Same group that landed a Buick on another planet has something to say about our own

Research links extreme summer heat events to global warming

To distinguish the trend from natural variability, Hansen and colleagues turned to statistics. In this study, the GISS team including Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy did not focus on the causes of temperature change. Instead the researchers analyzed surface temperature data to establish the growing frequency of extreme heat events in the past 30 years, a period in which the temperature data show an overall warming trend.

NASA climatologists have long collected data on global temperature anomalies, which describe how much warming or cooling regions of the world have experienced when compared with the 1951 to 1980 base period. In this study, the researchers employ a bell curve to illustrate how those anomalies are changing.

A bell curve is a tool frequently used by statisticians and society. School teachers who grade “on the curve” use a bell curve to designate the mean score as a C, the top of the bell. The curve falls off equally to both sides, showing that fewer students receive B and D grades and even fewer receive A and F grades.

Hansen and colleagues found that a bell curve was a good fit to summertime temperature anomalies for the base period of relatively stable climate from 1951 to 1980. Mean temperature is centered at the top of the bell curve. Decreasing in frequency to the left of center are “cold,” “very cold” and “extremely cold” events. Decreasing in frequency to the right of center are “hot,” “very hot” and “extremely hot” events.

Plotting bell curves for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, the team noticed the entire curve shifted to the right, meaning that more hot events are the new normal. The curve also flattened and widened, indicating a wider range of variability. Specifically, an average of 75 percent of land area across Earth experienced summers in the “hot” category during the past decade, compared to only 33 percent during the 1951 to 1980 base period. Widening of the curve also led to the designation of the new category of outlier events labeled “extremely hot,” which were almost nonexistent in the base period.

Please take a moment and watch the second animated bell curve in action.  You can *see* the trend.   If you walk outside in the same place but different times (and could do it in a statistical manner similar to the way the NYTimes did this analysis of 100M results over the history of the Olympics), you could feel it.

I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Pictures

From September 6th to September 17th, Beijing is once again hosting athletes from around the world. Over 4,200 athletes – from six different disability groups – from 148 countries are taking part in the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games. Not only are the sports divided into events, but the events are divided into different disability categories, to even out the playing field as much as possible. The slogan for this years Paralympic Games is the same as the one for the Olympics held just last month: “One World, One Dream”. (36 photos total)

2008 Summer Paralympic Games – The Big Picture –

Some amazing pictures here. Make sure to read the captions on some of these.

[via kottke]

U.S. Redeem Team Wins Gold, Redemption

Yea, it doesn’t come as much as a surprise, but it was exciting to watch.  I’m not sure how many people stayed up to watch the game live, but if you did, you got a good one.   Spain played above themselves and challenged the U.S. team for the first time in the tournament, getting as close as 2 in the fourth quarter.

Most of the game looked like another iteration of the All-Star scorefest we see every year here.  When there are over 200 hundred points scored in 40 minutes (vs. the NBA’s Forty-Eight) you know the defense has taken something of a back seat.  Like many other events the “judging” was a bit erratic, but seemed to be shitty for both sides, so it was something of a wash.

They are talking to the two MVPs of the team, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant.  Wade was amazing for most of the game scoring 21 in the first half and was typically everywhere.  Kobe took over in the last fourth quarter, hitting a huge 3 + 1 after Spain had pulled to within 3 and did a wonderful job of distributing the ball down the stretch.  

Good job fellas, thanks for working for it this time.

Watching the 50K Torturethon

You would think that an Olympic event involving “walking” would be a pleasant affair.  A nice stroll through some immaculately lit and groomed park in Beiging, surrounded by mechanical fairies providing a steady supply of unicorn farts for that aromatic touch of genius.  The Chinese are crazy for detail and I thought they might take “walking” to strange and amazing new heights.

Instead, it turns out, the 50k Walk Race was in fact inspired by events in the Phillipines in 1942.  One merely has to watch the competitors as they are issued “warning” cards and “death” cards when they stop walking correctly, to understand to utter and complete seriousness of this sport.  In what can only be called the twisted psychological side of the sport, if you go too fast, you get murdered in the street (well, only disqualified in the sport version).  Walking is serious business. 

