Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PDO Flip

Lucia and Anthony both report that the PDO has flipped to negative (or cool).

It could help to explain the chilly spring in the Northwest and the "stall" in global warming reported on so many skeptic blogs (for the record, I don't think there was a stall.)

The PDO (or Pacific Decadal Oscillation) is a long period climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean, typically in 30 year cycles. It was not discovered until the late 70s, which was when it flipped to positive (or warm). Read through the links and come to your own conclusions as to whatever implications there may be.
The "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" (PDO) is a long-lived El Niño-like pattern of Pacific climate variability. While the two climate oscillations have similar spatial climate fingerprints, they have very different behavior in time. Fisheries scientist Steven Hare coined the term "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" (PDO) in 1996 while researching connections between Alaska salmon production cycles and Pacific climate (his dissertation topic with advisor Robert Francis). Two main characteristics distinguish PDO from El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO): first, 20th century PDO "events" persisted for 20-to-30 years, while typical ENSO events persisted for 6 to 18 months; second, the climatic fingerprints of the PDO are most visible in the North Pacific/North American sector, while secondary signatures exist in the tropics - the opposite is true for ENSO. Several independent studies find evidence for just two full PDO cycles in the past century: "cool" PDO regimes prevailed from 1890-1924 and again from 1947-1976, while "warm" PDO regimes dominated from 1925-1946 and from 1977 through (at least) the mid-1990's. Shoshiro Minobe has shown that 20th century PDO fluctuations were most energetic in two general periodicities, one from 15-to-25 years, and the other from 50-to-70 years.

Major changes in northeast Pacific marine ecosystems have been correlated with phase changes in the PDO; warm eras have seen enhanced coastal ocean biological productivity in Alaska and inhibited productivity off the west coast of the contiguous United States, while cold PDO eras have seen the opposite north-south pattern of marine ecosystem productivity.

Causes for the PDO are not currently known. Likewise, the potential predictability for this climate oscillation are not known. Some climate simulation models produce PDO-like oscillations, although often for different reasons. The mechanisms giving rise to PDO will determine whether skillful decades-long PDO climate predictions are possible. For example, if PDO arises from air-sea interactions that require 10 year ocean adjustment times, then aspects of the phenomenon will (in theory) be predictable at lead times of up to 10 years. Even in the absence of a theoretical understanding, PDO climate information improves season-to-season and year-to-year climate forecasts for North America because of its strong tendency for multi-season and multi-year persistence. From a societal impacts perspective, recognition of PDO is important because it shows that "normal" climate conditions can vary over time periods comparable to the length of a human's lifetime.

Spread This Around

What was that about Rev. Wright?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Battlestar Galactica

First Few Episodes Recap:

1. Roslin is getting cranky. And close to death.
2. Baltar as the Messiah is fucking creepy.
3. Cally got hosed
4. Tory is also fucking creepy, although looking back, her character has always had this dark side. It was her idea to stuff the ballot boxes a-la Florida-style.
5. I am firmly convinced that Baltar's "Inner-Six" is not a figment of his imagination or a manifestation of his guilt at his hand of humanity's destruction, nor is she a Cylon trick. She is something altogether different. Oh, and she's fucking creepy too.
6. Starbuck is not a Cylon.

I'm willing to put money on it that the Final Cylon is Dualla. But we won't find out until late this year or next.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wow, people are overprotective and dumb

This Article just made me mad.
As a kid, I was allowed to ride SEPTA all by myself. And I was much younger then this columnist's 4th Grader. I believe I was 6.

Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence," Skenazy wrote on April 4 in the New York Sun. "Long story longer: Half the people I've told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It's not. It's debilitating—for us and for them."

Online message boards were soon swarming with people both applauding and condemning Skenazy's decision to let her son go it alone. She wound up defending herself on the cable news networks (accompanied by her son) and on popular blogs like the Huffington Post, where her follow-up piece was ironically headlined "More From America's Worst Mom."

You could argue "it was a different time then," but seriously, it was the late 1980s, and crackfiends and other scary people were everywhere.

Yet at the same time in my generation, helicopter parents hovered over their kids and now those kids can't get jobs without mom and dad holding their hands. And they're my age---26! 30 is only 4 years away, folks!

