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Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

No, that is not my Native American name.

Gary Jason at Liberty Unbound draws attention to two recent WSJ articles about the cost of ‘green’ subsidies.

The first is about those annoying annoying and expensive energy saving light bulbs:

California’s utilities alone spent $548 million over the past seven years in CFL subsidies. In fact, California utilities have subsidized over 100 million CFLs since 2006. And on the first of this year, the state started phasing out incandescent bulb sales.

Of course, when I say that the California utilities have been subsidizing the CFLs, I really should say that the aforementioned hapless consumers have been doing so, because all the subsidy money — about $2.70 out of the actual $4.00 cost of the CFL, i.e., more than two thirds of the actual cost — is paid by the consumer in the form of higher utility rates.

Naturally, the rest of the country — and, for that matter, the world — is set to follow California’s lead on CFLs. A federal law effective January 1 of next year will require a 28% step-up in efficiency for incandescent bulbs, and bans them outright by 2014. One consequence of this federal policy — unintended, perhaps, but none the less foreseeable — is that the last US plant making incandescent bulbs has been shut down, and China (which now makes all the CFLs) has seen even more of a jobs expansion, and is able to buy even more of our debt.

But now — surprise! — California has discovered that the actual energy savings of switching to CFLs were nowhere near what was originally estimated. Pacific Gas and Electric, which in 2006 set up the biggest subsidy fund for CFLs, found that its actual savings from the CFL program were collectively about 450 million kilowatt hours, which is only about one-fourth of the original estimate.

And of course, they contain mercury, and you are not supposed to put them in the trash, they don’t last nearly as long as the manufacturers claimed they would, the light they produce looks artificial, and there are stories of their exploding.

So they cost jobs, are expensive, potentially dangerous, and don’t save much energy. Naturally perfect candidates for extensive government subsidies.

The second article is about the abject failure of big wind (the multi-billion dollar wind and solar power industry) to make any appreciable contribution to electricity needs, while consuming vast sums of taxpayer money:

The second Journal story (Jan. 18) reports that Evergreen Solar has closed its Massachusetts plant and laid off all the workers there.

This is deliciously ironic. Evergreen Solar was the darling of Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick, devout green and all-around Obama Mini-Me, gave Evergreen a package of $58 million in tax incentives, grants, and other handouts to open a solar panel plant there. In doing so, he simply ignored Evergreen’s lousy track record — a record of losing nearly $700 million bucks in its short life (its IPO was in 2000), despite lavish subsidies from federal and state governments.

Now Evergreen is outsourcing its operations, blaming competition with China, and whining like a bitchslapped baby about China’s subsidies of its solar energy and its lower labor costs. But Evergreen has itself sucked up ludicrously lavish subsidies, and it knew all along about China’s labor rates compared to Massachusetts’ …

It turns out that the wind industry — aptly dubbed “Big Wind” — copped a one-year, $3 billion extension of government support for wind power. It was part of the end-of-2010 tax deal.

Originally, this government subsidy was a feature of the infamous 2008 stimulus bill, under which taxpayers were forced to cover 30% of the costs of wind power projects. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) begged for the subsequent bailout, because without it 20,000 wind power jobs would be lost (one-fourth of all such jobs in America). But despite the billions in subsidies, Big Wind is sucking wind; its allure is dropping like a stone. The AWEA’s own figures show a 72% decline in wind turbine installations from 2009, down to the lowest since 2006.

Besides trying to make the 30% subsidy(!) permanent, the AWEA is pushing for a national “renewable energy” mandate that will force utilities to buy a large chunk of the power they sell from renewable sources (mainly solar and wind), irrespective of the fact that the price of renewable energy is sky high. The association has gotten more than half the states to enact such mandates, with higher energy bills for consumers as the result.

The cost of energy is the base cost of every mined, grown and manufactured item. So why are current administrations in both Australia and the US putting such enormous amounts of taxpayer money into schemes which make energy more expensive?

