Monday, June 30, 2008


PerthNow is drawing lots of comments (1090 as of 8:10 PM AWST) on the story of the four youngsters killed while riding in a stolen car over the weekend. The comments run the gamut, from those offering sympathy to the children's families to those figuring the now dead car thieves got what they deserved. The large number of comments must surely indicate that the Perth community has strong feelings and that perhaps people have a need to vent their frustrations. Regardless, getting these feelings out in the open is a good thing.

Lefty Darlene doesn't see it that way:
Perth Now should hang their head in shame, but they are probably rubbing their hands in glee at all the comments they received.
PerthNow should not be condemned for providing a venue for people to express opinions Darlene finds ignorant and offensive. Anyway, isn't Darlene rubbing her hands together in delight at the number of comments her post is drawing? The traffic certainly can't hurt Larvatus Prodeo's bottom line.


Relying on the inside sources only he has access to, Seymour Hersh predicts a US attack on Iran:
2005: The Bush administration has been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions to learn about nuclear, chemical and missile sites in Iran in preparation for possible airstrikes there, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

2006: The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack.

2008: The Bush administration has launched a "significant escalation" of covert operations in Iran, sending U.S. commandos to spy on the country's nuclear facilities and undermine the Islamic republic's government, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

"[Bush and Cheney] believe that their mission is to make sure that before they get out of office next year, either Iran is attacked or it stops its weapons program," Hersh said.
What better way to keep Iran's leaders on edge, hopefully getting them to engage in activities that might disclose the location of nuclear assets, than to feed Hersh bogus information about an "impending" attack?

Sunday, June 29, 2008


When Antony Loewenstein started blogging there were lots of lively discussions at his site, with many commenters informing him of the obvious: he's an idiot. It therefore wasn't long before Loewenstein severely restricted commenting access to a select few mostly sympathetic commenters. So it is that Sol Salbe, an Independent Australian Jewish Voices co-signatory and ideological ally, has commenting privileges at Loewenstein's blog. This isn't going to last, with Salbe now rocking Loewenstein's anti-Israel boat, so to speak.

In response to a recent Loewenstein post alleging nefarious activity by the Israeli Defense Forces Salbe comments, in part:
If bloggers would like to be treated as journalists then fact-checking of obviously impossible assertions is not an option but a necessity.
If Salbe had read My Israel Question he'd know that fact-checking is not in Loewenstein's repertoire. It sometimes takes a while but even Loewenstein's "friends" eventually work out he's full of crap.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Just a little over two weeks ago Kim at Larvatus Prodeo boasted about the influence wielded by her team of bloggers. Then three days ago Kim had a bit of an online meltdown. Now Kim has decided this blogging caper is just too, well, overwhelming. Yes, it must be stressful to take oneself (and the whole political points-scoring scene pointed out by David Burchell) so seriously.


Best-selling author Antony Loewenstein's fame seems to be fleeting; here's his introduction at the Global Voices internet censorship conference in Budapest:
Okay, our last but at least speaker is Antony from Australia. And, uh, he is a blogger, journalist, author, uh, and also has an association with Amnesty International Australia, right?
Antony who?

After thanking his hosts for inviting him Loewenstein starts off:
My country in Australia in some ways is a democracy, of sorts...
Well gee, it seems to me he's lucky to live in Australia, one of the freest of countries.

Anyway, for his visit to the blogging conference Loewenstein eschews the sultry night-of-the-living-dead look in favour of the haven't-been-out-in-the-sun-for-weeks look so he fits in with the nerd-blogger crowd. His speech is the same old meaningless Loewenstein boo-hoo-hooing but he eventually gets to the point of his presentation when he plugs his forthcoming book about blogging, the cleverly titled The Blogging Revolution.

Note: You can view his speech by clicking on the first link above; it starts about one minute in.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Scientific boat-rocking:
... there is in fact very little concrete proof tying global warming to climate changes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Some indeed argue that there is more change in today’s political rhetoric than there is in the environment.
Climate change is more about politics than science.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Today while scanning through Amnesty International Australia's blog archive (do I need to get a life, or what?) I noticed something interesting. Well, Okay, not really interesting, but I'm going to tell you about it regardless. The archived blog posts very rarely nominate their authors except for those written by Amnesty member #3130, with each such post noting it was written by Antony Loewenstein (bold in original). His blog posts all linking back to his home page.

According to the way I read it, journalist and author Loewenstein paid to join Amnesty so that he can use its blog as a forum for self-promotion (wonder if he paid the full $55 single membership or opted for the fee best matching his circumstances, the $22 student/senior/unwaged concessional membership?). Shouldn't a journalist and author get paid to write rather than paying so that a site will publish his, er, output?

Loewenstein is in Europe at the moment, soon to attend the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008, where he's listed as a representative of Amnesty International and a featured speaker (session five). This is a bit odd since his Amnesty blog posts bear the following disclaimer: "This blog entry was created by AntonyL and does not necessarily represent the position or opinion of Amnesty International Australia." It is therefore unclear whether he's attending as a representative of Amnesty International or whether he used the tenuous Amnesty link as a foot in the door, so to speak. It is conceivable that he offered to pay his own way to the meeting in exchange for Amnesty credentials. It is even conceivable that Loewenstein was paid to attend or at least had some of his costs paid, which would be ironic given that Loewenstein frequently attacks Google, the summit's main corporate sponsor.

A quick search shows numerous links to Loewenstein blog posts planted in the Global Voices blog. So here again Loewenstein is promoting himself at an external site. This is similar to his one time habit of posting out of context links to his blog at Larvatus Prodeo, prompting Mark Bahnisch to respond with a preemptive strike. No matter, Loewenstein's counter currently shows him attracting only 195 visits per day – not all that great for a professional journalist and author.

