Monday, April 30, 2012

Creamfields festival fall a sign of the times

I tell you, the older I get the crustier and fustier I become. I'm very unimpressed with the behaviour of young folk today. They seem to have little or no sense of responsibility, and are often severely lacking in empathy.

I know you could find any number of po-mo quackademics who'd disagree vehemently. They'd say I'm pushing an ageist, conservative moral panic and that today's teenagers and twenty somethings are all really switched on and sensible. That's crap, I reckon.

Yes, I am a curmudgeon pushin' fifty but I was young once too, remember. And back in those times I can't recall my contemporaries being anywhere near as reckless and stupid as the youth of today.

Take this near tragedy in which a bloke fell twenty metres from scaffolding at the Creamfields dance music festival. I'm glad he's okay, but he was a total knob for climbing up there in the first place. 

And it wasn't just his actions that were so alarming. Watch the video and you'll see a young woman in the foreground. Look at her reaction as the bloke plummets earthward and in the seconds afterwards, when his fate was not yet known. She actually finds it funny.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

James Delingpole on The Bolt Report

James Delingpole is one of several prominent climate change skeptics. They're all having a great time showing what bunkum these predictions about "dangerous climate change" are. But Delingpole is persuading more people than the others, I think.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, he's younger than most well known climate change skeptics (and looks younger than his years, too). That confounds warmists in the meeja, who repeatedly cast the climate change issue as a generational battle between whippersnappers who care deeply about the future of the planet and greedy old farts who don't give a rat's. When they see Delingpole younger folk who would usually be happy to go with the warmists' generational narrative experience a bit of cognitive dissonance and start looking into the whole thing anew. When they do that, they're much more likely to become skeptics.

Secondly, he's very witty and amusing. He has a knack for encapsulating the crazy desperation of the catastrophist fear mongers with humorous metaphors. Take the one that he uses quite late in this interview with Andrew Bolt. In it, he equates their attempts to outdo each other with a poker game. It's both very funny and bang on the money.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bob Brown on Q and A

I did mean to post about Bob Brown's appearance on Q and A earlier, but just haven't had the time until now ...

Not surprisingly, he came out with some jaw-droppingly wrong-headed stuff. His ability to say the complete opposite of what is clearly the truth is truly awesome to behold. His rationale for pushing to clamp down on Murdoch papers is one example:

BOB BROWN: Yes, Gloria. I’ve copped a lot of stick over wanting a media inquiry to look at the very simple fact, ultimately, of having the Journalists’ Code of Ethics upheld in Australia, where so often it’s not. And, you know, unlike doctors or engineers or lawyers, there is no professional organisation which keeps them really in check and I think it’s sad.

TONY JONES: The fear in a lot of journalistic organisations is this will be a restriction of freedom of the press and of freedom of speech.

BOB BROWN: Well, it won't. It will actually help free up the press. The greatest restriction of the press at the moment is Rupert Murdoch. He restricts what you see. He restricts the opinion you get. He restricts what the topic base of the future is. He's got an enormous control, as a non-Australian and a multimillionaire, on what we see, think, hear or read. He has 70% of the papers produced in metropolitan Australia and he's got other very great interests in the media. Now, good on him. But that is very...

Astonishing. He's saying that restricting what journos can say will increase their variety of what is expressed. That's like saying the sun shines at night!

He also wheels out that chestnut about Murdoch controlling 70% of the papers. That's so dodgy. That figure refers to the circulation, and all it proves is that the people really like what Murdoch is selling. Brown just can't bring himself to give people credit for making their own purchasing decisions. If  he had any respect for the majority of Australians, he would at least condemn them for their choices. But he'd much rather view them as puppets being manipulated by the diabolical Rupert. What a revoltingly smug and superior attitude.

Later on, he gets some mildly hostile questions from the audience. He firstly denies that he wants a one world government, then pretty much repeats his desire for one. And whenever he gets some criticism, which he clearly can't cope with at all, he blames Murdoch for it. In his tiny leftist mind he can only ever see people as dupes, never thinking individuals in their own right.

