Author Archives: Brad Keyes

Learning English from History

ON THIS AFTERNOON IN HISTORY,

nothing really happened in Dresden, the cultural and choreographic capital of wartime Germany.

Little girls hopped scotch in the streets. Their brothers kicked feetball around or biked-ride at local ducks- and fishpond. Häusenfrau whistled to themself as they sprang-clean (having already sprung-clean six months ago—such is the hell of war). While the women threw out moldy newspaper and used teethbrush, their manfolks and brother-in-laws sipped gins-and-tonic and brokedance in the gentlemens’ club that lined the streets of the old city of an afternoon.

What would have become of Germany’s Hip Hop Prenaissance, we can only speculate.

At six o’clock, in the amber Götterdämmerung, Allied pilots dove-bomb Dresden. Down they swooped in one fell sweep after another, raining truckloadsful of fiery Heil on the City of Gothic Love.

Unlike physics or chemistry, history is unforgivable—or so we were taught in high school. But isn’t war just a trade-off between ethics and effectiveness, like science itself? If the Greatest Generation hadn’t shatstorm the living fuck out of that innocent city one innocent night, who knows what we’d be speaking right now?

Not grammatically-correct English, I’ll tell you that much.

This kind of imponderable is the reason I never could stand blogging about the long and winding story of human civilization. Let’s stick to what we know for certain here at Nuremberg, shall we: the future state of the planet’s atmosphere.

Don’t get me wrong. Overlapping magisteria is not only incredibly useful, but are incredibly useful.

And I’m one of the biggest, longest fans of the Naomi Oreskeses’—those rare intellects that can bore a fistula between Science and History. But such great bores are rare, and I’m just not that kind of tool, I’m afraid. The work Naomi does every day is too diabolical for me.

What makes the history books so cryptic, contradictory and confusing is that they’re written by winners.

Thank God the scientific literature doesn’t have that problem. ◼︎

BREAKING: Fidel Incredibly Old

UPDATE: Fidel Castro has died, aged considerably, in Havana.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the 17th President of Cuba, has lost his battle with thermodynamics.

In an increasingly divided world, Fidel ruled for all Cubans—whoever they voted for.

They say the President was more like a father to his people: fondly doling out a few dollars’ pocket money every year, telling them who they could and couldn’t date, being older than them, grounding them if they got lippy, coming home with his drink on and beating Che Guevara (who was like their mother) for over-microwaving his dinner.

castro-233

The ruling Party’s Party Planning Committee will release fireworks every night for the next 40 nights to remind Cubans to continue mourning.

At a time when all too many Cubans had lost actual parents to the terrors of the People’s Revolution, a strong paternal figure was just what the doctor ordered to heal a hurting nation.

But like any carer of the wounded, el Comandante bore a cross he could never share with the very population closest to him. Castro was haunted by workaholism most of his adult life. So all-consuming was his devotion to public service, he agreed to serve as the nation’s President for decades (a sacrifice that must have seemed superhuman to his many one- and two-term American counterparts). Only in 2008 did Castro ask his ‘children’s’ permission to retire, knowing that if he waited for them to vote him out, he’d be waiting forever.

Fidel was said to be as surprised as anyone when the next-best man for the Presidency on the entire island turned out to be his own kid brother, Raúl.

Having just turned 72 when this greatness was thrust upon him, Raúl Castro represented the thinking, the energy and the aspirations of a new generation of Cubans. Happily, ‘Castro 18’ soon demonstrated a political genius beyond his years, silencing the pessimists who’d written him off as a callow young playboy, along with their families.


The nation’s favorite son has died doing what Cubans loved most: regaling them with an anecdote about his youthful adventures. Fidel’s last words not only held a baseball stadium of ordinary Cubans captive for three hours straight this morning, but seemed to be on the verge of making a point.

About what, historians of rhetoric will still be debating a century from now. If you put a gun to their head, say witnesses, Fidel was probably building up to the announcement of a new, socialist ornithology. But the decline of the Studio System in American cinema is being named as another possible theme.

