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A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

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Frank Pope, hypocrite

The Times, which was the newspaper of record many moons ago, gives space to someone called Frank Pope today. Mr Pope wants to give us all a good lecture about climate change.

Problem is, in reality Mr Pope doesn't really give a stuff about climate change, as we can see by taking a look at his Wiki page.

Graduating with a degree in Zoology from the University of Edinburgh, Frank began working with Coral Cay Conservation in Belize, Central America...

He subsequently worked on maritime archaeological projects in Uruguay, the Cape Verde Islands, Greece, Italy, Vietnam and Mozambique on wrecks including the San Salvador, Graf Spee off Montevideo and Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Agamemnon in Uruguay, Princess Louisa in Cabo Verde and the San Sebastian Wreck in Mozambique.

With a biography like that it's not too far from the truth to say that Mr Pope is personally responsible for global warming. Why does the Times make us listen to people like this?





A sea shamty

I haven't written anything about global warming for a while (although I have not been idle on that front - watch this space) but there's a great story at Climate Audit this morning.

While a great deal of sceptic attention is focused on the problems with the land surface temperature record (poor station siting, dubious adjustments) it is important to remember that in terms of detecting the alleged global warming at surface level, ocean temperatures are far more important, the seas representing a much larger proportion of the world's surface than land.

So, what's the news?

Well, it seems that a new version of the sea surface temperatures has been released, incorporating a whole bunch of "improvements" to the way they are put together.

Guess what effect these improvements have had on the trend?

Yup, with the improvements in place, the new version 3 shows that the seas are warming much faster than we thought back at version 2.

So what was this improvement? Well, it's too early to be sure but it looks as if the improvement involves a new way of dealing with sparse data. It seems that where there is not much information to work with, the scientists simply insert some numbers generated by a climate model. In other words the new sea surface record is heavily fictionalised.

Even funnier, Professor Ben Santer a man who is probably best known for having been accused of doctoring one of the early IPCC reports, wrote in the International Journal of Climatology that the climate models were splendid and marvellous because they could now accurately predict tropical sea surface temperatures. This is not really very surprising now we know how it seems that the sea surface temperature record is based partly on that same model output.

As someone used to say: hey it's climate science.




What constitutional crisis?

Several commentators have referred to the Snoutgate scandals as being a "constitutional crisis". I don't get it myself. It's a crisis only if our constitutional institutions can't deal with the problems they are being presented with. As far as MPs' expenses go though, they seem to be taking the whole thing in their stride. Guilty MPs are being deselected or are standing down. Where they aren't jettisoned in one way or another, they will surely be dealt with by the electorate, and their parties will suffer the consequences more widely. It's working very well as far as I can see.

So where's the problem? Sure, if the BNP win a majority at the next election, that would be a crisis, but I don't really think that's an issue when there are more salubrious alternatives around for all shades of political opinion - even for libertarians like me.

We might have had a problem if our parliamentarians were chosen by proportional representation - then we might get the crooked pols back via party lists, but fortunately we don't, and we should keep it that way. Quite why the left is trying to change us to a system that is less likely to let the electorate get rid of crooked politicians is beyond me.

This is not to say that our constitutional arrangements are any good. Far from it. Just that we need to take things slowly and carefully. It would be a pity to throw the baby out with the bathwater.



One for the shopping list

Heresy Corner reviews Ben Wilson's new book, What Price Liberty?


Guardian readers: 'Does not compute'

Martin Kettle writes about Dambisa Moyo on the pages of Comment is Free, in a piece that is broadly supportive of her position on ending aid payments. The CiF readers seem largely to be behind her too, with several calls made for trade deals rather than more handouts. You can almost sense the confusion - Moyo's message is what heartless rightwingers have been saying for years - the message of hateful Thatcher and moronic Reagan - but they find themselves not only unable to vent their fury because the message is being delivered by a young black woman, but also finding themselves finally having to admit that the hate figures on the right were, erm, right all along.

This is rather extraordinary, but I wonder if I might have put a spanner in the works by pointing out in my own comment that the default position of Guardian reader is that buying green beans from Africa is equivalent to murder - it's going to lead to global warming isn't it? We're meant to be buying only from our local farmers' market, no?

I can square this circle without a problem - buy the goddam string beans and help the poor Africans. Guardian readers on the other hand are going to have to reconcile their desire to open doors to African trade and to close them at the same time.



