Friday, December 09, 2016

Yeah, I give up..Malcolm Turnbull is a coward

I've avoided commenting on the obvious disappointment of the performance of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.  

But yes, I think this week it has reached the point where I have to admit it:   he is a complete coward; a captive of the backwards looking, science denying, American poisonous-Right influenced, "conservative" wing of the Party.  Unwilling to call them out, and talking the same opportunistic political lines that Tony Abbott took regarding energy policy, rather than trying to convince the public of what past experience shows he almost certainly believes in his heart, he's showing himself up as the worst type of bluffing, insincere, politician who gives a bad name to politics.

And, of course, his evident lack of sincerity fails to convince the Conservative voters he seeks to placate, as well.

There is no future for the Coalition while it has this internal conflict, and Malcolm has proved himself incapable of taking his party with him.   "Sad", as someone would tweet....

A tax I hadn't heard of...

Beachcomber has a short post about a 19th century rumour, at least amongst the poor in one area, it seems, that Queen Victoria was about to order all children under 5 to be put to death, due to "scarcity of provisions."   He writes:
Scarcity of provisions was a factor even in the 19C in England: and Ireland was, in 1847, about to begin the most brutal experience in its history because of a lack of food. But where on earth would the rumour come from that Queen Victoria was going to get all King Herod on her subjects? Leaving aside the fact that 19C Britain would not have tolerated this and that Parliament not the Queen would have made this kind of a decision, the rumour is reminiscent, in a way, of some medieval gossip that give the state or the ‘crown’ exaggerated powers and interests in the private life of the peasantry. The classic example is the longstanding conviction among the French and some German peasants that the royal authorities wanted to tax sexual relations between men and women, including between husband and wife. This conviction and piffling ‘proofs’ led to periodic continental riots and rebellions.

Fair enough

Priests ‘should learn about climate change as part of their formation’

This should be upsetting to the Latin mass loving conservative Catholic clique, but one of the peculiar things about them is how Pope Benedict XVI, who they generally are quite fond of, was pretty much completely on side with climate change as a serious problem.   (Oh, that's right, the very silly man from the 50's, CL, used to cite some comment where Benedict mentioned abortion in the context of the "human environment", so as to argue that you didn't have to worry about climate change until you stopped all abortion.   Conservative Catholics can't walk and chew gum at the same time, you see.)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Horrible scenes from the Philippines

I don't know that I should link to this, really - too many of the photos (which, in terms of photographic quality, are so good they look like they are from a movie) are appalling and quite upsetting.

But I think the terrible actions of a "strong man" leader, democratically elected, are something that should be given publicity given the situation in America at the moment...

The American paranoia/conspiracy sickness

Of course, with a President elect who has traded in this stuff, don't expect it to get much better any time soon...

Pizzerias in Austin and New York Are Now Also Being Accused of Abetting Satanic Pedophilia

Sandy Hook Truther Arrested for Threatening to Kill Parent of Murdered Child

Trump Supporters Cheer Alleged PizzaGate Gunman

Should we take some comfort from the fact that Trump sacked his adviser's son for promoting this stuff?   Not much, when his Dad played up to it on Twitter as well (from my first link):

Michael G. Flynn, the son of Donald Trump's soon-to-be national security adviser, was reportedly removed from Trump's transition team Tuesday for having circulated Pizzagate tweets. But Flynn's father—Michael T. Flynn—has also promoted fake Hillary Clinton sex-abuse stories:
The elder Flynn nonetheless continues to retain his position in Trump's inner circle.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Something's up

Just when the Pizzagate conspiracy was about to be blown wide open, I see that Australia's home for Pizzagate dissemination - Catallaxy - has been shut down by a lenghty Ozblogistan fault - allegedly.

I expect the Black helicopters are hovering over a few Catellaxians' houses right now.   I do not expect to ever hear from USSR SRR again.

If only they could take out the IPA while they're at it, I'd be quite happy.

Inaccurate, of course

The WAPO fact checks Trump's upset at the cost of getting replacement Air Force Ones.

As they say, he doesn't know what he doesn't know.

