Thursday, April 30, 2009

George Carlin on saving the planet

Why is it that it's comedians who are making more sense about environmental matters than the Greenshirts themselves?

Maybe they are just better at recognising b*llshit?

He clearly sees what unbelievable arrogance and hubris is involved in thinking we can either threaten or save the planet.

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Manne overboard

Andrew Bolt – Friday, May 01, 09 (01:40 pm)

Gerard Henderson is surprised that Australia’s official Most Influential Public Intellectual has so often and so manically sought to stifle debate.
Henderson traces the no-argument history of Robert Manne, whose intolerance of dissent has now landed him in yet another nasty brawl, this time at The Monthly - or, as it is to be renamed, The Manne. Interestingly, Henderson manages to identify more Manne hypocrisies than Manne can “stolen” children.

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Swine flu - CALM DOWN!

Sigh. The media and conspiracy theorists and nutcase losers are all going at it hammer and tongs.

A Republican congresswoman from the US has archly observed that the last time there was an outbreak of swine flu in America another Democrat, ie Jimmy Carter, was the president and with the heavy insinuation that this couldn't just be a coincidence!

Too bad the president at the time was actually the Republican Gerald Ford.

And YES!, there is nothing new about an outbreak of swine flu people.

To put this into some context, the number of confirmed cases (as at the time Sandy from Junkfood Science wrote this article) was 117.

The number of news stories about swine flu? 117,607.

Though the situation is not helped when the director general of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan, stupidly says “It is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”

Okay, in one sense that is correct. A pandemic is by definition a worldwide event and there is some level of threat. But we still do not know what level of threat precisely and, to be honest, you'd have to say the initial indications are that this isn't going to be any more severe than most epidemics of flu.

One statistic that also helps put the current situation into its proper context is this - every year in the United States between 30,000 and 50,000 people die from influenza.

In just one week recently - 12-18 April - there were 25,925 recorded cases of influenza in the States, with 55 children dying of the disease.

The current death toll in the US from swine flu is one. A two year old Mexican child with underlying health problems, who had been airlifted in a serious condition to a hospital in Texas.

There's more at the Junkfood Science link above. Do yourself a favour and read what Sandy has to say and, for Christ's sake, calm down.

The other thing that worries me in situations like this is the tendency for governments to feel they have to be seen to DO SOMETHING. Anything, as long as they appear to be in control of things. Oh dear. We all know how that so often ends up, don't we

Andrew Bolt surveys a history of hysterical headlines:

“We could have a billion people dying worldwide” - the great bird flu scare of 2005 that killed 257

“Apocalypse bug!” and “Killer virus” (CNN and Newsweek respectively) - the great Ebola scare of 1995 that killed 800 people in Africa

“The projections are that the virus will kill one million Americans.” (US Health, Education and Welfare Department) - the great swine flu scare of 1976, during which just one American died from the virus, but another 33 from the vaccinations the US Government ordered in its Do Something panic

“Race to prevent world epidemic” - the great bird flu scare of 1997 that killed six people

“Could have a similar impact to the 1918 flu epidemic that killed 50 million” (BBC) - the great SARS scare of 2003, which killed around 1,000

He ends with the very sensible question "We know life is too short to forever fear a wild new way of dying. Um, don’t we?"

(Okay, had to pull this from the comments left for his post. Somebody said that with the current state of the federal budget, we should be afraid of Swan Flu instead.

To which somebody else replied "Just the thought of getting the Swan Flu gives me a Ruddache."

Well, I thought it was funny.)

Finally -

No man, nor any body of men, is good enough, or wise enough, to dispense with the tonic of criticism” – T H Huxley

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Swine Flu Is Evolution in Action

Health Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:55:24 am PDT

Last weekend in a post about swine flu, I remarked that the appearance of this virus is a perfect example of rapid evolution in action. Amazingly, this triggered a couple of emails from people denying that viruses evolve, and one comment from a reader who said I was “becoming an extremist” because I pointed out this simple, uncontroversial fact.

Here’s an article at LiveScience on this subject, with statements from other extremists such as bioengineers and wildlife researchers: Swine Flu Is Evolution in Action.
While much of the modern controversy over evolution centers around whether humans evolved from non-human primates (scientists overwhelmingly agree this is the case), some people still try to poke holes in the theory of evolution, one of the most solid theories in science. In addition to evidence from ancient fossils and modern DNA studies, one of the many lines of evidence supporting evolution is that it can quite simply be seen in action among some species that evolve particularly rapidly, such as fruit flies.

But on no stage does evolution unfold more quickly or with more potentially sickening or lethal consequences for humans than among viruses. It is, to pass on a scary phrase used among scientists and marketers, viral evolution. And you could be the star host of this all-too-often deadly show.

The sudden ability of the new swine flu virus to hop from pigs to humans and then to skip from person to person, at least in Mexico, is an excellent example of evolution at work.

“Yes, this is definitely evolution,” said Michael Deem, a bioengineer at Rice University in Texas.

Deem studies how evolution is affected not just by mutations but by the exchange of entire genes and sets of genes. Viruses, which are basically packets of DNA with a protein coat, are really good at this. Viruses are also really good at exploiting the fact that we humans cough and sneeze without covering ourselves and generally don’t wash our hands frequently in a day.

“Viruses have evolved to exploit human contact as a way of spreading,” points out Peter Daszak of the Wildlife Trust, whose team 14 months ago predicted just this sort of evolution in an animal flu, coming from Latin America to the United States after evolving to infect people.

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Dick Cheney most gay friendly VP ever?

Hillbuzz? From reading the article I take it they are gay supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Though I suspect that it is partly motivated by the fact that Joe Biden is such a ridiculous buffoon in comparison to Cheney.

However, they do say this:

"You [Cheney] also, we must remind the liberals of the LGBTQ community, were FAR MORE SUPPORTIVE of LGBTQ rights than any Vice President before you, Republican OR Democrat, and you have personally shown more willingness to advance our causes than your successor ever has — and you did this without a single word of thanks from ANYONE, including us."

"Go ahead and freak out in comments that we’ve gone and done it again, and are thanking the Bush Administration for keeping us safe all those years, but we just have a sinking feeling Hope, Change, and Joe Biden are setting us up for something awful before the summer’s out…and that very soon more than just those of us at Buzzquarters are going to realize what a great Vice President we had in Dick Cheney."

Full post here

For those of you not in the know, the Cheneys have a lesbian daughter who they have stood buy and supported, even when some of the more feral parts of the Republican Party would have expected him to disown her.

Indeed, she and her partner were often invited as a couple to official White House functions.

I'm also aware of a gay White House staffer who expressed fears that he's lose his job. Cheney's response was to tell him that he would not allow that to happen.

Maybe we can start looking at the real Dick Cheney now and not the idiotic cartoon cutout character created by the media?

The piece ends:

He may be a crotchety, gruff, surly, wiseass who shoots people in the face — but he was OUR crotchety, gruff, surly, friend’s-face-shooting wiseass…with great emphasis on the WISE part.

Unlike some people, whose emphasis rests ELSEWHERE.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A trip to Mexico and swine flu compared


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Pelosi Admits Being Told About Waterboarding, But...

Politics | Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 9:15:03 am PDT

In an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Nancy Pelosi has changed her story again; now she says she was briefed on waterboarding—but she was told the CIA wasn’t going to use it.
Candy Crowley — a tough, well-informed and underrated interviewer — kicked it off by asking the Speaker about about a column by former CIA director and ex-House intel chairman Porter Goss accusing Democrats of collective “amnesia” for urging investigations of waterboarding after remaining relatively mute during those first classified briefings.
PELOSI: Well, first of all, let me say that perhaps we do live in an alternate universe, Porter and I.
Porter’s orientation is that he was a member of the CIA before he came to Congress and he speaks now as a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
CROWLEY: Is he wrong?
PELOSI: Perhaps he is seeing it from his perspective. If they say we have a legal opinion, it means we’re going to use it. That’s not how I heard it. They said they had a legal opinion. They said they weren’t going to use and when they did they would come back to Congress to report to us on that. But that’s how I heard that.
Man, that’s pathetic.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Australia Without Apologies

Sigh. I do miss him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Australia Without Apologies [Peter Robinson]

In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard changed the name of the ministries of the Australian government. What had been the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs became the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Today on Uncommon Knowledge, I ask the former prime minister why.
The whole idea of immigration is to make citizens. Multiculturalsim is a very confused credo.

For an astonishing sight - namely, a world leader who refuses to make any concession whatsoever to political correctness - click here.

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The crazies come out to play!

