Thursday, August 30, 2007


Environmental healthologist J Lowe discovers a brilliant exposé:
This falls in the category of "something I wish I had written first". It's a brilliant takedown of a dead horse that conservatives just love to keep flogging - the myth that the environmentalist conspiracy to ban the pesticide DDT in 1972 led to a worldwide malaria epidemic that killed millions throughout the tropics.
Lowe then proceeds to link to comprehensively debunked anti-DDT propagandist Tim Lambert, who he credits with "performing stout duty counteracting the waves of conservative crap about DDT". If by "stout duty" Lowe means lying, he's absolutely right; just about everything Lambert's ever written about DDT is at least misleading. But the exposé Lowe is so taken with doesn't come from Lambert, it's from Jim Easter. Before considering Easter's post let's take a look at some of the DDT background provided by Lowe.

Lowe draws his DDT history from the EPA, offering a selectively misleading overview:
In 1971, pesticide regulatory authority was transferred to the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In response to a court order, following a suit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the EPA began cancellation of all remaining uses of DDT in 1971. In June 1972, William Ruckelshaus, the EPA Administrator announced the final cancellation of all remaining agricultural uses of DDT. The order did not affect public health or quarantine uses or export of DDT. The cancellation was based on findings of persistence, transport, biomagnification, toxicological effects and the availability of effective and less environmentally harmful alternatives to DDT.
Lowe omits the following:
In August 1971, upon the request of 31 DDT formulators, a hearing began on the cancellation of all remaining Federally registered uses of products containing DDT. When the hearing ended in March 1972, the transcripts of 9,312 pages contained testimony from 125 expert witnesses and over 300 documents. The principal parties to the hearings were various formulators of DDT products, USDA, the EDF, and EPA.
Even the EPA selectively omits crucial details, nowhere mentioning that the man conducting those hearings -- administrative law judge Edmund Sweeney -- who actually listened to the testimony firsthand and weighed the evidence, eventually ruled that the by then limited agricultural use of DDT should continue. (The EPA page linked above, "DDT Regulatory History: A Brief Survey (to 1975)", doesn't mention Sweeney by name or even refer to his judgement, thus making it seem that the hearings were but a prelude to Ruckelshaus's decision to ban DDT. That Ruckelhaus overrode Sweeney is conveniently ignored.)

Lowe does eventually refer to the Sweeney judgement, sort of:
A claim made by the pro-DDT crowd (such as Steven Milloy at his DDT FAQi) is that Ruckekshaus disregarded the findings from his own hearing examiner in cancelling DDT, and that his decision was capricious and unsupported by the evidence. Easter has fact-checked this claim, including finding and posting the hard-to-find hearing examiner's record. He suggests that the pro-DDT case may be based on selective quoting of the hearing record - focusing on the findings where DDT wasn't a human and environmental health hazard, and ignoring those showing evidence of adverse effects, and provides examples where Ruckelshaus acknowledges the findings and clearly states his objections to them.
The linked page's discussion of Ruckelshaus's involvement is limited to the following:
William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won."

But as an assistant attorney general, William Ruckelshaus stated on August 31, 1970 in a U.S. Court of Appeals that "DDT has an amazing an exemplary record of safe use, does not cause a toxic response in man or other animals, and is not harmful. Carcinogenic claims regarding DDT are unproven speculation." But in a May 2, 1971 address to the Audubon Society, Ruckelshaus stated, "As a member of the Society, myself, I was highly suspicious of this compound, to put it mildly. But I was compelled by the facts to temper my emotions ... because the best scientific evidence available did not warrant such a precipitate action. However, we in the EPA have streamlined our administrative procedures so we can now suspend registration of DDT and the other persistent pesticides at any time during the period of review." Ruckelshaus later explained his ambivalence by stating that as assistant attorney general he was an advocate for the government, but as head of the EPA he was "a maker of policy."

Overruling the EPA hearing examiner, EPA administrator Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972. Ruckelshaus never attended a single hour of the seven months of EPA hearings on DDT. Ruckelshaus' aides reported he did not even read the transcript of the EPA hearings on DDT.

After reversing the EPA hearing examiner's decision, Ruckelshaus refused to release materials upon which his ban was based. Ruckelshaus rebuffed USDA efforts to obtain those materials through the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that they were just "internal memos." Scientists were therefore prevented from refuting the false allegations in the Ruckelshaus' "Opinion and Order on DDT."
None of these claims has, as far as I'm aware, been refuted. That's why Lowe chooses to mischaracterize them rather than quote them.

Okay, now for the amazing 1,968 word Jim Easter post at Some are Boojums -- the title of the blog is pretty damned amazing but the post in question certainly isn't: it's more of the same old misleading, wordy lefty anti-DDT crapola. Easter claims his post is a direct response to's "distortion of the history and science surrounding DDT". The guy's fooling himself.

Easter claims the following is misleading even though it quotes directly from Sweeney's findings:
The EPA hearing examiner, Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded that “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man… DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man… The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.”
Easter then observing:
It is not true that Sweeney found no harm caused by DDT. Rather, he found that, using a “preponderance of the evidence” test, DDT users and USDA had shown that DDT’s usefulness to agriculture outweighed the demonstrated harm.
Nowhere on the linked page is it claimed that "Sweeney found no harm caused by DDT"; Easter just made that up to add punch to his post -- he also spices things up with some sexy graphs.

Easter also claims that Ruckelshaus didn't ignore Sweeney's ruling but rather merely overruled it. In fact, Ruckelshaus did ignore Sweeney's ruling, in that he disregarded the precedent established by Sweeney's ruling. Easter's resort to semantics is actually pretty silly.

Easter concludes his post with a final misrepresentation:
The 1972 DDT ban did nothing to restrict the chemical’s use against malaria, but had the effect of eliminating the single most intense source of selection pressure for insecticide resistance in mosquitos. As the rest of the world followed suit in restricting agricultural use of DDT, the spread of resistance was slowed dramatically or stopped.
The U.S. ban made it impossible for the major funders of anti-malaria efforts to justify DDT use anywhere in the world:
As the organization that led the successful campaign to ban use of DDT in the United States in the early 1970’s, we have read with concern recent reports that US AID is unwilling to consider even limited use of DDT in anti-malaria programs in developing countries. According to the New York Times Magazine, you recently stated that part of the reason US AID “doesn't finance DDT is that doing so would require a battle for public opinion. 'You'd have to explain to everybody why this is really O.K. and safe every time you do it.’
”The battle for public opinion continues.


Thai's were eager participants in a food protest during which some nine tons of papayas, some of which might have been genetically modified, were publicly dumped:
Passers-by took matters, and tonnes of papayas dumped by Greenpeace, into their own hands, and ran off.
The locals aren't stupid enough to buy Greenpeace's "better dead than well fed" thinking.

The story originally posted by GMO Pundit Dave Tribe has now been picked up by Salon. If you're not a regular GMO Pundit visitor, you should be.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Man-haters will take cheer from this news:
Men are worse for the environment than women, spending more on petrol and eating more meat, both of which create greenhouse gas emissions. These are the conclusions of a new report by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
What about the CO2 emissions from all the cooking women do?


