This is a Bit More Rambly Than Normal

A person on Twitter suggested a recent paper might be of interest to me due to its use (or believed misuse) of statistics. I wasn't going to talk about it, but while reading it, I saw this line:

When it comes to the impact of AGW seriousness and existence beliefs on environmental attitudes and partisan identity, Republicans would be expected to be more likely to engage in motivated reasoning than Democrats.

I can't ignore that. This isn't about statistics. I'm not even going to talk about math today. Today, I'm going to just talk about some basic matters of logic. Because honestly, if you think one side of an argument is more likely to engage in motivated reason than your side, you probably need to rethink the fundamentals of your views.
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Wasps

I shave with a shavette. It's basically a straight edge razor that uses disposable blades. I like it. I find it gives a close shave much like that of a straight edge without having to deal with all the fuss of maintaining the sharp blade. I've loved using one since the first day I tried one, and I've never regretted switching to them. Until today.

I have a long history with wasps. I've had encounters where a wasp ignored other people walking by but attacked me the moment I came near. I don't know what it is, but it's been a source of amusement for my family since I was a kid. Combine that with bad reactions to wasps, and I am somewhat paranoid about them.

I'm usually not worried they'll kill me though. My throat doesn't close up when I'm stung or anything like that. The last time I got stung a wasp got me on my ankle. I couldn't walk for three days. Now I hear that dreaded buzzing sound and I... react poorly.

This isn't just some random, embarrassing thing I'm sharing. Today, a wasp was hiding in my bathroom. It waited until I was halfway done shaving to attack. I didn't see the thing until it was a few inches from my face. I was holding a razor blade to my throat.

I think I'm switching to disposable blades from here on. Can anyone recommend a good brand?

The Meaning of Yellow

I recently ran a post about "building bridges" with people with whom you do not get along. The discussion it provoked was interesting, with several people showing up to effectively demonstrate why attempts at finding common ground and building bridges can fail. Yesterday, I had a similar experience when I commnted at The Blackboard. It might be my fault as I am told:

You might want to think about how hostile and petty your contributions sound from the get go.

I'll admit I can be hostile and petty at times. As such, I won't rule out the possibility that statement is accurate. People who care can judge for themselves how petty and hostile this comment is:

I happened to see this post and felt I needed to point something out. I get the analysis in this post is hypothetical, but I feel it is important to note Oregon doesnt require a car clear an intersection to avoid being given a ticket for running a red light. I dont know of any state which does. There may be some, but in the case of Oregon, you only run a red light if you enter the intersection after the light has already turned red.
I couldnt find Jarlstons analysis with a quick search so Im not sure what assumptions he used, but based on the formula this post provides for his analysis, it would appear he has made a non-trivial error. The W/v term should not be included in any analysis of yellow light timing in Oregon.
For what its worth, I tried searching for states where this scenario accurately describes the traffic laws. I couldnt find any. Someone else might be able to. If not, it would appear all red light cameras (in the United States, at least) are triggered only if a car has entered the intersection after a light turns red.
Incidentally, red light cameras generally have a small grace period between the light turning red and them starting to trigger. Ive found reports of them ranging from .1-.3 seconds. I dont know if thats worth including in ones analysis.

As well as the tone of the follow-up comment I posted 15 minutes later:

As a quick follow-up, I found this document providing detail on the analysis in question. I see I was mistaken to say that term shouldnt be included in timing of yellow lights. The reason Mat Jarlston includes that term is because it is relevant for safety purposes. You want vehicles in an intersection while on red to clear the intersection before the next green light comes on.
That just has nothing to do with running red lights. You only get a ticket for it if the light is red when you enter the intersection. If you cant safely stop at a yellow light, you shouldnt get a ticket for running a red light.

I don't think these comments exhibit a great deal of pettiness and hostility. Maybe readers will disagree. I'm not going to worry about that in this post. You see, I've become a bit fascinated by the subject matter discussed in those comments. Originally, I only spent a little time researching this topic. When I wrote those comments, I thought they'd just be taken as a minor point of interest that wouldn't go anywhere.

That wasn't the case. Because of how the discussion played out, I wound up spending quite a bit more time reading up on traffic lights. I even talked to a couple family members who are over for the holiday weekend about traffic lights in a casual discussion. What I came to realize is there is a lot of justified uncertainty and confusion about what traffic lights mean. Given that, today I'd like to discuss a simple question, "What does a yellow light mean?"
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This is not "Proof"

I came across an interesting story on Mark Steyn's website a couple days ago when looking for a quotation I had considered including in my recent eBook. The story caught my eye because it was about a man supposedly being poisoned, and, well, murder intrigue is intriguing. Here is what Steyn said happened:

Robert Spencer, the author of several bestselling books on Islam, a brave crusader against the dopier multiculti illusions and the proprietor of the indispensable Jihad Watch, gave a speech at the Grand Hotel, went to unwind at dinner afterwards, and was poisoned by a social-justice warrior.

