Saturday, June 30, 2007


Antony Loewenstein tries to make a point -- he's nothing if not a trier -- about the right and masculinity. Maybe he's right: even the enticing Ann Coulter is more masculine than him. (Loewenstein photo courtesy of Muslim Village.)

Correction: The linked post is actually by Loewenstein sidekick Andre. Everything else still applies.


After a brief appearance in comments, where he suffered a good old-fashioned arse-kicking, Carson cultist Ed Darrel retreated to the safety of his blog where he reckons he's fisking's 100 things you should know about DDT. In the process, Darrell finds fault not only with Steve Milloy's DDT stuff but with his science in general:
The “100 things” list is attributed to Steven Milloy, a guy who used to argue that tobacco use isn’t harmful, and who has engaged in other hoaxes such as the bizarre and false claim that Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) can pose serious toxic hazards in your home (and therefore, you should continue to waste energy with less efficient bulbs)...
CFL manufacturer Philips acknowledges the hazards, suggesting that broken units be swept up using paper towels with latex-gloved hands and not vacuumed because this could spread mercury around the room -- exactly how the remnants can be removed from carpet without vacuuming isn't explained.

Anyway, point number eight from the 100 reads as follows:
Some mosquitoes became “resistant” to DDT. “There is persuasive evidence that antimalarial operations did not produce mosquito resistance to DDT. That crime, and in a very real sense it was a crime, can be laid to the intemperate and inappropriate use of DDT by farmers, especially cotton growers. They used the insecticide at levels that would accelerate, if not actually induce, the selection of a resistant population of mosquitoes.”

[Desowitz, RS. 1992. Malaria Capers, W.W. Norton & Company]
Darrell doubts's accuracy:
Assuming Milloy quoted the book accurately, and assuming the book actually exists, this point says nothing in particular in favor of DDT; but it reaffirms the case Rachel Carson made in her 1962 book, Silent Spring.
Uh, the book exists and is quoted accurately. How do I know? In his very next paragraph Darrell links to the book and confirms the quote's accuracy. So, if anyone's being fisked, it's Darrell.

More to come, as time allows.

Update: Carson apologists argue that DDT has been continuously available for use in the fight against malaria. In fact, DDT has been subject to a de facto ban. According to the Pesticide Action Network, 102 countries prohibit the import of DDT, with DDT registered for use in only 16 countries. PAN provides no information on the number of countries actually using DDT.

Update II: CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith damns DDT-spaying farmers:
In 1967, there were but 417 nesting pairs in all of the lower 48 states. Now there are more than 10,000 pairs. The eagle was disappearing because of the widespread use of the insecticide DDT. Farmers sprayed DDT into local streams and rivers. The eagles ate contaminated fish and, while the DDT didn't kill the birds, it rendered their eggs inviable, and the great birds began to die out.
Farmers, determined to exterminate the bald eagle, apparently found spraying airborne birds too difficult so they did the next best thing and purposely contaminated their food.


Roslyn Phillips writes to the Australian:
EROS Foundation’s Fiona Patten is a passionate advocate for pornography, but fails to recognise its harmful effects ("Porn faces stricter control’’, 29/6).

It is not only indigenous communities who have noticed that porn viewers, including children, copy the acts they have seen on X-rated DVDs. Research has found that frequent viewers of non-violent pornography are more ready to accept the myth that women secretly want to be raped, and are more likely to report that they would force unwanted sexual activity on their partners.
As the research officer for Festival of Light Australia (a Christian ministry), Phillips should know her stuff, right? Well, maybe not: in a presentation to the national conference of the Australian Family Association she cites "common sense" as evidence of the evil influence of pornography

Now I'm not saying Phillips is wrong but she really should come up with better evidence than that. She is, by the way, married to Dr David Phillips, National President of Festival of Light Australia.

Update: Those wanting to get lucky should try their local church:
When I was 14, I was on the receiving end of a blow-job, obviously out of wedlock. In a rural Baptist Church.

Indeed, I faked being Christian (to the guys and the grown-ups) just to hang around the girls (most of whom had no such illusions about my religion or lack thereof).
Now there's something to brag about, but I suppose if you're wanting to brag about sex and that was your most recent sexual encounter...

Friday, June 29, 2007


I really don't have time to blog at the moment but have made the time after reading something so amazingly funny it's hard to believe it was written in seriousness. The unintentional humour is provided by Carson-cultist and self-styled DDT expert Bug Girl.

Bug Girl and I are involved in an ongoing dispute about integrated pest management (IPM): she claims IPM was first implemented in the 1950s; I say IPM was implemented much earlier, with successful efforts to control yellow fever and malaria in Panama in the early 1900s. A page at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention summarizing the Panama effort was offered as proof; the page stating in part:
An integrated program of mosquito control was initiated that involved seven basic programs that were strictly enforced.
On having this pointed out to her Bug Girl pulled a Lambert -- calling me names and refusing to post my brief, civil comment. She has now responded with this:
Dude. Give it up.

Here, how about a recent review article from an ACTUAL JOURNAL?

TITLE: Integrated pest management (IPM): definition, historical development and implementation, and the other IPM.
SOURCE: Pest-management-science. 2006 Sept; 62(9): 787-789.

"The seeds of the IPM movement were planted shortly after World War II. A few, far-sighted scientists recognized that indiscriminate use of the new synthetic organic insecticides would prove to be problematic. Californian entomologists, for example, responded with the concept of supervised control, in which insect control was to be supervised by qualified entomologists.[2] This entailed periodic monitoring of both pest and natural enemy populations and application of insecticides only when necessary - in contrast to calendar-based or insurance treatments."

I'm discussing IPM as a formally recognized protocol which got it's *name* and *protocols* mid century.

I can bury you under citations like this one, but it's not worth the trouble. Why not pick up ANY actual entomology text book and see for yourself? What, exactly, is your training in entomology, again?
So according to Bug Girl, mosquito control in Panama -- the effort employing NO INSECTICIDES, by the way -- wasn't IPM because that terminology wasn't used until after World War II. Now that's pretty silly, being akin to arguing that natural selection didn't exist prior to Darwin, which is exactly what Bug Girl then argues, in reverse:
Would you also try to argue that no natural selection could occur before Darwin called it Natural Selection? No. Similarly, many IPM *like* procedures occurred before it was called IPM.
IPM, like natural selection, existed long before being formally "named". If Bug Girl is any guide, science is in big trouble.

And by the way, I have the same entomology qualifications as Bug Girl's hero Rachel Carson: none. Neither of us is peer reviewed, either.