He likes Bubba but Carter's his favourite. Fidel predicts a Clinton-Obama ticket will win in '08, by the way.


A German man's exotic pets have quickly adapted their diets following his death:
Police found Mark Voegel, 30, in his apartment partially eaten by his pet spiders, several snakes, lizards and thousands of termites, reported.
This is only appropriate as he was apparently killed by one of his spiders.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The bigger they are, the more often they fail:
Wind turbines continue to multiply the world over. But as they grow bigger and bigger, the number of dangerous accidents is climbing. How safe is wind energy?

It came without warning. A sudden gust of wind ripped the tip off of the rotor blade with a loud bang. The heavy, 10-meter (32 foot) fragment spun through the air, and crashed into a field some 200 meters away.

After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting. Gearboxes hiding inside the casings perched on top of the towering masts have short shelf lives, often crapping out before even five years is up. In some cases, fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation, after only limited operation. Short circuits or overheated propellers have been known to cause fires. All this despite manufacturers' promises that the turbines would last at least 20 years.
I can't quite work out if wind power sucks or blows.

Note to self: very carefully reread posts -- especially titles -- when posting after bedtime.


My post on blogger-lawyer Irfan Yusuf gratuitously revealing the place of residence of hostile commenter Daniel Lewis has drawn an interesting comment:
Daniel, I know you live at Rushcutters Bay. How did I figure it out? Because I went to Factiva and typed in your name and all your letters to the editor came up.

I took this suburb info and went to the white pages website and typed in your surname and initial and an address and phone number came up.

So I figured out where you live by using public info. Any member of the public could do what I did. Your accusations against Irf make you and all your idiotic far-Right friends look like the sh#theads that you are.

If you didn't hang around with so many brain-dead far-Right idiots, you wouldn't be so paranoid. Or have you been borrowing cocaine from Akerman and Blair again?

Get off the drugs, mate!
Factiva, now there's a site not commonly used by the man on the street to find people but to which a business person might have access. Someone like, say... lawyer Irfan Yusuf, here threatening Lewis with a Factiva search:
Maybe I should go to Factiva and dig out some of your letters to the editor.
It looks like Yusuf finally made good on that threat.

The bit about finding Lewis through the online White Pages is a lie: there are only two listings for Lewis in Rushcutters Bay; neither has the initial "D".

All of this is merely distraction from the pertinent question: why did Yusuf include Lewis's suburb in his sidebar notice if not to draw attention to where he lives? The information simply isn't relevant to the matters being discussed.

It's sufficient to refer to "Sydney lawyer Irfan Yusuf" when I could, if I wanted to, describe him as "Sydney lawyer Irfan Yusuf, 46 Twin Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113, (telephone 02 98780731, mobile 0414355786)". Now this is no big deal because all of the information on Yusuf is readily available online but it's not relevant. Lewis on the other hand keeps his exact address to himself. But for some reason Yusuf wants to narrow down Lewis's location as precisely as he can.

Finally, the comment above was lodged under the pseudonym Hashem, sometimes used by Jews as a name for God. Given Yusuf's ample proportions he might have more appropriately chosen Buddha.

Update: Yusuf, miffed that I posted his publicly available details (which he says are incorrect, anyway), informs me via email that he referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police for investigation. So if you don't hear from me for a while it's probably because I'm being interrogated.

By the way, Yusuf does not deny that he authored the comment posted under the name Hashem.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Anti-poverty campaigner Jacqueline Novogratz discusses efforts to help Africans find African solutions to Africa's problems, with a little help from a couple of evil corporate giants. (From about 8:oo minutes in she discusses some homegrown malaria solutions.)

Link provided by H. R. Thomas.


Big-brained Bruce attacks a NineMSN article describing benzoate salts and ascorbic acid in soft drinks interacting to form the known carcinogen, benzene:
Wrong. False. Misleading.
According to the U.S. FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, an April 21, 2006, through May 16, 2007 study uncovered unacceptable benzene concentrations (above 5 parts per billion) in a number of soft drinks, with the highest level at 88.9 ppb. Now this might not be much of a health hazard -- according to Bruce, "not enough to warrant you pooping your pants" -- but it is well above the acceptable level and well above the 12.3 to 19.9 ppb which prompted Perrier to recall 160 million bottles of water.

Maybe this is another of Bruce's intentional errors.


The carnivore shunner:
Vegansexuals do not eat any meat or animal related products – and do not want to be sexually intimate with people that do.
Which brings a question to mind: do vegans give head, and if so, do they swallow?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


GMO pundit recounts the tale of food activists attacking a scientific study showing consumers prefer quality genetically modified corn over worm-eaten corn:
A long-standing dispute between scientists and activists over a scholarly paper has recently resulted in several embarrassing defeats for the activists.
Read it here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Sydney lawyer Irfan Yusuf is certainly an interesting character. Back in December he "allowed" an especially nasty comment out of moderation at one of his blogs, Madhab al-Irfy:
Daniel Lewis of Rushcutters Bay, you have been writing racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim letters to major newspapers in Australia for some time now. You have also been writing similar messages on Tim Blair's blog.

Admit it or I will post your address and telephone number here.
I suspected the comment was written by Yusuf and posted under an assumed identity. But since Yusuf removed the comment after I hassled him about it I never said anything about my suspicion. Recent developments appear to confirm that Yusuf is determined to silence Daniel Lewis through intimidation, by revealing where he lives.

In the right sidebar at another of Yusuf's blogs, planet irf, this feature has recently appeared (my bold):
Endorsement from Tim Blair, Opinion Editor, Daily Telegraph
I spent much of the weekend going through your blog. I mean, f#cking
hell. Put yourself in my f*cking shoes, mate. Why the f+ck should I run your stuff? Why should I do you any favours when you write that f^cking bullsh!t on your blog?
(Conversation with Mr Blair. Blair's friend, Daniel Lewis (who identifies himself in numerous letters to the editor as being of Rushcutters Bay), comments of Blair's blog (13/07/07 @ 11:58pm): "I wonder whether Irfan, sought Tim’s permission to print this 'endorsement'? I’m sure Tim would be only to happy to give such permission, but I’m also sure Irfan has edited it. No doubt Tim was a lot more colourful.")
Why does Yusuf deem it necessary to state Lewis's suburb and link him as a friend to the dreaded Blair? Well, duh.


No, this isn't about George Bush; it's about Victoria forcing electricity consumers to use "smart power". The Victorian government's smart meter plan is just a wee bit controversial:
In Victoria, the meters will soon become compulsory, replacing what Energy Minister Peter Batchelor describes as "100-year-old technology".

"We're going to roll out over a four-year period in excess of 2.4 million new meters in each home and business right across the state," he said.

But across the border, South Australian Energy Minister Pat Conlon is scathing about their use.

"If you want a policy outcome where we kill the elderly in droves during heat waves, this is what you do," he said.

Mr Conlon believes charging extremely high prices for using appliances like air conditioners at times of peak demand will only punish poor people.

