Monthly Archives: March 2013

Congressman Dan Young of Alaska on Mexicans and Mexican-Americans

This is why we can’t have nice things, like immigration reform.


Amid a hot-button debate in Washington over how to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, Rep. Don Young, a 21-term lawmaker, referred to immigrant workers as “wetbacks” — a term that could threaten to inflame the debate about immigration reform.

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in an interview with radio station KRBD. He was discussing the number of jobs that have been made irrelevant due to advances in automation.

Young is one of the top Republicans in the House. He offered a rather lame apology which seemed to indicate that “wetback” is just a term we used to use and he forgot to stop using it. I hope we were not hanging our hopes on the Republicans to do anything reasonable about immigration related issues.

Please, let us not be inured to this sort of issue. A very senior elected official in the Federal Government just used, casually, the Mexican version of the N-word in an interview about policy. This is more important than March Madness, people. Or at least, we should be more mad about it than we seem to be. I’ve yet to hear mention of censure, but that is the obvious next step.

Treatment of Climate Change and Hockey Stick Controversy in Wikipedia

The current Wikipedia entry for Climate Change has about 7000 words on that one page (including notes, all the other words that show up on Wikipedia pages). The current Wikipedia entry for the Hockey Stick Controversy has about 25,000 words in all.

The controversy over one aspect of climate change, the basic observation of temperature change known as the hockey stick graph, is certainly not more complex than, more important than, or harder to explain than climate change as a whole. Is this a failing of Wikipedia? A success for the Climate Science Deniers who are also hoping to have the conversation about “the controversy” be an order of magnitude lengthier in our schools than any discussion of climate change? A random occurrence? I’m thinking a little of all three.

25,000 vs 7,000. Holy crap. Would someone who works with Wikipedia please see to this? Thank you.

The Altruism Equation

Skeptically Speaking has this:

This week. we’re looking at what science has to say about the origins of selfless – and even self-sacrificing – behavior. We’ll speak to biology professor Lee Alan Dugatkin, about his book The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness. And we’ll discuss altruism from a neurological perspective, with Duke University Neuroscientist Steve Chang, whose research in monkeys looks at how their brains process and record helpful inclinations.

Get the podcast here.

Rat Island

Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World’s Greatest Wildlife Rescue is a new book by William Stolzenburg. I’ve not seen it, but Desiree Schell interviewed the author on Skeptically Speaking:

This week, we’re looking at invasive predators, changing ecosystems, and the ethical questions raised by killing one species to save another. We’ll speak to science journalist Will Stolzenburg, about his book Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World’s Greatest Wildlife Rescue.

Also in that edition of Skeptically Speaking, Bug Girl talks about insect conservation.

Click here for the podcast.

Mars Rocks

Don’t miss this excellent Skeptically Speaking:

This week, we’re looking one orbit outward, at the little red planet that’s inspired so much science and science fiction. Guest host Marie-Claire Shanahan talks to University of Tennessee geologist Linda Kah, about her work as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, analyzing the images sent back by the Curiosity rover. And she’ll speak to geologist Chris Herd, curator of the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection, about using rare meteorites from Mars to study the planet’s composition and atmosphere.


Climate Change Denialism

There are two very important posts out there that I’d like to make you aware of related to climate change denialism. Here’s the teasers, please click through and read them. If you like them, tweet them!

First, from The Scientist, an opinion piece by Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines:

Life as a Target: Attacks on my work aimed at undermining climate change science have turned me into a public figure. I have come to embrace that role.

As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked. Politicians have demanded I be fired from my job because of my work demonstrating the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. I’ve been subjected to congressional investigations by congressman in the pay of the fossil fuel industry and was the target of what The Washington Post referred to as a “witch hunt” by Virginia’s reactionary Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. I have even received a number of anonymous death threats. My plight is dramatic, but unfortunately, it is not unique; climate scientists are regularly the subject of such attacks. This cynicism is part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged by fossil fuel companies, front groups, and individuals aligned with them in an effort to discredit the science linking the burning of fossil fuels with potentially dangerous climate change…..

CLICK HERE to read the entire post.

The next item is related to a recent screw up by a commenter at Christian Science Monitor who accidentally took science denier Anthony Watt’s interview at seriously (we discussed this here). This is a new interview at with my friend and colleague Professor John Abraham:

Real Pragmatism for Real Climate Change: Interview with Dr. John Abraham

At a time when extreme weather incidents are causing billions in damages, businesses, governments and the public need the right information to make the right decisions. The bad news is that nature of superstorms like Hurricane Sandy has a human fingerprint. The good news is that if man is harming the climate, man can also do something about it….

CLICK HERE to read the entire interview. Anthony Watts has responded on his blog but if I put a link to it he will discover that I’ve written about him and instruct his winged monkeys to fill my comment section with hate.

Hunters, Anglers, and Climate Change: Win a free shotgun!

This comes form Peter Sinclair’s blog:

The Conservation Hawks is a new group dedicated to harnessing the power of sportsmen to address climate change. Stop. Before you give in to anger, or to the “conservation fatigue” that can fall upon us like a giant wet carpet whenever climate change is mentioned, consider this: If you can convince Conservation Hawks chairman Todd Tanner that he’s wasting his time, that he does not have to worry about climate change, he will present to you his most prized possession: A Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 gauge over/under…

Go to Peter’s blog and get your gun!

Meanwhile, here is Climate Denial Crock of the Week’s latest video:

More posts on climate change are here.