Thursday, 27 February 2014

Have the Koch's jumped the shark?

Reviled for funding climate denial by the majority of the scientific community, only to  lose the war for public opinion which remains their real target in an effect to garner grass roots support for fuel and tax policy the that benefits their bottom line without regard to the consequences for humanity or even their own legacy. The Koch's for their own reason's born of their peculiar Liberterian ideology want to see the Affordable Care Act fail, and so are funding attack ads scare young people away from it. The first two were just bizarre, with one of them featuring a young woman patient and Uncle Sam with a speculum. which presented the counter factual concept that the government would require detailed medical information in order to process applications. This ignored the fact that eliminating pre-existing conditions as grounds for denial eliminated the need for such enquiries.

More recently the campaign has centered around middle aged women telling stories about how "Obamacare is unaffordable", "the lie of the century", "I lost my coverage due to Obamacare". There are just a few problems worth mentioning here.
The official name is the Affordable Care Act, it was given the portmanteau by Fox News (Faux Noise).
Fact checkers have been having field days debunking these ads.
These ads aren't talking about anything more than Obamascare a strawman parody that Tim Burton could not make more horrifying.
In short these ads present these stories and that is all they are, stories. The kind of stories parents tell there kids when they want them to grow up to become off the grid preppers who reach for a bazooka at the first sign of civilization.

So, why would any think they were jumping the shark. When I saw the ad being debunked a couple of days ago, I thought, yeah same old same old. But today, Harry Reid, in session called out the Koch brothers by name and decried the lying in this ad campaign.

Money in politics is a bipartisan issue or it should be. and the Koch's efforts under mine the ability of government to exercise the will of the people which to have the provision of the Affordable Care Act in place so that they no longer have to put up with over priced unreliable delay deny coverage.

The Democratic Party is as pro corporation as the GOP but there is apparently a limit to how much silence that buys. The Tea Party faction that was gutted to find they were in a fake grass roots group resulting from the Koch Brothers money trying to game the system could start speaking up. They hate the money in politics too, the problem is their reps are bought. and the GOP moderates stain their shorts at the prosect of being primaried in there own electorate by bought lunatic Tea Party candidates funded by the Kochs.


If you have no limit to deceptive speech in politics, eventually it will get push back, it has happened before, it will happen again. A constitutional convention, or reform led by congress is inevitable. Considering some of the cuckoo efforts to compromise the first amendment I believe congress should act on money in politics to preserve the first amendment to prevent USA becoming Sudan and having people marry goats.

See also
  Harry Reid: Kochs "un-American"
  Sudanese goat marriage

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Power tripping...

Last weekend the New Zealand Green Party announced it's energy policy, offering price regulation and lowered barriers to developing roof top solar.
I checked my letter box, after coming home from a day long meeting, only to find a letter from my electricity retailer, one which is struggling to see it's share price reach the giddy heights the government said was the lower limit for the share prices as they sold off equity up to 49%. Which on international average sees power price rises of 12% to provide shareholder income

It seems their cunning plan, and we always knew this was likely,  was to raise prices, In my case 17%. My retailer does 2 year contracts.

Price rises like this are the result of deregulation of the electricity markets brought in by the National government led by Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley, with the reforms being brought into effect in the year after Shipley took over from Jim Bolger.

Ever since we have seen a dynamic of supplier and retailers playing cat and mouse with margins, this has led to power prices doubling since the mid 1980's and 60% since 2004.

The letter I and many others got is likely part of the normal business cycle, but it is tempting to think, it is a last grasp just in case a Labour/Greens/Mana Government sets about tightening the spigot on cash-flow, from its captive market.

There seems to me to be an immorality in what the electricity market has become, the commodification of essential resources for profit of those who have access to more than they need. Just Air was commodified in Total Recall the one with Arnie, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox. At one point Cohagen who exemplifiers unaccountable fascist government, says he can do what he likes because "nobody gives a shit." As he rationalises shutting off the air supply to a large part of the Martian colony. The reality is we have a Cohagen that cuts of the the supply in the electricity market, it is the contract, and while there  is no mass shut-down, people are picked off one at time as they struggle to keep up with there overly inflated bills, as their shrinking income is competed for by other essential needs, food, medical, even water in some parts.

