Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yeah, that'll sort it out. Not.

As much as I enjoy slagging off our political masters, there are one or two decent people in the House of Commons; for them, it must be pretty galling to be lumped in with their lazy, venal and corrupt colleagues—not just by bloggers, but in "proper" studies too.

"Eh? What the fuck are you talking about?" I hear you cry...

Well, it seems that a study by the University of Nottingham has worked out that the MP intake of 2010 are possibly the most rebellious since the dinosaurs. Or something.
The study by the University of Nottingham says MPs have become more rebellious and independent-minded in recent years. The Parliaments elected in 2001 and 2005 produced record numbers of revolts, but the 2010 Parliament is already "easily outstripping" them, say Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart, who conducted the research.

They say the 43 per cent rebellion rate is "simply without parallel in the post-war era", and is even more dramatic because the Parliament is still in its early stages, when new MPs tend to be more acquiescent. "One of the most noticeable features about the 2010 cohort, especially on the Conservative side, is how troublesome they have been," the authors say.

Yes, well, good for them, on the whole. The top five rebellious MPs listed—which includes your humble Devil's blog mascot, I'm proud to say—are generally on the side of decency and, more importantly, their constituents.

And they are, by and large, decent freedom-minded people (if not outright libertarians) who think that Westminster needs a good shake-up.

But these rebels must be mortified at the study's proposed solution for making our fat-headed Prime Minister's life easier...
"Over time the ranks of the rebellious new MPs will swell, unless the Government can create a raft of new jobs to keep its backbenchers occupied..."

So, basically, a bunch of idiots from the University of Nottingham think that David Cameron should invent a whole load of new make-work jobs in order to shut these people up?

How?

Do these people think that men like Nuttall, Reckless, Baker or Carswell can be bought off with some pointless minor ministerial distraction? Or perhaps they think that the jobs should be loaded onto the rebels regardless, so that they are too busy to vote?

I have chatted quite a bit to the last two on that list, and I am pretty damn sure that neither of them could be bribed in this manner.

The way to get people like Baker or Carswell to vote for the government is for the government to actually enact some laws that, cuts government spending, unfetters the free market and increases freedom for the people of this nation.

Other than that, I am pretty fucking sure that the corrupt idiots at the University of Nottingham are on to a loser. Which is why your humble Devil is happy to renew his support for Steve Baker MP for another year...

In the meantime, however, it is hardly surprising that a bunch of academics should suggest that free speech and independent thinking can be stifled by the awarding of a meaningless sinecure—it's just one of the reasons why our education system is so utterly shite.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pilgrims

Jane Pilgrim: the face of union corruption and theft. And what a face it is...

Many despise Guido as a muckraker and a "bad" blogger: these allegations may be true, but your humble Devil has always found him rather entertaining (and thoroughly fond of a good drinking session).

And, let's face it, by certain measures—namely making money from blogging, and setting the government agenda—Guido is rather more successful than most of the rest of us.

One campaigns that I am fully behind is Guido's crusade against "Pilgrims"—union activists funded by the taxpayer and not by the unions themselves.
Eighteen months ago Guido was chewing the cud with a source who works in education in some Westminster watering-hole. Even after four Guinnesses, he still did not believe the story he was being told. Apparently there were teachers that were paid full-time salaries, yet worked full-time on trade union activity. Another teacher had to be employed to cover for this activist, this pushed a particular school over budget. Guido didn’t really think much more on the subject until a piece of research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance [PDF] came across his desk a few months later. Their formidable FoI team had scatter-gunned almost every area of the state, trying to work out exactly how much of our money was was being wasted on unions bods who are paid for by us rather than out of the union members’ subscriptions. That leaves plenty of union money around to prop up Ed Miliband and bus people around the country for astro-turfed protests. It was on…

Heavy unionisation is largely a public sector phenomenon (although ex-public sector businesses—such as BA or BT—tend to carry this legacy too) and a great many professions are de facto closed shops (the education and medical sectors spring most readily to mind).

As long-time readers will recall, your humble Devil is not a fan of The Unions. In fact, I have written numerous posts—most pertinently, this one—laying out why. In summary, unions were formed to counter a problem that, largely, no longer exists (unbridled employer power over an unskilled workforce with few options), they increase unemployment, and because they are damaging to their employees and to their customers (largely the British taxpayer).
The unions now largely exist to extort more money from you and me, on behalf of their members, through our taxes—subs that you and I must pay involuntarily. These subs are then used to enforce collective bargaining so that you and I, despite suffering from a massive recession, must pay out ever more to a public sector that delivers less and less.

Furthermore, of course, such collective bargaining diminishes the quality of the workers in that industry—it doesn't matter whether you are good or bad at your job, you will still get the same pay. It is a system that rewards mediocrity at the expense of skill and dedication—thus calling into question whether the unions actually serve the best interests of their members. After all, if a bad teacher must get the same pay rise as a good one, then the good teacher's pay rise is less than it might have been.

In a near-monopoly such as the education system—especially since education is compulsory—all of this means that the general public have no option but to pay the higher (and often undeserved) wages, and reward failure; not only this, but their children's education is then screwed up and these young people's lives irreparably harmed.

For the purposes of this post, the really valid line in that quote is the first one:
The unions now largely exist to extort more money from you and me, on behalf of their members, through our taxes—subs that you and I must pay involuntarily.

And since most of their members are in publicly funded industries, that means that the best way for the unions to get more money for their members is to play politics. And they do this very effectively, mainly by providing the vast majority of the funding for one of the two main political parties—the Labour Party.

The Labour Party is famous for basically bankrupting the country every time that they are elected‚ and this dubious skill is—in large part—due to the fact that a Labour government must pander to its union paymasters.

There are several ways that the last Labour government did this:
  • large salary increases for public sector workers (especially if you belong to a union. Interestingly, I was in a hospital in the North, recently, and in the main entrance lobby, they had a large banner setting out why members of staff should join a particular union. The first point was "you will get paid more".);

  • provided millions of pounds of funding through entities such as the Union Modernisation Fund (what this modernisation consisted of or who it was supposed to benefit, I've never been sure. But if it doesn't benefit the taxpayer, then why are we paying for it?);

  • providing taxpayer-funded staff, venues and facilities.

The first is pretty obvious really—and has, in fact, brought this country to its knees financially.

The second was (and is), as far as I am concerned, a straight piece of money-laundering by the Labour Party, as Shane Greer pointed out in2007.
Without dropping a beat Gordon has today given a further £2.8m of taxpayers’ money to the unions to top up the Union Modernisation Fund; a fund that has already received £10m of taxpayers’ money. Oh, I almost forgot to mention Labour received almost £17m from unions last year.

But if the unions can afford to give £17m in donations to Labour doesn’t that mean they have more than enough money to pay for ‘modernisation’ without the taxpayers’ help? In fact it looks a lot like they’d even have enough left over to make a hefty donation to the Labour Party (and pay for some placards).

If anyone can explain how the Union Modernisation Fund is anything more than a money laundering operation to turn tax revenue into political donations I will be eternally grateful.

It was in 2006 that Guido posted this helpful little diagram illustrating this concept.

Why are taxpayers funding the "modernisation" of the unions anyway? Isn't that what union subs are for? Taxpayers' money is being handed over to a bunch of thugs whose main aim is to increase the amount of taxpayers' money they get: this is akin to me giving some of my money to a man so that he can extort more money from me.

Actually, it's more like me extorting your money from you, and then using that money to pay a massive, psychotic, baseball bat-wielding Glaswegian to come over and extort more from you "in order to pay for ma' fucking weans Christmas presents".

It's even more ridiculous—and really fucking annoying—that Cameron has decided to continue with this Union Modernisation Fund farce.
This does not bode well for Cameron's tactical nouse, fiscal responsibility or his supposed belief in individual liberty. In the massive fucking financial hole that this country is in, we simply cannot afford to keep giving tens of millions of pounds to the unions so that they can ensure that their members—who are overwhelmingly in the public sector—can continue to squeeze as much money as possible for as little work as possible.

Cameron is not only continuing to fund his enemies, he is continuing to fund our enemies—and he is doing it with our fucking money.

Further, from the angle of liberty, Cameron should be able to see that it is absolutely flat-out wrong for the general public to be taxed so that a vested interest can continue to operate how they please. I mean, for fuck's sake, I never expected the Tories to be much different from Labour, but surely even they can see that this kind of thing is wrong in principle, as well as practicality.

One can make a case for any number of things being of benefit to society as a whole and, thus, eligible for funding through taxation. The unions are not one of those things.

Cameron and CCHQ knew about the Union Modernisation Fund, because they explicitly confirmed that it would stay (presumably to pursue some stupid bloody policy of appeasement); it is safe to say that the Coalition were also well aware of the third method of funding the unions—which brings us back to Guido's "Pilgrims"...
With the unions agitating it was only a matter of time before someone said something stupid. In April one such taxpayer-funded trade union official put her head above the parapet and claimed to the Standard that Andrew Lansley had lied about NHS cuts at a pre-election visit to St Georges Hospital in Tooting. Unfortunately for the now infamous Jane Pilgrim, Mark Clarke, the local Tory candidate who had organised said visit, had a slightly clearer recollection of events – mainly that Jane had refused to meet Lansley on political grounds. The first shots were fired and suddenly Jane Pilgrim, the union-funded smearing liar, began to unravel. She had a private consultancy firm on the side and lived at the expense of the taxpayer too. Eventually she was forced back kicking and screaming to frontline nursing, but the can of worms had been opened…

Given CCHQ's attitude to the unions, it is unlikely, I think, that they would have done anything about these kinds of disgusting abuses of taxpayers' money (we can only assume that they need the Labour Party to stay afloat: I suspect that some deals were done in the back rooms of Parliament—something to speculate about in the future, methinks*).

It is only because the Taxpayers' Alliance and Guido started kicking up such a stink (with the press then picking up on it), that the Tories suddenly found themselves under pressure to do something about this scandal.
Guido has seen emails sent around senior brothers expressing concern that the activities of Unison’s poster-girl could be the thin-edge of the wedge and they even speculated that her big mouth might ruin the taxpayer funded fun and games for everyone. How right they were. Suddenly, with personification and a focus point, the outrage about the concept of taxpayer-funded trade-union staff grew. Speeches began to be made in Parliament, motions were put down and people began to realise that there is a Nurse Pilgrim in every hospital, school, government department and pen-pushing office in the country. The TPA numbers came alive and the bandwagon was rolling

As Guido began smoking out further pilgrims, David Cameron was put on the spot about at PMQs in May. June saw public opinion turn in the polls. The tabloids waded in and Eric Pickles and Frankie Maude soon got behind the issue. As conference season approached word reached Guido that a breakthrough was imminent. On the eve of Tory conference leaked CCHQ briefings saw MPs given anti-pilgrim lines and Pickles and Maude opened fire from the podium. In less than six months a full government consultation had been announced and the figures mooted as potential savings saw even more people get behind the campaign. Union funded Labour MPs went berserk

Because of the pressure piled on, the Coalition were forced to act—or, at least, promise to act—against a practice whereby the British taxpayer subsidises the unions to the tune of over £113 million a year, through paying for the full-time employment of some 2,840 staff. Plus, of course, the taxpayer gets whacked twice: we have to stump up for another nurse or teacher or council idiot to do the job that the union person was supposed to do.

This is a total disgrace: there is only one group of people who should pay for the unions, and that is the union members. It is time to put the costs back where they belong—or, of course, the unions could cut their costs (perhaps by refusing to bankroll the basically bankrupt Labour Party, or not paying their lying bosses £100k+ every year).

Your humble Devil has been particularly lame this year: whenever Pilgrims have come up, it has been at a time when my blogging inertia was at its height. As such, this is the first time that I have written about them (although, in the future, I shall be following Mark Clarke's Trade Union Reform Campaign with interest).

Luckily, Guido claims that he is in this "for the long haul" and, in this case, your humble Devil is happy to support him.

* It's interesting to note that, shortly after the Tories promised to abolish Pilgrims, the "poison" of state- taxpayer-funding of political parties started bubbling up again.**

** Apparently, there won't be any state-funding "in this Parliament". So, expect to see it seriously proposed for the next one then...

Not entirely a surprise

Since the 80s, we have been bombarded with media images of "loved-up" clubbers hugging each other and having, like, a connection, man —an episode of Spaced springs to mind, and basically the whole of Human Traffic.

The drug responsible, of course, is Ecstasy—whose active component is MDMA—and Wikipedia briefly describes its effects thusly:
MDMA can induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, and diminished anxiety.

I would say that this is a pretty accurate description of its effects; further, when pure, MDMA has pretty few side-effects (especially when compared to many commonly prescribed anti-depressants, etc.).

As such, your humble Devil has always thought that drug therapies could well be developed from MDMA—either in the field of anti-depressants or in the area of autism. And it seems that studies into the latter are certainly ongoing.
One promising new avenue of research that may one day provide treatment for adult autism involves the use of the psychedelic drug MDMA, or “ecstasy,” within the context of a psychotherapeutic setting, which has been shown to produce lasting feelings of empathy in some people.

Many people who have used MDMA report increased sociability and strong feelings of empathy that last long after the psychoactive effect of the substance wears off. There has been substantial interest in using MDMA as a possible treatment for less severe cases of adult autism, because two of the hallmarks of the disorder are an inability to communicate socially and a lack of empathy.

David Jentsch at the UCLA Center for Autism found that MDMA enhanced the transmission of a key neurochemical in the brain called “vasopressin,” which is known to help mediate sociability. In another study, by G.J. Dumont and colleagues at Radboud University in the Netherlands, researchers found that MDMA increases levels of oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of love and bonding.

The Santa Cruz-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has also gathered together numerous anecdotal reports from people with a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome, who have found MDMA to be helpful in their learning to cope more effectively in social situations, and enough reports have now been compiled to warrant further investigation.

A number of people with high-functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome have reported improvements after taking MDMA outside of research contexts. MDMA shows promise for treating autism spectrum disorders, as the effects of MDMA that increase empathy and enhance communication are precisely the abilities that autism tends to degrade.

MAPS is reviewing proposals from autism researchers for a pilot study using MDMA as a possible treatment for Asperger's syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. MAPS will offer a grant of $10,000 for protocol development expenses to run this pilot study.

If you or someone you know has heard of MDMA having either positive or negative effects on symptoms of autism spectrum disorders or Asperger’s syndrome, MAPS would like to hear from you. Please contact MAPS Lead Clinical Research Associate Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D., at berra@maps.org, if you have any information about this.

