Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reading Room - Killing Rage

I've just finished reading Killing Rage by Eamon Collins.

This book is the personal account of Eamon Collins – an IRA man during the worst of the troubles, then turned state's witness, who is now dead, assassinated as he walked his dogs. Early on in the book a key formative event occurs that send Collins from by-stander to terrorist. A sniffer dog get excited during a search of their farm mistaking the small of creosote for explosives. The army (some of whom Collins claims had been drinking) then moved to arrest him, his dad and also his brother in a violent and protracted assault. Here is a sample of the account:

“They told me to lie on the floor [of the jeep] as three soldiers got in on either side of me. They began to hit me with their rifle buts on my legs arms, back and buttocks. I could hear my mother screaming hysterically. One of my guards shouted, 'fuck off you old whore!' as the jeeps drove off.”

During the journey and back at he army base, the torture and humiliation – akin to what we've seen in Guantanamo – continues until the army finally realise they've make a mistake and arrested 3 innocent men and release them...

“Other times I would feel a surge of rage whose power would unbalance me: I would sit alone in my room and think with pleasure of blowing the heads of those para[chute regiment] scum.”

A threat he would later make real as he proceeds to join the IRA and run intelligence operations targeting soldiers and cops. Other points he makes that are vial to understanding how a terror group operates are that without the support of committed and sizable groups of civilians to hide, provide intelligence and recruits, to finance and assist the IRA, they would simply not exist. Put simply while some of the ordinary people felt that the army and police were not there to protect them but to oppress them, they will support groups like the IRA. Here's that writ large in a reported discussion between Collins and a British intelligence officer, after he had turned against the IRA:

“One of his most interesting questions was: 'If I had unlimited resources to fight the IRA, how would you advise me to use them?' I had a simple answer: Support, encourage and make possible at every turn the development of Sinn Fein...once the Republican movement got sucked into the constitutional political system they would eventually be waving goodbye to the armed struggle.”

Which is exactly what happened. This is why the west should be taking to Hamas and the Taliban. There is simply no other choice and this book lay out why this is the case from an 'insider' point of view. Collins is also blunt about the damage the armed struggle does to the communities that support it, on how it forces the most aggressive and militant to the fore and how all involved- from the IRA to the British army – becomes locked in a military struggle of ever-descending depths.

This book should be read by all those making policy for the failing War of Terror. It gives the tactical - never mind moral – importance of why our human rights matter – more so during a time of war than in peace.

Tony Bliar's Defence of His Own Sanity

So Tony Bliar came to the Iraq Inquiry and not only refused to acknowledge any problems with his conduct or judgement, but went on the attack asking supposed difficult questions, like what would the world be like if he had not acted - with high oil prices and a resurgent Iran and Taliban?

What a fucking prick. These are not hard questions. The high oil price is in part down to the Iraq war. Bliar and Bu$h helped create that. A resurgent Iran is down to the weakening of the US from the failed Iraq war. Bliar and Bu$h helped create that. Many officials and experts have concluded that the failure in Afghanistan is because of the Iraq war - the resurgent Taliban are down to the lack of focus and resources to capitalise on the position the military got to in 2002. Bliar and Bu$h helped create that.

The Iraq war cost billions and sat side-by-side with Guantanamo. Bliar's silence was his complicity. Yes, I suspect that Saddam would still be in power - and that would be terrible - but in his 20-odd reign of terror he killed around 1,000,000 people. Bliar and Bu$h helped kill over that number in less than 5 years.

But more than that there is the arrogance - the towering arrogance of a man - anti-democratically - seems to think that the British Army was his army to do as he willed with and tough shit on those who disagree. That the will of the people who pay for that army (in money and blood) was simply not a factor and he was in his rights to lie to us to follow his war.

Image: A man carries the body of a child recovered from the rubble of a destroyed house after an air strike in Baghdad’s Sadr City in Iraq on April 29, 2008.

The towering arrogance of a man who ignored the experts and thought that the occupation of a middle east country would be a 'cakewalk'. The towering arrogance of a man who he thought would gain any leverage from Bu$h from is simpering compliance - he didn't.

So people have been asking why he had no regrets of any sense of questioning himself. I think this is because to let in even an inch of doubt is to open the mental door to over a million ghosts of the dead who would, with a deafening silence, plague him in his private moments.

Bliar defended his war to save his sanity - as he just happened to do it at the Iraq Inquiry.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Right-Wing Conference Falls Apart Over Profit

I'm a little surprised at this, a right-wing conference in the US is falling apart because the ordinary grass-roots people planning to attend feel it is overpriced and being run at a profit..

