I don't really like any of these other options we've spent the last two months and eight meetings sitting here deconstructing like the smart guys we all know we are. So get out, all of you. And don't come back until you can bring me a war where everything goes exactly the way we want and on exactly the timetable we devise... What, do I have to sit here and hold my breath or something? Go!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Christopher Walken Performs Lady Gaga

Because after my last post, I need a laugh that doesn't make me cry at the same time. And because no one is cooler than Christopher Walken. Not even this guy.

I want Christopher Walken as the moderator for the 2012 presidential debates. I really, really do.

Headline of the Day

"After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits"

Chris Dodd Knows What the American People Want

"That's right. This is what the American people want, right here. My sweeping, bold, long-overdue, comprehensive reform of the massive and complicated banking and financial sectors of our even more massive and complicated American economy, all neatly wrapped up and explained in a pithy 1,136 pages... I'm sorry, you had a question, Todd?... Well, no, I haven't actually read this bill either, but look, it says 'reform' right here in big letters on the very first page! What could possibly go wrong?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pop Quiz: Naming Tyranny Edition

Which of the following presidents would you trust to name tyrants for what they truly are and to stand firm against aggressive dictatorships around the world?

A) President Ronald Reagan:

B) President Barack Obama:

(Hint: Name tyrants for what they truly are? One of these presidents, speaking on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, couldn't even bring himself to name the kind of tyranny that put up that wall. Communism? Never heard of it, but hey, who would have guessed back when the wall came down that 20 years later, Germany's American ally "would be led by a man of African descent"? How awesome is that? And don't the president's congratulations to the German people seem that much more awesome after he reminds everyone of how awesome and historic it is that he's the president? Then again, he does at least acknowledge that some people still "live within walls of tyranny" today, even if he does seem to think that means getting tough with Honduras as opposed to, say, Iran.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First of the Season

While walking the dog after dinner tonight, I spotted the first house in our neighborhood to be decorated for Christmas:

I'm one of those people who would have the tree up already, if my wife would let me. But even for me, this is a bit too much a bit too early...

It's Official, Part II

After a much-needed break, blogging on In My Copious Free Time resumes later tonight.

Sometimes, you just need to get away from something for a while before you can start enjoying it again.