Scattershooting 170322

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the concept of “taking the time to do it right”.

Since we haven’t done it in ten years (too long!), Elke and I headed up to the Platte River two weekends ago to view, photograph and appreciate the sandhill crane migration gathering. In short, a staggering number of them — half a million at peak presence — assemble to roost in the river each evening and disperse near sunrise to fatten on waste corn and other food for a few weeks, before their long trek to the Arctic latitudes. This year they arrived a couple weeks early, so we caught that peak. After two days of generally unfavorable photography conditions, windy with dark overcast, it all broke with bright sunshine and a double rainbow during the magic hour. Photographing a rainbow is fun. So is photographing sandhill cranes. Photographing sandhill cranes in a rainbow? Special indeed. [Another shot] Want to see a little video and audio of the spectacle? Elke posted a video on Vimeo.

Common refrains from “cafeteria Christians” of all political persuasions, but far more commonly the left:

    * “No God of mine would…”
    * “A God worth worshipping wouldn’t…”
    * “My God is only god of love…”

Really? Please don’t embarrass yourself by saying such things. Who is measly little you (or measly little me!) to judge God Almighty? He’s the omnipotent, all-knowing, eternal, perfect, universal authority on everything. He judges you and me, not the other way around. Simply by virtue of not being God, you and I are automatically ineligible to judge Him, or to project our imperfect human standards or behavioral restrictions upon Him. It is not our place to impose our morals on God, but instead, to change our morals to match His. Furthermore, the last statement is patently false; His wrath and anger and even jealousy are well-documented Biblically. Stop trying to mold God into your image (selfish) and start trying to mold yourself to His (selfless).

I’ve often disagreed with Jenni Carlson, but her suggestion here seems the most reasonable on the spectrum of possibilities for dealing with Baker Mayfield’s night of inebriated stupidity in Arkansas. Plus he’ll likely serve out legal probation as a first-timer. I’d just go a little further and strip him of his team captaincy pending atonement actions involving real community service and PSAs involving alcohol abuse. Yes, that’s collectively more than the standards for the average drunken dumb-ass incident in college; but as she noted, he is the face of the program and should be held to higher accountability. And if he has a drinking problem (rumors, not publicly substantiated), then treating that obviously would be highest priority. Baker is not a stupid guy, but he surely acted like one; and he will (must) learn from this. It’s obvious in other ways that he has high intelligence and great leadership potential, whether in football or whatever field he pursues. I hope he realizes that and casts aside this demon before it takes over and derails a promising future.

On a related note: recently I was asked, how can I root for the OU Sooners (and it applies to Dallas Cowboys too) when players have gotten into trouble off the field, or there is evidence of a “culture” of bad behavior (whatever that means–usually an unfortunate collection of incidents in a short period of time, by somebody’s fuzzy standard of judgment). I have news: not just any team, but our entire civilization, all of society, is broken; the culture of sin lies all around us, and within each of us. Let that sink in slowly. Then realize that regardless of any of their individual sinfulness, and mine, and yours, I still will root for those teams, avidly and as much as ever. The team is far more than the sum of individuals, and represents ideals and experiences for followers that go beyond and above the flaws of its singular human components. I can appreciate the game and pull for my favorite teams without admiring or endorsing the off-field behavior of certain individuals on those teams. No, that is not “cognitive dissonance”–it is awareness of reality and the enlightenment that follows therefrom.

Think about this: do you like a song by any musician who ever has used drugs, drank too much, or done something illegal? Do you love your sibling or parent or spouse even as you don’t approve of something he/she has done? Of course you do; and this is no different in concept. There’s no reason to hate the person or the work they do or the team for whom they play, because you disapprove of his behavior. There is reason to care enough to speak out against that bad behavior, to pray they are corrected away from it somehow, even to question and criticize team management if they seem overly permissive.

It’s interesting to receive “input” from someone in another weather forecasting office who admits to have just gotten on shift at the top of the hour. How does any mortal human being have time to get briefed, log in, load and spin up on workstations, perform thorough multiplatform analytic diagnostics, then dutifully complete prognostic examinations across the full suite of available deterministic and ensemble NWP out through two days, to arrive at a robust, 4-dimensional conceptual model of a severe scenario at 36-60 hours, in order to be able to offer a rich wellspring of meaningful “collaborative” input to a national outlook, all in 36 minutes? If that secret exists it will be akin to the Fountain of Youth or conquistadors actually finding the Seven Cities of Cibola. Or is it, as I suspect, far more likely to be blind-ass, quick-glance “model-casting” masquerading as meteorology? Or put as Len Snellman did: meteorological cancer…

Academy Award Celebrities: Take Your Medicine, Fools

I’ve long outgrown caring much about the lives of celebrity actors and their soft, sheltered, glitzy, fake little worlds of artifice, pandering, showboating, hypocrisies, immoralities, arrogance, ill-informed bully-pulpit opinions on issues outside their expertise of acting/singing, plastic people, and self-spotlighting melodrama. And as those who know me know well, I’ve never cared much for the overall concept of ceremony, and any of the artifices involved. It’s also no secret that I consider leftism as a massive, seeping lesion on the face of civilization, with Hollywood being a continual source of some of that ideological pus.

Therefore, one quite correctly can surmise my level of deliberate and unapologetic disregard for Hollywood celebrity ceremonies.

Indeed, I last watched an Academy Awards show at about age 12 with my mom, on a barely-working hand-me-down TV, in an inner-city duplex full of roaches, seeing some actress awash in diamond and gold jewelry, and wearing a $10,000 dress, lecture others about feeding the poor. The latter told me all I needed to know.

I decided then and there that the Oscars was useless, wasteful, unimportant rubbish in the grand view of world affairs, as well as in the context of my own life and aspirations. “Just put out the movies and cut the crap; I’ll decide for myself if they’re worthwhile without the help of the actors’ mutual ego-stroking exercises in pretension.” [Yes, disturbing as it may be, the brutal truth is that I thought and wrote in such ways as a pre-teen. Time only has honed it!] So I was done with shows like that, never to be viewed again. Thus compartmentalized aside, life was free of one needless irritant.

And no, I don’t care to watch celebrity ceremonies in areas friendlier to my worldview, like sports or country music, either. It all simply strikes me as a huge waste of time, money, electricity, emitted carbon, and effort by everyone involved.

Yet when I read yesterday, from multiple sources, that some apparently famous actors (even I have heard of them!) announced the wrong “Best Picture” winner, then others had to correct them onstage, after the wrong winners already had started their acceptance speeches, it brought a smile to my face. Not that I was relishing others’ misery — indeed, it appears the actors reading the names simply were handed the wrong card. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong card…bummer for you, Faye and Warren. Oh well — you and your gigantic bank accounts will be just fine.

Instead, I delighted in the notion that, even if for a fleeting moment, a much-needed dose of humility was delivered to a group at large who likely hadn’t gotten a taste of such medicine in a long time, if ever. Outstanding! May lessons be learned by all involved, and not just about reading off the wrong card.

“Alt” and “Rogue” Social Media Accounts are Not Credible

The latest pop fad in the (pseudo?)scientific “resistance” movement is to set up “alt” or “rogue” Twitter accounts, then claim scientific credibility in the role of some anonymous knight in shining armor. Well, here was one example, and my open and public response on Twitter.

Muzzling of scientists is wrong, and I have expressed that concern many times on many fora. However, these fake Twitter accounts strike me as misguided (at a minimum) for many reasons, the biggest among them being trust. That is the over-arching issue and here are some specifics behind it:

  1. Hand in hand with trust goes authenticity. A fake EPA, NOAA, NPS or other pseudo-governmental account, by its very nature, is inauthentic!
  2. How do we KNOW that the people behind the accounts are who they say they are? They could be anybody, current or former employee, disgruntled grudge-holder, complete and total poser with no connection, maybe even a false-flag operative (more below). Anonymity undermines credibility.
  3. Many of these accounts are mixing in politics and social issues with science. That also undermines their credibility. Stick to the science if your account claims to be scientific. Otherwise you’re behaving no differently than some dweeb in a basement pretending to be someone else.
  4. Spelling, grammar, usage, and other English writing errors are powerful indicators of questionable credibility or complete inauthenticity.
  5. The snarky attitudes and tangential posts of some of these “alt” and “rogue” accounts only can undermine the causes of the legitimate accounts.
  6. Plenty of degreed, real-world scientists are standing behind their names and saying what they want to say. I always do. So can others. So can you. Therefore these accounts serve little practical purpose but to deliberately annoy and irritate, while satiating some desire to vent, and/or to masturbate one’s own ego to the thrill of sycophantic adulation from the like-minded.
  7. Who is held accountable for inaccurate statements made from these accounts, and how?
  8. What if some of these are false-flag accounts run by people building name lists of opposition? Whoa … … … bet you didn’t think of that possibility, did you? Hmmm…better think twice. In this crazy world, you can’t rule that out either.

Courage necessarily involves taking risk. The following I mention, not to brag, but to establish personal credibility in this subject for those who don’t know me. For over 25 years, I have been speaking out on the Internet about many issues in my science (as well as otherwise), both here in this BLOG since 2005 and in stand-alone HTML web pages before that. I do so on my own time and equipment, not on the job, which keeps it all legal and untouchable under Amendment 1, United States Constitution.

My name is Roger Edwards in Norman, OK, and I take full credit and blame for everything I post, including this. Look for yourself, both in this BLOG’s archives and in those web pages. I have spoken out openly about it all — not hiding behind fake identities in a timorous fashion. I have criticized Republicans and Democrats alike, including our current President, who has been both at various times in his life. All those pages are still there, and so are those BLOG entries. I stand firmly and resolutely behind all of them as they were written based on the insights I had at the time, and get this: with my true identity attached. I have the guts to stand behind my ideals, back down from no one, and suffer no fools. Let that set an example.

If you are a government scientist, and you want to speak your opinions on anything in particular, the solution is clear: keep your opinions off official social-media accounts. That’s not what they’re for anyway. They’re for official business. Do not use official time and equipment to express your concerns — only to express the science itself that’s relevant to that account. If you are punished for doing it by the letter of the rule, fight that through all available legal means!

For opinionated activity: use your own personal accounts and equipment, and do so unfettered. Say what is on your mind. The First Amendment applies to all of us, and does not contain the words, “except” or “unless”. Could you be hated? Sure. Could trolls say mean things? You bet — grow a thick skin and deal with it. Could you be passed up for a grant or promotion? Yes, butt-hurt bureaucrats can and do act like that, and sometimes will retaliate in unprovable ways. I know, I’ve been there. We just have to be ready, even though it’s wrong and we don’t like it. That’s the price we pay for having convictions and the courage to express and act upon them.

If you are a media member, you owe it to journalistic integrity to verify your sources and the information they provide, independently. Journalism 101…never, ever, ever take someone simply at their word. That’s the fastest way to undermine your own credibility and that of your employer, as I also have discussed openly and publicly on this BLOG for the world to see. Vet your sources and their information, thoroughly — and yes, that takes time. So be it. Better to get it right than get it first!

If someone doesn’t have the guts to put their name on the line, to stand behind their claims, that’s just so much cowardice and hollow posturing with no credibility or authenticity to back it up. The greatest measure of the importance of your ideals is in your willingness to stand behind them with your real identity.

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