Posts tagged ‘BBC’

Is Their a Guinsess Record for the Longest Correction?

This correction by Michel Taylor of something called the Australian Independent Media Network has got to be the longest correction in history.  You know it is an incredible correction when this is just a tiny part of the errors admitted:

  • Evans does not believe, and has never believed, that 9/11 was an inside job perpetrated by the Rothschild family, that US President Barack Obama is a secret Jew, that the Holocaust never happened or that Jewish bankers and the Rothschild family have assassinated at least two US Presidents.

The author also admits to getting Evans' education, occupation, organization, and sources of funding wrong.

In part I suppose kudos are owed to Mr. Taylor for being so honest, but seriously, how can one be so comprehensively wrong? (I will actually explain why in a minute).  The correction runs on so long in part because he Taylor also has to correct an earlier correction where he blamed one of his original sources for being intentionally misleading.  He also apologizes for that.

I would likely have posted this anyway just because it is sort of funny.  But it just so happens to tie into what I wrote yesterday here.  Because it is clear that Mr. Taylor's core mistake is that he researched the positions of a climate skeptic (Mr. Evans) solely by asking climate alarmists (and climate alarmist web sites) what this skeptic believed.  He felt no need to hear the skeptic case from the skeptic himself.  And what do you know, the descriptions of Mr. Evans' beliefs as portrayed by his ideological enemies were full of errors, exaggerations, straw men, and outright lies.  Who would have thought?

We can laugh at Mr. Taylor, but at least he admitted his mistakes in great depth.  But outlets such as the LA Times and the BBC have recently made it a rule they will never allow skeptic voices into their reporting.  They have institutionalized Mr. Taylor's mistake.

Friday Funny, Two Days Late

I make fun of homeopathy from time to time here, so I thought this was hilarious, via Megan McArdle.

Homeopathic bombs are comprised of 99.9% water but contain the merest trace element of explosive. The solution is then repeatedly diluted so as to leave only the memory of the explosive in the water molecules. According to the laws of homeopathy, the more that the water is diluted, the more powerful the bomb becomes.

'It was only a matter of time before these people got hold of the material that they needed to make these bombs,' said former UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, 'The world is a much more dangerous place with the advent of these Weapons of Mass Dilution.'

'A homeopathic attack could bring entire cities to a standstill,' said BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, 'Large numbers of people could easily become convinced that they have been killed and hospitals would be unable to cope with the massive influx of the 'walking suggestible'.'

The severity of the situation has already resulted in the New Age terror threat level being raised from 'lilac' to the more worrisome 'purple' aura. Meanwhile, new security measures at airports require that all water bottles be scanned to ensure that they are not being used to smuggle the memory of an explosion on board a plane.

Speaking of making fun of homeopathy, I saw Penn and Teller in Phoenix on Friday.  Very enjoyable show.   I have a sense their Vegas show is more "adult," but their road show was appropriate for the whole family (unless you are really uptight and/or politically correct).

Nearly Every Human Who Has Ever Lived Denied Fundamental Human Right

From a BBC poll:

Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

The survey - of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries - found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.

So everyone who ever lived before about 1990 were denied a fundamental human right.  I would rewrite this study either as "80% of people have a silly definition of human rights" or probably more correctly "100% of BBC poll authors do not know how to write a good poll question."

By Hatchet, Axe, and Saw

In case you weren't sure what progressives were after:

The outgoing leader of Greenpeace has issued a call for the suppression of economic growth in the U.S. and Western nations. Under questioning by BBC reporter Stephen Sackur on the August 5, 2009 "Hardtalk" program, Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace, said "the lifestyle of the rich in the world is not a sustainable model.

Excerpt from NotEvilJustWrong.com: "Leipold told the BBC that there is an urgent need for the suppression of economic growth in the United States and around the world. He said annual growth rates of 3 percent to 8 percent cannot continue without serious consequences for the climate."

"We will definitely have to move to a different concept of growth. ... The lifestyle of the rich in the world is not a sustainable model," Leipold told the BBC.

