Friday, February 16, 2007

" 'sweetcheeks' was somehow not in my spellcheck's dictionary. YOU BEST BELIEVE I HELLA FIXED THAT "

I love Dinosaur Comics.

In case you're wondering, the title of this blog post is the title used in the RSS feed for yesterday's comic. One of the many great things about Dinosaur Comics is how much extra content comes with each strip--in addition to the comic itself, there's:
  • the RSS title that appears in your feed reader (see above);
  • the ALT text that appears when you hover your cursor over the image:
    "if you don't call someone inappropriate 'sweetcheeks' today then we can't be friends anymore. FACT";
  • the email subject specified in the "comments" link:
    "t-rex is right in panel two: it IS actually all downhill from here, sleep-wise. sorry dude!";
and any blog posts that appear on the same day and may or may not be related to the comic. Now how much would you pay, for all this humor? BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hot Under the Collar

Since jra doesn't allow comments on his blog, I'm using this post to respond to his "Another theory of climate change" post. Blogwar!

Actually, this is not so much a rebuttal as an encouragement to read the original Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report attackedreferenced in the Times Online article which prompted jra's post. Unless you failed high school science, the Summary for Policymakers (1.3MB PDF) shouldn't take you more than half an hour to get through. (Thanks to The Science Creative Quarterly for providing an actual link, which Times Online cleverly omitted.) The complete report will be published this summer by Cambridge University Press.

And, just to be fair, here's a link to the dissenter's publications: Henrik Svensmark has written several papers on his cloud-cover-and-cosmic-rays theory since 1997. I'll also point out that Svensmark's own 1997 article references the 1992 IPCC report, and even he does not deny the role of human activity in global climate change--he merely questions whether other, natural factors have a greater effect, and if so, how much greater?

There's no question that the discussion of global warming has become politicized and polarized, and that is unfortunate as well as inconvenient. While it's true that our best science is still lacking--the IPCC itself admits that their understanding of solar irradiance and how it affects global climate is low (see figure SPM-2 on page 4 of the Summary for Policymakers)--it's still science.

I have no problem with "considering all the possibilities," as jra says, but that should include all the possibilities--including the prevailing view that greenhouse gases are a major cause of global warming--and should mean judging each hypothesis on its scientific merits, and not whether or not you think people have been brainwashed into believing it.

If you don't buy the science behind how to determine the causes of radiative forcing, fine. Just make sure you're questioning the science, not the politics.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

United States Patent Application: 0060259306

It's titled "Business method protecting jokes" and was granted on November 16, 2006. Bonus meta points for repeatedly using "homoproprietary" to describe itself. Do you really need further proof that the U.S. patent system is broken?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

4x4-Letter Reviews

It's been a while since I reviewed things, so here are four quick capsules for things that, coincidentally, all have four-letter names:

SPIN, the Hugo Award-winning novel by Robert Charles Wilson: I stayed up until three or four in the morning to finish reading this book. So did D, the following night. I wouldn't call it "gripping" in a traditional, suspense-thriller way, but it's engaging, and Wilson balances and connects all his disparate themes elegantly. Combining a Big Idea with intimate human drama is difficult, but he makes it sing.

BURN, the Nebula Award-nominated novella by James Patrick Kelly: Tachyon published this in a compact hardcover edition, which I borrowed from my local library, and there's definitely something to be said for the tactile experience of a real book. The story is also compact, but the landscape is dense--not in a Kim Stanley Robinson deep-society way, or an Ursula LeGuin alien-culture way, but it's just as thoughtful and soulful in its own way.

ROME, the TV series co-produced by HBO and the BBC: D and I watched four episodes in a row last Friday, and so far, the second season is just as great as the first. There is plenty of sex and violence, but none of it is gratuitous, nor is any of that why we watch. I'm constantly impressed by how real the show feels, while at the same time being completely foreign to our modern experience of life and politics--like a well-written fantasy epic, but grounded in historical truth.

CORY, as in Doctorow: A seriously cool dude. D gave me his new book, Overclocked, as a gift while she was on a business trip two weeks ago. At first, I was a little confused, because she sent it directly from Amazon, and I had added the book to my own shopping cart a few days earlier but not ordered it yet. Anyway, it's a great collection of short stories, all of which you can download for free from the author's web site. (I also asked him a silly question on yesterday's interactive podcast, which audio will probably be online at some point.)