Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

Is Skeptical Science Planning to Sue Me?

A few days ago I received a rather strange e-mail, and I'm not sure what to make of it so I thought I'd share it and my response:

The author of the e-mail is apparently Rob Honeycutt, a member of the Skeptical Science group. I don't know why he'd send an e-mail like this, and honestly, I didn't know what he was referring to. In the past, the Skeptical Science group has accused me of hacking into their servers simply because I followed publicly accessible links provided by their own server. They even threatened me with legal action, going so far as to say they'd sue me if I showed anyone the threatening letter they sent. They're not the brightest bunch, and a lot of what they say just isn't true.

But I did get a follow up e-mail which might shed a little light on the matter. I responded to it in the hopes of sorting things out privately, but since haven't heard anything back in a couple days I guess this is the end of the exchange:

The cited law is about wiretapping, and it can potentially come up in some cases of computer hacking. That said, I don't know what the point of these e-mails could be. A formal notification like this seems intended to be only makes sense if it's used as part of some proceeding against me, like a lawsuit or criminal complaint. If that was the purpose though, the notification was legally deficient. Moreover, any lawsuit filed against me would be dismissed immediately for about nine different reasons.

Maybe he's going to try to file a criminal complaint? If so, I can't imagine anyone will take it seriously. Maybe he'll try to get my server's host company to do something? If so, they won't care about the ravings of some random guy off the internet. I don't know. This really makes no sense to me. This couldn't even work as an intimidation tactic since he didn't try to get me to do anything. I am confused.

A Quick Update on Some Things

I don't have anything substantial to write today, but I wanted to post a quick update. First off, in terms of health everything is good. Feeling completely recovered from the incident I mentioned in the last post.

Second, a webcam I ordered was supposed to arrive yesterday, but the package is late. Once it arrives, I plan on doing a couple test recordings for the video I want to make about Michael Mann's (in)famous Hockey Stick. Not sure if I"ll include video of myself, but I want to have the option. Also, I'm pretty sure I'll be breaking it up into several smaller videos. Feedback on the script I posted before consistently said it was too much information for one sitting.

Third, and finally, the defamation lawsuit Michael Mann filed against Mark Steyn and several others has had some interesting developments. In some good news, the lawsuit against Steyn's publisher, the National Review, has been dismissed. Steyn is still on the hook for now though, and he had to give a deposition for Mann's lawyers. The transcript of it has been posted online. You can find it here:

https://www.steynonline.com/documents/11106.pdf

It is a doozy. Not in a good way, mind you. It is terrible. Mann's lawyers rae probably giddy over it. Steyn's behavior during the deposition was unprofessional, and his answers to questions often bordered on incoherent. He spent a great deal of time responding to questions by talking about things that had nothing to do with the questions, often in weird and confusing ways. Much of it was empty bloviating, but some of it was truly disturbing. Mark Steyn clearly has no idea what he's talking about.
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A Setback

So I had plans for how to start the new year, and I really wanted to stick to them. However, there was a setback. I want to get back on track, but I feel like it's worth discussing what happened because of how it interfered with my plans. There are a lot of details that aren't important, but I'll give a short version.

I'm a dart player. I grew up with the game, and I love it. I'm not very good at it, but one thing I've become good at is running events for it. I've worked hard at figuring out how to run dart tournaments, and I like to think I've come to do a good job of it. Everyone I've talked to seems to agree. That's why I was asked to help run a tournament a couple weeks ago where 200+ people signed up. I was happy to run it, and while there were difficulties as could happen during any event, I think it went pretty great.

The problem came after the event was done. You see, I had gotten a ride to the tournament with another person. It's exhausting to run a 200+ person event by yourself so it's nice to have someone to drive you home afterward. Unfortunately, this person... was not reliable. It turns out they drank too much. Or at least, I think they did. They claim they were simply too tired not that they were drunk I'm not sure it matters. The point is, they were not fit to drive. I realized this, and I asked them to stop the the car. They did, and I got out of the vehicle.

The problem is they then left. This meant I was stuck on the side of the road. In the middle of the night. In subzero temperatures. In clothes not designed for that sort of weather.

It was rough. I'm not going to go into more detail, but suffice to say I wound up suffering a moderate case of hypothermia before managing to arrange a ride home. Since then, there have been some complications, but I am recovering. It sucks, and I still feel cold no matter how high I turn the heat up, but the point is I am recovering. Things will get back on track. I just wanted to say something since I had planned to get content published that isn't available yet. I still plan to do everything I had planned on doing, I just needed a couple weeks to recover from... well... nearly freezing to death.

(It actually wasn't *that* bad. It certainly wasn't life threatening. It was just really unpleasant.)

I'm Alive, and I'm Working on a New Project!

So it's been quite a while, and I have no idea how many people will see this post, but I wanted to make a note to show I'm not dead and announce a small project I've been working on. The project idea came from realizing how much history the climate blogosphere has which is largely being forgotten.

I've never viewed myself as a primary actor or researcher in the climate blogosphere, but as a person who's followed it for a long time, I have seen and learned a lot of things I suspect most people have never learned or heard about. I think it's a shame so much information could get forgotten or lost so I've started a project to combat that a bit.

I'm not looking to do anything fancy. My plan is just to create a series of lectures, and possibly accompanying notes, that summarize/document things I feel are important in a digestible format. I'm not looking to immortalize every factoid I've ever learned, but I will be trying to condense some of my many years of reading into a form that's presentable to anyone who might be interested as time goes on.

The first topic I'll be covering is Michael Mann's (in)famous hockey stick. I've worked on a first draft of a script for this lecture, and I've done a first pass at recording it with the tentative title, "Anatomy of a Scam - The Hockey Stick":

As a first pass at a first draft it's obviously very rough, with the most notable problem being the entire ntroduction is missing. The reason I skipped the introduction is the Hockey Stick was incredibly important when it was first published, and I don't know how to convey its influence well. I want to explain how it truly was the figurehead of the global warming movement, but I haven't figure out how to yet (suggestions are selcome).

Without the introduction, this recording doesn't cover the scope/purpose of the video or a basic explanation of what the Hockey Stick is, but I think it is still worth putting online. My hope is I explain some issues most people nowadays aren't aware of clearly and accurately enough to provide an easy "starting point."

To be clear, this is not my normal sort of thing. I can't claim to be any good at making videos or public speaking, but it doesn't seem anyone else is going cover these issues, and I think it's important someone try to. Once I get the script for this one finished I plan to try making visuals for the video and put a finished version online. From there, I'll work on videos for some more issues. I've already begun outlining scripts for several issues:

Stephan Lewandowsky's Fabricated Results
Skeptical Science's Fake "Consensus"
Michael Mann's 2008 Hockey Stick

i may also toy with trying shorter presentations that cover individual aspects of these broader topics. I'm not sure yet. I honestly don't know what demand there will be or how good a job I can do. All I know is, I think it's something worth trying.

And if anyone has feedback on how I can do a better job, I'd love to hear it!

The North Were Not the Good Guys, Part Two

Last year I wrote a post responding to a video I saw which asks if we should still be watching the classic movie, Gone With the Wind. A couple days ago I heard HBO had pulled that movie from its new streaming service, saying:

'Gone With The Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society.

These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible

This reminded me of my previous post and my failure to write a follow-up to it like I had planned. Given the current atmosphere of our society, it seems like a good time to go ahead and write it. The reason I think this is I think it's important we recognize the North were not the "good guys" of the Civil War.

I don't think the South were the "good guys" of the Civil War either. Like many wars, I don't think one side was "good" and the other "evil." What I think is portraying the Civil War as a simple thing, a war fought by the "good guys" to end slavery by the "bad guys" whitewashes history and invites further wrongdoing.

People can be on the "right" side of a conflict and still be terrible people or do terrible things. Refusing to speak up about them because the people are on the "right side" of a conflict sabotages any effort for genuine improvement. This is true with people's hypocritical support of Al Sharpton, and it's true with people's blind support for the North. The sad truth is, Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant whose abuses of power would make Donald Trump blush.
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I Want to Support the Protesters, but...

I naturally want to support people who claim to be fighting for racial equality because nobody should be treated differently due to the circumstances of their birth. Then I see these people do things like let Al Sharpton give nationally televised speeches in front of millions of viewers, and I can't.

Al Sharpton is a race-baiting, anti-Semitic blackmailing, tax-dodging hypocritical piece of human refuse who should go down in history as nothing more than a bigoted conman who did things like incite rioters to rob and attack Jews, ultimately helping get at least one innocent Jewish bystander murdered.

You cannot tolerate, much less promote or stand next to Al Sharptons and make me believe you care in the slightest about racial equality. Sharpton help lead race riots, modern day American pogroms.

If you want people to think you care about racial equality, the first thing you should do is condemn the single most influential peddler of bigotry this country has. And somehow, it's not Trump.

Lafayette Square

I had been planning on starting up writing blog posts again, and there's stuff to be said about that. However, before I can post about anything I wanted to post about, I need to make something clear. What Donald Trump did this week at Lafayette Square is beyond inexcusable. I don't have the skill at wordcrafting to do the situation justice. I also don't feel comfortable writing about it right now. So instead, for today, I'm going to just post a video I think does a good job of expressing how I feel:

New posts and some interesting news to follow.

A Relevant Quote

“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”

The Impeachment Worked

I've been seeing a lot of people talk about how the impeachment of Donald Trump is a waste of time and money. I've long heard people say it would never work, and it appears they are correct... in a way. However, I think this impeachment has done exactly what it was supposed to do.

The Democratic leadership didn't pursue impeachment for many previous offenses, even as many Democrats called for them to do so. The reason is they never expected Donald Trump to be ousted by any impeachment trial. The purpose of this impeachment trial was to make a case for the public to see how craven the Republican defenders of Donald Trump are. This was ultimately just a way of saying, "We (probably) can't stop Trump because his sycophants are in control. If you vote for them again, this is what you'll get."

Republican defenders of Trump don't want to see evidence. They don't want to hear from witnesses. They don't want to have any discussion of Trump's behavior at all. They will do practically everything in their power to stop any examination of Trump's behavior because their view is Donald Trump is their party, therefore no opposition to him can be tolerated. Note, I said he *is* their party, not he is *of* their party.

You cannot be a Republican and oppose Trump in any meaningful way, You will be driven out of the party. Many people already have been. That level of willful polarization in the party is a depressing state of affairs, but it is also the best state of affairs Democrats could hope for. Their message is becoming, "If you think it is bad to have a king as president, with no checks on his power, don't vote Republican."

I wouldn't care to predict if this approach will pay dividends in terms of election results, but it has certainly worked in terms of messaging. I'd wager almost nobody believes Trump and his supporters are acting with any integrity at this point. Even the people who defend him largely recognize it's purely for partisan reasons. Ask some of them, and they'll all say basically the same thing, "It's 'us' versus 'them,' and any member of 'us' is better than 'them.'"

Hot Take on MLK

Martin Luther King Jr. cheated his way through college, relying on numerous and massive cases of plagiarism, to the point his doctoral thesis is utterly without value. When this was discovered, his university, his family and many others went to great lengths to try to cover this up. When that failed, they did everything they could in order to downplay it, to the point society at large doesn't know about it, and those who do usually don't know how significant it was.

During the Civil Rights Movement, King intentionally had youths engage in dangerous protests so pictures would be taken of children being assaulted, which he felt would generate better publicity than if it were adults who were assaulted. There is significant reason to question whether this tactic actually helped his cause. Many of King's contemporaries were adamantly opposed to King's practice of intentionally creating violence, especially when those who would get hurt were children.

There's much more that could be said, but my point isn't to say King was a terrible person. My point is this, King was not a great man. He's celebrated today not for the person he was. King is celebrated for a person he never was. Today we celebrate a figure created out of ignorance, self-delusion and outright lies.

Here's my hot take, we would not have this holiday if King had not been assassinated by a white man when he was. His death created a symbol of a black man people could use to signal their opposition to racism.