"If you take the lifestyle, its cost on the environment, and you multiply it with the billions of people and an increasing world population, you come up with numbers which are truly scary," Leipold explained.

Left unexplained by Leipold is how environmental conditions in the US have improved substantially over the last 100 years, not just coincident with but because of economic growth and growing wealth.   Our country looked like China 100 years ago, but growing wealth gave us the ability not only to produce, but to produce much more cleanly.   On virtually every metric you can name, the US is cleaner than it was even 30 years ago.  On many key metrics, like water quality and sulfur dioxide production, we are cleaner even than Europe and certainly cleaner than most Third World nations.

By the way, if you really want to tick someone off at Greenpeace, you should observe that the person most responsible for saving the whales was not anyone at Greenpeace, but was John D. Rockefeller.  Greenpeace may have saved a few by jumping their boat in front of some Japanese or Russian harpoons, but Rockefeller made whaling unprofitable.

Which brings us full circle to the "growth killing the planet" issue.  I made fun of this static view of man and technology here when  I wrote a hypothetical 1870 post on the Peak Whale Theory

As the US Population reaches toward the astronomical total of 40 million persons, we are reaching the limits of the number of people this earth can support.    If one were to extrapolate current population growth rates, this country in a hundred years could have over 250 million people in it!  Now of course, that figure is impossible - the farmland of this country couldn't possibly support even half this number.  But it is interesting to consider the environmental consequences.

Take the issue of transportation.  Currently there are over 11 million horses in this country, the feeding and care of which constitute a significant part of our economy.  A population of 250 million would imply the need for nearly 70 million horses in this country, and this is even before one considers the fact that "horse intensity", or the average number of horses per family, has been increasing steadily over the last several decades.  It is not unreasonable, therefore, to assume that so many people might need 100 million horses to fulfill all their transportation needs.  There is just no way this admittedly bountiful nation could support 100 million horses.  The disposal of their manure alone would create an environmental problem of unprecedented magnitude.

Or, take the case of illuminant.  As the population grows, the demand for illuminant should grow at least as quickly.  However, whale catches and therefore whale oil supply has leveled off of late, such that many are talking about the "peak whale" phenomena, which refers to the theory that whale oil production may have already passed its peak.  250 million people would use up the entire supply of the world's whales four or five times over, leaving none for poorer nations of the world.

Post title from here (lyrics here)

When Penguins Fly

I thought this was a pretty clever video the BBC came up with (on April 1?) to promote their video service. 

Regulation Protects Industry Incombents

I often see folks who are arguing for increased government regulation of some industry observe that "even those greedy corporations in this industry support this new regulation."  For example, if a power company takes a public position to support greenhouse gas emissions, then that is used as evidence that such regulation must really be necessary if even the to-be-regulated are in favor.  Greg Craven makes such an argument in his global warming video that I refuted the other day.

There are two very good reasons a company in such a position might publicly support even a bad regulation.  The first is basic politics and PR:  If the regulation appears inevitable and has public support, then it is sometimes better to get out ahead of it and try to curry favor with politicians and the public to manage the regulation's implementation.   We all know corporations give donations to political candidates, but look at how they give them.  Corporate donations correlate far better with "who is expected to win" rather than "who would create the most favorable regulatory environment for the corporation."  In fact, corporations are highly likely to give donations to both candidates in a closely-fought election, and a lot of their giving is after the election, to the winner of course.

The other good reason that companies support regulation in their industry is because a lot of regulation is either designed to, or effectively, helps incumbent companies against new entrants.   I have talked about this many times with the questioning of licensing.  Global warming regulation and carbon trading systems in particular give us another great example:

BBC News understands the industry will be allowed to increase emissions
as much as it wants by the European environment council. Aviation is
the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases. But Europe's
environment ministers look set to reject a plan for a strict cap on
emissions from planes. Instead, airlines will be given a set number of
permits to pollute.

Instead, airlines will be given a set number of permits to pollute.

