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I have just uploaded a brief introductory essay called Profits of Doom – An Introduction to Global Warming. Left click the link to open the PDF file in a new tab, or right click to save. There are quite a few graphs and photos. The file is about 1MB.

This was written just over a year ago as notes to accompany a PowerPoint presentation . There are few minor things I would change now. But I think it is still a good introduction.

Interesting to hear Peter Garrett say that he ‘knows’ changes in the Wilkins Ice Shelf are caused by global warming. Of course the world has been getting cooler for the last ten years, and during these Autumn months it is getting much cooler in the Antarctic. Like, actually, you know, cold. Below zero and stuff. But hey, don’t let the facts stop you. They certainly don’t get in the way of the EU.

It’s 65 years since the landing at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Over 9,000 Americans are buried at the American cemetary there, including the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt.

President Sarkozy invited President Obama to visit while he is in Europe for the NATO summit. French and US officials walked through the cemetary to plan how Obama and Sarkozy could travel the same route.

But according to White House officials, it was never going to happen anyway.

“It wasn’t going to happen,” said an American official in Washington. “We went through the motions to placate President Sarkozy but giving special treatment to France was not on our agenda.”

I don’t know who should be more insulted – US veterans or the French. Or maybe the Germans – because it is surely insulting to think they would have been insulted by a US president visiting a US war cemetary.

What’s next? Not visiting Auschwitz because he doesn’t want to upset Iran?

Faster, brighter, lighter, more colour depth, more power efficient, vastly better contrast ratio. And you can get one now (or in early May if you live in Australia)

What’s not to like? Well, apart from the fact that the price on release is about twenty-five percent higher than comparably sized LCD or plasma TVs. But that will change. And the difference in quality is amazing.

Oh dear.

A 19 year old woman drives her car out of a hotel car park into the path of a police vehicle. She is breast feeding her baby son, who is unrestrained. She is so drunk she cannot breathe properly into the breath testing device. In addition, she is already disqualified from driving, and the car she is driving is unregistered.

Police Superintendent Jamie Chalker said: “I find it increasingly frustrating that people show so little responsibility for their actions, but this is without a doubt one of the most stupid and reckless actions I’ve come across. People must take responsibility for their loved ones when they are clearly unable to make rational decisions for their own safety, the safety of others and the risk they pose to the general public.”

I agree. She’s an idiot. And in some ways symbolic of the whole ‘You can’t make me, I can do what I like’ attitude (which is perhaps why this story has got such wide publicity). But surely she wasn’t the only one who was irresponsible that night. Did she not have any friends? Was she drinking alone? And if she was so drunk she couldn’t give a breath sample, why were hotel staff still giving her drinks?

A couple of different reports over the last 24 hours about skimming (information trapping) devices attached to automatic teller machines.

Just take care. If an ATM looks suspicious, don’t use it, and report it to bank staff or police.

Emergency medicine specialists say as many lives are lost in Australia each year because of inadequate ER resources (including staff), as are lost on our roads.

Time to think about your priorities, boys and girls. Or get some decent IT advice. Or both.

National broadband gets the go ahead, but the government will do it itself. There are already some criticisms.

 No time to write in detail about this today, but a few questions spring to mind.

If the Federal Government has over $2,000 to spend for every man, woman and child in Australia, is this the best way to spend it?

Why does this require government intervention at all? If the government couldn’t find any corporate groups willing to invest in optical fibre technology on this scale, what makes them think they can do it 1) at all, and 2) at a profit?

When other nations are moving to high speed wireless (or satellite for remote regions) why are we even considering embarking on massively costly door to door fibre optic cabling?

This would have been exciting ten years ago. Or even five ears ago. But now – this is a horribly overpriced sytem which will be out of date before it is even completed.

So posting will be a bit light. My apologies. Two months worth of accounts, phone calls, emails and clients to get my head around. I should be better organised tomorrow.

Murder rates in Australian have moved up and down at about the same time, in about the same way. 

That’s interesting, because as this NZ Herald article points out, most people believe that crime rates, and especially rates of violent crime, are increasing.

People think there is more violent crime because we see so much more violence than we did. Without the media you could live a lifetime and never hear of anyone being murdered. Most of us will go through our lives without anyone close to us being a victim of violent crime. But we see violent crime everyday on the news and in TV shows and movies. So our perception is that the world around us is much more dangerous than it is.

These results confirms that media has a strong influence, compared with our own experience, on our beliefs about levels of crime:

An institute survey of 1400 people in four parts of New Zealand – including South Auckland – found that 80 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that the country’s crime rate was rising. Only 4 per cent disagreed. Yet the same survey – which has yet to be published – found that only a quarter of the people surveyed believed crime was rising in their own neighbourhoods.

Increasing urbanisation, and desensitisation to violence with the rise of TV, may have contributed to the rise in murder rates from about 1970. But what has caused the recent decline?

I always hated country music as a teenager, but got to know it better, and to respect and enjoy it, when we lived in Western Queensland.

