Climate Change

Diplomatic FIreworks at Bali Climate Change Conference

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U.S. Prevails in Climate Talks (at least initially)

The U.S. appeared to have gotten pretty much what it wanted from the negotiatons when the U.N. Climate Change Conference plenary session resumed here in Bali at around 8 am on Saturday morning. Specifically, there is no mention in the text about cutting greenhouse gases (GHG) by between 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as the Europeans and the developing nations wanted. Instead the preamble reads:

Recognizing that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasizing the urgency to address climate change as indicated in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

There is a footnote after the word urgency which refers the reader to specific pages of the report by the IPCC Working Group III of the Fourth Assessment Report. (if you're interested see pages 39, 90, and 776.) One finds on those pages emissions reductions scenarios and their projected effects of future temperature increases. By putting it in a footnote, the U.S. hopes to avoid having the reductions transmogrify in subsequent negotiations into firm targets.

It also initially appeared that the U.S. had succeeded in getting language into the text implying that developing countries should also undertake GHG emissions cuts. To wit:

Enhanced national and international action on mitigation of climate change, including, inter alia, consideration of:…

Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity-building.

However, when the text was presented in the Plenary session, the representative from India stood up to object saying that his country would prefer a text that read:

…Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity-building in a measurable, auditable, and verifiable manner.

Note the difference–instead of putting the burden on developing countries to commit to emissions cuts, the new version puts the burden on developed countries to commit to supplying climate change technologies and financing to developing countries–and they don't mean by markets and trade. At that point the Plenary was suspended for further negotiations.

Diplomatic Tiff

An hour and half later, the president of the Conference, Rachmat Witoelar, tried to begin the meeting. The Chinese, Indian ,and Pakistani delegations objected that negotiations were still going on outside the hall. The Chinese delegate angrily asked, "Whose COP is is this?" and demanded an apology from the president for starting the meeting. The implication was that it is being hijacked by the rich countries.

President Witoelar then suspended the meeting again. We're all waiting to see what happens next. I must leave the Convention Hall in half an hour, so I may not get to report live on the diplomatic endgame.

NEXT: The Friday Political Thread: No Hand Shows Edition

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  1. USA! USA! USA!

  2. More bullshit;

    Navajo and Mohawk representatives of the Indigenous Environmental Network are now in Bali at the 13th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Jihan Gearon, Dine’ Navajo Nation, IEN energy & climate campaign organizer and Benjamin Powless, Mohawk, Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, IEN youth representative, are gathered with other Indigenous Peoples and taking on the world’s super powers and carbon scams.

    On December 9 a delegation of indigenous peoples was forcibly barred from entering the meeting between UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and civil society representatives, despite the fact that the indigenous delegation was invited to attend. This act is representative of the systematic exclusion of indigenous peoples in the UNFCCC process.

    Gearon, writing from Bali, said, “What I am saying is that Indigenous People need a much bigger and better seat at the table. Our communities and livelihoods are the first affected by climate change. We are also the most affected by the unsustainable solutions being proposed to solve climate change – nuclear power, clean coal, carbon sequestration, reforestation, carbon trading, etc, etc, etc. “The Indigenous Peoples here in Bali are asking the U.N… to listen to us, and to stop with the false solutions that devastate our lands, threaten our ways of life, and deny our human rights… read more >>

  3. We are really going to need polar cities now in the future. see polar cities on google or my blog here

    http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

  4. ok – a ww is (again) trying get virii on folks’ computers.

    Anyway, can anybody tell me why we even BOTHER going to these damn things?

    While a bunch of overpaid, ivory-towered diplomats sit around and jaw about Christ knows what, the rest of us will get up in the morning and do a real job that actually means something. Dont’ worry bloated bureaucrats! We’ll keep your economy humming along.

  5. Well, whatever they agree to, let’s hope we can afford it. Looks like California is on the ropes. Again.

    On a more positive note, the SPPI has sent an Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, titled “Re: UN climate conference taking the World in entirely the wrong direction”. If you’re an optimist, perhaps you can talk yourself into believing it will actually have some influence. And I am Marie of Romania.

    Ron, while you’re at the conference, kick somebody in the ass. Doesn’t matter who. Considering the environment, there’s a very strong possibility anyone you kick will be someone I’m not going to like very much…

  6. Without making any claims as to the accuracy of the information presented (I’m no scientist), here are links to “The Great Global Warming Swindle”.

    Take it as you find it…

    Parts 1 thru 5

    The Great Global Warming Swindle – Part 1
    The Great Global Warming Swindle – Part 2
    The Great Global Warming Swindle – Part 3
    The Great Global Warming Swindle – Part 4
    The Great Global Warming Swindle – Part 5

  7. This isn’t about climate change, it’s about global socialism and stealing from “rich” countries.

  8. Bob Smith you are 100% correct.

    Global socialism is exactly what they want. This trash needs to stop,now please.

  9. Third-world shitholes Developing nations demanding handouts from guilty white people? No one could ever have foreseen this.

  10. Third-world shitholes Developing nations demanding handouts from guilty white people? No one could ever have foreseen this.

    Pet peeve warning. Why are places like Somalia, N. Korea, and Sudan called developing nations? How exactly are they developing? Third world is a much better term. At least it’s not a blatant untruth.

  11. The biggest marginal gains in pollution reduction are most likely to be made in the “developing” countries.

    Do I expect any money transferred from rich to poor nations to be used efficiently?
    Guess.

  12. Third-world shitholes demanding handouts from guilty white people? No one could ever have foreseen this.

    And people call us libertarians callous to the poor. Pah!
    *Lights cigar with flaming $100 bill*

  13. I was born in this country; am I “indigenous?”

  14. Could someone please tell me if the following information has been decided?

    1) How much we have to reduce global warming in the next hundred years to ensure the survival of our species with a standard of living not lower than today

    2) How much we have to cut greenhouse gases to achieve that reduction in global warming

    I haven’t seen any policy proposals that include cost-benefit analysis. Maybe I’m just missing it.

