Sunday, December 31, 2006


Writing in the Guardian history professor Stephanie Coontz argues that women worldwide now have it so good they no longer have need to marry:
Every region of the world except Afghanistan under the Taliban saw women streaming into the paid labour force. Everywhere, there is increasing access to knowledge.


In an article titled A Threat Worse Than Global Warming, Al Eisele goes against the Huffington Post flow:
I hate to start off the new year on a downbeat note, but I'm having nightmares about nuclear terrorism.
Commenters think him misguided:
  • My kneejerk reaction is to fear the bomb being set off in America more, but when I look at the causes for global warming, and consider that all those people will die so that we can live in such obscene extravagance, well, I have mixed feelings.

  • I'm not sleeping very well either but for different reasons. Edward Teller was the modern day equivalent to Dick Cheney.

  • While nuclear weapons pack devastating power, I'm not sure that they are as awful as most proclaim. For example, if one nuclear bomb kills 200,000 Iraqis in a single strike, how much different is that from killing 600,000 over a period of 3 years?
Everything is relative, I guess.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Saudi Arabia officially supports Iraq's Shia dominated government but many notable Saudi clerics do not:
A group of prominent Saudi clerics have called on Sunni Muslims around the world to mobilise against Shi'ites in Iraq, although a statement they issued fell short of calling for a jihad, or holy war.
There has now been a follow-up to the early December call to arms:
An influential cleric of Saudi Arabia's hardline Sunni school of Islam has denounced Shi'ite Muslims as "infidels" in a new religious edict that comes amid rising sectarian tension in the region.

"The rejectionists (Shi'ites) in their entirety are the worst of the Islamic nation's sects. They bear all the characteristics of infidels," Sheikh Abdel-Rahman al-Barrak said in the fatwa, or ruling, distributed on Islamist Web sites.

"They are in truth polytheist infidels, though they hide this," it said, citing theological differences 14 centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammad, such as reverence of shrines which followers of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi school consider abhorrent.

Barrak was among 38 clerics who issued a statement this month calling on world Sunnis to support their brethren in Iraq.
Sounds like the Sunni - Shia conflict is going global. Al Qaeda will be pleased.

13,000KM TYPO

You have to be careful when doing it yourself:
A 21-year-old German tourist who wanted to visit his girlfriend in Sydney, Australia, landed 13,000km away near Sidney, Montana, after mistyping his destination on a flight booking website.
Uh, if you can't get the name of Australia's largest city right, you probably shouldn't be on the internet unsupervised.

Anyway, this sort of thing has happened before, thus the 1941 German near-attack on Idaho.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Click the link to discover who, in the course of an interview, named these as his heroes:
So few. F.D.R., J.F.K. Also, de Gaulle and Castro; yes, one must put up with the worst of these two, but they were heroic in their day. Heroism may be of greater value to civilization than political achievement.
Funny, none of those guys made my list.


Jeremy Sear is very upset (imagine that) with Blogger for failing to respond to his emails following the hacking and theft of his blogs. True to form, Sear is also still whining about Blogger's perceived password security shortcomings -- he is, of course, doing this from a Blogger blog.

I predict Blogger will ultimately tell him that his password wasn't sufficiently elaborate. It'll be interesting to see what they say about returning his blogs to him.

In amongst his whining about Blogger, Sear has found time to complain about the Howard government's LPG vehicle conversion rebate:
Far from being a solution to the problem, Howard's ridiculous LPG rebate bribe is turning out to be the turkey that we always predicted it would be.
Sear objects to the program on economic terms: he reckons it's too expensive for both consumers and taxpayers.

Oddly, Sear says nothing about the huge environmental and other benefits of operating a vehicle on LPG rather than petrol or diesel:greatly reduced exhaust emissions across the board;

*left frequent oil changes (less waste oil);

*waste oil is cleaner and therefore less polluting;

*extended engine life (vehicles need replacement less often);

*very little LPG escapes into the atmosphere during fuel transfer operations;

*cheaper than liquid fuels.

No matter how you look at it, LPG users are going to save money and help the environment in the process. Rather than complain, the very green Sear should be delighted that the government has come to the party. Nah, some people aren't happy unless they're whining about something.

Update: Blogger has restored Sear's blogs to him. He is naturally very happy but doesn't say if Blogger offered any comment on the circumstances surrounding the hacking. How the thief got past the password security is still a mystery. Regardless, the incident has generated much publicity for Sear, who has yet to report the theft to police. Hmm.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Some Americans still refuse to join the global warming consensus:
In spite of what scientists call overwhelming evidence, the governments of rich nations stand accused of failing to respond to the threat of climate change, and there are still climate change deniers in the US.
Nonconformist dolts.


True believers are sure Australia's drought is a result of global warming:
Australia, the only major industrialized country other than the U.S. to reject the Kyoto Protocol, is facing its worst drought in 1000 years. As ClimateProgress notes, global warming “has also taken its toll on the economy, significantly slowing Australia’s growth since so much of the country’s GDP relies on agriculture.”
An atmosphere specialist isn't so sure there's a connection:
Barrie Hunt, an honorary research fellow at the CSIRO's atmospheric research centre in Melbourne, has studied 10,000 years of climate variability in Australia.

Mr Hunt says this drought is not caused by the greenhouse effect.

"This drought will break and it's important for people to say well I understand that when the drought breaks it's not the greenhouse effect is a load of rubbish, of course it's rained again, everyone says this thing's due to the greenhouse effect and therefore they expect it to go on forever in a way, the naive people do."
There could be a science fight a brewin'.

Update: Professor Peter Cullen sees the rain situation as pretty much normal:
The last 10 to 15 years have been substantially drier. In fact, when you look at the long-term records, the period 1950s and 1990 turned out to be unusually wet, and we've now gone back to a period which is more like the 1900 to 1950. In fact, we're a bit below that.
For rainfall history graphs go here.

Update: A mere fight isn't enough for Cate Faehrmann from the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales:
"We need to treat this as a war-like scenario."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


It's always amazed me that Australia pretty much shuts down over the Christmas - New Year period. It can be a real pain in the arse if you're trying to get something done but since sitting on my arse is one thing I'm really good out at, I'm not going to complain. Not only that, I'm on leave in Perth for the holidays and finding it hard to concentrate on anything beyond the cricket.

The weather is also contributing to my low productivity. It's always hot at this time of year but the usually reliable Fremantle Doctor (afternoon sea-breeze) hasn't made a house call since before Christmas. Instead, we're getting a puffy little late-afternoon westerly that doesn't cool things down but does pump up the humidity. In short, the weather is miserable.

A Larvatus Prodeo post on the hijacking of the blogs of "everyone’s favourite catblogger" (Anonymous Lefty, aka Walter Jeremy Sear) motivated me to stop watching TV and actually do something that requires some effort. AL may be someone's favourite something but in all honesty he is, more than anything, an attention-seeking whiner and victim.

Don't get me wrong, I condemn the hacking of AL's blogs and the flushing of their content, if that is indeed what happened. I do, however, find these events, well, curious. By AL's admission he has an unusual blogging history:
Christmas 2004: Melbourne Lefty blog exposed to my then employer, deleted, and then hijacked by some nefarious fellow with a business selling chemical cures for impotence. (Whereas under me the blog had just caused impotence.)

Christmas 2005: Having pieced together a reasonable guess at my identity from the revelation that my name was Jeremy and that I'd just gone to the Victorian Bar, certain (then ironically anonymous themselves) bloggers launch a campaign to publicise my full name far and wide, whether I want to use a pseudonym or not.