"Anyone who will switch off will be low-income people. In South Australia, a large number of those are the elderly," he said.

"I don't think anyone wants a policy that during very high temperatures convinces older people to turn their air-conditioning off. That would be extremely dangerous."

Mr Batchelor disagrees.

"That's nonsense. In Victoria, we no longer believe that the earth is flat," he said.

"I envisage that once the smart meter roll-out has been completed there'll be a range of pricing packages that will include time-of-day pricing.

"But I also think the retailers will continue with the traditional flat rate charging for those that don't want to avail themselves of this opportunity."
Gee, it's not every day that one state Labor Minister another state Labor Minister of trying to kill the elderly. Here's some background.

Smart power is a scheme whereby smart meters record not only how much electricity is used but when it is used, with different rates applying for different periods of the day. In Western Australia the current 24/7 flat rate for electricity (the rate coming into effect in October) is 13.94 cents per unit (kWh). Smart meter users do not pay the flat rate, with weekdays divided into peak, shoulder and off-peak periods (these periods varying somewhat for summer and winter): peak rate, 25.28 cents/kWh; shoulder, 15.42 cents/kWh; and off-peak, 7.22 cents/kWh. Over weekends smart power rates are always lower than peak: weekend day rate, 11.32 cents/kWh and off-peak, 7.22 cents/kWh.

Smart meter users able to shift time of consumption to the off-peak period -- locked in every day from 9:00 pm to 7:00 am in winter and from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am in summer -- and to weekends can save lots of money. Those who can't are going to see their power bills go up. Synergy, Western Australia's electricity supplier, points out smart power's potential savings like this (my emphasis):
SmartPower can help you reduce your electricity bill if you're not at home using electricity during the day on weekdays, or if you can shift your usage to between 9pm and 7am weekdays or to anytime on the weekend.

The amount you can save all depends on your ability to shift your electrical usage to the cheaper off-peak times.

Try using these and other appliances in off-peak periods to save your money:

Electric water heaters*
Reticulation bore pumps*
Swimming pool pumps*
Washing machines
Clothes dryers
Bread Makers

*You may need to have a timer fitted by a licenced electrician.
Synergy has recently given added incentive for smart power users to avoid peak periods by making peak usage even more expensive: under the old rates, peak usage cost 3 times as much as off-peak; under the new rates peak costs 3.5 times as much as off-peak.

Over the years smart power has saved me lots of money. I've managed to shift around 60% of electricity use to off-peak with only 15% of usage during the peak period. Not everyone will find this convenient or even practical, however. The elderly and those with young families may not be able to shift power use until late at night: what's the point of having heating and cooling if it's too expensive to use during the day; and is it really practical for a young mother to do her washing late at night or to save it up laundry for batch washing at weekends. Business too will be greatly affected, with their hours of operation largely falling within peak periods.

It is unclear who is going to pay for the meters. In Western Australia Synergy charges $165 to retrofit a single phase smart meter and $615 for the three phase version. If the meters are to be distributed free -- a reasonable assumption since the program is compulsory -- it's going to cost electricity retailers hundreds of millions of dollars. This makes it highly likely that users will be forced to subscribe to time-of-day pricing: why bother spending the money on smart meters and then allow consumers to opt out of the scheme? It would make more sense to allow those wanting smart power's advantages to have a meter installed voluntarily.

If smart power causes people to pay more for electricity Tim Flannery will be delighted.


June 2005:
Since the late 1960s, much of the North Atlantic Ocean has become less salty, in part due to increases in fresh water runoff induced by global warming, scientists say. Now for the first time researchers have quantified this fresh water influx, allowing them to predict the long-term effects on a "conveyor belt" of ocean currents.

Climate changes in the Northern Hemisphere have melted glaciers and brought more rain, dumping more fresh water into the oceans, according to the analysis.
August 2007:
The surface waters of the North Atlantic are getting saltier, suggests a new study of records spanning over 50 years. And this might actually be good news for the effects of climate change on global ocean currents in the short-term, say the study's researchers.

The seawater is probably becoming saltier due to global warming, Boyer says.
Global warming fits any scenario, apparently.

Friday, August 24, 2007


According to Margaret Simons, Mark Bahnisch is more than your typical blogger:
The blogosphere in Australia has yet to gain the political clout of the best US sites, for reasons that have been discussed by leading blogger Mark Bahnisch in On Line Opinion.
Maybe Simons is still relying on Bahnisch's swollen-headed view of his own prominence:
And today the left-leaning Larvatus Prodeo, which claims to be the country’s best read political blog, has released statistics which suggest that might be true. LP claims to have had 31,612 unique visitors in October – showing steady growth from January, when it was just 17,148.
Lavatory Rodeo's incestuous cross-promotional collaboration with Crikey appears to be paying off, with its count now up to 3,021 visits a day. That averages out to 188 visits a day for each of Rodeo's 16 bloggers. Now whereas visit count isn't everything, lone blogger Tim Blair is drawing 9,458 visits a day. Just saying...

Simons is also delusional about the prominence of New Limited's token lefty, Tim Dunlop:
Dunlop told me the week after his post was pulled that he was having “talks” with management about editorial independence and expected to be able to blog on the result of his talks soon. He still hasn’t done so, but is continuing to blog feistily on other matters. My understanding is that Dunlop has, after much soul-searching, decided to give News Limited one more chance.
But Fairfax's axing of a blogger who can actually write doesn't get a mention. Go figure.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The last I heard, Antony Loewenstein was writing a very revealing book on the Australian media to be published this year by Random House. Oddly, an author search for Loewenstein at Random House returns nothing and there's this:
My last book [his first and only book -- ed.] was about Israel and Palestine, My Israel Question, and I became fascinated in voices in various nations around the world, often in countries where state-media has traditionally been the only authority. Frankly, writing about Israel/Palestine is also physically and emotionally draining - hate mail and death threats are not uncommon - and the chance to embrace a different subject appealed greatly.

So, my new book project (due for release in late 2008) is about the internet in repressive regimes, the ways in which the web has changed debate around the world, how Western multinationals are now assisting governments in filtering the net and how Western stereotypes about the non-Western world are finally being challenged. I’ve recently travelled to Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China and spoken to various writers, bloggers, online trouble-makers, politicians and dissidents.
It looks like Random House has sensibly shit-canned the "best-selling" author's book. This makes sense: if they paid Loewenstein nothing for writing it, any book he produces is going to cost more to edit than it's ever going to make from sales.

Update: I forgot to mention that the linked interview mentions two different Guardian "articles" that are actually mere "comment is free" posts. The guy is seriously deluded.


Entomology PhD Bug Girl on one of her passions:
If you know me, you know that I’m a grammar nerd. And I love to read, and I love words.

One of my favorite books is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. Followed closely by Ann Fadiman’s Ex Libris.
Uh, there's a superfluous comma in there: the title of the book is Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Bug Girl's error is ironic in view of the author's intent in choosing that particular title for a book about punctuation -- which is not the same as grammar, by the way. It's also Anne Fadiman.

