Airport security contractor ISS Security has rejected the claims that Cairns' airport checks are not up to par. A company spokesman described the failure of staff to detect the fake firearm as a "systems test". "While the test items resemble prohibited items, they are harmless," he said. The firm has been at the centre of recent claims it failed similar tests at Brisbane airport.
But the Cairns airport insider said that despite his repeated protests about lax security and poorly trained employees in Cairns, none of his complaints had been passed on to management. He also alleged that:
* A baggage handler threw a passenger's suitcase on their bag and swore at him when the passenger complained about how long it took to check baggage.
* A security officer suggested an Asian tourist should slap his wife to keep her quiet while they were arguing.
* Security firm senior staff failed to notice a 9mm pistol stashed in a bag as part of a routine security test - despite X-raying it.
* Management failed to act on reports of scissors and knives not being spotted by security staff.
The allegations come only days after the Queensland branch of the Transport Workers' Union called for an investigation into the security of major international airports, including Cairns and Brisbane. TWU branch secretary Hughie Williams said major international airports, including Cairns, routinely failed to meet minimum security guidelines. "With terrorism a real concern, the Government should be following up on these reports," he said. "The TWU demands a full investigation." The TWU also claims it had received numerous reports of inadequately trained security staff last year.
The Australian Federal Police said they provide additional security and logistical support to 11 major international airports, including Cairns, but day-to-day baggage scanning and security checks were all handled by private security firms.
ISS Security's spokesman said the firm was happy with the security standard it provided. "In the many tests carried out, (there) is no indication of low standards of security, nor can it be used to claim there is any threat to public safety," he said. "Standards at Cairns are consistent with world's best practice."
Posted by John Ray
Ponting wasn't slow to respond to Neil Harvey's attack on his men: "For some reason, I'm not sure what it is, Neil Harvey seems to be the hardest man in the world to please where modern cricket is concerned. He's also the first one that any journalist around Australia would ring because they know he is going to give a negative reaction to this team. And to tell the truth there is no one in our current team, and I don't think there's too many around Australia that actually sit back and listen to what Neil Harvey has got to say." It's apparent that Harvey is the Malcolm Fraser of Australian cricket.
Other Australian notables who have notably come down against their own side, are the Governor General who suggests our cricketers are damaging how Australia is seen by the rest of the world, and our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd: "While we should be playing the game tough and hard and all of that sort of thing, I think there's also a need to really take care of the fundamental courtesies and good manners. Good manners on the ground and off the ground has such a good impact on our other cricketing friends around the world. I think we've got to have a little bit of a look at this." That's some powerful oratory. "A little bit of a look at this," sounds like he's announcing another committee of inquiry.
Stuff manners - what I want to see is Australia winning and continuing to win. Not just by a nose in a tight contest, but to absolutely thrash their opponents. Test wins of an innings and 200 runs - love it! I want opposition captains begging forgiveness at press conferences, explaining, "We did our best, but they flogged us. Here's our OBEs back..." Batsmen whose middle peg is sent cartwheeling towards the boundary by a Brett Lee scorcher can stop whining about being called names out in the middle and instead find some extra protective padding for their second innings follow-on. I want to see Ponting with his mitts on the trophy crowing, "Thanks for the game fellas, but next time I hope our number 7 gets a bat".
This is what happens when a nation is unwilling to take responsibility for itself, when the majority of the people refuse to bear arms and defend their own liberty. Initially some of them are beaten and bashed to death, but instead of learning from others mistakes, the herds only whine at the state to protect them and do everything, so the state has to put cameras everywhere. Then because the cameras fail and the herds won't learn, the state starts to listen in, look in and all that. The citizens are eventually reduced to the status of battery hens, constantly watched, monitored and herded around when the need arises, things like the right to freedom of speech, movement and the pursuit of happiness is just on some fancy paper, hidden away somewhere, luxuries the herds gave up or lost over the years. Image with thanks from here.
A NEW crop of home-grown jihadis, groomed to step up and replace the leaders of Australian terror cells who have been arrested or jailed, is almost "mature" enough to launch an operation, an international terror expert has warned.
The warning came after the release of figures showing the Australian Federal Police had 76 new counter-terrorism cases to investigate in the past financial year. At June 30 last year, the AFP had 83 cases being examined by its counter-terrorism team.
This would sound serious given the problems we’ve been having Islamic terrorism all over the world the past few years. Especially when you take into consideration that you usually find out about a terrorist attack after the body parts start landing along the roadside. But not to worry law enforcement is hard at work and has everything under control.
Intelligence sources say they are aware of the new threats, but deny there is any evidence that the groups may be close to planning an attack in Australia.Normally, wouldn’t the fact that there are 83 new cases in Australia be an indication that the planning is already underway? Or maybe they think they are planning for attacks in Saudi Arabia ?
Within the last couple of days, I have been attacked by TWO Leftist bloggers! And note that they attacked ME, not any of the facts and arguments that I have put forward. What they have written is, in short, a confession of complete intellectual failure. They hate the truths that I have highlighted but they were so unable to refute those truths that all they could manage was an attempt to shoot the messenger. Their arguments were what logicians call ad hominem arguments -- arguments of no scholarly repute whatever. There are a few variations of ad hominem argumentation but a typical one would be of the following form:
Hitler liked dogs
Hitler was evil
Therefore liking dogs is wrong
You don't have to be a logician to see immediately that such an argument is invalid yet it is form of argument that is routinely resorted to by the Left and the Greens. Why do they do it? Simple. It is all they have left once the full facts of the matter are presented. Even an invalid argument seems to comfort them when they are faced with having to give up beliefs that their egos are heavily invested in.
And in politics character assassination can be very useful. A candidate for political office is only partly evaluated on the strength of his arguments. Most of the time he is evaluated as a person. And he NEEDS to be evaluated that way because the voter has to predict what the candidate might do in the future. The candidate's claims about past and present reality are a relatively secondary part of what the voter has to evaluate. So ad hominem attacks can serve the Leftist quite well in politics.
I am not a politician, however. I am sure I would be a very bad one, in fact. I am an academic. And what I try to do is to represent the facts as accurately as possible. And the fact that I have had 200+ articles published in the academic journals shows that I am rather good at that. And most of those articles were in fact in the field of political psychology. I may in fact have had more papers published on political psychology than anyone else, ever. I obviously know the field of political psychology very well and yet I can think of no-one else who has had as many papers published in that field. So I am by normal academic criteria a leading expert on the subject and my constant focus on the psychology of the Left is entirely within the realm of my academic expertise.
And those 200+ publications were in fact rather hard-won. The editors and referees who evaluated the papers concerned and accepted them for publication were rarely sympathetic to my conclusions. Academics in the social sciences are overwhelmingly Leftist and my conclusions almost always tended to undermine Leftist beliefs. So my writing had to be "waterproof" to be passed for publication. There had to be no obvious faults in it that would justify rejection. I had to write at a much higher academic standard than someone who presented conclusions congenial to the Left. But in academic writing, ad hominem considerations have no part so my careful presentation of the facts eventually won the day nine times out of 10.