And the ultimate point of all this self-promotion? Loewenstein has a book coming out in September; it's bound to be another Melbourne University Press instant classic so you better buy now to avoid disappointment. (If you're one of the few to miss out, Amazon stocks Loewenstein's "best-seller", My Israel Question, sales rank 1,078,079.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Two takes on the same report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

Yesterday – Australians 'fatter, drunker': snapshot

Today – Australia now second in life expectancy stakes

Even though we're living longer there's room for improvement:
Australians do, however, have increasing rates of unsafe sexual practices, as evidenced by the rise in sexually transmitted diseases, and growing rates of diabetes.
Maybe Aussies are using too much sugar as part of their unsafe sexual practices.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


As previously noted, simple folk can find a visit to McDonalds deeply satisfying while for sophisticated lefties it's an experience about as pleasant as incarceration at Gitmo. Now we hear from an obviously sophisticated blogger whose faith in her fellow humans is renewed by a visit to McDonalds:
As we approached the counter, I realised I was about to faint. I have a bit of a tendency to do this. Instead of ordering a Happy Meal as intended, I slumped to the floor. I’m sure I didn’t fall gracefully, particularly given my bulk at the moment, but I don’t really know.

The good thing was how many people helped me - someone put a jumper under my head, someone got me a drink of water, everyone kept an eye on my daughter and reassured her. Later, a lady went up to the counter and placed my food order for me, as well as checking whether I was okay to drive home.

Fortunately, after resting for a while and eating some food, I felt a lot better. It was a bit embarrassing to collapse like that in public, but the nice thing was seeing how many good people there were who were willing to help me. Restores your faith in humanity!
At McDonalds.


Muslim mouthpiece Kayser Trad makes the pitch for multiple wives:
Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia says there are polygamists in the Muslim community in Australia who would like their relationships to be legal.

He has told triple j's Hack program that the women are left in a vulnerable financial position if the man dies.

"If this woman has wilfully chosen to enter into this relationship and make a lifelong commitment to this person to be married, it shouldn't matter," he said.
The multi-tasking Trad, "a refugee advocate and translator, an essayist, a spokesman on political issues, a critic of racial labelling by police, a close adviser to the Mufti Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly and a calm interpreter of Islam to the nervous broader community", essentially unemployed and the father of nine already in 2002, is no stranger to polygamous urges, or so says his wife, Hanifeh:
It has not been easy and they remember 1998 as their worst year when Trad fell in love - "became obsessed", his wife says - with another woman. In desperation, Hanifeh proposed marriage on her husband's behalf to the other woman. "We were having a terrible time. He fell in love and I wasn't thinking about myself," she says. But his obsession passed. "He became more compassionate after it," Hanifeh says. "God meant for him to go through this experience and it made him a better person and more emotionally aware. It knocked him off his perch."

Hanifeh was not heartbroken. A second wife would have meant divorce (though he was against it) or living under the same roof as her husband's mistress. As long as the arrangement was fair and had the consent of all involved, it would be acceptable. Hanifeh loves her husband and the children, but says she is not strong enough, physically or emotionally, for more babies.

Aware that Australian law prohibits polygamy, they know a second wife could never be official. But their religion allows a man four wives and though a lot of what they say to each other about polygamy amounts to teasing, there is also a serious thread. It was Hanifeh who first raised it, approvingly, before they married.
It looks like Trad might have a bit of a roving eye and is aiming to make more babies. So, let's change the law and all have as many spouses as we like and, hey, maybe even marry our sisters.

Update: Polygamous relationships are not uncommon:
Sheikh Khalil Chami of the Islamic Welfare Centre in Lakemba today said polygamous marriages, although illegal, existed in Australia and should be recognised.

"... Not an open door but in a way everyone will have control," he told Triple J's Hack program.

Sheikh Chami said he was asked almost weekly to conduct polygamous religious ceremonies.

While he declined to perform such ceremonies, he said, other sheikhs did not.
Trad's wife is aware of what's really going on here:
Asked if it was just about wanting sex with more women, she said: "Yeah it can be, but having it in the right way instead of having it in like go to prostitute or just date".
Try to keep those pants zipped, Kayser.

Monday, June 23, 2008


A reader points me to the now completed Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition, which saw health care workers and journalists make a two month, 2,500 kilometre boat trip down the Zambezi River. The expedition aimed to raise public awareness of malaria in Africa, to provide health care assistance for those encountered along the way and to distribute insecticide treated bed nets to help prevent malaria transmission. A number of sponsors and suppliers supported the expedition. Photos and videos are available here.

The expedition appears to have accomplished very little: a couple of boatloads of specialists with medical supplies and nets would have virtually no impact and the adventure seems to have generated very little coverage by the MSM. The money probably would have been better spent on organizing the personnel and chemicals (maybe even the dreaded DDT) necessary to spray inside the homes of locals threatened by malaria. But then mundane operations like spraying inside people's homes doesn't offer nearly the same quality of photo opportunities.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Australian Inka Stafrace describes herself:
A Maltese Australian, X Catholic, Tarot Reading, Astrology Believing, Peace Activist, Film Maker
It's quite natural then that an Australian parallel-reality-dweller was a consultant to, and endorses her film, HOPE IN A SLING SHOT:
"Hope in a Sling Shot is an important document of Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine and the crimes committed with the full backing of the Western powers" - Antony Loewenstein - Author of the best selling book MY ISRAEL QUESTION
Click the link above to to experience the tension as Inka, all fearful, approaches an Israeli check point. It's amazing the bloodthirsty Israeli border guards didn't shoot her. If the film's as important as the book, Zionists need not worry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Polar bears, second in cuteness only to pandas, aren't so cute when used as corporate symbols:
Health Minister Nicola Roxon has told Parliament a cardboard cut-out of the bear displayed in the office of a Nationals MP shows the Opposition fails to comprehend the seriousness of binge drinking.
The bear in question, symbol of Bundaberg rum, is displayed by MP Paul Neville, who's rightly proud to represent Bundaberg.

Why did the trustees of Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts spend $70,000 on a polar bear statue? "Why not a polar bear?" replied the board's president. And if anyone raises a ruckus about a statue of polar bears it could be argued that the granite bears are really just generic bears.

A friend of the environment berates fellow Americans for thinking oil more important than polar bears. Her suggestion for energy independence: the unsightly but effective backyard "wind energy panel".

