JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The Skeptics Handbook II

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GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Maurice Newman: conservatives outsmarted — they apologise where they should demand apologies

A wake up call from Maurice Newman. The gravy train of bigger and bigger government is grinding to its inevitable halt, and Greece is the destination the Western Express is headed for. Those who promised that big-government could solve everything have bought votes, while using schools and universities to train a generation to hate free market competition. Young people were raised to blame the system and demand the handout, rather than take responsibility. The soft-west has gone too far left. The weak right has rolled over and tries to be a mini-left, settling for being the team B of “progressivism”. Newman’s best line is that the conservatives apologize where they should demand apologies. So true.

To illustrate dismal standards in science and the media, Newman cites joannenova.com.au (thanks Maurice), and thousands more Australians find out a small part of the scandalous failure of academia (specifically, Lewandowsky at UWA) and the ABC. The stories he refers too are: “Lewandowsky peer reviewed study includes someone 32,757 years old” and the “ABC got it wrong, BOM not concerned with Australian public being misinformed“. Ken Stewart at Kenskingdom deserves credit for catching out the ABC and BOM. Readers, when you want to throw your shoe [...]

Volatility from Vega – Why math models can’t predict the future

Guest post by Eric Worrall

How can we predict the climate, when we can’t even predict financial markets?

US Subprime House Price Crash

Financial markets are a high stakes battle between teams of skilled traders, armed with powerful computers. [In a perfect market] The factors that affect market prices are well known, and for mathematicians, surprisingly simple to describe. Yet with all this underlying simplicity, traders don’t attempt to predict the future, because they know from bitter experience that predicting the future is futile. Instead, they use their models to gain a deeper understanding of the present.

Say you are trading financial options. Options are a right to buy or sell an underlying commodity (gold, shares in a company, tons of beef, whatever) at a future point in time, for an agreed price. The exact rules vary in different places, but essentially – your option gives you the right to buy an ounce of gold in one month, say,  for $1000.

If so, and the price of gold is $1,200 per ounce, then your option is worth $200, right?

Wrong. In one month, the price of gold might be $800, in which case your option is worthless – [...]

Peter Spencer update: In court today former Environment Minister Kemp. Plus Bob Katter attends

Today is a big day for the trial of Peter Spencer versus the Commonwealth with Dr David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage in 2003, appearing as a witness. Bob Katter will give  a press conference. Dr Alan Moran, former IPA director will appear too. See times and details below. Public  are welcome.

The background: Peter Spencer versus the Commonwealth and why it’s potentially “bigger than Mabo”

Peter Spencer is the farmer in New South Wales who bought a farm and then lost 80% of it when rules changed to stop people clearing native vegetation. Unable to use most of his property, but still owing money on the mortgage for it, he was bankrupted. He broke no law, but lost his life’s work. Farmers all around Australia lost billions of dollars in assets but at the same time the federal government gained billions of dollars in carbon credits and met our Kyoto requirements by counting the carbon in the vegetation that was locked away.

The implications of this case apply to land holders across the continent. Indeed, if any governments can arbitrarily take assets without paying, or force a small minority to bear the burden of [...]

UK voters tired of “big” or “bigger” government. UKIP wins again!

Government, Opposition, what’s the difference? It’s all become shades of “bigness”.  With the UK Big-Government orbiting in the  shadow of the Mega-Government in the EU, is it any wonder an alternative had to spring forth? And Lo…

In case you haven’t heard, Mr Reckless left the UK Tories, joined UKIP (the UK Independence Party) and just won the byelection becoming UKIP’s second member of Parliament. It surprised quite a lot of people.  Analysts are abuzz: the electorate was not as old or white as the first seat UKIP won, and it was ranked 271st on the list of seats UKIP “might win”. Labor won just 16% of the vote.

People seem to like the idea of small government, lower taxes, and politicians who don’t promise to change the weather. Who would have thought?

Perhaps the mighty English will one day even win the right to buy powerful hairdryers, and serious vacuums? We dare hope!

BBC News

UKIP’s victory was in many ways even more impressive than their triumph in Clacton. The ease with which they demolished a 9,000 Tory majority was striking and this after the Conservatives had strained every sinew to halt the UKIP bandwagon.

[...]

Peter Spencer versus The Commonwealth — starts Monday in the Federal Court. Help Needed!

It’s a trial described as potentially “bigger than Mabo”

Peter Spencer’s story is one I didn’t think could happen in Australia. He is the farmer in New South Wales who bought a farm and then lost 80% of it when rules changed to stop people clearing native vegetation. Unable to use most of his property, he was slowly bankrupted. Though he broke no law, he lost his life’s work and his beloved farm in late 2010. There was no way out. He couldn’t sell the property — who would buy a piece of land that could not be used? Farmers all around Australia lost billions of dollars in assets as the value of their land and produce declined. The legality of this is finally being tested in the Federal Court in Sydney starting this Monday, November 24, and continuing for the next three weeks. Hold your breath. This could be an enormous case, with implications for land holders across the continent.

