For a variety of reasons, I had to turn off Disqus a while back. We are going back to it for comments. Over the next few days you may see comments on old posts disappear and reappear. If I don’t screw up, within 48 hours all existing comments should be back.
If you hit an unexpected error, or worse, seem to have been banned, email me at the link on this page or if you can’t get here, at the link on my sister blog Coyoteblog.com
I have been trying to lock down the site better because of some bad behavior over the last several weeks by some odd attempts to penetrate off-limits parts of the site. If you feel like you were locked out in error, send me an email to the link on the header of the site with your approximate location (e.g. city) and the approximate time of hitting the site and I will unblock you. Also, any info on the pages or files you were trying to access in vain when you were locked out would help me too.
In other news, I am still waiting for Disqus to get all our old comments loaded and back online.
First, I have not changed my comment policy – no moderation except for spam. But I have decided to force some kind of log-in on comments. I am going to try Disqus, and am specifically doing so during a quiet period in my blogging to have time to test it. Note that for a day or so, comments may disappear. I have them all archived, but it takes a while, apparently, to sync past comments with Disqus. We shall see how things go.
In preparation for blogging more actively again here, I have been doing some security cleanup. As part of that, I finally decided to delete my first comments ever. I pride myself on leaving anything in the comments, on the theory that idiots just hurt their own cause by being idiots. However, I deleted all the comments from the visitor who was using my name. He/she is by no means the most obnoxious commenter out there, but the tone adopted does not at all match my tone in discussions. If you see someone trying to spoof me again that I am missing, drop me an email at the link above. I think I fixed email as well, which has not been working as well as it should.
I upgraded my server account – we will see if that gets us past the server issues the site has been experiencing over the last few days.
I was in Italy on my 20th anniversary, so I am not that sorry about not paying attention to my blog, but I am caught up now.
Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge. Last year we had nearly 140 entries. Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don’t have an office pool to join or who just can’t get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.
Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well. There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam. The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.
To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket. This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.
Scoring is as follows:
Round 1 correct picks: 1 points
Round 2: 2
Round 3: 4
Round 4: 6
Round 5: 8
Round 6: 10
Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team’s seeds. So don’t be afraid to go for the long-shots! The detailed rules are here.
Bracket entry appears to be open. Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 18th at 12:20pm EDT. Be sure to get your brackets in early. Anyone can play — the more the better. Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.
Two forces are at work that have, as judging from my email, left my readers confused. The first is the pace of news around climate has accelerated by a factor of at least 10 since the CRU email release. I must admit I really underestimated the impact that release would have — not in how much we would learn, but the impact it had on the media. Suddenly, the media had a narrative they understood (coverup and malfeasance) that somehow allowed them to question catastrophic global warming theory when they were unwilling to do so on the basis of flaws in the science. S0, for example, while the media was unwilling to question the obvious absurdity of the Himalayan glacier forecast in a straight up science discussion, they were able to run with it as a story about organizational failure at the IPCC. Whatever.
At the same time, I have had less time to dedicate to this blog (for those who have not seen it, my appearance on Glenn Beck may explain why).
I will continue to do science-based stories on this site as I have done in the past, but cannot possibly keep up with the evolving political stories surrounding climate change.
I do not moderate the comments for anything other than spam. While I have banned a couple of folks over time, I am not sure you would even need two hands to count them. My reasons:
- I don’ t have time. Period. If I had to spend the time to moderate comments here, I would have to give up blogging. This is a hobby, and in fact real life has been unbelievably busy of late. An example here.
- I have little inclination to do so. If I wanted to constantly monitor the behavior of a couple of hundred people, I would have been a 7th grade teacher
- It is strategic (part 1). I find that the silliest people whom folks most want to ban do much to undermine their own arguments. Why not let them? To paraphrase Napoleon, why interrupt someone you disagree with when they are making a mistake? I often get asked to ban troll X who opposes everything I write, but frankly I am far more likely to want to ban commenter Y who is doing a bad job of representing or supporting my positions
- It is strategic (part 2). Many alarmist websites like RealClimate ruthlessly moderate out dissent from their comments. I purposely try to position this site in contrast to that policy. If you are an outsider, and see two sides, one of which clearly allows open debate and one which does not, which might you trust more?
- I am learning. Apparently unlike most everyone else on this issue, I admit that I make a lot of mistakes. My writing and position on climate change has evolved a lot since the beginning of this blog. I treat this blog as a voyage of discovery, and many times my commenters are providing me free education.
- At least trolls are visiting sites they disagree with. A lot of blog readers stay in the echo chamber.