Tea Party loyalists began to balk at the expensive price of tickets and the fact that the venture is for-profit, saying that it smelled 'scammy.'

I am not surprised to find that the conservative grass roots are pissed at this, even though the organisers are just doing what comes naturally - transfering money from the poor to the rich - because it is very human to want to feel that the ideals for which you struggle are about more than self-interest. I was going to take the piss a bit, but I'd rather those pissed-off at the right stopped and thought a bit about why those they have put so much trust in would treat them in that way?

[Neo-con theorist] Kristol agrees with this view. "There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people," he says in an interview. "There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work."

What one of the intellectual 'heavyweights' of the US conservative movement is clear that some people are more equal than others. Is that what the US stands for? Liberty and Freedom for the few (the rich)? Answers on a postcard...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Mail Science Fantasy

The Daily Mail really is a shit-bag of a rag that I wouldn't even wrap a turd in, never mind my chips. Big-brother to our own Evening Post, it seems to be incapable of separating 'things we would like to be true' from 'things that are true'. Yet again and again they fall into the fossil fuel lobby fold by reporting rubbish as news.

Here their fearless truth-seer of newspeak is David Rose...

In 2002 he wrote a series of stories about how Iraq was behind Al Qaeda, but in 2004 was forced to admit that he had been "bamboozled" by the lies of Iraqi defectors. You'd think he would have learned.

Nope. Now he's done a double - he wrote misunderstanding/representing the work of scientist Mojib Latif, claiming:

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world's most eminent climate scientists [referring to Latif].

Latif, of course, didn't say that at all...

"They are not related at all," he said. "What we are experiencing now is a weather phenomenon, while we talked about the mean temperature over the next 10 years. You can't compare the two."

Here we go again, he has a story on the error in the IPCC report about Himalayan glaciers...

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report's chapter on Asia, said: "It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."


[Dr Lal] said these were "the most vilest allegations" and denied that he ever made such assertions. He said "I didn't put it [the 2035 claim] in to impress policymakers... We reported the facts about science as we knew them and as was available in the literature."

A snoozepaper, not a newspaper.

More on the story here and here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Road - The film and the book...

I went to the the post-apocalyptic film 'The Road' on the weekend. I'd read the book when it came out and while it is one of the bleakest things I've ever read, the power and the beauty of the writing keeps you going. The film is the same - powerful yet bleak. When the book came out, George Monbiot was haunted by it and wrote about it's importance:

Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road considers what would happen if the world lost its biosphere, and the only living creatures were humans, hunting for food among the dead wood and soot. Some years before the action begins, the protagonist hears the last birds passing over, "their half-muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl." McCarthy makes no claim that this is likely to occur, but merely speculates about the consequences.

All pre-existing social codes soon collapse and are replaced with organised butchery, then chaotic, blundering horror. What else are the survivors to do?: the only remaining resource is human. It is hard to see how this could happen during humanity’s time on earth, even by means of the nuclear winter McCarthy proposes. But his thought experiment exposes the one terrible fact to which our technological hubris blinds us: our dependence on biological production remains absolute. Civilisation is just a russeting on the skin of the biosphere, never immune from being rubbed against the sleeve of environmental change.

This is the book's power - when the sun is blotted out and the plants stop growing, everything begins to die. The film carries that same bleak vision - other than the few remaining people, you only see two other living things in the film. There is also small, but hugely significant scene where the father (Viggo Mortensen) is looking thought the tiny collection of bits and bobs his son carries with him - among them is a stone-age arrow head. A premonition of where our hubris may lead us. The rapid decent of humanity to utter barbarity also have echoes of John Gray's writings on politics - that human rights are not cumulative and must ever be defended. But the biggest message seared into your brain by the film is of a world where the environment is shattered utterly. Totally. The old man they encounter is a lost prophet, "I know this was coming. The signs were there." He declares, "But most people thought it was a hoax." The warning signs are there...

There is little to reassure us in a world where the future is going to be so unlike the past – indeed, we are now entering a new geological era, in which the major chemical cycles of carbon, water and nitrogen have all been altered immeasurably by human activity. How far will we have to push these planetary stresses for cracks to appear in our modern civilisation, and for the evil within us all to tear once more across the land? ... If we ever do push the planet so far that the majority of the human race is left without food or water in uninhabitable areas, what will it feel like to be one of the starving millions? Initially we might all come together in adversity, in a kind of global blitz spirit. McCarthy admits this possibility: at first, others had "come to help" the survivors. But "within a year there were fires on the ridges and deranged chanting. The screams of the murdered. By day, the dead impaled on spikes along the road." We won't stay united for long.

