Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Story

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope all our readers are able to spend this holiday season with family and loved ones.

This is a great story, from the New York Times.


Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

What a great story. I wonder how all those kids came up with that address for Santa. Hats off to those two gentlemen who managed to find someone willing to be Santa for about half of the letters they received.

Merry Christmas everybody.

December 25, 2010 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Turn it up said...

Darlene Love "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

December 25, 2010 9:49 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

That video still gives me chills, this is one of the few live performances of the Phil Spector "wall of sound," and man, it works!


December 25, 2010 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Jim

Darlene Love sings that every December 23 on Letterman and the sax player enters a different way every year

there should be a couple of dozen versions by now

she originally recorded it in 1963

hard to believe she looks and sounds so good over 40 years later

of course, I look pretty good myself

hope everyone is having a very Christmas!

December 26, 2010 1:37 AM  
Anonymous it's like an ice wave said...

As 2010 draws to a close, do you remember hearing any good news from the mainstream media about climate?

Remember all the media brouhaha about global warming causing hurricanes that commenced following the devastating U.S. 2004 season? Opportunities to capitalize on those disasters were certainly not lost on some U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change officials. A special press conference called by IPCC spokesman Kevin Trenberth announced "Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity."

But there was a problem. Christopher Landsea, a top U.S. expert on the subject, repeatedly notified the IPCC that no research had been conducted to support that claim--not in the Atlantic basin, or in any other basin. After receiving no replies, he publicly resigned from all IPCC activities. And while the press conference received tumultuous global media coverage, Mother Nature didn't pay much attention. Subsequent hurricane seasons returned to average patterns noted historically over the past 150 years, before exhibiting recent record lows with no 2010 U.S. landfalls.

Much global warming alarm centers upon concerns that melting glaciers will cause a disastrous sea level rise. A globally viewed December 2005 BBC feature alarmingly reported that two massive glaciers in eastern Greenland, Kangderlugssuaq and Helheim, were melting, with water "racing to the sea." Commentators urgently warned that continued recession would be catastrophic.

Helheim's "erratic" behavior reported then was recently recounted again in a dramatic Nov. 13 New York Times article titled "As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas." Reporters somehow failed to notice that only 18 months later, and despite slightly warmer temperatures, the melting rate of both glaciers not only slowed down and stopped, but actually reversed. Satellite images revealed that by August 2006 Helheim had advanced beyond its 1933 boundary.

According to two separate NASA studies, one conducted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the other by the Langley Research Center, the oceans now appear to be heading into another natural periodic cooling phase within a typical 55- to 70-year dipolar warm/cool pattern. Although Greenland has recently been experiencing a slight warming trend, satellite measurements show that the ice cap has been accumulating snow growth at a rate of about 2.1 inches per year. Temperatures only recently began to exceed those of the 1930s and 1940s when many glaciers were probably smaller than now. (We can't be certain, because satellites didn't exist to measure them.)

A recent study conducted by U.S. and Dutch scientists that appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience concluded that previous estimates of Greenland and West Antarctica ice melt rate losses may have been exaggerated by double. Earlier projections apparently failed to account for rebounding changes in the Earth's crust following the last Ice Age (referred to as "glacial isostatic adjustment").

Nils-Axel Morner, head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden, argues that any concerns regarding rising sea levels are unfounded. "So all this talk that sea level rising, this comes from the computer modeling, not from observations. ... The new level, which has been stable, has not changed in the last 35 years. ... But they [IPCC] need a rise, because if there is no rise, there is no death threat ... if you want a grant for a research project in climatology, it is written into the document that there 'must' be a focus on global warming. ... That is really bad, because you start asking for the answer you want to get."

Studies by the International Union for Quaternary Research conclude that some ocean levels have even fallen in recent decades. The Indian Ocean, for example, was higher between 1900 and 1970 than it has been since.

December 28, 2010 8:57 AM  
Anonymous eastern seaboard buried in snow said...

Other world climate alarm bells chimed when it was reported in the media that September 2007 satellite images revealed that the Northwest Passage--a sea route between the U.K. and Asia across the top of the Arctic Circle--had opened up for the first time in recorded history. (This "recorded history" dates back only to 1979 when satellite monitoring first began, and it should also be noted that the sea route froze again just a few months later (winter 2007-2008).

The Northwest Passage has certainly opened up before. Diary entries of a sailor named Roald Amundson confirm clear passage in 1903, as do those of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Arctic patrol crew that made regular trips through there in the early 1940s. And in February 2009 it was discovered that scientists had previously been underestimating the re-growth of Arctic sea ice by an area larger than the state of California (twice as large as New Zealand). The errors were attributed to faulty sensors on the ice.

But these aren't the sorts of observations that most people generally receive from the media. Instead, they present sensational statements and dramatic images that leave lasting impressions of calving glaciers, drowning polar bears and all manner of other man-caused climate calamities.

Many intentionally target impressionable young minds and sensitive big hearts with messages of fear and guilt. Take, for example, a children's book called The North Pole Was Here, authored by New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin. It warns kids that some day it may be "easier to sail than stand on the North Pole in summer." Imagine such images through their visualization: How warm it must be to melt that pole way up north. Poor Santa! And Rudolph! Of course it's mostly their parents' fault because of the nasty CO2 they produce driving them to school in SUVs.

Lots of grown-ups are sensitive people with big hearts too. Don't we all deserve more from the seemingly infinite media echo chamber of alarmism than those windy speculations, snow jobs and projections established on theoretical thin ice?

December 28, 2010 8:59 AM  
Anonymous sexuality and climate change tip of iceberg said...

A recent paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics shows that American scientists are responsible for most cases of scientific retractions and fraud.

The paper's author, Dr. R. Grant Steen, searched PubMed, a leading science research database, and identified 788 retracted papers from 2000 to 2010. Steen's research found that U.S. scientists were lead authors on 169 of the papers retracted for serious errors, as well as 84 retracted for outright fraud.

Steen's conclusion: "American scientists are significantly more prone to engage in data fabrication or falsification than scientists from other countries."

Retractions occur when a journal strikes a paper or study from the public record, implying that the conclusions and data upon which the paper is founded should not be used for future research. The most common reason for retraction is serious, inadvertent error, often discovered when scientists at other laboratories are unable to replicate the findings of the original paper. Retraction also occurs in cases of scientific misconduct, including plagiarism, self-plagiarism, data manipulation, and data falsification.

Steven Shafer, the editor-in-chief of Anesthesia and Analgesia, explained in an editorial why so many fraudulent papers were able to make it through the peer-review system: "Science is based on trust. We trust authors to honestly report their findings. Reviewers rarely consider the possibility of outright fabrication."

Shafer's comments point to the changing landscape of scientific research in the U.S., and politicized discussions about the role that U.S. researchers should be playing in globally.

A report from Thomson Reuters released last month shows that the U.S. is no longer the "colossus of science" it once was. Three decades ago, U.S. scientists published nearly 40 percent of the papers presented in scientific journals. By 2009, Americans were responsible for only 29 percent.

The Obama administration has produced conflicting messages on this front. While money for scientific research has increased under Obama, White House Science Adviser John Holdren has said some controversial things about the administration's aspirations for science and technology. Back in April, he took some heat for a comment at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement: "We can't expect to be No. 1 in everything indefinitely." The remark was interpreted by some as a lowering of research aspirations by government leaders.

Others maintain that retractions due to fraud might have something to do with the "publish or perish" culture at academic research institutions, and that this culture is negatively affecting the integrity of science. A study published in PLoS One this year found that scientific research conclusions are more likely to support a tested hypothesis in the more "academically productive states."

Marcus and Oransky remain dedicated to scouring the medical and scientific literature for retractions, and reporting them at Retraction Watch, which started in August. Although they don't claim to offer comprehensive coverage of retractions, they cover the issue more systematically than any other watchdog organization or newsroom.

Exposing retractions, Oransky maintained, can offer a window into the scientific process that is usually hidden to the average person. Eventually, the Retraction Watch team hopes to compile its data and conduct a more comprehensive analysis of why and how retractions are likely to occur. "It is almost certainly true that we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg," Oransky said.

In order to curb fraud, medical and science journals should screen submissions using plagiarism software, and implement protocols for talking to co-investigators on any particular study, instead of relying on the lead author for all information.

December 28, 2010 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside. Over the past few weeks, subzero temperatures in Poland claimed 66 lives; snow arrived in Seattle well before the winter solstice, and fell heavily enough in Minneapolis to make the roof of the Metrodome collapse; and last week blizzards closed Europe’s busiest airports in London and Frankfurt for days, stranding holiday travelers. The snow and record cold have invaded the Eastern United States, with more bad weather predicted.

All of this cold was met with perfect comic timing by the release of a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record, and 2001 through 2010 the warmest decade on record.

How can we reconcile this? The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.

For a more detailed explanation, we must turn our attention to the snow in Siberia.

Annual cycles like El Niño/Southern Oscillation, solar variability and global ocean currents cannot account for recent winter cooling. And though it is well documented that the earth’s frozen areas are in retreat, evidence of thinning Arctic sea ice does not explain why the world’s major cities are having colder winters.

But one phenomenon that may be significant is the way in which seasonal snow cover has continued to increase even as other frozen areas are shrinking. In the past two decades, snow cover has expanded across the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Siberia, just north of a series of exceptionally high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, the Tien Shan and the Altai.

The high topography of Asia influences the atmosphere in profound ways. The jet stream, a river of fast-flowing air five to seven miles above sea level, bends around Asia’s mountains in a wavelike pattern, much as water in a stream flows around a rock or boulder. The energy from these atmospheric waves, like the energy from a sound wave, propagates both horizontally and vertically.

As global temperatures have warmed and as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents. So the snow cover across Siberia in the fall has steadily increased.

December 28, 2010 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sun’s energy reflects off the bright white snow and escapes back out to space. As a result, the temperature cools. When snow cover is more abundant in Siberia, it creates an unusually large dome of cold air next to the mountains, and this amplifies the standing waves in the atmosphere, just as a bigger rock in a stream increases the size of the waves of water flowing by.

The increased wave energy in the air spreads both horizontally, around the Northern Hemisphere, and vertically, up into the stratosphere and down toward the earth’s surface. In response, the jet stream, instead of flowing predominantly west to east as usual, meanders more north and south. In winter, this change in flow sends warm air north from the subtropical oceans into Alaska and Greenland, but it also pushes cold air south from the Arctic on the east side of the Rockies. Meanwhile, across Eurasia, cold air from Siberia spills south into East Asia and even southwestward into Europe.

That is why the Eastern United States, Northern Europe and East Asia have experienced extraordinarily snowy and cold winters since the turn of this century. Most forecasts have failed to predict these colder winters, however, because the primary drivers in their models are the oceans, which have been warming even as winters have grown chillier. They have ignored the snow in Siberia.

Last week, the British government asked its chief science adviser for an explanation. My advice to him is to look to the east.

It’s all a snow job by nature. The reality is, we’re freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it.

Judah Cohen is the director of seasonal forecasting at an atmospheric and environmental research firm.

December 28, 2010 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, I have a couple of posts that didn't get through

December 28, 2010 9:57 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Right, it's a real problem, everybody wants to read even more of your cut-and-paste literature.

I'll check the spam folder.


December 28, 2010 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opinions of Larry Bell, author of "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax," Eastern. "Larry Bell has written extensively on climate and energy policy and has been featured in many prominent national and international newspapers, magazines, and television programs. Dr. Bell is a Professor of Architecture."

December 28, 2010 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Right, it's a real problem, everybody wants to read even more of your cut-and-paste literature."

you know, since long before the advent of electronic media, cut-and-paste has made the world go 'round

besides, I usually provide embellishments to assist the writer

here's a sick little story from cyber-space:

"Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish have become the proud parents to a baby boy named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John.

Zachary was born weighing 7 lbs., 15 oz. via a surrogate mother in California on Christmas Day. This is the first child for John, 62, and Furnish, 48. The couple married in 2005 after being together for 12 years.

A rep for the couple has stated that John and Furnish intend to protect and respect the privacy of the surrogate and will not be discussing any details relating to the surrogacy arrangements made.

According to the Daily Mail, the couple had first attempted to adopt an HIV-positive child from the Ukraine last year. The adoption, however, was rejected on the grounds of John's age and the fact that the country does not recognize civil marriages."

December 28, 2010 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dr. Bell is a Professor of Architecture"

try aeronautical engineering

you might want to read the foreward to Bell's new book, written by S Fred Singer, former Director of the US National Weather Satellite Service and Professor emeritus of environmental science at University of VIrginia, who served as a reviewer on several of the U.N.'s IPCC reports

maybe that will help you clear up your confusion

December 28, 2010 11:40 AM  
Anonymous it's like an ice wave said...

"the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes"

back to the old hocus-pocus reasoning of the alarmist fringe

if it's hot, it's global warming

if it's cold, it's global warming

if it's dry, it's global warming

if it's snowing, it's global warming

if it's windy, it's global warming

if it's cloudy, it's global warming

if there's an eclipse, it's global warming

if everything proves it, what would disprove it?

and, more to the point, if the range of effects caused by it are so diverse, why is it something to be avoided?

so, it'll snow more in Atlanta and they'll grow peaches in Iceland

some people will dig that, some won't

but life has always been that way

reminds me of the Ayatollah Khomeini

everything that happened was the fault of the CIA

on the one hand, you thought: is the CIA really that powerful and competent?

and then, you thought: even if it's true, if this is the worst they will do, it doesn't seem so bad

December 28, 2010 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy the weather ahead:

"New Years Eve should be the 2nd warmest it has been in December with highs around the 50 degree mark under partly cloudy skies. By the time the ball drops, temperatures should be right around the 40 degree mark. The first of the New Year on Saturday should bring with it a cold front, but ahead of it expect warm temperatures in the mid to upper 50s. Mostly cloudy skies can be expected for the day with a chance for showers late in the evening and overnight hours."

December 28, 2010 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, I guess that proves global warming is caused by SUVs

thanks for telling us!

btw, does anyone object to a warm New Year's Eve now and then?

December 28, 2010 9:31 PM  

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