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I am against taxpayer funded subsidies as a matter of general principle. Subsidies mean the government thinks it knows how to use your money better than you do.

For example, I have a 100km return trip to work each day, and live in a remote area where petrol costs a third more than in Adelaide. But the state government still thinks I should be subsidising the travel costs of people who live in Adelaide, pay less for petrol, and travel 10 kms to work.

I’m sure that makes sense to someone. Well, any politicians whose voters live in Adelaide.

Now the federal government is using your money to pay for set top boxes at $350 each for people on government benefits. This enables them to receive digital TV broadcasts on their old analog set.

High definition set top boxes retail for about $100. You can buy a new digital TV for $300.

I’m sure this amazing plan makes sense to someone.

Probably the same people who decided it would be fair to take your tax money and give it to people who wanted solar panels on their roofs. And then use your tax money to pay those same people twice as much for the electricity they generated through the panels you paid for as the power companies could sell it for – leaving you to pay the difference in increased power bills.

Not only was this dumb to start with, the contractors who put these panels in appear to have performed with the same level of diligence as the blokes who contracted to put dodgy insulation in pensioners’ roofs at your expense. In other words, stuff all, except when it came to collecting the cheques.

Now National Electricity and Communications Association chief executive James Tinslay has called for a nationwide review of solar panel installations after revelations that 5 per cent of those in Port Macquarie in northern NSW contained potentially fatal flaws.

Mr Tinslay said botched solar installations put homeowners at risk of fire and electrocution, and a national audit would be likely to cost millions of dollars.

His comments follow reports that NSW Fair Trading inspectors who visited 55 solar installations in Port Macquarie in February found problems with 16 sites — three serious.

Thirty-five out of 40 installations audited were found not to comply with the Home Building Act.

Pretty much as expected, then, based on past performance.

Fortunately this particular rort is likely to come to an end fairly quickly, as governments realise they face an electoral backlash over increased power bills caused largely by the payment of exorbitant feed-in tariffs to owners of solar panels. State governments plan to cut feed-in back to levels which are still unrealistic, but which will cost taxpayers less.

But the graspers are not going to go down quietly. The solar panel industry is having a hissy fit, with claims thousands of jobs will be lost.

They are brilliant at grasping the subsidies. One thing they don’t seem to grasp is that the money to pay for those subsidies is taken from ordinary people and businesses who if they still had that money, would be able to employ people to do something useful, productive, worthwhile. Every government, or government subsidised job, costs nearly two jobs in the private sector.

The solar panel industry are as much a bunch of carpet-baggers as the insulation and set top box boys. Although with the government dishing out money for these loony schemes you can hardly blame people for stepping up to take their share.

But I am two minds about householders who signed up for solar panels.

They must have known, or should have known, that their cheap panels and high feed-in tariffs were being paid for by other taxpayers. However, if state governments have really entered into contracts with them for tariffs at a certain level, those contracts should be honoured – even though they should never have been put in place.

Governments must honour their contracts. There can be no confidence for anyone if they don’t. Even in this case, darn it!

One of a few interesting posts over the last week from Dr Tim Ball:

Support and even reward of failure by the current US administration is the culmination of a pattern begun several years ago under the guise of progress. It generally began in the school system when students were not allowed to fail, and worse, were pushed unprepared to a higher level. By the time the student realized they were totally unprepared they were no longer in the education system. It is an ultimately destructive approach …

I watched more and more students come into university simply unprepared. A measure of the problems was the proliferation of remedial skills courses and probationary courses required before assigning regular student status in colleges and universities. Employers increasingly complained about poor skills among graduating students. Approximately 10 emails a month from students doing classroom projects provide me with a crude measure of poor language skills.