Lots of country music fans will be pleased to see this once in a decade (OK, there’s a surprise) award going to a more traditional country artist.

And it helps that George Strait seems to be a decent kind of guy.

Interesting…

Several stories on major Australian media sites about extra deaths possibly caused by the Victorian heatwave in January.

But so far, not a single mention of CO2 or global warming.

Quite rightly, of course, because individual weather events, even unusual weather events and their consequences, should not be blamed on global patterns without some evidence that the two are connected.

But it is hard to imagine that some journalists, even a year ago, would not automatically have claimed these deaths as adding weight to the global warming thing.

But I thought that’s what everyone wanted?

Surely that couple of extra Earth Hours didn’t bother anyone? Where are your priorities?

Pretty obviously, if your population increases, and you don’t build new power production infrastructure, you are going to get some shortages of electricity. So this must be some sort of cunning NSW Labor plan to force everyone into reduced power consumption for the sake of the planet.

According to PM Kevin Rudd, Holden is the bright star in the GM firmament, the only good GM news anywhere in the world. This because a new four cylinder car is due to come into production in 2010.

But Holden’s Australian sales fell by 20% in the first quarter of this year, with sales to some export markets falling by 80%. An entire shift at the Adelaide factory is being cancelled. Staff have the option of losing their jobs or working one week on, one week off, at reduced pay. Production is forecast to be about 310 vehicles per day, down from a peak of about 600.

This is good news?

I read the latest Adelaide Church Guardian this morning. It’s dismal, of course. More breast-beating about no-one going to church. The yawn-inspiring PC nonsense the Guardian constantly parrots might give church leaders some clues about declining attendances if they were really interested.

But there is an article about ‘Jesus Week’ at the University of Adelaide and Uni SA. It’s a pretty harmless event. A BBQ here, a prayer meeting there, Christians wearing t-shirts or jumpers that advertise the week and their faith, invitations to church, or to studies that will give students a better understanding of Christianity and who Jesus is. In that one week they were asked to take down a banner (because of OH&S concerns), declined permission to hold a free BBQ (no problem for other groups) and a lecturer told a student to take off her Jesus Week jumper on the grounds that it was offensive.

So I was already thinking about this when I saw Andrew Bolt’s post about ‘Finger-pointing at the faith.’ An English (government sponsored) charity has produced a magazine for children in care, which encourages them to ‘Stand up for what they believe in.’  As long as they are not Christians.

The magazine shows a boy wearing a cross verbally attacking a young muslim woman. He is portrayed as a racist thug. She, of course, is all sweetness and light.

Who Cares? Trust chief executive Natasha Finlayson said she had no intention of withdrawing it, describing the cross as ‘bling’ rather than a religious symbol. That’s insulting enough – start describing the central symbols of other religions as ‘bling’ and see what sort of reaction you get. But it is also untrue. The cross the boy is wearing is meant to be a symbol of his religious faith. The magazine itself says so – when the bully wearing the bling asks the girl about her hijab, she replies that it is ‘part of her religion, like the cross you are wearing.’ 

If the roles were reversed, and a Muslim boy was shown picking on a Christian girl, humans rights groups would be pouncing. And they would be right to do so. Publishing that kind of sneering portrayal of any religious group under the heading ‘Stand up for what you believe’ is sheer hypocrisy.

Whatever one thinks about its authenticity, the Shroud is a fascinating object.

Carbon dating tests conducted in 1988 indicated the Shroud could not be dated any earlier than 1260. That figure was immediately disputed (and not just by Shroud believers) because it was claimed that the very small parts of the Shroud removed for dating had been taken from a place where repairs had been carried out in the Middle Ages.

Last year John Jackson, a Colorado physicist working with Oxford University, said that because of high Carbon Monoxide levels, those dating results could have been skewed by as much as 1300 years. Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (the group that tested the Shroud in 1988) said ‘There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed.’

The other evidence includes matches with the Sudarium of Oviedo, and pollens, cloth and weave types that are a perfect fit to 1st Century Israel.

One of the problems has been a gap in the Shroud’s history.

The Shroud, or something like it, had been known in the Eastern Church until the sack of Constantinople in 1204. But there was no record of its existence between then and the appearance of the Shroud we have now in France in 1353. The Shroud was in the possession of a family descended from a Knight Templar who had been in the Middle East. This led historian Ian Wilson to propose that it had either been in that family’s possession, or in the possession of the order of Knights Templar between 1204 and 1353 – and therefore that this was the same cloth and image that had been known in the East.

Now Dr Barbara Frale, an historian researching the Templars in the Vatican Archives, reports finding a Templar document which confirms Wilson’s theory.

Even now, no one understands how the image came to be made on the cloth. The negative image, wounds in the wrists rather than the hands, realistic blood flow patterns and a multitude of other factors make it unlikely in the extreme that it is a medieval forgery. So what is it?

Probably the two best books on the Shroud are Ian Wilson’s The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence That the World’s Most Sacred Relic Is Real and John Iannone’s The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence.