Calling all Chomskyites

David Horowitz is holding a competition where you get to vote for America’s worst (ie most dangerously leftwing) professor. In the true spirit of laissez-faire, there’s none of this “one person, one vote” nonsense. It’s vote early, vote often and bots are just as welcome as humans. As a result, “Marvellous Michael” Bérubé is outpolling all other contenders combined, with 130 000 votes.

I’m a big Bérubé supporter myself, but I think it’s kind of unfair that someone like Noam Chomsky (659 votes), who’s devoted his life to annoying the likes of Horowitz, should be lagging so far behind just because his fans can’t be bothered programming a few bots. So get your noses out of Syntactic Structures and start coding.

Update 26/2 Perhaps my call has been heeded. Chomsky has rocketed to #5 on the list with over 30000 votes. He’s gaining fast on historian Eric Foner whose crime, I believe, is to point out that the Reconstruction era was not, as generations of Southern historians had claimed, an orgy of corruption, but was in fact a period of democratic reform brought to an end by Ku Klux Klan terrorism. FPM attacks Reconstruction here.


Reader and occasional commenter Paul Knapp advises me that he’s set up a site called NewsBump. It’s modelled on US sites such as Digg, where participants nominate stories of possible interest and others can rank them, pushing the interesting ones to the top of the page. The focus is on Oz current affairs. Free registration required for participation. Go and take a look.

I picked up this story, saying that 55 per cent of Americans think the Iraq war was a mistake. Given the frequency with which opponents of the war have been told we are “anti-American”[1], it’s good to know that the majority of Americans are in the same boat, as they have been for some time now.

fn1. For some reason, war supporters seem to have a bit of amnesia about this. So here a couple of links, one from Australia and one from the US. There are plenty more if you look, along with variants like “pro-Saddam”.


Today’s Fin (subscription only) has a piece by AGW contrarian Garth Paltridge claiming that, while he was establishing the Antarctic CRC in the early 1990s, CSIRO threatened to pull out of the project if he didn’t stop saying in the media that there were doubts about the science of global warming. CSIRO’s motive, he says, was the desire to extract millions of dollars in funding from the “newly-established” Australian Greenhouse Office. Paltridge presents this as a counter to the recent Four Corners program about suppression of scientists like Graham Pearman, and it reads very effectively. The same story is reported by Andew Bolt

There is just one slight problem with the story. The Antarctic CRC was set up in 1991 with CSIRO participation. Further negotiations (given the timelags in putting together a CRC bid and getting it approved, these would have been in the mid-1990s), led to a new version of the CRC which commenced operations in 1997 (it’s not clear if CSIRO was part of this one).

The Australian Greenhouse Office wasn’t “newly established” in the early 1990s, or even in 1997: in fact it wasn’t established at all until 1998. Its formation wasn’t even announced by the Prime Minister until November 1997.

Of course, it may be that this dispute took place at some other time and in the context of some other negotiation. But if Paltridge is wrong on dates and context, maybe he has also got other things wrong, such as the content of the conversations he describes.

Update My guess is that Paltridge is referring to this Sunday program broadcast in November 1997. It’s about the time the AGO was announced, but clearly too late for the alleged threat to have been made. It’s interesting to note, by the way, how heavily the sceptics who got nearly all the running on the Sunday program rely on Christy’s satellite data, and on now-discredited hacks like Pat Michaels.

The Kingmaker

Juan Cole translates an Al-Jazeera interview with the new kingmaker of Iraqi politics. In many ways, he’s just what the Bush Administration has been hoping for. He’s a Shi’ite but favors a broad government of national unity, reaching out to Sunni nationalists. He has an impeccable record of opposition to Saddam and isn’t compromised by any links to the occupation or to the interim Allawi regime. And while he’s previously called for an immediate pullout of US forces, he’s now prepared to accept a timetable for withdrawal.

He is, of course …
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