PS – I realize that there's probably a limited audience for DDT posts but will keep them coming so long as lefties keep posting misleading crap on the subject. I see it as a public service.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


A representative of Africa Fighting Malaria attempts to establish contact with entomologist Bug Girl:
I’ve read your posts on DDT and I’d like to send you an article that might make a good post, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to submit something or contact you through the blog. Can you please email me at the address above to get in touch?
But for the closed-minded Carson cultist there's nothing to discuss; she already knows everything she needs to know about DDT:
Well, given that Africa Fighting Malaria is a front organization for CEI, which is the source of the attacks on Carson, I’m not interested. Thanks.
In reality, Bug Girl doesn't know as much about DDT as she thinks: thus her endorsement of pro-Carson crapola:
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a very nice post about DDT, in which they are quite clear that Rachel Carson is not the anti-Christ.
Here are some examples of the iffy points made at the linked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page:
Chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides, such as chlordane, DDT, toxaphene, and dieldrin were the main family of insecticides used following their introduction after World War II. Many of these chemicals originated from attempts to develop agents of chemical warfare, but were found to be lethal to insects.
Not surprisingly this hint that DDT resulted from chemical weapons research is referenced to Silent Spring.
DDT is a man-made chemical widely used to control insects on agricultural crops and insects that carry diseases like malaria and typhus.
Once widely used but no longer.
Only the GENERAL use of the pesticide has been banned in the United States. The EPA’s order did not affect public health and quarantine uses, or exports of DDT. In addition, the EPA maintains the ability to allow any Federal or State agency to use DDT if emergency conditions exist, including economic emergencies.
As far as I know, no DDT has been used in the US since the general use ban and DDT is neither manufactured nor exported. It's hard to see where the US could quickly obtain large quantities of DDT in the event of an emergency. And even if stocks could be obtained environmental groups would loudly oppose its use.
This general use ban came after three years of intensive governmental inquiries into the uses of DDT. As a result of this examination, EPA determined that “the continued massive use of DDT posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health.”
DDT was unilaterally banned by EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus after he determined that the continued use of DDT was unacceptable.
Carson encouraged the responsible use of pesticide with an awareness of the chemicals' impact on all living things, not the all-out banning of pesticides. In fact, in the context of malaria control, she argued that DDT users should "spray as little as you possibly can" rather than "spray to the limit of your capacity."
It's all well and good that Carson says she doesn't want chemical insecticides banned when Silent Spring presents them as cancer-causing -- as in the case of the unnamed woman who sprays her basement three times with DDT and dies of leukemia within months of the first spraying. Carson damned the chemicals and the environmental movement picked up the ball and ran with it, so to speak.
In Audubon magazine she wrote, "We do not ask that all chemicals be abandoned. We ask moderation. We ask the use of other methods less harmful to our environment". Countering claims that she was advocating a back-to-nature philosophy, she said, "We must have insect control. I do not favor turning nature over to insects. I favor the sparing, selective and intelligent use of chemicals. It is the indiscriminate, blanket spraying that I oppose".

This approach of controlling pests today underlies Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which integrates a number of useful strategies — cultural, mechanical or physical, biological, and chemical — into an ecologically sound and economically viable program. This management technique is used extensively in managing the Service's National Wildlife Refuges.
IPM is a valid pest management strategy in a developed country like the US but isn't implementable in those areas where DDT is most needed -- the massive IPM infrastructure (in the case of malaria, vector management) is extremely difficult and costly to establish and maintain. In any event, Bug Girl doesn't have a good understanding of IPM, claiming it was developed in the 1950s. IPM was in fact first successfully used on a large scale to eradicate yellow fever and control malaria in Panama in the early 1900s.

Bug Girl may be an entomologist but she's not a reliable source of information. If she was, Tim Lambert wouldn't link to her. I will, by the way, dissect some of her other DDT stuff when work pressures ease.

Update: Bug Girl again proves her ignorance:
I approved Beck’s comment for entertainment value.
He’s dancing on the head of a pin about the IPM thing; sure, lots of past control strategies can match bits and pieces of an IPM program. But it wasn’t called IPM, or implemented as a *systematic program* until much, much later this century.
Silly semantics.
Here's the CDC's description of integrated pest management in Panama circa 1909:
An integrated program of mosquito control was initiated that involved seven basic programs that were strictly enforced. These were, in order of importance:
  • Drainage: All pools within 200 yards of all villages and 100 yards of all individual houses were drained. Subsoil drainage was preferred followed by concrete ditches. Lastly, open ditches were constructed. Paid inspectors made sure ditches remained free of obstructions.
  • Brush and grass cutting: All brush and grass was cut and maintained at less than one foot high within 200 yards of villages and 100 yards of individual houses. The rationale was that mosquitoes would not cross open areas over 100 yards.
  • Oiling: When drainage was not possible along the grassy edges of ponds and swamps, oil was added to kill mosquito larvae.
  • Larviciding: When oiling was not sufficient, larvaciding was done. At the time, there were no commercial insecticides. Joseph Augustin LePrince, Chief Sanitary Inspector for the Canal Zone developed a larvacide mixture of carbolic acid, resin and caustic soda that was spread in great quantity.
  • Prophylactic quinine: Quinine was provided freely to all workers along the construction line at 21 dispensaries. In addition, quinine dispensers were on all hotel and mess tables. On average, half of the work force took a prophylactic dose of quinine each day.
  • Screening: Following the great success in Havana, all governmental buildings and quarters were screened against mosquitoes.
  • Adult killing: Because the mosquitoes usually stayed in the tent or the house after feeding, collectors were hired to gather the adult mosquitoes that remained in the houses during the daytime. This proved to be very effective. Mosquitoes that were collect in tents were examined by Dr. Samuel T. Darling, Chief of the Board of Health Laboratory. Cost of adult mosquito killing was $3.50/per capita/per year for whole population of the strip.
And the results:
The results of this malaria program were such that yellow fever was totally eradicated. Death rate due to malaria in employees dropped from 11.59 per 1,000 in November 1906 to 1.23 per 1,000 in December 1909. It reduced the deaths from malaria in the total population from a maximum of 16.21 per 1,000 in July 1906 to 2.58 per 1,000 in December 1909.

Among the work force, the percentage of employees hospitalized due to malaria was 9.6% in December 1905, 5.7% in 1906, 1.8% in 1907, 3.0% in 1908, and 1.6% in 1909. Malaria continued to be a challenge throughout the entire construction program.

The Panama Canal was the construction miracle of the beginning of the 20th century. It also was a great demonstration of malaria control based on an integrated mosquito control program enforced by the military. Malaria was not eliminated. However, under these most trying conditions, the disease was controlled to the extent that the construction work could be completed.
Bug Girl is the female Tim Lambert.

Update II: A highly condensed version of the update above was posted as a comment at Bug Girl's blog where it's awaiting moderation. I'm betting she's going to do a Lambert on me and refuse to post it. Now if I'm lame and not very bright like Bug Girl claims she should be ripping my comments to shreds -- you know, being a scientist and all -- instead of refusing to discuss matters about which she claims to be an expert. What is it with scientists today?

Update III: Bug Girl is no stranger to inaccuracy.

