Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Simon Jenkins is a stupid cock


The world's least consistent journo broke new ground recently. The occasionally brilliant Jenkins (although see here for previous stupidity) has sunk out of sight with his latest piece. My comment on his ill-considered guff:

This article is breathtakingly stupid. Simon has really dropped a clanger.

I'll just start with this:

"No scepticism is admitted to this new orthodoxy"

Really, Simon? Really?! Because, as scientist, being sceptical is pretty much what I do for a living.

He goes on to list some alleged failures of science:

"It was too bad that the Icelandic ash clouds turned out to be not as bad as "the science" had claimed. It was too bad if science banned beef on the bone; too bad if science wasted £2bn on Tamiflu; too bad if science wrecked the case for nuclear power by its hypersafe radiation limits, or failed properly to defend GM foods."

For f@&k's sake, man, use Google to find out what the Precautionary Principle means and then come back and apologise for your foolhardy words!

Its odd that there are several genuine and major flaws in recent science policy and yet Simon doesn't seem to be aware of any of them. Shall we mention the plummeting career options for most scientists in this country? The increasing politicisation of funding applications across the scientific board? The misuse of "scientific" government funding to lobby the government itself to permit the growth of GM crops? The bizarre insistence that grant applications include an estimate of the economic benefit of the proposed research, regardless of whether it relates to new technology or studies of microbial evolution?

Seriously weak stuff: 1/10

Hilariously, some other scientists of moderately greater eminence than I have also taken up the task of bringing Jenkins to book for his crimes against science.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

anonymous Israeli government "voices" consider Gaza to be part of Israel


From the Jerusalem Post:

"Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said unequivocally on Sunday that Israel had no intention of apologizing, and one diplomatic source said Thursday there were voices inside the government saying that not only should Israel not apologize, but it should demand a Turkish apology for facilitating the dispatch of a ship with terrorist supporters who beat Israeli soldiers trying to protect its territorial sovereignty."
So, a ship carrying aid to Gaza had to be stopped to protect Israel's territorial sovereignty. No further analysis required.

Friday, June 18, 2010

lies, damned lies and free market fundamentalism


So the guy who fucked Northern Rock into oblivion, taking amounts of taxpayers money so vast that if the cash was assembled in one place it would undergo gravitational collapse, has written a book justifying his personal conviction that free market fundamentalism is the only way that the environment and society will be saved from humanity's evills. Our George pointed out that he was full of shit. In particular, George feels that Matt Ridley's claim that the bailing out of corporations that are Too Big To Fail by governments amounts to heresy and will lead to the birth of the Antimoses, is just a tad hypocritical.

It seems that Ridley pays attention to what George says, George being an awesome and powerful social commentator of world-striding repute. He put out an attempt at some sort of rebuttal to George's detailed criticism. It is no surprise that this bullshit merchant's rebuttal to criticism of his bullshit was . . . . . well . . . let's just say that its composed of fermented grass, bacteria and mucus.

So, George being the rigorous and persistent fellow that he is, he took on this pile of steaming brown liquid and repeated the process of analysis and criticism, arriving again at the conclusion that Matt Ridley is intellectually dishonest or a liar. Possibly both.

George's article also contains a complaint that the right-wing blogosphere benefits from an "echo-chamber" which actively regurgitates and disseminates material they find complimentary to their philosophy, whereas the left-wing blogoweb possess no equivalent. Personally, I do not consider myself to be on the left, whatever that means. I do consider myself to be "right" in terms of being correct but not "right-wing"- again, whatever that means. And so, because I like George's work, I will happily link to it here and rant about it in an incoherent manner. Honestly, if he wants people to crudely regurgitate his awesomeness then I am more than happy to oblige. I just wish I had the time and ability to do a better job of it.

Fascinatingly, I never realised that Ridley is not only a businessman but also a distinguished scientist, with a DPhil in Zoology. So distinguished is he that I read one of his books during my honours degree. I am, frankly, alarmed that this character is free to talk such simply falsifiable crap, dressed up as pseudo-intellectual analysis. Maybe he should have stuck to science, where absolute statements of fact must be rigorously defended to your peers instead of being published in some pop-economics wankmanual for tired and bored investment bankers.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

manifest awesomenessss


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

HOW fucking stupid?


So an American friend on farcebook posted the following:

"So where are all the "Save the Gulf" concerts? Where are the TV benefits with celebrities and musicians giving heart felt speeches on the poorf ishermen, wildlife, beaches, loss of income and gulf economy? I find it rather strange how these people were so quick to help Haiti and other countries but sit on their backsides for this one. Repost if you agree!!!"
I didn't think it inappropriate to point out that Haiti is a failed state, as opposed to the largest economy in the world. Do you think I was being harsh?

Nup. Didn't think so.

Friday, June 04, 2010

the first blatantly corporatist decision from the Tories


Here's the politician's perspective.
"The wider growing and selling of genetically modified crops has received its strongest government backing to date from the new environment secretary, Caroline Spelman."

"Spelman . . . spent 15 years in the agriculture industry and worked as director of a biotechnology lobbying firm."

And here's the scientist's:

"Professor Brian Wynne, . . . an academic specialist on public engagement with science, said in a letter to the group that the planned consultation [on licensing GM in the UK] was biased in favour of the technology and was little more than propaganda for the industry."

To be fair to Spelman she did also say that "The Food Standards Agency should not be spending taxpayers' money promoting GM foods" but after her initial comment that's kind of like saying that the UK really, really needs new nuclear power and this government is all for it but it won't pay for the electricity companies' adverts on TV.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

murder or war?


The Israelis have actually gone mental. There is no clear reason for their actions in boarding the aid ships and murdering people. The consequences have been clearly laid out by Craig Murray:

"To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody's territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution."

The thing Craig doesn't point out is that Israel is absolutely not going to hand over any of its holy warriors for prosecution. Which makes me think its going to be war, not murder.