Year 2, Month 5, Day 31: Shrill. Shrill. Shrill.

The Myrtle Beach Sun-News runs a column by Michal Hall, who is shrill:

Global warming has become accepted by an estimated 99 percent of all scientists, most religious groups (even 70 percent of evangelicals), both political parties (Bush, McCain and Obama have accepted it) and a constantly growing number of the American people. Still, some doubts remain. For us to honestly address such a life-changing issue, everyone has to be on board. For those who still might have some doubts, here are the facts:

We do need greenhouse gases to blanket the Earth in order to keep it warm enough to sustain life. These gases allow sunlight to enter and warm us. They hold in some of the warmth while also allowing some of it to escape. Without this natural effect, most of the sun’s warmth would escape into space, and the Earth’s surface would be very cold.

But global warming is caused by a build-up in the greenhouse gases (principally carbon dioxide). Scientists have studied the correlation between the earth’s temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations over the last 500,000 years and have clearly seen that when CO2 rises, the temperature rises. Over the past 150 years (when industrialization emerged) we have seen a clear rise in CO2 and a corresponding rise in temperature. When the greenhouse gases thicken, heat cannot escape, and heat rises.

Figured I’d get Michal’s back on this one, as he’s getting hammered by Kochbot trolls in the comments section. Sent May 19:

Yes, indeed — it’s time to face the facts: the climatic consequences of a century’s worth of wasteful consumption of fossil fuels are going to be far more drastic than anyone imagined. We were warned: climate scientists have been predicting the disastrous consequences of the atmospheric greenhouse effect for over fifty years, warning us with ever-increasing specificity to change our ways if we wished to avoid catastrophe. While humans are indeed a “resilient species,” we won’t have a chance to demonstrate our resourcefulness if we don’t stop hiding from reality. Americans were once known for optimism, inventiveness and a “can-do” spirit that was admired throughout the world – yet now we ignore the genuine threat looming on the horizon while focusing our attention on trivialities. While our media and politicians are complicit in this collective denial of global climate change, the responsibility for concerted action is ultimately ours. Let’s get to work.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 30: Wheeeeee!

The Chicago Tribune introduces us to the new “normal”:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Heavy rains, deep snowfalls, monster floods and killing droughts are signs of a “new normal” of extreme U.S. weather events fueled by climate change, scientists and government planners said on Wednesday.

“It’s a new normal and I really do think that global weirding is the best way to describe what we’re seeing,” climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University told reporters.

“We are used to certain conditions and there’s a lot going on these days that is not what we’re used to, that is outside our current frame of reference,” Hayhoe said on a conference call with other experts, organized by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.

Sent May 18:

Colder colds, hotter hots. Rainier rains and drier droughts. Stormier storms, disrupting more lives, more and more often. Welcome to the twenty-first century. And the twenty-second. And the twenty-third. Unlike the climate humanity’s been accustomed to for the past ten or twelve thousand years, our new “normal” is the environmental equivalent of a self-destructive alcoholic bender. Atmospheric CO2 will contribute to the greenhouse effect for centuries, which means that even if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we’d feel the effects of climate change for a long time to come. Is the inevitability of catastrophic weather events a rationale for inaction? Hardly. Rather, we’re faced with a crucial choice: every step we take towards reducing our consumption of oil and coal will mitigate the storms of future generations. Will we continue our profligate ways, or wake up and address the greatest threat humanity’s ever faced since the dawn of civilization?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 29: Happy Whatever.

Another response to the UK plan to reduce GG emissions 50% by 2027, this one going to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sent May 17:

Britain’s plans for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions show that at least one government in the industrialized West is taking the threat of climate change seriously — which implies that the UK’s political establishment is capable of thinking in the long term. America, however, is paralyzed — incapable of any meaningful response, let alone one that unleashes our country’s creative and adaptive potential. The climate-change denialists currently in controlling the House of Representatives have a pathological resistance to scientific evidence, a proven inability to think beyond the next electoral cycle, and fiscal ties to the fossil fuel industry — a deadly combination of ignorance, cupidity and shortsightedness that should be an immediate disqualification for any elected office in this country. With our country’s unique combination of expertise and imagination, we could handily outdo Great Britain in emissions reduction — if we can stop denying the existence of climate change.

