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Darn.

Early previews of Avatar were stunning. But it looked preachy right from the beginning – like a magnificent sci-fi retelling of the noble green fight against logging in Tasmania.

Jim Schembri at The Age has seen it, and says this is exactly right:

THERE’S no argument that, as a showcase for the immersive potential of 3D visual effects technology, James Cameron’s long-awaited $300 million sci-fi epic Avatar – his first film since 1997’s world-conquering Titanic – is an unqualified triumph.

But as a story designed to engage, enthral and entertain adult audiences for almost three hours, it is a major disappointment strewn with weak characters, environmental platitudes and anti-progress cliches. …

The lush alien world Cameron creates is a magnificent, photo-realistic landscape of multi-coloured dragons, dinosaurs, endless waterfalls and floating mountains. But with its patronising, predictable images of noble savages, evil technology and gigantic bulldozers crunching their way through precious alien rainforests, the film often feels like a megalithic piece of green propaganda. As superbly rendered as his 3D world is, Cameron has populated it with characters who are strictly 2D. And sometimes not even that.

A compulsive envelope-pusher, Cameron invented a pioneering camera system and ground-breaking visual processing techniques for the film, but perhaps he should have spent a little less time obsessing over the technology and a tad more developing the story beyond the compendium of cliches it regrettably is.

But I’ll still go and see it.

Whenever I am at a social gathering, or any other kind of gathering, for that matter, and someone says ‘Violence never solves anything,’ I make an excuse (sometimes even a polite excuse) and go and look for someone else to talk to.

That belief is indicative of such ignorance of history, such a lack of understanding of the cost of our freedom, and such an inability to think, that the effort involved in conversing with anyone who holds it would be better spent cleaing skirting boards with a tooth pick.

So I was pleased and impressed by President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. That link takes you a full transcript.

Just a few key paragraphs:

America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. (! Absolutely right, but astonishing for someone of his socialist background). The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.  (I would have said sometimes a moral imperative. There are some conflicts we must not shy away from, no matter what the cost.) 

I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

It is a long speech. It is also a great speech, one that reflects idealism, courage and determination.

Let’s hope these qualities, clear in words, are carried through into a genuine role of leadership for good, by Obama and the US, and by the rest of the developed nations.

Well done.

Being a black guy, that’s a peace prize! Making a sandwich, that’s a peace prize!

From PJTV. Hilarious!

Well, not quite:

His Excellency Ban Ki Moon
Secretary-General, United Nations
New York, NY
United States of America
8 December 2009

Dear Secretary-General,

Climate change science is in a period of ‘negative discovery’ – the more we learn about this exceptionally complex and rapidly evolving field the more we realize how little we know. Truly, the science is NOT settled.

Therefore, there is no sound reason to impose expensive and restrictive public policy decisions on the peoples of the Earth without first providing convincing evidence that human activities are causing dangerous climate change beyond that resulting from natural causes. Before any precipitate action is taken, we must have solid observational data demonstrating that recent changes in climate differ substantially from changes observed in the past and are well in excess of normal variations caused by solar cycles, ocean currents, changes in the Earth’s orbital parameters and other natural phenomena.

We the undersigned, being qualified in climate-related scientific disciplines, challenge the UNFCCC and supporters of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to produce convincing OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE for their claims of dangerous human-caused global warming and other changes in climate. Projections of possible future scenarios from unproven computer models of climate are not acceptable substitutes for real world data obtained through unbiased and rigorous scientific investigation.

Specifically, we challenge supporters of the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused climate change to demonstrate that:

1.Variations in global climate in the last hundred years are significantly outside the natural range experienced in previous centuries;

2.Humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ (GHG) are having a dangerous impact on global climate;
3.Computer-based models can meaningfully replicate the impact of all of the natural factors that may significantly influence climate;
4.Sea levels are rising dangerously at a rate that has accelerated with increasing human GHG emissions, thereby threatening small islands and coastal communities;
5.The incidence of malaria is increasing due to recent climate changes;
6.Human society and natural ecosystems cannot adapt to foreseeable climate change as they have done in the past;
7.Worldwide glacier retreat, and sea ice melting in Polar Regions , is unusual and related to increases in human GHG emissions;
8.Polar bears and other Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are unable to adapt to anticipated local climate change effects, independent of the causes of those changes;
9.Hurricanes, other tropical cyclones and associated extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency;
10.Data recorded by ground-based stations are a reliable indicator of surface temperature trends.

It is not the responsibility of ‘climate realist’ scientists to prove that dangerous human-caused climate change is not happening. Rather, it is those who propose that it is, and promote the allocation of massive investments to solve the supposed ‘problem’, who have the obligation to convincingly demonstrate that recent climate change is not of mostly natural origin and, if we do nothing, catastrophic change will ensue. To date, this they have utterly failed to do so.

Signed by over 100 leading climate scientists.

See the full list at Copenhagen Climate Challenge.

via Australian Conservative.

Just one more thing before the lager and nuts:

Global Warming - What's Really Endangered?

From Town Hall.

And finally (no I really mean it this time), if you are still in any doubt that scary AGW is  a fraud, bad science, based on cherry picked and manipulated data, a load of old cobblers, the opiate of the newsreaders, read Disproving the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Problem by Leonard Weinstein.

Dr Weinstein is a former senior research scientist who worked more than 30 years at the NASA Langley Research Center and is now senior research fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace.

He writes: “In order to support a theory, specific predictions need to be made that are based on the claims of the theory, and the predictions then need to happen.”

He lists six predictions required by the CO2 caused AGW theory and shows how not one has occurred. Also from Town Hall, with thanks.

If it were not for the vast amounts of money being made, AGW would have hit the remainder bins years ago.

PS. It’s cold and foggy and boring in Copenhagen.

PPS. Sarah Palin has some sensible words about Crapenhogen:

The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs — particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science. Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference.

You go, girl.

Or that’s what the AGW alarmists would have you believe, with ever more shrill warnings about melting ice, starving Africans, extinct frogs, and the hottest decade ever in Australia. No really, you have to believe me.

Whatever.

‘Whatever’, is becoming the standard, and appropriate, response to the decadal scientific scare oscillation (DSSO).

For example, 20% more people in the US believe in angels than believe in terrifying human caused global warming.

Well done, I say. This is good evidence of the common sense of the common people. From what I have seen and read, there is more reason to believe in angels than AGW, or most other fairy tale monsters.

Meanwhile, the lamestream media are beginning to see the writing in the ice.

The Australian today carried an article discussing two major studies reported in peer reviewed scientific journals, both of which seriously undermine the alarmist non-science.

On Monday CNN gave a substantial amount of air time to real climate science. That is, science that fairly addresses the complications of climate modelling and examines real world data without multiple layers of massage and hot rock therapy.

Fair reporting on CNN? OMG! The world really is ending.

Finally, yesterday’s Telegraph included a long and careful article by Christopher Booker detailing the astonishing costs of reducing CO2 emissions to the levels proposed by the scare crew.

Don’t forget, Decadal Scientific Scare Oscillation. DSSO.

This will save you from any pointless fear when the new ‘We must do something about this right now at great expense or the world will end’ scenario appears in five years time.

Dear Reader,

There are lots of things I am not sorry for. But I am sorry about thin posting yesterday, and no posts today.

It has been hectically busy at work, which is good, although the whole having to work for a living thing is getting a bit tedious. It is work that involves constant careful, analytical thinking, so at the end of a busy day I am ‘brain tired’ (as opposed to physically tired, a much rarer occurrance).

So, in short, I need a night off, to drink lager, eat nuts, and watch something brainless on TV.

‘I Used to be a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’, for example.

And wasn’t that ridiculous? Arrested for cruelty to animals for killing and eating a rat. If the rat was beheaded, not for apostasy, presumably, then it suffered a lot less than any mouse ever caught in a mouse trap.

But although I am too tired to put thoughts in order sufficiently to write them with any coherence, there are still thoughts there.