Christmas 2006: Having spent the previous month pretending to be me around the internet, my new stalker deletes my blogs and steals the URLs.
Having a blog hacked and stolen must be pretty rare, but to have it happen twice... what are the chances? I mean, if my blog had been stolen, and unknown people continued to stalk me, I'd be pretty damn careful with my password, changing it regularly and making sure it was too elaborate to guess. Maybe AL took appropriate password precautions and his computer was hacked; he doesn't say but if he had been hacked I think he would have told us. So it looks like someone somehow got his password. It beats me how this might have happened. Regardless, he's had a big whine in the direction of Blogger, complaining that its staff aren't taken the theft seriously. (He might want to read Blogger's terms of service, paying special attention to the part about password security.)

AL also had a recent whine about Google when his Google ads were taken off him for violating the terms of service. Hmm, you'd reckon a lawyer would read and understood the fine print.

It almost seems AL thinks there is a conspiracy to make his life miserable. Today, for example, he has a big sad about council roadworks near his home.

AL has also been involved in numerous whiney spats concerning his real name. Despite it being proven beyond doubt that AL's name is Walter Jeremy Sear, he continued to deny it. This hasn't done his credibility any good.

Anyway, seeing the cat-blogger post at LP made me remember yet another example of AL as victim. It started with AL accusing Iain Hall of stalking him and stealing a cat photo, with thinly veiled threats of legal action. Tim Blair got involved along the way. In the end it turned out AL was not only a chronic user of other people's images, he was also a blatant bandwidth thief. Such behaviour from a lawyer; go figure.

Is AL just a victim of circumstances beyond his control or is the guy contributing to his own back luck? Regardless, I'll bet he isn't finished whining.

Right, back to the sofa.

Update: In comments AL explains that the 2004 blog loss was not a hacking:
No, at Christmas 2004 I deleted it, but didn't realise at the time that once a blogspot blog is deleted it's immediately up for grabs for anyone to take. So I was surprised to find it immediately taken to sell viagra.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Toxoplasma gondii is mother nature's cruel little joke on Australian males:
"Infected men have lower IQs, achieve a lower level of education and have shorter attention spans. They are also more likely to break rules and take risks, be more independent, more anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose, and are deemed less attractive to women."

"On the other hand, infected women tend to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls."
I forgot what I was going to say.

Monday, December 25, 2006


A very Merry Christmas to all.

Those disappointed at Santa's failure to visit can blame Serge Régnier: providing presents for Régnier's kids is a full time job.

Update: Hanging mistletoe is not the done thing in Japan.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Reassuring news for dictator worshipers:
Cuban officials say Castro is not dying and will return to public life.
Lefties shouldn't start celebrating just yet:
A renowned Spanish surgeon has been rushed to Cuba to treat ailing leader Fidel Castro, a Spanish newspaper reported today.

Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist, travelled to the Caribbean island on Thursday aboard an aircraft chartered by the Cuban government, according to Spain's left-leaning El Periodico de Catalunya newspaper.
Hopefully Castro's next public appearance will be in glass-lidded coffin.


Contrary to what you might think, global warming hasn't sent European parents into a panic:
"The grown-ups are handling it far more realistically in Europe than we are here," said Yale child psychiatrist Kyle Pruett, one of several mental health experts I consulted for advice about how to answer an 11-year-old who says "we're doomed." Their advice: Don't push your agenda on your children. Try first to find out what they know, and whether they're worried. If so, emphasize the things they can do, even if it's only finding out more, or switching to fluorescent lightbulbs, or starting a climate-change club at school. "The combination of fear and helplessness is toxic," Pruett said.
God only knows what deluded Americans are telling their children:
Psychologist Madeline Levine in Kentfield, Calif., didn't believe U.S. teens were thinking much about climate change — until she asked several 15-year-olds. "The kids I spoke with are very knowledgeable and incredibly pessimistic. When I asked why they hadn't brought it up before, they said, yeah, well, it really sucks, but nobody's going to give up their car, so we're screwed." Levine now believes that it's less important what parents say than what we do. What our kids need to know most is that adults are acting like grown-ups.
So parents, talking is a waste of time; it's time for action:
If we want to show our kids we mean business about global warming, let's start by ponying up for a carbon tax. Let our children watch us demand this from Washington with the courage and force of the civil rights movement.

As a backup, however — because parents should always have backups — I've been introducing my own children to Buddhist meditation. It has been used for 2,500 years to cope with suffering, anxiety and change — and may be helpful in the hot decades to come.
Ah, for the good old days when nuclear armageddon was the only thing to worry about.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Biologist P.Z. Myers reckons America is "thoroughly screwed up." As evidence he cites the the life term given to Tyrone Brown for smoking marijuana while on parole. Fair enough; that does seem pretty harsh.

But it's a civil matter that Myers is really steamed about:
ExxonMobil was fined $5 billion for their negligence in the Exxon Valdez tanker accident, which they haven't paid and probably plan on never paying. They just got a friendly judge to cut the penalty in half.

Both sentences occurred at about the same time. Tyrone Brown got to sit in jail for half his life for a petty crime. Lee Raymond got to grow fat and obscenely rich after poisoning the environment, and his company lawyers get to play games with the law.
America might well be screwed up but so is Myers: his post is riddled with errors. His first mistake is to rely on Raw Story as a source -- that's where he gets the idea a judge ("friendly" is a Myers embellishment) made the ruling. In reality, the award was reduced in a 2 to 1 judgement by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, reputedly one of the most liberal of federal appeals courts.

Instead of posting a bogus lefty-assumption-based knee-jerk reaction to the ruling, Myers should have clicked the AP link at Raw Story; it provides an excellent overview. Relevant excerpts:
It's the third time the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court ordered the Anchorage court to reduce the $5 billion award, the nation's largest at the time, saying it was unconstitutionally excessive in light of U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

This time, in its 2-1 decision, the court ordered a specific amount in damages, while its previous rulings demanded a lower court come up with its own figures.

"It is time for this protracted litigation to end," Chief Judge Mary Schroeder and Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland of Anchorage begrudgingly complied in 2002, reducing damages to $4 billion. Irving, Texas-based Exxon again appealed.

The following year, the appeals court ordered Holland to revisit his decision, this time balancing it against a new 2003 Supreme Court ruling that said punitive damages usually could not be more than nine times general damages. The Anchorage jury awarded $287 million in general damages - and issued punitive damages that were 17 times that amount.
The court majority said Exxon should pay punitive damages that equal five times the amount of general damages the jury awarded in addition to the more than $200 million the oil giant paid to Alaska natives, fish processors and other businesses and fishing interests. That equals $2.5 billion.

The majority said it could have demanded a higher payment, but Exxon took prompt action to clean up the mess and to compensate victims.

"These mollify, at least to some degree, the reprehensibility in economic terms of Exxon's original misconduct," the court ruled.
Lefties like Myers know America is "screwed up;" they're not about to let facts get in the way.


Not a big fan of Christmas? Neither is Paul, who's as grumpy as ever despite his revent vacation from blogging. Welcome back.


Friday, December 22, 2006


After seven month inside the British National Party a Guardian mole reveals, well, not much.


Back in August Lateline ran a segment titled Scientists consider impact of increased cyclone activity featuring James Cook University cyclone researcher Professor Jonathan Knott. Knott warned that coastal developments are seriously threatened by so called super-cyclones, which will occur more frequently as the oceans continue to warm.