That's Okay, Bug Girl claims to know a lot about DDT and she's no expert on that either.


One of Australia's most influential bloggers has repeatedly accused the Australian of waging war on science, most recently pointing to an allegedly "deliberate attempt to deceive" by the newspaper. Well, if deception is the criterion on which such matters are judged, computer scientist Tim Lambert is also waging war on science.

Lambert starts off his post by linking to and quoting from a Washington Post article and a World Health Organization press release on Kenya's success in reducing malaria through the distribution of free, rather than low-cost, long-lasting insecticidal bed-nets (LLINs). Lambert observing:
In light of this and other new evidence, the WHO seems to have reversed the policy it adopted last year of indoor residual spraying (IRS) in high-transmission areas.
Now this is really curious because neither the article nor the press release mentions DDT or indoor residual spraying (IRS). Lambert's leading his readers to believe that LLINs are far superior to IRS (as proven by the Kenyan experience) and that the WHO has all but admitted it was wrong to advocate IRS, and especially so when DDT is employed. Lambert supports this by linking directly to the WHO position paper on insecticide treated nets. But he doesn't link directly to the WHO's 2006 position paper on IRS, linking instead to one of his old posts, where the link to the original WHO document is a bit difficult to find.

Anyway, here is the relevant portion of the WHO's 2006 position paper on IRS:
WHO’s Global Malaria Programme recommends the following three primary interventions that must be scaled up in countries to effectively respond to malaria, towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals for malaria by 2015 and other health targets:

• diagnosis of malaria cases and treatment with effective medicines;

• distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to achieve full coverage of populations at risk of malaria; and

• indoor residual spraying (IRS) as a major means of malaria vector control to reduce and eliminate malaria transmission including, where indicated, the use of DDT.
This is from the just released position paper on ITNs:
The WHO Global Malaria Programme (WHO/GMP) recommends the following three primary interventions that must be scaled up in countries for effective malaria control, towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (

• diagnosis of malaria cases and treatment with effective medicines;

• distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), more specifically long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs), to achieve full coverage of populations at risk of malaria; and

• indoor residual spraying (IRS) to reduce and eliminate malaria transmission.
The apparent need for both ITNs and IRS being noted:
Neither LLINs nor indoor residual spraying (IRS), the other main method for malaria vector control, may alone be effective enough to achieve and maintain interruption of transmission in holo-endemic areas of Africa. Operational research is needed to determine to which extent combining both interventions would maximize public health impact of malaria vector control and offer opportunities for management of insecticide resistance.
Even though the only change in policy by the WHO is its shift from low-cost to free ITNs, Lambert somehow concludes:
Good news about malaria and a major change in policy from the WHO. But although they reported the WHO's policy change last year, the New York Times did not mention this at all. Instead, they've run an op-ed from Donald Roberts, pushing the use of 1940s technology, DDT. Roberts oversells his study on the repellent effects of DDT. He may be right that mosquitoes will develop resistance to more effective insecticides more quickly than they will to DDT, but the implication of this is not that DDT should be used first, but that the more effective insecticide should be used first and DDT kept as a backup.

The WHO is confident that we now have a way to drastically cut malaria rates and save millions of lives, but the NYT's fetish about DDT seems to have stopped them from mentioning this.
Everything in his post prior to the last two paragraphs is preparation for Lambert having a go at DDT, the New York Times and malaria expert Donald Roberts.

Lambert's position on DDT's repellent qualities varies: when convenient he says it's an attribute; on other occasions it's a negative. Regardless, here he claims Roberts makes too much of DDT's repellency. Not true, Roberts' study simply reports on DDT's value as a repellent, arguing that repellency should be considered when deciding which insecticide is best suited to a particular situation. As for DDT being old technology, that's irrelevant: the mosquito nets Lambert is pimping probably date back a couple of thousand years and they're still effective.

Take a close look at anything Lambert writes about malaria or DDT and you'll find a misrepresentation. The guy is not to be trusted. His ignorant toadies lap it up nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


New Scientist reports:
The long-held notion that girls prefer pink while boys prefer blue may hold some truth, suggests a new study. And moreover, there might be a biological basis for why women prefer pink – or at least more reddish colours than men, say researchers.

The authors of the new study say their findings support the theory that colour vision evolved in humans in part to help females spot ripe fruit such as red berries.
So human gender roles evolved early on: women foraged for food, which they could do while looking after the children, and men hunted. It's the way nature intended it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Ever the creative purveyor of misinformation, Tim Lambert proclaims: "Study finds that DDT not the most effective for IRS". The study Lambert refers to, but does not link to, did not aim to identify the most effective insecticide for indoor residual spraying -- only three chemicals were tested -- but rather looked at the relative importance of toxicity, repellency and irritancy as factors to consider when deciding which chemical to use for IRS. The study's authors concluding:
Based on the combination of laboratory and confirmatory field data, we propose a new paradigm for classifying chemicals used for vector control according to how the chemicals actually function to prevent disease transmission inside houses. The new classification scheme will characterize chemicals on the basis of spatial repellent, contact irritant and toxic actions.
So Lambert's readers have been misled without even reading the contents of his post, which is, of course, also misleading. Amongst which:
The experience in Sri Lanka where DDT resistance led to a malaria epidemic despite DDT spraying also points to the wisdom of switching.
Sri Lanka's malaria resurgence cannot be blamed solely on DDT resistance: it was a complex situation characterized by bureaucratic ineptitude and the misuse of DDT:
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.
Lambert is not to be trusted, ever.

Update: Malaria expert Donald Roberts on the efficacy of DDT:
Research that I and my colleagues recently conducted shows that DDT is the most effective pesticide for spraying on walls, because it can keep mosquitoes from even entering the room.
So, who to believe, a malaria expert or a computer teacher?


Larvatus Prodeo's tigtog forcefully condemns the would be Prime Minister's drunken strip-club adventure:
Stripping and hooking is not good wholesome fun. The women who do it do not like the men who pay them to do it. The smiles are all fake, boys, every single one: strippers hate you. For most of the women, the only way they can keep doing the work at all is to be high as a kite for their shift.

Of course this means that nearly all that money from that “well paid job” (after the “manager” gets his cut) goes on feeding their drug habits. How many drug addicts do you know with happy, healthy families?

Are there students/housewives stripping/hooking who aren’t addicts and who are investing the hard-earned in lifestyle accountrements? Certainly there are. Do they constitute more than 1 or 2 % of sex workers as a whole? They do not.

Women resent the fantasy glamorisation of stripping as good wholesome fun.
Oops sorry, the rant above isn't directed at Rudd, it's about a TV advert for a chicken restaurant. Condemnation of Rudd is forthcoming.

Update: tigtog wants the "disgusting" ad pulled off air but has no problem with Rudd's encouragement of the continued degradation of women:
It’s obviously an attempt to discredit Rudd as the family values religious moderate that is his current public image, although I’m not sure that a drunken one-off visit to a strip club is totally a smoking gun.
Tigtog likening Rudd's behaviour to "some equivalent 'well sourced' shock horror tidbits about our Prime Minister":
On a recent flight, the PM was warned against endangering other passengers by failing to secure his carry-on luggage.
The poor woman ain't quite right in the head.

