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January 14th, 2013

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. Tapen Sinha
    January 14th, 2013 at 13:13 | #1

    “In October, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission released a report on the first 100 days of the Gillard government’s carbon pricing plan, showing 60 carbon tax-related complaints were received on average each day when the policy was introduced.

    That number dropped to between 10 to 15 complaints a day by the beginning of October, and new data provided by the ACCC reveals carbon-tax-related grievances have further slumped to an average of three complaints a day in the period from October to January.”

    So much for the tsunami.


  2. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
  3. Nick
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:07 | #3

    For Ikon and anyone else who might be interested, I’d thought I’d reprint this…originally put it up on Facebook a year or two ago:

    Ok, my two cents on Bob Dylan’s ‘plagiarism’ before I go to sleep…I’m convinced his exhibition at Gagosian is a flat out commentary on Richard Prince’s recent copyright suit, in which the court ruled Prince’s appropriation and transformation of photos such as the one linked to below could not be classified as ‘fair use’. Prince’s artwork from that exhibition, which had collectively sold for more than $10 million – the original photos were sourced from an arguably rubbish bargain-bin coffee table book called ‘Yes Rasta’ – was *ordered by the court to be destroyed*. Bit extreme, don’t you think? Ruling on it as if it were child porn?

    h* / aphotoeditor.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/patrick2-1024×689.jpg

    It is surely no coincidence that both artists exhibited at Gagosian, that Prince would write the text for Dylan’s catalogue, and that while Prince’s work in question was a commentary on a particular form of arguably crass ‘travel documentary’ (as commenter jackdaw noted on aphotoeditor.com, even the book’s *title* ‘yes rasta’ translates to affirmative exoticisation – an irony-filled playground for the likes of Prince, who unashamedly made use of 35 of its photos), Dylan’s exhibition literally purports to be a travel documentary, even while several of the photographs he painted clearly date back to the late-1800s. There’s also the matter of this cover of Life, ‘Special Section on Vietnam’ (!!), which is still advertised by the gallery as appearing as part of the Dylan ‘Asia series’ (it doesn’t):

    [no longer on Gagosian, but here’s the cover referred to:]

    h* / pages.adateintimecollectibles.com/11804/PictPage/3923174645.html

    It’s called found art folks. It’s been a integral part of Dylan’s art and music since the very beginning – you don’t get one without the other. ‘Chronicles’ is all about the notion, and it’s also a perfect example. I found it to be a great read – but minus all the super-dense referencing of literature, history and culture thrown into the story-telling, what what you be left with? Just another auto-bio about some guy who got married, had kids, got divorced along the way.

    Something that should be made clearer – and something the syndicated feeds have all wrong – is that none of the photographs he painted are under any copyright. He can’t actually be sued for anything. He’s not trying to pull a swifty, and he certainly isn’t that stupid…he’s not trying to cover his tracks at all – quite the opposite.

    Most of the photos sourced are from a single Flickr stream, and in one painting, he chose to include the entire photoshopped semi-border that had been obviously added by the owner of the Flickr stream. ie. he projected, enlarged, and painted in exact and precise detail *a custom added photoshopped border to a Flickr version of a hundred year old photograph*…

    The account holder found that bloody hilarious after he saw it hanging in the gallery. He quickly dropped any misgivings he had about not being contacted to ask permission to use ‘his hundred year old photos’ that he’d paid a few bucks for on eBay…

  4. Nick
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:11 | #4
  5. David Irving (no relation)
    January 15th, 2013 at 11:37 | #5

    Ikonoclast (and Nick), Dylan has laid claim to quite a few songs he didn’t write from his first record on (“Corrinna, Corrinna” springs to mind), and even on a very recent one there’s a song that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Muddy Waters tune. I reckon some of them are older than he is.

    So he’s no stranger to plagiarism (but the same could be said of every folk singer). I still love his work, even the stuff he’s lifted.

  6. Jim Rose
    January 15th, 2013 at 14:47 | #6

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy your new statesman link describes the socialist workers as a ‘prominent force on the British left for more than 30 years’ and ‘they matter’.

    In the 2010 UK elections, the socilaist workers joined the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition to win 0.04% of vote – beating the the Official Monster Raving Loony Party by 20 votes in their only head to head contest in Cardiff Central

  7. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 15th, 2013 at 15:20 | #7

    Jim, it’s true that parties like the UK SWP generally gain a risible share of the vote when they contest parliamentary elections. However, they tend to fight above their weight in terms of their presence and influence in social movements and campaign networks – often for reasons that do them little credit.

  8. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 15th, 2013 at 15:30 | #8

    Also, and more importantly, a large number of young activists pass through parties like that, and the internal life of those parties (which is what the links are discussing) can have serious consequences for some of those young activists, and unfortunately does so at times.

  9. Fran Barlow
    January 15th, 2013 at 16:16 | #9

    This is interesting:

    ANZ under fire on social media over coal investment

    A fake press release purporting to announce ANZ Bank’s withdrawal from the Maules Creek Coal Project near Narrabri in NSW last Monday fooled the market and temporarily wiped nearly 9 per cent off the value of Whitehaven Coal, which is 20 per cent owned by embattled entrepreneur Nathan Tinkler.


    But despite the official anger directed at Moylan, social media suggests public sentiment is firmly holding ANZ’s feet to the fire for its decision to invest in the mine.

    Both ANZ’s Australian and New Zealand Facebook pages are filled with criticism from members of the public angry about the mine, which environmentalists say would destroy up to 2000 hectares of koala habitat, disrupt fertile agricultural land and generate huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the activity is on Facebook but there is also negative commentary on Twitter.

  10. Fran Barlow
    January 15th, 2013 at 16:50 | #10

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy

    Sounds like a huge mess. I’m not now (nor ever have been) a political friend of the Cliffites but this speaks to some pretty devastating internal dysfunction.

    It’s hard to imagine how a Disputes Committee (none of whom it seems were at arm’s length from the accused) could have been seen as the right people to hear such serious allegations. This was clearly an occasion where the SWP might have appointed a special commission composed of comrades not answerable to their own CC — perhaps from a sister party or at the very least, from branches remote from the protagonists.

    I recall when SL/ANZ had an issue with one fellow years back, we went outside the branch to form the Control Commission — which found the person guilty and then published the documents publicly on his expulsion.

    These actions by the SWP are way outside the norms one would expect from a bona fide workers’ organisation. I’d encourage the comrades there to keep up the fight and let the chips fall where they may. Leaving does not lead to learning, and in this environment, learning is the first thing a workers organisation can offer its members.

  11. Jim Rose
    January 15th, 2013 at 17:21 | #11

    the socialist workers have lowered themselves to the level of the catholic church. both think they are above the law. both rely on the police and the courts when its suits them.

  12. Mel
    January 16th, 2013 at 00:38 | #12

    LOL. So the Socialist Workers Party is perhaps the largest socialist group in Britain but still has less members than the British Celebrity Toe Nail Clipping Aficionados Auxiliary Support Group.

  13. Nick
    January 16th, 2013 at 10:58 | #13

    I like him too, DI(nr). I guess it might be true he claimed Corinna as his own…kind of a song that every man and his dog had had a go at laying down by then. Just 3 years earlier, Spector had a top 10 hit with it:


    Which is probably about as white oriented as you make a southern standard, replete with sunny Latin imagery and sounds for the new teen market.

    So, Bob would take it back to it black roots – even more ‘authentic’ and blacker, more blues-y roots, so to speak, than the song had ever actually had before, by throwing in a verse of Robert Johnson lyrics. Already we see him cut and pasting from the past to tell the story he was wanted…the one that meant something to him.

    My partner detests him – pastiche artist, fine – certainly no hanging offence in the 20C, it was almost wholly built of them (Dylan is right to say “why the feck am I being singled out?!”…

    But the turn to Christianity? There’s a pastiche artist who doesn’t believe in themselves any more…

    I like all the records he’s done since the mid-90s or so – lyrically back on track, and finally a solid, high-calibre band again, who stuck around for several albums, all you really ever needed to make anything sound your own.

    She finds them tired and boring…it’s a pet argument we have once a year or so :)

  14. Nick
    January 16th, 2013 at 11:57 | #14

  15. Ikonoclast
    January 16th, 2013 at 13:31 | #15

    I used to like Dylan’s work when I was a callow, impressionable, ignorant, foolish youth. Now, I’ve matured and learnt a bit I would say this;

    (1) Dylan is not a melodist nor a music composer. All of his tunes are direct steals or are highly derivative of folk songs and various genres (like twelve-bar blues).

    (2) Dylan is not a poet of any stature at all. Germaine Greer called his work verses “fustian” (pompous, inflated or pretentious writing). She is right. She could just as easily have called it doggeral and still been perfectly correct. Greer compared Dylan to William Blake and quickly illustrated there is just no comparison.

    (3) Dylan was a very clever sponge, collector, mimic and had a certain stage presence. He was never afraid to steal songs and ideas from anywhere and everywhere. (The appropiation of folk art and folk knowledge and the turning of it into private intellectual property is a capitalist invention and a trick. Dylan as a skilled trickster used all this in his favour.)

    (4) Dylan developed a certain “portentous” sounding delivery which tricked the listener into thinking the words heard were profound. It’s a skill for sure but once seen through it is like a magician’s cheap trick and all the “magic” evaporates. Dylan “stole” this style from certain C&W singers but also from oral poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s declamatory style. In Dylan’s favour we can say he developed these styles further and there is a kind of artistry to his methods of enunciation and syncopation which means there is more happening than just the standard notes and phrasing of singing.

    (4) Ultimately though, Dylan’s art is an empty trick and symptomatic of much art in the capitalist era. It’s about stealing, appropriating, tricking and making money and reputation for the isolated self. Like much “lyrical” art of the capitalist era it is simply about the artist’s self, solipsistic and onanistic.

  16. Nick
    January 16th, 2013 at 15:37 | #16

    I like Greer for lots of things, but I’m not sure taste in music will ever be one of them.

    “So the first line goes tum tum ta ta tum (crotchet-crotchet-quaver-quaver-crotchet), the next ta ta tum ta ta tum, and so on. This pattern overlies another pattern of recurring sounds, one in the paired vowel sounds, like the tolling “O rose” (bong bong), a tocsin to begin the poem, followed by eye-eye, ow-ow and oy-oy, and the anxious clickety-click of the short vowels in between.”

    How quaint she believes she you have to say things like ‘clickety-clack’ in order to determine whether a song is any good or not. Seriously, the craziness of intellectuals sometimes. Ikon, trust me…the Dylan argument is always better had when you’re rolling drunk. Ideally it becomes as heated as possible, and there’s the risk of fisticuffs breaking out at any moment and friendships ending. Greer is clearly an amateur.

  17. David Irving (no relation)
    January 16th, 2013 at 15:52 | #17

    Ikonoclast, have a listen to his latest, “Tempest”. I particularly like “Duquesne Whistle”, co-written with Robert Hunter.

  18. Ikonoclast
    January 16th, 2013 at 16:19 | #18

    I’ve listened to many Dylan songs over the years. You’ll never convince me now that he is more than a clever trickster-thief character masquerading as a poet-troubador. He was quite an accomplished performer in an odd syncopated-discords sort of way before his voice became a croak. Now he is a caricature of himself (as we all become in old age).

    He’s an amusing index of our gullibility and desire to be diverted from our own mental impoverishment. We should laugh at him and ourselves for being taken in. It’s harmless enough. There are many more harmful characters in the world.

  19. Nick
    January 16th, 2013 at 17:13 | #19

    I don’t remember Dylan has ever proclaiming to be a master-troubador, or a great lyric writer. That’s other people (or their younger selves) who put those labels on him. That’s why those arguments I mentioned tend to become crap piled up on crap. It’s music – it connects with you, and you want to put it on your stereo, or it doesn’t. Maybe you’ll still want to put it on in ten years’ time, maybe you won’t.

    I also don’t remember any songwriter ever complaining that Dylan borrowed a few of their phrases, or calling him a trickster-thief – though I could be wrong. Musicians tend to save that kind of thing for the ink guys (ie. why is it that i’m listening to my song on an ad for power tools, and also, why am i not receiving a cent for it?), not each other. He probably did more to revive a lot of their careers and bring them to the masses than anyone.