Anyone hankering to tease a large carnivore can do so at Canada's Polar Bear Habitat & Heritage Village by swimming with bears separated only by a sheet of glass. It doesn't take a mind-reader to work out the pictured bear is thinking "lunch".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Bob Beamon produces an effort he had no idea he was capable of.


Police chief Dieter Glietsch has warned luxury car owners not to park in Berlin's Kreuzberg district:
Glietsch, 61, gave an interview to the taz newspaper last Friday, in which he said he wouldn't recommend Porsche drivers park in Kreuzberg.

In the last year, dozens of luxury cars have been set alight in the traditionally left-wing district - Mercedes and BMW's among the favourites.
What is it with lefties and torching cars?


"Certain population groups" are making work difficult for Sweden's firefighters:
Firefighters in Malmö in southern Sweden are demanding police escorts on calls. The firefighters have had enough of threats and violence in some of the city's rougher areas.

After being attacked by stones on a recent call, they are threatening not to take calls to Rosengård without a police escort. They are also demanding shatterproof windows and surveillance cameras on their vehicles.
I'm guessing it's maybe Lutherans.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I'm no big drinker but do enjoy a beer now and then. This afternoon it was miserable outside so I parked in front of the TV to watch some footy (Carlton thumping Collingwood was great) and drank three beers. Now since I don't drink much I lash out by buying a somewhat pricey imported beer (Hoegaarden). And a good thing it is too because Hoegaarden comes in whimpy little 330 ml bottles with those three beers giving me a total consumption of 3.9 standard drinks. But if I had consumed, say, three 375 ml VB stubbies my total consumption at one sitting would have been 4.2 standard drinks making me according to the proposed standard, OH MY GOD!, a binge drinker.

The AMA's national president, Rosanna Capolingua, explains how the new binge drinking scare campaign is actually a good idea:
"The definition of binge drinking is something that perhaps hasn't been brought down to the level of four drinks per night, four standard drinks per night," she said.

"I think many Australians will be reflecting on their habits at home and wonder whether we are binge drinking on a very regular basis."

Dr Capolingua says this could make people think twice about how much they are drinking.
Then again, many people will think the standard a joke and ignore it – those scary government-sponsored grim reaper ads never did convince me AIDS threatened me and look how the whole AIDS thing turned out to be much ado about not much.


Racist weirdo Niall Cook is curious about one of life's great mysteries:
I wanted to know just what happens to my own bodily wastes...
Easy, you're channeling it through your keyboard and onto the net.


High profile lawyer Irfan Yusuf, all worked up that I published his freely available contact details, threatened:
I have referred the matter to the Australian Federal Police for investigation. You might hear from them shortly.
Yusuf claims to have called in the police because he was worried that I had revealed freely available information in hopes he would come to harm:
No doubt, he has done this so that some persons of similar ilk to him might decide to attack or harass those who do reside at this address.
Well, I never did hear from the federal police and my ilksters never mugged Yusuf. Funny that.

Update: If Yusuf is worried about people tracking him down and doing him harm, he might want to have his name removed from the White Pages.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Sabine Durrant has written possibly the most boring ever article about how boring men are. There's some irony in there somewhere.


Self-styled malaria expert and Rachel Carson defender John Quiggin on South Africa's decision to stop using DDT:
... the main factor behind the decision was the unpleasant look and small of DDT sprayed on hut walls, which often led to repainting or replastering.
The UN sees it differently:
DDT had been used in South Africa since 1946 and virtually eradicated malaria over the following decades. Nevertheless, the post-apartheid government succumbed to international pressure against the use of the long-lasting chemical in 1996 and replaced it with pyrethroids, which are effective for a shorter span.

However, after 4 years the health department reintroduced DDT into its anti-malaria programme after pyrethroid-resistant mosquitoes caused a localised malaria epidemic that led to 64,662 infections and 458 deaths in 2000.
Quiggin also offers a more subtle manipulation of the truth:
British American Tobacco has now switched sides and is arguing against DDT use in Uganda.
As far as I know, British American Tobacco has not argued for DDT use in Uganda. Not only that, Quiggin is wrong about British American Tobacco now arguing against DDT use in Uganda. Here's the source Quiggin links to:
Uganda’s High Court recently ordered the health ministry to stop spraying the insecticide DDT in the northern part of the country. Until there is a final ruling on a lawsuit brought by nine companies (including those supplying British American Tobacco), no life-saving DDT can be sprayed.
As expected Quiggin's post links to and highly recommends his partner in misinformation, Tim Lambert.


Right-wing simpleton (is that a redundancy?) Tim Blair visits McDonalds and comes away spiritually uplifted.

On the other hand, a visit to McDonalds prompts a big whine from an influential left-wing intellectual type and her equally erudite and whiny friends.

Lefties should try to make the most of life rather than looking for stuff to moan about.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Rather than address his numerous errors and manipulations of the facts computer scientist Tim Lambert continues to hammer away at three of my supposed errors. Unfortunately for all those many thousand who rely on me as a reliable source of information, Lambert has indeed uncovered one of my mistakes. (There could be more, so I suggest the anti-DDT types go a hunting.)

I earlier referred to the author of this journal article as a WWF anti-DDT activist. This is incorrect – the WWF anti-DDT activist I had in mind is a different C. Curtis (Clifton, not Chris). The flow-on effects of this error are minimal, however.

In a post titled Politically Based Medicine at the WHO Lambert links to the Curtis article in attempting to discredit a WHO press release which says:
WHO actively promoted indoor residual spraying for malaria control until the early 1980s when increased health and environmental concerns surrounding DDT caused the organization to stop promoting its use and to focus instead on other means of prevention. Extensive research and testing has since demonstrated that well-managed indoor residual spraying programmes using DDT pose no harm to wildlife or to humans.
Lambert links to the 1994 Curtis article – an opinion piece – because its year of publication contradicts the date given in the WHO press release:
... the author considers that DDT should no longer be recommended as the insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
Since this recommendation is made in "1994" it is "proof" that DDT was, as of that year, still the WHO's anti-malaria insecticide of choice. Thus the WHO press release stating that it stopped promoting DDT use in the early 1980s is a lie. This lie is, of course, not unexpected coming from then new Global Malaria Programme head Arata Kochi, who was given the job in order to placate right-wing tobacco company dupes who, according to Lambert, were pressuring the WHO to change its anti-malaria personnel and policies.