The one thing the electricity sector fears most, just like Cohagen feared the activation of the Turbinium generator is the plentiful community controlled supply. Cohagen feared lost of profit and control. So the electricity sector agreed to the 1990's reforms on the tacit agreement that there would be no promotion of solar. Meanwhile they have been insulated by high cost solar panels, until 2-3 years ago, when china dropped the price of solar panels. Now not only has the business case changed, so has the economic case as more demand will be needed to service transport and reduce the $8b import bill for carbon fuels. Addition for economies to maintain or advance their competitiveness, they need to embrace clean energy, the economics are simply that good. It makes a nonsense of suggestions that we should embrace oil coal and gas.

In a sense just like Cohagen, legacy energy interests have created and deployed the means for their own destruction. Cohagan created Quade, fermented revolution through his oppression and set the explosive ultimately create venting that tossed him onto the Martian landscape in the near vacuum atmosphere (1% of the density of Earth's atmosphere).

Our Electricity sector has inflated power prices so much the majority of Kiwi's want government to move to fix it. Carbon fuels have changed the planet enough to make clear, our species needs to quit use 19th century fuels. And of course the exploration in political geo-political regions has killed some exploration but shifted it often to politically fraught indigenous lands. Essentially the now hat the political fights are closer to home for the these company they are harder fight, and are developing the political opposition that could, and believe should eventually kill off the industry, as we find cheaper, cleaner more abundant energy sources.

See All so:
  NZ Herald - the 30year price hike

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Clown prince of conservative at it again...

Conservative buffoon in chief Colin Craig has contacted his lawyers with a view to suing Green Party Leader Dr Russell Norman for comments he made at Auckland's The Big Gay Out festival.

Russell's statement "Now, the thing about Colin Craig is he thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen, and a gay man's place is in the closet." is constructed of common memes and broadly speaks of conservative attitudes to women and LGBT people. In context, it is political opinion wrapped in rhetoric. It is not like he said "I've seen Colin Craig rooting rabbits" which would be a false statement of fact and Craig would still need to demonstrate a loss - which would typically be of a financial nature.

So much for secular political discourse

Colin is a Christian as such he's required to believe gay people should be in a closet not a metaphorical closet but a physical closet- a prayer closet which was specifically mention by some random Hebrew speaking Semitic litch in Matt 6:5-6
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." 

So, many Christians keep saying gay people should pray more and Colin seems to be one of them. Though the closet is a literal thing noone eally bothers any more, at least much out side of the middle east. Moving on, in 1 Tim 2:12-15 Paul (supposedly) writes:
 "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
If he thinks himself a Christian, he's not very good at it. If, as he says, he is not misogynistic or homophobic then I would congratulate him for not absorbing this nonsense.

Are we into censoring opinion now?


If my opinion were that Colin Craig were a fish like creature determined to bring on climate change to raise sea level here because back home on Europa he's a property developer looking to create a holiday resort for a class of rich fishy aristocrats, I am legally entitled to express this opinion in public and since I published this article perhaps I just did. Well, no, It is not opinion, it is just an illustration of the broad scope of free expression of sincerely held belief.  If we were in the business of criminalizing counter factual nonsense courts would be choked just dealing with creationists. Really, they are out there. Then of course there is the anti vaccers, the Roswell crowd, the UFO crowd, and trickle down economics zealots.

Russell's statement is based on statements Craig himself has made referring to New Zealand women as "promiscuous" and calling same sex relationships "unnatural".

Dr Norman also suggested Craig consider a better course of action before suing other politicians: "Don't bother."

Going further, my actual opinion is the Colin Craig is an overly litigious ignoramus and crackpot. This is based on his threat to sue The Civilian, his comments on chem-trails, the moon landings (where he admits he did not know if man walked on the moon).  We'd be better off with Homer Simpson in our parliament. We are lucky not to have Louie Gohmert (who says climate change is a fraud, The president is a secret Kenyan born Muslim acting in concert with the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy America) on our shores, let's not spoil it by admitting Colin Craig into parliament. Seriously there are people with significant mental health issues that would be better candidates than Colin Craig.

See also
 One News Russell Norman unfazed

Monday, 17 February 2014

Science: Internet trolls really are twisted

Canadian researchers conducted an online poll to see what drives trolls. And it wont be much of a surprise to some that they are driven by sadism and psychopathy. What was a surprise to researchers, was the degree to which sadistic tendencies predicted trolling behaviour.


Here is how The Young Turk's reported the story...


Having met a few trolls online I have found a technique that works pretty well to best them, and that is to play along like they are playing a character to highlight the insanity or weakness behind their own position. It works well in politics and religion. They have no answer for their insanity being called as beautiful and poignant satire lampooning their insane position. First time I tried it, I got a right wing Christian gun nut who open with expressing a desire to kill many atheists finishing the discussion with "bless you."

You have to gush with the complements using this method. It may take them a little while but eventually they will realize they are getting nothing from you and are just pointless exposing themselves as odious buffoons. Even better to complement them on their great Poe (any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook).  A conversation could look like this.

Troll: Liberals lick llamas!
Me: Wow! That's a great Poe. LOL.
Troll: What's a Poe? Isn't your llama wet yet?
Me: See Rational wiki (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe%27s_Law). Haha, nice. more please :)
Troll: That's offensive. Obama is the anti Christ he hands out llama's so liberals like you will vote for him.
Me: Yeah, so offensive and funny, you do it so very well I almost thought you were serious. Have you sent your Resume to Stephen Colbert, I reckon you have a shot at a gig on the writing team!
Troll: America is a Christian nation if you don't like it, get out!
Me: Priceless, that one always cracks me up. Can you do John Hagee's voice too? If I go, I'm taking all the nuclear medicine guys with me, a big chunk of the engineers, and most pharmaceutical researchers too. Kiss the next big thing in iPhone good bye the physicists are coming as well. You better stock up on garlic and echinacea. :)
Troll: You can't have morals without God! Atheist's would just run the streets raping and pillaging, I know I would.
Me: LMAO, perfectly well played. Wonderfully highlights how right wing kooks have so much wrong with them it is easy to convince them they need an imaginary overlord to keep themselves in check, while missing that reason and thorazine are much more effective. Neither myself or anyone I know has the sightless inclination to gang-banging. But each to his own guess, except there would be consequences. Prison is quite likely, and as atheists are under represented it would be hard to find like minded people to hang out with in the break room. Then there would all those christian do-good types handing me ultra violent porn in the old testament text songs of Solomon and all that smiting. I don't have much in the way of anger issues or sexual perversion but after a few years of prison rape and reading about the vengeful god, sure I could develop some. And if it became a big thing for folks to do in the weekend, then friends and family would be vulnerable to being victims of rape and pillage and, call me crazy, I don't want that to happen to my friends or family. Yes, you're so right, we don't really need imaginary friends to be good people. This is good have got more?
Troll: You are only an atheist because you want to sin.
Me: He-he, must be missing something, I don't smoke, drink, do drugs, steal, rape, murder and I value integrity. If all this "sin" is so desirable and I feel no compulsion at all for any of it. And still I know no good reason to accept your god-hypothesis or anyone else's. This is great, You've brought really great comical interrogative to this conversation. :) any else you would like to examine?
Troll: Bless you and Good bye.

You may never  turn the troll to your side of the argument, but if you keep your cool treat them like they are really arguing for your side of the debate as a Poe you will have achieved something worth while.
  • You have turn the conversation around to your side of the argument despite the effort to derail it.
  • You will have demonstrated that you can keep cool be civil under pressure. (Bill Nye wanted to face palm but he kept it out of Kentucky.)
  • You may move unpersuaded audience closure to your position, or at least they will be dissuaded by the trolls.
This technique I extrapolate from the story of an old black preacher who disarmed the local KKK by "trolling with love". One time they set a burning cross across the road from his house, he if they needed hotdog and marsh-mellows for their barbeque. Another time the confronted him a restaurant, The grand wizard something like "The next thing you do to that chicken we will do to you." He responded by picking up the chicken from his plate and kissed it. The other KKK guys couldn't stop laughing, the Grand Wizard just walked out and eventually left the KKK.


See also
   Trolling the KKK with Love.
   More about the study of trolls from Time.
   The published findings on Science Direct

Greens turn to the Sun...

Yesterday, the Green Party of New Zealand announced it's solar energy policy, cheap loans attached to the property. The loans combined with solar energy production will see a $100 p.a. saving  on energy costs during the life of the loan, with much greater savings possible once the loan is fully recovered.

This policy is functionally equivilent to Germany's loan guarantee policy, allowing people to invest in roof top solar without the worry of being stuck with the loan if they move.

To date, the New Zealand roof top solar industry is worth about $41m. considering it has been the tiny Tim of energy generation in  this country for years. Previous high prices made such installation economically infeasible, since a typical install in c 2004 could cost $40k.  Now such an installation can be around $10k.  And prices continue to fall, as new technology brings cheaper more efficient cells in to the market.

Researches are busy looking for even cheaper options, graphene and Iron Pyrite are two lines of enquiry under active research at moment. Battery technology is coming along too.

Although solar offer more efficient delivery because it does not suffer the typical 30% transmission losses, the main issue with solar is that peek production, and peek consumption don't synchronize, so storage is needed. One option is to pump water below a hydro damn back into the hydo-lake, this is already being done overseas.

Roof top solar is typically generated close to where it is consumed, and reduces the draw on hydro electric sources. Pumps at the hydro dam can use the unused energy to return water to the hydro-lake in preparation for peek demand over the next 12 hours.

Increasingly, electricity will become a bigger part of transport in New Zealand's urban areas, more e-bikes, trolley  busses, light rail,  even the Tesla and its competitors. So the future of energy generation will demand more electricity, even if Te Whai Point goes belly up.

We could seriously shift our balance payments deficit, if we quit forking over NZ$8b every year to big carbon for fuel. As Russell Norman pointed out even halving this bill would seriously increase our ability to invest in development in New Zealand. To give you an idea how much money that is, even the Aussie banks are struggling to extract that amount of money from this country, and they mainline right into the cash system. It's better it seems to be a tape worm than a leach.

The policy is not without its critics, Minister for Mining and Resources, Climate Change Issues, Public Transport Tantrums, Simon Bridges has called the policy "magic money." An ad hominem that will surely play well in an audience that keeps slipping out of straight jackets, but is devoid of any substance.

Even though some point to panels having an energy conversion efficiency approaching 25% or 15% for older panels, and claim that's not efficient, keep in mind Germany's heavily industrialized powerhouse economy on some days gets more than half of it power from solar generation and has to export energy to it neighbours so as to not blow up their grid. Invercargil gets about same amount of sun as Germany, which makes a nonsense of claims by Wellingtonian residents that Wellington does not get enough sun to be effective. Previously the economics were in feasible but falling prices now mean grid parity is now here according to some companies.

Clearly there are misconceptions out there, which brings forth the question where did these misconceptions come from? Are they the random noise of an ill informed public, or has a special interest group been feeding them fact free propaganda in order to forestall the inevitable rise in competitive production technology?

See also
   Minister for Public Tantrums.
   Greens' Solar Homes policy launch.
   Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Did solar fail in Germany?

Over the last couple of years I've had a few people tell me online and to my face that the German government were back peddling on solar investment because solar energy is a failure there. Often in response to mentioning that Germany creates more than half of it's energy needs from solar on some days, and even has to export energy to its neighbours.

Annoyingly, I never had the facts available to refute the claim if that were possible. And now it seems that it is entirely possible to refute this typically right -wing pro-carbon nonsense.

Solar it seems is not a failure, the original goal was to produce as much energy as 2 yet-to-be-built nuclear reactors after running the numbers solar worked out cheaper than building the reactors. But more than that, the programme was so enthusiastically adopted by home owners that solar generates the equivalent of 10 reactors, and over-supply started to threaten the stability of the grid. This is less of a failure than it is more of a sign the programme has become a victim of its own blow-the-doors-off success.

In recent years, the German government has chosen to reduce the programme and now expects to phase out the subsidies by 2018.

While some solar companies have run into insolvency, this marks a change in the market dynamic that should be expected with saturation. It is typical at this point in a market lifecycle to see consolidation. And this is normal with the emergence of green field technology into the mainstream.

In Conclusion...

Failure? Far from it, the policy has been more successful than originally envisaged, creating more energy at times than could be consumed within Germany's borders. So from the technical perspective it is too successful while the business failures are no more than a predictable effect of a maturing market.


Sea also...
  AFP - Germany to pull plug on solar subsidies by 2018.
  BigPictureRT - Conversations with great Minds.

Off their rockers?

A couple of posts on the Psychology Today website resonated with the observations of the political right that I and many others have been making  for some time, primarily in jest or hyperbole and occasionally in earnest.

Often when progressive or liberally minded people respond with "that's insane" or the GOP or Tories are "crazy", "lunatics" or whatever other allusions to compromised mental health, it may be spoken colloquially in jest, or even as ad hominem, which is the usual inference the right wing usually take from such comments and by extension often taken as evidence of hate directed towards them.

However, sometimes it is simply an astute observation of attitudes, counter factual policies and opinions, variance of counter-factual statements from observation, or counter productive actions.

It appears that these observations, now have some confirmation from a meta-analysis, of studies that point to a cluster of psychological quirks which appear to have  significant association with conservative political opinion. In descending order of significance:
  • Death anxiety
  • system instability
  • dogmatism/intolerance of ambiguity
  • closed-mindedness
  • low tolerance of uncertainty
  • high needs for order, structure, and closure
  • low integrative complexity
  • fear of threat and loss
  • and low self-esteem
Some conservative reaction is likely to be along the lines of "Oh, that psychology thing is all politically driven by liberals", perhaps quite a paranoid response to an apolitical process, but already not uncommon, as similar claims have been made in regard to homosexuality being declassified as a mental illness in the DSM IV. Not to mention conspiracy theories concerning the scientific establishment and climate change and evolution.

There is a fair amount of anacdotal evidence supporting it idea too, recently a pro-gun lobby rep in colorado said it was a good thing James Homes had a 100 round barrel, that jammed after 76 rounds, because who know what amount of damage he could have done, with 6 or 7 - 15 round clips.  Clearly the statement was not well well thought out, because each clip is an opportunity to tackle him while he reloads, and maybe then he would not have shot 70 people.

Corporate execs that want low taxes and low wages, or cake and eating it too. Either they can pay a living wage and benefit from increased consumer demand, or pay starvation wages, then they must pay higher taxes so the government so the can pay the execs under paid staff enough to scrape by on.


Then there is the lunacies of climate denial, racism(or race realists as they like to call themselves), homophobia - which is most strongly promoted by gay/gender variant people in denial and self loathing. Yes that means you Ted Haggard(up to 2006), Bryan Fischer, Marcus Bachman.

So now my New Zealand readers will now understand the Conservative of New Zealand especially Colin Craig, and the National Party who while in government have determined the off-shore oil drilling and fracking are safe and that Roof top solar is hazardous (while no one has been hurt by solar). Actually we are in the middle of a solar energy spill today in Wellington, it is a nice sunny day.

My US readers, many now understand Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachman just a little better. And if any of them are in North Carolina, know what they're up against before they can drop the portmanteau of "North Goobertania". Wish I could join you all at Moral Monday.

See Also
   Psychology Today - meta analysis
   Psychology Today - Conservatism a mental illness?(satirical)

Friday, 14 February 2014

"This Should Not Come as a Surprise": Bill McKibben on Global Extreme We...

By now, it should be obvious to a blind monk, the climate is changing, but vested and special interests do not want to what is as plain as the greed in there behaviour of blocking delaying even lying about competing technology that will steer us away from disaster. Bill McKibben talks to "Democracy Now!" about record breaking floods, snowstorms and droughts, the sweltering Sochi winter Olympics.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Burning Rocks?

I saw a video, actually I saw a few of them. They presented an interesting idea. What if much of the world's energy could be produced cleanly, in relative safety, in a process that created inert exhaust products and the fuel was plentiful, and even a waste product of existing industry?

It appears such a process exists in the Thorium reactor cycle. Unlike conventional "fast-breeder" reactors that have to be kept from going super critical, the thorium reactor has to be kept from shutting down.

Fast-breeder type reactors aren't fail-safe, that is if things go wrong, it collapses into a safe state. Instead equilibrium is maintained by multiple levels of inventions designed to return a malfunctioning reactor to its normal state. The problem is these interventions can fail.  Fukushima and Chernobyl both show how natural catastrophe and  human failings can lead to catastrophic failure.

In the Fukushima scenario, the reaction would simply have shut down and the reactants dumped into holding tanks.

Pundits in the existing Nuclear industry especially those in the US seem reticent to take on this technology, while China and India are getting on with serious research.

It is not as if Americans haven't explored Thorium before, an experimental reactor was run by the DOE at Oak Ridge for 22,000 hours (5 years). There was only one problem, you can't get weapon's grade fissile material out of it. So, for strategic reasons Fast-Breeder reactors became flavour of the month.

There are some engineering issues, one of which is creating values that work well at 800C. One option is the thermal choke, a section of pipe that can be cooled until the salt freezes stopping the flow.

Thorium's half life is even longer than Uranium's. which means even less radiation comes out of Thorium than Uranium.

China maybe on the cusp of commercializing energy production from Thorium. Their rare-earths extractors have produced so much of it, they had to do something with it. Even though it is stored in large piles there is no melt down. This is perhaps a demonstration of how safe it is.

US Rare Earth mining appears hamstrung by regulations denying access to deposits with thorium content, even though thorium drops right out in the refining process. Perhaps because it might be a bad thing to have Thorium dumped like PET coke. It is heavy so it does not blow around. But even better, it can be used to make other nuclear waste safer. Because Thorium is an alpha emitter it can donate protons to other isomers and force their controlled decay into stable daughter isomers. Put another way it can help turn Uranium into Lead. Other possibilities include the production of isotopes for nuclear medicine.

