Saturday, 16 June 2007

Weekend Ramble, June 16

Here's some of what caught my eye for you this weekend.
  • There's money and power to be made from frightening people. Everyone seems to like a good apocalypse. But fear not, help is now at hand for recovering apocoholics: as Gary Alexander explains, he's "a recovering Apocaholic. I am currently Apocalypse free for nearly 18 years." And you can be too. Welcome to "Apocoholics Anonymous."

  • Everyone likes a good "end of days" story, which might explain the continuing popularity of Jared Diamond's Collapse despite being based on poor science, poor thinking, and -- as Ronald Bailey notes -- being "Under the Spell of Malthus." As he says, "biology doesn't explain why societies collapse." Read on to find out what does.

  • You've heard the phrase "good enough for government work"? Well, have you been keeping up with the ongoing investigations of those measuring the forthcoming climate apocalypse being recorded at Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit? You should be. Some of what he and his readers are discovering about the weather stations from which the surface temperature record is processed are examples of "government work" at it's best. Here's just some of the recent posts you might want to investigate:
    McIntyre is well known for helping debunk the Mann 'Hockey Stick' temperature record, so he has the credentials. His Climate Audit blog is the place to keep up to date with his latest investigation of "government science."

  • A Climate Audit reader has put together a graphic that morphs conveniently between the raw and the unprocessed surface temperature data for the continental US. As they discuss at Climate Audit, there's something odd going on.

  • HomeBizBuzz has a useful 'Warrant of Fitness' test for your business website. How does yours measure up? On the basis of this WoF Test, my own website for Organon Architecture needs work, I must say (in my defence, it was only intended as a temporary solution until I found time enough for something better); and The Free Radical website for which I'm now responsible is becoming embarrassing. Long overdue for updates, let alone the rejig it so desperately needs -- what it really needs is a switched on web-jockey eager and willing to put their services at the site's disposal. If only I knew such a person . . . if only I knew one willing to volunteer their services in such a good cause by emailing me at . . .

  • Everyone's had a go at Al Bore's movie by now, and by now everyone should know that it's full of holes, and where those holes are. Nonetheless, there's nothing like having your whole fraudulent film blown apart by a fifteen-year-old girl. Kristen Byrnes follows up her masterful analysis of the warmist science in her Ponder the Maunder project by ripping the Bore a new rear orifice. See Facts & Fictions of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth - Kristen Byrnes. Just part of her whole Ponder the Maunder site. The girl's a genius.

  • You think I bang on about The Bore too much? Then spare a thought for young Canadian high-schooler McKenzie; the poor sap's seen the damned thing four times already this year, none of them by choice.
    First it was his world history class. Then he saw it in his economics class. And his world issues class. And his environment class. In total, 18-year-old McKenzie, a Northern Ontario high schooler, says he has had the film 'An Inconvenient Truth' shown to him by four different teachers this year.
  • Some YouTube humour at Al Bore's expense. Because biofuels are worth it.

  • And just to add some science to your day as you spend it worrying about your carbon footprint and how much The Bore is banking from film, footprints and flim flam, here's a question for you: Just how much of the Greenhouse Effect is caused by human activity? Come on, how much? Is it
    a) around 50% ?
    b) around 28% ?
    c) around 2.8% ?
    d) around 0.28% ?

    If you answered 'd, ' then you'd be right. As this writer explains "water vapour overwhelms all other natural and man-made greenhouse contributions":
    Water vapor, responsible for 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect, is 99.999% natural (some argue, 100%). Even if we wanted to we can do nothing to change this.

    Anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 contributions cause only about 0.117% of Earth's greenhouse effect, (factoring in water vapor). This is insignificant!

    Adding up all anthropogenic greenhouse sources, the total human contribution to the greenhouse effect is around 0.28% (factoring in water vapor).
    So as RB wonders, "If anthropogenic C02 contributions to global warming are minuscule ... then how much impact on today's temperatures do you think must have come from a mere 33% increase in CO2 since 1750? One-third of minuscule -- that's what."

  • And, gee, all that extra carbon dioxide is causing plant attacks! You have to laugh, don't you, and The EcoEnquirer is one place you can do it, with "environmental news that will make you smile."

  • Tim Blair makes the point however that global warning alarmists make a good point, or at least they would do "once you imagine that every time they open their mouths they're talking not about the environment but about Islamic terrorism." See how he plays out this argument in Just Swap Weather For Terrorism - Tim Blair.

  • If you're a free market journalist like Tim Blair, then you only have two weeks now to get your entries in for this year's Bastiat Prize for Journalism.
    Inspired by the 19th-century French philosopher and journalist Frédéric Bastiat, he prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works eloquently and wittily elucidate the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science. .
    So there's maybe two journalists in NZ who might be interested. The prize (a total of USD $15,000) might interest a few more. The prizewinning articles from previous years should interest all of you. There is some magnificent reading in the winners from both 2005 [pdf] and 2006 [pdf]; it's well worth downloading and printing out the collection from both years and working your way through them. This is what good journalism looks like, not the flaccid stuff we put up with from most of our local hacks.

  • Good journalists hunt down the facts before making headlines. These days, bloggers have to check the facts to see whether the headlines make any sense. There's no better checker of facts in the local blogosphere than Lindsay Mitchell, as in this example from a couple of weeks ago: "NZ is the second most peaceful country in the world," crowed the headlines, Helen Clark and even No Right Turn. "Something to Be Proud Of," said the Idiot. Well, maybe not, noted Lindsay. Our homicide rate actually shows us to be the twelfth worst out of 38! Not good. Not good at all. Either for us, of for our journalism.

  • Tim Blair also reflects on some ironies thrown up by Ayaan Hirsi Ali's recent visit to Australia. He quotes Paul Berman reflecting that

    Something like a campaign against Hirsi Ali could never have taken place a few years ago. A sustained attack on an authentic liberal dissident crying out against injustices in remote parts of the world and even in the back streets of western Europe, a sustained attack that appears nearly to have erased the mention of women’s oppression and the struggle for women’s rights from discussion - no, this could not have happened yesterday, except on the extreme Right.

    This is a new event. This is a reactionary turn in the intellectual world.

    And it’s coming from the likes of lefty feminist Kim, who writes about a woman mutilated as a child, in accordance with tribal Muslim custom:

    Her view on Islam is too much coloured by her own experience …
    So contemporary progressives are now opposed to someone who denounces barbaric customs such as genital mutilation? By what standard do they call themselves progressive, I wonder? Can anybody help me with that question?

  • Christopher Hitchens asks a similar question of "Reverend" Al Sharpton" in this debate that you can watch on YouTube: Sharpton/Hitchens Debate - Can Morality Exist Without God? He even makes the question more pointed. If "God's design" is so perfect, asks Hitchens, then why in God's name does that necessitate taking these perfectly-formed gifts from God and sawing off bits of their genitals?! How can that be part of "God's plan"? It's sure got me beat, and it seems to have Sharpton beaten as well.

  • Now many "progressives" reading this will nod their heads along with Hitchens, so whhy do they give the butchers of Islam a free pass? How about watching this wee You Tube piece from British stand-up comic Pat Condell, who tells us The Trouble With Islam, part and a whole hilarious series of wholly non-sectarian pices from Condell that savage all religions equally. The man's a riot.

  • Robert Spencer continues his series Blogging the Koran, which helps explain the butchery behind the butchers of Islam. Prodos summarises the latest instalment: Robert Spencer Blogging the Koran - Part 2, The Fatiha. It's not exactly "moderate," now is it?

  • Speaking of the antediluvian end of the religious spectrum, Andrei at Ian Wishart's ironically named 'Briefing Room' blog has apparently never heard of the cultural treasures of Classical Greece, or even of the philosophical and cultural contribution made by Classical Greeks to western civilisation. But that's fundamentalist Christians for you: lost in their own book full of fairy tales.

    As Paul at 'The Fundy Post' points out, "These conservative chaps and chapesses, the ones who blog about the clash of civilisations and all that stuff, talk a lot about culture but they never show any evidence that they have any of it." A fair point, methinks.

  • And just a reminder,for conservative chaps and chapesses who might think, as Gordon Copeland seems to, that laws in most Anglo-Saxon countries are based on the Ten Commandments . . . they ain't. See Moses Didn't Write the Constitution - Thom Hartmann, and No Representation Without Taxation - The Fundy Post.

  • It's possible of course that conservative chaps and chapesses might perhaps spend less time brushing up on culture and more of their spare time reading economics? If so, Tyler Cowen and readers at his 'Marginal Revolution' blog have some recommendations on How to Study Economics in Your Spare Time.

  • Craig Ceely's also been looking at some recommended readings on Economics, and not only are his recommendations more to my taste, he's as excited as I am by his discovery of a whole series of Study Guides of Ludwig von Mises' masterwork Human Action, by Robert Murphy, the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. Part One is here [pdf]. If you're smart enough to be a Misesian, you'll be sharp enough to find the other thirteen parts on your own.

  • Why Restrict Immigration At All? Good question. I wouldn't.

  • Everyone's favourite psychiatric patient has had enough of psychiatrists. I don't blame her. Read Krimsonlake's post Psychiatrists Are Stupid, and you'll probably agree with her.

  • Every student has their own favourite excuses for not handing in their work on time. Diana links to a professor's hilarious responses to the most common: Top Ten No Sympathy Lines (plus a few extras).

  • Addiction. If you listened to Nanny, you'd think this was a serious problem needing her urgent attention, and bucket loads of our money. If you listen to Diana at Noodle Food however, addiction seems far less a problem and far more a misidentification.
    For many years, I've been annoyed by the extension of the term "addiction" from physical dependencies on chemical substances (e.g. heroin, alcohol) to include psychological dependence on self-destructive behaviors (e.g. gambling, sex). The two are very different phenomena. A person with a physical addiction will suffer from well-defined symptoms with the withdrawal of the drug, such as tremors, sweating, headache, nausea, and hallucinations. A person with a psychological addiction finds the experience of life unpleasant (perhaps very painfully so) without engaging in the destructive behavior, whether in the form of drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or whatnot.

    My general view is that, as currently used, the concept "addiction" is a package-deal designed to absolve the psychological addict of responsibility for his voluntary actions . . .
    Read on here: Addiction? - Diana Hsieh
Phew ... there's much more here, but my typing fingers are packing up. Enjoy!


  1. On the first note of apocalypse:

    Aren't we all supposed to be dead from Ebola by now? Rememeber "The Hotzone" and "Outbreak" and fear of the rapacious haemorrahgic viruses incubating in the moist, fetid Congo?!
    Or was it to be H5N1?

    Or Climate change?
    Or peak oil?

    Or go back a generation to the Silent Spring... etc

    I think this is the display of Orwell's 'continuous threat'.

    Apocalypse sells papers, movies, magazine subs, fills church halls, and attracts government funding!!

  2. Of course I'm cultured PC. I read your blog every week!

    Culture Quota Club

  3. To be cultured means to be rational and grounded in reality ZT. The idiocy on your blog about sexuality, homosexuals destroying the 'family', gays being responsible for the Third Reich and subsequently the genocide of millions of Jews and others deserves to be mocked - longly and loudly - no matter what one's political persuasion.

    It is highly offensive, and yes, uncultured in the extreme.

  4. Great list PC, enjoyed the read without having time to click a single link (yet).

  5. offensive AND uncultured Zen!
    You really must toe the Party Line, culture is what "cultured" people define it as.
    Right now the definition is: "to be rational and grounded in reality".
    Stay tuned for tomorrow's definition, eh?


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