Knott has been warning about super-cyclones since at least as far back as 2001:
"These events occur every two to three hundred years and it has been a couple of hundred years since the last one hit this region here around Cairns. So we know that they're going to occur in the future. We don't know when they will occur, but we know that one will definitely occur in the relatively near future."
According to Knott the last super-cyclone hit Australia in the early 1800s. So, we're obviously overdue. And when one of these super-bad mothers does finally appear it will, of course, be blamed on anthropogenic global warming. It is odd, however, that global warming has yet to produce one of these super-storms. It is after all the hottest it's been in recorded history.


Skynet need not wage a messy war on humans. It (he?) can just sit back and wait until self-reproducing robots outnumber humans and then take control through the ballot box. Painless.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Here's the aftermath of the Perth Ferrari crash -- the photos currently making the rounds on the internet:
Colin Zampatti, nephew of fashion designer Carla Zampatti, has been charged with drink driving after slamming his $300,000 Ferrari into a traffic light.

Mr Zampatti, 42, has now been charged with driving under the influence, a charge which only applies over a 0.15 blood alcohol level – three times the legal limit.

It is also understood Mr Zampatti's insurance will not pay for the damage because he has been charged.

A receptionist at a luxury car dealer in Perth says her business sold Mr Zampatti the second-hand car – worth about $300,000 – just last month.
The photo sequence is here.


Negative response to Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid prompted Jimmy Carter to issue a clarifying letter addressed to American Jews. The letter makes it clear that by apartheid he doesn't really mean apartheid, Carter defining apartheid as "the forced segregation of two peoples living in the same land, with one of them dominating and persecuting the other." You know, like American segregation for 100 years or so following the Civil War. Apartheid is, apparently, included in the title solely for shock value.

The letter also contains a plea for peace, Carter expecting Israel to negotiate with a "government" avowedly committed to her destruction:
When asked my proposals for peace in the Middle East, I summarized by calling for Hamas members and all other Palestinians to renounce violence and adopt the same commitment made by the Arab nations in 2002: the full recognition of Israel's right to exist in peace within its legally recognized 1967 borders (to be modified by mutual agreement by land swaps). This would comply with U.N. Resolutions, the official policy of the United States, commitments made at Camp David in 1978 and in Oslo in 1993, and the premises of the International Quartet's "Roadmap for Peace." An immediate step would be the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, now absent for six years. President Mahmoud Abbas is the official spokesman for the Palestinians, as head of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and has repeatedly called for peace talks. I asked the rabbis to join in an effort to induce the Israeli government to comply with this proposal.
Having designated Israel an apartheid state it seems only fair for Carter to categorize Hamas. Genocidal leaps to mind. Okay, that's probably overly emotive; how about, murderous?

Anyway, Carter says the aim of the book is to open up debate on Palestinian-Israeli issues, with the focus on Israel:
“There is no debate in America about anything that would be critical of Israel.”
It therefore seems odd that Carter refuses to appear at Brandeis University. The problem for Carter is the expectation that he would debate Daniel Pipes, considered by Carter an unworthy opponent:
“I don’t want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz,” Carter told The Boston Globe. “There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine.”
It's obvious that Carter's nothing more than a self-important, self-promoting knob who really should do the right ex-presidential thing and slide quietly into oblivion. The poor guy is arguably America's worst ever president and is determined to be its worst ever ex-president. Some claims to fame.

Just in case anyone needs to be reminded, this isn't Carter's first ill advised ex-presidential international relations adventure. In 1994 he traveled to North Korea hoping to calm tensions. The 82 year-old Kim's sincerity and good health impressed him. Kim was dead within a month.

Carter was not at all impressed with the Clinton administration's response to his efforts:
When I got back to Seoul, I was amazed and distressed at the negative reaction that I had from the White House. They urged me not to come to Washington to give a briefing, urged me to go directly to Plains, my home.
That was some pretty poor advice from the White House; they forgot to tell Carter to shut up.


The ABC has begun to vacate its Toowong studios because of an unusually high number of breast cancers in female staff. An investigation has been unable to pinpoint a cause:
A panel of experts, chaired by Professor Bruce Armstrong, found 10 women have developed breast cancer while working on the site since 1995.

Professor Armstrong says despite extensive testing, the cause has not been found.

But Professor Armstrong says it cannot be put down to chance.
If no cause can be identified it must be chance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


A few forced marriages and a couple of murders and right away there's trouble:
The public image of the Muslim communities have been recently affected by the terrorist acts carried out by Islamic radicals, as well as headscarf debates and discussions on forced marriages and honour killings practised by some Muslims.


Outspoken anti-Zion (but pro-Israel; exactly how that works is unclear) journalist, best-selling author and not-so-successful blogger Antony Loewenstein was a featured guest on yesterday's ABC Radio National Breakfast. Host Paul Barry starts things off with this decidedly strange introduction:
This morning's guest blogger is no stranger to danger...

Antony Loewenstein, is author of the book My Israel Question, released earlier this year. It's a tome that's sparked a kind-of furious debate in the Australian press, and amongst leaders in the Jewish and Muslim communities.
The danger confronting the brave author was only made clear at the end of the segment.

Loewenstein then read an edited version of his blog post, The honest truth is lost in Zionist spin, for some reason omitting his dig at the Australian Jewish News:
The paper seems content to continue describing me as a “rookie author”. They hate the fact that my book has broken through their editorial grasp and no longer relies on whatever coverage the paper deems to provide. I shouldn’t be surprised that being critical of Israel means I’m “anti-Israel.” Again, the Zionist talking points are hardly sophisticated. Perhaps the writer of the article or the editor would like to let me know how many books they’ve written and how successful they’ve become. One colleague said such descriptions are common in student newspapers or community rags. Let’s not forget that the AJN is very good at providing space for marriage notices.
At the end of the reading Paul Barry says, "I can hear the phones out back ringing already." This is a prelude to the subtle Jew bashing ahead. Barry comments on how Loewenstein's book and blog have made him very unpopular with mainstream Jews in Australia and possibly abroad. Loewenstein justifies his position by calling Israel an apartheid state citing Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid as evidence.

After Loewenstein finishes his predictable apartheid shtick Barry says that amongst his many Jewish friends one is staunchly pro-Israel. This friend is "absolutely passionate and vitriolic" in believing the MSM, and the ABC in particular, are pro-Palestine and anti-Jew. In response Loewenstein argues that the MSM is actually consistently pro-Israel.

Barry then asks this very leading question: "Do you find anyone in this country with whom... who doesn't agree with you, with whom you can have a sensible discussion?" Zionists, of course, being incapable of sensible discussion. Barry should have asked if any sensible person in this country agrees with Loewenstein.

At the end of the interview Barry alludes to the danger facing the fearless Loewenstein by suggesting he might want to leave through the back door. What, no armed guard?

Loewenstein's radio spot news comes via the always-worth-reading Opinion Dominion.


Departing UN secretary general Kofi Annan lives in a parallel UN-reality, citing as his most outstanding failures: the Iraq war; the Baghdad bombing that killed UN envoy envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello; and the Oil-for-Food scandal. UN supporters will see none of these as UN failings: the US is to blame for the Iraq war and the Baghdad bombing; and evil companies (like the Australian Wheat Board) are to blame for the Oil-for-Food debacle. According to Annan:
“I think that when historians look at the records they will draw the conclusion that, yes, there was mismanagement and there may have been several UN staff members engaged but the scandal, if any, was in the capitals and with the 2,200 companies that made a deal with Saddam behind our backs and of course I hope the historians will realize that the UN is more than oil-for-food.”
Failures directly attributable to Annan, like Darfur and sexual predation by peace-keepers, don't rate a mention. There is also the little matter of over 800,000 massacred Rwandans but that doesn't really count because Annan was only the head of peace-keeping and not yet secretary general.


