Tuesday, October 30, 2007

some Americans are so stupid . . . .

. . . . that they think that their mincing version of rugby football might actually appeal to the British.

I can't even summon the vitriol to swear at them. What's the point? They already know that they're a bunch of body-armour-wearing, time-out-calling, forward-passing mincers.

punkscience loves The Spectator

Such a quality publication! And such a diverse range of stories covered from a humanitarian perspective. Clive Stafford-Smith's is the best but there are several competitors for the title.

This is interesting though. I'm not very happy with Sean Carey's position.

King Abdullah is a cunt

Robert Fisk is appropriately outraged.

Yes, British ignorants- you're monarch is welcoming a theocratic dictator who regularly has people publically beheaded. Several British nationals have been summarily arrested and tortured by his country whilst Blair's government turned a blind eye. They weren't even prepared to condemn the sentence of two of these poor innocents to death by crucifixion.


Sorry- what century are we living in, again?


Johann agrees.

Mirador del Rio

Punkscience was here this weekend. He thought it was one of the most amazing places he's ever seen!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UK government accountability, and lack thereof

Tom Bower has written an excellent little polemic.

The question is: How do you hold MPs to account for their actions?

Supposedly their peers (i.e. other MPs, not Peers) are meant to do so but in the obvious absence of justice from this party the only real solution is some sort of independent body, preferably of Judges, with powers to strip MPs of their titles in the face of their regular misconduct.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

George Monbiot, poker of sleeping dragons

On a topical theme George has slagged laissez-faireism in the UK economy and has shat all over some moron called Matt Ridley. As usual, the businesses and vested interests are all on one side going "free us from the tyranny of regulation and we will create utopia!" whilst all informed, rational, sane people are on the other side going "well, no. Actually, you won't. What you'll do is create an opaque system of an epically corrupt nature where money is diverted away from societally rewarding endpoints and into the pockets of the already mega-rich".

You see kids, that's the point of legislation. You can't trust vested interests to govern themselves. Its like giving children the keys to the sweet shop and telling each of them to make sure that the others don't steal any sweets. Sooner or later their immature minds achieve the transcendant state of cooperating for their net good whilst presenting a united front of innocence whenever the shopkeeper returns to find half his stock missing.

As George alludes to, even where you have legislation vested interests work to subvert attempts to enforce its reasonable rules and limits by creating truly opaque accounting systems that are so complex they are effectively inscrutable to legislators. Behind this screen all sorts of dodgy business can be carried out at a subtle level- but that subtle level is surely better than the outrageous self-interest that would predominate in the absence of any legislation whatsoever!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Misanthropic Principles - Number 3 - "Terrorists Are Bad"

Teaching children that the society in which they live is a glorious utopia and that they should be grateful for the opportunities they have only serves to ingrain a sense of distrust and disillusionment when they realise all too soon that modern life is grossly corrupt and unfair. This perpetuates the vicious circle of disenfranchisement and disengagement with society which then prevents any meaningful change at the ballot box. The result is the incumbence of a bunch of centre-right nepotists who slowly fritter our nations services and infrastructure away whilst quashing our freedoms and rights.

Essentially, this is an argument based upon the stunning hypocrisy and moral vacuity of many public figures and policy makers- as well as the corporate and philanthropic figures who finance them- who all somehow claim to be acting in the public interest. The most prominent example can be found in the postulation that "Terrorists Are Bad". Alternatively, reference to Universal Principles serves well to illuminate the issue.

Supplementary evidence to this Misanthropic Principle has been provided by The General.

I am a Social Justice Crusader . . . .

Find out what type of liberal you are with this handy online quiz.

I'm really more of a Direct Social Democrat but the book's American and they're a bit backward about their politics compared to us Europeans.

I overheard the owner of a stall in the continental market that was in Plymouth the other day protesting that some woman had objected to the suggestion that the UK was part of a continent. The stallholder was saying, in a disbelieving tone, "I did say to her that we're part of Europe whether she likes it or not but she kept saying that she didn't think we had anything in common with them lot".


Some people are so fucking pig-ignorant that I just want to beat them around the head with a stick.

Oliver Kamm is a dirty little, warmongering fuckwit

If he has the balls to read what has been written in retort in the comments section after his bullshit rant he might actually crawl away and commit suicide.

I hope he does. Fucker.

we are all fucked . . . .

. . . . and its all fault of Blair, Bush, Clinton, Major and all the other politicans who have ignored the twin threats of climate change and peak oil for the last 20 years.


Friday, October 19, 2007

freedom of information - just as long as you don't want it any time soon

The delaying tactics of Whitehall threaten to return us to the days of Lack of Freedom of Information.

the inhumanity of economics

This is new to me and I find it simply appalling.