  15. Why are places like Somalia, N. Korea, and Sudan called developing nations? How exactly are they developing?

    One could even go so far as to say they are developed. Developed about as far as they are going to go!

  16. J sub D,

    Third world doesn’t make any sense now (if it ever did) since the Second World doesn’t exist any more.

    Developing, underdeveloped, undeveloped are pretty subjective, since development means different things to different people. Technically, every country on earth that hasn’t reached equilibrium is still “developing” into something.

    Shitholes is pretty accurate, but this is diplomacy, so..

  17. Pet peeve warning. Why are places like Somalia, N. Korea, and Sudan called developing nations? How exactly are they developing? Third world is a much better term. At least it’s not a blatant untruth.

    Because “third world” hurts the feelings of dependant, backward societies who refuse to learn how to survive without squandering what few resources they have and refuse to innovate and resist anything “modern”.

    Also, rich white college professors get their feelings hurt whenever anybody criticizes anything outside of the USA.

  18. Jacob,

    Our consumption must be restrained until English graduate students are the most productive members of our society.

    P Brooks,

    You are as indigenous as any Asian immigrant in the history of the Americas.

  19. Correction-

    Also, rich white college professors get their feelings hurt whenever anybody criticizes anything outside of the USA.

    The adjective is inappropriately used here, Guy. Many of those easily offended, socialistic professors are not “white”.

  20. Guy,

    There’s exceptions to every rule. The physics department chair at my school practically worships Bush, and the day I wore a Ron Paul 2008 t-shirt, it looked like his eyes were going to shoot out of their sockets at 500 m/s and inelastically collide with the rear wall.

  21. This policy wonkfest probably gave Al Gore the biggest boner he’s ever had.

  22. Crimethink,

    Yes, but what would be their kinetic energy?

    Joking aside, while places like Somalia are backward, they are in fact ‘developing.’ For example, once they kicked out the Marxist govenrment, in the early 90’s Somalian living standards improved. In fact, they did surpass their neighbors on some key benchmarks and their economy was showing some pretty robust growth.

    That is, until a CIA agent who blundered into the middle of a firefight between warlords involved in a land dispute, panicked and thought the big bad Al Queda terrorists were shooting at him and the U.S. started meddling again.

    So now there’s a foreign army shooting up the place and the economy as slipping backwards again. But, it’s more ‘work’ for those welfare queens employed by the security organs of the U.S. government.

  23. Guy, did you flunk out of college or something? Fail to get into grad school? Just trying to find out where your visceral anti-intellectualism comes from exactly.

  24. Joking aside, while places like Somalia are backward, they are in fact ‘developing.’

    And Zimbabwe? How about Liberia? North Korea? No developing is an inaccurate adjective. IMO, poor, even underdeveloped, would be preferable.
    It’s a minor quibble, AKA a pet peeve. People geneally know what “third world” and “developing nation” refers to. Since, unlike France, we have no language police, it’s up to volunteers to police American English. πŸ˜‰

  25. This policy wonkfest probably gave Al Gore the biggest boner he’s ever had.

    That wouldn’t be saying much.

  26. Cesar,

    Nope. BTW, it is anti-psuedointellectualism.

    No, I don’t want fries with this either.

  27. Nope. BTW, it is anti-psuedointellectualism.

    No, I don’t want fries with this either.

    Gee, I guess my sister (who was an English major) and makes $70 grand a year must be working at McDonalds.

    Please don’t confuse things like “ethnic studies” with real liberal arts majors, Guy. Its like confusing engineering school graduates with car mechanics.

  28. Cesar,

    Ooohhh! Scaring me man bringing your sister out to fight for you. BTW, I am not paying extra if she spanks me.

  29. Ooohhh! Scaring me man bringing your sister out to fight for you. BTW, I am not paying extra if she spanks me.

    What the fuck are you talking about? You have this weird notion that anyone who was liberal arts major makes minimum wage, and its not even remotely true.

  30. Cesar,

    I’m guessing whatever your sister does for a living has nothing to do with the discipline of English, does it?

    It’s fine to major in English if you’re a star basketball player, or you’re going to law school or something. But just an English degree is pretty rough to market.

  31. I’m guessing whatever your sister does for a living has nothing to do with the discipline of English, does it?

    She works for a magazine. I think thats pretty closely related to English.

  32. BTW Crimethink, If you look up the bio of many CEOs, you will find quite a few English and History degrees among them.

  33. If you look up the bio of many CEOs, you will find quite a few English and History degrees among them.

    I believe that percentage is higher with bartnders and telemarketers.

  34. This Guy Montag fellow, I take it he’s a bit of a ponce.

  35. Sorry if I came across a bit harsh on the liberal arts people. I just got passed over for an academic scholarship worth $2000+ because some ditzy history major had a 4.00 GPA and more extracurricular activities compared to my 3.98 as a math/physics double major.

    Of course, she and I are both about to graduate, so my revenge probably isn’t that far off.

  36. Cesar,

    You’ll also find a lot of people with no college degree among top CEOs.

  37. crimethink,

    Respect. Really.

    Can’t say I agree with your politics or theology (what with having one and all), but credits given where credits due.

  38. Sorry if I came across a bit harsh on the liberal arts people. I just got passed over for an academic scholarship worth $2000+ because some ditzy history major had a 4.00 GPA and more extracurricular activities compared to my 3.98 as a math/physics double major.

    I can understand why math majors think liberal arts majors are easy. Usually, their only experience comes from taking a few 101 classes.

    If you ever took a 300 or 400 level history course, your opinion would change trust me.

  39. Yeah, parroting back your instructor’s opinions is teh HARD.

  40. Yeah, parroting back your instructor’s opinions is teh HARD.

    Crimethink, thats like saying all you do in math is memorize a few formulas and plug some numbers into the calculator.