An honest economist

I like the way that Krugman sometimes makes it very clear that he, and other economists, don't really know exactly what is going on, or what policy prescriptions would work to fix a perceived problem.  It's a lot more honest than the "our problem?  it's Keynes, Keynes! I tell you!" line from certain other economists...

Brisbane needs a nap

Brisbane's lack of daylight saving means that it's hard enough to sleep in beyond about 5 am in summer anyway, what with bright sun and noisy morning birds.    (With sunrise at 4.45, the sky starts to brighten well before 4.30, and hence some birds start up that early too.)  

This sleep depriving system has been compounded by night time storms the last couple of nights.   Yesterday morning, the clouds meant it wasn't so light at 4.30, but the thunder woke everyone up anyway.  Last night, the storm came in around 1am and hung around til about 2.30, I think.   Actually, the thunder was not as loud where I live as in other parts of Brisbane (if Twitter is any guide, it was very bad nearer the inner city), but it was persistent and loud enough to prevent sleep.

This morning it is very steamy, and I bet another storm disruptive day or night is on its way.

If you are dealing with anyone in Brisbane today, just be aware they are probably sleep deprived...  

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Not sure how this'll work out by the year 4000...

Caesarean births 'affecting human evolution'
Well, I'm quite fond of the idea that the alien greys are very evolved time travelling humans from the future, and they're pretty small and look like they'd pop out pretty easily.   Or, more likely, decanted, I suppose...

More arguing with Jason

Seems to me you're keener on the Trump call to Taiwan than even the Wall Street Journal, which notes that Trump's follow up Twitter attack on China isn't even accurate.  I'd say any "you're not dealing with a pushover anymore" beneficial signalling of the phone call has been promptly undone by Trump once again showing himself up as a blowhard who doesn't care about facts. 

Trump and the Generals

Here's a pretty balanced take on the matter of Trump's apparent fondness of getting Generals involved in his government, from the CSM.

As for the one who is definitely wanted by Trump at the moment - Mattis - I wouldn't have thought that a Marine leader who is likened by Trump to Patton (with a history of somewhat over the top motivational quips to his troops) would be a good choice.  Yet the New York Times has endorsed him in an opinion piece and editorially.  And Trump himself says that Mattis has told him that he is against torture, due to it not being effective.

So, maybe he would be OK?  I dunno, I sorta just don't really trust Marines, though, to be honest.  Their earnestness puts me off.  

Astronaut eye problems

In other news, I see that the reason astronauts can start having eye focus problems is due to spinal fluid floating around to where you don't really want it.

Quite a difficult problem to deal with, then.

Still working on this?

US Military Develops 'Multi-Object Kill Vehicle' to Blast Enemy Nukes

Seems a bit like we're re-visiting the 1980's, when Reagan lead enthusiasm for "Star Wars" technology meant Aviation Week and Space Technology was full every week with information about space based laser missile defence satellites under development.  (Although I think I have read since that much of this was deliberate propaganda inserted with the keen encouragement of the CIA, or some agency or other.) 

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Monday Trump

Apart from the point I noted a couple of posts ago (about how it seems quite possible Trump was manipulated by others into talking to Taiwan), two other items off the net further explain why Trump is such a worry in terms of international relations.

As William Saletan writes, Trump's "victory tour" shows Trump doing what we all know he does - he tells the audience in front of him what they want to hear - and it is now clear that this applies as much to foreign leaders as it does to adoring Trumpkins in front of him. He seems clueless about contradictory messages being out there for everyone to see. How on earth is that supposed to work successfully for international relations?

Stephen Colbert was very funny in his ridicule of this a few days ago, too.  Have a look at how he characterises the phone call with Pakistan (from the 2:10 mark, if you don't want to watch it all):

In other weekend Trump news, I see he's still broadcasting a specific message that he will punish companies by tariffs if they move jobs out of America. Now I'm no purist when it comes to potential government involvement to preserving certain industries and jobs, but even I can see that this is a silly approach.