So you might see why I don't take attacks on me personally very seriously. The accuracy and relevance of what I say depends on the facts, not on who I am. But I am so far from being ashamed of what I am that I have put an unusual amount of personal information about myself on the net. I have nothing to hide. I am in fact frank about myself to the point that many might consider unwise.
And it is therefore MOST amusing that one of my recent Leftist critics had obviously trawled at great length through my autobiographical data looking for "dirt" and was able to come up with? Can you guess? Can you guess what he found to criticize? He criticized my POETRY!! What a good laugh I had about that! I doubt that any of my readers here would have been aware that in my long-lost teens I did write a bit of poetry. I put the poetry concerned online with the note that "I don't think much of it now" so criticisms of it leave me supremely unmoved.
The critic concerned also dug out a photo of me in my long-lost youthful slimness and posted it on his blog. So I feel rather kindly towards him about that! Even in doing that, however, my critic managed to generate a laugh. Before posting the picture he cropped it so that it no longer showed me with an arm around my cute little red-headed girfriend of the time. Must not show that conservatives have girlfriends! So I had another good laugh about that! You can see the uncropped picture here.
My poetry-loving critic also linked to another, older, post about me with the recommendation that it was a terrific read. Guess what was the first thing that this high-powered critique of me said? It said that I was "of paedophilic appearance". How desperate can you get? And shortly after that he went on to coin a new word" "indiscrete". Does he mean "indiscreet" or "not discrete"? Who knows? Definitely a low-wattage intellect. He then goes on to talk about my "hilariously unpublishable articles"! Wow! So how come over 200 of them did get published in mainstream academic journals? He is however not short of mental "agility". He then goes on to QUOTE from some of my published academic journal articles! Once again, much to amuse there. I have previously commented on the poor soul's meanderings here
And then, of course, there is Neiwert -- whose attack on me is also of course an ad hominem argument. In a supreme feat of illogic, he endeavours to portray me as a racist in the apparent belief that doing so will enable him to avoid confronting what I have pointed out about the Leftist nature of Nazism and Fascism! But surely if I really were a racist I would be particularly knowledgeable about Nazism and Fascism and therefore could speak with some authority on the political nature of those movements! So rather than disqualifying me to comment by his aspersions, Neiwert would seem in fact to be qualifying me. So his critique could be seen as another example of his talent for shooting himself in the foot. You can read about another example of that talent here.
I commented briefly on his silly attack yesterday and I should perhaps repeat here that a document that both he and my other critic mentioned immediately above have used in an attempt to prove the "racist" charge against me has already been comprehensively answered by me long ago. So that old answer should be read to form a part of my answer here. But I also think that I should here add some important background considerations to all of the attacks on me:
Leftists have so poisoned discussion of race and racism by decades of hysterical shrieks about it that any mention of race or racism is now seen as highly suspect -- unless of course you are praising some minority or asserting how justly they are aggrieved.
And I DO quite happily make statements about race and racism that are of a kind that would have been regarded as perfectly normal thoughout all of human history -- but which have just in the last few decades become furiously excoriated. The only reasonable definition of racism that I can see is something along the lines of "harming a person solely because of his race" but to a modern-day Leftist, just discussing race is "racism". To a Leftist, our entire human ancestry consisted of "racists". I suppose that suits a Leftist's inflated view of his own wonderful wisdom and virtue but it is extremely presumptuous.
So Neiwert's quotations from my various published comments on race and racism were an easy hit. His quotations decisively PROVE that I am a racist -- according to current Leftist criteria. That I am not a racist in any real sense, you might gather from this recent post. And in the simple-minded theology of the Left, a racist would definitely have to be an antisemite so how to explain my unwavering support for Israel? Most of my blogs actually display an Israeli flag -- yet I am not Jewish.
What is going on is that I refuse to subscribe to an addled definition of racism that rules out most discussion of it a priori. If the facts show that the races differ on average in some respect, I will say so -- and I often do say so. And in that I now have a lot of the medical literature on my side. Differences between the races, most of them apparently of genetic origin, are now frequently reported in the medical literature. See here, for instance.
So Leftist obscurantism about race now puts them squarely within the camp of the old Leftist Lysenkoists who once denied genetic inheritance entirely -- insisting quite amazingly that characteristics acquired in one's lifetime would be passed on to one's offspring. The Leftist view of racism is now clearly as unscientific as anything Trofim Lysenko ever said.
And the topic within political psychology that I took most interest in during my academic career was in fact racism. So around 15 years ago, I went to the library at my local university and looked up their PsycLIT CD-ROM. The CD was published by the American Psychological Association and indexes what has been published in all the world's academic psychology journals. I entered the search terms "racism" and "ethnocentrism" and looked at the authorship of the stream of articles that came out. There was one author who had published far more than any other -- accounting for about a fifth of the articles listed. So, by normal academic conventions, that author would clearly be the world's leading authority on the psychology of racism. I am that author. So regardless of the abuse that Neiwert and his ilk hurl at my writings on race and racism, those writings are perfectly respectable intellectually. You can access the publications concerned via this link.
That does also of course make it rather amusing that my critics have a habit of referring to me as a "pseudo" academic. If I am a pseudo-academic, I would like to meet a real one! Leftists cannot even get their abuse right a lot of the time. If they have to lie to make themselves feel good, then lie they will.
And, speaking of lies, I note that Neiwert does not appear to have responded to my exposure of his lie about the antisemitic Father Coughlin being a "Rightist". I suppose Leftists HAVE to use lies. The facts are so inconvenient to them. And the one HUGELY inconvenient fact to them is that the two great tyrannies of the 20th century -- Fascism and Communism -- were both examples of what happens when Leftism escapes all restraints.
Nothing that I have said above should be construed as a claim that there is anybody anywhere in academe who agrees with all my views on race and racism. Given the generally Leftist leanings of psychologists, I would be most surprised if there were. All that my publication record shows is that the arguments I have put forward on race and racism have very often been accepted by experts in the field as arguments that are well-made and well-supported. They are a good contribution to a discussion that the Left in general are determied to prevent us from having. I have put up here a summary of where I do stand on the questions involved. I argue that my stance is in fact a middle way between extremes.
And I might add finally that I myself do not depend on ad hominem argumentation in my writings -- though I can rarely resist a tu quoque. For instance, I have an exceedingly dim view of Bill Clinton yet I felt obliged to defend one of his statements recently because I felt that he had been unreasonably criticized over it. See here. So, whether you agree with my defence of Clinton or not, you can see that I, at least, am able to separate the truth of a statement from the person who made it.
I rather enjoyed writing the above. I am tempted to go on and fisk my critics in more detail but I am under no illusions about my ability to clean out the Augean stables. The Augean stables were so full of shit that you could shovel all your life and not get rid of it all.
The force, which is to provide security for locals and UN aid teams in eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic along the border with the war-torn Sudanese province of Darfur, was proposed by France and approved in concept by EU leaders on Oct. 15. However, arguments then broke out over the resources which each member state should commit to the operation, with the EU's 27 nations initially unable to scrape together the helicopters and transport planes needed to support the 3,700-man mission. That obstacle was finally overcome in early January, when Russia and Ukraine -- neither of which is an EU member -- offered to provide the missing hardware.