Which is all good news—although hardly a great leap. After all, if you have a disease in which people are unable to empathise socially, then using a drug that does precisely that seems obvious.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

And so it goes on...

As the laziness of the festive season has started to wear thin, your humble Devil has woken up and noticed that the Coalition have quietly pledged to implement some spectacularly stupid policies.

The first of these is the Vickers Report which, amongst other pointless remedies, suggests splitting the retail and investment arms of banks. Despite the fact that this ignores the fact that the collapse started amongst the government-guaranteed retail arms of said banks, the government has said that it will press ahead with the recommendations in full.

The second piece of colossal stupidity is Cameron's reported commandment to implement minimum alcohol pricing: this suggestion really grips my shit for a number of reasons—not least that it won't work, that it will be illegal under EU law, that there is no drinking problem in this country, and that the massively-foreheaded twat has finally shown his true colours.

Most irritating of all, of course, is that we know that Tory aides read many blogs voraciously—and that, therefore, CCHQ are aware of all of the above. And they know that we know that they know. As such, they are pissing into our open mouths.

As such, I feel that some of these issues need to be addressed by your humble Devil—if only for my own catharsis. But, it is late, and so this post is a bookmark, an aide memoire for myself and a menu of things to come for my remaining readers...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Michael O'Leary on innovation

I am, I know, a little late on this—having seen it at numerous places, including Old Holborn's—but I very much enjoyed RyanAir's Michael O'Leary roundly insulting the European Commission, repeatedly, whilst speaking at the laughable European Union Innovation Conference.



Do watch it—and I only wish that our government would heed O'Leary's advice to "get the hell out of Brussels as fast as you can"...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas...

... and all that jazz. Oh and, if you feel like it, ignore the predictions of doom and gloom and have a thoroughly excellent new year.

Alas, it is unlikely that your humble Devil will return—in any but the most fleeting of fashions—until mid-February. But you never know...

But, in the meantime, I hope that you have lots of fun—or, at the very least, don't drink yourself to death!

Regards,

DK

P.S. We are wandering over to Pater Devil's place, on Boxing Day, to enjoy yet more boozing fun. This has, of course, been made much more difficult by the Aslef strike. So, this is for you, Aslef members—I would like you to know that I endorse every word...



Thanks to Bloggerheads and the Amateur Transplants for putting what we all feel so succinctly—and for creating that song (and video) that just keeps on giving...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Economics spot

Oh look! Yet more evidence that students—even those commenting on a topic that they are supposed to be commenting on—are completely fucking ignorant...

And this, of course, simply builds adds more fuel to the fire of The Devil's Second Law of Economics, i.e. that if a student says that something is so, the opposite is true.

Thus, naturally, feeding into the general law that there is not a single social sector on this planet so ill-informed, self-righteous and pig-ignorant as a student.

And then they join UKUncut—after passing an entrance exam to prove their idiocy—and become even more comprehensively fuck-witted.

Students: ignore them—you know it makes sense.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A EUsceptic?

The Buttered New Potato has come out with a line designed to quiet the increasingly vocal EUsceptics in his party today.
David Cameron has said he will not sign any reworked EU treaty designed to solve the eurozone crisis if it does not contain safeguards to protect British interests.

The prime minister said there must be protection for the single market and the UK financial services sector.

The EU treaty may be rewritten to achieve greater fiscal integration within the eurozone.

But that would require the agreement of all 27 members, including the UK.

Unfortunately, as EUReferendum has repeatedly pointed out, this is a complete and utter lie.
Unfortunately, this Janet & John appreciation is somewhat at variance with the political realities of the European Union. Specifically, they lack any knowledge of the history of the Union, they are unaware of the "Craxi doctrine" which emerged from the 1985 Milan European Council, where Thatcher was ambushed, with the "colleagues" agreeing to an IGC against her will...

At the time, the rules for convening an IGC dictated that there should be consensus amongst member states, but what Craxi established was that, in the case of dispute, this meant simple majority voting by the leaders of the member states.

What has since emerged also, honed and refined during the shenanigans over the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty, is that the agenda is also determined by "consensus", with the EU commission holding the pen. Thus, whether the UK would even be able to put her demands on the agenda would be a matter for the rest of the "colleagues".

Now, given that any forthcoming IGC will be convened to deal with the needs of the 17 eurozone members, which comprise the majority of the 27 states, it is unlikely that they will want the distraction of The Boy's political demands. Thus, the likelihood is that these will not even get onto the agenda. They will be blocked by a majority vote of the eurozone members, if need be.

This, of course, will leave The Boy stranded, with but one option – then to veto the conclusions of the IGC, blocking any new treaty. That would make him about as popular as an Israeli ambassador at a Hamas convention. Cameron would have to decide whether to incur the wrath of the entire collective, or cave in. And we know exactly what the result would be.

Thus, whatever the political motivation of The Boy is pursuing the current line – and we'll explore that in another post - it is not going to happen. As always, the only real options are two-fold: all in, or all out. Repatriation is not an option … not through negotiation, anyway. It is smoke and mirrors, not political reality.

So, we are forced to apply the Polly Conundrum—is Cameron totally fucking ignorant, or is he an unscrupulous, lying shit?

I'd vote* for both personally...

* A figure of speech. I would never vote for that massively-foreheaded spiv...

Monday, November 28, 2011

The sex pay gap

According to Gaby Hinchcliffe in The Grauniad, we have managed to solve the pay gap between women and men.
According to official statistics released last week, the pay gap between men and women—that barometer of shifting power between the sexes—has quietly shrunk to a record low and among younger women has shot clearly into reverse. Women in their 20s now earn a solid 3.6% more on average than men their age, after narrowly overtaking them for the first time last year. The rise of the female breadwinner, it seems, was no blip, but the beginning perhaps of a social and sexual sea change.

Of course, Timmy has been banging on about this for some time now. And, as he says, there are two main reasons for any existing gap.
Overall it is in favour of men but that’s down to two things.
  1. Overall is comparing women in their 50s etc, people who did not receive the same education or career opportunities as the men of their age group. This is a problem that will be solved simply by time.

  2. Motherhood. The pay gap appears at the average age of primagravidae. We don’t actually have a gender pay gap any more. We have a motherhood pay gap. To change this you’re going to have to change biology and good luck with that in a mammalian species.

So, can we please declare this problem over and get on with solving some of the others that plague us?

All of which makes Jerry Hayes's article at Dale & Co. (a pretty site full of high-profile writers who know bugger all about anything) look like precisely what it is—a pathetic whinge backed up by no evidence whatsoever.
So how does Cameron woo the women back to the ballot paper? Simple. Show that they are being treated equally and fairly and that means, shock horror, that they should get paid the same rate for the same job that men do. It is hard to believe that in 2011 Britain the pay gender gap can still be up to 20%. It is a national disgrace.

Jerry Hayes is, apparently, "a former Conservative MP and leading barrister defending and prosecuting high profile cases", so it's no wonder that he is a clueless twit.

Unfortunately, his article is typical of that site—a mess of anecdote and personal opinion with not a single link to any evidence whatsoever. And whilst Jerry might be right that the law, as a profession, is full of useless, bigoted arseholes, this is hardly news, is it?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Twitter battle...