How can anyone prepare for this kind of outcome? Over the years, [Mark Lynas, author on global warming, has] received many emails from people asking where they might need to set up home if runaway global warming begins. New Zealand, perhaps? Norway? I'm sure all the questioners share the same survivalist fantasy, the one where they take their family into the hills and survive on a small farmstead, stockpiling rice and baked beans and keeping a loaded rifle by the well-guarded front door. The Road exposes even this limited comfort as being futile: sooner or later the ammunition will run out, the pounding on the door will begin to splinter away the hinges, and the ravening, faceless horde will pour in. If the worst happens the truth is that there is nowhere to hide, and the road itself will offer no comforts. Of that we can be certain.

The only thing the film missed was the narration of the last paragraph of the book - it's not a plot twist at all, but a hunting lament who's meaning is left to the reader to interpret...

"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Science for Non-Scientists: Part 1 - Method

During debates on climate change I am constantly disappointed to see how many people don't understand the most basic points of science. A lack of understanding means unscrupulous nasties will use your ignorance to push their own agenda on you. So I thought I would do something about it - share a little knowledge... As so much of modern life and politics relates back to science in one form or another, it is vital to understand it. As the old saying goes - knowledge is power - so time to power-up. This is the first of a series of posts covering science and they are aimed at those who don't get it, are afraid to ask in case they are made to feel stupid, missed it at school or just switch off when they hear 'here comes the science bit...' Now I'm not expert in this - and I hope that will mean I can communicate the core ideas of science a little better than some of the boffins.

So I am going to start with the most important bit - the scientific method. The scientific method exists because humans are fallible. Very fallible. We let our bias and emotion cloud our judgements. We can miss important points, we can lie and cheat and push secret agendas. The scientific method exists for all of these reasons and more. The scientific method is a big topic and like any area of science has lots of theories and counter theories but they all based around the simple premiss; prove it!

The whole point of the scientific method is to set-out some ground rules for proof. This is important; for example, if you wanted to know who the best football team in the world is - you could watch the World Cup. This competition matters because the rules under which all the teams complete are the same. Prove it? OK, try this thought experiment; imagine that we change the rules so that African teams can now field a twice the number of players as the rest, European teams can have two goalies, Asian teams can use their hands without penalty and teams from the Americas can ignore red cards.

Before the rule change, the World Cup was not a perfect answer (the better team might have had a bad day or be missing key players due to injury or not had good access to training facilities), but it is a pretty safe bet that the team who wins are probably one of the, if not the, best team in the world. By contrast, after the rule change, there is no way we can say the winning team was the best because the winning team was, in effect, playing a different version of football from most of it's rivals.

This is the same idea for science; that when a scientist does an experiment to prove or disprove something, that there is a level playing field that allows others to verify that proof. These rules include;

- Telling us how you did your experiment. This is important because I might want to run the same experiment to check your results. I can only do this fairly if you've given me the right instructions on how you did it.

- The end result has to be able to predict something. That means that the results have to give us an insight. Take gravity for example - the Theory of Gravity predicts that when we drop something, it falls to the ground. The only way to be 100% certain would be to pick up every single thing and drop it to see what happens. Since that is impossible, we can run an experiment of picking up 100 things, dropping them and since all of them fell to the ground, we can then use this result to predict that if you drop something - it will fall to the ground.

- It has got to be disprovable. Why? If I said I has psychic powers and could move objects with my mind, you might want to proof. But if I then told you my powers only worked when nobody else is watching; you'd be sceptical. You'd be right to be sceptical because my claims can't be disproved - does not mean it's not true, just that it can't be proved and so is not valid.

- The proof you got has to be measurable in a meaningful way. This also relates to the above; if the experiment relies on something subjective, then it can't be repeated as an experiment. If it can't be repeated then it can't be proved and so is not valid.

I hope this explains things somewhat. You might have noticed that this method leaves doubt - it does. Science is essentially a way of managing doubt. Very rarely does something end up as 'the truth' in science - most often it ends up as 'the truth until evidence arrives to disprove it'. This is also key to understanding science - that whatever our prejudices, this idea of the scientific method is so that, in the end, the truth will out.

Climate Hypocrisy

This is a great post on the subject of 'Climate Hypocrisy':

Deniers of climate change like to castigate Al Gore and others for the supposed hypocrisy of preaching the benefits of CO2 reductions while flying on jets, living in big houses, etc. I won't defend the big house (although Gore did respond to accusations by installing renewable energy onsite), but there's no problem with jetting around to climate conferences, because those trips result in net CO2 reductions.

But those are technicalities. The real problem with gloating over climate activists' small specks of hypocrisy is that it ignores the hypocritical planks inherent in the philosophical underpinnings of opposition to CO2 reductions. Here are some ways in which deniers are hypocritical (feel free to add suggestions in the comments):

The article then goes on to list examples - loads of them. Here's a few I really like...

2. They argue that siting problems (e.g. urban heat island) render temperature data useless, while simultaneously arguing that adjusting for those problems constitutes scientific fraud/ fudging the data.

4. They advocate skepticism and oppose proclamations that "the science is certain," while simultaneously claiming certainty that all climate science is one big hoax.

5. They argued that averting a 1% chance of catastrophic terrorist attacks justified spending $100 billion a year on the Iraq war, but oppose investing billions of dollars per year in averting a much higher risk of catastrophic climate change. (see this Tom Friedman article)

6. They said the US did not need a permission slip from other countries to go to war in Iraq, but don't want to act on climate change until poor countries have done so.

7. They claim that the US temperature record is unreliable when it reports warm temperatures, but have no problems using the US temperature to report cool temperatures.

8. They say it is arrogant and "elitist" for climatologists to defend their science, but have no problems with the arrogance of laypeople questioning a science they have never studied.

11. They call themselves "conservatives" but oppose efforts at conservation.

13. They say it's unwise to make decisions off of uncertain climate models, while basing their own predictions of economic doom off of uncertain economic models (WAG).

15. They removed regulation from banks in the name of free markets, then spent trillions of dollars to rescue banks because they were too big to fail. But they refuse to spend smaller amounts on the greater damage of climate change, even though it's more important that the planet not be allowed to fail (anonymous).

16. They say 30 years is too short a time to conclude there's a global warming trend, but base their own claims of "global cooling" on a 10-year trend (Tony O'Brien).

19. They demand more science/research before we can make a decision, then oppose funding for that research (Tony O'Brien).

20. They never criticise each other even when taking opposite sides. Just ignore the discrepancies and charge ahead. When one argument looses traction recycle an old one, e.g. they say it's the sun causing global warming, and when the sun cools down they say it's cosmic rays (Tony O'Brien)

23. They call their opponents "alarmists", but warn of impending economic doom should we try do anything to counteract AGW (anonymous).

25. They plead for balance and respect of dissenting opinions, and yet they continually insult people who disagree with them. (Steve Carson) [e.g. "Leftists, Communists, eliteists snakes that prey on our children in their quest to take over the world."]

26. They say, "You can't trust proxy data so the hockey stick is wrong," but then they claim "Loehle's reconstruction shows the Medieval Warm Period is warmer than today!" (Prof. Mandia) [One of my favourites]

28. They claim that temperature data that shows warming cannot be trusted because it has been fraudulently adjusted, but then use that same data when it shows temporary cooling to say that "observations prove the models' predictions wrong." (WAG)

29. They say climate scientist have a "bad scientific attitude", never criticising each other. And when there is a scientific discussion they claim it proves that "the science is not settled". (Anonymous)

30. They demand full disclosure of data and code from scientists who agree with the IPCC's conclusions; and yet, when asked for their code or data to replicate denier studies, they try every weasel way to avoid sharing code and data (see Scafetta's dodging at RC) (True Skeptic)

31. They challenge the scientific consensus and demand empirical "proof" that it is correct, yet at the same time insist that they don't have to prove anything themselves. "I'm just asking questions!" (Rumble)

32. They oppose government regulation to control CO2 emissions, improve fossil fuel efficiency, encourage energy conservation and encourge research into and development of renewable energy, because that would be "too much government intervention in people's lives." Yet by and large they are the same people who will pass laws to prevent/regulate abortion, gay marriage. (Anonymous)

37. They say it's disingenuous to point to extreme weather events (Hurricane Katrina, wild fires, etc.) as evidence of warming, but crow joyously over every cold weather event ("it's snowing in Texas!). (WAG)

38. They point to the "decline" in tree-ring proxy data as evidence that Michael Mann is covering up cooling temperatures, but criticize proxies as unreliable when they show past temperatures cooler than today's (and when temps look warmer in the past, they accept the proxy data as reliable again). (WAG)

39. They say the US can't act on greenhouse gas reductions until other countries agree to, and then fly to Copenhagen to try to prevent other countries from acting (WAG)

43. Deniers claim that anthropogenic global warming is a partisan, political line rather than legitimate science, and then argue against it by citing talking heads and press releases from industry front-groups, or "free market" think-tanks. (Wheels)

44. Taking as gospel truth sources which up until that moment they had previously castigated as never to be trusted (e.g. last year's Pravda article claiming the Sun was the cause of GW) (Sergei Rostov)

47. They say there hasn't been any warming, but later they explain the warming with mechamism different than CO2. (Jesús)

48. They explain the warming with mutually exclusive theories (eg. cloud albedo, sun, ocean currents...)

And here's a few of my own...

- They claim the peer review process is broken and yet cite peer reviewed studies as proof when it suits them.
- They claim any error in studies showing evidence of global warming means the whole theory is wrong and yet when their own lines of evidence collapse, that does not impact their theory.
- They claim to be stopping a push to a big brother state ignoring the risk that if they are wrong, then collapsing states almost always fall into extremist governments.
- They claim that they are sticking up for liberty and against big government while opposing the development of markets and technologies that would lead to micro-generation and so free us from the existing state control of energy.
- They claim to be about 'good' science while quoting people who don't believe in evolution and an expert in the made-up field of 'Orgone Energy' (this is energy from your libedo! As seen in the Cato Institute Ad featuring 'Dr' James DeMeo).
- They claim scientists are fabricating global warming for the research money while ignoring the $1120 million PER DAY the fossil fuel industry stands to loose if controls are put in place.
- Uber-denliast and oil-funded Senator Inhofe uses arguments from paleoclimate to 'disprove' global warming yet is also a Young-Earth creationist who believes the earth was created around 6000BC - well before the data he cites.
- They claim there are '100s of scientists' who disagree with the consensus on global warming yet cite the same tiny handful of paid denialists (like Singer) and non-scientists (like Monkton) over and over.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reading Room: The Eliminationists - How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right

So what is Eliminationism? It is the view that your political opponents are so far beyond the pale that they need to be eliminated (politically growing into physically...) for the health of the body politic as a whole. The book starts with the true and chilling story of a guy going into a church and going postal - shooting people at random - until the congregation there wrestled him to the ground. The shooters justification? The church was full of liberals and liberals are trying to destroy America. It's a powerful opening and the author traces the ideas that motivated the shooter back though right-wing talk radio to far-right groups and conspiracy theorists - where they were born. What he argues is that the far-right has become enmeshed into the Republican Party to such a degree that crazy wacky ideas - the the global warming conspiracy or the 'reconquista' theory (where immigration is part of the plot to take back Texas from the US) - are now not fringe, but mainstream. In effect he is arguing that the kooks are running the asylum. It's a convincing argument and other that a slight diversion into the history of US slavery in the middle (less about Eliminationism and more about white-supremacy) is a well evidenced argument. What the book also lays out is how these crazy-ass ideas become the fertilizer for what the author calls proto-fascism - witness looney anti-Jewish ideas being the glue of the Nazis's rise to power. So what can we do about it? The author argues that we need to be robust is defending our ideas, to not back down. Yes we need to respect the average political opponent, but not in a craven way - and when the talk conspira-loon ideas (from left or right) call them out on it. It is also important to not allow ourselves to be type-cast, as that allows them to place us in a box. I enjoyed the book and it is good on the problems of US media (and to an extend the UK too) but there is not enough on solutions...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some Gigs worth attending....

Here's a couple of dates for your diary...

bristol and south wales hunt sabs, sea shepherd and bristol antifa benefit gig

at the white heart,(whithall road), bristol
6:30-7 doors and £6 on the door

active minds
jesus bruiser
cry havoc
this system kills


Friday 12th Feb, The Croft,117-119 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RW

Bristol Antifa and Bristol ABC present Freedom of Movement: a punk ska hip hop benefit in solidarity with Russian antifascists, raising funds for funeral costs and supporting the family of an antifascist murdered by neo-nazis in Moscow last November. Info here:

Early start - doors 6.30pm, first band on 7.15pm. £6 on the door.

La Fraction (France) - rare appearance of legendary melodic Parisian punk-rock
Left for Dead - classic Kentish cider punx
Jakal - hip hop ska punk from London
Rejected - hardcore street punk from Wales


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Evening Post's 'Exclusive' is a bit... well dull

The Evening Pest today had a huge exclusive; There will be a summer gig in Bristol where the Bootleg Beatles will be performing. Woo - what a scoop. So a group who pretend to be another group are performing in Bristol. I'm bowled over by the non-event of this non-story. Still what do you expect from the Pest - it's owner. The Daily Mail, pretends to be a newspaper.

Call me old fashioned, but is there not an original band playing original music for this event?

Climate Change: What if We're Wrong?

