Saturday, 21 November 2009

Warmists’ science hacked – and exposed! [update 8]

The emails of several leading warmist scientists' look to have been hacked, going back for at least thirteen years, back when these people thought they were untouchable.

“Scientists” included in the hacked emails include Phil Jones, the man who “corrected” temperature data for the IPCC to account for the Urban Heat Island effect and then “lost” the raw, uncorrected data (I “would rather destroy the CRU data than release it” he says in one email); Michael Mann, who concocted the bogus ‘Hockey Stick’ used by the IPCC to deny the Medieval Warm Period (“'As we all know, this isn't about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations” he says in another); Keith Briffa, the author of a later hockey stick (whose deceptions have already been uncovered by Steve McIntyre); self-confessed liar Stephen Schneider, an adviser to Al Gore; and James Hansen, the man who insists coal trains are like the death trains to the gas chambers, and who also advises The Goracle on warmism.

If genuine, and there’s every reason to suppose they are (even if the words Ian Wishart are included in some of the alleged verifications of them), the emails take you “behind the curtain” in the preparation and presentation of the last several years of warmist revelations. If what’s been uncovered is genuine, there’s evidence here of systematic deception:

  • concealing real doubts about the theory of man-made global warming (AGW);
  • concealing inconvenient facts that don’t fit the theory of AGW;
  • misdirecting attention away from the truth (a tactic being used as we speak by the Real Climate bluffers;
  • confessing that PR trumps truth;
  • massaging raw data to fit the AGW theories;
  • massaging models to make the data fit AGW theories
  • destroying the very data on which the world’s temperature record is based;
  • conspiring to avoid releasing public data to the public under Freedom of Information requests;
  • turning peer-reviewed science journals into shills for warmism;
  • using supposedly “neutral” climate blog Real Climate to control the message and hide dissent;
  • cynically blackballing climate skeptics to avoid confronting their arguments.

Taken together, they suggest, as even the New York Times sniffily admits, “that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change.”

It’s already been called “the blue-dress moment,” the 'Climate Pentagon Papers' and 'a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science'. It’s like lifting a rock and seeing what’s scuttling round underneath the surface. If true, this is a scandal that should do to politicised science what the global economic meltdown should have done to mainstream macroeconomics.

As Chris Horner says, “If legit, this apparently devastating series of revelations will be very hard for the media to ignore.” 

    “I didn't say impossible [to deny] — the [media are] fully vested partners in the global warming industry, because catastrophism sells. But so does scandal, and this appears to be the makings of a very big one. Imagine this sort of news coming in the field of AIDS research. Then reflect that the taxpayer spends more on climate-related research than on the entire suite of AIDS programs, far beyond drug research.”

And even more than AIDS research, the warmists’ “science” is used to justify shutting down or seriously shacking the industry that keeps us all alive.

So, very hard to deny, very hard to ignore -- Though I’m sure, like the paid warmist shills at the likes of Real Climate (whose leading author Gavin Schmidt is himself included in the emails), they’ll try.  They’ll be trying very hard – after all, it’s their meal ticket that’s at stake.

Lots of links, discussion and analysis all around the place about the hacks and what they’ve revealed, especially at Watts Up With That, Climate DepotClimate Audit, Reference Frame, The Blackboard . . .

This story will keep on running.

UPDATE: Gooner writes a speech for John Key:

Earlier this week Lucy Lawless, and that failed NIWA spindoctor scientist, Jim Salinger, tried to pull a stunt by giving John Key the airfare money to fly to Copenhagen next month. Key refused.
He should now go. I have written his speech (see below).

Ladies and Gentlemen
New Zealand has this week been shown to be the least corrupt country in the World.
We are justifiably very proud of that.
On that basis we do not wish to be involved with the cheats, liars and frauds running the climate change circus.
We are pulling out of Kyoto and scrapping the ETS.
Have a nice conference.
I'm now flying back to New Zealand in Al Gore's private jet.

Best John Key speech ever, I’d say. Not that there’s stiff competition or anything.

UPDATE 2: From around the traps:

  • Read Andrew Bolt:  The warmist conspiracy: the emails that most damn Jones, keeper of world temperature records for the past 1000 years:
    "If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone . . . We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. . . I did get an email from the FOI person here early yesterday to tell me I shouldn’t be deleting emails . . . Can you delete any emails you may have had... I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act ! . . . ”
  • Scientists Write Open Letter to Congress: 'You Are Being Deceived About Global Warming' -- 'Earth has been cooling for ten years'
  • Michael Mann - Penn State and University of Virginia, premiere climate scientist, inventor of hockey sticks: "These two are clowns..."
  • Phil Jones, on the data: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”
  •    Phil Jones again, guardian of the data: “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor. . . . It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ [Chris de Freitas]. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice!”
  • From Tim Blair:
        “Climate Research Unit director Phil Jones – alleged author of that “hide the decline” email – expresses another (alleged) opinion:

    If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences.

    Of course, if change doesn’t happen, it won’t prove that science was wrong. It’ll prove that certain scientists were. As Ed Morrissey notes:

    Here we have scientists who cling to the theory so tightly that they reject the data. That’s not science; it’s religious belief.

  • Pejman Yousefzadeh sums up [hat tip Tim Blair]:

    We know this: The language used in many of the e-mails is offensive, crude, disparaging towards climate skeptics (including a disgusting statement made in the aftermath of the death of one global warming skeptic), and against the spirit of scientific inquiry on multiple levels. If these scientists had the doubts they appear to have had concerning global warming, they should have gone public with those doubts. That way, they would have lost neither their integrity, nor their ability to state that the weight of the evidence supports the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Instead, they engaged in . . . this.

  • “After the leaking of the emails, exactly who are the deniers now?”

UPDATE 4: To help understand the way ‘The Team’ thinks, follow a chain of emails of The Team’s reaction to criticism from Steve McIntyre (of Climate Audit), who had already destroyed one of The Team’s ‘hockey stick’ graph showing faked temperature records, and was taking in interest in another:
                  Read The Alarmists Do "Science": A Case Study – posted at Powerline [hat tip KG]

UPDATE 5: “Scientist” Phil Jones, whose emails and files it was that hackers have now exposed to the the disinfecting power of daylight, looks certain to resign says the Not Evil Just Wrong blog:

Phil Jones: Resignation Inevitable
phil1     “It now looks certain that Phil Jones (right), Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, will resign his post.
    “However his departure could damage the pursuit of climate truth.
    “Jones resignation comes after leaked emails revealed his unethical and possibly illegal deletion of publicly funded scientific research. He did this to avoid findings and data that contradicted his climate alarmism from being released through the Freedom of Information Act.
    “However Jones's resignation will be for this unethical/legal breach of the law.
    “But that is not the true scandal. The truly awful behavior by Jones is that he has changed and deleted the scientific record. He has removed data from the view of his colleagues and scientists across the world and across the generations. . . “

And Duncan Davidson at The Wall Street Journal isn’t just calling for resignations from The Team; in concluding his column ‘Fear and Loathing in Global Warming’ he reckons resignation isn’t good enough for them.

    “The admissions in the emails are so bad these clowns should go to jail for fraud - Fraud of a Bernie Madoff scale. Fraud with a capital F. . .
   “It’s time for the GW Plumbers to go to jail: Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Keith Briffa, Malcolm Hughes and Kevin Trenberth. They were the ones circulating the emails, they were the co-conspirators of the fraud, and they deserve to be treated as the self-righteous con men they have been shown to be.
    “If Al Gore were President, he would have to resign.”

UPDATE 6: More email and document excerpts below from Karl Denninger. The comments are his. 

* * * First, an email from Jones:

    “It was good to see you again yesterday - if briefly. One particular thing you said - and we agreed - was about the IPCC reports and the broader climate negotiations were working to the globalisation agenda driven by organisations like the WTO. So my first question is do you have anything written or published, or know of anything particularly on this subject, which talks about this in more detail?”

Comments Ettinger: Oh, so it's not about the planet getting warmer, but rather is a convenient means of advancing an agenda that has already been pre-determined?

* * * Here are some interesting "meta statistics" on the documents, and the number of times the words referenced appear:

  • Fraud: 79

  • Falsify: 6

  • Inflate: 14

  • Conceal: 5

  • Hide: 19

Just for starters.

* * If you think that's bad, you might like this - from the file "ipcc-tar-master.rtf":

General Comments

The idea that climate without human intervention can only undergo “natural variability”, and that “climate change” can only result from human activity is false and fallacious. It is in conflict with all that we know of evolution and geology. It is simply wrong to assume that “ climate change” automatically implies human influence on the climate.

This fallacy is embraced by the Framework Convention on Climate Change, but the IPCC (Footnote to “Summary for Policymakers. Page 1) claim that they are prepared to accept “natural variability” as “climate change”. They are, however, unwilling to accept the truth, which is that climate can change without human intervention.


47 out of 91 models listed in Chapter 9 assume that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at the rate of 1% a year when the measured rate of increase, for the past 33 years, has been 0.4% a year. The assumption of false figures in models in order to boost future projections is fraudulent. What other figures are falsely exaggerated in the same way?

UPDATE 7: More local coverage at the Herald, TVNZ, Stuff, TV3, KiwiblogWhale Oil and The Briefing Room.

UPDATE 8: It’s okay, The Herald has covered the story.  On page A16.  Bottom.  Under the fold. Brilliant.

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Friday morning ramble round the ‘net #269

Here’s your regular Friday morning ramble – the best liberty links on the net for this and any other week.

