Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tablet Computer Aids for People Who Cannot Speak Clearly

I presented How iPad Text to Speech Might Help People Who Cannot Speak Clearly on September 28th to Gary Ingram's Parkinson Fight Club at The Villages, FL.

Some people with Parkinson's Disease or other speech deficiencies have difficulty speaking loudly enough or clearly enough to be heard. They might benefit from free or low-cost computer apps that allow them to type text or click on already composed phrases and have the machine talk for them. You may download my Powerpoint Show by CLICKING HERE.

As you undoubtedly know, Stephen Hawking, the world-renown cosmologist, has long used a computer aid to compose his scientific papers and to allow him to speak to others. The advent of tablet computers and free -or low cost- application programs has made this technology available to nearly everybody.

As a member of the excellent support group called the "Parkinson Fight Club" I am aware that Parkinson's is a progressive, incurable, degenerative disease that, despite the the best medication and physical therapy, may rob victims of the ability to speak clearly. The founder and leader of our support group, Gary Ingram, has mentioned Stephen Hawking and wondered if the technology that he uses to communicate could be applied to help some of our members.

In response to Gary's request, I searched for "text to speech free" for apps that would run on my iPad. Dozens of free apps were offered. I only had the time to check out a few of them, two of which I demonstrated to the support group. There may be other iPad apps that are better, particularly the ones you have to pay for. (And, be aware that most of the "free" apps will try to sell you upgrades that offer more functionality. Some of these extra features may well be worth the money if you need them. Fortunately for me, my speaking voice is still strong and clear despite my Parkinson's.)

In addition to iPad apps, I'm sure there are many available for Android tablets and other devices, including smart phones. 

The purpose of this posting is simply to make you aware that this technology exists and that it may help you or a loved one speak clearly.

In addition to Text to Speech apps, there are others that utilize a visual system. A friend who has taught special needs children put me onto a picture-board app, called SoundingBoard. This app has some intriguing features and may be just the ticket for users who are not adept at typing. (Thanks Terri!)

At our most recent meeting, I demonstrated two Text to Speech apps, plus the SoundingBoard app. (The logos for these apps are shown in the image above). 

Text to Speech - Voice Synthesiser for iOS, Gwyn Durbridge.

This app is simple and easy to use, but has limited capability. You just type your text message, click on Speak, and the app does its job, speaking the message. The user may press Speak again to have the tablet repeat the message. The user may edit the message and have the tablet Speak it again. To enter and speak another message, just click on Clear and repeat the process.

A neat feature is that you may use sliders to control the Rate and Pitch of the speech. You may also choose from some 36 different voices for different languages (including US and UK English).

Most important YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET to use this app. This is a considerable advantage if you will be using this app on your tablet in areas where an Internet connection is not available. (The other apps I tried would not work properly when there was no Internet connection). 

The biggest limitation of this app is that it does not have the ability to store useful phrases or sentences you may wish to use repeatedly. There is only one message stored at a time. You have to type each new message from scratch.

mText2Speech - Text to Speech with Auto Translate, MarkelSoft, Inc.

This App is easy to use and has the very useful ability to store and have the tablet say a number of pre-written messages, such as: "My name is Ira and I live at
", "Yes, I agree", "No, I do not agree", "Please help me get to the nearest restroom", "Please call my wife at

This app also enables the user to type a new message and have the tablet say it. Once spoken, the new message will be remembered unless the user clears it. Unfortunately, if you are not connected to the Internet, the program may get stuck on one of the recent messages and say it over and over, preventing you from selecting a different message or entering a new one.

This app also has the ability to translate from one language to another, so you can, for example, type a message in English and have it spoken in Italian, French, or a number of other languages.

SoundingBoard, AbleNet.

This app takes a non-text approach, which makes it attractive for users who cannot type well. It comes with a considerable number of pre-recorded messages that the use may activate by pressing virtual keys on a picture board.

The user selects from a list of categories, such as Clarification, Emergency Help, Shopping, Social, Yes/No, and so on. Selection of a category causes display of up to nine images on a picture board. When the user touches an image, the tablet speaks the associated pre-recorded message.

For example, I demonstrated the following sequence starting with the Shopping category: "Excuse me", "Can you help me?", "Where is the ..." (that automatically brought up a new picture board with supermarket items), "Cereal", "Milk ..." (I pressed the back arrow to the previous picture board) "How much is that?", "Thank you". 

Under the My Emergency Information category, the user may select: "My name is ", "My phone number is ", "My home address is
", "My medications are ".


The free version allows the user to Edit the response associated with each picture, but the changes I made were not stored by the app. They offer a "Buy Board" option, so I guess it costs extra to have Edit capability (and may well be worth it).

