Friday, March 31, 2006


Associates of the ten men arrested in Melbourne on terrorism charges in November have been arrested, also in Melbourne:
Three Victorian men were arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences last night as part of the joint state and federal police investigation into alleged terror cells in Sydney and Melbourne.

The three men were taken into custody late yesterday afternoon and were questioned about possible links to the alleged cells.
In related news, one of the ten already awaiting trial is claiming mistreatment following a dispute with prison officers:
Mr Stary said that in the course of the dispute, Mr Merhi was left in a cell in his underwear for up to an hour.
Soon there will be claims of torture.


On climate and global warming I'm nothing more than a reasonably knowledgable layman. It seems to me there's been a major push of late by those favouring anthropogenic warming, with Time leading the charge. This press release from the British Antarctic Survey is, however, a bit different - take note of the bolded bits:
Rapid temperature increases above the Antarctic

A new analysis of weather balloon observations from the last 30 years reveals that the Antarctic has the same ‘global warming’ signature as that seen across the whole Earth, but is three times larger than that observed globally. The results by scientists from British Antarctic Survey are reported this week in Science.

Although the rapid surface warming in the Antarctic Peninsula region has been known for some time, this study has produced the first indications of broad-scale climate change across the whole Antarctic continent.

Lead author Dr John Turner of the British Antarctic Survey says,

"The warming above the Antarctic could have implications for snowfall across the Antarctic and sea level rise. Current climate model simulations don’t reproduce the observed warming, pointing to weaknesses in their ability to represent the Antarctic climate system. Our next step is to try to improve the models. "
Despite the article's reference to surface warming in the Antarctic Peninsula, the observed warming being described was not at the surface but in the atmosphere some kilometres above the surface. The surface temperature record across Antarctica is at best inconclusive:
These observations reveal that over the latter part of the 20th century, i.e., the period of time that according to climate alarmists experienced the most dramatic global warming of the entire past two millennia, fully 80% of the Antarctic coastal stations with sufficiently long temperature records experienced either an intensification of cooling or a reduced rate of warming; while four coastal sites and one interior site actually shifted from warming to cooling.
The one thing the article does get right is that climate models get it wrong and have to be corrected. This means they are not to be trusted. True believers will no doubt come up with some fancy statistical explanation for this discrepancy.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


The duck's nuts of casualty studies is, of course, the Lancet Iraq study: embraced and defended almost universally by lefties. Casualty estimates for other conflicts are largely ignored by the left. Thus, there's little chance lefties are going to pick up on these reports:
A report by more than 50 charity groups says the rate of violent deaths in northern Uganda is three times higher than in Iraq.

The report has been prepared by Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU).

It says nearly 150 northern Ugandans die every week due to the rebellion waged by the group the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

Camps in the Uganda's north are home to more than 1.6 million people sheltering from fighting between troops and LRA rebels.

One study last year estimated that 1,000 people died every week in the north as a result of poor living conditions.

In its new report, CSOPNU says the main war victims are children.

Some 25,000 have been abducted by the LRA as fighters and "wives", while tens of thousands more trudge into towns every night rather than risk being kidnapped from their beds.

Half of all camp residents are under the age of 15.

A quarter of all children over 10 have lost one or both parents.
This will only become an issue for the left if it can come up with a blame Bush angle.


German born Turk Murat Kurnaz is a Guantanamo detainee. Just about everyone involved with his case agrees he was probably captured as result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Americans wanted to release him in 2002 but neither the Turks nor the Germans would take him. While in detention Kurnaz appears to have transformed from a Taliaban sympathizer into a fully fledged Islamic radical who spends his free time reading the Koran and doing push-ups. Any country taking him now is taking on a problem waiting to happen.

The full fascinating story is here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Ornithologist Heidi Auman says Brisbane's seagulls are getting fat because they're eating too much human food:
These birds here in Hobart have higher cholesterol and higher glucose in their blood than my control birds from the Flinders Island group. And these birds here are significantly heavier.
How does she know what they eat?
The foods that I do know they're eating, and I know this because they regurgitate on me as I'm taking blood samples, tend to be a lot of meat products like mince and cooked chicken, dog food and cat food, sometimes they're still in the little shape of fish for the cat food, and casserole and things of that nature, and a lot of chips.
Wonder if she can get the regurgitation bit past peer review?


Mark Morford helps spread the 9/11 conspiracy theories:
You probably already know that much of what exactly happened on Sept. 11 remains deeply unsettling and largely unsolved -- or to put another way, if you don't know all of this and if you fully and blithely accept the official Sept. 11 story, well, you haven't been paying close enough attention.
Fortunately, Morford's been paying attention for us:
But on this, the third anniversary of the launch of Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq by way of whoring the tragedy of Sept. 11 for his cronies' appalling gain, what you might not know, what gets so easily forgotten in the mists of time and via the endless repetition of the orthodox Sept. 11 tale, is the sheer volume, the staggering array of unanswered questions about just about every single aspect of Sept. 11 -- the planes, the WTC towers, the Pentagon, the fires, the passengers and the cell phone calls and the firefighters and, well, just about everything.
Morford doesn't ask any of the numerous really difficult questions supposedly still unanswered. He does, however, point an accusing finger at the Bush administration:
You may, as is the standard cultural default, simply ignore it all, scoff and roll your eyes and shrug it all off because it's just too bleak and distasteful to entertain the idea that the dark Sept. 11 thread winds all the way through the NSA and the FBI and the White House and the Project for the New American Century and Dick Cheney's mangled soul and God only knows where else.
Really, Morford should stick to writing about stuff he knows about.


Hoping to get Asian children to go vegetarian, PETA attempts to start a trading card craze:
Animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), says it is trying to get Asian children to turn vegetarian by distributing "trading cards" depicting sick youngsters to highlight the risk of bird flu.