Not allowing failure became a prevailing philosophy in our schools several years ago. It’s assumed this will promote individual personality and freedom when the actual result is enslavement of the individual. It ignores the fact you learn self-discipline by initially being disciplined. As you demonstrate a personal responsibility you are given more self-discipline. It is naïve and dangerous to assume children will develop self-discipline on their own. It is dangerous for the child and for society. …

(Recently I had a) .. debate with a liberal education professor about the need for school leaving exams. It occurred in front of High School students and teachers. He opposed them with the usual arguments; teachers simply taught to the exams; they created stress for the students; they create a two-tiered society of successes and failures. In response I said; at least the teachers were teaching to some standard; yes, the tests were stressful but life is stressful and preparing students for life is fundamental; the results created a two-tiered society because the testing was usually geared to college entrance rather than a broad determination of abilities; the system usually ignored how the measures were helpful to students as a measure of their abilities with other students beyond their school.

I was jeered and booed most of the time until, to a mighty cheer, a student said he opposed testing of any kind. I suggested the student better hope the pilot of the next commercial flight he took had achieved some level of performance in his flying tests.

At many public schools in Australia, there is a ‘no child will fail’ philosophy. This does not mean that students are given whatever help they need to reach required objective standards. It means results are manipulated until it looks like students have succeeded. It also means that teachers who do want to teach and mark to standards are marginalised and even abused.

One school staff member related an incident where he had said he could not pass certain students because they had simply not done the required work, or not done it to the required standard. The response from another staff member was shouting and waving a finger in his face. It wasn’t fair, she shouted. His harsh attitude would adversly affect the students’ self-esteem.

This kind of ‘no one is allowed to fail’ mentality is one of the reasons industry IT qualifications are valued much more highly than school or college diplomas.

To get an industry qualification you have to prove you have the knowledge and skills. There are objective standards. You have to meet them. If you don’t, you don’t get the qualification. Consequently, if you have a COMPTIA or Citrix or Microsoft certification, people will have confidence you can do the work, and you will get a job.

The same is true, or I hope it is, for airline pilots and brain surgeons. But in almost every endeavour, some real knowledge and skills are necessary. That is reality. We are setting students up for real and lasting failure if we do not prepare them for it.

‘Will your home be underwater?’ asks the Adelaide Advertiser, which seems to be taking on a new role as the Adelaide (Labor Party) Advertiser.

Under political pressure over its unspecified carbon tax, the Federal Government will release its latest topographical information about rising sea levels which shows up to 43,000 residential properties along the Adelaide coast, valued at between $4.4 billion and $7.4 billion, will be compromised by flooding on an annual basis or even more often.

The latest modelling also shows a sharp increase in heat-related deaths is predicted as the number of hot days above 35C more than triples by 2050.

The research, to be unveiled in Adelaide today by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, uses detailed colour maps and shows significant areas of the city’s coastal fringes will be subjected to regular flooding by the end of the century.

The only meaningful words in this story are ‘Under political pressure over its unspecified carbon tax…’

‘Unspecified’ is probably the ideal word to describe this government, with its unspecified carbon tax, its unspecified illegal immigration policies, its unspecified $6000 per household internet connections, its unspecified health ‘reforms,’  its unspecified national curriculum, etc, etc.

Sadly for Greg Combet, residents of Adelaide are not as dumb as he would like them to be. These are a few comments from readers of the Advertiser story:

wayne of barossa Posted at 1:04 AM Today

if this ever happens what will difference be if we all pay a carbon tax, i suspect nothing. but we will have less money and the incompetent government that lied to us and said no carbon tax before we elected them will have more of our money to waste and give away to other countries.

Sick of all the con games of The Poorhouse Posted at 4:57 AM Today

How will melting ice caps cause flooding if 90% of ice is already underwater? Put some ice in a glass and fill to the brim with salty water, betcha the water wont overflow when the ice melts. Also, how exactly is paying truckloads of money going to cool the planet? Is climate change really about saving the planet or is it just another scam to fleece an already overworked overtaxed and cash strapped public?

KM of Adelaide Posted at 5:46 AM Today

Does anyone actually believe this BS anymore! The government can release as many figures as it likes, this whole thing is the biggest scam ever!