Trade not aid

There's an interesting article in the FT about Dambisa Moyo, an economist who wants to scrap all of the aid programmes to Africa. Somewhat surprisingly, her views seem to be not unpopular, with at least two African leaders inviting her to talks.

It's certainly a breath of fresh air to have someone speak about "exit strategies" rather than simply demanding more handouts.  The FT speaks ominously,however, of a groundswell of opposition from the aid community. This is only to be expected. There are taxfree lifestyles to be maintained among the "misericorderati", so they can certainly be expected to fight hard and dirty.

But it's only trade that offers a long-term solution to the problem of poverty in Africa.


Quote of the day

If we cannot trust ourselves, and cannot be trusted by the British people to sort out our own pay and allowances, how on earth can we be trusted with the nuclear deterrent, the state of the economy and the other much more important things with which we are meant to be trusted?

Bernard Jenkin

(How indeed?)




Does Gordon Brown have to stand down as an MP?

  • Gordon Brown claimed for a cleaner on expenses. He did this while provided with grace and favour home in Downing Street.
  • The rules require that MPs can only claim for costs that are "wholly and necessarily incurred in connection with their parliamentary duties".
  • A cleaner does not meet that test.
  • Therefore Gordon Brown has broken the rules.
  • But Gordon Brown says that any MP who breaks the rules cannot stand as a Labour MP.
  • Therefore Gordon cannot lead the Labour party into the next election.

Is my logic flawed somewhere?





A thought

Has the opposition been so supine over the last ten years because they had their fingers in the till?

In other words could an MP have been told not to protest the actions of the government too loudly, in case word of their expense claims should find their way to a newspaper?


Some new fake charities

Renegade Parent notes that the government campaign against home educators is being implemented through fake charities. We already know about the NSPCC, but it appears that BECTA and the Inclusion Trust are also just extensions of government.

Meanwhile the Englishman has a story about the Blood Pressure Association who look to be a prime example of a nanny state quango and a fake charity to boot.

I hope you guys are going to submit these to the database...



More good news on the expenses front

LabourHome is reporting that the constituency Labour party in Luton south is standing behind their troughing MP, Marge Moran - her of the rotten house in Southampton.

This is wonderful news. The party is demonstrating to everyone that not only are its MPs corrupt but their supporters are too. Believe me, they are going to be toast.

More of this please.



The speaker must stay

No, really! DK is saying he's got to quit, but let's face it: if he stays on (with the connivance of Gordon Brown) we could well be looking at a complete wipe-out for Labour at the next election. I mean complete. One so big that the Lib Dems end up becoming the next official opposition.

And that's what I call a win.



Bishop Hill for mobile devices

I've set up Bishop Hill for mobile devices using MoFuse. Not having one of the aforementioned mobile devices, I have no idea if this has worked or not. Perhaps someone can tell me. The URL is:



Causing trouble

I chanced upon this site, which puts up a daily photo of the police at work. This is a protest against the government's silly law criminalising the photographing of law enforcement officers.

This prompted a thought.  A policeman friend told me that there is a police open day at Fife Police HQ this weekend. Some awkward sod should report everyone who takes a snap of a copper to, erm, one of the coppers present.

This should cause complete and utter chaos, ruin the police's PR day and publicise what a terrible law Mr Brown and his legions of lunatics have put in place.

Just a thought.



Tax freedom time

The Adam Smith Institute has an interesting article about how Tax Freedom Day, the day on which you stop working for the state and start working  for yourself, has now reached June 25th (at least if you take into account the surplus of government spending over its income).

Tax Freedom Day is a good idea, transforming a rather abstruse number (the percentage of GDP taken by government spending) into something that is readily comprehensible by the man in the street.

The problem with the concept though is that it only comes round once a year. It would be better public relations to have a tax freedom time, the point each day when you stop working for the government and start working for yourself.

By my calculations, if you normally work a 7 1/2 hour day, starting at 9am, you will probably still be working for the government when you knock off for lunch at 12:30. So when you buy lunch, you still haven't retained a single penny of your salary in order to pay for it - Gordon's had everything you've earned so far. Then, you return at 1:30, you have to work for another seven minutes until finally at 1:37pm, you finally reach tax freedom time.

And it's the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.