Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The National Post's War on Science: Boogeymen!

The National Post's War on Science:


Note: I had intended this post to be completed around Hallowe'en; however other considerations (particularly my new baby) made this unfeasible. I will keep the general theme despite the much later scheduling.

December 1 Update: This post garnered Idiomatic Composition its first spam comment. I'd like to think that the blog is going somewhere if it's starting to attract spam.

ScienceBlogs' writer Tim Lambert generally blogs on the topic of climate science. One of his long-running categories of posts deals with an Australian newspaper called (wait for it...) The Australian. Per Mr Lambert, The Australian has undertaken a campaign of misinformation, misrepresentation, character attack, and FUD-spreading pertaining to climate science (and climate scientists) so egregious that he characterizes it as a war on science.

Shortly before Hallowe'en, I came across a copy of Canadian newspaper The National Post in which I found an opinion piece consisting of an excerpt from a book written by one Donna Laframboise. The book itself is The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken For The World's Top Climate Scientist; the opinion piece which I found was the second of two excerpts printed by the NP in its Financial Post sister publication (see online here).

As I hope to demonstrate, Laframboise's work as put on display by the Financial Post is of a piece with the sort of material printed by The Australian as criticized by Lambert and is a worthy candidate for inclusion in the annals of the 'War on Science'. I contend that there are three strains of criticism that can be levelled at the excerpt: it engages in guilt-by-association smears (which I perceive to be the core of the excerpt), it engages in conspiracy theory, and it engages in misrepresentation.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remote Victory: Introduction

Remote Victory


In 1756, the monarchy of Prussia, ruled at the time by Frederick II (later called 'the Great'), faced a perilous situation. An alliance with Great Britain had resulted in Prussia's strategic encirclement and a war with Austria, Russia, and France (and some of their lesser allies) simultaneously.

Despite the odds, and numerous setbacks throughout the war, Frederick and his forces were able to leverage inherent advantages (interior lines of communication, Frederick's leadership, and the excellent Prussian army) and good fortune (namely, the death of Tsarina Elizabeth and the withdrawal of Russia, temporarily, from the war) allowed Prussia to defeat or make peace with all of its (1) enemies and end the war in an improved political and strategic position in Europe.

Frederick II of Prussia, aka 'The Great'

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Flying on the Wings of Liberty

Flying on the Wings of Liberty

A Note on Image Credits: All images and videos are, to my knowledge, created by and property of Blizzard Entertainment, save for one image which is property of Paramount Studios.

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty is a real-time strategy video game produced by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the first of a trilogy of games to comprise the Starcraft 2 franchise to be released by Blizzard (the second, Heart of the Swarm is in development and is expected to be released in the not-too-distant future).

I should like to provide in this post my review of Wings of Liberty. It having been over a year since the game was released, I assume anyone who really wanted to has played it through, and feel no compuction about providing plot spoilers (if you haven't played the game, want to, and care about being spoiled, then read no further).


Starcraft 2 follows the continuing struggles of three species: Terrans, human beings descended from colonists sent from Earth to a distant sector of the Galaxy; Protoss, a mysterious species of physically-strong, psychically-gifted and technologically-advanced beings, and Zerg, an aggregate of genetically-modified creatures collected in a hive mind called the Swarm which indulge in consuming, absorbing, or destroying other beings.



You get three guesses which species (okay, aggregate of species)
this is, and the first two don't count.

Players control one or more of these species in single- or multi-player games, trying to accomplish varying objecties or simply defeat the forces of other players.

To play, players manipulate combat units which they produce at bases which they must build up and manage. Players collect and spend resources to build units and structures. These combat units are moved around a map in which players operate in a fog of war and in real time, without the benefit of taking turns or otherwise getting extra time (e.g. by pausing play) to make decisions. Players win when the units they manipulate achieve victory conditions or defeat opponents. I shall have more to say on these mechanics below.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Global Warming: It's Real, It's Us, It's Bad

Anthropogenic Global Warming: It's Real, It's Us, It's Bad

Post-Publishing Update (#1): I have discovered a problem with my code for footnotes and am trying to correct it. Urgh.

I have not made the time or effort to post anything on this blog for altogether too long. To address this deficiency, I should like to take the opportunity to post on a subject of some importance to the human species and the civilization we have built up over the last few thousand years.

That subject, is, as is made clear in the post title, anthropogenic climate change (ACC), which is, so it appears to me at any rate, more conventionally referred to as anthropogenic global warming (AGW). While I feel the former term is, strictly speaking, more accurate, given the latter term is more commonly used, I will henceforth refer to the phenomenon in question as AGW for brevity. (1)

As per the post title, I intend here to summarize, using the language I am capable of (layman language, from a scientific perspective), the empirical evidence used to support the generally-held view, among practicing climate scientists and large scientific organizations, of the existence of AGW, and thence of the necessity to develop policy and action to respond to this phenomenon.

This post shall therefore be concentrated in three parts. The first, "It's Real", will show that, contrary claims notwithstanding, the current trend in the Earth climate system is one of large-scale warming. The second, "It's Us", will show that this warming forcing is the result of human activity. The third, "It's Bad", will show that this warming cannot be expected to be, on balance, of net benefit to the human species. (2)

I shall dedicate some concluding remarks to comment on several objections to these conclusions of climate science.

Any climate scientist or other person with extensive knowledge of the basic science and the literature on the topic who chances upon this post should feel free to offer suggestions on additional sources, re-wordings of text to correct errors and more closely match the science, and the like. All comments to this post will make it through moderation to the extent that they are based upon a correct reading of one or more pieces of peer-reviewed literature, avoid senseless hyperbole, and most especially avoid unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy, dictatorship, and the like. (3)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Rationalist Subcultures & Intra-Feminist Net-Debates

Rationalist Subcultures & Intra-Feminist Net-Debates

I have recently been following a story that has broken across several of the blogs over at the Science Blogs weblog aggregate.

I should note before proceeding any further that the story and the discussion is largely a debate about the roles of feminism, misogyny, and male privilege within the skeptic & atheist movements (insofar as these two intersect). I myself am neither an atheist nor a skeptic, though I am very sympathetic to the latter group's aims vis-à-vis spreading scientific literacy, science advocacy, and counteracting harmful social and political movements - such as anti-vaccine activism - based on false conclusions or outright crankery). I find the story worth sharing & commenting on because of its universal applicability.

I had originally planned on taking a larger look at rape, sexual assault, and misogyny in Canada and the US in this post, but have since decided to keep it short and simple.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

This Marriage

This Marriage

I am pleased to say that I am now married as of this past Saturday.

In this post, I will describe in some detail the events of my wedding. For two reasons, I will focus on the ceremony portion of the wedding, rather than the reception (although I will discuss some pertinent details from the reception):

  1. I was 'in charge' of organizing the ceremony, with some input from my then-fiancée (now my beautiful wife!), family, and the priest who was marrying us.
  2. The reception was a blur of talking to people, eating when we could, with a bit of speeches and dancing thrown in. So I don't have as clear a recollection of it.

What follows is a more-or-less chronological order of the wedding, starting with the ceremony.