    I’ve seen people in 300 level history classes parrot back their instructors opinions. At best, they receive a low C. Usually they receive a D.

  41. If you ever took a 300 or 400 level history course, your opinion would change trust me.

    One hell of a stretch.

  42. tepid-

    Their opinion might change. Or, they might just bitch the rest of their lives about how their professor was unfair and how about liberal arts studies aren’t real disciplines like engineering.

  43. tepid,

    Well, that’s not nothing, so thanks. It’s rough being a hard sciences major at a liberal arts school…sometimes I think I understand how that Richard McBeef guy felt.

  44. Cesar,

    I’m taking a 400 level English course next semester to satisfy SUNY’s idiotic “contemporary issues” general education requirement. So, I’ll get back to you on that.

  45. I’m taking a 400 level English course next semester to satisfy SUNY’s idiotic “contemporary issues” general education requirement. So, I’ll get back to you on that.

    Please do.

    Also, don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for hard science people. I don’t go around mouthing off about how they’re a bunch of illiterate, narrow-minded technocrats.

    I think the real problem is the separation of liberal arts from hard sciences in the first place. All the great minds in history had a very firm grounding in both fields.

  46. Cesar,

    I don’t heap scorn on the liberal arts, but by the measure of most individuals the hard sciences, maths, and engineering are considerably more trying subjects.

  47. Well, the problem (if it is a problem) with the hard sciences is that each of the disciplines has accumulated so much knowledge which you have to master before you can even deal with the cutting-edge research, that it’s nearly impossible to go the distance in more than one.

    To be honest, while I think the ability to communicate, and some grounding in history is important for anyone, most of the upper-level stuff I hear about from those disciplines just seems silly to me. Does anybody really care what types of clothes were fashionable among upper-class women in 17th century France (one of the pressing topics the woman who won the scholarship did a presentation on)?

    Of course, she might say the same thing about my quantum chromodynamics presentation…but the difference would be that she’d be WRONG! πŸ˜‰

  48. Also, math and physics are mainstays in a liberal arts curriculum.

    Let’s just check out one of the best colleges in the country, shall we:

    Williams College

    Yup – a retarded site, but Physics.

    oh Math and Stats.

    and what Cesar said.

    History clearly is about parroting. As they say hier:

    Although the History Department aspires to pursue a variety of goals, our core objectives remain the cultivation in our students of a critical understanding and awareness of the past and the development of our students’ intellectual, analytical, and rhetorical abilities.

    totally useless. Maybe if the current administration had a healthy dose of the last sentence, well.

    tepid – hard to generalize, especially with differing qualities of universities, programs, etc.
    (ooh – Anthro majors are obviously Screwed.)

  49. Re: the Physics site at Williams, there’s something massively wrong with that photo. Unless you’re in the beam’s path, you can’t see lasers unless the beam is going through dust, smoke, or some sort of scattering particles. Is their lab that dusty?

  50. Jesus, they’re still using frames on that site? The only way to make it anymore 1998 would be to have spinning JPEGS.

  51. The liberal arts have value because they satisfy certain interests and curiosities in a particular subset of individuals.

    Secondarily, the richness and diversity of thought they add probably serves as a consequential benefit in ways that are difficult to quantify in practice.

  52. @ Crimethink:

    Re: the Physics site at Williams, there’s something massively wrong with that photo. Unless you’re in the beam’s path, you can’t see lasers unless the beam is going through dust, smoke, or some sort of scattering particles. Is their lab that dusty?

    I’m not especially knowledgeable in science, so I’m only going to be guessing. But if the photo was taken with some sort of flash, wouldn’t the light of the flash interfere with the coherent light of the laser in some manner making something visible?

  53. Jesus, they’re still using frames on that site?

    That’s what happens when you don’t have a comp sci department.

    Oh, wait. They do.

  54. *Lights cigar with flaming $100 bill*

    This “poor” libertarian would like to borrow that…

  55. Just trying to find out where your visceral anti-intellectualism comes from exactly.

    Cesar, a lot of us get it from watching climate “negotiation” by so-called intellectuals who make way more money than we do. It’s really quite reasonable.

  56. But if the photo was taken with some sort of flash, wouldn’t the light of the flash interfere with the coherent light of the laser in some manner making something visible?

    Hmm. The more I think about it, the more I’m going to guess that the laser beam in the photo is just a “simulation” of some sort. Either that or they’ve been sneaking cigarettes into the lab again. πŸ˜‰

  57. LASER beam: maybe the graphics folks drew it on the photo just like the lasers in the Batman TV series?

  58. Although the caption under the picture does say something about time-lapse photography making the beam appear bright.

  59. Just an anecdotal argument here. I majored in Statistics, but I also took 4 English classes and 4 Philosophy classes, one of each at the 100, 200, 300, and 400 levels, and they were easy. Doesn’t prove anything, but having taken them myself, my opinion on the matter coincides with tepid’s and crimethink’s. Also, most liberal arts majors I knew in college who attempted to take any math classes past pre-calculus either failed them, or dropped them to avoid failing them.

  60. Math and hard sciences were never hard to me as much as they were just incredibly boring. Biology, physics, and algebra classes had an effect on me not unlike that of Ambien.

  61. re: laser beam.

    Okay, FWIW, the laser beam should be invisible and would be in a perfect vacuum, because it is coherent light. If there are dust or smoke particles in the air, they will scatter some of the rays making the beam very dimly visible. If multiple photographic exposures are made over a period of time (time-lapse photography), slight air currents will bring new particles into the path of the beam and disperse its rays. The sum of all this makes the beam highly visisble in the photo. I’m guessing that the image of the scientists were in the last exposure.

    Thoreau, if you’re out there somewhere, you can critique me on this.

  62. Hmm…that’s possible. But they would have had to have the time lapse going for a very long time to make that even possible…and I don’t think the beam would look as uniform as it does.

    There are lasers that are energetic enough to cause atoms in the surrounding air to radiate visible light, but I don’t think milliwatt lasers have anywhere near that kind of power.