Swine flu softens brains

Andrew Bolt

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 09:45am

Truly, we have more to fear from fear itself - and from the conspiracy kooks fear unleashes. No, I’m not taking about global warming this time but swine flu, and the program put out last night by America’s Coast to Coast, which boasts 3 million weekly listeners:
George Noory hosted a special edition of C2C with examination and analysis of the recent swine flu outbreak. 2nd hour guest, Dr. Gary Ridenour suggested that this virus could further mutate and ... in a worst-case scenario, 5-15 million people could die. He estimated there was a 40% chance that the new virus was man-made, and was released either accidentally or intentionally.
Appearing in the latter half of the show, Alex Jones and Stephen Quayle both agreed the new swine virus was not natural. It’s a “genetically altered bioweapon,” possibly being “beta-tested in the field” to target specific races, Quayle contended… Quayle suggested the virus may be part of a global plan to reduce the population, and that the mysterious deaths of microbiologists in recent years could be connected to this outbreak-- scientists who could help stop a pandemic were taken out.
(Thanks to reader Rosemary.)
Peter Curson, professor of population and security at Sydney University’s Centre for International Security Studies, isn’t dismissing the dangers at all, but warns:
HERE we go again. Just when we thought it was safe to go outside, the threat of another potential flu pandemic raises its head and hysteria builds again. Once again there is talk of quarantine, airport surveillance, travel restrictions and public closures…
Swine flu has a long and interesting history. While there is no record of it causing a human flu pandemic, this latest outbreak stirs memories of the 1976 public health debacle in the US when 200 soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey and Fort Meade in Maryland fell ill with what turned out to be swine flu, causing a wave of panic to spread through the community and public health authorities.
In response the US government began a nationwide vaccination campaign. When a pandemic never eventuated the program was halted, but not before hundreds of people had developed Guillain-Barre syndrome as a result of vaccination, including at least 33 deaths. It seems that even when we act with the best intentions we can unwittingly cause human tragedy.
If nothing else, this outbreak demonstrates how easily human perception and reaction can transform an epizootic (animal epidemic) or a localised human outbreak into something resembling human Armageddon.
Remember severe acute respiratory syndrome and bird flu? We seem destined to relive repeatedly our epidemiological past, and what we always seem to get is two epidemics, not one. The first is an epizootic or a human epidemic. The second is often an extraordinary epidemic of fear, hysteria and panic, partly orchestrated by government and media comments about how much our health and wellbeing is threatened.
Here’s one of the public service ads US authorities ran during the 1976 swine flu panic, urging people to have vaccinations that caused at least 30 to die:
UPDATE 2 says Twitter is perfect for spreading fear - as it’s now demonstrating:
Unlike basic internet search—which has been already been nicely used by Google to track emerging flu epidemics—Twitter seems to have introduced too much noise into the process: as opposed to search requests which are generally motivated only by a desire to learn more about a given subject, too many Twitter conversations about swine flu seem to be motivated by desires to fit in, do what one’s friends do (i.e. tweet about it) or simply gain more popularity.
In situations like this, there is some pathological about people wanting to post yet another status update containing the coveted most-searched words – only for the sake of gaining more people to follow them…
That aside, the “swine flu” Twitter-scare has once again proved the importance of context—and how badly most Twitter conversations are hurt by the lack of it. The problem with Twitter is that there is very little context you can fit into 140 characters, even less so if all you are doing is watching a stream of messages that mention “swine flu."… (I)n the context of a global pandemic—where media networks are doing their best to spice up an already serious threat—having millions of people wrap up all their fears into 140 characters and blurt them out in the public might have some dangerous consequences, networked panic being one of them. If you think that my concerns about context are overblown, here are just a few status updates from random Twitter users that would barely make you calmer (or more informed) about what’s going on:
I’m concerned about the swine flu outbreak in us and mexico could it be germ warfare?…
Good grief this swine flu thing is getting serious. 8/9 specimens tested were prelim positive in NYC. so that’s Tx, Mexico and now Nyc…
Swine flu? Wow. All that pork infecting people....beef and chicken have always been meats of choice…
A good time to recall Michael Fumento’s 2005 piece, written during a bird flu scare:
“THE INDICATION IS THAT we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus that is the most virulent form of flu,” warns America’s top health official. “In 1918, half a million people died. The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans . . . ”
A quotation ripped from today’s papers about an impending “bird flu” pandemic? No, the year was 1976 and the prediction of a deadly “swine flu” overshot the mark by 999,999 deaths (although dozens did die from the vaccine campaign). That’s something to remember amid the current alarms. Another is that we’ve been here before with the identical virus over which the feathers are now flying, avian influenza type H5N1, which first hit poultry flocks in 1997. “Race to Prevent World Epidemic of Lethal ‘Bird Flu,’” and “Hong Kong ‘Bird Flu’ Could be the Next Big Outbreak,” blared the headlines then. The world death toll from that “wave”? Six. And let’s not forget the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) two years ago, which led to 750 stories in the New York Times and Washington Post--one per death worldwide, as it turned out. The 71 U.S. cases of SARS, which resulted in zero deaths, did not “Overwhelm U.S. Health System,” as CNN had predicted.
None of which is to say there won’t be another flu pandemic. There were three in the last century, after all. But that gives us absolutely no idea when the next will come, nor whether it will be any relative
of H5N1, nor what its impact will be. Two of those 20th-century pandemics weren’t particularly severe, while the other was catastrophic. (Pandemic, by the way, does not mean “deadly epidemic"--it means “worldwide epidemic.")
What we can say with confidence is that there is never such a thing as helpful hysteria. And the line between informing the public and starting a panic is being crossed every day now by politicians, public health officials, and journalists.