I don’t think there is any devious leftist plan to undermine primary industry and manufacturing.

It is just wanting to look ‘green.’ Sheer stupidity.

Of course, talking of big wind, President Obama in his STUFU address last night called for a massive increase in investment in remewable energy.

So we and the US are to follow where Spain and Germany have bravely gone before. On a short day’s journey into a cold dark night.

This is one of those ‘only in Australia’ stories.

A young couple grabbed two inflatable women they had lying around the house and took them for a ride down the flooded Yarra River in Victoria.

The man and woman, both 19, were left clinging to a fallen gum tree in the middle of the river in North Warrandyte when one of the dolls snagged on the tree and their caper went horribly wrong about 4.30pm.

An SES watercraft came to their rescue not far from Bradleys Lane about an hour later.

While it is understood the blow up doll and several other inflatable items were salvaged from the scene, the bottoms of the rescued woman’s bathers were long gone down the river.

A blanket was required to protect her modesty as she exited the water.

Modesty Protected

Victorian Police issued a stern warning that inflatable women are not approved flotation devices.

Via the Adam Smith Blog:

He, he.

Wayne Swan and Bill Shorten met with representatives of insurance companies yesterday to encourage them to show compassion to flood victims ‘as anger grows over the companies’ “no policy, no payout” stance.

Labor wants the insurance companies to give payments to people who don’t have flood insurance.

Julia Gillard suggests that not paying out people who didn’t have policies is ‘playing hardball.’

What’s next? The government demanding that shops give goods to people who haven’t paid for them, and claiming supermarkets which don’t comply are playing hardball?

But then, why would anyone pay for groceries?

Some people who live in flood prone areas chose not to ensure against flood. They saved some money. And they are not insured against flood. That was their choice.

So why are they angry?

The insurance companies have no obligation to pay people who don’t have insurance.

The government might as well ask makers of haemorrhoid creams or jet skis to cough up. That would make as much sense.

This is typical of leftist governments. We have to be nice. Preferably with someone else’s money.

In this case, with money that belongs to policy holders (in other words, people who did think ahead) and to shareholders in insurance companies (primarily superannuation funds, ie, other people who are thinking ahead).

It is sad that some people whose homes were damaged, or who lost property in the recent floods chose not to insure against those risks. Especially when all of them live in areas which have flooded before.

Australia is a community. The suffering of one affects us all. It is great that the community rallies around to provide emergency help.

But the reason the community can rally around to provide emergency help is that most Australians still take responsibility for themselves, and put a little aside for hard times. The commonwealth and states have reserves we can draw on in hard times. Those reserves are accumulated through hard work over time.

If the government succeeds in forcing insurance companies to pay people who did not have policies, what incentive is there for people to take responsibility in the future? Why would anyone pay extra for flood insurance if the government can be relied on to pressure insurance companies to pay everyone anyway?

As a nation we used to be self-reliant, hard working, prudent. We knew we lived in a physically harsh country, where extremes of heat and flood were common. And we took care to be prepared.

Now there seems to be an attitude that we don’t need to prepare, because whatever happens, it is someone else’s job to fix it. If something unpleasant happens to me, well, I didn’t want it to happen, so someone else should pay for it.

This is now the standard way of thinking in relation to health. If I need to see a doctor, need to go to hospital, need an ambulance, or need medicine, someone else should pay. The gubmint.

But gubmint money belongs to the taxpayers. You want someone else (the taxpayer) to pay for the treatment you need if you break your leg, and to subsidise your income if you can’t work?

But how do you feel about your tax money paying for Mrs McGinty’s third set of dental work this year, when she has never cleaned her teeth in her life? Or paying for treatment for the Harris kids’ constant eczema and worm infections?

But then, why should Mrs McGinty clean her teeth? Someone else will take care of it. Why should the Harrises wash their hands and keep their animals off the kitchen benches? Someone else will pay. It will be OK.