  63. All the laser beam / visible spectrum talk is really pointless. I mean, what about the important issues? Where’s the course where you learn to tie them to sharks?

  64. There are lasers that are energetic enough to cause atoms in the surrounding air to radiate visible light, but I don’t think milliwatt lasers have anywhere near that kind of power.

    No, I don’t think they do either. As the caption says, the participants in the photo don’t have to wear safety goggles, because the laser is relatively low-powered. Professional photographers know all manner of techniques to enhance images and I should imagine that expertese was put to use here. Maybe special filters or something. Hell, maybe an invisible, flourescent gas hit with a UV laser of some kind. At any rate it isn’t a simple snapshot.

  65. Hard sciences can be genuinely Teh HARD if you’re not interested, or just don’t have the aptitude. I did real well in college in biology and astrophysics, but came this close to flunking out chem lab, and was a C- to D+ student in regular chemistry. I pulled decent grades in math and physics, too, but didn’t enjoy them.

    I was actually in a liberal arts college — didn’t think much of liberal arts at the time, but turns out my most marketable skills were the writing and analytical skills taught there. Go figure.

  66. Where’s the course where you learn to tie them to sharks?

    Join the CIA or the military – they can probably teach you how. πŸ™‚

  67. Wow, you’re a sloppy aspiring world dominator, aren’t you? You can’t just tie them to the sharks’ backs, you’ve got to put them in their eyes!

  68. Sign posted in the optics lab:

    Do Not Look Directly At Laser With Remaining Good Eye.

  69. I didnt click on the link above leading to all the laser talk but I was about to post a comment wrt liberal arts/math/science.

    I went to an engineering school that was still on the quarter system (so convert if you wish) (they changed to semesters in mid 90s).

    As an engineering major I had to take 18 hours of humanities and 18 hours of social sciences, so 12 classes in what I would call “liberal arts”. I guess there is some question whether the 2 econ classes count, but call it 10 classes instead if you dont want them to count.

    I think I took:
    4 english classes
    2 linguistic classes
    2 econ
    1 history
    1 political science
    1 philosophy
    1 something else that I dont remember 16 years later. I took a Psych class, I wonder if that counted as a social science?

    Anyway, my point is, how many liberal arts schools require the equivalent in math and science? 18 hours in math, 18 in science. Oh, and any math before calculus doesnt count, if you are a university student you should have got up to pre-cal in high school.

    I guess that would be 4 classes in each on a semester based system.

    A system like:
    2 calculus classes, a management math class, a stats class +
    2 one year 2 class sequences from physics/chemistry/biology

    No physics for poets either, the calculus based physics, since you will have the math background anyway.

    I can respect any liberal arts program that requires something like that.

  70. When I see pictures showing a laser beam visible in the air, I assume the picture was edited to look cool.

    Over the years, I’ve become less and less upset about pictures of laser beams being edited to look cool. It’s just not worth getting pissed off over. I’ve even seen them in optics catalogs, things written by and for people who know better. Yet they put those pictures in anyway, because they look cool. And that’s good enough.

    On liberal arts: In college I didn’t like most of the non-science stuff, except economics, which I minored in because I like math.

    Then I taught freshman science classes for people who hadn’t taken too many liberal arts classes yet, and I asked them to write papers.

    Grading those poorly written papers was when I figured out why liberal arts classes are important.

    Now I’m a faculty member, and I find that I have more in common with non-science faculty than I had in common with non-science students in college. We all seem to want the same things for our students, and we complain about the same things. To be honest, having done a lot of physics in different fields, I really don’t give a shit whether students master any particular topic in physics. Rather, I care about the analytical abilities that they cultivate. I’ve done too many things and seen too many areas of research and applications to really believe that any particular topic is TEH MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE CURRICULUM! It’s all about the skills that you acquire.

    And looking back on my econ classes, I find that I value the skills that I acquired in those classes. If you were to ask me to go back and relate the cost curves to the supply and demand curves, or whatever it was that we did in Econ 101 (there’s a lot more to it than just remembering the laws of supply and demand) I doubt I could get it right without a lot of effort. But I feel that spending all that time analyzing social phenomena with graphs and numbers made me smarter in a way that’s hard to pin down. In fact, I think it was good to practice those quantitative skills in a non-physics context, because it made me able to distinguish general skills from specific contexts.

    So I’m no longer so harsh on liberal arts. I think it’s good for students to take classes with heavy reading and writing assignments. We don’t give them much of that in physics and math (and, to be fair, it’s harder to give them that, because we have so many other things we’re trying to do). But they need it.
    So, yeah, I’m kind of mellow on the whole thing now.

  71. robc –

    Did you have to take four semesters of a foreign language to the 300 level in your major? No? Didn’t think so.

  72. Cesar,

    Actually, for some bizarre reason, they made it almost impossible to count foreign language classes.

    First 3 quarters would count as humanities credits but only if you took another 3 quarters which counted as SS. Otherwise, the first 3 just counted as free electives. I always found that policy bizarre.

  73. Oh, yeah:

    Having defended liberal arts, let me also say that I nonetheless hate liberal arts snobs. There is a subset that looks down on scientists as uncouth and uncultured technicians. Not a lot, and I don’t feel persecuted, but I find them from time to time. Science is just as much a part of mankind’s intellectual heritage as literature or history.

    Regarding GE science for liberal arts majors: I go back and forth on the purpose of GE science classes. That’s actually a long conversation to have, because there are multiple goals that you could have for such a class, and it’s probably good to have different classes focusing on different goals. I will say, however, that “They should take the hard stuff because that’s what we have to take” is the shittiest reason to make somebody take a class. Figure out what you want them to learn and why you want them to learn it, and then design a class around that, not some sort of “Dammit, I had to suffer through calculus-based physics, so should you!” revenge fantasy.

