Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is climate change in fact cyclical?

There is mention in an Associated Press article by Beth Duff-Brown entitled "Warming experts stick their heads in the clouds - Water droplets found where ice crystals should be above Canada's Arctic" of the purported fact that climate change is in fact cyclical. This is antithetical to the concept that global warming and climate change are by definition man-made phenomena.

The article quotes Russ Schnell, director of Observatory and Global Network Operations for NOAA, as noting that:

... climate change is cyclical — that the planet’s vegetation, over millions of years, sucks in and spits out carbon dioxide.

“All the carbon dioxide in the coal and oil was once in the air. The plants took it and it went into the oceans or into the ground — and now we’re taking it back out,” says Schnell.

“The cycle is the same today, only you’re taking something that took 100,000 years and doing it in one hundred years,” he said. “There’s a point where animals can’t change fast enough, there’s a point where plants can’t change fast enough, so they’ll either compete it out or go extinct.”

The mention of vegetation reminds me of the fact that I would like to hear the scientific basis for believing that carbon dioxide and not deforestation and particulate pollution is the true cause of global warming.

Once again, it soulds to me that a lot more research is needed to apply Darwinian evolution and natural selection to the process by which scientists come up with their narrative stories that masquerade as settled theory.

-- Jack Krupansky

More research needed on climate change and global warming

I was reading an Associated Press article by Beth Duff-Brown entitled "Warming experts stick their heads in the clouds - Water droplets found where ice crystals should be above Canada's Arctic" about some ongoing research into an unexpected phenomenon of super-cooled water droplets rather than solid ice crystals in Arctic clouds and how it may tie in with global warming. In particular, the article says that scientists are uncertain whether this phenomenon is a cause or an effect of global warming.


From all that I read in the press lately, climate change and global warming are now beyond debate and the causes and expected effects are supposedly well known. Now, we hear that some serious scientists are either simply unsure of some of the effects, or actually unsure about some of the causes.

If more research is needed, I'm all for it. And if there is any uncertainty about any of the effects, let alone any of the causes, of global warming, by all means we should dramatically ramp up the research, and do so before proceeding to set environmental policy and economic and industrial policy. The very last thing in the world that we want to do is pursue changes to environmental policy that could well be far more calamatous for the environment than the evolving state of current policies.

We need to get a lot closer to a truly deep understanding of the causes and effects and implications of global warming and climate change. It is far too soon to pursue policy changes as a knee-jerk reaction to over-zealous activists.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No semi-cheap hotel rooms for New Years Eve weekend in New York City

I made two more attempts to use Priceline to try to get a hotel room for New Years Eve for my two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year. On Thursday I made seven bids that "proved" that I couldn't get a room in Manhattan for $175 or less (or $160 for even a 1-star "hotel"). Today I made seven bids that "proved" that I couldn't get a 3-star hotel room for $200 in midtown Manhattan or even a 2-1/2-star room for $180 anywhere in Manhattan.

On my next "pass" I'll try $200 for a 3-star in midtown west (I forgot that area this time), and then $220 for a 3-star in the rest of Manhattan.

I am still prepared to bid up to $300, but I am reluctant to leave very much money on the table.

Travelocity shows me a Holiday Inn Express in Manhattan for $371 on each of the two nights (Saturday and Sunday). Priceline shows the Ramada Inn East Side (1-star) for $269, the Ramada Plaza New Yorker (2-star) for $299, the La Quinta Inn (3-star???) for $304, the Comfort Inn Chelsea (2-star) for $329, The Roosevelt (3-star) for $329, Holiday Inn Express (2-1/2-star) for $370, and my preferred Millenium UN Plaza (3-star) for $429.

I plan on holding off my bidding for the other nights of my two-week stay until after my credit card statement date of 12/10 so that I don't have to pay until February. I'll also have to decide which nights I might stay in Atlantic City.

-- Jack Krupansky

What is creativity?

I used to think of myself as being a fairly creative guy, in terms of problem solving and technology, but that belief has faded over the past decade as the world has gradually changed. Just today I was reading an article in the New York Times by Shaila Dewan entitled "Cities Compete in Hipness Battle to Attract Young" and it reminded me again about how distant I now feel from "being creative." I've never been creative in the artistic sense, but now I experience virtually no sense of being creative in any sense. I despise "stories" and other forms of "creative" narratives, not to mention the "creativity" of so many (all?) of our politicians and marketing campaigns. Even mainstream news "stories" are far too "creative" for my taste.

Dewan's article was more about artistic creativity and marketing and "hipness" and being "young" and "social capital" and "vitality" and all of that, but nonetheless it raises the question of the nature of creativity that people find to be of such value.

These days, I'm not even sure how I would define creativity, other than to define myself in terms of the absence of creativity.

I do know with great certainty that a key aspect of the "creativity" that both artisitic and marketing types find of great value is the concept of "being in touch" with the target audience. It is a great concept, but also a quality that I distinctly lack. I am unable to point to a single audience or target demographic in which I can claim that I am "in touch." It is nonetheless a concept that I can easily and readily acknowledge as being of great value to society and wish that I could aspire to, but it also feels way beyond my personal grasp.

Who knows, maybe I am a lot better off without being "creative" or "in touch." If so, I am not sure that I have even begun to fathom how that works.

Here is to the creative people out there. Without them, the world would be a lot more boring.

I saw a movie today, The Fountain, and found it rather fascinating, captivating, and even entertaining. I gather that a lot of people did not like the movie at all, in a very viscerally negative way. I found its surrealism very intriguing. In short, I thought that it was extremely creative. What? Oh... you're kidding me... there is actually such a thing as too much creativity? Seems so. Oh well. That's the difficulty with me being so out of touch with all of the common demographics.

Maybe what most people consider creativity is simply a story that makes them feel good and reaffirms their existing biases and frees them from having to think. And, most importantly, a believable story.

To me, "being believable" is the opposite of "being creative", but as I say, what do I know about creativity.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Picking through the credit card offers

I had the day off from work, so I finally had some spare time to sort through the various credit card offers I've received over the past few months. Seventeen of them to be exact. I applied for two of them over the phone, and was immediately approved for both. A year ago (next Wednesday) I was waiting for the final discharge of my personal bankruptcy, and it has taken be a while to get back on my feet and feel at least marginally comfortable with my renewed financial "security."

I had gotten one credit card back in July, and that is all I really need, but with my upcoming two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year, I felt the need for a little more flexibility. Some of these 0% introductory offers seemed like a great way to spread my expenses over a couple of months. Actually, I have decided not to do that and actually pay off the expenses as they became due in January and February, but at least I now will have the flexibility to shuffle money a little less rigidly.

Of the seventeen offers, I immediately rejected seven because they either had annual fees or simply had nothing special to offer. Two of the offers were affiliated with airline frequent traveler programs. I picked the Frontier-affiliated MasterCard since it offered miles for purchases and the HSBC Household Bank MasterCard which offers 2% cashback on purchases and 0% interest on purchases for six months. The credit limits are modest, in fact together only half of the limit for my CapitalOne card, but it is not my intention to use them for very much in the near future. Both have no annual fee.

I am still considering whether I should actually carry a balance on at least one card for a few months to help start rebuilding my credit history. The 0% introductory HSBC Household Bank card is a good candidate for that. If it comes within two weeks, I may well use it for half of my NYC hotel expenses. If I do run up a balance, it is also my intention to incrementally pay the balance into savings so that I don't need to mangle my budget to pay off the balance a few months down the line.

With three credit cards now (or at least within the next couple of weeks), I no longer need to consider getting any additional cards and have increased financial flexibility for short-term spikes in expenses. I will keep my eyes open for any cashback offers that might be better than the one I just got.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hotel budget decision: Pay from savings

I have already made one important decision concerning the financing of my hotel budget for my  two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year, and that is that I will pay for it all out of my savings. This will impact my rainy day fund, but at least I'll be free and clear going forward and won't have to modify my budget plan to accommodate monthly credit card payments. It just feels too soon after bankruptcy for me to be be depending on credit cards for big-ticket expenses, even if it is only for a few months.

Back in July I had actually thought forward about how to budget for expenses such as this trip and decided that rather than budget for them per se, I would simply add to my savings as rapidly as possible and these savings would double as a part of my rainy day contingency fund and saving for expected expenses such as this trip.

All of my trip expenses will be on my credit card. Some of them, such as my plane ticket that I purchased last week and any hotels that I might prepay by around December 9 will be due by around January 9. Expenses incurred after around December 9 won't actually be due until around February 9. That means that I will have roughly two months of incremental monthly savings to apply to my trip expenses, significantly reducing the amount of my rainy day contingency fund that will need to be drawn down to pay for my trip.

I estimate that paying for this trip might require three-quarters of a month's worth of my rainy day contingency fund. That would take me from 3.5 months down to 2.75 months. That is relatively thin ice, and not where I would prefer to be, but is workable considering that I continue to accumulate net worth at a good clip.

-- Jack Krupansky

No cheap hotel rooms for New Years Eve weekend in New York City

I went ahead and did a test with Priceline to try to get a hotel room for New Years Eve for my two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year. I tried a bunch of bid combinations at $110, $120, and $140 in various areas of Manhattan, but they were all rejected, even for 1-star budget hotels. I didn't have a high hope for success, but there was no sense not to try to get a cheap room if one were available. At least I now know that if I get a bid  accepted at above that range I won't have left all that money on the table.

Maybe this simply illustrates how well the economy is doing and how much many people have to spend.

The big unknown question is whether demand will slacken or tighten between now and New Years. I suspect it will tighten since New Years Eve is such a special event in New York City.

In a few days I'll re-bid, shooting for the $140 to $175 range. I suspect that I have a 50/50 chance of success there. If that fails, I'll go for $175 to $200, then the $200 to $225 range, then the $225 to $300 range. At that point I'll opt to stay outside Manhattan. I might also opt for an even higher bid for New Years Eve itself and balance that in my budget by staying outside Manhattan the night before New Years Eve.

-- Jack Krupansky

Hotel budget version 1.0 for trip to New York City at the end of the year

Now that I have my plane ticket for my two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year, the next big task is planning for my hotel stays. In the old days, I might be able to budget $250 per night and that would be okay. Despite the fact that I now have a decent job with The Evil Empire, even $200 per night is out of the question. Initially I set a target of $1,500 for fourteen nights of hotel, not all of them in Manhattan proper, but that was too optimistic as well.

I came up with a spreadsheet for a more realistic approach to my hotel budget. Even these numbers may be too optimistic, but they are probably semi-reasonably close to what I should by able to get, especially using Priceline's Name Your Own Price Feature.

  1. Wednesday, December 20, 2006: $85 (near Newark Airport)
  2. Thursday, December 21, 2006: $125
  3. Friday, December 22, 2006: $125
  4. Saturday, December 23, 2006: $125
  5. Sunday, December 24, 2006: $75 (Atlantic City)
  6. Monday, December 25, 2006: $85 (Outside Manhattan)
  7. Tuesday, December 26, 2006: $85 (Outside Manhattan)
  8. Wednesday, December 27, 2006: $125
  9. Thursday, December 28, 2006: $125
  10. Friday, December 29, 2006: $75 (Atlantic City)
  11. Saturday, December 30, 2006: $300 (Pre-New Years Eve)
  12. Sunday, December 31, 2006: $300 (New Years Eve)
  13. Monday, January 1, 2007: $125
  14. Tuesday, January 2, 2007: $125

For a total of $1,880 and an average of $134.29 per night.

I'm prepared for the fact that it might run another $200 or $300 higher, but I'm also motivated to work harder to keep within this budget. It may mean that I have to stay a few more nights outside of Manhattan, or in less luxurious digs, but there are plenty of parameters to play around with.

