Thursday, December 16, 2010

Enough of student hypocrisy already.....

I've had enough of hearing ignorant and self-serving arguments from students and the NUS regarding the future of higher education funding.

After attending the various actions to support Julian Assange over the last week I was bitterly disappointed to notice the almost complete absence of students. At the most important event - the hearing on Tuesday, there were barely 100 people. We virtually had a journalist bodyguard each and I ended up giving four (four!) interviews as a result. The spirit of '68? Don't make me laugh! Students are rioting, being violent, destroying property and causing massive disruption in the name of completely misunderstanding the nature of the Browne Review proposals. We hear disingenuous claims that this is about standing up for poorer students who won't now go to university (the Browne review is actually much fairer for students from poorer backgrounds) or that the violence is justified because of the supposed 'violence from the state in ruining future students life chances'. Their self-serving articulation of arguments based on ignorance is frustratingly transparent.

There are many very serious issues that the students would be turning their attention towards if this really was about resisting vicious government policies or authoritarianism more generally. Issues for which I would be much more sympathetic regarding violent or destructive civil disobedience - to name just a few examples: i) the future of the internet, investigative journalism and anti-authoritarian truth-telling at stake with the reaction to Assange/Wikileaks, ii) the fact that a third of scots are now in fuel poverty, iii) the fact that the country will have a catastrophic energy deficit in 2015 iv) the fact that the majority of working age adults in the UK are illiterate and/or innumerate, v) the continuing destruction of British sovereignty and its economy by our successive quisling governments integrating us even further with the EU or even vi) that Britain has been party to the deaths and torture of tens of thousands of people in Iraq.

But no.

Instead we have the most breathtaking hypocrisy. (Make sure you read this before viewing the video below).

So I decided to create an Angry German Kid parody of Aaron Porter, president of the NUS to vent my spleen. As is de rigeur for these types of videos - bad language throughout:

Thanks to the folks who produced the inspirational previous tranche of downfall and angry german kid videos, especially the Derek Draper version from whom I borrowed a joke that is simply too good to pass up on for the purposes of this video.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The first world infowar has started

"The word was spread that bold Assange and his 300 Anonymous, so far from their websites, laid down their rigs and lives; not just for Wikileaks, but for all of the Internet and the promise it holds."

"Now here on this ragged patch of internet called 4chan, let the DDOS hordes face obliteration! Just there the corrupt government barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers - knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the LOICs and botnets of 300 Anonymous. Yet they stare now across the gateways at 10,000 commanding 30,000"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks / Cablegate - the end of Turkish EU ambitions as we know it.

As longer term readers may remember I have written a number of pieces on intelligence matters, particularly those that involve the work of our so called "intelligence" agencies regarding nuclear proliferation and immigration issues. See also this piece I wrote, which pulls a number of these diverse strands together.

One of the primary figures in these narratives was FBI whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, who clearly identified numerous corrupt interests at the heart of the U.S. government who were tied deeply into Turkey's thoroughly corrupt "deep state" (a concept so well entrenched in popular Turk consciousness that it has a specific term in Turkish - derin devlet).

Having spent a lot of time working through Sibel Edmonds various pieces of testimony, and following up as many of the links as I could, I was naturally horrified to hear of David Cameron's insistence that he would "fight" for Turkey to join the EU, saying that without Turkey at its heart, the EU was "not stronger but weaker... not more secure but less... not richer but poorer" and "I'm here to make the case for Turkey's membership of the EU. And to fight for it." (it would be lovely if you expressed "fighting" for Britain in the same strong terms Dave).

I often used to joke with an Italian friend that both our countries were competing to see who could produce the most corrupt and mendacious political officials. We both agreed however that British and Italian corruption would pale into insignificance when compared to Turkey's. Accession to the EU, giving complete open borders to what is effectively Europe's drug funded, weapons (including nuclear) proliferating gangster state would be an immense disaster for all Europeans, for it would give these same corrupt interests unfettered access to Europe.

This background is important to lay out the significance of the contents of the diplomatic cable, marked with 'secret' classification from the U.S. Ankara embassy in 2004 (the target recipient isn't clear): Cable #04ANKARA7211

Turkey's corruption alone is reason enough to strenuously oppose EU entry - this diplomatic cable however sets out in stark terms the powerful Islamist influence at work within the Turkish government - a government we are repeatedly told is secular. EU nations such as Austria and Greece (among others) have extremely bitter - and in the latter's case, historically very recent, ancestral memories and histories tied up in the aggression of the Ottoman empire, in a way that I don't think most Britons can fathom. Once this cable does the rounds there I can't see any MEPs from either nation not attempting to block Turkish progress into the EU.

The U.S. assessment of the Islamist influence begins from paragraph 10:

We have also run into the rarely openly-spoken, but widespread belief among adherents of the Turk-Islam synthesis that Turkey's role is to spread Islam in Europe, "to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683" as one participant in a recent meeting at AKP's main think tank put it. This thinking parallels the logic behind the approach of FonMin Gul ally and chief foreign policy advisor in the Prime Ministry Ahmet Davutoglu, whose muddy opinion piece in the Dec. 13 International Herald Tribune is in essence a call for one-way multi-cultural tolerance, i.e., on the part of the EU.

I'm sure there will be Spanish and Austrian heads exploding, even amongst so called political "moderates", at the references to Andalusia and Vienna, respectively. British people besieged by the de facto serial monoculturism of "multicultism" in the UK will be deeply familar with the utter hypocrisy expressed in the last sentence, especially those who have objected to it and erroneously been written off as racists, or supporters of the BNP.

In fairness, the cable does detail some distinctly secularist efforts that are more pro-Western, including some that aim explicitly to bring forth the more humanist - Sufi-influenced - side of Islam (see for example Paragraph 24). However the bulk details the impact of the Islamist element in stark terms. There are for example, allegations that the West is fomenting a clash of civilisations and can effectively be "saved" by the spread of Turkish values, along with "concern that harmonization and membership will water down Islam and associated traditions in Turkey". Paragraph 13 goes on to point out the Turkish government's civil service hiring policy: 'to hire on the basis of "one of us", i.e., from the Sunni brotherhood and lodge milieu'. The cable frankly expresses the opinion that previous hires were incompetent and a change to hiring 'on the basis of competence' (!) would still mean that new recruits would be frustrated because of their predecessors incompetence.

The Turkish leader, Erdogan, who Cameron so praises, is described as having "hunger for absolute power and for the material benefits of power" . He has "a sharp authoritarian style and deep distrust of others" and he surrounds himself "with an iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors". As a result, he has a "susceptibility to Islamist theories". And this is supposed to be the Secular leader who Call me Dave assures us will lead Turkey - and the EU - to a better age!

On this particular topic, the remainder of paragraph 17 is worth quoting in full:

With regard to Islamist influences on Erdogan, DefMin Gonul, who is a conservative but worldly Muslim, recently described Gul associate Davutoglu to us as "exceptionally dangerous." Erdogan's other foreign policy advisors (Cuneyd Zapsu, Egemen Bagis, Omer Celik, along with Mucahit Arslan and chef de cabinet Hikmet Bulduk) are despised as inadequate, out of touch and corrupt by all our AKP contacts from ministers to MPs and party intellectuals.

Paragraph 19 also gives us specific numbers regarding the number of Islamists within the government itself:

Judging by comments to us of insiders in the influential Islamist lodge of Fethullah Gulen such as publicist Abdurrahman Celik, the lodge, which has made some inroads into AKP (Minister of Justice Cicek, Minister of Culture and Tourism Mumcu; perhaps 60-80 of 368 MPs; some appointments to the bureaucracy), has resumed the ambivalent attitude it initially had toward Erdogan and AKP.

Further down, in paragraph 23, the cable identifies a prominent Islamist appointment: "Omer Dincer, an Islamist academic whom Erdogan appointed Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry, THE key position in the government/state bureaucracy."

Can you imagine the popular media reaction to the idea that the BNP had a quarter of the seats in parliament and several ministerial appointments? The above is certainly no different.

The additional information the cable provides us on Turkish corruption is also enlightening:

in increasing numbers AKPers from ministers on down, and people close to the party, are telling us of conflicts of interest or serious corruption in the party at the national, provincial and local level and among close family members of ministers. We have heard from two contacts that Erdogan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdogan
children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame.

Specific Ministers identified as corrupt were: "Minister of Interior Aksu, Minister of Foreign Trade Tuzmen, and AKP Istanbul provincial chairman Muezzinoglu". The cable even goes on to point out that Turkish police are investigating "Muezzinoglu's extortion racket and other activities has already produced evidence incriminating Erdogan." - a minister openly identifed as running an extortion racket!

The final assessments in the cable are absolutely damning:

the broad, rubber-meets-the-road reality is that Islam in Turkey is caught in a vise of (1) 100 years of "secular" pressure to hide itself from public view, (2) pressure and competition from brotherhoods and lodges to follow their narrow, occult "true way", and (3) the faction- and positivism- ridden aridity of the Religious Affairs
Directorate (Diyanet). As a result, Islam as it is lived in Turkey is stultified, riddled with hypocrisy, ignorant and intolerant of other religions' presence in Turkey, and unable to eject those who would politicize it in a radical, anti-Western way. Imams are for the most part poorly educated and all too ready to insinuate anti-Western, anti-Christian or anti-Jewish sentiments into their sermons. Exceptionally few Muslims in Turkey have the courage to challenge conventional Sunni thinking about jihad or, e.g., verses in the Repentance shura of the Koran which have for so long been used to justify violence against "infidels".

Yep - that sounds just like the fundamentally secular state we've been sold all these years. It is also very important to take note of the U.S. take on the Turkish relationship with history:

A second question is the relation of Turkey and its citizens to history -- the history of this land and citizens' individual history. Subject to rigid taboos, denial, fears, and mandatory gross distortions, the study of history and practice of historiography in the Republic of Turkey remind one of an old Soviet academic joke: the faculty party chief assembles his party cadres and, warning against various
ideological threats, proclaims, "The future is certain. It's only that damned past that keeps changing."

Having been on the receiving end of multiple hacks and defacements on my own websites by Turkish hackers for daring to mention the Armenian Genocide, the above paragraph certainly rings true for me.

Simply either the pervasive - and deep - corruption, or the extensive influence of Islamists within government would be enough to give anyone in the EU pause regarding the wisdom of welcoming Turkey as possibly the 28th member state. But both?

It is reasonable to assume that given the general convergence of views on other matters, the UK FCO assessment of Turkey would not have differed greatly from that of the U.S. Although, as Peter Oborne has repeatedly warned us in his excellent excoriations of the political class - the British FCO and the government parted ways many years before, and in fact the British government under Blair and Campbell has made best efforts to make it irrelevant, despite its long history of expert local knowledge. This is all the more significant in the light of Cameron and LibConfused giving the European External Action Service a free pass to replace the FCO and gives credence to Godfrey Bloom's accusation of "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer" - a vision that, if Davy Boy is anything to go by, surely involved having the Turkish nightmare foisted upon us without a single one of us having a say.

The release of this cable could well change all of that however. Spread it far. Spread it wide.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Details of wikileaks 'cablegate' emerging

Several publications have just this half hour coordinated publication of initial details regarding the wikileaks material.

Here is the Guardian and the NY Times to get started. Oh my life - it really does look like this contains some very serious material indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Has Van Rompuy just exposed himself as a rank amateur?

Good old Van Rompuy, our glorious unelected, unaccountable President. A complete and utter clutz? Surely not!

What is the Number 1 rule, with regard to the financial markets, when you are in the midst of a catastrophe Mr. Rumpy?

Hint: It ISN'T to talk UP the damn crisis, you stupid &*%&^%!!!

Van Rompuy: Euro crisis could bring down the EU.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What to remember on the 14th of November

Remembrance Sunday.

Every year on both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday my thoughts turn to my grandparents and great grandparents and the generations they represented.

I am as sad for them as I am for what we have become in their absence. In the last few years of his life I started to have the odd conversation with my surviving grandfather about this. He seemed to be of a similar opinion - that most of what had been fought for back then had not just been lost, but actively given away by both a venal political class and an apathetic population. The baby-boomers had everything relative to the generations before them and they happily sold off the farm.

I get a sick feeling that goes to the root of my stomach trying to imagine myself in the shoes of these solid people, of whom many of our generations are paltry shadows in comparison. Whether it was war in the trenches, the possibility of everything being destroyed in an instant by a German bomb or never knowing if you were going to see so many loved ones and friends again; in the face of this their courage must have been inestimable; especially as the odds would have seemed so overwhelming at the time.

In the 1930s, a single man would sign up to fight and his entire family - and street! - would sign up to go with him. Could any of us imagine that happening now?

It is in this spirit that I feel so aggravated by others seemingly giving up so easily. There has been a mass exodus from the libertarian-leaning blogosphere recently. Something some commentators have taken unjustified delight in, claiming 'I told you so! They were just Tories in denial' or some other similar nonsense.

I think blogging fatigue is a big part of it, and I'm certainly sympathetic, even though I'm an irregular blogger myself. I also think the departure of ZaNuLabour is a small factor, however it is a long way off of the whole story. There is a much much deeper weariness seeping in and I think the Devil has identified it in his (hopefully temporary) signing off post: it is the fact that the new LibConfused overlords represent almost zero change from what went before. The state is increasing in size, in power, the climate hysteria continues in spite of the counter evidence and the EU is still receiving massive handovers of power (not to mention handouts). Many people, including the Devil, are asking - what is the point?

Well here's the damn point: Until our sacrifices and suffering match or exceed those of our grand parents and great-grand parents' generations, I don't want to hear any such defeatist talk. And to make the point that talk is cheap, it is very easy to utter platitudes about what "they" were making sacrifices for back in that pit of despair that must have been their lives.It is quite another to grit our teeth and dig in for the long haul. They did it and we owe nothing less than to do the same.

No one said it would be easy, that the going would not be long and arduous. What will you tell your children or grandchildren, or those children of others (if, like me, you plan not to have any yourself). What will you tell them, especially when you relate the tales of your own grandparents' heroic struggles?

Is a comfortable life worth a fucking damn when it is purchased so cheaply - at the expense of other people's liberty, even their lives?

For me it isn't. And it is crucial for the coming generations - sold already into penury and quite possibly a third world status by the most recent generations - that they know that while there were many who collaborated, there were some who fought back.

Hope may be a distant thing right now. Our opponents are many, and mighty. I fully understand the despair, even the surrealism it seems to engender as our political establishment and its enabling classes (the media, the apathetic) appear to exist in a parallel universe to anything that could be remotely regarded as "reality" (explaining the multi-trillion debt to someone who believes in "free" everything will give you this mind-bending trip of an experience).

It is why we must nurture the tiny, flickering flame of hope in our hearts, breathe on it regularly with our irreplaceable life energy, just like those who gave of their irreplacable lives with honour before us. On this day, we should not only remember the fallen but not forget the future - a future which we have a direct hand in forging.

As regular readers will know, I'm quite a fan of science-fiction and am fond of using poignant scenes from it to make my point. Below is a video that I think is entirely fitting for Remembrance Sunday. It utilises a fictional alien character in a fictional future scenario where humans fought a war against impossible odds. The ode he gives to the humans is fully deserved of our immediate ancestors. Is it, or will it ever be deserved of us? That's for you and me to decide, starting today:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alastair Campbell and the Shame of Sheffield

I found out at the last minute this Thursday just passed that Alastair Campbell had a speaking engagement at Sheffield University. Interestingly the student group, 'The Exchange', who normally inform everyone on their mailing list of upcoming political speakers kept quiet on this one.

I managed to get hold of a ticket in the nick of time and attend.

I've never been so ashamed of Sheffield in my life.

There is simply no way the BNP, for example, would ever be able to have a speaker attend Sheffield University. Even if there were no 'no platform' policy, UAF and every other student group would be mobilised to stop it, and if they failed, protest outside in their hundreds and likely attempt to intimidate everyone going in.

How then is it possible that this serial distorter and murderer of the truth, who was amongst other things the chief architect for the fabric of lies that led the U.K. into that obscenity known as the Iraq War, was to be welcomed with open arms, his every quip received with warm chortles? This man has the blood of thousands on his hands through murder, injury and torture.

The host of the event, which was set up in an entertainment chat-show format, asked him expectedly softball questions. This was an irritant, but expected. It was the audience however who absolutely stunned me with their almost sychophantic acceptance of all of his talking points (such as the idea that anyone bringing up the deficit had some kind of pathological 'deficit fetish') and - most importantly - when they had their chance to question him themselves they went for the most mind blowingly anodyne and saccharin questions one could imagine.

Examples included 'what do you do in your shed?' and 'do you get free tickets for Wimbledon?' I spent most of the event shaking my head in absolute abject despair at the level of political dialogue. I continually put my hand up but did not get picked by the presenter. I'm not surprised, my body language must have looked very angry and aggressive and I spent the whole time staring at him, not clapping or laughing along with the ship of fools that was the Sheffield audience.

One of my friends wrote the idiocy off as just students being generally uninformed after I related this to her. I was sorry to tell her that the vast majority of the audience, which packed out the entire Octagon centre (1250 capacity auditorium) at the University, were not students and the average age was between 40-50. So these people have been fully cognizant of our wonderful 13 year journey with the Labour debt - and people - bombers.

Towards the end, the presenter allowed a 'quick fire round', where people could shout out brief questions that Campbell would then try to answer. It was at this point that he received his only difficult question of the night - one young chap shouted out "how right was Andrew Gilligan?"

When Campbell finally got around to answering this, his response was simply "Andrew Gilligan? Completely wrong on everything". That was it. I blew a gasket and started heckling. I'd purposefully sat in a prominent location, in a raised seating area at the back that gave me direct eye contact between the row separating the seating areas in front of me. "Andrew Gilligan was VINDICATED" I boomed down the aisle. The entire emasculated audience appeared absolutely shocked at my audacity.

Campbell repeated his line again at which point it degenerated into a mouth off between him and me. He said something outrageously idiotic which I can't remember, however it set me off into a long belly laugh which irritated him, and he said something like 'whatever facts the gentleman is privy to do not worry me'.

At which point I completely lost it and fully sounded off in a rant at him, telling him that I know he wouldn't be worried by facts, by his fake affectation to be down with the common man, (one of the questioners had previously asked him what it was he brought to the table for Tony Blair - his response was to claim that when he went to football matches he didn't sit in the VIP area, but deigned to mix with the 'common man' and therefore he understood the 'common man'),because he was a member of the political class, in the Westminster bubble.

He got shirty for a bit then remembered his snake-oil training and chose very carefully neutral words simply restating his position. I was shaking with rage and only began to calm down at the end when a nice chap and his girlfriend approached me and thanked me for standing up to him and said I was "very brave".

On the whole the evening really reminded me of why I'm glad to be leaving Sheffield. It is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, having failed completely to start evolving into a more cosmopolitan and forward thinking place unlike most of the other core cities, and is packed - still - with people in complete denial regarding the economy, who expect state handouts for everything, who think there is an endless source of money for everything and everyone. I frankly have no sympathy at all. Sheffield is going to deserve whatever bad things come its way - the audience in the room were certainly representative of the City's more influential and better informed people.

For shame Sheffield, for shame.

God help this city.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

INDECT: The good news and the bad news

Hat tip to IanPJ for this latest development:

EU Parliamentarians have sent a letter to the Commission requesting that ALL documents relating to the EU funded INDECT scheme be released.

What is INDECT? It is a research project related to develop the basis for electronic profiling via gathering data from freely available online media (including social networking sites), and also enable it to be merged with privately held data (e.g. police records).

The get out clause provided is that such profiling would only take place after a specific crime had been detected (presumably online). Of course nothing in the software itself would prevent it being used in other situations and we're all well aware of the EU's function creep fetish. In any case, as you will see however from reading the description on the project's front page, what might be considered a crime is sufficiently vague and wide reaching that anyone who expresses a strong opinion, or shares any files should consider themselves at risk (I can hardly wait to see how this interacts with uniquely British efforts like PHORM and the Digital Economy Act).

You can browse for youself the currently available list of deliverables. There is a lot of information here. In particular, I would recommend anyone with a computing background look at Deliverable 4.1 - this gives extensive details on the planned methodology and also will suggest to anyone with some knowledge in this area numerous lines of attack for countering such invasive surveillance technology. In this context deliverables 4.2 and 4.3 would also be worth consulting.

Also of interest may be a similar project that appears to be focusing more on the conceptual issues (also hat tip to IanPJ for noticing this): Detecter

The bad news:

The bad news is that this event highlights just how pathetic the EU parliament is. This is basically a begging letter to the EU Commission; the unelected executive who determine the EU's policies (and who are also able to keep all of their discussions secret if they choose to). It is very likely the Commission will simply say no. Or if it doesn't, there will be a very quiet announcement that will be missed by our wonderful mass media. Which brings me to my final point:

Tips to the blogosphere:
As per usual the mainstream ("quality") media has consistently let us down on these type of EU funded research projects. It is difficult to understand because all of the EU funded projects must release deliverables to the public. Not only that but many of the researchers are keen to generate publicity and thus are open to contact. Despite these incredibly rich picking grounds, especially knowing how the News Factory Churnalists are often desperate for quick copy, it is incredible to see so little comment on these projects.

I worked on a couple of these projects previously. There is a lot of interesting work going on, some very good and positive, some very detrimental. There is very little reporting on either. However it is a massive area for research and exposure by the blogosphere community. The EU operates numerous - what it calls - 'framework programmes', each one running for a few years, issuing calls for proposals for research funding in areas dictated by the EU as important. Each programme is numbered sequentially FP6 projects have just ended and FP7 projects are now starting. You can search for all of them on CORDIS. Googling any search terms you like and also adding 'FP6' or 'FP7' can also be effective. Have at it!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Ode to Anna Raccoon

This week we lost one of the best bloggers and Libertarian activists not just in Britain, but in the world.

Anna Raccoon was a phenomenon. Possessed of tremendous skill, experience, kindness and persistence, all in equal measure, she was one of the true warriors of both the blogosphere and the Libertarian tradition.

She was silenced by a continual, unabating campaign of threats and intimidation. Read the sorry, sickening details here, at Grumpy's place, where she leaves her last words. For those of you who never read her material or followed her various campaigns (which helped real people in the real world, acting as an serendipitous angel to their often unknown plights), the Devil has her very last blog post copied here. This post shows her at her best, detailing one of her many interventions to help those vulnerable people on the receiving end of the most banally evil dead hand of the state and its mendacious agents, and its also an inspiring summary of just how and why we can make a difference.

I'm going to miss her presence so much. However, she was an absolute inspiration. As Oldrightie comments on her goodbye note - "Life is for living first, fighting oppression second." Quite. Where you led the way Anna, the rest of us will take up the charge into the breach and beat back the enemy.

Gildas wrote an eulogy for Anna here and I certainly couldn't better it. So my ode to Anna, and to those of us now duty bound to take up the slack and fight in her place, and in her honour is by means of this song:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

10:10 - The best response yet

Simply the most eloquent and to the point response to the 10:10 obscenity yet:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

(Small) bonfire of the Quangos

For anyone who hasn't heard yet, the government has announced the list of quangos that it intends to abolish. See here in the Independent.

One of those quangos is Ufi - the parent company for Learndirect and the disastrous UK Online. It was with the latter (UK Online) that we first learned about the government's actual attitude to talking to it's citizens online - - censor them if they don't agree with you.

Now if you were to look at the sites listed above it would look like Ufi/learndirect actually did some worthwhile work. It did in it's first year or two, very successfully in fact. But then the targets bullshit culture took over and it morphed rapidly into a horrific tax eating monster filled to the brim with completely pointless jobs and ever changing "targets" and "priorities". It sucked in taxpayer money from one end and out the other produced - literally - tonnes of patronising acronym-filled meaningless bullshit.

Also, most of the actual teaching took place in independent learning centres, previously private businesses that then became effectively Ufi franchises. This would have been OK if the said businesses hadn't been jerked around constantly by changing targets and funding models that would alter sometimes within months of the last regime being imposed. As a result lots of previously good learning centres went to the wall or became completely ineffectual.

I came to despise the organisation with a passion after working there for two years and as it seems to be receiving it's long overdue and richly deserved destruction I thought it was the perfect time to share my resignation letter from five years ago, which I sent to the entire company.

Read it here

Saturday, June 05, 2010

How Crichton called it...

Michael Crichton was one of the first high-profile climate sceptics to refer to environmentalism, in particular in its modern global warming alarmist guise, as a religion.

So I was very interested to read a book handed to me by a friend last week by Crichton, called 'Next'. The book deals with serious ethical issues raised by events in the near future involving biomedical science, intellectual property, genetic engineering and - importantly - scientific fraud in this area.

In part of the book my interest was particularly piqued by a fictional news article, discussing the very real case of major scientific fraudster, Dr.Hwang Woo-suk. It contains several very interesting passages on "peer" (now widely ridiculed in the light of Climategate as "pal") review, with many quotes from a fictional 'Professor McKeown'. Below is the last portion of the fictional article:

"Peer review. All of Hwang's papers in Science were peer-reviewed. If we ever needed evidence that peer review is an empty ritual, this episode provides it. Whang made extraordinary claims. He did not provide extraordinary evidence. many studies have shown that peer review does not improve the quality of scientific papers. Scientists themselves know it doesn't work. Yet the public still regards it as a sign of quality, and says, 'This paper was peer-reviewed,' or 'This paper was not peer-reviewed,' as if that meant something. It doesn't.

"Next, the journals themselves. Where was the firm hand of the editor of Science? Remember that the journal Science is a big enterprise - 115 people work on that magazine. Yet gross fraud, including photographs altered with Adobe Photoshop, were not detected. And Photoshop is widely known as a major tool of scientific fraud. Yet the magazine had no way to detect it."

"Not that Science is unique in being fooled. Fraudulent research has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, where authors withheld critical information about Viox heart attacsk, in the Lancet, where a report about drugs and oral cancer was entirely fabricated - in that one, 250 people in the patient database had the same birth date! That might have been a clue. Medical fraud is more than a scandal, it's a public health threat. Yet it continues."

'The cost of such fraud is enormous,' McKeown said, 'estimated at thirty billion dollars annually, probably three times that. Fraud in science is not rare, and it's not limited to fringe players. The most respected researchers and institutions have been caught with faked data. Even Francis Collins, the head of NIH's Human Genome Project, was listed as co-author on five faked papers that had to be withdrawn."

"The ultimate lesson is that science isn't special - at lest not anymore. Maybe back when Einstein talked to Niels Bohr, and there were only a few dozen important workers in every field. But there are now three million researchers in America. It's no longer a calling, it's a career. Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other. Its practitioners aren't saints, they're human beings, and they do what human beings do - lie, cheat, steal from one another, sue, hide data, fake data, overstate their own importance and denigrate opposing views unfairly. That's human nature. It isn't going to change."

I do wonder what Crichton may have said had he lived to see Climate-gate and the other tumble of climate related scandals in the last year.

I don't agree with his view of 'human nature', if indeed that is his view being presented in the fictional article. This presented view however puts a lot of the alarmists on the spot. A great many of them tend to align with the misanthropic, big state strain of leftism, complete with suspicion of "big Pharma" etc. Many of them would probably have nodded sagely in agreement with the last two paragraphs of the quoted section. Their misanthropic views of "human nature" confirmed by such incidents, especially where substantial amounts of money are concerned, needing the strong hand of the state on people's shoulders to ensure proper behaviour. These beliefs hang together quite consistently.

However if pharmacology and biomedical science was replaced by "climate science", with its tens of billions of dollars in funding plus the high-profile nature of its findings, how would they compromise such cognitive dissonance given that they give "climate science" a knee-jerk clean pass?

Religious fervour of course.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

An appeal to reason

Any of you who have read some of my older posts will know that I'm a fan of thought provoking science-fiction. I find a lot of the narratives contain some very important and topical truths. So I'll communicate my message in this blog via means of two clips from an old favourite, Babylon 5.

Here is the choice you are actually being presented with tomorrow, between the "main" parties:

And what can be done about this? Vote with your heart. Vote for the party who really does, most reflect your values. Most of all - vote for anyone but the 'big three'. We have a chance to give the three heads of the single state party an absolute kicking tomorrow. Tomorrow might be the last chance we have before condemning this country to a permanent and very ungraceful fall:

And the violence spoken of in the video may well come to pass if Labour are pushed over the top tomorrow by their ward structure and a few thousand of their fraudulent postal votes.

If that happens, we are officially living under a tyranny.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Clegg just confirmed he is more of the same....

As I've argued before, having had many interactions with Clegg over the last few years, he is - quite simply - more of the same. Despite the many evangelical supporters of the Illiberal Undemocrats' idolised view of him, he's far from a straight talker and is in fact a very slippery customer indeed.

Clegg has just backtracked on one of the key promises of his campaign - the one promise I think which has won him so many undecided votes: That in the event of a coalition government, where the Illiberal Undemocrats would be the kingmakers, Clegg would demand a change to a proportional representation system.

He spoke to the Financial Times yesterday and said this:

“I’ve never talked about preconditions. What I’ve said is it’s unavoidable. Of course it’s a vital element to the renewal of politics that we need in broad terms. That’s all I’ve said.”

So there you have it in black and white folks. Pure, unadulterated and all too typical politician double-speak. I wonder how many of the new supporters coming to the fold over the PR issue will have the chance to hear about this before Thursday? Probably very few.

A key concept in information and communications theory is that the meaning of the message is what is received. Clegg knew full well what people thought he was standing for with regards to this issue, unless he and his team are all deaf, dumb and blind. There is simply no excuse for this deception.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our audit of the IPCC: Torpedoed again.

With what is now becoming a horribly frustrating irony, the denial that anything is remotely wrong in alarmist circles is now nothing short of astonishing, not to mention frightening.

This week, Canadian sceptic, Donna Laframboise of released our Audit, for which I was one of the auditors, of the IPCC's supposed gold standard peer review references in their 2007 report.

If you're short on time, the press release is here, which gives the main points. 21 of the chapters provide less than 60% peer-reviewed references, despite the continual claims by Rajenda Pachuri that their work uses only peer reviewed work.

The work we did got front-paged on climate depot and Watts Up With That but - unsurprisingly - didn't make it much further beyond the sceptical blogosphere. It is however further hard evidence of the IPCC's, and in particular its chairman's mendacity and yes you can check the raw data for yourself and see the methods used to gather it.

Back to the future

In the course of this investigation, one of the auditors noticed something remarkable that really deserves much wider acknowledgement: "While doing the Audits assigned to me (and skimming each of the above 44 documents while standardizing the formatting), a number of questions and quite a few anomalies jumped out at me – not the least of which were several references to articles and other material with a publication date of “2007“. I thought this rather odd, in view of the fact that the publication deadline for inclusion of material in the 4th Assessment Report was December, 2005 (or sometime in February 2006 at the very latest.)"

Just a few typos right? Wrong:

"Together, team IPCC succeeded in taking a combined total of 354 leaps back to the future.
This astounding number raises far more questions than it answers."

The most obvious conclusion is that the IPCC included 354 references outside the review process, and presumably in the final editorial stage of the document.


Incredibly, now their manifesto has been released it appears that the Greens have managed to piss off even Sunny Hundal and his merry band with their "anti-science" (their words) approach: "In short, while The Greens mean well, we found that their science policies in many areas were a disaster" - yes you read that right. Furthermore: "The truth isn’t democratic, and the whole structure of the party works against the idea of evidence-based policy." - welcome to the world of Post Normal Science guys - it is has become the Green's forte.

The fact that this is on Liberal Conspiracy of all places, is off the scale. Sadly, reading through to the linked Guardian article, it is clear that they i) haven't considered the possibility that if the Greens have such a shoddy understanding of science generally whether this might also apply to Climate Science and ii) still present climate scepticism ("denialism" - oh yea gods, the irony!) as fundamentally irrational without having yet - to my knowledge - debunked any of the massive holes ripped in the Alarmist case.

It is, in fact, now so laughably straightforward to debunk that I challenge any alarmist out there to make their case to me. The brain of the enormous Tyrannasaurus is dead yet the body still stomps around causing untold damage.....

.....speaking of which - despite all of the alarmist hysteria, it appears a single volcano has single handedly done more damage to the U.K. in a few days than what we are told "global warming" will do to the country over the course of the next century.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The economy of the Digital Economy Bill

'Economy' in the title here is meant in the sense of 'making savings' - for that is exactly what our wonderful Lords and Masters have done in following appropriate procedures for consideration of this legislation. For, almost as awful as the legislation itself is the contempt our politicians have shown us in the way they pushed it through.

The Digital Economy Bill, now Digital Economy Act is shortly to become law. Whilst some of the worst draconian provisions have been removed or amended, many still remain. And like so much government legislation, contains a number of 'reasonable' (as far as any fresh legislation can be said to be so) provisions, along with a number of extremely dangerous clauses that never would have passed muster if proposed alone.

Much has been written already on the issues with the Bill. The long and the short of it is that it hands the government an enormous amount of power with regards to shutting off people's internet access and blocking websites that are accused of "copyright infringement", all on the basis of a bare minimum of evidence. It has 'bad legislation', 'law of unintended consequences' and 'guaranteed abuse' written through it like a stick of seaside rock.

For what I consider to be a highly optimistic (and unlikely to my mind) account of what the Act will now mean read the Register's article here. For a more realistic and wide ranging analysis, try this telegraph blog.

Their contempt for us is total

What really struck me about this legislation however, is in spite of the valiant efforts of organisations like ORG, is how it demonstrated just how much contempt the political class hold us in. This is possibly the most important and controversial piece of legislation under the aegis of this government since the Lisbon Treaty was ratified.

Here was parliament for the second reading of the bill:

And here was parliament for the third reading of the bill:

Notice a problem? That's right - most of our so-called "representatives" are missing. In the second reading, no more than 50 MPs were present. So nearly a whopping 600 could not be bothered to show up. The third reading, when the vote was taken, was not much better and also demonstrated one of those MP behaviours that makes me want to smash their teeth out with a hammer - a handful of dedicated politicians actually debate the bill, then when it comes time to the vote the numbers swell to approximately 200 so the MPs can vote according to whatever the whip tells them. Given the severity of this legislation this is absolutely unforgivable.

In any case, if you want to check to see if your MP was there, pop by the public whip. If they did not even turn up, perhaps when they are campaigning for your vote you might want to ask them why the fuck they weren't there and why anyone should vote for them if they can't even be bothered to do their job and turn up to debate and vote.

You'll note that the CHAMPION, nay the LION of civil liberties, Nick Clegg was absent. I checked his whereabouts and according to his itinerary he was in Westminster that day for Prime Minister's Questions. Why he couldn't stick around for the evening debate and vote I'd really like to know - I guess the Vote-grubbing tourbus and its groupies was too much to resist. I'll be pursuing this one for sure and have already written to him, though I think the best explosion can wait until I can catch him in public again. Here are the details of my last encounter with the Cleggover.

Miserable enough yet? There's more!

If you're ready to beat your head on the desk until unconscious, read this article. You'll see there that our "Digital Tsar" - 'Minister for Digital Britain' and chief cheerleader for the Digital Economy Bill, Stephen Timms writes the most colossally embarrassing drivel for someone in his position. The fact he obviously has NO CLUE what Internet Protocol (IP) is should be grave cause for concern for our entire political establishment and everyone that suffers under its yoke.

On the bright side.

There is an upside - I thought this comment over at boingboing was particularly apropos and funny, maybe even practical:

"This is great news, it will bring about a new era of lols.

I offer a reward of 1 million internets to the person or group who manages to disconnect a member of Parliament or recording industry executive for an alleged copyright infringement."

And another:

"No effort must be spared in getting MPs and their families banned from the internet with only accusations, no proof..."

Particularly impressive is the official position of TalkTalk, who have publicly stated that the company will resist the Act on behalf of its customers:

our pledges to our customers:

* Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer’s details to rightsholders. We are the only major ISP to have taken this stance and we will maintain it.
* If we are instructed to disconnect an account due to alleged copyright infringement we will refuse to do so and tell the rightsholders we’ll see them in court.

I can only hope their bravery will gain them lots of custom and inspire others to resist this, truly, the most awful and corrupt of all parliaments.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freemen on the land - stand!

This is quite amazing - see UKWebSpider for the full story. And of course it goes without saying - you won't hear about this on the BBC. I've not been sure what to make of the Freemen movement, however I have great admiration for those brave enough to take up the challenge. These videos are important for showing that, in fact, becoming a Freeman on the Land is significant and does appear to send a stab of fear into the establishment:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Call to Arms - Dear IPCC: THIS is peer review

Donna Laframboise of has issued a call for help in auditing the IPCC report. Many of the recent revelations of incredible claims made on the basis of tenuous literature came from analysis of just two random chapters. The finding was that in one only 58% of the citations were from peer reviewed literature and in the other - even worse - only 25%.

The IPCC is constantly held up as the gold-standard of endlessly peer-reviewed literature. So far this looks highly suspect, but we need more information to judge the 2007 IPCC report as a whole. So Donna has launched a crowdsourcing project, asking volunteers to work through the references in individual chapters to determine what is peer-reviewed, and what is in the 'grey literature'. Her chosen method, unlike that of many supposed climate scientists, is exemplary. Each chapter will be reviewed by three separate individuals and their findings collated - if the numbers are close, then the figures most favourable to the IPCC will be used. Any large disagreements will result in a second review by other people.

This will obviously require quite a few people, so please contact Donna (email address given further down in the text) if you are interested. Ideally she would like reviewers to be as publicly identifiable as possible, so will be asking people to provide their real identity if they feel comfortable with this (though, as far as I'm aware, this is not mandatory, especially as some at academic/research institutions may have to tread carefully).

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Met Office review: Climate change Human link evidence 'stronger'? Uhh.... NO

This is the angriest I have been for a while on the issue of supposed Catastrophic Anthropgenic Global Warming. The Met Office recently issued a new "review" of papers produced since the IPCC 2007 report. The usual alarmist suspects in our - increasingly surreal - mainstream media jumped on it immediately with spin completely disproportionate with the actual contents of the report. The reporting in the Independent contains outright lies, with the Guardian and BBC including a substantial dose of exaggeration. The Times offers the most neutral summary I've seen, though is let down badly by the headline - which, of course, is what will stick.

To give the BBC credit it looks like their reporter actually spoke to the lead author, Peter Stott. What is clear from all of the mainstream reports I have seen however is that none of the reporters have actually read the report themselves. I'm becoming sick to the back teeth of this "churnalism". And I find myself asking why it is interested individuals like us bloggers who take the time to actually carry out the "investigative" part of "investigative journalism" on the part of these lazy hacks.

Both the Independent and the Guardian, describe this as a "powerful riposte" and a "fightback" respectively against sceptics, despite the BBC reporting that "Dr Stott denies that the study has been published as part of a fight back by the climate research community." The Guardian, bless 'em, talk about the "latest battle" in the "climate change fightback". Don't let your bias show there chaps, will you? When did scientific discussion become like a pay-per-view wrestlemania match? Oh - that's right - when the likes of the Guardian infantilised the whole thing.

Pay per view

On that note - some vital statistics on this "review". The first one being that the paper is not publicly accessible. Probably one of the reasons our cast of lazy churnalists haven't read it. It costs $35 to gain 24 hours access pay-per-view for the article. Seriously. This is despite the fact that the Met Office is a massively expensive publicly funded institution. And despite the fact that Stott is quoted as saying: "I just hope people look at the evidence of how the climate is changing in such a systematic way. I hope they make up their minds on the scientific evidence." Sure Peter - "evidence" that Joe Public has to pay $35 for 24 hours access to. The only way to get it "free" is to access it via a University network, but even then that is only the case if your institution is subscribed to this journal. And it means the paper will not get the bredth of critical attention it really needs. Most people will rely on the mainstream's "analysis".

Second, and more importantly, is the neutrality of this "review". It covers 110 papers published since the IPCC-2007 report (it is *not*, as the Independent claims, an "update" on the IPCC report). A number of questions have been raised regarding how the 110 papers were selected (by people posting in the comments section to the "news" articles of course - not the journalists, silly!). Well - here's Guardian/BBC style neutrality for you: Out of the 110 citations, 24 are papers by Stott (first, or second author) and a further 22 are by other authors of the "review". So with 46 citations, 41% of the papers in this supposedly independent "review" are self citations.

Third, the reporting on this "review" give the impression of an extensive, comprehensive piece. It is not. The entire paper is a 20 page puff piece in 12-point font and lots of diagrams, and out of those 20 pages, 4.5 are the list of references.

And - a final statistic for you - the word "robust", or "robustly" is used eight times in the text.

Recycling old crap. (But if its behind a paywall, who notices?)

So, what is the primary basis of the paper? The paper claims to be able to "detect" climate change and "attribute" it appropriately. This is where the "human fingerprint" idea comes in. The paper's authors claim they can show a clear human influence.

So how do they go about this. First they have to engage in "detection" of a problem. How do they do this?

Wait for it -

They use the HadCRUT temperature dataset, complete with Michael Mann's hockey stick as their primary example of how to detect a human fingerprint.

Someone kill me please.

In case you're new to this controversy - here is John Daly's original critique of Mann's Hockey Stick, and here is Bishop Hill's analysis. Note that *both* of these critiques were prior to Climategate. The Register's Interview with Bishop Hill makes for slightly easier reading.Chris Booker links it all together - post climate-gate - here.

If after reading the above, you can't see why any subsequent research, or *any* assertion for that matter, based on the HadCRUT data set and, in particular, Michael Mann's hockey stick contribution, is automatically worthless then I can't help you and you best stop reading - go off and enjoy whatever catastrophic toss-fantasy the alarmists have in store for you.

Annoyed? It gets better. Stott et al. place the HadCRUT data over a set of 'control' data. Where does the 'control' data (which shows no significant variation before 1850 and after 2000) come from? It is: "A 'control' simulation of a couple ocean-atmosphere climate model over many centuries, with no changes in the external drivers of climate such as increases in greenhouse gas concentrations or in solar output, does not exhibit the sustained rise in temperatures seen in the observational data."

- Of course it doesn't you dimwit!

The built in assumption is that there are no significant variances in the climate prior to 1850, so they can use a computer simulation to fill in for actual data! (Andthe few sources of real data we have for earlier periods are extremely problematic for the alarmists) One of the key parts of the scandal surrounding the HadCRUT data, and the "hockey stick", was its use of "proxies" such as tree-ring data, for previous temperature records. Only, the tree-ring data diverged from observed records in this century, so Michael Mann fraudulently "fudged" the data to make it fit the "hockey team" bias.

There is definitely a Mann-made "fingerprint" here. His dirty paws are all over the data. This presentation of "research" is one of the most shockingly disingenuous things I've seen since "climategate" itself: i) Stott et al. Assume no significant variation in climate outside their chosen window (roughly 1850-2000) so think it is OK to replace what little data we do have for the prior period with a "model" of no variation and ii) during the chosen window, humans began expelling CO2 into the atmosphere from industrial activities. The HadCRUT data (and other land based temperature data sets) showed a modest increase in temperatures in this period. However - not only are all the land based data sets now suspect (especially HadCRUT), but Mann forced his figures to fit with the increases in human CO2 contributions.

Stott goes onto establish statistical significance at the 5% level for warming in the 50 year period 1959-2008. Of course this will seem significant - the bald assertion is that the correlation between CO2 output and temperature can be clearly observed when compared to the "control simulation", because no such rises are present in the control.

This isn't science. It is complete rubbish.

A litany of caveats and qualifications

The paper goes on to cover various environmental phenomena and the supposed "detectable" human fingerprint. The process for obtaining this fingerprint is rarely made clear with the other environmental indicators the "review" subsequently covers - the gold standard for the initial "detection" phase is apparently the above completely rubbish HadCRUT analysis.

What is apparent from beginning to end though is that it is chock-full of caveats and qualifications. Many of them are very telling, because Stott et al. have effectively taken on a number of the points sceptics have made over the years. The MSM reporting missed this because none of them read the damn paper!

I'll go through a sample below:

"decade long trends with little warming or cooling are to be expected under a sustained long-term warming trend".

Uh huh. Might this mean that sceptics have been correct all this time that there are other factors than CO2, (including other Anthropogenic influences and natural influences) that can significantly affect the climate to an extent comparable with CO2?

You bet:

"Further refinement of our understanding of the causes of decadal variability would benefit from tracking the changes of energy within the climate system and better understanding of the role of natural and human-induced external drivers of climate, including, for example, the effects of changing solar activity." [Emphasis mine]

^ Stott et al. Would be called "deniers" in some circles for saying such a thing.

Now, the "standard approach" Stott gives for identifying a "fingerprint" "is to use a climate model to determine the expected response to a particular forcing....Once the fingerprints have been derived, an analysis is carried out to determine if there is a significant manifestation of these fingerprints in the observations" So in other words, just as with the "great" example Stott gives above of "detection analysis" (HadCrut), it all rests on assumption first, observation second. This seems like more of that fuzzy science where an assumption about how things should work trumps actual observational data from which you *then* are supposed to form a theory.

Stott says later "The fingerprints...are estimated from the average of a finite number of simulations [Ed: hah!] with identical forcings but different initial conditions (typically 3 or 4 for most analyses), and are contaminated by internal variability (which reduces as more ensemble members are averaged)". So the "fingerprints" are derived from assumption-laden simulations. He at this point again invokes the HadCrut "detection" above as the basis for a sound way to estimate internal variability. So one assumption laden data-set of questionable integrity is used as the base line for the further-assumption laden simulation of "fingerprints". Is this crap squared?

More caveats and qualifications:

"The assumption of linearity is found to hold for some combinations of forced changes, particularly the direct effects of sulfate aerosols and greenhouses, although there is evidence that additivity does not hold so well for some other combinations, including greenhouse gases in combination with the indirect effects of earosols and greenhouse gases with solar forcing;"

"...the response to non-greenhouse gas anthropogenic factors is under-estimated"

So other factors *are* significant?

"it is appropriate to conclude that significant observed changes are attributable to human influence."

Take note here. "Human influence". Not just CO2.

Aerosols are a significant factor:

"it is very likely that aerosol cooling is suppressing a major portion of current greenhouse warming".

In true assumption-laden form though, the conclusion naturally is "As a result, additional warming is implied if aerosol pollution is removed from the atmosphere in future." (In other words - one of the classic alarmist hedges - our observed data does not provide a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, so we'll hide the energy in another factor).

Models at sub-global scales.

Stott et al go on to analyse climate data at more local levels - "going down to the scales of climate model grid boxes or of order 500km". Grid boxes. Oh goody.

"The first systematic investigation of conteinental scales to use the optimal detection regression approach described above was by Stott"
. By the author of the very paper we are reading? Fantastic. And this wonderful new "optimal detection regression approach" is applying statistical multivariate regression on the basis of the assumption-laden "fingerprint" models that use the assumption laden HadCRUT "detection" model as a control for natural variability. For the non-statistically au fait, "regression" is a statistical technique that allows you to predict trends over time, varying some variables and holding others constant to see what the results might be. The entire practice, while an interesting exercise, is heavily dependent on initial assumptions. In other words, it doesn't produce what I regard as "data" - it just shows you were your assumptions might take you with "real" data (assuming any real inputs are provided - it looks in many cases in the Stott et al. cited research that this itself is a tenuous assumption). A good example of this is given later: "When signals were regressed individually against the observations, an anthropogenic signal was detected in each of 14 regions except for 1, central North America, although the results were more uncertain when anthropogenic and natural signals were considered together." Read: regression + assumptions + real observed data = some results contrary to assumed expectations when extrapolated into projected trends.

