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Christchurch, Anning and the Egg-boy

By | Other | 70 Comments

When I learned of the massacre at Christchurch, a city of which I am fond, I had an immediate sick feeling. Somehow I had expected something like this for a long time — a sort of retaliation for the senseless ISIS bombings in Europe and Bali. Sooner or later it was going to happen. Then came a second even sicker feeling when I learned that the perpetrator was an Australian. That’s all we need. There will be a response before long, and probably in our country. I’m not sure that I can be usefully alert; I am certainly alarmed. I…

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A new Children’s Crusade

By | Other | 103 Comments

In 1212 another Crusade to the Holy Land took place, and this one now has the popular name ‘the Children’s Crusade’, because it is thought to have been prompted by visions that came to children in France and Germany, and because many children apparently took part in it. Some were sold into slavery. The name was also given to a civil rights movement in the USA in 1963. What we saw last week could be given the same appellation, though this time the focus was on ‘climate change’, not civil rights (unless you draw a long bow) or the Holy…

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Whose science are we talking about?

By | Other | 116 Comments

[Word Press has upgraded me to a new level, some aspects of which I do not understand. Hence the failure to supply proper links save one. I hope to do better next time.] For thirty or so years, from 1980 to 2010, a good deal of my professional life was taken up with assessing applications for money to allow individuals and groups to carry out the research they wanted to do. That led me into the arcane world of peer review and careful assessment. I learned a lot — about intellectual mafias, about arrogance, about the search for knowledge, truth…

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Whatever happened to him?

By | Other | 10 Comments

Thi is a short bulletin to let interested readers know what happened and why I have been silent. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in July and the effect has been increasing fatigue and discomfort. I have hardly noticed the news, for the last few months, and the world seems to be much as it was when I did notice the news. I hope to write something more substantial now that I have most of my data and machines with me in the nursing home where I now live. My thanks to the many who have sent good wishes.

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At last, some humour

By | Other | 6 Comments

A minor setback put me into hospital for five days, and that means I needed to find something from the archives, and the first thing that came out was a recent dry observation. I now forget where it came from, but it’s worth a chuckle or two: (I) Neologisms One of my favourite columnists, David Astle (who loves to play with words), came up with some names to replace  Democracy (people rule)  …. here are a few for you to chuckle over and perhaps recognise. Replacements for Democracy….. Narcissocracy  Uncumbent – the leader who suddenly isn’t (Malcolm) Adhocracy – unstructured…

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Thoughts on our present discontents

By | Other | 50 Comments

It was a bit of a shock for me finally to see the TV news and hear the words ‘Prime Minister Morrison’. Yes, I knew it had happened, but some days had passed, and here I was back in the land of the living. What else had happened? Much is still unclear. ‘Envoy’ positions for Mr Abbott and My Joyce may keep them quiet and out of harm’s way. They may also heal some of the hurt. I don’t know, and I doubt that anyone else does either. Are we going to have an early election? My sources say No,…

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Electric vehicles again

By | Other | 62 Comments

In the week since I last wrote the NEG has been replaced by the leadership issue as the principal topic of political discussion in our country. The search for agreement that I wrote about has failed. There is none. What we have is a reversal of aspects of the Prime Minister’s proclaimed policy, and a challenge to Mr Turnbull’s leadership by Minister Peter Dutton, which failed by a few votes. Every day there is a new story. I said that sooner or later someone would have to face the reality of the energy problem. No one has said anything about…

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Climate science in perspective

By | Other | 80 Comments

Judith Curry has provided us with her take on an eight-year old paper by Carl Wunsch, a highly regarded oceanographer. I am sure I have read it before, but I certainly have not referred to it. I think her summary is excellent reading. I have made a few editorial changes. Introduction From one point of view, scientific communities without adequate data have a distinct advantage: one can construct interesting and exciting stories and rationalizations with little or no risk of observational refutation. Colorful, sometimes charismatic, characters come to dominate the field, constructing their interpretations of a few intriguing, but indefinite…

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The August Off-Topic Thread

By | Other | 54 Comments

A little on Pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong — avoid it, fix it up, and the pain will go away. We learn about it through toothaches, cuts, breaks and things like that. I have a spinal fracture, and fractures take six to eight weeks to fix up. I am in week seven, and it may take eight or nine or ten weeks to fix mine up because I am old. Old bodies don’t heal so well. Even then I may still have painful episodes. So I have chronic pain, and pain is…

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