Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Update: Rainy, Cold Spell Continues and Taking Apart a Super Freaking Wrong Book

Updated Sunday 3PM, 10/18/2009: I've decided to post the rainy night pics I took last night in my next entry. If you can handle it, this entry below will just have to lack my usual array of crummy quality cellphone camera pictures.

The view from my 5th floor apartment here in Washington, D.C., near the intersection of 16th and U Streets, NW, a short while ago at 5:51PM (yes, after I started this entry), Oct. 17, 2009.


Rainy, drizzly, chilly, and gloomy Seattle-in-winter weather pattern continues here in Washington, D.C., and across the region, and that's fine with me. It is raining now with temps. around 45F. I believe yesterday's

As of the 5PM preliminary climate summary for DCA, we are at 31.89" of precip for the year, or 0.02" above normal -- back into surplus. The monthly total is 1.92" or +0.10" above normal, nearly all of which (1.89" through 5PM tonight) has come in the current wet spell.

As of the 5PM preliminary climate summary for BWI, it is at 38.41" for year-to-date or +4.30" above normal and 2.08" for the month or +0.28" above normal with 1.96" coming the four day wet spell through 5PM today.

As for the 5PM preliminary climate summary for Dulles (IAD), it is at 35.13" year-to-date or +1.19" and 1.90" for the month or +0.01" above normal with 1.86" coming in the four day wet spell through 5PM today.

There is actually snow in the forecast for elevations above 1500 feet in the Shenandoah, Blue Ridge, and Potomac highlands well west and northwest of D.C. proper, and parts of central Pennsylvania have already had 2 to 4+ inches of snow.

Flippo peers out of one of my windows earlier this afternoon looking at the gray, misty, chilly rainy world, 2:59PM, Oct. 17, 2009. What a good hippo. He's the hippopotamostus.


Another view from my apt. kitchen window taken a short while ago at 5:51PM, Oct. 17, 2009 here in D.C. This is the view to the northwest where the land rises rather steeply.

That hill is actually the fall line that runs along much of the East Coast dividing two geological provinces, the Appalachian piedmont and the coastal plain. The original boundaries of the City of Washington 200 years ago was basically hemmed in by this line with the rest being farmland and forest in what was "Washington County, District of Columbia."

It was the weirdly named District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 (70 years after the original D.C. Organic Act of 1801) that unified all municipal entities within the boundaries of the District of Columbia into a single entity, Washington, D.C., that (I believe but could not find straightaway) was affirmed by a Supreme Court ruling in the early 20th Century. The Virginia part was retroceded back to Virginia in 1847.

This is a topographical map of D.C. from 1856. Click on it for larger version. The red dot inside the green circle shows the intersection of 16th and U Streets, NW. The traffic circle just below the "W" in "Washington" is Dupont Circle and the street connecting it to U and 16th is New Hampshire Ave. What was once "Boundary Street" but is now Florida Avenue runs NE-SW from near the red dot -- that marks the fall line.

That is Meridian Hill Park at the top of the picture. Sometimes it is called Malcolm X Park, but Meridian Hill Park is its proper, historical and still official name.


Speaking of Climate Progress, its author Dr. Joseph Romm, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has been tearing apart a new bullshit book set to come out next week by these two jackasses who run the "Freakonomics" blog at The New York Times and who wrote the 2005 book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

The jackass duo are Dr. Steven D. Levitt, an economist from the shitty "Chicago School" of economic thought at the University of Chicago -- a group of academic gigolos for corporate America and the GOP who have never met an economic injustice or financial crime of the strong against the weak that they didn't have some horseshit theory or computer "model" output to excuse as revealing that outcome to be in fact The Best of All Possible Worlds -- and journalist Stephen J. Dubner.

Their "follow up" book is called SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance and some advanced copies went out for review.

The book seeks to "debunk" the reality of global climate change (global warming) by insisting on the myth that climate scientists once uniformly believed in global cooling, and more generally they have produced an intellectual pile of shit.

As New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize economist Dr. Paul Krugman wrote on his blog yesterday:

"At first glance, though, what it looks like is that Levitt and Dubner have fallen into the trap of counter - intuitiveness. For a long time, there’s been an accepted way for commentators on politics and to some extent economics to distinguish themselves: by shocking the bourgeoisie, in ways that of course aren’t really dangerous. Ann Coulter is making sense! Bush is good for the environment! You get the idea.

Clever snark like this can get you a long way in career terms — but the trick is knowing when to stop. It’s one thing to do this on relatively inconsequential media or cultural issues. But if you’re going to get into issues that are both important and the subject of serious study, like the fate of the planet, you’d better be very careful not to stray over the line between being counterintuitive and being just plain, unforgivably wrong.

It looks as if Superfreakonomics has gone way over that line."

Romm's assault on the book has so far been in four installments that I am linking to here:

Oct. 12, 2009: Part 1
Oct. 14, 2009: Part 2
Oct. 16, 2009: Part 3
Oct. 17, 2009: Part 4

EPA analysis of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 by sector in Teragrams (Tg) of CO2-equivalent


As Brad DeLong wrote to Dubner in an email exchange that DeLong posted on his blog: "If your principal experts truly do repudiate the interpretation you place on their work, that's very bad for you..."

This in reference to the repudiation of the book by Dr. Ken Caldeira, who says his views were badly misrepresented, esp. the part where the authors try to argue (using his expertise) that carbon dioxide is "the wrong villain." Idiots.

Of note, Ezra Klein of The Washington Post wrote his own harsh critique of the book, which starts out with the bullshit assertion -- "proved" through a fundamentally inaccurate assumption and resulted in a policy wise appalling conclusion -- that "drunk walking" is "eight times more dangerous" than drunk driving. You can read Klein's comments here.

His conclusion is worth quoting: "It's shoddy statistical work that could literally kill somebody. That makes it more than bad statistics. It makes it irresponsible. But hey, it makes for a fun and unexpected opener."

Levitt and Dubner are jackasses, but in dumb America, I'm sure they will end up on the rightwing circle jerk circuit. Again, their big "roll out" is scheduled for this Tuesday.


Speaking of The Washington Post and Climate Progress ...

Gawker has a good commentary here on why The Washington Post Editorial and Op-Ed Pages (a.k.a Fred Hiatt's Little Shop of Editorial Horrors) sucks that Climate Progress reposts along with some its own summary of recent WaHoPo editorial low lights here.


Speaking of worrying about climate change, the president of the Maldive Islands and 13 members of his 16-member cabinet held a "meeting" underwater off the island of Girifushi to dramatize the potential danger facing their country, a sprawling archipelago of nearly 1200 low-lying islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean.

Here they are in scuba gear seated at their table. Story here.


OK, I think that's all for now. I am supposed to go to Chris T's place tonight with Gary for our little Saturday night dinner party.

I'm feeling rather tired and a bit light headed tonight. My next planned update will be early to middle of next week. I have my next small claims court case on Wednesday. Boo.

All my stuffed animals on my bed earlier today in their full plushness.



к.нео.физ.де.му said...

gary is back from europe already?

about the book - you see, the authors are going to use the criticism to their advantage. they will be the martyrs persecuted by the zealots of global warming cult.

my ass!

Regulus said...

He got back last Tuesday. He doesn't have THAT much money to gallivant around Europe for that long, especially with $15 glasses of beer and $25 sandwiches in Paris.

Re. Levitt and Dubner, that's exactly what they will do.