Archive | July 2015

A key admission regarding climate memes

This piece by Andy West is quite long, but definitely worth reading to the end.

We Are Narrative

NOTE: as of today this Post is up at Climate Etc, the well known Lukewarmer blog of atmospheric scientist Judith Curry:

The version as posted here has a very short extra section (5), which refers to Appendices tacked onto the end that aren’t at the Climate Etc version, one of which explores Ben Pile’s position on the L2015 and pause memes.

  1. Introduction

At the beginning of May, psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky brought out a new paper continuing his theme of highly eccentric challenges to climate skeptics and skeptical positions. Previous works include ‘Moon hoax’ and the (later withdrawn) ‘Recursive Fury’, dismantled here, here, and here. Naomi Oreskes is one of the co-authors of the new paper (L2015), which focuses upon the social psychology surrounding the concept of ‘The Pause’ in Global Warming. L2015 claims that a ‘seepage’ of contrarian /…

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Paying it forward

My wife tells me I don’t like MacDonald’s burgers, so I never, ever, eat at MacDonald’s. But just before Christmas I was driving back home from the Great Metropolis that is Milton Keynes, and after being stuck in traffic for about five hours, I pulled off at a service station for a comfort break.

Once my call of nature had been attended to, I returned to my car, all set to rejoin the 200 mile long car park which, for that day, was the M6. Approaching the exit, I noticed the MacDonald’s, and also noticed that it had a drive through.

On impulse, I slowed down and joined the queue for the window. I have no idea why; eating a MacDonald’s burger is a balancing act at the best of times; the so-called “salad” is so covered in oil and animal waste that you have to hold the bun just-so to avoid the contents slipping out and landing on your lap. While driving on the motorway it would be a serious challenge. But join the queue I did.

After a wait of around thirty minutes – after the first ten of which I was regretting joining the queue, and wondering whether it would be possible to reverse out past the people-carrier that had pulled in behind me, I arrived at the order window.

“Just a Big Mac, please,” I said.

“You want fries with that?” the skinny, rather bored looking teenage girl asked.

“Umm, yeah, ok; yes, please,” I said. Heck, why not? If I’m going to be juggling a slippery burger, I might as well add to the fun by fiddling with flaccid strips of potato as well.

“Pay at the next window,” she said.

“Thanks,” I said. I didn’t drive on, because I was almost bumper to bumper with the Volvo in front; the owner of which apparently owned another car which was, of course, a Porsche. At least, that’s according to the cheap vinyl sticker attached to the Volvo’s boot – whose real purpose, it appeared to me, was to cover the paint scratches over a large dent. If I’d been in a better mood I might have chuckled. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t.

Gradually my patience was rewarded by being able to move forward, foot by mind-numbing foot until, some twenty minutes later, I arrived at the second window. The occupant was somewhat older, a forty-something chap with Brylcreemed hair (I didn’t know they still sold Brylcreem) and a very cheery smile.

“How’s it going?” he asked, handing me a paper bag which I presumed (correctly, as it turned out on further inspection) contained my tea.

“Yeah, not bad,” I said. “How much do I owe you?”

“Well, there’s the funny thing,” he said. “The guy who was just here paid for your order.”

I considered this for a moment. Volvo/Porsche guy had paid for my burger and chips? Why?

I asked.

“It’s been going on all day,” Brylcreem guy replied. “Started about 2:30. A lady paid for her meal, and also paid for the car behind her.”

I’d never heard of anything like that before. “Why did she do that?” I said.

“I dunno, really,” Brylcreem said. “She said it was ‘The season of Good Will’ and that she wanted to ‘Pay something forward’.”

“How nice of her,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said. “But then it just went on and on. Everyone has paid for the next person in line. It’s amazing; it’s been going on for the last six hours.”

“Wow,” I said. It was genuinely heart-warming, and I felt my heart being, actually, warmed. People paying for complete stranger’s meals. That fundamental human need – food – being paid for – nay, provided – by a complete stranger who they will never even meet. It made me realise that people are, when it comes down to it, basically good.

“I guess I should do the same,” I said. “What’s the guy behind me having?”

“Two secs,” my new friend said, and did something on his MacDonald’s machine.

“Two Quarter-pounder’s Deluxe with fries; three Chicken Nuggets, fries of course – one large; one Strawberry shake; Two chocolate shakes; two large Coke’s with ice.”

“That all?” I asked.

“Two M&M McFlurry’s, an apple pie, and a chocolate chip cookie.”

“Ok. What’s that come to?”

“Twenty-five seventy-three.”

I dug into my pocket, came up with a small handful of coin; must have totalled about 37p.

“This is for you,” I said. “Put it in the Tip Jar.”

“Thanks,” he said. “Do you want to pay for the next guy’s meal?”

I turned around in my seat, gave a cheery smile and a wave to the occupants of the People Carrier behind, which was returned by the rather overweight child in the front passenger seat, but not by the hacked-off looking lady in the driver’s seat.

I looked up at the window to see Brylcreem’s expectant smile.

I smiled back. “Merry Christmas,” I said. “Hope you have a good one. I’d best be on my way.”