Stott goes on (about his own research) "This study found a detectable change over the 20th century in decadal mean temperatures over each of the six populated continental areas...and furthermore found that these changes could only be reproduced with the inclusion of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions."

Really? No mention of Urban Heat Island effect in the data sets then? You know - that effect that it's possible for a 12 year old kid to detect, using an excel spreadsheet?

More uncertainty when we start looking at regional variations:

"Relevant model simulations considering the different forcing factors separately are often not available, so the attribution to different forcings is limited to a consistency analysis rather than a full attribution analysis in which all plausible forcing factors are considered. For example, increases in irrigation in California have been important for regional temperature trends, while land cover change can be important for regional temperature changes."

Another interesting point - a lot of the regression simulations only go up to 2000. With real data available for the last decade also, why did they not continue the "simulation" and match it against real data? Is it perhaps because they don't match?

"attribution at regional scales is limited at present by the relatively lower signal-to-noise ratios, the difficulties of separately attributing the effects of the wider range of possible forcing factors at these scales, and lmitations of models in capturing some characteristics of regional climate variability."

Right. Some question begging is occurring here. It is very similar to the "climate is not weather" conundrum. At what point do the separate "weather" data points morph into "climate". Similarly, the "global" data is made up of "local" data. Stott et al. seem to carry out regular hedges on the regional data, where it doesn't fit their preconceptions (even sometimes the "simulated" and "regressed" data FFS!). The fact is that as soon as they look at more local areas, they are forced to apply more (local) factors and thus end up with more complex models less likely to support their position. The 'global' models are more simplistic and so therefore more likely to be amenable to smoothing.

Another strange statement here:

"Human influence is estimated to have more than doubled the likelihood of positive warming trends in every region considered except central North America."

How interesting. Especially when you consider the 1934 problem.

On the hydrological (water) cycle

Yet more hedges, caveats and qualifications....

An anticipated consequence of these flux and transport changes is that wet regions should become wetter and dry regions drier. Many of these anticipated changes, reasoned from physical principles, have been observed and confirmed by climate model simulations."

Sorry, wait. How does a "simulation" confirm anything? And how on earth do Stott et al. compromise this bald statement with this research cited in National Geographic: "Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall.If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities.This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago." Uhhhh......


"Mitchell et al. theorized that the latent heat of condensation in the troposphere is balanced by radiative cooling."

Carefull Peter, that sounds a bit "denialist" to me....

"Liepert and Previdi show that 20 years may not be sufficient to determine whether models and observations agree on the rainfall response to global warming."


"Generally, however, detection and attribution of regional precipitation changes remains difficult because of low signal-to-noise ratios and poor observational coverage. To date there have been no detection and attribution studies of precipitation over oceans because the available satellite data sets... are short and not considered to be sufficiently reliable for this purpose."

This is one of the clearest expressions of doubt in the whole paper. So no alarmist fingerprint to be found in regional precipitation then. Which means global precipitation too, on the basis of the available evidence.

Runoff and Drought:

More doubts!

"Monitoring and understanding changes in runoff and drought is more difficult thatn for temperature and precipitation because soil moisture is poorly observed, and soil moisture and runoff changes are difficult to constrain from the residual difference between precipitation and evaporation, both of which are also relatively poorly observed.

Many factors can cause soil moisture and runoff changes, including changes in climate, land use, stream management, water withdrawal, and water use efficiency by plants in high CO2 environments."

Despite these expressed caveats, Stott then goes on to cite the Palmer Drought Severity Index, without further explanation or comment, claiming that increases in the index "has been attributed to anthropogenic influence".

A pretty funny couple of statements in the context of recent events (and alarmist claims regarding precipitation):
"In a warmer world, less winter precipitation falls as snow"


"There has been a reduction in the ratio of precipitation falling as snow in the Western US that cannot be explained by climate models including only the natural effects of solar and volcanic forcings and which has been attributed to anthropogenic forcings."

Right Peter. Whatever you say.

Arctic / Antarctic:

Stott refers to "dramatic sea ice retreat" and - guess what? - "Human influence on Arctic sea ice is detectable in an optimal detection analysis." Really? Where is the mention of the recent recovery?

This is hilarious. All the Antarctic gets is:

"In contrast, Antarctic sea ice has not significantly decreased."

Whoops! No further comment is given whatsoever as to why this might be the case.

Atmospheric circulation:

"anthropogenic circulation changes are poorly characterized"

OK - so we don't have a clue on any anthropogenic influences here then?

Well, Stott then cites himself (again): "were able to detect an anthropogenic response independently of the natural response and with an amplitutde consistent between model and observation." - so Peter, given your first comment, do we trust this research or not?

Oceanic changes:

"It has been estimated that over 80% of the excess heat built up in the climate system by anthropogenic forcing has accumulated in the global oceans."

This is a hedging assertion used by alarmists to explain where the energy goes when the observed pattern does not exhibit a proportional temperature increase with CO2.

So how much do Stott et al think they know about this?

"..the subsurface ocean has been sparsely observed in many regions, and sampling errors remain an issue when comparing observed and modeled timeseries of ocaen properties, with the choice of infilling method being potentially important in poorly sampled regions."

No shit sherlock. In other words, not much, and too many gaps in the data to enable them to fill the gaps with bullshit without anyone noticing.

Apparently we can attribute "...the short term cooling episodes to volcanic eruptions and the multidecadal warming to anthropogenic forcing." Right - so nature *does* have an in built cooling mechanism (which will presumably continue), and if Stott et al are thereby going to attribute the warming primarily to anthropogenic forcing (N.B. Note *again* this does not state CO2), then without it we would all be significantly colder?

And then we have the issue of salinity - this has caused a lot of confusion in people commenting on how the journalists have presented this. Interesting because Stott only gives a paragraph to the whole topic - here is what he says:

"It has been suggested that freshening at high latitudes is consitent with observed increases in precipitation at high latitudes although climate model studies suggest that Atlantic freshening could be associated with changes in northward advection associated with variability of the meridional overturning circulation.

An optimal detection analysis [Ed: LOL] of Atlantic salinity changes by Stott et al. [Ed: LOL again] detected a human influence on the observed increases in salinity at low latitudes but found that high-latitutde changes, including a recent reversal of the freshening observed previously, are consistent with internal variability."

So, despite the way the salinity issue in the "review" has been reported in the press, there is nothing significant here and a good deal of it is attributed to natural variation.


This is possibly the best section. The alarmists are continually banging on about extreme weather. But even Stott et al. couldn't fit their simulated data to the pattern.

He writes it off for hurricane activity for example:
"...the importance of the anthropogenic increase in sea surface temperature in the cyclogensis region for past and future changes in hurrican activity is still poorly understood."

And his conclusion is pretty clear:
"In conclusion, while there has been progress since AR4, there are still many gaps in our understanding of changes in extremes and in our ability to attribute observed changes to particular causes."

Sorry alarmists - no evidence here for your extreme events fantasies.

The conclusion:

Is a little bizarre given the actual content of the paper - and appears to have been what has grabbed the headline writers attention:

"The wealth of attribution studies reviewed
[Ed: including all 46 of our self-citations] in this article shows that there is an increasingly remote possibility that climate change id dominated by natural rather than anthropogenic factors."

Notice what Stott has done here. Taken as a whole, his review has shown, in fact that both natural, and non-CO2 anthropogenic factors have a significant role to play in the climate. In many ways, he has actually presented quite a sceptical position in some areas in that he has shown (his "optimal detection analyses" notwithstanding) that climate is being driven by a range of factors, of which human contributed CO2 is only one. Remember the thrust of the paper is anthropogenic influences NOT CO2.

