A Dish of Dollars

… laid out for all to see:

  • David Brooks, the one and only Granite Geek, gloats: "Global-warming skeptic turns into a convert". He's referring to Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist.

    Except as Jonathan H. Adler and Ronald Bailey point out, that's a little (or actually, a lot) too glib. Adler's summary:

    Yet Lomborg's new position is not much of "U-turn," striking or otherwise.  Lomborg has acknowledged the reality of human-induced warming in all of his books, while discounting some of the more apocalyptic scenarios.  In his 2007 book Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming (which I reviewed here), he declared that climate change was a "problem" and recommended a strikingly similar response.  Specifically, he called for the imposition of a carbon tax and urged a global commitment to financing climate-friendly R&D to the tune of $25 billion per year.  His new proposal is more ambitious - a larger tax to fund even more research - but otherwise is much the same.  So, too, is his overall message: Climate change is one of many problems the world faces, must compete with other priorities, and should be addressed in a cost-effective manner.  Perhaps what's really changed is not Lomborg's perspective, but the degree to which commentators actually pay attention to what he writes.
    David Brooks is kind of the science guy at the Nashua Telegraph, but it seems that Adler's implied criticism applies: he pays a lot more attention to what Lomborg's adversaries allege about him than what Lomborg is actually saying.

  • Here's a question that got my attention: "Did Bill Gates waste a billion dollars because he failed to understand the formula for the standard deviation of the mean?" (Answer: yeah, probably. Good stuff at the link.)

  • Gosh, Walter Russell Mead has some good advice for students in this Back To School season. It's practically unexcerptable, but do check it out.

    The trick is to get it to a student who (a) is not too young to benefit from Mead's advice; (b) is not too old to benefit from Mead's advice; and (c) is not a pigheaded know-it-all psychologically unable to take Mead's advice. Good luck on that.

    My advice to students: pay real close attention to that whole "standard deviation" thing.


Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:22 PM EDT

Crossfire

[Amazon Link]

I confess to a certain (literal) morbid curiosity of what will happen to the "Dick Francis" brand, now that he's recently passed away. This book (like a few previous) are billed as co-written with his son, Felix. Are they going to keep that up? If so, for how long? How many books would Felix sell on his own? As I type, Crossfire has just debuted at position #11 on the NYT bestselling hardcover fiction list; it's hard to see a publisher just giving up a moneymaker like that, even with the inconvenience of the author being dead.

Anyway, this one is pretty good.

The hero is Tom Forsyth. As the book opens, he's just had one of his legs involuntarily shortened by an Afghan IED. So it's back to England for him, and probably the end of his Army career. After a stint in rehab, he has nothing better to do than return home, although this reminds him of why he left home to join the Army: his mother is aloof, he and his stepfather don't get along either. So he plans on his stay being temporary, but…

As you might expect, horses are involved. Tom's mother is a successful trainer, but her horses have been underperforming of late, losing races they were expected to win. Mom and Stepdad are acting secetive. What's going on?

As you also might expect, what's going on involves intrigue and danger. It turns out that England is almost as dangerous for Tom as Afghanistan was. Fortunately, Tom's as resourceful and brave as any Francis hero. (And while Tom is slightly bitter, he's bitter about losing his foot. He's unapologetic about his service to Queen and country. Gratifying.)


Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:22 PM EDT