If you really find something absolutely offensive, you can email me and I will (maybe) do something about it. But in general, the best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. Really, when you see someone posting every third comment making condescending and unsupported statements with all the social graces of a 12-year-old, is your first thought, “wow, that guy is someone to be reckoned with!”?
Let me end with an example from current alarmist uber-troll Rajendra Pachauri. If he was a commenter of mine, why would I possibly purge him? He’s doing so much damage to his own position that even Greenpeace wants his head:
The U.N.’s climate chief dismissed “nefarious” global warming skeptics this week by insinuating that they are deep in the pockets of big business — and suggested that they go rub their faces in cancer-causing asbestos.
Rajendra Pachauri, the besieged head of the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change, told the Financial Times on Wednesday that he is the victim of a “carefully orchestrated” campaign to block climate change legislation.
“I would say [there are] nefarious designs behind people trying to attack me with lies, falsehoods,” he told the paper, swatting away allegations that his India-based climate institute, TERI, has benefited from decisions made by the IPCC, which he also chairs.
Climate change skeptics “are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder,” he said.
“I hope that they apply it (asbestos) to their faces every day.”
I have been pretty remiss in posting here lately. One reason is that this is the busy season in my business. The other reason is that there is just so much going on in the economy and the new administration on which I feel the need to comment, that I have spent most of my time at CoyoteBlog.
Anthony Watts is worried about the time it takes to moderate comments
Lately I’ve found that I spend a lot of time moderating posts that are simply back and forth arguments between just a few people whom have inflexible points of view. Often the discussion turns a bit testy. I’ve had to give some folks (on both sides of the debate) a time out the last couple of days. While the visitors of this blog (on both sides of the debate) are often more courteous than on some other blogs I’ve seen, it still gets tiresome moderating the same arguments between the same people again and again.
This does not surprise me, as I have emailed back and forth to Anthony during a time he was stressed about a particular comment thread. I told him then what I say now: Relax.
It might have been that 10 years ago or even 5 that visitors would be surprised and shocked by the actions of certain trolls on the site. But I would expect that anyone, by now, who spends time in blog comment sections knows the drill — that blog comments can be a free-for-all and some folks just haven’t learned how to maturely operate in an anonymous environment.
I have never tried to moderate my comments (except for spam, which is why you might have a comment with embedded links held for moderation — I am looking to filter people selling male enhancement products, not people who disagree with me.) In fact, I relish buffoons who disagree with me when they make an ass of themselves – after all, as Napoleon said, never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake. And besides, I think it makes a nice contrast with a number of leading climate alarmist sites that do not accept comments or are Stalinist in purging dissent from them.
In fact, I find that the only danger in my wide open policy is the media. For you see, the only exception to my statement above, the only group on the whole planet that seems not to have gotten the message that comment threads don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the domain operator, is the mainstream media. I don’t know if this is incompetence or willful, but they still write stories predicated on some blog comment being reflective of the blog’s host.
By the way, for Christmas last year I bought myself an autographed copy of this XKCD comic to go over my desk:
If you are reading this, it means that you have found my new WordPress site for Climate-Skeptic.com. You may find that permalinks or some images don’t function quite right — I learned from migrating my other blog that it takes about 24-48 hours for all these problems to settle out. If you are using the feed at feeds.feedburner.com/ClimateSkeptic, you should be fine and that feed should still work. If you are using a different feed, I will soon post instructions on how to switch.
I am doing a bit of site redesign as my CSS skills improve. All of this is a prelude to my pending attempt to move this entire beast over to WordPress, a goal mainly thwarted right now by trying to preserve all the permalinks at the same addresses.
Anyway, I have a new page with all my published books and Powerpoint presentations here. I have a page collecting all my videos here. Since YouTube crunches all the videos to a resolution too small to really read my charts well, I have also set up a streaming video site with full resolution videos here. All of these sites are easily reachable by the new menu bar across the top of the site.
I am working on several new posts, but the new Typepad editor is really buggy. For some reason, Typepad put this particular blog (but not my others) on the new editor, probably as an involuntary beta. The new editor is much, much slower, and has fatal bugs that make use of images in posts virtually impossible.
This is actually a problem with online applications I had not considered before. When I heard iTunes 8 was initially bugged or learned to hate Vista, I would just avoid making the "upgrade." But with online services, I have no choice but to accept the new version, even if I consider it worse (as is so often the case nowadays in software).
Sorry for the light posting. I have not lost interest, I have just been extremely busy. Relevant to climate, I am working on a 30-minute presentation for a climate debate I am participating in soon at Lake Tahoe. Once that is done, the material I have developed for it should drive a number of new posts.
Since it has come up a couple of times in the last few days, here is a reminder of the comment policy on this blog:
1) I do not edit, moderate or delete comments, except for outright spam. The reasons for this are many. First, I don’t have time. Second, I don’t have the inclination. Third, I take zero responsibility from an editorial standpoint on what is in the comments. The comments are an open public forum I offer as a public service. Even light moderation or isolated bans would break this bright-line rule and might lead some to some confusion as to whether I implicitly support some particular comment because I didn’t delete it. So I don’t touch anything.
2) I encourage everyone who agrees with me to remain civil, rational, open-minded, and professional in the comments. Everyone else is encouraged to discredit his or her own opinions by making as much of an ass of him or herself as they choose. Some of my commenters seem particularly adept at the latter.
3) Commenter names are entirely arbitrary. It is amazing that I have to remind folks of this nowadays, but if you see a commenter named "Al Gore," you should be entirely suspicious as to the person’s true identity (though of course Al would be welcome to hang out here). Its not like I check everyone’s ID.
To answer a question in the comments, I do not moderate comments on this site except to occasionally delete obvious advertising spam (and even that I can be pretty slow to get to). This is in contrast to sites like RealClimate, which have been known to moderate out dissenting opinion. Also, I seldom participate in the comment threads, so y’all should not necessarily assume that by not replying I have somehow been silenced by your wit. I am just too busy to keep up with online flame wars in the same way that I used to get sucked into them. I read the comment threads, and then try to refine my arguments in my posts in the future.
I will observe the the discourse has become a bit, uh, course at times of late. I get it that this is an emotional topic.
At most sites, this would result in a plea at this point for civility. I am not going to do that, exactly. I am just going to observe that looking back over the comment threads, those of you who are resorting to name calling and other kindergarten-level debating tactics are not helping your position very well.
There is nothing I hate more than to be in a debate / discussion, trying to carefully and logically defend my position, only to have someone jump in, supposedly on "my side" and say something like "YOU LIBERALS ALL SUCK!" So, this is an official plea for civility from those who agree with me. Let’s hold the intellectual high ground. Everyone else can curse and flame to their heart’s content ;=)
Postscript: And since we are dealing with issues in the comments, yes, my spelling and proofreading
is are often terrible. mea culpa
I am working on a submission (outline and several chapters) for a book prize that is due December 31, so I may not be posting much over the next week. The contest is for a novel that promotes the principals of freedom, capitalism, and individual responsibility in the context of a novel (hopefully without 120-page John Galt radio speeches).
My project is one I have been tinkering with for a while, an update of the Marshall Jevons economist mysteries from the 1980’s. If you are not familiar with this series, Marshall Jevons was a pseudonym for a couple of economists who wrote several murder mysteries that included a number of expositions on how economics apply to everyday life. Kind of Agatha Christie meets Freakonomics. I found the first book, Murder at the Margin, to be disappointing, but the second book called the Fatal Equilibrium was pretty good. I think the latter was a better book because the setting was university life, and the murder revolved around a tenure committee decision, topics the authors could write about closer to their experience. The books take a pro-free-market point of view (which already makes them unique) and it is certainly unusual to have the solution to a murder turn on how search costs affect pricing variability.
Anyway, for some time, I have been toying with a concept for a young adult book in roughly the same tradition. I think the Jevons novels are a good indicator of how a novel can teach some simple economics concepts, but certainly the protagonist as fusty stamp-collecting Harvard professor would need to be modified to engage young adults.
My new novel (or series of novels, if things go well) revolves around a character named Adam Smith. Adam is the son of a self-made immigrant and heir to a nearly billion dollar fortune. At the age of twenty, he rejects his family and inheritance in a wave of sixties rebellion, joins a commune, and changes his name to the unfortunate "Moonbeam." After several years, he sours on commune life, put himself through graduate school in economics, and eventually reclaims his family fortune. Today, he leads two lives: Adam Smith, eccentric billionaire, owner of penthouses and fast cars, and leader of a foundation [modeled after the IJ]; and Professor Moonbeam, aging hippie high school economics teacher who drives a VW beetle and appears to live in a trailer park. There is a murder, of course, and the fun begins when three of his high school students start to suspect that their economics teacher may have a second life. As you might expect, the kids help him solve the murder while he teaches them lessons about life and economics. The trick is to keep the book light and fun rather than pedantic, but since one business model in my last novel revolved around harvesting coins in fountains, I think I can do it.
Anyway, wish me luck and I will be back in force come the new year.