Conclusions

This speaking aid technology is available and useful. The iPad and other tablet computers are relatively low in cost and portable and may be operated by many people who have speaking deficiencies.  If you need this type of device, I hope this introductory information may prove useful, and I would love to hear from you if you wish to post comments to this Blog thread.

Ira Glickstein







Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writings and Philosophy of James A. Michener

I presented James A. Michener - His Writings and Philosophy on 19 September 2014 to an interactive audience at the Philosophy Club in The Villages, FL. My Powerpoint Show is available in two parts (split up due to limits on file size) and may be downloaded at: Part 1 and Part 2.

Michener (1907 - 1997) was one of America's most productive and highly popular writers, with some 27 works of fiction published between 1947 and 2007, 31 non-fiction published between 1939 - 1997, and 14 adaptations, such as musicals, movies and TV series, produced between 1953 - 2001.

RACIAL PREJUDICE THEME

Like nearly everyone else, I've heard the unforgettable song You've Got to be Carefully Taught many times. It is from South Pacific, the 1949 musical and 1958 movie roughly based on Michener's breakout 1948 novel, Tales of the South Pacific. Of course, it was Oscar Hammerstein who wrote the lyrics, but they capture the theme of the novel, where he explores racial prejudice as an American nurse falls in love with an ex-patriot French plantation owner who has mixed-race children and an American lieutenant with an Asian lover. In the words of that song:
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear, ...
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of 
people whose eyes are oddly made,
And 
people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, ...
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To 
hate all the people your relatives hate, ...
I have more to say about why it is literally true, in the words of that song, that children, prior to the age of 6 or 7 or 8, must be carefully taught the skills of racial and ethnic discrimination and prejudice for the sake of the survival and successful reproduction of long-lasting societies.

Click HERE to jump to that section of this Blog posting.


MICHENER BOOKS FEATURED IN MY PRESENTATION

Of the 58 works of fiction and non-fiction written by Michener, I have read only five: The Source, Hawaii, Space, The World is My Home - A Memoir, and Poland.

The Source (published 1964)

In the 1960's, soon after it was published, I read The Source because it is the history of the Jewish people, from before Abraham to the 1960's. Three archeologists (a Jew, a Catholic and a Muslim) are digging at an ancient well in northern Israel. Each layer tells the stories of tribes, cults, religions, kingdoms, countries, and conquest as waves of invading peoples and ideas displace or merge in some way with the current ones.

Hawaii (published 1959)

My wife and attended a talk by Michener in Hawaii at a week-long IBM Golden Circle event in 1983, at which I was honored for leading the Technical Proposal for the avionics system that got our division into the Special Forces helicopter business. What a thrill it was to be at to be at Lahaina Beach on the island of Maui, reading the account, in our autographed copy of Hawaii, of the arrival of the "haoles" (white Protestant missionaries) at that very place, and to do so within view of the Indian Banyan tree planted in their honor. Of course the Americans who arrived in the 1800's disrupted the lives of the "native" Hawaiians with alien diseases and ideas that decimated their population and changed their culture. On the other hand, Hawaii was settled by successive waves of Polynesians who arrived prior to the year 1000, each in turn defeating or merging with the prior populations and cultures. And, the Americans were followed, in the 1900's, by Chinese and Japanese farm workers, whose descendants now own a significant fraction of the Hawaiian economy.

Space (published 1982)

At that IBM event we also had the pleasure of attending talks by husband and wife Astronauts William and Anna Lee Fischer and receiving autographed photos of them. We also received a copy of Space, autographed by Michener, in which he recounts the history of air- and space-flight from 1944 to the 1980's, highlighting the heroic accomplishments of NASA, as well as some of their failures. He acknowledges the contribution of our IBM division which produced the radiation-hardened and ultra-reliable computers and associated software used on the Space Shuttle. While I was not involved in IBM's spaceflight efforts in the 1970's and 1980's, I did spend several months in the late 1990's consulting with NASA Houston on modernizing the Space Shuttle hardware and software architecture.

The World is My Home - A Memoir (published 1991)

In 2014, over 30 years after reading Hawaii and Space, I reconnected and enjoyed reading two great Michener books: The World Is My Home - a Memoir and Poland. These treasures were among the discarded books our fellow residents at Freedom Point left in bookcases, such as the one in the photo above.

The World Is My Home - a Memoir is the primary source for the biographical and philosophical information in my presentation and this Blog posting, along with wikipedia.org and answers.com

Poland (published 1983)

Poland traces the history of that beleaguered country from the 1100's when the Mongols and Tatars invaded Europe from the East, to the mid-1600's when Sweden invaded from the North, to the late 1600's when the Ottoman Empire invaded from the South, to the 1900's when Germany invaded again from the East in WWI and WWII, and 1945, when the Russians imposed Communism. Although Michener's book was published in 1983, after Lech Wałęsa and the Solidarity trade-union movement had made considerable progress in the struggle for freedom that eventually led to the overthrow of the Communist government and a transformation to a market economy, only general references to this movement appear in Poland.