Your humble Devil has crossed swords with Richard Murphy on Twitter. I thought that my readers might be interested in the exchange...
DK:
Tell me, @richardjmurphy — you have since said that your tax avoidance was wrong. Have you since paid back the arrears that you "owe"…?

Murphy:
@devilskitchen Nonsense! I had HMRC come to my house and asked if I could pay additional rates - and they refused - because none are due

Quite right. Because tax avoidance is legal—tax evasion is illegal. But Richard advocates that avoidance should be illegal too.
Murphy:
@devilskitchen Let's put it another way - I walk my talk on tax compliance - so enough of your nonsense!

Really? I think not.
DK:
@RichardJMurphy So you do not seek to minimise your tax liability? And, despite advising others how to, you have not done so yourself? Ever?

DK:
@RichardJMurphy So, Richard, none of this is true? timworstall.com/2010/08/24/in-… And this isn't you? guardian.co.uk/money/2003/feb…

Murphy:
@devilskitchen I've explained that time & again & that I would not do in the same way again. So what? I can change my mind. That's maturity

Murphy:
@devilskitchen I'm sure I have never ever sought to minimise my tax bill - it's an absurd thing to do - and I'd never recommend it to anyone

So, Richard Murphy has never sought to minimise his tax bill? Your humble Devil and his readers know that this is a lie. Not just a dissemblance, but an outright lie.

Richard has sought to minimise his tax bill, by forming limited companies, paying low wages to avoid employers NICs, paying dividends in order to reduce income tax, etc. Murphy's assertion above is just not true. At all.

His argument at the time was that he had changed—he had come to realise that such arrangements were wrong. So, because I am a thoroughly nice chap, I decided to let him admit this. In 2010, Richard protested that he had changed since he was... Er, 27. About 20 years before Richard Murphy wrote this article in the Observer advising people how best to avoid tax...
DK:
@RichardJMurphy So, you are 53? In 2005, when you were 47, you were happy to take money to write an article advising people to minimise tax.

DK:
@RichardJMurphy You wrote that "I have come a long way since I was 27 – thankfully". taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2010/08/2… But not that far, eh, Richard?

Murphy:
@devilskitchen Since it appears you know the answers to all the questions you're raising - all provided by me - shall we stop wasting time?

DK:
@RichardJMurphy Well, why don't you stop wasting everyone's time by hypocritically condemning tax avoidance whilst profiting by it?

DK:
@RichardJMurphy That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I suggest that you stand for Parliament—you'd fit right in.

DK:
@RichardJMurphy You're fatally compromised—like your Union paymasters, milking us for over £113m per annum. Time for dinosaurs to retire.

I make that—along with the rest of the Murphy's Law archive—about 83,000 to 1 in my favour...

Congratulations to Ben Goldacre

Look at Ben... No wonder he's smiling—he's won a gold star for cleverness!

It's so nice to see Dr Ben Goldacre—champion of science and scourge of dodgy-report pedlars—join some socio-economic dots, as he has on Twitter today.

Well, actually, he's part-way there: his first Tweet approvingly quotes the TUC-backed Touchstone blog as an authority on public sector pay—presumably because he thinks that what they have to say is not in any way biased...

the self-pitying fantasy emerging among middle class ppl that their friends in public sector get a better deal is wrong bit.ly/vfkCgg

The blog post in question, of course, only concentrates on actual wages rather than all the benefits—such as gold-plated pensions. It seems rather hypocritical for the self-appointed scourge of selective statistic-quoting scientific studies to so uncritically cite such a source as "evidence" although, to be fair, Goldacre does mention another benefit of working in the public sector... [Emphasis mine.]

there are some terrible problems in the public sector - like, for some insane reason we don't sack shit people - but salary is not one.

Of course, for those working in the public sector, the fact that "we don't sack shit people" is a benefit: it's only a one of those "terrible problems in the public sector" if you actually have to use the so-called services. As the Daily Mash so succinctly puts it...
Businesses also fear that if public sector workers’ demands aren’t met, they may look for jobs in the private sector, costing billions in incompetence-related mistakes.

But that's not really what this little article is about. No, I come to praise Benny-boy, not to bury him. Because, you see, Dr Ben then makes a connection—all on his ownsome, without any help. Which I think is just lovely.

also, public sector pay is "geographically inelastic". private sector wages in London are a third higher. public sector, marginal weighting.

Yes, Ben—and...? Oh look—he's got it!

this has interesting consequences. personal experience only, but i think the public sector attracts better quality ppl outside of london.

Oh, well done! Well done, Ben. Have a gold star, and I shall tell your mummy how clever you've been today...

You see, what Benny has done is to independently reach the same conclusion as this Centre for Economic Performance Report [PDF]—which was published in January 2008.

I highlighted it—whilst filleting Kerron "voice of the delectable Left" Cross—after Timmy wrote about it at the Adam Smith Institute blog under the title of Centralisation kills!*.
What the authors did was look at the quality and productivity of nursing across the country, this being measured by the percentage of those admitted to hospital after a heart attack (AMI) who died in the subsequent 30 days. As we're all told so often of the connection between (relative) poverty and bad health we would expect the rates to be higher in poor areas. Quite the contrary: the richer the area surrounding the hospital the worse the survival rate. The reason for this is that nurses' wages are set centrally, to be the same (with very little geographic variation) right across the country. However, wages in general are not the same across the country:
Pay for nurses and physicians in NHS hospitals, which provide almost all hospital care in the UK, is set by a central review body that sets pay scales in which there is limited regional variation. The variation that exists does not fully reflect the wages differentials in the external labor markets in which the staff are employed. Regional pay differences are considerable in the UK. For example, female white-collar wages in North East England are about 60 percent lower than in Inner London and these persist after controlling for human capital characteristics and other factors.

It isn't that wages are too high in low wage areas, but that they are too low for nurses in high wage areas. This leads to both a shortage of people willing to do the job itself and hospitals relying upon agency staff who are not constrained by the national pay scale: but agency staff are, by the very nature of their shift by shift employment, unlikely to know the systems and hospitals as well as permanent. The end effect is:
A 10 percent increase in the outside wage isassociated with a 4 percent to 8 percent increase in AMI death rates.

That is, where hospitals cannot pay the going rate for trained staff because of the national pay setting, people die. All in the name of equality no doubt, for a job's worth the same amount of pay where ever it is to some people. The only solution to this is to abolish such national pay rates and allow local employers to pay what they need to attract the staff they desire.

So, well done Ben Goldacre, for understanding some basic economics and applying it—even if he is some years behind. Perhaps the good doctor will now campaign against the national pay deal because the downsides are pretty unpleasant for those poor bastards who have to use his beloved public sector services...
All of which rather puts into perspective the current wrangles over national bargaining for police pay, other public sector workers, even the negotiations with civil servants and doctors. We shouldn't be having such national problems because we shouldn't be having such national negotiations in the first place. For centralisation of pay bargaining kills people.

Yes, the national pay deal—negotiated and backed by the Unions who are about to go on strike—actually kills people unnecessarily.

We have had a report showing this for nearly four years now: instead of allowing the union bosses to call the shots with strikes, perhaps we should actually prosecute them for corporate manslaughter. Or murder. I'm not fussed.

Perhaps I should write to Ben and ask if he would support such a campaign?

It should be easy if phrased right, e.g.
Dear Ben, will you back my campaign to imprison union leaders responsible for the national pay deal, or are you actually in favour of the NHS needlessly killing its victims patients...?