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Putting flu fears into context

The ever wonderful Junkfood Science blog puts the current outbreak into its proper scientific and historical context and explains why we don't need to panic just yet.
Not that this will stop the media milking the situation for all it is worth and for many to get a good panic out of it!
It is required reading for those of you interested in getting behind the headlines about this or that health or diet scare story, with a careful examination of the actual evidence behind them.
You'd be surprised to learn just how poor the evidence actually is in many cases.
So, let's "be alert, not alarmed!"

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Jolly sound letter in this morning's Australian

See here.

As far as I can recall, The Australian has published the entire letter with little or no editing.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Star Trek meets Monty Python +

As an additional treat:

Scottish Star Trek

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For your swine flu needs


Tara C. Smith is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology. Her research involves a number of pathogens at the animal-human nexus. Additionally, she is the founder of Iowa Citizens for Science and also writes for The Panda's Thumb and WIRED SCIENCE's Correlations.

She twitters at

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Media addicted to “melt”, when it it should be “crack”?

Guest post by Steven Goddard
What is Wrong with this Picture?

The picture of the Wilkins Ice Shelf cracks is itself fine, and the news media loves it so much that they recycle it every year.  The problem is with the interpretation which some people continue to insist on that the ice is “melting.”
A picture is worth a thousand words, so below are a few showing what melting ice actually looks like:
ArcticIceMelting.jpg image by tecknopuppy
Melting Arctic Ice
click for larger image
Astute WUWT readers may recall seeing the photo  above flashed around the world with captions such as “polar bears stranded” on an ice cube at sea. In one case a story even went so far as to suggest they drowned, with no facts to back up the claim. It turns out the “credited” photographer to be a fabrication, and exploitation, please follow this link to the original photographer, Amanda Byrd. See the bottom right photo.

The image was copied from the ships computer (where Byrd had downloaded the camera flash memory stick to) by another member of the shipboard research crew ( Dan Crosbie) and passed on to Environment Canada. Then it was eagerly adopted by many as an example of the fate that awaits the polar bears - including Al Gore, who used the picture as huge projected backdrop in one of his highly lucrative lectures, a conference of human resource executives on March 22, 2007 in Toronto, Canada.


Gore said:

“Their habitat is melting,”  “beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet.”

Audience: [gasp!]

Yes, it melts every summer.


Melting ice is dark, corroded, irregular, wet, thin and rough.  Yet the Wilkins picture shows none of those features.  The cracked Wilkins Ice is bright, smooth, dry - and has sharp, clean fractures at 90 degree angles to the surface.  Nothing in that picture even remotely hints at melting.  The interstitial sea water is very cold and is quickly refreezing in the cracks.
NSIDC’s Ted Scambos has proposed a mechanism for ice sheet breakup, where pooling water on the surface seeps down into small cracks in the ice and causes fracturing as the water refreezes.
However, there is no evidence of pooling water on the surface in the Wilkins image above, and it does not sound plausible as a mechanism for making a clean crack 200 metres thick and miles long.
A generally pro-AGW 2005 paper published by the University of Chicago may shed some light on what is really going on with the ice shelves.  Ice shelf retreat is cyclical, normal, has little long-term effect, and may happen faster in the winter.  What does that have to do with CO2?
Historical records show that large tabular bergs are produced sporadically with typical recurrence times of 50-100 years [Budd, 1966] and despite their large size, appear to have little effect on the long-term ice flow. Unlike the disintegration of parts of the peninsular ice shelves, the production of tabular bergs is part of a normal cycle in which the ice shelf advances beyond its confining embaymentor pinning points and subsequently retreats by calving.
Despite this prominent role we know very little about the mechanisms and controlling forces that lead to rift initiation and propagation. This ignorance hinders any attempt to assess accurately how ice sheets will respond to future climate change.
However, two of the three bursts did occur within three days of periods of sustained winds (shaded part of Figure 2c), suggesting there might be some relationship with prolonged winds. If this were the case, we would expect the rift would propagate faster in the winter when the winds are strongest
Note the authors’ usage of  ”Unlike the disintegration of parts of the peninsular ice shelves” in the first paragraph. Why does ice on the Antarctic Peninsula behave differently? Perhaps it has become an AGW sacred cow.  It is the only place on the continent behaving according to expectations.
The excess area of Antarctic ice is enough to contain more than five Floridas.
Note that the positive ice anomaly is greater now than it was any time prior to 1995.   However, in 1980 the anomaly was nearly 3,000,000 km2 squared lower -  i.e. there was enough ice loss in 1980 (relative to the present) to contain about one third of Europe.  Sea ice and cold go hand in hand.  Perhaps we need a new term for Antarctic cooling deniers?  
Something like “Ozone Holers.”