Update IV: Entomology lady has shit-canned my comment:
Actually, I have both a spam filter and a moderation rule that makes anything with a link go into moderation.
I also have put some abusive posters into a moderated or banned group. (You don’t get to threaten me, for example.)
While some innocent posts get swept up in the spam filter, most get through. I rarely actively censor.
However: This is MY blog, and MY rules apply.
Jeez, I kick the hapless scientist's arse (figuratively, of course) one time too many and she bans me. Weak, really weak.

This is, by the way, not the first time Bug Girl has felt threatened:
I’m trying to do my part to set some of the biological errors [Rachel Carson and DDT] straight at my blog.

I’d love to help, but after a week of personal attacks on my blog and via email, I’m not so sure.
I couldn't find any threatening comments at her blog and her email address isn't listed, so it must be her friends doing the threatening. Lefties are always keen to turn on one another.

Update: More here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Any blogger with confidence in his writing would be flattered by reader interest. A delusional blogger might, on the other hand, find such interest unsettling:
Let’s just say that it’s a little bit paranoid the way someone has been scanning my blog of late. Not that I’m an expert on the matter, but I think a referral to a psychiatrist and a few prescriptions to Zyprexa would clear things up a little.
Commenters are seen as part of the conspiracy to persecute:
He’s just the latest in a line of trolls commenting here after JF Beck has directed them to try and shut down debate because “[he] don’t understand; ergo, it’s wrong/evil.”
Okay I admit it, this post contains a coded message to my troll army directing them to shut down debate by... commenting at another blog. In reality it was big-brained Bruce who shut down debate by banning me for daring to point out his imbecility.

Couple the above with delusions of grandeur (with a bit of stalking paranoia thrown in) and an inclination to invent new words (for writing gibberish) and you've got one mixed up dude, who is, by the way, a trainee teacher. There is apparently a shortage.

Update: Bruce's word problems continue:
Traffic from the usual sources has been a bit quiet the past couple of weeks. It’s not just here though. I’ve noticed a bit of a malaise in commentary at a number of other blogs as well so I’m figuring their traffic has dropped off a bit as well.
Bruce is nothing if not entertaining.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The Australian Consumers' Association isn't convinced carbon offset schemes are worthwhile:
Offsetting your carbon emissions isn’t really the primary targetprevention is better than cure and almost everyone agrees that we need to reduce our emissions now. There are three steps - for more information see go to the website of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
  • First trying to reduce your own emissions by using energy efficiently in your home and car (and ideally, taking fewer flights).
  • Second, buy renewable energy (we can help you compare the best GreenPower products and prices).
  • Finally, offset the rest, including your flights.
But choose your offset scheme carefully. There are big differences in where they invest your money, how much of your money is actually invested in projects, their prices, how long it’ll take for the project to offset your emissions, whether the offsets are independently audited and their source of accreditation (if any).

Without proper regulation or standardisation, it’s hard to know which carbon-offset scheme to go for. You can’t compare products with confidence. Standardisation (possibly through regulation) of this fast-growing industry is vital, so you can know what you’re buying is bona fide, and to help you compare offers.
In short, carbon offsets are very iffy. I'm shocked.


To the amazement of everyone familiar with Antony Loewenstein's writing -- those with any sense, anyway -- his latest Guardian comment is free post is actually worth reading, mostly. The provocative concluding paragraph is the problem:
While Iran is an authoritarian country, there is far greater political debate there than many other Middle Eastern nations (such as, say, Syria). Iranians may be the most hospitable people in the world, and yet any American or Israeli attack against the country's nuclear facilities would be met with even-greater repression at home and rallying around the conservative leadership. For many westerners, the concept of Islam at the heart of a prosperous nation is too much to bear. It's a sad indictment of many post 9/11 mindsets.
Whereas Iran might be among the most prosperous of Islamic nations, it is by no means prosperous. Its oil based economy is something of a mess. No, those who have problems with Iran -- and this isn't limited to westerners -- have reasons for concern other than the country's yet to be achieved economic success. And the gratuitous 9/11 reference is plain stupid; the Iran problem became obvious long before 2001. Idiot.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Big-brained Bruce asks readers to offer a term for categorizing this post. Unfortunately he's banned me so I'll have to offer my suggestion here: pseudo-intellectual gibberish pretty much sums it up.

Sub-literate university student Vicky Kasidis is mighty unhappy with the government's proposed measures to sort out the problems in Aboriginal communities. She suggests that "we" ignore the "racist" political "fat cats" and instead "actually do something to bring Aboriginal people in this country out of poverty". Right. What?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Australia is experiencing an extraordinary cold spell:
The current cold snap across south-eastern Australia has been putting an unusual strain on energy supplies.

As consumers - unaccustomed to low temperatures and wind chill factors - struggle to heat their homes, new records have been set for winter electricity demand in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
The cold being caused by global warming induced weather pattern changes. And what with the increased emissions resulting from increased electricity usage it's bound to get colder as it gets warmer. Or something.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Some sex toys could be poisonous:
Most vibrators, dildos and “love dolls,” for instance — especially the soft, pliable “jelly” type — use some form of plastic. In an effort to make the materials softer and more lifelike, PVC plastics suppliers incorporate one or more members of a family of compounds called phthalates (FAY-lates). To hear some environmentalists tell it, using a vibrator that includes phthalates is akin to bathing in DDT. Alarmed, some sex toy retailers, most prominently San Francisco-based Good Vibrations, are banning toys that include phthalates.
At least human females need not worry about egg shell thinning. In any event, glass is a safe option, so long as you don't play too vigourously, that is. Hey, there's even one that doubles as a Christmas ornament.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Prudish Laura Carroll, a Teaching Fellow in English at La Trobe University, is disgusted by the mental image conjured up by a TV advert's side on view of a g-string clad female backside:
I find that while the ad shows the woman’s bum from the side it does irresistibly make me imagine the view from the man’s [close up, straight on] perspective.
To Hell with imagining the (not work safe) view.


Essence of Kangaroo

Sheep Placenta Extract

I had to stop taking them: the essence of roo made me jumpy and the sheep placenta made me feel baaad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


At least some Swedish police are unhappy with their new uniforms:
Over 1,500 Swedish police officers have signed a petition protesting against a new uniform designed to make them look less aggressive.

A report has proposed making the uniform less 'militaristic' by replacing dark blue shirts with a lighter hue. Military-style boots are to be replaced with a more workaday type of shoe.
Wouldn't want to frighten any criminals.


John Brignell follows up his essay "Global Warming as Religion and not Science" with a radio interview:

Part One

Part Two

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


It's no wonder Spain is resisting European efforts to secure greater human rights for Cubans:
Spain - a colonial power in Cuba until 1898 - is bidding for new oil contracts in Cuban waters. But its position also reflects the ideology of some left-wing European politicians, who see the island as having bravely resisted a US trade embargo while developing healthcare and progressive environmental reforms.
One thing lefties have in common? Destroying the economy is a progressive environmental reform.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


The Australian Department of Defence describes the purpose of upcoming military training exercises:
The Talisman Saber series of exercises are conducted biennially in Australia with the United States. Talisman Saber 2007 is designed to train Australian and US Forces in planning and conducting Combined Task Force operations, which will help improve ADF/US combat readiness and interoperability.
According to Father Terry Fitzpatrick the war games will have sinister consequences:
"We remember the many thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghani people who will be on the receiving end of these war exercises," Fr Fitzpatrick said.