So posts to come on ex Australian of the Year Mr Flim Flannery’s claims about the bad faith of AGW sceptics, on Andrew Bolt’s mis-step over the humourousness of violence against men, on the hypocrisy of Crapenhogen, and on TEOTACAWKI. No, thats’ the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it.

And thanks for sticking around.

 Peter

The Daily Mail manages to write nearly 1,000 words on the problem of increasing violence caused by a growth in fundamentalism, without once mentioning what kind of fundamentalism this might be.

Those pesky Baptists just won’t stop mutilating their daughters’ genitals. And they seem to have a predilection for killing them if they fall if love with the wrong bloke.

Detectives are still investigating the death of mother-of-two Geeta Aulakh, 28, who was hacked to death with a sword in Greenford, north west London last month. An 18-year-old student has been charged with her murder.

Oh, a student. Could have been Salvation Army. Or maybe some Anglicans were visiting from Sydney.

The closest the Daily Mail gets to giving the game away, you know, informing people about what’s going on, is this:

In July, a 24-year-old Asian man from Denmark lost part of his tongue and was left blind in one eye when he had acid thrown in his face in Leytonstone.  Police believe he was attacked over his relationship with a married Muslim woman.  Two men are awaiting trial over the assault.

Campaigners believe honour attacks are on the up due to rising fundamentalism in communities around Britain. …

Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘The description of this type of crime is misplaced. There is no honour in these crimes.’

He certainly got that right. But what about some honour in reporting?

via Jihad Watch.

Mr Rudd announced today that families would be compensated for the extra costs caused by Labor’s planned ETS.

But what exactly is the point of a tax if the businesses who will pay the tax are going to be compensated for the extra tax they pay by taxing someone else more so that the businesses can be compensated, and then compensating the people who are being taxed extra to pay the compensation for the first group. Where is that money going to come from?

If I can’t work it out, it’s a good thing Labor is in charge, their being so brainy and all.

Except the public Rudd wants to impress with his generosity is not impressed at all.

A sample of comments from the above linked story:

The real problem if you beleive in climate change is that they are blaming it on carbon dioxide emissions which is 90% generated by energy and transportation which is used to bring goods and services to consumers. So here in lies the problems, Australia consumes 30 tonnes of carbon per a capita and the sustainable amount according to the “experts” is 3 tonnes per a capita globally… so realistically you need people to consume only 1/10 of what they consume now… how do you get them to do this? well you tax the crap out of them so they can’t spend money on anything… but hey wait, whats the point of a tax that you just give back to the public in hand outs. uhmm well nothing, its just money going back and forth, govt taxes businesses, businesses ups the costs of goods, and the goverments gives the money back to the people to pay for the increase costs and were back at square one except money is effectively loss on administration costs, govt “looks” like they are doing something about climate change, and they “look” like they are giving free money to the public when in reality they’ve done nothing. it’s pretty simple, if your serious on climate change, start building nuclear energy

By compensating for price hikes, consumers will still buy just as much of polluting products. All this will lead to is inflation. While I don’t like the guy, Abbott will be getting my vote.

So there you have it, there will be a massive tax hike and we will still be paying for it, even though we get some of it back. See another mining company ready to sign a deal in indo. They will leave in droves shortly if an ETS is adopted. Love ’em or hate ’em, the mines and miners make a massive contribution to our nation’s economy. Would I have a business if there hadn’t been a mining boom? NOT ON YOUR NELLIE! Can’t feed the kids on air now, can we?

The PM pledges families will pay little or nothing for his ETS scheme, is that so. Is Mr Rudd going to pay for it out of his own pocket then? If not where does he think the money comes from to pay for all these mega dollars he keeps handing out, it comes from Mums and Dads and You and Me, it really is frightening.

Sorry, Kev. We’re just not buying it.

Despite the morbid prognostications of Mr Mackerras and the left-wing locos, I said before the Higgins and Bradfield by-elections that both seats would be retained easily by the Liberals, that neither would go to preferences, and that there was a chance both candidates would be returned with increased majorities.

I even gave a fairly detailed analysis of why I thought so.

By 8.30 on Saturday night it was clear the Liberals had won both seats easily. It was not clear then what the final two party result would be. I said that increased majorities were still likely after postal and absentee votes were counted.

My guesses on the night were:

Higgins 58% to 42%. Actual result 59.6% to 40.4%.

Bradfield 64% to 36%. Actual result 63.9% to 36.1%.

About half a percent increase in the majority in Bradfield. About what I expected – 64% is a pretty decisive result and will be difficult to better.

But a nearly 3% increase in Higgins – the seat Mackerras said would be lost to Clive Hamilton and the Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden Party.

When you consider both seats had lost long-time, high profile, popular incumbents, this is an an amazing result.

And I did pretty well, too.

A common view about the date of Christmas goes something like this:

“Well, it was a pagan festival, something to do with the sun, and the Christians pinched it to try to make their religion more popular.”

This is one of those things people just ‘know’. But like many things everyone ‘just knew’ at one time (eg, the Sun goes round the earth, older women with moles are witches), we now know this to be false.

The belief that Christians appropriated a pagan festival and made it into Christmas started with Paul Jablonski, a German historian writing in the 17th century.

A radical protestant, Jablonski wanted to show that the Catholic faith was unreliable because it had almost immediately started absorbing pagan beliefs and customs. Jablonski believed, and wanted to prove, that ‘Sola Scriptura’ (Scripture alone) was the only safe foundation for faith.

In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. the winter solstice fell on December 25th. It seemed obvious to Jablonski that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one.

He was wrong.

In fact the feast of Sol Invictus, or the invincible sun, was instituted by the emperor Aurelian in 274AD. By this time Christians had been celebrating the birth of Jesus on that date for many years.

Hippolytus, a priest in Rome, wrote thirty years before this that Jesus’ birth “took place eight days before the kalends of January,” that is, on December 25th. St John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, also confirms that Christians had celebrated the birth of Christ on this date from the early days of the Church.

It was the pagans who attempted to bolster their falling numbers by appropriating a Christian festival, not the other way around.

How could the Church have known when Jesus was born? The simplest explanation is that Mary, Jesus’ mother, told His disciples what had happened, and they remembered and told those who came after, just as they related the other facts of Jesus’ life and teaching.

A little additional confirmation comes from John Chrysostom. He explains that the date is confirmed by Luke 1 which says Zechariah was performing priestly duty in the Temple when an angel told him his wife Elizabeth she would bear John the Baptist.

During the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Mary was also visited by an angel and Jesus was conceived. She then went immediately to visit Elizabeth, who was her cousin.

The 24 classes of Jewish priests served by roster in the Temple. Zechariah was in the eighth class. Jewish tradition tells us the class on duty when the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.

Calculating back from that, Zechariah’s class would have been serving in October in the year before Jesus’ birth. That is when Elizabeth became pregnant.

Mary visited Elizabeth six months later, just after her visit from the angel Gabriel. That is, in March. Jesus was born nine months later – in December.

So Happy Christmas!

Two songs by Jewel. Thoughtful lyrics, and what a rich, pure voice.

Angel Standing By

Hands – If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we’re all OK – not to worry in times like these… only kindness matters…

Iran has warned Switzerland of “consequences” over a referendum banning the building of new mosque minarets, and urged the Swiss government not to enforce the ban.

As I noted a couple of days ago, the Swiss decision is not about freedom of religion.

Muslims in Switzerland are free to worship, to proselytise, and to build more mosques. They just can’t build any more of those big towers with massive PA systems where people screech at the entire populace three times a day.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey that: Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others’ religions should never be put to referendum.

Excuse me?

This from a country which two months ago formalised approval for the death penalty for anyone who converts from Islam, and where it is illegal to publish the Bible or other Christian literature.

More Islamic Religious Persecution from Doug Bandow at National Review Online:

Islamic governments are in no position to complain about Western intolerance and “Islamophobia.” Most Muslim nations are repressive or offer only limited political freedom. More often than not, Islamic states violate basic human rights; and almost all persecute Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities.

No surprise there.

Mr Rudd says he is not interested in debating climate change with Mr Abbott.

He says Mr Abbott should stop talking and develop a coherent policy on climate change.

Give him time Kevin. And start packing.

In a speech to the Australia Israel leadership Forum on Sunday night Julia Gillard said :

“But with passion must come reason. While we extend debate to all views, our policies must be based on scientific consensus and our actions should be based on reason.”

So far so good. But what do you do if there is a conflict between reason and consensus?

Or even easier, what do you do if the confict is between reason and science on one hand, and a carefully constructed mirage of consensus on the other?

If Julia is true to her principles, she will end up voting with the Liberals.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions 2009 opened this week in Melbourne. “Major speakers” include Jimmy Carter, Joan Chittister and Michael Kirby.

Miss Jean Brodie said it best: “For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”

A visit to the Parliament’s website makes it clear that environmental issues are a key concern:

The Melbourne Parliament will draw forth the sacred nature of the environment from all religious and spiritual traditions, led by the Indigenous peoples of the earth. It will also showcase the partnership between communities and other guiding institutions in pursuing practical approaches for reversing climate change and its effects.

John Cleary, who presents a religious program on the ABC on Sunday nights, says there are parallels between the Parliament of Religions in Melbourne and the climate summit in Copenhagen.

Cleary does not have in mind any sense of religious fervour, which I suspect will be more in evidence in Copenhagen than Melbourne, but the fact that both are concerned with “healing the planet”.

George Browning, former Anglican Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn, says in the document Common Belief:  … if Christians believe in Jesus they must recognise that concern for climate change is not an optional extra but a core matter of faith.

But there is a huge leap in the claim that being a Christian means an obligation to take action to prevent climate change.

Being concerned for the responsible exercise of the Christian duty of stewardship for creation need not involve church leaders rushing to grab a share of the latest climate apocalypse action.

John Cleary said in his conversation with Derek Guille that the knowledge that “God so loved the world” should lead to a sense of global responsibility, and that such a sense of responsibility could add “real grunt” to the climate change debate.

Christians have two key things to offer to any debate about the environment and our role in it. But neither of them is a vague sense of responsibility, or “grunt”.

First is a right understanding of who we are in relation to the rest of creation. Because of the incarnation, we know that the material word is not evil, or something to be used or ignored. It is the product of a loving and rational God. It is good. It will be redeemed. On the other hand, it is not a god. There is no Gaia. Awe inspiring and beautiful as it is, the material world is not to be worshipped for its own sake.

Second, because Christianity is a faith based on reason and evidence, Christians ought to be buffered from, and help to buffer others from, ideology or wishful (or alarmist) thinking. Christians who are true to their calling will think, research, pray, consult and consider before arriving at a conclusion about how to respond to any particular issue.

Pope John Paul II pointed out that “Reverence for nature must be combined with scientific learning”. (Pastoral Statement, Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching.)

Maybe the church’s climate scare collaborators could try it.

And maybe, as the scarecrow did, they will think of things they never thunk before.

One of the reasons I was not able to post anything on Friday was that I had a number of clients whose computers I needed to attend to urgently.

The other reason was that I was writing a longish article on climate change discussions at the Parliament of Religions in Melbourne.

The lines above are a brief summary. Visit The Australian Conservative to read the whole thing.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, an informal interdenominational network of Christian congregations, has released a statement saying:

Global warming alarmism is based on biased science, sloppy economics, and misguided theology …

Global warming policies would produce unethical results that would:

•destroy millions of jobs.
•cost trillions of dollars in lost economic production.
•slow, stop, or reverse economic growth.
•reduce the standard of living for all but the elite few who are well positioned to benefit from laws that unfairly advantage them.
•endanger liberty by putting vast new powers over private, social, and market life in the hands of national and international governments.
•condemn the world’s poor to generations of continued misery characterized by rampant disease and premature death

The result of all these sacrifices will be at most a negligible, undetectable reduction in global average temperature a hundred years from now. …

such policies are wrongheaded, destructive, and detrimental to the poor.

Why is that kind of clear sightedness, attention to evidence, and moral sense so hard for mainstream Australian church leaders?

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