TIM ELLIOTT: The Greens and yourself have been repeatedly calling for one world Government with one vote, one value. Can you please explain to Australians why we should forfeit our sovereignty to the Chinese and Indians who have the numbers to impose their systems and values on us, all but abolishing social welfare, human rights, basic freedoms and turning Australia into a quasi police state.

BOB BROWN: Well, thanks, Tim. I’ve never called for world Government. You have been reading the Murdoch press again.

TONY JONES: No, actually, I suspect he’s probably read your Dear Earthian speech, the thrust of which is that the human race is headed for extinction and the only thing which would save us is a global parliament and a global democracy.

BOB BROWN: Well, I didn’t - I said we have to be aware that we’re on a planet which has finite resources. We're using 120% of the renewable living resources at the moment. We're headed for ten billion people by the second half of this century, according to the United Nations and everybody else on the planet wants to consume as much as we're doing and for that you need two more planets, which we don't have. It’s crunch time. This is a reality. And when it comes to looking at how we work this planet, we’re all in it together and it’s much better that you have a house united rather than divided. I’m not the first person who has spoken about this. Socrates said 2,500 years ago, Tony, that “I’m not a Grecian. I’m not an Athenian. I'm a citizen of the world.” Well, they made him to drink poison. You know this has been something that the tribalist instinct which says we're better than somebody else, and we just heard it, maybe the Chinese or the Indians - I don't subscribe to that. I’m an equal human being with everybody else on the planet. Abraham Lincoln knew that. Einstein knew that. Newton, in the 1760s, wrote about it. Twenty-two US states after the Second World War supported past motions that supported world Government. We have drifted a bit from it and I am talking about a world parliament which is represented. Now, if we're going to have the United Nations function...

TONY JONES: Our questioner has had his hand up for a little while and wants to respond, I think, to what you're saying.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: I mean, isn’t this emblematic of your opposition to freedom? I mean, you’re not denying that you want to take away our freedom to elect an Australian government. You want to control what opinions newspapers can publish. Aren't the Greens the new face of totalitarianism hiding in a koala suit?

BOB BROWN: Well, you are now quoting Miranda Devine from the Murdoch paper. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No, I’m not at all. I don’t read Miranda Devine.

Imagine having such a jaundiced view of humanity? Truly sad -- but also scary. Very glad he's gone.

James Delingpole vs Jon Faine

ABC broadcaster Jon Faine's interview with James Delingpole is hilarious. It's actually a lot like the one the climate change skeptic had with BBC airhead Richard Bacon.

Faine's disdain for his subject is obvious right from the outset. And Delingpole comes out fighting. The discussion is very snippy indeed.

What's most revealing is Faine's tragically thin skin. He keeps protesting that he's not a greenie (yeah sure, and polar bears'll fly out of my butt!) and that he's just being "professional".

That's a standard tactic of the deep green, PC left. They always say "We are detached, dispassionate, objective, scientific. Those eeevil, greedy, planet-raping capitalists are the extreme and emotional ones!" Not only is this a slimy, dishonest tactic, it's also very cowardly. Faine, like all those other commie weasels, just doesn't have the balls to nail his colours to the mast.

As Delingpole himself says in the interview: Why don't they just be upfront about their sympathies? Hell, everybody knows what they believe anyway. The commissar has no clothes, that's for sure.

Delingpole is honest about his bias. He, like so many conservatives, believes that capitalism, democracy and freedom of speech are great things. Not only are they the best way to improve the lot of us humans; they also cause less damage to the environment than leftist, utopian regimes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

James Delingpole promotes Killing the Earth to Save It in Perth

James Delingpole, controversial climate change skeptic and writer of the book Killing the Earth to Save It, commenced his tour of Australia at the Royal Perth Yacht Club in Nedlands last night. I attended the event, which was organized in major part by Joanne Nova, seen here introducing the author.

The book promotion was well attended. I'm not sure of the exact number but there must have been around two hundred people there. What I found interesting about last night's audience was that while a majority were over fifty, there were also quite a few twenty somethings present.