But it won’t be OK. Because if the government constantly acts in ways that are a disincentive to taking responsibility, eventually there will be no one left to take responsibility. There will be no reserves, and no one left who can pay.

Ah, but universal health care is compassionate. No it’s not.

Well, paying out people who don’t have flood insurance is compassionate. No it’s not. 

At least, it’s compassionate to let illegal immigrants into the community and help them become citizens. No it’s not.

It is compassionate to give home loans to people who can’t really afford them. No it’s not.

It’s compassionate to lower academic standards because it is too hard for students to learn and their self-esteem will be impacted if they fail. No it’s not.

All of these are laziness, or worse, the deliberate fostering of dependence, and the discouraging of honesty and responsibility, disguised as compassion.

Those who perpetrate and perpetuate these things may feel good about themselves and their niceness.

But the end results are always the same. More resentment. More entitlement. More suffering.

He, he.

‘We can give billions of dollars to green energy research.’

‘And that will enable us to replace gasoline with sunbeams?’

‘Nothing lost in trying.’

‘Except the billions of dollars.’

‘That is taxpayer money. If we don’t take it from them, people will just waste it on their own families, instead of it being put to good use by liberals.’ …

‘We’ll start with America.’

‘Won’t that devastate the economy?’

‘Yes, but it will be worth it.’

‘Will that stop global warming?’

‘No. But think of the moral superiority we will gain…  Also, being green is very trendy right now.’ …

‘So how would you disprove global warming?’

‘You can’t. That’s how you know it’s true.’

One gem after another!

With extensive shark and vulture training programmes, and bombing churches in Egypt and Iraq.

The scary thing is that some people really do believe these things, as the last link above demonstrates.

A brief quote:

Prior to the fascist, destructive, genocidal US-UK-Israeli occupation of Iraq, Sunni and Shia, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Kurds lived together in a harmonious atmosphere of brotherhood and unity that paralleled that of occupied Palestine before the Zionist occupation in 1948. It is egregious, disgusting, despicable, ignorant, absurd and erroneous on every factual basis to assert that the aforementioned ethnic and religious groups are now massacring each other, when in reality, they are being massacred by the murderous occupation armies.

Dividing Iraq via partition and driving it into a hell of ethnic cleansing was a Zionist plot …

Of course. All that trouble between Iran and Iraq, and the murder of Kurds and Shi-ites by Saddam Hussein, and the brutalisation and torture of Iraqi citizens, that never happened, it was all just Zionist propaganda.

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts over the last six weeks.

I won’t bore you by explaining what the problem was. Let’s just hope that 2011 is more restful year!

I have been thinking lately about the seven virtues, and in particular, the first of the cardinal virtues, prudence.

Prudence is sometimes portrayed as having three faces. This is because prudence learns from the past, and thinks about consequences in the future, in order to act rightly in the present.

Prudence does not mean refusing to take risks. Prudence is not fear, but a careful regard for right outcomes.

Prudence is a quality leftist politicians lack.

They do not learn from the past. They do not think about consequences in the future. Consequently they act in the present in ways that, however well intentioned, will not bring about desireable results.

The Clinton administration’s pressure on the banks to increase home lending to under-represented groups in the housing market effectively forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to repay them.

The intention was good – more members of minority ethnic groups owning their homes. This would, if successful, have been a good thing. People are more careful of what they own, and have a greater stake in maintaining their local community and environment.

But it didn’t work. People who had been given loans they couldn’t afford, well, couldn’t afford them. So they didn’t pay them. So they lost their homes.

The people targetted to be helped were made worse off, because they lost the money they had put into their homes, and were now less likely to get a loan in the future, even one they could afford.

All this was easily predictable.

Consequences for the banks, and therefore the economy in general, and therefore people in general, were also dire.

That was also predictable.

The intention was good, but there was no prudence – no learning from the past, no thinking through of consequences in the future.

In Australia, refugees and the NBN are two obvious examples of a lack of prudence in government action.