WTF of Adelaide Posted at 5:52 AM Today

The sky is falling, the only reason there will be a increase in heat related deaths is that electricity is to expensive to use for pensioners, and with the carbon tax it will get worst, politicians are breeching their duty of care with their policies and should be personally liable

drbob Posted at 6:00 AM Today

Inundation of these coastal areas has occurred many times in pre-history … to link the next ‘predicted’ event to atmospheric carbon dioxide increases is junk science, junk journalism and junk government policy …

Will Thornton of Adelaide Posted at 6:10 AM Today

Give me a break, “the centre of Port Adelaide will flood at high tide!”. I can remember 50 years ago stepping out of our front door in Dale St and wading in the Port River. Was that man made global warming back then Combet? of course not, the world will change from time to time and there is NOTHING you can do about it. I just love watching you Labor clowns dangle on strings whilst the idiotic Greens pull the strings.
 
Bill of West Beach Posted at 6:33 AM Today

Well thats one way to have the government attempt to reduce property values.Let the scaremongering begin

The Sydney Peace Foundation has handed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange its gold medal for extraordinary achievement in promoting peace with justice.

Excuse me while I throw up.

The Foundation glowingly reports that this is only the fourth time in its history that the gold medal, its highest honour, has been awarded.

Foundation director Professor Stuart Rees said the award was to honour Mr Assange’s work in challenging official secrecy.

Urrghh… Sorry, throwing up again.

Director Rees says the Australian government has been complicit in demonising Assange, who has broken no laws, and is a really cool dude and everything.

Tell that to the women he raped (allegedly), or the people whose lives he has put in danger. It is not just the nasty USA that says Mr Assange’s profit before anyone else’s rights philosophy has put people in danger, incidentally, but human rights organisations including Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, in equally barf-worthy and unsurprising news, Assange has demanded that all Wikileaks employees sign a confidentiality agreement which specifies that the information stolen by Wikileaks is the sole property of Wikileaks, that Wikileaks has a proprietory interest in such information, and threatens anyone who leaks this information with a penalty of $20 million.

Julian Assange is not remotely concerned for human rights, peace or justice. He is a profiteering reseller of stolen information. And a rapist (allegedly).

I hate those wretched CAPTCHA things. Too hard to read, and they don’t do a good job anyway.

If you have a website where people can sign on to some service, and you need to be able to distinguish between people and robots, consider HIVE instead.

You can try it here.

One of the challenges was not clear to me. At the moment it may be too USA centred (products, seasons, etc) to be applicable to wordwide users, but it is still in development.

In the meantime, it’s easy, it works, and it’s fun instead of frustrating.

I wish them every success.

In the early eighties I went through a stage of uncertainty about the ordination of women to the priesthood. I was living in Adelaide at the time, studying at Flinders/The Adelaide College of Divinity for priestly ministry in the Anglican Church.

I had listened to debates about this in New Zealand. The bishops all seemed to be earnestly in favour, and that made it something I had to consider. I read books, listened to the debates at Synod. There was lots of talk about justice, but I was not entirely convinced.

I went to a public discussion. The usual arguments were put. There was much nodding of heads by serious bearded gentlemen, and grumpy-looking nuns.

So I asked how we could reconcile what was proposed with the example of Jesus, the teaching of the Apostles, and the universal practice of the Church. Did we really believe that Jesus, the Apostles and the entire Church before us had misunderstood the will of God, and that our generation was the first to see things clearly?

The answer was a look of astonished fury, and the raising of two fingers, accompanied by laughter from the serious bearded gentlemen and grumpy nuns.

That was a turning point for me. If anger, rude gestures and public mocking were the best arguments they had, then this was not much to stack up against what Jesus had done, the Apostles had taught, and the entire Chuch had practised for 2,000 years.

Sadly, this is a style of debate that still has its adherents. Example:

Via WUWT.

The best arguments they have are to swear, call people names, suggest anyone who disagrees with them is corrupt or stupid, and wave their boobies.

They might have a chance of convincing people if they answered a few questions:

Is there any correlation between human activity and changes in global climate? (Answer – No)

Is there any evidence human actvity has changed the rate of sea level increase? (Answer – No)

Is there any evidence for the claimed positive feedback from water vapour that would increase a possible but harmless 1 degree increase in temperature caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 to a dangerous four degrees or more? (Answer – No)

Or if they showed any sign of engaging with, or even awareness of, the vast body of peer reviewed literature that questions the global warming frenzy (and associated government funds feeding frenzy).