    I’m actually in the process of designing some GE science classes, and once you start asking what it is that you want them to learn, the whole thing becomes quite complicated. I don’t have any easy answers there. The best I can say is that you should take more than one class from instructors with different goals, because it’s not as simple as having only one goal that matters.

    Besides, if you want to whine about your calculus-based physics class, let me be honest about something: I still go back and forth on what the real purpose of intro physics is. It may seem obvious, because this stuff is foundational, right? So it’s the stuff that you just need to know to do anything else, right? Yes, it is, but there’s still a lot of stuff there, and you can’t emphasize all of it in the quarter, semester, year, or whatever the duration is. You have to pick what to emphasize, and once you look at it from the instructor’s side of the classroom you’ll see that there’s a whole lot there and it isn’t at all obvious what is most important. So, once again, I come down on the side of diversity: I’ll pick one aspect of the subject and emphasize it, and pray that whoever my students take the class from next quarter emphasizes something different. That’s all we can hope for.

  74. Cesar,

    Also not sure what foreign languages has to do with my point about required LA majors to take math and science classes.

  75. Oh, I guess it’s possible that they put dust in the air to scatter the laser beam, but most experimental physicists would aim the laser beam at your eye and fry you if you tried to get dust all over their lenses.

    So I’m betting that most of what you see there is Photoshop.

  76. thoreau,

    My point on calculus based physics is there are 2 possibilities:

    1. You can memorize
    s(t)=1/2at^2+v0t+s0

    2. You can know that the position equation can be found be taken 2 integrals of acceleration.

    One of these is worth knowing, one isnt.

  77. Yeah, knowing that it’s the solution to a differential equation is important. Knowing how to use it to solve practical problems is also important. Having a good conceptual feel for how that manifests in experiments is also important.

    Figuring out how many of those things to address in 50 minutes (while also addressing all the other topics) is a lot harder than it may seem to those who have never tried it.

  78. Cesar, a lot of us get it from watching climate “negotiation” by so-called intellectuals who make way more money than we do. It’s really quite reasonable.

    Doesn’t that kind of make you a whiny person? I mean, you’re so irritated that you don’t make as much as someone else that you feel the need to denigrate a field that they may or may not have majored in to make yourself feel better? Sounds pretty insecure to me.

    To the people who have taken upper-division liberal arts courses and found them easy, I ask; what were the topics of your papers? What sources did you use? I ask because unless you’ve written a paper longer than 15-20 pages using primary documents for more than two-thirds of your sources, you have not the first idea about the comparative difficulty of liberal arts, especially History or English. If you didn’t, what you took was probably one of the in-depth survey classes that are offered to give majors a grounding in a specific period or theory so that they can go on and craft those papers using primary sources. And you passed that, and good for you, but you’ve hardly conquered the field because of it.

  79. thoreau,

    True enough. But, if your students have had integral calculus before they get to into physics, you only need spend 5 minutes at most deriving that.

    Calc 2 was a prereq to my Phys 1 class.

    I took a Technical Elective on lasers my graduating quarter. I remember almost none of it. Its kinda sad, I remember it being some cool material. I also took a 4000 level (we were cooler that nearly every other school, we had 4 digit class numbers) English class called “Imagining the American West”. I remember much more of it. The books from that class are sitting on my bookshelf right behind me, the only one Ive reread since 1991 is Sometimes a Great Notion.

  80. Looking at a 20 year old course catalog that is still floating around amongst my books, the class I referred to was probably (its not specifically listed) a 3000 level class.

  81. robc-

    I can spend at most 5 minutes deriving it. Then I have to figure out what I want my students to take away from it, what sort of problems I want to solve with it. And I have to decide whether I’ll lecture on those things or take a lot more time to use one of the new “active learning” pedagogy techniques being promoted.

    These decisions aren’t easy.

  82. Here’s what’s even harder:

    If I derive that equation, and then I have my students do homework problems from a chapter that features that equation, they all know what they need to use. It might not always be easy, but they can figure it out with enough time.

    Then the next week I derive a different equation, and assign problems from the chapter using that other equation. And they all know which equation to use again.

    But on an exam, I don’t tell them which chapter the problem is from. And they stumble.

    What I’d like to do is sort of blitz through all of the topics in the first half of the course, and just assign the simplest problems for each topic. Then, in the second half, spend the whole time solving hard problems without telling them which chapters the problems are from.

    I’m not going to try that format, however, until I’ve taught the traditional format a few more times. I feel like I need to get more comfortable teaching this material before I branch out and do something radical.

  83. “Having defended liberal arts, let me also say that I nonetheless hate liberal arts snobs”

    QFT, but this citizen would like to amend it to “humanities snobs”.

    Those types he and I are thinking about (but with different tags, reflecting our different experiences) are just as anti learning, anti intellect as the LA haters.

    and there’s also the complication of public vs private schools. Williams, Amherst, Carlton, etc are private, so you could argue there is a different focus (where education might be viewed as a consumption and investment good) from the public ones (where you could argue that education on the public good should tend to pure investment good)…

    But one thing about libertarianism or libertarians who are skeptics – learning, being able to learn, wanting to learn, and challenging your beliefs should be at the core. Those are intellectual pursuits.

    The philosophy of individualism or libertarianism is intellectual and requires thinking, learning, reading, studying, and reflecting.

    The economics of many libertarians, the Austrian school, is a school that doesn’t rely on formal methods, but on interpretation and abductive reasoning – liberal arts-based processes. Certainly not the ?berformality of engineering. (or the oftentimes ?bermathed graduate Economics, for that matter)

    Nothing about libertarianism is a proscribed, algorithmic approach that is basically programmed learning – it’s dynamic, requiring computational, applied, conceptual, and theoretical (transferable) processes.

    Many non liberal arts students would recognize those skill sets, but so would most liberal arts’ students, too.

  84. Also not sure what foreign languages has to do with my point about required LA majors to take math and science classes.

    My point is, in order to include the classes you listed and still make it a four-year program, they’d have to take out a lot of other higher level stuff.