Update II: Strip-club visitation rules clarified:
Show me that Rudd is a regular at strip clubs rather than someone who simply accepted one invitation from an influential Murdoch news editor, and I’ll condemn him as much as you like.
One off visits prevent drug-addled strippers being exploited, apparently.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Tim Lambert is still trying to provoke a link from Glenn Reynolds:
If I summarized Glenn Reynold's response to my post on his hyping of a small correction to GISS data, you would not believe me, so I'm quoting the whole thing:
Lamberted! But no Instalanche.

Later: In an update: "Matthew Yglesias links to Tim Lambert, obviously deeming him a reputable source. Hey, this is about politics; not accuracy." Yglesias has been off his game lately.

More: Brad Plumer has been fooled, too.
Yes, Reynolds is enough of an egomaniac to think that I wrote my post because I was hoping to get an Instalanche. In fact, I wrote it to correct his hype. The change meant that 1998 and 1934 went from being in a statistical tie to being in a statistical tie, and no-one had ever reported that NASA had 1998 as the warmest in the US. The JF Beck post he links to doesn't dispute that, instead Beck repeatedly calls me a liar. But apparently that's enough for Reynolds -- he seems to genuinely believe that Matthew Yglesias and Brad Plumer are discredited just because they linked to my post. But hey, at least he linked to them. Do you think that in Reynold's imagination Plumer was at first elated to get OMG! an Instalanche, but then Oh No! shattered to find that Reynolds had refuted his post?
Being a serial misrepresenter, Lambert is, of course, playing fast and loose with the truth.

Lambert certainly isn't interested in a link from Reynolds, which explains Lambert's emails to Reynolds informing him of his attacks -- Lambert hasn't exactly begged for a link but damn near.

Lambert the egomaniac imagines Reynolds' link to my post is a response to his earlier post on the correction of GISS data. Wrong, my post only mentions the data correction in passing (and I don't even mention the years 1934 and 1998), concentrating instead on Lambert's typically slimy tactics: specifically, his erroneous charge that Taranto confused U.S. and global temperatures.

His latest post is more of the same old dishonest Lambert bullshit: Reynolds didn't say Lambert was looking for an Instalanche, I said it; I didn't call him a liar even once (not in that post, at least), saying instead that he's dishonest; and Lambert doesn't dispute my contention he is dishonest in accusing Taranto of getting it wrong.

It's no wonder then that "Lambert" is shorthand for "dishonest attack".


Like with obesity, there's a depression epidemic:
A leading Australian psychiatrist has stirred up the debate on depression, saying many people could be diagnosed with clinical depression who are just feeling a bit blue.

Professor Gordon Parker of the University of New South Wales says depression is being over-diagnosed.

"My personal view is that it is normal for humans to become depressed," he said.

"We can call that normal depression and there's also clinical depression."

He says while 20 to 30 years ago clinical depression was diagnosed in about 5 to 10 per cent of the population, current diagnostic criteria would cover up to 90 per cent of the population.
"Normal depression"? It should be called what it is: sadness. Now suck it up and get on with it.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Economist Walter E Williams is the latest to get the Lambert treatment, Lambert starting off his post by calling Williams a "DDT hoax spreader" for writing:
In Sri Lanka, in 1948, there were 2.8 million malaria cases and 7,300 malaria deaths. With widespread DDT use, malaria cases fell to 17 and no deaths in 1963. After DDT use was discontinued, Sri Lankan malaria cases rose to 2.5 million in the years 1968 and 1969, and the disease remains a killer in Sri Lanka today.
Lambert states that the above excerpt erroneously claims "environmentalist pressure forced Sri Lanka to ban DDT, leading to a resurgence of malaria". In fact, Williams makes no such claim. (I didn't bother to check Williams' numbers because it isn't the numbers Lambert objects to.)

Lambert then questions Williams claim that "volunteers ate 32 ounces of DDT for a year and a half" without suffering adverse effect:
You know, two pounds of DDT is a lot of DDT. It's a bit worrying that Williams felt it plausible that volunteers would chow down on 2 pounds of DDT every day for a year and a half.
It's difficult to work out exactly what Williams was trying to say but it doesn't matter because any way you look at it, he's wrong: the 18 month study involved volunteers ingesting 35 mg of DDT per day.

Regardless, scientist Lambert doesn't put the 35 mg per person per day trial into perspective. The calculated average ingestion of DDT by Americans prior to the 1972 ban was 13.8 μg or .0000138 grams per day. By 1990 average DDT/DDE (a DDT breakdown product) ingestion by Americans was down to 659 ng (.000000659 grams) per day. It should reassure everyone concerned about DDT's possible health effects that volunteers were unaffected by .035 grams of DDT per day with a total exposure over 18 months many times greater than that ingested by the average American over a lifetime.

Lambert doesn't bother explaining any of this because he's out to score political points; not to enlighten. Such is the science of Tim Lambert.

Note: Please feel free to check my calculations above; it's been a long day and I'm not very good at maths even when fully alert.


Kenya is controlling malaria without using DDT:
Deaths due to Malaria have dropped by almost half in Kenya, a new report says.

The report by the Ministry of Health shows the annual death toll of 34,000 children has been reduced by 44 per cent to about 16,000.

In addition, the number of hospital admissions due to malaria has reduced by 50 per cent.

This decline has been attributed to massive scaling up in the distribution of Insecticide Treated Nets.
Kenya has opted to use bed nets to control malaria. It's great that the effort is getting results.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


According to ABC Australia:
The Wikiscanner site shows the CIA has edited entries on many issues relating to the United States Government, including presidential biographies and descriptions of military operations.
Yahoo sees it a bit differently:
WikiScanner itself has a list of links on its sidebar to questionable edits made by people within the CIA, Fox News, The New York Times, BBC, Vatican, and other high profile organizations.
As does The Australian:
Many of the edits are predictably self-interested. For example, PCs in the Church of Scientology were used to remove criticism in the church's Wikipedia entry. But others hint at bored office workers, such as the tweaks to Wikipedia articles on TV shows being made from CIA computers.
The most interesting edit from a CIA computer (so far) is this one for singer Stacy Lattisaw (who? -- Ed.):
She dumped her first boyfriend to be with Gill, who in turn had took her virginity and left her.
Closer Congressional oversight is obviously required.

Via Wired's Threat Level.


I'm the proud owner of a new Weber Q300-P barbecue. It's simple to use, cooks really well, is amazingly fuel efficient and easy to clean. It wasn't cheap but I'd highly recommend the Q300-P to anyone looking for a smallish barbecue that still manages to have a large cooking surface. Another thing the Q300-P has going for it is its corrosion resistance: it's an ideal choice if you live close to the ocean.