MICHENER WAS A FOUNDLING

He started with less than nothing - he did not even have a birth certificate - and was raised in Doylestown, (near Philadelphia) PA, by Mabel Michener, a widow who supported herself doing laundry, sewing, and as a foster mother. She adopted some of her foster children, including James. When he needed a birth certificate to get into the Navy, they used a made-up date of birth and claimed that Mabel was his birth mother and her husband (who had been dead about five years when James was born) was his father. He was raised as a Quaker.

In 1921, at the age of 14, he and a friend set off on a hitchhiking adventure to 45 states, with only the change in their pockets, depending upon odd jobs and the good will of people they met along the way. Michener did very well in high school and attended Swathmore (also near Philadelphia) on scholarship, graduating with a degree in English and Psychology at the age of 23. He spent the next two years traveling in Europe, again with virtually no money, working on a cargo ship and touring with bullfighters. Then he taught high school for a few years, and married the first of his three wives.

After teaching at Colorado State Teachers College, and earning a Masters degree in English there, he taught at Harvard and edited a book on Social Studies for Macmillan Education. That turned into a full-time job at Macmillan until he joined the Navy in 1943, see second and third photos below.

NAVAL SERVICE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC

Michener had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, or, more likely, he worked smart and hard to earn his "luck". In the Navy, he was assigned to the South Pacific. His writing skills and knowledge of how to deal with all sorts of people (from merchant marine sailors on a cargo ship to Spanish bull fighters) and love of travel, got him a job where he went from island to island investigating leadership and other issues and writing reports to the Navy brass. During these assignments, he utilized his spare time (third photo above) to write stories of life in the South Pacific. 

In 1947, one again a civilian, he published his breakout book Tales of the South Pacific which won the Pulitzer the following year and was adapted into a musical the year after that (and a movie in 1958). There is no doubt Michener is a great writer, but he was fantastically lucky having his very first novel published within two years of his return from WWII, winning the Pulitzer the following year, and having it adapted into a hit musical the year after that!

HIS THREE MARRIAGES

As lucky and skillful Michener was in writing, he was unlucky in love, until his third marriage.

He and his first wife, Patti Koon, were married in 1935 and divorced in 1948. He married his second, Vange Nord, that same year and divorced her in 1955. Soon after, he married his third, Mari Yorico Sabusawa, in 1955. The third marriage turned out to be the charm, lasting some 37 years until she passed away in 1994. 


HIS POLITICS

Michener was a lifelong Democrat, but he was well-regarded by both major political parties.

His political activities for the Democrats include: 

1959-60 - Bucks County Pennsylvania Chairman for John F. Kennedy's successful 1960 run for the Presidency.

1962 - Michener's unsuccessful run for Congress.

1967-68 - Secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.

1968 - Campaign Manager for Joseph S. Clark's losing run for re-election to the US Senate seat that Clark had held since 1956.

1969 - Michener wrote a book Presidential Lottery - The Reckless Gamble In Our Electoral System based on his experience as a Democratic Elector for John F. Kennedy's successful run for the Presidency. At the time, he took a pledge that he would cast his Elector vote for the Republican candidate in the event that neither party won a majority and the GOP won a plurality of the Electoral votes. He was concerned that there would be unscrupulous deal making if a third-party won enough Electoral votes to throw the election either way, or if the election was thrown into the House of Representatives, or if the candidate with the most votes passed away between election day and the day the Electors cast their votes. His solution was not to do away with the Electoral vote system where each state gets one vote for each Senator and each Representative. He was opposed to changing the system to a direct popular vote because he was concerned it might be "vulnerable to demagoguery". As I understand his preferred solution, it would be to eliminate the Electors, as individuals who could decide how to cast their vote, and instead formalize how the Electoral votes would be counted such that, if the candidate with the plurality of Electoral votes had at least 40% of them, that candidate would be the winner. That seems to be a reasonable approach to me.

Michener was well regarded by Republicans as well:

1972 - Correspondent for President Nixon's historic trips to Russia and China.

1977 - Awarded US Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that may be bestowed by a civilian, by President Ford.

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT - BEFORE ITS TOO LATE 

I mentioned above that:
... it is literally true, in the words of [the song You Have to be Carefully Taught], that children, prior to the age of 6 or 7 or 8, must be carefully taught the skills of racial and ethnic discrimination and prejudice for the sake of the survival and successful reproduction of long-lasting societies. ... 
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear, ...
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of 
people whose eyes are oddly made,
And 
people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, ...
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To 
hate all the people your relatives hate, ...
SAY WHAT?

