Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall Street Bailout

I don't know what to make of the meltdown in the financial industry and the government's efforts to fix it.

It seems the basic problem is that the financial industry - led apparently by the government, in particular Congressman Barney Frank, and the Wall St. investment banks - made an extraordinary number of really bad mortgage loans.

Most of the country had no idea what was going on. I heard an inkling from my sister, who sells real estate. She told me her company (at the time) was pushing new contruction houses on first-time home buyers who didn't have the money to buy a house. She said they were giving loans - many under various federal "guarantee" programs - to buyers who couldn't come up with even $100 for a down payment. It was literally "just sign here and the house is yours". She told me that they could get a mortgage for literally anyone, and were literally doing so.

At the time I thought this was odd, and a bad idea, but I had no idea of the scope of the problem. Apparently her situation was typical of the real estate market across the country, and the major investment banks were putting a huge percentage of the country's financial wealth into these transparently bad loans.

In retrospect, this whole problem (of deliberately giving mortgage loans to people who obviously couldn't pay) seems obvious, and I think it seemed obvious at the time to ordinary sane people who knew about it. Various demonstrably smart people like Warren Buffett warned against it, and were ignored.

I think perhaps the mortgage companies thought that when the homeowners couldn't pay, they would simply foreclose on property that had since appreciated, and they'd make more money. The problem with that theory was that all these dumb mortage loans created a huge real estate bubble, which meant these people who couldn't pay their loans owed a lot more money than the houses were worth.

In simple terms, the whole economy was in this artificial bubble created by banks deliberately making these bad loans. There were anecdotal warnings from others in the financial industry that the situation was unsustainable, but the warnings went unheeded by the industry leaders in both finance and housing.

There is some evidence that there was criminal collusion between the mortgage industry, the financial industry, and regulators... read the wikipedia entry on the subprime mortgage crisis for more info. Apparently the most egregious offenders making the transparently bad loans were paying off lots of government officials under the table to keep the ball rolling.

This hidden scandal has major implications for the current political season. It is probably not an accident that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were among Barack Obama's biggest campaign contributors. I think it gets a lot worse than it looks, and of course the MSM is in full cover-up mode as usual.

So in this environment, the President and the leaders of both parties tried to sell us on the need for a $700 billion bailout of Wall St. this week, as necessary to save the economy.

Is it? I really don't know. Maybe it is. It seems to me that there is a hell of a lot of bad debt out there, and for the government to force you and me to buy it up is not exactly a recipe for long-term success. It seems like the only thing that will work is for all the bad debt to get out of the system, as soon as possible. If that means everyone's real estate values will go down (which has already happened), that's probably unavoidable.

The sooner the economy confronts this disaster and swallows the bitter pill, the sooner we can put this situation behind us. I'm afraid that transferring all the bad debt to the taxpayers will only prolong the agony, while socializing the whole US economy forever in the process.

But maybe I'm totally wrong, and things will be worse if there isn't a bailout. I really can't tell what's going on from the shenanigans in Washington. The bailout bill yesterday really was advertised as a "done deal", and there was adequate bipartisan support to pass it. That was obviously not the case.

And weird stuff went on. Nancy Pelosi apparently made a deliberate effort to scuttle the bill, by going out of her way to piss off the Republican swing votes in the house minutes before the roll call. Why did she want the bill to fail? To benefit Barack Obama? It amazes me that the candidate most closely associated with the subprime mortgage scandal is benefiting the most from the debacle. That kind of tells me our society is completely off the tracks and our future is not a happy one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's going on here?

Iranian ship captured by pirates with mysterious, toxic cargo.

Wow - this is the most interesting story no one has heard about. An Iranian ship operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, AKA the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Shipping Lines, was captured by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

Said pirates board ship to plunder cargo, and reportedly emerge with strange ailments, skin lesions, and hair loss. The Iranian ship had departed Nanjing, China, and claimed a destination of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, with a cargo of "iron ore and industrial materials" for a "German client".

If much of any of this story is true, the ship may be carrying Chinese nuclear material and equipment for the Iranian nuclear program, being shipped (or smuggled) via Europe to avoid international scrutiny.