This is version 1.0 of my hotel budget. I may have to go through ten or more revisions, but at least I have a solid starting point.

My next step may be to do a test with Priceline to try to minimize my cost for the New Years Eve weekend. I'll lowball a bid for a moderate hotel, say $125, and see how it goes. If I get it, I'll be glad to have it out of the way even though I have to pre-pay immediately. Otherwise, I can re-bid in three days. I can also re-bid immediately by starting with a narrow area and then re-bid with a wider area. I am willing to accept a hotel a little bit out of the way, but still in Manhattan, and maybe a little less luxurious, in order to get a low-ball bid. If my attempts at a low-ball bid fail, I'll bid a moderate price for an above moderate hotel so I can enjoy what I'm paying for.

-- Jack Krupansky

An Internet vacation?

As I continue to plan for a two-week trip to New York City at the end of the year, the question of Internet access comes up. Some hotels have great Internet access, for some it is lousy. For some it is free, others charge outrageous fees. But the real question is what do I want to do.

Lugging my notebook computer around is a pain since I like to travel light. Alternatives for Internet access are less than reasonably palatable.

For me, the core issue is that I typically need about two to four hours a day to keep up on news, email, and other online interests, and that is simply way too big a block of time to "waste" on a fun and relaxing trip to New York City.

I could probably get by without a lot of Web browsing, and without most of my email, but there are always a few email messages that need to be responded to in a timely manner. I also pay a lot of bills online, so I would have to be very careful about pre-paying so that inaction during that two-week window would not have dire consequences. I suspect I'll be okay on the bill front since this is only two weeks.

I actually look forward to the prospect of getting daily news via the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, maybe even the local Daily News or New York Post or New York Sun, and maybe even a modest amount of TV. These are not my first choices compared to the rich fare of the Web, but would be a welcome rest after the prolonged frenzy of the Web.

I can in fact use an Internet cafe or other public Internet access to access a lot of my online accounts and even email if I expect anything urgent, but the primary intention is to "go cold turkey", an Internet vacation.

A lot of my bills and financial transactions are now on auto-pilot and my intention is to do more that way over time.

The big question is whether I will do any blogging during this Internet vacation. In theory, the answer should be no, but in practice I may not be able to resist. Even a modest post such as this one takes a lot of though and consumes fifteen minutes or more of my time. The upside is that I can simply walk up to any public Web station and log in to Blogger to make a post.

I have also considered photo blogging, but I don't have a camera (other than the one in my company smartphone) and simply organizing the photos would be time-consuming. Besides, I'd rather simply enjoy the city rather than get distracted by fiddling with a camera. Still, it is a possibility.

For now, my goal for that December 20 through January 3 period will be to do no blogging and to make it a complete Internet vacation. So, for now, my decision is that I will not take my notebook computer with me.

I will probably take my company smartphone(either a Verizon Motorola Q or a T-Mobile Dash), which will in fact allow me to do email and limited web browsing, but I'll just say, for now, that it doesn't count as a "real computer"!

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My trip to NYC at the end of year

With Thanksgiving only a few days away it makes sense to begin planning for the Christmas and New Years holidays. Last week I purchased a round trip ticket from Seattle to New York City, departing on Wednesday, December 20, 2006 and returning on Wednesday, January 3, 2007. Roundtrip airfare was only $450, incluing all taxes, fees, and a commission for my travel agent. I had planned for an even higher airfare, but I guess I made the reservation early enough. I also saved $20 by travelling a day later than my original plan and on a flight that actually arrives in Newark, NJ 12:02 a.m. on December 21. That schedule also allows me to leave in the early evening so I can work most of the day and save a vacation day. I much prefer to depart in the late afternoon or early evening anyway, as opposed to getting up at some ungodly hour to catch an 8:00 a.m. departure. And my travel is non-stop on Continental. I happen to be a lifetime member of their Presidents Club from back in the 1980's. But I haven't actually flown on Continental since the early 1990's before I moved from Colorado to New York City in 1993. Interesting how the airlines are evolving.

Next I need to strategize my hotel stays. I expect to make several overnight side trips during my stay in Manhattan, which will help to keep my hotel costs down. Even a low-end 3-star hotel on is $205 per night (including the New Years Eve weekend), for a grand total with taxes and fees of $3,406 for a 14-night stay, which is more than a bit over my budget (about $1,500).

I'll probaly spend at least two or three nights in Atlantic City, to enjoy seeing the ocean, to visit my mother in Ocean County, and to keep my overall hotel budget down. The casino bus from NYC to AC is cheap since the destination casino gives you a nice gambling credit which you can easily convert to cash.

I'll also probably stay at least a few nights in Jersey City, a Path train ride away from lower Manhattan, to save some money.

Back in the old days, I would usually stay at the Park Hyatt UN Plaza for around $149 a night. Now, Priceline shows that hotel at $269 a night if I stay they whole 12/20 to 1/3 trip. That's an average. The first six nights would be $199, then $299 for three nights, then $429 for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday leading up to New Years Eve, and then $199 for the final two nights. That's a total of $3,776 for the 14 night stay, plus $503 in taxes and fees, for a grand total of $4,279, which is more than a little bit over my budget. Ah, for the old days. Nonetheless, I might opt to stay there for a few of the cheaper nights. This hotel is only three blocks from my old apartment. I haven't stayed in a Manhattan hotel since 1999, since I got an apartment in the city in 2000.

With Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" feature, I may be able to get some of these $199 nights for even $100 or less.

One key decision is whether to stay in Manhattan for New Years Eve. That night is very expensive due to very high demand. It is fun to be in Manhattan for New Years Eve, but I've done that many times, so the novelty isn't there. In fact, two years ago I simply walked outside my apartment, at the corner of First Avenue and 42nd Street and just stood on the Tudor City Place overpass looking straight down 42nd Street to the Times Square area where you could see most of the fireworks after midnight. Not as dramatic as being near Times Square, but none of the hassle either. If I do decide to stay in the city for New Years Eve, I'll need to make that part of the reservation (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) fairly soon to lock in as cheap as possible a rate.

Staying up all night on New Years Eve is also an option that a lot of people will pursue.

The weather is a big wildcard in all of these plans.

By the time I get out to the curb in Newark after my flight, it may be 12:30 a.m. or even later. I'm debating whether I should even bother getting a hotel room and maybe simply stay up for the night, which is relatively easy to do in New York City, and then hope I can check in to a hotel fairly early. Besides, 2:00 a.m. in Manhattan will be only 11:00 p.m. Pacific time.

It looks like there is a NJ Transit train leaving the Newark Airport Railroad Station at 12:41 a.m. arriving at NY Penn Station at 1:13 a.m., and another train at 1:31 a.m. arriving 2:03 a.m. if my flight is delayed. The "Rail" fare is only $6, but there is a bizarre "Access Fee" of $8.00, so it would cost $14.00 one-way. That's not too bad.

There is bus service by Olympia Trails that departs at 12:40 a.m. from Newark Terminal C and arrives at NY Port Authority Bus Terminal at 1:10 a.m., and the last bus departs at 1:10 a.m. and arrives at 1:40 a.m. There is actually a bus departing at 12:10 a.m., but there is virtually no way I could catch that bus unless my flight was very early or unless the bus was late. The one-way fare is $14, the same as the train. Round trip is $23. This sounds like my best bet.

The alternative is to take a cab, which costs a lot more, but lets you minimize total wait and travel time.

More planning to come

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How to reboot Zune

If you encounter some problem and feel that you need to "reset" or "reboot" your Zune, simply hold down the "Back" and "Up" buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.

Note: "Back" is the separate button to the left of the large middle "control pad". "Up" is the top of the circular control pad.

See the official Zune Navigation page.

Or download the official Zune Product Guide.

Or access other Zune Manuals.

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune Day

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 marks the general commercial availability of the new Microsoft Zune digital media player, Microsoft's answer to the iPod.

I am truly amazed at the degree of negativity directed at Zune and its creators, even from respectable and otherwise compettent media professionals. Sure, the first Zune model out of the gate has a number of issues, but all products have issues of some sort or another.

There is no need to catalog all or even some of the criticisms here, but from what I can gather from reading the specs and descriptions and photos and videos online, Zune is a fairly decent product, and I am sure it will grow ever more capable as the months and quarters and years tick by.

Maybe, in some sense, we should all be grateful that so many people are trying so hard to hold Microsoft to such a high standard. I'm sure it will help to keep the prodct quality quite high.

Read about Zune yourself and make up your own mind.

Stay abreast of the evolving Zune "community" with the Zune Insider blog moderated by Cesar Menendez of the Zune team.

I do have to disclose that I am an employee of The Evil Empire (Microsoft). I am not part of the immediate Zune team, but I do work in the Entertainment and Devices Divsion which includes, among many other products, both Zune and the Windows CE operating system and application software used for devices such as Windows Mobile smartphones and the various flavors of Pocket PC and embedded devices.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Zune, Zune, Zune!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 will be marked in technology history books as the day Zune landed. Zune is Microsoft's much-disparaged competitor to the Apple iPod personal digital media player and iTunes online digital media store. A lot of people have already declared Zune to be DOA. I say let the market decide.

I happen to personally subscribe to the philosophy that in general it takes Microsoft three releases to get something right. I seriously don't expect the first release of Zune to be a true iPod "killer", but I don't expect it to be a complete dud either. I fully expect that as the months and years go by we will see successive "generations" of Zune that become ever-more powerful, ever-more capable, ever-more desirable, and ever-more successful.

I say that each consumer should read the specs themselves and "kick the tires" themselves and make their own decisions about whether Zune works for them.

I have every confidence that Zune will be a very successful brand, but I also expect that iPod will continue to be very successful at the same time. The first generation of Zune may not blow everbody away, but that's okay. Better to start with a smaller but more loyal base and grow it incrementally over time.

The goal of Zune is not to replace existing iPods per se, but to dramatically go after the larger market of people who do not yet have personal digital media playors to grow a market much bigger than the current personal digital media player market.

Expect to see and hear a lot of Zune marketing in the coming days and weeks.

I do have to disclose that I am an employee of The Evil Empire (Microsoft). I am not part of the immediate Zune team, but I do work in the Entertainment and Devices Divsion which includes, among many other producst, both Zune and the Windows CE operating system and application software used for devices such as Windows Mobile smartphones and the various flavors of Pocket PC and embedded devices.

Go Zune go!

-- Jack Krupansky

Math problem

I am nowhere near as good at math as I would like to be. I looked at the following problem for a couple of minutes and I simply do not know either the correct answer or the methodology for how to derive the answer:

What number makes this grouping logical:

21, 8, 46, ___, 2, 92, 16, 42

Please let me know how to derive the solution.

I found this problem here.

Stop the presses! I just figured it out. Cute. It took me about ten minutes. A hard-core "math guy" probably could have done it in less than a minute if not almost instantly.

Now... here's the hard problem... design a computational algorithm that would have been able to discover the solution methodology.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Maybe the consensus on CO2 and Global Warming isn't so cut and dry

An article in the NY Times by William J. Broad entitled "In Ancient Fossils, Seeds of a New Debate on Warming" discusses some of the research into the atmosphere based on ancient fossils and how the "consensus" about the role of CO2 in Global Warming may not be as un-debatable as the proponents of "Climate Change" aggressively suggest. It may be that the proponents of CO2 as a "crisis" may be right, but the research suggests that conclusions about the role of CO2 in climate change are not as settled as the proponents suggest.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In praise of mainstream media

There are a lot of criticisms I can hurl at mainstream media, but I no longer have any faith that a "grassroots" Blogosphere will be able to put even a significant dent in the ability of "Old Media" to bring the majority of news stories to the majority of consumers. As vast as the efforts of the Blogosphere are, the mostly subjective nature of most blog posts makes even biased mainstream media look fairly objective. As much as I literally hate "Old Media", I don't think we are ready to live and thrive without them, at least over the next few years.

