The science and politics of DDT

Arguments about DDT have been going on for a long time in the blogosphere and similar circles. These debates typically involve a confusion between two unrelated issues
* The bogus story, popular in rightwing circles, in which the US ban on agricultural use of DDT, inspired by Rachel Carson, is morphed into a global ban on DDT, bringing to an end a previously successful compaign to eradicate malaria
* The real disputes, among malaria experts, about the relative merits of insecticide-treated bednets and spraying of house walls, and of DDT and alternative insecticides.

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New economics blogs and blogs by economists

Andrew Norton has abandoned Catallaxy and set up his own blog, describing himself as Carlton’s lone classical liberal. Andrew has an official comments policy, something I’ve been meaning to set down for ages.

Meanwhile, one of my fellow economists, and occasional commenter here, rabee at has set up a blog offering Progressive occidentalist commentary on a range of issues, including Islamism and the left

Springborg, Seeney, Simpson

Queensland opposition leader Lawrence Springborg has quit. The reason given “to spend more time with his family” is often a euphemism, but in this case it’s the real deal. I thought Springborg was the best of the National party leaders I’ve observed, with the arguable exception of Mike Ahern.

His replacement, Jeff Seeney has always struck me as a thug and, from the reports I’ve seen, I’m not alone in this view. Since he has no chance of becoming Premier, except if he can manage to push through a merger with the Liberal party, and hold on to the leadership of the combined party, I don’t suppose this matters too much.

I managed to ignore Fiona Simpson altogether in my Fin piece last week, writing that the Nats had been wiped out on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts (Mark Bahnisch alerted me to this error). Simpson has held the seat of Maroochydore for some time an now she’s popped up as Deputy Leader. I’ll chance another unchecked assertion and say that this is the most senior parliamentary position to be held by a woman in the National Party. please feel free to correct this.

Ipods and irony

Christopher Breen writes

Far and away, Playlist’s most popular story is Two-way Street: Moving Music Off the iPod, a tutorial, as the name hints, on copying music from an iPod to a computer. (Who knew iPod users were so plagued by hard drive crashes that forced them to use these techniques for recovering their music libraries? I mean, why else would you need to do this?)

He’s teasing, I know, but you can count me as an example. I had a hard disk crash and lost all my music files, and had huge problems recovering them from the iPod.

Double-header plug

I’ll be back at City Hall on Monday for a combined BrisScience and UQ Research Week event entitled “Planning for Climate Change: From urban design to complex systems”. I’ll be talking on “Complexity, Climate Change and the Precautionary Principle ” while Ed Blakely will talk about “Climate change: Planning for it and not just worrying about it. ”

Date: Monday, 18 September 2006
Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Room: Ithaca Room
Location: City Hall, St Georges Square, Brisbane City

More info here

Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments. (Polite) meta-comments on the tipping competition in the previous post are also invited.

Tipping competition

Tim Blair is always keen to correct any errors I’ve made, and jumps in on the latest revelations in the long-running Plame-Wilson scandal. My response is over the fold, but I thought it might be a good idea to check on some of his earlier corrections. One of the first is this one from May 2004 when Tim noted my observation that “the anniversary of Bush’s declaration of victory looks as good a time as any to date what seems increasingly certain to be a defeat [at least for the policies that have been pursued for the last year]” and suggested that I should “Try Footy Tipping”.

Given, the implication that I’m not much of a tipster, I thought it might be a better idea if I organised a tipping competition, allowing Tim and others to do better than me. The obvious topic is the date of the victory in Iraq, which I foolishly suggested, back in 2004, that Bush might not actually deliver. To get a definite winner, I’ll specify some rules corresponding to a conservative interpretation of the desired outcome of US victory culminating in a “democratic, stable and prosperous” Iraq. So here are the conditions
A No more than 30 000 US troops in Iraq
B A democratic government with control over the entire country
C Stability defined as no more than 100 deaths in a month from insurgency, civil and sectarian strife, kidnapping and so on
D Prosperity defined as restoration of 1990 levels of income per person and electricity supply per person

To enter, just nominate the first month, during Bush’s remaining term in office, when all four conditions will be satisfied, or vote “Not under Bush”. One nomination per person, please. Only comments nominating a date will be accepted.

To forestall disputes, I’ll offer a second competition, allowing entrants to nominate three of the four conditions and a month for their fulfilment.
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Darfur: impending disaster

The tragedy in Darfur is approaching a crisis point which could lead to genocide on a huge scale. The inadequate peacekeeping force sent by the African Union is about to reach the end of its mission, and the Sudan government is refusing to allow its replacement. Russia and China forced a requirement for Sudan’s agreement into a UNSC resolution on the subject, and so far efforts to secure that agreement have gone nowhere. Even if they are successful, there’s no guarantee that an adequate force will be found.

No one comes out of this terrible story with much credit. China has followed its usual policy of backing dictatorships, and Russia has joined in. The US and, even more, the Europeans have been intermittent, at best, in their attempts to do anything. The Sudanese government has made brutal war on its own people. The Darfur rebels, who seemed to be in a strong position earlier this year, rejected a peace deal that might have prevented the disaster that is now approaching.

But condemnations all around don’t help anything. Sunday 17 September is the Global Day for Darfur, and we should all support it as best we can. I haven’t been able to find out anything happening in Australia, but we can at least provide help to the victims through charities such as CARE or MSF.

Passion of the Present has more, as does Jeff Weintraub.

Another try at a comment thread

I’m having another go at opening comments on the Fabianism post below. I think the problem is that the ideology under discussion is objectionable to my spam filters, not for political reasons but because it contains the name of a well-known treatment for male performance problems.

Anyway, if you have comments, you should be able to post them here, but try to avoid the text string in question.