"We gather today to say we don't want Australia to be participating in their murder anymore under the umbrella of the US military."
Yep, we really should be more sporting and send untrained forces into the field.

Anglicans are also unhappy:
Victoria's Anglican leaders are protesting over Australia's involvement with US war exercises.

At the annual Anglican Synod in East Melbourne, church leaders expressed concerns over nuclear-powered ships, the possible use of munitions with depleted uranium and the potentially harmful use of sonar to vulnerable marine animals.
And just imagine the carbon emissions.


Norwegian food writer Yngve Ekern's brutal treatment of crabs has landed him in hot water:
"Showing how to boil living crabs is encouraging law-breaking. Crabs are also covered by the Animal Protection Act, and animals shall not be exposed to pain," NOAH leader Siri Martinsen told

"It is highly probable that crabs have the ability to feel pain. We know too little about it and the animals should get the benefit of the doubt," she said.
The matter will be investigated further:
Norway's Food Safety Authority will establish a committee to examine the question of what crabs can feel during the boiling.
Cool, maybe they'll also investigate the pain-feeling ability of these critters.

Via Brussels Journal.

Monday, June 11, 2007


The ABC reports on a study by the Australian Childhood Foundation:
New research shows that Australian children are becoming more anxious about themselves and the future of the planet.

The report also showed that more than a third of children were anxious about terrorism, were worried that one day they will have to fight in a war, and one in four believed the world will end before they reached adulthood.

The head of the foundation, Dr Joe Tucci, says this insecurity could have consequences for society.

"We're already starting to see an increase in mental health problems, we're starting to see an increase in anxiety problems, I think it's not out of the question that we'll see problems with alcohol and drug addiction increase as well," he said.
In reporting on the study the ABC has significantly shifted emphasis. Here's how the report's press release actually starts off (emphasis in original):
New study shows children fear environmental disaster

A report released today by the Australian Childhood Foundation, in the lead up to their annual fundraiser Childhood Hero Day Thursday 14 June, has revealed that Australian children are deeply concerned about the state of the environment and the impact of climate change.

The report, ‘Children’s fears, hopes and heroes – Modern Childhood in Australia’, surveyed 600 10-14 year-olds across Australia and revealed that:

• 52% are scared that there will not be enough water in the future
• 44% of children are worried about the impact of climate change
• 43% of children are worried about the pollution in the air and water

Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, said “Children’s sense of their place in the world is under threat. Children are nervous about global problems and the implications for the future they are faced with.

“It is often said that children and young people live in the here and now with little regard for the future. These findings clearly challenge this popular notion.”

The report also revealed that more than a third of children were anxious about terrorism, were worried about having to fight in a war and one in four believed the world will end before they reach adulthood.
Scare them young and you've sacred them for ever.

Update: commenters find clowns frightening. Well, here's a scary Twilight Zone scenario for you: imagine going to the mirror in the morning to see one of these these clowns looking back you. Time to get out the chainsaw.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Bug Girl (Ph D, entomology) visits a fellow scientist's site and experiences an enlightening that has her "mouth hanging open in amazement". Obviously much impressed with her fellow scientist's shared assessment of New York Times columnist John Tierney -- he's an "asshole" who writes "shit" -- Bug Girl concludes a subsequent post, "Thank you math man!".

Bug Girl may be an entomologist but she's obviously none too bright: how else to explain her being amazed by, and appreciative of, the misinformation cranked out by serial misrepresenter Tim Lambert? Well, there is an alternative explanation: belief in Silent Spring is something of a lefty religion. Thus, Silent Spring believers accept Lambert's writing not because it is accurate -- it isn't -- but rather because it affirms what they want to believe. It's simply a matter of faith.

Bug Girl and the rest of Lambert's Silent Spring believers need only do a little outside reading to discover that Math Man's posting crap; they could start by actually reading the links he provides. His attack on John Tierney is a good place to start.

Tierney writes:
"DDT became taboo even though there wasn't evidence that it was carcinogenic (and subsequent studies repeatedly failed to prove harm to humans)".
Lambert responds:
But what Tierny doesn't mention is that after Silent Spring was published a special panel of President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee was convened to examine Carson's claims. The result? According to Science (the same Science that published Baldwin's review):
"The long-awaited pesticide report of the President's Science Advisory Committee was issued last week, and though it is a temperate document, even in tone, and carefully balanced in its assessment of risks versus benefits, it adds up to a fairly thorough-going vindication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring thesis."
The linked article is not available to the general public, except by purchase, so Lambert's readers have to take it on faith his quoting is accurate. While his quoting is accurate, as far as it goes, the article does not refute Tierney's claim. The article refers to the toxic effects of pesticides but does not even mention cancer. Further, while the PSAC report may be a "fairly thorough-going vindication" of Silent Spring, an obvious shortcoming is noted:
Rachel Carson's stretching of scientific points is not easily excused, but she can be defended on the grounds that she did no more than shout that the whole city was on fire, when, actually, only two-fifths was ablaze.
Lambert also fails to mention that the report only looks at Carson's book in passing and, in any event, amounts to nothing more than opinion:
The report stands as no more than an expression of influential opinion on what should be done, and it should be recognized that there is a big gap to be filled between recommendation and achievement.
Lambert continues:
Tierny also gets basic stuff wrong. For instance:
An important clue emerged in the 1980s when the biochemist Bruce Ames tested thousands of chemicals and found that natural compounds were as likely to be carcinogenic as synthetic ones. Dr. Ames found that 99.99 percent of the carcinogens in our diet were natural, which doesn't mean that we are being poisoned by the natural pesticides in spinach and lettuce.
Ames did not find that 99.99% of dietary carcinogens were natural. When 60 minutes attributed a similar claim to him, he protested that it was a fabrication meant to discredit him:
Bradley: "Dr. Lijinsky disputes Ames' claim that 99.9% of all carcinogens come from natural foods."

This obviously incorrect claim was never made by me. Gelber/Bradley made it up. What I stated was that 99.9% of chemicals we ingest are natural. It is well known that 30% of human cancer is due to smoking and another large percentage of cancer is due to viruses, hormones, sunlight, alcohol, dietary imbalances, radon, and occupational causes. Thus, Lijinsky rebutted a statement made up by Gelber/Bradley, and, as a consequence, publicly discredited me. When I asked Gelber where he got that statement from, he couldn't come up with an answer.
Tierney's 99.99% figure may be wrong but his point that "natural compounds were as likely to be carcinogenic as synthetic ones" is valid nonetheless. Here's Ames from the link provided by Lambert:
Of all chemicals tested at high doses in both rats and mice (about 400 chemicals), about half are carcinogens: thus, carcinogens, as defined by such tests, are extremely common. Synthetic industrial chemicals account for almost all (-85%) of the chemicals tested. However, despite the fact that more than 99.9% of the chemicals humans eat are natural, only a small number (about 70) of natural chemicals have been tested in both rats and mice; again, about half are carcinogens. These results imply that synthetic chemicals, except in the case of high-dose occupational exposure, are unlikely to be responsible for much human cancer. This is in agreement with the conclusion of the epidemiologists who study human cancer: only a minuscule proportion, if any, of cancer is likely to be due to pesticide residues.
Anyway, it's absurd to attempt to undermine Tierney's argument with a "similar" figure that's not similar at all -- scientist Lambert has ongoing problems with the concept "similar", having previously claimed, and later denying claiming it, that sea level rises of 59 and 88 cm are similar.

Lambert hasn't laid a glove on Tierney so far with the swinging and missing continuing:
Back to Tierny:
The human costs have been horrific in the poor countries where malaria returned after DDT spraying was abandoned. Malariologists have made a little headway recently in restoring this weapon against the disease, but they've had to fight against Ms. Carson's disciples who still divide the world into good and bad chemicals, with DDT in their fearsome "dirty dozen."

Ms. Carson didn't urge an outright ban on DDT, but she tried to downplay its effectiveness against malaria and refused to acknowledge what it had accomplished.
But look at what Carson wrote about DDT and malaria:
No responsible person contends that insect-borne disease should be ignored. The question that has now urgently presented itself is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect vectors of infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story - the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. Even worse, we may have destroyed our very means of fighting. ...

What is the measure of this setback? The list of resistant species now includes practically all of the insect groups of medical importance. ... Malaria programmes are threatened by resistance among mosquitoes. ...

Practical advice should be 'Spray as little as you possibly can' rather than 'Spray to the limit of your capacity' ..., Pressure on the pest population should always be as slight as possible.
It is absurd for Lambert to rebut Tierney with hysterical nonsense from Carson. That insects develop resistance to chemical insecticides was known long before Carson wrote Silent Spring. And perhaps Lambert can tell us which insect vector has developed immunity to chemical control and which malaria control program failed due to developed resistance -- effective long-term insect control programs must anticipate the need to rotate insecticides.

Not only has Lambert been misleading his readers, he's allowing commenters carte blanche to post pro-Carson crap. Commenter Chuck asks a seemingly genuine question:
Are Tierney's claims about Carson true? For example, he writes "Ms. Carson used dubious statistics and anecdotes (like the improbable story of a woman who instantly developed cancer after spraying her basement with DDT) to warn of a cancer epidemic that never came to pass."

Is that a correct statement?
Lambert doesn't respond, instead allowing Hank Roberts to misinform:
Mr. Tierney is wrong.
Mr. Tierney could have searched full text in Silent Spring: [here]
I did. You can too. Here's the closest match to his claim, and it's not very close: pages 227-228.
He misread, or he trusted a PR lie instead of checking it.
Tierney is, in fact, correct. Go to the link provided by Hank and search for "basement" and you'll be referred to page 228, where Carson recounts the fantastic tale of an unnamed housewife who, over the course of three months, sprays her basement three times with DDT, develops leukemia and dies within a month. Hank appears to be a Lambert understudy.

Now I would have thought a scientist and academic -- as Lambert prominently proclaims himself at his blog -- would have investigated Chuck's question and set the record straight. No chance, Lambert aims to misinform; if his readers want to join in the points-scoring fun, great, his workload will be reduced.

Lambert, like Carson, unscrupulously manipulates information at every opportunity aiming to score political points, the ends justifying the means. If these two are any guide, science is fucked.

Note: For what it's worth, Lambert originally correctly spells "Tierney" but thereafter misspells it "Tierny". A bit sloppy for a scientist.

Update: Lambert has corrected the spelling of Tierney.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


A study of Caribbean coral reveals some interesting hurricane history:
The team found that the frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s, reaching an all-time low in the 1970s and 1980s.

Since then, numbers of large hurricanes have started to climb again, leading to several very active hurricane seasons. Most notable amongst these was the summer of 2005, which culminated in the devastation of New Orleans in the US by hurricane Katrina (see Hurricane season refuses to blow over).

In 2005, Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology, US, published a study showing that the frequency of the strongest tropical cyclones has almost doubled globally since the early 1970s (Science, vol 309, p 1844).

Nyberg says that, when considered in the context of the past three centuries, this sudden burst of large hurricanes is simply a return to the norm.
Consensus violation alert!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Still unable to best Currency Lad in argument, the inner Jason Soon again emerges:
You really are a dishonest prick and I am really starting to despise you.
Well, that settles that.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Tim Lambert reckons the lunatic fringe propagated the "myth" that Rachel Carson is responsible for the deaths of millions. Two posts later he quotes from and links to the lunatic fringers at Raw Story who have caught corporate interests supporting the fight against malaria.

The revelations are truly startling:
A Republican Senator who successfully prevented the US Senate from honoring the centennial of the birth of environmentalist and Silent Spring author Rachel Carson received campaign donations from a member of the board of directors of a group that sponsors pro-DDT advocacy, RAW STORY has found.

William Dunn, President of Dunn Capital Management in Stuart, Florida, gave $4,000 to the campaign of Senator Tom Coburn in 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. Dunn sits on the board of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that promotes the use of DDT to fight malaria, and has sponsored a website called "Rachel Was Wrong," which condemns the environmental scientist and activist for her famous book. ...

CEI has been accused of serving as a pro-industry advocacy group against various environmental causes. A 20th Anniversary Report on the CEI website showed that 31% of its 2003 income came from corporations.
But that's not all:
Additionally, a CEI staff member told the Inter Press Service in 2004 that the group received funding from Monsanto, the agribusiness corporation that originally manufactured DDT, although it no longer produces the pesticide.

Monsanto also supports the work of the Congress of Racial Equality, another pro-DDT group that contributes content to the 'Rachel Was Wrong' website, according to the Pesticide Action Network of North America.

A spokeswoman from PANNA, Stephenie Hendricks, argued to RAW STORY that although Monsanto was no longer manufacturing DDT itself, it was sponsoring efforts to promote the pesticide's use in anti-malaria campaigns to "create a more broadly permissive environment for agricultural chemicals."
Apparently computer scientist Lambert is opposed to corporate money saving the lives of black Africans.

Update: The Congress of Racial Equality, founded in 1942, is quite a bit more than a "pro-DDT" group:
The Congress of Racial Equality is officially classified as a philanthropic omnibus human rights organization. The parent organization, Congress of Racial Equality, Inc. (CORE, Inc.) is a not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the State of New York. Its flagship chapter--NY CORE--serves as host for the national organization and enjoys a 501(C)3 status with the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions to CORE are tax deductible as allowed by law. CORE, Inc. is a 501(C)4 organization under the guidelines of the Federal Government.