This was not the case when I saw Christopher Monckton in Sydney back in 2009. At that debate -- in which he totally pwned Tim Lambert -- the vast majority were oldsters. This seems to be confirmation that climate change skepticism is getting through to more and more young folk -- clearly a good sign. (Sure, my statistical sample is small, but it's still bigger than the pool from which that widely touted 97% consensus figure was drawn, so I think this conclusion has some validity.)

Speaking of Monckton: Delingpole has now reached a comparable level of prominence. But he's very different as a public speaker. Monckton has a slick, theatrical and tightly scripted show that makes effective use of PowerPoint. He uses a lot of facts and figures, stats and graphs to blast holes in the case for dangerous climate change.

Delingpole comes at the issue in a different way. He's much more focused on politics and sheds light on the many motivations behind the global warmist movement, which he accurately describes as mass hysteria.

Unlike Monckton, he prefers to extemporize. Much of last night's presentation consisted of his responses to questions from the audience. By doing this he managed to cover a wide range of subjects, often punctuating his clear points with witty ad libs.

Delingpole speaks just like he writes, somehow managing to be brazenly provocative and pithy in a simultaneously disarming, almost self-effacing way. He clearly enjoys the controversy he's generated, saying that "if you're taking flak it proves you're over the target". His unique persona is one of the reasons he's getting so much publicity. I suspect that younger people who may be turned off by Monckton and Plimer are warming to Delingpole.

Among numerous subjects he covered the Climategate scandal, which garnered him a massive amount of publicity almost overnight. Interestingly the bloke who actually coined that term -- the memorably named "Bulldust" -- was also present at the event. I photographed him from behind to maintain his powerful aura of mystery and danger.

And he wasn't the only other well known figure in the war against warmism. Dr David Evans was also there, as was Paul Ostergaard, inventor of an  iPhone app for climate change skeptics.

As Joanne Nova mentioned, Perth is a bit of a hub for climate change skepticism. The individualist culture of the place clearly has something to do with that -- as has the fact that Western Australia is pretty much bankrolling the rest of the country with its booming resources industry. The crowd were overwhelmingly supportive of the author, and he ended up selling a lot of books.

Delingpole is definitely worth catching when he appears in your city. Details are here.

You can buy the book online at Fishpond (affiliate link):
Killing the Earth to Save it: How Environmentalists are Ruining the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing Your Jobs

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

AC Grayling and Geoffrey Robertson QC on Q and A

Two well known atheists -- AC Grayling and Geoffrey Robertson QC -- were on Q&A last night. They are very dapper and distinguished lookin' fellas aren't they? And they both have mighty impressive grey manes.

This seems to be a feature of the celebrity atheist. Richard Dawkins, while possessing a less luxuriant head of hair, is still elegantly, albeit subtly, coiffed. And Tariq Ali surely has one of the most magnificent thatches in all of, er, anti-Christendom. (Though it must be said that Phillips Adams is actually follicularly challenged on top. But to make up for it he sports an excellent wise man's beard.)

Well, whatever their hairstyles are like, it's what's going on underneath them that matters. And sometimes I reckon that's a bit of a worry. Not on the general issue of atheism itself, mind. I agree that religion is irrational and unscientific. It's just the lengths they want to go to with their atheism that worry me a bit.

Take Grayling's attitude to the "why are we here?" question:

AC GRAYLING: The problem with the question is that it is a question begging a question. If you think it is a valid question to ask, you have already made the assumption there is an answer external to what is the case about us, which is that as intelligent monkeys, we are essentially social animals, we live in communities with one another and we have a responsibility to think, to use the intelligence we have got and to make meaning, to make purpose in life. There isn't an antecedent purpose which you can cite as the answer to that question "Why are we here?". The fact is we are here, we have to get on with it, and make the best of it. And the way that we make the best of it is to make life meaningful.

That's not an extreme statement in itself, of course. But there seems to be a quasi-authoritarian subtext to it, particularly when you combine it with other things he said (which I'll get to in a minute).