I am reminded of the closing comments in Adam Curtis's documenatry series, The Trap. At the end of the second program Curtis's narration concludes with the observation that the game theory/free market model is now undergoing interrogation by economists who suspect a more irrational model of behaviour is appropriate and useful. In fact, in formal experiments the only people who behaved exactly according to the mathematical models created by game theory are economists themselves, and psychopaths.

The document I first linked to suggests that these two groups of people might actually be one.

global inequality

I skimmed this passage off the comments on a CiF article from someone who themselves pinched it off a blog called Lenin's Tomb. I like it because it makes its point through a polemical diatribe with swearing. Anyone who has read a handful of my posts will understand why it appealed to me.

"The world makes no sense. More wealth is produced every year than each preceding year.

More goods exist on the planet now than ever before. Bewildering new technologies such as iPhones and Newtons, along with the most advanced medicines, the most sophisticated forms of transport, cheaper and cheaper forms of cultivation and mining and extraction and renewal, and so on.

Did you know that the total world GDP last year was, by the purchasing power parity method of measurement, $65.95 trillion? That's product, that's value-added, that doesn't even take into account the wealth already existing, right?

Now, suppose I were to say, pretend last year never happened. You can live on what you had in 2006, can't you? You don't desperately need a new house or something? Okay, so forget your measly interests for a second: ask yourself what could I do with all that money?

You know, with 6 billion people on the planet, $65.95 trillion amounts to $1,099,166.67 each. (Alright, it's 6.6bn now, so make let's say it would be $999,242.424 each).

Did you get that much of a pay rise last year? Did you even get a pay rise, or is the Iron Chancellor trying to cut yours as well?

Where the hell is all this money going? Who is doing what with it, and why aren't we told? I mean, I don't know about you, but I figure I did my fair bloody share, and I want a cut of that moolah.

Alright, suppose we get over the Politics of Envy (Pinochet knew what to do with those who got too envious). Let us turn to the Politics of Compassion.

There are 3bn people on the planet living in absolute poverty: that's half the population of the world. Many of these live in dynamic capitalist economies like India and Indonesia. 80% of Indians live on less than $2 a day according to the World Bank (who are making sure it's kept that way).

The same august institution says that half of Indonesians live on less than $2 a day. But these are two countries that have followed orders, privatised, deregulated and liberalised.

Of course, Indonesia notoriously had to go through a process of genocide in order to get there. Not to mention centuries of benevolent governance at the hands of colonial powers in both countries, which did admittedly kill a few tens of millions of people.

But all of this mass murder was a temporary stop-gap on the way prosperity, and anyway - what are the fascist metaphors people usually use in this circumstance? Eggs and omelettes? Wheat and chaff? Chas and Dave? What can have gone wrong?

The highest proportions of such a state of poverty are in Africa. Zambia has 94.1% of its population living in absolute poverty. Nigeria - oil-rich multinational-friendly Nigeria - has 92.4% of its population living in absolute poverty.

And, as well as this, there are tens of millions of people living on below $2 a day in Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

So, what happened to that $65.95 trillion from last year alone? Did it fall behind the sofa? Has someone wasted it on television phone polls?

Well, remember I mentioned the Billionaire's Club last year? That is, aside from the richest 2% of adults in the world (about 83 million people) who owned more than half of the world's wealth, that 500 people who actually own billions? That was last year, and the statistics probably originated from longer ago.

This year, there are 946: 415 in America, 55 in Germany, 53 in Russia, 36 in India, and 29 in the UK. And it occurs to me that those chaps would be in an ideal position, due to their immense social power, to ensure that most of the newly created wealth goes to them, and as little as possible is redistributed (except when it's good for PR and capitalist morale).

It's the same pattern in every country: look at the wealth distribution in selected countries. (Isn't it weird that the bottom 20% of Australians have so little of the national wealth that they don't even register as a significant percentage share? Isn't it weirder still that some actually get a negative share such as in Germany and Sweden?).

Well, I'm sick of it. Every year I get gipped. I get short-changed. I get a nice hot cup of fuck all. I wait for the cheque in the post, and all I get is another war. If this keeps happening, I'm going to start thinking it's being done on purpose."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Misanthropic Principles: Principle Number 1 (edit)


"Th[e] substitution of corporate priorities over and above those of the public is the first of the Misanthropic Principles."

More precisely:

"Corporate or commercial benefit makes any corporation fundamentally incapable of managing projects in the public interest."


"A corporation is a fundamentally sociopathic entity."

attacking the corporate cock-weasels

Prem Sikka has some good words to say and some powerful examples of corporate sociopathy.


