Monday, September 30, 2013

That IPCC report

I'm sort of waiting for the more detailed parts of the report to come out before talking much about it, but I note a couple of things:

*  Judith Curry's attitude is "They're not listening to me!  They've all gone mad! Mad I say!"  And she's now recommending people read David Rose on "the pause"!   Her credibility was already shot.  Now it's toast.  Burnt toast.  In fact, crumbs of black carbon which have to be sent off to forensics to see if it actually ever was bread.

Andrew Bolt, of course, recommends Curry (his current favourite of the bare handful of dissenting climate scientists out of the actual huge pool of scientists who work in the area.)  Bolt also notes:
It now predicts as little as 0.3 degrees of warming or 4.8 at most. Anything under 2 degrees would actually be good for us, meaning more rain and better crops — not that the IPCC mentions reassuring news.
Of course, he couldn't care less about being accurate, but the .3 degree estimate is based on the smallest emissions scenario considered (see page 25 of the report) - RCP 2.6 - which I am pretty sure would take a massive effort to achieve.  And, as is common amongst the climate stupid:  the ranges Bolt refers to end at 2100.

The world does not end then, but it appears to be something Bolt, and his small brained followers, appear unable to contemplate, even though he has kids of his own.

If Bolt wants to be honest on this topic, he might point out that the actual estimates he should rely on are those which are in accord with his idea that the world should burn as much carbon fuel as it likes - let's take scenario RCP 6, then.

It gives a range of likely increases (on top of what we already have) of 1.4 degrees to 3.1 by 2100.

Unless I am mistaken, even 1.4 degrees puts us over the (very arbitrary, and quite possibly still dangerous) 2 degree limit, given that we have already gone up about .8 degree.

So, the short message should be  that Andrew Bolt thinks you should believe him, and a handful of ideologically motivated contrarian scientists, and burn away and take the risk that global temperatures will increase to 2 to 4 degrees higher by the end of the century, setting the world on a steady course of massive sea rises and massive climate change. 

No thanks.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Putin-isation continues

Oh my gosh, it's spreading.

I didn't realise until I saw it on Insiders this morning:  the Putinisation of Australian government continued apace last week, and spread from its leader to its Foreign Minister in some "don't I look like a wrinklier Olivia Newtron Bomb, you old fella's who voted for Tony?" shots that turned up in the government PR machine known as the Murdoch press:

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Makes me feel queasy, this does.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bat curry not a good idea

Toxic load: blue-green algae's role in motor neuron disease

This is really fascinating article about developments in understanding how certain naturally occurring toxins are linked to motor neuron disease.

For one thing, I didn't recall this:
Scientists have known for some time now that exposure to blue-green algae is linked to increased incidence of several neurodegenerative diseases. But the reason for the link has been a mystery until now.
Given that it's a reasonable guess that global warming will increase toxic blue-green algae blooms, I'm hardly encouraged.

But the rest of the article explains things such as how people in Guam who ate fruit bat curry soup were poisoning themselves.  Never heard that one before either, but Australia's outbreak of a deadly fruit bat borne virus had pretty much already convinced me not to eat bat, anywhere.

It's been hot

It really is an unusually hot spring in Queensland:
QUEENSLAND has sweltered through its hottest September day ever, with temperature records smashed in 30 towns across the state. 
 
The highest temperature recorded was 41.4 degrees Celsius at Taroom, west of Maryborough, while the mercury soared past 40 degrees in another eight localities.

Brisbane-based meteorologist Matthew Bass said Thursday's scorcher had rewritten the history books as many towns had records dating back more than 100 years.

``These are new records and some of these places have records dating back the late 1800s,'' he told AAP.

Roma, for instance, recorded a maximum of 40.1 degrees on Thursday - the highest since its weather station opened in 1889.

Longreach, Emerald, Moranbah, Dalby, Oakey and Toowoomba were also among the towns that sweated through their hottest September day.

A comment observed

One of the few relatively moderate, but nonetheless nearly always wrong, people at a certain blog that shall remain nameless writes tonight (in relation to Indonesia being quite aggro in its stance towards the Abbot government asylum seeker policy):
Their treatment of the Australian government is concerning. This is not the behaviour of a nation that wants to have good relations.
Gee, you don't think that Abbott and Morrison grandstanding  on the evening news with Generals  three times since the election and prattling on about military operations to deal with this alleged national emergency coming from Indonesia might be perceived as not being "behaviour of a nation that wants to have good relations, " do you?  Or a new foreign minister who specifically says she won't be asking their "permission", just seeking their understanding?

Of course,  there is strong contingent of nutters there (that blog) who think Indonesia needs to be put in its place.  Let's see how that pans out.  I have a fair idea as to which nation might be doing some backpedalling soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In public health news...

Yes, it's time to re-visit that old favourite topic - sexually transmitted diseases (and how people manage not to take risks seriously.)

It's from Catalyst tonight, and it started with a bit of history that reinforced my puzzlement about how syphilis for centuries did not manage to stop people sleeping around: 
 Professor Basil Donovan
Syphilis used to kill more people every year - year in, year out - than HIV did in its worst ever year. And it did that for 400 years. Back in 1908, one in eight babies were said to be dying of syphilis in Melbourne.
It seems to me that such a devastating and relatively common disease ought to have featured more in the novels of the pre-antibiotic era; yet from my limited knowledge of the "classics", it's not that often a plot point.   I mean, how come when AIDs was at its height it was the subject of umpteen plays, movies, books, etc, yet people seemed to shrug off the mayhem syphilis was causing ever since it turned up in Europe?   Anyway, that's another post, perhaps...

Back at Catalyst, the whole point of the story was that it seems medical scientists are virtually at panic stations about the likely spread of antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea:

Professor Matt Cooper
For gonorrhoea, we've now got to the stage where we have one particular strain, H041, where we've only got one antibiotic that kind of works, and even that's not effective.

NARRATION
It's this - Ceftriaxone.

Dr Graham Phillips
So, what happens when that doesn't work anymore?

Professor Matt Cooper
You're screwed, pardon the pun. So we have no therapy left. And in 2011, in a sex worker from Japan, they isolated a Ceftriaxone-resistant gonorrhoea. So no antibiotics worked....