In a divided world, Fidel ruled for all Cubans—no matter who they voted for.

Ironically, the former President’s penchant for dramatic, mid-word silences (with which he was often known to keep audiences in suspense for 120 minutes or more) may have led to critical delays in diagnosing his death.

“At first we assumed, like everyone else: el Comandante is pausing for effect,” explained Dr. René Vallejo, one of twelve personal physicians on duty at Fidel’s standing-room-only lecture in the Havana Goodtime Dome.

The interlude was beginning to trouble Vallejo, he says, when he had to leave on a compulsory meal break. When he got back to the stadium a few hours later, breathless from sprinting, the 18,000-strong crowd was still waiting “in an atmosphere of pin-drop quiet” for Castro’s next syllable.

To interrupt the motionless, slumped-over Demosthenes at that point—just as his silence was nearing peak pregnancy—would have been unthinkable, felt the veteran doctor.

“Then at last we saw the signs, in the amber gloaming: rigor mortis was setting in,” Vallejo told reporters this evening. He said he had no recollection of the seconds that followed. Adrenalin and muscle memory kicked in, and suddenly he was on stage, flanked by a phalanx of paramedics, nurses and specialists at the President Emeritus’ side.

But there was nothing they could do. The rigor mortis had gone too far.

The last living guerrilla was dead.


An epidemic of whooping and dancing—a classic reaction to bereavement in many cultures—spread outwards from Havana at the speed of sadness this afternoon. For the men, women and children of this island paradise, suicide will be the only escape from the lugubrious alarum of the vuvuzuela tonight as a million cheeks execute Latin America’s one-note answer to Danny Boy. But for every grief-stricken reveler on the street, another ten Cubans will spend a noisy night at home, drowning their sorrows in champagne. So great has been the national outpouring (as it were) that it’s no longer possible to buy a bottle of the Batista-era sparkling wine anywhere in the country.

Party-owned television is announcing that the next 32 to 35 days of spontaneous popular solemnity will be overseen by a special Party Planning Committee.


Meanwhile, just an intercontinental ballistic stone’s throw away, the people of Miami, Florida appear determined to party ’til dawn in sympathy with their cousins across the Gulf.

Cuba’s superpower neighbor, which is barely 90 miles away on a clear day, owes the ethnic vibrancy of such metropolises as Miami, Tampa and Union City to one man—Fidel Castro—more than anyone else combined.

Barack Obama—the mestizo politician being trotted out to speak for the US regime’s interests this week—eulogized the bearded, iconoclastic icon as “a man without whom the great Diaspora of Cuba’s best and brightest people would never have been possible. Or necessary.”

Even Donald Trump, an apex capitalist who holds the real power in Washington, admitted that Castro’s pre-dawn cremation would be “a moment for Cuban-Americans and American non-Cubans to come together—not to mourn his death, but to celebrate his death.”

Nothing we say can possibly make ordinary Cubans feel any better right now.

But as a token of our tiny respect and sympathy, Climate Nuremberg will use black fonts this week.

SIC SEMPER FIDEL.


Note: When Fidel gives a public speech, audience casualty figures are reported on the back page of Granma, Cuba’s newspaper of record; this evening’s edition is no exception.

Proceedings at the Havana Goodtime megadrome today were officially fatality-free; the death of two males (F. Castro, 90, and J. Sepúlveda, 43) to suspected heat stress was cancelled out when an unnamed woman went into labor during the legendary orator’s opening remarks, quietly giving birth to twins at 6:12 and 6:20 pm.

BREAKING: Deniers Admit Pause in Warming Pause

Well, well, well, it seems the first rat has accepted reality and scurried off the good ship HMS Avoidance.