Seumas Milne gave Labour's lust for PFI's the treatment too. George Monbiot has previously slated the government's forcing of PFI's upon health trusts in Captive State too and has embarked on several polemics against this abhorrent policy since then. Good show!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Misanthropic Principles - #2

Following on from Number 1:

Healthy, balanced societies with stable populations and economies result from enlightenment values and progressive policy. Any other values system results in unstable economies, rising populations and sociopathy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

life on a neighbouring planet


Now the only problem is how to get there . . . . . enter the US Republican Party's next election pledge: "We intend to mount a manned mission to another planet, outside of our own solar system, in order to spread democracy and freedom through a diverse arsenal of nucular weapons with which to subdue the Libran reign of evil!"

US fantasies

A passage from this article:

". . . the Americans maintained that withdrawing the [British] coalition presence from Basra, Iraq's second city, would pave the way for Iranian agents to move in. They claimed to have definite intelligence that elements of the al-Quds force were poised to infiltrate across the border from Iran when the British left. The British assessment did not support this scenario, holding that nationalism among the Shia population would supersede any affinity they felt with Shia Iran and that withdrawing from the palace would lessen violence."

Clearly the US weren't sharing their intelligence with the British forces. I think this is because their intelligence was bullshit and the British would have realised this and blown the whistle on their propaganda war against Iran.

Science vs Religion

The following article has been determined to rock!!

Onward Science Soldiers

Victor J. Stenger

Victor J. Stenger’s latest book, God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist, has made the New York Times bestseller list.

In a poll taken in 1998, only 7 percent of the members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the elite of American scientists, said they believed in a personal God (Larson and Witham 1998). While the percentage is undoubtedly greater in the U.S. scientific community as a whole, it is probably safe to say that the majority of American scientists are nonbelievers, in marked contrast to the general public.

Nevertheless, most scientists seem to prefer as a practical matter that science should stay clear of religious issues. This is a good strategy for those who wish to avoid conflicts between science and religion, which might lead to less public acceptance of science and that most dreaded of all consequences—lower funding. However, religions make assertions about the natural world, and these have no special immunity from being examined under the cold light of critical analysis. Scientists are abdicating their responsibilities when they avoid applying their expertise to evaluate religious claims that can be tested against empirical facts, especially when religious thinking is used to override science in the making of public policy.

In one of its official statements supporting evolution, the Academy states, “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral” (National Academy of Sciences 1998). This is simply untrue. Not only can science examine any claim that bears on empirical data, reputable scientists from reputable institutions are doing just that, for example, in experiments on the efficacy of intercessory prayer.

In the battle between evolution and creationism, the political strategy adopted by many scientific organizations such as the Academy and the National Center for Science Education has been to seek support of Catholics and moderate Christians whose clergy have stated their support for evolution. The uncomfortable fact that evolution implies humanity is an accident, rather than the special creation of God in his own image, is conveniently swept under the rug.

But there are worse things happening in America and the world as the direct result of religious thinking than children hearing the dreaded word creation in the classroom. Both abroad and at home, we are engaged in cultural wars that threaten the very existence of secular society and the health, safety, and well-being of humans everywhere. Islamic radicals have declared war on the modern world and are steadily gaining adherents in all countries with large Muslim populations. George W. Bush’s “War on Terror,” which he has characterized in religious terms as a holy war of good against evil, has advanced rather than deterred this trend.

The born-again U.S. president has based his policies, foreign and domestic, on faith rather than evidence—faith that his own instincts are divinely inspired and any evidence that contradicts these instincts may be ignored and even suppressed.

A series of recent books has extensively documented how a small group of influential Christian extremists, with large financial resources at their disposal, have taken control of the Republican party and used churches to build enough support at the polls to gain control of the White House and Congress in 2000 and 2004 (Mooney 2005, Phillips 2006, Goldberg 2006, Linker 2006, Hedges 2007). Only with the 2006 midterm election has their influence slipped. But this may be attributed to the unmitigated disaster of Iraq rather than any sea change in public opinion. You can bet these groups have not thrown in the towel on their goal of converting America to a Christian theocracy.

Let me list some examples of Bush policies that are founded in theology rather than evidence and how he and his administration have acted to suppress scientific studies that contradict the faith-based assumptions that lie behind these policies.

In one of his first acts as president, Bush restored a gag rule on aid to international organizations that counsel women on abortion. Of millions of dollars spent on preventing and treating AIDS in Africa, 30 percent was earmarked for promoting sexual abstinence and none for condoms. Here at home, $170 million was spent in 2005 alone on promoting abstinence-only sex education in schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was pressured to remove from its Web site scientific findings that abstinence-only programs do not work. According to a 2003 report issued by Democratic Congressman Henry A. Waxman and the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee, the Bush administration modified performance measures for abstinence-based programs to make them look effective.

Similarly, under pressure from conservatives in Congress, a National Cancer Institute Web site was changed to reflect the view that there may be a risk of breast cancer associated with abortions, a claim made by evangelicals that has no scientific support (Mooney 2005, pp. 206–207).