When is Trumpkin drongo Steve Kates going to start worrying about this?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Pilot waves envisaged and discussed

Just found two recent, good videos illustrating and discussing pilot wave theory for quantum mechanics.  Well worth watching:

Message to J Soon

So you like the Trumpian approach to attacking a dead dictator and calling/taking a call from Taiwan because it annoys China?

I await your response then to his apparent praise of (or at least reluctance to criticise) "just go out and kill whoever it takes" Duterte; getting oddly enthusiastic about Pakistan; and the man crush he has on Putin...

In any event:  it's near impossible for everything to go wrong under any President; and some things that go right can be more by good fortune than good planning.  (Reagan and the collapse of Soviet communism is an example of that, I reckon.)   But with international diplomacy, Trump represents a dumb bull in a China shop that happens to be packed with nuclear weapons.  It'll be a long, long time before I stop worrying about what this "Being There" presidency is going to be like.

Update:   The New Yorker has a good article on the Taiwan call issue, indicating that it seems quite on the cards that Trump may have been played by Bolton and some of his other hangers on into taking the call.   As it says, this is not a great sign:
Trump has also shown himself to be highly exploitable on subjects that he does not grasp. He is surrounding himself with ideologically committed advisers who will seek to use those opportunities when they can. We should expect similar moments of exploitation to come on issues that Trump will regard as esoteric, such as the Middle East, health care, immigration, and entitlements.

For a piece I published in September, about what Trump’s first term could look like, I spoke to a former Republican White House official whom Trump has consulted, who told me, “Honestly, the problem with Donald is he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.” It turns out that is half of the problem; the other half is that he has surrounded himself with people who know how much he doesn’t know. Since Election Day, Trump has largely avoided receiving intelligence briefings, either because he doesn’t think it’s important that he receive them or because he just doesn’t care about them. George W. Bush, in the first months of 2001, ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. Only in our darkest imaginings can we wonder what warnings Trump is ignoring now.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Grifting runs in the family

Certain technological issues are causing a slow down in my weekday blogging.

But I do note the following article from the New Yorker which indicates that shonky salesmanship, and a high degree of cluelessness about privilege, runs in the Trump family.  The material is from Ivanka Trump's own book:
When Ivanka was a kid, she got frustrated because she couldn’t set up a lemonade stand in Trump Tower. “We had no such advantages,” she writes, meaning, in this case, an ordinary home on an ordinary street. She and her brothers finally tried to sell lemonade at their summer place in Connecticut, but their neighborhood was so ritzy that there was no foot traffic. “As good fortune would have it, we had a bodyguard that summer,” she writes. They persuaded their bodyguard to buy lemonade, and then their driver, and then the maids, who “dug deep for their spare change.” The lesson, she says, is that the kids “made the best of a bad situation.” In another early business story, she and her brothers made fake Native American arrowheads, buried them in the woods, dug them up while playing with their friends, and sold the arrowheads to their friends for five dollars each.
And this:
For my money, though, the book’s most revealing remark arrives after Ivanka recalls a boxing match in Atlantic City, in which Mike Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in ninety-one seconds. The crowd, having paid a lot of money and expecting more action, grew angry. Donald Trump got into the ring to calm them down, impressing his seven-year-old daughter. “That electric night in Atlantic City made me realize that it isn’t enough to win a transaction,” she writes, all these years later. “You have to be able to look the other guy in the eye and know that there is value in the deal on the other end, too—unless, of course, you’re a onetime seller and just going for the gold.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Atomic irony

Scorsese's Silence and the Catholic connection to the atomic bomb

Yes, funny how the second atomic bomb fell on the most Christian (Catholic) of Japanese cities.  This post about the long lasting troubles of Nagasaki Catholics, and Scorsese's new film on the topic, is short but interesting.

Let's talk ironing

Steam irons are a bit of a pain.  They always seem to reach a point - it may take a couple of years or more, but they eventually get there - where they start randomly throwing the electrical safety switch on the power board, which means an annoying process of resetting the timer on many devices in the house.  I am told by an electrician that this is not an unusual problem.  