Last time I checked out the hottest, most rapidly-heating-up new site in the deniosphere (which I try not to do—long story), climate “skeptics” were insisting the Pause had never stopped. It’s still happening, they cried—it’s just been “masked” by “short-term noise”! We haven’t had “long enough” (whatever that means) to pronounce death yet, quacked these often self-conferred MDs. It’s Not Statistically Significant!

So I suppose congratulations are in order for high-profile denioblogger Jaime Jessop, who evidently has the rat-cunning most of her conspecifics lack.

The title of Dr Jessop’s new post says it all. In fact, the first 3 words alone are rope enough (and can therefore be quoted out of all context, without the slightest ethical or intellectual qualms on our part):

The Pause Returns […]

It’s hard to exaggerate the significance of this three-word admission, because I’m a science communicator, so every fibre of my being is viscerally opposed to hyperbole—which is literally worse than lying.

So I’ll just have to understate it:

This changes everything. The tectonic plates have shifted. The continents have realigned, and the constellations themselves are sure to follow.

What Dr Jessop has just conceded—gracelessly, backhandedly and teeth-clenchingly—is that there really was a pause in the Pause. To be sure, it’s over now—the pause in the pause has stopped, at least temporarily, and the pause is back, for the time being at least—but what matters is that the pause did stop, at some point. Just like we’ve been trying to get through their lead-lined calvaria this whole time.

I hate to say “I told you so,” but being a hero sometimes means doing things you hate. So here goes:

You were told so. By me.

I said so. To you. Do I really have to spell it out?

I—the editor-in-chief of Climate Nuremberg—told you—the science-denying community—so.

Breaking ranks is never easy, and Dr Jessop can expect to be called aside for a quiet word tonight. Bank on it. The pausist cause was just rewound by years, if not decades. There are going to be a lot of raised fingers and pointed voices in the denialist flatearthosphere in coming days, you can take that to your stockbroker.

What was she thinking?!, voices will demand to know. This won’t help the Cause of the Pause! Won’t somebody think of the Pause Cause?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

Or a rat under the floorboards. Both good options.

Historic Initiative Brings Africans Across Seas “To Do The Jobs Americans Won’t”

by Erasto Mpemba
CN Africa Correspondent

Johannesburg, S.A.—With world attention fixed on the looming US election, outgoing President Obama has announced the launch of his foreign-policy brainchild, the so-called Africa Works Initiative.

The first consignment of eager Africans has already embarked for US shores and is expected at Baltimore sometime this afternoon. Officials in Washington say the trans-Atlantic migration and employment scheme, the first of its kind ever, will operate on a voluntary basis to begin with.

It’s traditional for the US President to devote his ‘lame duck’ years to projects that engage his personal passion but are unlikely to arouse opposition in Congress. Barack Obama has embraced this custom with gusto: Africa Works is said to have been at the heart of his vision for the new American workplace for years.

“Because Africa’s Greatest Natural Resource… Is Its People,” explained the President at a Washington, DC media conference earlier this month.

if it succeeds, ‘AfWorks’ would not only define Obama’s second term in office, but transform just about every aspect of US life—from the rural economy to the industrial landscape, even the makeup of the American people itself—forever.

But it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. In an embarrassing open-mic incident on September 20, Rwandan President Paul Kagame groaned audibly as Obama took the lectern to promote the scheme.

“Great,” Mr Kagame was heard whispering to a colleague, “just what we need… another white man telling us how to run our country.”

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America the Unexceptional? Reax, analyisis rounded up

Cultural relativism; civilizational equivalentism; American unexceptionalism; call it what you will, the myth that all societies are created equal seems to be pandemic in the one country that’s more equal than others.

Despite its prima facie absurdity, this misconception takes hold at an early age among US students, as a new NEF report, released yesterday, is the latest to confirm. Here’s what the lesser outlets are saying about yesterday’s announcement.

masthead time-logo-og copy 2In Europe there’s an entire tradition of jokes predicated on the American tourist who operates (loudly) under the assumption that other societies enjoy the same freedoms and standard of living as “back home,” only to find out the hard way that the local culture is retrograde in some way.