It is a real shame that editorial staffs at mainstream media outlets are being cut, because they are the source of so many interesting and informative stories that we all need to stay up on current events.

I get a daily email from the NY Times, at no charge, that gives me free access to quite a number of stories. I've never been willing to pay for it since news is available on so many web sites for free, but now I would be willing to pay a reasonable price if I were to get some assurance that editorial coverage and objectivity would be racheted up.

I read a lot of stories that originate with Reuters and Associated Press, typically on Yahoo.

I occasionally check Google News, which is aggregating headlines from mostly mainstream media outlets, albeit in Web format.

Bloomberg, Business Week, and the Washington Post occasionally have stories of interest to me.

Just yesterday I found a fascinating article on the Vanity Fair web site, which was referenced in an article in the NY Times.

Even the Wall Street Journal occasionally has articles that I find of interest.

I no longer subscribe to any magazines or newspapers and I don't watch any television, but my intellectual life would be a lot less rich without the editorial efforts at mainstream media.

The Blogosphere is a great venue for opinion and even the occasional news "scoop", but for breadth and depth of worldwide news...

Long live mainstream media!

Now, all they need to do is find novel ways of surviving, evolving, and thriving.

I want and need both mainstream media and the Blogosphere. They need to find ways to complement and assist each other.

Long live mainstream media!

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Global Warming: The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University

I keep meaning to delve a lot more deeply into the issue of Global Warming, Climate Change, and the so-called Climate Crisis. I'm more than a little skeptical of some of the wilder claims that are being made, especially since Al Gore is spouting a lot of them. My efforts will be to try to zoom in on some of the actual data behind the conclusions as well as to identify some of the organizational and political agendas behind some of the so-called "science."

One of the more prominent personalities in the discussion of Global Climate Change is Dr. James Hansen who directs research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at Columbia University in New York City. Here's a brief synopis of GISS from their web site:

Current research, under the direction of Dr. James Hansen, emphasizes a broad study of Global Change, which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales (from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal/annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages) and affect the habitability of our planet. Program areas at GISS may be roughly divided into the categories of climate forcings, climate impacts, model development, Earth observations, planetary atmospheres, paleoclimate, radiation, atmospheric chemistry, and astrophysics and other disciplines. However, due to the interconnections between these topics, most GISS personnel are engaged in research in several of these areas.

A key objective of GISS research is prediction of atmospheric and climate changes in the 21st century. The research combines analysis of comprehensive global datasets, derived mainly from spacecraft observations, with global models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes. Study of past climate change on Earth and of other planetary atmospheres serves as a useful tool in assessing our general understanding of the atmosphere and its evolution.

The perspective provided by space observations is crucial for monitoring global change and for providing data needed to develop an understanding of the Earth system. As the principal NASA center for Earth observations, Goddard Space Flight Center plays a leading role in global change research. Global change studies at GISS are coordinated with research at other groups within the Earth Sciences Division, including the Laboratory for Atmospheres, Laboratory for Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences, and Earth Observing System science office.

GISS works cooperatively with area universities and research organizations, most especially with Columbia University. Close to half of our personnel are members of Columbia's Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) and we also work with researchers at Columbia's Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

My first big question: Why is this research under the aegis of NASA, the rocket and satellite and aerospace people, rather than NOAA, the ocean and atmosphere people? This seems rather odd. How does Hansen's agenda for studying climate change fit in with NASA's true mission? NASA should certainly be providing vehicles in support for space-based observation, but getting involved in the science-side of earth studies seems like a clear conflict of interest, to me. The proper term is "mission creap", and that is not a good thing.

In any case, there is a lot of interesting data on the GISS web site. Whether that data truely does justify some of Hansen's wilder conclusions remains to be seen.

In any case, this is one of the important web sites in the Climate Change discussion.

-- Jack Krupansky