NARRATION
And the rogue Japanese strain is now here, as well as other cities around the world.

Professor Basil Donovan
You know, there's every possibility that within a couple of years that that strain of the organism could take over.

NARRATION
Untreatable gonorrhoea is not a nice prospect. It can cause infertility in women, and blindness, even in babies born to infected mothers. It can also spread through the body to the heart and bones. The bacteria are particularly clever at getting around our defences.
One of the links from the Catalyst web site is to a paper from 2012 co-authored by some of the Professors who appeared on the show. Here's the abstract, which pulls no punches:
From a once easily treatable infection, gonorrhoea has evolved into a challenging disease, which in future may become untreatable in certain circumstances. International spread of extensively drug-resistant gonococci would have severe public health implications. It seems clear that under the current treatment pressure from extended-spectrum cephalosporins, and owing to Neisseria gonorrhoeae's remarkable evolutionary adaptability, further rise of ceftriaxone-resistant strains around the world is inevitable. Simply increasing the doses of extended-spectrum cephalosporins will likely prove ineffective in the long run, and has been a lesson learnt for all single-agent therapies used for gonorrhoea to date. We recommend that dual therapy, especially those consisting of extended-spectrum cephalosporins and azithromycin, be adopted more widely and complemented by strengthening of antimicrobial resistance surveillance. Unless there is urgent action at international and local levels to combat the problem of N. gonorrhoeae antimicrobial resistance, we are in for gloomy times ahead in terms of gonorrhoea disease and control.
In the conclusion it is noted:
It is probably only a matter of time before extensively drug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae strains become widespread and treatment failures, particularly for pharyngeal gonorrhoea, become commonplace.  
Pharyngeal gonorrhoea?  Hard to say what would be more depressing, having an untreatable genital problem, or a throat infection that just would not go away.

Anyway, the end point is this:
Action is therefore urgently needed at local and international levels to combat the problem. We advise that government agencies take this threat seriously and provide urgently needed funds for increased research, surveillance activities and vaccine development.
Well, yes.  A vaccine would be a good idea for an untreatable form of infection, no? 

I see that it has been the subject of some research going back to at least the 1970's, but as the article at that last link shows, other diseases have been the subject of much greater effort in vaccine research.

It seems it's time for that to change....
  

Meatballs return

It seems that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has a decent enough sequel.  Yay.

Who's been a naughty Education Minister, then?

Tony Abbott says Government has 'no plans' to scrap university amenities fee 

So, Chris Pyne was on a bit of a frolic of his own the other day, then?

I presume the wrath of Peta was upon him, perhaps.

Dare I predict:  Pyne will be a liability for this government.

Bill Gates saves the world?

Atomic Goal - 800 Years of Power From Waste - NYTimes.com

The technical problems with the Gates' sponsored "TerraPower" reactors sound daunting, but it's nice that he's trying, I guess.

I choose to believe it is important to believe in free will

Does non-belief in free will make us better or worse?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An observation

The new layout for Slate is awful. 

An unusual clarification

Why do people want to eat babies? Scientists explain.

True, it is a curious thing, the way people will interact with babies this way.  I have a vague recollection that CS Lewis even made a comment about it once.

It seems it's all to do with smell.

I am also amused that at the end of the story, the reporter has found it necessary to add this:
Based on responses to this story, I should probably make something absolutely clear: You should never attempt to actually eat a baby. 
The headline, subhead, and lead to this story are not meant be taken seriously. Together they are, in the parlance of journalism, "the thing that gets people to read the article."
There is never any excuse to harm a child. The impulse that I described in this article does not take the form of an urge to literally bite, chew, and digest a small infant.
Rather, in my experience at least, it arises in utterances such as, "Your baby is so cute I could just eat him all up!" and in behaviors such as placing the baby's toes against the lips and repeatedly uttering the syllable "nom," in an attempt to elicit a giggle from the baby. 
I realize now that such phrases and actions are not actually very common. Or normal.
Still, I hope that you will not only stand firm with me in refraining from infant cannibalism, but that you will also urge your friends, family members, and neighbors to do the same.
Nice sarcasm.

Meanwhile, in Palestine...

Man tortures mouse that ate wages | GulfNews.com

A strange story about what some find funny in Gaza.  But there are animal lovers in the Middle East, as one of the comments indicates:
You will have my curse and you will suffer to death what u have done to the poor creature who doesn't know anything. this is animal cruelty. What goes come around and very sure you will suffer the same. way. I believe my god and you will get what you have done to this innocent animal.

Unpleasant procedure discussed

Prostate biopsy blamed for preventable superbug deaths

A relative of mine recently had this biopsy, and I did wonder how high a risk for infection it must carry:
Melbourne urologist Jeremy Grummet said an increasing number of men were falling ill with superbug infections after prostate biopsies when there was a way to avoid them.

The surgeon at The Alfred, Epworth and Cabrini hospitals said the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria known as superbugs meant the traditional path for a biopsy needle through a man's rectum was causing 2-5 per cent of patients to suffer a serious infection.

This meant at least 142 of the estimated 7125 men having the procedure in Victoria each year were being admitted to hospital for treatment within days of the test.
''We have studied statewide data and there have been two deaths in Victoria from this in the last five years,'' Mr Grummet said.

''Many patients require [intensive care unit] admission until the bacteria have been cleared and patients have lost fingers and toes due to the effects of septicaemia on blood flow.''

Mr Grummet said although the transrectal biopsy was the current standard of care used in 95 per cent of cases, it involved piercing the rectum wall with a needle on the way into the prostate, exposing the patient's bloodstream to bacteria in their rectum. This was a problem for men whose rectums were harbouring superbugs thought to be found in some waterways and foods, especially overseas where antibiotics are used in farming.

Heart stopping

Change of heart vital to stopping needless cardiac arrest deaths

Well, I didn't know this before:
Each year, about 3800 people have a cardiac arrest in NSW. A staggering 90 per cent of them don't survive. But, with these three measures in place, we can drastically improve the survival rates across NSW. We can save lives.

In the US city of Seattle, 48 per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survive. This is almost five times better than the rate in NSW.

Seattle has achieved this impressive feat by providing extensive CPR training to the public, rolling out a network of publicly accessible defibrillators and creating a cardiac arrest registry; the same measures the Australian Resuscitation Council NSW is asking to be implemented here.

Cardiac arrest accounts for 10 times more fatalities than road deaths. Yet while the road accident toll has been slashed in recent decades, cardiac arrest survival rates remain worryingly static. Our success in reducing road deaths shows what a tremendous impact a concerted, targeted and well-resourced public health campaign can have.

We know what we need to do to reduce hundreds of needless deaths each year from cardiac arrest. Now we just need the support of the government to do it.
He mentions Queensland and Victoria as being a bit more advanced than NSW in setting up a defibrillator network.  I must admit, I did see one somewhere recently and was a bit surprised.  They are all over the place in Japan, but I assumed that was just Japanese safety overkill, and did not realise that there may be known good outcomes in cities that have set up these programs.

Out of the blue

Christopher Pyne reveals university shake-up

I don't follow university education policy at all closely, but what I find interesting about this story (and the interview I just heard on the ABC) is that it appears the university sector pretty much had no idea that the coalition had plans along the lines that Pyne is indicating.

That's what you get for having pathetic media coverage of elections, I guess.  Ooh - here's Kevin taking a selfie!  Look, Tony's hugging a puppy!

Update:  I like Ken Parish's sarcastic take on this.

Update 2:  Seems I was being too harsh on the media about this.  Why should they ask a question about a policy which appeared already firmly in place?:

It was Abbott himself who said the Coalition needed to “purposefully, calmly and methodically” deliver on their election promises now that the Coalition has “won the trust of the Australian people.” The Coalition denied there would be a cap on university places in 2012; blatantly lied to the public on ABC’s 730: “We have no plans to restore the cap. We do believe that the more students who are doing university, the better”. Their Real Solutions manifesto stated: “we will strengthen higher education and encourage Australian of all ages to further their education.” Those newly announced plans prove otherwise.

Abbott accused Julia Gillard of being a liar by endlessly squawking her “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” quote, conveniently cutting off her repeated statements about carbon pricing. Funny, then, that the Coalition repeatedly lied to the Australian public , leading us to this Trojan horse surprise.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Annabel on the secrets at sea

Asylum seeker policy: we're all mad here 
 Mr Morrison now assures us that "operational reasons" preclude the timely release of information. Because I am operationally challenged, or perhaps because I have insufficient security clearance, I cannot understand how turning boats around in secret instead of in public creates a greater deterrent, operationally.

My best guess is that the removal of boat arrivals from the daily news, and the deletion of their struggles at sea from the national ledger, are calculated to deprive the people aboard those boats of the last hope they had; a vocal contingent of Australian citizens who still looked at them and felt sorry.
If ever there was a government policy that will soon be reversed, this is it.

A pity - I like their yoghurt

Tamar Valley Dairy in voluntary administration

So, how's the new anti-science, militarized, Murdoch approved, Tony Putin government going?


Still getting the Generals up on TV, I see.

Uncle Rupert, meanwhile, seems to be a pushover for a free dinner paid by people with more money than sense (namely, IPA members):



Oh, so he's a libertarian now?   Well, that'll explain (as well as the ditching of the younger, liberal wife, and being the wrong side of 80) the new found disbelief in climate change and pricing carbon.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Another day, another Abbott government with the Generals photo

I still seem to be the only person commenting about how the Abbott government's persistent appearance on the TV news with set up photo opportunities with the Generals who will Protect Us an inappropriate use of the military and an embarrassing look internationally:


The only good thing that I hope comes of this is that the military may already be cheesed off about it.  
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rising waters

Climate science: Rising tide 

This is quite a good article on the complexities in calculating likely sea level rise under global warming.

The unevenness of the rise is something not often highlighted:
Adding to the complexity, the oceans do not rise evenly all over the world as water is poured in. Air pressure, winds and currents can shove water in a given ocean to one side: since 1950, for example, a 1,000-kilometre stretch of the US Atlantic coast north of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina has seen the sea rise at 3–4 times the global average rate5. In large part, this is because the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic current, which normally push waters away from that coast, have been weakening, allowing water to slop back onto US shores.

Finally, waters near big chunks of land and ice are literally pulled up onto shores by gravity. As ice sheets melt, the gravitational field weakens and alters the sea level. If Greenland melted enough to raise global seas by an average of 1 metre, for example, the gravitational effect would lower water levels near Greenland by 2.5 metres and raise them by as much as 1.3 metres far away.

It's on again...or rather, "off" again

Over the years here I have made the occasional observation that the anti-circumcision movement is just  nuttily obsessed and full of dubious claims.  It really qualifies as an anti-science movement - its arguments are so drenched with emotion and hyperbole, and many of its advocates simply sound neurotic.  Whether it is anti science that mainly attracts the Left or the Right (see my previous post) I am not 100% sure - Left leaning, I would have thought.

So it's interesting to see this article in Slate listing in some detail how the internet has become dominated by this fringe crowd; and how many of their arguments are proved wrong and wrong again by proper studies, but they don't care.  It bears a remarkable resemblance to the climate change "skpetic" movement in this respect, despite that being a definite Right wing phenomena. 

And have a look at how many comments the Slate article is attracting - more than 5,000, I think!

I also see that the argument about whether it should be available in Australian public hospitals again as a mere preventative measure is about to hot up too, according to this story.

As to my attitude to the matter:  I thought I read somewhere years ago that some American doctors thought it was most safely done a few months after birth, and that local anaesthetic could be used then.  It seems clear that the health benefits of it are much more significant than once thought, and (obviously) the procedure has caused no unhappiness to the vast bulk of the routinely snipped prior to it going out of fashion.  I think it is looking quite reasonable to do it as a preventative health measure, and it should at least be available at public hospitals for those parents who want it for that reason alone.


How anti-science moved to the Right

John Quiggin � The global party of stupid (slightly updated)

Interesting post from John Quiggin; this part in particular:
It’s striking in this context to recall that, only 20 years ago, the phrase “Science Wars” was used in relation to generally leftish postmodernists in the humanities, who were seen as rejecting science and/or promoting pseudoscience (while some of this stuff was rather silly, there’s no evidence that it ever did any actual harm to science). These days postmodernist and related “science studies” critiques of science are part of the rightwing arsenal used by Steven Fuller to defend creationism and by Daniel Sarewitz on climate science. The routine assumption that the analyses put forward of innumerate bloggers are just as valid as (in fact more valid than) as those of scientists who have devoted their life to the relevant field is one aspect of this, as is the constant demand to “teach the controversy” on evolution, climate science, wind turbine health scares, vaccination and so on.