Now, if we could just teach Ben about the problems with the National Minimum Wage then we might actually make some progress. Unfortunately, Ben has not replied to my Tweet pointing this out...

* And both the ASI link and the report had changed since I wrote that post, so I spent an inordinate amount of time tracking it down this morning. I have corrected the links there and, of course, here.

Of pension pots and piss-takers

As we all must know by now, a number of unions are striking at some point at the end of this month; I haven't kept track of which ones because, fundamentally, I have bugger all interaction with the state and so don't expect to notice anything except a bunch of molly-coddled parasites mouthing off in the centre of London.

The main driver for this "super-strike" is that the government has pointed out that the gold-plated, defined-benefit, public sector pensions are utterly unaffordable and intends to change the terms of the deal. Finally.

Not that they are intending to switch away from defined-benefit pensions—oh no! What they are proposing is that public sector workers pay in an extra 3% of their salary towards their absurdly generous retirement salaries. And this is, apparently, a problem.

One thing to note is that the private sector, both employers and employees, are being forced to contribute an extra 8% minimum towards their derisory state pension schemes—making the public sector's 3% increase for their defined-beneft schemes look, frankly, pathetically paltry.

But listen to any public sector worker whinge and you'd think that every third one of them was being sent to a gulag, not being asked to pay a fraction closer to what they should be. You can see these parasitical fools commenting on blogs (as well as hear them in person), saying things like this...

"But we already pay, like, 9% of our salaries towards our pension. We're just asking to get what we've paid for."

Really? OK, let's have a look at some facts, shall we?
A nurse retiring on a salary of £34,200 after 40 years would receive a pension of £22,800. To obtain that level of income from a private sector pension at current annuity rates, a worker would need to amass a pension pot of £600,000, the Treasury said.

According to pensions experts at Hargreaves Lansdown, a private sector worker on the same income who saved the average of 9 per cent of salary into a pension over a career might build a pension pot of £258,000.

They estimated that to save £500,000 into a private pension, a worker would need to start by setting aside £600 a month from the age of 23. Someone who earns £40,000 and puts aside 9 per cent into a workplace pension is only saving £300 a month.

So, here's a message to public sector workers—I am happy for you to receive what you have paid for. And that is a pension pot of rather less than £250,000. And when you retire, you can take that pension pot and invest it in an annuity pension, as the rest of us are forced to do (by law).

And the earlier you retire—and we all know that public sector workers have a tendency to retire rather earlier than everyone else. Presumably because of the stress associated with filing forms in triplicate—the less your pension income will be.

That is what the rest of us have to do. And, as you say, you only want what you've paid for.

Oh, wait—you don't want that?

Oh right! You don't actually want what you paid for? Oh yes, you want what you were promised—even though it was patently unaffordable?

Tough.

As Carpsio says...
Is all this tax necessary? Well that depends on your political stance. Some would argue that it isn’t enough, others that it is too much. You can ignore the latter, because they’re borderline communists, but the fact is that I don’t have a say in the matter – it just is. Certainly there’s no-one pressing the case for lower taxes that I can vote for. And now we owe the world about £14 squazillion we’re not going to turn into the Cayman Islands anytime soon. We’ve moved barely an iota from the age in which you’d pay your tithe to the Lord of the Manor regardless of how rotten your turnip harvest had been or how many of your kids had pegged it with tubercolosis.

But among the ways in which it is spent are on the pensions of public sector workers. Do I wish them a ruinous old age of poverty and want? Of course not. Do I think that every one of them is a worthless mouth or an unproductive presence on the planet? Equally no. Do I think that I should not only foot the bill for their wages, but for a retirement that is way beyond my own means to afford as well? Thrice no. As Samuel L Jackson might put it: “fuck that shit”.

Quite.

So go ahead and strike—see if anyone gives a crap. In the meantime, I hope that you have many more strikes and lose many, many days of your wages.

And in the meantime, we will be working out the best way to stop your union bosses stealing yet another £113 million of our cash in order to organise you—and to pay their fat salaries.

So, with all due respect (very little), fuck you all.

UPDATE: as a number of commenters have pointed out, the Telegraph have done their figures wrong. The nurse could only receive a maximum pension of half her salary—roughly £17,000.

The general point still stands, however, since the Guardian's rather detailed calculator estimates that in order to reach the desired amount of 50% of salary—assuming 40 years of contributions, 20 years to live after retirement, a 7% return, and 4% inflation—the nurse would have to pay £485 per month, every month, from the age of 20.

Even on £34,000, £485 per month (from a take-home salary of £2,123) represents a contribution of nearly 23% per month—rather higher than the standard 9%–12.5% paid by public sector workers.

UPDATE 2: this little calculator (with some pretty graphics), estimates that our nurse would have to pay in 14.7% of her income—some £416.50 per month—in order to reach £17,000 per year retirement income (assuming no lump sum, of course).

If she wanted the maximum 25% lump sum of roughly £93k, and have a pension income of £17,000, those contributions would need to rise to £462.97 (16.34% of £34,000).

I stress, again, that these payments need to be every month—whether the nurse is earning £20,000 at 20 or £34,000 at 60. So, whilst £416.50 is only 14.7% of £34,000, it is more like 25% of £20,000.

UPDATE 3: I loved this quote from GrahamO at the Tritalk Forum...
What genuinely makes me sick is when people who are protected from the consequences of their own incompetence, inefficiency and stupidity try to blame private companies for not paying enough. Only public sector morons do this as they are used to a world of money growing on trees called the private sector, and they have never been affected until now, by the realities of the economics of the world.

Quite.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ClimateGate 2

(N.B. It's me, the P-G)

So it's time for another UNFCCC junket waste of taxpayers money vast addition to CO2 emissions to fly in the bigwigs and their entourages conference so that means it's time for our friendly insider to release another batch of incriminating correspondence. Anthony Watts is now surmising that these are genuine.

For new readers, here's my handy summary of why the first batch was important. I still stand by every single word of it.

The hunt is now on for the snippet that crystallises the whole thing, the "Hide the decline" moment if you will. My favourite so far:

<1682> Wils:

[2007] What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural
fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...]

No Pressure, eh Wils.

As this is covered absolutely everywhere that matters, I shall not dwell on this further except to note the final line of the ghastly (and for good measure this time heavily implicated) Richard Black's news item reporting this new release:
A police investigation into the hack is still ongoing.
If only Richard. If only...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Climategate II

Just as things were getting a bit dull around here—y'know, apart from the impending collapse of Western social democracy—it seems (via The Englishman) that FOIA has been hard at work again.

Yes, yet another load of emails between everyone's favourite corrupt climate scientists has been posted in various comment threads around the 'net.

Some 500,000 emails—with 220,000 encrypted—are contained within the .zip file*, and they are even more damning than the last lot.

Threads are currently on-going at:

Feel free to submit others.

The leaker (or thief?) introduces the latest revelations with this prefix...
/// FOIA 2011 — Background and Context ///

“Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

“Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

“One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.

“Poverty is a death sentence.”

“Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize
greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on
hiding the decline.

This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches. A few
remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets.

The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons. We are not planning
to publicly release the passphrase.

We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics such
as…

And so follows a small selection of the emails... [Apologies for the lack of formatting: will sort later...—DK]
/// The IPCC Process ///

<1939> Thorne/MetO:
Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
further if necessary [...]