While assembling the barbecue I noted the lengths to which Weber-Stephen Products GOES to protect itself: the owner's guide contains five DANGER and 34 WARNING notices, amongst which:
!WARNING: Turn your Weber gas barbecue OFF and wait for it to cool before cleaning.
!WARNING: Do not use a flame to check for gas leaks.
Such warnings seem pointless to me: anyone silly enough to do such things probably isn't able to read and understand the manual, and wouldn't heed the warnings even if they could read them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Antony Loewenstein suspects Israeli agents poisoned Yasser Arafat, also injecting him with HIV. Hank Reardon ain't buyin' it:
Yasser Arafat was no doubt “injected” with the AIDS virus but not via a hyperdermic needle under the instruction of Ariel Sharon as you’d like to believe Antony.
I think the term “Beef Injection” is what we are dealing with here. Yes, Yasser Arafat liked to putt from the rough.


Anti-malaria spraying in Uganda has hit a few snags:
RESIDENTS of Mawanga zone, Munyonyo, near Kampala city, have blocked the spraying of their homes against mosquitoes, over DDT fears. Many residents stopped the workers of Balton, the company handling the job, from entering their premises yesterday.

Some said Balton was using DDT, which some environmentalists have warned has serious side-effects on people’s health. But Balton earlier this week said it was using an insectcide approved by the WHO.

In the long-run, the Government plans to spray DDT inside houses as a means to eradicate mosquitoes which carry the parasite that causes malaria, the number one killer disease in Uganda.
There's no excuse for the government failing to keep Ugandans informed as to when their homes are to be sprayed and which insecticide will be used. There's also no excuse for environmentalists working against the spraying program; needless deaths could result. Such is the Silent Spring legacy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Mattel is recalling nine million Chinese made toys containing swallowable parts or contaminated with lead paint. Gee, remember when the shoddiest junk came out of Taiwan?


Jeez, is this guy tricky or what?
A 29-year-old man was taped using the code language Pig Latin to organise reprisal gangs the day after the Cronulla riots, a Sydney court heard today.

Jeffrey Ismail, from Greenacre, pleaded guilty in Bankstown court this morning to two charges of using a mobile phone to menace, harass or offend on the day after the riots, December 12, 2005.

During one call, Ismail used Pig Latin as code to organise "shanks and bats" as weapons.

"Ring up a few boys - bring 'ankshays' and 'atbays'," he is recorded as saying.


Lefties often fret that Australia is becoming a police state. Hmm, I can't recall Aussie police arresting anyone for being well-built:
A well-built man was forced to take a drugs test in Stockholm recently after a police officer assumed that muscles like his could only have been developed with the help of illegal substances.

The female assistant police officer got into a conversation with Tomislav Boduljak and his friend late at night in central Stockholm.

According to Boduljak, 27, the police officer was pleasant at first, but changed her attitude when he said he worked out. Saying his muscles were 'abnormal', she said he must have used drugs.
The test was negative.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Always hopeful of provoking an Instalanche, serial misrepresenter Tim Lambert has a go at a short Opinion Journal piece linked by Glenn Reynolds:
The link goes to James Taranto, who gets his facts wrong, confusing the US temperature with the global temperature. Reynolds doesn't notice.
Nowhere in the linked piece does Taranto confuse "the US temperature with the global temperature". If, as Lambert claims, the revised US temperature is insignificant, why is such dishonesty necessary? Well, Lambert's trying to divert attention away from the error because it's the error itself, and not the size of the error, that's significant: if there's one mistake there could well be others.

Anyway, James Taranto is now added to the list of the Lamberted.

Update: Deltoid commenter Herb West reckons Lambert has it wrong:
I read your link. Nowhere did Taranto confuse US with global temperature. His block quote explicitly refers to "US temperature data".
Lambert maintains he's right:
Herb, "US temperature data" in his quote is a reference to Since Taranto refers to "global warming" twice, it seems clear that he thought the "1998 is no longer the warmest" thing refers to global temps.
Read the Taranto piece yourself and decide who's right.

Update II: Catallaxy's Jason Soon on Lambert's veracity and tactics:
I'm sorry I doubted you before Beck but Lambert is a truly dishonest, smear by association hobbit.
Well, it's nice to see that Soon, who likes neither my style nor much of my content, now knows I'm right about Lambert being dishonest.

Update III: Matthew Yglesias links to Tim Lambert, obviously deeming him a reputable source. Hey, this is about politics; not accuracy.

Update IV: Two long and detailed examinations of Lambert in action: an attack on the Global Malaria Programme's Arata Kochi; and an attack on John Berlau that backfires spectacularly. Funny how a scientist can be so wrong so consistently.

Update V: Go here for the latest developments.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I recently accused entomology PhD Bug Girl of lying about the disposition of a comment that went "missing". She maintains that she never saw the comment, alleging that Wordpress's spam filter nabbed and deleted it. Here's the proof she read and then deleted the comment.

In June I lodged a comment at Bug Girl's blog. She responded -- note the wording and that she debated whether or not to approve my comment:
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.
I later lodged a detailed follow-up comment that went into moderation and never emerged. Shortly after my comment was lodged Bug Girl commented here -- note the wording (my bold):
You're so lame. Is this the best criticism of me you can come up with??

I won't let someone use MY blog to promote their lies, and silly semantics about the origins of IPM.
Bug Girl characterized my original IPM comment as "silly semantics". She then responds to my second comment, which she claims she never saw, by telling me she's not going to let me use her blog to post lies, again using the wording "silly semantics".

Bug Girl claims she wasn't referring to my comment but rather was responding to this comment from a representative of Africa Fighting Malaria:
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 Bug Girl had rebuffed AFM's request for contact:
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.
So Bug Girl had no idea what AFM wanted to send her and had no reason to address a comment to AFM about IPM and "silly semantics". Further, none of the posted reader comments in the thread relate to IPM but my missing comment was specifically about IPM.

Now it's certainly no big deal that my comment went missing: for me blogging (and commenting) is nothing more than a mind-stimulating hobby. I've learned through experience that lefty bloggers are inclined to delete comments they find difficult. I do, however, find it hard to accept that a scientist -- you know, what with being a seeker after the truth -- would delete a comment and then lie about it. Then again I probably shouldn't be surprised since scientist Tim Lambert's a serial liar and he links to Bug Girl...

It is worrying that Bug Girl the academic refuses to admit she's wrong about integrated pest management: she claims IPM was first implemented in the 1950s when, in fact, an integrated mosquito control program was implemented during the construction of the Panama Canal. Such obstinacy does not bode well for her teaching.


Big headed -- literally and figuratively -- science guy Tim Lambert reckons Steve McIntyre's discovery of an error in the temperature record is no big deal. When commenter oconnellc refuses to follow the script Lambert bans him. Another contrarian commenter looking to be banned chimes in:
Tim Lambert: Your "banning for dishonesty" is very Steve McIntyrian. It's bullshit. Ban me for joking and cursing and farting. Don't ban someone who argues a point with you. (Even if he's wrong.) The reason is that maybe he isn't wrong.
Gee, Lambert usually calls commenters trolls before banning them.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Behavioural ecologist David McDonald on the best way to reintroduced endangered animals into the wild:
Most managers still coddle them one by one. I say shovel 'em out of the back of pickup trucks.
It also wouldn't hurt to shovel a few caring lefties out of the back of pickup trucks, on the freeway at 100 miles per hour.