No, I'm not in favor of racial or ethnic discrimination within our society, but I understand the biological (genetic) and cultural (memetic) imperatives. Please stick with me here because this may take some time, but I think it may be worth your while.

In the Natural food chain, animals are either predators or prey, or some combination of these categories. You can generally tell which category an animal belongs to by the location of their eyes:
  • If the eyes are on the front of the face, mainly looking forward, that animal is a PREDATOR.
  • If the eyes are on the sides of the face, mainly looking sideways, they are PREY. 
  • Have a look in the mirror to confirm that you are a PREDATOR.
To take a simplified example, Foxes are predators and Rabbits are prey.

On average, the smarter and/or faster Foxes tend to catch, kill, and eat the slower and/or dumber Rabbits. Conversely, again on the average, it is the slower and dumber Foxes who starve to death when they fail to catch the faster and smarter Rabbits. It is this system, red and raw as it is, that stabilizes both the Rabbit and Fox populations and matches them to the available resources, while at the same time, keeping the genetic systems of both species tuned up to fit best to the environment.

That is why Nature has evolved Rabbits (and other prey) to be wary and watchful and FEAR Foxes (and other predators). Rabbits must learn, as infants, to FEAR Foxes. 

That is why Nature has evolved Foxes (and other predators) to rapidly recognize  members of their own troop, and protect their territories from competitors. Foxes must learn, as infants, to HATE competitors for available food resources, such as Foxes in a foreign troop, and other carnivores that feed on small rodents and similar prey. 

Paraphrasing Tennyson, Nature is red and raw of tooth and claw.

Whether you like it or not, we humans (smart and highly evolved as we may be) are part of NATURE. We therefore have  evolved to honor Nature's imperatives.

Humans are great apes, and our closest relatives are the Chimpanzees, which live in troops of a dozen to several dozen individuals. While mostly herbivorous, they will eat small mammals, including other primates, which they hunt in organized groups of drivers, blockers, chasers, and ambushers. They share their catches with others in their group. Their social arrangements are complex. They have a hierarchy and engage in mutual grooming. Male patrol parties protect their territories from other groups of chimps and may take over a smaller group's territory to increase their access to resources such as food and females.

Hominids and Chimpanzees have a common ancestor who lived some five to seven million years ago. A succession of hominids began with Homo habilis, the tool user, who was displaced by a series of more intelligent hominids that led to Homo erectus, who walked upright, and continued the evolution to Homo neanderthalensis, which we Homo sapiens displaced some 40,000 years ago.

Until about 10,000 years ago we humans were organized into nomadic hunter-gatherer societies. Some anthropologists estimate that up to 30% of the deaths in such societies were due to homicide. The advent of agriculture and domestication of animals led to more settled and complex societies, developing into larger tribes and specialization and trade between nearby tribes that had access to different resources.

According to Wikipedia: Human tribes depend upon shared memes (the cultural analog of genes):
Tribalism implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. Based on strong relations of proximity and kinship, members of a tribe tend to possess a strong feeling of identity.
When inevitable conflicts arose within and between primitive tribes they were settled by one group being driven away, a stronger displacing or dominating a weaker, and/or a merger or coalition of tribes. As nearby tribes associated and developed mutually-beneficial trading relationships with neighboring tribes, more and more complex hierarchies and social relationships arose, leading to the formation of nation-states. These highly complex political and economic entities cooperate, compete, and, all to often, war with each other. 
... complex societies (and corporations) rely upon the tribal instincts of their members for their organization and survival. For example, a representative democracy relies on the ability of a "tribe" of representatives to organize and deal with the problems of an entire nation. The instincts that these representatives are using to deal with national problems have been highly developed in the long course of human evolution on a small tribal scale, and this is the source of both their usefulness and their disutility. Indeed, much of the political tension in modern societies is the conflict between the desire to organize a nation-state using the tribal values of egalitarianism and unity and the simple fact that large societies are unavoidably impersonal and sometimes not amenable to small-society rules.
I was reminded of the tribal nature of humanity when my wife and I were visiting relatives in Israel. We were in a crowded area and everyone looked about the same to me when my cousin suddenly alerted and pointed to some individuals and said they were Arabs. Although my cousin was raised in Brooklyn, NY, like my wife and me, years of living with and surviving terrorist violence in Israel had sharpened his ability to sense differences that were opaque to me.

A friend told me he had been raised in inner city Los Angeles, and had been, for a time, a member of the street gang known as the "Crips", whose rival gang was and is the "Bloods". That was decades ago, but his alert response is still active. During the recent Michael Brown controversy, where a policeman shot and killed an unarmed black man, my friend told me that the TV coverage had alerted him to the possibility of gang involvement. He noticed that one of the first locals to approach Brown's body was wearing the red colors of the "Bloods". It also struck him that some photos of Michael Brown showed him giving hand signals that, to my friend, indicated that he was a member of the "Bloods"! That aspect of the controversy was opaque to me and never reported by the major media, as far as I can tell. (However, some fringe websites do make that point.)