"These sorts of trading cards we've found are always sought after by kids."
PETA denies it's trying to scare kids into giving up meat but I'm not convinced:
The card being distributed in Malaysia shows a cartoon of a feverish girl, clutching a container of chicken as she lies in bed with a thermometer in her mouth.

"Bedah is scared that she has bird flu because lots of people who live near her keep chickens," it reads.
No more eating KFC in bed for Malaysian kiddies.


"A French student is attacked by a gang of hooded youths from poor suburbs during a nationwide protest demanding the government to scrap a youth jobs law during a demonstration in Place de la Republique in Paris March 28, 2006." REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Click here to view slideshow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The street violence in France is a war between students, the employed and unemployed on one side and the unemployable on the other:
With her pink-and-orange hair and pierced lower lip, Manuella Pereira considers herself a rebel standing up for fellow young people across France.

But the diminutive 17-year-old from a well-to-do suburb learned a harsh lesson about solidarity when she went to Paris last week to join a student march on the majestic esplanade of the Invalides military monument.

"A friend of mine got robbed and I got tear-gassed," said Pereira, a student at Albert Schweitzer High School in Le Raincy. In scenes recorded by television cameras, swarms of hooded, masked youths infiltrated the march Thursday in an upscale tourist district in the heart of Paris, beating and stomping the marchers, stealing their cellphones and money, and torching cars.

"On one side, the cars burning, and on the other, people with their families marching peacefully," Pereira said. "The [vandals] don't care about their future. They just want to perpetrate violence no matter what."

"The same [troublemakers] as in November are reappearing, but this time in broad daylight," Deputy Mayor Jean-Christophe Lagarde of Drancy, a town just north of Paris, said in the newspaper Le Parisien.

The mayhem shatters any illusions about unity among France's young people. In fact, gangs who disrupt marches and attack the protesters often feel contempt for students, whom they see as privileged and weak rich kids, a police intelligence commander said.
It's the same in Sweden:
“THE BOYS FROM ONE of the schools told me smiling how 'there is a wonderful feeling in the body when you are robbing, you feel satisfied and happy, it feels as if you have succeeded.'”

The interviewed boys are between 15 and 17 years old and one of them explained for Petra Åkesson what power means to him.

“To me it is that the Swedes lay down on the ground and kiss my feet.”

“The young muggers get a kick out of performing deviant and risky actions and they talk a lot about how easy it is to rob Swedes. And the kick gets even stronger when they are aware that the robberies are so easy to accomplish. 'It's so easy to rob Swedes, so easy', said one of the boys.”

THE YOUNG ROBBERS don't plan their crimes.

“No, when we see some Swedes who seem to be wealthy or as if they have expensive cellulars, we rob them.”

During the interviews the youths talked about Swedes as wimpy, scared and stupid.

“Swedes don't do anything, they just give us the stuff, they are so wimpy.”

“The youths don't plan or organize their criminal activities and are therefore not approaching it on businesslike terms,” says Petra Åkesson. “Their actions are instead distinguished by their view of the robberies as a lifestyle.”
The technical term for this is "mindless violence".


Remember the Ferrari Enzo that got smashed in mysterious circumstances back in February? Well, car buff Stefan Eriksson is still having car trouble:
The officers stopped Eriksson's wife, Nicole Persson, 33, about 2:30 p.m. on the corner of Beverly Drive and Wilshire Boulevard because an officer found the car's European license plate suspicious.

The officer then discovered that Persson lacked a driver's license and that the car was not registered in the United States.

"We contacted Scotland Yard and subsequently learned that the car was perhaps stolen" out of the United Kingdom, Lt. Mitch McCann said.
Police confiscated the US$400,000 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren leaving poor old Eriksson with only one Ferrari still in the garage.


The ABC News/AFP headline:
Agent Orange victims demand justice
The first paragraph of the article:
Vietnam War veterans and activists from six countries are urging the US Government to compensate millions of people they say are victims of toxins in the military defoliant Agent Orange.
There follows much hyperbolic anecdotal bluster on the evils of dioxins:
"It's bad when you're not just killing the enemy soldier but you're also killing his grandchildren and you're poisoning his environment," Joan Anne Duffy Newberry, a former US Air Force nurse in Vietnam, said.

"Agent Orange was designed as a herbicide but in actuality it was a weapon, a chemical weapon."
Only at the end of the article is it revealed what this is all about:
Activists say a victory in the Agent Orange battle may help limit the future use of other toxic weapons.

"They poisoned the land of Vietnam and people are suffering 30 years later," Daniel Shea, a Vietnam War Marine turned peace activist, said.

"Now we see depleted uranium used in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan. These things are lying around, children are picking them up. We don't know what's going to happen to them."
All future wars will be fought with non-toxic weapons.


Hunting whales isn't about science - or food either, apparently - it's about sploding the poor, defenceless critters:
"If you're doing science on the Antarctic ecosystem, you don't go down there and blow off the face of the planet these threatened species and a crucial part of the ecosystem."
Go ahead Moby, make my day.


If you've ever wanted to get drunk without knowing, try mixing alcohol in your energy drink:
The study found that volunteers who were given alcohol mixed with Red Bull performed as badly on coordination and visual tests as those drinking alcohol alone. However, those drinking Red Bull and alcohol thought their skills were unimpaired.
That makes the whole drinking experience pointless, doesn't it?

Monday, March 27, 2006


Just in case you missed it, over the weekend there was a bit of an Aussie blogger stoush between Tim Blair and Anonymous Lefty (barrister Walter Jeremy Sear). The stoush developed as an offshoot of an ongoing battle between AL and Iain Hall. When Blair joined the fray, the already nasty situation became decidedly nastier. (The Blair comments are here; the AL comments can be accessed here.)

The brouhaha started when AL posted a photo of his cat – the cute kitten at top – that was then copied and reposted by Iain Hall. AL made his displeasure known by posting this – here's the whole thing because it has since been heavily modified and reposted under a different title (the bolded text removed):
Copyright Infringement via stealing cat photos

This is a photo of our cat, taken today. (Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of her hanging by her front paws when she slipped, as I put the camera down and went to rescue her. Capture the cute photograph... or save kitten from plummeting to the ground? Sadly, I picked the latter.)