Which is where I am at with my latest iron.  I was very pleased with it, generally, until it started the old "throw the safety switch" trick, but I've found this electrical problem doesn't happen as long as it is used without water.  That is where the problem arises - water meeting internal heating element.

Which has led me back to trying spray on "ironing aid", a product I haven't used since I was attempting to iron when I was a much younger man living at home.

The popular Australian brand Fabulon is still around, but both Coles and Woolworths have a home brand which is about $1.50 a can and smells and feels exactly the same.   This strikes me as ridiculously cheap - and it's even made in Australia.

I had forgotten how smoothly it makes an iron glide.  In fact, it can be a bit annoying in that it makes shirts slide off the ironing board a bit too easily.   And, I recall from my childhood, if it gets on vinyl flooring, it makes it very slippery and dangerous underfoot.  But generally speaking, it is a pretty handy thing to use.

This also made me curious as to home based alternatives.   Lots of sites say you can make your own spray on starch using cornflower - which I find rather surprising, but in any event it is not the starching effect that I am really after.

So what makes the likes of Fabulon so slippery?   Dow Corning (and other sites) tell me that it is silicone emulsion:
Dow Corning® HV 495 Emulsion has demonstrated its effectiveness in ironing aid applications. Suitable for use in rinse-cycle fabric softeners and fabric conditioners and in spray starches and other spray-on ironing aids, Dow Corning HV 495 Emulsion:
  • Provides lubricity to the treated fabric
  • Reduces starting and sliding friction between the fabric and the iron
  • Makes ironing easier, saving time, effort and electricity
  • Adds softness without negatively impacting water absorbency
 I like the word "lubricity".  A good one to try to slip into conversation at a dinner party.  (Mind you, if you luck out and okra is on the menu, it would be very easy.) 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Big hangar

Dead zeppelins: Brazilian gravesite is airships' stairway to heaven | World news | The Guardian

So, there's still a Zepplin hangar standing in Brazil, near Rio.  Neat...

Still showing some promise

External brain stimulation goes deep : Nature News & Comment

How does the world deal with a "post truth" US President?

Trump makes baseless claim that he won the popular vote excluding 'millions' of 'illegal voters' | Business Insider

As fact checking sites have explained, this claim seems to have originated with one guy, who provided no evidence whatsoever; it then got attention at Infowars and the idiot Gateway Pundit's site; and now, if you can believe him, Trump believes it too.  Or, he is willing to use it if it suits his purposes.

I mean, seriously, what's worse? - a President who is dumb enough to be convinced by whatever appears on conspiracy sites; or a President so morally base in his "win at any cost" attitude that he will use conspiracy claims not caring if they are false, and knowing many of his followers will believe him, if they suit his purposes?  

Update:  Vox's commentary on this is worth reading, too.

For someone who used to work at Breitbart, seems relatively sensible

Ben Shapiro on Steve Bannon, the alt-right, and why the left needs to turn down the outrage.

I think he makes sense on the matter of Bannon and the alt.right generally.  Points out what a nut Milo is - that Bolt should have him as a guest just shows AB's poor judgement - again.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wearing fur in the tropics

I was watching David Attenborough's Wild Singapore the other night and was surprised to learn about its (now) locally famous family of otters living in Marina Bay, right in the city.   

I had no idea that otters even lived in a warm climate.  Their fur always made me assume they were cold water creatures only.  But obviously I was wrong. In fact:
Otters are found on every single continent in the world except for Australia and Antarctica. They enjoy the freshwater but they are also known to live in the saltwater of the oceans as well.
There's even a species of otter to be found in the middle of Africa.

How did Australia manage to miss out on them??  Was there some ancient territorial war with platypus that our poison spurred local river inhabitant won?

Anyway, this site explains that the Singaporean otters were no where to be seen in the 1970's, but they've reappeared since the city cleaned up its waterways.

Another site says that if you count all of the know otter families around the island, there are perhaps 50 furry residents. 

The things you learn...

Chow mein cooked

Maybe it was just my family, but I remember the mainstay of takeaway Chinese food in the 60's and 70's was Chicken Chow Mein.  With the discovery in our pantry of a packet of friend noodles yesterday, I thought it was about time I tried cooking it myself.

