Monthly Archives: July 2012

Finnes europeiske høyreradikale?

Jeg skriver hos Minerva om hvor vanskelig det er å snakke om en felles europeisk høyreradikalisme, og om folk på høyresiden som er allergiske mot merkelapper.

Å snakke om en felles europeisk høyreradikalisme og høyrepopulisme, er å knytte sammen politiske partier og miljøer som er svært forskjellige fra hverandre.

Det er ikke galt i seg selv. Men jeg lurer på om de allikevel er for forskjellige til at vi kan bruke disse merkelappene til noe fornuftig.

Les resten hos Minerva.

Hans Rustad svarer her.

Minireviews: Climate and the oceans, and skepticism by and for dummies

Geoffrey K. Vallis – Climate and the Oceans (2011)

A quick overview of how water circulates in the oceans, (under the influence of the wind, the sun, and the coriolis force), how the oceans affects the climate, (largely by slowing down temperature changes, in both directions, and at all time scales), and how this may be affected by global warming, (nobody knows, but some of the possibilities are pretty bad).

Recommended: Weakly. Half of it is too mathematical, but the rest gives a good idea of the sort of processes that are involved.

Harold Ambler – Don’t Sell Your Coat: Surprising Truth About Climate Change (2011)

Incoherent arguments and irrelevant anecdotes, sprinkled with speculation.

Recommended: No. This is possibly the worst book of climate skepticism I’ve read so far. Some of the arguments were so idiotic that I began to wonder if it was a parody. (Did you know that if you plot the temperature changes of the last 1000 years on a Kelvin scale, there’s hardly any change at all? And that, contrary to what those climate alarmists claim, cold weather can actually be pretty dangerous?) At most it functions as a competency test. If you read it, and find the arguments plausible, then congratulations: You are not competent to have an opinion of your own on this subject. But Ambler’s leftism makes for a refreshing change. (He blames the IPCC on Thatcher.) And I like that he, like many other skeptics, is bold enough to make a testable prediction: That global cooling will begin any day now. Any day.

Breivik and the Norwegian immigration debate

I have an article at OpenDemocracy on Breivik and the Norwegian immigration debate:

What really happened in Norway after the July 22 attacks was not a witch hunt, but something more subtle: an attempt by the traditional holders of the moral high ground to use slippery slope arguments and guilt by association to discredit moderate versions of Breivik’s ideas.

This has been met with only mixed success. It has been successful, in the sense that these arguments have been formulated, and are taken seriously by those who never liked immigration-skeptical ideas in the first place.

It has been unsuccessful in the sense that it has persuaded nobody else.

Read the rest at OpenDemocracy.

Christopher Booker – The Real Global Warming Disaster

Christopher Booker – The Real Global Warming Disaster (2009)

Some climate scientists once believed that the earth was cooling, therefore we should doubt all climate scientists forever and to the end of time. Michael Mann may have underestimated the Medieval Warm Period, therefore we shouldn’t listen to anyone who gets similar results, and also this undermines all other climate science as well, somehow. Activists lie, politicians exaggerate, and IPCC scientists can be assholes, therefore we should only listen to the handful of scientists who claim that it’s all false. The cooling will start any day now. Why, it even snowed early this year.

Recommended: No. Booker tries to make up in polemics what he lacks in coherent arguments. He hammers you over the head just like he (falsely) accuses climate scientists of doing. What, no doubt? And how can you trust anyone  who didn’t spot the errors in The Great Global Warming Swindle? I do like his critical approach to climate politics and activism, though, an area I agree is probably full of bullshit. Perhaps the political world accepted global warming sooner than the science justified. And certainly the skeptics have sometimes been unfairly vilified. But there’s a problem. Despite all these potential flaws, and the handful of moderately successful counterattacks from the skeptics, the field keeps growing in strength. It is plausible that fraud or bad studies could go unnoticed for a while, but for two or three decades? The longer this goes on, the greater a conspiracy you need to believe in to reject global warming.

Archer, Rahmstorf – The Climate Crisis

David Archer, Stefan Rahmstorf – The Climate Crisis (2010)

A scientific summary of the IPCC AR4.

Recommended: Yes. I have four levels of confidence in this: 1) I have high confidence in their understanding of past and current climates. The more I read of the bombastic claims of the climate skeptics, the greater the contrast becomes to the supposed alarmist scientists, who are sober and open about their uncertainty. (Activists and politicians are a different matter.) 2) I have a bit less, but still high, confidence in the ability of their models to portray the range of outcomes we risk facing, all of which is both plausible, and seems to have a precedent in past climate changes. 3) I have low confidence in their list of specific dangers, (so and so number of species extinct, etc.), partly because that’s the wrong level of thinking about this problem, except as part of a big picture that apparently hasn’t been assembled yet. The real problem is the range of uncertainty involved in changing a dynamic system we don’t understand, not particular outcomes. 4) And I have no confidence in their suggested solutions, both on a technological and an economic level. It’s all sunshine. Apparently we can solve this problem by hardly spending any money at all. Let’s just put up a few solar panels, switch to electric cars, etc. MacKay, Richter, and Smil, all mention major challenges that this book (and possibly also the AR4) doesn’t even address. There’s no solution to be found here, only wishful thinking, and they’re overreaching by even trying.

