Google is blocking search results (Update)

Update of a post from May 18, 2014.

In light of this post over on Watts Up With That: "Exclusive: Search Page for Realist Side of the Climate Change Debate", I thought I'd go back and update an earlier post...

I just redid a Google and Bing search I detailed a year ago again. The search was for "united states" "air polution" graph +improving, and the results I got from, Google were really out of whack with what I would have expected from a fair websearch. Bing did just fine..

Since then, it has only gotten worse. Here's the exact same Google search as a year ago. Now, instead of 6 results, 5 pull up; one of which is my own post from a year ago. And many of the rest are completely irrelevant, including one entitled "Next Big Future: Fully Automatic Sewing of Garments Using ..."

Bing, on the other had, now offers up 164,000 results, and the top ones are actually about air polution.


Previous post from 5/18/2014:

I can't see any other way of interpreting this than the fact that Google is obviously blocking search results in the pursuit of environmental regulations and politics.

Type the following into Bing's search form: "united states" "air pollution" graph +improving

and you get almost 64,000 results, including several links to the EPA and to Wikipedia:

Type the same thing into Google and you get 6 results, which are mostly junk:

Lost in the bog

Sometimes, I spend time posting to fb, only to see my post disappear into the depths. Sometimes, I post a copy here. This is one such...

First, some background...

Since I don't play video games, I was only a spectator in GamerGate--and saw that it seemed there were serious problems with incestuous relationships between game makers and magazine reviewers. Still, it wasn't my fight or my world. The same goes for the Hugo awards and the Sad Puppies mess. Just like modern television, I rarely read science fiction that is happening now, instead, I occasionally read old stuff, so I hadn't and haven't read any of the books either nominated or discussed surrounding this year's Hugos. However, I read (a fellow Dwiggie) Sarah Hoyt's, blog from time to time, have read Larry Correia's posts on the controversy, and have seen the way their (and Brad Torgerson's and others) desire for the Hugos to be based on writing merit, instead of insider connections and polemical leftist writing (aka: boring politics-based tracts), has been denigrated as a bunch of skummy white guys proposing a misogynistic and racist set of nominations. Just as with GamerGate, that simply isn't so.

In case you haven't been following...three years ago, an author wrote in a blog post on his website a list of titles that he thought were deserving of Hugos. He also noted that the actual list of nominations and awards in the last few years seem to be dominated by a small clique of authors and publishers who leaned leftist, and who wrote in a didactic, leftist, SJW way--which this author (Larry Correia) thought was very boring and not indicative of the best of science fiction. He picked the name "Sad Puppies" because the leftists always seemed to him to behave like sad puppies. He did this in part to provoke a reaction from the clique which seemed to be dominating the awards and predicted he would be labeled as an evil, racist, misogynist bastard. He was 100% correct.

The backlash was outsized: he was blasted for daring to suggest a different set of titles and slammed as an obvious racist for not jumping on the bandwagon to promote transgressive leftist art. The insiders went absolutely insane trying to circle the wagons and exorcise the evil.

In short, they dramatically proved his point.

The next year, he did it again and got the even more of a reaction, but also a wider notice.

This year, he handed off the creation of the slate of nominees to Brad Torgerson, and the slate of suggestions succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. When the list of nominees for the Hugo came out a few months ago, almost every single slot in every single category was claimed by works suggested by Sad Puppies. (Also by Rabid Puppies, led by Vox Day, who seems to delight in pressing buttons by posting openly misogynistic things around the internet. Whether he is doing this out of conviction, or just trolling to piss people off is hard to tell. He has, however, pissed off lots of people, especially people fond of Sad Puppies, because the the tar he is covered with keeps splashing on them.)

In response to this success, the insiders again circled their wagons. Often proudly crowing that they would never read any of the SP nominations, and would never in a million years consider voting for them on merit, they urged their followers to basically write in "No Award." Despite a deserving and  diverse group of nominations on the ballot, last night, none of the SP nominations won. Instead, the Hugo voters preferred to give no award, and to not even give them the benefit of a legitimate look, than choose from the nominees suggested by SP. (Well, it is democratic, you might ask, isn't this just democracy working? Yes, however, the SP voters had multiple nominations to choose from and therefore diluted their vote, while the insiders dedicated themselves to the "No Award" option. In other words, the SP's spit their vote.)

