Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This and that

Really interesting stuff seems a bit hard to find lately, so I'm going for a handful of moderately interesting things today:

*   Bryan Appleyard had an interview with poor old Clive James in August which I missed (being in the Sunday Times and all), but it is available via Appleyard's website.

Clive says (amongst various other health problems) that he had a complete stoppage of the waterworks.  How often does that happen to men who keep putting off prostate operations, I wonder.   Sounds extremely unpleasant, but surely you have plenty of warning?

Everyone seems to like his "Cultural Amnesia" book.   Maybe I should try it?

*  Can't say I know much about the Texas "bone wars" of the 19th century.  Physorg has an article about some historical letters which shed a bit of light on the intrigue, described as follows::
Jacobs describes the late 1800s as a period of intense fossil collecting. The Bone Wars were financed and driven by Cope and his archenemy, Othniel Charles Marsh. The two were giants of paleontology whose public feud brought the discovery of dinosaur fossils to the forefront of the American psyche.

Cope, from Philadelphia, and Marsh, from Yale University, began their scientific quests as a friendly endeavor to discover fossils. They each prospected the American frontier and also hired collectors to supply them with specimens. Cope and Marsh identified and named hundreds of discoveries, publishing their results in scientific journals. Over the course of nearly three decades, however, their competition evolved into a costly, self-destructive, vicious all-out war to see who could outdo the other. Despite their aggressive and sometimes unethical tactics to outwit one another and steal each other's hired collectors, Cope and Marsh made major contributions to the field of paleontology, Jacobs said.
 There's no doubt a book out there somewhere about this.

*   In climate change news, Murray Salby last year got some notoriety by giving a lecture to a skeptic friendly crowd (most of whom, I am sure, could not really make head nor tail of the detail of his argument) about how he had shown that CO2 had little to do with increasing temperatures.  He promised a paper was going to be published about it, but it has not appeared.  From what I can gather, a paper just published from some other scientists runs pretty much the same argument.  Real Climate looks at it and finds the obvious flaws (similar to those that had been pointed out after Salby outlined his idea last year.)

Back to the drawing board, skeptics.

*  The transparently misleading spin put on climate change by The Australian continues, with a subheading to a report about Kurt Lambeck winning a prize for his work in the field as follows:
CLIMATE change moves at a glacial pace, according to an Australian researcher whose work has been recognised with one of the world's richest science prizes.
 Given that Lambeck has had opinion pieces saying things like this:
The independent messages from the four academies and the geological society are consistent and urgent....

Recognising that the consequences of climate change are potentially global, serious and irreversible on human time scales, the Australian Academy of Science has published such an assessment, The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers.
I expect he might be a tad annoyed at the spin put on his cautious words about uncertainties regarding the future rate of sea level rises.

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