Till then, thanks, but I think I prefer this:

As a contrast to the appallingly dumb judicial decision in the previous post, I offer this as a counter-example:

Greenpeace has lost a High Court battle to restore its status as a charity.

The environmental lobby group was deregistered as a charity last year after the Charities Commission decided it had an overtly political role, particularly in its promotion of peace and disarmament.

The High Court declined Greenpeace’s appeal, saying it is clear the group sees itself as an advocate rather than an educator.

Justice Heath said the group uses non-violent, but potentially illegal, activities to make a point – which are not necessary to educate the public.

The decision means Greenpeace will not be exempt from income tax, a status granted to registered charities.

Makes sense to me – if you are primarily a political lobby group, no matter how noble you think your causes are, you are not a charity.

Especially interesting that this decision has been made in New Zealand, where Greenpeace has a large following, and the sunken Rainbow Warrior is treated as a kind of holy shrine.

The shine is coming off.

This is one of those ‘What the #^*?!’ moments.

A fast food restaurant manager has been awarded thousands of dollars in compensation after he broke his wrist while bashing a customer.

Matthew Styles had previous convictions for assault, including assault against police.

But a Melbourne Court magistrate ruled that Mr Styles, who was sacked after the brawl, is entitled to a juicy compensation payout despite using foul language and escalating the dispute.

Red Rooster, which refused Mr Styles’ compensation claims, said he did not honour its “employee behaviour standards” and therefore was not entitled to any compensation.

It also pointed out Mr Styles lengthy criminal record.

But the magistrate found his injuries arose “out of or in the course of the employment”.

He was awarded 13 weeks in lost pay.

His injuries arose in the course of his employment?

The media delights in portraying judges and magistrates as out of touch with commuity standards. That characterisation is frequently unfair. Most judges are careful and responsible.

But this is about as unfair and irresponsible as it is possible to imagine.

I wrote a few weeks ago that the death penalty should be kept as an option, but used very rarely – when it seemed to be the only way to protect society from a vicious and dangerous criminal.

Osama bin Laden fitted that category.

The operation that lead to his death was carefully planned and carried out.  Those involved in both planning and operations deserve congratulations.

Two quotes from George Bush seem appropriate:

“When I take action, I’m not going to fire a 2 million dollar missile at a 10 dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

In the end, it was on Barack Obama’s watch that the time came when it was possible to take that decisive action. Justice has been done.

But the search for Osama bin Laden was not the prosecution of a criminal offence. It was a response to an act of war, a war declared and ongoing.

No one can doubt bin Laden’s intention and plans for his minions to carry out further attacks on the West.

If you start a war, you should be prepared for the people you have attacked to respond. You can’t destroy buildings and murder thousands of people and then cry ‘no fair’ when the country you have attacked decides the world would be a safer place without you.

The US responded to these threats in what seem to me to be the most fair and responsible manner imaginable.

It removed the person making them.

Al Qaeda is a many headed monster, but some heads are more equal than others, and the head removed was the most equal of all.

The attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was a military victory. It deserves to be celebrated, for the courage of those who participated, and for the outcome.

A message has been sent: If you murder our citizens, if you attack our people, we will find you, and there will be nothing inspiring or noble about your end, which be like the end of a vicious, worm infested dog whose body is thrown by the side of the road to rot.

Also, Pakistan is not our friend.

There are three possibilities.

1.  Pakistan’s security forces had no idea bin Laden was living in their neighbourhood. In that case they are mind bogglingly incompetent and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

2.  Some members of Pakistan’s security forces knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but they protected him rather than tell Pakistan’s political leaders. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It is unstable and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

3.  Pakistan’s poltical leaders knew, but protected him rather than tell their allies. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It may not be unstable, but it is definitely not our friend. It already has nuclear weapons, which it has developed rather than spend money on vital infrastructure.

Instead, the West has paid for much of its infrastructure with massive doses of aid.

Pakistan needs to demonstrate some trustworthiness, and a commitment to the welfare of its own people, including its non-muslim minorities.

Until it does, that aid should stop.

Bishop William Morris, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, has taken early retirement. That’s the way he describes it. catholic-hierarchy.org puts it more bluntly. He was removed.

I have met Bishop Morris. I have vague memories of being present with a group of Anglican clergy at his ordination as a bishop in Toowoomba in 1993 (I was then in the parish of Roma – not the Roma – the cattle town in Western Queensland). He seemed to me to be a kind and decent man.

Bishop Bill Morris certainly did a good job of repairing the damage done by a pedophile teacher at a Catholic school in Toowoomba.

The problem is, Bishop Morris has probably caused more damage to the Church than the pedophile whose actions he denounced.

Anyone with a brain knows that only a tiny proportion of Catholic clergy are pedophiles, that priests commit a disproportionately low number of child sex offences compared with the rest of the male population, and that any kind of sexual abuse is abhorrent to the Church.

But when a Bishop teaches something contrary to the Catholic faith, even in apparently trivial ways, he undermines the credibility of the Church, and the body of Christ is harmed.

In 2006 Bishop Morris wrote a ‘pastoral letter’ to his diocese in which he suggested that the problem of low numbers of priests could be solved if women were ordained.

Some of the laity were alarmed by this and sought clarification. When that clarification was not forthcoming, they brought the letter to the attention of Archbishop Bathersby and eventually, the Pope.

Then Bishop Morris claimed he had been misunderstood. He was only pointing to the ongoing conversation on this matter that was taking place around Australia.

No he wasn’t.

If that had been his intention he could and should and would have said immediately it was brought to his attention that some people thought he was advocating the ordination of women, that this was not the case. He would have apologised for any misunderstanding and reaffirmed the teaching of the Church. But he didn’t.

Bishop Morris says he has been brought down by a few disgruntled conservatives who went behind his back and complained about him because of his ‘progressive’ views.

This is tyranny. Bishop Morris has been vociferous in his complaints against Rome.

He told the ABC that Rome controlled bishops by fear ”and if you ask questions or speak only on subjects that Rome declares closed … you are censored very quickly, told your leadership is defective, and threatened with dismissal”.

Yet he attempts to censor and malign faithful lay people in his diocese who want the truth to be taught.

Every Catholic has a reponsibility to defend the faith. The lay people who asked Bishop Morris to teach the faith were honouring him by believing he was truly a Catholic Bishop. When he did not respond and they went to Rome, they were doing what they should never have needed to do, what his actions had made necessary.

And he blames them, blames Rome.

The best thing he could do now would be to acknowledge that he acted wrongly, that he betrayed the trust placed in him, and apologise.

Instead, he appears to be encouraging protests against his removal.

He really believes that he knows so much about what Jesus would do, would say, that he feels no compunction in ignoring what Jesus actually did, actually said, and what the Church has taught faithfully for 2000 years.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinions. But you cannot be a teacher of the Catholic faith if you don’t believe the Catholic faith.

I am sorry for Bishop Morris. I am sorry for the people has hurt by his lack of integrity. I hope he will come to repentance and undo some of the harm he has done.

I am grateful for the courage of Archbishop Bathersby and Pope Benedict, and for the lay people who spoke out. I hope the Diocese of Toowoomba, which I know and love, will grow through this, and continue to witness to the love of God, and and the unchanging Gospel of hope and life and truth.

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

Telstra is a commercial operation now, but still seems to have a public service mentality.
 
What I mean by this is that they seem to be more concerned about covering their backsides than they are about their customers, or their customers’ businesses.

For the last several days some of my clients have been reporting they were having problems with their Telstra Bigpond email. They could receive but not send emails.

Most of them had contacted Bigpond before coming to see me, and had been told that the problem was in some way their fault. Incorrect email server name settings, anti-virus software interfering with email, etc.

This was not the case. The problem was with Bigpond’s mail servers.
 
I know there may be delays in recognising that a problem exists. But even making this allowance, Bigpond has known for some days that a large number of their customers were affected by an issue that would cause confusion, and in some cases, disruption to business.
 
Yet they have done nothing to advise their customers of this.
 