The New York Times' political blog The Caucus devoted two Tuesday posts (here and here) to a distinctly non-political but supremely important topic, a sore on Laura Bush's leg. The sore was no ordinary sore, you see, it was a squamous cell carcinoma that was removed in an "operation" under local anesthetic. Not only that, that the sore was cancerous was not revealed until over a month after its removal and, perhaps more importantly, more than a month after the mid-term elections.

In responding to reporters' questions White House press secretary Tony Snow summed up this non-story story quite nicely:
Yes, I talked to her a couple of minutes ago. She’s doing fine. And she said, “It’s no big deal, and we knew it was no big deal at the time.” Frankly I don’t think anybody thought it was the sort of thing that occasioned a need for a public disclosure. Furthermore, she’s got the same right to medical privacy that you do. She’s a private citizen; she’s not an elected official. So for that reason she didn’t disclose it. But she’s doing fine, and thank you for your concern.
The press corps, however, kept pressing him. Gee, it's not obvious the MSM is Bush-hostile, now is it?

Editing note: Barbara Bush, as in the original of this post, was meant to be Laura. Corrected. Duh.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Buy an energy efficient sub-compact car:
Toyota Motor Corp., whose cars and trucks have helped set industry standards for affordable safety, had two of the worst performers in crash tests of the new subcompact sedans that are growing in popularity as motorists seek better gas mileage.

Nissan Motor Co.'s subcompact Versa received the insurance institute's top rating, but institute President Adrian Lund said none of the cars tested provided stellar protection when hit by larger vehicles.

"Tests like these are going to set small cars back a half-decade," said industry analyst Eric Noble of CarLab.
Lefties will now demand large cars be outlawed.


For a seemingly bright guy Mark Bahnisch is quite the slow learner. A while back he got into strife by linking to a Crikey article erroneously claiming Larvatus Prodeo is Australia's best read political blog. Now he's reproduced, accepting as factual, a Crikey article accusing The Daily Telegraph of orchestrating the rise and fall of the New South Wales Young Australian of the Year Iktamil Hage-Ali. According to Bahnisch, this is an "outrageous tale of irresponsible media power."

The problem is, the Crikey article offers not a shred of evidence to support the allegations. Oh yeah, there's also the little matter of the irate response from the Telegraph's editor, David Penberthy. Here's the gist of it:
Crikey’s account today of The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of Iktimal Hage-Ali is an absurd and baseless conspiracy theory.
Bahnisch has neither notified his readers of Penberthy's statement nor acknowledged that the Crikey article is almost certainly fantasy.

authors making stuff up? It has been known to happen.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Americans' craving for junk food is understandable:
A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion — far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.
The report also explains California:
California is responsible for more than a third of the cannabis harvest, with an estimated production of $13.8 billion that exceeds the value of the state's grapes, vegetables and hay combined...
There's a reason why it's called dope.


Lefty blogger Tim Dunlop reckons fisking is lame. Who cares if it's lame, lefty nonsense often cries out to be picked apart.

Tim Lambert's Deltoid, not the best ever science blog, is an especially rich source of fisking material. His latest DDT post -- this one about merely annoying bed bugs rather than malaria transmitting mosquitoes -- is so jam packed with errors that this post could turn out to be a long one.

Here's Lambert:
Brent Herbert debunks some myths about bedbugs and DDT:
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.
So, here we have a science blogger -- contemptuous of the non-peer reviewed writings of RWDBs -- getting his DDT information from an amateur entomologist posting to Indymedia. Herbert's posting is crap and Lambert's an idiot for linking to it.

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.

If bed bugs developed DDT resistance in the 1940s, they did so within two and a half years. DDT only came into general use after World War II, with the government's house spraying program starting in July 1947. (Resistance to alternatives developing much less quickly; over nearly a half century.) Herbert offers no proof that resistance was already a problem in the 1940s or that resistance rendered DDT nearly ineffective by the 1960s.

Herbert's post is jam-packed with ludicrous nonsense:
It is worth noting here that the scientific studies that report wide spread pesticide resistance among bed bugs in the United States are coming under attack by the chemical lobby, and this sort of thing is no surprise, and is much like having the tobacco lobby stating the cigarettes add twenty years onto your life. The chemical lobby does not want to get blamed for a pestilential plague of bed bugs, and so they are attacking the scientific studies which demonstrate that bed bug resistance to pesticides is now wide spread in the United States.
Some examples of these attacks would be nice. But he's only getting started:
One falsehood I have read on bed bug blogs states that 'DDT is non-toxic' and I have also heard this statement in media stories, which is no doubt where a lot of the urban legends on the bed bug blogs have their origins. The point to be made here is that all toxins are toxic, to both bed bugs and human beings, with the only differences being in the required dosage and the length of exposure.
What a dummy; everything in excess is toxic. Creatures have differing susceptibilities: humans can consume large quantities of chocolate or onions but should avoid feeding either to dogs, to which both are moderately toxic. Now it's time for the example of an ordinary substance used for the ultimate evil:
It is worth remembering here that Hitler used a common insecticide (Zyklon) to kill Jews in the gas chambers, this insecticide being the same product that was being used at the time to clear German homes of such pests as cockroaches and bed bugs, and when applied in larger concentration, was also effective in the gas chambers when employed against human beings.
Zyklon B releases hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is extremely poisonous and was never a common insecticide. After the Nazi connection it's the xenophobes' turn:
There have been reports that immigrants are responsible for our bed bug plague, but this turns out to be disinformation as well, since if immigrants were bringing over their bed bugs then we would expect to see a plague of tropical bed bugs, but samples taken of the bugs in North America and Europe show that the bug that is spreading is the common temperate bed bug, and thus not an import brought to our pristine shores by unsanitary immigrants...
The U.S. takes only tropical immigrants? After more "chemical lobby" bashing Herbert does some amateur science:
That repeated spraying of stubborn infestations of bed bugs increases resistance is just a logical outcome, in that by thinning out the herd a process of artificial selection takes place, with the weak eliminated and the strong surviving. When a weak bed bug with low resistance mates with a bed bug with strong resistance, experiments reveal that the result is a bed bug with medium resistance. When weak bed bugs are eliminated the result is that there is no competition for mates for the strongly resistant bed bugs and so the off spring of such bed bugs are always strongly resistant bed bugs. If such strongly resistant bed bugs then flee the premises after being sprayed one to many times this may be celebrated as a successful extermination process, thus sparing the chemical lobby the embarrassment of admitting to an environmental disaster, the real result is the spreading plague of resistant bed bugs.
Who's the bigger idiot: Herbert for writing such atrocious crap or blogger Lambert for linking to it?

There's plenty more hilarity in the article if you can be bothered reading it.

Update: I lodged the following comment at Deltoid (it was in moderation for over eight hours):
Amateur entomologist Brent Herbert wrote: “Bed bugs developed resistance to DDT in the 1940s…”

This pretty hard to believe. DDT wasn’t widely available to the public until after World War II, with the government’s house spraying program starting in July 1947. So, according to Herbert bed bugs showed signs of resistance within 2 1/2 years but other insecticides remained effective for the best part of half a century.

