By JR on Thursday, December 31, 2015
A symbolic attack on the past
Symbols of the British and French colonial pasts are being criticized, with a demand that reminders of the past be erased. Some comments below the following news report
The student who called for the removal of Cecil Rhodes' statue at an Oxford college previously said French flags should be taken down because they are a 'violent symbol' akin to the Nazi swastika.
South African student Ntokozo Qwabe, who is on the prestigious Bachelor of Civil Laws course at Oxford University, led the Rhodes Must Fall group which has demanded Oriel College remove the statue of the colonialist.
Now, it has emerged that Mr Qwabe has previously called for the French flag to be removed because he believes it is a symbol of violence much like the Nazi swastika.
Following the terrorist atrocities in the French capital last month, Mr Qwabe wrote on Facebook: 'You can miss me with the buffoonery of changing Facebook profile pictures to violent imperial flags & hashtaging [sic] 'prayers for Paris' I will silently pretend to but not kneel to carry out.'
'I refuse to be cornered by white supremacist hashtagism into believing that showing my disgust for the loss of lives in France mandates identifying with a state that has for years terrorised - and continues to terrorise - innocent lives in the name of imperialism, colonialism, and other violent barbarities.
'I do NOT stand with France. Not while it continues to terrorise and bomb Afrika [sic] & the Middle East for its imperial interests. We will not end terrorism by choosing the terrorist our subjective sensibilities and popular propaganda normalise.'
He later clarified in a post written on his open Facebook profile, which said: 'For those who were on the receiving end of French colonial and imperial crimes in the name of the French flag, the flag means the same to them as the Confederate flag does to those who were on the receiving end of the crimes committed in its name.
'It means the same to them as the flag/symbols of Stalin Russia do to those on the receiving end of the crimes of that establishment; it means the same to them as the Nazi flag does to those on the receiving end of Nazi crimes. I could go on and on.'
Then, speaking to the Sunday Times Qwabe described Cecil Rhodes as being a 'racist, genocidal maniac' who was 'as bad as Hitler.'
Supporting a campaign to remove the French flag from universities, Qwabe added: 'I would agree with that in the same way that the presence of a Nazi flag would have to be fought against.'
Mr Qwabe's student campaign, called Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, says Rhodes paved the path to apartheid by introducing discriminatory land ownership and voting rules.
It is inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall protest movement that began on in March, originally directed against a statue at the University of Cape Town which commemorates Cecil Rhodes.
The campaign for the statue's removal received global attention and led to a wider movement to 'decolonise' education across South Africa.
Rhodes was one of the era's most famous imperialists, with Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe and Zambia – named after him.
Mr Qwabe is one of 89 current Rhodes scholars who benefit from the colonialist's legacy, which brings foreign students to Oxford at a cost of £8 million a year.
After being accused of 'breath- taking hypocrisy' for accepting a scholarship, Qwabe argued that he was simply taking back a portion of what was originally looted by colonialists from Africa.
'It's completely, completely disingenuous to say I have somehow benefited from Rhodes,' he told Channel 4 News, going on to talk about pioneers such as Rhodes being 'able to murder a lot of people and make a lot of money from it'.
Most of the above is somewhere between exaggeration and outright lies. Cecil Rhodes looted nobody. He was a mine owner who paid his miners better money that they had ever had before. Most were originally subsistence farmers with no cash income. Without him and other businessmen like him, there would have been no mines.
It is true that he believed in white racial superiority but just about everybody in Britain and Europe did in those days. But he killed or injured no-one because of his racial beliefs. If he was a "genocidal maniac", how come he was buried with full native honours by the Ndebele chiefs in what is now Zimbabwe? For the first time ever, they gave a white man the Matabele royal salute "Bayete".
He negotiated with Africans via their chiefs. He did not go about killing them. He was basically just a very clever businessman
The objection to the French flag is part and parcel of Leftist "anti-colonial" rhetoric. The Left instinctively hate both the present and the past of the societies in which they live. But their objections to colonialism are quite pointless, as all the major colonies were given independence years ago. They are re-fighting old battles.
It is true that by modern standards, there were some things in the colonial era that were objectionable but there were benefits too. When the British left Africa, they left behind them well-organized countries with democratic institutions, a capable bureaucracy and an impartial judiciary. But after independence, that soon decayed into corruption, near anarchy and all sorts of bloodshed.
Generally speaking, the colonial era was a time of rapid civilizational and economic advance for most people involved in it. But you will never hear a Leftist saying that. If you look to the Left for a balanced account of anything political, you will not find it.
By JR on Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Opec faces a mortal threat from electric cars (!)
I don't believe it but the Business Editor of the Telegraph has drawn together below a great range of optimistic prophecies which claim that electric cars will become the normal car in the near future. But prophecies are a dime a dozen in economics and are mostly wrong. The key of course is a big leap in battery capacity but that is only a promise so far.
The author below could easily have quoted problems which puncture his balloon but he prefers to talk only of do-gooder prophecies. Just off the top of my head:
Take the problem of winter. Nobody these days would drive an unheated car during a snowy winter. Yet heating drains batteries at a great rate. Driving with the heater on can easily halve the distance you can drive. To overcome that would require a miracle in battery development.
And then there is the SUV. Where would a Texan be these days without his big SUV? But SUVs are heavy and most owners of them like them that way. And electric cars are usually the opposite of that. They are tiny little bubble cars. They have to be. They are tiny so that the batteries don't have to push much weight. A battery-powered SUV is possible but you won't be able to drive it far.
The failure of a very well-thought-out and well-executed electric car experiment in Israel is also instructive. As a small densely populated place with a moderate climate, Israel should have been ideal for electric cars but the whole thing was a flop.
So I can't see electric cars selling in the Northern United States because of the winter problem and I can't see them selling in Texas and other places where SUVs are immensely popular. That doesn't leave much of a market, does it?
The greatest marketing flop of all times was Ford's Edsel. And the Edsel was only a minor change. Ford sunk $250 million into Edsel development for nothing. And that was in the late '50s when a dollar was worth a dollar. The funds being poured into electric cars are far greater than that but are equally no greater guarantee of success
OPEC’s World Oil Outlook released today is a remarkable document, the apologia of a pre-modern vested interest that refuses to see the writing on the wall.
The underlying message is that the COP21 deal is of no relevance to the oil industry. Pledges by world leaders to drastically alter the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions before 2040 - let alone to reach total "decarbonisation" by 2070 - are simply ignored.
Global demand for crude oil will rise by 18m barrels a day (b/d) to 110m by 2040. The cartel has shaved its long-term forecast slightly by 1m b/d, but this is in part due to weaker economic growth.
One is tempted to compare this myopia to the reflexive certainties of the 16th Century papacy, even as Erasmus published in Praise of Folly, and Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church.
The 407-page report swats aside electric vehicles with impatience. The fleet of cars in the world will rise from 1bn to 2.1bn over the next 25 years – topping 400m in China – and 94pc will still run on petrol and diesel.
“Without a technology breakthrough, battery electric vehicles are not expected to gain significant market share in the foreseeable future,” it said. Electric cars cost too much. Their range is too short. The batteries are defective in hot or cold conditions.
OPEC says battery costs may fall by 30-50pc over the next quarter century but doubts that this will be enough to make much difference, due to "consumer resistance".
This is a brave call given that Apple and Google have thrown their vast resources into the race for plug-in vehicles, and Tesla's Model 3s will be on the market by 2017 for around $35,000.
Ford has just announced that it will invest $4.5bn in electric and hybrid cars, with 13 models for sale by 2020. Volkswagen is to unveil its "completely new concept car" next month, promising a new era of "affordable long-distance electromobility."
The OPEC report is equally dismissive of Toyota's decision to bet its future on hydrogen fuel cars, starting with the Mirai as a loss-leader. One should have thought that a decision by the world's biggest car company to end all production of petrol and diesel cars by 2050 might be a wake-up call.
Goldman Sachs expects 'grid-connected vehicles' to capture 22pc of the global market within a decade, with sales of 25m a year, and by then - it says - the auto giants will think twice before investing any more money in the internal combustion engine. Once critical mass is reached, it is not hard to imagine a wholesale shift to electrification in the 2030s.
Goldman is betting that battery costs will fall by 60pc over the next five years, driven by economies of scale as much as by technology. The driving range will increase by 70pc.
This is another world from OPEC's forecast. Even this may well be overtaken soon by further leaps in science. A team of Cambridge chemists says it has cracked the technology of a lithium-air battery with 90pc efficiency, able to power a car from London to Edinburgh on a single charge. It promises to cut costs by four-fifths, and could be on the road within a decade.
There is now a global race to win the battery prize. The US Department of Energy is funding a project by the universities of Michigan, Stanford, and Chicago, in concert with the Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. The Japan Science and Technology Agency has its own project in Osaka. South Korea and China are mobilising their research centres.
A regulatory squeeze is quickly changing the rules of global energy.The Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics counts 800 policies and laws aimed at curbing emissions worldwide.
Goldman Sachs says the model to watch is Norway, where electric vehicles already command 16.3pc of the market. The switch has been driven by tax exemptions, priority use of traffic lanes, and a forest of charging stations. [And acceptance of tiny cars]
California is following suit. It has a mandatory 22pc target for 'grid-connected' vehicles within ten years. New cars in China will have to meet emission standards of 5 litres per 100km by 2020, even stricter than in Europe.
Beijing's pilot scheme to promote electric cars has fallen short - chiefly because there are not yet enough charging sites - but this will change soon with drastic rationing of permits for petrol cars. If you want a car as the authorities grapple with 'airpocalypse', it may have to be electric.
China's Geely Automobile aims to generate 90pc of its sales from electric vehicles by 2020. Bill Russo from Gao Feng Advisory in Shanghai says China is about to "leapfrog" the rest of the world and become the epicentre of the electrification drive.
OPEC does not deny that the Paris accords change the energy landscape, but they view this as a problem strictly for the coal industry. There will be a partial switch from coal to gas, with a little nuclear thrown in, along with a risible contribution from wind and solar.
Their own charts seems to show that coal, gas, and oil will together emit a further 1,200 gigatonnes of carbon by 2040. This would blow through the maximum carbon budget deemed allowable by scientists if we are to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2100 - let alone to achieve the 1.5 degree 'ambition' agreed by world leaders in Paris.
Saudi Arabia's belief that it can carry on with business as usual into the mid 21st Century is what informs the current OPEC strategy of flooding the crude market to eliminate rivals.
The report admits that this is proving to be a costly undertaking. Tight oil and shale in North America has not buckled - as presumed in last year's forecast - and OPEC now expects it to keep rising slightly in 2016 to 4.5m b/d, and again to 4.7m in 2017.
In the meantime, OPEC revenues have crashed from $1.2 trillion in 2012 to nearer $400bn at today's Brent price of $36.75, with fiscal and regime pain to match.
This policy has eroded global spare capacity to a wafer-thin 1.5m b/d, leaving the world vulnerable to a future shock. It implies a far more volatile market in which prices gyrate wildly, eroding confidence in oil as a reliable source of energy.
The more that this Saudi policy succeeds, the quicker the world will adopt policies to break reliance on its only product. As internal critics in Riyadh keep grumbling, the strategy is suicide.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are lucky. They have been warned in advance that OPEC faces slow-run off. The cartel has 25 years to prepare for a new order that will require far less oil.
If they have any planning sense, they will manage the market to ensure crude prices of $70 to $80. They will eke out their revenues long enough to control spending and train their people for a post-petrol economy, rather than clinging to 20th Century illusions.
Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister, warned in an interview with the Telegraph fifteen years ago that this moment of reckoning was coming and he specifically cited fuel-cell technologies.
"Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones."
They did not listen to him then, and they are not listening now.
By JR on Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Revisiting John Cook's 97% climate consensus study. How bad was it?
My conclusions at the end of this post may surprise you
Jose Duarte is one of the few genuine scientists in social psychology. I am in a position to know that. Over a period of 20 years beginning in 1970 I encountered countless pieces of published social psychological research that were so flawed that they proved nothing. And that's not just my opinion. I put my thoughts into writing and on many occasions, journal editors saw that I had a point and published my critiques.
And it is notable that they did so. Journal editors HATE publishing critiques. It exposes their own review processes as inadequate. So I had to be making a very strong scientific case in what I wrote. So the fact that more than half of my critiques did get into the journals is actually rather amazing.
What I found was that any thin excuse to come to a Leftist conclusion will get published. Nothing else much seemed to matter as long as there was a veneer of scientific method to it. It was actually common for authors to come to conclusions which were contradicted by their own data! Their urgent priority was to prop up their fallacious Leftist wordview. That trumped everything else. More on that here.
So I gave it 20 years of doing social psychological research but in the end concluded that I was pissing into the wind. Truth and the facts were just not of interest to most of my colleagues and my pointing the facts out was CERTAINLY not of interest. The Leftist talent at denial -- ignoring uncomfortable facts -- was in full force when it came to my writings.
So over two decades ago I gave up doing survey research and concentrated on family and business interests instead, with results that please me. I still occasionally read the literature, however and I am pleased that there is a small band of real scientists trying to make social psychology more scientific. Duarte is one, as are Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim and that old hand, Philip Tetlock.
Those four obviously know one-another. They were co-authors of a paper 18 months ago that pointed out what I have just said about ideological bias in psychology. The paper is:
Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P. E. "Political diversity will improve social psychological science". Behavioral and Brain Sciences / Volume 38 / January 2015, e130.
It appeared earlier this year but a preprint was available from around July, 2014. There is a Readers Digest form of the paper here
Why am I noting this on a blog devoted to tracking environmentalism? Because the situation in climate science is incomparably worse than in psychology. The global warming enthusiasts make the psychologists look rigorous. And Jose Duarte has noticed that. Below are some of his astounded comments on the subject. He is looking particularly at the risible "97% consensus" studies that have come out, particularly the study by John Cook, a psychologist from the University of Queensland in Australia.
If some third world political leader gets 97% of the vote, we know immediately that the vote was rigged and laugh at the naivety of the leader in thinking anyone would believe that figure. Yet Warmists do exactly the same. They are too fanatical to see how absurd they are. Their need to believe has overcome their reason and sense of caution. Their claims are not even good propaganda.
But over to Duarte. He details just how bad the Warmist studies are:
"Ignore climate consensus studies based on random people rating journal article abstracts. Ignore them completely – that's your safest bet right now. Most of these studies use political activists as the raters, activists who desired a specific outcome for the studies (to report the highest consensus figure possible), and who sometimes collaborated with each other in their rating decisions. All of this makes these studies completely invalid and untrustworthy (and by customary scientific standards, completely unpublishable.) I had no idea this was happening. This is a scam and a crisis. It needs to stop, and those papers need to be retracted immediately, especially Cook, et al (2013), given that we now have evidence of explicit bias and corruption on the part of the raters. (It's crazy that people think the consensus needs to be artificially inflated to absurd heights – do they think 84% or 90% isn't good enough?)
In social science, it's common to use trained human raters to subjectively rate or score some variable — it can be children's behavior on a playground, interviews of all kinds, and often written material, like participants' accounts of a past emotional experience. And we have a number of analytical and statistical tools that go with such rating studies. But we would never use human raters who have an obvious bias with respect to the subject of their ratings, who desire a specific outcome for the study, and who would be able to deliver that outcome via their ratings. That's completely nuts. It's so egregious that I don't think it even occurs to us as something to look out for. It never happens. At least I've never heard of it happening. There would be no point in running such a study, since it would be dismissed out of hand and lead to serious questions about your ethics.
But it's happening in climate science. Sort of. These junk studies are being published in climate science journals, which are probably not well-equipped to evaluate what are ultimately social science studies (in method). And I assume the journals weren't aware that these studies used political activists as raters.
Examples of the unbelievable bias and transparent motives of the raters' in Cook, et al (2013) below. These are excerpts from an online forum where the raters collaborated with each other in their ratings:
"BTW, this was the only time I "cheated" by looking at the whole paper. I was mystified by the ambiguity of the abstract, with the author wanting his skeptical cake and eating it too. I thought, "that smells like Lindzen" and had to peek."
"Man, I think you guys are being way too conservative. Papers that talk about other GHGs causing warming are saying that human GHG emissions cause global warming. How is that not an implicit endorsement? If CFC emissions cause warming because they're GHGs, then CO2 emissions cause global warming for the same reason. That's an implicit endorsement."
Jesus. This is a joke. A sad, ridiculous, confusing joke. And it's exactly what you'd expect from raters who are political activists on the subject they're rating. Who in their right minds would use political climate activists as raters for a serious report on the consensus? This is so nuts that I still have a hard time believing it actually happened, that the famous 97% paper was just a bunch of activists rating abstracts. I've called on the journal – Environmental Research Letters – to retract this paper. I'm deeply, deeply confused how this happened. If this is what we're doing, we should just call it a day and go home – we can't trust journals and science organizations on this topic if they're going to pull stunts like this.
I don't care who you are – even if you're a staunch liberal, deeply concerned about the environment and the effects of future warming, this isn't something you should tolerate. If we're going to have a civilization, if we're going to have science, some things need to be non-political, some basic rules need to apply to everyone. I hope we can all agree that we can't seriously estimate the AGW consensus by having political activists rate climate paper abstracts. It doesn't matter whether the activists come from the Heritage Foundation or the Sierra Club – people with a vested interest in the outcome simply can't be raters.
We don't need random people to interpret climate science for us, to infer the meaning of abstracts, to tell us what scientists think. That's an awful method – extremely vulnerable to bias, noise, incompetence, and poor execution. The abstracts for many papers won't even have the information such studies are looking for, and are simply not written at the level of abstraction of "this study provides support for human-caused warming", or "this study rejects human-caused warming". Most climate science papers are written at a more granular and technical level, are appropriately scientifically modest, and are not meant to be political chess pieces.
There's a much better method for finding out what scientists think — ask them. Direct surveys of scientists is a much more valid method than having ragtag teams of unqualified political activists divine the meanings of thousands of abstracts. I don't mean ask about them their abstracts, as Cook, et al did – that inserts an unnecessary layer and potential selection bias. I mean ask them directly what they think about the principal questions. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, survey studies tend to report smaller consensus figures than the abstract rating studies (I'll have more on that later, see the Bray and von Storch series for now) The consensus will be strong regardless, so it's especially confusing why people feel the need to rig it.
(For subjective ratings of abstracts to be a valid and useful method, it would need to be a carefully selected pool of raters, without ideological agendas, implementing a very specific and innovative method, under strict procedures of independence. I can imagine deep philosophy of science questions that might be anwerable by such methods, things like the usage of certain kinds of words, the way hypotheses are framed and results reported, etc. – but much of that could be done by computers. The studies that have been published are nothing like this, and have no hope of being valid.)
NOTE: The Cook, et al data was leaked or hacked a few months ago – I'm confused by what's going on here. Cook wouldn't release some of his data, and ultimately a bunch of data was hacked or scraped off a server, and it included the raters' online discussion forum. Climate science features far too many stories of people refusing to release their data, and mysteriously hacked data. The person who posted this data, Brandon Shollenberger, is a complete unknown. It's amazing that if it weren't for him, we wouldn't know how rigged the study truly was. There's much more to report – the issues raised by the leaked dataset extend far beyond the quotes above.
The University of Queensland has apparently threatened to sue Schollenberger, on some sort of "intellectual property" grounds. Australia is one of my favorite countries, but we need to stand up for him. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn't done anything wrong – he hasn't posted any sort of sensitive information or anything that would violate our core principles of scientific ethics. The identities of the raters were not confidential to begin with, so there was no new disclosure there. He's exposed the cartoonish bias and corruption of the rating process that underlied this "study", and in so doing, he's served the interests of scientific ethics, not violated them".
Much more from Duarte HERE. See also here for another searching critique of the Cook et al. paper. The extraordinary actions of the University of Queensland in defence of Cook are detailed here.
The original Cook paper is here. Cook is in fact usually misquoted by Warmists. People allege that Cook showed that 97% OF ALL climate scientists support global warming. Cook did not say that at all. He said: "Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming". And he adds that two thirds of the papers took no position on global warming (which was wise of them). So even in Cook's own words he showed that a MINORITY of papers supported global warming. The 97% was not of all scientists nor even of climate scientists. It was 97% of a minority of climate scientists. Below again is that amusing video of a poor bewildered black man using like a crutch Cook's misquoted findings. The habitual misquoting just shows how desperate Warmists are.
So although Cook's research methods were rubbish and a disgrace to psychology, I am inclined to think that he is more sinned against than sinning. I would be quite happy to quote his figures in any debate with a Warmist. The only difference would be that I would quote what he ACTUALLY said rather than what Warmists say he said! LOL
By JR on Monday, December 28, 2015
Leftist group releases video comparing Trump to Hitler
The video consists of very brief grabs from Trump speeches intercut with old movie footage of 1930s Nazi rallies. As even a moderate and sentimental Christian gentleman like George Bush II was often called a Nazi by the Left, that is no great surprise. And comparing Trump's immigration proposals to Hitler's immolation of 6 million Jews also has plenty of precedent, idiotic though it obviously is.
But the video released by the Agenda Project carries the slander to a whole new level. If Trump becomes the GOP nominee we can expect it to be very widely aired. There will be no shortage of Leftist donors coming forward to finance that. So some comment on it seems warranted.
The only substantial thing they have to hang the advertisement on is Trump's proposal for a temporary halt to Muslim immigration.
An obvious immediate response is to note that Muslims are not a race but a religion. Muslims can be of any race. But a more important response is to ask what immigration restrictions have in common with killing Jews. They do in fact have some historical connections. That great Leftist hero, FDR, refused to admit to America Jews fleeing Hitler, the St Louis episode, thus sealing the fate of many of them. So if Trump is a Nazi so was FDR. When a Democrat President had the opportunity to confront and oppose Hitler, he actually aided and abetted Hitler. It was only when Hitler declared war on the USA that FDR went to war with him.
It could be argued that the Muslims concerned are also refugees fleeing death but that is not at all true. The refugees Trump wants to keep out do not come directly from Muslim countries. Muslim countries won't have them. They come from Western Europe where they already have refuge. So there is no threat to their lives and Trump's policies fully implemented would kill no-one. So much for the comparisons with Hitler. The comparison is fundamentally dishonest, like so much of Leftism.
But I liked this sentence in the screed below:
"The modern Republican Party has historically incorporated both racist and fascist elements in its political strategy".
The mention of history is perhaps unfortunate. A more accurate version of the sentence would be:
"The modern Democratic Party has historically incorporated both racist and fascist elements in its political strategy".
The KKK was composed of Democrats and Southern segregationists like George Wallace and Orval Faubus were Democrats. And FDR praised Mussolini and held him up as an example to be emulated.
And Democrat attempts to control everything that moves are very similar to what Mussolini did. See here. Judged by their policies, the Democrats are modern-day Fascists
The Agenda Project Action Fund released a new ad Tuesday blasting the Republican party, particularly Donald Trump, for "anti-Muslim" rhetoric. The ad is part of a yearlong campaign against the "fascist and racist rhetoric" the group says the Republican party has been spewing and promoting thus far in the 2016 presidential election.
"We have to ask ourselves: what kind of country do we want to be? One that stands up to hatred and lives up to the principles enshrined in the Constitution and inscribed on the Statue of Liberty or one that rules by fear and subjugation of individuals we deem different," said Erik Altieri, president of the Agenda Project, a progressive policy organization aimed at ensuring that politicians work in the interest of everyday Americans. "We must unite against this bigotry or we risk losing everything we represent as a nation."
The ad, which can be seen here, likens Trump's proposed ban on the immigration of Muslims to the U.S. to 1930s Germany. The Agenda Project Action Fund finds that the policy proposals of some Republicans harken back to the nation's long-embedded racial tensions.
"The modern Republican Party has historically incorporated both racist and fascist elements in its political strategy, the most prominent of which have been the so-called 'Southern Strategy' initiated in the 1968 and in the first post-civil rights movement election at the national level, with appeals to the 'White Vote' and, more recently, to 'real America' as articulated by such figures as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman," reads a statement from the group.
"Previously, they were politically savvy enough to hide their bigotry, wrapping it in innuendo and alluding to it using dog whistle politics. Now, with Donald Trump as the party's front runner for their nomination for president, the gloves are off and the smoke screen has been cleared, leaving only the ugly reality."
By JR on Sunday, December 27, 2015
Where has all the new money gone?
A great puzzle for economists is that Obama has issued vast quantities of new money to pay for his administration's extravagance without the expected downside: roaring inflation. All of history tells us that printing more and more money makes prices skyrocket. So how come price rises have mostly been modest?
The answer has to lie with what economists call the velocity of circulation. And that is put forward in the article below. Roughly translated into layman's terms, it says that both companies and individuals are saving more and tending to spend it on big things rather than a lot of little things when they do spend. So that reduces demand, which keeps prices down. The writer below also suggests a major reason why people and companies are keeping their hands in their pockets: Government regulation of almost anything that moves
Velocity is an indicator that buyers and sellers agree on a price, that the price is "right" and not an outlier. That's why you see a stock move on high volume "confirming" the move, because it means the prices wasn't "right" at the previous level, while more people agree the new price is fair.
If prices are allowed to go where they need to without pressure and manipulation, you will always have velocity, as the most buyers and sellers will always agree at some price. Because this is true, low velocity cannot happen in a free market. Which means the only reason for low velocity (in this or the previous Depressions) is that someone has somehow managed to get an edge that prevents them from selling, from liquidating, at the true price, i.e. the one the buyers will agree to.
This has another corollary, that the measure of velocity on the Fed's own chart is the measure of the level of unnatural price manipulation on the market. We can watch this aggregate indicator of their failure in real time, by the Fed's own hand, and we can know the manipulation is ending when it rises.
So yes, the Fed, the governments, the insiders can manipulate to their heart's content, as they've been doing, but that unnatural pressure goes somewhere. And the pressure diverts into velocity.
As we saw in the Great Depression, or the Roman Empire, velocity can stagnate for 10, 20, or 1,000 years until the manipulation ends, property rights are restored, and we have a free market.
History has shown that may be a bargain they're willing to make, but it won't do the rest of us a lot of good."
By JR on Saturday, December 26, 2015
Black dolls used to represent the baby Jesus in two Australian nativity scenes
Just a Leftist stunt of course. The Dandenong hospital doll above. It is not literally black, of course, but it has the same colour as many people who are called black. It is essentially a representation of an African. As such, it is likely to be an inaccurate representation of the historical Jesus, who would have had the coloring of other Mediterranean people. He would have been a stocky little swarthy-skinned guy with dark eyes and dark hair like a modern-day Southern Italian. That is of no importance in itself as the traditional European representation of Jesus as tall and blond is also inaccurate.
What is of some concern, however, is that this stunt feeds into and encourages now-common misrepresentations of history. Some American blacks claim that all sorts of European inventions were in fact the work of Africans. And Muslims often deny any historical association of Jews with Israel. These are simply ego-salving lies but they do contribute to confusion about where the truth lies. And this is essentially another lie. We all wade through a sea of lies as we go through life so it is sometimes a major challenge to figure out what the truth is. Adding to the lies is therefore very unhelpful
Black achievements in many fields are much less than white achievements and Arab achievements are much less than Jewish achievements but the starting point for doing anything about those gaps is to accept their reality -- not lie about them
In the wake of the controversy surrounding a black doll representing baby Jesus at Pascoe Vale state Labor MP Lizzie Blandthorn’s office, Dandenong Hospital has also used a similar doll for its scene.
Ms Blandthorn said her staff members had fielded complaints, but Shane Butler, spokesman for hospital operator Monash Health, said feedback had been positive. "The nativity scene at Dandenong Hospital features a baby perhaps best described as being of Middle-Eastern ethnicity," Mr Butler said.
"We have had no negative feedback from passers-by, and, in fact, our staff have received a number of positive comments about the nativity scene."
The doll’s colour sparked fearsome online debate yesterday. Fired up readers were divided over the use of the black doll, with some arguing that Jesus could have been black or olive-skinned, due to his Middle Eastern roots, others saying history had always depicted him as a white man, while some wondered why it was an issue because they did not believe he existed.
Eddie had a simple message for those arguing over the colour of the doll. "Really, it’s Christmas, so all who believe in the birth of Christ, let’s just celebrate it and be grateful that someone has put up a nativity scene," Eddie wrote.
Some said Ms Blandthorn was "grandstanding" and questioned if MPs should be allowed to erect nativity scenes at all, considering the multicultural electorates they represent.
"What is relevant here is simply that a Labor MP has deliberately done this to get a negative reaction from people and I suspect to try and prove a point," Leslie wrote.
Jason wondered: "Should politicians be putting nativity scenes in their office windows? I think this might be a broader issue to talk about."
Paul thought Jesus had "blond hair and blue eyes". "You’re in good company Paul, so did Michelangelo and Da Vinci," John replied.
Guy said readers were creating an "incredible amount of fuss over the accuracy of a depiction of... a fictional character! Lol."
Yesterday, Ms Blandthorn told Leader she wanted to present a "multicultural" nativity scene in keeping with her diverse community it Pascoe Vale.
"Some people have suggested it wasn’t appropriate because it was dark-skinned, but my view is it’s more historically accurate given the part of the world in which the nativity happened," she said.
Ms Blandthorn said people were free to represent the nativity how they wished. "I’ve got a Mexican nativity set at home, which has dark-skinned llamas," she said. "Culturally, people represent the nativity in ways that mean something to them."
Maria, who didn’t want her surname published, said she felt using the black baby was "changing what Jesus was". "I’m not saying he would have been blue-eyed and blonde, but I don’t think he would have been that black either," she said.
"It sounds like I’m being racist but I’m not. I’m Italian, I was born here, and I used to get called a dago — I don’t like racism.
"All I can say is that he can’t have been black because that’s then going into Africa."
The Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennett said Jesus was Jewish, "and we can presume his appearance would have reflected the people of the Middle East".
"However, throughout the centuries, the images of the Holy Family in art, sculpture and windows have reflected the diverse cultures of the world and therefore the depictions of the Holy Family have reflected this reality," Monsignor Bennett said.
"Jesus was born for all people — all nations — in history for history."
By JR on Friday, December 25, 2015
Can a good teacher be bad for you?
In asking the above question, I am suggesting a paradox. And I think the answer is mostly No. But I want to give a small story about when good teachers were bad for someone I know.
He went to a private school and private schools usually have the best teachers. Why? Because private schools are more orderly and have brighter students, two things which are not unconnected. Why are the students brighter? Because you need a fair bit of money to send a kid there and people with more money generally have more brains too -- as the much execrated Charles Murray pointed out two decades ago. And brainy parents tend to have brainy kids
No teacher however likes to spend most of his/her time getting the students to sit down and shut up, so most would prefer to teach in a private school, where students have the willingness to listen and the ability to learn. So private schools have the pick of the teachers and mostly manage to hire good ones.
And part of that is that private High Schools are often able to put before their students that rare breed, a MALE teacher. And that does help male students, who tend to get put down and disrespected by female teachers.
So the lad I have in mind went to a private school where the mathematics teachers were male (funnily enough!) and who were very enthusiastic about their subject. And they enthused the boy. Which was something of a pity. Because he became a mathematician. He spent 8 years at distinguished universities studying it.
But he wasn't in fact very good at it. He could do it all but he was not good enough for it to lead to his heart's desire: A good job. And that showed up in his performance on ability tests. He was brilliant at verbal tasks but only in the top third for mathematics. Any guidance counsellor would have steered him away from mathematics and into something more verbal.
So were the 8 years he spent on mathematics wasted? Not really. Most people remember their time at university as a good time in their lives and he had 8 years of that, which he did enjoy. And coming from an affluent family he did not have fees or loans to worry about.
But it all worked out in the end. After he gave up on mathematics, he studied computer programming for a year. And he found his niche there. He did use his verbal ability, but in a non-obvious way. He was soon hired as a computer programmer. And he loves doing it. He gets paid a lot of money to do what is for him fun. And why is it fun? Partly because it is easy for him but also because it is like a puzzle that you always manage to solve. As a former FORTRAN programmer myself, I can vouch for how rewarding it is.
Programming is basically an exercise in being relentlessly precise and logical so it seems a bit odd that it should be associated with verbal ability but it seems to be. My strengths too are mostly verbal rather than mathematical and I almost got to the stage where I could write FORTRAN in my sleep. FORTRAN dreams? They can happen, though they don't lead to usable code
But the point is that a computer language is a language, if I can be tautological. A language like FORTRAN or C is a way of talking to a computer and telling it to do things -- so that is how it seems to work. The commands in a computer language are in fact mostly in English: DO, IF, SWITCH, WRITE etc. It's a reminder that computers are another great gift to the world from the English-speaking people -- people whom the Left scornfully refer to as "Dead white males".
So the lad was derailed for 8 years by good teachers. He spent 8 years doing something that was hard for him and which led nowhere -- but needed only one year of studies to reach his Elysium. He could have reached it much earlier.
By JR on Thursday, December 24, 2015
This should kill off the statin religion (but it won't, of course)
There have been many anecdotal reports of statins adversely affecting mental functioning, to the point where the upsurge of Alzheimer's in recent decades could be nothing more than an effect of widespread statin use.
Scientists, however, rightly pooh-pooh anecdotal reports unless they are backed up by survey or other evidence. So a recent study (below) is of great interest. And its findings are striking. Where epidemiological reports in the medical literature characteristically make a big deal out of tiny odds ratios -- with ratios just above one being typical -- the odds ratio for the effect of statins is 4.4! A very strong result by epidemiological standards. So statins definitely can and do wreck your memory. The critics of statins are resoundingly vindicated.
The authors below don't want to believe their results, of course, so clutch for comfort their finding that ALL lipid lowering drugs -- not just statins -- wreck your memory. Quite how that is a comfort quite eludes me, however. I would have thought that the finding shows that we NEED our lipids in our brains and that ANY attempt to lower them is destructive. And statin critics have often made that point. There is of course a LOT of cholesterol in our brains. It belongs there.
So we might ask what good is something that protects your heart but wrecks your brain? But the reality is even worse than that. A recent very comprehensive study found that statins did not even protect your heart. You were just as likely to die of heart failure with or without them. Here are the statistics:
Statins reduced the numbers of patients experiencing non-fatal HF hospitalization (1344/66 238 vs. 1498/66 330; RR 0.90, 95% confidence interval, CI 0.84–0.97) and the composite HF outcome (1234/57 734 vs. 1344/57 836; RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.85–0.99) but not HF death (213/57 734 vs. 220/57 836; RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.80–1.17).
And since statins have an acknowledged muscle-weakening effect and the heart is one big muscle, the use of statins to treat the heart was always deeply paradoxical! Words rarely fail me but that went close.
Clearly, the prescribing of statins to the general public should cease forthwith.
Statin Therapy and Risk of Acute Memory Impairment
Brian L. Strom et al.
Importance: Reports on the association between statins and memory impairment are inconsistent.
Objective: To assess whether statin users show acute decline in memory compared with nonusers and with users of nonstatin lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs).
Design, Setting, and Participants: Using The Health Improvement Network database during January 13, 1987, through December 16, 2013, a retrospective cohort study compared 482 543 statin users with 2 control groups: 482 543 matched nonusers of any LLDs and all 26 484 users of nonstatin LLDs. A case-crossover study of 68 028 patients with incident acute memory loss evaluated exposure to statins during the period immediately before the outcome vs 3 earlier periods. Analysis was conducted from July 7, 2013, through January 15, 2015.
Results: When compared with matched nonusers of any LLDs (using odds ratio [95% CI]), a strong association was present between first exposure to statins and incident acute memory loss diagnosed within 30 days immediately following exposure (fully adjusted, 4.40; 3.01-6.41). This association was not reproduced in the comparison of statins vs nonstatin LLDs (fully adjusted, 1.03; 0.63-1.66) but was also present when comparing nonstatin LLDs with matched nonuser controls (adjusted, 3.60; 1.34-9.70). The case-crossover analysis showed little association.
Conclusions and Relevance: Both statin and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with acute memory loss in the first 30 days following exposure in users compared with nonusers but not when compared with each other. Thus, either all LLDs cause acute memory loss regardless of drug class or the association is the result of detection bias rather than a causal association.
By JR on Wednesday, December 23, 2015
What happens when you use only quality data to measure warming?
I generally don't comment on reports that appear on the site of Anthony Watts, because I assume that anybody reading this blog will already be reading that one. He has a much bigger readership than I do. This time I think I need to say something however.
The background is that Anthony is a skeptical meteorologist who has long bent over backwards to achieve some respectability among climate scientists. That is not my style at all -- I never give an inch for the sake of popularity -- but maybe Anthony is right and I am wrong in the great scheme of things. And he has finally got what must be his heart's desire by being allowed to present a paper at the AGU. And it is that paper that I want to talk about. The report below tells you some things about it but not, in my view, the most important things.
For a start, there is here a graph that summarizes Anthony's findings. It is too large for me to reproduce usefully on this page but you can see it if you click on the link. It is an extraordinarily poor graph. If I had been handed it as a student assignment in my statistics classes, I would have failed it. There is no calibration on the X axis and unexplained calibration on the Y axis. So I have to be a bit approximate in some of the things I want to say about it.
One of the reasons statisticians graph things is to detect non-linear relationships -- and when I look at Athony's graph I immediately detect something of that kind. The graph seems bimodal to me. The temperature seems just about flat up to about the year 2000 and then takes a leap onto a new plateau after that time. So what I think we see is not a steady upward trend but two flat records with a short sudden leap from one to the other.
But Anthonly ignores that. His analysis looks only at a steady upward trend. Why? Because his whole presentation is designed not to rock the boat too much. By combining the data from the '80s and '90s (which did show some warming) with the 21st century data (which shows no warming), he gets an overall upwards temperature rise -- which is just what the Warmists want. By failing to consider the pre- and post- 2000 data separately, Anthony ignores the "pause", the period in the 21st century temperature record that even Warmists concede has shown no statistically significant change in global temperature.
Anthony will no doubt say that I misconceive what he was trying to do and that may be so but I am concerned that Warmists will now be able to say that a prominent skeptic has admitted that the globe is still warming after all -- when that is clearly not the case. The overall temperature rise that Anthony reports is nothing more than a statistical artifact, and a deliberate one at that.
Here once again is the graph of the satellite temperature record:
Anthony's data are of course from the USA only so, logically, one could say that they tell us nothing about global temperatures. The USA could be entirely atypical of the globe. I am not, however, aware that anybody has ever put forward such an improbable proposition. In any case, my criticism concerns the misinterpretation of a graph, nothing more.
And if the graph is typical of the globe, it gives Warmists a new big problem. None of their models and theories even begin to account for a recent sudden step change in temperature over just a year or two. Or have we already had the famed "tipping point"?!
Surface temperatures recorded over three decades at 410 ideally situated weather stations are markedly lower than temperatures recorded at stations located near multiple heatsinks, according to a new study presented Thursday at the 2015 fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
The study examined the 30-year temperature records collected from a subset of 410 weather stations belonging to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) of 1,218 stations.
“A 410-station subset of U.S. Historical Climatology stations is identified that experienced no changes in time of observation or station moves during the 1979-2008 period. These stations are classified on proximity to artificial surfaces, buildings, and other such objects with unnatural thermal mass,” according to the study, entitled Comparing of Temperature Trends Using an Unperturbed Subset of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network.
“The United States temperature trends estimated from the relatively few stations in the classes with minimal artificial impact are found to be collectively about 2/3 as large as US trends estimated in the classes with greater expected artificial impact,” the researchers report.
The study “suggests that the trend for U.S. temperature will need to be corrected. We also see evidence of this same sort of siting problem around the world at many other official weather stations, suggesting that the same upward bias on trend also manifests itself in the global temperature record.”
However, “the data suggests that the divergence between well and poorly sited stations is gradual, not a result of spurious step change due to poor metadata,” they concluded.
“The majority of weather stations used by NOAA to detect climate change temperature signal have been compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts. This study demonstrates conclusively that this issue affects temperature trend and that NOAA’s methods are not correcting for this problem, resulting in an inflated temperature trend,” said lead author Anthony Watts, who blogs at Watts Up With That?
The best stations (Class 1) are defined as those situated on “flat and horizontal ground surrounded by a clear surface with a slope below 1/3 (<19 deg.). Grass/low vegetation ground cover <10 centimeters high. Sensors located at least 100 meters from artificial heating or reflecting surfaces, such as buildings, concrete surfaces, and parking lots. Far from large bodies of water, except if it is representative of the area, and then located at least 100 meters away. No shading when the sun elevation >3 degrees,” according to NOAA's 2002 Site Information Handbook.
The worst (Class 5) have their “temperature sensor located next to/above an artificial heating source, such as a building, roof top, parking lot, or concrete surface.”
“The poorest sites tend to be warmer,” explained co-author John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
Batteries And Bulldust: Why ‘Living Off The Grid’ Is Not As Green As You Think
The arrival in Australia of the Tesla "Powerwall" storage battery has produced lots of erections among Australian Greenies. They see it as the longed-for solution to the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. The article below however points out that such systems do not add up as a replacement for reticulated electricity. The author offers nuclear power as the best replacement for hydrocarbon energy sources.
As you could probably guess from the angry tone of it, the article appeared in a far-Left publication, "New Matilda". It is however perfectly rational and numerate in its critique of the batteries. There have always been some Green/Leftists who like nukes. The Left in fact hailed nuclear power when it was first rolled out in the '50s. It was "new" so they liked it.
This is not the first pro-nuke article to appear in "New Matilda". Editor Chris Graham is evidently balanced in his thinking on some occasions. He even published a critique of extreme feminism recently. But he did have to publish a Greenie reply to the article below which I don't think is worth linking to.
By Geoff Russell
You can bet that a newsreader who pronounces film as ‘fill-em’ will receive a flood of complaints. Similarly, spelling mistakes in the written word will be pounced upon by the eagle-eyed readers with howls of protest and claims of declining standards and the impending end of civilisation.
But when people screw up with numbers, there’s a stunned silence. Our innovation hungry Prime Minister recently announced $48m to combat falling maths science standards, but it isn’t just children that need help with numbers.
Take, for example, the Climate Council’s Tim Flannery and SBS journalist Emma Hannigan in a recent news report about household battery technologies. Flannery responded to Hannigan’s statement that sales of battery systems were predicted to be 50,000 per year for the next decade by saying “… when you get to that point, you won’t need coal fired power systems any more”.
Get any 10-year-old (with a phone) to do the maths. 50,000 x 10 is half a million batteries. And how many households do we have?
Maths won’t help you here, you need data. Google it… number of households in Australia. It’s about 9 million.
So will half a million batteries make a dent in our electricity emissions? A tad useless would be an appropriate technical estimate, but since household electricity is only about a quarter of electricity, it’s really a quarter of a tad useless.
Put simply, half a million batteries, at around $7,150 dollars each (current price) is an incredibly stupid way to spend $35 billion dollars. For comparison, the United Arab Emirates bought 4 x 1.4 gigawatt South Korean nuclear plants for $20 billion (US) and they’ll all be running by 2020.
That would generate enough electricity to charge half a million 7kw Tesla batteries 126,000 times in a decade; if they could handle it. They are only rated to handle 5,000 charge discharge cycles.
But cost isn’t the biggest reason for not using big batteries in houses. Let’s consider the situation in Germany, mainly because the data comes easily to hand and because they’ve just wasted 15 years mucking around with renewables at great cost, but with trivial impact.
They expect to take 50 years to do what France did in 15 with nuclear power. Consider the following chart of German electricity use in January 2015.
Can you see the days with very little wind and sun? There’s one run of five in a row starting on the 19th of January. In the absence of their fossil fuel and nuclear plants, how much battery storage would the Germans need to cover this kind of run?
They’ve just signed the COP21 agreement that should stop them expanding their logging of forests for electricity; in fact I’d argue that Article 5 requires them to reduce it.
To make the maths trivial, lets assume they only need to supply 50 gigawatts of power for five days. That’s 5 x 24 = 120 hours. Do the sums and you’ll see that the batteries will need to supply 6,000 gigawatt-hours of energy (120 x 50). A gigawatt is a ‘1’ with 9 zeros. So, how many fully charged Tesla 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwalls would you need to supply this? All those zeros make what is a trivial calculation look complex: 6,000,000,000,000 divided by 7,000 is 857,142,857.
That’s 857 million batteries at a current cost of … $6.1 trillion dollars.
In the real world, many industries need their electricity in a particular form, but the numbers at least give us a feel for the scale of the problem.
But, as I said, cost isn’t the biggest reason people shouldn’t do this.
Consider the much-vaunted Tesla gigafactory? When it’s finished in 2020, it will produce batteries for half a million vehicles a year. That’s impressive and useful, but how many such giga factories will it take to supply batteries for those five days of German power?
Each year the giga factory can produce 35 gigawatt hours of battery storage. So how many years of production will it take to supply 6,000 gigawatt hours worth of batteries… 6,000,000,000,000/35,000,000,000… roughly 171 years; assuming Germany is the only customer.
You can do such calculations without all those zeros by using the Exp button on your phone calculator App.
But of course, real engineers wouldn’t use Tesla Powerwalls for such a purpose, they’d go for something much cheaper like pumped hydro. This is where you pump water from a low place to a high place when you have cheap electricity and then let it fall back down through a turbine to generate electricity at some later time.
It’s great when the geography is suitable and you don’t mind trashing some high mountain valley.
But surely batteries will get cheaper? Agreed. The Climate Council has just published a modest battery report. They make a general claim that the cost of battery storage should fall to $200 per kilowatt hour by 2020.
If that comes to pass, the Germans could provide for a run of 5 cold still days using an as yet undeveloped technology at a projected cost of just $1.2 trillion. That makes me feel much better!
So we probably can’t afford them, and it will be incredibly tough to build enough of them, but there’s still another far more important reason that using big batteries in houses, or for general grid backup, is dumb enough that it should be made illegal where there is no actual need.
Has the penny dropped yet? Here’s a hint. The world sells 70 million cars a year and the Tesla giga factor will make half a million car-sized batteries a year when it’s finished in 2020.
It should be obvious now… we will desperately need good, big batteries for electric vehicles.
Batteries and hydrogen fuel look to be our only choices for vehicles. So we shouldn’t be wasting valuable battery production resources to make batteries for houses because some puddle shallow thinkers reckon it’s cool to live off-grid.
We know how to cleanly and efficiently power houses; you build nuclear power plants and hook them into a grid. In developing countries, there is a pressing need for grids and that will be a huge challenge. Wasting valuable battery production capacity on powering houses will make everything that much harder.
The whole batteries-in-houses idiocy is part of what is inevitable when rich countries transfer spending decisions from Governments to individuals via low taxation rates and small government; or more accurately, incompetent Government; Governments who no longer have the skills and vision to pursue major projects in the national interest, let alone the international interest.
Traditionally, when Governments spent money, there was at least a fighting chance that a competent bureaucracy would act rationally and in the public interest.
But when it’s up to individuals, particularly rich, self-centered individuals who can’t think quantitatively, then they will buy Tesla batteries and Tesla will happily supply them.
If Tesla boss Elon Musk had even half the environmental concern he professes, then he wouldn’t make the bloody things.
The Warmists never stop. Always a new scare. This time it's crocs that are going to eat you as a result of global warming. Why? Because global warming will drive them towards the cooller waters of Southern Australia. Just one problem: Crocs are reptiles and they LIKE warmth. The warmer they are, the more active they are. So where are they generally found? In TROPICAL Australia -- around Cape York Peninsula and the Top End. It's the HOTTEST part of Australia that they like. They vote with their feet to show the best habitat for themselves. No wonder those who know crocodiles well in the wild dismiss the laboratory study reported below
And I have done my usual trick of looking up the underlying academic journal article (Diving in a warming world: the thermal sensitivity and plasticity of diving performance in juvenile estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus)). When I do that, I often find that the authors have concluded what they wanted to conclude regardless of what their results show. And so it seems here too. I note the following sentence in the Abstract: "Maximal dive performances, however, were found to be thermally insensitive across the temperature range of 28–35°C". Come again? 28–35°C is the temperature range they studied and the central claim of the article is that crocs can't stay underwater for long if the water is hot. Yet that sentence asserts the exact opposite. I give up!
The little lady whose Ph.D. research the article was based on -- Essie Rodgers -- would appear to have been very poorly supervised
Saltwater crocodiles may be forced to migrate from the north of Australia to the southern states because of global warming.
A University of Queensland study has found the man eaters may be ill-equipped to adjust to rising water temperatures, prompting them to migrate to cooler environments.
The researchers found the higher water temperatures hindered their diving ability, putting the young crocs at risk from predators.
Professor Craig Franklin of the university's School of Biological Sciences said they have found crocodiles are not hardwired to adapt to water temperatures – unlike other cold blooded animals.
'It's likely that if the water is too hot, crocodiles might move to cooler regions, or will seek refuge in deep, cool water pockets to defend their dive times,' he said.
Lead author for the study, PhD student Essie Rodgers, said the study showed increases in water temperatures severely shortened crocodiles diving times.
'Crocodiles are ectothermic animals – where environmental temperatures strongly influence their body temperatures,' she said.
The lethal temperature for crocodiles is in the high 30s to low 40s, making water a critical refuge for the reptiles to avoid dehydration.
Experts have cast doubt on the study, with Crocodylus Park expert Grahame Webb telling NT News the prehistoric animals are highly resilient.
'They've been through plenty of dramatic changes in temperature and they've gone through that okay,' he said.
'I think its important to be careful with these doomsday predictions.'
Psychologists discover the truth of an old conservative saying
The saying is "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged last night". It is of no certain origin but is often attributed to Irving Kristol or some other NYC neoconservative -- though it is also attributed to Frank Rizzo, who rose from police chief to Mayor of Philadelphia. The point is of course the notoriously poor reality contact of liberals. Most of what they believe is at variance with reality, with "all men are equal" being the most obvious example plus global warming and most of feminism being other examples. Here's that pesky graph of the satellite temperature record again:
And the wisdom of the "mugged" saying was shown in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when attitudes among American adults were shown to have shifted Rightward after the attacks. The attacks may be said to have "mugged" America, at least temporarily.
A new article (below) extends the finding to Britain -- concerning the time in 2005 when Britain had its big attack by Muslim terrorists. And the interesting thing this time is that it was ONLY liberals who changed their attitudes. By 2005, British conservatives had learned from the 9/11 attacks and more or less expected what happened in Britain. But liberals were caught by surprise. They had NOT learned from 9/11. So the attitude change was among British liberals only.
Amusing that the authors below describe heightened caution about Muslims as "prejudice". I would have thought that it was POSTjudice -- evidence of learning, not evidence of hostility
Liberals' attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants became more like those of conservatives following the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, new research shows. Data from two nationally representative surveys of British citizens revealed that feelings of national loyalty increased and endorsement of equality decreased among political liberals following the terrorist attack.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Terrorist attacks on major international capital cities such as Paris, Ankara, or London are rare and dramatic events that undoubtedly shape public and political opinion. But whose attitudes do they affect most, and in what way?
"Our findings show that terrorism shifts public attitudes towards greater loyalty to the in-group, less concern with fairness, and greater prejudice against Muslims and immigrants, but it seems that this effect is stronger on those who are politically left-leaning than those who are right-leaning," explain psychological scientists from the Center for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent.
"The overall impact is to create a climate in which it may be harder to promote or sustain intergroup tolerance, inclusiveness and trust," says Julie Van de Vyver of the University of Kent, one of the authors on the study.
Research from psychological science has shown that people often adopt ideological belief systems that reduce their feelings of threat. Based on these findings, the research team hypothesized that the bombings would cause liberals to shift moral perspectives in favor of protecting the in-group, akin to the values typically reported by political conservatives. They speculated that this shift would ultimately lead to an increase in prejudice toward the out-group among liberals.
Historic survey evidence gathered by two of the study authors, Diane Houston and Dominic Abrams, provided the research team with real-world insight. The researchers analyzed newly available data from two nationally representative surveys, administered about 6 weeks before and 1 month after the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. The bombings, which occurred on public transport, led to the deaths of 52 people and injury of 770 people. The bombings were part of an Al Qaeda attack carried out by three British-born Muslims from immigrant families and one Jamaican convert to Islam.
In the two surveys, participants rated their agreement with statements that represented four moral foundations: in-group loyalty (i.e., "I feel loyal to Britain despite any faults it may have"), authority-respect (i.e., "I think people should follow rules at all times, even when no one is watching"), harm-care (i.e., "I want everyone to be treated justly, even people I do not know. It is important to me to protect the weak in society), and fairness-reciprocity (i.e., "There should be equality for all groups in Britain").
Participants also rated their agreement with statements about attitudes toward Muslims (e.g., "Britain would lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Britain") and immigrants (e.g., "Government spends too much money assisting immigrants").
As expected, attitudes towards Muslims and toward immigrants were more negative following the attacks than before, but only among liberals; conservatives' views stayed relatively constant. Thus, liberals' attitudes seemed to shift toward those of conservatives following the bombings.
This increased prejudice was accounted for by changes in liberals' moral foundations. Specifically, liberals showed an increase in in-group loyalty and a decrease in fairness, and these shifts accounted for their negative attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants.
The results show that people's moral perspectives aren't necessarily constant - they can change according to the immediate context.
"An important challenge following dramatic terrorist attacks is to know how to engage with public perceptions and attitudes, for example to prevent an upsurge in prejudice and its effects," says Abrams.
"For people working to tackle prejudice, it is important to be aware that terror events may have different effects on the attitudes of people who start from different political orientations," the researchers write.
Based on these findings, the researchers argue that terrorist attacks may ultimately lead conservatives to consolidate their existing priorities, making them resistant to change; at the same time, such attacks may prompt a shift in liberals' priorities toward more prejudiced attitudes.
This shift in attitudes may be reflected in the UK parliament's recent decision, following the November attacks in Paris, to approve bombing missions in Syria—a reversal of its decision in 2013. The researchers note that the greatest change in voting occurred among Labour Members of Parliament, who fall on the left end of the political spectrum; they showed a 20% increase in support for the bombing missions from 2013 to 2015.
Climate deal 'signals end to gas cookers': They'll have to be phased out to meet new targets
Yet more expense and disruption from this evil Leftist hoax. And even if we grant them their assumptions, what sense does it make? Replacing a gas heater by a heat pump does not eliminate the need for an energy supply. Heat pumps run on electricity that has to be generated somehow -- but how would the vast new demand for electricity be met? Britain is already substantially over-run with windmills and solar farms but still gets only a tiny fraction of its electricity supply from them. And domestic heating is mostly used at night, when the sun doesn't shine -- not that it shines much in Britain anyway
The Paris climate change deal spells the beginning of the end for cooking and heating with gas, experts claimed yesterday.
Within 15 years, British families may have to start phasing out gas cookers, fires and boilers if the UK is to meet new tougher targets aimed at halting rises in global temperature.
The United Nations agreement to stop global warming, approved by 195 countries at a summit in Paris after two weeks of intense negotiations, commits nations to reducing greenhouse gases from 2020 onwards to halt climate change.
It was hailed as historic by politicians. David Cameron said: ‘This global deal now means that the whole world has signed to play its part in halting climate change.’
But Britain’s energy plans will now have to be revised as our already stringent targets to reduce greenhouse gases are based on limiting global warming to a rise of 2C.
The new agreement is more ambitious, aimed at limiting warming to ‘well below’ 2C by the century’s end.
The UK is ‘absolutely committed’ to the deal and will be ‘making sure we deliver on it’, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said yesterday.
Experts predict the stricter targets will mean the familiar sights of gas hobs and ovens and gas-fired boilers will become a thing of the past.
Jim Watson, professor of energy policy at Sussex University, said: ‘This will affect the power sector first, but as we move through to the 2030s and beyond we’ll have to find new ways of heating our homes and cooking our food.’
The Government’s Committee on Climate Change is pressing for alternatives to boilers such as heat pumps – devices which extract warmth from the ground or air.
It wants four million homes to be heated by such devices by 2030, despite each costing £12,000, with installations accelerating after that until gas plays a minimal role in heating and cooking in homes by 2050.
All gas-fired power stations must also close by the mid-2030s unless they strip CO2 from emissions.
Professor Watson added: ‘Gas has served us very well since the 1970s. Whatever we move to next, people will be moving to similar levels of comfort and controllability, which engineers need to get on with.’
Around 23million British homes use gas, with a third of natural gas used in Britain burnt by domestic boilers, cookers or heaters.
Britain is already committed to phasing out coal fired power stations by 2025.
But gas power stations will have to be phased out next, unless a way is found of capturing the CO2 they create – known as carbon capture and storage.
Gas, although cleaner than coal, is our biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions – generating 169million tons of CO2 in 2014.
Bob Ward, who is policy director at the Grantham Research Institute of Climate Change, said that to meet Britain’s commitments the days of cooking with gas were numbered.
He said: ‘The only possible use of fossil fuels that will continue is if they are used to generate electricity, but this will only happen if the carbon dioxide they create is captured and stored.
‘Gas cookers will be phased out, probably as soon as possible. I suspect manufacturers will simply stop making them.’
He added that in years to come some form of carbon tax putting up the cost of gas is inevitable – which will make electric cookers much cheaper than their gas rivals.
CCC chief executive Matthew Bell said: ‘For something like heating, by 2050 gas will be playing a much more limited role and a range of other technologies will have taken its place, meaning low-carbon sources of warmth – heat pumps and so on.’
Trump: ‘We Have To Be Much Tougher’ on Families of Terrorists
My comments at the foot of this report -- JR
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump reiterated his previous assertion that he would "go after the wives" and family members of terrorists.
"We have to be much tougher" on terrorists’ families, Trump said when asked about his previous statement during the fifth GOP presidential debate held in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
"Recently Donald Trump mentioned that we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law. So my question is: How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?" Georgia Tech student Josh Jacob asked on Facebook.
Trump replied: "We have to be much tougher, we have to be much stronger than we've been. We have people that know what’s going on. You take a look at just the attack in [San Bernardino] California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on. They saw pipe bombs sitting all over the floor, they saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.
"When you have the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, families, girlfriends – and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia. They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.
"I would be very, very firm with families. And frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives. But they do care, believe it or not, about their families' lives."
But Trump’s position on targeting the families of terrorists was challenged by both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
"This is another example of [Trump’s] lack of seriousness," Bush responded. "Look, this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us, and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS. But the idea that that is a solution to this is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this."
"If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize there is something called the Geneva Convention that we would have to pull out of," Paul also pointed out. "It would defy every norm."
"So they can kill us but we can’t kill them?" Trump asked.
Yes. I think the point is that Muslims have set the example. If they keep attacking innocent men, women and children, that gives us a warrant to do the same to them if that is helpful to our self-defence. The Geneva convention was set up because all sides realized that what they did to others could be done to them in retaliation. The signatories were protecting themselves in signing it. But if Muslims don't obey the Geneva convention, they put themselves outside it and cannot expect it to protect them. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". (Galatians 6:7) -- JR
Some typical feminist lack of perspective below
The woman below -- "Em" Rusciano -- is crying into her beer because she and other feminists cop online abuse. So what else is new? She should try being a conservative blogger and see what abuse she gets from her friends on the Left. It's a two-way street Madame.
There she is! Complete with feminist haircut. I wonder why she is "Em"? Short for "Emilia"?
Abuse is so common on the net that the writer below clearly has a glass jaw. She just can't take the heat. She is a fragile little female petal. Is she missing the courteous way men used to treat women? Seems like it. Does she want men not to swear in front of women the way they once did? She needs to look in the mirror if she wants to see who has destroyed that old-fashioned courtesy. Everybody wants to have their cake and eat it but even feminists are not going to achieve that. They asked for equality but the writer below is testimony that they can't handle it.
But she is typical of feminists in her total lack of perspective. Feminists see only the difficulties that life throws at women. They seem completely oblivious of the fact that men have burdens too. Men are just braver at coping with their burdens so you rarely get any sexist whining from them. You want to know who has the bigger stresses? Look at life expectancy. Men die about 5 years sooner than women.
So my advice to the lady is old-fashioned to the point of cliche: "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen"
THE INTERNET is an amazing invention that has united humanity, but it has also taken humanity and given us the worst version of ourselves.
This week writer Clementine Ford reported a man to his employer for an abusive comment he wrote on her public Facebook page. After investigating the matter his employer chose to dismiss him, and at first she received overwhelming support from members of the public. Sadly, it wasn’t too long until the ever reliable troll train arrived and she was fielding death and rape threats at a frightening rate.
Hundreds of irate men smashed out angry comments, (engage sarcasm font) incensed that she’d taken away another man’s livelihood. And right before Christmas!
Stop being so sensitive sweetheart!
Grow a pair!
You can’t even get a man!
(You guys pick a metaphor would you, she can’t be both unlovable and a tart OK?)
Cyberspace has truly become the final frontier for hardcore misogyny hasn’t it?
The men who are truly opposed to feminism have been smoked out and driven to the dark corners of the universe, to be united transformers-style when a female dare stick her head up and say: “No, I’m not going to endure your bulls*** behaviour. I’m going to hold you accountable for it”.
It’s also clear to me that this is a very small minority of men, I’d go so far as to say only a few lousy per cent. None of the awesome males in my life would partake in this kind of behaviour.
When you think about it this small group of infuriated dudes have nowhere left to turn, I mean imagine if Mark shouted the thing he wrote on Clem’s Facebook page on a street corner.
Hahahahahahahaha? WHAT THE HELL MARK?
Hahahahahahahaha? WHAT THE HELL MARK?Source:Facebook
Dear Cody, I’m confused, what version of World War II were you told and my follow up question is: are you calling Hitler a sl**?
Dear Cody, I’m confused, what version of World War II were you told and my follow up question is: are you calling Hitler a sl**?Source:Facebook
Aaaaaaaaaaand that’s enough of that.
After I had finished forensically examining these men’s Facebook pages trying to gather some clue as to why they were so full of hate and rage, I released that there was a common theme among all of the comments.
I noticed their resistance to change, their worry that somehow women will rise up against them and smear the streets with our menstrual blood.
That we’re starting a secret cult that wishes to castrate them and take away their jobs, rights and lives.
We’re totally not! I just want my daughters to be paid the same as men, to not receive death and rape threats for having strong opinions and to be free from the constraints of archaic gender stereotypes.
That’s reasonable, right?
I could sit here and say that when I am attacked viciously by these people online I don’t care, that it doesn’t effect me, but that would be completely untrue.
It stings. I feel raw, vulnerable and exposed. It makes me not want to put myself out there, it makes me want to hide and protect myself and my family.
It still manages to take my breath away, the ferocity at which these men come at me, the fact that they can’t just disagree with me in a civilised manner. Is this how they handle differing opinions in their own lives? Shouting obscenities at anyone who irks them?
I’m all for robust discussions and differing opinions but having: “Die you short haired feminist c***” written under an article or column I’ve written doesn’t encourage debate, it just makes me feel sick. Let’s be honest, I’m a comedian so I’m not exactly hitting the hard issues on the regular, but I still manage to rile them by having a strong opinion on anything at all.
I don’t need to get a thicker skin or toughen up, they need to stop being aggressive a***holes.
We’re not opposed to being opposed, we just want the death and rape threats to stop.
That seems reasonable, right?
I’m here today to inform you that thousands of women are copping this kind of ferocious vitriol online from men on a daily basis.
When I sat down to write this column I was worried about putting myself in the firing line, then I realised that’s what they want and what good am I to any of you or my girls if I let that fear censor me?
I’m done with pretending this doesn’t happen.
I’m adding my voice to the growing roar of females who voice their opinions online that this behaviour is not OK.
That if you write something offensive, malicious or abusive you will be called out. That if you’re stupid enough to put your name, photo and employment details anywhere near it to expect consequences.
What I want to say to these men is that I see your aggression and I now see past it, to your fear.
You have been reduced to scared, marginalised, children having a cyber tantrum and we’re not going to put up with your s*** anymore.
By JR on Saturday, December 19, 2015
Greenland Ice Sheet lost mass twice as fast between 2003 and 2010 as it did during the ENTIRE twentieth century
There was NO global warming during the period concerned (2003-2010). That pesky graph again:
So global warming cannot be held responsible for the changes described below. So what might have been the cause of the melting? Probably vulcanism of some sort. Greenland is not generally known for volcanoes at present but had a lots of them in the distant past. And the Arctic as a whole is still volcanically active. The volcanoes of neighboring Iceland are of course well known and the underwater volcanoes of the Gakkel ridge are quite explosive. So there may be more going on under the Greenland icecap than we know.
Some years ago an "unexpected" hotspot was discovered under the Greenland ice and that could well not be the whole of it. One might note that the extensive volcanic activity under the Antarctic icecap has only recently become known. It is therefore entirely reasonable to expect that something similar lies ready to be discovered in the Arctic
Note also that the melting recorded below was quite uneven -- not Greenland-wide. That is much more consistent with random vulcanism events than with an effect of global warming, which would affect the whole of Greenland
The Greenland ice sheet - a potentially massive contributor to land-encroaching sea-level rise - lost mass twice as fast between 2003 and 2010 as during the entire 20th century.
This is according to the first direct observations of the region's melting during the latest 110 years.
Greenland ice loss contributed to a global average sea level rise of 25 millimetres (about an inch) between 1990 and 2010 - mainly from surface melt.
The total mass lost was over 9,000 gigatonnes (billion tonnes). It was net loss, meaning the difference between ice melt and ice gain from falling snow or rain.
The study is the first time scientists have been able to provide an accurate estimate of how much Greenland contributes to sea level rise.
Data on the Greenland ice sheet has been lacking in reports of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists in the study said.
It also allows researchers to pinpoint where the ice sheet is particularly sensitive and what controls the loss of glacier ice in Greenland.
'If we do not know the contribution from the all sources that have contributed towards global sea level rise, then it is difficult to predict future global sea levels,' said first author of the paper, Kristian Kjeldsen from the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
'In our paper we have used direct observations to specify the mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet and thereby highlight its contribution to global sea level rise'.
The scientists were particularly interested in the changes of the ice sheet after the Little Ice Age, a period from c. 1200 AD to the end of the nineteenth century.
This marks when the ice sheet was at its largest during the past millinium.
Changes of the Greenland Ice Sheet are observed when the ice retreats and leaves an imprint on the landscape.
The vegetation along mountain slopes was removed by the advancing ice and once the ice begins to retreat the freshly eroded part of the mountain slope is seen as a lighter colour than the non-eroded part where plants were growing all along.
The results show that some areas of the Greenland Ice Sheet have lost considerable amounts of ice during the twentieth century.
The mass loss along the southeastern and northwestern coast contributed between 53 and 83 per cent of the entire mass loss for the individual periods.
'One of the unique things about our results - which distinguish them from earlier model studies - is that we not only estimate the total mass loss of the entire ice,' said Kjeldsen.
'But we can actually calculate changes all the way down to regional and local levels and say something about changes for individual outlet glaciers'.