Curtis's journal article also says the following, however:
W.H.O. (1984) recommended DDT as the insecticide of choice for such vectors.
The 1984 date lines up with the WHO press release's early 1980s date much more closely than does the 1994 date assumed by Lambert from the year of publication of Curtis's article.

In the cosmic scheme of things this date difference is of no practical importance whatever. It is important within the context of the ongoing DDT debate, however, because Lambert is widely regarded on the left as a reliable source of information. In fact, Lambert's DDT posts are full of errors and manipulations. Errors are excusable but manipulation of the truth by a scientist is simply unacceptable.

So, yes I was wrong about Curtis's links to the WWF and his anti-DDT activism and I was silly to emphasize the importance of the incorrectly assumed link and activism. That said, Lambert is incorrect in saying that Curtis's article is "not an opinion piece". Curtis is clear that the article is his opinion:
With due regard to the above seven cautions, but in view of the facts that: (i) it can no longer be confidently stated that DDT anti-malarial spraying is harmless to human health, and (ii) affordable alternatives are becoming available, the author considers that DDT should no longer be recommended as the insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
Further, Lambert cannot truthfully claim that the above excerpt proves, because it's dated to 1994, that the WHO's insecticide of choice in 1994 was DDT, when the WHO is not mentioned in the paragraph nor in the nine preceding paragraphs.

Lambert says I should admit that Indymedia amateur entomologist Brent Herbert is right about bed bugs developing DDT resistance in the 1940s. This one's a bit tricky because at the time of DDT's introduction some bedbugs were already naturally resistant to DDT. When DDT was introduced some of these naturally resistant bugs would have survived, gradually spreading resistance through the local bed bug population. So the real question is: how DDT resistant was the general bed bug population in the 1940s? I cannot answer this question and neither can Lambert. According to links supplied by Lambert, US bed bugs were generally DDT resistant as of 1980 – go here and copy and paste accession:112924 in the search field. When the general US bed bug population became DDT resistant is not addressed, however. If scientist Lambert can prove that DDT resistance was a problem in the general US bed bug population in the 1940s I'll admit I'm wrong.

Brent Herbert is nonetheless a dubious source of DDT information. Herbert claims (as originally quoted by Lambert but not mentioned in his latest post):
Since I discovered that I have bed bugs I have been touring around the internet doing research right from day one and what I have discovered is that the media is doing a terrible job of covering the bed bug story, and as a result many of the bed bug blogs I have read are full of misinformation which echoes this bad reporting in the media. One of the most common themes in the media stories you will read if you do a search for news articles on bed bugs is that we have bed bugs because DDT was banned, thus forcing us to use 'weak chemicals' against bed bugs. This is false. Bed bugs developed resistance to DDT in the 1940s and Rachel Carson did not write Silent Spring until the 1960s, and by this time DDT resistance among bed bugs was so widespread that DDT was no longer the chemical of choice for treating bed bugs. The chemicals that replaced DDT were not 'weaker' chemicals forced upon the country by environmental extremists. The proof of this fact is that it took bed bugs that latter half of the twentieth century to develop resistance to these toxic chemicals, with the end result being that entire generations of people, such as myself, have lived their entire lives to this point in time without even thinking about a bed bug. The chemicals have not changed, and they remain as toxic as they ever were, only the bed bug has changed.
Lambert claims Herbert debunks DDT myths but does not specify which DDT myths are debunked. Regardless, Herbert is an unusual source for someone of the scientific stature of Lambert.

Finally, Lambert continues to insist that "toady' is abusive. Here's the relevant definition of toady from the Oxford English Dictionary: A servile parasite; a sycophant, an interested flatterer; also, a humble dependant; TOAD-EATER

There are four cited usages going back to an 1826 Disraeli quote, none abusive. If you look at the context of my use of the word at Deltoid, it’s obvious I intended it to mean sycophant. I used toady rather than sycophant because the word is not commonly encountered today so its use would naturally cause controversy. And so it did.

Lambert deleted my comment because he was worried toady might upset the delicate sensibilities of his readers. He needn't have worried, however: his readers did not panic (and Lambert did not intervene) when "fuckwit" and "snotty dickhead asshole" appeared.

Okay, I've addressed Lambert's points and have admitted my error. It's now time for Lambert to do the same.

The background for this post is here and here. And yes, I realize that many people might consider this tit for tat posting pretty silly. The thing is, Lambert needs to be debunked but there's no guarantee he'll post my comments, so I have no choice but to respond here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The Barack Obama doll (via a Spiegel Online gallery).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Environmental expert John Quiggin tries out the technology at The snark aside Quiggin seems to have an amazing breadth of knowledge of all things environmental. Then again, it was only a few months ago that the professor thought the Prius he was driving had a power cord.


University of New South Wales computer scientist Tim Lambert, desperately trying to salvage at least some credibility, goes on the offensive:

Since I've been critical of Glenn Reynolds, Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt it's no surprise that all three linked to this post where JF Beck links to lot of his own posts, claims that I've made lots of errors and accuses me of lying. So Reynolds, Blair and Bolt linked to Beck, with Bolt declaring:

JF Beck does something very embarrassing to global warming alarmist Tim Lambert.

It is, of course, Reynolds, Blair and Bolt who should be embarrassed for linking to Beck's post without bothering to check if any of it was true. And Beck's claims fall apart under the slightest bit of examination.

Lambert then proceeds to nit-pick my post, earning high praise from Ken Parish:
Tim Lambert ably defends himself on scientific grounds against a concerted attack by anti-science RWDB “heavyweights”. ... Blair and Bolt might be heavyweights in audience size terms, but in intellectual terms neither of them could power a flashlight globe. Or perhaps it’s more wilful stupidity than lack of capacity.
Let's take a look at the "able defence" from intellectual heavyweight Lambert.

