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Limp Wristed Loser’s Loutish Lob

A long haired Australian removed a shoe and lobbed it at former Prime Minister John Howard at Cambridge University last Friday. Mr Howard was speaking on Leadership in the Twenty-first Century.

This from the ABC News website:

Jonathan Laurence, who organised the event as the president-elect of the Cambridge Union, said he found the incident quite surprising because shoe-thrower made his move at the start of the talk.

He described the man as a “long-haired Australian” who shouted at Mr Howard, telling him to go home and accusing him of being a racist.

“John Howard said I am not racist and I’m going home on Tuesday,” Mr Laurence said.

“There was a pause, and then he got up and tried to throw a shoe but it was the weakest throw in the world.”

“I mean it shows why you lot lost the Ashes, if you don’t mind me saying.”

Speaking to ABC Radio’s Red Symonds, Mr Laurence said Mr Howard had not said anything to prompt the outburst and he continued the speech with “good grace”.

“The best part of the story is that the person who threw the shoe then later got one of his friends to ask for it back. You know, he couldn’t even walk home with one shoe,” he said.

“He just left immediately afterwards.”

What a loser. And I don’t mean Howard.

Ghosts and Global Warming

Interesting figures here from the Pew Research Center on declining faith in the religion of global warming apocalyptic, with only 36% of those surveyed agreeing there is good evidence the world is warming because of human activity.

As Watts Up With That notes, this is about the same as the number of people who believe in haunted houses. Pity they weren’t asked the two questions at the same time – I’d be interested to see the extent of overlap.

And you might like to visit the UK Science Museum’s website to make it clear you want to be ‘counted out’ of efforts to convince the government to sacrifice jobs and industry while implementing polcies which will not change climate by one tenth of one degree, and to sign up to the Copenhagen treaty.

So far, despite the museum’s manipulative wording to try to get people to agree the science is settled, 6070 so far want to be counted out, compared with 967 wanting to be counted in.

I hope the government is listening.

Update:

As at Monday 9th November, the realists are still ahead on the museum’s vote, but the haunted house crowd are catching up. Rationalists please go and vote!

Free Stuff

Nothing is free. ‘It’s free’ just means ‘Someone else has paid for it.’

‘It should be free’ means ‘Someone else should pay for it.’

The question to ask is always ‘Why?’ Why should somone else pay for it?

I have discussed this before in relation to public transport and daycare.

No one minds helping people who are genuinely in need get on their feet. The very poor may need temporary assistance with housing or medical costs.

Fair enough. I am happy to put in my share to help those in real distress.

But such free (transport, daycare, health care, whatever) schemes cost everyone vastly more that if people simply paid their own share. Every ‘free’ scheme has huge compliance, provision and record-keeping costs in addition to the cost of the service provided.

‘Free’ universal health care simply means ‘When I get sick, someone else should pay for my treatment, even though it costs everyone much more to make this happen.’

Why?

Deltoid Again

Like it or not, Tim Lambert is one of Australia’s leading left wing bloggers.

I don’t like it, because Lambert’s approach to debate is so often simply to mock or belittle  people with whom he disagrees. His ongoing vicious attacks on Professor Ian Plimer, including repeated accusations of plagiarism, are a perfect example. So while Lambert cannot be ignored, I link to him as little as possible.

His snide remarks about Janet Albrechsen’s carefully expressed concerns about the proposed Copenhagen Treaty fit the Deltoid pattern perfectly.

Instead of answering Albrechtsen’s questions by saying, for example, ‘No that’s not what this says,’ or ‘I think you have misunderstood this section,’ Lambert’s response is essentially to say, well, she’s an adiot, and so is anyone who agrees with her.

No thinking person minds their views being challenged. I would be glad to see a carefully argued leftist response to Albrechtsen and Monckton’s concerns.  But I could be waiting a long time.

The draft Copenhagen agreement can be downloaded from Watts Up With That. Andrew Bolt points out that if we sign, it commits us to handing over a minimum 0.7% of total GDP – at least $7 billion per year.

It is worth repeating Albrechtsen’s questions:

What exactly are the powers of the overseeing body to be set up by the Copenhagen Treaty?

And why has there been no media or parliamentary discussion of the Copenhagen treaty and its potential impact on a: climate (zero) and b: Australia’s economy (dire)?

Leftist Vitriol

I visit leftist blogs and news sites fairly regularly.

I can’t remember who it was who said ‘If you only read one paper, read the opposition’s,’  but it was good advice. If we only read the opinions of people who agree with us, we run the risk of arguing with what we imagine our opponents’ arguments are, instead of what they really are.

But visits to leftist blogs are trying, because they are so often simply nasty.

Tim Lambert’s recent treatment of Ian Plimer is a perfect example.

Ian Plimer is Australia’s most respected earth scientist. His book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science is a densely packed book of over 500 pages and 2,000 footnotes.

Lambert is almost bursting with glee as he announces that Professor Plimer has plagiarised Ferdinand Engelbeen’s work on CO2 levels. And furthermore that Plimer deliberately misrepresented the evidence, and did not cite Engelbeen because if he had done so he would have been forced to admit that Engelbeen’s work undermines his (Plimer’s) view of changes in atmospheric CO2.

Engelbeen does not believe in catastrophic global warming, but he does believe human activity has lead to measurable increases in atmospheric CO2.

It is true that some of the figures in a paragraph in Plimer’s book are identical to figures used by Engelbeen, that Engelbeen appears to have published these figures first, and that there is no attribution to Engelbeen. There are numerous possible reasons for this. Possibly Plimer and Engelbeen discussed these figures informally. Possibly they both sourced them from somewhere else. Or perhaps Dr Plimer forgot a footnote.

One footnote out of 2,000 forgotten! And not only is this enough to cause a gloating leap to call Professor Plimer a plagiarist who should be sacked, but Lambert tells us he has worked out the real reason the footnote is missing, and it is because Plimer is dishonest. I’m surprised Professor Plimer hasn’t sued for defamation.

Then, of course, and tediously, Plimer’s integrity is called into question because he has (shock, horror) done some consulting work for mining companies.

Never mind that whatever income Professor Plimer may have received from mining companies is entirely unrelated to, and unaffected by, his research and opinions on climate change, whereas the IPCC bureaucrats’ employment, and the lecture income of Al Gore and Tim Flannery depends completely on maintaining the global warming scare.

Lambert’s isn’t the only offensive misrepresentation of Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science.

Michael Ashley’s review in the Australian is extraordinarily vindictive.

There are more off the cuff charges of unattributed use of data.

Accusations of plagiarism can destroy someone’s career. Claims like this are serious. They should not be made lightly, and especially not in public by another academic, who understands what their consequences can be. Doing so is a sign of malice, or irresponsibility, or both.

Ashley then picks two very minor points, neither of which impacts on the main argument of the book, and claims that because Plimer has those wrong, there is no science in his book, and the whole thing can be disregarded.

The two points are about minor local changes in CO2 concentration, and the composition of the sun. Ashley’s comments about the first seem to me to misrepresent the point Professor Plimer was making. I am not in a position to judge the second. But really, even if Ashley is right in both cases, it seems to me to be verging on the desperate to dismiss the whole of a substantial and tightly argued book bceause you have found two minor errors.

Finally, Ashley claims that all the points in Plimer’s book have been answered by the IPCC (they haven’t) and says that if Plimer had anything worthwhile to say, he would have published it in a peer reviewed journal, because that is the way science advances. Since he wote a book instead, he obviously has nothing real to offer.

Professor Plimer has a substantial list of peer reviewed articles. He is clearly not shy about subjecting his research to the critical judgement of his academic peers, or of the public.

The IPCC’s work, by contrast, is not properly peer reviewed.

But Ashley (again) misses the point completely. Heaven and Earth is not about presenting new research for the first time. It is a comprehensive and accessible summary of the massive body of peer reviewed research relating to climate change, which has so far not been easily available to the general public.

Plimer’s work is not always easy to read. He is clearly a scientist rather than a writer. But he and his book deserve better than the carping and vindictive treatment they have received at the hands of leftist academics and journalists.

The key points of the book are that there is no discernible human impact on global climate, that changes over the last century are well within the normal range of natural change, and that they are almost certainly due entirely to natural cyclic changes which we are only now beginning to understand.

There has been no challenge to Professor Plimer on these points.

The Real Climate Change Catastrophe

Christopher Booker summarises the arguments of his new book: The Real Global Warming Disaster: Is the Obsession with “Climate Chanage” Turning Out to Be the Most Costly Scientific Blunder in History?

Long title, but the answer is almost certainly yes. The cost in human life of the greenies’ DDT ban is in the tens of millions. But our obesession with non-existent global warming could end up costing even more.

This graph from Lord Monckton’s presentation helps to explain why. Cheap energy has brought much of world out of poverty, reducing infant mortality, extending life. Denying that cheap fuel to developing nations willl ensure they continue to suffer from starvation and from diseases now virtually unknown in the West.

Infant Mortality Correlated With Energy Use
Infant Mortality Correlated With Energy Use

Bernard Baruch said ‘Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.’

Global warming hysteria is not morally neutral. The people who believe and promote it may be ‘Not evil just wrong,’ but that won’t stop their policies from deepening poverty and suffering.

Ban Ki Moon and the IPCC need to get out of their airplanes and offices, and start talking to real scientists, and looking at that is happening in the real world. Arctic ice is not melting disastrously, for example.

According to Roy Spencer, AGW has all the hallmarks of an urban legend.

Discipline in Schools

One of my best friends is a highly intelligent and capable woman who has raised four lovely daughters, run a successful business, and is a respected teacher whose students have produced consistently good results.

This will be her last year of teaching. She just does not have the energy to struggle every day with children who are rude, have no interest in learning, and for whom everything is boring. Of course it is they who are boring, because they have no interests, no skills, no informed opinions to share.

My friend is also dismayed by the level of verbal and physical abuse directed at staff and other students, and by the inability or unwillingness of Education department staff and politicians to recognise the problem, and to put reasonable structures in place to encourage learning, or even to ensure schools are safe places to work and learn.

The always interesting Boris Johnson makes a case for greater support for teachers, and more meaningful (though not necessarily corporal) discipline policies and processes.

Wayne Carey Whines

It’s not my fault I’m a drunk, a womaniser and a liar, says Carey in his book The Truth Hurts – my Dad was mean to me.

Well maybe. Dad says otherwise of course.

This reminds me of the old saw about what a patient learned in therapy: I am responsible for all my own decisions, and everything bad that has happened in my life is my parents’ fault.

I’m inclined to believe the abuse stories. But for heaven’s sake, Carey is no longer a child.

Our background certainly influences our feelings and perceptions. But we still make choices about our behaviour. We still know what is right and what is wrong. Having sex with your best friend’s wife is wrong. Treating people as objects to be used is wrong. Lying to people who trust you and rely on you is wrong.

Shouting about it in the media a few years later to make yourself look better isn’t exactly kind or considerate either.

350 Ways To Look Like An Idiot

I was in Adelaide yesterday to do some buying for my shop, and was interrupted in my travels about the city by about 100 scruffy-looking characters on bicycles. Some of them had painted the number 350 on their clothes and some were wearing costumes with bits of green ribbon hanging off, so they all like looked like a bunch of overgrown kindergarteners on their way home from a very bad fingerpainting and dress-up party. They were shouting about something, but I couldn’t hear what it was, and anyway, I was in a hurry to get what I needed done in time to get back to Cape Jervis to catch the last ferry home that night.

When I got home I googled 350. I was assuming the scribbles had some meaning – which of course might not have been the case. But I found this: 350.org

What a dismal, dishonest, self-important little website it is.

A ‘ring of hope’ around the White House, with a banner claiming its bearers are against pollution and poverty. They are not. They are against the use of cheap energy which has extended our life span, reduced infant mortality, and given vast numbers of people the biggest and quickest ever boost out of poverty. More like a ring of grim ignorance which would, if their policies were implemented, keep life in developing nations nasty, brutish and short.

A photo of a nibble of nerds in a burnt out piece of Victorian forest, with the entirely dishonest suggestion that those fires were the result of anthropogenic climate change.

Do any of these people read or think?

Do any of them realise there is no correlation whatever between human production of CO2 and changes in climate? Do any of them know or care that increased CO2 will reduce desertification, increase agricultural production and therefore reduce hunger, and make the world a greener place?

The Western world has been taken over by zombies.

Well maybe not. Adelaide is a city of just over a million people. If only 100 or so turned out for the world day of climate dumbness, then only 0.0001 percent of the population of Adeladie is zombies.

The problem is that zombies seem to be running the media. In Australia it is quite possible the politicians are going to do what the zombies tell them. This means implementing an appallingly stupid RAT (Ration and Tax) scheme to reduce CO2 emissions. Or rather to send CO2 emissions off-shore. That is, to send industry and employment off-shore.

As Blind Freddy could see, this will have no effect at all on climate (and wouldn’t even if the climate disaster predictions were true) but will radically increase the costs of operating Australia’s major industries and transport.

Pennies Drop

I have a friend who is a bit left-leaning. A lot left-leaning actually. Bosses exploit the workers, socialism is a fairer system, etc, etc.

Then she opened a shop. Of course, it is one of those trendy organic food, fair trade coffee, home made soap type places, but I respect anyone who risks their own money and puts in the massive time and effort it takes to get a business started.

She is doing quite well. Well enough to need to employ someone. That lasted two weeks.

When I asked her what had happened, she told me she had gotten fed up with paying her employee twice as much as she was earning, for doing half the work. And, she added indignantly, her employee hadn’t even put any money into the business.

I couldn’t help a little snicker.

JBC Shares Trading Software

Final update to the JBC scam saga.

For background see the two earlier articles.

David reported in comments that he has written to ASIC. He has had a response which I cannot detail here. But they are taking his complaint seriously.

What is not so good has been the response from his bank.

Apparently Mastercard have a system called Mastercard Secure, or Securecode. This is supposed to provide protection for cardholders against fraudulent transactions, and protection for merchants against false chargeback claims.

I have been a Mastercard user for years and had never heard of this scheme.

If a merchant is a member of Mastercard Secure, and they attempt to ‘authenticate’ a transaction through this system, then even though there is no communication with the cardholder, the merchant is protected against any chargeback claim. 

JBC has heard of it, and are registered for Mastercard Secure.

I have checked with Mastercard, and I was amazed when I heard what this scheme means in practice.

What the Mastercard Secure system means is that any merchant who is registered under the scheme can deduct any amount from your card at any time. As long as the merchant attempts to ‘authenticate’ the transaction through the system, you, the cardholder, have no protection at all.

Mastercard will not attempt to communicate with you unless you have also joined Mastercard Secure. They will simply confirm the transaction as legitimate without checking with you, and you then have no recourse, even if, as in JBC’s case, the merchant is a known scammer.

This scheme, whatever its intended purpose, protects fraudulent merchants or scammers from genuine chargeback requests at the expense of cardholders.

I for one will be moving on from Mastercard.

Update:

David reports the fraudulent debit to his Mastercard has been refunded. The Securecode system does not protect merchants who deduct funds without authorisation, or transactions which are dishonest, as JBC’s debit to his account was.

He also reports discussions with the Australian Securities and Investment Commsission. Without discussing any individual business, they assured him that they and the Federal Police actively pursue scam sellers of sports betting or share price prediction software.

The smooth patter and glossy advertising material that promoted the JBC software was normal for scammers. Most people would see through that, or at least, still have questions. What made JBC more convincing to ordinary people was the fake websites they had set up. These were calculated to give even someone who checked carefully the impression that JBC was a legitimate and well-respected business.

Setting up fake websites to give your product an air of respectability it does not deserve is deliberately dishonest. These people are thieves, nothing more, despite their fancy advertising.

Maldives Mania

The Maldives Cabinet met underwater last Saturday to draw attention to the tiny nation’s fate if global warming and accompanying rapid sea level rise continues. All very cute and colourful.

Maldives Cabinet Meets Underwater
Maldives Cabinet Meets Underwater

Except for a couple of small points:

1. The world isn’t getting any warmer. That hasn’t stopped the WWF, who are still shouting the world will come to an end if the global economy is not shut down in the next four years.

2. There is no recorded rise in sea level at the Maldives over the last 40 years.

That links opens a PDF document by IPCC author Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner, head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden, past president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project.

Interestingly, he says the same thing about Tuvalu – no recorded sea level rise. He also notes that of the 22 authors reponsible for claims about sea level in the 2000 and 2006 IPCC reports, not one is a sea level specialist.

The whole article is well worth reading.

Tricky Cherry Picking

Lucia at The Blackboard has an interesting article on how a global warming scientists can justify the kind of massive cherry-picking that went into the infamous hockey-stick.

First, an explanation of ‘proxies.’ Proxies are so called because we cannot measure past temperatures directly, but have to use stand-ins. These stand-ins (or proxies) may be growth rings or changes in glaciers or sea level or other indirect measures of temperature. The problem with all of these proxies is that temperature is not the only thing that affects them. So they need to be cross-checked and recorded very carefully.

Lucia points out that you can cherry-pick without even meaning to, simply by removing the proxies (sets of tree rings or whatever) that do not correlate with other records of temperature.

I am sure this is possible, but I am not so sure this is what happened in the Mann / Briffa hockey stick invention. The cherry picking in that case seems so clear it is hard to avoid the notion that it amounted to scientific fraud.

To be fair, Briffa insists there was no deliberate pre-selection of data. He now says there were problems with the methodology. We are working on it, he says. In the mean time, everyone should still believe it.

Right.