Posts Tagged ‘california’

National Center for Science and Education moves to combat Climate Change Denial

January 16, 2012

    You don’t have to think about it long to realize that the future of mankind relies on the effective combating of pseudo-science.

    That is the future of mankind relies on an increase level of knowledge.  When the rate that knowledge is being lost, or polluted by pseudo-science equal that where it is being gained,  to a first degree approximation, equilibrium is reached and mankind stagnates.

    Combating such disinformation will at some point therefore become as important as research.

    Sadly as we get to know more and more, it becomes easier and easier for bullshit merchants posing as scientists to go undetected or unchallenged, and the harder it becomes for Joe Public to distinguish real scientists from increasingly slick impostors.  Arguably there is no field where this is more true than in climate change, where a small and very well funded group of ‘climate change deniers’/ pseudo-scientists seek to dis-inform society about the impact of the anthroporgenic release of carbon dioxide.

    Thankfully, the National Center for Science and Education (The NCSE), who have done such sterling work in keeping creationism out of the class room are now moving to keep such disinformation on climate change from being dissemination in schools.

Stagnation on youtube

November 11, 2011

A brief intro:

This time a decade ago, no one had even heard of youtube, nor did the bandwidth really exist for the project.  The emergence of Youtube was unforeseen by, well lets be real, everyone.  Microsoft was left standing, as was Google.  The access of users to cheap video editing equipment, and further simultaneously given access to the vast array of various uploaded media clips led to an explosion of creativity.

     However as time progressed, expectedly those who did well acquired a disproportionate amount of the traffic.  Now, I don’t have the figures, but a comparative handful of users provide the significant lions share of the traffic.  This has had two detrimental effects on youtube.

1)      The forum has lost a significant portion of its vibrancy, in that it used to be that you could come back to youtube in a week or twos time and everything would be different.  This is not true anymore.  You come back in months time and it’s pretty much the exact same people doing exactly the same thing.  It’s no longer really youtube, but the ‘same old-same old’tube.

2)      The barriers to entry are now essentially prohibitively high.  As a few get a large amount of the traffic, the barriers to entry are huge compared to what they were when youtube was relatively a flat and fair forum.  Indeed almost the only way to now establish yourself on youtube is with the help of someone who is already established, or to have an existing audience for whom you start making videos, or to simply have a truck full of cash to throw at the problem.

    So is there a solution to this?  Is there a way that youtube can regain it’s vibrancy?  Well that’s where many minds are better than one and I ask for your take on this.

    The following is my suggestion:  One way to do this which is arguably dead before it starts is by biasing the YT search algorithms against established players.  Now YT will not want to do that on several levels.  Firstly ‘established players’ are the ‘cash cows’, they are the ‘known commodities’ that people come to youtube for.  Secondly of course, those partner would be pretty unhappy having put all that work into establishing a channel merely for YT to come along and decide ‘bad luck fellas, but YT needs more variety’.   It would also send a lousy message about the relationship between media producers and youtube.  Finally of course, who is likely to fill this gap?  Lamentably imitation is easier than innovation and for every youtube ‘celebrity’ there are probably 10 wannabe clones.  Even if youtube were to tweak its search engine, would it really help?

     Maybe a more viable alternative is to create a second ‘pool’ of users.  A ‘youtube hatchery’ so to speak that allows small channels to grow free of the competition of the bigger players (a different front page).  Limit the hatchery to users with less than 10k subscribers or so, and have a separate front page for them.  The environment would allow people to establish themselves on a smaller forum before competing in the full YT forum where currently they get almost no attention.

     Other than that, it looks to me like youtube has matured and hardened into its adult form, never to see significant changes again, or if it does, it will be more akin to glacial speeds!