    As for having calculus in high school, don’t they have Survey of American History in high school too? But I bet thats the only history course you were required to take.

  85. Having defended liberal arts, let me also say that I nonetheless hate liberal arts snobs. There is a subset that looks down on scientists as uncouth and uncultured technicians. Not a lot, and I don’t feel persecuted, but I find them from time to time. Science is just as much a part of mankind’s intellectual heritage as literature or history.

    Agreed. I hate it when liberal arts people think hard sciences people are technocratic, illiterate, two-dimensional philistines. Again, the greatest thinkers in history were very well-grounded in both fields. Think of Leonardo Di Vinci, or Benjamin Franklin.

  86. Cesar – again, excellent!

    are you in Chicago, BTW?

    calculus in high school – fine. all private ones have that, every European one does, too. Are you suggesting that you identify with the technocratic European university degrees?

    if so, I’d assume you’d feel that’s a superiority. If so, (channeling Otter), you must feel that Europe is superior.

    Well, you can do anything you like to us. But we will not sit here, and let you insult the United States of America.

    (plus, not surprised you don’t understand the connection between math and science with advanced language.)

  87. VM: good stuff, and I’ll remember that stuff when my knee attempts to jerk in the future.

    I know part of the liberal arts/technical arts division comes from grade inflation. There were many people who partied every night and graduated with a 4.0 in a humanities discipline, while the people who graduated with a 4.0 in engineering were lucky to take one night off. There were humanities students who actually gained critical thinking skills and took their learning seriously, but there were an awful lot of students who couldn’t reason their way out of a paper bag who graduated with a 4.0. It’s not hard to see why that generates the impression that humanities classes are a joke.

  88. @ thoreau,

    So I’m betting that most of what you see there is Photoshop.

    So it’s really not just all smoke and mirrors? πŸ˜‰

  89. AC: agreed totally – which is why institution matters! And there are some institutions that excel in “harder” disciplines and really flunk the “soft” ones. I’d guess that Big Ten Schools really fit that bill!

    Think: Wash U Engineering and St Louis State humanities. That illustrates your point beautifully! And it hopefully supports the frustration of the one group of students vis a vis the other!

    (I went to Hamilton, and the geology people took claim to the biggest workload at school – dunno if it was true, but a lot of nice people there)

  90. robc,

    As someone who’s worked as a math and science tutor for my college for two years, I thank goodness we don’t require everyone to take calculus and calc-based physics. The bare minimum my college requires for math is “college” algebra, both of which I took in 10th grade, and I’ve had plenty of tutees who I wasn’t sure would be able to make it past such advanced topics as solving right triangles and completing the square.

    They also require a very basic natural science course, the lab for which I’ve worked as a TA, and to be honest, I think that class is actually harder than calculus based physics. There’s a reason physics and the other natural sciences boomed after the discovery of calculus — science is pretty much impossible without it. I do not envy the people who take that course and have to memorize every formula they’ll ever need, when all I had to do was whip out a derivative or integral to derive it on the fly.

    We have a new faculty member teaching it this year, and he claims he’s developed a way to teach it without using math at all, which he’ll implement next semester. To me, physics without math is tantamount to blasphemy, but his idea is so crazy that it just might work.

  91. Keep in mind that what we teach in “real” intro physics (and other intro science classes) is not a deep understanding of the breadth of the subject, its applications, and its intellectual foundations, i.e. the stuff that you want from a General Education class. Rather, what we teach is the basic technical material that you need to tackle more advanced classes. We teach more focused things to get ready for other focused things, and it eventually adds up to a broad survey of the subject.

    I see no reason to make liberal arts students take these focused classes and call it “General Education.” I have mixed feelings on what we should teach them, but making them take what we teach the engineers and scientists doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    Also, what crimethink said.

  92. are you in Chicago, BTW?

    Nope, I’m down in the political/homeless capital of the Old Dominion, Richmond. My only experience with the midwest comes from St.Paul/Minneapolis. The Twin Cities seemed to be filled with drunken Scandinavians. Not that theres anything wrong with that, of course.

  93. The Twin Cities seemed to be filled with drunken Scandinavians

    It’s spelled “Scandahoovians.”

  94. That said, how does Chicago compare to New York City?

  95. smaller, friendlier, not even close to planet manhattan!

    Midwest vs east type of thing

    (“midwest” isn’t “great lakes” area” – I define it from ohio westward, YMMV, FWIW)

  96. The Twin Cities seemed to be filled with drunken Scandinavians. Not that theres anything wrong with that, of course.

    It’s a goot thing, ya betcha.

  97. wow, physics geek stuff and i came late? sorry, fellas.

    making them take what we teach the engineers and scientists doesn’t seem to make any sense

    no, it doesn’t. the university at which i t.a.’ed chemistry and physics many eons ago had parallel courses for tech majors and non. the non courses ran to dumbed-down versions of the tech courses; no overview of the power and beauty of physics in describing the universe nor how these ideas made chemistry work, just a bunch of predigested ideas that the student could memorize and spit back on demand. what a waste, but the students who just wanted to get that horrible science course out of the way preferred not to think, just memorize.

    i always wanted to do a course called “why is the sky blue?”

  98. what puzzles me about the larger issue is the small subset of “math is like arbitrary and stuff” (really i’m surrounded by crazy libruh artz people – including some whom i think are legitimately nuts – and that’s a subset of a subset of an opinion, like blue libertarians) and the seemingly immense “READING ARE FOR LAZY FAGS” crew that always pops up here any time someone mentions college in some small way.

    weirdness.

  99. cesar: let me explain guy to you. his brain is made out of kultur war.

    also he has a blog.

    also a woman picked on him once, and she was a writer, and, well, you can figure out the rest.

  100. Cesar,

    Back to my comment to Jacob that, somehow, brought out such a defensive reaction from you.

    “Our consumption must be restrained until English graduate students are the most productive members of our society.”

