Tuesday, June 30, 2009
And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.
The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate.
If these are the reasons he cries treason, he should perhaps reconsider. One ice cap shrunk, as it has before, but is recovering, as it has before. The other ice cap is growing at the rate of 10,000 square kilometers per year. As for deserts, both in China and Africa deserts are actually shrinking.[And tropical rain forests are increasing, as this article from The New York Times reports.]
The world faces a growing risk of “abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts” as fallout from global warming hits faster than expected, according to research by international scientists released Thursday. Global surface and ocean temperatures, sea levels, extreme climate events, and the retreat of Arctic sea ice have all significantly picked up more pace than experts predicted only a couple of years ago, they said.
“India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and overriding priorities,” a statement on behalf of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
June 30, 2009 12:00am
THE expansion of wind and solar 'green power' will waste billions and destroy far more jobs than it supposedly creates.
That governments, including both state and federal in Australia, have embarked on massive multi-billion dollar wind and solar schemes, without anywhere engaging in even the most basic analysis of cost.
Let alone, perish the thought, their actual energy effectiveness.
But is now an institutional apostle of climate hysteria.
It is particularly potent because Spain has made arguably the broadest commitment to the construction and production of electricity from these renewable sources.
June 30, 2009
YESTERDAY I ASKED IF THERE IS A BLOG ON UNNECESSARY APOSTROPHES: And many readers sent links to The Apostrophe Abuse Blog! Thank goodness. Unnecessary apostrophe’s are among the most pressing problem’s that American’s face.
Ugh, it hurts just to type that, even in jest. . . .
You can follow it on Twitter too http://twitter.com/apostropheabuse
Reporting research finding anything positive about fat is accompanied by disclaimers, caveats and every effort to minimize its significance. It’s even called an obesity paradox, perhaps hoping we’ll think it an anomaly, rather than where the strength of the evidence lies. You’ve probably caught the news stories about a Canadian study reportedly showing that people with “a few pounds,” who are “slightly overweight,” are carrying “a little extra weight,” have “excess pounds, but not too many,” and are “overweight but not obese” will “actually live longer than those of normal weight.” But that isn’t what this latest study found. It’s what the press release said it found.
The results of this epidemiological study were published in Obesity, the journal of the Obesity Society. This study found that none of the relative risks associated with mortality they examined were tenable [explained here], except for one. Age. At age 65, the relative risks of dying rose to 44.35 times compared to age 25; and by age 75, relative risks are 119-fold. We should stop right there, as tenable correlations are the only ones that deserve our focus. But that wouldn’t have made a news story, so what followed was splitting hairs among the rest.
Looking at corrected BMIs, according to the breakdowns adopted by the world’s governments, the authors found that compared to ‘normal’ BMIs (18.5 up to 25):
● being overweight (BMI 25 up to 30) was associated with a 25% lower risk of dying
● being obese (BMI 30 up to 35, which includes about 80% of all obese people) was associated with a 12% lower risk of dying.
● And the risks associated with the most ‘morbidly obese’ (BMIs 35+) — the uppermost 3% of this Canadian cohort— were statistically the same as those with ‘normal’ BMIs. [RR=1.09 (0.86-1.39, 95% CI) versus RR=1.0.]
The Figure-Flaw Paradox: Does it really matter how your body measures up? Part 2
We’ve encountered all sorts of spins trying to preserve the myths of the deadliness of fat — from claims that the studies only show a paradox with really old people to that being overweight might be okay but not obese — hoping we won’t actually read the studies to see that that’s not what they found. It’s unpopular to spread the news that most fat — most overweight, as well as most obese — people have lower risks for mortality than those with “healthy” weights; or that thin people, regardless of their age, fair the worst. Some discount the better outcomes among obese people by saying they get better healthcare than thinner people — something completely opposite of decades of documented discrimination against obese people in healthcare.
Full post at Junkfood Science
Monday, June 29, 2009
Somebody thought Romulus was a real person?! And these people teach at universities?! (Says everything you need to know about Women's Studies.)
She may as well have thought that Romulus was the home world of the Romulans until Mr Spock failed to save it from that super nova
Just bear this in mind the next time you hear some "fact" about rates of domestic violence etc repeated without any checking in a newspaper or on the TV.
Very often the fact is nothing more than a myth, a factoid.
No disrespect to women who are the victims of such violence, but there is a bit of a difference between claims that 20-35% of women admitted to hospital emergency rooms are the victims of domestic violence and the real figure, that is, one percent.
Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship
By Christina Hoff Sommers | Chronicle of Higher Education
Monday, June 29, 2009
Full article here http://www.aei.org/article/100695
China's banks are veering out of control. The half-reformed economy of the People's Republic cannot absorb the $1,000bn (£600bn) blitz of new lending issued since December.Money is leaking instead into Shanghai's stock casino, or being used to keep bankrupt builders on life support. It is doing very little to help lift the world economy out of slump.Fitch Ratings has been warning for some time that China's lenders are wading into dangerous waters, but its latest report is even grimmer than bears had suspected.
Trouble is of course, Australia's hopes of avoiding at least a technical recession and then powering out of the down turn and returning the budget to surplus quickly are basically dependent on China.
But it's banks "exposure to corporate debt has reached $4,200bn. It is rising at a 30pc rate, even as profits contract at a 35pc rate."
While China's Banking Regulatory Commission has urged that lending be devoted to the "real" economy, the problem is that it's real economy is based upon "a mercantilism export model that has crashed and burned. Chinese exports were down 26pc in May."
As the article's author notes, "a trade policy based on the assumption that debtors in the Anglosphere and Europe's Club Med can ruin themselves for ever is absurd."
Oh dear. This means big trouble for everyone if it works out as badly as these people fear it may.
Andy Xe, a Si no-bear and commentator for Caking, said Western analysts are in for a rude shock if they think that China's surging demand for raw materials implies genuine recovery.
Commodity speculators have been using cheap credit to play the arbitrage spread between futures and spot on the oil markets. They have even found ways to trade lumber to iron ore by sheer scale of leverage. "They've made everything open to speculation," he said.
Mr Xe thinks the spring recovery is an inventory spike, to be followed a double-dip downturn into next year as stimulus wears off.
The piece concludes: "If the world's biggest surplus state ($400bn) is too structurally deformed to help offset the demand shock as Western debtors retrench, we are trapped in a long deflation slump."
You can see why the current federal government is itching to call an early general election.
As I say above, the government's strategy is essentially based upon Chinese growth pulling us along with it. If that growth doesn't happen, or doesn't happen strongly enough, then that's the end of the government's strategy.
But wait, there's more!
The only international body to correctly predict the financial crisis - the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) - has warned the biggest risk is that governments might be forced by world bond investors to abandon their stimulus packages, and instead slash spending while lifting taxes and interest rates.
Thanks to the previous Howard Government, Australia does have one of the lowest levels of public debt in the world, but we are also running the third largest fiscal stimulus package after the US and South Korea and this still represents a huge burden that is going to be placed upon future generations.
I don't believe for a minute that the budget is going to return to surplus when the government says it will, and I suspect it 'aint going to any time soon. The proposition that the Australian economy is going to be growing in excess of the long term rate in just two years is nothing more than wishful thinking I reckon.
Even more so if these fears about the Chinese banking system prove to be correct.
Here's a visual metaphor of what may happen. This is a brand new, but thankfully unoccupied, 13 storey building in the Mincing district of Shanghai. Three days ago it just fell over.
It's a Juke Box!
Click on any year and a Juke Box pops up with 20 hits of that year – and you can play them!!
And no, you don't have to stop at 1979. Just change the year in the URL and keep going.
THE CONGRESSIONAL Budget Office has a tough job: to provide America's lawmakers with a reality check on their tax and spending plans. Not surprisingly, the CBO's projections are not always received cheerfully. Both President Obama and leading congressional Democrats were less than thrilled when the CBO estimated that the costs of universal health coverage would be much higher than advertised. To be sure, projecting the cost of legislation involves making assumptions and constructing models that may or may not prove accurate 10 years down the road. Nonetheless, the CBO, with its tradition of scholarly independence, is the best available arbiter, and Congress must heed its numbers -- like them or not.
Now comes the CBO with yet more news of the sort that neither Capitol Hill nor the White House is likely to welcome: its freshly released report on the federal government's long-term financial situation. To put it bluntly, the fiscal policy of the United States is unsustainable.
The rest at The Washington Times
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.
