Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nellie McKay

A few years ago I took a walk to Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue and ended up buying a CD that was on the $10 rack because I liked the cover. It was a two-disk set by a girl named Nellie McKay, and ended up being one of my favorite buys ever.

I still listen to Nellie regularly and as I was transferring my music into my new mac, I thought to look up where Nellie is now:

I learned that Nellie had been interviewd on NPR when the album I had, entitled Get Away From Me, was released. On their site you can listen to the interview in which she sings live playing the piano, and you can hear that she really can sing as well and as in control as she does on the album. NPR also has some of her songs:


Friday, March 23, 2007

the prime minister ain't bothered

This film depicts a classic stereotype in the UK; the chav. I don't really know what the equivalent in the US is ("urban white trash" perhaps), but I think you'll soon understand the character if you're not familiar with it already.

In this scene a chav has an internship with the prime minister with chavlarious results. In the UK we use the expressions "I can't be bothered" and "I'm not bothered" to say "I don't want to do" something or "I'm not interested" in something. Knowing that, you should find Blair's perfomance quite amusing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

I've been teaching my students at Earth Team that man-made global warming is real, that it is pernicious, that there is scientific consensus, and that we have to act immediately. I also told them a cause of global warming is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is produced by burning fossil fuels.

But, according to a British documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle, I'm wrong.

It's not carbon dioxoide, stupid, it's the sun! Here are the main arguments:

- Records of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels since 1940 show a net increase, but during the period of greatest industrial growth 1940-1975, global temperature decreased steadily, and only began increasing again since the economic recession of the 1980s and thereafter.

- Theories of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas predict that the temperature in the troposphere should increase the fastest, but satellite and weather balloon data do not show this.

- Changes in solar activity match changes in global temperatures much more accurately than do changes in carbon dioxide levels (see chart above)

- Global temperature does not change due to changes in carbon dioxide levels, but rather, carbon dioxide levels change due to changes in global temperature. It is claimed that the Earth's oceans absorb carbon dioxide when they are cooler, and release it when they are warmer. When the Earth's average temperature increases over time, the oceans temperature also gradually increases and more CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Due to the large mass of the oceans, it takes a long time ("decades or centuries") for the reaction to temperature changes to occur. Thus, when a graph of the Earth's temperature change is compared to that of CO2 change, the CO2 chart mirrors the temperature one, on an 800-year delay.

- It is immoral for industrialised populations to demand that developing African nations ignore their reserves of cheap fossil fuels (coal and oil), and instead rely on expensive renewable power generation techniques, such as solar panels.

- The "2,500 top scientists" of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not all scientists and do not all agree with the global warming report produced by the panel that points to CO2 as a cause of global warming.

See Wikipedia article from which most of the summary above was adapted :)