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February, 2012:

Keeping it classy at Daily Kos

Yeah, lets keep the debate courteous, but it is in the comments that it gets really nasty.

Murdering, Lying, Thieving, Rat-F*** Republican Pieces of Sub-Amphibian Sh**…

mendacious, death-loving, frothing, lamprey-mouthed, inhuman, abominable, atrocious, verminous, rapacious, sadistic, bullying, invasive, grasping, psychopathic, twisted, warped, animalistic, belly-crawling, mouth-breathing, illiterate, innumerate, know-nothing, imbecilic, sheep-raping, horror movie extras masturbating into wads of money while fantasizing about war collateral damage…(inhale)…puppy-torturing, vacuous, mindless, nihilistic, evil, diseased, soulless, morally bankrupt, greedy, insecure, envious, kleptomaniac charnel-house mascots stewing in universal hatred for all life…(inhale)…toxic, ugly, bestial, humorless, loveless, compassionless, demonic human-shaped ruins forever slouching toward Bethlehem in search of some fresh nightmare to wreak on the defenseless via other people’s money and heroism…(inhale)…Satanic monkey-shit-throwing, cowardly, chickenhawkish, parasitic, baby’s-candy-stealing, wife-beating, minority-purging, syphilitic Confederate poltergeists with erectile dysfunction…


DeSmog understanding of the issues

Have you had a look around at DeSmogBlog? The crowd crowing about and disseminating the fakegate documents? Peter Gleicks chief cheerleaders.

The following is a comment I made to a posting on the matter at Samizdata:

Part of the issue is that DeSmogBlog contributors, or at the very least one of them, demonstrably don’t understand the issues about which they write, and are therefore unable to draw rational conclusions.

I refer you to a posting by Chris Mooney of that parish (and my response is here), in which he expresses bemused puzzlement over what he dubs the "sophisticates effect" – "a relationship between more knowledge on the one hand, and climate science scepticism on the other, among conservatives:"

Referring to a Yale study he acknowledges "For citizens as a whole, more literacy and numeracy were correlated with somewhat more, rather than somewhat less, dismissal of the risk of global warming."

He then goes on to say
"In my experience, climate skeptics are nothing if not confident in their ability to challenge the science of climate change—and even to competently recalculate (and scientifically and mathematically refute) various published results. It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science. But the fact is, if you go to blogs like WattsUpWithThat or Climate Audit, you certainly don’t find scientific and mathematical illiterates doubting climate change. Rather, you find scientific and mathematical sophisticates itching to blow holes in each new study."

What Mr Mooney clearly doesn’t appreciate that setting out with the intention of ‘affirming’ "mainstream science" is about as unscientific as you can get. The thought of blowing holes in a study is what should be getting scientists out of bed every day.

He can’t evaluate the arguments about science because he clearly has no understanding of the philosophy which underpins, or should underpin, all scientific endeavour.

That you can’t debunk something which isn’t bunk to start with goes straight past him.

This is the standard of scientific understanding demonstrated on one of the leading warmist advocacy sites.

A new recruit

Cristina, welcome to the battle.

I don’t share your faith, but we all share your concerns.

Was “The Cruel Sea” really socialist propaganda?

This is a genuine question – in that I do not know the answer (and would like to know). I only know “The Cruel Sea” from the film (about the Royal Navy against the German “U Boats” in the North Atlantic during World War II) so I do not know what the book (or whatever) was like.

I ask because the BBC radio production (which I heard an episode of on Sunday) of “The Cruel Sea” was full of socialist propaganda – and some of it was very odd.

For example, I can understand (just about) someone who has just seen an oil tanker ship blown up by a German submarine, rage against people who waste fuel by “speeding to their golf club”. It would not be my first thought whilst watching men die – but people are different, perhaps someone else would blame people who speed to golf clubs (rather than the Germans).

However, a lot of the rest of the production was harder to accept. For example the Captain of the new Royal Navy ship lines up the crew and tells them that they have been unemployed for years because of the greed and selfishness of other people. Whatever the faults of 1930s Britain – it was not exactly famous for “greed” and “selfishness”, it was a rather austere place. Then he tells the crew that now everyone (on the ship) will work together for the common good and….. (a speech that might have come out of the mouth of a Nazi SS commander rather than a Royal Navy Captain – who would have been more likely to say “carry on men” and not wasted any more time).

And later sailors talk of how the rich are going to be made to pay for a “proper health service” after the war. Are the words “health service” in the originial story? “If they spend all this money in war, they can spend it peace” (says a sailor), yes just carry on the capital consumption you are doing in war to finance the Welfare State in peace time – I am sure that will work out fine.

Also another sailor talks of how his father’s farm was runied after “the bankers went bust in 1931”.

Britain went off the gold standard in 1931 (if people insist on calling the credit bubble antics of Governor M. Norman of the Bank of England and Ben Strong of the New York Federal Reserve a “gold standard”), but did “the bankers” go bust in this year?

I rather thought that British (private) bankers in the 1930s were rather careful and traditional people (in three piece suites and bowler hats). But perhaps they really were reckless high rollers, who “went bust in 1931”. Perhaps whilst “speeding to their golf clubs” and, thus, causing peope to either burn or drown in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

It is all clear to me now.

Almost needless to say, no one seems to show any sign of religious faith. Everyone is an athiest in a foxhole, and no one calls out to God (or recites a prayer to steady nerves),  silly me for thinking some people might.

Perhaps the next BBC  Radio Four “dramatisation” will be on the Battle of Midway.

Lots of stuff about U.S. Navy sailors talking about the glories of socialism – and blaming evil Republicans when Amercan ships are sunk.

What’s Wrong with Mitt…

Unlike my piece on Rick I’m going to focus here not on what I think but what I think the Republicans think…

He looks presidential: nice teeth, great hair (with those statesmen-like flashes of grey at the temples).

I don’t for the life of me understand why he isn’t romping it. The man has succeeded at pretty much everything he’s tried (even converting the French to Mormonism!) and his personal life seems squeaky clean*. Perhaps what Evan Thomas wrote about him comes close to explaining his relative lack of popularity, “came off as a phony, even when he was perfectly sincere.” In particular his change of position on abortion does seem genuine. “Changing my position was in line with an ongoing struggle that anyone has that is opposed to abortion personally, vehemently opposed to it, and yet says, ‘Well, I’ll let other people make that decision.’ And you say to yourself, but if you believe that you’re taking innocent life, it’s hard to justify letting other people make that decision.” Well, that seems fair enough. Though if too slickly delivered could easily (and has been) spun as glib and opportunistic.

Reading his potted biography on Wikipedia it frequently stresses that Romney has throughout most of his life before politics been essentially pragmatic in his outlook. I think this is interesting as it places Romney in a very different position from the likes of Santorum who love him or loathe him is certainly principled to a fault. Whether Romney has taken his pragmatic outlook to the point of being unprincipled upon entering politics is a moot point. As I noted above the reasons for his change of position on abortion seem at least plausible. The real question though is as to whether Republicans see it that way and I suspect many regard his lack of adamantine principles (whether this is real or imagined) to be a fatal flaw.

I suspect his faith is not an issue. Or if it is’s a bonus because it’s easily the most “interesting” thing about him. That and his taxes but the only people really interested in that are the IRS…

So, that’s my take on the Romney conundrum. I suppose there’s a couple more things to say. The first is that his relative unpopularity (and the rise of Santorum) seems to represent to me a peculiarity of US politics – the whole travelling circus that is the primaries. Romney is the only Republican candidate who can beat Obama and the Republicans seem to have lost sight of that in face of Rick and Newt and Mitt and the other Rick and whoever else there was engaging in a prolonged slanging match. And, yes, I do believe Romney is the only one who can win. A great many of the same people who believe that an Obama second term is the end of civilization as we know it seem vehemently against the one man who can stop him. A paradox perhaps?

The second is also rather odd. I thought I’d struggle to find anything to say about Romney and I haven’t. Whether any of it is to the purpose is another matter!). When I sat down with the laptop to write this all I could think of is one line and it’s what I’ll end on because when I think of Romney (which I don’t do often) it still returns to me. It is something Oscar Wilde said about George Bernard Shaw:

He hasn’t an enemy in the World and his friends don’t like him either.

PS I’m also aware my going easy-ish on Romney could be seen as an endorsement. It isn’t. There just isn’t too much dirt to dig.

*Despite his first son being bizarrely named, Tagg. The other kids have normal names so that outbreak of Palinitis was nipped in the bud…


My dad recently took out a subscription to Time. Well, I suppose someone has to. I’m not sure if they do a European edition or what, but the one he’s been getting seems to be from Bizarro-World.

Last week’s described Rick “I am not a Libertarian, people shouldn’t be left alone” Santorum as a “Goldwater-style conservative”. No, seriously, it did. (Said it like it was a bad thing, too.)

And this week’s – March 5th, if anyone cares – has a big piece on the greatest threat to European economic integration. Guess what that is. Greek default? Germany deciding it ain’t gonna be nobody’s shmo no more? The utter lack of democracy in the EU? No, no, no. It’s our old chum – gasp! – xenophobia. The big Euro-tent is burning down around their ears, and they’re still worrying about that bitch France looking at Romania a bit funny.

Oh, and inflation is caused by wage claims, in case you were wondering. Come back Ted Heath, all is forgiven. And bring your prices and incomes policy with you.

With nuttiness like that, it’s almost as if the legacy media have a death wish.

Such Things As Communism Could only Dream of…

Cats seems to think this is sinister. It ain’t got nothing on this though. It’s a long article but well worth reading in full. I’m excerpting bits to give the flavour.

On the surface, Shustorovich’s project is a public-spirited attempt to bring Russia’s education system into the digital era. In the 2010-11 academic year, around 300 year-six pupils from 11 schools in cities across Russia, from well-heeled Moscow to the rural Siberian city of Tomsk and the mining stronghold of Magnitogorsk, were loaned a portable hybrid e-book and tablet computer with which to learn, do their homework, revise for exams and — soon — order lunch from the school cafeteria.

But this isn’t solely a social experiment. Shustorovich, 45, wants to create Russia’s next platform for digital interactions, one that his business controls. With every keystroke and swipe on his devices, he is building a giant real-time spreadsheet of personal data. Once millions of teenagers get used to learning, interacting and connecting via Shustorovich’s proprietary system, then what need will this and future generations have for social networks such as Facebook? “Facebook is Facebook,” he says. “But adding a social network on top of the [educational platform] will be very easy.”

Unlike other electronic classroom aids, E-OK isn’t designed merely to complement books and desktop PCs, but to replace everything a pupil uses to study. Connected wirelessly (and soon via 4G) to the school’s year-six and -seven curricula — with years five and eight due to be added shortly — the devices aim to reboot how children learn, teachers teach and principals run schools. By gathering data from classroom test scores, exam results and attendance records alongside statistics from mandatory school medical checks and even food ordered by the catering staff, the system creates a real-time data chain which loops from individual schools, through regional hubs, to the Ministry of Education — right up to the Kremlin. Last June, prime minister Vladimir Putin signed a directive ordering Russia’s ministers of education and communications to evaluate and report to him personally. Both ministers have since reported back “favourably”, says Shustorovich, speaking in support of E-OK’s implementation in schools.

The trial has shown her the project’s huge potential: “The information flows from the child, to the teacher, to me and all the way to the district prefect.”

E-OK is Shustorovich’s brainchild, and the sheer scale of his vision quickly becomes apparent. He intends to rewire one of the world’s greatest bureaucracies — the Russian state.

Ultimately he intends that every child in Russia’s 50,000 secondary schools — some 16.5 million — will have their own tablet. “[The situation’s] so fluid right now. But if we continue to get the sort of traction we’re getting, eventually we’ll be in every school in the country.” [He has the Russian patents and they are pending elsewhere…]

“We had three aptitudes which made us unique players,” he explains. “A long history of being conversant with technology, because we produced a huge volume of scientific information. Second, we had the experience with dealing with internet products in a financial way — our electronic sales of scientific journals and information for universities is in the high-nineties per cent [of overall sales]. And the third was that we knew how to develop school curricula.”

“…when they get their hands on our device, it’s transformative for the psyche.”

Do I need to comment further?

Soylent Green is PEOPLE…..