A film poking fun at the phenomenon—named If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be A Vibrant Technology Hub With High Female Literacy—was the runaway hit of 2012 in a particularly backward sliver of Europe known as the Basque area.

(As trivia-lovers and Scrabble champs will attest, Basque isn’t a word we just made up. The region is very real; its eponymous inhabitants have been dubbed the Kurds of Europe, but tend to object to the comparison to Mid-eastern, and therefore even worse-off, people.)

The filmmakers stuck to English throughout production—not just for obvious reasons, but also to avoid prison. In much of the Basque-speaking world it’s against the law to speak Basque.

masthead Newsweek-logo copy 2Our reputation for cultural naivete precedes us almost as far East as it’s possible to go in the Far East.

“You Americans are all the same. ‘Back home nobody tells us what kind of sugar to put in our coffee. Back home we get to choose what to call our dogs, who to vote for, what to think. Back home they don’t arrest people for this. Back home we get to make one last phone call, oh god for the love of humanity please, wah wah wah,’” mocks Kim, 33, who works as a Supreme Leader, just like his father and grandfather before him.

Basketball is Kim’s real passion, but under intense pressure to carry on the family profession he resigned himself to studying Economics at Yale.

College overseas was an eye-opener for the sheltered princeling, who was shocked to find that real Americans were nowhere near as cross-culturally sophisticated as their one-dimensional portrayal back home led him to expect.

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Report: US Teens Insular, Ignorant About Inferior Countries

Only 58% of students could point to the ass end of the world on a map.

A new National Education Foundation report is out today, based on a nationwide quiz of middle-school students. Entitled ‘The Bigotry of High Expectations: American students are deplorably ignorant about the wider, lesser world,’ the paper lends weight to fears that the myth of American unexceptionalism may now be widespread among US teens.

You might assume that in the greatest country on Earth, young adults would grasp the logical implication: that the rest of the world is, well, less great.

But if you expected that, you’ve been living in a cave, says speleobiologist David Dixon—as illustrated by the scores from the NEF quiz about the world’s countries, good and otherwise.

“Let’s just say performance was… poor,” continues Dr Dixon. “As in, Dominican Republic poor.”

Almost 60% of candidates were unable to name the capital city of a tinpot banana republic.

Fewer than half of respondents knew the preferred term for the planet’s most retarded regions (‘developmentally-delayed countries’).

And only 58% were able to point to the ass end of the world on a map. “Which was barely better than guessing,” Dixon explains.

Scores were even worse when it came to more challenging questions, such as:

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I Have a Doppelgänger

by Brad Keyes

It seems someone called Brad Keyes has been peddling defamatory denialism over here. (Don’t click.) Many thanks to all the concerned readers who, through no fault of their own, got lost on the Internet and wound up in that hive of scum and villainy that is the hottest site in the skeptosphere, only to see this crank trading on the counterfeit credibility that comes with having the same first and last name as yours truly.

So, what do we know about my nemetic namesake?

Well, climate science is easily the most complicated, multidisciplinary can of worms our species has ever opened, so we can assume this Keyes guy must have undertaken the many years of postdoctoral scholarship necessary to mouth off reliably on the issues… right?

Imagine my surprise when a Google Scholar search for the name “Brad Keyes” shows a grand total of zero hits in any relevant field.

Yes, that’s zero with two zeros.*

Ouch. So much for credibility!

So here’s a friendly warning for my disbelievalist Doppelgänger:

In science, reputation is everything. And reputation takes a lifetime to earn, but a moment to undo.

Just ask a water scientist called Peter Gleick.

In a single act of lateral journalism now known as Water-gate, Dr Gleick—a sought-after lecturer on scientific ethics—managed to discredit the Heartland Institute forever.

Just sayin’, Braddles old pal.


*Including the alternative form “Bradley” improves the results by a factor of infinity, but this isn’t particularly impressive when you recall that the denominator was 0.