Weekend reflections

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. In keeping with my attempts to open up the comments to new contributors , I’d like to redirect discussion, as opposed to substantive new contributions, to the sandpit. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

19 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. If despotic foreign leaders can pay poor people a pittance to form an army to do the most atricious things…when US people get desperate enough they will do things like this as well, even if it means spreading the gospel for the richest who rob, use and oppress them (especially with the support of sympathetic anti democratic media). Its easier to also give the “pushed down” middle class and poor a fake enemy eg communism, socialism to distract them from who their real enemies are.

    Its insidious – we know it goes on …its been going on since big tobacco, big pharma, big coal, big oil, big media…all big liars and prepared to put their money where their lies are.

  2. A new term I learned this morning listening to the BBC was “kiosk culture”, specifically of Africa. Some background


    Where the term is new, I think that we are all familiar with the idea. However the economics of this, or rather that is has a very significant economic impact, might be new. I think that DK, even if I do not like his architectural take, is making a hugely significant point which I observe to be gaining rapid acceptance amoungst forward thinkers.

  3. Oddly related, if indirectly to the two previous posts, I offer Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report, a 2005-2006 effort manufactured by thinktanks+politicians to mislead the US Congress, funded by conservative foundations (like of the Koch brothers, fossil fuel folks, 2nd largest private company in US) and other fossil-fuel companies.

    That 1-pager points at both a 6-page Executive Summary …
    and a massive 250-pager not for the faint of heart, unless you like horror stories like a report to the US Congress that starts with 35/91 pages mostly plagiarized but with errors and fabrications. If you want to read a well-documented example of the ways in which anti-science is manufactured, here is one. About 25-30 pages will give the idea, the rest is massive backup detail, as the consequences may be *serious* for certain people.

    There are several odd connections with Australia.

    First, while the world headquarters of climate anti-science is Washington, DC, its web certainly includes organizations in Australia (and New Zealand), and they often cooperate, with Australians having long cooperated with some of the people mentioned here. They’ve worked on projects, attended Heartland Institute conferences … and I see Heartland has even visited Australia. Tactics are similar worldwide.

    Second, on the good side, some Australians really, really helped me with this.
    John Cook created a fixed-numbers version of Skeptical Science so I could use his list of memes without worrying about numbers changing. This really helped.

    Stephan Lewandowsky (at U of WA) introduced me to Garry Robins, Assoc. Prof & Reader at U of Melbourne, among other things a top-notch researcher in social networks analysis well-qualified to comment on its mis-use by Wegman&co. He took the time to write an extensive quote for me.

    Another handful helped with comments and sources in various ways. One kindly scanned the relevant pages of Plimer’s book, giving Australia a recent entry in the “books that use the Wegman Report” list.

    In academe, plagiarism is serious, in this case, in the Congressional report, an article, and 3 PhD dissertations, then in a 2010 remake by several others. Mis-use of research funds is also taken seriously. For instance, why would 2 branches of the US Army and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism be paying for low-quality social-network analysis by those without expertise in it, to try to prove climate peer review is bad?

    In the US, misleading the public is common, but misleading Congress, if serious & proven, is a felony, as is conspiracy to do so, and knowing about it but not telling. Also, destruction of evidence is not a good idea either.

  4. On the matter of strange scholarship …According to Rob Oakshott – senior net savvy members of the conservatives target blogs, email and stink tanks with a plethora of climate skeptic rubbish).

    So how old is el gordo (with a name like el gordo and a tally of all the rubbish climate skeptic links he has been dropping in here of late – its a classic illustration of the method used
    1. troll stays polite
    2. pretends to have a reasoned debate
    3. Posts outrageous pieces from climate sceptic sites prolifically.
    4. Doesnt object to being called a fool
    3. Repeats step three

    Even Oakshott admits it goes on. Lies for electronic dissemination – courtesy of the Coalition.

    I would warrant the entire climate skeptic push is just about the same as the tea party push. Engineered and run by a minority of the wealthy for a minority of the wealthy.
    Unfortunately governments must also be run by the same minority for it is they who are still carrying out the neo liberal agenda – What did Roozendahl have to say about the grandiose bonuses and salaries paid to state owned electricity corporations?