The pirates and Somali officials say the ship is suspected of delivering weapons to Somali Islamic extremists in Eritrea, but I doubt this is true unless the Iranians are arming Somali terrorists with Chinese nuclear weapons.

The ship was captured on 21 August, and is reportedly still being held in Somalia. The pirates negotiated a ransom with the Iranians, but the Iranians cancelled the deal, saying they couldn't come get their ship because of the presence of the US Navy in the area.

I had to Google the heck out of this story to find anything at all about it. Here is one more story. And another.

The last story has an interesting twist - it says the US government has offered the pirates $7 million to search the ship. That's just fascinating. The question is whether the pirates hatred of the US outweighs their love of booty, and I don't know that there's any answer to that yet.

The question is what happens if we discover definitively that the ship is in fact carrying Chinese nuclear material being smuggled illegally to Iran? What do we do? My guess is that the US gov't might want to keep that story a secret, rather than potentially ignite a major international crisis.

I further suspect this is why we haven't heard more about this story - absolutely nothing in the MSM as far as I can tell.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Joyful Noise

Last Sunday, our church got the notion, as Yankee churches sometimes do, that they should do a spiritual. Uh huh. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Bach and Mozart in the form of some Mass, but I like it more as classical music than as religious music. Most of the hymns of the 18th and 19th centuries don't do anything for me. White people up here grow up on the formal music, and they just are not equipped to take the musical journey down South. Doing "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" exactly as written on the page? That kind of music is supposed to jump up off the score and make you feel like, well like this:

Mahalia Jackson was a superstar, but she was also pretty typical of the women of her age. I remember the last of those large-and-in-charge matrons of the church with their hats and wigs, and the best religious music is supposed to make you feel like one of them just grabbed your skinny ass and dragged it into the aisle - clapping and dancing, or at least swaying to the beat, are not optional. When white people, white Yankees sing this music? I applaud the effort, but it makes me twitch.

That might sound funny coming from someone as white as I am, but there were three white people in the church I grew up in: my mom, my dad, and me. Mom was a schoolteacher in a small town and hated the small town gossip that spread through the petty old biddies that ran the social scene in the local churches, so we looked farther afield for our spiritual home. Dad worked in agricultural meteorology for the fruit growers over in Jefferson County, West Virgina. For those of you who think of WV as poor and white, Jefferson County is the exception to your preconceptions - it's either rich and white (the literati who surround Shepherdstown University) or poor and black. Harper's Ferry, where John Brown tried to free some slaves (and managed to free a few by killing them) is in Jefferson County - the descendants of those slaves are still there.

Dad used to eat lunch over in Shepherdstown in a greasy spoon run by a nut named Danny Frye - Frye was known to have a short temper and once threw an order of french fires at a customer who complained about his cooking. His long suffering waitress was an older black woman named Myrtle Stubbs. Dad and Myrtle used to chat a lot, and hearing about our search for a church, she invited us to visit hers, just up West Main street. So we landed at St. John's Baptist for the next 16+ years, until my father's death.

The organist at St. John's was Myrtle's big brother. He was a WWII Navy vet, who formed his first jazz band at age 12, named Newton Washington. Mr Newt could not read music, but his musical taste has shaped mine since I was 5. He died a few years ago, but you can find his picture at the bottom of this montage.

Mr. Newt was a bit of a hero to me. He was dedicated to making his town a better place to live - he volunteered all over the place, and served in local government. He formed an inter-denominational singing group called The Brothers of Harmony. He didn't have a flashy voice, but he had a mellow baritone with that touch of honey on the throat that older black men sometimes get. It used to send chills up my spine to hear him sing the last verse to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" - the one ending with the words "as he died to make men holy, let us die to make them free".

He held no bitterness at all for the decades of mistreatment he had suffered prior to (and a bit after) 1964. His family had been slaves of a cousin of George Washington, and he used to talk about having to get up and move to the back of the bus when he crossed state lines on leave from the Navy in WWII. I was a bit of a WWII nut at that young age, and I just could not fathom treating a nice man such as Mr. Newt that way, to say nothing of a man in uniform.

I guess it's through Mr. Newt's influence that spirituality to me has always meant music. While theological doctrine is important, it's never been the point of worship for me. I do the best I can to pass that on, and it amuses me to no end to hear little voices whose mother tongue is an alien one to me (though I do speak it) singing We'll Understand it Better By 'n By (Mr. Newt's favorite, and mine) in Southern-accented English.

I'm still twitching from last Sunday, so I'll offer another favorite of Mr. Newt's, from the late, great Clara Ward, just to help me remember what it's supposed to be like:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ivins Case

Senator Patrick Leahy expressed doubt about the FBI's case against now-dead suspect Dr. Bruce Ivins in hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

That isn't really very newsworthy - lots of people doubt that the FBI's version is the full story.

The interesting part is that there will be independent review of the DNA analysis that lead to the alleged "fingerprinting" of the anthrax spores used in the attack, definitively linking them to anthrax samples at Ft. Detrick. I've thought since I first read about it that the DNA analysis was less certain than it had been portrayed, and it will be interesting to see what the National Academy of Sciences has to say about it.

It's still hard to imagine that Ivins would have killed himself if he were innocent, which at the very least suggests he was involved. But I tend to agree with the various commentators who suggest there's more to this story that we haven't heard yet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Idiot Flag

In the spirit of Nathans post, I had him make me my very own flag:

Our house water filter needs to be replaced. I found this out because the washing machine intake filters (just some wire mesh placed at the end of the hot and cold water feeds) filled up with tiny pebbles. I yanked the washing machine out of its niche, unattached all the hoses, cleaned out the filters, reattached the intake hoses, and turned the washing machine back on. Those of you who have done this before may notice one operation that's missing from that set.

I started a load of laundry, and when I went into the kitchen for something, I found out what I had forgotten to do. Yep, I forgot to put the exhaust water hose back in the drain pipe.

Fortunately, I discovered this before the rinse cycle dumped a second load of water on the floor.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whooooo Hoooooo!

Most of our non-regular hits come for CW's aircraft posts. But recently, we're getting a spate of LHC hits. I was quite amused to see that this site is #1 on Google for the search "wagner plaga credentials". Just doing our little part to de-crazy the Internet.

For those of you coming here for that information, who might balk at reading my whole massive missive "Mixed Nuts" (as if the title doesn't already give you a clue), my answer in a nutshell is":

Walter Wagner - none whatsoever. His highest Physics training is an undergraduate minor in Physics.

Rainer Plaga - none whatsoever in particle physics, a Ph.D. in astrophysics with a few prior indications that the man is not living in the same reality we are, also indicated by the fact that he is no longer employed as a phsyicist...

Here are my opinions on a few other characters involved in the LHC lawsuit charade, just as a free bonus:

Otto Rossler - well past his prime in his areas of expertise in Biochemistry and Chaos, now well into the former-real-scientist-turned-crank territory that was so ably mapped by Linus Pauling in his Vitamin C days. Except that Rossler in his prime was nowhere near the caliber of Pauling.

Luis Sancho - A nut, pure and simple. Sometime writer, fulltime idiot.

Raj Baldeev - This is NOT the Raj Baldeev who is a Director at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research. This is an 81 year old astrologer* of the same name.

James Tankersly / Tankerson
- used ot have a bio up at his website, which I can no longer find. A software engineer who listed his physics credentials as "one year of undergraduate physics".

That's pretty much it, for the "scientists" who have "concerns" about th Large Hadron Collider.

*If you beieve in astrology, there is only one way I can help you become a rational human being - take a list of all the astrological predictions for the coming year in January 2009. On December 31, 2009, check them off to see if a) any prediction was really specific enough to be verified, and b) match those that can against reality. I'll eat my hat if the percentage for any astrologer is much greater than 50% - which is the rate expected by chance for the yes / no questions. If you come away from that still believing in astrology, you can rest assured that you are one of the people I am referring to when I say that the gene pool needs some chlorine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Tonight is the Moon Festival (團圓節). Eat a moon cake and let out a howl. We did. :D

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin

I don't get into politics too often online, because that content space seems to be adequately filled already. Also, politics is usually really boring and depressing, all around.

John McCain's nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, however, is _interesting_. It must be one of the most inspired asymetrical decisions I've ever seen in modern politics. It's going to totally change political calulus in the future.

Why? Because sex sells. We've never had a sex object on a national ticket before, and political science simply doesn't have a good model to predict what it will mean.

Most people seemed to think McCain was dead meat. Many avid right-wingers I know were regularly bemoaning the fact that his campaign was almost invisible (after they bemoaned the fact that he got the Republican nomination in the first place). They said that Senator Obama was totally dominating the media and the public discussion about the election.

But with the selection of Governor Palin as his running mate, Senator McCain turned the whole race on its head. I've almost never seen anything like it in modern politics. I don't think the impact of this event has even begun to be felt.

One of the most salient comments I saw (if I could find the reference again I'd link to it) said "the Democrats are acting like they know they are f*#cked". That would seem to be the case. They seem to be imploding almost by the hour. Every time the media plays the "lipstick on a pig" comment, the Democrats probably lose several thousand female votes. (Incidentally - I watched the video of that comment. The deliberate "pregnant pause" after delivering the "lipstick" line, waiting for the audience response, made it pretty clear that it was calculated and premeditated - and an astonishing failure of political judgement. As I say - implosion.)

I've always thought that the first minority or woman to win national office would be a conservative or independent, not a raging leftist, because you can't win without winning the middle ground. In national politics, around 40-45% is consistently conservative, and 25-30% is consistently liberal. That leaves 25-35% in the middle who decide almost every election. I actually think that, because of the electoral college, the percentage that actually decides the elections is much smaller - maybe 10% who can go either way, in the states that matter. Capture that 10% and you win, almost every time. Of that 10%, it may be a good assumption that a substantial fraction is non-minority female.

Beyond that, if the Republicans can pick off a few points among blue-collar, socially conservative but economically liberal voters in traditionally Democratic areas (so-called Reagan democrats), the Democratic ticket is in real trouble.

We'll see how it shakes out, and I'm very excited that it will be interesting for a change (the last time that I wrote that a Presidential election was interesting was in 1984), but it's hard to figure what the Democrats will do to recover the momentum.

Also interestingly, Sarah Palin looks like the closest thing to a libertarian that we've had on a national ticket in my lifetime. It will be very illustrative to see how that libertarian theme affects the course of the election, and the subsequent administration, whomever wins.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mixed Nuts

I’m about to engage in an ad hominem attack, something which I am usually loath to do. I’m doing this for pretty much the same reasons that Phil Plait examined Richard Hoagland’s credentials, so I’d like to borrow a phrase or two from Phil:

Over the years, in my dealings with pseudoscientists, I have noticed a tendency for them to inflate their credentials. Their personal motives for doing so are not clear, but what is clear is the effect of making the pseudoscientist seem more believable than perhaps they should be.

Quite true, quite true, although I think that the effect Phil notes is indeed the conscious motivation for most credential inflation – it shuts off debate from laymen. Most scientists shy away from credential attacks for good reasons – ad hominem is bad logic, and many of us talk about issues that are outside of our rather strict disciplines. However, there are professional norms in the use of credentials - for example, my Ph.D. does not give me the right to use the title “Doctor” in a medical context, duping an unsuspecting layman into believing that any advice I may give comes under the auspices of a member of the AMA. As a matter of fact, those who overuse the title “Doctor” as a Ph.D. are suspect to the rest of us:

It tickles me to be called "Doctor" by someone with a medical degree. On the flip side, though, it's a nearly infallible sign of personality problems when a PhD insists on the honorific.

So now we come to the story of one “Dr.” Walter Wagner, who runs the website LHCdefense.org. It seems that "Dr." Wagner thinks that the Large Hadron Collider is going to end the world. Or something. The essential argument of Wagner is that - oh hell, I can’t even paraphrase this horse shit without turning my stomach – here it is in his own words:

there is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet..

OK, so what’s the danger here? If we’re talking about microscopic Black Holes, Wagner has a partner come up with a very scientific-looking paper that purports to point out a scenario where a microscopic Black Hole would form, and not decay according to the accepted theoretical treatment, but begin to accrue mass, and basically eat the Earth.

Wagner’s partner was an actual, if somewhat unorthodox physicist at the Max-Planck Institut Fur Physik named Rainer Plaga, but he was taken to the cleaners by a UC Santa Barbara physicist on a basic scientific mistake (in the except below, the citation [1] refers the Plaga paper I liked above):

Where did [1] go wrong? The answer is in the inconsistent application of formula (2) of that paper. In the type of warped scenario that [1] considers, the black hole would evolve up to a radius R _ RD via higher-dimensional evolution, and then would experience a large mass gain in transitioning to a slightly higher radius R _ RC, as [1] acknowledges. Throughout this region, in the usual Hawking scenario, the temperature formula (2) should hold. Thus if the black hole radiance is suppressed compared to this, as the author of [1] proposes, it can’t exceed a value of size (3). However, [1] then applies the formula (1) written in terms of the mass using the four-dimensional relationship between radius and mass, but does this in a region where the four-dimensional relation between radius and mass is clearly wrong. Indeed, 1 the four-dimensional Schwarzschild radius corresponding to the mass range … lies in the range 10−25−10−20cm, far below the claimed _ 10−5cm! It is this inconsistency that produces the claimed large power output, which, if correct, would represent an enormous enhancement of the black hole radiance, in contradiction to the stated assumptions of the scenario.

Most of the equations used in these arguments are simplifications of more complex equations. Anyone trained in physics or chemistry will be familiar with simplified equations that are true expression of physical reality only if certain assumptions are true. For example, the expression 1/(4 + x) is approximately equal to ¼ if x is small: at x = 0.1 it’s about .24, close enough to .25 for government work; at x=0.2, the expression is .238, and you might even still approximate it as ¼ for Federal Government work. But by the time x = 1, the simplification of using ¼ for the expression is obviously no longer valid. On the other hand, for values of x < 0.1, it’s a pretty good simplification.

What Plaga did was to apply an expression where the relationships it describes are not valid – just as if you used the ¼ simplification for values of x >10.

Plaga’s publication record is…odd. A very recent editorial authored by him in Nature places him in non-academic government service:

Rainer Plaga is in the Department for New Technologies and Scientific Foundations, Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), 53175 Bonn, Germany.

A Google search for him yielded an older address at the Max Plank Institut fur Physik:

Rainer Gottlieb Plaga (Group Leader)
Max-Plank-Institut für Physik
Nationality: German

At that institute, he made unorthodox pronouncements before.

The On Screen Scientist has obviously done more research into the man than I have, or want to. His conclusion is pretty much mine – this is an odd duck who has made plenty of mistakes in the past, and who obviously thinks more of his abilities than warranted. That he’s being touted in anti-LHC circles as a “senior German physicist” is another example of the pseudoscience rank-pulling that Phil Plait was talking about.

A few other, related red flags show up in that paper. First, and this was what led me to try to hunt Plaga’s institution down in the first place, is that if you look at any scientific publication, the affiliation of the authors are listed, with their business address. Plaga’s paper contains only an address, no affiliation. I have a feeling that the BSI would not take kindly to him publishing physics papers under their auspices, and since he's not using their address, I must assume that he is no longer associated with Max Planck. If anyone reading this was privy to the circumstances surrounding his departure from that august institution, please shoot me an email.

The second red flag is the word “pre-print”. Some journals do indeed send the authors pre-prints, because backlogs mean that even a reviewed and accepted publication won’t show up in print for months to a year, and you’d like to be able to hand the paper in a nice format to lab visitors (and grad students like to have them for job interviews). However, you don’t “submit pre-prints” – pre-prints are provided to you as a courtesy after the review process is over. Mixing the words “submit” – used with not-yet-accepted papers, and “pre-print” used for accepted papers, is disingenuous at best.

The final red flag is the “journal” Elsevier. Elsevier is one of the largest private scientific publishers in the world, with scores of journals in many fields. It is generally excoriated for its high prices, but it does serve a purpose, and its journals are generally accepted as of reasonably high quality. What the paper should have noted was a submission to a specific journal from this list. I didn’t submit my graduate thesis to Nature Publishing Group, I submitted it to Nature (and it was accepted and published, BTW). When I wrote my resume up before the acceptance, the citation in my CV read “JTS and Prof. Advisor xxxx, Submitted to Nature 01/01/01”. An exact journal, date, and time.

One thing I will give Plaga, which the OSS also pointed out – crackpots of this ilk are usually algebra challenged, and at the very least, Plaga’s mastered some advanced math, because his mistake was at a fairly high level for someone associated with Doomsday scenario mongering.

Back to the other safety issue, strangelets, this issue was raised about the RHIC in Brookhaven almost a decade ago - by this very same dipshit, Wagner – and the energies involved in the Brookhaven instrument are more likely to produce strangelets than the LHC. However, high energy cosmic ray strike astronomical objects at higher energy than either collider, so the fears on that score are pretty much demolished by the fact that the moon continues to exist:

Given minimal physical assumptions the continued existence of the Moon, in the form we know it, despite billions of years of cosmic ray exposure, provides powerful empirical evidence against the possibility of dangerous strangelet production.

Geez, I’ve gotten so bogged down in logical and scientific argument, I forgot my ad hominem. Where was I? Oh yes, “Dr.” Wagner. “Dr.”. I, like Derek Lowe, have an aversion to being called “doctor” unless it’s by students. In other contexts, to establish credibility, the term should be used once in a context like this: Dr. XXX YYY of the ZZZZ. After the first mention, the last name should be sufficient, with no honorific.

So, just who the heck is Wagner, and where did he study physics? Well, I was not able to come up with a publication record for him. Fortunately, we have his background in his own words, under oath :

I am a nuclear physicist with extensive training in the field. I obtained my undergraduate degree in 1972 at Berkeley, California in the biological sciences with a physics minor, and graduate degree in 1978 in Sacramento, California in law.

Wait, wait, wait. His only graduate degree is in law? So that “Doctorate” is a Juris Doctorate? Here’s the relevant Wiki quote on that:

Attorneys must nonetheless avoid using the title doctor in a manner that might mislead the public, such as a medical malpractice attorney using the title "Doctor" in a manner that could cause the public to believe the attorney is a medical professional with relevant medical experience.

I think using the title “Dr.” for a J.D. when talking about your physics credentials pretty much qualifies as misleading the public, don’t you?

But look, Wagner’s (I keep wanting to call him Wagner, Esq., now, but I doubt he’s licensed to practice law any more, or he shortly won’t be if the fraud allegations against him are proven) only physics degree is not really a degree. It’s a minor in physics for a biology degree.

He calls himself a “nuclear physicist”. Now, there are no “nuclear physics” undergraduate degrees, “nuclear physicist” implies graduate study in most situations. But not this one:

Commencing in 1973 I worked extensively in cosmic radiation research at UC Berkeley, Physics Department, Space-Sciences,

He was a lab tech.

Now it gets good, though, because he claims to be:

credited with discovery of a novel particle only previously theorized to exist [by Nobelist P.A.M. Dirac], namely a magnetic monopole. That discovery still remains controversial as to the identify of that novel particle, and numerous searches for magnetic monopoles are still currently underway, or proposed, including at the Large Hadron Collider [LHC].

On his own site, he even cites the paper:

Price et al., Physical Review Letters, August 25, 1975, Volume 35, Number 8.

It always amazes me when pseudoscientists put out references. In the age of the internet, someone with a scientific background is going to check. So I did. Wagner is not listed among the 4 authors:

P. B. Price * and E. K. Shirk *
Physics Department, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720

W. Z. Osborne † and L. S. Pinsky
Physics Department, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77004

But wait. He was a lab tech. So I went to my old friend Google and stumbled on this:

In 1975, a team of researchers headed by P. Buford Price at U.C. Berkeley announced the discovery[5] of a cosmic ray track in a particle detector slung under a high-altitude balloon that was significantly different from all others ever measured. Using the particle track-etch method pioneered by Price, et al., they discovered the track of a particle that had passed through 32 sheets of 1/4 mil Lexan plastic without any measurable change in ionization. Yet, the Cerenkov detector admitted only of particles less than 2/3 c [the speed of light in the clear plastic]. The charge was measured as being 137, the same as predicted by Paul Dirac who first predicted the theoretical existence of magnetic monopoles. The particle track preliminarily identified as having been caused by a magnetic monopole had been spotted by technical assistant Walter L. Wagner.[6]

Odd. Odd because such minutae as the name of the lab tech who spotted an abnormality are generally not included in such high level reports as a Wiki article unless the tech put in enough intellectual effort to be listed as an author on the paper. Reference #6 does corroborate the claim, however:

But credit for first spotting the monopole's track belongs to two technical assistants: Julie Teague, 31, at Houston and Walter Wagner, 25, at U.C.

Except that poor Ms. Teague got left out of the Wiki article. Why would the article mention Wagner and forget her? Let’s go back to Wagner’s words under oath, shall we? Words that were meant to enhance his credibility with every shred of experience that might look good to a layman:

I have remained active in the field of theoretical nuclear physics, and serve as a science editor for Wikipedia, having numerous articles and revisions in nuclear physics to my credit, and I am very familiar with the editing procedures and processes, and with the nuclear physics editors at Wikipedia.

Well that about explains that doesn’t it? But it gets worse. In a Wikipedia article that Wagner obviously was not able to edit, we get a clear picture of why Price’s 1975 paper did not win a Nobel by now:

Another experiment in 1975 resulted in the announcement of the detection of a moving magnetic monopole in cosmic rays by the team of Price.[4] Price later retracted his claim, and a possible alternative explanation was offered by Alvarez[13]. In his paper it was demonstrated that the path of the cosmic ray event that was claimed to be due to a magnetic monopole could be reproduced by a path followed by a Platinum nucleus fragmenting to Osmium and then to Tantalum.

Wagner, of course, dismisses those who would diminish his great discovery:

While some pundits claimed that the tracks represented a doubly-fragmenting normal nucleus, the data was so far removed from that possibility that it would have been only a one-in-one-billion chance, compared to a novel particle of unknown type. The data fit perfectly with a Dirac monopole.

We have "pundits" in science? If you ignore huge chunks of modern science, you can say that fire fits perfectly with the theory of phlogiston, too.

Over at Entropy Bound, they have even more evidence that the reference to Wagner in Wikipedia was inserted into the article by Wagner himself:

And for the record, the "Cosmic rays" Wikipedia entry was started in 2002, but Wagner's "discovery" was only posted on January 13, 2008 by an unnamed author (which turns out to be a dialup connection in Honolulu - just 'nslookup'!), just in time for his re-entry into the blogosphere.

This is a serious problem for Wikipedia. If they are not careful, Wagner is going to name drop them all over the press and the legal arena, and his financial woes may further drag them into a spotlight they do not wish to share with this man.

First, Wikipedia needs to check to see if Wagner is still editing Nuclear Physics articles for them. If he is, they need to bounce him out on his ass for over-stating his credentials, post-haste. They need to issue some cease and desist paperwork to keep him from dragging their good name into this frivolous lawsuit, and they need to go over everything he’s touched with a fine toothed comb. Oh yes, they need to make the “Unusual Cosmic Rays” and the “Magnetic Monopole” articles consistent with both established opinion and each other.

I’m too tired and too busy to go into much more of this ad hominem, but I do have to note that further resume padding is going on in the legal document:

Commencing in 1979 I began employment as a federal nuclear safety officer with the US government, from which I am currently retired, though I remain in frequent contact with my former duty station. My federal duty station was with the US Veterans Administration, and I managed an extensive program of nuclear safety involving usages of ionizing radiations from machines [X-ray, CT, etc.], and from a wide variety of radioactive materials produced by particle accelerators, in nuclear reactors, or extracted from nature [principally uranium and its radio-daughter radium].

Oh pu-leeze. The description sounds like he was at the VA HQ running a large safety program. By his own admission, he was the nuclear medicine safety officer at the VA Hospital in San Francisco. This man’s job was to run a Geiger counter around the radiology department of the VA to ensure that someone didn’t leave the rear shield off of the X-ray machine and irradiate the ovaries of the nursing staff (this was 1979). The job was in no way nuclear physics as I understand the term, and although it dealt with radioactive substances like the ones produced in particle accelerators and nuclear reactors, I’d be amazed to learn that the VA owned either of those two devices.

I can’t take any more. Janiece is right. This man’s a retard. But Wiki had better get their act together, fast.