Yesterday the Chinese tortured the women with this race.   I swear on my mother’s soul I saw a woman try to make herself throw up during the race.  She thought she might feel better puking during the race.  It was raining during that race.  “Today” it is mid-70’s with 90% humidity.  The perfect weather for a death march.

So I’m sitting here watching the male version of the Torturethon and felt I’d share a few thoughts about it.  Just seeing the way their hips are swaying, their heads are bobbing, and their emaciated limbs are waving around in what can only be the throes of immense pain is much like a waking nightmare.  But I am afraid to go to sleep and see them again in my dreams….walking…always walking…walking with that look, that look of “Oh my god what have I done!” on their face. 

Or worse, I might become one of them. Cursed to race as fast as possible, BUT NOT RUN!!

They’ve just passed 25K.  The race started with 61people.  There are 4 that have a chance to win at the half-way point.  The rest get to get DQ’ed or suffer for suffering’s sake.  Truly, the Tortorethon is not for the faint of heart (nor the remotely sane).

UPDATE: I just noticed a walker (NOT runner) from Mexico try to bite off his own tounge to take his mind off the pain in his legs.  The GPM (Grimaces Per Mile) of the race is quickly heading off the charts.

U.S. Women Win Gold in Soccer, Volleyball, Fencing, and Gymnastics

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to all the lady athletes in the United States.  Good jorb, ladies.

I had posted earlier about the amazing antics of the Brazilian women’s soccer team.  Well, it turns out the U.S. women’s team was even better.  They played some amazing defense against a team that was still firing with :30 left in extra time after 30 minutes of overtime and 90 minutes of Olympic Gold Medal soccer.

In volleyball the U.S. Team of May/Walsh was absolutely dominant.  Those nice little bottoms went al the way to the top.  For the second time in a row (for the first time ever).

I think the softball team gave up like one run, total, before their final silver medal performance (softball and baseball are being dropped from the next Olympics…Brits don’t get ’em) against Japan.  I just checked the news and saw the softball team has lost in the finals to Japan.  That sucks because they had been absolutely dominant in the Olympics.  This was their first loss in 22 games, dating all the way back to 2000.

Congrats and further well wishes to the fencers.  Hey, at least ya’ll don’t have to worry so much about the paparazzi.

Finally, mad ups to the women’s gymnastic team.  It was great to see fellow Texan Nastia Liukin win her gold, and silvers, and bronzes.  Always nice to see a local girl do well on the world stage.  I still think they need to incorporate Gymkata into Olympic gymnastics, but that could just be because I got really bored one Saturday afternoon.

Regardless, my full congratulations go to daughters and granddaughters of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  It looks like ya’ll can do anything better, and have the bling to prove it.

Christiane via Brazil Amazing in HD 2 Goals in 1 Minute (3 in half)

Just a couple quick comments on the Olympics. I’ve been watching pretty much non-stop since the absolutely amazing opening ceremonies.  Today I’ve gone to the old stand-by, the 24-hour soccer channel.   The only other thing going right now is boxing, and the U.S.’s best hope for a medal just lost because he didn’t know he was behind in the bizarre Olympic boxing score-system.   Really, he got knocked down earlier in the bout and got a point.

Regardless, I was just watching the Brazil and Niger, women’s soccer match.  Niger was up 1-nil when Christiane first had a header and then a bicycle kick for goals back to back in under a minute.

I also want to throw out some props to the U.S. Men’s Gymnastic (Bronze, from nowhere) and Swimming teams (Gold, from behind).  Good work fellas.  Now you can stop shaving yourselves everywhere.  Hat’s off to the Chinese and French gymnastic and swimming teams, respectively, as well.

I’ve probably seen about 20 or 30 sports so far, and have to commend GE for their coverage.  They are making a windfall off this thing, and the 24-hour HD programming is much appreciated.  I’ll try and throw up posts when something else cool happens on my TV, but the play of Christiane amazed me, so I thought I’d catch you up to what my TV is playing and what the world is watching.

UPDATE: OMG!! Hat trick!!