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Appeal to a closet sceptic #3

Andrew Bolt

Monday, April 27, 2009 at 12:12am

You have been identified by colleagues and friends as a sceptic - someone who accepts there is no proof man is warming the world dangerously.
It is your public duty to now say so, before the global warming fearmongering costs Australia more jobs, dollars and sense.
Why won’t you?

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Remember this headline one year ago?

Of course Serreze's prediction turned out to be spectacularly wrong, with more summer sea ice recorded in 2008 than 2007.
So what happens to alarmists who make attention seeking but inaccurate statements to the media? They get promoted!

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Diggers kill more than 100 Taliban

AUSTRALIAN soldiers have killed more than 100 Taliban fighters and disrupted vast enemy networks in two of the biggest and most successful operations of the six-year Afghanistan campaign.,27574,25385899-29277,00.html

No man, nor any body of men, is good enough, or wise enough, to dispense with the tonic of criticism” – T H Huxley

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Swine flu in New Zealand?


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Lion gives rescuer a big thank-you kiss

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Foreign Policy mag: the land of no smiles

But hey, at least North Korea has a low carbon footprint!

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What’s your interest in this, Mr Gore?

Funny how media outfits like the ABC will always ask insinuating questions of academics like Professor Ian Plimer about whether or not they have been paid by "dark forces" to be sceptical, but would never dream of questioning Al Gore about his interests in promoting policies that will help to make him even richer than he already is.
But at least somebody, though not a reporter of course, did.

Andrew Bolt

Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 12:07am

At last green tycoon Al Gore gets asked the question so often asked of much poorer sceptics rather than the rich carpetbaggers of global warming. But of course it’s not asked by a journalist, heaven forbid. Yet wouldn’t you think people should know Gore is a partner in a company that has invested $1 billion of clients’ money in 40 companies set to benefit from the global warming policies he’s urging on the US?
Some background on how Gore has grown rich on climate alarmism here.

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Appeal to a closet sceptic #1 and #2

Andrew Bolt

Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 12:08am

You have been identified by colleagues and friends as a sceptic - someone who accepts there is no proof man is warming the world dangerously.
It is your public duty to now say so, before the global warming fearmongering costs Australia more jobs, dollars and sense.
Why won’t you?
Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 12:05am
You have been identified by colleagues and friends as a sceptic - someone who accepts there is no proof man is warming the world dangerously.
It is your public duty to now say so, before the global warming fearmongering costs Australia more jobs, dollars and sense.
Why won’t you?

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Trooper Mark Donaldson VC

Crowds line streets for Anzacs
Victoria Cross winner Trooper Mark Donaldson marching in the Anzac Day parade in Perth
Trooper Donaldson is a member of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) and was awarded the Victoria Cross, (I'm not going to go along with the separatist designation Victoria Cross for Australia), for his acts of gallantry on the 2nd of September 2008 in Afghanistan, especially in running for 80 metres over exposed ground to rescue a badly wounded Afghani interpreter.
This is a description of his acts from the Defence Department website:
On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Trooper Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.
In the early stages of the ambush, Trooper Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.
As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Trooper Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout.  During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Trooper Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions.  Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Trooper Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.
On subsequent occasions during the battle, Trooper Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy.

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[Bloody table and div etc tags from the email using Posterous again.]

[Oh, wasn't the div tags at all. There, that's better.]

Maybe this will work


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Anzac Parade in Perth

Photo isn't displaying in the Share on Posterous window. Will press on and see what happens.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Buyer's remorse about K R Puff'n'Fluff?

David Penberthy regrets:
In my former job editing Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, we decided to back the Rudd Government in our 2007 election eve editorial in large part because we believed (like the voters, as it happened) that John Howard had run his race, that the clunky leadership transition he had put in place was a recipe for instability and that the Liberals had failed to outline a fifth-term vision.
While I still don’t think the clapped-out Libs left us with any choice, the creeping fear now is that we have an ascendant, unquestioned leader who’s suffering from a surfeit of vision, who with his zany cheque handouts has gone overnight from fiscal conservative to game-show host, who is risking the livelihoods of blue-collar workers with environmental policies that will hurt jobs and the economy, belt household budgets and achieve no significant reduction in our carbon footprint, and who has embraced a broadband scheme that’s so mind-blowingly expensive that it may have been cheaper if the Government simply bought back Telstra. 

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I'm a defence hawk, but...

How exactly are we going to pay for Australia’s biggest military build-up since World War II, now that we have blown the surplus and gone so far into debt already?
"Kevin Rudd has already announced $100 billion in extra spending, just when his tax revenues have gone through the floor and the national debt will exceed $200 billion."
I fear that if we keep going like this, we'll end up like Great Britain. A country who's own central bank has said has effectively run out of money.
"After the budget laid bare the country's record pound stg. 175 billion ($360billion) level of debt and introduced a 50 per cent top rate of tax, a think tank said yesterday it would take more than 22 years for the public debt -- which Mr Darling forecast would balloon to nearly 80 per cent of national income -- to drop back to 40 per cent. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that the country should brace itself for "two parliaments of pain" as the Government scrambles to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the resulting pound stg. 90billion-a-year black hole in its coffers."

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Lest We Forget

Five-year-old Matthew Pearce stands with his father Andrew, a RAAF Wing Commander specialist reservist, at the Anzac Day dawn dervice at the War Memorial on North Terrace, Adelaide.

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Some parents should be sacked

Okay, time to experiment with the "Share on Posterous" feature. (Thank you Pat.)

"“Every inch of them smelt like they’d been in urine-soaked clothing for days. The little girl had no shoes,” he said…"

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Antony Loewenstein’s African animal awareness

This is priceless! From the very funny Tim Blair.

For those of you not familiar with Loewenstein, he's an anti-Israel Jew and all-round Lefty twit.

J.F. Beck observes universalist Antony Loewenstein’s African animal awareness:


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Should astronomers be baffled by a quiet sun?


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As is Will Work for Bacon

Extra sweet!

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The Missing Link Between Seals and Land Mammals

An amazing discovery in Ottawa, after a team of paleontologists ran out of gas: Arctic fossil points to missing link between seals and land mammals.

The fossil remains of a flipper-free mammal related to modern seals have been discovered in Nunavut by Ottawa researchers who stumbled upon them after their ATV ran out of gas.

Natalia Rybczynski, a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and her research team found the first bone of the ancient pinniped — the scientific group that includes seals, sea lions and walruses — while waiting for other team members to return with a jerry can of fuel during an expedition to a former crater lake on Devon Island in 2007.

The findings from the study, published in Thursday’s edition of Nature, suggest pinnipeds evolved in the Arctic from freshwater animals.

“It fills the gap between the land-living ancestor and the flippered seal-like animal that we see around us today,” Rybczynski said Wednesday.

The animal had a long, streamlined body with heavy limbs, suggesting it had well-developed muscles. It had a long tail and likely moved much more easily over land than modern seals. It was little longer than a cat from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail (about 110 centimetres). It didn’t have flippers, but had flattened digits that suggest webbed feet. Its canine teeth were large, indicating a meat eater, and it had a short snout and muscular jaw.

An artist’s conception shows Puijila darwini as otter-like, with a long tail and webbed feet. (Mark A. Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

Another transitional fossil that creationists say don't exist!

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Bacon vodka is now following me on Twitter


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Climate hysteric beclowns himself

I'll lift this straight from Andrew Bolt's blog:

Plimer unbloodied and certainly unbowed

Friday, April 24, 09 (09:29 pm)
Oh dear. Veron scores a knockout with his first effort - on himself. I believe the term is “beclowned”.
Note the typical methods that warming alarmists have misused so successfully for too long - playing the man, resorting to abuse and appealing to authority. Not addressing the facts.
The Australian Science Media Centre, laughably claiming to be a source of “independent” and ”evidence-based” information, rushes out five “experts” to pooh-pooh Plimer’s book. Not one seems embarrassed by the fact that they haven’t actually read a page of what they dismiss.
Check the board of this outfit and you’ll soon see why the ASMC is nothing like it claims to be. Tim ”Alarmist of the Year” Flannery? Robyn ”100 metres” Williams? Mike “no to nuclear” Rann?

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Missing the great nitrogen scare of 1970

Reason enough to be sceptical about any made today.
Remember how we are always being told we only have five or ten years to turn things around, otherwise it's disaster for us?
Again and again and again?
Here's a one of the predictions made almost 40 years ago for the first Earth Day:
“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist
Some gave us a little more time:
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist
Perceptive people might note that these two are just a bit, um, what's the word? - wrong.
As was this:
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
There are a few from one of my favourite nutcases, Paul Ehrlich.
But this one is interesting in our current carbon obsessed times:
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Nitrogen? Apparently I missed the great nitrogen scare of 1970!
More here
Thanks to Spiked Online

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fire Marshall Bill discusses vaccines and autism on The Huffington Post

