March 30, 2011

Bolt sighs in court

"Bolt occasionally sighed heavily and looked annoyed as he gave his testimony, but never lost his temper. He countered many of the questions of Herman Borenstein, SC, who led the cross-examination for the nine, with questions of his own. He caused a minor uproar when he referred to Geoff Clark, who was in the courtroom, as a racist, before adding: ''I only mention Geoff because I like him.''
(Not sure why The Age, reporting on Herald Sun columnist Bolt, are so surprised that he managed not to jump about or get angry in the witness box that they needed to mention it. Bolt isn't known for being an angry thug or a loose cannon in court rooms, as far as I know.)

Bolt doesn't throw any hissy fits while in the dock

Wednesday Wisdom

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present. 

Albert Camus

March 28, 2011

Bolt on trial

It seems almost astonishing that Andrew Bolt has never before been put on trial (except for that other time).

Even if his lawyers lose the now in session racial vilification trial, Bolt will almost certainly be permitted to continue to roam free.

Leaving Bolt and his lawyers aside, this is an important case, which we will try to remember to follow during the week with our usual sporadic interest.

Having vigorously and provocatively questioned the personal motives for some people identifying as Aboriginal, Bolt will claim fair comment, not vilification. 

Bolt 'living in mindset frozen in history'

Solomon Wakeling - Anti-Vilification Laws: What do they achieve?

Update:  March 29, 2011

The second day of Bolt's trial expanded on the poppycock of the first day, by which I mean that the prosecution kicked-off with a range of dumb-arsed accustations (none supportable), and offensive analogies of its own.

I think Bolt might win this one, if for no other reason than that the prosecution seems, so far, to have lost the plot, or perhaps they didn't have time to study the case and to think prior to entering the court room.

"Wearing a dark suit, white shirt and lavender tie, Bolt clasped his hands in front of him and tried several times to respond to a question put to him by his counsel, Neil Young, QC. It was what might be called, in another context, a Dorothy Dixer, and counsel for the other side was having none of it.

"This case may ultimately be about the boundaries of free speech on one hand and the publication of items that are likely to offend on the other," Mr Young said.

"It is not about race law, not about the Holocaust and not about eugenics," all, not coincidentally, topics touched on in yesterday's opening address by Ron Merkel, QC, senior counsel for the nine light-skinned Aborigines bringing a charge of racial discrimination against Bolt.

Mr Young wanted to give Bolt the opportunity to respond to Mr Merkel's remarks; Mr Merkel was adamant that was not on.

"Mr Merkel attributed to you opinions based on eugenics and attitudes prevalent at the time of Hitler's Germany," Mr Young began, addressing Bolt.

"Objection, Your honour," Mr Merkel interjected. "Not true."

Mr Young: "It is true."

Justice Bromberg was inclined to agree with Mr Merkel. "I don't think there was any attribution of those views to Mr Bolt," he said. "Perhaps we could refer to the transcript."

Mr Young: "For some reason I didn't receive a copy of the transcript last night."

"I thought the allegation and linking to the Nuremberg Race laws and the Holocaust were grossly offensive," [Bolt] started.

At which Mr Merkel was on his feet again, and Mr Young was forced to rephrase his question in such a way that Bolt could at last refute suggestions he was a eugenicist."

Andrew Bolt race discrimination trial 

Stuff we knew without help

Body double Ballerina says that Natalie Portman is a dancing fake.

Yeah, we knew that: it's called acting.

Did Nat really do her own spinny things on tippy toes?

March 27, 2011

Yes - it's your job!

I really hate politicians who insist they will "govern for all the people", meaning, even the ones who didn't vote for the winning party.

Guess what you morons:  it's your fucking job to govern for all, it's a given once you win - you have no choice!  You won, you got the gig, ipso facto, you will govern for all, for better or worse.

There isn't some parallel universe where citizens can go to live for four years and be governed by someone else.  Likewise, you don't get to sequester the people who didn't vote for you. 

NSW election - Barry O'Farrell trots out the usual winners drivel 

Kristina resigns as leader of ALP

March 26, 2011

KK Routed

The NSW ALP is officially an anorexic version of its former bloated self, holding onto - as accurately predicted - 19 seats in today's state election.

Other people, of other hues, won the other 70 seats that were up for grabs.


Cheap Shots

There are days, many of them, when Tony Abbott, alleged leader of the Federal Liberal Party and aspiring Prime Minister, behaves like a repulsive 12 year old and spits out such illogical and irrelevant nonsense that it's tempting to call his wife to ask her to drag his dumb arse home:

Tony Abbott has mocked Julia Gillard's decision to attend next month's royal wedding, saying she does not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage.

Mr Abbott, a staunch Catholic and monarchist who is married with children, questioned Ms Gillard's bona fides to attend the wedding during yesterday's joint party room meeting.

Ms Gillard and her partner, Tim Mathieson, have accepted an invitation to attend next month's wedding in London between Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

Mr Abbott predicted Ms Gillard would receive another poll bounce from this venture. ''She may not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage but there will be a royal wedding bounce,'' he said.
Abbott questioned the Prime Minister's bona fides to accept an invitation to a royal wedding? 

Stupid little twerp. 

Of course, let's not forget that politics, and federal politics in particular, has fallen into such odious disrepute that Neil Mitchell Alan Jones, a radio shock jock, berated the Prime Minister on air for arriving late for an interview.

Not only did Gillard take it, no one in any public arena bothered to point out the unforgivable rudeness of Mitchell's Jones' vigorous (and not at all joking) chiding of the women who runs the country, and the extraordinary display of disrespect for the office of Prime Minister.

Oh, and while Abbott was mouthing off, he:
... likened the period between now and the next election to ''trench warfare'' but predicted a Coalition victory.
Trench warfare?  Like mud and excrement and blood?  Way to raise the bar Tone.

Abbott questions why PM is going to royal wedding

March 25, 2011

Dung it!

Remember David Truscott, best known as the guy with a manure fetish?

Refresh your memory, if you must  - In deep shit  ...

Can't help himself, it would seem, although I think we'd already figured that out.  Truscott is in jail for another stint - this time two years, same offense. 

While we're on penis adventures:  it's been a while, hasn't it, been a little ... err ... dry, in the penis chronicles department

Duck Friday

March 23, 2011

Everything will kill you

Sex and exercise (not necessarily taken at the same time) might kill you.

My tip:  live like you mean it.  The end will come soon enough.

Ignore all advice from experts and amateurs.

Killer sex a heart-breaker

Wednesday Wisdom

No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it.

Charles Schultz 

March 20, 2011

The retiring (or snoozing) blog

A beautiful and apt last post from our dear friend Jacob, putting his blog to rest (I'm sure there's a lesson in that for all of us).

A fond farewell to Applied Hermeneutics ... final post Love survives ...

And so it does, so it does. 

March 19, 2011

Just like real medicine only better

But if deception is the problem, could patients be informed they were getting a placebo?

A recent study of 80 patients with irritable bowel syndrome at Harvard Medical School in Boston showed that, even though patients were told, their symptoms still improved, compared to those who had no treatment.

Dr Calland points out there is a bigger problem with the placebo response. ''In one patient it may be very strong, while in another it may be virtually non-existent,'' he says.
Ah, you mean exactly like real medicine, Dr Calland?  Except that the real stuff is effective in even fewer patients than the pretend medicine. 
And placebos do not work for everything: they cannot alter blood sugar levels in diabetics, mend a broken leg or cure cancer.

''To hope you will get a placebo effect would simply be not very good medicine,'' Dr Calland argues. ''Why not just give a treatment that actually works?''
Err, because they don't work, or at least not to the extent of placebos.

Notably, studies are increasingly demonstrating that pretend surgery as well as pretend medicines have as good - but usually much better - efficacy than the real thing.  Another recent study, much like the Boston example referenced above, found that even when test subjects were told they were getting the placebo, not only did they report improvement, the percentage was greater than those given a placebo but not told - and, as is so common as to be predictable, greater reported improvement than those taking real medicines.

Strange but true.

Surely it's long past the time that we should be questioning the ethics of subjecting people to unnecessary and ineffective surgeries and pumping people full of drugs (often with awful side effects) that are less effective than a sugar pill?

Not to mention questioning the ethics of throwing billions of dollars away on those medical habits; money that would bring greater good to a greater number by spending the budget to support people's health and well being in ways that demonstrably work (such as proper care and nutrition for the elderly in nursing homes, assisting families with disabled children, improving community environments, increasing welfare spend for those who don't have jobs, etc).

Practical medicine or unethical?

March 18, 2011

March 16, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

The crucial feature of atomic physics is that the human observer is not only necessary to observe the properties of an object, but is necessary even to define these properties.

Fritjof Capra

March 14, 2011

It won't get better than this

Pretty much no one likes having Julia Gillard as the PM, and many would like to have the tantrum prone, finicky, decision-making averse Kev Rudd back in the big office.

How much worse does it have to get before Gillard and the ALP power brokers of NSW start swallowing hard and noticing how badly they got it wrong?  Apparently the outcome of the 2010 federal election wasn't sufficiently chastening.

The day after the stabbing on Capital Hill, the day after Gillard sacrificed herself - for the good of the country - I posted that the ALP was dead in the water.  I believed it.  Still do.  They did not win government last year, and they won't next time either.  Nor will their unprincipled alliance with Dr Bob and the Greens be rewarded - when your best shot at green policy sees your primary votes plummet by about 15% in two weeks, you really should be thinking about your bed partners.

The worst part - and yes, there are worse things in federal politics than Gillard and her enablers - is that Bob Brown and his green bunch continue to be held aloft as shining examples of strength, integrity and unwavering principles.  Yep, the same bunch who paved the way for Rudd's demise by refusing to support his Emissions Trading Scheme (yes, that greenest of green policies, now being bought back by Gillard) are supposed to be admirable above the fray, and role models to us all.

What this tells us is nothing, other than how bitterly befuddled and useless politics has become in this country, and how grossly, persistently, willfully the fourth estate has failed us.  I know this isn't new, the decline has been long and painful, and it hasn't even reached rocks or bottoms.  All the same, it's a prickly point, and one that never fails to infuriate me.

Pretty much no one likes having Tony Abbott as the leader of the opposition either, and many would like to have the wealthy, greenish, former banker Malcolm Turnbull back leading the losers.

Again, the outcome of the 2010 federal election wasn't sufficiently transparent?  Someone out there continues to pay for minor samplings to restate that which was amply stated by the entire electorate last year?

We were unanimous:  we didn't think Gillard was worthy and we didn't think Abbott was worthy.  We still don't.  This is not a surprise.  This is not startling.  This is not news.  The blind Freddie's of the country can tell you this for free!  Nothing has changed.  We still can't stand our leaders.  They are useless to us.

March 13, 2011

Moby Duck

In a Chinese toy factory, he pulls a 16-year-old duck from his pocket and fits the toy into its original mold. “For a moment I half expect some sort of cosmic magic to occur — rays of yellow light to come shooting from the mold, a portal to open in the space-time continuum. Instead, I just stand there muttering, idiotically, ‘Wow. . . Wow.’ ”

At times, I reacted similarly to “Moby-Duck.” Hohn seems to have it all: deep intelligence, a strikingly original voice, humility and a hunger to suss out everything a yellow duck may literally or metaphorically touch. Naturally, he can’t, but the chase is, after all, the thing. 

Book review - 28,800 toys at sea

Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn

March 12, 2011

All thought goes missing

Academics are supposed to be trained to think, do research, analyze, synthesize and write for the edification of the ignorant, uniformed, and nowadays, time poor masses.

Gawd I wish they would stop wasting my fucking time.

I also wish the "believers" would get their hand off it, or at least find an alternate hobby, because it's unseemly. 

In today's Australian we have an extract from Civilization: the West and the Rest, by Niall Ferguson, which includes this nonsense of a line:
"Climate change skeptics should spend time in China, where the industrial revolution is causing unmissable damage."
Dude, the industrial revolution started in around 1775, and it has bought about, over time and on balance, nothing but good for the maximum number of people, including good health and longer lives.  

The point of Niall's non sequetor about skeptics and China's late but rapid development and proof of something - oh yeah, proof of climate change - is impossible to decipher.

Ferguson is a historian, so of course he's well qualified to speak of the climate (even temperatures, I'm sure) and to throw out meaningless statements that speak of nothing and offer proof of even less.  He should be a politician.  Or Bob Brown.


Minor and non-hysterical commentary from Bolt today.  He didn't need to fluff this up.  Speaks for itself.
"[There are] two questions we'd ask whether buying a ShamWow cloth or a Merc.

One, how much will this cost?

Two, how well will it work?

Why has this government never told you how much the temperature will fall in exchange for the X billions we'll pay?

I'll tell you. If they tried to answer, they'd look as silly as Jill Duggan.
Duggan helps to run Europe's emissions trading system, which is the biggest in the world, covering 25 times more people than we have here.

And if anyone should be the full bottle on that scheme - which has in fact been rorted sideways while achieving bugger-all for a Europe with 10 per cent unemployment - it should be her.

And now she's in Australia to lecture politicians and students about how good Europe's scheme is and why we should rush to do something similar.

Well, see what happened this week when on MTR I asked Duggan those two questions - how much does your scheme cost, and what will it achieve.

AB: Your target is to cut Europe's emissions by 20 per cent by 2020?

JD: Yes.

AB: Can you tell me how much - to the nearest billions - is that going to cost Europe, do you think?

JD: No, I can't tell you but I do know that the modelling shows that it's cheaper to start earlier rather than later.

AB: Right. You wouldn't quarrel with Professor Richard Tol - who's not a climate sceptic but is professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin? He values it at about $250 billion. You wouldn't quarrel with that?

JD: I probably would actually. I mean, I don't know. It's very, very difficult to quantify.

AB: Right. Well, you don't know but you think it isn't $250 billion . . . What sort of temperature reduction do you imagine (you'll get) from that kind of investment?

JD: Well, what we do know is that to have an even chance of keeping temperature increases globally to 2 degrees ... you've got to reduce emissions globally by 50 per cent by 2050.

AB: But from the $250 billion -- or whatever you think the figure is -- what do you think Europe can achieve with this 20 per cent reduction in terms of cutting the world's temperature?

JD: Well, obviously, Europe accounts for 14 per cent of global emissions. It's 500 or 550 million people. On its own it cannot do that. That is absolutely clear.

AB: Have you got a figure in your mind? You don't know the cost. Do you know the result?

JD: I don't have a cost figure in my mind. One thing I do know, obviously, is that Europe acting alone will not solve this problem alone.

AB: So if I put a figure to you - I find it odd that you don't know the cost and you don't know the outcome - would you quarrel with this assessment: that by 2100, if you go your way and if you're successful, the world's temperatures will fall by 0.05 degrees? Would you agree with that?

JD: Well, I think the climate science would not be that precise. Would it?

AB: Ah, no, actually it is, Jill. You see, this is what I'm curious about; that you're in charge of a massive program to re-jig an economy. You don't know what it costs. And you don't know what it'll achieve.

How grossly irresponsible to impose untold costs for an unknown outcome that is, in fact, so very small as to make the whole exercise pointless.

Now, if that's the case with huge Europe, how much more so is it with us?

In fact, if Gillard shut down our economy completely and shot every burping cow , the temperature by 2100 would fall just 0.01 degrees.

All pain, zero gain. Hear it from John R. Christy, who this week gave evidence on global warming to the US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee.

Christy - unlike our new Climate Commissioner, paleontologist Tim Flannery - has impeccable credentials in climate science.

He is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and was a lead author for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Over the past 32 years, he said, the warming trend seemed to be a third of what global warming models predicted, which suggested they "overestimate the response of temperature to greenhouse gas increases".

Recent natural disasters in Australia were just part of the natural cycles, and plans to "stop" warming with, say, an emissions trading scheme were futile.

"We calculate that the impact of legislative actions being considered on the global temperature is essentially imperceptible." Huge cost. No effect.
 Have just sent the Bolt piece off to the PM and to Minister Greg Combet.

Carbon guru stumped by two questions

March 11, 2011

March 9, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.

Benjamin Disraeli

March 6, 2011

Saddest story ever

A lonely baleen whale has been friendless for 21 years because it sings at a frequency no other whale can hear.

Scientists have tracked the whale since 1989.  The unnamed whale sings at 51.75Hz, which is just above the lowest note on a tuba.  The rest of whale-kind communicates between 12 and 25Hz. 

No one has been able to come up with an explanation for the lonely whale's dilemma.  Explanations put forward include it being the last of its species, a one-off, or perhaps a mutation of an existing species.

The whale continues to roam the ocean, calling out, but never receiving a response.

The loneliest whale in the world

Delusions of Assange

"I call on you to make this bigger than me.  Take this case and bring it back home.  Make it your case and your own virtue."
So says Julian Assange, in yet another display that he should not be permitted to do doorstop ad-libs.  And yet another display that his delusions of grandeur are prone to being a bit tipsy.  

The problem is that the case - the charges he potentially faces (no charges laid, he hasn't even been interviewed) in Sweden - is not bigger than him.  The case is entirely about him and his sexual behaviors involving two women.  Sorry Jules, as much as the personal is political, I think you've misunderstood that sentiment. 

Of course, if you were Roman Polanski, and if you were, in fact, a rapist of children, for example, you'd definitely have a lot of famous, rich people making you their virtue. 

In the meantime, be a man, you have a case to answer - get on with it so that your alleged purpose for being and your Wikileaks can get back on track.

March 5, 2011

We did it!

Remember, a short three weeks ago:  Now we'll all have to write to the Prime Minister

We did and we won.  Talk about the little blog that could!

I think we should take full credit for the additional $8M funding announced for the Australian War Memorial by the Prime Minister on Thursday. 

Good on everyone who did their little bit to make this happen by writing to the PM and/or to Penny Wong. 

Big pat on back, collective halo and warm fuzzies.  Nice job everyone!

March 4, 2011

March 2, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.