In the short run, the costs of attacking science are small. Scientists aren’t that numerous, so their conversion into one of the most solidly anti-Republican voting blocs in the US has’t had much electoral impact. But, eventually the fact that conservatives are the “stupid party” gets noticed, even by rightwingers themselves.
Mind you, I would probably put anti-vaccination in the "mainly Left" side of the ledger.

Fear of wind turbines is, however, almost certainly a politically manipulated phenomena led by anti-climate change groups.  An interesting article at The Conversation about this is here.

As I suggested in a previous post....

Colorado's 'Biblical' Flood in Line with Climate Trends | Climate Central

Look, I know that not every flood is going to credibly be related to climate change; but when I read about a big flood these days, I go looking for reports as to whether the rainfall that led to it is record breaking, and by what amount.  

If the rainfall is of an intensity that smashes previous records, and given that we know the atmosphere is carrying more water now than it used, then the relationship to global warming is looking pretty good.

The most awesome medical condition, ever

Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut : The Salt : NPR

This story is so remarkable, I want to re-print the whole thing.   But here's just half of it:
A 61-year-old man — with a history of home-brewing — stumbled into a Texas emergency room complaining of dizziness. Nurses ran a Breathalyzer test. And sure enough, the man's blood alcohol concentration was a whopping 0.37 percent, or almost five times the legal limit for driving in Texas.

There was just one hitch: The man said that he hadn't touched a drop of alcohol that day.

"He would get drunk out of the blue — on a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just anytime," says , the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas. "His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer."

Other medical professionals chalked up the man's problem to "closet drinking." But Cordell and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a gastroenterologist in Lubbock, wanted to figure out what was really going on.

So the team searched the man's belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer's yeast in his gut.
That's right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man's intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.

The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae , Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut. Cordell and McCarthy the case of "auto-brewery syndrome" a few months ago in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.
This makes me wonder whether some college students will try some experiments on themselves.  Perhaps if you neutralise stomach acid first with an antacid, then take a tablespoon or two of freeze dried yeast, followed by some starch....

Michelle confirms what we knew

Public servants victims of long Coalition memories

 The story of Andrew Metcalfe, who is out of Agriculture, goes back quite a way. Metcalfe formerly headed Immigration. In 2011 he gave a background briefing to journalists (later attributed to him) in which he suggested that Abbott’s policy of turning back boats, while effective under Howard, would not work now, because the asylum seekers would scuttle the boats and Indonesia would not agree to the policy.
The two cardinal sins in Coalition eyes are believing in a carbon price and not believing in turning around boats.

Blair Comley, who went to Resources after Labor scrapped the Climate Change department, had a major hand in Labor’s carbon policy and was a stronger defender of it. Enough said.
Metcalfe also came up with the "Malaysia solution", so of course he couldn't stay, even though Amanda Vanstone worked with him under Howard and spoke highly of him.

And remember Maurice Newman and his "myth of climate change" article?  Well, doesn't this augur well for environment:
 There are two new heads. Gordon de Brouwer becomes secretary of the Environment department and Renee Leon will head the Employment department. Both have been senior in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (de Brouwer an associate secretary); sources say de Brouwer has a strong advocate in business leader Maurice Newman.
 What's the bet that if Maurice endorses him to head environment, he's a climate change skeptic in private?

You won the election, you can stop that now, Tone

Surely I can't be the only person in the nation who cringes every time I see one of these set up "Tony gives a pep talk" scenes on the news?   But he seems to think they're great.  Here's a hint Tone:  you won the election, you claim to want to just get down to work - we don't need to see your bumpf to a room full of colleagues about what a serious responsibility it is, and we're going to get down to work, and you're a great team that will lead the nation into the bright new future blah blah blah, blah.

One of the worst examples of this was, I thought, the meeting with the military last week.  Oh yeah, didn't they look comfortable being used as part of Tony PR, Inc on the evening news:


And is that Peta Credlin in some sort of ninja outfit?

Of course, it put me in mind of someone else who likes to be seen with the military as much as possible:


As indeed did this piece of pre-election "ooh, let's make Tony softer still - women like that" transparent PR:





Of course all politicians do stupid and cynically manipulative PR all the time - Rudd was rightly criticised for deliberately doing door stops leaving church in Canberra.   But Abbott with his daughters sticking to his side every freaking minute of the election campaign, all the "action man" shots (including the one with the army), and the use of the military like that post election - his team is full on Putin PR (except I am led to believe that Putin is more likeable than Peta Credlin, and he has a less compliant media than the Murdoch press is towards Abbott.)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An odd Hitler bit

Brian at Eli Rabett's blog has been reading Speer's memoir of his time with the Third Riech, and notes a few things he hadn't known before.  I don't recall this one myself (although, in the massive swirl of things one reads from time to time about H, perhaps I had seen it before and have forgotten):
Hitler is also a fan of alternative history. He wished the Muslims had conquered Europe, viewing Islam as appropriately martial and not "weak" like Christianity.

When trolling for sympathy goes wrong

I still don't really get the joke the Chaser did about Chris Kenny.  Sure, they wanted to make a point that he's a stupid right wing polemicist with crazy priorities for starting to talk even on election night about how the new government should de-fund the ABC.  But the way they did it seemed rather "meta", didn't it? And, of course, in dubious taste.

But what has made it funny are three things:

1.  the way Andrew Bolt trolled for sympathy for (I assume) his mate Chris, insisting that he is the subject of a scandalously insulting and offensive photoshop, by re-posting the picture.   Wait, wait, Andrew. If the picture is that bad, aren't you adding to Kenny's grief?

2.   The way many at Catallaxy threads urged Kenny to sue for defamation.  What, because people might think Kenny really does attempt what is depicted in an obvious photoshop?  Gee, those Catallaxy people seem to think even less of Kenny than what I do...

3.  The way Chris' own attempted trolling for sympathy (to paraphrase) "this photo will be around the internet forever; it'll be what my kids see when they Google my name" [I trust you've sent a note to Andrew thanking him for further raising it on the Google results list, then Chris], has been disowned by his own son. 

Yes, it's now very funny.

Update:  Catallaxy regulars are, predictably,  now huffing and puffing that Liam Kenny is the appalling one, even though he acknowledges that the attempted joke was "... crass, to be sure. A cheap shot. A dog act."

Liam makes the point that he happens to find his father's politics deeply objectionable, and the photoshop was a triffling matter compared to the serious offence he finds in right wing punditry.   This is an entirely defensible position.  Reasonable, in fact.

And it's hilarious, the way it shows up Chris' sympathy troll.

Update 2:  I think I have worked out what went wrong with the joke.  If they had said after Chris's clip "Well, that's ridiculous - it's not as if the ABC is the network that would show a photo of a right wing pundit doing this -" and then shown it anyway, it would have made more sense.  But if I recall correctly, they said "this is the network that shows photos of Chris Kenny, etc."


A food technology topic of interest

Inspired by the recent gift of a yoghurt making kit* that involves re-hydrating a mix that evidently contains freeze dried yoghurt making bacteria, I have become interested in the fact that you can freeze dry bacteria in the first place.

Isn't that a little surprising?

My self education, and yours, can perhaps begin with this paper.

I also am now wondering whether life spread throughout the universe via the accidental dispersal of freeze dried yoghurt mix from an alien spaceship that exploded.   Or perhaps they just littered and threw the empty foil packet out the hatch after making a batch of Xerthian Noobleberry. It's a theory...

*  (yes I know, Tim, you can make yoghurt just by breeding more of it from shop bought yoghurt.)

Of course, Andrew

The AEC should sue Palmer | Herald Sun Andrew Bolt Blog

Andrew Bolt starts off a post about nutty Clive Palmer as follows:
Normally I am against defamation proceedings, 
Well, given that he's been successfully sued for defamation, and could likely have been further sued for defamation by at least some of the "white aborigines" who took him to court under the Racial Discrimination Act instead, why am I not surprised?

Four things you don't have to worry about much in Australia

1.  That your neighbour downstairs, who has complained you are too noisy, will "accidentally" shoot a bullet through your floor, and the prosecutors will believe it was just a gun cleaning accident;

2.  That your car will be shot by an angry man for being parked in the wrong place, and the said angry man will later be able to buy a shotgun, no problem-o;

3.  That an angry and mentally unstable person will kill 12 people at a workplace with  a legally purchased shotgun (and a couple of other guns, obtained from we know not where);

4.  That fools will rush in and complain that the problem with gun control in a city where a mentally unstable man with a legally purchased shotgun killed 12 people in a military facility with armed guards is that there are not enough legally owned guns being carried around by people in the city.

Oh, wait a minute:   scratch that last one.  We now have a Senator elect, basically there under false pretences due to the name of his party, who believes this:
"Sometimes people laugh at this comment, but the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.

"And in America, there are more good guys with guns than there are in Australia.

"So I would think the outcome would have been worse in Australia than it was there."

More "just appalling"

Climate change denial: Speak up, speak out.

Read the examples Phil Plait gives of the (mainly) American right wing echo chamber that is completely gullible and gets the science of climate change completely and utterly wrong.

It's depressing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just appalling

Yet another bad, bad sign about the Abbott government:
Maurice Newman, the former chairman of the ABC and the ASX who will be the chair of Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, has launched an attack against the CSIRO, the weather bureau and the “myth” of anthropological climate change.

In an opinion piece written for the Australian Financial Review, Newman said much of the public service infrastructure would be resistant to change because of their “vested interests” in the status quo.

“The CSIRO, for example, has 27 scientists dedicated to climate change,” Newman wrote. “It and the weather bureau continue to propagate the myth of anthropological climate change and are likely to be background critics of the Coalition’s Direct Action policies.”...

Given Newman’s dismissal of climate science, one wonders why he sees the need for Direct Action of any type. The answer possibly lies in the government’s updated policy position: Abbott has conceded that the government will no longer seek to reach even the minimum 5 per cent emission reduction target if its reduced budget of $3 billion falls short of requirements.

Newman’s comments came a day after it was revealed that Abbott’s mentor John Howard would address one of the world’s most prominent climate skeptics think tanks, and the portfolios of science and climate change had been subsumed into other ministries.

Newman said money spent on pursuing the myths of climate change and global action was wasted, because they misallocate capital and add to unemployment.

Out of the 4th dimension

Did a hyper-black hole spawn the Universe? : Nature News

I like the sound of this idea:
In a paper posted last week on the arXiv preprint server1, Afshordi and his colleagues turn their attention to a proposal2 made in 2000 by a team including Gia Dvali, a physicist now at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. In that model, our three-dimensional (3D) Universe is a membrane, or brane, that floats through a ‘bulk universe’ that has four spatial dimensions.

Ashfordi's team realized that if the bulk universe contained its own four-dimensional (4D) stars, some of them could collapse, forming 4D black holes in the same way that massive stars in our Universe do: they explode as supernovae, violently ejecting their outer layers, while their inner layers collapse into a black hole.

In our Universe, a black hole is bounded by a spherical surface called an event horizon. Whereas in ordinary three-dimensional space it takes a two-dimensional object (a surface) to create a boundary inside a black hole, in the bulk universe the event horizon of a 4D black hole would be a 3D object — a shape called a hypersphere. When Afshordi’s team modelled the death of a 4D star, they found that the ejected material would form a 3D brane surrounding that 3D event horizon, and slowly expand.

The authors postulate that the 3D Universe we live in might be just such a brane — and that we detect the brane’s growth as cosmic expansion. “Astronomers measured that expansion and extrapolated back that the Universe must have begun with a Big Bang — but that is just a mirage,” says Afshordi.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A prediction about the Abbott government

Warren Mundine is on Lateline now, running through the usual routine of what must be done to help  aboriginal communities (you know:  kids got to go to school and get education, then jobs, which leads to integration to the real economy, and less welfare dependence; more private enterprise involvement in economic development, etc.)