In addition to the traditional classifications shared by most philanthropic groups, CORE was the first civil rights organization in this country to have been awarded a special non-governmental consultative status (NGO) at the United Nations. CORE's is currently assign to two of the United Nations' most prestigious departments-- the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO).
I'm no big supporter of NGOs but lefty Lambert should love them. It makes no difference, he'll attack anyone who doesn't buy the DDT rubbish he cranks out.


I don't surf but my son does.


Vladimir Putin is unhappy with US plans to station missile interceptors in Europe:
President Putin has warned the US that its deployment of a new anti-missile network across Eastern Europe would prompt Russia to point its own missiles at European targets and could trigger nuclear war.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, the Russian leader says: “It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond."
If Russian missiles aren't already pointed at Europe, why would Putin care about defensive missiles being placed there? Anyway, it's not like Europe's a threat.


Nothing yet from opinion poll obsessive Chris Sheil on the latest news:
Labor's lead over the Federal Government has narrowed significantly in a new opinion poll out today.
According to pollster David Briggs:
"There is a momentum now heading in the direction of the Coalition," he said.
The coming election could be very interesting indeed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Computer scientist Tim Lambert has established himself as the go-to guy for lefties looking to confirm their anti-DDT prejudices. Here are some examples of recent favourable links:

Obsidian wings: "If you want to read a more detailed example of things the anti-Rachel Carson folks say, check out this post by Tim Lambert."

A DC Birding Blog: "Tim Lambert writes that recent Rachel Carson smears and pro-DDT rhetoric have their origin in a tobacco lobby astroturf group."

Natural Patriot: "You can read the whole sorry story in Dave Roberts’ account at Grist and in the series of posts by Tim Lambert at Deltoid."

Backseat driving: "Tim Lambert continues to fight the endless war against right-wing lies about Rachel Carson that argue the "ban" of DDT has killed and is killing millions of children infected by malaria."

Sierra Club: "Well, that's bogus, and, over at the excellent science blog, Deltoid, Tim Lambert sets the record straight..."

Grist: "...via Tim Lambert, who owns the DDT issue..."

His posts are so good, publishing is suggested:
Tim needs to write a book on these topics (DDT, Globl Warming, Lancet, Lott, etc). It would be published, easy.
Melbourne University Publishing would almost certainly be interested. MUP, you see, has something of a history of publishing supposedly factual lefty junk, and junk is what Lambert writes -- actually, to call his writing junk is to pay it an undeserved compliment.

Taking aim at Rachel Carson is a Lambert junk classic brimming with misinformation -- a Lamberting, if you will. But before looking at Lambert's junk it's appropriate for me to outline my take on DDT's use in the fight against malaria.

In the '50s a massive anti-malaria program was undertaken. Scientists attached to the program realized from the start that DDT, the main weapon for attacking malaria-carrying mosquitoes, would quickly (less than a decade) become ineffective owing to targeted mosquitoes developing DDT resistance. Such a massive program was hugely expensive, and difficult to manage and implement. The effectiveness of the program was undermined by corner-cutting and mismanagement (as in Sri Lanka) and ultimately by funds shortages.

Silent Spring was released in 1962. The book induced near anti-DDT hysteria and contributed to the formation of the organized environmental movement. It heavily influenced U.S. EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus's unilateral decision to ban the non-public health use of DDT.

The U.S. banning of DDT (it is banned for agricultural use and has not been used for public health measures) saw DDT fall out of favour -- it is unreasonable to expect developing countries to use a chemical banned in the U.S. and unethical for organization such as the WHO and USAID to promote its use. DDT continued to be produced and used but the two biggest players in the anti-malaria effort made a determined effort to move to other insecticides and gradually shifted to non-spray strategies (bed nets, for example). Thus the de facto DDT ban was born.

DDT is not a magic anti-malaria bullet. It is but one of the weapons in the fight against malaria. Did the de facto DDT ban cause millions of deaths? Possibly. Is Rachel Carson to blame for these deaths? No, the environmental movement, inspired by Silent Spring, is to blame. That said, the anti-malaria efforts mounted by the WHO and USAID are not the best managed public health programs. But here again, some of this apparent managerial confusion might result from perceived pressure to employ environmentally friendly anti-malaria measures.

Some of Silent Spring's negatives were recognized almost immediately, as seen in a 1964 Time article:
To its author, it was more than a book; it became a crusade. And, despite her scientific training, she rejected facts that weakened her case, while using almost any material, regardless of authenticity, that seemed to support her thesis. Her critics, who included many eminent scientists, objected that the book's exaggerations and emotional tone played on the vague fears of city dwellers, the bulk of the U.S. population, who have little contact with uncontrolled nature and do not know how unpleasantly hostile it generally is. Many passages mentioned cancer, whose cause is still mysterious. Who knows? suggested the book. Could one cause of the disease be pesticides?
On Carson's passing, the predominantly city-dwelling environmentalists organized and expanded the anti-chemical (DDT in particular) crusade. Supporters of this crusade refuse to acknowledge that the resultant move away from Indoor Residual Spraying in general, and the decline in use of DDT in particular, has caused many deaths. Tim Lambert is one of these denialists.

Lambert reckons DDT use declined as decisions were taken to move away from it as mosquitoes became resistant. Those who say otherwise are either ignorant or corporate shills, or both. Amongst which: the Global Malaria Programme's Dr Arata Kochi; Nature Medicine's senior news editor Apoorva Mandavilli; malaria expert Dr Donald R Roberts; and organizer of the DDT POPS exemption Dr Amir Attaran.

To prove that DDT use has declined due to emerging resistance Lambert frequently refers to the Sri Lanka experience. He bases his take on events in Sri Lanka on Gordon Harrison's Mosquitoes, malaria, and man: A history of hostilities since 1880, quoting:
Despite these rumblings of trouble the epidemic that hit the island in 1968-69 was shocking, unexpected and deeply discouraging The few score cases suddenly multiplied into more than half a million. In a single season parasites reestablished themselves almost throughout the areas from which they had been so expensively driven in the course of twenty years. Sri Lanka went back to the spray guns, reducing malaria once more to 150,000 cases in 1972; but there the attack stalled. Anopheles culicifacies, completely susceptible to DDT when the spray stopped in 1964, was now found resistant presumably because of the use of DDT for crop protection in the interim. Within a couple of years, so many culicifacies survived that despite the spraying malaria spread in 1975 to more than 400,000 people.
Lambert has cherry-picked from Harrison to debunk corporate "shills" Richard Tren and Roger Bate, who write (only the bolded bit is cited by Lambert):
Most developed countries followed the US lead and imposed bans on the chemical for all uses. Some developing countries also imposed a ban on the pesticide for agricultural use and some for all uses. For example, South Africa banned it for agricultural use in 1974. Sri Lankan officials had stopped using DDT in 1964, believing the malaria problem was solved, but by 1969 the number of malaria cases had risen from the low of 17 (achieved when DDT was used) to over 500,000 (Silva, 1997).