Friday, August 10, 2007


U.S. school teacher Ed Darrell's blog Millard Fillmore's Bathtub is meant to be an educational aid and I must admit he does produce some historical posts well worth reading. Unfortunately, as a lefty, he just can't help himself, producing a number of complete rubbish anti-DDT posts. This is not unexpected as he proudly proclaims he's mentored by serial misrepresenter Tim Lambert: Lambert's growing influence becoming obvious during comment exchanges over several threads.

Being a lefty, Darrell is inclined to wordiness -- some of his comments running past two thousand words -- so it's a bit difficult to extract excerpts from the fog of verbiage. To keep this post as brief as possible I am therefore taking the liberty of distilling his various positions down to their essence -- like his mentor, Darrell's positions on DDT are, well, somewhat fluid.

Darrell claims:
  1. Rachel Carson is a near saint. (Maybe.)
  2. Rachel Carson is a saint. (Only if you're blinded by faith.)
  3. Dr Bruce Ames is silly for not recognizing the carcinogenic potency of synthetic chemicals. (A school teacher claims to know more about cancer than a world famous cancer specialist.)
  4. Dr Bruce Ames isn't silly, merely misled -- he probably hasn't read Silent Spring. (So stupid it doesn't deserve comment.)
  5. Any substance causing cancer in laboratory animals must be a human carcinogen. (Not even close.)
  6. Some substances cause cancer in laboratory animals but not in humans -- this has something to do with human body weight, or something. (???)
  7. Water is a carcinogen. (Idiotic.)
  8. Water is not a carcinogen, it's merely toxic. (Merely ludicrous.)
  9. Selenium is carcinogenic. (Nope.)
  10. DDT is not banned in Europe. (Pesticide Action Network says it's banned.)
  11. DDT is acutely toxic. (It's actually less toxic to humans than caffeine.)
  12. DDT doesn't affect sub-Saharan mosquitoes because they do not rest on internal walls. (Some do, some don't.)
  13. DDT fell into disfavour because it was no longer effective at killing mosquitoes. (DDT resistance played a minor role in some areas but wasn't the deciding factor.)
  14. DDT is carcinogenic to humans despite its omission from the list of known human carcinogens. (The International Agency for Research on Cancer doesn't have a clue, apparently.)
  15. DDT is linked to breast cancer. (Iffy.)
  16. DDT is not linked to breast cancer. (Probably correct.)
  17. Trichloroethane and trichloroethylene are carcinogens, therefore Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane must be carcinogenic. (A rash assumption.)
  18. Long Island osprey ingested a dose of DDT 10 million times greater than the amount sprayed. (Them's some big fuckin' magical birds.)
  19. The American Cancer Society doesn't have a clue about carcinogens. (I think they probably know lots more than Darrell.)
  20. Indoor Residual Spraying requires willy-nilly spraying of DDT into the environment. (Only a tiny amount is required and this remains confined indoors.)
  21. In banning DDT EPA administrator Ruckelshaus did not overrule DDT hearing judge Edmund Sweeney. (Yes he did.)
  22. Contemporaneous newspaper accounts of Sweeney's refusal to ban DDT are bogus. (No they aren't.)
  23. Rachel Carson was a great scientist. (She wrote well but made no significant scientific contribution.)
  24. Rachel Carson was wise. (Maybe.)
  25. DDT kills people. (There is not one documented DDT caused death.)
  26. DDT can cause leukemia within months of exposure. (Nope.)
  27. DDT fell into disfavour because of its acute toxicity. (It's not all that toxic.)
  28. DDT use in Borneo caused a typhus epidemic. (A few cats died and some roofs rotted but there was no epidemic.)
  29. I'm an idiot for not agreeing with Darrell's hysterical nonsense. (Only an idiot would agree with him.)
  30. A DDT ban was averted only through the efforts of environmentalists. (The guy turns reality on its head.)
The points above derive from Darrell's insane posts and commentary here and here.

Warning: reading the guy's stuff will do nothing good for your IQ.

Update: Darrell attempts to Fisk point six from Junk Science's list of "100 things you should know about DDT". Point six amounts to a succinct 76 words; Darrell's Fisking is, at 4,778 words, a real mind number. His main point -- it is hard to tell -- seems to be that he's better at maths than is the National Academy of Sciences. There ain't no self-esteem shortage at the Darrell house.


I'm no malaria expert and never intended to write so much on the subject but just cannot let the huge volume of rubbish being cranked out by the left pass uncontested. The misinformation coming from supposedly well-informed scientists is especially galling.

In June I caught Bug Girl (PhD, entomology) posting nonsense -- she incorrectly claimed integrated pest management (IPM) was first introduced in the 1950s when, a modern IPM scheme targeting mosquitoes was implemented in the early 1900s in Panama during construction of the canal. The Centers for Disease Control has details, describing the scheme as "[a]n integrated program of mosquito control".

I composed a comment linking to the CDC info and lodged it at Bug Girl's blog and was notified that the comment was being held for moderation. In a simultaneously post here I noted that it would be no surprise if the comment failed to appear.

Bug Girl commented soon thereafter:
I won't let someone use MY blog to promote their lies, and silly semantics about the origins of IPM.
Entomology lady also posted this at her blog:
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.
It's obvious she read my comment, didn't like it and refused to post it. Realizing she'd been caught out she quickly tried to divert attention away from her censoring and onto Wordpress's spam filter:
Actually, I never saw your comment, if it was similar to what you have posted here. The Wordpress spam filter is very aggressive, and frequently scoops up "real" posts.

I do probably have your IP on moderation, if it's the source of some of the nasty anonymous attack posts I've gotten. (Which you won't see, because I've deleted them. I'm not giving people a forum to trash me--they can just come over here and say it :)
I pressured her to admit she'd deleted the comment but, since she gets upset when menaced by evil old RWDBs, let the matter drop. I recently brought up the missing comment when Bug Girl chose to involve herself in a discussion at Ed Darrell's clearinghouse for DDT misinformation.

Bug Girl now offers "proof" Wordpress is to blame for the missing comment:
Oh, by the way-remember that whole tantrum you had about my "lying" about things getting lost in the spam filter? Wordpress has publicly acknowledged it's a problem:
The relevant part of the Wordpress link reads as follows (my bold):
Spam that sits in the spam queue for more than 15 days is automatically deleted. You cannot get it back. If you check your spam queue more often than every 15 days, you should not miss anything.
Perhaps Bug Girl can explain how Wordpress's spam filter caught and then automatically deleted my comment after holding it for only a matter of minutes. It's either that or admit she's a liar.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Researchers have confirmed properties making DDT uniquely suited for use in the fight against malaria:
To date, a truly efficacious DDT replacement has not been found and one may never be found because of the true nature in which DDT functions. Success through the mechanism of spatial repellency means that DDT functions as a form of chemical screening, which stops mosquitoes from entering houses and thus breaks the man/vector contact at its most critical point: when people are sleeping in their homes. DDT's secondary action stimulates those mosquitoes that do enter to prematurely exit, potentially without biting and transmitting disease. Toxicity is only a third order action of DDT and it is considered to be a very poor killing agent.
In short, DDT discourages mosquitoes from entering sprayed homes, irritates many of those that do enter causing them to flee and kills some of those that land on sprayed surfaces.