Warren Senders

May 29 is my birthday. I’m 53.


My kid regularly participates in psychological studies. There are quite a few universities in my area that have grad programs in child development; they’re always looking for young volunteers to follow whatever procedures the budding psychologists have in mind.

Usually these are questions of categorization, or development of mental constructs — differing objects are offered and taxonomical schemata are offered; the whole process is videotaped, and the results written up. And the kid gets a toy — a stuffed animal from one lab, a plastic frisbee, ball or bucket from another — which is of course what makes it appealing to her.

This has been going on for three years or so. It’s fun, and a diversion from our usual routine.

Last month we went in for another such study. The young woman who was conducting the interview explained to me that my daughter would be asked questions about her religious beliefs (among other subjects) in the first half of the interview, and asked to make inferences about other children (pictures of whom were shown on a computer screen) based on statements from the interviewer.

Okay. But since this was going to touch on a possibly complicated topic, I thought I should know more about what went on. I asked for a copy of the interview video.

Which they finally sent me.


more »

Year 2, Month 5, Day 28: Great. Really Great.

Great Britain does the right thing:

BRUSSELS — Britain is poised to announce some of the world’s most ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — a striking example of a government committing to big environmental initiatives while also pursuing austerity measures.

Chris Huhne, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, is expected to release a statement on Tuesday that the British government will set in law a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions about 50 percent by 2025.

That reduction, based on 1990 levels, would be far deeper than the European Union’s goal of cutting emissions 20 percent by 2020, and it would mean that Britain would make faster emissions cuts than other similar size countries, including Germany. The goal could require households to spend on new energy-saving devices for the home. It could also revive stalled government support for large projects, like those that capture power from tides and that bury carbon dioxide emissions.

Sent on May 16:

What a pleasure it is to read about a governmental response to climate change that takes the threat seriously enough, although it’s too bad that the government in question isn’t our own. Britain’s laudable program for phasing out greenhouse emissions shows that there are still a few places in the world where politicians don’t ignore scientific expertise as a matter of policy. In the US, alas, an anti-reality party controls half of Congress, effectively paralyzing us when it comes to climate issues. If global warming’s effects were simply props for the usual political theater, it wouldn’t really matter — but given that they’re increasingly likely to include what biologists delicately call an “evolutionary bottleneck” for our own species as well as countless others, isn’t it time for American politicians to emulate Britain, and get down to the serious work of changing our national energy economy once and for all?

Warren Senders

Jack Jones

Jack Jones. Oddly enough, it’s his real name, or pretty close. I haven’t really paid too much attention to his singing until fairly recently; it’s been a delightful discovery. Enjoy.

“Call Me Irresponsible”

A two-time Grammy winner in the early ’60s, Jack Jones has made a fine living since, blending vocal standards from traditional pop with swinging renditions of contemporary pop and rock hits. Born in Los Angeles in 1938, Jones was the son of the romantic lead actor and recording artist Allan Jones (who had a hit with “The Donkey Serenade”) and actress Irene Hervey. He began studying the vocal arts in high school, and after graduation joined his father’s successful act on the nightclub circuit. Jack left less than a year later, determined to make it on his own, and began playing small clubs around the country.


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

(Between 1961 and 1967), Jones recorded almost twenty albums…(snip). Young, handsome, and well-groomed, Jack Jones was an anomaly in the sixties, eschewing rock and roll trends and opting for the big band sound, lush romantic ballads and the Great American Songbook, although sometimes he recorded something more pop, country or bossa nova oriented. One of his biggest hits, for example, was “The Race Is On”, by country music legend George Jones (who is not related to Jack). Besides the good choice of material, Jones worked with top arrangers like Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Marty Paich, Shorty Rogers, Jack Elliott, Ralph Carmichael, Bob Florence, Don Costa and Pete King.


With Judy Garland. They’re doing a medley of every damn song they could think of, followed by the “Donkey Serenade.”

“Gypsies, Jugglers and Clowns,” from 1968.

As is often the case with singers in this genre, he moves back and forth between trite nonsense and genuinely terrific material from the great American songbook.

