Monday, July 27, 2015

In which the pond joins the parrots in supping on the crack otherwise known as Rambo, cherry blossoms and Lomborgian thinking

(Above: will it never end? Will no one rid the kingdom of this spoilt child? Will the king's sleep be disrupted by the yowling indulgent behaviour of the parliamentary empress?)

For its many sins, the pond found itself watching a bit of Rambo III last night.

Take heed, youngsters, this is the danger and the folly of random channel-hopping in the old fashioned way.

What made the show fascinating and compelling, in the way of watching a train wreck, was its celebration of the mujahideen, aka jihadists, engaged in a holy war.

In those days, proposed Rambo, Islamic fundamentalists were freedom fighters up against the evil empire, and the film finished with a title offering a dedication to the noble Afghan people.

The plot, what little there was, featured Rambo rescuing his old commanding officer in Vietnam - America, it seems, would never make that mistake again as the Ruskis were doing in Afghanistan - who'd been in country offering the freedom fighters all sorts of missiles to help establish a new fundamentalist Islamic state, and been caught and tortured by the Ruskis - not that America would ever set up a prison designed to do such dastardly deeds.

Of course these days, if he'd happened to be in Australia, Rambo would be locked by by the government, as would Lord Byron and George Orwell - yes the pond woke up listening to RN's Rear Vision's Tackling foreign fighters.

It occurred to the pond that it still wasn't too late to jail all the politicians and commentariat who'd supported foreign adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, though that might leave the current conservative government without any politicians, and the Murdochians without enough hacks to put out an edition of the Bunyip Times.

Even worse, when you think about it, there's no current law on the books to deal with Sylvester Stallone.

Mr Stallone's crimes against acting and humanity were so vast, deep and awful in the film - in a word hideous, with soulful beats and head twitches evoking St Vitus' dance - that the pond might even be persuaded to drop its life-long stance against capital punishment.

But enough already. The parrots are sighing and cooing and squawking and squabbling as they get deep into the cheery blossom, and so it's time for a decent dose of reptile kool aid.

The pond resolutely refuses to be distracted by Calls for beef to be banished along with pork from Liverpool Council's interfaith lunch.

Talk about bizarre. Apparently the aim of the interfaith lunch is to show people of diverse faiths getting along, and sitting down side by side to chow down and have a chit chat.

The result, thanks to the weird and enormously stupid prohibitions on certain kinds of food, reminded the pond that there's not a shred of sense to be found in religious cults, be they Christian, Islamic or Hindu. Save the pig, says the pond, with Homer, is there nothing the pig can't do?

Back to the reptiles, and it was impossible to ignore all the alarums and the shouting and the panic in the lizard Oz:

Oh dear, plenty of overtime and hard yards for the scribes.

Hmm, perhaps the pond should be changing its kool aid brand:

Well there's nothing like the sound of ignorant armies clashing by night, or reptiles by day casting the runes and coming up with completely different versions of reality ...

Never mind, there's important business to attend to on the matter of climate science, and the ongoing rehabilitation of a famous reptile pet:

Oh dear, let's not detour to Lomborg Errors, or pdfs of Scientific American reviews, and instead let's get down with the persecuted, and a Flinders University VC who seems ready to don the wings of Icarus and head off towards the sun:

Uh huh, it's a neat and tidy question. Is it denialism to accept the reality of man-made climate change, and then deny it has absolutely any implications and then there are many more important things to attend to and in due course by doing nothing, everything's going to be hunky dory ...?

Would it be gravity denialism to assure nearby listeners that gravity was indeed real, but never mind if you donned the wings of Icarus, you could still fly up to the sun? Though perhaps the wax used might be an issue ...

The pond tends to think that, as the reptiles are climate denialism central in Australia, their warm embrace of the Lomborgians is a tad revealing.

And sure enough:

Now what are we to make of this?

Well you'll notice the gold bar - yep the reptiles have put it behind the paywall, yet as usual anyone interested in the thoughts of Lomborg could have found it published five days ago on Lomborg's "Project Syndicate" site under the header The Best Ways to Fight Extreme Poverty.

It seems the best way to fight extreme poverty and falling circulation is to take something offered for free elsewhere on the free to overflowing intertubes, and charge foolish punters for access.

One note gave the pond a fit of the cackles, living as it does in Turnbull land:

One possibility is to triple mobile broadband penetration in developing countries. This would provide small-scale businesspeople such as farmers and fishermen with market information, enabling them to sell their goods at the highest price – and to boost productivity, increase efficiency, and generate more jobs. Our research shows that the benefits, added up, would be worth $17 for every dollar spent – making it a very good development target. 

No doubt the farmers in Woop Woop will be very pleased to learn the latest market information and sell their goods at the highest price at their roadside stall ... what a pity they have to rely on Turnbull supplied broadband ...

It reminded the pond what Lomborg was really selling, along with climate denialism, or climate science irrelevantism if you will, and that's pie in the sky by and by, and snake oil of the purest and most refined kind, a huckster offering panaceas and solutions to all that ails the world, and ready and willing to sort out the entirety of the world's problems.

Here's how he wrapped up his latest dose of moonshine and snake oil:

So how's South Korea going in eradicating poverty?

Well, it's a story from 2011 in The Economist here:

Korea's equal distribution of income is changing. Judging by the relationship between the richest and poorest tenth, Korea is becoming more unequal than it used to be. Worse, the growing number of poor people is disproportionately elderly. In other rich countries, people between 66 and 75 are no more likely to be poor than the population as a whole. In Korea, they are three times as likely to be poor. This is all the more worrying because the low birth rate means the country is ageing more rapidly than any other rich country. In 2009, people over 65 were outnumbered ten to one by the working-age population. By 2050, there will be seven over-65s for every ten working-age adults. Disproportionate old-age poverty would have a huge impact on the social backing for policies designed to foster growth.  
Korea's equitable income distribution used to provide a sense that society as a whole was benefiting from breakneck catch-up. But discontent is rising both about inequality and about the role of the chaebol, producing growing disenchantment with both main political parties. The recent election for mayor of Seoul produced an upset win for a left-wing anti-establishment maverick. 
It is proving hard to resist the trend towards inequality because of another basic feature of Korea's economic model: total tax revenues are just 26% of GDP. Taxes are especially low on labour, a choice designed to boost work and foreign investment. But as a result, social spending is low (11%); public spending on family benefits is exceptionally low (less than a quarter of the rich-country average); and the tax-benefit system is the worst in the OECD at reducing inequality and poverty. Korea's tax-benefit system reduces poverty by only 18% (compared with what it would have been without the benefits). Sweden's tax-benefit system cuts its poverty rate by 80%.

Meanwhile, Lomborg somehow manages to curry favour with the reptiles with this sort of rhetoric:

An even better intervention addresses migration. More than 200 million people today work outside their home countries. As rich countries age, they need more workers. At the same time, people from developing countries are more productive in a developed country. Easing restrictions on migration would allow young people from developing countries to expand industrialized economies’ diminishing workforces – and generate the taxes needed to pay for care for the elderly. 
Such migration would also be good for the developing countries, because migrant workers send home remittances. In total, every dollar spent on increased migration would produce more than $45 of social good – possibly more than $300. While in today’s political climate, increasing migration might be difficult to achieve, it is worth pointing out how effectively it could help the world’s poorest.

Yes, the pond likes the sound of that.

How soon before Tamworth can host the Olympics or a World Cup using imported labour? And not just run a bunch of chook sheds ...

But it'll take a little while to persuade the Bolter:

No, no, Bolter, it's your good buddy Lomborg and his reptile mates that want to open the floodgates, and here you are ruining Tamworth's chance of staging the Olympics.

Kool aid and re-heated days old snake oil, and it's only Monday.

Is it any wonder the pond feels blessed, in a country that allows Rambo and Lomborg to roam free, while those with the bravery, entrepreneurial spirit, hard cash, and a willingness to take the most extreme risks are locked up in gulags.

What was it that P. J. O'Rourke said, stirring the possum back in 2009?

Oh dear, and there's more possum stirring here.

And then there was Jeff Sparrow trying to understand the long tradition of hate, fear and loathing in country, cultivated and encouraged by the current government and the Murdochians:

There's a long tradition of nativist resentments in this country, usually expressed as a desire to "return" to some better time. But the focus of those resentments has changed radically - as has the understanding of the idealised past. 
Last Saturday, Pauline Hanson addressed the Rockhampton Reclaim the Australia event: 
"I am against Islam in Australia," she said. "I'm not targeting Muslims, I'm targeting the ideology of what Islam stands for. We do not want or need Sharia law in Australia." 
Let's leave aside the question of how you can be "against Islam" without "targeting Muslims" (rather like being against Judaism without targeting Jews, one would have thought). What's fascinating is that, back when Pauline Hanson was a serious political force, she showed no interest in Islam at all. In her 1996 maiden speech - probably her most famous political intervention - she said nothing about sharia law or halal foods or any of her current preoccupations. 
Instead, she railed against a quite different target. "I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians," she said. 
She quoted figures about the number of immigrants who were of "Asian origin", warning that "they have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate". 
Today, the Reclaimers - and Hanson - use exactly the same rhetoric but direct it at Muslims. 
If we go back further, the targets shift again. In the 1990s, demagogues like Hanson championed European culture against the purported "Asian invasion". 
But, earlier in the twentieth century, Italians and Greeks were seen in almost the same light as "Asians". Back then, they were not understood as part of "white" Australia. Rather, they were a threat to it. (and more here).

Don't forget the Irish that ruined the twentieth century Jeff, but how piquant to point out the irony of the Sri Lankan-Tamil minority-headed Catch the Fire crowd now hanging around with the Hansonists ...

But at last the pond began to understand why people got upset at an American owner pushing an uppity Dane on to Australia, when the Dane's only too willing to offer his solutions for free on the full to overflowing intertubes ...

It's the whimsical notion that he's a myth buster and a truth teller, when really he's just a huckster wanting to shake down a willing and obliging Australian government who values him for his climate irrelevantism:

So what then is "the real state of the world"? Clearly, it isn't knowable in traditional statistical terms, even though subjective estimates can be responsibly offered. The ranges presented by the IPCC in its peer-reviewed reports give the best snapshot of the real state of climate change: we could be lucky and see a mild effect or unlucky and get the catastrophic outcomes. The IPCC frames the issue as a risk-management decision about hedging. It is not the everything-will-turn-out-fine affair that Lomborg would have us believe. 
For such an interdisciplinary topic, the publisher would have been wise to ask natural scientists as well as social scientists to review the manuscript, which was published by the social science side of the house. It's not surprising that the reviewers failed to spot Lomborg's unbalanced presentation of the natural science, given the complexity of the many intertwining fields. But that the natural scientists weren't asked is a serious omission for a respectable publisher such as Cambridge University Press. 
Unfortunately, angry reviews such as this one will be the result. Worse still, many laypeople and policymakers won't see the reviews and could well be tricked into thinking thousands of citations and hundreds of pages constitute balanced scholarship. A better rule of thumb is to see who talks in ranges and subjective probabilities and to beware of the myth busters and "truth tellers." (the same link to Scientific American here).

Time to join the parrots in supping deep on the cherry blossom,  and First Dawgie in celebrating the gulags endorsed and approved by both major parties, and more Dawgie here where you an find a Reclaim Australia carrot.

How thoughtful of the Dawgie to help out Richard Marles with a full suite of measures and excuses, which might, in due course, become very handy:


  1. Trust that PJ to be holding out a candle to those spear-throwers! The whole world knows (ask BishopJ) that it was us Anglo-Celts in Oz, and the Scots-Irish in the US, who provided the essential backbone of a great nation.
    But, DP, with respect .... See that! I've been listening to Sarah Henderson anointing Jon Faine with lard, and she uses "with respect" with absolute aplomb & consummate conviction. "With respect" entitles your greasy MP to get away with total BS. So, "with respect" to Andrew, Bjorn, Bronnie, ....

    1. With respect UC, with the greatest respect, indeed with absolute respect, and with no offence intended, absolutely none at all, the use of the term always establishes in the pond's mind that we're in the presence of a humbug and a hypocrite of the first water whenever it's rolled out, such is the thinly veiled way it actually means "with the greatest contempt allowed while pretending to remain civil"

  2. So Lomberg denies he's a denier. We didn't believe him the first time; what makes him think we would now?

    1. Apparently once doe's not a consensus make,so he figures he may as well hang tough.There is the money to consider too.

  3. Wow. Fairfax really is getting stuck in.

    Expect the torrent of vitriol from the reptiles tomorrow.

  4. Good we have a Dutchman to hold back the flood.
    Miss pp

    1. Ah the Bolter Miss pp, the only man prepared to stand up for the rights of white crowds and possibly even white mobs ...

  5. DP, I see Mark Kenny is sinking the slipper into Abbott over his sordid defence of Bronnie. Is it fair to assume that Chris Kenny will be all aflame tomorrow, proclaiming that Abbott, for all his flaws, is the only bulwark against the inroads of socialism under a recharged Shorten, ie, Abbott is all that stands between Us and a flood of Reds and refoes?

    1. Indeed, UC, but you seem to forget he's also the only bulwark against uppity black footballers, feminists with hairy armpits, greenies, tree huggers, latte sippers, foreigners, people who work in Surry Hills and all the other cockroaches that plague this great country ...

  6. Food stupids... "there's not a shred of sense to be found in religious cults"...


    1. Rarefied, luminous spaghetti ... Not a big fan of religious holidays, but hey I can do family and food. - Kurt Vonnegut

    2. All Goon Show lovers welcome here:


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