Much of his farm was native forest. This is the northern edge of Spencer’s property (Saarahnlee)

The Federal Government can’t take your assets  without paying, but the state governments can

The Native Vegetation Acts were brought in by [...]

Desal: no water provided but Victorian families pay $450pa for bikies and drunks

The scale of government waste is spectacular, even on a global scale. Desalination in Victoria, Australia, might be the worst example, per capita, of climate waste anywhere in the world. I challenge foreign readers to outdo it.

With all the wisdom of the best Soviet-style governance, giant desalination plants on the east coast of Australia were built because of prophecies of drought. Experts said the rain wouldn’t return and the dams wouldn’t fill. Billions of dollars later, the plants were barely finished when the rain returned and the dams filled. Most of Australia’s desal plants were mothballed.

The Labor Party in Victoria signed a $22.5 billion contract over 28 years for water that could be delivered almost entirely during the “wet” 30 year part of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation when it isn’t really needed. The plant also cost $3.5 billion to build, is plagued by leaks, and so far has provided zero litres of emergency water.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Victorians were paying $1.8 million a day for the desalination plant to sit idle.

That works out as $113 per man, woman, and child in Victoria, or $450 per year for a family of four, paid to the [...]

Company stops Ebola, Bureaucracy puts it on a plane

Compare the response of The Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia to the Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

The rubber plantation has 8,000 workers with 71,000 dependents. It  is an hour north-east of Monrovia, surrounded by Ebola outbreaks. The virus arrived on the plantation in March. Knowing that the UN and the Liberian government were not going to save them, the managers sat around a rubber tree and googled “Ebola” and learned on the run instead. They turned shipping containers into isolation units, trucks into ambulances, and chemical cleaning suits into “haz-mat” gear. They trained cleaners, and teachers, they blocked visitors, and over the next five months dealt with 71 infections, but by early October were clear of the virus. There were only 17 survivors (the same 70% mortality rate as elsewhere). But without good management, there could have been so many more deaths.

In contrast, the nanny-state takes a good brain and stops it thinking. In Texas,  trained health professionals were caught unprepared, following inadequate protocols they assumed were good enough, and even risking their own lives. A  nurse who cared for a dying Ebola patient — and knew how bad Ebola could be — still needed to phone someone to [...]

EU to change climate with hair dryers, kettles, lawn mowers

You, foolish plebian, thought that a hair dryer was for drying hair. Not so. The purpose of a hair dryer is to change the climate. Let’s stop the storms by slow-mowing the lawn. That sort of thing…

Thus and verily has the EU announced that high-power appliances may now be banned.

[Telegraph]

EU to ban high-energy hair dryers, smartphones and kettles

European Union to ban dozens of high-wattage household electrical appliances in follow-up to controversial ban on powerful vacuum cleaners

A study ordered by the European Commission, currently in draft form, has identified up to 30 electrical appliances including lawn mowers, smart phones and kettles that could be covered by the EU’s Ecodesign directive outlawing high-wattage devices.

Serfs in the EU will probably spend longer drying their hair, and more time waiting for the kettle to boil  in a quest to produce slightly less CO2. This is in the hope that less CO2 might cool a world that hasn’t really warmed for a decade and a half. It’s a case of not so much blow-drying, and more slow-drying. Likewise, stupid punters may wonder how a lower power kettle can reduce emissions. The laws of [...]

EU bans good vacuum cleaners — next big kettles, hot irons?

The Climate Police are coming.

In order to cool the global climate, the European Commission has decided, with infinite wisdom, that companies shall no longer be allowed to make or import vacuums with motors above 1600 watts — which is more than half of the vacuums on the market. These are climate-dangerous machines. They couldn’t just put a health warning with pics of drowning polar bears on the 2200W ones. They must be Verboten! The new rules start on September 1st. I’m sure if they could, they’d arrange a buy-back and amnesty program for high powered vacuums too.

In EUspeak, vacuums are about to get better! Apparently, they will use less energy, save money and pick up more dust too, all that was needed was regulation. (Why didn’t they think of it before?)

The Telegraph

Consumers warned to “act quickly” before top-rated powerful vacuum cleaners sell out forever

The European Commission claims that its new rules, which are intended to help tackle climate change by cutting Europe’s energy usage, will mean consumers “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”.

The first vacuum was made in 1860. So after 150 years of fine tuning vacuum motors, at last the gifted bureaucrat [...]

Get rid of the rogue EPA and pointless “climate” policies. Governments can’t change the weather.

One day people will marvel that turn of the century governments thought they could control the climate, and needed to issue decrees about how much “change” in the weather they would allow.

From different continents come two articles with a similar theme. It’s time to dump the EPA and pointless “Climate” policies.

The US should get rid of the federal EPA

Alan Caruba and Jay Lehr tell us how it is. The EPA is a rogue tool of liberal activitists.

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which, have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private [...]