The US rare-earth mining industry would very much like to lifting of this restriction related to thorium. In terms of ending reliance on slave worked mines run by war lords in Africa it seems like a better option. But depending on where in the US they choose to mine their maybe  issues with environmental heritage assets.

Is it just me, or does anyone else have problems imagining the Uranium mining, refining industries offering a hand shake and "may the best industry win" to anyone contemplating development of a Thorium cycle. Or even an enthusiastic "let's retool for Thorium" from the nuclear industry.

Mining companies have there value locked up in the value of the mining resources they have available. If Thorium were adopted as a new fuel, the value of Uranium ore would collapse, and with the value of the mining company.

Building reactors is expensive, and you have to run them for their whole life to see a return. So developing a new technology, abandoning existing plant is not really an option. But most of all they would not want to piss-off there suppliers.

If "all of the above" were to start making sense, this would be a place to start, but ultimately, dumping coal, oil and gas in next 15-20 years is the best hope there is for having a habitable planet in the 22nd century.

See also
   The Thorium Problem
   Molten Salt Reactors
   "Th" the thorium documentary.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Oh Pat, is Ken Ham so much worse than you?

This week Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated "Is creationism a viable model in an age of science?"

The consensus seems to be that Bill Nye won that debate, though one critic, surprise many with what seemed to some an uncharacteristic moment of clarity.

Pat Robertson publicly implored Ken Ham to stop making Christianity a laughing stock by publicly pushing creationism.

He said in the same week that he also said that hypnosis leads to demonic possession...


It seems like every week Pat Robertson says something remarkably "out-there". Even without creationism Pat is doing more damage to Christianity than an anti-theist like myself could hope to achieve.

So thanks Pat, your a real gem.

P.S. How are those slave worked diamond mines going?

See also,
   Pat Robertson: "Let's not make a joke of ourselves."
   $8m investment in Liberian Slave mining.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Battle of the Brains: the verdict.

Eight hours after the debate between Bill Nye the science guy and Ken Ham the Young Earth Creationist "bloke", Christian magazine Christian Today is running a poll, and with over 12000 respondents, it appears Bill Nye is in the lead at better than 11 to 1.

Ken, who won the toss and opted to go first, started off with talk about Secularists hijacking the word Science, and accusing them of using bait and switch as he launched with notion "observational science" versus "historical science". Now any Phd or half alert fan of science can tell that there no such distinction. Science is accumulation of evidence, reasoned analysis, and independent verification of methods process and findings.

Nothing Ham offered had the predictive power that comes es with science, for example prior to the discovery of Tiktalik, the scientific method had already predicted that such an amphibous reptile like animal should have existed. While their was no guarantee any would have been preserved by fossilisation many individuals were found in Northern Canada.

It seems even Christians agree, Ken Han did not equip himself for a Battle of Brains.

This whole event is fund-raising exercise for Ham's organization. The creation Museum needs to raise a substantial amount of cash or it will have forfeit bonds to the tune of $29 million unless they can sell them for a total of $55 million, or $26.5 in industrial development bonds they have sold already, will become redeemable.

Ham is perhaps hoping this debate will spark interest among potential investors in buying the remaing bonds, or at least encouraging patients among existing investors. As well as making a tidy profit by charging US $25 for the DVD and HD dowload.

See also
    Jerry Coyne on why this debate is a bid for a hale Mary
    Christian Today Poll

Monday, 3 February 2014

Does John Campbell's coverage of Noble Bob Douglas's "some success" mean an about face?

Still green Mr Campbell?
Tonight a story presented by John Campbell has caught the ire of some hardworking folks fighting to keep our local environment a fit place for New Zealander's to prosper, calling into question the direction John Campbell may be taking his coverage of the issues.

This story is introduced as a quick update, and at about 3 minutes 4 seconds, it is likely a story that was squeezed in last minute, these things happen in news cycles. Early in this story on tonight's programme John Campbell's item points to the impressive piece of technology that is the exploration ship (Ig)Nobel Bob Douglas , so impressive it costs $1m/day to run. Impressive, yes, it is. Virtuous, hardly, but that was not mentioned in the clip.

The piece mainly focuses on opinions in Raglan while the introduction does mention that Raglan gets the bulk of the risks, and few of the benefits. Lines like "And not always sitting the newly lawful distance away." allude to the dodgy Mining and Resources Act clause introduced last year. "In short Raglan gets the environmental risk, although it would have to be a catastrophic spill to reach here, without the direct economic benefit Taranaki would enjoy."