Copyright in this image is owned by me. No-one is entitled to reproduce it without my express permission.

Although, of course, I didn't need to actually write those words. They go without saying. Because - as most people with even the most basic understanding of copyright are aware - copyright exists from the moment the work is created. It doesn't need to be registered. It doesn't need to be announced. It doesn't need a little "c" in a circle stuck on it. Simply, the copyright in the image automatically belongs to the person who created it, immediately. And it continues to do so for a fairly long time. Works don't enter the "public domain" until seventy years after the death of person who created the work or, if the work is published anonymously, seventy years after it is published.

Theft of such an image is, of course, covered by the Copyright Act 1968. Those who claim their theft is "fair use" might want to read sections 40-42 of the Act. Simply copying a photograph of someone's cat is extremely unlikely to qualify as "fair dealing for purpose of research or study" (s40), "fair dealing for purpose of criticism or review" (s41) or "fair dealing for purpose of reporting news" (s42).

Copyright is indeed a complex and evolving area of the law, but as it relates to photographs, it's well-established - certainly as to the question of whether people can just take others' photographs and reproduce them, particularly where the owner has notified that person, declared ownership in the photographs and requested that those photographs be removed. (The answer is, "no".)

If you happen to be stealing any works of mine, text or images, (and I know of at least one person who is), please stop it immediately.


ps Friday cat photo! How fun and light-hearted is that?
That, coming from a barrister, is obviously a very thinly veiled threat. Enter Blair with this, including a photo of Sear:
Oddly, copyright hardliner Sear (below) frequently publishes borrowed images at his own site.
It quickly emerged AL's a habitual image hotlinker, making him a prolific bandwidth thief. AL responded with the everybody-does-it-and-anyway-it's-not-worth-much defense:
The original complaint was about a malicious person using an image and refusing to take it down after requests by the owner to remove it. This is completely different, obviously, from a blogger "hotlinking" to a news image, or a popular culture image, where the bandwidth involved is miniscule, and the creator of the image does not object. The former hurts the copyright holder; the latter doesn't. Obviously I wasn't condemning a fundamental part of blogging. Most of us don't mind our images or work being shared occasionally; there is a limit, however, which is what had been reached in this particular instance.
I'm not convinced hotlinking is the right way to post images, particularly when (like AL) you're running four image-rich blogs. Regardless, in habitually hotlinking at his four blogspot sites AL is ignoring the following advice from Blogger:
Adding Images "from The Web"

If you choose to "Add an Image from the Web" using the image upload feature in Blogger, you shouldn't use an image location that is hosted at someone else's expense without their permission. Sometimes this is referred to as "stealing bandwidth" because every time your blog loads, the image is loaded from their server, and this person likely incurs an expense.

Copyrighted Materials

Before you put an image in your blog, realize that some images are protected as intellectual property through copyright. This means that the creator has sole legal rights to their works and may not want you copying and displaying them. If you are unsure whether or not an image is copyrighted, it's best not to risk it. However, there are places which make it easier for you to find images you're allowed to use:
Open Photo
Flickr: Creative Commons
Creative Commons Search
So, as it turns out, Anonymous Lefty is considered a thief by his own host. He is a law unto himself.

(Cute kitten photo copied and reproduced for the purpose of reporting the news.)


Journalist and author Antony Loewenstein discovers a word previously – and still – unknown to him:
This is the path that Australia is following. Once again, the media is content being ciphers for state terror.
Such creative writing could well explain the launch of his book being pushed back to August. I mean, what editor would want to make Ant's book his life's work?

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Afghan Christian convert Abdul Rahman is to be freed, according to local officals due to a lack of evidence. He will, no doubt, be in great danger. Lateral thinking clerics had earlier proposed a solution to solve both the danger and conversion problems:
Some Islamic clerics had called for his execution, saying Rahman would face danger from his countrymen if he were released.
Any way you look at it this guy is dead.



Sandra Nori, Minister for Women, thinks men suffer a genetic weakness:
"Does violence come on the Y chromosome? Is civilisation only skin deep?"

"I hope that's not the case but if it is, what that says to us as women is that we have to redouble our efforts because it means then that civilised society, harmonious society is something that we have to create."
I can tell for you for certain I'd be a lot less aggressive if I got laid more often. Women of the world, if you'd like to turn me into a veritable pussycat, here's your chance.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


The Canadian military has signed an agreement with the Afghan military that any bad guys captured by Canadian forces will be turned over not to US forces but to Afghan forces. Some are worried that this will make Canadian soldiers complicit should any detainees be tortured.

A lateral thinking Canadian solves the problem:
To preclude the torture of suspected terrorist, they should be flown to Canada, given refugee status and a job at the University of Ottawa.That way I can see my taxes working in the way I expect.


Give 14 year-old hormonally feral, sex obsessed kids some Play-Doh and this isn't unexpected:
Parents in the Deer Lakes School District say ninth grade students who helped with a nursery school program made inappropriate figures with their play-doh.

Parents say some ninth graders assisting their children formed male body parts with the dough.
Legal action is, of course, in the works.

Via: Florida Cracker


In December, Nature published the findings of its expert-led, peer reviewed investigation/comparison of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica, concluding "the difference in accuracy was not particularly great"... The difference in accuracy was in fact, great, with Wikipedia having 162 errors over 42 articles compared to Britannica's 123. (The Wikipedia analysis is here.)

Britannica was not happy with the Nature investigation and has now responded with its own analysis:
We discovered in Nature’s work a pattern of sloppiness, indifference to basic scholarly standards, and flagrant errors so numerous they completely invalidated the results. We contacted Nature, asking for the original data, calling their attention to several of their errors, and offering to meet with them to review our findings in full, but they declined.
As a regular user of both Wikipedia and Britannia - actually, I go to Wikipedia much more often than Britannica, which requires log-in - I'm going to side with the latter on this: Wikipedia is not to be trusted, ever. A quick comparison follows; decide for yourself which you should trust.

