Daily Archives: November 27, 2008

Miranda and Piers in duet after “Quadrant” dinner…

So it would appear from Questions a-plenty on global warming by Piers and Beware the church of climate alarm by Miranda, both on the same day but in different newspapers. I will let Miranda explain the Quadrant connection, which Piers does not mention.

One of Australia’s leading enviro-sceptics, the geologist and University of Adelaide professor Ian Plimer, 62, says he has noticed audiences becoming more receptive to his message that climate change has always occurred and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

In a speech at the American Club in Sydney on Monday night for Quadrant magazine, titled Human-Induced Climate Change – A Lot Of Hot Air, Plimer debunked climate-change myths.

"Climates always change," he said. Our climate has changed in cycles over millions of years, as the orbit of the planet wobbles and our distance from the sun changes, for instance, or as the sun itself produces variable amounts of radiation. "All of this affects climate. It is impossible to stop climate change. Climates have always changed and they always will."

His two-hour presentation included more than 50 charts and graphs, as well as almost 40 pages of references. It is the basis of his new book, Heaven And Earth: The Missing Science Of Global Warming, to be published early next year.

Piers and Miranda are both mightily impressed. Since my qualifications in the area are no better (or worse) than Piers or Miranda, neither of them famous for climatology, I will refer you to a couple of other people, while suggesting too that Plimer, a geologist, may also be worth a closer look. (I am not so sure that Miranda would have really liked Ian Plimer in his Telling Lies for God days, but that is another matter…)

Happy reading. Go to the appropriate box in the side bar here for more.

BTW, I couldn’t resist. Piers is the butchest writer on the planet, being 94% male according to the Gender Analyzer, while Miranda is 72% male… Go figure.

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Posted by on November 27, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, climate change, culture wars, environment, right wing politics


Beware: “political correctness gone mad” stories may not be all they seem…

It is a cliche of grumpiness to mutter about “political correctness”, a phrase I once swore never to use if I could avoid it. But often it turns out to be a furphy. I thought of this yesterday, as it happens, when I proposed to myself photographing some of Sydney’s Christmas decorations for Ninglun’s Specials. Yes, “politically correct” as Clover Moore may seem, she apparently doesn’t have a problem with wishing people a Happy Christmas, strewing street banners right and left to do so and wishing us all a “Joyous Christmas” on the front of her latest (recycled paper) full colour propaganda and information brochure…


No problem! Not in my opinion anyway, and quite compatible with inclusiveness, respect, multiculturalism and all those good things…

So I read with interest The Catholic Herald (UK): This is anti-political correctness gone mad.

“BID TO BAN CHRISTMAS" shrieked the headline in the Sun in bold caps, "Festive Fun Upsets Migrants, Says Labour Think-Tank". To someone writing a book about political correctness a story like that is, well, like Christmas coming early. There is my next chapter, I thought, as I filed the cutting.

But when I looked into the story in more detail it started fraying at the edges. Yes, it was certainly fair to describe the Institute for Public Policy Research as a "Labour Think-Tank" – Nick Pearce, the director of the IPPR at the time its allegedly anti-Christmas report was published, went on to become the head of policy at Downing Street. But when I rang their offices to ask whether they really wanted to ban Christmas (or, if you read the Daily Mail rather than the Sun, to see it "downgraded to help race relations") they denied any such thing. Here is what their report actually says: "Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions. If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas – and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to – then public organisations should mark other religious festivals too." The tone may be a little po-faced, but the report does not in any sense suggest that Christmas should be abolished.

The lament about politically correct attempts to destroy this great festival is a hardy perennial of anti-PC journalism, and any newspaper stories appearing between now and early January which include the words "political correctness gone mad" need to be treated with a great deal of caution…


Hat tip to Indigo Jo, a British Muslim, for that story.

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Posted by on November 27, 2008 in culture wars, faith and philosophy, interfaith, local, media watch, Multicultural, multiculturalism


Why I just cannot take the hard Left seriously….

…or the hard Right either, I hasten to add. If the history of the 20th century has taught us one thing it is that radical solutions, in the main, have sucked big time, produced most of the mind-boggling suffering that century was famous for, generally have led to unintended consequences of monumental proportions, and/or have collapsed ignominiously in the end. Much the same applies, or will apply, to the false hope some apparently see in hard Islamism – not a majority Muslim position yet despite so many Islamophobes doing their best to bring that about. (Another example of unintended consequences?)

And yes, this is a rant.

Take Zimbabwe. Yes, the foundation of Rhodesia is not all that distant in the past, certainly for old people, as it was in just 1923 that Rhodesia was annexed by Great Britain, having been under Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company from 1888. According to Wikipedia, the peak of white population was 296,000 in 1975, and today is less than 1% of a population impossible to guess accurately, but generally given as around 11 million. At least half a million Zimbabweans are in South Africa, the Congo, and other neighbouring countries. There is no doubt that most of that hundred years and more of history has been a tale of an unsustainable venture (except by repression of one kind or another) playing out as a tragedy for all those caught up in it. One can well understand that the situation well described here would generate problems:

Starting in 1893, successive uprisings were bloodily suppressed by the colonizers and the British government. A particularly virulent strain of apartheid was introduced. By 1914, notes Steve Lawton in "British Colonialism, Zimbabwe’s Land Reform and Settler Resistance", 3 percent of the population controlled 75 percent of the land. The blacks were "harshly restricted to a mere 23 per cent of the worst land in designated Reserves. There were only 28,000 white settlers to nearly one million Africans in Zimbabwe at this time."

Land ownership hasn’t changed much since. The 1930 "Land Apportionment Act" perpetuated the glaring inequality. At independence, according to "Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Revolution" edited by Mandivamba Rukuni and Carl Eicher and published in 1994 by the University of Zimbabwe Publications, 6000 white commercial farms occupied 45 percent of all agricultural land – compared to only 5 percent tilled by 8500 black farmers. Another 70,000 black families futilely cultivated the infertile remaining half of the soil.

As black population exploded, poverty and repression combined to give rise to anti-white guerilla movements. The rest is history.

So on the face of it Mugabe may be seen to have a case. Our Sydney Communist Party (rump of a Party that dissolved itself some twenty years ago) newspaper The Guardian remain true believers in that case, for example in 2007 citing People’s Weekly World.

Dire economic conditions have caused this remarkable reversal of fortune for the party synonymous with Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonial rule. Food and fuel are scarce, inflation tops a mind-boggling 100,000 percent, and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and beyond.

Blame for Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown over the past decade or so varies depending on political orientation. While the MDC and its western sponsors blame Mugabe, whom they portray as dictatorial, murderous and racist, supporters of the ZANU-PF government and many Africans across the continent charge former colonial power United Kingdom and its allies with crippling the country economically through sanctions.

It is no secret Mugabe has consistently challenged the agenda of capitalists in southern Africa from his days as a guerrilla leader fighting colonial rule to his more recent calls for pan-African unity against US attempts to impose genetically modified crops on communities needing food assistance. Mugabe’s backers believe the West has been pursuing a vendetta against him for decades.

Over the past few days the corporate media has uncritically repeated opposition claims that the government is planning a "bloodbath" and employed racist propaganda that "gangs" of Mugabe’s loyalists were "invading" white-owned farms. In its blind support for the opposition, the West fails to condemn irresponsible, charged comments like the MDC’s assertion that a runoff would lead Zimbabweans "to the slaughter."

Missing in all the so-called analysis is basic historical context. Before winning independence in 1980, Zimbabweans endured over a century of violent white-minority rule in the British colony known as Rhodesia. The most fertile land was stolen from African families and awarded to British colonists who held exclusive political and economic power. Liberation was achieved only through many years of military struggle led by ZANU-PF, supported by the Soviet Union and its allies.

Which is all very well, I suppose – so long as you remain oblivious to the fact that what was once the most promising country in Sub-Saharan Africa is now a total basket case with starvation threatening, and cholera, not to mention the HIV situation. And through it all Mugabe continues on being “Right”… How tragic uncompromising rightness – and I don’t mean “right” as in politics- can be! The determined and certain can create hell on earth without batting an eyelid, and this has happened time and time again on all sides of the political and religious spectra throughout our lifetimes, from Israel (both sides!) to Afghanistan, from China to Nazi Germany, from the former USSR to – well you name it…

Being “right” about unrestrained capitalism or free markets hasn’t proved much more encouraging either. God, we need a world of relativistic pragmatism, a world where absolutes of all kinds are treated with the suspicion they deserve! From Robespierre to today True Believers have been the death of us.

Back in Zimbabwe: check this for a ring of truth. I find these entries loud and clear:

  • I was quoted $2,568,000,000,000,000,000.00 for a spare part this morning. Can you imagine nipping into Tesco or Walmart and being presented with a bill to that value? It’s mind boggling.
  • So the jokes are set to resume again at a date to be announced this week in South Africa. The talks, now called jokes in street lingo, come at a time when the country is in a deeper mess and deepening by the day. An estimated number of more than 200 people have lost their lives due to a deadly cholera epidemic that is set to worsen as the rains continue to fall mercilessly on a country in distress.

    It should be highlighted that most of Harare’s high density suburbs don’t have clean running water and are plagued with burst sewer pipes. I have had the opportunity of driving through these populated urban settlements from Mabvuku, Tafara , Warren Park, Budiriro, Sunningdale, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Seke and Mbare to mention a few and the likelihood of cholera spreading to these areas and killing more people is indeed very real as service delivery is very much non existent.

Meanwhile, I note The Guardian continues to serve up its comforting pap on other matters to its true believers:

Kind of a reverse Murdoch or Fox News, and not always wrong… But it so reminds me of fundamentalism… We KNOW; the herd DON’T… All very 50s…


Posted by on November 27, 2008 in Africa, Australia, current affairs