Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best player in the world

As most of you know, I don't claim any real knowledge of soccer. Still, I was surprised by this article in today's NY Times. I had thought the idea that Ronaldo was the best player in the world was mostly marketing hype that few took seriously. Is there a real debate as to who is better, Ronaldo or Messi?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Partying like it's 1962 (again)

The Mets lost last night. Hardly earth-shattering news, but the manner of their defeat is pretty shocking. They lost because they played like they were a Little League team playing an early spring training game.

They made numerous errors in the field - dropping balls, throwing them away, that sort of thing - they failed to do simple things with the bat - like bunting (letting the ball hit gently off the bat) - and in a crucial situation, when it looked like they were going to escape with an undeserved victory, one of their professional players, a guy making $2.8m a year, failed to touch third base on his way home to score the winning (okay, go ahead) run in extra innings. And he was under no pressure to make it home as there was no hope of a play on him.

Honestly, there isn't a Little League coach in America who wouldn't have been embarrassed by such a display. It was as if the Mets channeled their inner '62 Mets. The Mets were in their first year and they are renowned for being the worst team to ever play in the major leagues.

The only saving grace as far as I'm concerned is that I only had to endure the audio description on delay this morning. I can't imagine how I'd have felt if I was in New York and stayed up til 1am to watch that debacle.

"Conclusive scientific evidence" that some people are nuts

The people of Newcastle, Co. Down can, apparently, enjoy free WiFi in at least part of the town. And not everyone is happy about this (& I'm not talking about disgruntled commercial internet providers, whose grudge I could well understand).

No, the Newcastle Sustainable Community Planning Forum organized a public meeting on the issue.
According to a NSPCF spokes-woman, the outcome of the meeting was an overwhelming majority vote for the cessation of the pilot operation until ‘conclusive scientific evidence of safety is established’, a request that Down Council allow a NSCPF presentation on the health risks associated with Wi-Fi, and that councillors be urged to review their decision.
I really don't know what to say. "Conclusive scientific evidence of safety?" I mean, do any of those people ever go swimming because I bet there is no "conclusive scientific evidence" that swimming is safe. Or eating meat. Or walking along the road. Or climbing a wall. Or ... You get the idea.

Newstalk grows up

Two years ago I said that I was abandoning Newstalk's morning and afternoon shows because they were too juvenile, particularly the morning show. I might return now that they've signed Ivan Yates to co-host the show (& I wouldn't object if Claire Byrne was quietly dropped too). I don't know what Yates is like on radio, but his columns are fantastic. I don't remember thinking so highly of him when he was in Fine Gael, but he must be pretty determined to remain outside politics at this stage because he's got a lot more presence than anyone in that party - include George Lee.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Now looking at the sun

I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm something of a climate change skeptic. I'm more than willing to accept that the climate's changing because I doubt it's ever been static. I'm also happy to say that the I can see the logic of the whole idea that what man is up to may affect the climate. What turns me off is that the science is so dependent on computer modeling and, well, why should I believe that those who have designed the models are any better at their job than those who designed the system that gave us derivatives and mortaged-backed securities and the rest of that mess.

Okay, maybe that's a cheap shot, but the problems in the financial world were more than partly caused by too many young techno-heads developing all sorts of products that the banking professionals never fully understood, never really grasped that a couple of key assumptions were faulty. Why should I assume that climatologists haven't made a similar error?

The whole thing just seems to me to be too complex for modeling, particularly when science is only now having to check their warming expectations with a less active sun.

Computer models suggest that of the 0.5C increase in global average temperatures over the past 30 years, only 10-20 per cent of the temperature variations observed were down to the Sun, although some said it was 50 per cent.

But around the turn of the century things started to change. Within a few years of the Sun’s activity starting to decline, the rise in the Earth’s temperature began to slow and has now been constant since the turn of the century. This was at the same time that the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide carried on rising. So, is the Sun’s quietness responsible for the tail-off in global warming and if not, what is?

… If the Earth cools under a quiet Sun, then it may be an indication that the increase in the Sun’s activity since the Little Ice Age has been the dominant factor in global temperature rises. That would also mean that we have overestimated the sensitivity of the Earth’s atmosphere to an increase of carbon dioxide from the pre-industrial three parts per 10,000 by volume to today’s four parts per 10,000. Or the sun could compete with global warming, holding it back for a while. For now, all scientists can do, along with the rest of us, is to watch and wait.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pack up your troubles ...

I told someone during the week that the best bit of good news we've had in a while was the ESRI's gloomier than thou forecast. To my mind, the ESRI is always the last to forecast a downward or an upward swing. They basically missed the Celtic Tiger - I think it was two years after the phrase "Celtic Tiger" was invented before the ESRI took its first tentative steps along the "there may be good days ahead" path.

So, this week when they went for the full throttle depression-level forecast I figured we'd hit bottom. And, the figures published yesterday that indicate a very slight possible change in our fortunes may be the beginning of the ESRi affect.