It is alleged that DDT was not widely re-introduced because of mosquito resistance to it, and DDT use was finally abandoned in favour of Malathion in 1977 (Spielman, 1980). But a series of deleterious positive feedbacks was established. ‘It is likely that the reduction in support of spraying activities leading to inconsistent application of pesticides also played a role in the development of vector resistance’ (Packard, 1997: 287). Furthermore, pressure not to use DDT may have been applied by western donors using resistance as a convenient argument. Recent evidence shows that even where resistance to DDT has emerged, the ‘excito-repellancy’ of DDT causes mosquitoes not to enter buildings that have been sprayed (Roberts et al., 2000). Under test conditions (see Grieco et al., 2000), for at least one type of malarial mosquito in Belize (the only country in which these tests have so far been conducted),DDTis far more successful than the most favoured vector control pesticide – Deltamethrin. Hence it is unlikely that malaria rates would have increased (significantly) even if resistance were found. Recognising its continuing efficacy, many countries, such as those in Southern Africa, continue to allow DDT to be used for malaria control.
Tren and Bate may not be totally correct in all particulars but they do not downplay the resistance problem, which is mentioned throughout their paper. Here, for example, they discuss the dangers of an eradication program based solely on DDT:
The unilateral vector eradication approach to malaria control that constituted the Global Eradication Campaign could have led to its ultimate failure. Whether eradicating the disease is or is not technically feasible, the approach followed by the USAID under the guise of the WHO imposed unrealistic control strategies that could not be sustained in most poor countries. DDT was remarkably successful in almost all the countries in which it was used, but it was never likely to work as a magic bullet.
Here they discuss implementation and resistance:
One of the reasons that the WHO pushed for rapid implementation of DDT spraying for an intensive and limited time period was because of fears of resistance to the pesticide. The problems of resistance to DDT first emerged in Greece in the early 1950s where it was observed that the main Greek vector, Anopheles sacharovi, showed physiological resistance to the pesticide. Resistance to DDT was later observed in the Middle East, parts of Indonesia and also in northern Nigeria in 1956.

Fears about the increase in resistance to DDT (and dieldrin, another organochlorine pesticide) led the WHO expert committee in 1956 to call for the swift and overwhelming vector control programmes that would eliminate the pool of parasites before resistance could develop. Many countries did not have the infrastructure or organisational capacity to implement the WHO plans.
To put this in perspective, here's some of what Harrison wrote that Lambert leaves out:
The original idea had been by massive and intensive spraying to end transmission simultaneously throughout areas large enough to hold thereafter, without DDT, against both lingering small foci within the region and incursions from outside. But in practice the massive nationwide campaign was but a statistical generality of many small battles, fought with uneven skills in conditions of disparate difficulty. As victory was not to be had all at once, and as everyone was in a hurry to cut off the spray and show results, the battles began to be called off one at a time—often in relatively small districts wholly surrounded by others where the fight went on. Many of these could not be held and the attack had to be resumed. Both India and Sri Lanka, models for the feasibility of eradication, slipped back a little between 1960 and 1965. It was not much. But in the circumstances even the slightest regression was ominous. The goal of eradication had to be postponed and, by definition, time was on the other side.

WHO was of course concerned but, it would appear, not gravely so. As in the 1950s the campaign leaders had been rushed into a program of eradication by fears of insect resistance, now ten years later they were beguiled into accepting more distant goals by seeing that their fears had been somewhat exaggerated. To be sure, resistance had spread rapidly: From the five species of anophelines proved resistant in 1956, the number had risen to thirty-eight in 1968. But in many places the declining vulnerability was not yet sufficient to interfere with control. In India, for instance, Anopheles culicifacies, a major vector widespread in the country as a whole, was shown to be resistant but only in a few isolated localities—not enough to make any real difference. From Sri Lanka when spraying stopped in 1964, reports that culicifacies there remained wholly susceptible were encouraging. Most of the thirty-eight resistant species tolerated DDT or dieldrin but not both and so could be controlled by switching insecticides. WHO’s pesticide experts concluded that around the Persian Gulf and in several countries in Central America “resistance challenges the outcome of the campaign,” but that elsewhere it was still more of an inconvenience than a major obstacle. So there was still time—time, the experts thought, “for a more thorough study and analysis” of the program the better to adapt it to the capacities of those countries still struggling.
The error came in part from the genuine difficulty of deciding just how large a defensible consolidation zone had to be, but in greater part from the manifold political and economic pressures to get off the DDT wherever it seemed even marginally possible. The result was a gerrymandered patchwork of defense zones whose frontiers were certain to be regularly and even massively reinvaded.
This supports Bate and Tren's contention there was pressure to "get off the DDT".

According to Malaria: Principles and Practice of Malariology edited by Wernsdorfer and McGregor, a number of factors contributed to Sri Lanka's malaria resurgence:
The reasons for the upsurge were many. It was certainly facilitated by the backlog of slides accumulated in the laboratories and the comparatively low numbers of blood smears taken by health institutions that permitted a gradual build up of undetected, untreated cases. Intradomiciliary residual spraying with DDT had been withdrawn in the early 1960s because of the low number of cases (in accordance with the criteria for passing from attack to consolidation). After the resurgence was recognized, administrative and financial difficulties prevented the purchase of insecticides of which there was no residual stock, and the employment of temporary squads for spraying them when insecticides were donated. In 1968, the programme reverted from consolidation to attack phase, but by that time malaria had already taken root again in all previously endemic areas. DDT residual spraying was again applied on a total coverage basis, accompanied in some areas by mass radical treatment. These measures met with limited success, but the malaria situation deteriorated once more between 1972 and 1975. Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT, to such an extent that it was necessary to change to the more expensive malathion in 1977.
So, Sri Lanka's malaria resurgence cannot be put down solely to resistance as Lambert leads his readers to believe; there were many contributing factors. The Sri Lanka anti-malaria program was conducted in fits and starts (due to pressure to get off the DDT) and extended over too long a period. It's almost as if the program was designed to breed up a population of resistant mosquitoes.

In Taking aim at Rachel Carson Lambert asserts that the "Rachel-killed-millions hoax" first surfaced in 1994, at which time it was believed only by the "lunatic fringe". The notion actually dates from at least 1992, when well-regarded entomologist J. Gordon Edwards published The Lies of Rachel Carson in 21st Century Science & Technology Magazine, a LaRouche publication.

Anything promoted by a LaRouche affiliate must be considered highly suspect but Edwards was an entomologist of some standing. He also wrote, with Steven Milloy, 100 things you should know about DDT. The fact that this document is found at could cause some to regard it as "junk" but on casual reading it appears to be generally correct.

Anyway, Lambert's main point is that the Rachel-killed-millions-hoax was transferred to the mainstream through funding provide by evil tobacco companies. Lambert reckons the tobacco companies did this to derail the UN's anti-tobacco initiative:
So Philip Morris hired Roger Bate to set up a new astroturf group Africa Fighting Malaria and criticize the WHO for not doing enough to fight malaria. ... And the upshot of all this hasn't just been that Philip Morris has weakened the World Health Organization's ability to act against tobacco. If you think that DDT was poised to eliminate malaria, then the obvious thing that we should be doing now is spraying more DDT and if folks are distributing insecticide treated bed nets instead it must be because the all-powerful environmentalists won't let them use DDT.
Thus has big tobacco induced the weak-minded Arata Kochi to decree the more widespread use of DDT. This is a bad thing, apparently.

Lambert has a problem, however: the only big-tobacco-funded DDT "lie" he reveals is Bate and Tren's take on DDT resistance in Sri Lanka, which is, no matter how you look at it, not a lie at all. Now it may be an exaggeration to claim that Rachel Carson killed millions but she did inspire the environmental movement which pressured the WHO and USAID into shunning DDT, which in turn caused the deaths of lots of people.

Take another look at the 1964 Time article excerpt and consider if it is reasonable to conclude that Rachel Carson bears some responsibility for the de facto DDT ban and the subsequent malaria toll:
To its author, it was more than a book; it became a crusade. And, despite her scientific training, she rejected facts that weakened her case, while using almost any material, regardless of authenticity, that seemed to support her thesis. Her critics, who included many eminent scientists, objected that the book's exaggerations and emotional tone played on the vague fears of city dwellers, the bulk of the U.S. population, who have little contact with uncontrolled nature and do not know how unpleasantly hostile it generally is. Many passages mentioned cancer, whose cause is still mysterious. Who knows? suggested the book. Could one cause of the disease be pesticides?
If you want to see something "unpleasantly hostile", go to Dulltard and tell Lambert and his gullible readers that Rachel Carson did kill millions. They'll hand you your head.

One last point, malaria is not a matter of choice, tobacco smoking is.


The accuracy of climate models is being questioned:
Frank Wentz and colleagues at Remote Sensing Systems in California, US, looked at satellite records from between 1986 and 2005 to see if the climate models' predictions of a correlation between increased temperatures and reduced rainfall bore out in reality.

"The satellite data for the last 20 years shows an increase in rainfall that is three times what the models predicted," says Wentz. "This represents one of the first tests of the models used for the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results show a significant discrepancy between model and observations."
These finding are, of course, hotly disputed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Brainiac Bruce claims to have implemented a cunning scheme of reverse trolling whereby he makes intentional errors designed to "bait" "malicious" comment from those ideologically opposed. Thus he hopes to make himself immune to criticism -- point out a flaw and he can claim the flaw is intentional, that the criticism is malicious, and is born of misunderstanding.

Bruce reckons he's greatly amused by those who respond to his "baiting". Well, I went to his blog hoping to discuss this baiting nonsense -- all civil like -- and Bruce promptly banned me. Despite his claims to the contrary, he obviously didn't find my comments funny. He'd gone to the trouble of "baiting" and "hooking" me but didn't want to reel me in. Odd.

And by the way, Bruce has quite an imagination when it comes to Miss Politics's sex life -- he's the only person I know who has aimed the description "cheating slut" in her direction. C'mon Bruce, being sexually active doesn't mean she's a slut.

Update: Bruce's baiting goes as planned and he has a major sad. The comment that got me banned is here. Am I a bastard, or what?


Philips Compact Fluorescent Lamp safety FAQs (bold as in original, my highlights):
Q: Are CFLs safe?

A: The small amount of mercury sealed in a CFL does not pose a hazard to users. However, mercury is a toxic metal and every product containing mercury must be handled with care. We must dispose of used CFLs properly and clean up any broken CFL safely.

Q: How do I safely dispose of a used CFL?

A: Recycling is the best way to dispose of used CFLs. While businesses, hospitals and schools often pay a recycling company to collect spent CFLs and fluorescent tubes, many communities now have hazardous waste collection schemes to enable residents to deposit batteries, paint, motor oil, CFLs and so on. For recycling , check with your local council or government for advice.

If no recycler is able to take your CFLs, we suggest you store them in a safe place until a recycling programme is implemented in your area. Remember that the average Philips CFL lasts for around 6,000 hours, which translate to approximately three years of five and half-hours-a-day usage.

As a last resort, burnt-out CFLs could be placed inside a plastic bag, firmly sealed, and then put into your household rubbish.

Q: How do I safely clean up a broken CFL?

A: If a CFL breaks, you should open nearby windows and doors to ventilate the room. Carefully sweep up the pieces, and then use a paper towel to wipe up any remaining glass fragments.

Do not use your hands - we recommend wearing disposable plastic gloves.
Do not use a vacuum cleaner, which can trap or spread the mercury in the house.

Seal the pieces, plastic gloves and paper towel in a plastic bag for safe disposal.
Philips claims CFLs reduce mercury pollution:
  • Most mercury in the air comes from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.
  • CFLs use 80% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, reducing the need for electricity production.
  • CFLs thus help to reduce mercury emissions, as well as carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
I'd buy the reduced pollution claim if CFLs lasted the claimed 6,000 hours; in my experience CFLs aren't good for anywhere near 1,000 hours when used in locations where they are frequently turned on and off. The high-priced, brand name CFL spotlights in my kitchen are lasting for maybe 500 hours, at the most. This tempts me to stock up on incandescent spotlights.


A quick search at Amazon for Antony Loewenstein's best-selling My Israel Question took me here, where the book is shown with five stars. Clicking on the link to the book shows something quite different: the book has been reviewed by four people, one gives it five stars, the others giving it one star -- that averages out to two stars. Interestingly, readers find the one star reviews helpful, with no one rating the five star review helpful. My Israel Question's Amazon ranking is 739,131.

Fittingly, Loewenstein did not win the $10,000 Gleebooks Prize for Critical Writing. Not to worry, as a best-selling author the money's gotta be rolling in.

Update: Due to demand (lack of) Amazon does not keep the book in stock:
Usually ships within 3 to 5 weeks.
The average ten-year old can write a better Israel book in that time.

Friday, June 01, 2007


An official of Sweden's Social Democrats will be investigated for harassment and defamation for blogging the following about a journalist originally from Poland:
"Like a drooling dog, chained to his kennel and waiting for his master to return with a bone, the Pole continues to spread his homespun theories about life in the country's workplaces," Kennerfalk wrote.

"But this rabble-rouser has never had any other ambition than to fill his wallet and bank accounts," he continued.
The Liberal official who reported the offending comment was not amused:
"The use of this kind of rhetoric is more common on the left than on the right. But enough is enough. Kennerfalk's text and the police report against him can serve as the starting point for a clean-up of left-wing rhetoric," said Sundin.
It doesn't seem like a big deal to me but Sundin is right about left-wing rhetoric needing a clean-up.


A Dutch gang of HIV positive men is accused of drugging and raping victims hoping to infect them. Some of the victims were even injected with contaminated blood. The gang's motive was simple:
"Their stated motive was that it excited them - and also that, the more HIV-infected people there were, the better their chances of unprotected sex."

"They considered unprotected relations to be 'pure'."
These guys are obviously nutty; but not as nutty as their victims, who were lured by online promises of internet orgies.