That's a sexy story to share. Naturally, such a sexy story becomes less sexy as one examines it. Continue reading

Another Grammatical Interlude

I am not a great writer. I like to think I'm okay though. You can judge for yourself with a new eBook I wrote:

Yes, that was a moment of shameless self-promotion. Don't worry. It'll be the last one for this post. For the rest of this post I'll be discussing an issue of grammar because of a humorous example I came across earlier today. If you don't care about grammar, I suggest skipping this post.
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Testing Plugins

One feature I've been wanting to enable on this site for a while now is the ability for people to edit their comments for a short period of time after submitting them. I think this is useful so people can fix mistakes/add additional thoughts. I hadn't been able to find a plugin for this I like because the ones I tried had ugly icons or other problems like that.

I found one that might be alright though. This post is so people (including myself) can try it out and see what it's like. Feel free to post here and tell me what you think.

Building Bridges

I have long believed people, no matter how great their disagreements, should be able to understand one another. One of my favorite fictional relationships is the one between Professor Xavier and Magneto of the X-Men franchise, where the two men (quite literally) violently disagreed with one another yet held each other in great esteem.

In high school, one day a teacher stopped me in the halls and was going to lecture me because he thought he had heard me curse. A classmate of mine was nearby and he immediately stopped and said, "I don't like Brandon at all, but he never curses." That moment has always stuck with me because this classmate didn't like me, yet he was willing to speak up in my defense because he understood me.

The reason I bring this up is I published a new (short) eBook just a day or so ago. The point of it is to show how "Skeptics" in the global warming movement don't exhibit actual skepticism. Amongst other things, I thought this eBook might help some people find common ground with one another. Today, I'd like to discuss a reason that might now work.
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A New eBook for the New Year

As I mentioned yesterday, this site has reached another year in its short life. I think that's a fitting time to announce my new eBook which has just been published: The Climate Wars: A Disgrace to Skepticism.

I want to point out right from the start a lot of people I know won't like this book. Some might dislike it because they dislike my writing. That's fair. I can't say I'm amazing when it comes to prose. What I can say is the larger reason people will dislike it is the point of the eBook:

This book does not attempt to list everything anyone in the Skeptic movement has gotten or done wrong. There are an untold number of errors and misdeeds one could rant about in an attempt to score rhetorical points. That is not the point. The point is the polarization of the global warming debate means none of these problems matter.
There are many people in the global warming debate who do honest and good work. They do not matter. As long as people remain silent and allow bad work and unethical behavior to dominate the public representation of their side of a debate, all anyone will have is the same sort of partisan bickering they could find in any political argument.
That goes for all sides. Whatever the topic, whatever your beliefs. If you want to be taken seriously or accomplish some task, quit thinking about how “they” are the problem. Focus on what is right and what is wrong.
And remember, sometimes you and the things you like might be the ones that are wrong.

It's a simple point. If you say it about Warmists, Skeptics will quickly agree, talking at length about how "noble cause corruption" is, well, corrupting climate science. The question is, will any Skeptics acknowledge the same thing is true for them?

Experience makes me think they won't. Maybe I'll be surprised. And even if not, maybe some people who aren't as polarized when it comes to global warming will find this eBook worth their time.

And as always, if you don't want to spend the $0.99 on this eBook, you're welcome to download a free PDF copy available here.

Another Year

Yesterday I received an e-mail from DreamHost, the company which hosts my website. It began:

Hello, Brandon.
This is a friendly reminder that your DreamHost account... will be rebilled $119.40 in the next five to seven days.
DreamHost billing details:
$119.40 for a 1 year renewal of "Izuru Hosting".
If you need more time to pay, don't worry! There's a 60-day grace period on all bills.

I hadn't realized another year had passed. I don't know how to feel about that. While having a site I can host this blog is nice, I could have kept it on WordPress servers. The main reason for this site is so I could host things like:

1) The Skeptical Science forum which was broken into then publicly disseminated. Plenty of people had copies of these files, but I wanted to host them in a way which would let people share links to specific material.

2) The Consensus Project data files. The (in)famous Skeptical Science paper claiming to find a 97% consensus has received a great deal of attention. The authors have hidden data used for the paper. I discovered some undisclosed data on a publicly accessible web page and saved a copy (they claimed this was hacking). I thought this data was useful, particularly as it includes rater remarks explaining why they claimed individual papers endorsed the consensus. (These remarks have received less attention than they deserve and can be found via this index).

I use the site for other things as well, and I'm glad I have it. I think $120 a year is a bargain to be able to make material like this accessible. I hope I can keep this material (and perhaps more material in the future) available for many years to come. I dread the day I cannot afford or cannot run this site any longer.

I'm not going to worry about that right now though. For now, I'd like to celebrate another year in this site's existence. As part of that celebration, I am happy to say I have a new eBook coming out this week. I'm just waiting on Amazon to approve it for sale.

Woot.