<3066> Thorne:
I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.


<1611> Carter:
It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.


<2884> Wigley:
Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

<4755> Overpeck:
The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s
included and what is left out.


<3456> Overpeck:
I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
“Subsequent evidence” [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
an increase in knowledge – more evidence. What is it?


<1104> Wanner/NCCR:
In my [IPCC-TAR] review [...] I crit[i]cized [...] the Mann hockey[s]tick [...]
My review was classified “unsignificant” even I inquired several times. Now the
internationally well known newspaper SPIEGEL got the information about these
early statements because I expressed my opinion in several talks, mainly in
Germany, in 2002 and 2003. I just refused to give an exclusive interview to
SPIEGEL because I will not cause damage for climate science.


<0414> Coe:
Hence the AR4 Section 2.7.1.1.2 dismissal of the ACRIM composite to be
instrumental rather than solar in origin is a bit controversial. Similarly IPCC
in their discussion on solar RF since the Maunder Minimum are very dependent on
the paper by Wang et al (which I have been unable to access) in the decision to
reduce the solar RF significantly despite the many papers to the contrary in
the ISSI workshop. All this leaves the IPCC almost entirely dependent on CO2
for the explanation of current global temperatures as in Fig 2.23. since
methane CFCs and aerosols are not increasing.


<2009> Briffa:
I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of
all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!


<2775> Jones:
I too don’t see why the schemes should be symmetrical. The temperature ones
certainly will not as we’re choosing the periods to show warming.


<1219> Trenberth:
[...] opposing some things said by people like Chris Landsea who has said all the
stuff going on is natural variability. In addition to the 4 hurricanes hitting
Florida, there has been a record number hit Japan 10?? and I saw a report
saying Japanese scientists had linked this to global warming. [...] I am leaning
toward the idea of getting a box on changes in hurricanes, perhaps written by a
Japanese.


<0890> Jones:
We can put a note in that something will be there in the next draft, or Kevin
or I will write something – it depends on whether and what we get from Japan.


<0170> Jones:
Kevin, Seems that this potential Nature paper may be worth citing, if it does
say that GW is having an effect on TC activity.

<0714> Jones:
Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital – hence my comment about
the tornadoes group.

<3205> Jones:
Useful ones [for IPCC] might be Baldwin, Benestad (written on the solar/cloud
issue – on the right side, i.e anti-Svensmark), Bohm, Brown, Christy (will be
have to involve him ?)


<4923> Stott/MetO:
My most immediate concern is to whether to leave this statement ["probably the
warmest of the last millennium"] in or whether I should remove it in the
anticipation that by the time of the 4th Assessment Report we’ll have withdrawn
this statement – Chris Folland at least seems to think this is possible.

/// Communicating Climate Change ///
<2495> Humphrey/DEFRA:
I can’t overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a
message that the Government can give on climate change to help them tell their
story. They want the story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made
to look foolish.


<0813> Fox/Environment Agency:
if we loose the chance to make climate change a reality to people in the
regions we will have missed a major trick in REGIS.

<4716> Adams:
Somehow we have to leave the[m] thinking OK, climate change is extremely
complicated, BUT I accept the dominant view that people are affecting it, and
that impacts produces risk that needs careful and urgent attention.

<1790> Lorenzoni:
I agree with the importance of extreme events as foci for public and
governmental opinion [...] ‘climate change’ needs to be present in people’s
daily lives. They should be reminded that it is a continuously occurring and
evolving phenomenon

<3062> Jones:
We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has written
[...] We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff.


<1485> Mann:
the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what
the site [Real Climate] is about.

<2428> Ashton/co2.org:
Having established scale and urgency, the political challenge is then to turn
this from an argument about the cost of cutting emissions – bad politics – to
one about the value of a stable climate – much better politics. [...] the most
valuable thing to do is to tell the story about abrupt change as vividly as
possible

<3332> Kelly:
the current commitments, even with some strengthening, are little different
from what would have happened without a climate treaty.
[...] the way to pitch the analysis is to argue that precautionary action must be
taken now to protect reserves etc against the inevitable

<3655> Singer/WWF:
we as an NGO working on climate policy need such a document pretty soon for the
public and for informed decision makers in order to get a) a debate started and
b) in order to get into the media the context between climate
extremes/desasters/costs and finally the link between weather extremes and
energy

<0445> Torok/CSIRO:
[...] idea of looking at the implications of climate change for what he termed
“global icons” [...] One of these suggested icons was the Great Barrier Reef [...]
It also became apparent that there was always a local “reason” for the
destruction – cyclones, starfish, fertilizers [...] A perception of an
“unchanging” environment leads people to generate local explanations for coral
loss based on transient phenomena, while not acknowledging the possibility of
systematic damage from long-term climatic/environmental change [...] Such a
project could do a lot to raise awareness of threats to the reef from climate
change

<4141> Minns/Tyndall Centre:
In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public
relations problem with the media

Kjellen:

I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global
warming

Pierrehumbert:
What kind of circulation change could lock Europe into deadly summer heat waves
like that of last summer? That’s the sort of thing we need to think about.

/// The Medieval Warm Period ///

<5111> Pollack:
But it will be very difficult to make the MWP go away in Greenland.

<5039> Rahmstorf:
You chose to depict the one based on C14 solar data, which kind of stands out
in Medieval times. It would be much nicer to show the version driven by Be10
solar forcing

<5096> Cook:
A growing body of evidence clearly shows [2008] that hydroclimatic variability
during the putative MWP (more appropriately and inclusively called the
“Medieval Climate Anomaly” or MCA period) was more regionally extreme (mainly
in terms of the frequency and duration of megadroughts) than anything we have
seen in the 20th century, except perhaps for the Sahel. So in certain ways the
MCA period may have been more climatically extreme than in modern times.

/// The Settled Science ///

<0310> Warren:

The results for 400 ppm stabilization look odd in many cases [...] As it stands
we’ll have to delete the results from the paper if it is to be published.

<1682> Wils:
[2007] What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural
fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...]

<2267> Wilson:
Although I agree that GHGs are important in the 19th/20th century (especially
since the 1970s), if the weighting of solar forcing was stronger in the models,
surely this would diminish the significance of GHGs.
[...] it seems to me that by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the
models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from
the sun alone.

<5289> Hoskins:

If the tropical near surface specific humidity over tropical land has not gone
up (Fig 5) presumably that could explain why the expected amplification of the
warming in the tropics with height has not really been detected.

<5315> Jenkins/MetO:
would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for kilimanjaro glacier
melt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?

<2292> Jones:
[tropical glaciers] There is a small problem though with their retreat. They
have retreated a lot in the last 20 years yet the MSU2LT data would suggest
that temperatures haven’t increased at these levels.

<1788> Jones:
There shouldn’t be someone else at UEA with different views [from "recent
extreme weather is due to global warming"] – at least not a climatologist.

<4693> Crowley:
I am not convinced that the “truth” is always worth reaching if it is at the
cost of damaged personal relationships

<2967> Briffa:
Also there is much published evidence for Europe (and France in particular) of
increasing net primary productivity in natural and managed woodlands that may
be associated either with nitrogen or increasing CO2 or both. Contrast this
with the still controversial question of large-scale acid-rain-related forest
decline? To what extent is this issue now generally considered urgent, or even
real?