A review from 2010, by the Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedwald (another example of why the WSJ should stick to cultural reporting and leave the financial sector news to Rolling Stone):

About halfway through his show, while performing David Gates’s “If,”Jack Jones sings: “If a man could be two places at one time, I’d be with you.” And indeed, Mr. Jones is doing two apparently contradictory things at once: He’s got to be the most conversational jazz-pop singer in the pantheon, delivering every word of every line in a direct, one-on-one dialogue with everybody in the Oak Room. At the same time, he’s the most thoroughly musical and constantly creative, having learned the lessons of Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra? that playing with the tune can be a way of personalizing it, making the lyrics resonate all the more meaningfully. Beyond that, Mr. Jones is the most well-endowed vocally and theatrically; nearly every ending is a big one, allowing him to show off his Olympian chops. Somehow, he achieves the near-impossible feat of being breathlessly intimate even while belting at the top of his lungs.
To miss Mr. Jones would be to miss one of the great veteran interpreters of the standard songbook (in a class with Tony Bennett and Freddy Cole). Miraculously, he keeps his balance through the entire show, managing to be up close and personal yet at the same time hitting stratospheric high notes that only dogs can hear and holding them until the cows come home. The dichotomy was represented by his two opening theme songs, the warm, intimate “Isn’t That What Friends Are For?” and the bombastic, anthemic “I Am a Singer.” It’s not like he’s one thing and then the other; he’s constantly both at the same time, particularly on emblematic 1960s hits like “People” and “God Only Knows,” which he brings to life more vividly than anyone I’ve ever heard.


His phrasing draws from Sinatra, but there is nobody in this genre of whom that cannot be said. His technique is extraordinary; while I’m not always sympathetic to his intonation he usually manages to convince me that he’s doing it deliberately.

Stephen Holden, in The New York Times; 2008:

In 1962, when he had his first hit, “Lollipops and Roses,” Mr. Jones was the handsome, fresh-faced new kid on the block in an already established tradition of honey-dripping lounge lizards who swing. Today he is the same animal, but his weathered voice is filled with seams and crevices. It is the voice of a gentleman rancher astride a horse, surveying his property in a television western. It is said that as we age, we become more and more ourselves. And the mature Jack Jones has refined a style that could never be called cookie-cutter. His world-weary cragginess coincides with an impulse to take ballads at extremely slow tempos and to execute them with the hesitations, drawn-out notes and sudden leaps that are a trademark of the jazz singer Mark Murphy. Because the lower end of Mr. Jones’s voice has deepened, his sudden flights into a quasi-falsetto are more dramatic than ever. At times they suggest the spontaneous eruptions of a polished stylist impatiently throwing caution to the wind.


Shadow of Your Smile / What Now, My Love?

Someone To Watch Over Me / Just One Of Those Things
While the MC is annoying, his performances are delightful; great variations on the Cole Porter.

With Aretha Franklin and B.B. King, doing “Sweet Sixteen.” Damn.

This gig recording is very recent. He is using more rasp, and doing so quite creatively. I don’t always agree with his intonation in the first few verses, but by the time he gets going, he’s beautifully focused. And what a lovely lower register.

“Our Love Is Here To Stay.” He is joined onstage at the end by his ex-wife and their daughter.

Mallikarjunbua Before Jaipur-Atrauli Training

Here are some more of the 78 prm discs from Mallikarjun Mansur’s early period, when he was still singing Gwalior gayaki. These recordings are utterly delightful.

Gaud Malhar:




Year 2, Month 5, Day 27: What Matters Is That He Could See That Far!

The Wegman Report, used by Republican politicians to justify inaction on climate change, has been withdrawn by the journal which originally published it, following revelations that the whole thing was both filled with errors and substantially plagiarized. Heh heh heh.

Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming.

The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The “Wegman Report” suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.

The journal publisher’s legal team “has decided to retract the study,” said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. A November review by three plagiarism experts of the 2006 congressional report for USA TODAY also concluded that portions contained text from Wikipedia and textbooks. The journal study, co-authored by Wegman student Yasmin Said, detailed part of the congressional report’s analysis.