    “Its the board that decides their remuneration”

    Lets all thank Mr Roozendahl for his input and ask him how long he has been on secondment from the right wing lunatics party?.

    …..No mention of the fact that they are state owned and the state should be able to step in if payments to senior executives are excessive. Ive really had enough of this BS.

  5. A very good link there, Andre. I learnt more about Quiggins book in a few minutes.

    On healthcare it occurs to me the problem with private health arrangements is that health care is a fixed cost set against a wildly variable income setting. The only option available to the lower end of the income spectrum is to not seek health care at all. Which is what they do.

    On privatised assets, I think I heard that NZ bought back their railways.

  6. Tony G :
    Alice get with the program, AGW is a fraud and anybody who believes in AGW is a patsy.

    “Fraud”, “patsy” … the face at the bottom of the well is your own.

  7. Alice says:

    “I would warrant the entire climate skeptic push is just about the same as the tea party push. Engineered and run by a minority of the wealthy for a minority of the wealthy.”

    From the wording (and knowing that US/Oz English is not always the same), does “warrant” mean “I think” or does it mean “I am sure.”?

    Actually, in the USA it is certain, because the groups behind the Tea Party startup and a huge number of thinktanks and fronts and climate science are exactly the Koch brothers I mentrioned, familiar to me in detail from past study, but of whom Jane Mayer recently wrote a a great article in the New Yorker.

  8. I am sure John Mashey but this is no different to whgat is going on across the globe. Monumental fraud beyond all our comprehensions. Fraud by large firms on government and taxpayers. Fraud by governments run by large firms on taxpayers. Fraud on the upper middle class, the middle class and the poor by the wealthy who have been allowed to become drunk and insane with the excess to them granted by neoliberal ideologically inclined governments – the same governments who are now an empty shell of what they once were and are mere puppets of the moneyed class.

    Fraud it is. Instability it is when the wealthy cant be bothered by the rest of those whom they see as losers…”pay your own health, pay your own usage,pay to bail us out with your taxes.

    This “experiment” wont end well no matter how much the rich bleat that the rich need more feeding and less regulation to invest (and they need climate sceptics to avoid regulation and they need government sceptics to avoid regulation).

    The single worst mistake we made was to save the major global banks from collapse. All we did was extend their gambling lives to make it even worse next time. I doubt people on Wall street even know what a real company does anymore. No one is happy with an 8% return. They want 10%, 15%, 200% leverage. They use super fund monies and they gamble and leverage it all up. Banks even gamble on global markets with our everyday savings. Banks are not safe anymore.

    I am thinking I might even support the right to bear arms in Australia. Ive had enough of what I see and grand fraud and even grander theft.

    The point John Mashey, is not that they do it (disseminate lies) but why.

  9. The other side of international education:

    But the question needs to be asked – how much resources is Malaysia allocating to its education system, compared to its military budget?

    I expect that Australia has more Malaysian students than other suppliers.

  10. @BilB

    NZ recently bought back their railways after a decade of asset stripping, and did spectacularly poorly out of the deal.

    They’re slowly starting to actually maintain the track and stock again, but the network has lost a huge amount of it’s coverage due to poor maintenance in the privately owned period.

  11. @Greg
    The upcoming QR privatisation currently blasting its advertising on our screens has all the hallmarks of a “welcome Mums and Dads investors – come and buy shares in QR rail’ …another Telstra all over again. “This is your chance to pay for shares.. to get ripped off by a big private salivating management executive and the QLD state government”.

    I wouldnt touch it.

  12. greg,

    They did spectaularly poorly out of the original sale as well courtesy of Richard Prebble.

  13. From The Oil Drum

    “Now, after just 150 years of oil extraction, we have burned through roughly half of it. The world is consuming four barrels of oil for every one we find, more than 80 million barrels of oil every day. The United States alone consumes more than 20 million barrels a day. Most major oil exporting nations are well past their supply peaks, with giant fields rapidly diminishing in size and new finds proving to be small and relatively insignificant. Worldwide oil supplies have plateaued and now face a decline from which there is no return. This peak, plateau and decline is referred to as “Peak Oil.” Many of the world’s top energy experts attending ASPO-USA’s annual peak oil conference in Washington, D.C. this week agree that the era of low-cost, easy-to-get oil has come to an end just as global demand will start to accelerate.”

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