Misbehaving in South America

There is much in the news about the uproar in South America, but I think it misses the point. Yes, there is noise about US Secret Service team members hiring “up to 21 prostitutes” (I expect that Obama will announce that he will cut this number to 25 in next year’s budget) — and the real issue of security compromise is being largely overlooked.

But to me, the larger issue is YPF. Continue reading

Global Warming

The Memory of Cherry Blossoms

At a dinner with friends last night, one commented that the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington was held two weeks earlier than ever before, because of global warming.

I looked around briefly, and could find blooming dates going back only to 1992 — but I note that several years showed dates for “showing florets” about a week earlier than the current dates. Each stage (opening, peak bloom, etc) showed dates earlier than the current year. And that’s just in the record of the past twenty years.

We tend to remember the recent weather as being dramatic. And in fact, millions of people right now have been told that the Cherry Blossom Festival is very early because of Global Warming, and they will remember that “fact” probably long after the Global Warming Scare is dismissed and we can think once again about pollution issues.

For example, the National Wildlife Federation is advancing this scare:

Global Warming
‘Little Pink Warning Flags’: Early DC Cherry Blossoms Signal Climate Change Impacts

As always, it’s worse than we thought. And the dreaded, horrific effect: plants are growing better. That well-known effect of CO2 wasn’t mentioned at all, despite it being a known contributor to earlier and better productivity in plants. In other words, CO2 is helping feed the world, not just improving the flowering of plants.

But I note, looking back through NYTimes archives, that the 1930s had peek blooms in March sometimes, and sometimes in May during the bitter cold 1970s. I note that “cherry picker” scientists are careful not to go back to the earlier warm cycle, when the US reached its warmest year (1934), a record that was only adjusted out of existence after several years of tinkering.

It is sad what these people are willing to do in the name of their rather odd religion.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Canadian Gun Control

This article is biased in favor of gun ownership, but is nevertheless interesting:

Myth 1. “VERY FEW PEOPLE IN CANADA OWN FIREARMS”

Exactly the opposite is true: twenty-nine per cent of Canadian homes possess an estimated total of nine million firearms. Other authorities insist that even this figure is too low, and that there [are] at least twenty million firearms in Canada.

For reference: As of 2009, the US’s 309 million people owned about 300 million firearms according to this interesting source.  The number has boomed since then, of course.  Back to the Canadian site: Continue reading

Science and politics quizzes

This science quiz was interesting. I did pretty well on it, with results posted below:

Make sure that your browser is set to allow cookies, or the score will not tally correctly.

I anticipated a number of questions related to climate change, since that’s mentioned on quiz’s title page (as shown above). There weren’t any.  Some of the questions were almost giveaways, but some were quite subtle and required some exposure to different areas of science.  Read the questions carefully; a couple were written so that if you did not actually know, you would guess incorrectly.

Missing one was annoying, but the score is not too bad — my own education has been rather odd, and I saw scientists and engineers on a forum  posting scores only in the 40-45 range out of 50.  Try it out!

There were other quizzes on the site that were interesting.

Here’s the quiz for the Patient Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare (even by Obama supporters, now).  I missed one on this one as well. That quiz required a pretty good knowledge of history, not to mention current events.  The quiz wording is not strongly slanted either for or against this legislation.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle