Friday, August 29, 2008

Housing Timebomb: Edward Ware Homes Ltd Crashes

It has been a long time coming - but come it always was going to...the housing bomb is bursting and the first major local casualty has been announced; Edward Ware Homes Ltd goes pop. Not being one to say 'told you so' but back in 2003 when the papers were breathlessly enjoying the ongoing rise and rise of housing prices, without considering where it might go;

When the economy takes a down-turn, as surly one day it will, interest rates will rise and jobs will be lost. Then the time-bomb explodes. Those morgaged to the hilt will loose their homes. Those without their own homes in rented property will find their rent rising to meet the morgage costs. The already strained housing sectors, despite having the space to house us all will, because of economic factors out of our control, begin tearing a the fabric of the city. Developments will lay derelict, monuments to lost opportunities. The global investors will move out of our city, happy to wait until the market bounces back to realise a return on their investments. We’ll be picking up the pieces while they move their attentions to profitable opportunities elsewhere.

And so the fallout continues. Edward Ware Homes Ltd have collapsed with £5.1 million in dept. They owe lots of people money - including ordinary trades people who are set to only get around £2.50 for every £1000 owed. It is still trading, but only in the hope it can recoup a bit more cash for the creditors. The double-Irony is that Edward Ware Homes were the developers of the 'Panoramic' that infamously Tony Bliar and family brought two flats from. The irony is that the Neo-Labour machine has lorded over developments that have exacerbated the conditions under which this housing bomb is bursting. Again I wrote in 2003;

"To understand what is going on requires a little understanding into how the market is functioning. What is happening is that private capital is being poured into a large number of high-profit housing ventures. To be high-profit they must be luxury, as while you can make money from building affordable housing, you can make a whole lot more from luxury projects. To build anything significant, you require planning permission from the local authorities. They then act as a regulator of housing to ensure that what is being built matches the plans for the area and so, theoretically at least, benefits Bristol and it’s people. However, that regulatory role seems to have been overlooked in a rush to attract investment into the city."

Housing has always been more than 'assets', 'investments' and 'capital' to us normal people - it is a home, where we live and throwing that concept to the market was always going to hurt.
McCain Picks Big Oil

For anyone who thinks that the choice of Republican hopeful John McCain is a positive one as she is a woman needs to think again - it is not about gender, it is about the person and Sarah Palin is for Big Oil and anti Darwin. Here is what she says on global warming;

"I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."

And evolution;

"Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

Which sounds reasonable - other then there is no debate about Creationism in science. It is the Wedge Strategy in action;

[Wedge Strategy is] a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to "defeat [scientific] materialism" represented by evolution, "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

This when ice figures on Arctic ice are scary;

"The summer sea ice in the Arctic continues to melt at an alarming pace. It now stands at the second lowest point since records began (just above the exceptional melt of 2007). What is more, the rate of melt at this point of the decline season is greater than for any other year since the satellite monitoring record began..."

So much for the Denailists who claim it is not happening.
Iraq Fallout: Georgia

It was always going to happen - the hypocrisy of the war in Iraq coming to bite the U$A on the ass..

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told the meeting it was a violation of the U.N. charter for member states to use force against others, or threaten to use it, and suggested that Moscow's claims to be protecting Russian citizens in Georgia's South Ossetia region were a sham. Russia's U.N. envoy, Vitaly Churkin, suggested Wolff's statement was hypocritical and referred to the U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Moscow strongly opposed. "I would like to ask the distinguished representative of the United States -- weapons of mass destruction. Have you found them yet in Iraq or are you still looking for them?"


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Neo-Labour's Piracy

Not talking about the organised theft of Iraq's oil, but in typical do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do style, Brown's own website pirates code from elsewhere;

While the British government puts huge amounts of pressure on ISPs to clamp down on file-sharers, it is doing some pirating of its very own. It seems that Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s own website is in serious breach of copyright, as it is based on a ripped-off Wordpress theme.

Ooops. Still, it is not the first time a cut-and-paste job has got them into trouble; remember the dodgy dossier - a uncredited ripp-off from a thesis by an American student.

I hope this means that they issue Brown with the first of his three strikes on the way to cutting off his broadband access?
F**k the Olympics

I have not been watching this over-puffed padgentry aimed at boosting the up-and-coming Chinese empire of Maoist-capitalism. A few articles of note about the games though;

Marina Hyde in Beijing on China's state bullies and the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC - who claim they are non-political - trying to get a free Tibet video removed from YouTube.

Bristol's own games to highlight the human rights that the Neo-Labour government, the IOC and the Chinese government seem to want to forget.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Iraq: More WMD Fun

So says Ron Susskind;

Did British officials have evidence that weapons of mass destruction in Iraq did not exist before the conflict? Author Ron Susskind claims that a senior Iraqi official had given credible information to intelligence services.

More Denialist Zombie-Arguments Rise from the Dead

I have previously argued that debating with denailists was a point less exercise (the comments around which on Bristol Indymedia just went to prove my point) – and I am not the only one who thinks so. NASA's chief scientist concurs;

"... public discussion of global warming is befogged by contrarians, whose opinions are given a megaphone by special interests that benefit by keeping the public confused. Some of the contrarians were once scientists, but now they behave, at least on the topic of global warming, as lawyers defending a client. Their aim is to present a case as effectively as possible, citing only evidence that supports their client, and making the story appear as favorable as possible to their client. The best, the most articulate, are sought out by special interests, and even by much of the media, because the media likes to have 'balance' in its coverage of most topics – and especially this topic because special interests have influence on the media."

Sadly, the media tendency to 'balance' also extends to 'propaganda' as shown by the example of Mr Rooney of the Country Land Association given a column in the Western Press to pour water on the claims of climate change. He writes a convincing article that seems to be a sober assessment of current thinking;

"The claimed threat rests on two key propositions deriving from United Nations reports: that global temperatures are determined mainly by carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, and that human activity, especially the use of fossil fuels, is increasing these to historically high and dangerous levels. But as research continues and understanding grows, things look less straightforward – and less dire.

Existing doubts about a simple link between temperature and carbon dioxide were reinforced by a paper given at Bayreuth University last month. This reported that during at least three substantial periods in the last 200 years carbon dioxide levels have equalled or exceeded those prevailing today, although temperatures were lower.

On the second point, subsequent studies indicate that the United Nations report substantially underestimated natural contributions to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, consequently exaggerating those attributable to human activity. A report that the contribution from human activity is much less than the UN suggested has been endorsed by 31,000 scientists, many more than advised the UN."

Well gosh, that sounds like current thinking is dissolving climate change away! I may as well book that long-haul holiday as planned? However, how the Western Mail let such sloppy claims though, should lead to serious questions being asked about their editorial standards (or lack thereof). Lets look at the two claims;

"Existing doubts about a simple link between temperature and carbon dioxide were reinforced by a paper given at Bayreuth University last month. This reported that during at least three substantial periods in the last 200 years carbon dioxide levels have equalled or exceeded those prevailing today, although temperatures were lower."

Interesting that the author just says 'a paper given at Bayreuth University' and not by who. If he did the validity of the claim would soon evaporate. The 'paper' was by Ernst-Georg Beck, not a climatologist or a professor – he is a school biology teacher. Not to diss school biology teachers, they do great work – but they are not climatologists. His work has been totally debunked, is not peer-reviewed science and comes to the opposite conclusion of all the data we have. You would only endorse his work if you were in denial or did not know what you are talking about.

"On the second point, subsequent studies indicate that the United Nations report substantially underestimated natural contributions to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, consequently exaggerating those attributable to human activity. A report that the contribution from human activity is much less than the UN suggested has been endorsed by 31,000 scientists, many more than advised the UN."

Here we go again – the argument of living-dead – this is not new, indeed this is old; a reference to the 'Oregon Petition' – an unverified petition that allowed anyone with a degree to sign-up and be counted as a 'proper sceintist' This was presented as 'proof' of a real debate in science. Except that is was duff, as Scientific American reported back in 2001;

"Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community."

The article then goes on the quote the work of Fred Singer, without any context as to who he is in relation to the global warming debate – he is a very prominent denailist who has admitted taking $10,000 from Exxon Mobil, has been part of their anti-Climate Change PR machine for some time. He was also a prominent scientist in the campaign by big Tobacco to deny health risks in smoking. Hardly a neutral voice.

Put simply the Western Mail article is bunk'um-propaganda and it is shocking that a so-called newspaper should let a half-baked column of nonsense though. However what is does show is that the standard of proof the denailist demands to back their non-argument is non-existent (unverified, non-peer reviewed gumff from a lay-person is fine) but there is no amount of data/qualified people on the other side they will accept - and how the media is often happy to go along with this.

In short, as climate-creationists they argue a position of faith. However we do need to ask why the mainstream media gives them such an easy time?

Meanwhile in the real world; climate change is causing problems for Spain's water supply and messing with the breading patterns of birds.

Friday, August 15, 2008


So all of a sudden, there is a war. My feeling is that President Mikheil Saakashvili was feeling gungo-ho and decided to take back South Ossetia from Russia control by force, hoping that the fact that the U$A was his mate would mean that Russia would back-off. But he got it wrong - very wrong - the US is bogged down in Iraq and Russia knows it and is happy to take a chunk out of Georgia. Here are a couple of interesting articles on the whole thing;

Russian Cooperation seen Key to Dissuading Tehran's Nuclear does this fit the actions in Georgia?

Russian assault on Georgia - It's the oil, stupid!

PS. The article below, also posted on Bristol Indymedia got some great responses and IMHO just went to prove the point. It has now been taken forwards (nice one people!).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Global Warming Denial is Dangerous Creationsim

I have noticed huge debates breaking out on a couple of websites over global warming and the truth of it, I have also been spending (far too much) time of late reading about Creationism – the psudo-science idea pushed with a fanatical intensity by religious fundamentalists that the earth and all living things were created by god and thus evolution is not true. What has become increasingly obvious to me is that the denial of global warming and the denial of evolution are pretty much the same thing – a comfort-blanket against reality and so it is pointless debating with advocates of either point of view.

The problem is that while Creationists might mess up the education of school kids thanks to their meddling, Global Warming Denialists may kill millions of people with their need to avoid reality.

First of it is worth saying that both global warming and evolution are hugely complex areas of research where daily, thousands scientists debate, argue and research. However in both of these areas there is a broad consensus of what is happening and the debate is essentially over the details. It is also the case that most of us are not in a position to judge much of the data and need to rely on others to filter and interpret it for us. For this we tend to turn to people who specialise in this area. For understanding how life works we ask biologists and to understand the climate we ask climatologists.

Global Warming is scary thing. Nobody knows what will really happen as our industrial society is conducting a huge experiment right here and right now and the predicted results vary – it could be not so bad or it could be very, very bad. I am sure you have read the news and don't need me to spell it out but worse case scenarios involve the word 'extinct' for a huge number of species – us included. Do we feel lucky?

It is understandable why the Denialist message is so seductive; they are telling us we can have our cake and eat it – and we all like cake. The problem is the facts don't fit the cake-fest they advocate. I am not going to try to prove global warming here – because that is my point – trying to prove anything to a Denialist is like trying to prove evolution to a Creationist: impossible because they will not be separated from their comfort-blanket.

Now there are different types of Creationist but basically they believe in the literal truth of the bible, so if it says God created the world and all living things then he did and so evolution is rubbish. Therefore they MUST disprove evolution to hold onto their faith. But evolution has a massive body of evidence and to cut a long story short – is true. Therefore Creationists must battle reality – this is, and can only ever be – an emotional battle. They cannot ever admit they are wrong, for to do so is to unravel their wall of faith. The more they fight, the more emotional energy they have invested in the battle and so the greater the wall becomes.

When you read into Creationism, it is just nuts – preachers trying to lecture palaeontologists on fossil evidence when they can't even grasp the basics of how the scientific method works. Ham-fisted attempts to fake dinosaur/human footprint models (see image). A joke really.

Despite the fact that there is no controversy over evolution as a whole in science – none at all – the well funded Creationist lobby has achieved huge successes in the PR battle against evolution. This battle exists to satisfy their emotional need, because they have not, nor can ever, win the science battle – because there is way too much evidence against them and none for them. Winning the PR battle does not win the battle for truth. Winning the PR battle messes up the education of school kids as they can change science education policy.

It is the same with Global Warming; it is a younger branch of science than evolution, but still there is almost zero debate within about what is happening and why it is happening. (There is a handful of proper scientists – I count about ten vs thousands who accept it) The Denialists, recruited by the oil industry's careful campaign of disinformation that began over a decade ago have lost the battle for the science but are deep in an emotional bunker, seeing themselves as freedom fighter against the hippies/tree-huggers/veggies/big-government/EU/UN/the left (insert favorite villain here) and for freedom of speech/the right to drive/Clarkson/The Daily Mail (insert valiant cause here). To admit the science even might be a bit right is to hand victory to their hated foes.

The Denialists cannot and will not will the battle in science, and so are fighting a PR battle. Like Creationists, this is an emotional battle – ad not a debate - for in a debate you could present the other side with a killer argument and they would see the logic and evidence and concede. Give a Creationist a dinosaur bone, show a Denialist the melting ice-caps (see image) and they will fold their arms shake their head and continue to argue; even in the face of reality. As the science catches up with them, they will shift the argument and play ever more complex semantic games, they will cry foul and censorship, compare you to the Nazi's/Stalin and more – anything to avoid the reality that the game is up.

But winning the PR battle in the global warming debate is killing people. While people in Bangladesh drown the Denialists turn, not to climatologists to understand why; but to lawyers, PR men, columnists and corporate lobbyists. They prefer business consultants to 'interpret' the data in a more pleasing way. It is an crazy – seeing a debate on Bristol Indymedia were a business consultant's take on weather data is being held on a pedestal above the painstaking research of thousands of climatologists. It is like being persuaded that the guy who sells the scalpels is better qualified to interpret your CAT scans than the brain surgeon. Isaac Asimov said it best: "Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What . . . does the scientist . . . have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!"

I have no answers of what to do about the Denialists. It is an emotional need they are fulfilling to debate the issue and I would propose leaving them to it, but for the fact that the fog of un-reason they create is clouding others from action. If I thought for one moment there was a real debate to be had, I would happily do so – but there is not. You can't win, not because you are wrong but because they can never admit they are. They hold a different standard of proof to their emotional crutch than they do to reality; as do the Creationists. This 'God of the Gaps' approach where any stumbling of the science results (which is a normal part of research) results in calls for the baby and bathwater to be chucked overboard instantly and yet their psudo-evidence can be sunk over and over and over - and all they will do is shift the argument and play ever more complex semantic games, cry foul and censorship, compare you to the Nazi's/Pol Pot and yell about it being 'conspiracy, a racket and an industry' all the while conveniently forgetting the very real oil industry that really has funded a conspiracy to really create a racket around the issue. And they will go on and on until you get tired on their emotional need to go on and on and interpret your reluctance to keep banging against the brick wall as a victory. It is; a victory over reality. Proof that God planted the dinosaurs to tempt the faithful.

A Bristol University professor and staunch creationist, Stuart Burgess remarked, "There is a case for arguing that Satan has deliberately made modern theoretical physics complicated in order to blind people to the truth of the origins of the universe."

Perhaps the mischievous devil also created Denialists to blind us to the reality of global warming to usher in a second flood as a judgment against the hippies/tree-huggers/veggies/big-government/EU/UN/the left (insert favourite villain here).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Food for Thought

Couple of interesting posts on Ian Bone's blog...

"We anarchists are rootless and incapable of reaching out beyond our comfort zones……. Like the Left we remain ’severed from the common culture of the country’ as Orwell so accurately put it. Until we connect with it - the everyday life experience of our class - we may as well drift up the Medway or any old shit creek."


"Ian,I for one,totally agree with everything you have said.You only have to look at some of the replies to your rant to see how out of touch a lot of anarchists are.The problem with most revolutionaries -myself included in my own way-is that we have liberated ourselves, at least mentally-from capitalist culture to such a degree,that in the process,we have become distanced from the mass of people we most need to activate politically. You’ve bought this up before Ian,but until we TRUELY come up with some realistic ideas of our own,that both give people hope,AND confront social problems now with some sort of immediately implementable solutions,we will be playing ‘knee-jerk- reaction politics and chasing our own tails forever.."
Church Signs


Climate Change Denial

Many will noticed the small but vocal band of people of pop-up in any public discourse on global warming to slam the idea and anyone who thinks that we may be impacting on the climate. They seem to think that uniquely, they are equipped to interpret the mass of data and see though the spin. The theories they spout come under three rough headings:

1.Climate Change is not happening (and/or)
2.If it is happening then it is part of a natural cycle/solar activity/etc any other reason than human activity (and/or)
3.It is happening but it is not a big deal and it is not worth doing anything about.

So if it is not happening or is not a big deal then why are there so many scientists backing it and so many people pointing to global warming as a major issue we need to tackle? Their response comes under (again) rough answers;

1.It is a ploy for new taxes/more control.
2.It is a gravy-train for scientists/campaigners.
3.It is a plot by the rest of the world to stamp on America's economy.

Now, there is an of obvious question, one that knocks a massive holes in the denial conspiracy theory: G W Bush.

Yes, G W Bush, currently the US President and the most powerful man in the world. When he wanted to invade Iraq, he did so and no global institution, laws, pressure or lack of evidence for WMDs was going to stop him. He is an oil man, and is closely allied with many of the most prominent global warming deniers - and he does not want global warming to be true. So if the science existed to even cast doubt on the theory, he and his people would have be shouting it from the hill-tops. Face it, if even the smallest opportunity presented itself for global warming to be cast down into the fiery pit, he would be on it. His tenure has been littered with appointments of his close global warming denier friends being given positions of power and those who think it is happening being removed, downgraded and cast aside.

This is the problem for the denial industry: despite having the most powerful man in the world and his people on-side, despite having some of the largest global corporations on-side, despite having the best funded and most powerful political think-tanks and lobby groups on-side – despite all this, the issue of global warming still exists.

What does that say about denial?