So when a friend (and another fellow Dwiggie) posted a link to the Wired magazine coverage of the awards, and claimed it as a clear explanation--which it certainly is not--it's as biased as much of what the MSM has printed about this year's controversy--I felt compelled to respond. First a snippet from Wired:

Wired Magazine
But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.

Early this year, that shift sparked a backlash: a campaign, organized by three white, male authors, that resulted in a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees. While the leaders of this two-pronged movement—one faction calls itself the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies—broke no rules, many sci-fi writers and fans felt they had played dirty, taking advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively few number of voters to dominate. Motivated by Puppygate, meanwhile, a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners were announced Saturday night.
I responded with this:

This one (written back in April), which was a statistical analysis of nominees over time, is better. The Good Reads score versus Hugo winners is important. Since about 2000, the books fans seem to like and the books that win Hugos have been diverging. Also, Hugos are supposed to be awarded democratically based on the voting of readers, but the number of voters is actually very small.

Before SP began posting suggestions (SP1 was originally nothing more than a blog post), only about 2,000 SF fans voted for the Hugos. This year close to 6,000 did--and that's the stated end goal of the leaders of the SP movement: to increase the number of voters, so that it returns to being a fan-based vote, instead of a vote of only a small contingent.

As for the leaders of SP being "3 white men", I'm assuming one of those three is Vox Day--who isn't any part of SP at all, but runs a separate slate called Rabid Puppies, and most SP folks are not fans of his. As for the leaders of SP, it's generally regarded as Larry Correia, who ran it for the first two years, then Brad Torgerson, who ran it this year--and who is married to a black woman and has a mixed race child, Sarah Hoyt--a woman (full name: Sarah Marques de Almeida Hoyt) who is a native of Portugal, has a very thick accent, and has written about how her kids were discriminated against in school because a teacher viewed them as "Hispanic", and Kate Paulk--who will run SP4 next year. Not 3 men, and not all white.

California breathing, on a summer’s day

Back when my sister first moved out to Los Angeles, I remember often seeing the dark orange band that circled the city: the layer of disgusting smog, so bad you could taste it. Reformulated gasoline, emissions standards, a shift from making California’s electricity in California (and polluting our own skies) to importing our electricity from Arizona (thus polluting the skies there instead, much better!) and a decline in heavy manufacturing all helped clear the air. (Major solar and wind installations came more recently than the reductions in smog.)

But California air is still filthy. Maybe it’s because it rains so little here, that the general grime never gets washed away down to the rivers--or the concrete ditches we refer to mockingly as “rivers”--and the slightest breeze picks it up again and turns it airborne. Maybe it’s coal smoke coming over from China (US air is cleaner when it leaves the east coast than when it arrives in the west, or at least can still be a significant contributing factor: Or maybe, there is still a lot of domestic particulate pollution going on. Whatever the cause, it’s one of the things you really notice when you come out here: how often you have to dust, how often you have to change the air filters on your furnace and in your car, and how gross your rugs get between deep cleaning.

Because of the heat wave last week, and our running the air conditioner much more than normal, I checked whether it was time to replace one of the furnace filters; it could still hold out for a while longer (I buy the filters in bulk.) That same day, I walked past a little fan I often keep in my bedroom window, and realized how disgusting and grimy the thing was. And I mean really disgusting, with black strings of grime attached to the grill and blowing out of it like streamers. 

Now memory is an interesting thing: looking at the filter and later at the fan, made me think of Alton Brown’s contraption for drying fresh herbs ( He took a box fan and some furnace filters, put the herbs between the filters, strapped them on to the back of the fan and ran it for a day or so, and voila! dried herbs.

Well, I thought, if an air filter can work to dry herbs...why not use an air filter as an air filter!

Last Saturday, I went to the hardware store and picked up a filter to match my box fan. I used painters tape to attach it and have been running it for a week. Often I hung it, as usual, in my window; but, when the air conditioner was on and the windows closed, I ran it on a low speed down on the floor.

