Saturday, June 30, 2012
Summer reading made easy!
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Sunday, June 24, 2012
The godfather of global warming lowers the boom on climate change hysteria
First posted: | Updated:Two months ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, gave a startling interview to msnbc.com in which he acknowledged he had been unduly “alarmist” about climate change.
The implications were extraordinary.
Lovelock is a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist whose Gaia theory — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — has had a profound impact on the development of global warming theory.
Unlike many “environmentalists,” who have degrees in political science, Lovelock, until his recent retirement at age 92, was a much-honoured working scientist and academic.
His inventions have been used by NASA, among many other scientific organizations.
Lovelock’s invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 first enabled scientists to measure CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere, leading, in many ways, to the birth of the modern environmental movement.
Having observed that global temperatures since the turn of the millennium have not gone up in the way computer-based climate models predicted, Lovelock acknowledged, “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” Now, Lovelock has given a follow-up interview to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which he delivers more bombshells sure to anger the global green movement, which for years worshipped his Gaia theory and apocalyptic predictions that billions would die from man-made climate change by the end of this century.
Lovelock still believes anthropogenic global warming is occurring and that mankind must lower its greenhouse gas emissions, but says it’s now clear the doomsday predictions, including his own (and Al Gore’s) were incorrect.
He responds to attacks on his revised views by noting that, unlike many climate scientists who fear a loss of government funding if they admit error, as a freelance scientist, he’s never been afraid to revise his theories in the face of new evidence. Indeed, that’s how science advances.
Among his observations to the Guardian:
(1) A long-time supporter of nuclear power as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which has made him unpopular with environmentalists, Lovelock has now come out in favour of natural gas fracking (which environmentalists also oppose), as a low-polluting alternative to coal.
As Lovelock observes, “Gas is almost a give-away in the U.S. at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it … Let’s be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it.” (Kandeh Yumkella, co-head of a major United Nations program on sustainable energy, made similar arguments last week at a UN environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro, advocating the development of conventional and unconventional natural gas resources as a way to reduce deforestation and save millions of lives in the Third World.)
(2) Lovelock blasted greens for treating global warming like a religion.
“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock observed. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”
(3) Lovelock mocks the idea modern economies can be powered by wind turbines.
As he puts it, “so-called ‘sustainable development’ … is meaningless drivel … We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”
(4) Finally, about claims “the science is settled” on global warming: “One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
According to research, those who download 'free' music are also the industry's largest audience for digital sales
Everybody knows that music sales have continued to fall in recent years, and that filesharing is usually blamed. We are made to imagine legions of internet criminals, their fingers on track-pads, downloading songs via BitTorrent and never paying for anything. One of the only bits of good news amid this doom and gloom is the steady rise in digital music sales. Millions of internet do-gooders, their fingers on track-pads, who pay for songs they like – purchasing them from Amazon or iTunes Music Store. And yet according to Professor Anne-Britt Gran's new research, these two groups may be the same.
The Norwegian study looked at almost 2,000 online music users, all over the age of 15. Researchers found that those who downloaded "free" music – whether from lawful or seedy sources – were also 10 times more likely to pay for music. This would make music pirates the industry's largest audience for digital sales.
Wisely, the study did not rely on music pirates' honesty. Researchers asked music buyers to prove that they had proof of purchase.
The paper's conclusions emerge just as Sweden's Pirate Bay trial comes to a close. Pirate Bay's four defendants, who helped operate the notorious BitTorrent tracker, were sentenced to a year in jail and fined 30m SEK (£2,500,000) in damages.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Jun 18, 2012 at 8:10am ET by Greg Sterling
The report is updated regularly; however government censorship and removal requests are updated every six months. The number of copyright removal requests has grown dramatically over the past six months. Most of these requests involve file sharing domains.
Most of the takedown requests are coming from entertainment companies or trade groups representing them. However the top copyright owner requesting takedowns was Microsoft with more than 2 million URLs requested to be removed in the past year and almost 500,000 in the past month.
In the government requests category, Google said that the US is the country with the most activity. Some of these requests are in the form of court orders, while others from various government and law-enforcement entities. Overall there were more than 6,000 content items targeted in just under 200 removal requests in the US during the past six months.
Google actually complied with those requests a little over 40 percent of the time. That includes court orders, interestingly.
Germany, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Turkey and the UK were other countries with considerable content removal activity. Driven by local laws, in some cases Google’s compliance was much greater than in others. An article in the Wall Street Journal goes into some of these legal differences between states and governments and provides some examples.
In addition to the overview and summary information Google maintains the raw data detailing the dates, parties and reasons provided for the removal requests. Google also discusses the chilling effects of these removal requests in several instances. In a blog post Google pointed out that political speech is often being targeted in government removal requests:
And just like every other time before, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship. For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests.It’s significant, indeed important, that Google provides this information so that the public, third parties and watchdog groups can take governments and corporations to task where such requests are unreasonable, overboard or would attempt to stifle public discourse and debate.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Pioneering female pilot who flew Spitfires during Second World War and became magazine cover girl dies aged 91By Lucy Waterlow
PUBLISHED: 04:49 EST, 18 June 2012 | UPDATED: 06:21 EST, 18 June 2012
Maureen Dunlop de Popp, a female pilot who flew Spitfires, Lancasters and Hurricanes during the Second World War, has died aged 91.
Dunlop joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1942 and became one of a small group of female pilots based at White Waltham in Berkshire who were trained to fly 38 types of aircraft between factories and military airfields across the country.
Her sex meant she was not allowed to fly in combat but her duties were still not without danger.
Cover girl: This picture of pilot Maureen Dunlop leaving the cockpit of a plane she had just flown in 1944 featured on the cover of Picture Post magazine
Dunlop loved being behind the controls of a plane and while she clocked up more than 800 hours during her time with the ATA, she lamented the fact women were not allowed to fly them in combat. 'I thought it was the only fair thing. Why should only men be killed?' she once said.
Fearless: Maureen clocked up more than 800 hours flying during the Second World War
Dunlop was born in Argentina in 1920 to Eric Chase Dunlop, an Australian farm manager employed by a British company in Argentina, and Jessimin May Williams, an English woman, giving Dunlop dual nationality.
Dunlop regularly visited England, having her first flying lessons here at the age of 15, and was taught for a time at St Hilda's College, an English school at Hurlingham in Buenos Aires.
Despite the journey being dangerous, she returned to the UK with her sister via a ferry in the Forties because she was determined to help the war effort, following in the footsteps of her father who had served with the Royal Field Artillery in the First World War.
Female pilots like Dunlop had to fight hard to prove themselves in a chauvinistic climate. In order to join the ATA, they needed a minimum of 500 hours' solo flying, whereas men could join with 250 hours.
They had to fly the fighter aircraft with limited training and were often looked down upon by the male RAF pilots. However, not all men saw the female pilots as inferior, as Sir Stafford Cripps arranged for the female members of the ATA to have the same pay as their male colleagues.
War effort: Maureen flew fighter planes including Spitfires, pictured, during her service for the ATA
After the war, Dunlop returned to Argentina where she continued to fly as an instructor and then a commercial pilot.
She married Serban Victor Poppin in 1955 after meeting him at a British Embassy function in Buenos Aires and they had a son and two daughters.
In 1973, they returned to England and lived in Norfolk breeding pure-blood Arab horses.
Her husband died in 2000 but she is survived by their son and one of their daughters.