Brent Herbert also wrote: “The chemicals have not changed, and they remain as toxic as they ever were, only the bed bug has changed.”

This is so obviously stupid it doesn’t deserve comment.

Great source you’ve chosen here.
Despite my comment being the first I was accused of trolling by trying to drag the thread "off topic".

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Reuters implicates the U.S. in the growing conflict between opposing Palestinian groups:
Masked gunmen killed an officer of an elite force loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in a dawn raid on a Gaza training camp, a day after Abbas called for new elections amid growing tensions with Hamas.

Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, denied the group had been involved in the attack, the first of its kind against the U.S.-backed 3,500-strong force, telling Reuters: "This is a wrong and irresponsible accusation."
It would be nice if Reuters elaborated on the "backing" being provided by the U.S..

Update: The following comment, lodged over eight hours ago, is still in moderation at Deltoid:
Amateur entomologist Brent Herbert wrote: “Bed bugs developed resistance to DDT in the 1940s…”

This pretty hard to believe. DDT wasn’t widely available to the public until after World War II, with the government’s house spraying program starting in July 1947. So, according to Herbert bed bugs showed signs of resistance within 2 1/2 years but other insecticides remained effective for the best part of half a century.

Brent Herbert also wrote: “The chemicals have not changed, and they remain as toxic as they ever were, only the bed bug has changed.”

This is so obviously stupid it doesn’t deserve comment.

Great source you’ve chosen here.
Lambert's real big on free speech, as long as it's him doing the talking.


As the BBC reports, German forces in Afghanistan are executing a "charm offensive":
"I think it's important to show people we're here to help them and not to occupy them," Lt Joerg Langer explained.

"We have different projects, in schools and elsewhere to assist the people so that they can build up their infrastructure."
The locals are clearly impressed:
"The British army, a bit, but the American armies more, in the south, already had a bad relation with people, not like the Germans," Bashir complained.

"They didn't behave good in the first time and now people hate them in the south. When they wanted to find Taleban, they randomly got in the house of the people without permission.

"It happened repeatedly and it's against Afghan culture. This never happened in the north between Germans and northern people."
There are, of course, reasons why the Germans are so charming and casual:
The Germans admit that the ethnic mix of northern Afghanistan, populated by Tajiks and Uzbeks, makes it easier to come to an understanding with the local community, than say for the British troops operating in the more hostile Pashtun-dominated south.

They also concede that Nato troops from Britain, America, Canada and Holland put themselves at much greater risk. But Germany remains reluctant to send its troops down south to back up Nato allies fighting the Taleban.
Sort of makes you yearn for the German army of old, now don't it?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe threatens the Canadian government:
"Mr. Harper will need to rapidly and profoundly change the Canadian mission in Afghanistan... We will not be accomplices of an obtuse government who would stubbornly maintain the current course," he said. "If Mr. Harper refuses to make changes and remains incapable of getting better co-operation from our allies, we will not hesitate to withdraw our support and if we have to, defeat his government on the Afghan issue."
Uh, if allies aren't doing the right thing, it might be a good idea to get stuck into them and not your fellow Canadians. Sorry, I forgot French Canadians don't see themselves as Canadian.


Canadian Waddah Mustapha was awarded $341,775 following a tragic incident that left him traumatized:
“He pictures flies walking on animal feces or rotten food and then being in his supposedly pure water,” Judge Brockenshire said. “He has been constipated, is bothered by revolting mental images of flies on feces, etc., can no longer take long and enjoyable showers and instead, after lengthy treatment, can only take perfunctory showers with his head down so the water does not strike his face.”
So, what happened to produce such profound results? Mustapha saw a fly floating in an unopened bottle of water. The award has been overturned on appeal with Mustapha ordered to pay $30,000 costs. Now I'll bet that really bugs him.

Mustapha can be glad he doesn't live in Australia, where everyone swallows a fly now and then.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali asks (and then answers) a pertinent question about Iran's holocaust denial festival:
What's striking about Ahmadinejad's conference is the (silent) acquiescence of mainstream Muslims. I cannot help but wonder: Why is there no counter-conference in Riyadh, Cairo, Lahore, Khartoum or Jakarta condemning Ahmadinejad? Why are the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference silent on this?

Could the answer be as simple as it is horrifying: For generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed — that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such? In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust. If Ahmadinejad has his way, he shall not want for compliant Muslims ready to act on his wish.
Could be.


Non-profit organization Greenfleet offers Australians a low-cost opportunity to make their cars carbon neutral:
For $40 (tax deductible), Greenfleet will plant 17 native trees on your behalf. These trees will help to create a forest, and as they grow will absorb the greenhouse gases that your car produces in one year (based on 4.3 tonnes of CO2 for the average car*).
Plenty of Australians have signed up:
Since 1997, Greenfleet has planted more than 2 million trees on behalf of Australian motorists and fleets. These forests will not be harvested and will create an investment in rural Australia for future generations.
The program is, however, not without problems:
Greenfleet, one of the nation's leading organisations helping individuals and companies offset carbon emissions, has for nearly three years been unable to find enough NSW land to plant the trees its subscribers have paid for.

In Queensland, a new property owner refused to recognise an agreement between his predecessor and Greenfleet. He bulldozed 20,000 trees, which then had to be replanted elsewhere.
Not only are they behind schedule, Greenfleet just plants the trees, it doesn't tend them or follow-up to see how they're doing. And despite Greenfleet's good intentions, planting trees to fight global warming is possibly a waste of time:
"What we have found is in the so-called mid-latitude region where the United States is located and majority of European countries are located, the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero," said ecologist Govindasamy Bala of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"[In] the seasonally snow-covered regions [at even higher latitudes], planting new trees could be actually counter-productive," he told BBC News.

The team's modelling predicts that planting more trees in mid- and high-latitude locations could lead to a net warming of a few degrees by the year 2100.
So, we can do like Al Gore and buy some carbon credits to make us feel good about ourselves or, if we want to make a really meaningful contribution, we can buy chain saws and cut down some of those heat-trapping northern forests. The wood can be used to build rafts for polar bears.

Friday, December 15, 2006


A British team of experts proposes a range of tough anti-fat measures:
*Printing a helpline numbers for advice with all clothes sold with a waist of more than 40in for men and 37in for boys, women’s garments with a waist of more than 35in or size 16 or above, and more than 31in for girls

*Banning the placement of sweets and fatty snacks at or near shop tills and at children’s eye level

*Taxing processed foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat

*Introducing health checks for all school leavers, both primary and secondary

*Allowing new urban roads only if they have cycle lanes

*Establishing a dedicated central agency responsible for all aspects of obesity
Why not just tax people according to Body Mass Index? That should get people to put down their forks.


Over the past few days a dispute over Antony Loewenstein's comment censorship has been simmering at Madhab Al-Irfy, one of Muslim lawyer Irfan Yusuf's blogs. Daniel Lewis correctly maintains that Loewenstein doesn't allow dissenting comments; anonymous commenters disagree.

The until now minor dispute has taken a nasty turn with the posting of the following threat:
Daniel Lewis of *********** ***, you have been writing racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim letters to major newspapers in Australia for some time now. You have also been writing similar messages on Tim Blair's blog.

Admit it or I will post your address and telephone number here.
Bear in mind that the comment appears at a moderated blog, with Yusuf vetting all comments. It's interesting the comment was allowed to be posted.

* I removed the suburb name to help protect Lewis's privacy (it may not be the correct suburb anyway); Yusuf should at least have done the same.