I followed this recipe, which was pretty straight forward, and used pork instead of chicken.   (I also used a full onion - I remember most takeaway chinese uses a lot of onion in the vegetable mix.)

The result was pretty good.  Nothing fancy, but had that old childhood comfort food feel about it.

For my future reference:

Friday, November 25, 2016

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know that...

Is Life on Earth Premature from a Cosmic Perspective?: Life as we know it first became possible about 30 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars seeded the cosmos with the necessary elements like carbon and oxygen. Life will end 10 trillion years from now when the last stars fade away and die. Loeb and his colleagues considered the relative likelihood of life between those two boundaries.

The dominant factor proved to be the lifetimes of stars. The higher a star’s mass, the shorter its lifetime. Stars larger than about three times the sun’s mass will expire before life has a chance to evolve.

Conversely, the smallest stars weigh less than 10 percent as much as the Sun. They will glow for 10 trillion years, giving life ample time to emerge on any planets they host. As a result, the probability of life grows over time. In fact, chances of life are 1000 times higher in the distant future than now.
I am going to tell this to the kids over dinner tonight.   My daughter will respond "when are getting me a new mobile phone?"  and my son will say "hurry up, you have to drive me to the party."  But I try...

Update:  here's another brief explanation about the extraordinary longevity of red dwarf stars:
The smallest stars are the red dwarfs, these start at 50% the mass of the Sun, and can be as small as 7.5% the mass of the Sun. A red dwarf with only 10% the mass of the Sun will emit 1/10,000th the amount of energy given off by the Sun. Furthermore, red dwarfs lack radiative zones around their cores. Instead, the convective zone of the star comes right down to the cure. This means that the core of the star is continuously mixed up, and the helium ash is carried away to prevent it from building up. Red dwarf stars use up all their hydrogen, not just the stuff in the core. It’s believed that the smaller red dwarf stars will live for 10 trillion years or more. 

Just passing on an important message...

A ridiculous situation

Trump’s Kleptocracy Already Feels Like Old News

Because Trump is presumably still - for the moment, but who knows how many policy reversals it can bear - riding a wave of populism and "things gotta change" rhetoric, I would bet that most of his electors don't care if his businesses are not in anything like a blind trust and profit from his presidency.   Yet they were intensely interested in the Clinton Foundation.  Basically, this is pretty strong evidence that Trumpkins are not very bright.

An odd trend in Japan

As Japan Ages, More Of Its Elderly Are Becoming Petty Criminals : Parallels : NPR

An old problem

Doctor's overdose death prompts warning over misuse of anaesthetics | Australia news | The Guardian

I think anaesthetists using their own drugs has been a problem for a long time, no?  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Claiming the credit

News today of another decrease in the rate of abortion in the US:
The latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, incorporating data from 47 states, said the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. That's half the rate recorded in 1980.
It's mildly amusing watching pro-life organisations claiming all the credit for this.  While there are several articles around saying that there is no single factor at play, there are certainly good reasons for rejecting the pro-lifers "it's all our great work" claim.    Last year, for example, fivethirtyeight had an article arguing strongly that fewer pregnancies - almost certainly related to better access to contraception - is behind the lower abortion rate:
Although it’s impossible to attribute the decline to a single factor, the data shows that better contraception — combined with a bad economy and a falling teen pregnancy rate — is largely responsible. Abortion rates did fall in many of the states with new restrictions, but they also dropped in others, such as New York and Connecticut, where access to abortion is relatively unobstructed. In fact, some of the states with the biggest declines — Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico — have enacted no new abortion laws in recent years, suggesting that something other than reduced access is spurring the trend.
Elizabeth Ananat, an associate professor of economics at Duke University who studies the economics of fertility, said the data also contradicts the notion that more women are rejecting abortion and choosing to stay pregnant. “If women’s attitudes were really shifting, we should see the birth rate go up,” she says. “Instead, birth rates are falling, too.” (The birth rate reached a record low in 2013, according to the CDC. It fell by 2 percent between 2010 and 2013, and by 9 percent between 2007 and 2013.) According to Ananat and other experts, the decline in abortions is a symptom of another trend: Fewer women are getting pregnant in the first place.
What’s behind the declining pregnancy rate is more difficult to pinpoint. One clear factor, said Joerg Dreweke, a spokesman for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, is the teenage pregnancy rate, which has been falling steadily since the early 1990s. According to Dreweke, this is partially due to better contraceptive use among teenagers. Other research on teen fertility rates supports this: In a paper published earlier this year, economists Phillip Levine and Melissa Kearney found that other policy changes — such as sex education, whether it was comprehensive or abstinence-only — couldn’t explain the decline. Because the vast majority (82 percent in 2010) of teen pregnancies are unplanned, a reduction in teen pregnancy overall will have an effect on the abortion rate. Since teenagers account for only about 18 percent of abortions, though, their effect is limited.
With the distinct possibility that Republican changes to the health system will lead to more expensive contraception, and harder access to abortions, who knows what will happen to the rate in future.