Intending to be kind, the Labor party implemented policies which lead to a dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrants arriving by boat.

‘We will be nicer to you,’ they said. ‘We will welcome you.’ We are not nasty like John Howard.

People who would not have made the journey to Australia except for these changed policies, and for their belief that things were different in Australia now, have died.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome. 

Large numbers of people (from three boats a year to 2-3 boats a week) arriving in Australia without proper identification need to be accommodated at taxpayer expense, either in detention or in local communities. This stressful for the immigrants, stressful for workers and communities, and means money has to be diverted from other projects – roads and hospitals, for example.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome. 

When people who arrive illegally are accepted as refugees, the number of those people accepted as residents is deducted from the number of people who will be accepted from refugee camps. People who are the poorest and most in need, who have provided identification and waited for processes to run their course, lose their places to those who have the money to bypass the safeguards and make their own way to Australia.

That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome.

Planning for the proposed National Broadband Network demonstrates a similar lack of prudence – of willingness to learn from the past and to think carefully about consequences in the future.

The NBN will cost a vast amount of money. At the planned cost of $43 billion, over $6,000 per household, plus the cost of connection and in-home cabling, plus of course, ongoing plan costs.

Even now it is clear that the NBN offers little advantage over cable or ADSL2+ to people living in metropolitan areas. Those are current technologies.

Two things we learn from the past are that new technologies double the speed of internet access every five years, and that large projects are almost always slower and more expensive to implement than first thought.

On present planning/costing, the NBN will make back the taxpayer’s investment if 70% of people take it up.

In Tasmania, where need was considered significant, the take-up rate has been about 1%.

So the NBN is needed, and will succeed, only if there are no developments in internet technology over the next five years, if competition is stifled, if the price of constructing it does not increase, and if people are coerced into paying more for internet plans that are only marginally faster.

In effect, the government is spending over $6,000 of your money on a plan that will deliver no improvement over likely commercial plans which would have cost the taxpayer nothing.

There is an argument for government subsidy of better satellite based internet access for people in remote areas where commerical provision of fast internet is not viable.

That would be prudent. The NBN is not. Nor are our current policies on illegal immigration.

via Small Dead Animals:

The ETC Group, an international organization supporting sustainability and conservation, has just published its newest report, an 84-page document that presents a lengthy criticism of “the new bioeconomy.” In it, principal author Jim Thomas argues that using biofuels for energy and resources isn’t green — in fact, he says, it’s even more harmful to the environment than coal.

“What’s being presented by the government as ‘the green way forward,’ is this idea that we can use plant matter from crops, trees, or algae and convert it into fuel, plastics or chemicals,” Thomas told FoxNews.com. “And it’s just assumed that it’s carbon neutral. But when you burn something like a tree, you release as much, if not more, carbon dioxide than when you burn something like coal.”

Not to mention the fact that besides not reducing ‘greenhouse emissions,’ large scale diversion agricultural land from food production means (doh!) less food produced, which means higher food prices, which means more hungry people.

All these pious schemes which do more harm than good but which make wealthy Westerners feel good about themselves remind me of the following exchange from the Poirot story The Kidnapped Prime Minister:

Sir Bernard Dodge: You don’t seem to realize, Poirot, this is a national emergency. I do not intend to sleep until the Prime Minister is found!
Hercule Poirot: I am sure it will make you feel very virtuous, Sir Bernard, but it will not help the Prime Minister! For myself, I need to restore the little grey cells.

In any case wasteful and expensive ‘green fuels’ are just not needed. It is now clear we have vastly more energy reserves than was imagined even two years ago, which means enough cheap fossil fuel to sustain steady growth in the West, and rapid growth in developing nations for many generations to come.

And just for the heck of, and in case you missed it earlier this year:

African Crops Yield Another Catastrophe for the IPCC (but fortunately, not for Africans).

Or maybe not.