A commenter at Daily Kos put the idea into my head about Ken Cuccinelli’s dilemma, and I decided to put it into a letter. Sent May 16:

So the “Wegman Report” from George Mason University turns out to be both flawed and plagiarized. This poses a problem for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose harassment of climate scientist Michael Mann is predicated on Mann’s funding from the University of Virginia. Given that George Mason University receives extensive state and federal support, it’s inescapable: Edward Wegman’s academic misconduct qualifies as a misuse of public funds, and we may confidently expect Mr. Cuccinelli to pursue legal action against Wegman and GMU. Let’s pause a minute to let the hilarity subside, and remember that George Mason University also receives substantial funding from the notorious Koch brothers, well-known supporters of climate-change denialism. While Republican legislators are unlikely to repudiate the Wegman report, perhaps this scandal might inspire our more ignorant politicians to do some of their own science homework, rather than relying on the grownup version of a term-paper service.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 26: Breaking — CO2 Linked To Ignorance!

The Spokane (WA) Register-Guard notes the recently issued NRC report with some stern words, in an op-ed titled, “Heed Warning on Climate.”:

The effort to combat global warming has waned in this country, as many Republicans express skepticism about the science of climate change. The federal debt and other issues have preoccupied lawmakers and the American public. A new report by the National Research Council makes a powerful argument that putting off the problem any longer would be folly.

The council, which represents the nation’s scientific establishment, warns that global warming is real and that action should be taken “as soon as possible” to reduce carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Contrary to the claims of climate skeptics, the report emphasizes that warming trends cannot be explained by natural factors such as changes in incoming energy from the sun or natural climate variability. The report says the effects of climate change on human and natural systems will intensify as warming continues.

Sent May 15:

As the NRC report makes amply clear, the crisis of climate change is no longer something that belongs in a conjectural future, but a clear and immediate danger to our civilization and our way of life. Whether the study’s message will be received is another question, however, for the slow-motion catastrophe of global atmospheric warming has been paralleled by a disaster of a different sort: the gradual exclusion of science, and indeed factual evidence of any sort, from our national discourse. For a first example, let’s look at the contemporary Republican party, populated entirely by anti-science zealots; any member of the GOP who’s ready to admit the factuality of climate change will soon run afoul of the tea-party’s determining influence on primary elections. For a second example, let’s look at our national news media. When he-said, she-said stenography becomes synonymous with objectivity, then reportorial accuracy and analytical insight are irrelevant.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 5, Day 25: How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

The Seattle Times’ Lance Dickie reports on a speech by Bill Gates, urging a change in the way we do things:

Gates made a strong case for the federal government to lead and fund basic energy research. Private money is involved, including his own, but he laid out a simple truth: Vested interests will keep the energy industry doing what it does — fighting to maintain the status quo.

Gates nailed it, and not just because his pithy observation came on the 142nd anniversary of the golden spike that linked the transcontinental railway at Promontory, Utah. — a triumph of government-financed risk taking for a better future.

So the doyen of Davos got me thinking. Take all the federal money pumped into the oil industry, in the form of tax breaks, depletion allowances and other gravy, and put the savings toward energy research, not deficits.

Finance basic research on nuclear power and storage capacity for renewable energy.

Despite nuclear power’s avoidance of climate-changing carbon emissions, solving the lethal legacy of nuclear waste never gets much beyond fighting over holes in the ground and creation of a petroglyph that still translates to “Run!!” in 7011.

Sent May 14:

There are some whose allegiance to ideology is stronger than self-interest and common sense when it comes to the facts of global climate change. And some may admit that the world’s atmosphere is warming, but deny the need for bold action on reducing humanity’s greenhouse emissions — because they’re confident that we’ll be able to find a technical solution to the problem before it’s too late. Perhaps; we clever apes have solved quite a few complex puzzles in our time. But if our brightest minds and our most sophisticated tools are to tackle anthropogenic global warming, they need massive support. The United States government’s investment focus must be on the development of sustainable energy sources rather than rewarding the fossil fuel industries — and on a scale commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. Bill Gates may be awfully rich, but he’s not rich enough to do it by himself.

Warren Senders