<2733> Crowley:
Phil, thanks for your thoughts – guarantee there will be no dirty laundry in
the open.

<2095> Steig:
He’s skeptical that the warming is as great as we show in East Antarctica — he
thinks the “right” answer is more like our detrended results in the
supplementary text. I cannot argue he is wrong.

<0953> Jones:
This will reduce the 1940-1970 cooling in NH temps. Explaining the cooling with
sulphates won’t be quite as necessary.

<4944> Haimberger:
It is interesting to see the lower tropospheric warming minimum in the tropics
in all three plots, which I cannot explain. I believe it is spurious but it is
remarkably robust against my adjustment efforts.

<4262> Klein/LLNL:
Does anybody have an explanation why there is a relative minimum (and some
negative trends) between 500 and 700 hPa? No models with significant surface
warming do this

<2461> Osborn:
This is an excellent idea, Mike, IN PRINCIPLE at least. In practise, however,
it raises some interesting results [...] the analysis will not likely lie near to
the middle of the cloud of published series and explaining the reasons behind
this etc. will obscure the message of a short EOS piece.

<4470> Norwegian Meteorological Institute:
In Norway and Spitsbergen, it is possible to explain most of the warming after
the 1960s by changes in the atmospheric circulation. The warming prior to 1940
cannot be explained in this way.

/// The Urban Heat Effect ///

<4938> Jenkins/MetO:
By coincidence I also got recently a paper from Rob which says “London’s UHI
has indeed become more intense since the 1960s esp during spring and summer”.

<0896> Jones:
I think the urban-related warming should be smaller than this, but I can’t
think of a good way to argue this. I am hopeful of finding something in the
data that makes by their Figure 3.

<0044> Rean:
[...] we found the [urban warming] effect is pretty big in the areas we analyzed.
This is a little different from the result you obtained in 1990.
[...] We have published a few of papers on this topic in Chinese. Unfortunately,
when we sent our comments to the IPCC AR4, they were mostly rejected.

<4789> Wigley:
there are some nitpicky jerks who have criticized the Jones et al. data sets –
we don’t want one of those [EPRI/California Energy Commission meeting].

Jones:
The jerk you mention was called Good(e)rich who found urban warming at
all Californian sites.

<1601> Jones:
I think China is one of the few places that are affected [urban heat]. The
paper shows that London and Vienna (and also New York) are not affected in the
20th century.

<2939> Jones:
[...] every effort has been made to use data that are either rural and/or where
the urbanization effect has been removed as well as possible by statistical
means. There are 3 groups that have done this independently (CRU, NOAA and
GISS), and they end up with essentially the same results.
[...] Furthermore, the oceans have warmed at a rate consistent with the land.
There is no urban effect there.

/// Temperature Reconstructions ///

<1583> Wilson:

any method that incorporates all forms of uncertainty and error will
undoubtedly result in reconstructions with wider error bars than we currently
have. These many be more honest, but may not be too helpful for model
comparison attribution studies. We need to be careful with the wording I think.

<4165> Jones:
what he [Zwiers] has done comes to a different conclusion than Caspar and Gene!
I reckon this can be saved by careful wording.

<3994> Mitchell/MetO:
Is the PCA approach robust? Are the results statistically significant? It seems
to me that in the case of MBH the answer in each is no

<4241> Wilson:
I thought I’d play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I
could ‘reconstruct’ northern hemisphere temperatures.
[...] The reconstructions clearly show a ‘hockey-stick’ trend. I guess this is
precisely the phenomenon that Macintyre has been going on about.

<3373> Bradley:
I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should
never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year
“reconstruction”.

<4758> Osborn:
Because how can we be critical of Crowley for throwing out 40-years in the
middle of his calibration, when we’re throwing out all post-1960 data ‘cos the
MXD has a non-temperature signal in it, and also all pre-1881 or pre-1871 data
‘cos the temperature data may have a non-temperature signal in it!

<0886> Esper:
Now, you Keith complain about the way we introduced our result, while saying it
is an important one. [...] the IPCC curve needs to be improved according to
missing long-term declining trends/signals, which were removed (by
dendrochronologists!) before Mann merged the local records together. So, why
don’t you want to let the result into science?

<4369> Cook:
I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly can not be
defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the
science move ahead.

<5055> Cook:
One problem is that he [Mann] will be using the RegEM method, which provides no
better diagnostics (e.g. betas) than his original method. So we will still not
know where his estimates are coming from.

/// Science and Religion ///

<2132> Wigley:

I heard that Zichichi has links with the Vatican. A number of other greenhouse
skeptics have extreme religious views.

<4394> Houghton [MetO, IPCC co-chair]:
[...] we dont take seriously enough our God-given responsibility to care for the
Earth [...] 500 million people are expected to watch The Day After Tomorrow. We
must pray that they pick up that message.

<0999> Hulme:
My work is as Director of the national centre for climate change research, a
job which requires me to translate my Christian belief about stewardship of
God’s planet into research and action.

<3653> Hulme:
He [another Met scientist] is a Christian and would talk authoritatively about
the state of climate science from the sort of standpoint you are wanting.

/// Climate Models ///


<3111> Watson/UEA:
I’d agree probably 10 years away to go from weather forecasting to ~ annual
scale. But the “big climate picture” includes ocean feedbacks on all time
scales, carbon and other elemental cycles, etc. and it has to be several
decades before that is sorted out I would think. So I would guess that it will
not be models or theory, but observation that will provide the answer to the
question of how the climate will change in many decades time.

<5131> Shukla/IGES:
["Future of the IPCC", 2008] It is inconceivable that policymakers will be
willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the
projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and
simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.

<2423> Lanzante/NOAA:
While perhaps one could designate some subset of models as being poorer in a
lot of areas, there probably never will be a single universally superior model
or set of models. We should keep in mind that the climate system is complex, so
that it is difficult, if not impossible to define a metric that captures the
breath of physical processes relevant to even a narrow area of focus.

<1982> Santer:
there is no individual model that does well in all of the SST and water vapor
tests we’ve applied.

<0850> Barnett:
[IPCC AR5 models] clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt the
modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer

<5066> Hegerl:
[IPCC AR5 models]
So using the 20th c for tuning is just doing what some people have long
suspected us of doing [...] and what the nonpublished diagram from NCAR showing
correlation between aerosol forcing and sensitivity also suggested.

<4443> Jones:
Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low
level clouds.

<4085> Jones:
GKSS is just one model and it is a model, so there is no need for it to be
correct.

/// The Cause ///

<3115> Mann:
By the way, when is Tom C going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year
reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that
reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.

<3940> Mann:
They will (see below) allow us to provide some discussion of the synthetic
example, referring to the J. Cimate paper (which should be finally accepted
upon submission of the revised final draft), so that should help the cause a
bit.

<0810> Mann:
I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s
doing, but its not helping the cause

<3594> Berger:
Phil,
Many thanks for your paper and congratulations for reviving the global warming.

<0121> Jones:
[on temperature data adjustments] Upshot is that their trend will increase

<4184> Jones:
[to Hansen] Keep up the good work! [...] Even though it’s been a mild winter in
the UK, much of the rest of the world seems coolish – expected though given the
La Nina. Roll on the next El Nino!

<5294> Schneider:
Even though I am virtually certain we shall lose on McCain-Lieberman, they are
forcing Senators to go on record for for against sensible climate policy

/// Freedom of Information ///


<2440> Jones:
I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself
and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the
process

<2094> Briffa:
UEA does not hold the very vast majority of mine [potentially FOIable emails]
anyway which I copied onto private storage after the completion of the IPCC
task.

<2459> Osborn:
Keith and I have just searched through our emails for anything containing
“David Holland”. Everything we found was cc’d to you and/or Dave Palmer, which
you’ll already have.

<1473> McGarvie/UEA Director of Faculty Administration:
As we are testing EIR with the other climate audit org request relating to
communications with other academic colleagues, I think that we would weaken
that case if we supplied the information in this case. So I would suggest that
we decline this one (at the very end of the time period)

<1577> Jones:
[FOI, temperature data]
Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we
get – and has to be well hidden. I’ve discussed this with the main funder (US
Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original
station data.

These climate scientists are frauds and charlatans, willing to subvert the process of science in order to further their own careers. We can only assume that they do not go into politics because they themselves are so corrupt and repulsive that even our home-grown shits would never accept them into the den of foetid venality that is known as the House of Commons.

Their politicking is costing us colossal amounts of cash. More importantly, as FOIA points out, every single pound that they divert to their projects is a pound that does not go to saving a human life. But—hey!—those lives are only those of black and brown people, eh?

It's much better that Pete and Mike and Phil—and their evil WWF and political conspirators—can continue to peddle their lying bullshit than that an African person be able to eat (or, more pertinently, get a vaccine), eh?

* Can anyone point me to a live version: the old link seems to be bust.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The FIFA Poppy hoo ha - yeah but no but yeah



N.B. It's me, The P-G

Right. it's a while since I have had to come out of hiding to tell everyone what's what, but seeing as it is Armistice Day today and it's been in the news, it's time I did so.

Here is your important P-G corrective for today. Repeat after me:
FIFA is right, but for the wrong reasons.
Jon Snow is wrong, but for the right reasons.

UPDATE
And just for the record, completeness and rather pleasing symettry,
Theresa May is wrong for the wrong reasons.
The right reason is that wearing a poppy is and must be a voluntary act of remembrance and thanksgiving to those who gave their lives in the defence of our freedom.

Thus, FIFA is right to object to a poppy being embroidered on the England players shirts - it destroys the voluntary nature of the act. They are wrong however to suggest that the wearing of a poppy is a political act.

Conversely Jon Snow expounds on the right reasons. Here he is in the linked article:
"Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'He damned well must wear a poppy!'.
He is right to point this out. Those who declare that you MUST wear a poppy are wrong.
However, he is a tosspot for then refusing to wear the poppy. It is as though he thinks the "poppy fascists" have thereby tainted the poppy and he must rise above it. In this he is wrong.

So here's what should have happened:
  • Once FIFA kicked up a stink, the FA - and for good measure the Duke of Cambridge - should have confirmed that the wearing of the poppy is voluntary and run up a batch of shirts without it.
  • The players then make their own choice of shirt. If they choose the one with the poppy, it's clearly their own choice
  • Wait for FIFA to try to take action against any player that does so choose...
Players get to wear the poppy, the FA avoids a row and stands up for the individual freedom - the defence of which is the whole flipping point - and FIFA gets to look stupid.
For good measure, just imagine the value of those original shirts with poppies: if players do stick their necks out, those shirts become extremely powerful symbols in support of the whole thing. Auction them off in aid of the Poppy Appeal and everyone really does win.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fracking hell

Counting Cats has a good article up about the hysteria surrounding shale gas fracking. As an amusing diversion, I thought that I'd have a look at Frack Off—the campaign site for those with absolutely fuck all idea about science or economics.

These morons do not seem to be simply against fracking, mind you...
The UK is also threatened by a massive expansion in opencast coal mining, deep water oil drilling in the North Sea, Coal Bed Methane and a new generation of even more dangerous nuclear power stations.

So, essentially, these people are against any kind of reasonable power supply at all. So, please, when your granny freezes to death this winter—either because she can't pay the fuel bills, or because the super wind turbines have failed to actually deliver any power—do remember to send a Thank You card to Frack Off.

Personally, however, the most eloquent monument to the complete stupidity of those running Frack Off is the comment that they have let stand on their front page. It purports to be front a Gillian Craig and runs thusly: [Emphasis mine.]
From the first time I heard about this operation some months ago I was concerned, not having a scientific mind in any way whatsoever but quite a logical one, I started questioning about the void left by fracking and then finding out that the void is filled with water, which is not the natural substance to replace gas in the void created. Water is not a solid substance and will move and soak away, I am certainly not surprised that earth tremors have been associated with this practice. STOP IT NOW

There you go people—"water is not a solid substance". Whereas, of course, gas is. Er...

Still, Gillian Craig is right about one thing: she really doesn't have "a scientific mind in any way whatsoever"—although her claim to have "quite a logical one" is belied by the sheer, rampant stupidity of her remarks.

What's really funny, though, is that if you note the link, you'll see that Gillian's spouting is comment #11—but it is the only one that appears on that page. Which means that this was the best comment that they could find and that at least another 10 disappeared down the memory hole (presumably because the commenters disagreed with Frack Off).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all that you need to know about the arseholes at Frack Off: that they don't tolerate free speech, they tout the stupidity of people like Gillian Craig, they are pig-ignorant about science and economics, and that they think that 2,700 people dying of cold every winter just isn't a big enough death toll.

What a lovely bunch they must be.

This is science fiction...

In an on-going argument with Martin Ford, Timmy (writing at Forbes) describes a situation that will be familiar to those who read a particular type of science fiction.
For a job, an income, isn’t in fact what any of us humans want. What we want is the ability to consume (consume houses, food, clothes, cars etc, all of which are now being made by machine recall) and and income and or a job are only methods of achieving that. So, if the machines are doing all of the work then, well, who is going to be consuming the output? As there’s only us human beings to do so I pretty much guess that it will be us human beings consuming all of the output. And if we’re able to consume all of this output being produced by the machines then why would we care about having a job or an income? We get to consume without either, don’t we?

All of our material needs are being fulfilled by the machines. We are thus able to be:
A farmer in the morning, a laborer in the afternoon, and a philosopher in the evening.

We’re able to be communists in short. Potter around growing a tomato or two in the morning (nothing quite like it for the spirit, to actually nurture and grow a plant then eat the produce), labour a little in the afternoon at that tennis backhand or lay the crazy paving (yes, the machine could and would do it better and faster but the spiritual rewards of hand work are, as we are told, considerable) and in the evening we can yammer with our friends over silliness (that is what philosophers do, yes, yammer with friends over sillinesses?).

A world in which the machines made everything would be a world in which there was no shortage of anything and in such a world what on earth would any of us actually desire a job for?

Of course, for anyone who has ever read any of Ian M Banks' Culture novels, this whole scenario will be entirely familiar.
The Culture is characterized by being a post-scarcity society (meaning that its advanced technologies provide practically limitless material wealth and comforts for everyone for free, having all but abolished the concept of possessions), by having overcome almost all physical constraints on life (including disease and death) and by being an almost totally egalitarian, stable society without the use of any form of force or compulsion, except where necessary to protect others.

And, indeed, it seems to be a rather desirable way in which to live. Although, having said that, most of The Culture novels are about how that society spends its time interfering in less developed societies...