Sarah tweeted that she wasn’t happy with low-life leftist website Gawker (no link for them!) quoting large passages of her new book out of context, and without her permission.

This was Gawker’s reply:

“Did you catch the excerpt we posted yesterday from Sarah Palin’s new book? Sarah did. She tweets with rage: “The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn’t that illegal?”

[Sarah: If you’re reading this—and if you are, welcome!—you may want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the law. Try starting here or here. Or skip the totally boring reading and call one of your lawyers. They’ll walk you through it.]

Oh Sarah, you’re so dumb. Reading that legal stuff will be too hard for you, so just get a lawyer to explain it to you, slowly.

Except…

From Gateway Pundit:

Unfortunately for Gawker, they don’t seem to have read their own links.  Or perhaps they simply didn’t comprehend them as explained to them, no doubt, by their attorneys. Harper Collins, Palin’s publisher, promptly asked for and received an injunction against Gawker Media, asking that the site be banned from what it termed “further copyright infringement.”  The injunction prohibits Gawker from “continuing to distribute, publish or otherwise transmit pages from the book” pending a hearing on Nov. 30.

The Other McCain has a copy of the court order.  He adds: The judge found probable cause that Gawker violated copyright and ordered Gawker to pull the leaked pages and appear in court to defend themselves and explain why this wasn’t a violation of copyright and why the leaked pages shouldn’t be permanently removed. This temporary restraining order prevents Gawker from potentially further violating copyright by keeping the pages up until the court date. Date set for Nov. 30th. This is a huge victory for HarperCollins’ lawyers.

And..

MacRanger at Macsmind is reporting that under US copyright law each page could cost Gawker up to $500,000 in penalties. (Gawker excerpted from 14 pages.) A spokesperson for Harper Collins told me that “Substantial Damages will be sought”. “We intend to put them out of the business of printing protected material ever again.”

I am not a vengeful person, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing the self-righteous smuggery of professional mockers like those at Gawker get their come-uppance.

Oh my goodness, the legacy media really are a laugh a minute.

Three examples:

Pope changes view on condom use.  No he hasn’t.

Pope Agrees Condom Use Can Be Justified. That’s not what he said.

Pontiff Blesses Condom Use. Did you even read what he said?

OK, then, what did he say?

Basically, that in some circumstances, the use of a condom by a male prostitute might indicate an awakening of a moral sense, or at least a recognition that sexual pleasure is not the highest good.

So condoms are OK?

Hardly.

What Pope Benedict said was that, possibly, for a male prostitute to use one might be an indication of the beginning of a journey towards the development of some responsibility, of concern for others.

See the last paragraph in the excerpt below.

From Jimmy Akin’s blog at the National Catholic Register:

Seewald: . . . In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

Benedict: . . . In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

Note that the Pope’s overall argument is that condoms will not solve the problem of AIDS. In support of this, he makes several arguments:

1) People can already get condoms, yet it clearly hasn’t solved the problem.

2) The secular realm has proposed the ABC program, where a condom is used only if the first two, truly effective procedures (abstinence and fidelity) have been rejected. Thus even the secular ABC proposal recognizes that condoms are not the unique solution. They don’t work as well as abstinence and fidelity. The first two are better.

3) The fixation on condom use represents a banalization (trivialization) of sexuality that turns the act from being one of love to one of selfishness. For sex to have the positive role it is meant to play, this trivialization of sex—and thus the fixation on condoms—needs to be resisted.

So that’s the background to the statement that the press seized on:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality. [EMPHASIS ADDED]

There are several things to note here: First, note that the Pope says that “there may be a basis in the case of some individuals,” not that there is a basis. This is the language of speculation. But what is the Pope speculating about? That condom use is morally justified? No, that’s not what he’s said: that there may be cases “where this [condom use] can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way to recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed.”

In other words, as Janet Smith puts it,

The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices.  He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them.  If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.

Israel’s Top Ten Airport Security Technologies

The technologies are interesting and certainly work. But what seems to make the most difference is the thinking.

“Israel concentrates on the passengers and not their luggage so we have a real edge over the rest of the world in protecting travelers,” says Rafi Sela, a top security consultant and former chief security officer at the Israel Airport Authority. “This is in addition to us protecting the whole airport, while the others merely try to achieve aviation security.”

In other words, it’s about the people, not the bags, and it’s about the whole airport, not just the planes.

Also:

“You can’t do security with political correctness. As long as you are doing it without a real plan, it will never work.”

First:

‘Social justice’ is a key identifying phrase, a shibboleth, for liberal/progressives. Conservatives are assumed not to care about social justice, being concerned only with making money and reducing taxes.

Then why is it that conservatives give more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in their communities as volunteer fire fighters, ambulance officers, etc?

Informaworld has an interesting article on social justice from a conservative perspective.

Bruce Thyer points out that conservatives are just as concerned about social justice. We just differ about how the best results are to be achieved.

Second:

The Australian Services Union is demanding that women be paid as much as men.

But in Australia, women are paid as much as men for the same work. It’s the law.

Nonetheless, on average, women do earn slightly less than men. The ASU wants this fixed. It’s unjust!

But the difference is not because women are victims of discrimination. It is simply because they make different choices.

Women tend to opt for safer, more comfortable jobs, jobs that have predictable hours and involve less travelling. They are more likely to work part-time, and to retire earlier.

More at Carpe Diem, including this, from a report prepared for US Department of Labor:

‘The differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.’

Sophie Mirabella is one of my favourite Australian politicians.

She is hard working, honest and intelligent – a possible future Prime Minister, and one who would be vastly more effective, in part because she has vastly more integrity, than the present incumbent.

Ben-Peter Terpstra calls her a Greek goddess in comments on the Australian Conservative website on an article by Sophie in The Punch.

Sophie offers Julia Gillard some helpful advice. Namely, mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right.

I won’t quote from either Ben or Sophie. Both are worth reading in full. And the comments on Ben’s article are an amusing dialogue between shallow leftist trolls and reasonable people attempting to reason with them.

P.S.

‘Mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right’ could be Sarah Palin’s motto.

Despite liberalist frenzy and legacy media blackwashing, people like her because she is straightforward, has faced the problems they face, loves her family and her country, knows how to run things, and has a vision for the future.

The usual liberal complaint about anyone who disgrees with them is “He’s stupid, ‘She’s stupid.’

But I defy anyone to read Sarah Palin’s thoughtful and well-constructed open letter to new Republican members of Congress, and believe anything other than that she is caring, intelligent, and capable.

I remember seeing a guy a guy who had been asked to leave several supermarkets interviewed on TV.

He objected to being told ‘Have a nice day’ by checkout operators.

Fair enough. It is a silly, empty phrase.

But he responded by abusing the employees. These were mostly teenage girls in their first jobs, who were doing what their employer had asked them to do.

Abusing them was pointless bullying.

I feel the same about airport employees who are now required to implement intrusive and embarrassing security measures, incuding full body scans or searches.

Ann Coulter writes incisively (as usual) about this, and how silly and misguided these airport security measures are:

She notes:

After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.

The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.

This is amusing, but unfair. It is like blaming checkout operators for ‘Have a nice day.’

I am sure most security personnel find it embarrassing and frustrating to have to pat down nuns and three year olds.

They are not responsible for the utterly ridiculous policies implemented by their political masters.

Ann Coulter again:

It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)

You have to search for the terrorists.

Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)

This would give us a major leg up — if only the country weren’t insane.

Terrorists are not all foreign born. And I wouldn’t be surprised if islamists started using 3 year olds to carry explosives onto airplanes.

But the key word in that sentence is ‘islamists.’

There are no Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist or Buddhist groups which have an announced policy of destroying the West, and who have proven their seriousness by repeatedly blowing up embassies, churches, and schools.

Targetting Muslims may be unfair to the majority. But as long as a substantial number of muslims living in the West believe suicide bombings and violence in the cause of Islam are acceptable, and as long as Muslim leaders do not consistently, clearly and frequently denounce such violence, the rest just have to wear it.

Is that unfair? Yes.

But it is less unfair than implementing security procedures which humiliate everyone while achieving nothing.

Proof of psychic powers? Actually, no.

Just proof that academics are not easily able to think beyond their preconceived notions.

Professor Daryl Bem says his work shows most people have psychic powers.

He conducted nine different experiments on over 1000 students. Eight of the experiments showed some psychic ability.

I am willing to bet that the experiment that didn’t was the only one that was properly designed.

Example:

One experiment asked students to memorise a list of words, and then asked them to recall as many as they could.

The students were then asked to type a list of the words randomly selected – which tended to be the words they had earlier recalled.

It suggests they knew which words were going to be selected to be typed.

No it doesn’t.

The question is, how were the words to be typed selected ‘randomly’?

If they were just picked by another person, all this means is that some words have more impact than others, and that those words are more likely to be remembered, and chosen.

It is amazing to me – a non academic, but someone trained in problem solving – how quickly academics jump to the wrong conclusion, and how firmly they then insist on those conclusions being accepted.

I have a friend who is a PhD candidate. She is studying changes in Black Brim populations. Black Brim are a common fish in South Australian waters.

Her thesis is that Black Brim numbers have declined over the last fifty years because of changes in water quality.

She is extraordinarily diligent in examining ear bones from Black Brim. This enables her to track changes in water quality over the life of the fish.

I have no doubt she can get an accurate picture of water quality over the life of any individual fish.

But there are three problems with her thesis.

She has no idea how many Black Brim there really were fifty years ago. There were no accurate counts.

She has no idea whether water quality now has deteriorated in ways that affect Black Brim compared with fifty years ago. There were no accurate measures.

She has no idea whether other factors (eg, fish just move) might account for changes in Black Brim populations in the small area she is studying.

I asked her, since her theory was that fish numbers had declined because of changes in water quality, whether she thought it important to have accurate measurements of fish numbers and water quality from fifty years ago.

She insisted it was OK, because she had accurate measures of fish numbers and water quality now.

But surely, I insisted, if she was claiming changes in fish numbers over fifty years were a result of changes in water quality, she had to know what the numbers and water quality were fifty years ago.

She told me she could measure changes in water quality through studying ear bones.

OK. That tells you about changes over the life of an individual fish, but nothing about what the starting point was fifty years ago.

Nope. She just didn’t seem to understand the question.

Well, it doesn’t matter, really. She’ll get her PhD and work for Natural Resources and ruin a few fishermen’s businesses, or spend her life telling farmers to use less fertiliser.

Not much harm done.

But lots of harm is done in other ways.

As an example, there are reduced rates of HIV infection in males who have been circumcised.

So of course there claims that male circumcision acts as a ‘vaccine’ against HIV infection.

A couple of days ago the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, called on male MPs to be circumcised to give a moral example to others, and to help reduce the rate of HIV infection.

It seems blindlingly obvious to me that many men who are circumcised are either Jews or Muslims, and that differences in sexual behaviour in those groups would better account for the very small measured differences in rates of HIV infection.

Certainly behavioural differences might be worth investigating before spending vast amounts of money ramping up ‘circumcision services.’

But no, the World Health Organisation is right behind the circumcision prevents AIDS theory.

This won’t work. It is cruel and irresponsible. In fact, like dishing out condoms, it is likely to increase rates of HIV infection, because it encourages people to think they are safe.

The only thing that has been shown to make a long term difference to rates of HIV infection is changes in behaviour.

But that is an unacceptable conclusion, so Africans continue to be given advice which is known to be, or should be known to be, wrong. And more Africans die.

Africa has suffered enough from AIDS.

We have all suffered enough from the consequences of shoddy thinking.