    He tells his own story, but I don’t believe he ever said “only listen to my story! don’t go back and discover the history of songcraft the same way I did”. Anyway, “poet-troubador masquerading as trickster-thief” is probably closer to the character you’re looking for…

  20. Jordan
    January 17th, 2013 at 01:58 | #20

    From Washington Post on how fiscal cliff deal killed CO-OP from Obamacare

    When Congress struck a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, it also dealt a quiet blow to President Obama’s health overhaul: The new law killed a multibillion-dollar program meant to boost health insurance competition by funding nonprofit health plans.

    The decision to end funding for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans has left as many as 40 start-ups vying for federal dollars in limbo. Some are considering legal action against the Obama administration, after many spent upwards of $100,000 preparing their applications.
    The Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or CO-OP, program was aimed at spending as much as $6 billion to help launch nonprofit health insurance carriers. It came into favor with Democrats when it became clear that a government-run plan, known as the public option, could not gain enough political support.</blockquote


  21. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 17th, 2013 at 09:53 | #21

    This weekend’s Socialist Alliance National Conference includes an “Introduction to Dialectical Materialism” workshop by a chap called Haskell Musry, who also co-presented the workshop on this topic at last year’s conference, at which dialectical materialism was described as “the philosophical foundation of science whether or not scientists understand what the philosphical underpinning of what they do is”. It was also disclosed last year that Haskell Musry does not believe in the Big Bang theory (aka inflationary cosmology).

    In an important sense this illustrates the difference between the contemporary Left and Right in Australia and other parts of the English-speaking world. Anti-scientific and pseudo-scientific crankery on the Left is confined to the fringes. The same phenomenon on the Right is hegemonic within the Australian Coalition parties, the US Republican Party, the Murdoch press, Quadrant magazine and the right-wing blogosphere.

  22. Jim Rose
    January 17th, 2013 at 15:54 | #22

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy The left has its own scientific taboos. GMOs; the precautionary principle.

    back in the day, the Left even opposed pollution taxes because they were a licence to pollute.

  23. Jon Brodie
    January 17th, 2013 at 17:09 | #23

    @Fran Barlow
    While the loss of habitat etc are important points against the Maules Creek project the greenhouse case is less clear. The coal to be exported is coking coal not thermal coal. While this will still have a greenhouse effect it is obviously not replaceable by renewable energy sources like thermal coal can be. So unless we are prepared to give up or severely reduce the use of steel, aluminum etc there seems to be no alternative to the use of coking coal. Steel can be made using other carbon sources but this does not solve the greenhouse issue. This is a major factor in Queensland coal exports where more than 60% is coking coal yet many are calling for cessation of coal exports on climate change grounds. This is not so easy unless we change our society to use, for example, plastic to replace metals – possibly not an option and maybe not less greenhouse gases emissions either.

  24. Chris Warren
    January 17th, 2013 at 17:45 | #24

    @Jon Brodie

    Ok, I’ll bite.

    Why can we not use compressed charcoal boosted with a high pressure feed of oxygen, plus a few other ingredients, to produce steel?

  25. Tim Macknay
    January 17th, 2013 at 17:46 | #25

    @Jon Brodie

    So unless we are prepared to give up or severely reduce the use of steel, aluminum etc there seems to be no alternative to the use of coking coal.

    I think you just meant steel. Aluminium production doesn’t require coal.

    There are technical alternatives to using coal in steel production as well. Hydrogen can be used as a reducing agent in place of carbon, either from reformed natural gas, or produced from water through electrolysis powered by renewable or nuclear energy. Any of these processes would result in fewer CO2 emissions than a coking coal fueled process, but (obviously) they are not currently economic, so coking coal is likely to be with us for a while.

  26. Tim Macknay
    January 17th, 2013 at 18:06 | #26

    @Jon Brodie
    Actually, my mistake: aluminium production does require coke as a component of the Hall-Heroult cell.

  27. Sam
    January 17th, 2013 at 18:36 | #27

    @Tim Macknay
    Also, since a lot of the carbon ends up actually in the steel alloy permanently, and not in the atmosphere, coking coal is not as bad for climate change (on a pound for pound basis) as the stuff that gets burnt.

  28. Jon Brodie
    January 18th, 2013 at 08:45 | #28

    @Chris Warren
    I assume the charcoal would come from wood so that sounds like we need to destroy some more forests or the biggest tree planting scheme imaginable. Not really feasible. Natural gas can be used but the marginal greenhouse gas saving is small.

  29. January 18th, 2013 at 10:24 | #29

    Chris, Brazil used to charcoal make steel and still does. A drawback is it is less mechcanically tough than normal coke and so the smelters are smaller.

    Sam, steel has less carbon in it than pig iron, so it’s not locking up carbon.

    Jon Brodie, Brazil planted trees on an imaginable scale. I think they still hold the productivity record for wood produced per hectare. They achieved it using Australian eucalypts and is something we can’t match in Australia due to the presence of Christmas Beetles, Koalas, and other phagoeucalyptoids.

    It seems likely we are stuck with the steel smelters we currently have, as the world is currently over smeltered. Also, we are approaching peak steel. This will occur when countries such as China and India stop using so much new steel and rely more on their own scrap metal as rich countries currently do. This point may be a little closer now that aluminium is being used more in cars to save on weight.

    But just because no one is currently in a hurry to build funky new smelters that release less net CO2 doesn’t mean we have to leave the CO2 from steel making in the atmosphere. It can extracted and sequestered and with a high enough carbon price this will happen.

  30. Jon Brodie
    January 18th, 2013 at 11:12 | #30

    @Ronald Brak
    Yes I agree moves towards carbon dioxide capture in steel and other metallurgical processing is desirable. Does anyone know what the status of this research is around the globe versus C capture in power generation?

  31. January 18th, 2013 at 11:41 | #31

    Jon B, as with carbon capture from coal power plants, no one appears to have yet come close to competing with the cost of growing a plant and then sequestering the carbon in it either by growing plants where there were no plants (afforestation or reforestation), turning it into biochar (charcoal) and using it as a soil amendment, dumping it in a cold water lake, dumping it in anoxic mud, dumping it in an area of sedimentation, or dumping it in deep ocean water. If I didn’t know that all humans were completely trustworthy, I’d say that carbon capture from power plants is to at least some extent a con job.

  32. Ikonoclast
    January 19th, 2013 at 12:39 | #32

    @Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy

    I am not supporting Haskell Musry’s positions. However, the implication that his views are “loony” in some fashion is not supported at least by BBBAC’s depiction of them.

    1. To assert that philosophical theory X “is the philosophical foundation of science whether or not scientists understand what the philosphical underpinning of what they do is” is not necessarily an untenable position. There are plenty of practical scientists not too aware of philosophical theories about science or anything else. This is unfortunate but true. In addition, various philsophers from Bacon, to Hume, to Kuhn and Popper have attempted to outline the proper scientific method and/or to systematise its basic procedures and methods of progress at the logico-philosophical level. The way real science proceeds seems to at least partly escape all these attempts at comprehensive formal definition. So, if someone (a) argues they have hit on the comprehensively correct theory (philosophical underpinning) of science and (b) that sicnetists themselves are not fully aware of this then the claim cannot be dismissed out of hand. It must be examined. Personally, I doubt that dialectical materialism holds the answer in this field but I would to have examine the argument.

    2. The Big Bang Theory has considerable supporting evidence but also considerable outstanding problems. It is not at all unreasonable to not accept the BBT yet. I am not sure if H.M. is merely suspending judgement or proposing an alternative.

  33. Jim Rose
    January 20th, 2013 at 10:28 | #33

    By chance, I caught Sir Paul Nurse’s Attack on Science on cable yesterday. Nurse is president of the royal society.

    In exploring why people were unwilling to accept the word of science, Nurse interviewed James Delingpole.

    After agreeing that science does not proceed on the basis of consensus, Nurse asked Delingpole why he rejected the scientific consensus on global warming but accepted the scientific consensus on the treatment of cancer?

    Delingpole said he did not accept the analogy, but was otherwise flat-footed. I suggest this:
    1. Medicine proceeds on the basis of double blind trials and other small field experiments. Control and treatment groups are used. Medicine is not perfect as was the case with the misdiagnosis of the causes of stomach ulcers.

    2. The lag between cause and effect are short as would be the case if you rejected emergency treatment after a car accident or cancer treatment.

    3. Medicine tests the efficacy of invasive treatments, weighs side-effects and encourages adaptation and prevention. The best way to prevent my bad back is regular exercise and adapting to my new limits. Drugs are used sparingly.

    4. The staying power of self-interest in medicine is well-known: much higher rates of surgery when there is fee for service and much lower rates of surgery if the patient is a doctor’s wife. The efforts of the medical profession to suppress new entry to inflate their own incomes are well-known.

  34. January 20th, 2013 at 11:34 | #34

    @Jim Rose
    So, do you accept Nurse’s position, or Delingpole’s?

  35. Jim Rose
    January 21st, 2013 at 09:15 | #35

    David Irving (no relation), both misunderstood the degree of certainty in medicine and its management by the market process.

    Ken Arrow in 1963 famously concluded that virtually all the special features of the medical care industry could “be explained as social adaptations to the existence of uncertainty in the incidence of disease and in the efficacy of treatment.”
    1. physicians may not agree on the medical condition causing the symptoms the patient presents.

    2. even if physicians agree in their diagnoses, they often do not agree on the efficacy of alternative responses — for example, surgery or medical management for lower-back pain.

    3. Third, information on diagnosis and likely consequences of treatment are asymmetrically allocated between providers and patients. patients seek advice and treatment in the first place because they expect doctors to have vastly superior knowledge of the proper diagnosis and efficacy of treatment. The market for medical care deviates significantly from a benchmark where buyers and sellers are equally well informed.

    Uncertainty and asymmetry of information about the quality of goods or services being traded is ubiquitous for highly complex goods and services.

    doctors change their minds. I took that low-dose aspirin for some years then my doctor said medical opinion changed on its prevention of cardiovascular disease so she no long prescribes it to me.

    HT: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/health-care-uncertainty-and-morality/

  36. David Irving (no relation)
    January 21st, 2013 at 10:59 | #36

    Nice bit of hand-waving, Jim. I was more intersted in whether you took Nurse’s philosophical approach to scientific certainty, or Delingpole’s.

    (As an aside, I’ve always thought of doctors as being a kind of plumber.)

  37. Jim Rose
    January 22nd, 2013 at 20:19 | #37

    @David Irving (no relation) both Nurse and Delingport agree that science does not proceed on the basis of consensus

  38. Fran Barlow
    January 22nd, 2013 at 21:06 | #38

    @Jim Rose

    In which case Nurse and Delingfool are equally misinformed. That’s exactly how science proceeds. Perhaps more importantly though, it’s how science-informed policy proceeds.

    A subtle point, that Rose will either deliberately, or ignorantly miss: When science proceeds on the basis of consensus, this does not entail accepting that the consensus adequately explains some observed phenomenon. It merely means that where there is a consensus germane to some question, scientific inquiry must address itself to that, showing either its limitations or flaws, applying it more widely or better specifying it.

    If the inquiry shows that an existing consensus is of no probative value, then it is discarded. New lines of research arise, and when these shed useful light on a problem and prove to be robust — a new consensus arises and new scientific inquiry may proceed from the consensus.

    It’s systematic, orderly and the reason that humans have come to dominate the planet. We learn from those who have asked questions, suggested answers, sought to demonstrate that those answers are useful and either shown that they are indeed useful, or that other answers are even better.

    Trollish sloganeering (e.g. “the science is never settled”) is both disingenuous (nobody outside a mental health facility really believes that nothing can be known well enough to act) and logically nihilistic. Humans really wouldn’t have advanced beyond pleistocene usages had that been human practice. We can accept that uncertainty remains about causality without discarding what seem to be useful theories about the provenance of observable events. Nihilism in public policy would be disastrous, substituting utter policy paralysis for remote doubts, which would be very poor risk trading indeed.

    Yet one hears this stupid, specious homily trotted out as if it were some sage piece of common sense or necessary intellectual modesty, when it is nothing but an attempt to argue the indefensible — that in the face of a serious threat to ecosystem services of nearly inestimable value to human usage — we humans ought to do nothing, for fear of marginally and temporarily prejudicing the interests of a handful of asset holders in fossil hydrocarbon assets and upsetting those with socio-spatial angst about government.

    For those like you Jim, casting aside the entire body of human experience, technique and insight into the physical processes marking our world is a price well worth paying in a futile attempt to win your side of the culture war.

  39. January 22nd, 2013 at 21:39 | #39

    Point nicely missed again, Jim. I can see you aren’t going to answer my question. You’ve proved you aren’t a serious person.

  40. Fran Barlow
    January 22nd, 2013 at 22:02 | #40

    oops: Above should read …

    In which case Nurse and Delingfool are {would be} equally misinformed.

  41. Ikonoclast
    January 22nd, 2013 at 22:13 | #41

    Hard science does NOT proceed by consensus. It only PROCEEDS (makes real progress) when experimental results confirm (or comprehensively fail to disconfirm if you are a strict Popperian) a theory.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”

    There is absolutely no mention of consensus there and correctly so. Sorry Fran, but you make no mention of empirical observation and no mention of experimentation. How can you talk about how science proceeds and yet omit these key concepts and procedures? You use the weasel-word “consensus” when you should be referring to documented experimental procedure with repeatable and verifiable observations of quantifiable empirical results.

    * * *

    The statement “humans have come to dominate the planet” reeks of triumphalist hubris and illistrates all that is wrong with the modern attitude. Do you really think the natural forces of the earth, solar system or cosmos are “dominated” by us? Can we be said to “dominate” when we in fact must obey and remain wholly subject to all natural forces? There is no instance where we “dominate” the earth or its natural forces. We modify minor aspects and make temporary niches for ourselves, that is all.

    Every piece of infrastructure we have built or will build will eventually decay and erode away by the agency of natural forces. Any unlikely remnants will eventually be destroyed by subduction. (In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate and sinks into the mantle as the plates converge.)

    Do humans dominate life on earth? No. Global dry biomass estimates in millions of tons sees humans at 105, ants at 300 to 3000 and prokaryotes (baceteria) at 350,000-550,000. So you see, we are not important at all. It is only pride and anthropocentric jingoism that has us imagining we are important. We would benefit from a humble attitude that properly and accurately placed us within nature and not supposedly over and above it.

  42. Jarrah
    January 22nd, 2013 at 22:28 | #42

    “Do humans dominate life on earth? No. Global dry biomass estimates in millions of tons sees humans at 105, ants at 300 to 3000 and prokaryotes (baceteria) at 350,000-550,000. ”

    How is mass a measure of dominance?

    Five and a half years ago, it was estimated we use up 24% of the solar energy captured by plants across the entire globe, by far the most of any species. That’s dominance in any sense of the word.

  43. Jarrah
    January 22nd, 2013 at 22:31 | #43

    @David Irving (no relation)
    “You’ve proved you aren’t a serious person.”

    Jim Rose is among the most serious people in the blogosphere. His groundedness in rationality and empiricism and centrism is to be admired.

  44. Mel
    January 23rd, 2013 at 01:51 | #44

    @Fran Barlow: “It’s [science] systematic, orderly and the reason that humans have come to dominate the planet.”

    Even the hard sciences are inseparable from human foibles and politicking. I could give hundreds of examples but the quasi-crystal example is as good as any.


    I’ve deleted some OTT language here, without losing any of the point. As a guide, if an epithet triggers my filter, I probably don’t want it in the comments section – JQ

  45. Fran Barlow
    January 23rd, 2013 at 06:55 | #45


    You’re mistaken Ikono. The complex procedures and practices by which science and its sub-branches are marked is very much the result of a consensus. The ways in which findings are arranged and documented, the terms — pretty much everything is part of a consensus.

    If you want to take a step away from the consensus, you can but you must show why you have taken that course and justify your departure methodologically. That too is a matter of consensus. The process by which findings are reviewed and evaluated also is a matter of consensus. Declaration of conflicts of interest? Consensus.

    But how do people get to become scientists, or self-describe as scientists without provoking snorts of derision? By showing that they can and have followed accepted scientific practice — which is a matter of consensus. We have seen in the attempt of the denier movement an attempt to muddy the waters over who is a scientist and who isn’t — so that pseudo-scientists and bloggers can pretend to scientific accomplishment but once again, those who understand science know the difference. That Oregon Petition all those years ago was a troll not merely because it included people who were invented, or who didn’t know they were on it but because it included people who were clearly not scientists — at least if there is a consensus on what being a scientist entails. There is.