One week later and the filter is already gray and gross. I will now never run the fan without a filter on the back, and I’ll get one for Elizabeth’s matching fan as well!

Yes, liberal activism is so dangerous to your academic career!

This is a joke, right?

Chronicle of Higher Education:
Academics who champion causes may be gambling with their careers. But for some dedicated activists, the choice is clear.
Mr. Hansford, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University, [...] When he joined the law faculty at the university, in 2011, it never occurred to him to cast his causes aside: "I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."

In the months since the unrest in Ferguson, Mr. Hansford has become a well-known face in the Black Lives Matter movement. He has served as a legal observer during protests, was once arrested and jailed overnight, and was a key organizer of #FergusonToGeneva, a delegation that frames police violence in the United States as a human-rights issue worthy of global attention. [...]

"There’s a tradition of black scholar-activists who fought for justice," says Mr. Hansford, who studies human rights, legal ethics, legal history, and critical race theory. "This particular activism is almost like a calling for me." But he knows it could hinder his academic career.

With issues of social justice dominating the national conversation, some academics identify as scholar-activists, a term typically used by those deeply involved in progressive causes. They take to the streets as part of protest movements, work alongside community organizers, and push for policy changes, applying their research to underserved communities. Yet balancing activism and scholarship can be risky, especially while on the tenure track.

"I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."
Yes, I'm sure it's soooooo hard to get tenure after making a name for yourself in the Black Lives Matter movement. The school is probably breaking open the champagne and getting ready to give him a big fat tenure package. This is exactly the kind of professor schools are looking for.

Or, how about this one:
Rajani Bhatia saw a Ph.D. as a way to enhance her work in the reproductive-rights movement, including a job at an advocacy group. But once in a women’s-studies program [...], she found that staying on top of her courses, teaching undergraduates, and pursuing a research agenda stripped her of spare time.

"I realized the very first year that I was going have to give up certain aspects of my life," says Ms. Bhatia, who is now an assistant professor of women’s studies at the University at Albany. "For me, it was my activism."

With her tenure clock ticking, Ms. Bhatia still keeps her activist work at a minimum. She maintains connections to groups she used to collaborate with and tries to attend some academic conferences that draw scholar-activists, but that’s about all she can manage, she says. "My clear priority is getting tenure."
In other words, when she gets tenure, she can finally ditch those pesky little things like doing work, teaching classes, publishing, etc. and get back to her activism! And people wonder why the cost of college is skyrocketing. Pre-professors do all the work, knowing once they get tenure, they can go off and do the things they really want to do and leave all the work to the next round of indentured servants, that is to say, graduate students.


Now, how about the activist who dedicates their time to working for conservative causes? How would a Tea Partier, the gun rights advocate, the anti-abortion campaigner, the campaign worker for Jeb, be able to juggle their graduate school commitments or their pre-tenure professorship with their activism? The question, of course, is moot, since they would never have received the offer for a place at the school in the first place.

Annals of Bad Math (with update)

This popped up on my facebook feed today, posted by OccupyDemocrats (of course,) and is an incredibly fabulous example of bad math.

Here's the WaPo link.

What WaPo says:
The finding comes from a government study considered a gold standard to measure public-health trends. Researchers found that just over 8 percent of children 2 to 5 were obese in 2011-2012, down from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004. Although the drop was significant, federal health officials noted that obesity rates for the broader population remain unchanged, and for women older than 60, obesity rates rose about 21 percent during that period.
And here's the JAMA article link.

What JAMA says:
There was a significant decrease in obesity among 2- to 5-year-old children (from 13.9% to 8.4%; P = .03) 
So, did you see what Occupy did there? They took the rounded up 14% and the rounded down 8.4% and did this: (14 - 8)/(14) = 0.4285. Then claimed that was a decrease in obesity of 43%!!! It's: 13.9% - 8.4% =  5.5% drop in obesity among 2-5 year olds, not 43%.

However, here's another problem. Obama's big push has been to change the composition of school lunches, but the drop in obesity has been among pre-school aged kids. How exactly can she take credit for that?