If
they overshoot their limit they will be allowed to buy spare permits
from firms who have managed to cut emissions elsewhere - manufacturing
industry, for instance.

So, current airlines in Europe will be given carbon permits that presumable support their current business level.  However, any new entrant, or any current player wishing to take market share from another airline, must spend money on carbon credits to grab this market share, carbon credits the current established incumbents got for free.  This in effect becomes a tax on market share gains.  This European-style protection of large corporations is typical, and is why the 30 largest companies in Europe are nearly the same as they were in 1965, but are completely different in the US.

This is also why, though I don't think expensive action on CO2 is justified, I think that if we do so the approach must be a carbon tax rather than cap and trade.   But cap and trade has so much potential for political hijinx and giving special deals to the politically influential that my guess is that politicians will want cap and trade.

My Global Warming Skeptic Paper Now Available in Print

For those interested in my A Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming, I greatly encourage you to download it for free.  However, I do know that some folks have written about a print version.  I have a print version of my global warming book available now at LuLu.com.  It is $16.98 -- that is my cost -- and I warn you that LuLu's shipping options are not very cheap.  I will try to find a less expensive print option, but no one beats LuLu for getting a book set up quickly and easily for print-to-order.

Agw_cover_front_small

By the way, for those who have sent me emails with comments or errata, thanks for the help! In particular, my BBC/Channel 4 mixup is fixed.

Update:  The HTML version of this global warming paper is here

Universal Health Care Leads to Speech Limitations

As I wrote in a previous post, state-run health care tends to act as a Trojan Horse for increased government micro-management of our lives by giving the government a financial interest in our health and risk-related decision-making.  A reader sends along this article demonstrating this effect yet again:

An attempt to revive famous TV adverts
from the 1950s that encouraged people to "Go To Work On An Egg"
have been blocked by regulators on health grounds.

The British Egg Information Service (BEIS) had wanted to
bring back the adverts featuring comedian Tony Hancock to mark
the 50th anniversary of the British Lion mark.

But the Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC)
said the famous commercials could not be repeated because
eating eggs every day went against the policy of encouraging
people to eat a varied diet.

"The concept of eating eggs every day for breakfast goes
against what is now the generally accepted advice of a varied
diet and we therefore could not approve the ads for broadcast,"
a BACC spokesman told the BBC.

PS-  Readers who send me stuff - let me know if I can use your name when you email me the post.  When I sit down to blog in short bursts, I am happy to give specific credit but I am always unsure whether to use your real names or not.

When Prey Decide They Have Had Enough

It seems like there is a taxpayer analogy in here somewhere.

H/T:  Maggies Farm

By the way, if you have not seen it, the BBC Series Planet Earth is just amazing.  I am watching it in High Def via my LG Blu-ray/HD-DVD combo player and it is awesome.

Global Warming Movie

I finally watched the BBC special Global Warming Swindle and have to say that it presents a pretty good counter-hypothesis to the prevailing theory of anthropomorphic CO2 production to explain recent global temperature changes.  It also hits some good points on what might be motivating the hard core of the environmental movement beyond just concern about global warming, and why the costs of CO2 control are so high.

I have historically accepted the basic hypothesis of anthropomorphic global warming but have been skeptical of the exaggerated outcomes (Al Gore's 26 foot sea-level rise, for example, which is 17 times more than even the IPCC predicts over the next century) and have posited that a warmer but richer world may well be better than a cooler but poorer one.  I have also pointed out the uncertainties in the IPCC analysis that never get mentioned in the press, like the huge uncertainty in the feedback loops that drive much of the temperature change in current models.  For example, the IPCC admits they don't even know the sign of the largest feedback loop (clouds), which is a big uncertainty since about 2/3 or more of the warming in the models come not directly from CO2 but from these feedback loops.

Anyway, most of my past skepticism has been within the framework of these IPCC studies.  However, this documentary casts off the whole framework, offering a counter-hypothesis of solar activity to explain temperature variations.  I thought the most interesting part of the documentary was when they showed Al Gore from An Inconvenient Truth with a multi-thousand year plot of temperature and CO2.  The chart certainly looks compelling, but this movie makes the point that while the two lines move together, the CO2 line is lagging the temperature line by five hundred years.  Meaning that CO2 levels may be linked to temperature, but the causality may be opposite of that implied by Gore. 

The documentary goes on to offer solar activity as an alternative explanation, with graphs of moving curves of solar activity and temperature that seem to show at least as much correlation as Gore's CO2 graphs.  They hypothesize that rising temperatures driven by changes in solar
activity heat up oceans over time and cause them to release CO2 into
the atmosphere.  I don't think the evidence is definitive, but it certainly casts doubt as to whether we really know what is going on.  I always thought it a bit odd that people would search for the causes of changing temperatures without first checking out the sun, sortof like walking in a room that is too hot and trying to fix it without first checking the thermostat.  This is particularly true given new evidence that other planets are warming, presumably due to solar activity (unless, of course, it's an Exxon plot).

By the way:  Advocates of the anthropomorphic theory are criticizing this movie in part because it does not use Mann's hockey stick temperature chart.  Sorry, but if they want to claim the scientific high ground, I think they need to stop tying their argument to this weak study.  Statisticians have dumped on it repeatedly (apparently random white noise fed into their model produces a hockey stick) and the evidence for eliminating the Medieval warm period is based on the rings in one or two trees.

Widescreen Abuse

I am kind of a video snob so you can take this rant with that in mind. 

I am getting tired of looking at five thousand dollar flatscreens with the picture distorted.  As most of you will know, the new generation of TV sets are wider than the old sets, with a ratio of length to width of 16:9 rather than the old 4:3.  Unfortunately, most current broadcasting and all legacy TV shows are filmed in 4:3.  To watch these programs without distortion on a new flatscreen HDTV, you will either have black bars on the sides or you will have to zoom it such that you lose the top and bottom of the picture. 

Instead of these two options, most people have their widescreen TV's set to stretch the picture horizontally to fit the wider screen.  What this results in is a picture that is distorted and stretched by 33% in width, giving you lots of fat faces.  Yuk!  Why would someone buy a $5000 (or more) TV set with state of the art high-definition picture and then set it up so most of the programming looks like it was viewed in a fun-house mirror?  Especially when you only have to press one button usually to cycle the setup between regular and widescreen programming. 

Anyway, the teli is always on here in the breakfast room of the hotel (one of the realities of modern travel is that you can't seem to escape the blaring TV in either hotels or airports) but I have no idea what the BBC announcers look like.  The way the TV is set up, it looks like they all are fat with cheek fulls of acorns.

Great Example of Zero-Sum Thinking

In perhaps the best example I have seen since Paul Ehrlich of zero-sum thinking, junkscience.com links to this article at the BBC:

A study by the New Economics Foundation (Nef) and the
Open University says 16 April is the day when the nation goes into
"ecological debt" this year.

It warns if annual global consumption levels matched the UK's, it would take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand.

How many times does this sort of stuff have to be wrong before it stops getting printed by "science writers" in the media.  Malthus made the same argument over a century ago, and Ehrlich has been making one bad prediction after another along these lines since the late 60's  The report relies on this concept:

The findings are based on the concept of "ecological
footprints", a system of measuring how much land and water a human
population needs to produce the resources it consumes and absorb the
resulting waste.

Of course, no one mentions that this "ecological footprint" number has changed dramatically with technology, not only in the last 200 years but even in the last 30.  For example, total US Farm acreage has fallen for the last fifty years, while agricultural production has grown between two and five times in the same period.   Its a stupid, meaningless analysis that says that if nothing else changed, and suddenly consumption went up, there would be a crisis.  It relies on the lack of imagination of both the authors (and to an extent, the audience), arguing that since they can't think of any way to grow production any further, it must not be possible.  I can just picture these guys as prehistoric man sitting in a cave making the same pronouncements of disaster for the species, all while their peers are busy outside playing with bone tools under the big black monolith.

More on the zero-sum fallacy here.

 

Indentured Employertude

Per the BBC News:

More than 160 people were arrested after clashes erupted
in eastern Paris following a day of largely peaceful demonstrations
across France.

Vehicles were set on fire and stores were damaged as masked youths clashed with police.

Twenty-four people, including seven police officers, were injured in the violence, which lasted about six hours.

So what is the provocation?  Are youth being drafted to go to war?  Are fundamental civil rights being taken away?  No, the reason for millions of people on the street and outbreaks of violence is...

Protesters are bitterly opposed to the new law, which
allows employers to end job contracts for under-26s at any time during
a two-year trial period without having to offer an explanation or give
prior warning.

The government says it will encourage employers to hire
young people but students fear it will erode job stability in a country
where more than 20% of 18 to 25-year-olds are unemployed - more than
twice the national average.

 Oh my god, its, its....at-will employment.  Head to the barricades!

In reality, what has happened is that Europe has invented a new type of indentured servitude that works in reverse.  If you remember you history, poor Europeans bought their passage to America in the 16th and 17th century by essentially enslaving themselves for a fixed but finite (as opposed to African slavery) period of time.  They got to come to America, but were forced to work for the same employer without the ability to quit for seven years.

The French have taken this same concept, and flipped it on its head.  If an employer hires someone, the employer is prevented by law from ever firing that person.  In effect, an employer enslaves himself to every employee he hires.  Which might just explain why unemployment is so high over there.  I call it indentured employertude. 

These recent riots also turn history on its head.  In the past, many countries with legalized slavery have faced devastating slave riots and uprisings.  In this case, though, it is not the slaves (employers) doing the rioting to be freed, it is the slave holders (ie the employees) rioting to keep the employers captive.

Is France a total loss?

Be Afraid

Per the BBC News:

More than 5% of the net's most popular domains have been registered using "patently false" data, research shows.

A US congressional report into who owns .com, .net and .org domains found that many owners were hiding their true identity.

Congress has just discovered that people, knock me over with a feather, do not always include all their correct personal private  and personal confidential information in online web databases that can be read by everyone:

The report found that owner data for 5.14% of the
domains it looked at was clearly fake as it used phone numbers such as
(999) 999-9999; listed nonsense addresses such as "asdasdasd" or used
invalid zip codes such as "XXXXX".

In a further 3.65% of domain owner records data was missing or incomplete in one or more fields.

I personally am a fan of (555) 555-5555 in filling out web forms.  For years, I never, ever put my correct phone number in the WHOIS registry, and only correctly filled in enough blanks to get my credit card authorized.

As is usual with every privacy reduction effort, it starts with an honest desire for better law enforcement:

Increasingly whois data is being used by law enforcement
and security companies to find out who is running a website involved in
spamming or some other scam....

The GAO recommended that more effort be made to verify
the information by domain owners and that greater use be made of
commercial software tools to check who runs a website.

                   

I get the law enforcement issue, but I think it is dwarfed by the privacy and free speech issues.  There are a lot of really good non-illegal reasons not to want the detailed personal and private information of web site owners plastered all over public data bases, and there are particularly good reasons that web site owners might not like the government to know who they are.  Like every blogger in China, for example.  I don't think that US Government bodies (or major corporations, or political groups, or fringe groups like the KKK) are above seeking some type of retribution (e.g. audits) against folks online who criticize them, and I am sure China and Saudi Arabia are not above it.  If you start a web site criticizing your current employer, do you really want to reveal your name?  I for one thought for a long time about whether to blog as myself or anonymously.

As for hunting down phishing and other such scams, liscencing web owners in a way similar to say gun owners is not necesary.  Scams are illegal because somewhat is defrauded of money, and that money leaves an easier trail to follow than any electronic trail, even with better ICAHN data.  You can use zombie computers and other techniques to defeat most electronic tracing, but the money WILL end up in the bad guys hands and can be found.

Next up:  Requiring background checks before you can register for a web site.