It's really striking how there is nothing new in what he is saying.  He is not suggesting anything specific or novel in terms of actual programs that will achieve these goals.  I do not see that he is really saying anything significantly different to what a present day Labor government would say, yet he is aligning himself strongly with Abbott.  It is my view that Labor has lost nearly all of the left wing gullibility they used to have on aboriginal matters, and just sees it as it really is - an awful, complicated mess in which it is extremely hard to make headway and it doesn't pay to believe everything aboriginal leadership may claim.  

Aboriginal politics is complicated, and aboriginal leaders who like to talk the right wing talk are not exactly riding high at the moment:  it appears that Noel Pearson (viewed as a hero by Tony Abbott) is on the nose with many who run aboriginal communities in North Queensland.  Alison Anderson, who has promoted private ownership of land as a way of improving aboriginal communities (and made comments about aborigines needing to get themselves off to work), has been dumped by the CLP government and is apparently thinking of joining up as an Abbott adviser.  So there you have two of the people Abbott thinks will shake up aboriginal affairs who are already showing signs of getting people they need to work with offside.

My prediction:  there will be no clear, or at least no clear substantial, improvement to the handling of aboriginal issues no matter how much Abbott has personal interest and experience in the field.  The problems of remote aboriginal welfare are essentially intractable, and activists who make statements that they know how they can turn it around are pretty much just repeating platitudes that are extremely hard to put in place given the complexities on the ground.

Boulder flood noted

Is there anything remarkable about the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado?  Well, the 24 hour rainfall total that led to it seems a pretty big record breaker, even if it is not being much reported as such:
An all-time 24-hour record rainfall of 9.08” (as of 6 p.m. 9/12 MT--almost double the previous record) has deluged the city of Boulder, Colorado resulting in widespread flash flooding and the deaths of at least three people so far. 12.27" has accumulated since Monday 5 p.m. (September 9th). Needless to say, these are numbers that surpass most tropical storm events. Other locations in the Boulder and Rocky Mountain Front Range have picked up over 11” of precipitation in just the past 24 hours. The official Colorado state record of 11.08" for a 24-hour period set at Holly on June 17, 1965 might be in jeopardy. UPDATE A site near Eldorado Springs in Jefferson County has reported 14.60" of rainfall as of 9:40 p.m. MT on Thursday evening. It is not clear if this is a storm total or 24-hour total.

The Corrections

Anyone sensible would know that a Graham Lloyd article in The Australian with the headline "We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC" would be chock full of error and distortion.  (I'm particularly taken with the first line which refers to "its [the IPCC's] computer drastically overestimated rising temperature"  - yes "computer", as if this is worked out on one organisation's single computer in the corner.)

But in any event, if you want a read some immediate reactions to how it stuffs up, read here.

Brilliant move, Tony! Let's pretend science doesn't exist!

This morning I was longing to see Tony Abbott try on a bit of farce by appointing a climate change skeptic to be the Minister for Science.

He's done even better - he's pretending Science doesn't exist.

What a sign of the attitude and credibility of this government.   

Ha!

Bronwyn Bishop to be Speaker

While we're at it, can I please have a climate change denier in the science portfolio?  And give Nick Minchin that nice New York job?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Gina Chronicles

The mother of all feuds

Wow.  This lengthy article that appeared in the weekend magazine of the Fairfax papers paints a fantastically unflattering portrait of Gina Rinehart.  One can't help but imagine that this does not please her, especially as owner of a fair slab of the company.

Gina does seem to be having a run of court action losses lately.  You would have to strongly suspect that she is about to lose her biggest case at the hands of her son, unless he suddenly decides to accept a compromise settlement before it goes to trial next month.  In fact, the article resolves one thing I had long wondered:  would Gina's argument (that extending the vesting date of the trust was in her children's interest because that way they would avoid a huge capital gains tax liability) hold up?   No, it seems not.  Apparently, within 12 months, her son had a ruling from the ATO that confirmed it would not attract CGT.  Once that was know, how did Gina really think she win the case? 

I haven't read all that much about Gina Rinehart's complicated life, and so I have also previously missed this bit of family bitterness:
Lang, noting the changes he saw taking place in his daughter after her second marriage, famously remarked in a letter to her: "At least allow me to remember you as the neat, trim, capable and attractive young lady of the 'Wake Up Australia' tour [when she was married to Greg Milton], rather than the slothful, vindictive and devious baby elephant that you have become. I am glad your mother cannot see you now."
Nasty, but somewhat amusing in a multi-generational soap opera sort of way.  (I never watched Dallas, but I wonder if the real life Rinehart saga indicates that the show may have been far more realistic than people imagined.)

High food

In defense of airline food: Airplane cuisine is a triumph of cooking, science, and logistics. - Slate Magazine

Yeah, I am with this guy:  I enjoy airline food, largely because it is usually palatable enough but also the end of a long chain of effort to get it to my little fold down tray.   

I also didn't realise until I read this article that no US economy domestic airline has a free meal service anymore. That's a bit surprising, given the length of some cross country flights.

Julia and I on the same wavelength

Julia Gillard's weekend essay is pretty good, I think, and I am particularly pleased to see that she agrees with what I wrong a fortnight ago about a key, disastrously bad, decision she made:
I erred by not contesting the label “tax” for the fixed price period of the emissions trading scheme I introduced. I feared the media would end up playing constant silly word games with me, trying to get me to say the word “tax”. I wanted to be on the substance of the policy, not playing “gotcha”. But I made the wrong choice and, politically, it hurt me terribly.

Hindsight can give you insights about what went wrong. But only faith, reason and bravery can propel you forward.

Labor should not in opposition abandon our carbon pricing scheme. Climate change is real. Carbon should be priced. Community concern about carbon pricing did abate after its introduction. Tony Abbott does not have a viable alternative.

While it will be uncomfortable in the short term to be seen to be denying the mandate of the people, the higher cost would be appearing as, indeed becoming, a party unable to defend its own policy and legislation: a party without belief, fortitude or purpose.

Labor is on the right side of history on carbon pricing and must hold its course. Kevin Rudd was both right and brave to say this in the dying days of the campaign.
Why aren't I paid a lot of money to be a political adviser?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hadn't thought of these before

Life-saving inventions, people, and ideas: Cotton, shoes, fluoride, the Clean Air Act. - Slate Magazine

This post in Slate's longevity series lists "14 oddball reasons you're not dead yet".  Most of them I had heard of before, but I found two which were a bit new to me:
Cotton. One of the major killers of human history was typhus, a bacterial disease spread by lice. It defeated Napoleon’s army; if Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture were historically accurate, it would feature less cannon fire and more munching arthropods. Wool was the clothing material of choice before cotton displaced it. Cotton is easier to clean than wool and less hospitable to body lice.
And:
Pasteurization. This should be an obvious lifesaver, right up there with hand-washing and proper nutrition. But the rise of the raw milk movement suggests that a lot of people take safe dairy products for granted. Contaminated milk was one of the major killers of children, transmitting typhoid fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. One of the most successful public health campaigns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was for pure and pasteurized milk—so successful that we don’t really remember how deadly milk can be.
 (I didn't realise that so many diseases had been associated with unpasteurised milk.)

Detective Rat

From the BBC:
Five "sniffer rats" have been in police training in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, learning how to distinguish between scents - including blood, drugs and explosives.

The brown rats are due to go into active service next year, operating under the names Poirot, Magnum, Derrick - TV detectives popular in the Netherlands - and Jansen and Janssen, the Dutch names for the bowler-hatted detectives in Tintin.

It means the Netherlands will be the first country to use trained rats in civilian police investigations.
There's video at the link, but wasn't working when I tried it.

Brie snobbery

Slate’s rules for entertaining: never bring brie cheese to a party, it’s clich, bland, and fake.

Seeing I haven't eaten American brie, I don't know how much truth there is in this article.  But given that it appears that America has the same cheese making rules as Australia (pasteurised milk only) one suspects that its brie might be the same as ours, and the writer reckons its bland and should be completely avoided.

Yet how different is French brie, really?  In the comments that follow the article (where a heated back and forth about whether the article is just food snobbery) someone says they didn't find the French cheese all that different.

One thing I do know for sure - if you want funky, overpowering cheese in Australia, all you have to do is buy some Blue Castello*, eat half of it, forget about the other half for a fortnight or so in the fridge, and try it again.  It's always a matter of curiosity to me whether the yellowish, somewhat slimy looking patches that develop (and which taste very strong indeed) could actually put one's health at risk.  (I usually try to cut off the worst looking bits, but the taste still lingers.)

*  My goodness - the company has a very fancy shmancy website

Body and soul

The extent to which, during my lifetime, Catholic devotion and teaching has moved away from emphasising Mary is something which often crosses my mind as an interesting topic which seems to attract little, or inadequate, attention academically.  (Not that I have really gone looking for it, I suppose.  But why isn't this really major, and rapid, change in Church emphasis, at least in the Western branch of Catholicism, more discussed?)

While not directly on that point, Phillip Jenkins here notes some relatively early "alternative gospels" which talk about Mary's death, and says they are little studied, which he thinks is a pity.  He writes:
One reason for this, of course, is that for most Protestants (and some Catholics), the ideas I am describing – the whole Marian lore – is so bizarre, so outrĂ©, so sentimental, and so blatantly superstitious that it just does not belong within the proper study of Christianity. If anything, it’s actively anti-Christian. Even scholars prepared to wrestle with the intricacies of Gnostic cosmic mythology throw up their hands at what they consider a farrago of medieval nonsense.

As I’ll argue in a forthcoming post, that response is profoundly mistaken. If we don’t understand devotion to Mary, together with such specifics as the Assumption, we are missing a very large portion of the Christian experience throughout history. It’s not “just medieval,” any more than it is a trivial or superstitious accretion.

A sarcastic Jericho

Joe Hockey wants an external auditor – I volunteer for the job | Greg Jericho | Business | theguardian.com

Ha!  Greg Jericho gets very sarcastic in his column, explaining why Hockey's "we must audit the Treasury's forecasting" was political grandstanding bumpf.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

More "something you don't see every day"

 

Apparently, a privately owned lion was found wandering Kuwaiti streets, and ended up in a police car.  From the report:
Police are seeking the owner of the lion, believed to be someone who was illegally rearing it as a pet in a country where such animals are sometimes considered status symbols. 
   I wonder if the RSPCA there takes in all strays?

On thin ice

Arctic ice continues to thin, and thin, European satellite reveals - CSMonitor.com

More Traditionalist concern, I expect

Archbishop Pietro Parolin says in an interview that celibacy in Roman Catholic Church is open for discussion

Archbishop Pietro Parolin said in response to an interview question with Venezuelan newspaper El Universal that “celibacy is not an institution but look, it is also true that you can discuss (it) because as you say this is not a dogma, a dogma of the church.” Parolin also noted, even though the church is not a democratic institution, it must "reflect the democratic spirit of the times and adopt a collegial way of governing."
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Parolin’s comments “are raising eyebrows today, with some wondering if they herald looming changes in Catholic teaching and practice.”

Traditionalists must be getting agitated

You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven, Pope Francis assures sceptics 

The Pope has again said conciliatory things to atheists?   He must be starting to concern traditionalist Catholics of the Michael Voris, Father Z variety.  The latter has not commented yet, but surely something is coming...

A call out to Catallaxy

Gab, and any other woman, who reads this morning's open thread and simply passes over a comment made by a new regular at 6.25, is an absolute disgrace.

The future may be panda powered

Study: Panda Poo May Be Coup for Future of Biofuels | Climate Central

Good to see innovative uses for pandas:

Brown’s team has found more than 40 different microbes living in the guts of giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo that could help decompose the corn cobs and other tough plant materials so it can be more easily and efficiently processed to make ethanol.

The study is using the feces from giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le. Pandas, which have a short digestive tract, feast on a diet of tough bamboo. Bacteria with extremely potent enzymes break down the woody bamboo efficiently and quickly.

“The time from eating to defecation is comparatively short in the panda, so their microbes have to be very efficient to get nutritional value out of the bamboo,” Brown said. “And efficiency is key when it comes to biofuel production — that’s why we focused on the microbes in the giant panda.”

Brown’s team found the specific bacteria that break down lignocellulose into simple sugars, which can be fermented into bioethanol, and they found other bacteria that can transform those sugars into oils and fats for biodiesel production.

The microbes in pandas’ guts are accessible via their feces and can easily be cultured, Brown said.

What's better than acid on your teeth? Hot acid!