Thunderf00t vs The Mountain Lion

August 13, 2011

The sun was fully down and the full moon just risen (12 Aug 2011) when I was up by the tripod some 10 meters from the car.  The camera was running a timelapse near dusk, but the battery was low so I was just changing it.   It was there that I heard a  twig break nearby on the far side of the clearing. Instantly that was out of the ordinary, and got my attention REAL fast. I can hear nothing else, and that makes me even more nervous:- no creature ambling through the brush, the night hunters are at work. I have no torch on me, and no weapon (normally I carry both a torch and a big ass knife, which in the event of you not being killed outright is enough to put some pretty respectable sized holes in a cat). But I have neither. I have the camera, and now that I think about it, I should have grabbed the tripod too, but I didn’t. Keeping myself fixed towards where the sound was I made my way cautiously back to the car, brandishing the 2000 dollar camera n lens as just a big metal lump (strange how the value of objects can be changed by merely the snapping of a twig in a clearing on a  quiet night up). On getting back to the car, I quickly rummaged around and got a knife, and flashlight. I panned it around the clearing to see two bright green sapphire eyes looking back at me from behind a log. It had come up on me from where I first heard it on the far side of the clearing. It could only have been about 10 meters. Then behind it I saw a second pair of eyes, as green as the first, but smaller, and further off. Green eyes are cats eyes, and from the separation and the distance I could tell this was a big cat. After watching me for a few seconds I saw it turn off into the trees. I didn’t like that at all: all the time I could see it, I knew what the score was. A big cat out of sight, thats more of a worry.
I fumbled around for a video camera, but by that time they eyes had gone and again I was ‘alone in the quiet’. After that I was reluctant to leave the car. Mountain lions are ambush hunters, and the car was awkwardly positioned such that getting out was ‘vunerable’. I slept the night away, and in the morning went looking for tracks. Turns out there was a deer path that went along side the opening, and sure enough, there were mountain lion tracks there, further they tracked up towards the tripod.

Cool, I Haz it.

July 26, 2011
This Picture says it all!

This Picture says it all!

Thursday 21 (Gardening with Genie)

July 25, 2011

Thursday 21st July.  Woke up to see a truck dragging a large trailer barely making the turn into the siding I was in. -TIME TO MOVE ON!  Headed up towards the San Francisco.  By that evening there was a kinda surreal moment where I was drinking Dawkins wine (given to me by RDF @ TAM), with Ray Comforts watch, while having dinner with the Dr Eugenie Scott.

Hate to be curt about it, but I’ve got to make this entry quick, as Im currently back in LA, and have to get out of the city, and up the back of the Sierra Nevada by dark to do some astro!


Friday 22nd, Went to see NCSE at work.  A truly impressive organisation. I have to admit, all I knew about them is they were involved with the drubbing at Dover, but having seen them in operation I can only describe the center and fearsomely fit for purpose.   This is an organization that would be sorely missed if they were to vanish tomorrow.  The group keeps strong tabs on folks trying to get creationism into schools, and has an impressive library of the history of such things.  They also are in tune with the new media, and do an excellent job of taking advantage of all the social media opportunities out there.


Saturday 23rd.  Spent a pleasant morning Gardening with Genie, of a fashion.  Turns out that I’m know almost nothing about plant care, but was quite useful for a little help with the plumbing of the irrigation system.  If healthy living is a factor, Genie will outlast us all!  That evening we went to a local meeting of the Skeptic group.  A fun and vibrant group, in the Berkeley area of SF.


Sunday 24th.  Improvised some deer deterrent systems with Gene!  Yes apparently SF has a deer problem, especially if your greens are lush!

Later in the day, after many an interesting conversation I took my leave of Dr Scott, and headed on back to LA.  Got to pick up a video camera, then figure after that I’ll head up the back of the Sierra Nevada to where the forecast says there will be some wonderfully dark and still skies.  The dive down I5 is an incredibly empty land (30 miles between gas stations etc).  Lots of sun-scorched yellow hills.  There were bad road works and I was significantly delayed getting back to LA.  In the end found a quiet siding near Lebec, although still within earshot of the freeway.  Really erie with the grey lights of the vehicles moving up and down the busy freeway, with the dark sky above.