    It was not a comment on people who get LA degrees and then go out into the world and contribute great things, even though they posess said degrees. It was a comment on those who become English graduate (or other) students as an apparent substitute for a profession.

    The ones who lounge around the Student Union, spouting all of this class struggle nonsense, while producing nothing but poetry that nobody but an instructor reads, while pontificating to all that the reason they have to shop at the food bank is because [insert productive business person here] has “all of the money”.

    Folks like the forest raping orchid thief who know how to fix the election system, by making sure the only people who can vote are those who he approves of.

    Like the topic at hand, with a bunch of Al Gore worshipers running about with their latest scheme to force the producers to fund the whining classes, that is the context of my comment.

    In short, it is a comment about those who want a free ride just because they have proclaimed their own narrow little sliver of study to be superior to all others, therefore no others should be no more well compensated than them.

    One thing I can be glad, entertained by, and sure of is your knee-jerk reaction to anything in the humanaties discipline, no matter how out of context that reaction might be.

    I look forward to your spelling, grammar and other corrections to this post.

  101. therefore no others should be no more well compensated than them.

    therefore no others should be better compensated than them.

    There, saved you some time.

  102. i always wanted to do a course called “why is the sky blue?”

    That sounds like a nice starting point for a whole lot of fascinating issues in science!

    dhex-

    I wasn’t as radical as the “TEH READING IS TEH GAY” crowd that shows up here when liberal arts degrees are mentioned, but I did have some definite anti-liberal arts bias in college. It’s a common thing in science, and there are a lot of reasons for it. But then I grew up.

    So I don’t get why all these people still carry that chip on their shoulder. They should have lost that chip in their first job, when they wrote a lousy report and the Marketing Division Manager with a humanities degree sent it back with scathing remarks.

  103. i always wanted to do a course called “why is the sky blue?”

    If you really want to put butts in the seats, you should do a course called “The Physics of Sex”. I can’t think of any better way to get college kids interested in damped harmonic oscillations…

  104. And no, I wouldn’t volunteer to be TA for the lab section. πŸ˜‰

  105. ct, that’s not as goofy as you think. here’s an interesting problem:

    anyone who has seen network t&a-fests or has spent any time near a track has observed an interesting phenomenon. when women with small breasts run, the breasts bounce up and down in phase. when women with large breasts run, they tend to bounce up and down 180 degrees out of phase. what is the expected size for the breasts to move chaotically? iow, where is the phase transition, what is the critical size, and how is it affected by silicone?

    next, we consider the unconstrained penis in male runners. is there a similar critical size where it rotates during a run?

    you have 45 minutes.

  106. I’m definitely not drawing a free-body diagram for that…

  107. But who among you will design a model (in three dimensions) which will accurately predict the direction taken by one of these threads?

  108. I guess it’s a matter of conservation of angular momentum. At the beginning of the motion, the breasts will tend to move in phase, with increased arm swinging compensating for the changes in angular momentum. However, if their moment of inertia is large enough, the arm motion won’t be able to compensate fully, so the breasts will move out of phase, until they are moving in opposite directions (and thus not affecting the total angular momentum).

  109. P Brooks,

    Easy. All threads lead to sex.

  110. Of course, all this theorizing isn’t really science. Maybe I should go to the mall today and find a large-breasted woman, and ask her to let me record video of her breasts moving while she’s running with and without heavy shopping bags in each hand.

    If my hypothesis is correct, the breast motion should be in phase much longer with the bags. Oh, and, it’s ALL in the interest of science.

  111. Or you can calculate the force of impact when she wallops you with one of those shopping bgs.

  112. “Marketing Division Manager with a humanities degree sent it back with scathing remarks.”

    *gets 1,000 mile stare. shudders*

    let’s get dhex hate on hier, too!

    The Mktg Division manager with BA in LA (humanities) and an MBA sends it back!!

    [ducks]

  113. P Brooks,

    I hadn’t considered that possibility. Maybe I should inform mall security about my plan beforehand, so that they can give me an escort for the duration of my experiment to discourage any such anti-scientific violence.

  114. crimethink – Forget going to the mall. I think you need to apply for a grant to do a full blown study at exotic dancing clubs, where you can be guaranteed an ample supply of amply supplied women. For the furthering of science, of course.

  115. thoreau: i can totally understand hating on the obnoxious types who seem to derive pleasure from inane misreadings of the dust jacket of the structure of scientific revolutions (probably the most quoted yet least read book next to the bible) in a weird attempt to play “my discipline’s dick is bigger than yours.” which is fairly fucktarded so far as things go but – as cultural anthropology shows us, lol – completely expected in any human clash over prestige and university resources.

    now, i’ve never met any “math is imaginary” (keep the fucking imaginary numbers jokes at bay for just a minute, gentlemen) people in person, though i’ve read an essay or two that plays along those lines, and they were indeed painfully, agonizingly stupid. (we can measure stupidity in terms of steyns, so i’d put them at 4 steyns on a 5 steyn scale, one steyn being equal to 2 montblogs or 44 chalupas)

    but actual humans who spout that stuff are far less common, i think. it’s unfortunately like any office environment where you have to at least pay some lip service to the full-blown hallucinations of upper management lest ye find yourself in the cold and dark regions of shitsville.

    now, i have a sinking suspicion (aka i know i’m dead right, but am employing false modesty for the sake of rhetorical entertainment) that were the bias rightist instead of leftist, h+r would not have READING IS FOR FAGS threads but instead would suffer an invasion of READING IS FOR IMPERIALIST FAGS by leftist.

    The Mktg Division manager with BA in LA (humanities) and an MBA sends it back!!

    too many long words without hypens make value-added MBA brain hurt bad. BAD HURT! BAD WORDS! BAD!


    The ones who lounge around the Student Union, spouting all of this class struggle nonsense

    you forgot the blowjob surplus, which i believe to be the root of all class struggle, as seen in the severe class envy displayed in this thread.

    NERDS OF THE WORLD, LEARN HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS

    YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT MONEY SPENT ON SOAP

    also guy has a blog.

  116. speaking of breast physics, i always wondered how game companies decided to first start including bouncy bouncy in their character models. whether it was a gradual thing or doa2 just showed everyone that they had the technology, the know how and the agressively virginal audience required to sustain development.

  117. IIRC, Orchid from Killer Instinct back in the mid-90s was pretty stacked. I don’t remember if there was bouncing or not, as I was too young to care about such things at the time (though not too young to relish Sabrewolf’s Disemboweler Combo).

  118. READING IS FOR LEFTIST MARXIST FAGS! READ ABOUT IT ON MY BLOG.

  119. Guy, you won’t have to worry about anhy more defensive reactions from me. Or any reactions at all, really. Life is too long to argue with cartoonish right-winger who borders on self-parody.

  120. AND HE HAS A BLOG!! A BLOG!!!!!!

    AND HIS MERKIN NEEDS REPLACING. hier clicky to get a new one!!!

  121. I was an undergraduate English major. About 5 years ago, I decided I wanted to be a veteranarian. I had to go back and take all of the undergraduate pre-med courses. I’ve done very well, thank you. So, it is possible for an English major to grasp scientific ideas. On the other hand, with only a few exceptions, the science courses have been more interesting than any courses I took for my English major. None of which proves anything.

    I know, all English majors are ignorant marxists. Rest assured, you’re far superior to those evil bastards.

  122. Only tangentially related…I’ve found chemistry much more interesting than biology. Maybe this doesn’t bode well for vet school?

  123. Only tangentially related…I’ve found chemistry much more interesting than biology. Maybe this doesn’t bode well for vet school?

    Perhaps you should do pharmacy?

  124. Another Phil,

    Obviously you were a chemistry major trapped inside an English major’s body all along, so my point stands.

  125. Although this should be obvious, there’s no point in majoring in something you don’t find interesting. Still, you’re going to have to support yourself, so, whatever your major, you’d better have a plan.

    I think that parents can help their kids become happier, self-sufficient adults by making them pay for a significant part of their education (even if the parents can afford to pay for the whole thing). An education that seems “free” will often be consumed recklessly.

  126. Its interesting to note that the President of this particular conference had a degree in architecture.

  127. Well, there’s something to be said for majoring in English and working as a plumber’s apprentice for the summer…

  128. dhex-

    Another issue that I had during my anti-humanities bias was that I was just really, really excited to get into my science and math classes, and all this other stuff was a distraction. Yeah, there’s a lot to be said for breadth, and ultimately I did a minor in economics, so I did come down in favor of breadth. But it’s hard to make the argument in favor of breadth for somebody who wants to plunge into his field.

    From a faculty perspective, I wish that there were more humanities and social science classes offered with science angles: History of science, philosophy of science, ethical issues in new technology, writing skills for scientists, portrayals of science in the arts, etc. Every school has a few of those classes, but I think we need more, and we need to let science students count more of those classes for General Education credit.

    It’s not that I think a humanities class is worthless if it isn’t related to science. Rather, it’s that there are valuable skills to learn in those classes, but the skills are more easily transfered if there are more classes that bridge those fields. We can’t expect students to do most of their heavy writing assignments in humanities classes until senior year, and then shake our heads in confusion when their Senior Project Report sucks. And then shake our fists and blame the English department for not teaching them how to write about science.

    I think we need to bridge the disciplines better, so that the intellectual skills from writing-intensive and reading-intensive classes carry over better to the sciences. Otherwise, if they’re taught as distinct realms, students won’t be able to transfer the skills as easily.

  129. I came across and interesting idea. Future news. Here is my attempt:

    China shocks the world by revealing the first completely pollution free coal fired power plants are supplying energy to the Olympics. Every gram of carbon the plants produced is trapped and recycled.

    In further news it is announced that you may save the environment by getting drunk. Distilled spirits manufacturers finally realized that they could trap and recycle CO2 produced by sour mash fermentation by adding just a little extra plumbing.

    And finally, one of the largest sources of waste paper was eliminated as phone books the world over went on an “opt in” system. After it was realized that many people who communicate via cell phone and internet never even open a phone book, it was easy to cut the number of phone books produced in the world by 90%.

    

  130. From a faculty perspective, I wish that there were more humanities and social science classes offered with science angles: History of science, philosophy of science, ethical issues in new technology, writing skills for scientists, portrayals of science in the arts, etc. Every school has a few of those classes, but I think we need more, and we need to let science students count more of those classes for General Education credit.

    Thoreau thats one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard in a long time and I wish Universities would listen to this idea.

  131. Another issue that I had during my anti-humanities bias was that I was just really, really excited to get into my science and math classes, and all this other stuff was a distraction.

    yeah, i felt the same way about the math requirements. not that i hated math majors, just math itself.

    i always thought an interdisciplinary math/humanities course using economics and perhaps even tax return stuff as a basis might be a good replacement for math 101 for writers or whatever. (in that same vein, a fixation on business or report writing rather than essay writing might be more useful for some people.

  132. Isn’t this juvenile nonsense an IP blocking offense or something?

    Guy Montag | December 16, 2007, 3:38pm | #

    READING IS FOR LEFTIST MARXIST FAGS! READ ABOUT IT ON MY BLOG.

    Hope nobody confused that with a post of mine.

  133. Hope nobody confused that with a post of mine.

    They wouldn’t confuse it with any post of yours. Its way to witty and intelligent.

  134. Hope nobody confused that with a post of mine.

    this is more like it.

  135. I wish that there were more humanities and social science classes offered with science angles: History of science, philosophy of science

    How about a “History of Curiosity” class?

  136. Cesar, Doktor T:

    with econ, there are several bridges – “The Grapes of Wrath” is a classic bridge topic. yay!

    πŸ™‚

  137. biology for non-majors:

    “why are there still monkeys?”

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