What if the IPCC is wrong on climate change? It could happen - they know it, hence they put a 90% accuracy prediction on their work. This also means that denialists assume that the 10% wrong means no or very little climate change. Which could happen; very, very unlikley given the research we have now, but a possibility.

However there is also the (much more likely) possibility that if IPCC predictions are wrong the other way - where it is a shit-load worse that we thought. This is a very real possibility. See here and here. This scary diagram shows you where the debate is currently being held - and there are two areas that are outside the mainstream debate (except the Express, Telegraph, Mail and a few other papers that like to give space to the tin-foil hat brigade); the cranks on one side but yet on the other side; the worse-than-we-thought side; there are serious thinkers with the knowledge that means this is more than an armchair pundit. That's scary...

Call me alarmist...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Save the Black Swan Radio Special!

Big thanks to Parasite and Anakissed to stepped in with special guest Svengali from Mongrel to talk about the closure of the Black Swan club and music venue in Easton, Bristol and played music from nights/artists who've performed there. I have to say the music in this show is AMAZING - some of the music that has gone down at the Swan over the years is just sublime. Woo! Woo!

The Black Swan – Bristol’s 1 and only underground music venue has been closed due to new licencing laws and we’re here to oppose it! Joining Anakissed and Parasite in the studio is special guest Svengali from Mongrel who is part of the campaign to stop the Swan from closing it’s doors for good. We drop a selection of live sets from artists who played at Toxic Dancehall to give you all a taster of the variety of music you’d be likely to hear at the Swan. We also tell you how you can do your bit to save the now legendary venue.


1. Shitmat – Live @ Toxic Dancehall 3 (24/01/03)
2. End.user – Fear (Hymen)
3. The Bug – Live @ Toxic Dancehall 3 (24/01/03)
4. Bong-Ra – Gideon War (Hydrophonic)
5. Grinderman – Go Tell The Women (Anti-)
6. Himuro Yoshiteru – Hopeless Monsters (Tangram Disc)
7. Broken Note – Crux (Ad Noiseam)
8. Aaron Spectre – Live @ Toxic Dancehall 9 (11/06/05)
9. Krumble – Time To Burn (Death$ucker)

Download/stream the show from here. Also see the links about how you can help the campaign on the same page.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reading Room: No Retreat

Next book - is one I read a while ago - No Retreat by Dave Hann and Steve Tilzey. I get suggested lots of books with political content and often they are worthy in the sense the topic being covered is worthwhile but often a bit depressing and/or argue a case that you agree with. When I first got this book, I was worried about that; I was wrong - it's a great book - even people who don't like political books will enjoy it - the two authors' stories within are fast moving accounts with lots of action that means the reader really enjoys the ride.

This book is about the need for, and accounts of, street fighting against the far-right from the late 60s to the early 90s in the UK. It is in two parts, one by each of the two authors; Dave Hann (who sadly died last year of cancer) and Steve Tilzey. There has been speculation and counter speculation about the authors and what they might have or might not have done. I'm going to suggest that you read their own words; they are clear about what they are doing and why....and they make a strong case.

This is a great read - not only is it a fast-paced and gripping action story, but also carries political weight both in the people the take on and the in-fighting within groups they were part of. Highly recommended.

(PS. There is some audio of one of the authors speaking online here.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monkton: The Best Crank Denial Has....

Global Warming Denialist Lord 'of the Dance' Monckton and geologist (not climatologist) Ian Plimer are doing a speaking tour of Australia pushed by the denialist rags in that country. To kick things of the non-science educated prick Lordy Monckton has published an open letter to the PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd. The rant is an error filled pool of tripe with the biggest error being that Monckton only puts his (wrong) calculations to 2020 - where the difference between the impact of reduced CO2 emissions is tiny. What is wrong with this is that the climate system is full of feedback loops (hence we can't avoid any warming even if we dropped emissions to zero now.) These loops mean that over time the impact increase dramatically. This is a clear case of cherry picking the data (in this case time-scales) and if you want an accesible account of why small changes lead to large impacts, the underlying ideas in James Gleick's popular science book 'Chaos' is good on that or this article.

Back to the tour - guess who is organising it? A coal company with plans to extract 5 billion tonnes of coal. As I said before; How Much is Global Warming Denial Worth? $1120 Million Per Day.

Reading Room: The Carhullan Army

I love reading. I read a lot. This year will be no exception (I hope!). But I also thought I'd like to share my reading list with others and hope that people share their back with me (either by emailing me - please put 'reading room' in the title so I can spot it in the spam, comments or blogging your own reads..) both fiction and non-fiction.