One person interviewed, talked about how as consumers people like himself are part of the "problem". He seemed ambivalent about the value of Anadarko's exploration in New Zealand. Odd logic really, even an addict committed to recovery can understand and say rehab is good and understand that their supplier should be kept at some distance. And their are viable alternatives, it is just a matter of developing the scale. Ethanol+vegetable oil -> esters (aka bio diesel), runs nicely in a diesel motor with a little tuning. To be fair, it is easy to find people who haven't quite thought things through, or are not fully acquainted with the available options. Jo Averge with a mic shoved in his face rarely the thoughtful creature they are in more pensive moments.

Another person, was enthusiastically in favour  of exploration. Which is still a position held by more than one third of the public, though that number is falling. Clearly the position of the unrepentant addict, like the boozer that says "It's only few. I'm just being social. I'm not hurting anyone."

And the last person, essentially noted that the oil company staff wont have anything to do with Raglan and that "it would do Raglan no good at all." This makes a very good point that Raglan and much of the country will see little benefit from exploration. Our royalties are among the cheapest in the OECD, the government's role in this deal is like a dip-sh*t dad that opens to two men who "We're burglars, we've come to do your house." To this, the dad says "Sure fellas, will it take long? The wife will be home in thirty minutes."

One person noted how the jobs were highly specialized and that he did not know anyone in the industry.  Which does bring forth the issue, that while the industry will create jobs, they will not be filled from our local work force, but from imported expertise.

The (ig)Noble Bob douglas is reported to have had "some success". Which suggests oil or gas were found. While a full report is expected on Wednesday, the signal can for now represent at least three possibilities.

Worst case: They found oil or gas at commercially viable pressure,  which means the carbon addicts will be back to get their fix, putting our local environment at risk and putting the global climate deeper into chaos, destabilization and extreme weather.

Best case: They found oil or or gas at very low pressure making extraction non viable. In which case, Anadarko so nice to see you leave.

In the middle - but still very bad, the pressure is low, but high enough that pumping water into to the reserve will mean that they still make a profit from extraction even though  it will cost them. Extraction may even involve fracking.

This analysis was not offered during the coverage of the story. Perhaps as a breaking story there wasn't enough time to prepare an analysis or time in the show to present it.

I note that John Campbell is a journalist, an item like this is news. And so he reported it. While he seemed a little too excited in reporting the story, the question remains is that because he's reporting a big news item on a big issue(a journo's wet dream) or because he now thinks the find is a good thing, is faking it under instruction, or is just rushing to get through it in 3 minutes. He also pointed to some risks of the exploration. To some extent it could be considered he said/she said fake balance coverage, if you miss his somewhat non specific pointing to the risks that Raglan faces. Risks that John Campbell's audience should by now be quite familiar with.

If there is an about turn in Campbell Live's coverage of the issue, I don't see it. It would be an important shift, that I would hope not to see. But if someone can show me evidence of such a shift I'd like to see it. Such things are not unheard of and now that they've found what they are looking for, it is possible that they just dropped a big advertising contract on MediaWork's sales desk. But I need more evidence in order to accept that a U-turn has taken place.

Can we  see Simon Bridges loosing his cool on the show again - now that is what I call full disclosure.

See also
    Campbell Live reports Anadarko's  "some success" drilling off Taranaki.

ADDENDUM 4-FEB-2014
It appears that while a possible imbargo may have been in place last last as Campbell Live reported "some success" in a story titled "Has Anadarko found oil of the coast of Taranki?" Any gleeful body language might be attributable to knowing that Anadarko came up empty-handed. Apparently "some success" means "We drilled and it didn't blow up in our faces." And that is oil industry success I can live with.

But they are still exploring, and heading to a site off the Otago coast. I''m hoping for similar results. After that there is the Pegasus Basin site off the Kaikoura coast where MV Duke is engaged in seismic testing, deafening whales dolphin etc. But surely who would question a large multinational trying to make a buck  while #$%@ing the wildlife that drives existing local industry. Anyone with a thought in their head I would say, but I'm crazy like that.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Why the right wing is shocked by "class warfare".

It is not really class warfare that is shocking the delicate sensibility of wealthy avaricious elite, it is the fact that 30 years after Reagan all opposition has not yet be crushed and even though unions are arguably in the worst state that they have been in within the last fifty years, victory is not yet complete, and worse still as they would say, opposition is grown.

If we argue for higher taxes, for public works and employment that can reinvigorate a sagging economy such as America's WPA or for universal health care, right will shreik with horror "that's Socialism". Many of the millennial generation respond the such hysteria with, "if so, I'm cool with that."