Update: The threatening comment has been removed.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Hurricane experts attending a workshop organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) were unable to agree on global warming's impact, if any, on tropical cyclone (hurricane) frequency and intensity but still managed a consensus press release:
Still, in spite of the controversy, the 125 experts gathered by the WMO did agree that "given the consistency between high resolution global models, regional hurricane models and 'maximum potential intensity' theories, it is likely that some increase in tropical cyclone intensity will occur if the climate continues to warm".
It's also "likely" that "some" scientists are twits.


Journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is writing a book on the Australian media to be published by Random House in 2007. I hope Random House knows what it's doing.

A book on the media is likely to be quote-rich; the problem is, Loewenstein has serious quote-accuracy issues. His best-selling My Israel Question contains quotes reconstructed after the fact; the source disputing their accuracy. He also took liberties when quoting Mark Steyn's address to the Big Ideas Forum.

Loewenstein has now quoted George W. Bush saying:
Although the Bush administration is bogged down in Iraq, I’ve long feared, like Seymour Hersh, that a military strike against Iran becomes more likely the worse Iraq descends. It may be the mother of all distractions or because as Bush has said, "saving Iran is going to be [my] legacy".
The original quote, from a New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh, reads as follows:
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
So, Loewenstein has taken an already dubious fourth-hand Chinese whispers quote and deliberately altered it. It's just a bid odd that Loewenstein has manufactured a Bush quote when he damns MSM journalists who uncritically swallow government spin:
The majority of journalists are clearly so supine and unthinking that any path other than complete obedience to the state is unimaginable. Just like Soviet times, in fact.
Uncritical acceptance of the government line is laziness; manufacturing quotes is lying. Crikey does its credibility, such as it is, no favours by publishing Loewenstein's poorly written, factually incorrect rubbish.

Update: Crikey:
Our writer got it wrong -- the observation should not have appeared in quotation marks or been attributed to the US President. We apologise for the error.
Loewenstein doesn't do corrections: the uncorrected article still appears at his blog.

Update II: To test whether Loewenstein censors comments I've lodged the following at his blog:
Crikey has published the following correction in relation to the Bush quote you cite above:
[Loewenstein] got it wrong -- the observation should not have appeared in quotation marks or been attributed to the US President. We apologise for the error.
Since the "error" was yours, shouldn't you also apologise?
Let's see if it makes it out of moderation.

Update: It's been more than 24 hours and Loewenstein hasn't corrected. My comment is still in moderation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The food Nazis are now attacking good old Saint Nick:
THE festive image of a fat, jolly Santa could be sending out the wrong message in the fight against obesity, experts warned yesterday.

Dr Miles Fisher, consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: "Santa is the archetypal picture of abdominal obesity."

He added: "The image of Santa is of a round, jolly person and it is meant to be one of hilarity, but if you have obesity around your tummy, then it is very bad for you.
The article reveals what's driving the anti-fat campaign, drug companies sensing money to be made:
In a bid to raise awareness of the impact of abdominal obesity, drugs company Sanofi-aventis sponsored a poll of 40 Santas working in shopping centres across Scotland.

Research has shown that a waist circumference of more than 40in in men or 35in in women indicates an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Commercial exploitation of Christmas; who would have believed it?


Turkish aircraft maintenance workers know how to party, 7th century style:
WORKERS at Turkish Airlines celebrated a job well done by sacrificing a camel at Istanbul airport and their boss has now been suspended.

The national flag-carrier said today maintenance staff killed the camel at Turkey's busiest airport after sending a batch of aircraft back to the supplier ahead of schedule.


German animal lovers worry that lights on a giant ferris wheel slated for construction in Berlin will so distract rhinos in a nearby zoo that they'll forget to have sex. If rhinos are so easily distracted they'll probably go extinct regardless.


Lefty Brent Herbert describes his battle with bedbugs. Along the way he makes a number of discoveries: he does not have "shin splinters;" bedbugs feigned extinction in order to escape extinction; and a previously unkown species of bedbug lives in a cardboard box in his bedroom. Read the whole thing -- it starts off slow but gets better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Dr Ziggy Switkowski's report on nuclear power is taking criticism from educated guessers:
The taskforce concluded that 25 nuclear reactors could produce a third of Australia's electricity by 2050. Dr Switkowski even suggested the first plant could be up and running in 10 years.

The review panel, however, thinks that's not realistic.

[Dr]JIM PEACOCK: We calculated that, and did it as carefully as we were able to, I mean it's all educated guesswork, if you like, we felt that the 10 years was probably an underestimate, and we felt 15 years was more likely to be the case, even if, you know, we started on some of the things that needed to be done in the near future.
ABC interviewer Sabra Lane was determined to get something more damning than that out of Peacock:
SABRA LANE: Your review panel also found that the taskforce underestimated the challenges confronting Australia, should it choose to expand the industry. What has it underestimated?

JIM PEACOCK: Well, I think we were, we probably used that wordage, if that's what we did, in relation to those various issues I just mentioned. But in particular, we were mindful of the lack of trained people in Australia at the moment and the numbers needed for people to run, to develop, build and run such power stations.

And we really don't have the right sort of training courses in our universities or other institutions now, and even if we choose the option, which we probably should, while we're developing such courses, of sending people away to other places in the world where that training could be taken right away, we still think it's quite a challenge and it will involve much larger numbers than was mentioned in the draft report.

SABRA LANE: Is the task, is the report misleading?

JIM PEACOCK: No, I don't think it's misleading. I mean, it … what … the timing and the number of trained people, they're very important points, and they're things that both the taskforce and ourselves, I guess, would indicate Australia needs to address and begin to act on right away.

Now, it's still educated guesswork as to exactly how long the various phases would take.
Peacock tried hard to come across as neutral but did eventually let loose a Freudian slip:
If we are to introduce nuclear power into the portfolio of power generation options that we will have in future Australia, there's the possible legacy of any accidents that might occur. But we indicated that that has to be considered very carefully and as far as possible non-emotionally, and those two punitive or potential legacies weighed up one against the other.
Introduce nuclear power and wait for the punishment that's sure to come.


Recently while searching for something -- I can't remember what; it isn't important anyway -- I happened upon a really interesting site, Famous Muslims. Famous scientists is a particularly informative category with a short biography for each of the 23 scientists covered. Interestingly, all of the scientists save one are from over 500 years ago. The one famous modern Muslim scientist? A. Q. Khan.


Former KKK grand-poobah David Duke, at Iran's holocaust denial festival:
"I think Israel is a terrorist state. It is the number one terrorist state in the world."
Severely leftarded author and journalist Antony Loewenstein, at the Brisbane Writer's Festival:
"Israel’s supporters claim it is the only democracy in the Middle East. This is a lie. Israel’s behaviour in the West Bank and Gaza are the tactics of a rogue, terror state."

"It’s time for Jews to stop blaming everybody else for Israeli failures. Enough with the Holocaust, alleged Palestinian “terror” and victimhood"
Blair's Law in action.


Using super-computers to model the effects of a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, scientists arrive at a startling conclusion:
The scientists said that smoke from a regional conflict would spread across the entire world within weeks and even produce a cooling effect as the sun's rays are partially blocked.

"This is not a solution to global warming..."

Monday, December 11, 2006


The funtelligent Myers Motors NmG. Fugly.

Now that you've looked at one of the world's ugliest sights, try the worst sounds.


Journalist, blogger, best selling author, anti-Israel crusader and Macquarie University Centre for Middle East and North African Studies board member Antony Loewenstein again proves he doesn't have a clue:
Ever since the Hamas win in Palestine in late January this year – and the international community’s shameful shunning of it, since the “wrong” party had gained power – we are told that Hamas is unwilling to negotiate with Israel and continues to want the Jewish state’s destruction. I don’t doubt many Hamas members may well want this, but the group’s public statements suggest otherwise. In late November, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, on the eve of his first foreign tour, said he could conceivably imagine a Palestinian state outside Israel’s 1967 borders, putting in doubt the organisation’s long-held commitment to a Palestinian state in all of Palestine, including Israel. This information simply doesn’t get reported in the Australian mainstream press.
Haniyeh in today's Independent:
"We will never recognise the Zionist government. We will continue the jihad until Jerusalem is liberated."

The Hamas leader added after meeting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline Iranian President: "We support the Palestinian people's right to resistance and its right to cancel the cruel agreements that we signed in the past with the occupation regime."
In the same article:
Hamas has threatened to resort to violence if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, calls early elections after the breakdown of negotiations for a national unity government between the Islamist party, which won a surprise parliamentary majority last January, and his more pragmatic Fatah.
Regardless, Loewenstein doesn't see Hamas as a terrorist organization:
A growing number of media organisations want us all to define groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah as simply terrorist organisations. They are not. Indeed, I wouldn’t define either as terror groups – though both have engaged in terrorist acts – but rather socio-political entities.
Socio-political entity supporter certainly sounds better than terrorist supporter.

Update: For the latest, go here.


Professor Mike Jackson has doubts about dire global warming predictions. But his views won't count as he's merely emeritus professor of environmental health and not a climate scientist. Anyway, there's bound to be an error or two in his article for global warming true believers to use to discredit him -- over to you, Tim Lambert.


On his first full day on the job Labor spokesman for climate change and the environment Peter Garrett rolls up his sleeves and screws up:
During a radio interview this morning, the Labor leader intervened when Mr Garrett was questioned about a local water issue.

The interviewer asked: "The Government's Traveston Crossing dam is before the Federal Government - do you support the proposal?"

Mr Garrett appeared unsure of where Traveston Crossing was.

"The dam that they want to build outside Queensland, outside of Brisbane?" he asked.

"No, the Traveston Crossing dam," the interviewer answered, before Mr Rudd intervened.
Answers like that explain why Garrett was more interested in singing than lawyering.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Joe Queenan quite likes Clint Eastwood's Flags Of Our Fathers and tries to explain to Guardian readers why it's a flop in the U.S.:
Because the USA is now mired in a war it appears to have no chance of winning, Eastwood may have picked the worst possible moment to make this film. There is a good chance that Americans on the left are avoiding the film because they mistakenly believe it is a flag-waving venture, while people on the right are avoiding it because America is losing the war in Iraq, and Flags reminds them of a time when America didn't lose wars.
I think the movie hasn't done well because Americans aren't willing to pay to see a movie that delivers a much-ado-about-nothing government bashing; not when the MSM does that every day for free.


Organic foods sales are soaring not because consumers think they're more nutritious (they're not) but because organic farming methods are thought to be environment friendly. They're not:
Perhaps the most eminent critic of organic farming is Norman Borlaug, the father of the “green revolution”, winner of the Nobel peace prize and an outspoken advocate of the use of synthetic fertilisers to increase crop yields. He claims the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is “ridiculous” because organic farming produces lower yields and therefore requires more land under cultivation to produce the same amount of food. Thanks to synthetic fertilisers, Mr Borlaug points out, global cereal production tripled between 1950 and 2000, but the amount of land used increased by only 10%. Using traditional techniques such as crop rotation, compost and manure to supply the soil with nitrogen and other minerals would have required a tripling of the area under cultivation. The more intensively you farm, Mr Borlaug contends, the more room you have left for rainforest.
Funny how consensus doesn't guarantee validity.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Embarrassing news from the subcontinent:
CONDOMS designed to meet international size specifications are too big for many Indian men as their penises fall short of what manufacturers had anticipated, an Indian study has found.


The Weblog Awards, billed as "the world's largest blog competition," includes Tim Lambert's Deltoid as a finalist in the Best Science Blog category. Deltoid's inclusion makes the competition a joke.

Lambert doesn't blog his area of expertise (computers) or science in general, he blogs politics. This alone makes his nomination as a "science blog" questionable.

Lancet Iraq, DDT and global warming feature prominently in recent Deltoid posts. Lambert's Lancet posts, with commenters interminably arguing points of statistical minutiae, are of interest only to lefties wanting to confirm preexisting assumptions -- the Lancet Iraq surveys are nothing more than elaborate estimates not worth arguing about.

Lambert's global warming posts are simply news blogging (analysis is superficial at best). In them he is inclined to misrepresent things in an attempt to score political points -- examples here and here. This is not only questionable, it's not science.

It's Lambert DDT posts, however, that make his nomination ludicrous: nearly everything he writes on the subject (and it's a lot) is either wrong or misleading. Here, for example, is a recent example of the DDT rubbish he consistently cranks out. Despite being caught out numerous times, he steadfastly refuses to correct his misrepresentations.

Lambert has repeatedly insisted DDT was never banned (de facto or otherwise) and that the European Union never threatened trade sanctions against user countries (Lambert continues to bounce my links to his old blog: copy and paste ). In fact, the World Health Organization's general hostility to DDT use for indoor residual spraying (IRS) amounted to a de facto ban. And, the European Union did preemptively threaten repercussions against countries contemplating using DDT for IRS:
If Uganda is to use DDT for malaria control, it is advisable to do so under strictly controlled circumstances. The country would also have to set up a parallel system to monitor foodstuffs for the presence of DDT. This would ensure that any contamination of foodstuffs is detected and corrective measures taken. However, these measures may not be sufficient to allay the fears of individual consumers of Uganda’s food products in the EU.

The EU would therefore urge Government to consider the wider implications of the use of DDT before a decision is taken.
These supposedly nonexistent threats are so widely known the EU has seen fit to restate its position:
The issue of EU controls on DDT residues in products exported to the EU and its implications for the use of DDT to fight malaria in Africa has arisen a number of times. It is a sensitive issue where the EU has been strongly criticised for putting selfish food safety concerns in relation to DDT ahead of the huge human costs of malaria in Africa. A number of NGOs have been active in this respect. These allegations are unfounded. DDT is not a problem in relation to food exports from Uganda or other African countries to the EU. Moreover, the EU is confident that the appropriate controls can be put in place to ensure that DDT is used to combat malaria without risk to food safety.
Scientist Lambert is too busy scoring political points to inform his readers of any of this. Black Africans can, however, see the situation as it is:
THE European Union (EU) has given Uganda the green light to use DDT in the fight against malaria.

Critics believe the [new] stance follows pressure from rights groups, NGOs and the US after heated debates in which the issue boiled down to a matter of ‘european wealth vs African health’.
Deltoid does deserve to win a blog award: category: questionable science.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Sheik Hussein Barre Rage has ordered harsh punishment for Somalis who fail to pray five times a day:
Those who do not follow the prayer edict after three days have elapsed, "will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law," Rage told The Associated Press by phone. "As Muslims we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do."
Cool, forced piety.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


An inquiry into Australia's military education system has found no evidence of institutional support for bullying. Changes have been recommended nonetheless:
The inquiry team was impressed with the emphasis on improving the culture but recommended better balance between military notions of "kill and capture" with concepts like "care and nurture".
What the hell is this, queer eye for the military guy?


In covering the confirmation hearings of prospective defense secretary Robert Gates the ABC headline trumpets, "US Defence Secretary declares Iraq war a failure." When all is said and done the war might prove a failure but Gates hasn't declared it so:
KIM LANDERS: Twice today Robert Gates was asked point blank if the US is winning the war in Iraq, and twice he replied "No", although a few hours later he sought to clarify that.

ROBERT GATES: Only because I'm concerned that the troops in the field might have misunderstood something I said, and I certainly stand by my statement this morning that I agreed with General Pace that we are not winning, but we are not losing.

But I want to make clear that pertains to the situation in Iraq as a whole. Our military forces win the battles that they fight.
The real failure here is the ABC's inability to simply report the news, not manufacture it.


Higher temperatures have an upside, for grey seals, anyway:
This allowed a greater number of previously unsuccessful males to copulate with them, and decreased the dominant males' access to females. The result is an increase in genetic diversity in these populations of grey seals.
Guess I'll have to stick with alcohol.


Not surprisingly, the festival of hate continues at Tim Dunlop's Blogocracy, with 13 of the last 20 posts directed at the Howard government. And with two posts in two days devoted to the Howard government's supposedly dishonest interest rate advertising during the 2004 election campaign, it's obvious Dunlop sees this as a big deal.

In his first post Dunlop claims the government promised during the 2004 campaign to"[k]eep interest rates at record lows," linking to a campaign ad as proof. When I point out that the actual wording of ad does not support his argument he attempts to fob me off by accusing me of "parsing."

Dunlop's second post is an attempt to save face after being caught out making stuff up in the first. He now claims the government's interest rate campaigning was merely "misleading," linking to a Sydney Morning Herald article as proof. In comments he offers a short Howard quote as further proof:
"What I promised Jim was that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition Government than they would be under Labor."
Astute politician that he is, Mr. Howard's wording of this promise is very tricky -- it's impossible to tell exactly what he's promising. It's therefore impossible for the government to have broken this imprecise promise.

Anyway, Dunlop doesn't provide a link to Howard's quote, probably because he doesn't want his readers to read the whole August 2006 interview, which includes Howard's response to hassling from an unnamed reporter:
Well I don’t run away from what I said. What I said in the election campaign was that interest rates would always be lower under a Coalition Government than Labor and taking today’s increase into account, let me give you the figures. Thirteen years of Labor, housing interest rates averaged 12 and three-quarters per cent and peaked at 17. Under 10 years of a Coalition Government housing interest rates have averaged 7.25 per cent, a five-and-a-half percentage points difference. Judge me on my record, look at the field evidence and that supports the proposition that interest rates will always be lower under the Coalition than under Labor.
So, according to Howard the promise was kept.

Anyway, Dunlop's two posts are at least as misleading as the government's interest rate campaigning. If such behaviour is unacceptable for politicians it should also be unacceptable for bloggers. Dunlop needs to lift his game.

In related news, New South Wales Treasurer Michael Costa today criticized the government's handling of interest rates:
Mr Costa said there had been at least one interest rate rise too many in recent times, and called on Mr Costello to be prepared to take the unusual step of blocking further increases.

"Going forward, he has an opportunity to stop another interest rate increase if it's proposed," Mr Costa told reporters.
Australian Business Limited quickly responded, "Mr Costa's proposal is straight forward madness." Lefty madness.


According to the Australian Bureau Of Meteorology:
Australia is the driest inhabited continent even though some areas have annual rainfall of over 1200 millimetres. Our climate is highly variable - across the continent generally, as well as from year-to-year. We must learn to live with drought!
The current drought has gone from bad to worse:
The National Climate Centre (NCC) says the drought has intensified, especially during November, as a result of a severe lack of rain and hot temperatures.

Senior climatologist Grant Beard says conditions are now the worst they have been since the 2002 drought.
It's good to see a senior climatologist resist the urge to engage in scare tactics aiming to link the drought to global warming:
AUSTRALIA was in the middle of its worst drought in 1000 years, Prime Minister John Howard was told yesterday.

The stark warning was delivered to Mr Howard and three premiers by River Murray Water general manager David Dreverman.
Farmers are doing it tough at the moment; bullshit isn't going to help them.


Japan's pachinko obsession is funding North Korea's nuclear program:
Pachinko, deeply loved in Japan, is an industry largely run by ethnic Koreans, and experts have long believed the revenues are a vital source of hard currency for the impoverished Pyongyang regime.

The machines are believed to rake in more than 27 trillion yen a year, some of which finds its way to North Korea. Official figures put the sum of remittances to North Korea from sources in Japan at 3 billion yen in fiscal 2005, more than 90 percent of which was hand-delivered.

But the bookkeeping is murky and some think the real sum could be as high as to 10 billion yen. No one knows how much of it derives directly from pachinko and how much from another major source of income for North Korea in Japan -- imported methamphetamines.
Nuclear weapons financed by fake bank notes, gambling and drugs; the next thing you know, Las Vegas will have the bomb.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Palestinian suicide bomber Fatma al-Najar's daughter explains why her 70 year-old mother self-detonated:
"She blew herself up because she loved her home, she loved paradise and she loved the mujahideen."
Love for the 80 family members left behind was obviously somewhere down the list of love priorities.


Kofi Annan has announced a new policy allowing "zero tolerance" of sexual exploitation by peace-keepers. This replaces the U.N.'s existing policy of taking "zero notice" of sexual exploitation. Anyway, this harsh new policy has been a long time in the making:
Three years ago, the Secretary-General instituted special measures spelling out prohibited sexual conduct applied to all UN staff, as well as uniformed personnel. In his remarks to the conference, he said those steps had been effective.

“Today, our personnel are better informed about what is expected of them. Allegations of exploitation and abuse are being handled in a more systematic and professional manner. Staff who commit such acts are being fired. And uniformed peacekeeping personnel are being sent home and barred from future peacekeeping service, and also in the expectation that their own governments will deal with them.”
Sexual predators can probably expect their crimes will go unpunished:
Under UN regulations, military personnel cannot be prosecuted in the country where they are serving, and it is up to the courts in their home countries to prosecute crimes committed.

The UN said it had firm knowledge of only two concrete examples of sex offenders being sent to jail, although it believed there could be others it did not know about.
More resolute action from the inert U.N. bureaucracy.


The latest issue of Oil & Gas Journal, oops sorry, American Scientist, contains a really interesting article on the very important and unexplained but almost totally overlooked leveling off of atmospheric methane concentration. This could prove bad news for global warming's true believers:
Worry over the effects of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide in the air has become a familiar theme in public discourse about climate change. But news accounts (and movies by former Vice Presidents) that focus exclusively on CO2 in discussing global warming neglect an inconvenient truth: Other gaseous emissions add substantially to the atmosphere's ability to trap heat. In particular, methane (CH4) produces a climate forcing that is more than a third of that produced by carbon dioxide. The concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have both risen dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution, but unlike its more familiar greenhouse-gas cousin, atmospheric methane has recently stopped increasing in abundance.

This happy development wasn't entirely unanticipated, given that the rate of increase has been slowing for at least a quarter-century. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicated many of its conclusions on scenarios in which methane concentrations would continue growing for decades to come. Thus the recent stabilization of methane levels is something that some scientists are trying very hard to explain.
Jeez, this silly debate just won't go away.