Agent orange is included as part of the Nature investigation. The Wikipedia agent orange article is quite long and sensational. Excerpt:
The National Toxicology Program has classified TCDD to be a known human carcinogen, frequently associated with soft-tissue sarcoma, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). 2,4,5-T has since been banned for use in the US and many other countries...

Diseases associated with dioxin exposure are chloracne, soft tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin's disease, and non-Hodgkin's disease. Diseases with limited evidence of an association with Agent Orange are respiratory cancers, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, Porphyria cutanea tarda (a type of skin disease), acute and subacute transient peripheral neuropathy, spina bifida, Type 2 diabetes, and acute myelogenous leukemia found only in the second or third generation. Diseases with inadequate or insufficent evidence of an association are hepatobiliary cancers, nasal or nasophargyngeal cancers, bone cancer, female reproductive cancers, renal cancer, testicular cancer, leukemia, spontaneous abortion, birth defects, neonatal or infant death and stillbirths, low birth weight, childhood cancers, abnormal sperm parameters, cognitive neuropsychiatric disorders, ataxia, peripheral nervous system disorders, circulatory disorders, respiratory disorders, skin cancers, urinary and bladder cancer. Diseases with limited or suggestive evidence of no association are gastrointestinal tumors such as stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and rectal cancer, and brain tumors.
The Britannica article is elegantly concise – it's subscription only; here's the whole thing so you can compare:
Agent Orange - mixture of herbicides that U.S. military forces sprayed in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971 during the Vietnam War for the dual purpose of defoliating forest areas that might conceal Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces and destroying crops that might feed the enemy. The defoliant, sprayed from low-flying aircraft, consisted of approximately equal amounts of the unpurified butyl esters of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). Agent Orange also contained small, variable proportions of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin—commonly called “dioxin”—which is a by-product of the manufacture of 2,4,5-T and is toxic even in minute quantities. About 50 million litres (13 million gallons) of Agent Orange—containing about 170 kg (375 pounds) of dioxin—were dropped on Vietnam. Agent Orange was one of several herbicides used in Vietnam, the others including Agents White, Purple, Blue, Pink, and Green. The names derived from colour-coded bands painted around storage drums holding the herbicides.

Among the Vietnamese, exposure to Agent Orange is considered to be the cause of an abnormally high incidence of miscarriages, skin diseases, cancers, birth defects, and congenital malformations (often extreme and grotesque) dating from the 1970s.

Many U.S., Australian, and New Zealand servicemen who suffered long exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam later developed a number of cancers and other health disorders. Despite the difficulty of establishing conclusive proof that their claims were valid, U.S. veterans brought a class-action lawsuit against seven herbicide makers that produced Agent Orange for the U.S. military. The suit was settled out of court with the establishment of a $180,000,000 fund to compensate some 250,000 claimants and their families. Separately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded compensation to about 1,800 veterans.
Wikipedia's obvious emphasis on points scoring is the main difference between the two – its a matter of emphasis linked to political ideology. This becomes even more obvious if the Wikipedia and Britannica dioxin articles are compared. Here are some Wikipedia dioxin excerpts:
Dioxins are also in smoke from typical cigarettes, those with chlorine-bleached paper and residues of many chlorine pesticides. Dioxin in cigarette smoke was noted as "understudied" by the EPA in its "Re-Evaluating Dioxin" (1995). In that same document, the EPA acknowledged that dioxin is "anthropogenic" (man-made, "not likely in nature"). Dioxin cannot come from the tobacco or any natural plant. Since then, the USA classified dioxin as a Known Human Carcinogen, and the USA signed the Stockholm Convention on POPs to globally phase out dioxin and 11 other of the worst industrial pollutants. Nevertheless, chlorine tobacco pesticides and chlorine-bleached cigarette papers remain legal, with no warning required to consumers.

Dioxins are present in minuscule amounts in a wide range of materials used by humans — including practically all substances manufactured using plastics, resins or bleaches. Such materials include tampons, and a wide variety of food packaging substances. The use of these materials means that all modern humans receive (at least) a very small daily dose of dioxin—however, it is disputed whether such exceptionally tiny exposures have any clinical relevance. It is even controversially discussed if dioxins might have a non-linear dose-response curve with beneficial health effects in a certain lower dose range, a phenomenon called hormesis.
The article emphasises evil corporations disregarding people's health, with this the ultimate example:
In 1963 a dioxin cloud escapes after an explosion in a Philips-Duphar plant (now Solvay Group) near Amsterdam. Four people died of dioxin poisoning, and 50 more suffer severe health problems. In the 1960s Philips-Duphar produced 2250 tonnes of 'Agent Orange' for the US Army.
Agent Orange and the evil US Army are gravy. But, the article offers no substantiation that the four claimed deaths resulted from dioxin exposure. In reality, the cause of death of the four Philips-Duphar workers is not clear; the four deaths should not have been included.

Oddly, the Wikipedia Dioxin article downplays the supposed health effects featuring so prominently in the Agent Orange article (see Agent Orange excerpt above):
Excessive exposure to dioxin may cause a severe form of persistent acne, known as chloracne. This is the only known direct result of dioxin exposure at levels below the lethal dose. Other possible effects may be
▪ Developmental abnormalities in the enamel of children's teeth.
▪ Damage to the Immune systems.
▪ Endometriosis
▪ Birth defects
▪ Diabetes
▪ And at least in laboratory animals, increased rates of liver and lung cancer are observed.
In contrast, the Britannica article is elegantly concise:
Dioxin - any of a group of chemical compounds that is an undesirable by-product in the manufacture of herbicides, disinfectants, and other agents. In popular terminology, dioxin has become a synonym for one specific dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD).