The right wing perception of socialism comes from the cold war era Soviet Union, something to which Millennials have not been exposed, nor the reds-under-bed and Mcarthy-esque paranoiac propaganda. Or at least that propaganda which survives sales the oceans of public discourse like the Marie-Celeste. Flouridated water horror story are being promoted by a small vocal group and having disturbing influence that at least goes beyond the science, and even contradicts it.But that is another story for another time.

Meanwhile income inequality continues to crush to potential our children, the 1% in America captures 95% of income gains over the 5 years, while banksters make more money than they ever have and fix LIBOR rates for day old sushi rolls.

The fact is class warfare has been around for millennia. Sometimes the 1% wins, until the 99% are forced to rebel in self defence, but mostly everybody looses. Except when unions bring balance to the conflict, then labour wins some, capital wins some, ultimately everybody wins. Higher paid workers spend more increasing demand for for manufactured goods and services, increasing hiring, the tax base, profits, public services, leisure.

But there is another side, this week the 1% were likened to the Jews of Nazi Germany by one of their own. Attempting to point out how they are now being persecuted like in the 1930's. Here's the thing, 1930's Germany was a very different environment, anti-Semitism was official Catholic doctrine until Vatican II. No one today is talking about loading rail way cattle cars with 1%ers to work camps, these days the 1% run the work-camps  now called for-profit-prisons. Jews had little influence in government, otherwise much of what happened 80 years ago would not have happened. Today the 1%'s money runs government, thanks to Citizen's United and ALEC write the legislation for vaginal probes, ending sick leave(enjoy the bird flu in your clam chowder), taxing private solar installations, "right to work" laws gutting wages.

All of this is why Americans should support movetoamend.org and wolf-pac.com which both seek to put an end to Citizen's United and replace the "money is speech" nonsense with "money is property" and perhaps recriminalize graft at the federal level.

See also
   Rich/Jewish comparison
   day old sushi rolls for rate fixes

Spaghetti Defend New Zealand

This week New Zealand's Prime-minister John Key announced his desire to see a referendum to get input on updating the New Zealand ensign after he described a recent referendum on partial privatization as a "political stunt". At a time when the economy is flat, unemployment is high with official figures hiding about 100,000, and 1 in 4 kids living in poverty, the question arises is this really a good use of the public's attention?

None the less the anthem, is definitely a tired vestige of a by-gone era and it needs updating too.

Pasta of nations in thy sauce,
With the bowls of noodles we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
Spaghetti defend our free land.

Guard Pacific's triple cheese sauce,
From the shafts of Tag Oil and Anadarko,
Make her praises heard afar,
Spaghetti defend New Zealand.


video

Saturday, 1 February 2014

A retarded argument for no minimum wage.

There are many arguments for abandoning minimum wage laws, not that any I've seen have merit, still some have less merit than others while they are offered with varying degrees of eloquence by variously articulate prognosticators.

But few have been so spectaculary poorly conveyed, revealing just how hideously exploitative and supericilous such argument often are as that price moment when CEO Peter Schiff was asked by Samantha Bee "Give me a picture of a person who's work is worth  $2/hour?"

“You know someone that might be? Maybe someone who is – what’s the politically correct word, you know, for mentally retarded,” Schiff said. “I believe in the principles this country was founded on.”
“I’m not going to say that we’re all created equal,” he said. “You’re worth what you’re worth.”
Given the number of minimum wage jobs in an economy, and the high productivity  in advanced economies a living wage of US$10.10 or even US$15/hour, is unlikely to be a huge burden on a well run business, if it is, it shouldn't be a business.

In fact, it is not controversial in economics to say that raising minimum wages up to the poverty line creates more jobs, by increasing demand, because poor people and the almost poor people spend almost all of their income. Something, Mr Schiff ignored in his analysis.

Consider also that prices are not dependant on the intelligence of the buyer. And perhaps the argument appeals those hoping to hire those believed to be too slow to know when they are getting the short end of the stick or have the resources to get redress if they do figure it out.




Additionally, the inarticulate manner in which he conveyed his position perhaps indicates that he is by his own argument doing work that is worth $2/hour.

Simply put, the end-minimum-wage narrative is retarded in that it is regression, pushing economic regression. If they get it, look out for the maximum wage movement. Think that's ridiculous? It gets worse in the 19th century such laws did exist, on the hypothesis that if working-classes were paid too much they would demand changes that would challenge the ruling elite.  To some minds, the 1960s demonstrated that hypothesis, and neoconservativism is this architecture of their solution, and then we got Reagan and it started to turn to cr8p from there.

See also
    Raw Story