    Organisations like Heartland, when they go about faking commentary on scientific matters, make it their business to make their documents look as if they come from bodies that by consensus are regarded as having scientific standing. They take care to mention when someone in their camp is an “IPCC-reviewer” even though the IPCC has an open review process — because the IPCC represents — the consensus on climate change.

    Your response is remarkably naive.

    I decided some time ago that you were an egregious rightwing troll. Nurse is indeed a respected figure. There is a consensus on that. My statement above was menat to be conditional — that if Nurse regarded science as not proceeding on the basis of consensus, he would be misinformed. He doesn’t, so he isn’t. You can now amuse yourself, as usual.


    1. Domination of the planet by humans

    It’s true that humans are not close to being the most prolific species on the planet. I read some years back that there are probably more varieties of insect than tehre are humans. I have no way of knowing if this is the case, but clearly, we are massively outnumbered. You may conclude that I intend something else by the concept of domination than numbers or biomass.

    We humans, for good and ill, have changed the biosphere on a global scale. These changes have been mostly witting and designed to serve not merely those of us alive now, but those of us who will be alive long after we have died. That’s domination. We may of course have engineered the destruction of our species — that remains to be seen — but for the moment, humans are in charge, Ikono’s quasi-religious maundering notwithstanding.

    2. Jim Rose is a prattling culture war rambling fool — much like hundreds of other ostensibly misanthropic trolls I’ve come across over the years. Why you’d go referee for him is your own business but it reflects poorly on you. I had thought better of you — much better — despite our evident political differences. Such a shame.

  46. January 23rd, 2013 at 08:06 | #46

    I’m sorry Fran but I am with Jarrah.

    He is anything but a fool. He can avoid obvious questions like Sinclair Davidson re Lindzen but I find a lot of his comments quite refreshing.

    You shouldn’t just read people you agree with.

    He is most definitely anything but a fool. Indeed a person who thinks that is the fool!

  47. Fran Barlow
    January 23rd, 2013 at 09:03 | #47


    I’m sorry Fran …

    So you should be. There’s nothing “refreshing” about Jim Rose. His screeds are simply warmed over derivative cant.

    I’m OK with reading stuff by people I disagree with, but it has to have at least some intellectual integrity. Jim Rose’s stuff has none.

  48. Katz
    January 23rd, 2013 at 09:21 | #48

    On the matter of JR I lean towards FB’s assessment.

    Some time ago I asked JR this:

    What is the minimum evidence you require to accept that human activities are driving global warming?

    This is a question that any person committed to scientific scepticism must ask herself.

    However, no denialist has ever dared to answer this question.

    To date JR, by his non-response, has consigned himself to the anti-science, denialist side of the ledger.

  49. Mel
    January 23rd, 2013 at 09:29 | #49

    Barlow, science shouldn’t proceed on the basis of consensus, as is clearly demonstrated by the not unusual Daniel Shechtman re quasi-crystals. Schectman was dismissed as a crank and a fraud by his peers, sacked from his work group and denounced as a quasi-scientist by double Nobel Laurette Linus Pauling. It took more than a decade ugly politicking (and the death of old warhorses like Pauling) before Schechtman was rehabilitated and then another decade and a half before he won a Nobel Prize in chemistry.

    The Australian scientists who won a Nobel for discovering the role of bacteria in stomach ulcers were similarly dismissed as perpetrators of a scientific fraud for many years before the theory gained acceptance.

    A paradigm shift in science is obviously and observably a thing of dissensus and disorder, not consensus and order.

    Moreover, while Nurse played up the consensus angle in his much publicized discussion with Dellingpole, he has elucidated a far more sophisticated position in subsequent discussion.

    Once again I’d urge you to actually read something written by a science historian or a philosopher of science, like Imre Lakatos, who Prof Quiggin cites in Zombie Economics.

    Let’s leave the childish and intellectually impoverished n@nsense to the likes of Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt.

  50. January 23rd, 2013 at 10:10 | #50

    you are wrong Fran.
    There are some areas he just cannot say something that it is blindingly obvious ( the example of Lindzen is a classic but he also cannot say the budget of 1931 produced negative growth the next year either!)

    However he does produce some first class stuff to read and is no fool.
    you are if you believe such tripe!

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