Charlton Heston said it much better than I ever could.

Sir George Young, leader of the House of Commons, said the proposal to warm a Worcestershire leisure centre with heat from a nearby crematorium was a “groundbreaking scheme”.

I feel sick.

Honesty and Integrity in the Mainstream Media

Gleick makes his exit after days of ferocious debate about his tactics in exposing Heartland, a rightwing think tank with a core mission of spreading disinformation about climate change

Suzanne Goldenberg, US Climate Correspondent, Guardian

Exposing Heartland? A core mission of spreading disinformation?

The woman is one of – embarrassingly ignorant, knowingly a propagandist, or she is delusional. This is not journalism.


While the legitimate Heartland Institute documents revealed personal, confidential and private information about Heartland Institute personnel, donors and programs, there was nothing scandalous in the documents. The documents merely showed the inner workings of an influential public policy organization operating on a budget that was quite small compared to environmental activist groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense. Indeed, the internal documents refuted the false, yet often repeated assertions that the Heartland Institute’s powerful climate realism message is largely funded by Big Oil, Big Coal or Big Whatever.


The real story in this Fakegate scandal is how the global warming movement is desperate, delusional and collapsing as global warming fails to live up to alarmist predictions. People with sound science on their side do not need to forge documents to validate their arguments or make the other side look bad. Also, people who are so desperate as to forge documents in an attempt to frame their rivals are clearly not above forging scientific data, studies and facts to similarly further their cause.

James Taylor,

What’s Really Wrong with Rick.

Rick Santorum in his own words.

On libertarianism…

In an NPR interview in the summer of 2005, Santorum discussed what he called the “libertarianish right,” saying “they have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world, and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone…”

No, I don’t believe people can go it alone that indeed what civil society is for going back to the days Ugg who was good at fishing made a deal with Ogg who was good at hunting to their mutual benefit. But that isn’t what Santorum is talking about is it? He expressly mentions government here.

On contraception…

“I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to women. I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated, particularly among the young. And I think we’ve very, very harmful longterm consequences to our society. Birth control to me enables that, and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.”

I strongly suspect he isn’t talking about the side-effects of the pill when he says “harmful to women”. Certainly because he goes on about society immediately. He mentions society three times and country once in that paragraph. Let’s re-write it…

“I don’t think it works. I think it’s harmful to the poor. I think it’s harmful to our society to have a society that says that free-markets are something that should be encouraged or tolerated, particularly among the young. And I think we’ve very, very harmful longterm consequences to our society. capitalism to me enables that, and I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for our country.”

… And behold the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the authoritarian “right” and the authoritarian “left”. Both simply want to impose a worldview on a thing they call society and both believe government has a driving role in that. Try you’re own re-write – smoking, drinking, drugs, big-cars…

Anyway, back to what he actually said.

Well the thing that immediately springs to mind is it is incredibly patronising. Leaving that aside (it’s too easy a target) note how quickly he leaps from contraception to sex outside marriage and promiscuity. His attitude to contraception as an enabler of sluttishness is much the same as a mullah who believes the lack of a hijab encourages rape or those who want to ban firearms because people get murdered or beer because people get drunk and start fights. This is a depressing view of humanity. It’s essentially Hobbesian and, if we go back to the first quote, clear Santorum see government as the Leviathan to control our “urges”. Different authoritarians worry about different urges of course but they still see it as the duty of a government to control them (or try. It is always the antithesis of civil society and deeply corrosive to how individuals (or organisations or businesses) interact. Culture and society evolve (Santorum isn’t too keen on Darwin either) bottom-up, not top-down – recall my example of Ugg and Ogg trading food above!

I guess partly what I’m trying to say is that a “social conservative” isn’t just conservative in a moral sense in terms of individual conscience (and surely conscience is one of the most individual things we have) or the beliefs and rules of whatever religion they do or don’t belong to but also a believer in society as an entity in and of itself in much the same way any good Marxist is.

Quotes from wikipedia (but they and many similar can be found all over the web). Just be careful Googling his name!

PS. My next post ought to be “What’s Really Wrong with Mitt”. but that’s like fisking the Cheshire Cat. Perhaps that ought to be my start-point.

Friday civilisation

René Descartes was sitting in a bar, staring morosely into his empty glass; the waiter approached and asked if the Monsieur would care for another drink. Descartes replied “I think not”, and disappeared.

Cat Piss Curtains

No the title of this is not a reference to some new, amusingly named (and therefore awful to drink) wine. Read on to know more.

Where I live there are a lot of cats and it’s very middle class – just up the road there’s some huge gaffs – some gorgeous and some footballer-style “monster cottages”*. Indeed so many cats an alien landing in the pub car park and surveying the scene and peering around would conclude no significant social change since his colleague K’ryll’s last visit in 1912 but a species change. It’s still “Upstairs Downstairs” but the cat’s are masters now – fed, watered, private medical insurance and have the run of the place…

Anyway last night there was something of a fracas upstairs. I would go as far as to call it a hullabaloo. I thought Eric Joyce MP had scaled the ramparts after a few wee drams. My wife goes to investigate and finds our cat, Timmy cowering under the bed after having repulsed a sally by another mogster that had on it’s way in or out the window pissed on the curtains. Timmy was not happy at territory marking in his inner sanctum. Not happy at all. I can’t say me or the missus were exactly ticketty-boo at this outrageous invasion – I mean it’s feline neo-colonialism that is. Anyway, Curtains go in the wash and after the Dame Judith subsides somewhat me and the missus go to bed.

At 4am (isn’t that when special forces tend to strike?) there is a tremendous commotion and quite frankly sounds to curdle the blood and chill the spine. The invader is back! Timmy holds his own guarding the window (we left it partially open to allow the pisstulent miasma out) Just below on the shed roof there is an enormous tabby with the look of a hint of wild cat – very similar looking to the cats you get in Turkey actually.

Other all that than that I slept soundly.

*Yeah and they get to build them on the edge of a national park and technically i’m breaking the law by having a Sky dish. Sheesh! For the record I don’t know of any actual Manchester United or City players who live in this neck of the woods but I wouldn’t rule it out. Certainly no Stockport County players – they all share an ISO crate under the viaduct. I mean for what City pay that work-shy Argie fop Tevez in a week (I can’t believe they’re taking him back – I thought more of Roberto Mancini**) you could buy the entire County squad for what Tevez makes in a week – allegedly GBP 250,000. How do you spend that without a serious Faberge Egg habit?
**At least I thought Tevez after he’d buggered off for an extended stay in Buenos Aires to play golf would find the head of his daughter’s pony grinning at him on the pillow one sunny morn. I mean some guy called Roberto Mancini must know people who know people who “do things”. I could go on but that is another post…

Musical Journalism.

This is one for RAB.

It is an ever growing idée fixe of mine that The Telegraph is going rapidly downhill.

I don’t mean in editorial PoV but in terms of quality of writing.

This deranged piece is shocking. It is essentially a piece of alleged music journalism by someone who clearly has no idea. Apart from anything he seems to think the band Blur are some sort of new, “challenging”, contemporary beat combo (like those lovable Scouse mop-tops who are still going – apart from the two who are dead) and not a bunch of middle-aged blokes. Christ, Alex James’s major interest these days is making cheese. Blessed be them and all.

It sounds like Alec Douglas-Home ate a book by Derrida and then puked it onto a laptop.

And how many billions is this whole charade costing?

Vat Burger

Well, there finally seems to be a head of steam behind artificial meat. Time indeed will tell if this is economic nonsense – certainly they’ll have to do an unprecedented number on getting production costs down because this stuff ain’t exactly going to be competing with a bit of genuine Aberdeen Angus any time soonish. But that’s not really what interests me because I don’t know enough on that score to comment intelligently and unlike many of the readers of the Telegraph I always at least try on that score.

The usual suspects are out proclaiming disgust. Hell, even the article calls it “test-tube burgers”. Always with the test-tube negative waves Moriarty! People still talk about “test-tube babies” despite the fact it is entirely, utterly inaccurate. Robert Edwards who developed the technique won the 2010 Nobel for his work. Tricky stuff and the Devil is as ever in the details (at the 1965 Nobel “do” a churnalist pigeon-holed Richard Feynman and asked for a snappy five minute explanation of what he’d done. Feynman replied, “Look pal, if I could explain it in five minutes it wouldn’t be worth the Nobel Prize would it?”). It isn’t if you are many of the Telegraph commentators (with their unspecified “yuk” factor*). You see they never define that. It’s new, it’s biological so it is yucky and that is all they need to know or indeed ever seek to know. It’s pathetic. It is the same sort of bizarre mentality that caused The Times (once a paper to be respected) to run as a story a few years back that Louise Brown (the first child to be born by in-vitro techniques) had given birth and point out the child was “normal”. I was disappointed. I expected some sort of Whovian villain to emerge from the womb of a perfectly healthy and normal young woman. For shame! These science wonks simply aren’t creating the Soylent Green chomping Davros-ish loons that realise moral panics.

In any case in vitro fertilization normally uses a petri dish and not a test-tube. As does the Frankenburger of doom. Otherwise, unless my geometry is entirely askew, it would be the sausage of terror.

Anyway, it really annoys me – the whole Prince Charles-ish science has gone too far! I have enough dead relatives and friends from stuff they shall laugh at as being fatal fifty years from now to think it’s gone anywhere near far enough. Nor ever shall it. But it does interest me in a different way. For much of the last century the icon of science was a symbolic lithium atom but that has turned into the double helix or that (frankly creepy) biohazard sign. The mad scientists were once physicists building atom bombs and yes they did some crazy stuff. and that’s pure, unadulterated, 100% proof Dr Strangelove. Yeah, a supersonic, tree-top level missile the size of a railway locomotive powered by a nuclear rocket dropping hydrogen bombs. It’s the sort of thing to make that loon in Tehran soil himself in joy. Yet we seem to have learned to love the bomb (or at least not hate it) and the moral panic is now over biology. Physics is old hat. Yeah, right. When the Pakistani regime fails and the Taliban takes over and nukes Mumbai try telling me that again.

*When I was 16 my local authority gave careers advice and arranged work experience. Oddly enough anyone interested even vaguely in the sciences was advised to consider a career as an environmental health officer. It was only later my Dad told me this was because the council was short of them at the time. The devious Labour rats! Anyway, my mate did a week work experience with Gateshead environmental health and this involved some incredibly dull measuring of sound-levels on a bypass and a trip to the slaughterhouse. I think it was the skip full of still peristaltic bowels that pushed him over to vegetarianism after that. My point is “yuk factor” is… Well, I’ve never seen anything so HP Lovecraft like that in a lab (and I’ve been in a few**) so “yuk factor” is just code for irrational traditionalism here.

**Including a few biology labs. Indeed I have isolated DNA and done electrophoresis and you know “Playing God” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It mainly involves working in a clean, modern lab with bright engaging people and not being in a Bavarian Schloss, cackling maniacally whilst a hunch-backed Igor cowers behind the Jacob’s ladders and the peasants mass around the perimeter with torches and indeed pitchforks. “Mad, you call me mad? I who alone know the secret of life itself!” I hate to disappoint people but it really isn’t like that. That’s why I switched to physics. That Mary Shelley has a lot to answer for. The Modern Prometheus! Pah! It’s slogging your way through Lubert Stryer’s epic tome on biochemistry. If you think the knee bone is connected to the arse bone you ain’t seen anything like Lubert’s biochemical pathways. That’s why I preferred physics. It works on principles and not doing the equivalent of being able to quote the entire “Lord of the Rings” chapter and verse. To misquote a U2 song (I know) three vector identities and the truth. I learned sod all at university in terms of facts. I learned techniques. Actually rather more than three vector identities but I didn’t want to spoil the moment. Oh and a hint of complex analysis and tensors which are all about as fun as they sound – i.e. brilliantly so. And Fourier analysis which is not going, “You call that sable – that is stoat if I ever smelled one!”.


Right, I want information.

I have been presented with a requirement. I need to be able to drive a circular array of twenty hi def screens, each screen being a segment of a single 360 degree panoramic video display.

A level of redundancy would be useful. If there were some way to set up failover from one server to another that would be cool.

Now, I realise this can be done, but I have never done it.

Any suggestions about hardware or software?

If there is room for expansion that would be cool too.