  • To avoid complete lame duck status, the Obamessiah has to announce something at Copenhagen. Anything.  Looks like he’s going for both those things, says Patrick Michaels, and you’ll be paying.
    The Long Road to Copenhagen
  • The Children's Commissioner is telling people to boycott the March for Democracy, to be held in Auckland tomorrow?  Sounds like a good reason to head along.
    Breathtaking arrogance and appalling bias
  • Have you ever wanted to know about the man behind the last half-century’s tax, spend, borrow, tax, spend, borrow fandangle?  The man who’s spiritual mentor to most of the Messiah’s alleged economic advisers. Murray Rothbard once wrote a great bio of the not-so-great John Maynard Keynes that’s been reposted at the Mises Daily site – find out all about the man who claimed to have discovered the miracle of turning stones into bread by means of printed paper.
    Keynes: The Man
  • Ever noticed how controls breed controls; how one government intervention needs another to fix it, and another, and then another . . . A free country doesn’t dissolve into authoritarian rule overnight, but by steps–some small and innocuous, others vast and brazen. Like a frog being boiled alive, slowly.
    Controls breed controls – part 1
    Controls breed controls – part 2
  • So peer-reviewed science overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis of dangerous human-induced global warming? So there are no peer-reviewed “skeptic” papers?  Well, apart from these 450.
    450 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of AGW-Caused Global Warming  [PDF]
  • Himalayan glaciers are retreating catastrophically?  Ah no they’re not.
    Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting
  • No, they’re really not.
    Himalayan Glaciers: Behaviour & Climate Change
  • “The world is considering a new financial market larger than any commodity,” notes Climate Debate Daily, “it's ‘based on science,’ but if you ask for evidence, you're called names – Denier"
    ...Global Bully Rudd fights for foreign committee, against citizens
  • Samizdata offers yet more evidence of why the USA badly needs a 'loser pays' legal system
  • Victor Davis Hanson endorses Nothing Less than Victory, the new book by Objectivist historian John Lewis.  Lewis offers “a superb appraisal of how ancient and modern wars start and finish . . . of why nations fight, win--and lose.” Lewis’ thesis, in a nutshell: “The goal of a war is to defeat an enemy's will to fight.”
    Nothing Less than Victory
  • From the archives, here’s Lindsay Perigo in full flight on his Politically Incorrect Radio Show of a few years ago. Number 2 includes a few comments on both ACT and John Banks. It’s like he was talking only yesterday.
    Politically Incorrect Road Show 1 by Lindsay Perigo
    Politically Incorrect Road Show 2 by Lindsay Perigo
  • That fearless unmasker of left-wing loons, the Kiwi who clipped the wings of Van Jones, offers up an interview with his good self recorded while in the States recently, which covers his views on Obama, Frank Marshall Davis, Van Jones, communist infiltration of the US government and much more.
    Kincaid Interviews Loudon
  • Speaking of loons, here is the 2007 PowerPoint presentation on Muslims in the US military that the Fort Hood killer presented to his colleagues.Nope, nothing in there at all that would raise a red flag with anyone.
  • And from the isn’t-technology-great file (courtesy of Butterpaper Australasia) comes news of a new titanium dioxide coated decorative facade that fights pollution. It can be seen installed at enex100, a retail complex in Perth.  If you’re in Perth. Click the pic to learn more.
  • Oswald Bastable offers Libertarianz types some advice. But hasn’t anyone told him trying to organise Libertarianz types is like trying to herd cats?
  • Liberty Scott continues his series on the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s fall.  Today he’s in Czechoslovakia – that far-off country of which Neville Chamberlain knew little, and cared less.
    Berlin Wall Series: Czechoslovakia
  • Clint Heine has ten wishes for the $60 billion of black gold said to be offshore in New Zealand waters. I can agree with about eight out of ten.
    My OIL BILLIONS wish list
  • There’s a lot more than 16 examples of plagiarism in Witi Ihamaera’s new novel, says the blower of the plagiarism whistle.  She just stopped counting when she got to sixteen, she says of the novel that she reckons needs a complete rewrite. (Pity, because it actually sounds like a good read.)
    Reviewer claims more plagiarism in Ihimaera novel
  • Heading up to Saturday’s test against England, here are ten pommy rugby players we don’t hate.  Sez the Herald. Galt knows how Bumface got in there.
    'Our' 10 pom players
  • Dozens of musicians both local and international have re-recorded Chris Knox’s songs on a double tribute album to help raise raise funds for the stroke-ridden Tall  Dwarf.  Not quite sure how I feel about Neil Finn and Jordan Luck singing Chris Knox songs, but you can hear the whole album onilne before buying it at Amplifier [hat tip Hard News]:
    Stroke - Songs For Chris Knox
  • Oh, and check out The Chris Knox Collection on NZ On Screen.
  • For all those still wringing their hands about open immigration, Yaron Brook lays out the unanswerable philosophical case for letting peaceful people cross borders freely.
  • Société Générale tell there clients to prepare for "global economic collapse" over next two years -read the post & the very good comments, and have a good hard think.
  • 'The Prisoner.' It's back! Well, sort of.
  • Stimulus Watch 2.0 is launched with actual spending data instead of the made up ObamaScam stuff
  • A nice little earner? Being a UK MP almost doubled the wealth of Conservative MPs, but had no discernible financial benefits for Labour MPs.
  • "Keynesian economics is, in a sense, non-economics or even anti-economics" - Peter Klein
    [hat tip Anti Dismal]
  • Phil Goff goes rogue on Reserve Bank. Effectively calls for the Bank to target devaluation.
  • Sarah Palin doesn't believe in evolution | No, she said, "God... can create an evolutionary process..."
  • But Palin is just not anti-abortion enough for American Right to Life (sic) organisation:
  • Bankers are evil?  Check out Yaron Brook on The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History
  • When markets "fail," Nobel winner Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated empirically that “the” state may not be “the” solution.
  • Eric Crampton has the Attentionest Grabbing Curriculum Vitae tha’s come across his desk in ages.
  • Inflation is already here, it’s just that you monetarists just can't see it. You’re “too focused on aggregates like ‘the’ price level"
  • Jason Crawford reckons this is one of the most important posts on management I've written – and it’s one of the few I’ve ever posted here: 'Query for Judgment,' & encourage independent thinking
  • If it's "cash for policies" you're really after, then it's Nick Smith & the Browntable's Iwi Leadership Group you'll really be wanting to talk to.
  • Wikipedia’s Jimmy_Wales offers “the best new thought on journaiism that I've seen for awhile,”
  • Finally: Jihadist-enabling lawyer Lynne Stewart is ordered to jail -
  • The economics of pinball machine design. Fascinating.
  • Men married to smart women live longer. Smart men already knew that.
  • Amy Mossoff observes her daughter's Montessori classroom today – she is struck most, she says, by how naturally children interact with each other.
  • Vladimir Horowitz once said that if jazz pianist Art Tatum ever took up classical music seriously, Horowitz would quit the next day. Here’s the man Fats Waller called “God” playing Dvorak’s ‘Humoresque’ as only he could.


  • Philosopher Leonard Peikoff offers up Podcast #88 which covers, among other things: Developing a career passion; the roots of ambition; & accessibility laws for the disabled.
  • A Mobile Cigar Lounge! "I love it!,” says Sam Hearne. “Smoke in a beautiful environment & get around the state's stupid fucking anti-smoking laws."  Can we get one in Parnell?
  • Robert Gottliebsen explains how Australia's Emissions Trading Scam will unleash carnage in Victoria's economy
  • Peter Schiff writes on an important insight on jobs losses vs. production reports: that outsourcing overstates GDP numbers. (Just another reason to mistrust GDP figures.)
  • Peter Schiff Schools CNBC Once Again, as they try and paint a rosy picture over everything and claim “the worst is behind us.” Whom do they think they’re kidding.
  • Christopher Hitchens offers up some "Hard Evidence: Seven salient facts about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan" that you probably haven’t heard:
  • It took 233 years, but the first Cannabis Cafe finally opens in the Land of the Free!
  • Stephen Hicks talks about the neurology behind the Montessori philosophy of education: It’s more than just dumb luck that Montessori materials promote brain development
  • Just a reminder for some of you: Ayn Rand is Not A Conservative . Good comments here suggesting it's either Burke or Rand, with very little middle ground.
  • Biofuel to feed cars leaves many of world's poor starving, and most environmentalists not caring less.
  • More Convergence Observed Between Religion and Environmentalism
  • Yaron Brook talks about Ayn Rand's enormous cultural impact, and what’s planned to make that impact even greater!
  • The looming disaster of dumbed down US maths education. Standards? What standards?!
  • Al Gore confesses: Our own minds are the enemy. Laying out the "facts" hasn't worked for him, he says.
  • Tim Blair is not surprised The Goracle is switching from facts to faith-surprised, “since facts have never actually been Gore’s thing.”
  • And Gore also confesses: CO2 accounts for less than half of the warming that isn’t happening anyway. “The science is not settled,” concludes Andrew Bolt.
  • Just a reminder of Al Gore's nine big lies for you:
  • Here’s the composers of Caravan playing their tune, one that now appears everywhere played by the most unlikely people:


  • Canadian PM Stephen Harper's jet-setting fall tour will shun global climate-change summit in Copenhagen next month. Just another sign of the eco-fest being nothing more than a talk-fest.
  • Who was America’s Most Successful Communist?  By any measurable standard it has to be Pete Seeger, once known as Stalin’s Songbird.
    I don’t know about you, but I can remember being made to sing his songs at primary school. When the history of the left's long march through the culture is written, Gramsci's songbird should not be forgotten.
  • The Source and Nature of Rights, Part 1 of Craig Biddle’s 6-hr seminar for an eager Guatemalan audience surveys common theories and misconceptions about rights. You are in Guatemala now, Mr Biddle.
  • "Religion’s enemy is not just Ayn Rand, it’s capitalism, human nature and ultimately the facts of reality"
  • What's the right way to treat TV viewers' complaints? Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie demonstrate.


  • The top 100 books of the noughties? Or a list to give an aspiring novelist a stomach ache, or a good belly laugh.
  • When all is spent and done NZ has only 1.7 million full-time workers supporting a population of 4.3 million.
  • Stephen Hicks examines John Dewey’s influential and incredibly destructive notion of education as socialization." Was Dewey an individualist, or a collectivist? Hicks is firm on that debate.
  • And finally, we have dramatic news of a teleprompter malfunction at the Obama dinner table. The Onion News Network has the details:


PS: Can I confess to being a little optimistic about posting Part 3 of my series on Leaky Houses here this week?  Okay, I so confess.  But I promise to work hard on it over the weekend, and get it to you by Monday at the latest.  How’s that work for you?


“Three ages of women” (detail) – Gustav Klimt

The full image is here.
You might see the full image and say of it, as people say of Rodin’s Helmetmaker’s Wife, “why the ugliness?"  A great answer is given here.
To precis, “Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth . . . ”

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Marching for Democracy?

A few  years ago now, way back when Jenny Shipley was still our headmistress, we libertarians hosted a protest march down Queen St we called The Enough is Enough March. Organised by Libz tobacco spokesman Joy Faulkner, we had just about everyone at the time who’d had enough of nanny – we had people from Stand Up New Zealand and Dad’s Army; from Abolish Bureaucratic Crimes and Smokers of the World Unite; from the Anti-NaZis On Air lobby and from people done over by the IRD; from FORCES, SSANZ, COLFO, NORML, AUF, MENZ and every other acronym in the anti-nanny bag – good folk who’d had enough of her tobacco taxes and her cigar bans, her firearms licensing laws, her interventions into NZ families, her attacks on taxpapyers and marijuana smokers, her new search and seizure powers, her attacks on free speech, her plans for an ID card, her acceding to the demands of tribalists, and her refusal to listen to the results of referenda.  We came to bury nanny, not to praise her.

As Russell Brown commented at the time, were were protesting about  . . . “well, pretty much everything really.”

banner_example_5 At least, it looked that way. The aim, of course, was to to tie all these single-issue protesters together into one common cause – to make them realise that in big, nannying government they each have the same enemy - that their fight against that enemy is the same - that if they only realised it, they each have a common cause in liberty - that freedom is indivisible, and to fight for one person’s freedom is to fight for your own – that if each cause were to rest its case on freedom then a powerful groundswell for liberty would be the result across the board – to enlist therefore in a common fight against the common foe, big government, would pay dividends for all of us.

We told them,

    “Enough IS enough. They do NOT own us - we own them & it's time we reminded them of that. THEY are in rebellion against their sacred obligation to PROTECT, not to violate, the individual liberties of the citizens of this country; it is THEY who should be rounded up & locked up.
    “Ladies & gentlemen, let the word go forth that things are going to change. There's going to be a revolution. More & more people are coming to the realisation that they can run their own lives, & that it's their birthright to do so; that government is not the solution to all our problems, GOVERNMENT AS WE KNOW IT IS THE PROBLEM!”

I have to say, we failed completely.

Sure, for one moment there everyone with a brain realised that were all on each other’s side, if only we could make something of that – that government really is the problem, not the solution – that freedom really is indivisible — that  if we all rang freedom’s bell consistently then freedom might one day reign from sea to shining sea . . . but almost without exception every one of those single issue protesters went home afterwards none the wiser for the experience.

banner_example_1 The measure of our failure is this weekend's March for Democracy, which in Yogi Berra’s famous phrase “looks like déjà vu all over again,” but without even the moral fervour that we brought to it. 

I applaud their efforts,but a decade after our Enough is Enough march, the March For Democracy will have the same groups of people upset about the same or similar things – most of whom voted for one or ‘tother of the major parties to do exactly what they’ve gone and done for the last decade or moe – and once again without any genuine understanding among the participants of what freedom really means, the energy and the scattergun “we’re against everything” mantra will go nowhere.

Which means nothing has really changed in all those years.

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Attempting to compete with the Labour MPs’ Red Alert blog, which is genuinely engaging, National’s “communications team” have come up with a lame site of their own, called imaginatively National Party MPs. Yawn.

Unlike at Red Alert, where if you wish you can engage in intellectual combat with Labour’s MPs, at the ‘National Party MPs’ blog you can instead learn exciting revelations about Simon Bridges liking Hot Milk; that Craig Foss plays dress up; that Chris Finlayson like Art; and that Todd McLay looks like Boris Johnson

All this is hat tip Whale Oil by the way, since he’s the only one in the country likely to ever read the bloody thing, or want to. I certainly wouldn’t bother.

Oh, if you do visit even for a moment you can’t help but notice that little parliamentary crest appearing several times.  And you know what that means? It means you and I are paying for it.


Tinkering with the Reserve Bank? Let’s talk abolition, Phil [update 4]

I see Phil Goff is coming out against the Reserve Bank, which means the twenty-year political armistice over the economy’s comptroller of interest rates and monopoly issuer of monies is now defunct.

It’s clear enough that the arguments behind the Reserve Bank are a bust.  We haven’t had “price stability,” instead we’ve had bubble after bubble, and bust after boom. We haven’t had dollar stability, instead exporters and importers have both seen a dollar that rises and falls more than sailors in a whorehouse.  We haven’t seen protection of the dollar’s value, instead we’ve seen dilution of the dollar’s value over the years of the Reserve Bank’s existence by around fifty times. [See this blog’s archives for posts on all those problems.]

Rather than maintaining the value of the hard-earned dollars of the poor, the Reserve Bank is “the prime destroyer of currency and, therefore, one of the greatest threats to the freedom and well-being of a citizenry.” *

To paraphrase what Richard Rahn says of the US Federal Reserve (the equivalent of our Reserve Bank), “if those members of Parliament who voted for the creation of the Reserve Bank in 1934 had been able to know what the results of their handiwork would be for the next 65 years, given the empirical data, it is unlikely the closely contested bill would have passed.”

Perhaps then I could persuade Mr Goff and his supporters of the merits not of tinkering with the Reserve Bank, but abolishing it. To that end, Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Center explains how interest rates would be determined if they were not controlled by a central bank.

UPDATE 1: Goff Announces End To Monetary Policy Consensus

    “Reserve Bank policy targets don't work, Labour leader Phil Goff said today as he ended a 20-year political consensus on monetary policy.
    "’Our Reserve Bank policy targets are not well designed to produce a stable and competitive exchange rate, nor to keep interest rates as low as possible,’ Mr Goff said in a speech to Federated Farmers in Wellington.
    “The battle against inflation was no longer the most important priority . . .
“’Today I am announcing the end of the consensus around the policy targets and tools of the Reserve Bank. Labour wants to see a step change in our export performance.’”

This is simply an abject call for devaluation, for flat-our currency debasement, the position of every would-be populist politician since Caesar started clipping gold coins.

Phil says “the battle against inflation is no longer the most important priority?” But the battle against inflation has never been begun. NZ’s money supply has been pumped for decades – which is what inflation really is. Indeed, NZ’s M2 money supply had been increasing at a year-on-year rate of around 20% at the height of the recent boom, and was still increasing at a year-on-year rate at May this year of 10.7%. A process that leaves every dollar in your pocket worth less every year.

Phil doesn’t want this dollar dilution reined in.  He wants it increased.

What Phil is really calling for is more inflation in order to devalue our currency properly. Year-on-year monetary inflation of more than ten percent isn’t enough for him – a rate of expansion that tells you the fight against inflation has been over for a long, long time.  Because in truth, “the fact that prices are stable, or have even rallied in some sectors, indicates that inflation is already spreading across the economy.”

Yep, the fight against inflation has been over for a long time.  All they’re arguing about now is what they’re inflating for: whether to continue issuing gobs of counterfeit capital to “expand credit” and “kickstart” industry; or to inflate the currency with the stated purpose of devaluation.

It’s a fight between Tweedledum & Tweedledummer.

UPDATE 2: Matt Nolan at The Visible Hand reckons you should just ignore Phil when he says that he’s still interested in “monetary policy independence.”

      “Forcing the RBNZ to target near term growth and the exchange rate destroys the purpose of Bank independence in the first place.  Ignore him when he says he ‘wants to put money in peoples pockets’ – as by cutting interest rates he is just transferring money from borrowers to savers.”

Mind you, Matt still goes on to spout the mainstream mantra that “Monetary policy should target stable inflation expectations, that is all” – apparently blithely unaware of the problems with targeting so-called “price stability,” not least with stealth inflation – so just take what the rest of what he says with a pinch of salt.