But, to confound things further, I also note that, oddly, it may be that the abortion rate in Australia is now quite a bit higher than America, despite Medicare, easy access to contraception, and non religious sex education in schools.

Seems there is something we may not be doing right....  

Update:   Oh, and before any escapee from Catallaxy drops by and suggests that the higher Australia rate is evidence of the success of the much higher profile pro-Life culture in the US, I would point out that places like most of the the Nordic countries have rates either very similar to, or lower than, the new low in the US, and other corners of Europe, like Holland  have had a substantially lower rate for many years.    I doubt that the pro-Life movement has any significant profile in those countries.  In fact, the whole lesson of what happened in Eastern Europe (a dramatic drop in abortion rate after contraception became more available) is that contraception can massively reduce abortion.  

Surprise - a good environmental story

Mercury levels dropping in north Atlantic tuna

Neo Nazi murder

Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair jailed for life for Jo Cox murder | Politics | The Guardian

I had assumed that the guy who did this would turn out to be mentally ill.  But no, turns out he was a neo-Nazi who, it would appear, has no regrets about this murder done in the cause of Brexit, apparently.

Is it just me, or does it seem that the wingnut Right pays scant attention to murders when done by someone clearly on their end of the political spectrum?  

Killed four so far

Explainer: What is thunderstorm asthma?

Can't say I was even aware of this as a medical phenomena until the storm in Melbourne this week killed four people via the indirect route of asthma.   All a bit of a worry... the most useful thing NASA does

Trump adviser says administration will eliminate NASA climate research.

Phil Plait is rightly furious at the claim by a Trump adviser that they will be de-funding NASA's climate science research.  Of course, given Trump's recent reversal track record, it's quite possible that in fact funding for it will end up increasing.   But I wouldn't bet on that one.

I suppose I should note, however, that there has been talk of a Trump administration telling NASA to forget about Mars and concentrate on going back to the Moon.  That would actually be a policy I would endorse, and may well again prove that even the worst administrations struggle to do absolutely everything wrong.  

Update:   Stoat says that maybe Plait shouldn't be so upset - it's not really obvious why NASA should be the body doing climate research anyway.  This leads to one cranky response, and one funny-'cos-it's-true, in comments:

 Eli Rabett
Idiot, what makes you think the pie won’t shrink to nothing?
The Republicans tried to take out NSF geoscience sciences last year along with cuts in NOAA and NASA climate sciences, Took a lot of work to hold the cuts in check. There is nothing holding them back this year and they are quite likely to try and shift programs without shifting money or people,
 And, the other one:

           Phil Hays
Amused and amazed.
I think you don’t understand Donald J Trump.
He has no idea about any subject, other than how great Donald J Trump is. And how Donald J Trump is going to win every time. And how everyone is going to love Donald J Trump.
Climate? Ideas will depends on who he is talking to. If he can see how Donald J Trump can win by supporting a carbon tax, he is for a carbon tax. If he can see how Donald J Trump can win with cap and trade, he would be for cap and trade. If removing regulations like soot emission limits from burning coal is a winning subject, he is for that as well. And for clean air, he is for that at the same time. If green energy technology is the wave of the future, and Donald J Trump can win by promoting it, he is for green energy technology. You can’t agree with or disagree with his views, as they change, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. He will be for or against the Paris agreement, depending on who he is talking to, where he is talking, the phase of the Moon, and probably other factors.
Don’t think his advisers know any better what he is going to say or do. Quoting them is a waste of bytes. Please don’t waste bytes.
As for should NASA be doing climate change research? Other than giving business to letterhead printing companies, I don’t see what possible advantage moving climate change research elsewhere would have.
Or stopping climate change research, for that matter. What we don’t know about can and will hurt us.

Conservatives in denial

“Fake news” hysteria just the latest form of elite paternalism � Hot Air

No, Hot Air.  There is no comparison between the lurid, often deliberately funny, front pages of the Weekly World News in the 1980's, and the gullibility of Trump voters on the matter of fake headlines about Hillary Clinton's alleged scandals.

I have argued for a long time that it is the internet which is behind the dogged persistence of climate change denialism - oddball and contrarian views were much, much harder to circulate in days when they had to rely on small run magazines and the odd mainstream article.  Now contrarians have an instantaneous direct line to their followers.

I am glad to see the problem with the dangerous propaganda enabling aspect of the internet finally being properly recognized.

Trump's taste on display

Donald Trump’s Love of Evita Says a Lot About His Presidency

I've never seen Evita, on stage or even the movie version.  I thought it wasn't really very highly regarded in the Lloyd Webber/Rice canon.  ("Canon" likely not being the appropriate word for them!)   But it seems Trump likes it, and as this article explains, it's consistent with his personality on display in the election campaign.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Singing] "Folks are dumb where they come from"

Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump | FiveThirtyEight
Yes, I'm being rude about poor, misunderstood, ignore-them-at-your-political-peril Trump supporters.
You do have to wonder though, with Trump apparently walking himself back from things like pursuing Hillary, and saying a fence is as good as a wall anyway, and health reform might incorporate keeping parts of Obamacare, are some of his dumber voters cottoning on yet that they elected a BS artist?

Would be sensational, if true...

Activists Urge Hillary Clinton to Challenge Election Results: Last Thursday, the activists held a conference call with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign general counsel Marc Elias to make their case, according to a source briefed on the call. The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000. While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Even if an audit did not show hacking across enough States to make a difference to Trump getting at least 270, it would be a sensational development if there were any hacking done to favour him. 

Message to Homer

My condolences on your recent loss.   (I would comment at your blog, but I have this problem with not being sure if my comment will lead to my Google + account..)  I saw Sinclair in comments at Catallaxy wanted to pass on the same message.

Seems selfishness always wins in libertarian land

Gee.  Could Sinclair Davidson possibly create a worse impression of the moral  and intellectual vacuum at the heart of small government/libertarian world view?:
Still missing the obvious after all these years. What about those of us who simply do not care if the planet is warming up, or cooling down, or going side-ways; we simply do not want to pay more tax. Or incur higher utility bills.
It has always struck me that this is the ultimate cause of so-called climate scepticism. Except few people want to say so. Lord Stern famously argued that if we don’t care about future generations, we won’t care about climate change. If we stop and think about how we treat other people living and breathing today, why imagine that we care about people who are yet to be born? Now this is a positive statement, not a normative statement. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about future generations, I’m suggesting that we don’t care about future generations.
As is not uncommon with SD, however, by the time you get to the end of an explanation, it can be hard to tell exactly what his position is... 

Bigger pupils means smarter person?

Pupil Size and Intelligence - Neuroskeptic

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

First of a three part series, apparently

The shifting sexual norms in Japan's literary history | The Japan Times

This is always an interesting topic - how sex and love has been viewed very differently in Japan over the centuries.   As the article says, though, it's easy to over simplify:

The homosexual bonds between samurai meanwhile, nurtured in the relationships between a wakashÅ« (adolescent boy) apprenticed to an older man, were considered ennobling to both and the foundation of lifelong friendships — and used to bolster existing power relationships, giving young samurai added motivation to lay down their lives for their lord. One of the most
famous examples, later depicted in the kabuki plays of writers such as Tsuruya Namboku IV, was the devotion of the 17-year-old youth Mori Ranmaru (1565-1582) to the brutal warlord Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582). It was so intense that he died alongside his lord — possibly by his own hand.
When wakashudō (the pursuit of young boys) fanned out to the more commercially minded and fun-loving middle class in the Edo Period, the number of male prostitutes soared and young kabuki actors often moonlighted as prostitutes, desired by both men and women.
There is a temptation though to see the sexual attitudes of this period as relaxed and open compared to later repressions of the Meiji Era. But it should not be forgotten that this seeming “liberalism” was operating within highly prescriptive power structures controlled by a patriarchy. Relaxed attitudes to sex and gender did not extend to anything that might have disrupted the social order — women were subservient to their husbands and adultery was a criminal offense
punishable by death (for both men and women).
The oppressive aspect of Edo Period morality is acutely depicted in the bunraku and kabuki plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725). Also, the horrific consequences of adultery have been depicted in classic films, such as Kenji Mizoguchi’s “The Crucified Lovers” (1954), based on a 1715 Chikamatsu’s play.
During this period, so-called pleasure quarters were demarcated as the only acceptable areas for men to relieve sexual frustration and energy with prostitutes before returning to the fold of social conformity. Falling in love with an indentured prostitute often had fatal consequences — the plot of many tragic works including Chikamatsu’s 1720 play “Shinju Ten no Amijima” (“The Love Suicides at Amijima”).
In the name of order, the ruling shogunate watched these quarters closely to ensure they did not exceed certain bounds. The Edo Period saw a long stream of edicts by the shogunate proscribing immoral behavior, including the banning of licentious books and art works

A very curious finding

U.S. Dementia Rates Are Dropping Even as Population Ages - The New York Times


Rabett Run: And Then They Came for Richard Tol

I've posted before, I think, about the great concerns Brexit is causing for academics, who formerly (I gather) enjoyed a great freedom of movement between jobs in Europe due to Britain being in the EU.

Now Richard Tol is complaining about this too, which, given the political company he keeps, is pretty funny.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cheer up, Adele

I understand that tickets for the singer Adele's concert in Brisbane next year go on sale today.

I half watched a replay of her "Adele Live" at the BBC show last week, and while I think she's certainly a talented singer and songwriter, has she ever written a song which has a simple "I'm in love and happy" theme?   I get the impression that a whole concert with her would be quite a downer.  

My daughter - soon to be 14 - half heartedly asked about seeing her, mainly in the context of her recent realisation that all of her friends have been to at least one blockbuster concert already.   I pointed out that a string of "it could have been great, but wasn't" failed relationship songs are not all teen girl friendly, really, regardless of the quality of her great vocals, and my daughter did not disagree.   Besides, the acoustics of a concert at cricket grounds would be pretty awful, I expect.    

Thin skinned weirdo

The President-Elect Can’t Stop Criticizing “Overrated” Hamilton, Insists on Apology

Yes, for those keeping count at home that’s the fourth time
the president-elect took to Twitter in a span of 24 hours to hit out
against a Broadway musical that has received lots of praise for, among
other things, bringing some much-needed diversity to a Broadway stage.
How the hell does anyone expect this weird President elect to be able to keep things in perspective?

Update:  Even Hot Air gets it:
Someone seriously needs to take away Trump’s iPhone or Droid and never let him touch it again. His demand of an apology from the Hamilton creators and actors is rather #headdesk inducing, because there’s no need for it. Trump is going to have to get used to being criticized or this is going to be a long four years for him. If anything, Trump’s thin skin and hyperbolic statements will only enhance the fear from his detractors that he’s some dictator in waiting, looking to crack down on dissent whenever possible. 
Actually, as it helps remind the world that it's dealing with an emotionally needy nitwit, perhaps it's best that he be allowed to continue to tweet.

Note the Parkes connection

Long-sought signal deepens mystery of fast radio bursts : Nature News & Comment