Bush’s obstruction of stem-cell research, which holds promise to provide a wide range of therapies, is based on the theological view that a 150-cell embryo contains a human soul. While scientists may prefer to remain neutral on the matter of souls, they should point out that an embryo cannot suffer while stem-cell research could result in the reduction of real suffering in fully developed humans (Harris, 2005, pp. 165–167; Mooney 2006, pp. 185–204).

Bush’s appointee to the Food and Drug Administration’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory committee, gynecologist W. David Hager, is an evangelical who prescribes Bible readings to treat premenstrual syndrome. Hager was primarily responsible for the FDA blocking over-the-counter sales of the birth-control drug known as Plan B. This was despite testimony before his committee by a scientific advisory panel that “Plan B was the safest product that we have ever seen brought before us” (Mooney 2005, pp. 215–220).

Evangelicals have also influenced Bush administration policies on the environment, leading the White House to intervene in 2003 to remove cautions against global warming from a report on the environment (Mooney 2005, p. 90). More recently, Bush has seemed to make an about-face on global warming, but NASA is still delaying or canceling a number of satellites designed to obtain critical information on Earth climate. Bush gives the space station higher priority, despite the fact that a consensus of scientists regard it as scientifically useless.

In October 2005, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee at NASA headquarters, sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations for middle-school students. The message said the word theory should be added after every mention of the Big Bang. The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, “It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator” (Revkin 2006b). This was just another instance where NASA scientists were pressured to limit discussions on topics uncomfortable to the Bush administration, including global warming (Revkin 2006a).

While scientists have begun to speak out on these issues, they have not directly confronted the religious thinking that forms the basis of these policies. Presumably, they fear offending “deeply held beliefs.” I am pleading that religion no longer be given this free ride. The stakes are too high.

Let science compete with religion in the marketplace of ideas. Scientists should question religious assumptions just as they question those of other scientists. And they should vigorously protest whenever faith is used to suppress sound scientific results.


Goldberg, Michelle. 2006. Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. New York: W.W. Norton.

Harris, Sam. 2005. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. New York: W.W. Norton.

Hedges, Chris. 2007. American Fascists. New York: Free Press.

Larson, Edward J., and Larry Witham. 1998. Leading scientists still reject God. Nature 394:313.

Linker, Damon. 2006. The Theocons: Secular American under Siege. New York: Doubleday.

Mooney, Chris. 2005. The Republican War on Science. New York: Basic Books. National Academy of Sciences. 1998. Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington, D.C: National Academy of Sciences: p. 58. Available at: www.nap.edu/ catalog/5787.html; accessed March 5, 2006.

Phillips, Kevin. 2006. American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. New York: Viking Penguin.

Revkin, Andrew C. 2006a. Climate expert says NASA tried to silence him. The New York Times. January 29.

Revkin, Andrew C. 2006b. NASA chief backs agency openness. The New York Times. February 4.

Johann explains how Al Gore's reputation is being smeared

I mentioned this story before but Johann has done a much better job on it than me so read his version.

I want climate change denial to be criminalised.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

more of the same . . .

Labour's actions on climate change slated as "crabby incrementalism".

Johann Hari reviews Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" about disaster capitalism.

Seth Freedman talks about the apathy of Israelis towards the war crimes committed by their government.

beautiful music

I'd just like to say that Hybrid's track "just for today" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard.

It is very complementary to their earlier appearance on the classic Beatman mix "nowsound exposure", which everyone should get drunk and listen to.

Blair's ignorance

"He asked very smart questions, though I did think that someone who was prime minister for so long should already have known these facts."

So much for Blair's alleged impressive degree of insight into the Palestinian apartheid.

progressive taxation and inheritance tax

Some cunt posted a comment on a previous post on the above topic. This cunt called the idea "parasitism" on the grounds that "it takes a real LOSER to see the rationale of taxing someone more productive than someone who isn't".

Do I need to rebutt this? Well, no. But I'm going to say this: Learn some English you ignorant, peasant fuckwit.

. . . . . Well . . . . I was going to slate this cunt's use of English in the quote above but I can't be arsed to look up the technical definition of his error. Just read it and see if you can spot the mistake. $1,000,000 to the first person with a grammatically correct critique.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

we are all fucked

Honestly, does anyone really think our government has the spuds to generate a global accord to achieve this.

We really are fucked.

saving the marine environment

‘...the great and long iron of the wondrychoun [trawl] runs so heavily over the ground when fishing that it destroys the flowers of the land below the water there...’
-Commons petition to the King of England, 1376
cited in Auster et al, 1996

I don't think I've linked to this before so I'll whack it up here now (its 8mb so beware dial-up losers). Its the RCEP's report on the sustainability of our marine fisheries and the impact on overfishing on the rest of the ecosystem. Its a subject close to my heart and one I profess to understand with a degree of insight, being a marine biologist after all.

Another good source of information is The End of The Line, a book written by Charles Clover, which I'm sure I've mentioned before but I can't seem to find.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Johann on Inheritance Tax

He's one of my favourite polemicists:

"Strangely, the right-wingers who complain that the benefits system creates a “moral hazard” by giving people “money for nothing” see no moral hazard in doing exactly the same thing with the rich, with far larger sums."

I'm disappointed that he didn't assault the methodology of taxation. I'm an advocate of progressive taxation and I think any arbitrary figure over which you start paying a fixed percentage is stupid. I believe there should be a threshold but I think that it should start around £100,000 at a paltry level (say, 0.1%) and increase thereafter to 25% at £1,000,000 and 49% for anything over £10,000,000. I will tell him so.

WTF again?

No, really! What the fuck, again?

This is so wrong. I can't begin to describe it. Its not nearly as bad as my previous WTF but at a local level its far more surprising.

Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism

I just finished George Monbiot's Captive State and bought this book to move on to. I reckon its gonna rock.

What you tink, blood?

Sharon Beder seems like a bit of a champion eco-warrior. There was another book of hers that I was really drawn to as well but, hey! I'm trying to get a frickin' PhD here! I can't afford every work of literary genius out there!

welcome to PRICKWASH ! !

First there was whitewash, then greenwash and now I wish to coin a new term: prickwash.

The New Party

I just encountered this bunch through a reference in this article. Judging by the actions of their party member I instantly assumed they would be a shower of capitalist fundamentalist fuckwits. I was right.

Any party which explicitly advocates a minimum of taxes, global free trade, integrity and moral purpose, personal responsibility and economic prosperity is out to advance the corporate line at every turn at the expense of the less well off.


The moron at the centre of the article was campaigning to have An inconvenient Truth banned from being shown in schools by "Arguing that the film's promotion of partisan political views was "irremediable" and that it contained scientific inaccuracies and "sentimental mush"". Well, I agree that the film contains sentimental mush, but scientific inaccuracies? I don't think so. And what does the moron in question know about it? Well, he's a lorry driver so all those scientists out there working for the IPCC better sit up and take notice because there's a new authority in town!!!

Anyway, the point I want to raise is that the judge in the case ruled that the moron had substantially won his case as distribution of the film breached sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act. These sections ban the political indoctrination of schoolchildren and require political views to be presented in a balanced way.

Does anyone see the flaw in this???

A high court judge has branded climate change as a political view.

new move to build on green belt

In a classic piece of capitulation to corporate interests Natural England- the mickey mouse bunch of pseudo-academics, civil servants and vested interests who manage our environment- have decided that its time to make another assault upon our green belts. The justification? That we need more houses.

The obvious failure of the government to ensure that brown fields sites have affordable housing built on them allows the developers to justify this maneouvre. Typically, Gordon Brown has previously promised to "protect green belts". At the forefront of this new assault is that queen fuckwit, Hazel Blears.

ships more polluting than aeroplanes??


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Brown's bullshit tax changes

Yes, bullshit.

As Paul Kenny says: "The new rate of 18% still leaves the multi-millionaire elite paying a lower rate of tax on their income than ordinary working men and women. There is no justification for affording privileges to this elite and indeed proposing to continue to do so is scandalous. It is time that the few were treated like the many."

Tony Juniper also thought it was bullshit; greenwash, no less. So you have the flip side of the coin to back up the existing, more obvious social injustice: Climate change. The malignant side-effect of the obscene lifestyles of the worlds' richest that will kill millions of the worlds' poorest.

George Monbiot points out that an economy that values growth over the welfare of its people is apocalyptic in nature

George fucking rocks. I love the way he slags jetskiers too. As a wakeboarder they are the biggest hazard to responsible use of waterski areas. I have had these following right behind me on my wakeboard so close that, had I fallen off, they wouldn't have been able to avoid running me down. I have had them "flare" me in high-speed drive-bys, jumping my wake and generally pissing around in the ski area, doing doughnuts and chopping the shit out of my nice, flat water. I am currently limping like a bastard after nearly popping me knee again landing on jetski chop when I was out riding a fortnight ago.

However, I doubt George would approve of my gas-guzzling pastime (a wakeboard session uses ~13 litres of petrol). In my defence my carbon footprint is still probably half the UK average.

Anyway, George gives it the business with an eloquence and attention to detail that would take me several weeks to compose.

US hypocrisy

"In most of the world, few can fail to see the cynicism. Washington rewards allies and clients that ignore the NPT rules entirely, while threatening war against Iran, which is not known to have violated the NPT, despite extreme provocation: The United States has occupied two of Iran’s neighbours and openly sought to overthrow the Iranian regime since it broke free of US control in 1979."