My post cites 24 examples of significant Lambert errors, many of them unacknowledged. Of these 24 errors Lambert questions the validity of only 3.

1. Lambert continues to insist that the word "toady" is abusive. The word itself is not abusive and my use of the word (in commenting at Deltoid) was not abusive. It is childish of Lambert to insist that I abused his commenters – toady might be a bit harsh I'll admit, but his commenters should be able to handle it considering some of the treatment they dish out: toady is no more harsh than "troll', which is regularly applied to any commenter who doesn't toe the Deltoid line.

2. Lambert defends Brent Herbert's supposed "DDT myth" debunking. He does this by attempting to show that I'm wrong about bed bugs' development of DDT resistance. As evidence of my error Lambert cites a 1948 journal article: Johnson, M. S. and Hill, A. J. (1948). Partial resistance of a strain of bed bugs to DDT residuals. Med. News Letter., 12, 26-28. Unfortunately, Lambert neither links to nor quotes from the article so it's impossible to determine the scope and significance of bed bugs' DDT resistance. Hey, maybe I am wrong about the resistance issue, but that doesn't make Herbert's overall DDT writing accurate. Here's the lead to the Herbert post Lambert links to:
Media stories about bed bugs are found to be full of disinformation, which is a sign of either lazy reporters not seeking out enough sources, or a disinformation campaign being launched by the chemical lobby which does not want to be blamed for an environmental disaster, such as a plague of pesticide resistant bed bugs.
As I noted back then:
Contrary to Herbert's claims, the MSM is hardly saturated with pro-DDT articles. A Google News search for "bed bugs" and "DDT" revealed a total of eight articles, with only one being pro-DDT.
Herbert responds:
I have done my own google news search, and found, much to my shocked surprise, that every single pro DDT story has now been pulled off the web. [Beck] reports that he found eight stories. Now only three remain, only one of which is pro-DDT. So I see that people have been busy pulling those stories, since they obviously were embarrassed by my post on Indymedia. Never let it be said that one person cannot make a difference, or that Indymedia does not matter, since apparently it does.
With this from a Herbert commenter:
It is interesting to note that, even though we have a pesticide resistant bed bug on the loose in the country, there are no media stories to be found when one does a search for the news about the pesticide resistant bed bug. You get zero results when you do a news search.

Now one must ask why this is true and one must also ask what this means. Why avoid an obvious angle on the story?

The answer is that the media is itself a large multinational corporation, and the chemical industry is a large corporate interest as well, and so therefore no news can come through to us until it has first been run through a giant corporate sieve. For this reason the media reports that 'no one knows why suddenly we have a spreading plague of bed bugs.' This is strange. Should not someone be asking questions so that we can find out why this is so, for to every question there is an answer.
So these two geniuses immediately assume the "missing" DDT stories were pulled as part of a corporate conspiracy not realising that Google had simply archived the stories. Relying on sources like Herbert does nothing for Lambert's credibility.

3. Lambert disputes my claim that he is wrong about DDT being the WHO's insecticide of choice as of 1994. Here's his original claim:
The fact is that until 1994, DDT was the WHO's insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
Lambert sources the date to a 1994 journal article by C. F. Curtis, who writes:
The World Health Organization and many malariologists argued strongly that the ban should not be extended to its use against DDT-susceptible malaria vectors. W.H.O. (1984) recommended DDT as the insecticide of choice for such vectors. ... the author considers that DDT should no longer be recommended as the insecticide of choice for malaria vector control.
The journal article is an opinion piece and everything Curtis writes about DDT is questionable because he was a WWF anti-DDT activist. Maybe DDT was still the anti-malaria insecticide of choice as of 1994; if so, Lambert needs to find and link to a primary source proving it.

In his post Lambert also nit-picks me for linking to my own posts in making my points about his errors. I purposely linked to my earlier posts whenever possible because it's standard operating procedure at Deltoid; Lambert habitually self-links because sifting through multiple layers of old posts makes it difficult for his readers to judge the veracity of his claims.

Notwithstanding any errors I might have made in any of my earlier Lambert posts, Lambert has made significant errors he refuses to own up to, none of which he has denied or even commented on. I therefore challenge Lambert to address the following:
  1. Did you not claim that Eritrea's anti-malaria program produced dramatic results by switching away from DDT? Is it not true that Eritrea's DDT use actually increased during the period in question?
  2. Did you not say that malathion was the appropriate insecticide for use in Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day tsunami, when, in fact, it was already known that Sri Lanka's mosquitoes are malathion resistant? (Did you not post and then remove a correction to the post making the erroneous claim? Why did you do that?)
  3. Did you not offer this document as proof that the WHO supports DDT use (within the context of your post) when the document doesn't even mention DDT?
  4. Did you not erroneously claim that the book Fighting the Diseases of Poverty claims that DDT is banned when the book makes no such claim?
  5. Did you not say Tim Flannery never said that melting ice could raise sea level by 80 meters? Didn't you provide as proof a quote that wasn't from Flannery but was represented as such?
  6. Did you not say that USAID supported anti-malaria programs using DDT when USAID was, in fact, under attack for refusing to fund DDT use?
  7. Did you not erroneously claim that Africa Fighting malaria wanted to prevent bed net use?
  8. Did you not erroneously accuse Bjorn Lomborg of claiming DDT is banned?
  9. Did you not say that Rachel Carson never claimed that DDT was developed as part of chemical weapons program when she clearly suggested that it was?
  10. Did you not deem respected journalist Fred Pearce to have written "the usual Rachel Carson killed millions crap" in a New Scientist article that was actually nicely balanced in its treatment of DDT and malaria? (And is this not somewhat nastier than me calling you commenters "toadies"?)
  11. Did you not remove the numbered note from the end of this quote from A DDT FAQ brochure? "WHO recommends indoor residual spraying of DDT for malaria vector control." Why did you do that? Is it reasonable to expect that the WHO promulgates DDT use policy in FAQ brochures?
  12. Did you not claim that DDT did not play a significant role in reducing malaria in South Africa when South African government officials say that it did?
  13. Is it not threatening when an EU official tells Ugandans that only DDT contamination will result in agricultural import bans but adds the caveat that mere DDT use might prompt European consumer groups to boycott Uganda's agricultural produce?
  14. Why do you refuse to post some of my comments?
  15. Why do you flee whenever I try to discuss DDT issues with you?
I'm not holding my breath until Lambert admits to his errors and misrepresentations. I am honoured, however, to join Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt and Glenn Reynolds as a victim of a Lamberting.

Update: The latest installment in the ongoing saga is here.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Two women are overcome by passion:
Two naked women caused a stir in the city of Krefeld with a public display of passionate sex, making obscene gestures to the police called by shocked passers-by.

A police spokesman in Krefeld in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said on Sunday the two women, aged 29 and 40, were found making passionate love in a downtown pedestrian zone on Saturday as several passers-by looked on.

One German tabloid wrote that the two naked women were having oral sex.
They were taken away to sober up. No doubt the party-poopers who rang the police weren't very popular.


From a January 2000 UN report on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:
The Special Rapporteur has received reports of “honour killings” from Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, India, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Brazil, Ecuador, Uganda and Morocco. The practice of “honour killings” is more prevalent although not limited to countries where the majority of the population is Muslim. In this regard it should be noted that a number of renowned Islamic leaders and scholars have publicly condemned this practice and clarified that it has no religious basis. At the same time, it is reported that some Governments of countries where Muslims are in a minority do not take a firm position against such violations of human rights on the pretext of not wanting to hurt cultural sensitivities among the minority population.
Honour violence remains a problem in culturally sensitive Sweden:
Honour-related violence is rampant across the country, according to a new study by Sveriges Radio.

Nearly 60 percent of the country’s social services have helped victims of honour violence or those threatened with honour violence to hide themselves.
Hiding victims isn't the solution.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


A new study uncovers startling figures:
Over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books are linked to conservative think tanks, and 90 per cent of conservative think tanks interested in environmental issues espouse scepticism.
And what constitutes scepticism?
Books were included if they expressed environmental scepticism by denying or downplaying the seriousness of problems such as climate change; stratospheric ozone depletion; biodiversity loss; resource shortages; chemicals and other pollutants in the air, water or soil; threats of trace chemical exposure to human health and the potential risks of genetic modification.
Despite the study's broad parameters only 130 books associated in some way with conservative think tanks were found to question environmental policies. Considering that Google books shows 24,700 results for books on "environmental policy", the conservative think tanks have been pretty slack in cranking out the "propaganda".

Australia's lefty bloggers are flabbergasted nonetheless, with John Quiggin seeing a very iffy study as very significant:
This study is an important contribution to our understanding of the emerging parallel universe which has almost completely absorbed the formerly Earth-based Republican party and its networking of supporting thinktanks, media outlets and blogs. It helps to explain the otherwise surprising fact that higher levels of education make Republicans more, not less, ignorant and deluded. With their beliefs on scientific, economic and political issues derived from the Great Library of Tlön, every book they read, talk show they listen to and blog they browse actively reduces their knowledge of the real world.
Quiggin is even more assertive when dealing with dissenting commenters:
Could I suggest not feeding the trolls. As the post shows, they are not merely deluded on this issue, but wrapped in an entire parallel universe of delusion. Debating them is a waste of time. The important thing is to publicise the facts about how their bogus worldview has been construct, so that media organisations stop treating conservative thinktankers as legitimate participants in scientific debate and start treating them as the hacks they are.
This coming from a hack is hilarious. Speaking of hacks, let's take a look at an earlier article by Peter Jacques, lead author of the study above. In October 2005, Peace Review, A Journal of Social Justice, published a Jacques written article unbelievably titled Ecology as Resistance. Jacques sums up:
Distanced and unraveling peoples and places, in addition to global structural ecological changes, tell stories that rightly concern our ecological selves. This ecological self is one side of our humanity that asks us to pay attention to justice even in the name of people or life we do not know or think we are a part of. It implies a differentiated responsibility to ecological harm born by others, and challenges the assumptions of what wealth and wellbeing are, as well as how they are derived. It also places people within a single, but differentiated, context beyond nationalities because humans all occupy the same ecological space and have the same ecological needs. Yet we are creating differentiated impacts. This reflects what philosopher Ronnie Hawkins describes as “seeing humans as primates,” and what has prompted political scientist Andrew Dobson to call for an “ecological citizenship” that recognizes these elements of life on earth.

The ecological self as a development of human virtue through empathy, friendship, and solidarity for others—human and non-human—is a direct challenge to the dominant world system. Ecology in this way can be counterhegemonic resistance against the system of knowledge and power that would rather that we remain alienated from ourselves and the world of life around us. Within this kind of world system, wars like the one in Iraq that are meant to doggedly pursue oil and other resources necessary for industrial consumption will be an existential threat that just might make sustainability irrelevant. Ecology as resistance, however, builds on our essential connections within the world, making it one of our relevant communities from which we can collectively fight alienation to stand against wanton abuse and political domination.
The guy's a fringe-leftist if ever I've seen one. It's therefore not surprising other fringe leftists like his stuff.

Update: Tim Lambert provides excerpts from the "study" but somehow manages to miss the authors' dodgy selection criteria. This wouldn't be a problem except that the "study" isn't publicly available online – you must either pay for it or have institutional access. So, readers must rely on Lambert's quoting, which is always suspect. Quiggin praises the "study" but does not quote from it.

It's also worth nothing that the multi-page "study" cites very few examples of denialism. Here's one of the few:
For example, Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, in the foreword to Meltdown (Michaels 2004, p. 5), writes: ‘Global warming is an exaggerated issue, predictably blown out of proportion by the political and professional climate in which it evolved. . . .
See, questioning the science is forbidden.