So this is soft-power, a grand coalition of 27 nations, can you believe it? Twenty seven nations, the European Union, the empire that could not even scrape together a few choppers and planes to get their mighty force of 3700 men and their guns off to Africa. I think it was Mark Steyn who said that the greater the coalition the lesser it achieves, it's true, they squabbled for months over who will chip in until some one from the outside threw them some scraps. Stop and think what will happen if they are fired upon or some sort of insurgency starts over in Africa, what happens if a few hundred of them are killed. Imagine the finger pointing and squabbling like small girls over who'll send more troops, who'll pay for that, at what point will the white flag be raised, should they walk, if not, why not. What happens if Al-Qaeda, still bleeding from their tangles with the Great Satan, decide to pick battles they can win and the IEDs and homicide bombs start going off. What if Europeans take to their streets chanting - troops out, healthcare, coexist and kumbaya?
Can you see this rabble of 27 nations holding firm, can you see them saying, failure is not an option, stay the course as long as it takes? In my opinion the EU will become a complete and utter joke, a bit like a bunch of old fools blabbering and postulating but are just tolerated by the young and strong. Sure, they'll be good at muzzling and hindering the average, subdued and aging European until he is dead, but this is the real jungle. Out there on the globe, it's wild dogs running the show, they are young, strong, organized and ruthless. If you ever get a chance, watch how wild dogs hunt in Africa, they single you out if they perceive weakness and then you're as good as dead, if they don't kill you by ripping your guts out, they'll chase you down. You may be faster and more agile, but they have stamina & numbers, they'll run you down for miles until you can't run anymore. Wake up EU, it ain't just a couple of bloggers noticing this, the wild dogs aren't stupid, they're taking note of who looks weak and slow. Image thanks to Flickr.
Almost enough to make you root for Obama. Comment by Jeff Jacoby below
On the day a new president is inaugurated, the outgoing president traditionally keeps a low profile, slipping away quietly after the swearing-in and leaving the spotlight to his successor. Not Bill Clinton. His first order of post-presidential business on Jan. 20, 2001, was a 90-minute rally at Andrews Air Force Base, complete with honor guard and a 21-gun salute. "I left the White House, but I'm still here!" Clinton exultantly told the crowd. "We're not going anywhere!"
Like most Americans, I was ready for the tawdry and tiring psychodrama that was the Clinton administration to finally be over. But something told me he wasn't being rhetorical. "He means it," I wrote at the time. "He *isn't* going anywhere. Yes, he packed his bags, zipped his pants, and turned the White House keys over to the new tenants -- but he's still here. There are more grotesqueries to come from our ex-president. There will be more truth-twisting, more money-grubbing, more scandal. Even out of office, he will find seamy new ways to degrade the presidency. Just wait."
So here we are, seven years and one week later, and what do you know -- Clinton is back in the news, his angry rants and political attacks casting a shadow over the presidential campaign. Once again the only elected president to face an impeachment trial is generating waves of outrage and dismay. A Rip Van Winkle newly awakened from 10 years of slumber wouldn't be surprised to find Clinton under fire for spreading falsehoods and behaving disreputably. But he might do a double-take upon discovering that Clinton's critics now aren't Republicans. They are fellow Democrats and liberals recoiling from his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, who has had the effrontery to challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination.
Last week, Clinton was blasted by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, an Obama supporter, for taking "glib cheap shots" that are "beneath the dignity of a former president." He was excoriated by Ed Schultz, the nation's top liberal radio talk host, for "lying about Barack Obama's record" and "embarrassing" the Democratic Party. Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who has endorsed Obama, warned that Clinton's "overt distortions" were "not presidential" and could "destroy the party" if not checked.
A past chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party charged the Clintons with practicing the "politics of deception" and likened the former president to Lee Atwater, a Republican operative who became infamous for his ruthless political warfare. "The Clintons play dirty when they feel threatened," wrote William Greider in a scathing piece for The Nation, a leading journal of the left. "The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clinton years in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy."
What a pity that liberals and Democrats weren't as plainspoken about the Clintons' shamelessness and dishonesty back in the 1990s. In fairness, a few were: Former senator Bob Kerrey famously characterized Bill Clinton as "an unusually good liar -- unusually good," and Jesse Jackson once described him as "immune to shame," someone who at the core consisted of "absolutely nothing . . . nothing but an appetite." But far too often the Clintons' habits of mendacity, anger, and self-pity, their constant blame-shifting, their stop-at-nothing pursuit of power were excused or minimized by the left. America's political culture might never have grown so embittered if Democrats then had been a little more outraged by the Clintons' lack of ethics and a little less zealous about demonizing those who criticized them.
If recent weeks have made one thing clear, it is that the current Clinton campaign is as much about returning Bill to the White House as about making Hillary president. Bill Clinton's angry outbursts, his lack of self-control, his overpowering presence in the public arena are surely a preview of what a Clinton Restoration would be like. Hillary might be the president, but Bill would still be, as he has always been, the dominant Clinton. To whom would he be answerable in a second Clinton administration? Not to the woman whose political career is a derivative of his, that's for sure.
Posted by John Ray
It has always amused me, to be honest, that they have dropped that particular bundle at America’s door almost exclusively. Fact is, the two leaders who were most moderate in their outspokenness, from everything I have read, and who steadfastly refused to entertain the (pathological) spin coming from ‘right-on’ Britain (a solid, though discomforting ally, for all of that), were POTUS Bush and our then Prime-Minister, John Howard (JWH).
In fact, WMD figured not at all in the four main points for war outlined by JWH in his Canberra Press Club speech, a matter of days before the conflict began.
But we must never let facts get in the way of a happy (leftist) meme (as we hear it repeated over, and over, and over again).
Now, just once more (because it’s topical and recently raised its tired head - again) here’s one of the reasons why the conflict began (not that we haven’t highlighted this more than once in the years since this dreadful thing started):
FORMER Iraqi President Saddam Hussein kept up the illusion that he had weapons of mass destruction before 2003, because he did not think the US would invade, according to an FBI agent who questioned him.Got that? Saddam was pushing the line. And our intelligence agencies bought it. What a shock. . .
In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes to be broadcast on Sunday, FBI agent George Piro describes conversations with Saddam in the months after his capture in December 2003.
Mr Piro said Saddam, who was hanged from crimes against humanity in December 2006, wanted to maintain the image of a strong Iraq to deter Iran, its historic enemy, from hostile action.
"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President (George W.) Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998... a four-day aerial attack," Mr Piro said.Saddam’s mistake.
"He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack," Mr Piro said, according to excerpts of the interview released on Thursday.He was equally willing to see his people wither under a decade of sanctions we were also berated for. But it’s always our fault, for everything ever, so why not. . .
No Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were found despite the Bush administration's warnings before the March 2003 invasion that Iraq's arsenal of banned weapons presented a threat to its neighbours and US interests.Warnings based on intelligence coloured by Saddam’s very own and very deliberate misinformation. Why?
BECAUSE HE THOUGHT HE WAS SAFE TO DO SO - BECAUSE HE DIDN’T THINK WE’D COME AFTER HIM.
Why not, lefties?