After writing about a new low of pseudoscience published in that repository of all things antivaccine and quackery, The Huffington Post (do you even have to ask?), on Tuesday, I had hoped--really hoped--that I could ignore HuffPo for a while. After all, there's only so much stupid that even Orac can tolerate before his logic circuits start shorting out and he has to shut down a while so that his self-repair circuits can undo the damage. Besides, I sometimes think that the twit who created HuffPo, Arianna Huffington, likes the attention that turds dropped onto her blog by quackery boosters of the like of Kim Evans. Certainly, the HuffPo editors seem utterly untroubled that, among physicians and medical scientists, HuffPo is viewed with utter contempt and ridicule. Certainly, I view Arianna's vanity project that way whenever it publishes the antivaccine stylings of ignoramuses like Deirdre Imus or cranks like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and David Kirby, especially now that HuffPo's decided that antivaccine nonsense isn't enough and that it needs to "kick the pseudoscience up a notch" with its latest quack recruits.
More here

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Talking Climate Change with Anthony Watts

Anyone who regularly tunes into, the popular climate-science blog operated by Anthony Watts, will never make fun of TV weathermen again. Watts - who was a TV meteorologist for 25 years - provides a steady diet of smart, always interesting and sometimes deeply complex scientific information and opinion about global climate change.
More here

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First test using

Okay, let's see if I've done this correctly

No man, nor any body of men, is good enough, or wise enough, to dispense with the tonic of criticism” – T H Huxley

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Weekend Australian: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking

Even though News Ltd gowdows in public to the new warming religion, The Australian does what any proper newspaper should do, and indeed what any real scientist does - it asks questions.

And aren't those question multiplying?

Today's issue is full of them. It also lays bare the fact that in Peter Garrett we have an environment minister who is a clueless scientific illiterate. What an embarrassment.

Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking

"ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

"The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast."

"RUSSIAN sea captain Dimitri Zinchenko has been steering ships through the pack ice of Antarctica for three decades and is waiting to see evidence of the global warming about which he has heard so much.

"Zinchenko's vessel, the Spirit of Enderby, was commissioned in January last year to retrace the steps of the great Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, marking the century of his Nimrod expedition of 1907-09.

"Spirit of Enderby was blocked by a wall of pack ice at the entrance to the Ross Sea, about 400km short of Shackleton's base hut at Cape Royds. Zinchenko says it was the first time in 15 years that vessels were unable to penetrate the Ross Sea in January. The experience was consistent with his impression that pack ice is expanding, not contracting, as would be expected in a rapidly warming world. "I see just more and more ice, not less ice.""

The essential message here is that it is a mistake to attribute to climate change everything that happens that might be outside our immediate or short term experience. There is in fact nothing unusual about glaciers either shrinking or growing or for there to be fluctuations in ice cover over time.

As the paper editorialised this morning "
DELIGHTED doomsayers who applauded the announcement last week that an ice sheet on the west Antarctic cost was collapsing should leave the champagne on ice."

Also, one of Australia's most distinguished scientists, the academic geologist Professor Ian Plimer, is
interviewed in relation to his just released book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science.

Plimer is famous for his robust arguments with Christian fundamentalists over creationism, the subject of an earlier book of his - Telling Lies for God.

"Plimer, 62, see parallels with his fight with the Christian fundamentalists. "The creationists were trying to teach a religious fundamentalism dressed up as science ... and they totally changed the nature [of the] science," he says.

""The science is now based on consensus, and we have thousands of scientists who have got everything to gain by saying the world is going to end. We have lost the tie to evidence. So I make [the] great comparison ... between the way creationists operate and the way some of the rabid environmentalists and global warmers operate. The parallels are quite similar.""

Some comment on Plimer's book: Sceptic spells doom for alarmists

"NEXT Wednesday I will be honoured to serve as the master of ceremonies at the Adelaide launch of a book that promises to be a cause celebre. It is Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science.

"I expect that when the history of global warming as a mass delusion comes to be written, Australia's leading geologist will be recognised as a member of the international sceptical pantheon. As far as the progress of what passes for national debate is concerned, in all likelihood 2009 will be seen as the turning point and divided into the pre and post-Plimer eras.

"Mind you, I think this year would have been a turning point in any event because global recessions have a way of forcing the great powers to behave pragmatically. Neither the US nor China is going to pay more than lip-service to global warming alarmism and even the bien-pensant Rudd Government has stopped pretending to accept the advice of its preferred adviser, Ross Garnaut, at face value.

"But none of that detracts from Plimer's achievement in giving sceptics a campaign document containing all the scientific ammunition they could want, packed into 493 eloquent pages. Heartened by it, perhaps some timid politicians in both main parties will at last feel at liberty to own up to their private reservations about warmist catastrophe and all those drowning polar bears we keep reading about in the Fairfax press."