Nice one Noam.

how to buy a UK general election- by Michael Ashcroft

Johann Hari informs us about this interesting little development on the UK plutocratic scene. If anyone was ever in any doubt that capitalist fundamentalists are in charge of running this country, just read how this guy-who is obviously finding even Nu Labour's incredibly corporate-friendly government inadequate when it comes to feathering his tax exempt nest- goes about buying votes.

Johann slates geo-engineering

And doesn't he do it well.

Monday, October 08, 2007

more choice excerpts from Captive State by George Monbiot

here we go:

Our own department of trade and industry had the following to say:

"Environmental regulations can cause an excessive increase in the cost [of supplying services] and become in themselves barriers to trade'.
-DTI, 1999 - Liberalising trade in Services: A consultative document on the 'GATS 2000' negotiations in the world trade organisation and forthcoming bilateral negotiations

Another DTI paper suggested that companies should face only voluntary codes for protecting the environment, and then only when it suits 'their own business reasons'.
DTI, 1999 - International investment: The next steps

Yes, that's our government actually advocating the elimination of legislation protecting the public from corporate attempts to avoid the costs of pollution. Well done Tony & Gordon ! ! !

You fuckers!

Joss Garman is a dude

He wrote this neat little article on CiF about how his direct action group are trying to prevent the construction of a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth (yes, you read that correctly- a coal fired power station). Anyway, there are some real wankers in the comments pulling out all the usual climate change-denier cheap shots ("why spend the money on preventing climate change when you could spend it on AIDS", "Damn greens want us all sitting in the dark eating cold gravel - they really do y'know", etc, etc). I just had to rant one out in Joss's defense:

"Ah, yes! The climate ostriches emerge, trailing coal dust and crude oil everywhere they tread. Brandishing copies of Nuts and the News of The World, murmuring their mantra of "Jeremy Clarkson is our messiah . . . ." and responding to any attempt to reason with their bigotry with roars of rage "BLOODY ENVIRONMENTALISTS WANT US ALL TO LIVE IN THE DARK AND EAT LENTILS!!!!!".

You know, in twenty years time I want you all to remember this day and this article and recall the day that you turned your back on the rest of the human race. No, its fine! That's democracy for you- you have the power to vote for whatever government advocates the policies you believe in. This is why we have 1.2 million dead Iraqis; increases in greenhouse gas emissions, instead of cuts; government departments prowled by coporate lobbyists paid by the government to lobby against its own decisions; private finance initiatives that result in 25% drops in hospital staff and 30% falls in the number of beds; urban planning schemes designed to maximise the income of the retail outlets that lobbied for their approval and paid for the rigged surveys suggesting they will ebnefit the community; roads and bridges being planend and built without any reason other than to provide 14% profit margins to construction companies; etc etc etc. You voted this government in and you are going to have to deal with the consequences. Not all of you can emigrate to Australia. Enjoy!"

Newsflash! - UK marine species need protection ! ! !

Like we didn't fucking well know that!

There is so much scientific literature showing how marine reserves are the only way to preserve dwindling fishstocks but for some reason the legislative bodies don't take any notice. I wonder why?


As it is subscription-access I have pasted in this pertinent New Scientist editorial in full:


Editorial: For cod's sake, act now

A few weeks from now, European Union fisheries ministers will gather for a familiar pre-solstice ritual. They will sit around a table until the wee hours, and share out Europe's fish stocks. Fisheries scientists have already made their contribution to this ceremony by calling for beleaguered North Sea cod to be left alone. They have done this for seven years. For the past six, the ministers have calmly tossed Europe's fishermen a cod quota anyway. This year they probably will again.

Yet the cod keep coming back to be fought over. What is going on here? Are the scientists just plain wrong? Or are the ministers quite sensibly grabbing what they can before all the fish die in 2048, as a widely reported scientific paper predicted this week?

Well, neither. For one thing, all the fish are not going to die in 2048 - or not necessarily. That is the trend if fishing continues as usual (see "Glimmer of hope for 'doomed' fish"), but we now know how to stop the trend. We have strong evidence, as some biologists have known in their guts all along, that the ocean is a complex living machine, and that when we kill off things - any things - it becomes less good at yielding what we want from it. That includes fish. The bottom line is that if we want to keep protein production (and our oxygen source, and our pollution sink) functioning, we need to save the whale and the kelp, the copepods, the capelin and everything else.

The second-from-bottom line in this remarkable study is just as important: setting up protected marine reserves and temporarily banning fishing can reverse the declines in our seas. So long as we have not removed too much biodiversity, simply leaving the sea alone allows ecosystems to recover. Fisheries scientists already know this. They call the great global conflicts of the 20th century the First and Second Great Fishing Experiments. During both world wars, fishing boats were kept off the North Sea. The huge numbers of big fish caught after the fighting stopped showed scientists that fish stocks are affected by fishing, which must be regulated accordingly. It should be said that some fish stocks, such as hake off western Europe and Norwegian herring, are doing nicely because ministers have followed scientific advice.

Which brings us back to cod, the poster-fish for what can go wrong. Early one morning next month, bleary-eyed European ministers will probably allow fishermen to take just enough of the few cod left to allow the depleted fishery to stagger on. If they followed scientific advice for a ban on cod fishing, the number of cod would grow, and after a few years catches would boom. But that would involve short-term sacrifice, and no minister will bite that bullet. We need mechanisms to make them. Europe pays farmers not to farm but to be stewards of the countryside. Why not do the same for fishermen?

If Europe does nothing, it risks a repeat of the biological nightmare that took place in another northern sea: the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Once thick with cod, it is now bereft of them even though cod fishing was banned there more than a decade ago. Some scientists think the cod will never come back because the ocean ecosystem has been so badly denuded - not just because the cod have gone, but because the boats are now taking shrimp and crab instead. Biodiversity can hardly recover under such pressure.

The result, as any Newfoundlander will tell you, is that people are suffering badly, and when the same thing happens to overfished seas in poorer regions of the world the effects are likely to be even worse. The real message is that we must save the biodiversity that sustains the ocean while we can, because if we go too far it may not come back.

We need to do it now. Climate change is coming and it is already making life hard for North Sea cod by causing their favourite foods to bloom too far north, or too early, when baby cod are not big enough to eat them. This in itself is a good example of how a complex ocean food web needs all its components to be operating at the right place and time.

This week's study shows the sea will need all the biodiversity it can muster for even some of the resources we value to stand a chance of surviving in a warmer world. We have not acted fast enough to prevent climate change. At least we can hold off on our rape of the sea long enough to give it a fighting chance.

From issue 2577 of New Scientist magazine, 11 November 2006, page 5

Britons' disposable income plummets

"We are working harder, but we are not getting any wealthier. We are just running to stand still." is how one commentator put it. That analogy of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland has been used for so many different things that I relish each and every new application of it. So apt, the image of running at full pelt on a treadmill carrying you backwards just to remain stationary upon a spot on the ground.

Anyway, enough of my pretentious twoddle. The point is that, although economics remains a well-researched field with ample past records to guide those in charge of our current economy, they still can't get it right.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Misanthropic Principles: Principle Number 1

So after this rant I have been reading up about Corporate Social Responsibility. Well, the punkscience conclusion is that its all a bag of wank. Corporate benefit legislation dictates that corporate directors are obliged by law to act solely in the interests of profit. In most countries this makes acting for the public good illegal, unless there is some profit to be made in doing so (which is- and let's be honest- rarely the case). And any company seen to be doing so is actually pursuing some ulterior profit-making purpose, quod erat demonstrandum.

So; if, by some perverse fluke of chance, any Brown/Blair government lackey actually ends up reading this post: STOP FUNDING LOBBY GROUPS WITH OUR TAX MONEY IN THE NAIVE BELIEF THAT THE CORPORATIONS WILL SOMEHOW RETURN THE FAVOUR, YOU STUPID, STUPID BASTARDS.

The way things seem to have panned out for the Blair/Brown administration is that the people want more from their taxes without any increase in taxes and the only way to be seen to be "achieving"- and thereby governing successfully- is to take the corporate shilling and become whores to the corporations. This involves putting industry concerns over and above those of the public, thereby giving the corporations reason to 'donate' to public enterprises in return. Thus, a legislative environment that gives more weight to business concerns than to the electorate's is created. The nature of this plutocratic relationship is to subvert democracy, human rights and the richness of society. Inadequate yardsticks such as GDP are used to demonstrate the 'success' of such policies whilst more appropriate ones, such as the GPI, start to slide.

This substitution of corporate priorities over and above those of the public is the first of the Misanthropic Principles.


Interestingly I have just encountered Goodhart's law. Quite appropriate to any discussion of surrogate measures of socio-economic progress, I thought. I found it through this article, which is also totally excellent. Dude.

All Blacks forced out of World Cup after ref misses forward pass

Yes, the Blacks were the better team and should have won the day but that pass was clearly forward and yet 3 pairs of eyes missed it. The French commentator was grossly offensive by denying the obvious during the post-match analysis. Video replays and a even a computer model clearly showed the ball went forwards out of Michalak's hands by 2 yards to Jauzion, allowing him to power over. Wiff was distraught and sulked all evening. Still, a French-English semi in Paris is going to be fucking awesome!

domination of government advisory panels by industry representatives and other vested parties

I'm reading George Monbiot's Captive State. Its excellently researched and its message is clear and well presented. Here's a piece from his chapter on the subject heading:

"Until the day before he became Minister for Science and Technology, another sub-committee, called the Food Chain Group, was, as I mentioned in Chapter 8, chaired by Lord Sainsbury. His report, published like all the others by the government's Department of Trade and Industry, expressed the hope that in the future 'the precautionary principle is abandoned'".

Nice. The chapter is full of examples of supposed bastions of public interest either voicing the corporate line or actually advocating the reduction, removal or reversal of legislation protecting the public in order to ease the burden of responsibility on the corporation or corporations in question. Call me idealistic but I was under the impression that government was there to protect the public against exploitation; not to fund, facilitate and defend such exploitation in the name of some overarching capitalist principle which generates wealth for a minority at the expense of the majority. Corporations already have ample scope to turn empty, sociopathic gestures into good publicity and increased revenue. Some might consider a little too much, even.

Another example:

"The Retail and Consumer Services Foresight Panel, chaired by Sir John Banham, the head of Tarmac, warns of the 'potentially dire' impact of growing concerns about the environment. The consequences of these concerns, such as 'increasing difficulty in carrying out green field developments coupled with attempts to restrict traffic and reduce congestion', would result, inexplicably, in 'fewer women . . . working', 'cuts in state pensions' and a collapse in living standards."

Hmmmmmmmmm, and why is this disaster capitalism model being financed and promoted with our taxes again??

There's so much more in the book- you have to read it!


"While openness has long informed the ethics of science, corporations demand confidentiality. Information that the companies find uncomfortable can be withheld, even when it arises from projects half-funded by the government: The LINK programme, for example, grants discretion over whether or not to publish results to the corporate partners. The free flow of ideas is further impeded by the need to secure corporate intellectual property."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

more jesus-freaks with direct access to the White House

No wonder the US is in such a state. Half the population are insane (they voted for Bush, 'nuff said). Anyhow this is good for a few, dark laughs.

"Two of the three nights in my apartment I have been attacked by a hair raising spirit of fear," she writes, noting the sublet contained a Harry Potter book; "at this time I am associating it with witchcraft"

Beirut's tragic politics

Robert Fisk has written a poignant piece on the deadly political game Beirut is sinking into, without any concern from the Western world who continue to manipulate the country's factions for there own geopolitical ends.

World Bank Respsonible for clear-cutting world's 2nd largest rain forest

The Congo got clear cut and the loggin companies got rich. No-one thought to arrange for any of the money to pass on to the natives or other citizens of the DRC. Big, fucking surprise.

"When the bank moved back into Congo in 2002, after years of war which cost up to 4 million lives, it said industrial forestry could contribute most strongly to the country's recovery. In its rush to reform the economy it devised new forestry laws, divided the county into zones and aimed to create a favourable climate for industrial logging."

Same story, different country. The WB hands some sort of exploitation right to the corporations, telling the locals "we'll do this and you'll be on the path to development in months!". A few years later nothing has happened except the country is in a worse state then when it started. And with fewer resources. And a load of pollution lying around. And a corrupt bureaucracy in the ascendant, keen to exploit the next cash cow.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

how can Bush/Cheney even contemplate attacking Iran . . . ?

From 'ere:

It seems inconceivable that the Bush administration could even contemplate a military attack, given the massive global backlash it would create. But this administration feeds off a world of its own illusions, so we'd be wise to heed those, like Seymour Hersh, Daniel Ellsberg, and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who warn that an attack is likely. Working to stop it doesn't mean sugarcoating Iranian President Ahmadinejad's more questionable proclamations, though as University of San Francisco Middle East expert Stephen Zunes has pointed out, even some of those are (or have been) misstated. Ahmadinejad's oft-quoted threat to "wipe Israel off the map” was in fact a mistranslation of a 20-year-old quote by Ayatollah Khomeini, and Ahmadinejad explicitly told a group of American religious leaders that it was “not Iran’s intention to destroy Israel.” We can point out that Iran's fundamental decisions on foreign affairs get made not by Ahmadinejad, but by the far more cautious Council of Guardians. And we can suggest that those itching to attack try viewing the world through the lens of the Iranians, who remember, as we do not, that we've already once overthrown an elected government of that country, in the 1953 CIA coup that deposed elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in favor of the brutal Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Ahmadinejad might not even have been elected to office had Bush not rejected a major 2003 initiative by Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, that included accepting peace with Israel and tighter nuclear inspections, and backing off from supporting Hezbollah."

Monday, October 01, 2007

This is terrible ! !

John Bolton should be locked up in Guantanmo Bay because he's a frickin' terrorist! Every sentence of this article drips with lies, propaganda, misrepresentations and a bloody desire to kill innocent for geopolitical advantage. The man is a monster and should be shot. In a perfect world capital punishment should not be necessary but in this dystopia it seems the most efficient way of ridding the world of totalitarian voices that spread a message of terror and military domination.

This is awesome ! !

Another way to harness intermittent renewable resources such as wind power and store it efficiently and vconveniently to cope with base load.