The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)
Suppressing the inconvenient facts about climate change
June 29, 2009Article from: The Australian
THE Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was sceptical of claims about global warming. Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA centre director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty "decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data". The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail message to a staff researcher on March 17: "The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward ... and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision." The email correspondence raises questions about political interference in what was supposed to be a independent review process inside a federal agency. Alan Carlin, the primary author of the 98-page EPA report, told CBSNews.com in a telephone interview on Friday that his boss, McGartland, was being pressured himself. "It was his view that he either lost his job or he got me working on something else," Carlin said. "That was obviously coming from higher levels." After reviewing the scientific literature that the EPA is relying on, Carlin said, he concluded that it was at least three years out of date and did not reflect the latest research. "Global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid-20th century. They're not going up, and if anything they're going down."
[The censored report is here.]
Christopher Booker in Britain's The Sunday Telegraph on how to deal with an inconvenient expert:
TOP of the agenda at a meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group will be the need to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming. But one of the world's leading experts on polar bears has been told to stay away from this week's meeting. Mitchell Taylor has been researching polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as an academic and a government employee. The (PBSG) chairman, Andy Derocher explained in an email that (Mitchell's) rejection had nothing to do with his expertise on polar bears: "It was the position you've taken on global warming that brought opposition." Taylor was told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful". His signing of the Manhattan Declaration -- a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents -- was "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG".
Politicians and policy makers had jumped on the bandwagon and nailed their colours to the mast, (er, I think that's a mixed metaphor, but I rather like it), and now have too much invested in terms of credibility and "face" to easily say they might have been wrong.
In the case of Al Gore the investment is quite literal and he stands to become the first climate change billionaire if he can convince the American congress to introduce some form of cap and trade scheme. Lehmann Brothers, before its collapse, saw such schemes as the next boondoggle from which it would rake billions of dollars out of the system, as does the reinsurer Munich Re.
But even those who should have known better are guilty of suppressing science and pursuing the fashionable over the true.
It is bad enough that Scientific American and New Scientist have sold out to become unabashed campaigners for the hysterical view, but even reputable scientific journals such as Science and Nature have done so.
A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)What ever happened to openness in scientific matters? Even if you thought these people to be wrong, you would not have tried to silence them.
But that is "science" these days.
This is what happens when you tell lies about our history for political purposes.
Even for "good" reasons and apparently worthy causes.
This naive child no doubt honestly believes that her rather badly written essay actually depicts the truth about the normal state of affairs in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia.
(And seriously, in terms of the quality of the writing, this was the best piece produced? If so, it is another indicator of just how the standard of education received by kids these days has gone down. Plus, as an indicator of how too much schooling these days consists of indoctrination in fashionable causes, apparently three of the other five essays were global warming doomsday scenarios. Maybe if they had learnt some real geology and not ersatz "environmental studies" they would have had some idea as to just how unlikely such doom mongering is!)
I suppose it is necessary to labour what should be obvious, but may be missed. None of this is to deny that aboriginal people suffered because of dispossession and continue to suffer the effects of dispossession.
But what kind of debauched and dishonest version of our history has been taught to children where they can produce such factually absurd rubbish?
Andrew BoltMonday, June 29, 2009 at 12:18pm
How should students celebrate Queensland’s 150th birthday? Well, how about we get them to write something creative, and then reward those who imagine the state as its most violent, racist worst?
So here’s the competition launched by the Department of Education and Training. And here’s excerpts from the winning essay for years 11 and 12:
Happy birthday, Queensland! You’ve taught your children to be so grateful for ... for…
June 28, 2009
BOSTON GLOBE: The Forbidding Arithmetic of Health Care Reform. “The fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up - just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation. Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn’t have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.”
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
2m-tall giant kangaroo Procoptodon goliah
This of course was always obvious to anyone who wasn't stupid.
But we have a lot of clever people who, when it comes to issues of race and the environment, are very stupid indeed.
Aborigines have been romanticised as being these other-worldly and saintly guardians of the "sacred" environment. Some idiot at one point said they trod every inch of this continent and yet disturbed nothing.
Which can only prompt the question, "what the fuck were you smoking?"
I don't subscribe to this idealisation of aborigines. I prefer to see them as normal human beings with all the strengths and failings that we all possess. They were not some kind of environmental saints who lived in perfect harmony with nature and who were somehow different to other people.
This is the fantasy view that white urban middle class people have projected onto them for their own purposes.
Aboriginal people have been reduced to being tools for their own quasi-religious beliefs about nature, and dehumanised in the process.
Now while this recent study focuses exclusively on the extinction of the giant kangaroo Procoptodon goliah, it is absurd to think that somehow the Australian experience was any different to any other part of the world when modern human beings first arrived.
Modern humans always had a devastating impact on newly colonised areas with their combination of intelligence and the use of tools, including those used for hunting.
They changed their new environments completely.
It surely can't be a coincidence that the timing of the disappearance of mega fauna throughout the world just happens at the same time modern human beings arrive in a place for the first time?
While much has been made, rightly, of the influence of natural climatic changes in Australia, especially the progressive drying out of the continent, many of the plants and animals that disappeared thousands of years ago would still be with us today if humans hadn't arrived here tens of thousands of years ago and begun hunting and burning the landscape.
And the burning of land to maintain it as open grassland and promote the increase of favoured game animals has had a profound effect in changing the nature of the flora and fauna of Australia.
It is fair to say that what the British found when they first settled this land was what was left after the aborigines had finished with it, and settled into a balance with what remained.
Certainly natural fire events would have increased and preferentially favoured eucalypts over other types of plants less well adapted to fire, but the sheer frequency of fire in the landscape had much to do with the deliberate use of it by aborigines.
This changed everything forever.
Now we've had our part to play in this. We have worked our own changes on the environment too. The first settlers in the east of the continent report plants such as vines of various types that simply don't exist any more.
But let's get rid of our romantic delusions about primitive tribal peoples. It is modern civilisation that actually cares for the environment, and which has the resources to do so.
This is why there is more forested land in the United States now than 150 years ago. It is wealthy enough and cares enough to be able to make the decision to fore go the use of otherwise productive land and let nature reclaim it.
People living on the edge of survival, and that is always the lot of primitive hunter gatherers, do not have that luxury. They must kill and burn and do what ever else is needed just to survive. Their survival has always been marginal and tenuous. And that has been the same story repeated everywhere there has been such people.
June 26, 2009
UPDATE: Obama prepares to hold Gitmo guys indefinitely, just as Bush did. “Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney will be so pleased that the Obama-Biden folks finally accepted his advice to protect national security.”
A straightforward inquiry from the ABC’s Emma Griffiths:
If Turnbull hadn't over-reached we might have been rid of this buffoon, and got the man who should have had the job from the start - Lindsay Tanner.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
– the latest date in fifty years of record keeping
By Joseph D’Aleo, AMS Fellow, CCM
The average arctic temperature is still not above (take your pick) 32°F 0°C 273.15°K–this the latest date in fifty years of record keeping that this has happened. Usually it is beginning to level off now and if it does so, it will stay near freezing on average in the arctic leading to still less melting than last summer which saw a 9% increase in arctic ice than in 2007.
This is not the first time that the EPA in the United States has been caught manufacturing results according to predetermined outcomes.
As politically incorrect as it is to say, they did this in relation to secondhand tobacco smoke and again by simply choosing to ignore evidence that conflicted with what it wanted to find.
Examiner.com's Thomas Fuller describes himself as a "liberal Democrat who happens to lean towards the skeptic arguments regarding AGW."
And he was certainly initially sceptical about the claims made by the EPA insider.
The series of emails between him and the insider are discussed at Watts Up With That?
His article is The EPA's internal nightmare over global warming: Part 1
Hmmm, part 1? Sounds like there is more sceptical goodness to come. Can't wait.
In the Dark began pondering this after a chat with an American friend about applying baseball terms to dating.
Some would work fairly well, of course. I think leg bye has an obvious connotation for anyone who strays down the legside. I’m sure we’ve all also been in situations where we might have wanted to run out or even perhaps retire hurt. However, the mind boggles at what might have to go wrong in order for you to have to declare a wide or a no ball; the latter may well involve a bouncer. An outside edge would be an unfortunate occurrence, and it may have the same result as being stumped.
The presence of a third man is probably a rarity for most people on a date, but perhaps I’m just making a silly point there. Generally speaking, a fine leg is greatly appreciated, and a long leg would be a pretty good alternative. I’m not myself sure about short leg – let alone a square leg - but whatever floats your bat boat.
Cover or extra cover is usually recommended these days but, even then, there’s a risk of one or more slips. Things would have to go very badly wrong, however, for there to be a risk of a leg-break. A late cut sounds too painful to contemplate and most would be satisfied with a pull if there was no alternative. I’ve always been partial to a quick single, and would even jump at the chance of a full toss, but most would prefer to make it through to a complete innings which probably involves finding one or more boundaries.
Phew! I’m glad I got all the way to the end without making a corny joke about bowling a maiden over…
Thanks Drew! At last, someone has made an effort to put the root back into the square root and apply quantum mechanics to human field interactions of varying symmetry states.
Recent changes to the criteria for allocating research funding require particle physicists and astronomers to justify the wider social, cultural and economic impact of their science. In view of the directive to engage in work more directly relevant to the person in the street, I’ve decided to share with you my latest results, which involve the application of ideas from theoretical physics in the wider field of human activity. That is, if you’re one of those people who likes to have sex in a field.
Inspired by the recent Nobel prize awarded for the theory of quark mixing, we are now able to present a new, unified theory of the sexual interaction. In our theory the “correct” eigenstates for sexual behaviour are not the conventional |M> and |F> gender states but linear combinations of the form
|M>=cosθ|S> + sinθ|G>
where θ is the Cabibbo mixing angle or, more appropriately in this context, the sexual orientation (measured in degrees). Extension to three states is possible (but a bit weird).
Whether single-body phenomena (i.e. self-interactions) can provide insights into this theory depends, as can be seen from the equation, on the energies of the relevant states (as is also the case in neutrino oscillations). If they are equal then there is no oscillation. However, a detailed discussion of the role of degeneracy is beyond the scope of this analysis.
Self- interactions involving a solitary phase are generally difficult to observe, although examples have been documented that involve short-lived but highly-excited states accompanied by various forms of stimulated emission, although the resulting fluxes are generally not well measured. This form of interaction also appears to be the current preoccupation of string theorists.
The full paper is here.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I wrote about my own wish for an “Ich ben ein Berliner” moment in a previous post that has sparked a lot of discussion. Since then, I have spoken to many people who are demonstrating each day and putting their own lives on the line. They asked me what Obama has been saying about them. I told them that he finds you inspiring and has condemned the violence. “Do you think he should say more?” I asked. Every single one of them told me, “No. He is doing the right thing.” I asked, “If you could send one message to Obama what would it be?” and they all answered, “He should never ever recognize the government of Ahmadinejad.”I defer to their wishes.
The New York Times has an article on the extensive ties between top members of the Saudi ruling family and terrorist groups, as new evidence is revealed by the families of 9/11 victims — evidence that is being ignored and suppressed by the US government: Documents Back Saudi Link to Extremists.
The editor of a gay website lambasts those gay activists who want a ‘tolerance message’ added to Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy Brüno.
"The Senate unanimously passed a resolution yesterday apologizing for slavery," the Washington Post reports:
"You wonder why we didn't do it 100 years ago," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), lead sponsor of the resolution, said after the unanimous-consent vote. "It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice."
Harkin's resolution contains the answer to his own question: In addition to slavery, it apologizes "for the wrongs committed . . . under . . . Jim Crow laws." Since those laws were still very much in effect 100 years ago, and for decades thereafter, an apology back then would have been the emptiest of gestures. Moreover, Congresses of the past took substantive actions against slavery and Jim Crow, even if belatedly--most notably by proposing the 13th Amendment, which was ratified in 1865, and by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But here is a truly astonishing statement:
Even among proponents of a congressional apology, reaction to yesterday's vote was mixed. Carol M. Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University who had pushed for the Bush administration to issue an apology, called the Democratic-controlled Senate's resolution "meaningless" since the party and federal government are led by a black president and black voters are closely aligned with the Democratic party.
"The Republican Party needed to do it," Swain said. "It would have shed that racist scab on the party."
The Republican Party came into existence in the 1850s as an antislavery party. It was the first GOP president, Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ordering slaves in Confederate states freed. Republican Congresses proposed the 13th Amendment, along with the 14th (granting former slaves citizenship and equal protection under the law) and the 15th (giving them the right to vote). Republicans pushed for Reconstruction only to be thwarted by Democrats.
Segregationists remained a core component of the Democratic coalition well into the 20th century. No Democratic president before Harry S. Truman made any significant moves to expand civil rights for blacks; and although President Lyndon B. Johnson was instrumental in pushing the Civil Rights Act through Congress, a greater proportion of Republicans than Democrats supported it.
True, Republicans nominated a senator who had voted against the Civil Rights Act (albeit on limited-government rather than segregationist grounds) to oppose Johnson in 1964. And beginning that year, some segregationists, including 1948 Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond, switched their allegiance to the GOP.
Nineteen sixty-four also marked the beginning of the period in which, as the Post put it, "black voters are closely aligned with the Democratic party." In other words, the current racial alignment of the parties is the product of segregation's end. To the extent that still-living individuals bear culpability for segregation, it may be true that more of them are Republicans than Democrats. But as an institution, the Democratic Party has far more to answer for.