In chemical structure, a dioxin (technically called dibenzo-p-dioxin) consists of two benzene rings connected by a pair of oxygen atoms. Each of the eight carbon atoms on the rings that are not bonded to oxygen can bind with hydrogen atoms or atoms of other elements. By convention these positions are assigned the numbers 1 through 4 and 6 through 9. The more toxic dioxins carry chlorine atoms at these positions, and the best-known one has chlorine atoms at the 2,3,7, and 8 positions. This isomer—2,3,7,8-TCDD—is extremely stable chemically. It is virtually insoluble in water and in most organic compounds but is soluble in oils. It is this combination of properties that allows this dioxin in soil to resist dilution with rainwater and causes it to seek and enter fatty tissue in the body if it is absorbed.

Dioxin serves no useful purpose but is formed as an undesirable by-product during the synthesis of 2,4,5-trichlorophenol and some other useful compounds. The chemical 2,4,5-trichlorophenol serves as a raw material for making the herbicides Silvex and 2,4,5-T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid). The latter is a major active ingredient of Agent Orange (q.v.), a defoliant formerly used in Vietnam by the U.S. military and in the United States to kill unwanted vegetation. This 2,4,5-trichlorophenol is also used in the production of hexachlorophene, an antibacterial agent formerly used in deodorants and soaps.

The recognition in the early 1980s that residential sites at Times Beach and elsewhere in Missouri, U.S., had been contaminated by improper disposal of chemical wastes containing 2,3,7,8-TCDD led to intense public scrutiny of its possible toxic effects. Toxicologists mistakenly concluded from studies on laboratory animals that TCDD was one of the most toxic of all man-made substances and recommended that soil levels in excess of one part per billion might constitute a health risk to humans. It was known that TCDD could produce chloracne, a serious skin rash, but exposure to the chemical was also blamed for muscular dysfunctions, various bodily inflammations, impotency, birth defects, genetic mutations, and nervous system disorders. TCDD was also linked to various cancers.

Subsequent research, however, discounted most of these inferences, which were based on the effects of very high doses of TCDD on guinea pigs and other peculiarly susceptible animals. Among humans, the only disease definitely found related to TCDD is chloracne, which develops shortly after exposure to the chemical. Epidemiological studies on industrial workers exposed to TCDD over many years show that it has a weak carcinogenic effect at high-dose exposures and no effect whatsoever at low-dose exposures. In fact, normally occurring exposure to TCDD appears to be less of a carcinogenic risk than similar exposure to asbestos, radon, or cigarette smoke. Nor has any convincing evidence been found for the association of TCDD with other bodily disorders and defects in humans, including genetic mutations.

What toxicity TCDD does possess apparently derives from the chemical's ability to bind with a particular type of receptor protein inside some cells within the body. The resulting TCDD-receptor complex can enter the cell's nucleus and bind with its DNA, thereby disrupting the cell's machinery for producing proteins. The wide and rather puzzling array of toxic effects induced in animals by high levels of TCDD are apparently all receptor-mediated responses to that chemical. Such animals' immune systems are those most often affected, being apparently weakened or compromised by TCDD.
If you're looking for well written, well researched, well edited information intended for knowledgable laymen go to Britannica. If you want iffy information written and argued over by guys like this, go to Wikipedia.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Eleanor Hall, host of the ABC's The World Today, introduces a report on a recent survey by racism researcher Dr Kevin Dunn:
The Muslim community in Australia has challenged political leaders and the media to study a survey that's highlighted a large degree of ignorance and fear amongst Australians about Islam...

Published this week, the survey has found that the most common stereotypes of Islam are that it's a fundamentalist religion, and an intolerant and threatening one.

However, the survey's authors, Muslim leaders and psychologists say they remain positive that the situation can be turned around to reduce the level of ignorance, and the associated perceptions of fear.
Dr Dunn accounts for the ignorance and fear:
It's linked to geo-political events and the way in which we hear about Islam at the moment in Australia, which is a fairly narrow set of ways that we hear about them. It's in the context of geo-political conflicts and threats of terror and those sorts of things.

So that's not a good way for us to hear about a faith and it does increase the level of threat perception.
Nada Roude of the Islamic Council of New South Wales continues the theme:
Often language is a very serious identifier of some of the misconceptions, so when our leaders, and I mean our Government and politicians and media representatives, represent Islam in an hysterical way, or characterise Islam as something to be feared, then obviously that filters to the rests of the community.
Bob Montgomery of the Australian Psychological Society rounds out the case for our irrational fear of Muslims by saying it's a product of group identity:
And that tells you, this is my group, this is where I belong, this is where I feel safe, where I feel supported and they are someone who's a stranger from outside and not a member of my group and therefore someone I should be wary of.

So if you have had no great contact with people from an Islamic background, and then you suddenly meet some, I'd say the chances are you're going to be more than wary. The prejudice already been built up.
So, why's a psychologist involved in this discussion unless the ignorance and fear is a manifestation of some underlying pathology? The Australian Psychological Society claims psychologists "help mentally healthy people find ways of functioning better". But if you click on the link "Why consult an APS psychologist?" you'll see this list of reasons for visiting a psychologist:
• ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children
• Bipolar Disorder (formerly manic depression)
• Depression
• Eating disorders
• Lifestyle effects on health
• Preventing suicide
• Relationship problems
• Schizophrenia
• Traumatic events
Clearly Australians would benefit from some professional help with their Islamophobia issues. Maybe it's time to add Islamophobia to that list.


Anti-Jew Jew and Robert Fisk worshiper Antony Loewenstein is disturbed by these figures from a Swedish poll on anti-semitism:
In order to compare attitudes toward other religious minorities, some questions in the poll were about Muslims, the largest religious minority in Sweden. There are 18,000 Jews in Sweden and 350,000 Muslims. The poll showed that the intolerant attitudes towards Muslims were higher than those towards Jews.

2 per cent supported discriminatory measures toward Jews. Only 2,9 per cent of Swedes think that there are too many Jews in Sweden, while 24.1 per cent think there are too many Muslims. 6.7 per cent also feel that “Muslims ought not be allowed to vote in political elections”.
Ant obviously thinks the foregoing more important than this, which doesn't get a mention:
Among Swedish Muslims, 39 per cent displayed systematic anti-Semitic attitudes as opposed to 5 per cent in the general Swedish population.
Swedes have obviously picked up on Muslim intolerance – as evidenced by their attitude to Jews – and view them with suspicion. Ant doesn't see it this way, concluding his post:
Sweden is a liberal, open, fairly tolerant country, but then, people used to say that about Denmark. That country is currently experiencing a rise of the far-right and anti-immigration parties. Jews are rarely seen as not fitting into the mainstream, while Muslims are often shunned and tarred with the “terrorism” brush.
Yep, Swedes are turning into right-wing fanatics for no good reason right before Ant's eyes. Maybe if Ant pulled his head out from betwixt Fisk's buttocks he could see who's tarring whom with which brush.


Leeds University lecturer Dr Frank Ellis has been suspended amid accusations of racism. I'm vaguely familiar with Ellis but don't really know if he's a racist or not. Neither did his students:
"He was a very, very good teacher. He certainly knew his stuff.

"But I felt absolutely sickened when I read what he had said and I stopped going to his lectures."
Evidence of racism is also absent from this Guardian Special Report titled: Race in education. Here are a couple of supposedly damning Ellis quotes:
"I am an unrepentant Powellite. I think Enoch Powell first articulated the problem and the scale of the problem and nothing since 1968 has improved."

"The Bell Curve theory has demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a gap in average black and white average IQ."

"Multiculturalism is doomed to failure... because it is based on the lie that all people, races and cultures are equal; that no one race or culture is better than any other... Multiculturalism seeks to impose racial and cultural integration regardless of the wishes of blacks or whites to live in their own communities and pursue their own agendas."
Ellis is also accused of mysogyny:
"Why is it that all the great discoveries in science have all been made by men? ... The established feminist response is that women have been repressed. Now if you believe that you're entitled to believe it. I don't believe that."
If that's the best evidence there is, Ellis is getting railroaded. Don't get me wrong, I haven't researched Ellis's background and don't know if he's a racist. What I'm saying is, the Guardian doesn't make the case.

Editing note: Ellis somehow morphed into Farris part way through the post. Corrected.


The French are undoubtedly language snobs, seeing French as the language. As anyone who has visited France will know, it is not uncommon for English-fluent Frenchmen to refuse to speak in English or even acknowledge they understand when spoken to in English. It's therefore no surprise that a businessman's refusal to speak in French threw Jacques Chirac's nose right out of joint:
When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”

Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned. They returned only after M Seilière had finished speaking.

Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.
Apparently French politicians, like women, prefer to use public toilets in packs.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Imam Ahmed Akkari has reportedly been captured by a hidden camera threatening the life of moderate Danish Muslim and Social Liberal Naser Khader:
If [Naser Khader] becomes the Minister of Foreigners or Integration, why don’t we send out two guys to blow up him and his ministry?
When challenged about this, Akkari went into denial mode:
I’ve never said anything like that about Naser Khader, but they are welcome to try and prove it
His position has since shifted somewhat:
You also need to understand, from the context, that I wasn’t being serious because I usually don’t say stuff like that - not even in jest. But sometimes things happen.
Yep, shit happens – lets hope it happens in Akkari's hat and he has to wear it.

This story is still developing: go to Agora for the latest.

Via: Watch


Lefty Tim Dunlop has a big sad about conservative Americans finding the "Bloody Hell" tourism campaign offensive. He's also unhappy with me for being mean to him, or something.


According to the latest research, a mega-multi-million death bird-flu pandemic looks unlikely:
Despite the panic in Russia, researchers in other parts of Europe have been trying to work out why the H5NI virus hasn't yet turned into the global pandemic many have predicted.

And Dutch and Japanese scientists have made a heartening discovery: that avian influenza buries itself too deeply inside the human lungs to be spread easily by coughing or sneezing.
Okay lefties, back to full time Global Warming fearing.


Labour relations in Dubai ain't looking too good at the moment:
Some 2,500 workers on the emerging Burj Dubai tower and surrounding housing developments chased and beat security officers Tuesday night, broke into temporary offices and smashed computers and files, and destroyed about two dozen cars and construction machines, witnesses said.

The initial riot was caused by workers angered because buses to their residential camp were delayed after their shifts, witnesses at the site said.

“Everyone is angry here. No one will w
ork,” said Khaled Farouk, 39, a laborer with Al-Naboodah. Other workers said their leaders were asking for pay raises: skilled carpenters on the site earned just $7.60 per day, with laborers getting just $4 per day.
It doesn't seem right that what's rumoured will be the world's tallest building is being constructed with skilled labour paid $7.60 a day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Anonymous Lefty is all a'dither because of this from Andrew Bolt's online forum:
Comment: Hullo Andrew.The topic is "Where is Society heading?" Mellanie Phillips in her essay she did 10 years ago points out in latest blog thatit is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights.As she states, a traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender- and if as gay marriage advocates insist the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice,exclusion,and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love.then the first requirement i.e. the number restriction(two and two only) is simply arbitrary'discriminatory, denial of individual choice! This line of argument makes gay activists furious So now anything goes,and our societyis steadily going as a result.

Polyandry,polyamory,polymorphia,?-- What's next in line? paedophilia? necrophilia? bestiality? I am inclined to think that she has a point, Cheers. fay.

Andrew replies: So do I.
Says Anonymous Lefty, totally missing the point:
"So do I." Andrew thinks she has a point. That homosexuality is akin to paedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality? Really?
The point of the comment is that, in the opinion of the commenter, to provide legal sanction to gay marriage is to open the door to the others. How does that make homosexuality akin to paedophilia?

Anyway, a long, amusing, Anonymous Lefty rant then follows.


Greens Senator Bob Brown reckons John Howard is responsible for the murder and mayhem in Iraq:
“The truckloads of tortured, mutilated bodies, smashed infrastructure and cost of the Iraq war now approaching one trillion Australian dollars are outcomes of the Prime Minister’s decision to back President Bush’s invasion 3 years ago.”
Okay, maybe there's something to that but what about the murder and mayhem being perpetrated by non-members of the coalition? Surely they deserve at least a little credit.


Danes are racists incapable of running their country to international standards:
Finally, the Danish government’s first reaction - rejecting to take an official position on the nature and publication of the cartoons while referring to Freedom of Speech as well as rejecting to meet with the ambassadors from the Moslem countries - is symptomatic not only for the political trivialisation of Islamophobia but also, due to its consequences, to the central role those politically responsible have for the national extent and the international consequences in the shape of demonstrations and expressions of Islamophobia.”

“Judicially, the Danish government ought therefore, especially considering its international obligations, to have, respecting Freedom of Speech, taken a position not only on the consequnces of the caricatures for its community of 200.000 Moslems but also for the protection of peace and order.”

“The author of this report can’t omit asking himself what the political and ideological national context the publication of the caricatures is a part of, and what the position of the Danish government is. This context is primarily colored by an agreement reached on December 8th, 2005 between the government and the Danish People’s Party, an extremist right-wing party, to tighten the conditions for achieving citizenship in a country whose immigration policies are considered among Europe’s most restrictive, a country where the Danish People’s Party has 13 percent of the votes and where a spokesman of the party, Søren Espersen, describes “Moslem immigration as a means to overrun Europe, the same as they’ve been doing the last 1.400 years.”
I've always known there was something not quite right with Denmark. (Man was it hard to resist saying "something rotten in".)

Via: The Brussels Journal


Obviously the September 11 attacks Happened On Purpose. Was the Bush administration taken by surprise or did it LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose) or even MIHOP (Make It Happen On Purpose)? A round-up of September 11 conspiracy theories is here. Hop to it, er, click on it.


A report by the Muslim Parliament of Great Britian paints a not too pretty picture of Muslim schooling:
Muslim children attending the country's 700 mosque schools, or madrasas, are exposed to "significant risk of harm" because few obey legally-required child protection measures, a report said on Wednesday.
Some form of child abuse is likely in any large organization handling lots of kids. But it isn't right for government to encourage abuse by turning a culturally sensitive blind eye:
The madrasas teach basic Islam to around 100,000 Muslim children in Britain in after-school classes, with some of the mosque schools having attendances of over 500.

But only a handful of local authorities have insisted the mosque schools meet their child protection obligations under the Children Act 1989.
Better to put the kiddies at risk than offend imams.


In the "missing athlete" category:
Police are investigating the disappearance of seven members of Sierra Leone's Commonwealth Games team.

Police are already investigating the whereabouts of Tanzanian boxer Omari Idd Kimweri and Bangladeshi runner Mohammad Tawhidul Islam.
We could be witness to the birth of a whole new sport here folks.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


New Scientist has an interesting article on a study linking a small rise in temperature to a big increase in malaria. It's only in paragraph nine of the ten paragraph article is it revealed the link is only tentative:
The group documented a warming trend of about 0.5°C in Africa's highland regions from 1970. Even this, they calculate, could have had a profound effect on the number of mosquitoes able to breed in higher-altitude areas.

"But it doesn’t prove that this is the main or only driver,” Pascual concedes. Other factors, such as changes in land use and growing resistance to anti-malaria drugs also influence the spread of the disease.

The researchers have yet to relate their models of climate and mosquito populations to data gathered about human cases of malaria in Africa over the past half century. “It would be an interesting and important step,” Pascual says
The article wouldn't have quite the same impact if the stuff in paragraph nine was in paragraph one, now would it?


No sooner does the controversial Bloody Hell ad get Okayed in Britain than it gets banned in Canada, sort of:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) will not run the ad during family programs, like the Wonderful World of Disney.

It considers the word hell objectionable for children.
When asked if they found hell objectionable, four out of five Candian kiddies replied, "Fuck yeah".


Their women may be hot but Swedes are evil:
"The Swedish car fleet is 20 percent thirstier than the EU average, making petrol costs higher for households and producing unnecessary CO2 emissions," says the oil independency commission.


To give credit where it's due, the intellectual lefties at Larvatus Prodeo pretty much have all current issues covered.
Phil doesn't like Bush - The formerly drunk, deeply unpopular and self delusional President of the United States.

Naomi moans about Cyclone Larry's devastation of Queensland's banana crop - Bloody bananas are going to cost a bloody fortune for the best part of a year.

Chris Sheil thinks Australia's Workplace Minister is Ioseb Dzhugashvili reincarnated - In aggregating all power to himself to overturn anything that workers and employers in this country might agree to, is there not a sense in which Comrade Andrews is himself, as Combet has said, "setting himself up as Stalin"...

Ron's toast will remain forever ungarnished - What motivated me for the post yesterday was the loss of Rose’s Old English Marmalade. This is made by Cottee’s and it was the Cottee’s customer desk that told me Coles won’t stock it any longer.
Hang on a minute, Ron's gotten himself confused – here's how he originally voiced his concern at being unable to find the foods he wants:
This has been happening a lot to me lately so I started ringing the food manufacturers to find out what's going on.

Three have now told me, two in a roundabout fashion and one directly, that they are no longer manufacturing a particular product because of Coles & Woolworths. They said if these two chains won't stock a product then there is no point in making it anymore.
There then ensued a Coles-and-Woolworths-are-evil commenting vent-fest. You know, about how the majors crap on customers and are trying to take over the planet.

Regardless, it could just be that Rose's Olde English Marmalade isn't very popular – it certainly didn't do all that well when tested by Choice. Maybe the Australian Consumers' Association is part of a conspiracy against Ron.

Anyway, if Rose's Olde English is still available, Ron should take Coles' advice to customers wanting items not stocked:
Can I request specific products to be stocked at my local store?

Yes, just ask your local Store Manager. If the product is readily available in the market place it will be sourced and stocked.
Nah, if Ron did something like that he'd be marking himself a trouble-maker and setting himself up for a midnight visit from hired marmalade heavies.

Look, I realise that the availability of a particular brand of marmalade is of no importance in the cosmic scheme of things. What is important is that lefties continually moan about the evils of capitalism but consistently misrepresent the situation. Nice try though, Ron.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Here's another Bush's America, Susan Sarandan "surprise":
After stops for protests in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., [Sheehan] will breakfast in Manhattan with actress Susan Sarandon, who is set to portray her in a biopic movie.
Vanessa Redgrave has prior commitments.

Via: The House of Wheels


According to the International Herald Tribune's William Pfaff, the truth is finally out, revealed in the US's latest National Security Strategy statement:
...the Bush administration wishes to rule the world.
Shit, that ain't news.


It's for studyin', not eatin':
Roadkill is set to help scientists unlock the largely mysterious world of snakes in the far north of Western Australia.

David Pearson from the Department of Conservation and Land Management says venomous and whip snakes from the Kimberley are of particular interest.

"The thing is they're only useful when they are really fresh," he said.

Travellers are warned to make sure the snakes are dead before they collect them.
After I run over it three or four times it'll be dead.


Life is just full of trials, if you're a lefty:
Have you noticed how many food products that you have bought for a long time are no longer available?

This has been happening a lot to me lately so I started ringing the food manufacturers to find out what's going on.

Three have now told me, two in a roundabout fashion and one directly, that they are no longer manufacturing a particular product because of Coles & Woolworths. They said if these two chains won't stock a product then there is no point in making it anymore.
This is to be expected considering Coles and Woolworths couldn't care less about customer service or loyalty:
“Coles and Woolies are in the business of making as much money as possible, and will piss off their consumers as much as they possibly can whenever they can make a buck out of it, stopping just short of pissing them off so hugely and permanently in such large numbers that they will go to all the extra cost and inconvenience of trying to find an alternative place to shop. If they blow the fine line between day-to-day common and garden variety pissing consumers off and really permanently pissing them off, too often, at too many stores, they could go bust, if they don’t correct the extreme annoyances in time, which they probably will because by and large they know where they are pissing customers off and where they can get away with it, so you can’t beat them, even though you are always dissatisfied. Fact.”
Well, of course evil corporate giants don't care about their customers, they pay their CEOs far too much.

Then there's also the problem of the type of people one runs into at Coles:
I somehow end up Coles on pensioner days when the old blokes are there. Discussing our prostate problems and the best type of Depends does nothing for me.
Yeah, old people are such a drag. (That might have been me he was taking to except I prefer these to Depends.)

I can't speak for the rest of Australia but in the large West Australian regional centre where I live there are lots of alternatives to Coles and Woolworths. There's a good sized independent supermarket not far from me that carries all sorts of stuff not stocked by the two majors. The fabulous Ridder cheese is even available despite Coles' and Woolworths' efforts to drive it off the market.

The thread had 54 comments last I checked; as far as I could tell not a single product was noted as pulled off the market on account of Coles and Woolworths refusal-to-stock policy.


ABC News (Australia) reports:
Police say more than half of the homes in Innisfail were destroyed when cyclone Larry struck far north Queensland this morning.

Many are homeless and thousands have been left without power or water.

Frank Pagano from the Counter-Disaster and Rescue Service, says back-up crews are still trying to reach Innisfail with fallen trees blocking the road in both directions.

But he says local emergency workers say the town has been devastated.
Go here for the rest of the story and lots of Larry links.


Lefty computing teacher and self-proclaimed malaria expert Tim Lambert's hate for the baby-killing Africa Fighting Malaria - Lambert continues to bounce my links to his old blog: copy and paste - is so great he recently called for a boycott of Dunk Malaria because it directs a portion of funds collected to AFM – go here for background. Lambert's little exercise in self-promotion drew some flak from me which was, not unexpectedly, largely ignored.

Lambert has moved on with a post favourable to Dunk Malaria, sort of:
Today is Malaria Action Day. Dunk Malaria are holding a Dunk Malariathon. coturnix is running a linkfest for malaria related posts.

My thanks to John Quiggin and Tara Smith for linking to my earlier post and extra thanks to everyone who donated money and doubled my $300 to help fight malaria.
The post says nothing positive about Dunk Malaria but does make much of the money raised by Malaria Man and his commenters. Four of the five links pretty much focus on Lambert. Blogger coturnix takes the Lambert praise up a notch by posting a link to this in comments:
Tim Lambert at Deltoid started all this with Dunk Malaria and followed up with Malaria Action Day.
Ain't it strange how this worked out? Lambert calls for a boycott of Dunk Malaria, raises a paltry sum for an alternative charity and ends up a hero. The Malria Man T-shirts are probably in the works at this very moment.

Hedge Fund Manager Lance Laifer explain why he got involved in the fight against malaria:
We can't live in a world that just sits by and watches millions of children die every year from a preventable disease. The numbers of deaths are staggering. This is a plague of Biblical proportions, but unlike Biblical plagues, it doesn't have a defined end. It goes on and on. Yet we not only don't see front-page stories about it; we don't see news stories about it. Since I became aware of the scope of malaria a few months ago, I've been trying to do everything I can. And the people in the hedge-fund community are trying to do everything they can, because this is an emergency situation.
Laifer's doing his bit and even I, a notorious tight-arse, have made a donation so really you have no excuse for not doing something...

Malaria specific charitable donations can be made at the Malaria Foundation International. (The Lambert recommended, United Nations administered, The Global Fund allocates only 31% of expenditures to fighting malaria.)