I mean, why doesn't religion still have a lot to offer in a world in which the question is "invalid"? That is, if people are to get on with it and make life meaningful as he suggests why can't they do that by constructing complex and sophisticated religions that give their followers spiritual guidance and a deep sense of meaning?

But Grayling really doesn't like that idea at all:

AC GRAYLING: I would like to pick Nicola up on something, if I may, with great respect. I don't think it is OK that people can believe what they like. All our beliefs should be based on responsible reasoning and we should look at the evidence and think about it carefully. 

So, it's "not okay" for people to believe what they like. Sounds like he would much prefer to live in a world where everyone sees the world in the way he does. Strikes me as a very authoritarian attitude, and one which would make life a lot less interesting.

To Robertson: He got a laugh with a cheap and easy shot at Cardinal Pell when he said this:

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON: I thought that last week's debate was quite extraordinary. Because we had the announcement by George Pell that atheists can go to heaven.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Everyone can be saved.

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON: Well, that's right. Why, for example, be a Catholic? Why go to all those Sunday morning services? Why run the risk your kids will be molested by the local priest when you can be... I mean, I am not an atheist, I'm a lawyer. I don't know whether George would accept that lawyers get to heaven. I think God has to draw the line somewhere. Nonetheless, we don't live in a secular society. We may be sun worshippers but in fact there are so many rules, laws, in this country which are biased in favour of Christian believers. You can't buy a bottle of wine on Good Friday.

This just shows how ignorant he is of Catholics' motivations. They don't maintain their faith just so that they can get to heaven. They have many other reasons such as the sense of wanting to be good, caring about others, and having a sense of community, to name a few.

And he couldn't resist making that nasty reference to pedophilia. But the reality is that Catholic priests are no more likely to commit pedophilia than any other group of men. If there'd been a concerted campaign to demonize lawyers as kiddy fiddlers then he'd be copping some of the same kind of abuse he happily hurls at Catholics and I bet he wouldn't like it one bit.

He also clutches at straws with his claims that Christians get lots of preferential treatment, and that we don't live in a secular society. We do live in a secular society. You can go your entire life and never be preached at by a God botherer. You can flout any (or even all) of the ten commandments and get away with it. 

Christians are clearly more tolerant of atheists than the other way around, as evidenced by their lack of nastiness when debating them. (And just as Robertson points out, they'll also welcome non-believers into heaven! That's about as non-discriminatory as you can get, isn't it?)

This stark difference is one of the reasons Grayling, Roberston and their fellow celebrity atheists can't make much of a dent in the power and influence of religion in this country or any other.

Religion is here to stay whether they like it or not

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Professor Bunyip, Saffron Howden and accusations of racism

Professor Bunyip has posted an open letter to journo Saffron Howden regarding her piece in The Age. Have to agree with him. I haven't read all of the Amazon reviews of Am I Black Enough for You? But the ones I did read, while sometimes snarky, certainly didn't qualify as racist (that is, implying or overtly stating that the book's writer Anita Heiss was inferior or even merely different because of her Aboriginality).

Fluffy wuffies have an amazingly flexible definition of racism. They use it to describe pretty much anything they don't like (which is a helluva lot). They've now made the word next to meaningless to any rational person.

And they almost never seem to want to explain why something is racist. They just label it so. Look at Howden's article. "Racism" is used frequently but there's never a clarification of why or how the examples she mentions qualify as such. About the only thing that comes close to clarifying what she might mean is this paragraph:

Heiss was one of nine Aboriginal people who took Bolt and his publisher to court over articles that implied light-skinned indigenous people chose to be black for personal gain.

Now, that may be bad, wrong, nasty or whatever. But how is even that racist? If he did do what's claimed, Bolt was being maliciously personal and accusing them of a form of corruption. What, so Aborigines are incapable of corruption, and it's their Aboriginality that makes them so? That's just too silly for words. 

Maybe it's because Howden herself is terrified of venturing a definition that she obediently repeats the politically correct line. After all, she includes this creepy little quote from Jody Broun: ''Let's be clear, Aboriginal identity is defined by us, no one else."

Broun seems to be saying that you simply aren't allowed to have an opinion on the matter unless you yourself define yourself as Aboriginal (and in the way that she and her political allies demand). If that's not totalitarian, I don't know what is.

Imagine if I, or another white person (and when I say "white" the definition does not include fair-skinned Aborigines -- er, is that qualification "racist" too?) were to say: "We define who is to be called white, and no one else." The accusation of racism -- which would no doubt be hurled, along with a host of others -- would actually be true. 

Clearly, these PC zealots believe that if they keep repeating the accusation ad bloody nauseam that it'll become true. Except it won't. All that will do is make it increasingly obvious how meaningless, hollow and fear-based their ideology actually is.

The worrying thing is, though, that their false accusations can have legal force. The Bolt verdict proved that.

So, they are a pretty scary bunch! But you've gotta feel sorry for the poor little petals, too. They've cornered themselves big time.

Trapped in a paranoid, pompous pose of lefteous indignation, they are now incapable of constructing an actual argument in response to criticism. Such a state would be sad for anyone. But if you're a writer or a journo, well, it's tragic as.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Atheist Richard Dawkins vs Cardinal George Pell on Q&A

I enjoyed the debate between atheist Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell on Q&A last night. Being an atheist myself, I just couldn't be swayed by many of Pell's arguments. However he certainly landed some punches.

One point in particular struck me as very powerful. The transcript's not yet up so I'll just go from memory on this. They were talking about hell, and Pell related a story in which a kid asked him about who would have ended up there. Pell suggested Hitler. He then went on to opine that if someone as clearly evil as him just got the same "punishment" (that is, death) as everyone else then it would be a terribly unjust universe.

That's not proof of the existence of God, of course. But it's certainly a good reason to have religion, particularly one like Christianity that lays out some sort of final judgement -- with clear consequences -- on how good or bad a person's life has been. I mean, hell, if megalomaniac mass murderers don't get punished for what they do then why should anyone even try to be good?

Now some non-religious types might argue that there is still some kind of universal justice at work since people like this are punished during their lifetimes by being inherently miserable, deeply angry, shunned or whatever. But quite often such A-grade arseholes are happy as Larry! They can have good health, be very popular, and sleep very well. They don't suffer a guilty conscience because they don't have a conscience in the first place. In any case they don't think that what they're doing is bad, wrong, or evil. If anything, they see themselves as heroic crusaders for good. 

And that gets back to the idea of original sin. Dawkins and many other atheists bristle at this Christian idea that we are somehow inherently bad, and that we have to redeem ourselves. But while I don't agree with the details of it, I think original sin is a very good and useful concept. You just have to look at nature to know why.

Nature is obviously amoral. It's just a rolling shit-fight, let's face it. Animals are brutal, craven beings. They just get what they want in whatever way they can without any concern for other creatures except those of their own species (and even that consideration doesn't hold very often).

At our core that's what we humans are like, too. Just look at what happens when civilizing influences disappear, such as in the wake of a natural disaster. They can even happen when they're still there, but have been heavily eroded. The London riots are a case in point.

Sure, it's not only religion that gives us these inner restraints. Atheists can still be good people. That said, religion is still one of the best ways of creating and maintaining them. While we do live in a secular society here in Australia, many of our moral laws and ideals come from Christianity. They work very well and we should keep them. It would be a horrible place without them.

So, just from a very pragmatic point of view, I think Christianity in particular, and religion in general, are very civilizing. I don't subscribe to them in an official way by joining one church or another, but I certainly respect them, and I respect the right of people to follow their faiths. If religious types started trying to ram their beliefs down my neck then my feelings would be different, of course. But I've never once been sermonized to about how defective I am for being an atheist by any religious person in my life. Ironically, the closest thing I've ever heard to a sermon is from zealous atheists bitching about how evil and wrong religion is, and who would clearly be a lot happier it were outlawed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Natasha Cica, change agent, on Q and A

One of the panellists for the most recent Q and A (held in Tasmania) was Natasha Cica. if you have a squizz at her little bio on the site you'll see that she is described as a "change agent". She's also got a pretty vague sounding role as an academic that is linked to increasing Tasmania's "cultural and social vibrancy". This is all just a precious way of saying she uses taxpayers' money to push a deep green, leftist and drearily PC agenda.