It would be a simple matter to send an email to all Bigpond customers saying something like: Some Bigpond customers are currently experiencing difficulties sending emails. We are working on this issue, and will advise you as soon as it is resolved.

Or alternatively: If you are affected by this issue, please take these steps to resolve it…
 
If I treated my customers (I run an IT shop) the way Bigpond treats theirs, I would be out of business in a week.

Incidentally, a Bigpond customer service agent ( some of them must laugh themselves silly when they use that term) has just advised me that the problem is now resolved. Clients who still have difficulties sending email should turn their modem off and then on again. This should resolve the problem.

Perhaps.

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last week. We have been busy in store with both computer and photographic work.

Although it keeps me away from blogging, this is especially pleasing at the moment because a newcomer to the island has just set up a business across the road from me offering many of the same things. Odd for someone to come into a small community (Kangaroo Island’s total population is 4500 people, and Kingscote’s is 1400) and set up a new business in direct competition with an existing one. But that’s life, competition, the market. It’s all good.

The new guy has spent a lot of money on advertising. We’ve never needed to do much advertising. Word of mouth has built up the business over the last four years, and what paid advertising we have done has been more to support the community than out of need. Maybe that will change.

One positive is that this has given me a reason to work on our website, something I probably should have done long ago. It is up now. I think it is a good start. I’ll add info as time goes by, and perhaps include some advice for vistors to the island (the weather changes quickly, don’t stop in the middle of the road to watch the wildlife, American River is  a great place to catch whiting, etc).

KI Computers and Photographics. If you are on the island, come in and say hello!

So that he can ask her in person, ‘Why is assisted suicide banned in Australia?’

To save you the trouble of talking to Julia, I’ll tell you Terry.

Assisted suicide is banned in Australia because it is wrong, and Australia is a civilised nation, where doing wrong is discouraged.

Terry says this is about seriously ill people being allowed to die with dignity.

No it isn’t.

Diginity is not about avoiding difficulty, pain, dependence on others. We might wish to avoid those things, and it is not wrong to do so when we reasonably can.

But they are part of life, and we do not and cannot know either what it means to be human, or who and what we are, without them.

What a bizarre notion of humanity it is that claims dignity is about remaining free of the very things that teach us to be humble, thankful, patient.

Diginity is not about avoiding pain, but bearing it with courage. Not about being independent of others – we can never be that in any case – but about being so strong in our weakness and dependence, that even in our darkest times we can still be an inspiration to others.

No man is an island, and no woman either. Despite ‘my rights,’ my life does not entirely belong to me.

I do not ask to avoid pain or loneliness or even fear – all those things will come to me no matter how vigorous my asking that they may not. I cannot avoid them without avoiding humanity.

I do ask that when I face those things, I do so with such courage and gentleness that I inspire courage and hope and gentleness in others.

That is dignity. That is what it means to be human.

The World Bank’s annual index shows global food prices have soared 36 per cent in 12 months, adding a further 44 million people to the 1.2 billion who live in extreme poverty.

The greater proportion of your income you need to spend on food, the greater the impact of higher food prices. If you spend 15% of your income on food, as many westerners do, then a 36% increase in food costs is a nuisance. If you spend 75% of your income on food, a 36% increase could mean starvation.

Government pressure to include a proportion of bio-fuels in petrol has put pressure on food prices. There are other factors of course, but the additional pressure from diversion of food crops into fuel is still significant.

Nor are biofuels any better for the environment than fossil fuels. Palm oil is efficient compared with other oil crops in the amount of oil produced per hectare. But a new palm oil plantation would take 840 years of efficient cropping for biofuel to recover the carbon emitted when the forest it replaced was cut down and burned.

Now a new study has shown that a proposed biofuel plantation in Kenya could generate up to six times more CO2 than it saves:

Tribal Elder, Joshua Kahindi Pekeshe, who lives in the forest says:
“My people have lived here for generations.  If the jatropha plantation goes ahead, we will become squatters on our own land.  We will lose our homes, farms and the only school our children have.

“The company promised us jobs, dispensaries, roads and water, but it just makes me laugh. When somebody wants something from you, they know they must give you promises.  We don’t trust them because nothing was written down.

“This is a direct violation of our rights.  We voted for the new constitution that says the community owns the land directly. What right do they have to take it from us?”

Tim Rice, ActionAid’s biofuels expert, said:
“Biofuels are far from the miracle climate cure they were thought to be. Like most other biofuels, jatropha could actually end up increasing carbon emissions. Crucially the Dakatcha case also shows how biofuel plantations can rob entire communities of their land, homes and jobs.”

‘Jamie’ is a ten year old boy.  He thinks he should be a girl.

When I was ten I thought I came from another planet, that my real name was Dr Zuric, and that I had secretly been sent to Earth to investigate the local populace prior to invasion. Fortunately for humans, I had seen their potential and renounced my superpowers forever, instead standing vigilant against the threat posed by my former galactic gangster buddies.

My parents were amused. My Mum refused to believe the scale of the spaceship that delivered me to Earth. When I drew her a picture of it, she said she thought the windows should be bigger.

‘Mum,’ I said, ‘Those windows are four storeys high.’ She laughed and told me that was ridiculous.

I was deeeply insulted. Didn’t she realise the engineering skill that had gone into the construction of that ship? Or the sacrifices I had made for the sake of her species?

No she didn’t.

My parents treated my fantasies with respect. My dad even made me a control box so I could summon my warrior robots whenever I needed them (the one I had arrived with had been stolen – I was never able to find out by whom. I still have suspicions. Not everyone on Earth is good, you know).

My parents never suggested I needed psychiatric help – even when, in an earlier phase, I had demanded in tears to be allowed to take tea out to the faires in the grass behind the house next door because it hadn’t rained for two weeks and they were dying of thirst. Mum gave me some very small cups and some lukewarm water with sugar in it. I reported later that the fairies were very grateful, and had promised to watch out for any dangerous visitors, and to warn me if any shadowy figures arrived by putting coded messages in the constant birdsong, messages which only I would understand.

Several potential crises involving demonic visitors were avoided in this way.

It is barely worth mentioning that at different times I believed myself to be a re-incarnation of Manolete, the famous matador (never mind that I did not believe in re-incarnation); the eldest son of an Eastern European monarch who had smuggled me to safety as a baby and left me to be brought up by peasants who pretended to be my parents (he would be back to restore me to my rightful place as crown prince as soon as the kingdom had been made safe); or an entirely new kind of creature, a mutated sea lord (my mother was actually a mermaid, but we had agreed never to mention this potentially embarassing fact – even Dad did not know), who found it convenient for the moment to conceal my true powers and identity.

No psychiatric help for me. I was a child. Children play games and inhabit a world of magic and monsters. That is part of what childhood is.

I believed my stories, or pretended to, with the utmost seriousness. But I would have been appalled if they had.

Their common sense, their being adults, and consequently grounded in reality, created a safe place for me to be a child; growing into who I was was by pretending to be all sorts of things I was not.

Jamie’s parents appear not to be grounded in reality. There was no safe place for Jamie.

Jamie, like many little boys, went through a period of thinking he would really like to be a little girl.

Tragically for him, his parents seem to have believed him, and consequently, he has been stuck in that fantasy ever since. They got him psychiatric help.

The psychiatrists, people who are supposed to know a thing or two about human nature and the intricate tarantella of growing up, also believed him, proving they know nothing about anything.

His parents found him a school which was willing to accept him as a girl.

Then they went to court to get permission to begin a process that will turn him from a boy into a pretend woman. Family Court Judge Linda Dessau has agreed.

All he needed was someone to say no – to recognise that that he is a child, that children say things they don’t mean, live lives of earnest fantasy, and need adults to fix boundaries to those fantasies.

Jamie is ten. If the process goes ahead, he will not become a man. He will never have a family. And he will gain nothing in return. He will never be a woman, no matter what mutilations hormones and surgery wreak upon his body and mind.

Parents, psychiatrists, school and court – none have done their job. Jamie was just being a child. They could not find it in themselves to be adults.

Jamie has been betrayed.