Friday, December 27, 2013

Funding denialism, documented

From the Dec 2013 issue of the journal Climatic Change:

Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations

Robert J. Brulle


This paper conducts an analysis of the financial resource mobilization of the organizations that make up the climate change counter-movement (CCCM) in the United States. Utilizing IRS data, total annual income is compiled for a sample of CCCM organizations (including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and trade associations). These data are coupled with IRS data on philanthropic foundation funding of these CCCM organizations contained in the Foundation Center’s data base. This results in a data sample that contains financial information for the time period 2003 to 2010 on the annual income of 91 CCCM organizations funded by 140 different foundations. An examination of these data shows that these 91 CCCM organizations have an annual income of just over 900million,withanannualaverageof64 million in identifiable foundation support. The overwhelming majority of the philanthropic support comes from conservative foundations. Additionally, there is evidence of a trend toward concealing the sources of CCCM funding through the use of donor directed philanthropies.

The journal is peer-reviewed, I believe.

The full paper, sadly, costs a lot of money to see, but there is a bunch of supplementary online material (PDF) available for free.

The Guardian has a good article about the paper. Here's how it begins.

Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort.

The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.

News of the unsurprising, and mighty discouraging news at that, but a shoutout to Prof. Brulle for making the effort to document the atrocities, and a vote of sympathy to him for the character assassination he will doubtless be suffering in the next few weeks.

(h/t: Wired UK, via Ars Technica)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The only parargaph I don't like in Carl Zimmer's ...

... latest column in the NYT is this:

In our smaller-brained ancestors, the researchers argue, neurons were tightly tethered in a relatively simple pattern of connections. When our ancestors’ brains expanded, those tethers ripped apart, enabling our neurons to form new circuits.

Call me a paranoiac, a fringe member of the reality-based community, or whatever: I worry that this sounds too much like it's happening in individual brains, over the course of individual lifetimes, as opposed to what is actually meant: this is what you'd see if you made a film of snapshots of the the typical brain, over many generations, in an evolving species.

Trying to keep the voice active is commendable, especially when the topic is ... ooooo, Science. BOring. [Or so you worry your editors might think] ... but when writing about evolution, it's also worth keeping in mind how the denialists will seek to parse every frickin phrase; as in the familiar [snickerchortle] "Was your grandfather a monkey on your father or mother's side?" [/snickerchortle], &c.

All of the rest of the article is fascinating. This being Zimmer, that comes as no surprise.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, and an atheist walk into a bar ...

Ah, sorry. There's no punchline.

But it was a great way to spend Christmas Eve. Thanks y'all.

And praise god for diversity.

I might even say.

Because vernacular, of course.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grammar question. How say you?

There is a myriad of reasons why ...

Or should it be, there are a myriad of reasons why ...

Consider also:

There are a score of reasons why ...
There is a score of reasons why ...

There is a dozen reasons why ...
There are a dozen reasons why ...

There are a handful of reasons why ...
There is a handful of reasons why ...

Is the verb after There supposed to agree with the quantity-noun (myriad, score, dozen, handful) or the word (noun) reasons? And does the of, where it appears, make any difference?

My own ear leans toward(s) is when there is an of and the other way, when not. Which seems inconsistent after the most fleeting of thought(s).


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Image credit, long overdue

Once upon a time, MK mailed me a cartoon, on paper. I used it as a bookmark (the paper kind, in a paper book), as I often do with such things, because they're fun to come across when I re-read the book years later. I liked this particular cartoon so much that when blogging came along, I decided to use it as my About Me image. Since then, I've been using it, or pieces of it, for my online avatar pretty much everywhere, including as the favicon for this site.

Thanks to Sean Taggart, I now know the artist: the late and apparently great John Callahan.

More here. This profile, from 1992, is especially recommended.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I wonder if Vint Cerf ever says this, about the Internet

His lawyers argued that the anticensorship diatribes in Screw made the magazine sufficiently political, though Mr. Goldstein himself ridiculed this defense, insisting that a reader’s erection “is its own redeeming value.”

I never heard of Al Goldstein until now, never read any of his publications, and he sure doesn't sound like he was any fun to be around, but for whatever reason, he seems like he deserves a salute.

Deep thought

I'm not much of a spiritual guy anymore, but there are some times when I feel guilty about not giving a reverential enough look at the just past full moon, with Jupiter right next door.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lucky for them the War stayed Cold, then, huh?

From a story about misfortunes surrounding this year's running of the Olympic Torch:

Russia’s torches were manufactured in Siberia at a reported cost of $6.4 million by KrasMash, which usually makes submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Or, maybe there's more power in the word flamer than we ever knew?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hurrah. Finally.

As you probably know, I've been yammering about this for what feels like forever.

After years of mounting concerns that the antibacterial chemicals that go into everyday items like soap and toothpaste are doing more harm than good, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that it was requiring soap manufacturers to demonstrate that the substances were safe or to take them out of the products altogether.

The proposal was applauded by public health experts, who for years have urged the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk scrambling hormones in children and promoting drug-resistant infections, among other things.

Actually, I did not know about the hormone thing. My beef has always been about the latter worry.

[Added] My message, now with authoritah!

The agency also said there was no evidence that the substances were any more effective in preventing infection than plain soap and water.

Rhetorical question: how much luck have you had trying to buy plain soap lately?

Friday, December 13, 2013

WTF, Michigan?

Thanks be to TBogg, who somehow finds the energy to keep up with the atrocities.

[Added] Also.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yep. This deserves promotion, all right.

Hello, my fellow Americans!

On the left, your National Reconnaissance Office's new logo for their latest spy satellite. Don't you feel safer already?

On the right, something intended to make you fearful.

From a different time. And a different country.

(Image credit: PsionEdge, on Ars. From that source, you can also get to a long Ryan Lizza piece, subtitled "Why won’t the President rein in the intelligence community?", if you like. I haven't yet found it within me to get to page 2.)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Not so much

I came across that phrase in a NYT article and it surprised me a bit. It strikes me as a colloquialism that the style guide masters would have, if ever, only very recently allowed.

But look at this graph from Google Ngrams.

Maybe it's just that I'm wiped out from work, but I can't think of a way it would be used other than in this sense from the article:

The natural question is how long this situation can last. Fifty years ago a “woman doctor” was a gender-bending phenomenon. Now not so much.

And that sounds distinctly recent to me. The top Google hits support this sense.

There is, however, this, from a 1914 book.

Other examples?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Another measure of the GOP's increasing distance from reality

Compare and contrast this, from the NYT's Business section, ...

More than two dozen of the nation’s biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming.

The development is a striking departure from conservative orthodoxy and a reflection of growing divisions between the Republican Party and its business supporters.

A new report by the environmental data company CDP has found that at least 29 companies, some with close ties to Republicans, including ExxonMobil, Walmart and American Electric Power, are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans.

... with this ...

During the 2012 election, every Republican presidential candidate but one, Jon Huntsman, questioned or denied the science of climate change and rejected policies to deal with global warming.

Better sit down for this part:

But unlike the five big oil companies — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell, all major contributors to the Republican party — Koch Industries, a conglomerate that has played a major role in pushing Republicans away from action on climate change, is ramping up an already-aggressive campaign against climate policy — specifically against any tax or price on carbon. Owned by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the company includes oil refiners and the paper-goods company Georgia-Pacific.

[Added] Oops. Earlier noted by Ocean.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Time for a new calender

Having recently (re)gifted an Advent calendar, it occurs to me that the next can't-miss item for retailers (assuming this gets a nod of approval from Dr. Oz) would be a Lenten Calendar.

It would work like this: every day, for forty days, a maw would open, and you, or your child, would be required to deposit therein a piece of candy.

Variations abound. For example, you could get all of it back (less tithe) on Easter.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Headline of the Day

Today, we are all tackle-box-faces:

Researchers Control Computers Through Body Piercings

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Why does Paul Krugman have to be right about everything?

Dunno. But he is.

Another problem, it seems to me, is that there just aren't that many ways (besides ground) to buy turkey, year-round, in the typical grocery store at least.