She's clearly a dab hand at getting grants and awards, too, because she's recently scored a biggie:

In 2012 Natasha is the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. Just twelve Australians were selected for these fellowships from over three hundred nominations, with regard to two criteria - outstanding talent and exceptional courage

Dunno where her "exceptional talent" lies -- aside from her ability to score a cushy gig in the Halls of Quackademe, that is. Maybe it's got something to do with her fine ear for "cultural vibrancy"? And I'm not sure what feats of "exceptional courage" she's pulled off either. Hell, maybe in her spare time she's a proximity flyer?

Basically, she displayed neither courage nor talent in her appearance on Q and A. She just came across as a bit of a bore who seemed way too pleased with herself.

Some of what she said bordered on the self-parodic. One example of this occurred when the discussion turned to Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art and the ethically prickly fact that much of the money for it had come from professional gambler David Walsh's massive winnings. Keen to counter Eric Abetz's point that there was little distinction between making money from pokie machines and poker played with cards, she said this:

NATASHA CICA: Well, I think you can. I mean some of my best friends are gamblers, I’ll come straight up and say, and there is a difference between pulling a thing on a poker machine and playing a game of poker. One is asocial, anti-social, inward looking, does not involve you connecting with other people. The other can be the creation of a social space. Now, I’m not saying it’s as simple as that but I remember when this building opened and when Wrest Point Casino was the sexiest, most cosmopolitan space in town and much as with MONA, people flew into Hobart from other countries, other states and there was a buzz about this building and that was all around gambling so I think there are degrees of problematic behaviour and social cost associated with different types of gambling so with all respect I disagree.

Hilarious. Well, one thing's for sure, she's certainly got an exceptional talent for rhetorical hair-splitting. I wonder what she would have said if David Walsh, who's kinda like a Lorenzo the Magnificent for Tasmania, had made his mind-boggling fortune from poker machines instead. I reckon it would be something along these lines:

"Well, poker machine playing is seen as a sad and lonely activity in which players are routinely commodified and exploited. However I believe this stereotype is in need of radical re-imagining.

"Playing on the pokies could equally be seen in existential terms as individuals exercising their own free will. And the repeated pulling of levers does have aerobic benefits that are clearly missing from traditional card game practices."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Earth Hour satirized on Rod Quinn's ABC radio show

Had the wireless on in the wee hours of this morning. Was channel surfing and I ended up on ABC Local. Rod Quinn was chatting to a bloke about Earth Hour. It seemed like it was a dinkum, prearranged interview.

Anyway, this guy said his name was Nick Day, and he was a member of the International Coalition of Earth Hour Supporters. He sounded like your typical garden variety climate change catastrophist and I thought he was the real deal. But then he turned it up a notch, saying that turning off the lights should be mandatory for all citizens, and that the power stations should be shut down for Earth Hour. 

That's when I started to sense a piss-take. Among other things he said that if transport accidents caused by these national shutdowns resulted in deaths they were a "small price to pay for saving the planet". He advocated the widespread use of candles, and more fondue style cooking. When Quinn quizzed him further on this he became indignant, railing at the imputation that he had anything to gain financially from this position. 

It was actually pretty funny in a sly, wry way. This bloke, whoever he was, carried it off well. And Quinn played his part convincingly. I didn't twig while it was happening, but in retrospect I now realize that it was an April Fool's Day prank. 

I continued to listen for a little while after this and those callers I heard responding to this segment mostly seemed to have taken it seriously. Just one guy I heard suspected Day "was having a bit of lend".

This cheeky, prearranged satire of Earth Hour zealotry was a small but not insignificant sign that the warmist mindset at their ABC is shifting somewhat. If a late night presenter can do this on one day of the year when irreverence is expected then more prominent broadcasters in the organization might one day follow suit, maybe even at any time they feel like it.