UPDATE 3: You don’t think there’s already inflation around? More here from Reason magazine on the stealth inflation already being experienced around the traps: Where’s That Inflation? [hat tip Jeff Perren]

   "On his blog Free Advice in September, the Pacific Research Institute economist Robert Murphy argued that inflation is already here but economists are missing the signs. ‘From [December 2008] until August 2009, the unadjusted [American] CPI level has increased 2.7%, which translates to an annualized increase of just over 4%,’ Murphy wrote. He acknowledged that “ten-year yields [on Treasury bonds] are…low’ but added that the price of gold has increased enormously. ‘Why do we assume that TIPS [Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities] traders are genius forecasters, but gold traders are morons?’ he asked. . .
    “The St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz agrees both that inflation is already happening and that it is widely misunderstood. Monetarists, he says, were ‘too focused on aggregates like ‘the’ price level, which led economists to ignore the way inflation could distort individual prices at the microeconomic level, causing resource misallocation in the process.’
    Virtually all economists now agree, for example, that the Fed’s low interest rates inflated housing prices earlier in the decade. Yet as the prices of houses went up, few economists worried about inflation because the CPI looked relatively stable, due in part to a decrease in energy prices. When housing started to crash in 2007, many economists thought the Fed should inject still more funds into the system to stave off further declines. They failed to see that the Fed had distorted relative prices in the first place.’"

UPDATE 4: Crampton backs Matt Nolan’s mainstream mantra, and gives me a smack.  I’ve taken it well, I think, considering he ignores the twin problems of “price stability and stealth inflation.

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Standards? What standards? [updated]

For reasons explained here several times before, I’m no fan of Ann Tolley’s focus on national “standards” instead of other more important educational issues --  but for reasons that aren’t mine the teachers unions and academics and all the usual suspects are also dead against them.

As you might have noticed.

This story from the States helps to explain why.  It’s not just that teachers don’t want to be found out for their lacklustre teaching – although that’s the motivation for many of them – it’s that today’s fashionable educational theories (which we share with the U.S.) mitigate against any objectivity at all, or even genuine education. Even of mathematics.

    “Assessment experts, technology salesmen, and math educators—the professors, usually with education degrees, who teach prospective teachers of math from K–12—dominate the development of the content of school curricula and determine the pedagogy used, into which they’ve brought theories lacking any evidence of success and that emphasize political and social ends, not mastery of mathematics. . .”
    “The underlying goals of [education]—never made clear to the general public—were social, not academic. Some of the [theorists], for example, sought to make mathematics “accessible” to low-achieving students, yet meant by this not, say, recruiting more talented undergraduates into teaching but instead the employment of trendy, though empirically unsupported, pedagogical and organizational methods that essentially dumb down math content.”

In striving for “social” standards instead of objective academic standards, the professors are still following the pedagogical trajectory mapped out by progressive educator John Dewey, who saw education primarily as “socialisation.” “Education, in its broadest sense,” said Dewey, “is the means of this social continuity of life.” What this means, notes Stephen Hicks, is that “education is not about equipping individuals for life. It does educate individuals, but its purpose is social continuity.”

Think about that, and you’ll understand why teachers, teacher unions, and the academics who teach teachers are dead against the objective standards proposed by Tolley.

    “[These] educational trends . . .  have a long pedigree. During the 1970s and 1980s, educators in reading, English, and history argued that the traditional curriculum needed to be more “engaging” and “relevant” to an increasingly alienated and unmotivated—or so it was claimed—student body. Some influential educators sought to dismiss the traditional curriculum altogether, viewing it as a white, Christian, heterosexual-male product that unjustly valorized rational, abstract, and categorical thinking over the associative, experience-based, and emotion-laden thinking supposedly more congenial to females and certain minorities.
    “Those trying to overthrow the traditional curriculum found mathematics a hard nut to crack, however, because of the sequential nature of its content through the grades and its relationship to high school chemistry and physics. Nevertheless, education faculty eventually figured out how to reimagine the mathematics curriculum, too, so that it could march under the banner of social justice. As Alan Schoenfeld . . . put it, “the traditional curriculum was a vehicle for . . . the perpetuation of privilege.” The new approach would change all that.
    “Two theories lie behind the educators’ new approach to math teaching: “cultural-historical activity theory” and “constructivism.” According to cultural-historical activity theory, schooling as it exists today reinforces an illegitimate social order.
    “Typical of this mindset is Brian Greer. . .  According to Greer, the proper approach to teaching math “now questions whether mathematics as a school subject should continue to be dominated by mathematics as an academic discipline or should reflect more fully the range of mathematical activities in which humans engage.” The primary role of math teachers, constructivists say in turn, shouldn’t be to explain or otherwise try to “transfer” their mathematical knowledge to students; that would be ineffective. Instead, they must help the students construct their own understanding of mathematics and find their own math solutions.”

Yep, sounds like bullshit doesn’t it.  Little Johnny “constructs” his own knowledge; mathematics is about socialisation not education; algebra is more amenable to emotion than to reason; and education is a white, hegemonic, patriarchal practice – at least it is according to alleged educators like Schoenfeld and his colleagues.  No wonder Little Johnny from America came “25th out of 30 countries in mathematics achievement on the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which claims to assess application of the mathematical knowledge and skills needed in adult life through problem-solving test items.”

That result was a wake-up call for real educators in a way similar results for New Zealand student haven’t been here.

Faced with that clear signal of failure, there were enough alarmed educators still extant to call for the reintroduction of mathematics to American mathematics classrooms – not dumbed down emotionalist mathematics, but the genuine article.  A panel was convened “composed of mathematicians, cognitive psychologists, mathematics educators, and education researchers” which “spelled out the 27 major topics of school algebra that should be taught in every American high school to make us internationally competitive.” Further,

    “The panel found little if any credible evidence supporting the teaching philosophy and practices that math educators have promoted in their ed-school courses and embedded in textbooks for almost two decades.”

Naturally, the “constructivists” and the socialisators revolted. How dare they!  The best response was from Brian Greer (“best” in a way that would be humorous if the entity making the response wasn’t in charge of the indoctrination of new teachers):

    “Greer declared in his [response to the panel that it] offered nothing useful, since it had “restricted” itself to scientific research and ignored the “rich reflections” of educators, who, in his judgment, had produced the “deepest work in the field.”
    “These reflections, which progressive educators call “qualitative” or “practitioner” research, generally consist of educators studying their own classrooms and concluding that, yes, their methods work well.”

And there, right there, is the reason for such stern opposition to the introduction of standards, any standards, to New Zealand classrooms.

Like Greer, New Zealand’s alleged educators would prefer to interview the inside of their own heads (i.e., their “reflections”) than they would confront reality.

Now wonder there’s such snarling hatred about.

* * * * *

I recommend a thorough reading of the article from which I’ve quoted above extensively:
Who Needs Mathematicians for Math, Anyway? (The ed schools' pedagogy adds up to trouble) – Sandra Stotsky, CITY JOURNAL

UPDATE:  I’ve just been sent another splendid article on the same theme by Brad Thompson, from 2002, which uses even plainer language and is even more focussed on the underlying cause, the “whole math” method of teaching.  He calls it Cognitive Child Abuse in Our Math Classrooms:

    “America's children are flunking math. In 1996 American high school seniors finished close to the bottom on an international mathematics test. At the end of last year, American eighth-graders ranked below those of Malaysia, Bulgaria, and Latvia.
    “As educators scramble to explain America's math meltdown--as the Bush administration urges more ‘accountability and a National Research Council study recommends better ‘training’ [the report about which the professors were protesting] --few are willing to look at the fundamental cause: the new, ‘whole-math’ method for teaching.
    “Inspired by a strain of progressive-education theory called ‘constructivism,’ whole-math proponents claim that all knowledge--including mathematical knowledge--is arbitrarily constructed. They reject the idea that there are objectively demonstrable right and wrong answers, and that, consequently, there are basic skills that students must be taught. Instead, the advocates of whole math believe that each student should invent his or her own math ‘strategies’ by using a ‘guess-and-check’ approach. They create an inability to think beyond immediate concretes.”

The results in their respective fields were the same “whole math” as they have been for “whole language”: widespread functional illiteracy and innumeracy.

    “This is cognitive child abuse. Whole-math defenders are shrinking the cognitive capacities of their students to those of infants or even animals.
    “Is it any wonder that most college freshman take remedial math courses, that American universities award more than half of their mathematics Ph.D.s to foreign nationals, that for-profit math remediation companies are booming, and that 200 of the nation's leading mathematicians and scientists signed a public letter denouncing whole math? . . .
    “The controversy surrounding whole math is not simply about how children are taught to deal with numbers. If we undermine the capacity of our children to learn mathematics, we undercut their ability to think. More and more, our schools are turning out students whose capacity to reason has atrophied. . .
    “Now imagine flying on a plane designed by aeronautical engineers who have been trained to concoct their own math schemes and to use a ‘guess-and-check’ method. . . .
   “Today's "math wars," like the controversy over how to teach reading, are at root philosophic battles that will have enormous implications for the future of America. If the advocates of whole math are allowed to win, they will be taking us a huge step away from the values of reason and science that once made America [and the western world since the Enlightenment] great.”

Read Brad Thompson’s Cognitive Child Abuse in Our Math Classrooms.

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‘The Rumour’ - Joop Moesman (1941) [updated]


This work by Dutch painter Joop Moesman was voted third best “most beautiful Dutch nude” recently. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that Moesman had leanings towards the surrealist school.

It reminds me of a good Capuletti.

UPDATE: Those asking themselves the obvious question, “So if this was third best, what were numbers one and two,” can see the two other beauties here and here -- first and second respectively, as elected by the Riijksmuseum in July this year.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Fine ‘Machinery’ of the Day: The K-Braced Frame

There are people who say engineers aren’t creative. Not true.  Just look at this cunning rearrangement of structural elements that makes tall buildings less expensive to build for earthquakes, safer in an earthquake, and more likely to be useable afterwards.

auckland-hospital You might have seen ‘K-braced frames’ on the outside of buildings all over the world, and you’ll certainly have spotted them if you’ve ever taken a decent look at Auckland Hospital (right), which is a variant on the theme.

And it’s a pretty good theme. You see, the main aim in earthquake design is to make sure people can get out safely – which means to avoid the building collapsing.  The K-brace (and its cousins the V-brace and the D-brace) do that and much more: they also make it easy to repair the building after an earthquake so that it can get straight back into action – which is pretty important for a major hospital.


The two key elements of these bracing beauties are the “triangulation,” and that little piece labelled ‘e’ on the drawings above. ‘e’ is actually called a “link.” A “sacrificial link.”

The seismic engineer uses the nature of both geometry and earthquakes to make your tall building safer. And how he does it is so elegantly simple it’s almost laughable. He does it by making that link act like the fuse in your fusebox.

SacrificingTheLinkYou see, earthquakes tend to shake buildings from side to side, which you can see happening in that diagram on the right.  And since triangulated structures tend to be rigid, when the building moves a little to one side the geometry of the K-brace means that the link moves a lot.

So as the building moves from side to side in a quake (and some quakes can go for a minute or more, meaning lots of shimmying) that link is working up and down and up and down so many times it eventually turns the heavy section steel into chewing gum. Into plastic.

But as long as our sacrificial link is turning to plastic, then our beams and columns aren’t. That’s the beauty of the system. Let the link die, and save the building and its occupants.

And there are two added treats:

  1. the energy needed to turn the link into plastic helps absorb and dissipate the energy of the quake; and
  2. when the earthquake’s over, the most major repair you might need to make to your building is to cut out the link and put a new one in.

Now how’s that for elegant.  And creative -- indeed if creativity consists of “the power to rearrange the combinations of natural elements,” then this is the very acme of creativity, and much more interesting than most of the stuff that flies under that flag.


Plagiarism pays [update 3]

Witi What’s an award-winning plagiarist to do when he’s found out? Easy. He uses the prize money  to buy up all the remaining copies of the offending tome.

You wouldn’t write about it, would you.

No wonder Witi’s laughing.

UPDATE: Thanks to Stephen R., who points out that the Arts Foundation is at least blessedly self-funded.

UPDATE 2: Jolisa Gracewood, who uncovered the plagiarism, comments at her blog.

UPDATE 3: Witi Imihaera’s university boss comes out swinging on his behalf, confirming that academic standards really are dead.

    “University dean of arts, Associate Professor Jan Crosthwaite, said while concerning, Ihimaera's actions were not deliberate.”

No. Of course not.  Witi accidentally copied and pasted from sixteen different sources into his “novel.”

No wonder old school academicians like CK Stead are appalled.

    “He said students had it hammered into them that they must acknowledge borrowed work and not pass work off as their own.
    “’You reject students' essays for doing this and you fail them in exams for doing it. It makes you wonder what the title of a distinguished professor means in the University of Auckland if they then say what Witi Ihimaera has done doesn't matter.’
    “Stead said the situation would reflect badly on the university until professors acknowledged the seriousness of what had happened.”

Some chance of that, eh, when they’re in thrall to ideas that knowledge is “socially constructed” anyway. Crikey, they probably think Witi was just collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings with all those other sixteen authors.  They should be happy he shared . . .

Leaky homes series: Update

Just to let you know that Part 3 of my series on leaky homes will continue Thursday with commentary on  the cost of repairs, and how rent-seeking “experts,” gold-plated “belt and two braces” regulations, and the practice of apportioning blame with a shotgun  -- and not where it actually lies -- are making the nightmare worse for many good people.
Here’s the series up to now:

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Quote of the day: On stealing wealth [updated]

Here’s five sentences that should be in every school room in the country:

_quote You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
    “When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
                                      - Adrian Rogers

UPDATE: Did someone say they wanted a T-shirt with that on? Here you go, courtesy of Tomahawk Kid:Picture 1


Bad girls get ‘B’s

Now here’s a protest I can really get behind:


Apparently it’s a protest by FEMEN, a Ukrainian women movement, denouncing sexual harassment in Ukrainian universities. Or something.

More here.

There used to be a sign hung in some offices saying ‘Sexual Harassment Will Be Graded.” No one would bother with a feminazi, but this lot look deserving of an A+ effort.

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Smacking, thieving and getting knocked around

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

1. Brian Rudman: Mob Rule No Substitute For DemocracyMemo to Brian: Democracy is mob rule. Brian doesn’t actually want democracy, because despite an overwhelming majority wanting to make smacking allowable in the recent referendum as part of parental discipline (as opposed to assault), he and John Key and Sue Bradford think they know better than the rest of us.

Brian fails to distinguish between being able to physically restrain a child and being able to break their bones. A light smack does not equal a savage beating. Having said that, the only times I smacked one of my children (out of sheer frustration) I felt so guilty afterward that I vowed never to vent my anger like that again. And I didn’t. You can’t beat reason into a child. You have to convince them through logic, without threats of violence or intimidation.

But this march is not about the right to flog children. It is about the right to use reasonable force to keep them, and others, safe from danger. It is about stopping people like Bradford from nationalising children and stripping parents of the right to make decisions about the welfare of their kids.

Child abusers are scum. But the vast majority of parents love their kids and wouldn’t intentionally hurt them. At the same time, they hold the rights of their children in trust, as it were, until those children are able to fend for themselves. And because children don’t always make rational decisions, sometimes they have to learn from their mistakes via the consequences thereof. But where the consequences are grossly disproportionate to the action taken, parents should have a right to step in and restrain or protect their kids from unnecessary harm.  

2.    Council Prosecutes Over Seawall – It’s all about money. The bullshit Resource Management Act and its grotesque offspring, including the Building Act, are not about protecting people. They’re about protecting council empires and the fat cats that ratepayers are forced to keep in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.

A couple who live north of Hastings are facing a $100,000 fine for not paying a tribute to the local council before trying to protect their home by repairing a retaining wall of concrete blocks. A wall that had already been built. Not a new wall. Repairing an old wall. Never mind that (according to the news article) several houses nearby have been washed away.

No, a person must get their priorities right. Pay-offs to the council must be delivered before protecting your home. Power and money for council bureaucrats who would probably struggle to find work in the private sector - that’s the important thing, and don’t you forget it!

3.    Exposed plagiarist Witi Ihimaera given $50k award – I reckon the Plagiarist Laureate should use this money to pay compensation for ripping off the intellectual property of others. I think he should, at the very least, forward 0.4% of the income he receives from sales of the offending to the author(s) whose work he tried to pass off as his own. But using the $50k in advance to this end would be a good start.

4.    Woman Cyclist Struck By Car In Wellington - A cyclist is knocked down by a car on a road owned by the government, that you were forced to fund. And people say private roading wouldn’t work! On a government road, cyclists are forced to share space with cars and trucks. They are regularly hit by motorists and some of them are killed and maimed. And you suckers voted for it! Except, of course, those who voted for political parties that want to privatise roads. Now how many of those are there? Let’s see, I can think of one.

      I predict that the push by environmentalist nutters, such as Nick Smith and John Key, to put more cyclists on government roads alongside trucks and buses, will result in more of them knocked over and seriously hurt. Don’t you think on a privately built roading system, cyclists might be separated from other traffic and be able to travel in relative safety?  

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath