The science is unsettled

The fight over climate change is heating up, reckons Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama, in an editorial over at Technology, Commerce, Society. Excerpt:

In case you hadn’t noticed, the global warming debate has now escalated from a minor skirmish to an all-out war. … Climate scientists are beginning to question long held assumptions – which is almost always the first step toward a major scientific discovery. So stay tuned.

Who’s defacing Wikipedia? (updated)

There’s a new service around, that’s going to cause some red faces. Built by Virgil Griffith, it’s called the WikiScanner. It tracks user edits to the online “encyclopedia” to the organisation or location where they originate.

For one, Diebold seems to be burnishing its image. At least, so it appears. A whole section about the criticisms on its voting machines disappeared because of an anonymous editor (Wikipedia permits anonymous edits?!) whose location has been traced to the organisation.

But they’re not the only culprits. There are more worrying (and spectacularly puerile) defacements that originate, among others, at the New York Times. Guess what? They don’t like Bush much over there, and don’t mind a little crudeness in describing Condoleezza Rice, either.

One can understand why companies and individuals might want to change what Wikipedia says about them. But why would an apparent journalist deface entries about others?

Update: Yup, it caused red faces, all right. The BBC ran a report hammering, amongst others, the CIA for its Wikipedia edits on the Iranian president. It should have thought to check, before someone else — the Biased BBC blog, no less — discovered that BBC staff had edited the entry on the American president. Granted, they changed only one letter, but it was a fairly important letter in his middle name, ‘Walker’. Tony Blair was a victim of immature insults too. Proving that it doesn’t buy this “do unto others” nonsense, a note about a BBC Trust report, which found ‘trendy left-wing bias’, was also whitewashed by a BBC staffer.

That famous Kruger video

If you haven’t seen this, you’ve been living under a rock for the last week. It’s been all over CNN, local radio stations, Facebook, and sits at 13 million views on YouTube. It’s the famous “Battle at Kruger”, featuring a large cast of predators and prey, with a twist in the tail Edgar Allan Poe would have been proud of.

I recall many hours as a child sitting in a hot stationwagon, in pre-aircon days, at the very same Transport Dam near Skukuza, where this was filmed. On our annual family vacation, it was one of our favourite stops to wait for things to happen. It rewarded us richly over the years, but these eight minutes would be a once-in-a-lifetime jackpot even for experienced guides:

Speaking of experienced guides, my brothers will remember those stationwagon days. They now run a safari company specialising in Kruger National Park trips. Here’s a gratuitous punt. They recently managed to show me the Big 5 in a single day. This may not be unusual for the small, upmarket game parks, which are heavily populated and set up for instant gratification by guides in radio contact, but it’s very rare in a park the size of Kruger, when you’re on your own. I can attest to their knowledge of the bush, their game spotting skill and their continued enthusiasm and love for Kruger. These days, they do it by airconditioned luxury bus. Much, much smarter. (Correction: they do it in one of those cool, open, shaded safari trucks. The luxury bus is just for getting there. Still beats the stationwagon, though.)