Coca-cola to introduce world’s first canned hot fizzy drink in Japan - Asia - World - The Independent

I wonder if they have buffered the acidity in this drink some way; because I can't imagine that heating up soft drink does any wonders for your tooth enamel.

Hormones are complicated

Middle-Aged Men Can Blame Estrogen, Too - NYTimes.com

The article starts:
 It is the scourge of many a middle-aged man: he starts getting a pot belly, using lighter weights at the gym and somehow just doesn’t have the sexual desire of his younger years.

The obvious culprit is testosterone, since men gradually make less of the male sex hormone as years go by. But a surprising new answer is emerging, one that doctors say could reinvigorate the study of how men’s bodies age. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, turns out to play a much bigger role in men’s bodies than previously thought, and falling levels contribute to their expanding waistlines just as they do in women’s. 

The discovery of the role of estrogen in men is “a major advance,” said Dr. Peter J. Snyder, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who is leading a big new research project on hormone therapy for men 65 and over. Until recently, testosterone deficiency was considered nearly the sole reason that men undergo the familiar physical complaints of midlife.
What a complicated design is the human body, heh? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is that right?

Coalition rhetoric a real confidence builder

Michael Pascoe talks about the self fulfilling prophecy of improved business confidence after the election, but ends on this note:
 It is a little bemusing that the only concrete decision taken by the yet-to-be-sworn-in government is to waste money – having to pay Steve Bracks a couple of years’ wages for nothing amidst suggestions that the New York consul general’s post will instead go to a Liberal Party worthy.
Is that right, the bit about the 2 years salary?

In any case, it's not a good sign of the Coalition swinging the axe for party political reasons.

More attention to reef needed

Coral will dissolve if CO2 emissions don't change

I think that, coming out as it did during an election campaign, this story about new and significant sounding research didn't attract much attention.

I did see it at the time, but forgot to come back to it.  I also thought to myself that Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has long been very pessimistic on everything he says about the reef, so maybe this press release is over-stating it too, but now that I read the detail about what they did, it seems I was wrong. Here's the abstract itself:
Increasing atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) is a major threat to coral reefs, but some argue that the threat is mitigated by factors such as the variability in the response of coral calcification to acidification, differences in bleaching susceptibility, and the potential for rapid adaptation to anthropogenic warming. However the evidence for these mitigating factors tends to involve experimental studies on corals, as opposed to coral reefs, and rarely includes the influence of multiple variables (e.g., temperature and acidification) within regimes that include diurnal and seasonal variability. Here, we demonstrate that the inclusion of all these factors results in the decalcification of patch-reefs under business-as-usual scenarios and reduced, although positive, calcification under reduced-emission scenarios. Primary productivity was found to remain constant across all scenarios, despite significant bleaching and coral mortality under both future scenarios. Daylight calcification decreased and nocturnal decalcification increased sharply from the preindustrial and control conditions to the future scenarios of low (reduced emissions) and high (business-as-usual) increases in pCO2. These changes coincided with deeply negative carbonate budgets, a shift toward smaller carbonate sediments, and an increase in the abundance of sediment microbes under the business-as-usual emission scenario. Experimental coral reefs demonstrated highest net calcification rates and lowest rates of coral mortality under preindustrial conditions, suggesting that reef processes may not have been able to keep pace with the relatively minor environmental changes that have occurred during the last century. Taken together, our results have serious implications for the future of coral reefs under business-as-usual environmental changes projected for the coming decades and century. 

But no, we were probably too distracted at the time it came out by the searing political story about how  Kevin Rudd failed to chat to a make up artist. 

Failed to rise

If there is but one small consolation out of the election, it's that it would seem to show that, even in Queensland, there might be limits on the nuttiness that people will vote for.

I forgot to post about him before the election, but unknowispeaksense had alerted us to a candidate in Capricornia for the "Rise Up Australia" party who had a particularly paranoid streak.  Quoting from a newpaper:
CAPRICORNIA’S newest federal candidate believes the United Nations contracted a private company to cause the floods in Central Queensland in 2010 and 2011.

Rise Up Australia Party’s Paul Lewis yesterday expressed concern his views might not get him elected....


The self-proclaimed born-again Christian said he had visited friends in the region over the past six years.  During his visits in the past three years he said it was obvious “weather manipulation” technology was being used.

He said aerial tankers bought by a private company from the US defence force were sub-contracted by the UN to spray chemicals on clouds over CQ in 2010, causing high levels of rainfall.
And remember who helped launch Rise Up Australia - none other than Christopher Monckton. 

"Rise Up" calls for a cut in the intake of Muslims, and (obviously) thinks climate change is a UN conspiracy, so should go over a treat with many of the commentators at Catallaxy, one would expect.

But as it turns out, Paul Lewis did not do so well - he got 379 votes according to the latest count.  Even for the Senate, where Rise Up did run, that's not enough.  I wonder, how did people recognize him so well as the nuttiest out of a good field of nutters?   Is the name "Rise Up Australia" just over some fine line that marks "obviously crazy"?

Speaking of Catallaxy, I noticed someone there yesterday in a thread claim that a policeman a couple of decades ago had told him that (this would be pre the Howard gun buy back) most murderous shootings in Australia were gay men killing other men in fights over lovers. (It's just that it's media silence that we never knew that, apparently.)   This sounds a wildly implausible claim, does it not?   But it came to mind when I noticed this today from Salon:
Last Saturday, the hosts of the Minnesota-based radio show “The Sons of Liberty,” Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan, claimed that homosexuals are responsible for half of all murders committed in large cities. Where they would get such a wildly inaccurate notion, nobody knows. Facts or actual information seldom interfere with the dissemination of hatred.

Dean, who is founder and executive director of a nonprofit Christian youth organization, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (wow, doesn’t that Mad Max-inspired name make Christianity seem appealing?), said he was quoting a New York City judge named John Martagh. But, after just a little digging, the Huffington Post revealed the quote came from a 1992 newspaper column by an evangelical loony who never cited his statistical source, but is still quoted from time to time in anti-gay rhetoric. So this is just one of those lies that gets repeated enough it becomes a kind of truth for the liars.
Well, I had missed the "killer gays" meme back in the 1990's, but it good to see that it gets an airing at the ABC collective.  (You remember - the Australian, Bolt, Catallaxy.)