Little Big Man

Little Big Man

In September, as the result of a typo in a spreadsheet, Electronic Arts issues an update to Madden NFL 06 that reduces 6-foot-3, 305-pound New York Jets lineman Michael King to a height of 7 inches. The next day, EA fixes the bug — to a chorus of complaints from customers who enjoyed watching the shin-high blocker get steamrollered by full-size players such as seven-time All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Retouching Politburo photos

I am shocked, shocked to hear that polititians are rewriting on-line information to make themselves look better. The Transcript reports that congressional House staffers made more than 1,000 changes to entries in Wikipedia the cooperative on-line encyclopedia.

In November and December, the Transcript has learned, users of the House address were temporarily blocked from changing content because of vandalism, violations described by the site as a “deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of the encyclopedia.”

Suppressing inconvenient science

Science is an unforgiving business. The scientific method depends on testing and evaluating theories, promoting ones that have merit, and eliminating those that do not fit the facts.

Polititians, on the other hand, are not interested in re-evaluating their public positions. And in the Bush administration, which has a history of hostility to science, theories that do agree with the party position are suppressed or openly attacked.

So it should come as no surprise that a leading climate expert claims that NASA Tried to Silence Him.

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

After [a] speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, [NASA officials warned] Dr. Hansen that there would be “dire consequences” if such statements continued…

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. […] He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all NASA personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Of course, the government can declare anything as a “policy statement”. Next will they tell scientists not to promote alternative energy sources? Or discuss contraceptives? Not to advocate teaching evolution in schools? Is that “policy”?

Meanwhile, the administration continues to emphasize public relations over truth:

George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen […]

Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. “the most liberal” media outlet in the country. […] Mr. Deutsch said his job was “to make the president look good” and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch’s priority.