So to kick things off - I've read The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall. It's a sort of post-apocalyptic novel set in the UK after the collapse of today's civilisation to the twin forces of climate change and peak oil. Out of the collapse, a far-right fascist feudal state controls most of the UK's population centers. Outside their control are the 'badlands' of the countryside. The novel is the narration of a woman who lives in one of these population centers who runs away to join a group of rebel women who live in a refuge established before the fall. The refuge, Carhullan, has evolved into a self-sufficient world of it's own. The novel follows her journey to Carhullan and struggles with the two paths open to the women - to fight the feudal state or sit it out and wait and see.

It is a short, but powerful novel with has echoes of the Handmaiden's Tale. It is well written in the sense the use of language is both evocative but well paced so the story is not buried in prose. The characters and the world they inhabit are believable and well-rounded. It is also powerful stuff - taking on the issue of violence and what it means on a personal level and on a larger stage. The ending (which I won't spoil) is very powerful. In short - a good read.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Denialism on the Couch

Another debate on Bristol Indymedia seems to have come and gone and again follows the same pattern of denialists throwing a hodge-podge of disinformation at the site and it getting refuted point by point. It is the same debate we had in 2005. However this time around, as well as refuting the same of tired talking points, I'm interested in looking at the psychology of denailism (past posts part 1 and part 2). Put simply denailism says much more about the people who expound it that it does about the climate. I want to pick apart a couple of examples...put the comments on the couch...

In the recent debate one of the commentators put forward the ideas that warming might not be so bad and suggested that the Arctic could be a new breadbowl and I replied that the Arctic was a frozen ocean, then another (or possibly the same) poster responded that I was wrong because the original poster was talking about the Arctic tundra, the ring of land that connects to the Arctic ice. Anyway the whole thread (mine included) got hidden - but the thread is not the interesting bit, it is the response of the commenter in question:

One of the "chosen" ones drops a huge bollock and look what happens.
The slate is wiped clean.
You know BIM as a real source of debate discussion and news really sucks.
But you know that anyway don't you.
That is why this will get hidden.

What is being alleged (which is complete crap) is that the Bristol Indymedia's comment policy has been trashed by a volunteer to protect me from the alleged 'huge bollock'. I was going to rant about how crazy a conspiracy this is - but then I realised - when you think that ten of thousands of scientists are engaged in a huge conspiracy over global warming, believing in a mini-conspiracy over on Bristol Indymedia is pretty minor. Bristol Indymedia was subject to the same allegations over the email hack where denialists claimed their view point was being denied. It reminds me of a very interesting point about conspiracy theories;

Conspiracy authors almost never concede even the hypothetical possibility that their paradigm might be flawed in some fundamental respect. Furthermore, conspiracy authors/researchers don't simply allege that a critic or skeptic is mistaken in their viewpoint. Instead, they almost always assert that critics or skeptics facilitate the success of evil cabals who consciously are working to destroy our way of life.

Is that not what we've got here? Myself and the volunteer who his the comments, indeed Bristol Indymedia itself is part of the New World Order! How cool is that! When do I get to meet the lizard-overlords?

Now on to another commenter from the same thread. He popped to to suggest that a NASA press-release about the cooling of the troposphere showed the climate was cooling. The staggering thing is that he posted a doctored press release that cut out a paragraph that pointed out the cooling of the troposphere was predicted by the theory of global warming and does in no way mean cooling of the climate - quite the opposite. So I pointed this out to him. The response of the poster? Very rant and attack (under a different name, but clearly the same man) directed at me;

Accept the word of governments whilst making out you are an Anarchist?
Create your own modern day Inquisition to decry anyone who challenges you views to be akin to holocaust deniers or in the pay of an oil company!
It’s a good game almost as good as bingo – you just have to leave you moral compass at home.

So for pointing out the missing bit of information, by debating I become 'modern day Inquisition'? Very interesting. Has echoes of the point above but reminded me of this; a US christian group posted a list of the top 10 anti-christian attacks of 2009 - and one of those is a bit odd to say the least...

7. The overt homosexual participation in Obama’s presidential inaugural events by “Bishop” Vickie Eugene Robinson, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D. C., and a homosexual marching band.

Interesting - simply the presence of people you don't agree with is somehow a form of oppression. This also seems to be what our denialist poster is saysing; by pointing out where I am wrong you are repressing me.

How odd is that? But when you think that ten of thousands of scientists are engaged in a huge conspiracy over global warming, this is all minor shit...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Global Warming Denial Bingo – A fun game for all the family!