Update II: Lefty blogger Tim Dunlop sees Lambert's The Denial Industrial Complex post, gets a rush of blood, links to Lambert and gets burned. Dunlop should have read the study before getting involved.

Update III: As noted in comments, the left wants to shut down debate by damning as a near-Nazi (denialist) anyone who doesn't buy the science 100%. It similar to the ploy whereby the anti-DDT crowd insist that anyone who's pro-DDT has been duped by evil tobacco companies.

Friday, June 06, 2008


The title of a story at Swedish news site The Local: Far-right extremists in violent clash with leftists. The clash described:
Far-right extremists clashed with a gang of left-wingers on the streets of Gothenburg early on Friday morning.

According to the police, the people involved are a group of far-right extremists and their left-wing opposites, the Afa (Anti-Fascist Action group).
So the opposite of far-right extremist is leftist.

Thursday, June 05, 2008



The following exchange between an evil Jew and an atheist Jew (you figure it out) took place during a presumably free and open discussion on SBS TV:
ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: What happened in New York was that there was talk about bringing [My Name is Rachel Corrie] to the States, there was serious pressure from the powers that be there, from elements of the Israel lobby...

BREN CARLILL: "The powers that be"?

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: Yeah, from the Israel lobby. This is the way the Israel lobby, the Zionist lobby, works. They don't like something, they put pressure on organizations or individuals. This is the way it works. In New York, sadly, temporarily, they were successful. Eventually they were not. In the UK, as in most places around the world, it was selling out audiences, as it was in Australia as well. The point is, sadly, the organization that Bren is a member of, in Australia, does not believe in the concept of open and free debate.
If Bren Carlill's organization (AIJAC) doesn't believe in open and free debate what the Hell was he doing participating in one on national television?

Correction: Brent Carlill advises in comments that he is not Jewish. His evilness is still in dispute.


Writing in Lebanon's Daily Star former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer finds evidence of an imminent attack on Iran:
Earlier this month, Israel celebrated its 60th birthday, and US President George W. Bush went to Jerusalem to play a leading part in the commemoration. But those who had expected that his visit would mainly be about the stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were bitterly disappointed. Bush's central topic, including his speech to Israel's Knesset, was Iran. Bush had promised to bring the Middle East conflict closer to a resolution before the end of his term this year. But his final visit to Israel seemed to indicate that his objective was different: he seemed to be planning, together with Israel, to end the Iranian nuclear program - and to do so by military, rather than by diplomatic, means.
This has been picked up and spread by assorted left-wing sites and the mainstream media. Here's the Los Angeles Times, for example:
Fischer said Bush's speech during his address to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, this month indicated a coming Israeli-U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear program...
Maybe an attack on Iran is in the works but Bush's 2,400+ word Knesset speech isn't the place to look for evidence – Iran is not the speech's "central topic" and Bush says nothing particularly threatening:
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
Either checking out Bush's speech was too much like work or the facts of the matter are irrelevant to those spinning this story.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Asked to provide examples of evil right-wing spreaders of the Rachel Carson=Hitler myth, fact-checker extraordinaire John Quiggin offers Ann Coulter:
Liberals have always had a thing about eliminating humans. Stalin wanted to eliminate the kulaks and Ukranians, vegetarian atheist Adolf Hitler wanted to eliminate the Jews, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to eliminate poor blacks, DDT opponent Rachel Carson wanted to eliminate Africans (introduction to her book "Silent Spring" written by ... Al Gore!), and population-control guru Paul Ehrlich wants to eliminate all humans.
And James Woudhuysen:
One writer goes so far as to argue that Carson’s ideology ‘has led to more deaths than Stalin’s purges’ (8).
Stalin, Hitler, same difference. This Quiggin guy is a regular fact-checking machine.

Undaunted by wrongness Quiggin asks his accuser to recant. Cool move, professor.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Fearless professional journalist Antony Loewenstein:
[Prime Minister Rudd] rightly chastised the war for inflaming terrorism and causing a humanitarian disaster in Iraq and the region.
Unfazed by the reprimand, the war continued with business as usual. There are unconfirmed reports that the war suggested Loewenstein should buy a dictionary and learn how to use it.


Azul, my 16 week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback pup. He looks more like his owner every day.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Australian economist John Quiggin on getting it right:
One of the benefits that ought to arise from the existence of the blogosphere is that of fact-checking. False claims can be refuted quickly, and, we might hope, not repeated thereafter. Sadly it doesn’t seem to work out that way...
In the discussion that follows Quiggin's fact-averse sidekick Tim Lambert chimes in:
Since the proposal to ban DDT was defeated in 2000, what has been driving the debate has been a general aversion/hatred of Rachel Carson (she’s worse than Hitler according to some). These people don’t care about what the best way to fight malaria is, they just want to spray DDT.
Who, exactly, makes such an outlandish claim?

Googling "rachel carson" + hitler gives only 27,700 results, so the Carson-is-Hitler meme isn't exactly spreading like influenza in 1918.

The number one result is a Free Republic republication of a July 2003 Front Page Magazine article by Lisa Makson originally titled "Rachel Carson's Ecological Genocide" but retitled at Free Republic as "Rachel Carson's Ecological Genocide-Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot ... Rachel Carson". The article's text does not mention Hitler.

The second result is an anti-Carson article by entomologist J. Gordon Edwards. The article does not liken Carson to Hitler, saying:
A leading British scientist pointed out that “If the pressure groups had succeeded, if there had been a world ban on DDT, then Rachel Carson and Silent Spring would now be killing more people in a single year than Hitler killed in his whole holocaust.”
The third result is a blog post by Tim Lambert.

The fourth result is an article by environmental education organization New Cue accusing J. Gordon Edwards of likening Carson to Hitler, linking to Edwards's article above as proof. But as already shown, Edwards does not liken Carson to Hitler.

The fifth result is a blog post by John Quiggin. He doesn't mention Hitler but his commenters do, as does the linked article, which he co-wrote.

The six result is a comment titled "Debunking the 'Rachel Carson = Hitler' myth" which links to the Quiggin post above.