Update: Apparently, this began with bad math from the New York Times back in February of 2014 in an article written by Sabrina Tavernise:
Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.
[...] But the figures on Tuesday showed a sharp fall in obesity rates among all 2- to 5-year-olds, offering the first clear evidence that America’s youngest children have turned a corner in the obesity epidemic. About 8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese in 2012, down from 14 percent in 2004.
The article remains on their website, uncorrected, with the wording above (as of 7/6/15.)

Slate blasted the NYTimes piece  (corrected Salon to Slate. 15/08/23) back when it came out:
A far bigger issue is that studies like these, and the headlines that result, drive the discussion about public health and policy in this country. The media seizes on sexy results, amplifies them without due skepticism, and the public is misled. This can impact billions of dollars allocated to campaigns meant to capitalize on the supposed implications of scientific studies. It's hardly an academic footnote in this case. Commentators are already attempting to adduce the reasons for the decline in obesity in this age, pointing to the dietary changes in preschool menus, awareness campaigns, and exercise programs that specifically target tots.

Repost - Seculars

I first posted this the day after Obama won his second term. Much of the talk was about how Republicans needed to make inroads with Hispanic voter. While true, I looked at the numbers of non-religious who also were needed.

The day after the SCOTUS same sex marriage decision, this might be something to think about again. So much of what Republicans have said in the last day has been turning off an important group of voters:


Republicans have been focusing today on the need to get Hispanic votes. While that is true, there is another chunk which we should also aim at. Look at these two numbers from the exit polls:

Are you?
               Total   Obama   Romney     
Hispanic        10%     71%     27%

How often do you attend religious services?
               Total   Obama   Romney     
Never           17%     62%     34%

So, Romney got 27% of the 10% of people who are Hispanic, but didn't do much better among the non-religious at 34% of the larger 17% group. If Romney had gotten 5% more of the secular vote he would have added 0.85% to his vote total. Getting 5% more of Hispanics only nets 0.5% more.

Every time Republicans talk values, every time they talk about god, even every time they end a speech with "God bless America," they are turning off a large chunk of population. If we are to go after the Hispanic vote, can we also make an effort to go after the secular vote?

Update: I worked it through with the numbers. Bottom line, a 5% shift of Hispanics would lower Obama's victory margin from 2.8 million to 1.6 million. A shift of 5% of Seculars would lower the margin from 2.8 to 0.8 mil. Doing both would have put Romney in the White House:

(Updated again to add the estimated results if both shift--assuming they are independent groups.)

Can's only *

Here are three articles I've come across about recycling which kind of boil down to the same central points:

1) Can recycling is good
2) Glass recycling is generally bad
3) Paper is iffy (especially since newsprint has diminished as part of the waste stream)

Here's the newest:

American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why
From the start, it was hard to argue that glass should have been allowed in the curbside mix. It’s the heaviest of recyclables but has always been of marginal value as a commodity. In the rough-and-tumble sorting facilities, a large share of it breaks and contaminates valuable bales of paper, plastic and other materials.

Today, more than a third of all glass sent to recycling facilities ends up crushed. It is trucked to landfills as daily cover to bury the smell and trap gases. The rest has almost no value to recyclers and can often cost them to haul away.

Here's another one:

Recycle Smarter than a Third Grader!

As Professor Benjamin explains, making an unused tissue out of a used one wastes resources and hardly benefits the environment. Melting and casting aluminum cans, though, both saves resources and benefits the environment. But you don’t need to exhort the aluminum company to save those resources: saving scraps is in its own interest.

Penn and Teller: Recycling is Bullshit!

And the always entertaining Penn and Teller. The best is the multiple bins scene, where they add 6 bins to the usual three, including red for biohazardous waste like diapers and feminine products, and a brown bin for "lightly soiled toilet paper" which tested really well in Japan last year! The suckers they presented these bins to blithely said that they could follow that regime and that it made sense.

* The title comes from the stencil used at my college on all the aluminum-can recycling bins. A whole campus of misused apostrophes.
As Professor Benjamin explains, making an unused tissue out of a used one wastes resources and hardly benefits the environment. Melting and casting aluminum cans, though, both saves resources and benefits the environment. But you don’t need to exhort the aluminum company to save those resources: saving scraps is in its own interest. - See more at: