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A couple of quick things about the group, then a matter that's too mild for an alert, but worth observing...

If you've looked at the details of this group, you might have noticed that while most blogs or groups are administered by a handful of people, Science Matters is rapidly acquiring what in technical terms is known as a great friggin' heap of editors. There's a reason for this. One of the intentions of the group is to follow a large amount of material -- from ranting pundits to rambling documentaries -- and that's going to take many sets of alert eyes and ears to handle. So while it's completely true that for most groups a few hands at the tiller is all it takes, for this group I'm more than willing to sign folks on board as editors. I'm much less concerned about the group speaking with many voices, than I am about things getting missed. If at some point in the future output from Science Matters suffers from having too many cooks, we'll deal with it then. First we’ll try it this way.

At the moment, I think the only folks who have gotten a polite "please contact us again in the future" when asking about an editor slot are those for whom I could find no diaries. It's not that I'm looking for a sample of your work before you're in the door, it's simply that I'd like to see that you're committed enough to hang around and post at least a time or two before climbing onto the bridge.

None of this means that you have to join the group to contribute. Far from it. Editors will need to wade all the incoming info, but I’m expecting the great bulk of that info to be generated from those who are simply following the group. As of this morning, Science Matters is the most followed group at Daily Kos. I don't know that this will last, but take a moment to dance a bit, give someone a high-five. Now, back to work.

A quick programming note that doesn't really warrant an alert, but which bears watching. This winter has been one that's brought a variety of unpleasant weather to many parts of the nation, and the last couple of weeks have turned around to surprise some of those areas with a kind of Spring Preview. As we've gone through this period it's become very common for local and national weather to include the word "normal." As in "that's far above the normal snowfall for this area" or "temperatures remain well above normal" or "we're going to see below normal temperatures this week."

This use of the word "normal" bears watching because, while Webster's lists the 7th definition of normal as "average, or mean" there are six other definitions ahead of that one -- including definition #1, which is "usual; not abnormal; regular; natural. " By using the term "normal" as a substitute for "average," weatherfolk risk exaggerating the severity of conditions. There’s a distinct difference between indicating that the daily highs are going to be three degrees above average this week, and suggesting that those temperatures are actually aberrant. For most people normal and average are not synonyms, and using them interchangeably is a bit of language sloppiness we don’t need when denialism over climate change is already spilling into our daily forecasts (and newscasts).

So if you’re in the position to make a gentle reminder to your local weatherperson, remind them that there’s nothing mediocre about using the term “average” and let “normal” rest until something really unusual comes along.

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