The seventh result is a flaky blog post titled "Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Rachel Carson: Legacies of Mass Genocide". It's either poorly executed satire or outright rubbish.

The eighth result is a pro-Carson article at climate change discussion site Celsias. The article links to both Lambert and Quiggin.

The ninth result is a pro-Carson article at Salon which refers to Hitler twice:
[Novelist Michael Crichton] took on DDT and climate change in his footnote-studded 2004 novel, "State of Fear." "Banning DDT killed more people than Hitler," his protagonist alleges. "And the environmental movement pushed hard for it."
May Berenbaum, head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has studied mosquitoes and malaria, says that "to blame environmentalists who oppose DDT for more deaths than Hitler is worse than irresponsible."
A Salon commenter suggests Quiggin and Lambert as excellent sources for those wanting to know more about Big Tobacco's attacks on Carson. (More on this below.)

The tenth result is an environmentalist blogger who thinks maybe some ignorant people think Carson is like Hitler.

Only two of the top ten Google results are for right-wingers comparing Carson to Hitler. One of the linked articles has J. Gordon Edwards saying Carson would be like Hitler if DDT had been banned outright. Six of the links are to leftist claims that the right likens Carson to Hitler. Of those six, five connect in some way with Quiggin or Lambert, or both, who jointly claim Carson is "regularly accused of killing more people than Hitler". It's one great big left-based misinformation loop pretty much anchored by Quiggin and Lambert.

In Silent Spring Rachel Carson mentions tobacco some six times, most of her references having to do with the toxic chemicals used to protect the plant. As far as I know, Carson wrote nothing substantial about tobacco or smoking. So how is that Goggling "rachel carson" + tobacco produces over 25,000 hits? A close look at the first page of results reveals that nine of the first ten results either link to or derive from Australia's credential touting Rachel Carson worshipers, John Quiggin and Tim Lambert – searching Quiggin and Lambert's sites using the terms "rachel carson" + tobacco produces 31 and 220 hits respectively, while searching for just "rachel carson" gives 374 hits for Quiggin and a whopping 1,290 for Lambert.

The number one result from Googling "rachel carson" + tobacco is a page at Grist which provides a good summary of what's going on here:
How did the wingnut critique of Rachel Carson (worse than Hitler!) move from the lunatic far-right fringe to the slightly-less-lunatic conservative mainstream?

Tim Lambert does a little digging and find that the answer traces back to ... Big Tobacco. Seriously.
The first Grist link is to another Grist page which also links to Lambert. The direct link to Lambert above goes to a 1,795 Deltoid post damning Roger Bate and Africa Fighting Malaria as paid stooges of Big Tobacco:
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.
The simple argument they used to drive a wedge between public health and environment was that we had to choose between birds and people. That by banning DDT to protect birds, environmentalists caused many people to die from malaria.
Now you'd reckon that in a 1,795 word post Lambert would well and truly nail Bate as the originator of the Carson is worse than Hitler myth, right? Not even close; Lambert draws no direct connection between Roger Bate and the Carson is worse than Hitler myth. All Lambert does is connect Bate to Big Tobacco, which is of course evil, which makes Bate evil, which makes him responsible for spreading the evil myth about Rachel Carson. which was pretty much created by Quiggin and Lambert in the first place.

So here we have two Australian academics who have teamed up to achieve an extraordinary feat, the creation of two internet myths:
  1. That the right is responsible for spreading the notion that Rachel Carson is worse than Hitler.
  2. That Roger Bate is pushing, at the behest of tobacco companies, the notion that Rachel Carson is worse than Hitler.
Quiggin and Lambert should be ashamed of themselves but are probably proud of the part they've played in misinforming the public. I wonder if their respective universities know what these guys get up to online?

Editing note: the following text has been deleted: "Here we see the tobacco companies and their henchmen blamed for the Carson is worse than Hitler myth."

Sunday, June 01, 2008


According to Perth's Sunday Times, Murdoch University's Professor Alan Bittles has researched the incidence of birth defects concluding that most consanguineous couplings produce healthy babies. And anyway, we might as well get used to blood relatives marrying:
“There is widespread misconception that these marriages [are] rare,” Prof. Bittles said.

“In reality there are over 1000 million people worldwide that live in regions where 20 – 50 per cent of marriages are between blood relatives.”

Prof. Bittles believes as more migrants move into Australian communities there will be a greater incidence of first-cousin marriages.
According to the article, there are 500 such marriages in Western Australia. Using the figures cited by the Sunday Times, such marriages are expected to have a 4% incidence of birth defects as opposed to 2% for the general population. Most people skimming through the article would see the 2% and 4% figures and probably think to themselves, "that's no big deal".

If the 500 WA consanguineous couples produced 500 children it is expected that 20 of these will have a birth defect. 500 non-consanguineous couples would produce 10 children with birth defects. Now I'm no maths whizz but that looks like 100% more for the consanguineous couples. In terms of total numbers it's really no big deal, however.

But for Australia as a whole it could be a big deal if the number of consanguineous couples increases. 265,990 children were born in Australia in 2006. Lets assume none of these children were produced by blood relatives. The expected number of birth defects is 5,320. Now let's assume 1% of births are to blood relatives. The expected number of birth defects is now 5,373. What if Australia had a 20% incidence of blood marriage, as in some countries? Expected birth defects would be 6,385. With 50% blood marriage the figure is 7,980. These numbers, while interesting, are meaningless because the number of Australian consanguineous couplings is not likely to dramatically increase any time soon.

Consanguineous marriage in large, high birth rate countries is downright scary, however. Let's use a country of 160 million plus with 4.5 million births per year, half of which are to blood relatives. That's 135,000 birth defects per year. For 20% blood marriages the figure is 108,000. Assuming no blood marriages the total number of expected birth defects is 90,000.

Even though the risk for individual couples of producing a baby with birth defects is small, marrying a blood relative looks like a bad idea no matter what the experts say.

Note: I won't be surprised if some of my calculations are a bit out, so feel free to point out any errors.