And finally, there's a new film out and Al Gore and the other climate shysters and shonks are not going to like it.

"Al Gore is about to feature in a new movie, but he’s not going to like it very much. Titled Not Evil Just Wrong: The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria, the film presents a devastating account of the shaky foundations and hefty price of Mr. Gore’s brand of self-interested and hypocritical alarmism.

"Created by the Irish film making duo of Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney — who made another excellent documentary about the “dark side of environmentalism” called Mine Your Own BusinessNot Evil provides the perfect rebuttal to Mr. Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

"Despite being chock-a-block with inaccuracies and misrepresentations, Mr. Gore’s movie has frightened schoolchildren all over the world, driven the public policy debate, and garnered both an Academy Award and a Nobel Peace Prize for its star."

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul Sheehan changes his mind?

Interesting times I think.

The intellectual climate about climate change is in a state of flux and at last the debate we needed to have about this is going to take place, despite the strident efforts of the Greenshirts to choke it off before it began.

And what an effort it has taken. People daring to question the loud voices screaming alarm and Armageddon and ask inconvenient questions have been subject to the most appalling abuse and character assassination.

Thuggish efforts to compare them to Holocaust deniers, false accusations of being in the pocket of Big Oil and snide dismissal as flat earthers have been only some of the ad hominem attacks designed to invalidate the questioner, but never to actually answer the questions raised.

Indeed, it was always about diverting attention from the questions.

But the questions never went away and the manifest weaknesses of the "catastrophic" climate change position remained for those prepared to look at the evidence with an open mind.

Again, this isn't to say that the climate isn't changing or that it wont have significant effects in the future to which we will have to adapt. However, change is what the climate does. Always and forever.

So Paul Sheehan's preparedness to at least admit that his views on climate change may be wrong, in a very positive review of geologist Ian Plimer's new book Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, is possibly significant.

The Zeitgeist is always a difficult beast to read, but given that it has been mentioned elsewhere, (and this has been my impression too), that the number of sceptical comments left in response to climate stories online has increased and young comedians like
Arj Barker openly talk about the influence of the Sun on the Earth - "all I'm saying is, when I burn my toast, I don't blame the bread" - you can't help thinking it is in the process of shifting.

Hat tip to
Andrew Bolt

Friday, April 10, 2009

More crazy conspiracy talk

Seen at R. Neal’s:

A friend stopped by his neighborhood market the other day and the guy at the register handed him this “report”.

It says there is a government plot to disrupt our economy and confiscate all private guns by Sept. 2009 so the U.S. can join the New World Order and adopt a global currency. President Obama was to seal the deal at the G20 summit in London. The back page lists several websites you should check out for more information “while you still can.”

I see the crazy talk is back. It has come full circle. I remember the good old days when the New World Order Black Helicopter guys said the same thing about the first George Bush. Looks like a combo of the Prison Planet/Infowars/Truther crowd. Anyway, this is some world class silliness and no one should encourage them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dying to give a natural birth

As Andrew Bolt observes, nobody wants to take advantage of the grief that Janet Fraser must be experiencing, or indeed add to it.

But there is a serious issue here, whether it is anti-vaccination crackpots or those who liken a doctor assisted birth to rape, and that is the flight from reason that appears to be taking hold within the West and its rejection of possibly the single greatest achievement of Western Civilization - modern science (including medicine).

And I mean real medicine, not superstitious junk like homoeopathy and naturopathy, which we know from repeated trials doesn't work and yet people still believe in. "Believe" being the operative word.

How else to explain the continued naive belief in the usefulness of wind power,
even when all the evidence clearly shows that it is completely useless, both in terms of generating useful amounts of electricity when needed and consistently and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Or when even supposedly reputable bodies as the Cancer Council peddle the myth that diet causes cancer - see here for a
recent example of such a claim that is used as "evidence" by them.

As Bolt says in relation to the terrible tragedy that has overtaken Ms Fraser "...this case is indeed symbolic - of a demonisation of Western medicine (the flower of Western civilisation), and of a growing tide of irrationality," and that "taxpayer-funded TAFE colleges teach homoeopathy as science. Victoria University until recently offered bachelor degrees in naturopathy and homoeopathy, covering “vibrational medicine” and “the metaphysical”."

Or indeed that a government agency, VicHealth, wasted $7,000 of taxpayers' money to pay women to perform a naked rain dance!

Full article here

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Arj Barker's climate scepticism

It's a funny routine, but became especially interesting to me at around three minutes and fifteen seconds in.

Thanks to
Andrew Bolt.