Got an uncle who keeps banging on about the global warming hoax every time there is a family gathering? Does your Granddad read the Daily Express and insist on pointing out ’sceptical’ arguments at dinner? Seen one too many online debates with the same old-same old zombie arguments that global warming is not happening/is happening but is caused by the sun, volcanoes or communists? Turn this tiresome pseudo-science into fun with Global Warming Denial Bingo!

Global Warming Denial Bingo (A fun game for all the family!)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

What Happended to the Bristol Blogger?

Posted on Bristol Indymedia was the following:

The BristolBlogger site has been pulled by Wordpress without explanation

You can post and ask Wordpress's man for "user engagement and retention" about it here:

ut they're not saying much. Apparently Mr Kim "channels his love for the Internet and the world into the growth of the hardest-working community in blogging". Ho hum.

What’s happened to the Bristol Blogger? Would be nice to know what has happened? Bring the blog back! And there was me thinking of moving from Google’s Blogger to WordPress...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Errrr What Happened to the Conspiracy?

I had been told by climate change denialists that the email hack, Swifthack, had blown open the whole global warming hoax and it was all over now... except that it didn't and it's isn't because what the denial approach to science misses it that you still need evidence - emails showing a conspiracy rather than the to-and-fro of everyday science. This was confirmed by an AP analysis of every single email.

Now the denialists have gone and admitted (in a round about way) that the email hack was not the solution to the email: Torygraph columnist James 'I know Fuck All About Science But I know A Communist Plot When I Smell It' Delingpole continues to drag that paper's science coverage into the gutter, shit on it, piss on it and shove it back into the middle ages, has written:

As I said yesterday, one of our jobs this year is to wipe the complacent smiles off the smug faces of the lobbyists, “experts”, “scientists”, politicians and activists pushing AGW.

Hang on Mr Delingpole, I though that is what the email hack had done? I guess not... Part of this 2010 campaign involves sending emails to universities that employ climate scientists fishing for 'fraud' in grants given. I though that is what the email hack had done? I guess not...

In summary, this is the level the denial camp are at - essential fishing around for dirt on their opponents. If climate was a scam all the well funded denial lobby has to do is fund a few science missions to the Arctic and gather their own ice-core samples, put up their own weather balloons and gather data etc - in summary fund some real science - problem is that they know this will just gather more evidence for AGW - so they sniff looking for scraps of shit to throw instead.

Bit sad really.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Free Writings Online

I've just uploaded to a few documents that I have written - feel free to do as you please with them...


Strategic Media Planning v3

Briefing Sustainable Dev


Friday, January 01, 2010

Understanding the Mind of the Denialist II - The Ratchet Hypothesis

Following on from my past look at understanding the mind of a denialist - another thought occured to me that I'd like to share - the Ratchet Hypothesis. In discussions with denialists you often see the idea that the whole global warming thing is about to collapse. Here's a typical example:

And with Copenhagen just around the corner – there will be GOOD journalists NOT in the pay/pocket of the spin loving gravy train riding so called “scientists” that will, right now be gearing up to ask the questions that NEED to be asked.

Now compare this predication to the actual press reports and google searches on the email hack story the denialists like to call 'climategate' (but I think swifthack is a better title). What you can see on Google Trends is a brief spike in interest and then a rapid drop-off (the top bit is internet searches and the bottom bit is articles in Google's news aggregation). You can clearly see that the impending collapse is nowhere to be seen; the news and people's searches have moved on.

So what's going on psychologically here? I think that it might be that the self-enclosed theory of the climate conspiracy also acts like a ratchet - a device that only allows movement in one way. So when evidence that disputes their idea arrives (as it does weekly) the 'self-sealing' mental construct that thy have built simply dismisses it:

The substantive content of a political conspiracy theory is often completely irrelevant to the underlying purpose of the theory and, in any event, there is no possible way to refute or disprove most such theories to the satisfaction of its authors or adherents because most political conspiracy theories are constructed to be self-sealing so that contradictory data can be instantly dismissed, ignored, or de-valued.

Yet when news arrives that seems to back their ideas - mentally, the theory moves forward. This means for the denialist, it only ever moves forward. So to the denialist must seem that with so much 'evidence' for the huge hoax accumulated, it must break into the concious of the mainstream any time now. As each new piece of denialist propaganda arrives, so the denialist thinks, "This is straw that will finally break the camel back of AGW..."

Yet just like tomorrow, that day never seems to come. I am calling this bit of the mental construct, the Ratchet Hypothesis.

(Interestingly is is not only climate change denailism that we see this 'about to collapse' idea - it is also prevalent in it's pseudo-science cousin, creationism).