My own conclusion is that, not only does the "review" completely fail to support the claims being made for it by the quisling useless media hacks, where it does make a case at all, it is one for much more doubt over climate issues, and for the inclusion of a great many factors, including non-CO2 anthropogenic factors. Notice how the BBC wrote their title: "Climate change human link evidence 'stronger'" - many people will immediately read that as - 'case for human CO2 forced catastrophic climate change stronger'. Which isn't what the review shows - and that's assuming you trust the methods used by Stott et al. Which I don't at all. The combination of extensive self-citation, with an extremely dubious statistical modelling method (the "optimal detection analysis") that often seems to skip real data simply looks like utter utter crap to me.

If we had a media deserving of the name we'd all know this.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Appeal for Nick Hogan

First of all, apologies to everyone subscribed to lots of other blogs discussing this who have already seen the appeal cross-posted a dozen times.

I decided I should add a blog entry on it myself as the donations to Nick's funds seem to be slowing down after the initial rush to six grand in its first two days. We only need to make it to 10 and he - in theory - walks free. If one more person donates as a result of seeing this blog, its worth writing it.

For those not already familiar with this story, a quick précis from Old Holborn:

Nick was actually jailed for non-payment of the fine originally imposed for a 'mass smoke-in' on the day the ban came into force in 2007 in his pub, the 'Swan and Barristers' in Bolton. He no longer has that pub. He was fined again when council inspectors walked into his present pub and discovered a group of customers smoking - Nick wasn't even on the premises.

There is more to it. What we are seeing here is effectively a debtors' jail. Nick did not pay the court costs. He couldn't. He was bankrupt. Instead of coming to an arrangement to pay the money, the state has opted to jail him, presumably as an example to anyone else who dares make a stand against the completely illiberal anti-smoking law. For this is the core of the issue - Nick refused to be a deputised agent of the state in order to harass its citizens into complying. And on his private property too. And policing an act that is - in and of itself - not illegal (smoking). He is being jailed for refusing to be an unpaid policeman for a law that is ignored in many parts (such as the EU and UK parliaments). The menace behind all of this might be too subtle to comprehend immediately. Leg-Iron explains it beautifully:

Regarding the shop-keeper who refused to put up 'no-smoking' signs:

"You will be prosecuted for not putting up signs to tell people to stop doing something nobody has ever done. As that shopkeeper has. Not for smoking. Not even for allowing others to smoke. For not putting up 'Thou Shalt Not' signs in a place where they were totally superfluous."

The end result of the government's Righteous crusade is:

"Smokers, drinkers, fat people, salty people, drivers, ethnic divisions, religious divisions, a fragmented society is easy to control simply by pitting one fragment against another. The Righteous don't care about any of those fragments."

And the point of helping to free Nick is:

"A very important point. That we have noticed the tyranny of the law and that we are angered by it. That we are not going to sit back and just take it any more."

The reason we've had trial by jury for hundreds of years (until this year), was amongst other things, to enable the people to acquit defendants who were being charged on the basis of laws that most people regarded as unjust. To prevent the state from abusing the law. Yet here it is multiplying not only ridiculous, but in many cases, victimless, crimes but also forcing the deputising of citizens in their enforcement:

Thanks to Rogerborg (@ Old Holborn's comments) - note the deputising clause in the Health Act 2006 itself:

"(2) Any person who without reasonable cause fails to give to an authorised officer of an enforcement authority, acting in the exercise of his functions under or by virtue of this Chapter, any facilities, assistance or information which the authorised officer reasonably requires of him for the performance of those functions commits an offence."

Now, to be clear here on my own position. I'm a non-smoker and always have been. In one way the smoking ban has actually benefited me. As regular readers will know I have worked in nightclubs for some time. And I've also played in them as often as I've worked. I dance a lot when I go out - and some nights at work its one punch up after another. Prior to the smoking ban, if I'd exerted myself for an extended period of time inside the club I'd often have a heavy cough for a few hours afterwards and bad throat. This wasn't, to be fair, just down to tobacco smoke - there are plenty other things to inhale deeply in nightclubs such as dry ice. Its a pleasure to no longer have to put up with that. I also like the fact that I, and the women I end up sleeping with, tend to smell much fresher (though not always, hah).

That's as far as it goes though. Because in spite of this, not insignificant, difference to my lifestyle, I can recognise an illiberal piece of shit when I see it. I said from the beginning that venues should have been given the choice, or tax incentives to have smoke free areas, keeping at least one room available for smokers. As it stands - as others have pointed out - a venue could not be set up staffed and patronised exclusively by smokers (and of course non-smokers who weren't complete wusses). And I said this as someone who stood to benefit with the ban coming into force. I recognise this authoritarian, righteous unholy monster, in whatever form it takes; and one of those forms has definitely been the smoking ban and associated villification of smokers.

How to help

Nick Hogan wasn't just standing up for smokers. He was standing up for all of us. If you want to help - and every contribution really does help - you can donate (and get the latest news) from Old Holborn's place. Look for the paypal section in the top right. Alternatively you can send a cheque:

"We have another safe avenue for donations for all those of you who would rather send a cheque. If so, your Cheques for the Nick Hogan fund can be made payable to Freedom to Choose (Scotland).
They will be retained in the Freedom to Choose (Scotland) account until further instructions are available. The address is Freedom to Choose (Scotland), c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 8SA.
For total transparency I will update the 'donations sent' on a daily basis as soon as the Treasurer informs me of such.
This now gives the Nick Hogan fund twice the opportunity to reach our target folks."

There is also an event planned to carry out a 'national day of mourning for British justice' on Saturday 13th March, outside the prison where Nick is currently being held. Facebook group here

Finally, if you wish to write to Nick to give him support, the address of the prison is:

Nick Hogan DN5431
HMP & YOI Forest Bank
Agecroft Road
M27 8FB

Other thoughts.

There has been so much blogged on this topic in the last few days, I wanted to share some of the gems I'd come across myself. Apologies for any attributions that are not clear - many of them were in the comments sections of various blogs:

Assegai mike: "we smokers are the lightning rod for all civil liberties abusers"

Dick Puddlecote: "The reason tobacco companies stay distant to such things as this is that their intervention is classed along with kiddie-fiddling by the righteous. Once they put their hand in their pocket, the whole thing would be reclassified as a stunt by murderers. And there are plenty holier-than-thou morons in the UK who would believe it."

Rogerborg again: "He went to court to try to re-negotiate a payment schedule, now that he's bankrupt. The beaks would have none of it - the State is always a super-creditor - and gaoled him for the inability to pay, an inability that's due to their actions. Dickensian doesn't even begin to describe it."

Old Holborn: "no one has consented to the State making Nick Hogan a convicted criminal for offering his customers a choice within his own property instead of reporting them to the Police, as all publicans are now required to do by law."

Mort: "ok let me get this right?
he got fined for not upholding the law/statute (as defined by numpties and lobbyists), he was not paid to provide the state with a service which they invoked, he was fined for not invoking the state clause and therefore he chose not to pay the unlawful fine/tax because in effect it is unlawful? they revoked his right to earn income in his chosen career/profession/trade or skill..?"

Dick Puddlecote again, citing Huxley:
"No offence is as heinous as unorthodoxy of behaviour. Murder kills only the individual – and after all, what is an individual? We can make a new one with the greatest ease – as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself."

and then, in contrast, citing H.L. Mencken:

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."

Anonymous over at Leg-Iron's place:
"Almost all real law was created a long time ago, most of it is common law.
Much of our law is now ‘derivative’ law, which, like its financial equivalent, is not real. Much of it also contravenes our constitutional law. Second order offences such as failing to stop someone else doing something have no place in free society."

On the subject of the other brave citizen tackling these laws, detailed over at the Velvet Glove:
"The smoking ban is the only law which requires millions of signs to be prominently displayed on private property. Shops are not compelled to put signs up saying 'No assaults permitted' or 'No drug use permitted'. Mandatory 'No Smoking' signs should never have been part of deal."

And let us, last of all, never forget these words spoken in Croydon:

"Dermot Lineham, the enforcement officers co-ordinator at Conservative-controlled Croydon Council wrote he was "emphatic" that his officers should not have to approach teenage yobs in an email he sent out last Wednesday.

Instead, officers should 'focus our activities on adults who are less likely to attack us and more likely to pay fixed penalty notices'."