As a final example, my wife is especially alert to people with New York accents and Jewish or Hungarian names. Quite often, when she overhears a stranger speaking, she will approach them and ask if they, like she, are from New York. Almost always, they will confirm her suspicions, and she will engage them as if they were old friends, particularly if they are from Brooklyn! When she reads the credits after a movie, or a news story about people honored with the Nobel prize or similar high honors, she will note with pride how many are Jewish. She has an uncanny ability to identify movie stars who have Jewish backgrounds, even if their names have been changed. She also recognizes and identifies with people who have Hungarian names, and is ecstatic when she meets or reads about a person who is both Hungarian and Jewish, particularly if they have excellent accomplishments. Although I can identify many Jewish names, much of the time these situations are opaque to me.

I think it is fair to say that each of us has special abilities to identify and become attracted to people with whom we share some affinity. For example, when travelling in a foreign country, we are especially happy to meet another American, or even a person from an English-speaking country. Or a person with whom we share the same hobby, sports, or profession. Earlier this year, I was in Helsinki, Finland on a kayak adventure with my granddaughter and son-in-law, and I was very happy to discovered that one of the other participants, a young woman who happened to be from Australia, was studying engineering, which is my profession.

The point of this long diversion from the writings of Michener is that we humans are still "tribal" in the best sense of that word. That kind of affinity is an absolutely necessary element in the social glue that keeps societies united and strong. By "society" I include everything from your neighborhood, city, state, and country; to your religion and philosophy; to your language group; your college, your corporation, your favorite sports, the teams you root for, and so on and on.

Furthermore, as that song from South Pacific reminds us:
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight, ...
It is well known that the things you learn as a child, before your reasoning abilities develop, will become "imprinted" or "indoctrinated" in the very structure of your brain, to the point that it is very difficult to undo those beliefs with rational arguments.

In the case of many birds, the individual they see during a critical number of hours after their birth becomes "imprinted" as their "mother". Normally, they will see their actual biological mother during that critical time, and will follow her in particular, and, in general be attracted to birds of the same species, an evolutionary adaptation that strengthens the species.  However, if they happen to get "imprinted" with the image of a white-coated scientist, they will follow that person and others like him or her for the rest of their lives. As another example, each flock of birds has a particular variant of the species song that becomes "imprinted" early in a bird's life. If a bird of the same species, but a different flock, intrudes, it will be recognized as "foreign" and be chased away.

Human brains are much more complex than bird brains. Our "imprinting" or "indoctrination" period spans the first several years of our lives, and is not quite as permanent. However, everything we regularly experience during our early formative years becomes deeply embedded in our psyche. That includes positive values such as family loyalty, caring for helpless children, respect for parents and the elderly, a good work ethic, healthy eating and drinking habits, and so on. However, if young children are repeatedly exposed to spousal and child abuse, or bad eating and drinking habits, or lazy work habits, they are likely to repeat those destructive behaviors when they grow up.

Which brings us to racial (and ethnic) discrimination:
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And 
people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, ...
Of course, even after your critical reasoning faculties have developed, you can still be taught to fear and hate people of different races, religions, and national origins.  However, if these destructive prejudices are learned after childhood, they may generally be unlearned by rational argument.

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Global Warming Skeptic Guide for the Perplexed

How should responsible Global Warming Skeptics respond to opinions from intelligent members of the general public who have been perplexed by the Warmists and Alarmists?

NOTE: AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS HAS BEEN PUBLISHED AT THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR CLIMATE WEBSITE, SEE

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/10/a-guide-for-those-perplexed-about-global-warming/ 

PLEASE CLICK THE LINK TO SEE IT. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION.

IN THE FIRST 12 HOURS, IT WAS VIEWED BY OVER 3,500 PEOPLE, 168 OF WHO TOOK THE TIME TO POST COMMENTS. AT 24 HOURS IT WAS UP TO OVER 10,000 PAGE VIEWS AND 237 COMMENTS. I EXPECT IT TO CONTINUE TO BE POPULAR, GAIN THOUSANDS MORE PAGE VIEWS AND BE RE-POSTED BY OTHERS. 

We should reply in a strictly fact-based way, using official sources, and being careful not to speculate or over-complicate the matter. Here is my shot at it.

At a recent meeting of a local discussion group a well-spoken retired teacher presented a list of important issues that, in his opinion, have received less coverage by the media than they deserve. "Climate Change" was on his list.

He said it was unfortunate that the main proponent of human-caused "Global Warning" was a prominent Democrat (former VP Al Gore), because that led to the issue becoming politicized, with his fellow Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. He speculated that had a leading Republican promoted the same issue, the reaction would probably be the reverse.

He then raised several points, citing the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other expert sources. He said that Global Warming is really happening, with a rise of over 0.7⁰C, and we humans are the main cause due to our massive use of fossil fuels that generate atmospheric CO2, a greenhouse gas that warms the Earth.

During the discussion period I agreed that global warming is real, that atmospheric CO2 undoubtedly causes warming, and that some of the increased CO2 is certainly due to human actions. However, I pointed out that, although atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, and at an accelerating rate, global temperatures have not statistically increased for at least 15 years. Therefore, while CO2 levels have definitely caused some of the warming, and rising CO2 is mostly caused by human activities, CO2 cannot be the main cause.

The presenter assured me that he respected my opinions, but, while he was not a scientist, he was relying on scientists and scientific organizations that had studied the issue. He then read a few quotes, including one that said human actions were likely to lead to a "tipping point" where the ice caps melt and there is runaway warming on a catastrophic scale.

I have prepared the following strictly fact-based response, using sources the presenter himself mentioned and being careful not to speculate or over-complicate the matter.

1- It is undoubtedly true that average surface temperatures have increased significantly since 1880. Human activities are responsible for some portion of that warming. [The image below is the latest GISS Global Temperature Index anomaly. The black squares indicate the mean temperature anomaly for each 12-month calendar year. The thick red line indicates the mean temperature anomaly smoothed over 60 months (five years). This graphic shows a net increase of about 0.8⁰C (about 1.5⁰F) since 1880. While I think "data adjustments" have increased the apparent warming by a few tenths of a degree, I accept that warming since 1880 is at least 0.5⁰C (about 1⁰F)]
Source: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.pdf  - downloaded 6 Sep 2014

2- Atmospheric CO2 levels have risen steadily, and the rate of increase has doubled since reliable CO2 data from Mauna Loa became available around 1959. [The image below is the latest NOAA ESRL Atmospheric CO2 showing an increase of about 1 ppm/year in the 1960's and about 2 ppm/year in the 2000's. The current level is approaching 400 ppm. The pre-industrial level is estimated to have been about 280 ppm.]
Source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ - Downloaded 6 Sep 2014. Annotations in purple by Ira.
3- When compared to actual polar satellite temperature observations, the IPCC climate models have predicted too much warming, particularly after 1998. [The image below is the latest RSS Global temperature anomaly since about 1979 when good global temperature data from polar orbiting satellites became available. Note how, from 1999 to the present, the actual observations of temperature (thick black line) consistently fall below the yellow band (IPCC climate model prediction range with supposed 95% probability).]
Source: http://www.remss.com/research/climate - Downloaded 6 Sep 2014. Annotations in purple by Ira.
[NOAA Caption "Fig. 1.  Global (80S to 80N) Mean TLT Anomaly plotted as a function of time.  The thick black line is the observed time series from RSS V3.3 MSU/AMSU Temperatures.  The yellow band is the 5% to 95% range of output from CMIP-5 climate simulations.  The mean value of each time series average from 1979-1984 is set to zero so the changes over time can be more easily seen. Again, after 1998, the observations are likely to be below the simulated values, indicating that the simulation as a whole are predicting too much warming."] (my bold)
Please note that, according to the actual RSS polar satellite temperature observations (thick black line), there has been absolutely no net warming after 1998. Indeed, 2013 is about 0.6⁰C (more than 1⁰F) cooler than the middle of the predicted range, and even 0.3⁰C (more than 0.5⁰F) cooler than the lower edge of the predicted range. Also note that the thick black line falls well below the yellow band, which indicates that the statistical 95% confidence level claimed for the IPCC climate models is not valid. Over the most recent 15-year period, actual satellite temperature observations have consistently been cooler than the central prediction of the IPCC climate models, by from 0.2⁰C to 0.8⁰C (about 0.4⁰F to 1.5⁰F).   

4- According to the NASA GISS Global Temperature Index, when smoothed over a calendar year, there has been no net warming for 15 years. Even when smoothed over a longer period of five years, there has been no net warming for seven years. [The image below is a close-up of the upper right corner of the first image in this posting.]
Source: Close-up view of the upper right corner of the NASA GISS Global Temperature Index anomaly from the first graphic in this posting. Annotations in purple by Ira.
[The black squares represent the temperature anomaly for each given calendar year (12 month average). Note that 1998 is warmer than 2013, indicating no net warming for 15 years. The thick red line represents the 5-year running mean (smoothed over 5 years which is 60 months). Note that 2003 is at the same temperature as 2010, indicating no net warming for at least seven years.]


CONCLUSIONS

All of the above facts and data is directly from official, government-sponsored climate research organizations, and I have provide web links so anyone can check them his- or herself. If any reader thinks I have distorted or misrepresented any of the above material I will appreciate it if he or she posts a comment to this blog detailing any objections. (If you cannot figure out how to post a blog comment, please send your material to me in an email to ira@techie.com and I will be happy to post it for you.)

Unlike the above, the following conclusions involve some speculation on my part.

a- Politicization of the issue. I agree that "Climate Change" and "Global Warming" have been way over-politicized. Had the main proponent been a Republican, positions might have been reversed. However, I cannot imagine any Republican President or VP or other Republican office-older of similar national prominence falling for the idea that we humans are responsible for the majority of the warming we have experienced, or that the warming process is likely to lead to global catastrophe. And, even if he or she went along with the initial dire predictions, any reasonable and responsible politician (of either party) would understand that the absolute disconnect between actual temperature observations and predictions of IPCC climate models invalidates the idea of human-caused catastrophic climate change, and reverse their positions.

b- Activists in the catastrophic climate change industry purposely misrepresent the views of responsible Skeptics by making a number of false claims:

  • FALSE CLAIM - Skeptics do not believe the basic science of the Atmospheric "greenhouse" effect. RESPONSE - We do accept that water vapor, CO2, and other 'greenhouse" gases are responsible for the Earth being around 33⁰C (60⁰F) warmer than it would be if there were no "greenhouse"gases in the Atmosphere. However, based on the failure of the IPCC climate models to comport with actual temperature observations for at least 15 years, we question the IPCC position that doubling of CO2 will warm the Earth surface by 1.5⁰C to 4.5⁰C (3⁰F to 8⁰F). For example, I believe the true value (called "climate sensitivity") is only a half or a third of what the IPCC claims.
  • FALSE CLAIM - Skeptics do not believe the Earth surface has warmed significantly since 1880. RESPONSE -  We do accept that average global surface temperatures have increased by at least 0.5⁰C (1⁰F) since pre-industrial times. Many of us think that the thermometer record is somewhat unreliable. It is a matter of official record that, in recent decades, old temperature data prior to the 1970's have been adjusted down by as much as 0.3⁰C (0.5⁰F) and date after the 1980's adjusted up, which has increased claimed net warming by a few tenths of a degree. NASA GISS and other official record-keepers say these "data adjustments" are valid, but many of us think they are self-serving. However, we could be wrong, and the net warming since 1880 might be as much as 0.8⁰C (1.5⁰F). 
  • FALSE CLAIM - Skeptics do not believe that human activities have any part in causing the warming. RESPONSE - We do accept that unprecedented burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, and some changes in land use, are responsible for a significant fraction of the actual warming. However, based on comparison of actual temperature observations with IPCC climate models, I am convinced that the majority of warming is due to natural causes and processes not under human control or influence.

Looking forward to your comments.

Ira Glickstein



Saturday, August 30, 2014

My New Wheels - Yes, It Is a Girl's Bike!

Just got a 7-speed Schwinn 700c (27") to replace my Bike Friday fold-up that had a chain slip problem due to worn-out gears.

Like many an "old dog", I can't swing my foot as high as I used to, so I really appreciate the step-thru feature of a girl's bicycle. (Thanks to my good friend Herb for suggesting that I get a girl's bike.) 

My Schwinn is a lovely powder blue (they were out of the pink ones :^).
The new bike was $150 (plus tax) at Walmart, which is only a bit more than it would have cost to replace the gears and chain on my old bike, and I no longer need the folding feature. I gave my old bike to my good friend Garf whose son is in the bicycle business so he can fix it up for someone who wants a fold-up.

I've been riding a fold-up for decades, including a trip to England as well as several places in the US and Canada. The one I discarded was my third Bike Friday, and I will miss it, but I no longer take my bicycle on trips to distant places, so the folding aspect is not of value to me anymore.

At 75 years old, I still do 30-40 miles a week on the relatively flat streets and recreation paths of The Villages, FL, and hope I can keep it up for a few more years at least.

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, August 17, 2014

50th-0 CELEBRATING OUR 50th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Vi and Ira Glickstein were married 50 years ago, in 1964.

The following postings include highlights of our life together and of our 50th anniversary family Baltic cruise.