Why do you think that Saddam thought he was safe (and so pushed the brinkmanship quite as far as he did)? Can you possibly begin to understand the power of your blatherings (because yes, Uncle Saddam was listening), and then, just possibly, begin to understand why we think about you in the way that we do?
CBS said Mr Piro debriefed Saddam for almost seven months, trying to win his confidence by convincing him he was an important envoy answering to Mr Bush.Of course he did. He didn’t think we were serious. And had a lefty been in charge, he’d have been right. The lefties, of course, could no doubt counter that spinelessness would have been entirely appropriate, given the outcomes.
"This and being Saddam's sole provider of items like writing materials and toiletries made the toppled Iraqi president open up to Piro, a Lebanese-American and one of the few FBI agents who spoke Arabic," CBS said.
Even when it became clear that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction, he tried to keep up the mystery.
"For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that would prevent the Iranians from re-invading Iraq," Mr Piro said.
But for one, teeny, weenie little problem (highlighted forever since):
The Iraqi leader had also intended to restart the weapons program and had the means to do it. "He still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," Mr Piro said. "He wanted ... to reconstitute his entire WMD program."Hence the action. But we’ve known this for years. . .
First, let’s take a look at the GISS chart John posted.
By simply compressing the y-axis and stretching the x-axis I’ve created a chart where the upward slope is much more gradual. But what would happen if I changed the minimum and the maximum on the y-axis (temperature) scale? To do this, I took the GISS chart above and recreated it in MS Excel using a temperature from approximately every fifth year. (My chart is only an eyeball estimate of some of the values in the GISS chart and is not accurate, it is only intended to demonstrate the problems involved in chart interpretation.) Here is what the chart looks like on approximately the same scale as the original.
The message of this chart is that there is no change in temperature. Of course, using the extremes would be deceptive in its own right, but even dropping the scale from 50°C to 5°C does little to change the impression of no temperature increase.
Only when we get the scale down to 1°C do we start to see any appreciable rise in temperature.
An additional aspect to notice is the very short time span. The earth is billions of years old, but only a miniscule 120 years is shown in the chart. Such a short time span would be insignificant to demonstrate an unusual warming pattern. In fact, if we look at a longer time span we find that the earth has been warmer many times in the past. In the case of the GISS graph, the designer deliberately chose a scale and segment of time that overly amplified the warming affect and hid the fact that the warming is relatively minor and normal. Essentially, the chart is taken out of context.
The point here is that one can use the same data to convey completely different results to the viewer, simply by choosing the proper scaling properties of the graph. This technique can be used with great success, especially when the charts are presented to an audience that is not sufficiently educated in the subject being discussed (or not careful enough to notice). Take for example, the infamous “hockey stick” graph used by Al Gore and the IPCC to show that CO2 was causing dangerous global warming. The graph had significant impact on audience’s world wide, and the fact that the data had been manipulated as well only increased its impact (See, "The IPCC, the "Hockey Stick" Curve, and the Illusion of Experience", for a discussion of the graph.).
Many of the graphs used by proponents of Global Warming share a characteristic in that they are designed to highlight a warming trend and depict it as drastic, while downplaying or leaving out trends that would indicate otherwise. In the “hockey stick” graph (blue) the data left out the medieval warming period. The red line shows a corrected version with the medieval warming period included. And as expected, the two plots tell completely different stories. The blue plot says that something very unusual began in the 20th century. The red shows that the warming was not unusual and not nearly as drastic as had occurred in the past. Notice that if one could take just the data from 1600 to the present from either plot he could still make it appear that something bad was happening after 1900.
Ibid. p. 4
Believing Can Hurt.
As you can see, these charts can easily be manipulated to convey a desired message, even a false message, to a given audience. But charts can convey a false message even when there is no intent to mislead. Take for an example the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. Prior to the launch there was a concern that the O-rings used to join the booster rocket sections would shrink in the cold weather and not properly seal the joints between the sections during a launch, allowing the hot gasses to “blow through” the rocket walls. The engineers at Morton-Thiokol knew this and met with NASA management to argue for a postponement of the launch, since the temperature was expected to be in the mid 20s °F. In doing so, they presented the following chart showing the flights with o-ring failures and the number of failures per flight.
The difference is immediately obvious; the only flights that had no failures took place in temperatures above 65°F. Anything below that was assured to have an o-ring failure, and the temperature for the launch was lower than any attempted previously. The engineers that were closest to the problem understood the graph and took it for granted that others would too. But had the managers seen the second chart, it is very likely that their decision would have been to wait for warmer weather.
The point of all this is that charts do not always tell the truth. They can be helpful tools, but it is often necessary to look more closely at the chart, the data, and even the methodology behind it in order to make a valid decision as to whether it is trustworthy. This is something that many people, particularly global warming enthusiasts, do not do, and the consequences can be quite dire.
'Mr Rudd remembered the chant “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if Thommo don’t get you, then Lillee must”, but mostly he remembered 42-year-old Colin Cowdrey - called to duty from England to halt the carnage - walking onto the field and going up to Thomson to shake the hand of the man who was going to hurt him.'
But it seems the Kevin07 star, will never have to account for his apparent tricks of memory because the MSM are reporting episodes from his real or imagined past as fact. The Sun Herald today faithfully repeats Rudd's account of the family eviction:
"Mr Rudd also knows about homelessness. At the age of 11, along with his mother and siblings, he had to leave the family farm after his father died. Mr Rudd has recalled having to sleep in a car one night with his family - and the effect all this had on his political consciousness."
It was the same newspaper that first revealed doubts about Rudd's story when complaints were raised by the adult children of the farm's owner, Aubrey Low, describing him as a good man who had helped the Rudds and whose memory had been slighted by Kevin's assertion he kicked them off the farm. Now it seems the paper is happy to accept the Rudd version as the truth. Accept it, and perpetuate it. Sort of like a plastic turkey in reverse.
I am aged 64 now. My father died at 65. I would be surprised if I had more than another 10 years above ground. So perhaps it is a time for me to look back and review a few things occasionally.
I have undoubtedly had a charmed life. To detail it would be to boast. But I have regrets too. The chief regret is that I have had only one child. My son is however all that a father could ask. He is tall, well-built, socially pleasant and already an academic like me. And he has blue eyes. Since both his mother and I have blue eyes that was a slam dunk.
Having had a lot to do in my life with persons of the female persuasion, I have looked close-up into a lot of blue eyes and I am firmly of the view that blue eyes are the most beautiful -- totally "incorrect" though that view now is. Mind you, I am no fanatic about the matter. I am so pro-Indian that my house is full of them, and almost all Indians have dark eyes, of course.
Because I always speak frankly about race, I am sure lots of people have me tagged as a racist but you show me any anti-racist (let alone a white racist!) who has as many brown men living in his house as I have in mine! I am thinking of renaming my house as "Jai Hind", in fact, so Google that! I have long wanted to go and live in India but family reasons rule that out, of course. When I am in India I feel that this is real life -- that this is in some way how it ought to be. And I am talking there about the attitudes of the people, not their poverty. Lots of people of British ancestry do get that sort of feeling when they go to India. But I have it both ways to some extent. If I cannot go to India, I can have India come to me! And the clatter of spoken Hindi is now always about me.
And because I have explained to him how to make money on the stockmarket, my son should have a financially comfortable future. What millions of people would like to know my son just got told casually one morning by his father. As a certain wise Jew once said: "To him that hath, more will be given him".
I do of course have a few minor regrets as well as the major one I have been talking about in a rambling way. One of the minor regrets is the fact that I have not been given a D.Sc. It is not a regret that I go to bed thinking about, of course, but I HAVE had over 200 papers published in the scientific journals so I am qualified for one. But the D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) is an HONORARY degree. You only get it for being a good guy in some way. And I am NOT that. I keep saying things that upset the applecart -- even if they are also true things.
So,if I ever do get a D.Sc., it will be posthumous. That will do ME no good at all but it might serve to highlight my writings. I am a graduate of the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University so those are the institutions that COULD award me a D.Sc.
Immediately after writing the above I re-read one of my favourite Bible passages: Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2 -- just to make sure I did not lose perspective.
Posted by John Ray
It was the first time in Australia the class of motorsport had adopted biofuel, Premier Morris Iemma said.
"This is a fantastic initiative by A1GP," Mr Iemma said.
"I wholeheartedly commend its move towards ensuring that the environmental impacts of the series are as minimal as possible.
"Biofuels, such as ethanol, are much healthier for our environment than conventional fuels."
The Premier gushed--"after all, who cares about little brown people in faraway lands having to pay more for staple food items because of the rush to biofuels? And who cares if they've been shown to be far more damaging to the environment than anybody realised? Those huge areas of dead ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by fertilizer runoff in the rush to grow corn for biofuels will repair themselves--it'll take time, sure but by then I'll have reaped the benefit of all this feelgood greenie stuff and be retired on a big fat taxpayer-funded pension."
Before the scumbag sues me--the words in bold were added by the writer, not the *spit* Premier.
PADRAIC 'Paddy' McGuinness, a former Sydney Morning Herald columnist and editor of Quadrant magazine, has died at his Sydney home aged 69. Mr McGuinness is believed to have been sick with melanoma for some time and it is this condition which prompted his retirement from Quadrant late last year. Mr McGuinness died at his Balmain home this morning.
"We knew he had been sick, but had only discovered in the past few days exactly what the nature of his illness was," a friend of McGuinness said. "He has been very private about his illness."
A journalist for many years, Mr McGuinness was sometimes criticised for his commentary. "He was a bit of an icon Paddy, but I think a lot of people misunderstood him," the friend said.
During an interview with News Ltd late last year Mr McGuinness said he had been able "to 're-establish' Quadrant as a 'sceptical and non-ideological' journal in the conservative spirit of Samuel Johnson, the literary colossus of 18th century England."
He is survived by a daughter.
Posted by John Ray
No mention of scientific facts is made but "feel" is given prominent mention. Once again it is nothing but ad hominem argument and abuse -- which is totally disreputable intellectually. I suspect in fact that our poor old Leftist did not have a clue about how to address the scientific issues involved and thought he could get away with bluff. I think that Frank Lowy, the magnate who founded the Lowy Institute, should be looking for more high-powered employees.
I follow the spurt of superciliousness below with a reply that DOES address the facts. I suppose it is something that they published the reply. The reply is by Alex Avery, son of skeptical author Dennis Avery, mentioned below. Alex is Director of Research at the Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute. He hits the poor old Lowy lamebrains with an actual journal abstract -- almost unfair to such simpletons -- who probably would not even know which way up to hold an abstract, let alone being able to make anything out of it!
Climate skeptics tilting at windfarms
A few weeks ago I, along with most of my colleagues on the staff and the board of the Lowy Institute, received a complimentary copy of a book called 'Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1,500 Years', by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. When I arrived at work there was an enormous pile of these tomes sitting at the Institute's reception.
The book appears to be a fairly standard example of the `climate change skeptic' genre. Contrary to the overwhelming scientific consensus captured in the most recent report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the authors argue that most global warming is not caused by human activities but by a natural 1500-year climate cycle, and that it is not nearly as dangerous as the Al Gores of this world make out.
I regret to say that this book does not have an authoritative feeling about it, starting with the spelling error in the publisher's name on the title page. A search of the authors' names by my colleague Kate Mason took us to the far-right reaches of the Internet, including links to research questioning the link between passive smoking and lung cancer, jeremiads against organic food, and the websites of various American think tanks with the word `freedom' in their title.
Anyway, people can write whatever nonsense they like; I'm more interested in the fact that someone, somewhere is sending out thousands of copies of this book to anyone they can think of who may be in a position to influence the public debate. The book's Preface states that: `A public relations campaign of staggering dimensions is being carried forward to convince us that global warming is man-made and a crisis.' It looks like an expensive campaign is being run against those propositions, too.
I doubt whether it is a very effective campaign, though. The sheer oddness of the whole exercise - both the message and the means of communicating it - leaves the distinct impression that history has passed these people by.
A climate sceptic replies
Your comments about my father's book are lacking in any substance whatsoever. Spelling errors and perceived lack of 'authoritative feeling' aside, where is any mention of the reams of cited peer-reviewed research indicating exactly what the title of the book states: global temperatures today are not historically unusual in comparison to relatively recent times (i.e. most recently the Medieval Warm Period) and the existence of a natural, roughly-1,500-year climate cycle?
By all means, let's ignore any and all substance and impugn motives instead. How noble. How enlightened. How . . . sad.
Just so you're not completely in the dark: Dr. Singer's most recent peer-reviewed scientific paper on climate change was published last month (Dec. 2007) in the International Journal of Climatology published by the Royal Meteorological Society. Does that lack an 'authoritative feeling' as well?
As the abstract of the paper states, the authors examined 'tropospheric temperature trends of 67 runs from 22 "Climate of the 20th Century" model simulations and try to reconcile them with the best available updated observations (in the tropics during the satellite era). Model results and observed temperature trends are in disagreement in most of the tropical troposphere, being separated by more than twice the uncertainty of the model mean. In layers near 5 km, the modeled trend is 100 to 300% higher than observed, and, above 8 km, modeled and observed trends have opposite signs. These conclusions contrast strongly with those of recent publications based on essentially the same data.'
Oh, and here is the latest peer-reviewed scientific paper supporting the argument that current temperatures are not alarming and not unusual:
Loehle, C. 2007. A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-tree-ring proxies. Energy & Environment 18(7-8): 1049-1058.
Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3øC warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.
Posted by John Ray
I have had a number of Jewish readers of my blogs for some years. That is an excellent discipline for me as many things that I write touch on Jewry and Judaism and, not being Jewish myself, there are occasions when things I write on such matters are not as precisely expressed as they might be. And on such occasions, I rapidly get an email drawing attention to the lacuna concerned. I enjoy such emails greatly as they are undoubtedly the most intellectual emails that I receive. And I quite often respond by editing or updating what I have written to plug the apparent hole in my argument.
I was aware that my recent post about Islam as a "Jewish plot" could be misinterpreted as derogatory to Judaism but I retained that title because I felt confident that my Jewish readers would be smart enough to see that I was mocking the Left, not anybody else. And I was right. The title evoked no complaints.
There was however another point that I was conscious of not spelling out fully at the time but which I left stand for lack of time to add to it. And one of my readers of course picked it up. He wrote (quoting me initially):
"And other Jewish theologians have had no difficulty in also taking on board most of his ideas -- so that Paul has in fact humanized Judaism too. It is left to Islam to represent the "old" version of Judaism."
Judaism had no need for Paul to "humanize" anything; the Rabbis were long in the process of doing so already. Read "Pirkei Avot", "Ethics of the Fathers", which is one of the books of the Mishnah. The Talmud was filled with "humanized" law and parable.
Yes. I expected a complaint of that sort -- which is part of the reason why I noted the humane elements in the Torah. Both Paul and Jesus were good Jews and almost all they said had precedents in the Torah. And I noted that Paul was only one figure in a long line of great Rabbis and prophets.
The point I think you miss and one I should have spelt out more is that Christianity gradually changed the whole culture of the European and Levantine world so that the influence on Jewish thinkers was more osmotic than conscious
That response cleared the matter up, with my correspondent agreeing that Jews have always tended to make big adaptations to the society in which they found themselves. The language we call "Yiddish" is in fact mainly a form of German!
I guess that this post is already a little rambling (my more rambling posts are usually written with the assistance of Mr. John Walker of Scotland but this one isn't, surprisingly) so let me ramble just a little further: The reader I have just mentioned bears a surname which in German means "The landlord of "The Sun"" -- where "The Sun" is an inn. As regular readers here may remember, I rather enjoy looking at what is behind personal names. So I noted something unusual in that surname. It is of course normal for Ashkenazi names to mean something in German but what such names mean is usually mocking. My favourite is "Kren" -- which is Southern German for "Horseradish". Can you imagine someone going around and being obliged to introduce himself as "Mr Horseradish"?
But being the landlord of "The Sun" is not at all unprestigious -- quite the reverse in fact. So somewhere way back there was a Jewish guy who took on the quite challenging job of being the landlord of an inn and who eventually came to be known by that name. Occupational surnames are of course quite common. In English, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Baker, for instance, must have had remote ancestors who were a tailor and a baker respectively.
And it's not only occupations that formed bases for surnames. One of my favourite non-occupational names is "Inglis" -- which is a Scottish surname that is pronounced as "Ingels". But what does it mean? It means "English". The original "Mr Inglis" was an Englishman from England who settled in Scotland and became known in his locality for that strange peculiarity!
There are also many English inns called "The Sun". Here is a link to one of them. Note the sign. Such signs date to times when few people could read and write -- so a simple sign that could readily be recognized was put up out front and used to identify a particular inn. "Bull and bush" and "Elephant and castle" are other well known examples of such signs in England. A German inn in the same category that most people will have heard of is Das Weisses Roessl, though most will know it in translated form as "The White Horse Inn" -- a popular operetta set in an Austrian inn that was identified by a picture of a white horse outside. You can see a small picture of the horse concerned here
And here is a link to an actual German inn called "Sonne" ("Sun"). Note the sign again.
Posted by John Ray
I have also inserted a couple of italicized comments on particularly slippery statements. There is also another chart in the original article that has in its subtitle the comment "Largest increases were in the northern hemisphere". They sure were! There is NO discernible trend in the Southern hemisphere! The so-called global warming is at best Northern hemisphere warming.
Graph of global annual surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 mean temperature. Air and ocean data from weather stations, ships and satellites. The 2007 point is the 11-month anomaly
Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century. "It is unlikely that 2008 will be a year with truly exceptional global mean temperature," said Hansen. "Barring a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature clearly exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next few years, at the time of the next El Nino, because of the background warming trend attributable to continuing increases of greenhouse gases." The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990.
Goddard Institute researchers used temperature data from weather stations on land, satellite measurements of sea ice temperature since 1982 and data from ships for earlier years. The greatest warming in 2007 occurred in the Arctic, and neighboring high latitude regions. Global warming has a larger affect in polar areas, as the loss of snow and ice leads to more open water, which absorbs more sunlight and warmth. Snow and ice reflect sunlight; when they disappear, so too does their ability to deflect warming rays. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low geographic extent of Arctic sea ice in September 2007. "As we predicted last year, 2007 was warmer than 2006, continuing the strong warming trend of the past 30 years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases," said James Hansen, director of NASA GISS.
A minor data processing error found in the GISS temperature analysis in early 2007 does not affect the present analysis. The data processing flaw was failure to apply NOAA adjustments to United States Historical Climatology Network stations in 2000-2006, as the records for those years were taken from a different data base (Global Historical Climatology Network). This flaw affected only 1.6% of the Earth's surface (contiguous 48 states) [But the US data is also the highest quality data. Much of the data from elsewhere is dubious. To say that the rest of the world is warming is an act of faith] and only the several years in the 21st century.
The data processing flaw did not alter the ordering of the warmest years on record and the global ranks were unaffected. In the contiguous 48 states, the statistical tie among 1934, 1998 and 2005 as the warmest year(s) was unchanged. In the current analysis, in the flawed analysis, and in the published GISS analysis, 1934 is the warmest year in the contiguous states (but not globally) by an amount (magnitude of the order of 0.01øC) that is an order of magnitude smaller than the certainty. [Still pesky that 1934 was so warm -- at the height of the Depression, when economic activity was minimal]
Comment from F. James Cripwell
I do not believe the world's climate is on a warming trend, though I cannot as yet prove this. It is quite true that since somewhere around 1970, the world has warmed up. What is not clear is that, as of now, the world is still warming up.
And, of course, "now" is moving. As time goes on, I believe the indications that the world has ceaased warming, and has started to cool, will become more and more obvious.
As I have noted before, there are four major agencies which measure average global temperature anomalies, and report them of a monthly basis. These are NASA/GISS, NCDC/NOAA, HAD/CRU and RSS/MSU. The first, NASA/GISS data, shows that at present, average global temperatures are increasing. The other three show the opposite, that they are decreasing.
I am suspicious that Jim Hansen and Gavin Schmidt are closely connected with the NASA/GISS data, but they are very competent scientists with impressive credentials. If you ask for a linear least squares regression analysis, you find a linear trend of increasing temperatures. However, if you ask for a non-linear analysis, NASA/GISS shows an increasing trend, but the other three show that temperatures has passed through a maximum, and are now decreasing.
What is missing is an independent study to compare and contrast the four ways of measuring world temperature anomalies, coming up with an opinion as to which is "best", whatever this means. Until we have such a stduy, we are unlikely to make any progress in this area. Or we must wait until the data showing that world temperatures are decreasing becomes too overwhelming to be ignored.
Posted by John Ray
"Tellingly, the 'Dear Leader' is in the process of moving financial resources to ensure that his assets are portable should he have to go into exile, according to some sources." Kim, who amended the North Korean constitution in 1996 to declare himself "president for eternity" is estimated by the CIA to have "$5 billion in Swiss bank accounts, six villas in Europe, one in Russia and one in China".
He should be near the top of the league of billionaire progressive socialist leaders, fearlessly leading their masses to the worker's parodies. By comparison, Robert Mugabe has an unspecified amount of money in "the British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man. He also owns large properties in Britain" according to Robert Rotberg of the Harvard Kennedy School. Fidel Castro may in fact be bringing up the rear of this august group, with an estimated worth of $900 million, according to a Forbes magazine report, which only puts him on par with the Queen of England."
The Belmont Club
Sure Morris, in reality what he means is, you WILL tolerate all, you WILL accept all, you WILL accept all religions, you WILL accept all cultures, you WILL accept all blame for past ills, you WILL accept all lifestyles and everything else they tell you to. From a young age, the elites will have your children Australia, to mould and make into good little sheeple, told what to think, told what to feel, told what to say. I told you, leftists will never forgive you for being born, if they can't kill you before you're born, godless help them, they'll make you wish you were never born for the rest of your life. And before you all get worked up, rest assured it's targeted at whitey, nobody gives a damn if someone yells white C@#$. Pretty soon folks, like you get a reminder to turn up to vote every so often, in your life time you'll get a notice saying - according to our records, you didn't partake in the annual multi-cultural kumbaya festival or you didn't say Islam is peace and all cultures are equal, so we'd like you to report for a 3 week positive-diversity course, or else.
Look at how Neiwert starts out his review of Jonah's book:
It might be tempting to throw Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning into those same cloacal backwaters, but there is an essential difference that goes well beyond the likely much broader reach of Goldberg's book, which was inexplicably published by a mainstream house (Doubleday). Most revisionists are actually historians with some credentials, and their theses often hinge on nuances and the interpretation of details.
Goldberg, who has no credentials beyond the right-wing nepotism that has enabled his career as a pundit, has drawn a kind of history in absurdly broad and comically wrongheaded strokes. It is not just history done badly, or mere revisionism. It's a caricature of reality, like something from a comic-book alternative universe: Bizarro history. The title alone is enough to indicate its thoroughgoing incoherence
It's just ad hominem abuse. No discussion of the facts, no reasoned argument. And it doesn't get much better further on. And what Neiwert in various places refers to as "false assumptions" are usually points which -- as Jonah has noted -- are fully documented in the book and are, as such, no assumptions at all. But Neiwert has apparently not read the documentation concerned. Criticizing what they have not read is a form of arrogance one often gets from Leftists -- as Charles Murray found. Perhaps Neiwert hopes that he will simply bluff us by his vocabulary: "cloaca" is the Latin word for a drain or a sewer.
Neiwert fancies himself as some sort of expert on Fascism and it was on that subject that I have shown his absurdity before. But he has learnt nothing. See his article on Fascism here. Its ignorance is literally staggering to anyone who knows the first thing about American political history. At the top of his page he has pictures of Rush Limbaugh and Father Coughlin, followed by the explanation: "Right wing political propagandists then and now: Father Coughlin, left, and Rush Limbaugh".
Coughlin was Right-wing??? Coughlin was a great fan of that hero of the American Left: FDR. Neiwert does know that much but goes on to say that Coughlin fell out with FDR. But he does not say WHY Coughlin went sour on FDR: Because FDR was not Leftist enough for him! Neiwert obviously has not a blind clue what he is talking about. I suspect that he just saw the title "Father" and assumed from that that Coughlin MUST have been a conservative Catholic of some sort. In fact, of course the church disapproved greatly of Coughlin's writings and broadcasts -- so much so that his bishop eventually shut him up and told him to return to normal pastoral duties.
I don't think I need to say much more. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Neiwert just cannot face the fact that the two great tyrannies of the 20th century -- Communism and Fascism -- were both Leftist: Different flavours of Leftism but thoroughly Leftist all the same. The fact that they eventually fought one-another should surprise no-one. Have you noticed much love between Hillary and Obama?
In fact, with his constant inspirational calls for national unity, Obama is eerily reminiscent of the Fascists. If he spoke German he might well be inclined to adopt as his slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer -- as Hitler did ("One nation, one government, one leader"). After all, right to the end most Germans saw Hitler as a warm and kindly father-figure. And if the ruthless power-seeker that is Hillary reminds you of Joe Stalin, don't blame me!
Put very briefly, the Fascists were (following Hegel) the "one big happy family" Left while the Communists were the deeply embittered "class war" Left. Hitler only hated the Jews. Marx, Trotksy, Lenin and Stalin hated just about everybody -- Marx particularly so. You can readily see why the two types of Leftist despised one-another.
I wonder does Neiwert know that Karl Marx himself was a virulent antisemite? If antisemitism makes Hitler a Rightist, then the author of the Communist Manifesto was also a Rightist! LOL! I think that thought might even explode Neiwert's tiny brain.
If you can't afford Jonah's book, there are three of my heavily-documented accounts of the Leftist origins of Fascism here and here and here. I would love it if Neiwert tried to debunk any of those articles. Why should Jonah have all the fun?
But, judging from his attack on Jonah, Neiwert might be struck dumb in trying to attack me. Neiwert seemed to think he had made a great point by saying that Jonah lacked academic credentials. He would have great difficulty in saying that about me. It shows how stupid credentialism is. In the end it is only the facts that count.
Posted by John Ray
Big deal? Well, it's kinda funny because Istanbul is in Turkey and that's how you'd describe the film Charlize was promoting. In The Valley Of Elah is one of those vile flicks that purports to sympathise with the troops but really wants to exploit them by showing how damaged they are from the brutal realities of war.
And perhaps not unexpectedly, the movie is a big flop-a-roo.
The movie-going public aren't fools.
A British parking warden ticketed a car which had pulled up to a hospital with a patient in a diabetic coma, and proceeded to continue writing the ticket even as emergency personnel frantically attended to the victim.
Undeterred by the frantic activity going on around her, the parking attendant repeatedly tried to issue a parking ticket. She ignored protests and explanations as she pressed on - and even continued to issue a ticket after the ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over the care of the patient, according to a shocked observer."
The Belmont Club
Daily Mail - Fat people could be paid to lose weight under Government plans to tackle obesity. Ministers said the Health Service and employers could give vouchers to the overweight to spend on healthy food in supermarkets. They also suggested that those who manage to lose weight could be given cash prizes. "We will look at using financial incentives, such as payments, vouchers and other rewards, to encourage individuals to lose weight and sustain that weight loss, to eat more healthily, or to be consistently more physically active."I'm not even talking chain gangs and flogging in the town square, heaven forbid, we westerners lost the stomach for that sort of thing years ago, heck we can't even muster the collective spine to celebrate the execution of mass murderers and terrorist killers. I'm talking simple things like making people pay for the consequences of their stupid behavior; drink too much, take drugs or sun bake, when you turn up at the local hospital, you get a bill to pay at the end of your stay. How you pay is your problem, you just have to pay, that's all. However I fear even that, is too hard for the soft, fat, responsibility-averse westerner, so instead we end up bribing the stupid and the insolent with cash prizes and lollies for behaving themselves. I hope the productive base has strong backs, because there are many, many more clambering onto their backs.
And it won't end there folks, if the people refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, an unwanted side-effect of the state herding/nannying you around will be the loss of your Liberty. You see that last bit about 'encouraging'? How do you think the state is going to know that your fat ass isn't looking so big in that pair of pants anymore. If they're paying you to eat healthy, they'll have to come around to your house regularly, we just want to see what's in the fridge fatboy, it won't take long. That's right, we're paying you to move your fat ass girlfriend, so we want you to strap this here GPS unit to one of your ample calves, to make sure you attend fat camp every weekend and take the required number of steps. Like I posted about this a while back, give up your responsibility and you have to give up your liberty.
Kevin Rudd has purged his Parliament House office of all traces of John Howard. He has ordered his predecessor's hand-picked Chesterfield-style chairs and the desk of Liberal icon Sir Robert Menzies to be put into storage. The Prime Minister has wiped his office clean of Mr Howard's interior design touches and restored more contemporary fittings purchased when Parliament House was built in 1988.
Mr Howard was sometimes lampooned by critics for his taste in furniture, particularly following his 1999 decision to spend $10,000 on the green leather suite for his office. Scornful critics charged that the chunky furniture would be better suited to Old Parliament House and that Mr Howard had offended the design atmosphere of his huon pine-dominated office. He had previously dumped his prime ministerial desk in favour of the antique used by his hero Sir Robert - the former long-serving prime minister and Liberal Party founder. The desk had been used by several prime ministers between 1927 and 1973 but mainly by Sir Robert.
A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd confirmed yesterday that all of the furniture acquired during the Howard years had been removed from the Parliament House office and placed in a storage basement. This included the green leather chairs, which had been replaced by the original fabric seats in a pale orange. "The Prime Minister has had the normal furniture taken out of storage and put back in his office," Mr Rudd's spokeswoman said. "The furniture purchased by the previous office is now in storage." She said the changes included the Menzies desk.
Posted by John Ray
Israel has always had great prophets and Rabbis, however, and a great Jewish theologian -- known to Christians as St. Paul -- transformed Judaism into a much more humane faith -- a faith we now know as Christianity -- and he took that faith to the world.
But there was a backlash. The old faith still had power and Mohammed felt it. And, like St Paul, Mohammed was a proselytizer. The old mainstream Jews could not be proselytizers, of course. You were either of the "chosen people" or you were not. But there was a tremendous power in the idea of the one invisible God and it should not be surprising that TWO great proselytizers took it to the world. And it was Mohammed that stayed closest to the original. He was perfectly aware of Christianity. Powerful Christian fanatics lived not far from him in the form of the Byzantine empire. But Mohammed was a much less powerful thinker than St. Paul so he mostly just took a return to the old faith to the world.
St. Paul and his Rabbi -- Jesus Christ -- were however the ones who laid the foundation not just for military conquest (which was Mohammed's achievement) but rather for a major advance in human thinking. And other Jewish theologians have had no difficulty in also taking on board most of his ideas -- so that Paul has in fact humanized Judaism too. It is left to Islam to represent the "old" version of Judaism.
St. Paul did of course have to have a foundation for his transformation of the faith and a strong foundation was of course already there in the Torah. There is much in the Torah that is humane. Paul chose the humane side. Mohammed chose (mostly) the dark side. What an amazing body of thought to have had such huge and varied influence!
NOTE: In what I have said above, my thinking has partly been formed by what is, I believe, the universal conclusion of the textual critics: That the Pauline epistles were the earliest Christian documents. The Gospels came later.
An only tangentially related thought: I read with great interest Murray's exploration of the various reasons for Jewish brilliance. And his final suggestion did have some resonance despite the fact that I am an atheist: That maybe they really are God's chosen people! But that resonance probably has more than a little to do with the fact that I spent my early years steeped in the Bible -- years which I still remember with great joy.
Final note: The "graven images" commandment is perhaps emblematic of the great interaction between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Mohammed of course insisted on a purer form of Judaism -- i.e. keeping that commandment with great strictness -- which caused much heartburn in nearby Christian Byzantium. Byzantium was in fact for a long time racked by a controversy between the iconoclasts (tearers down of images) and the iconodules (guys who thought that pictures and statues of Christ and the saints (icons) were perfectly OK). Civil wars were fought over it.
And I cannot be too smug about all that, either. My old church (Ann St. Presbyterian -- where I still go on rare occasions and where I always feel at home) was built by men sympathetic to the "Wee Free" (Free Church of Scotland -- a very puritanical group) persuasion and it features a large circular window (Rose window) of coloured glass. But is not stained glass. It has only abstract patterns in it. No pictures. No "graven images" in fact. Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism are very different -- as different as night and day most of the time -- but their common Jewish origin does occasionally give them some surprising points of contact.
But the prohibition of alcohol is a quite surprising point of contact. There is no prohibition in the Bible -- rather the reverse in fact (John 2: 3-10; 1 Timothy 5:23; Ecclesiastes 8:15). But Muslims are strictly "dry" and so are zealous Presbyterians. I remember once in my early years taking out a very nice girl (Rhoda) from the Ann St. church and suggesting unseriously as we walked past a bar that maybe we could go in and have a drink! As a result of that heinous suggestion, I was banned by her parents from ever taking out Rhoda again! Those were the days!
Posted by John Ray
No virgins for you.
"It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah."
Let's hope the three others were his murderous colleagues.
Could this be a sign the skills shortage has reached terrorist gangs? Will this add to a wages explosion with trained and qualified suicide bombers demanding top dollar for their skills? I blame Afghanistan's previous Taliban government for not investing enough in training.
First it was the next ice age was coming. Then it was global warming. Now a new threat caused by "evil" humans has been identified. What is it? Well, apparently, due to agriculture, we are running out of dirt. That's right dirt.
According to an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer "Disappearing dirt rivals global warming as an environmental threat." (Source)
"We're losing more and more of it every day," said David Montgomery, a geologist
at the University of Washington. "The estimate is that we are now losing about 1
percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by
The article claims that the world is covered in just 3 feet of topsoil and its all washing or blowing away faster than it is replaced. Where does it go? The article isn’t quite clear, but based on my own experience, it ends up in my back yard. Nor does the article explain how we measure it for the whole planet, let alone all the farms in the western world. Further, most of the world isn’t covered in farmland, but all of it is subject to erosion of one sort or another. Farmers for their part try not to let their farms wash away and actually add nutrients to the soil in order to improve the topsoil.
I haven’t seen any scientific papers on this as of yet, but is agriculture really that big of a threat to the planet? Erosion has been a problem for thousands of years, but people have managed. Of course the other way to loose topsoil is development. The article claims that King County “has lost 60 percent of its farmland since the 1960s.” Which is not really all that surprising since several of Washington state’s largest cities are located in King County. The rest of the state remains relatively empty. In fact the picture shown above with the miniscule amount of erosion (cause by rain not agriculture) is located in the eastern part of the state, which is basically a desert.
So, what is their solution?
No-till farming could do a lot to reduce topsoil erosion, Reganold said, but
it's not without its downsides. Switching to no-till farming requires heavy
upfront investment and learning new techniques, he said, and also tends to
depend more on herbicides because the weeds are no longer controllable by
plowing them into the soil.
Of course herbicides are a big issue with greenies as well. The biggest concern seems to be erosion in sub-Saharan Africa, but of course we don’t teach the Africans to farm better, so we’ll work the issue here.
Maybe this is a big concern, but it has all the earmarks of another environmental scam. Someone looks at a problem in a small area and applies it to the entire planet. And now we have to do something to save the earth.