The best movies of 1956

My favorite movies of 1956 were made in the Soviet Union. This came as a surprise to me. For some reason, I associated the USSR with cold, empty art movies, but these aren’t. They’re like Hollywood movies from an alternate universe, just as ambitious, but more sentimental. I hope this Khrushchev guy stays around for a while:

Ilya Muromets

Spring on Zarechnaya Street

Karnavalnaya Noch

The Forty-First

Also, average westerns got noticably better that year:

The Burning Hills

The Searchers

Three Violent People

Sci-fi began to find its bearings:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

X: The Unknown

Forbidden Planet

Earth vs the Flying Saucers

James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando played some very odd roles:


Teahouse of the August Moon

Bus Stop

Powell & Pressburger returned to form:

The Battle of the River Plate

The Germans told us that we shouldn’t blindly trust authority:

The Captain from Köpenick

Spencer Tracy was one of the few classic stars still worth watching:

The Mountain

Hollywood took revenge on the communist hunters:

Storm Center

And we got the first(?) child psychopath:

The Bad Seed

Next up: 1957, with about 700 movies. Fortunately I have a fast-forward button.

Robert Carter’s climate counter-consensus

Robert M. Carter – Climate: The Counter Consensus (2010)

In each and every question on which the IPCC has an opinion, the truth is the exact opposite. Most climate change is natural in origin, the earth is no longer warming, and will now start cooling, and since CO2 doesn’t have much of an effect, instead of abandoning fossil fuels, we may actually end up having to burn more of them, just to stop all that dangerous cooling. Proof of this can be found in this (possibly published, and maybe even peer-reviewed!) paper that hasn’t been accepted by the overall community of climate scientists, but is nevertheless absolutely 100% correct.

Recommended: No, except to illustrate the poor state of climate skepticism. The contrast with Michael Mann’s book is striking. Mann is open about the uncertainty of climate models. Carter is absolutely certain that everything you’ve been told is wrong, and here’s that one paper that proves it. He talks like a crank. And he tries too hard. By misrepresenting or over-simplifying in the few areas I do know a little about, he reduces my confidence in all his other bombastic claims as well. Is this the best the climate skeptics have to offer now? Also, the “prefatory essay” by Tom Stacey is one of the oddest things I’ve ever read. But there’s one thing I like about this book. It makes a testable prediction: That the current decade will see a clear trend of global cooling. It will start any day now. Any day.

1950s movies marathon – part 96

Three Violent People (1956, USA)

Westerns alternate between sympathizing with the Union and the Confederates in the Civil War. On the whole, I think the southerners come out better more often, perhaps because they make better underdogs, like Charlton Heston here, who returns home from the war to find his ranch threatened by carpetbaggers.  Watched it all. I don’t know who the three violent people the title refers to are. This is not a violent western. The violence here is brief – and realistic: The moment the carpetbaggers meet unexpected resistance from Heston and the other Texas ranchers, they flee. Wouldn’t you?

Yield to the Night (1956, UK)

Just once I wish a movie that opens with a prisoner who is waiting to be hanged for murder, would stay with the prisoner in the present, instead of going into flashback mode to explain why they’re there. There’s nothing less interesting than why these characters become murderers. But two weeks on death row? Now that would be a movie. Watched: 13 minutes.

Michael Mann’s hockey stick defense

Michael E. Mann – The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (2012)

Every single person who has ever criticized Michael Mann is a henchman of the fossil industry, except maybe a few people on the internet, who are just very stupid. (Also, McKitrick and McIntyre’s criticism of the hockey stick was based on an incorrect use of principal components analysis, the results have been verified a dozen times, with different data records and statistical methods, climate science doesn’t stand or fall on temperature proxies, and ClimateGate showed only that scientists are human, and sometimes use terminology that sounds scary to lay people.)

Recommended: Reluctantly. Mann is an easy person to dislike. He questions the financial motives of all his critics, then attacks them for using ad hominem arguments. Could somebody please explain to him what ad hominem means? But if you can overlook the paranoia and self pity, the science and science history parts are good. He is open about his uncertainty, and backs up his confidence with strong arguments. I’ve suspected that ClimateGate and the hockey stick controversy was exaggerated by the skeptics, and this book confirms that, and strengthens my respect for climate scientists like Mann. But his trench war style of rhetorics is a disaster. What, does he think this style has been so successful in American politics that it should now also be used to settle the climate debate? Does he think “Republicans are morons”-type arguments are the road to bipartisan agreements? Please lock him up in a laboratory, before he makes it worse.

1950s movies marathon – part 95

The Battle of the River Plate (1956, UK, Powell & Pressburger)

The story of a single battle in the South Atlantic during the early days of World War 2. Watched it all. Powell & Pressburger made some of the best movies of the 1940s. After some excessively operatic movies in the 50s, it looks like they’re now back on earth, with a movie that builds up slowly like a symphony of naval warfare.

La Sorcière (1956, France)

A French engineer comes to work in a remote and backwards Swedish village, where he meets a beautiful witch, but before she can bewitch and seduce him, and condemn him to spend the rest of his life in a sinful orgy of earthly Swedish pleasures, the helpful villagers come to his rescue by lynching her. Phew! Watched: 2 minutes.

Love Me Tender (1956, USA)

Watched: 2 minutes, and the music. Never mind the movie, which is just good enough, let’s talk about Elvis. Having fast-forwarded through more or less all the musical movies of the 40s and 50s, I can confirm that, although before Elvis there was something, he makes it all seem like nothing. You could say the same thing about rock’n roll in general, but with Elvis, there’s more. In the live clips of him I’ve seen from 1956, it’s like you’re watching a god of entertainment, descended down to earth to walk among mortals. All this is old news, but there is a difference between knowing something, and feeling it. Now I feel it.