It is OK to teach your kids to watch out for strangers. My mom sure did. Again, it WAS the 1980s. But folks, your kids will not survive in the real world if they are overcoddled and incapable of any independent thought or action. Especially if peak oil pans out to be the catastrophe the catastrophe pornographers keep saying it will. I'll survive. The ones incapable of it will not.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Judy Hirsh

Dauphin County for Obama!

Yup, I'm a little shocked too! And my home County of Delaware, also for Obama! And if you're not from Delaware County, you won't know how hardcore the Republicans are there!

The whole Keystone Corridor it looks like voted for Obama.

While the vote ended up more or less as I expected, I was secretly hoping for a win. However, my state senate candidate, Judy Hirsh, won huge here. Piccola, I think you should find a beach to lie on in January. You're not coming back to the Senate.

As for the presidential race, she'll, at most, net 10-12 delegates. So far it appears the vote count as of the time of this post is under the 200k threshold she wanted. This means we'll limp on to North Carolina. Hopefully it'll end after that, but it's doubtful she'll win the nomination at this point (as it was doubtful after the Texas state conventions, but whatever.)

In the chance she DOES get it, we need to rally around her so we can beat McCain, as that senile, mean, nasty old man can not be allowed to have access to the US's nuclear arsenal.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let's Go Change The World!

You know where I'll be tonight.

Capitol Steps, gates open at 630pm.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Home Stretch

It's on. It's been brought.

We've come now to the end.

The Home Stretch.

It's almost like a general election. But on Tuesday some 4 million Pennsylvanians will go to the polls and decide who they think should be the Democratic Nominee.

I'm ready.

We're ready.

Pennsylvania is ready.

The Democrats are ready for a nominee. Will he shut her out and end it next Tuesday night? Or will it continue into North Carolina?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I had tried to figure out where I sat on AGW spectrum. I'm an agnostic on most things that cause internet flame wars, including this one.

Most probably had assumed that when I felt things weren't adding up, I was an evil Republican troll who worked for an oil company and I hated the environment. This, of course, is hyperbolic, stupid, and illogical.

I've no doubt the Earth has warmed since 1850. I have serious doubts about the catastrophism that will befall us anyday. I have a psychological theory that the post 9/11 times have made pretty much everything dark, from TV to science fiction to the proliferation of catastrophe porn shows on The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and elsewhere. We've become obsessed with our own ends.

I suspect there's more then enough evidence that the world doesn't work that way.

I drew this chart for myself:


I'm a lukewarmer, closer to the 'believer' side but fairly skeptical on a lot of things . G&D stands for Gloom and Doom.

Lucia, at The Blackboard, has a post about just that.

I wrote this post to explain why certain blogs appear on my blogroll. They run a wide spectrum: from Anthony Watts who clearly falls in the skeptic range, to Dr. Pielke Sr who I suppose I'd classify as a 'Lukewarmer' to his son who is most definitely a believer, but feels the debate needs to move toward adaptation in addition to mitigation. These are people who more or less fit my views.

As an aside it wasn't always like this. I more or less took An Inconvienent Truth at face value. Katrina settled it for me then---but recent research indicates Katrina wasn't all that unusual a storm. I still think An Inconvienent Truth is a decent film and Katrina was a terrifyingly excellent wake-up call for coastal residents everywhere (and will lead to needed reforms in emergency management and the Army Corps.)

In closing, my answer is "we'll see." The pipeline warming may turn out to be real and the world will end before 2100. Or, it won't. That said, it's time we got off of petroleum and began the construction of a new energy infrastructure that involves wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear, and hydrogen fuel. Or gas from air---as the scientists at Los Alamos believe is possible.

Monday, April 14, 2008


these Domain Names are FULL OF FAIL

Car Free in Harrisburg

I've been here almost 3 years. I think that's long enough to make observations.

To answer a question that people are probably beginning to ask nationwide if they're looking to relocate anywhere (even here, of all places, rare as that seems to happen though) is can you live in Harrisburg without a car?

Yes! You can!

And No! Good luck!

First the yes. If you're within the city limits, it's not too hard to function without a car, if you work for the state or any place downtown (although let's face it, they all are tertiary industries to government), own a motorcycle or scooter, have no need to go out to the suburbs for anything, or have lots of friends to carpool around with. Despite the scary time I had on 2nd St. biking the city is very bikeable and I admit I'm still a fairly timid surface street biker. I'll stick to side streets and trails until I work up enough nerve. The hills aren't too bad.

While there are no 'real' grocery stores within the city limits, at least on my side of the Paxton Creek Valley, there is a pretty good Farmers Market. Parking is a bit of a premium in much of Midtown (which, despite the couple revisionists on the Pennlive message board, extends from Forester to Maclay, Front to 7th.)

The bus system, while horrible, serves its purpose: to get workers from the 'burbs to downtown government and other assorted offices since parking is at a premium downtown and increasingly expensive.

I have a couple friends I go grocery shopping with. Personally I like this method. Shopping alone is dull and it's always better to have someone to talk to. As I'm not into malls and most adult sized clothing doesn't fit me unless I special order it (and I have much too much dignity to wear children's clothing), I have no need to go out to the mall except for maybe Christmas shopping, and I don't even do that anymore. I buy gift certificates if anything at all. People have enough junk. I know I do!

As for the no, well if you want to do anything that requires leaving the city, you'll need a car, or a ride, or taxi money. While my doctor is just a few blocks away, if she orders tests they're almost always outside of the city since Harrisburg Hospital has downsized those types of medical things at their downtown location (for example, I needed a CT scan and had to leave the city to get it as the service was no longer offered at Harrisburg Hospital according to their website, but at their satellite office outside of town.) . My dentist is not exactly on a bus route. I usually just take a cab. For the handful of times a year I actually need to do this, it isn't enough for me to justify the expense (from my point of view, plus I believe when you add it all up, it's a couple thousand to operate a car) getting a car. Well, that and my stubborn mental block about it too. People who know me know that once I've made up my mind on an issue, don't bother trying to change my mind.

However I don't see how anyone could live in any of the suburbs around here and survive carless, except perhaps Camp Hill. Even then, I wouldn't want to risk crossing the Bypass to get to the Giant from the older section of town. I'm not sure if there's a pedestrian underpass. I suspect most people just drive. I suppose it is possible to live over there on the West Shore carless--I know a guy who bikes from New Cumberland to his job every day and he also doesn't drive, but it may be tougher alone. The East Shore 'burbs are older and therefore a little more walkable.

That said, my stance on driving (it's a big fat no for me, I won't do it and I have no logical reason why other then I simply don't want to and that's that!) more or less limits me to certain activities that are easy to get to by bus, foot, bike or friend with a car. It also limits me basically to the city limits to live and work and play mostly. I have no problem with any of that. I live alone and I don't (and won't) have a family to cart around. I wouldn't recommend going car free to married people or people with children especially since concepts such as carsharing and FlexCar won't come to this area because we simply don't have the density for it.

I wish people wouldn't look at me so weird when I say "I've never ever had my license and I don't want it." I also wish it didn't make it so hard to get dates around here, since everyone is so spread out. As to not driving, it isn't out of concern for our warming Earth---I'm somewhat skeptical in regards to the catastrophism that comes out of every breathless media report on the subject. It's more out of concern for my wallet and a general disinterest in the whole thing. Plus, with $4 gas approaching, would YOU want to learn to drive right now? What a waste of money, from my point of view.

It's all about trade offs though, and I think that for me, my quality of life would go down if I had to maintain a car or even spend the money to learn, which I priced somewhere in the $600 range, and I just haven't the time to do it.

So, in short, Harrisburg is survivable carless. You just have to have patience, friends, and creativity. I've got two of the three going for me, so it's all good.

Unsettled Science?

One of the biggest disputes in climate change amongst climatologists have been hurricane and other assorted tropical cyclones, with the National Hurricane Center's Dr. Chris Landsea and more then a few paleotempestologists (an admittedly new sub-field of climatology) stating there have been no appreciable trends (and in some basins, a decline as the Earth has warmed) and Dr. Kerry Emanuel among others saying that more intense and numerous tropical cyclones would be among the many catastrophes to befall us as the warming of the Earth accelerated.

Dr. Emanuel has changed his mind.

One of the most influential scientists behind the theory that global warming has intensified recent hurricane activity says he will reconsider his stand.

The hurricane expert, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, unveiled a novel technique for predicting future hurricane activity this week. The new work suggests that, even in a dramatically warming world, hurricane frequency and intensity may not substantially rise during the next two centuries.

The research, appearing in the March issue of Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is all the more remarkable coming from Emanuel, a highly visible leader in his field and long an ardent proponent of a link between global warming and much stronger hurricanes.

His changing views could influence other scientists.

"The results surprised me," Emanuel said of his work, adding that global warming may still play a role in raising the intensity of hurricanes. What that role is, however, remains far from certain

The actual research paper is here. (PDF)

More analysis here and here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Vapidness of Tyler Perry

I don't like Tyler Perry.

There's something about his works that grates me. It may be the over-the-top moralism. It may be the insistence that the answer to everything is God. It might be the irritation of yet another movie with a black man dressed up in drag (when it's clear the first two irritations make it clear to me that he'd not be into that culture not one bit.) There's probably a lot of reasons why, but those are the basics.

That said, the brotha found a formula and is sticking to it. And now he's rich. People are sucking this up like Kool-Aid and I can't figure out why.

Educate me please.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Bike Ride through Town

Today, I rode my bike all the way down past Shipoke to where Paxton Open Sewer i mean Creek empties into the Susquehanna. It's a shame there isn't a bridge across it. One could wade across I suppose but the water color didn't look all that inviting (electric blue can't possibly be natural.)

This section of the Greenbelt has a reputation for lewd male behavior and lo and behold, there were a handful of creeps who'd disappear back into the woods. I seriously doubt they were out for nature walks. I wish the cops would patrol back there more often as their behavior is unfair to the rest of us. I'm no prude and some behaviors are better done behind closed doors. That's just fair. You don't have a right to sex in public.

I opted out of doing the greenbelt because I didn't have my wallet on me and I was getting hungry. Plus I was tired. And the above creepy men were creeping me out. I wasn't in the mood to get propositioned. Luckily there were lots of other people who were out enjoying the nice day and seemed to put a damper on the lewdness, as far as I could tell.

I rode back up Front Street then rode around the Broad St. Market. There's a few homes for sale back in this area that are priced extremely low (as in perfect for me!). The area hasn't gentrified. During the day it seems ok, not sure if I want to walk around down there at night.

I rode up my favorite little street in town after that---Penn Street to Macclay, then rode home, stopping to talk to Dan Miller from city Council and Representative Ron Buxton who was out canvassing.

I'm surprised though, the last time I tried riding my bike back in November I was seriously out of shape and was winded by the time I got to Kelker St (that's 6 blocks). So I suppose getting out and doing things and walking home from nights out is seriously helping my health out. I mean I made it all the way down to the Paxton Creek confluence, and back. I think that's about a 6 or 7 mile round trip.

Uptown Harrisburg Cleanup

I'd have to say it was a success.

Only I would find it fun to pick up trash on a Saturday morning. Among the fun things I found were condom wrappers (but thankfully, no used condoms), a dime bag that still had pot in it (it's in the garbage now on its way to the incinerator), old political signs from last fall's City Council race, and lots and lots of assorted snack food bags.

One thing I don't get is why toss a drink if you're not going to drink the whole thing? We found lots of those.

One of the women in our group found a dead possibly cat, and an old style answering machine, and a nice 14 carat ring someone lost.

There was a nasty vacant lot that a large group tackled at Jefferson and Oak St. We had our hands full with 6th Street so we didn't head over there but I hear they found a dead skunk, snakes, and other really nasty disgusting trash inhabited by centipedes. City Council members were with them and were apparently outraged this went on. A fence will go up soon. I hope so.

I often wonder if anyone's ever done a study on cities who have privatized their trash services and cities that still have trash pick up. In Southeast PA, we don't pay a private service to pick up our trash, at least not in Upper Darby. Trash fees are something I'll have to be aware of as I househunt. It seems a rather foreign idea to me, to be honest. I'm willing to bet Upper Darby, despite it having about 40,000 more people then Harrisburg, is probably a little cleaner and has few dumping sites.

Uptown is a neighborhood that has just been ignored for too long. Yet there were still blocks that were nice and clean, with well kept houses. The people in them may not be rich, but they clearly have pride in their homes and are grateful if anyone comes into their neighborhood to clean it up. One group encountered a man who was so grateful that anyone would come out to his neighborhood that has been derided and ignored by the rest of Central Pennsylvania that he gave the group some money.

Things don't just fix themselves by magic. They require people to be willing to help out.

At any rate it was a great use of a Saturday morning, and I'll be doing it again on April 26th in the non-gentrified part of Midtown (east of Third St.)

Obama in Harrisburg, last Sunday

Some pictures. I was able to get in after all.

They are blurry because I was moving and just all around excited.