Instead of celebrating the good new, economist John Quiggin has a big whinge:
First, it’s good to see [Africa Fighting Malaria] acknowledging the fact of pesticide resistance, which primarily accounts for the abandonment of large-scale attempts to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes with pesticides. The libel put out by people like Steven Milloy and AFM founder Roger Bate, in which it is suggested that the failure of the eradication program was due to a mythical ban on DDT imposed at the behest of environmentalists, who callously caused millions of deaths, depends critically on ignoring resistance.
Contrary to what Quiggin leads his readers to believe, AFM has consistently highlighted the insecticide resistance problem -- see here, for example. Additionally, Quiggin is wrong about DDT being dropped from malaria control programs due to vector resistance. If this were the case, the World Health Organization's Global Malaria Programme would not be promoting DDT use; there's no point in promoting an ineffective insecticide, now is there.

Quiggin goes all negative about this study because he likes neither Donald Roberts -- a long time advocate of DDT use -- nor Africa Fighting Malaria -- a propaganda tool of the big corporations.

Anyway, take the time to read the whole Quiggin post: he's obviously more interested in scoring political points than he is in saving the lives of sub-Saharan Africans.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Wanna be school teacher big-brained Bruce -- his modestly named blog, The Thinker's Podium -- is not at all happy with the Australian Federal Police's handling of the so-called Haneef affair:
The law requires that the AFP engage in a certain manor and the AFP is flaunting this requirement. Police. Flaunting. Law.
What. A. Retard.

Update: While on the subject of the über-intelligent, Tim Lambert wanna be Bug Girl has a cry because I'm a big meany. Boo hoo.

Update II: Bruce "corrects" his post:
"The law requires that the AFP engage in a certain manor and the AFP is flouting this requirement. Police. Flouting. Law [1]."

1 Correction made. Apparently identifying a repeated typo in this day and age is a substitute for rational criticism of an argument. Ouch! Burnt.
Typing "flaunt" instead of "flout" isn't a typo, it's a common error. Typing "manor" instead of "manner" and then not noting the error despite careful rereading is plain old ignorance. And what does it mean that the AFP is required to "engage in a certain manner", anyway?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Sweden's security service worries that the country could become something of a haven for terrorists. Oh well, welfare recipients need something to pass the time.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


No delusions of grandeur here:
The fact is, the rest of the world is jealous of France.


German workaholics aren't getting enough sex:
A survey of 32,000 men and women by researchers at the University of Goettingen found over 35 percent of those reporting unsatisfying sex lives tended to use hard work as a diversion.

"These findings are worrying," the leader of the study, Ragnar Beer, was quoted as saying.
I presume Beer's worried that Germans have unsatisfying sex lives; not that they're working too hard.


Rising temperature will make Swedes happier:
A cold July leads Swedes to buy more anti-depressive medicine, according to a new study. The reason is believed to be that the cold weather prevents stressed people from winding down in the great outdoors.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Cat lovers present as all warm and cuddly; don't you believe it:
A man who specialised in family conflict killed his parents with an axe when they laughed at him over the death of his cat, a court has heard.

Mr Ransom said Harper, a counsellor who specialised in family conflict, had snapped when his parents laughed at him over the death of his cat, and had repeatedly hit them both over the head with an axe.
Well, that ends that conflict.


Details are emerging of the behind-the-scene deals that lead to the release of the medical personnel recently released by Libya. It seems the rights of those wrongly imprisoned were not an EU priority:
[Le Monde] reported on Thursday (2 August) that before leaving Libya on board a French presidential airplane on 24 July, the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor were obliged to declare in writing that they would not take any legal steps against the Libyan government for torture, maltreatment and abusive detention.

The waiver had been agreed at high EU level, with Le Monde quoting the spokesman of French president Nicolas Sarkozy as saying "this was the subject of an exchange of letters between the European Union and Libya."
And despite Sarkozy's denials, it appears the Libyans are to receive French weaponry as part of the ransom:
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son has said that an armaments deal between France and Tripoli was the main reason for the release last month of six medics held in Libya.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi told French daily Le Monde on Wednesday that the brokered deal included the sale of French Milan anti-tank missiles as well as joint Franco-Libyan manufacture of military equipment.
Sounds like a money-spinner for the French armaments industry.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo's preferred response to nuclear terrorism:
"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," the GOP presidential candidate said. "That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent or you will find an attack. There is no other way around it. There have to be negative consequences for the actions they take. That's the most negative I can think of."
This is a variation on a 2003 proposal by RAAF Captain Peter Layton:
Nuclear threats traditionally have been handled using deterrent strategies. In this case, a declaratory policy could be devised based on the threat of retaliation if an attack occurs in the West by nonstate actors using the Arab way of war. In such a circumstance, there could be a strategy of instant, graduated response: nuclear strikes against several of the capital cites of the Middle Eastern nations that long have demonstrated support for this method of war. The response's intensity and discrimination would vary based on the severity of the WMD attack. This approach would be a policy of deterrence through the threat of brutal and immediate punishment of particular societies.
All that dust in the atmosphere might just cool things down and prevent millions of sea level rise deaths. Seems like a fair trade off.


The Larvatus Prodeo academics are truly a hard-working bunch. Back in March Mark Bahnisch complained about his energy-sapping 18 hour teaching workload. Now casual academic Gandalf the Greedy reveals that in an effort to maximize his pay he's "over-extended and run-down" and as a consequence has come down with a "respiratory illness not once (which is usual) but twice". Unfortunately for his co-workers, Gandalf refuses to take time off:
If I’m absent from work due to illness, I don’t get paid. I do get a 23 per cent loading on my basic hourly wage in lieu of entitlements such as sick leave which I would receive if employed on a more secure basis. In theory part of that loading is supposed to constitute a satisfactory substitute for paid sick leave, in that presumably if I salted away the loading I would save enough to tide me over the periods of reduced or no pay due to illness. In practice it doesn’t work like that. Particularly in the period until the end of April, casual university staff need every dollar they earn each fortnight to fill the personal financial hole which develops over the summer. At at the times when I fell ill, when I did my sums I calculated that I would be, at least temporarily, seriously impecunious if I didn’t do the work I was contracted to do. So I soldiered on, and foul contagion spread.
Rather than take another job, Gandalf is in his 12th year of exploitative employment; the work must have something going for it. Just imagine what he'd have to complain about if he was one of the more than 1.5 million Australians who choose to be self-employed and accrue no sick leave, 35% of them working more than 50 hours a week. Oddly, the self-employed don't seem to be complaining.

Regardless, maybe Gandalf should have taken up plumbing. The market knows where the value is.

Update: Amateur epidemiologist tigtog worries money-short casuals might spread the black death by working when ill.