CLICK THE HYPERTEXT BELOW TO JUMP TO YOUR TOPIC OF CHOICE
  1. Wedding and Farm Days 
  2. Passing the Genes and Memes
  3. Computers R Us (Ira and Vi's careers)
  4. Retirement in The Villages, FL
  5. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Air Travel and Shipboard activities)
  6. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Land-Tours)


50th-1 Wedding and Farm Days

50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE - FLAG DAY, JUNE 14th 1964 to 2014

TOP: We were young and foolish when we got married on June 14th 1964. 
BOTTOM: But look at what 50 years together has done! Lower middle photos are distorted using iPad "twisted" camera feature, but that is how we really feel! Ira (and Vi)
PILOT AND CO-PILOT FOR LIFE

Fifty years ago, a few days after our wedding, I rented a Cessna 152 and flew my new wife from Chatham Airport in NJ up to Niagara Falls, NY, stopping in Binghamton, NY for fuel. (Little did we know that less than two years later I would accept a job at IBM Owego, in the Binghamton area, and we would live and work there for nearly 40 years!)

TOP LEFT: Vi and Ira, Co-Pilot and Pilot for life, prepare to depart from Chatham Airport in Morristown, NJ. 

MIDDLE: We stopped in Binghamton, NY to refuel.
TOP RIGHT: Inflight on our  "Honeymoon Special" adventure! 
BOTTOM: We rented a car and spent the night at the aptly named "Honeymoon Motel"on the Canadian side. 

We flew home the following day but the weather got bad so we had to spend the night at a hotel in Binghamton, returning the rented airplane in NJ the following morning.

OUR "GREEN ACRES" FARM DAYS

Early in our marriage, I took a job at IBM Federal Systems, Owego, NY, not far from Binghamton!
We purchased an old farm house with three barns and 88 acres of land in Newark Valley, NY, about 12 miles north of Owego.

TOP LEFT: Vi's parents, Gilbert and Clara Stark, visit our farm where we raised sheep. We had a kerosene heater in the kitchen and propane heaters in two other rooms. Our bedroom lacked any heater at all. I can still imagine what they were thinking "What have you done to our daughter?"
BOTTOM LEFT: Ira's parents, Morris and Ruth Glickstein, visit our farm. With the help of the New York State Agricultural Extension Service, we built a 1/4 acre pond on our land above the house and barns. We sometimes camped there.
RIGHT: Vi and Lisa get close and personal with one of our Angus beef cattle.
Some more views of our "Green Acres" FARM DAYS (1965-1973). 

TOP: In addition to the very old house and barns, the purchase included Trixie, our loyal dog. We built a dirt road up to the pond we put on the land above the house and barns.

BOTTOM LEFT: Me with my Dad Morris on road overlooking house and barns. Dad enclosed the front porch and made major improvements inside the house.

BOTTOM RIGHT: I'm in the middle, shoveling the chicken manure left over from the hens raised for eggs by the previous owners. Steamy and pungent, but great fertilizer!

ALSO SEE:
  1. Wedding and Farm Days 
  2. Passing the Genes and Memes
  3. Computers R Us (Ira and Vi's careers)
  4. Retirement in The Villages, FL
  5. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Air Travel and Shipboard activities)
  6. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Land-Tours)

50th-2 Passing the Genes and Memes

We successfully passed our genes and memes to the third and fourth generations.

PASSING THE GENES

TOP LEFT: Ruth and Morris Glickstein, Ira's parents.
MIDDLE: Clara and Gilbert Stark, Vi's parents.
TOP RIGHT: Ira and Vi as children.
BOTTOM RIGHT: At our wedding reception and dinner.
LEFT: Our daughters Lisa, Rena, and Sara as youngsters
MIDDLE: As newlyweds with Jerry, David, and Avi, respectively.
RIGHT: Our grandchildren, Samantha, Michaela, Alexia, ... and Isaac (Emerson not pictured)

FOUR GENERATIONS - FROM GRANDPARENTS TO GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN

LEFT: Ira's Father, Morris, holds his great grandchildren Alexia, Michaela, and Samantha. Ira is Morris's son, and Lisa is the mother of Morris's great-grandchildren.
RIGHT TOP: Vi's grandmother Julia (and her husband, Chaim), with her great-grandchildren, Lisa, Rena, and Sara. Clara is Julia's daughter, Vi's mother, and grandmother of the children. Vi is the mother of Julia's great-grandchildren.
RIGHT BOTTOM: Julia with her great-grandchildren. Man at right is Gilbert, Vi's father.

PASSING THE TORCH OF JUDIASM

LEFT: Ira's Bar Mitzvah (1952). Vi & Ira's Jewish wedding (1964)

MIDDLE: Lisa, Rena and Sara's Bat Mitzvahs (1978, 1980, 1982)

RIGHT: Alexia, Michaela, and Samantha's Bat Mitzvahs (2011) 


ALSO SEE:
  1. Wedding and Farm Days 
  2. Passing the Genes and Memes
  3. Computers R Us (Ira and Vi's careers)
  4. Retirement in The Villages, FL
  5. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Air Travel and Shipboard activities)
  6. Our 50th Anniversary Baltic Cruise (Land-Tours)