Monday, June 30, 2008

Amercian Spectator Hosting Badware...Again?

Search for the Conservative Magazine "The American Spectator" in Google and you get the following warning: "this site may harm your computer". It is what Google tells you if the pages in question are suspected of harboring "malware". In this case, Google reports:

Of the 97 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 2 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 06/29/2008, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 06/24/2008.

Malicious software includes 1 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 4 new processes on the target machine.

The Spectator has been tagged for this twice in the last six months. Hilariously enough, given the magazine's right-wing ideology, these warnings are often generated after third party hackers, working out of Panama or the former Soviet Union, have added malicious code to legitimate sites. Cold war redux, anyone?

A "scripting exploit", by the by, is this.

What Is It?

It is NOT photoshopped. Answer here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Peter A. Nelson And His Lettuce Fetish

Peter A. Nelson, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, has achieved a certain level of notoriety lately for being a carrier of Tory water in their attack on the Dion Green Shift.

Specifically, he has argued that:

Transportation costs would rise with increased fuel costs as a result of carbon taxes, prices of consumer goods and food would rise, inflation would then in turn rise.

The average consumer would see this rise in the form of paying $8 for a head of lettuce at your local grocery store.

How do you like them apples, eh? Except that last year when Maine considered running a toll road through the state to the Canadian Border, he argued that

We cannot continue to discuss Atlantica, Atlantic Gateway or Self Sufficiency until we resolve the issues around transportation infrastructure in and out of the region and the rising costs of transportation which are causing Central Canadian shippers, producers and manufacturers to send their goods to higher population areas along the US eastern seaboard and away from Canada’s east coast in other words we are headed for two things in Atlantic Canada, one being that it will soon cost $8.00 for a head of lettuce in Newfoundland and secondly that we will be able to buy any pair of shoes we want in the region as long as they are black oxfords!

So now we're at $16 a head. But there's more! Yesterday, on the Trucknews website, Mr. Nelson argued that recent increases to fuel surcharges levied by Marine Atlantic would have even more deleterious effects:

In short, a couple of years from now you will be able to buy any pair of shoes you want in Newfoundland as long as they are brown oxfords. The region-wide impact will be this: as manufacturers, producers and shippers pull back from Newfoundland, it then becomes very easy to stop shipping to other costly and less populated areas in Atlantic Canada like Cape Breton, southern Nova Scotia and northern New Brunswick," adding that the day of the $10 head of lettuce in Atlantic Canada is not far away.

So now we're up to $26 for a head of lettuce in Atlantic Canada, and a severe shoe shortage!

A couple of things in conclusion: 1) Mr. Nelson should get some new material, and 2) Dion has been lucky thus far in the quality of his Green Shift opponents. He's going to need to remain lucky, however, if every time he tries to explain The Shift he generates headlines like this one.

h/t Calgary Grit.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Steyn Decision: Offensive, Not Hate

The full text can be found here. The relevant bits:

The Steyn article discusses changing global demographics and other factors that the author describes as contributing to an eventual ascendancy of Muslims in the 'developed world', a prospect that the author fears for various reasons described in the article. The writing is polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Overall, however, the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature as defined by the Supreme Court in the Taylor decision. Considering the purpose and scope of section 13 (1), and taking into account that an interpretation of s. 13 (1) must be consistent with the minimal impairment of free speech, there is no reasonable basis in the evidence to warrant the appointment of a Tribunal.

For these reasons, this complaint is dismissed.

All of which should be profoundly unsurprising to anyone who followed the complaint without an interest in self-martyrdom.

But--calculated to offend?--that oughtta be enough to have Macleans' PAP subsidy revoked. When Heritage Canada responds to my torrid emails inquiring as to how to launch a complaint, Kenneth Whyte and Mark Steyn and co. will have to start buying their own stamps.

The Seed Don't Fall

...too far from the tree.

From David Ball

I am the eldest son of Dr. Tim Ball. I have been involved with this 'debate' my entire life. I cannot even watch television any longer due to the preponderance of misinformation being blasted at us by the media. My father studied the weather records form Churchill and YorkFactory (Hudson's Bay) from 1605 through to 1951."

It is an amazing record of weather and hardship. Incredible science being done even then. The Hudson's Bay company was doing global experiments in the late 1700's. One in particular was to map the transit of Venus and involved James Cook, Mason and Dixon, and the men stationed on Hudson's Bay. They kept impeccable records, rivaling weather stations today!!

My point is that no one is listening to the real scientist on this subject.

It's okay I suppose to admire your daddy. Funny how this climate change denial thing seems to run in families.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Macleans Magazine Loses Its CHRC Complaint winning its CHRC complaint! Read the new release! They're pissed! Yo Mark! Kenneth! Time to dismantle the old crucifixes and go home.

Mind you there's still the BCHRC version of this complaint going, and therefore one more chance at glorious martyrdom, but I suspect Bourrie's gonna owe me a big $20. Start saving your pennies, Mark.

The Case Of The Edgy Comic Vs. The Raunchy Lesbo Radfems, Revisited

I wrote yesterday about the ongoing case of Pardy v. Earle and others , in which two Lesbians have taken Comedian Guy Earle and Zesty Food Services to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal because Earle gave them a hard time at a comedy club operating out of Zesty's Restaurant (now known as Zawa).

Yesterday, this case looked like a bit of HRT over-reach, with Mr. Earle under the gun merely for telling jokes and making rude remarks. However, having read the decision that has sent this case to the tribunal, I am no longer so sure. It states:

[3] Ms. Pardy alleges that she was discriminated against in the provision of a service, in breach
of s. 8 of the Human Rights Code, on the basis of her sex and sexual orientation.


[11] Ms. Pardy alleges discrimination in the provision of services based on the prohibited grounds of sex and sexual orientation.

[12] Mr. Ismail and his company, Zesty, are public service providers. Mr. Earle, as an employee or agent of Mr. Ismail, or Zesty, was involved in the delivery of the service to Ms. Pardy. These are clearly matters over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction.

And you may ask: so what? Well, firstly, unlike the Steyn case, Pardy vs. Earle is NOT about the mere employment of hateful language. Note that Earle is being charged under Section 8 of the B.C. Human Rights Code, which is entitled "Discrimination in accommodation, service and facility". The language is quite dissimilar to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which governs hate messages. Now, the B.C. code does indeed have a section 13 doppelganger; it is section 7, which covers "Discriminatory publication ", and indeed that is the section of the code that Steyn allegedly violated.

So what does this difference amount to? Well, I am not a lawyer, but I am going to attempt an explanation anyhow.

Imagine our two lesbians wander into the comedy club, pay their cover and buy their drinks, and find themselves listening to a cheap Andrew Dice Clayton knock-off, who is making crude anti-lesbian jokes to the audience in general. Later they leave, and as they leave one of the comedy club patrons says something nasty. That would be the kind of situation where they might launch a section 7 complaint against the club and comic; they have been exposed to hatred and contempt etc. through the words of the comic. And here we may argue over the free speech implications raised by such a complaint.

On the other hand, imagine the following situation (which I think is closer to the one actually outlined in Pardy v. Earle). Our Lesbians have paid their cover charge (I am assuming Zesty's levied one, though I am not sure of this), paid for their drinks and perhaps food, and then our comedian--an employee or agent of the club--goes off on them personally with an anti-Lesbian tirade, to the point where they can no longer enjoy their beverages (in reality our comedian wound up wearing these beverages). And, in the end our comedian plucks the specs from the nose of one of our lesbians, and breaks them. During all this time, none of the other club patrons were singled out for abuse, nor their eye-glasses smashed. Were the services provided by the comedy club provided to our Lesbians in a discriminatory fashion? That's the question addressed by a section 8 complaint.

Now, there are a lot of caveats here. For one thing, alcohol seems to have played a (somewhat disputed) role in the incident, and there is a kind of comedy club justice where obnoxious hecklers can be subject to a certain amount of abuse. The question to be answered by the tribunal will be: did Earle go too far? (As an interesting aside, the club audience apparently took sides with our two Lesbians and against Earle, walking out on him and booing his tirade).

In any case, the take-away message, I think, is that:

1) The National Post bungled this story by playing up the "hateful remarks" aspect of it at the expense of the "provision of services" aspect, not to mention completely ignoring the physical confrontation that occurred between the comedian and our lesbians. (Imagine you walked into a restaurant, and your waiter abused the hell out of you for being, lets say, Jewish, then busted your specs. A legitimate Human Rights complaint?)

2) WK is wrong about this complaint necessarily being frivolous. And everyone (but me!)is wrong about its being primarily about the limits of free speech.

3) Ezra's post on the matter is another pile of foaming hot spittle.

And finally:

4) Sorry dude, I changed my mind back.

A Fitting Tribute

San Francisco may name sewage treatment plant after Bush

Next time your in San Fran, eat a whack of burritos and launch a massive terror strike against the Bush Monument via the bathroom in your hotel suite.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Comic's Tale

Comic Guy Earle, whose (mildly funny) work can be seen on Youtube here, is being hauled up before the BCHRT for

...peppering two Vancouver lesbians with derogatory comments at a Commercial Drive restaurant.

I haven't heard enough about this case to develop an opinion, but you can watch Earle defending his actions (and offering a few apologies) below on the Dave and Chuck Show (about 12 minutes long):

Seems like a nice enough fellow, and drunken hecklers at comedy shows are a curse upon the planet. But not mentioned in The Province is the fact that, towards the end of the episode, something resembling a "physical confrontation" sort of occurred.

So we shall see.

PS. More background on the original incident here and here.

PPS. The ruling that sends this case to the tribunal is here. Note that the criteria for sending it to the tribunal is that the tribunal chair H. MacNaughton can not rule out the possibility that the complainant will win their case.

Note: Update and disappointment for DP readers here.

I Am Fredrich Nietzsche And I Approve Of This Message

If Philosophers ran for office...

This one has been floating around for awhile, but I think its funny anyway.

h/t CT.

First Fruits Of The Green Shift?

Angus Reid Global Monitor) - The governing Conservative party remains ahead in Canada’s political scene, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies released by the Toronto Star. 33 per cent of respondents would vote for the Tories in the next federal election, while 30 per cent would support the opposition Liberal party

Steve got an early look at this poll and has done his usual excellent job with it, so let me just note that the poll was done (online) from June 23rd to 24th, or post Green Shift announcement. Some of the Lib. gains can therefore almost certainly attributed to the unveiling of the new plan. The poll also notes that a minor bounce-back in Dion's fairly dismal personal numbers can be associated with the plan.

Poll is available as .pdf here. Although Steve seems to have seen material not generally available, so definitely give him a read.

PS. Yes I have in the past questioned the methodology of AR online polls. Clearly, clearly, they have changed their ways so as to get a more scientific result.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Scrap This Part Of The Green Plan

From the Liberal Party booklet:

Introduce a new, universal child tax benefit worth $350 per child, per year, on top of all existing child benefits. This will provide direct financial assistance to Canadian families whether or not they pay any income taxes.

This, I think, is the bit Thomas Aquino is talking about when he says:

"There are a number of good things in the Dion plan, no question about it, but one of my major concerns . . . is that the idea of using environmental taxes to deal with social policy that is not related to the environment, in my view, is a bad idea..."

It's also the sliver of truth in the Tories claim that The Green Shift is a "tax grab/redistribution scheme" meant to fund Liberal election promises. Take this provision out and you kill their best argument; you also presumably can set the carbon tax rate lower, as you won't need the cash to cut everyone with a kid a $350 cheque.

Fecund Females Make For Gay Guys!

...A Darwinian explanation of male homosexuality.

The findings suggest that the proportion of male homosexuals may signal a corresponding proportion of females with higher fecundity. Consequently, these factors always contribute, all else being equal, a positive net increase of the fecundity of the whole population, when compared to populations in which such factors are lower or absent. This increase grows as the population baseline fecundity decreases; this means that the genes influencing male homosexuality end up playing the role of a buffer effect on any external factors lowering the overall fecundity of the whole population.

Can't say I totally understand this, but it seems that the "gay gene", when it appears in women, increases their fecundity to the point where this fertility boost more than compensates for the lack of offspring fathered by gay men, and keeps the “gay” genetic factors in circulation.

Congrats, fellas! You've officially been dubbed an "evolutionary by-product".

Deep In The Heart Of Ottawa

...sits the National House Of Prayer, lodged in an abandoned convent.
Another in X-NDP MP Dennis Gruendling's excellent series on the intersection of "Pulpit and Politics" in Canada. In this edition he teases out the agenda behind NHOP. Who are they praying for, in other words? Here's a sampling:

The most prayed for piece of legislation in 2008 has been MP Ken Epp’s Bill C-484 (The Unborn Victims of Crime Act), which would create a separate offence for killing or injuring a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman.
Earlier in 2008 another blog entry requested prayers for passage of Bill C-2, the federal government’s anti-crime bill.
And of course my favorite:

Another entry requested prayers for “a total overhaul or abolition of the current human rights councils in this country” and referred readers to conservative pundit Ezra Levant’s articles for further information. The case provoking the prayer request involves a human rights complaint into comments made about Muslims by writer Mark Steyn in Macleans magazine.

It is astounding, frankly, how much time and effort Canadian Conservatives are wasting over this issue. For one thing, the only real political chess piece on the board now, or at any time in the near future, is M-446 which, being a private member's motion, rather than a bill, has zero in the way of consequences.

And perhaps this explains the Tories inaction over the course of the past Parliamentary session. They look to their political base and they see madness. They scour the realm of the doable, and see nothing that can appease their political base, and much (like adopting a real climate change plan) that will inflame them. Hence the waffling and empty posturing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Couillard Stripped, Ran Bordello?

Here's The Babelfish Translation:

A former adviser in immigration made disconcerting revelations on the past of Julie Couillard, affirming that the former boyfriend of Maxime Bernier would have been tenancière of brothel.

Marie-Claude Montpetit explained in interview with the 98.5FM that Julie Couillard would have held two houses of vice in Montreal, one on the street St-Denis and the other on the street Bishop. The young girls who worked there were the immigrant ones coldly arrived.

Mrs. Montpetit also affirmed that Julie Couillard had been naked dancer in an establishment of the downtown area, and that it is not by chance that it met Maxime Bernier.

Here is the original French.

Tenancière translates as "Madam".

Frankly, I may have to revise my opinion of the Liberals as the sexxxiest political party.

Also, does this mean there's pictures out there... somewhere? Its going to be hard to do any work today. Finally, I am not impressed by the capabilities of Babelfish. For example, the correct spelling is "nekkid". As in: "She's Nekkid! Nekkid! Hee hee hee!"

Update: Welcome NN readers. Turns out the "immigration consultant" that made the above claims has credibility issues of his own.

Lorne Gunter Rebrands

When you're demanding free-speech for bigots, and a column of yours appears telling appointees of the Canadian Wheat Board to "remain silent", you might logically be accused of hypocrisy. What do you do? If you're Lorne Gunter, you re-title the piece "Release farmers from the bondage of the Canadian Wheat Board" and slap it up on your blog. Hey Presto! Once a censor, now a liberator. Not that the content of the piece has changed.

Nice to know you're reading this, Lorne. And just remember: I made you dance for me once, monkey boy, I can do it again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jesus Saved The Martians

FUNES: It is possible. Until now we have had no proof. But certainly in a universe so big this hypothesis [Intelligent Extraterrestrials] cannot be excluded.

LOR: And this would not be a problem for our faith?

FUNES: I believe no. As a multiplicity of creatures exist on earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as “brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial brother?” It would therefore be a part of creation.

Actually a rather nice interview with Vatican astronomer José Gabriel Funes. Does ET need redemption, or might she exist in "full friendship" with the creator? Father Funes has a definite spark of poetry in him.

Lorne Gunter On Freedom Of Speech

...for Stephen Boisson, the nutty X-youth pastor whose famous gay-bashing letter to the Red Deer Advocate was causally linked to the beating of a gay youth:

Still, anyone truly interested in freedom of speech must defend Boissoin against the forces of state coercion and political correctness aligned against him.

...for Larry Hill and other members of the Canadian Wheat Board, who have been, as it turns out, illegally muzzled by the Canadian Government for publicly defending its single desk selling system.

The Wheat Board should remain silent

Nuff said.

Spacemen At Work

Pictures from Space Shuttle Endeavour's August 2007 flight. All quite glorious, but fairly Hi-Res so I've only included one here. The last photo through the link appears to be Hurricane Dean.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Have Tories Dumped Pierre Bourque?

Last year, when he wasn't having his cars stolen or crashing, news aggregator extraordinaire Pierre Bourque was trailing the pack in his CPoC sponsored race car (pictured above at Mosport). This year, however, something has changed:

Same race, same car number (though not, I think, the identical same car), no CPoC banner. Furthermore, CPOC is not given as one of car sponsors here. So, did the party with money to burn decide not to spend any pandering to NASCAR fans in 2008?

CBS Vincidated? Media Giant Stupid, Not Dishonest In Chalko Affair

My last word on the Tom Chalko's Global Warming = More Earthquake's story (unless he responds to my email requesting further clarification of his ideas), which I am writing up only because it looks to be a slow news day.

One question that goes beyond the obvious "How could CBS (and other news outlets) have been so stupid as to publish this nonsense?" is "How did the original news release come to be tagged as coming from Associated Press?". There has been some speculation that CBS has been trying to pass the buck for their screwup.

Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, CBS does format material from from the news wires, including Associated Press, in a unique fashion. For example, byline and other location information at the beginning of an AP piece is cut from the story and replaced with the "(AP)" symbol. Furthermore, at the end of the article CBS inserts a slightly non-standard bit of boilerplate about not reproducing, rebroadcasting AP material. They use roman numerals for example (MMVIII), where AP does not . Nor do other news sources, as far as I have been able to determine, reformat material from AP in this way.

Now, perhaps because Marketwire is a Canadian-based service, you don't find too many releases from it appearing on the CBS website. In fact, I have been unable to find any. I suspect their origonal release re Chalko was incorrectly reformatted by CBS as being from AP and later incorrectly attributed to AP on that basis. No perfidy, just stupidity, in other words.

In a sense, of all the media entities associated with the Chalko story, CBS has behaved in the most professional manner. They at least have pulled the story; it is still out there, masquerading as news, on the MSNBC and G&M websites.

So there you go. I obviously need to get a life as bad as this guy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dances With Wingnuts

The strange courtship between AGW Deniers and Canada's Far Right continues, with Tom Harris, leader of the ICSC, seeking validation from the denizens of FreeD. Not the way to enhance your organization's credibility, Tom, but at least this time your not asking them to FREEP your own poll.

Who Pranked CBS?

The Tom Chalko Global Warming = More Earthquakes story grows ever weirder. I am now beginning to suspect that a deliberate attempt to prank CBS was involved. But first some background:

On June 18, posted a story claiming that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago because of global warming. The story had no byline, but was attributed to the Associated Press. The story was identical to a June 17 Market Wire press release attributed to Tom Chalko, the scientist that made the claim of the earthquake/global warming link.

Of course, the science behind Chalko's study turned out to be, well, highly questionable, and soon Internet scorn was raining down on CBS and MSNBC (where a link can still be found). Eventually, CBS pulled the story and, as noted above, blamed everything on AP. However, AP has denied all responsibility and, indeed, searches of its online database reveal no reference to Chalko.

Now, here's where it gets interesting. Below is how the story appears on Marketwire (which is, incidentally, a commercial news release service that does not seem to practice much in the way of quality control):

"MT BEST, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwire - June 17, 2008) - New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago."

The MSNBC version looks the same, as do versions appearing in most other news outlets. But here's how it looks (or looked before it was pulled) on the CBS news site:

(AP) New research compiled by Australian scientist Dr. Tom Chalko shows that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago.

Note that an standard (AP) story will usally assign authorship to one of their writers. Furthermore, a .pdf of CBS's printable version shows what looks to be standard AP boilerplate

© MMVIII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

...but is really somewhat different from the stuff at the bottom of an actual AP release*:

2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

So, maybe I've been hanging with Buckets for two long, but it seems unlikely that staff at CBS would have altered a Marketwire release to look like something from (AP). I would therefore wager that somebody outside of the company copped Chalko's Marketwire press release and reformatted it to look like an AP piece to give it enhanced credibility, then fired it off to CBS.

Not that this excuses CBS or anyone else (including G&M's website) who ran the story. In fact, next time you read something about the lack of journalistic standards in the blogosphere, think of the Tom Chalko story, and smile.

* Whoopsie. CBS (and it alone) DOES seem to use this alternative wording when they grab a story from (AP). First point (about the change of the opening paragraph) still holds, though.

Update: Given this, it appears that CBS does indeed re-format material from AP. So perhaps no prank, just stupidity--they mis-labelled a MarketWire release, perhaps because it doesn't seem they take to many stories from a mostly Canadian service.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Harper Fucked In Head, Dion Plan Won't Screw Canadians!

Unsavory language, or am I talkin' Prime Ministerial?

Is my leadership showing? Or should I do up my fly?

Can Something Leak Twice?

I don't know how this qualifies as news, as I can remember downloading tracks from "Chinese Democracy" 8 years ago off Napster, or at least Axl's basement tape versions. If you're a fan, the songs will take you right back to the late 80s when you had big hair (or any hair, in some cases). If you're not really, just wait for them to play "November Rain" again on the radio.

High Gas Prices As A Natural Carbon Tax, Part III

Miles driven (U.S. figures) continue to decline in April. Can't blame the decline on lousy weather anymore, either.

Surrender, Mclelland.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Operation Thread Redux?

When you read this, think of this.

Another black eye for the RCMP coming up, methinks.

Kinsella On Board?

"It doesn't look like a total disaster."

About as close as a thumbs up as we're likely to get from Canada's 2nd grumpiest blogger (this guy being number one). I am reminded of Lou Grant's famous "It doesn't stink." from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Considering the source, high praise indeed.

CRAP! Immensely CRAP!!

It is this kind of wretched, in fact beyond craptacular reporting by Associated Press (AP) and others that is liable to make ordinary people doubt any scientific claims, let alone controversial scientific claims about life-and-death topics such as Global Warming.

Oh my! And even barely plausible since, for totally different reasons, connections between global warming and increased earthquake activity have been postulated.
Except: who is Tom Chalko? Lets employ teh Googles.
I doubt it, but it sounds like it might be cool to watch. And if you follow the footnotes, you'll see that the T.J. Chalko's references lead to this, Dr. Chalkos' book "The Freedom of Choice", about which it has been written that:
For the first time in the history of humanity on Earth The Purpose of existence of the entire Universe has been expressed and proven explicitly in writing for everyone to understand. Incidentally, it coincides with the purpose of your OWN existence... Are you ready?
So far, CBS and MSNBC, plus many lesser news sites, have been conned. And, frankly, this is such a horrid display of newsmanship--publishing obvious bullshit because you were unwilling to do two minutes of research--that it deserves an official and hearty BigCityLib denunciation.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Liberal Mole Strikes Again

Details of Tax shift plan that CBC has "learned of" here. 10% across the board income tax cuts; tax credits and other help for Northern and rural Canadians. Etc. Quite defensible, in short.

Toronto Company's Electric Car Can Now Run On Quebec Roads

...but not, ironically enough, Ontario ones. The story is here, and a surprisingly informative piece from the Western Standard here.

B.C. Poll Shows Gord Campbell Doing Fine WIth Carbon Tax

After several paragraphs of negative spin, the Vancouver Sun lets slip:

The poll shows the Liberals have the support of 47 per cent of decided voters, a number slightly above what they've held throughout the past year.

The NDP has 33-per-cent support, down three points from this time last year.

The seatless Green Party remained steady at 16-per-cent support, a level it has essentially held for the past year as well.

"I think the most important number is that at this point the vote hasn't changed one iota, despite the fact a lot of people knew this [the carbon tax] was coming," said Braid.

"It's been discussed since February and it hasn't had any impact whatsoever."

Probably helps that the provincial NDP is playings its usual "Don't Tax Me, Don't Tax Thee, Tax The Man Behind The Tree" routine, arguing, not a against a carbon tax per se, but just this carbon tax. I suspect that, when the dust settles, the Federal political landscape, much like the landscape in B.C., will remain more or less unchanged, which Dion earning a point or two with the electorate for showing some hitherto unsuspected courage.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

B.C.'s Carbon Tax: The Fury is NOT Palpable

While James's campaign, which includes a petition and a series of public events, may be popular with some, it still remains unclear how strongly opposed British Columbians are to the gas tax.


More polls are expected in the days to come, and the Business Council of B.C., which had been lukewarm, said the tax will not be hard to bear.

"Households in the province should not be worse off economically," said Jock Finlayson, the council's executive vice-president of policy.

"In fact, I think a lot of them are going to be better off, marginally, with the carbon tax.

"I don't think that message has gotten out, and I say that as somebody who was not a huge proponent of even doing this."

Meanwhile Chantel Hebert is wondering why the Libs would draw attention away from the governing Tories difficulties to put the focus on their own environmental plan. Well, I think to get the party over the 35% hump in the polls, it is necessary for the LPC to stop behaving like an opposition party and start behaving like a government in waiting One element of a government in waiting these days is a responsible environmental plan. Since the Tories DO NOT HAVE a responsible environmental plan, there is a policy vacuum Dion and Co. can move in to and fill.

A hint here from Martha Hall Findlay that the income tax cut portion of the plan may come before the carbon tax imposition part. Good idea, if true.

Sandra Buckler's Website Hijacked!

Sandra Buckler is Stephen Harper's Stephen Harper's communications director. This is her website: Click on the link and see where it takes you.

A joke so cruel even I couldn't have thought of it. And indeed, a joke not deserved. One bit of credit I must give the Harper Tories: they have done their best to wipe their hands clean of the Ezras, the FreeD brigade, the Marc Lemire's and the Paul Fromm's. A blast from the Reform Party past, I suppose, that they would prefer to transcend.

Your Daily Nazi: What A Wifi Bandit Can Tell Us About The Hechme Case

I've blogged about the Hechme case on any number of occasions. Now this this Time Magazine Article, which describes the adventures of a wifi thief, helps make my various arguments for me:

You don't fly first class when you're stealing bandwidth. Wi-fi hot spots are large--about the size of a football field--but those signals had to pass through a lot of masonry before they got to my laptop.

"The size of a football field"--so lets say a hundred yards by a hundred yards. However, Flanders (and I think his is the most conservative estimate) puts the distance between Hechme's apartment and CHRC headquarters at 370 meters (1,202 feet), or about four times the distance our wifi thief claims to be the effective range of a standard wifi network.

This range can be increased with the use of special equipment (although 1,200 feet is still at the extreme limit of the doable), and indeed Flanders believes that the CHRC employed such equipment. However, not only is there no evidence for this (nor even that CHRC laptops were wifi enabled), we venture well into Ron Paul territory if we think the CHRC would maintain special gear just to steal the wifi from the local citizenry, especially when any number of unsecured wireless hotspots can be found within about a 100 meter radius of the CHRC building in Ottawa.

Wi-fi operates on an unlicensed frequency, so it has to deal with interference from baby monitors and microwave ovens and cordless phones too. As a result, my Internet access would vanish and reappear like a will-o'-the-wisp, even when I engaged OS X's excitingly named 'interference robustness' feature.

Which is to say that it is exceedingly unlikely a wifi connection could have been sustained for the 24 hour plus period suggested in the testimony from Bell Canada (Dec.7 at 6:36pm and Dec.8 at 9:35 pm).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Unless Tory Supporters Are Allowed To Vote Twice

...I guess we can dub the "oily the oil spot" ads a dismal failure. Although Kinsella (see article for comment) and Taylor insist that everything played out according to the Tory plan, that the ads are a sign their War Room is playing Chess while the rest of us play off-key Ukeleles.

And the whole ugly denoument when Fuelcast, the company hired to run the ads on local gas pumps, realized that doing so might cause motorists to immolate said gas pumps with their own fuel, and backed out of their contract with the CPoC? That was just a double feint so the Tories didn't come off looking too clever.

Majority Oppose C-10

Ottawa, ON – A majority (52%) of Canadians believe that it would be wrong for the government to screen the content of films and either approve or deny tax credits based on whether or not they deem it to be offensive or ‘contrary to public policy’, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CanWest News Service and Global Television.

A highly surprising poll result. Maybe its because our "stars" are such a low key, earnest bunch--you can hardly brand Sarah Polley a decadent socialite, and Cronenberg makes you gag from the highest of artistic intentions--but it appears as though the Harper Gov's attempt to bash Hollywood North has been a failure.

The regional breakdowns in the poll are particularly unexpected:

At 62 per cent, residents of film-industry-heavy British Columbia are most likely to say the government is "wrong" to interfere in such a way. That's followed by those living in the mostly Conservative province of Alberta at 57 per cent...

And this Hill Times article describes the battle over C-10 as it is playing out in the Senate. Some speculation that it may be allowed to die there. If it does not and passes in its current form, then the Tories can kiss their long awaited Urban Breakthrough goodbye.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lawrence Solomon: From Credible To Refuted In Under Fifteen Minutes!

As per usual in his series on AGW Deniers, Lawrence Solomon is able to find a retired old fart to talk about an area of science he has no special expertise in. In this case, soil scientist Cliff Ollier attempts to demonstrate that the rapid melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is impossible.

Here's Mr. Ollier describing what's impossible:

The scenarios [of rapid melting]...stem from models divorced from the real world. They rely on imaginary glaciers and ice sheets -- not on the actual formations that exist in Greenland and Antarctica -- and demonstrate no understanding of how glaciers flow.
Ice sheets do not melt from the surface down -- only at the edges,' Prof. Ollier explains. The modellers' mechanism that has 'meltwater lakes on the surface finding their way down through cracks in the ice and lubricating the bottom of the glacier is not compatible with accumulation of undisturbed snow layers.'"

And here's an account by real glaciologists of the impossible happening just this April:

A report in today's Science describes how researchers recorded the drainage of one such lake in Greenland. The lake was roughly 5.6 km2, but drained completely in less than an hour and a half. The lake's contents rapidly made their way down to the bottom of the ice sheet, 980 m below the surface. During this period, the average drainage rate was 8700 m3/s. For reference, the average flow rate for Niagara Falls is only 5700 m3/s.

As Jerry Fodor is fond of saying: Ptonk! (meaning: Argument over!)

Usually with one of Solomon's pieces it takes a bit of research to discover that its all bullshit. Luckily, in this case, I've been wanting to write about these glacial lakes for awhile now, and already had a few links/quotes in the bag.

Your Daily Nazi: Nazis Eyes On Canada!

They have been dubbed a “terrorist threat” by the FBI and linked to numerous acts of violence across the United States, including murder. But now they have their sights set on Winnipeg — and a controversial case that has seen two young children taken away from their alleged neo-Nazi parents.

August Kreis III, the leader of the Aryan Nations, told the Free Press his organization is prepared to mobilize whatever resources are necessary to ensure the decision isn’t allowed to stand.

He said the case is unlike anything he’s ever heard of and he fears it will set a dangerous precedent across North America.

Meanwhile, Ezra asks "Do you like how Albertans are being described to newcomers -- as a bunch of stupid bigots?"

...which is an interesting question when you compare this graphic of StormFront's Canadian Membership
...with this population breakdown by province from the 2006 census. Alta., with 10% of the population, has 16% of the Nazis! They've even been seen in the streets of Calgary! In fact all of the Western Provinces seem over-represented, given their population. Oh My!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

High Gas Prices As Natural Carbon Tax, Part II

Ottawa, ON – As the price of gas continues to rise across the country with seemingly no end in sight, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Global National and CanWest News Service reveals that Canadians have already started to change their commuting habits as a result. With Canadians who commute averaging about 18 km each way to work, most of them driving (74%), they appear to be feeling the pain at the pumps.


Those Who Commute are Walking More (37%), Using More Gas-Efficient Cars (31%), Carpooling (24%), Working More Often From Home (14%) or Moving Closer to Work (9%)

I refute thee, Mclelland; THUS I refute thee.

The Economic Consensus

...on global warming, is being driven largely by the people named in this list:

Joseph Aldy, Resources for the Future
James Edmonds, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richard Howarth, Dartmouth College
Bruce McCarl, Texas A&M University
Robert Mendelsohn, Yale University
William Nordhaus, Yale University S
Sergey Paltsev, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
William Pizer, Resources for the Future
David Popp, Syracuse University
John Reilly, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Roger Sedjo, Resources for the Future
Kathleen Segerson, University of Connecticut
Brent Sohngen, Ohio State University
Robert Stavins, Harvard University
Richard Tol, Economic and Social Research Institute
Martin Weitzman, Harvard University
Peter Wilcoxen, Syracuse University
Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University

Note how climate change skeptics tend to regard folks like Nordhaus as being on their side of the issue, but really the variation of opinion among this bunch is limited to technicalities:

Opinions varied on whether the Congress should implement a cap-and-trade system or a tax to control greenhouse gas emissions, with eight panelists preferring a cap-and-trade program with a safety valve (sometimes referred to as a hybrid system), seven preferring a tax, and three preferring a cap-and-trade program. All of the panelists agreed that the policy should target all sectors of the economy, and the majority believed that it should include all greenhouse gases. For example, one panelist stated that by establishing a price on emissions from all sources in the United States with no exceptions, the policy would equilibrate the marginal cost of reducing emissions across all sources, making it economically efficient.

h/t Rabbit.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gingrich, Galactus And Chuck Norris...Together At Last

The latest brainchild of Newt Gingrich is "American Solutions", a:

...unique non-partisan organization designed to rise above traditional gridlocked partisanship, to provide real, significant solutions to the most important issues facing our country.

Basically, they want Congress to allow drilling in Alaska, off California, and so forth.

Anyway, my buddy (who signed their "Drill Here Drill Now" online petition) got another email from them this morning:

Dear Galactus,

As gas prices are at an all-time high, the American people are demanding that Congress take action to drill here and drill now. More than 650,000 Americans have signed the "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition, and that number keeps growing rapidly each day.

We're excited to announce today that Chuck Norris is supporting our "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" campaign. Watch him talk about it in this new YouTube video:

Hell, why stop at Alaska? With Galactus and Chuck Norris both onside I bet they could convince Congress to let 'em go to Mt. Rushmore and drill for oil through Abe Lincoln's head. Because Galactus could disintegrate all of Washington with a wave of the hand, and lets face it, you don't fuck with Chuck.

Make The Carbon Tax Revenue Negative?

An interesting idea from Andrew Coyne:

It might have been better, indeed, to have talked up the income tax cuts first — to present the plan as an income tax cut, financed by an environmental levy, rather than as a 'revenue neutral' carbon tax. Some such shift in emphasis is still possible, simply by front-loading the income tax cuts — that is, by making the package 'revenue negative' in the early years. It is sensible policy to start with a very low rate of carbon tax, giving consumers and industry time to adjust to the much higher rates they will know are coming in the long run. At the same time, there is probably more room in the budget than the Tories are letting on to cut income taxes.

Well, starting with low rates may result in leaving them low forever, as it would mean summoning a another act of political Will to raise them. But what about this:

Dion's promise is that, if the average Canadian is going to pay an extra $1,000 to for example heat their home, they will get $1,000 in income tax cuts. Why not have the tax shift kick in immediately after the income tax cheques have been delivered for the year in question? So Canadians face the shift with money in hand, as it were?

In any case, a good read from the Conservative Guy that Knows Math.

Reid Bryson Passes Away

I have told the story of Reid Bryson here. Although in later life Mr. Bryson became a climate change skeptic, perhaps overacting to his own predictions of global cooling in the 1970s--these predictions based upon upon solid reasoning, it should be said, and quickly revised when the world uneviled new facts--he continued working in the field of climatology well after his retirement, and well into his 80s.

In any case, sad news.

Here is the announcement of his death, by Professor Greg J. Tripoli of the University of Wisconsin:

“I have the sad news to report that Professor Emeritus Reid Bryson of the University of Wisconsin - Madison passed away in his sleep Wednesday morning. Reid founded the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1948 . Although Reid is most well known for his work in Climate, People and the Environment, it is less known that Reid was also a pioneer in tropical meteorology and hurricane forecasting. As U.S. Army Air Corps meteorologist out of Saipan, Marshall Islands during World War II (December, 1944), Reid pieced together evidence that a typhoon was apparently developing in harms way and commissioned reconnaissance of the storm that he believed surrounding observations suggested must exist in one of the many data void regions. The reconnaissance that he ordered found the storm, encountered 140 kt winds and aborted an apparent eye wall penetration. Reid then identified a trough of low pressure in the storms path and predicted to his superiors that the storm would recurve into the path of the US Third Fleet. Believing that typhoons never recurve so far to the east, Reid’s superior officers chose to not believe his forecast. Reid pleaded that this was not a guess, they actually flew into the storm and measured the winds! His superior officers conceded to watch it closely but did not act to move the fleet. Reid tells me that he went so far as to place unofficial warnings (off the record) of his own which he is convinced did save lives. Then 36 hours later the storm began the recurve, just as Reid predicted and they tried to move the Third Fleet out of the way, but is was now too late. Unfortunately this resulted in one of the worst naval disasters in navy history (3 ships sunk, 28 ships damaged, 146 aircraft destroyed, 756 men lost at sea (see Henderson, 2007: Down to the Sea, ISBN 978-0-06-117316-5 for a detailed account of this incident). I suppose that this experience went a long way to shape Reid’s views on conventional thought and to compel him to dedicate the rest of his life to the science of weather and finding truth.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ezra And The Private Dick

I'm just guessing here, Ezra, but I imagine the technical term for the "Private Investigator" that visited your parents place is a "process server" (ie a person who serves (delivers) legal papers in lawsuits, either as a profession or as a government official). And I am just guessing, but I imagine the reason he visited your folks on behalf of Giacomo Vigna* is because whois gives your folks' address in the contact information for your website.

As for the rest...well...I'm surprised you didn't portray the guy as flying in on bat wings and chewing the head off the family pet.

(Please let me know if anything in the above is incorrect.)

* Giacomo Vigna is a lawyer for the CHRC.

Steve Fuller on Human Nature

Steve Fuller is a Sociologist at the University of Warwick in Conventry, UK., and an old Internet acquaintance of mine. Which is to say I use to argue the virtues of Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, and etc. with him on the HOPOS e-mail list.

Steve has written numerous books on Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, and the Governance of Science. Most famously, perhaps, he argued for the Pro-ID forces in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. In this taped lecture he discusses the resurgence of the concept of Human Nature in the work of Linguists such as Pinker, and Evolutionary Psychologists like E.O. Wilson.

Quite enjoyable. He contends that, within the last 20 or so years, the Political Left has embraced what was previously a right wing idea, and that Evolutionary Psychology has difficulty explaining (because it is difficult to assign a survival value to) the development of scientific thinking.

About an hour long, with the lecture itself going about 40 minutes, plus 20 minutes of (mostly inaudible) questions.

PS. Normally I would embed the file but I couldn't get it to work in this case.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Real Life Unicorn!

Born on a nature preserve in Italy as the result of a genetic defect. Not the first time its happened. The Reality behind the myth?

You Daily Nazi: The Shorter Buckets

Buckets begins to make his case. The For Dummies Version:

1) StormFront Moderator PatrickOdin claims that CHRC investigator Dean Steacy posted to StormFront on Sept. 15th, 2006 from IP address

2) In March 2007, Freedomsite owner Marc Lemire, who has brought a criminal complaint against the CHRC for hacking Nelly Hechme's wifi, asked Stormfront founder, Don Black, for IPs related to the activities on Stormfront of one Jadewarr, Dean Steacy's Stormfront Pseudonym. Black provided Lemire with the IP address Lemire then subpoenaed Bell Canada for information about this address.

3) However, because Bell uses dynamic IP addressing, by December 2006 the address had been assigned to Ottawa resident Nelly Hechme, who lived about a quarter a mile away from the CHRC HQ. And when Bell technicians revealed this fact, Lemire hatched the "CRHC employees hacked her wifi" conspiracy theory.

4) Except: what are the odds that Dean Steacy hacked a wifi account that, by sheer coincidence, bore the same IP in December as the IP borne by his own account about three months earlier? I would suggest they are rather low--"infinitesimal", as Buckets says.

Where does the story go from here? Read more in the upcoming few days, but here's a couple of hints.

Hint One: Most likely nobody visited Stormfront from on December 8, 2006. Not Steacy, not Hechme--nobody. Lemire's criminal complaint, which refs that IP number, will therefore come to nought.

Hint Two: Given the search tools employed by Stormfront, a thorough search of IPs related to Jadewarr should have returned more than a single address. And the address used by CHRC staff in December, 2006 is almost certainly sitting undiscovered in Stormfront records.

Update: Buckets unspools more of the mystery here.

Her Cheques Bounce Too

Julie Couillard bags another Tory.

The tangled web involving former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier's ex-girlfriend has ensnared another federal cabinet member.

Public Works Minister Michael Fortier dismissed senior Quebec adviser Bernard Côté yesterday after it emerged Côté had a romantic relationship with Julie Couillard last year.

Given the dates involved, it sounds as if there might have been some overlap between L'affaire Bernier and L'affaire Cote.

In any case, is Public Works Minister Michael Fortier the next domino to fall?

Last April, La Presse reported, Couillard attended a fundraising cocktail party in Châteauguay-Saint-Constant, a riding on Montreal's south shore, making a $1,000 contribution to the party.

Le Devoir reported yesterday that Fortier was at the party.

The event's organizer told the paper that Couillard handed him a Kevlar business card at the cocktail party, but that he remembered her mostly because the $1,000 cheque bounced.

She stiffed the CPoC for $1,000 and nobody cared!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Virtual Boycott Kills Tory Ad Campaign?

The Harper Conservatives' plan to run anti-Liberal attack ads on mini-television screens at gas pumps in Southern Ontario is backfiring because the company that was to place them is refusing.

Did the Fuelcast Network kill their deal with the Tories because they sensed a rising fury in the Liberal Blogosphere? Who really knows, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

When confronted with a choice between History and Myth... print the Myth.

Your Daily Nazi: Definitive Account Of The CHRC "Wifi Hacking" Controversy

Bucket's (pictured left) revs up his extraordinary brain to take a crack at the alleged "hack" of Nelly Hechme's home wifi network by CHRC operatives. That Dean Steacey and other CHRC employees commandeered the wifi network of an Ottawa citizen in order to visit Stormfront (a Neo-Nazi bulletin board) is an allegation made by noted white supremacist (and now Free Speech Hero) Marc Lemire.

I won't go into details in this space, because Bucket's first three posts ( here, and here, and here) provide an extensive background to this thrilling episode, with conclusions to follow.

But... something to consider: Bell IP addresses (like, the one Nelly Hechme possessed in December of 2006) are assigned dynamically, belonging to different owners at different times.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tory Gas Ads: Stage Left Has The Right Idea

"The first time I see one of those gadgets on a pump I’m at will see me putting the nozzle back in its holder before one single drop of gasoline has fallen, walking into the office, and telling the owner/manager that until the propaganda machines disappear s/he has lost my business."

This should work well in the GTA, and its something I will be trying as well. Be sure you let Paul Wells know about every station running these "fuelcasts" that you've told to go shove it. It would be very cool if a few major petro-suppliers could be forced to recant their participation in this campaign.

PS. The stories I am reading suggest these ads will run mostly in GTA and Southern Ontario. This is where a boycott may be most effective.

Update: Bloggers calling for a fuelcast boycott now include Dr. Dawg, Red Tory, and John Waugh. If anyone else wants to join up, please post on the topic.

Further update: Kady the Wunderbabe is reporting that the company the Tories say was hired to coordinate fuelcast ads with GTA gas stations has denied everything. Our boycott has succeeded before it even got started! Paul Wells is reporting that gangs of Tory Yellowshirts have descended on downtown Ottawa, harassing motorists and other passersby. Oh the Humanity!

Yet Further update: It looks like a Toronto-based fuelcast campaign would be illegal in the first place.

It's Tough Being The Vatican's Top Exorcist

High points of the Maria Mensajera interview with famous Italian exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth:

An exorcism wouldn't have worked with Hitler or Stalin. They were in too deep.

90% of exorcisms involve "spells", often cast by envious co-workers. That's obviously why my pens keep disappearing.

The Pope supports Exorcists. He also blames Galileo for The Bomb.

Your typical Vatican Exorcist is on call 24/7, even working on Sunday. He also get babes up the yin-yan. No wait, that's James Bond.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Help! I Am Being Stalked By The CPoC!

Well now that's weird. I got the following email from Stéphane at

Hi BigCityLib,

Stéphane wanted to tell you... Having trouble setting priorities? Friends don't know what they speak about? Billions of dollars of spending promises got you in a big debt hole? Well don't worry. If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is an answer. A permanent new tax on everything!If you agree click here.

Weird in that I didn't ask to get email when I visited the site, so this must mean someone in the party has taken time to read the blog and send me an annoying email...on a Sunday, no less! That's Scary! It's like I'm being followed by "PC" in the Mac commercial. Has anyone else got these this morning? Maybe we can report this guy (it must be a guy) to the DWEEB police.

Just kidding Stephane. But you should try and get out in the sun a bit.

Only A Party With Money To Burn

...could afford a stunt like this. Not sure how well it will work, myself. Lorrie Goldstein thinks it shows a certain amount of fear on the Tories part:

Clearly, they're worried Dion's carbon tax, whenever he releases it, could appeal to voters concerned about global warming, particularly if the Liberal announcement is backed by environmentalists, economists and business groups stressing it will be effective and "revenue neutral," a claim the Tories mock. You don't put this much effort into attacking someone you don't think is a threat.

But whatever. Ads right at gas pumps. Gangs of young Tories at petrol stations, engaged in guerrilla marketing. (Careful with that. Motorists with a dark sense of humour might just hose 'em down with gasoline and torch 'em for kicks. Not me, obviously.) Is the fact that the website goes out of its way to reference Jason Cherniak personally a sign of the Harper governments all seeing, all knowing nature, or a sign of the fact that they are spending zillions on something really "inside baseball" in nature, and therefore just...don'

Saturday, June 07, 2008

All Parties Seem Stuck In Mud

"Ottawa, ON – As the summer begins to heat up, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted exclusively for CanWest News Service and Global Television finds that Prime Minister Harper’s Tories, at 36% support (unchanged), are staying cool with a six-point lead over Stephan Dion’s Grits, who have 30% support (up 1 point). Jack Layton and the NDP are receiving support from 15% (up 1 point) of decided voters nation-wide, while support for Elizabeth May’s Green Party is down 2 points to 9% overall. Seven percent (7%) of voters remain undecided."

Bernier having no effect on Tory fortunes? Hard to believe, but two Ipsos polls in a row say its so. And while you may argue that Ipsos overstates Tory support (they do poll for CanWest, after all), you would think they would show movement if movement there was.

How Neo-Classical Economics Sucks As A Tool For Tackling Global Warming (And How Economists Are Trying To Make It Suck Less)

A wonderful short piece from Scientific American on the pseudo-scientific roots of neoclassical economics (Someone alert Andrew Coyne!):

The 19th-century creators of neoclassical economics—the theory that now serves as the basis for coordinating activities in the global market system—are credited with transforming their field into a scientific discipline. But what is not widely known is that these now legendary economists—William Stanley Jevons, Léon Walras, Maria Edgeworth and Vilfredo Pareto—developed their theories by adapting equations from 19th-century physics that eventually became obsolete. Unfortunately, it is clear that neoclassical economics has also become outdated. The theory is based on unscientific assumptions that are hindering the implementation of viable economic solutions for global warming and other menacing environmental problems.

The physical theory that the creators of neoclassical economics used as a template was conceived in response to the inability of Newtonian physics to account for the phenomena of heat, light and electricity. In 1847 German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz formulated the conservation of energy principle and postulated the existence of a field of conserved energy that fills all space and unifies these phenomena. Later in the century James Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and other physicists devised better explanations for electromagnetism and thermodynamics, but in the meantime, the economists had borrowed and altered Helmholtz’s equations.

The strategy the economists used was as simple as it was absurd—they substituted economic variables for physical ones. Utility (a measure of economic well-being) took the place of energy; the sum of utility and expenditure replaced potential and kinetic energy. A number of well-known mathematicians and physicists told the economists that there was absolutely no basis for making these substitutions. But the economists ignored such criticisms and proceeded to claim that they had transformed their field of study into a rigorously mathematical scientific discipline.

Keep reading for the whole list of nasty theoretical side-effects, but the most important one is that:

The costs of damage to the external natural environment by economic activities must be treated as costs that lie outside the closed market system or as costs that cannot be included in the pricing mechanisms that operate within the system.

As a result:

[Neo-Classical economics] constitutes one of the greatest barriers to combating climate change and other threats to the planet. It is imperative that economists devise new theories that will take all the realities of our global system into account.

I rather think, however, that author Robert Nadeau has missed some of the most interesting recent work in the economics of climate change. I and other's have written about the developing consensus among economists that seems to have followed on the heels of the climatological consensus. Richard Tol, for example, has come around and now supports a carbon tax. And if any single paper by any single researcher can be said to have triggered this emerging consensus, it is On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change by Harvard economist Marty Weitzman.

I cannot confess to being able to follow Mr. Weitzman's math, and you probably can't either, because it strains the limits of the professionals. But the For Dummies version seems to be roughly as follows (here is another attempt at the FD version):

AGW may give rise to any number of "high-impact low probability" disasters (melting Greenland ice-sheets, for example) the results of which would be so catastrophic as to confound the economist's standard cost benefit analysis (you can't really predict how many points having to abandon a flooded New York City will knock of the GDP).

And while these events have a low probability, their destructive effects are so extreme as to justify immediate action against them as a form of insurance policy. (In particular, high enough to set the price of carbon at $50 per ton U.S.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hansen On A Carbon Tax

James Hansen is the world's best-known climatologist. Lately, he has been making some attempts at policy prescription, and his latest effort looks a bit like what Dion's tax shifting plan might look like if the details of it are ever released. Hansen calls his scheme
"Carbon Tax and 100% Dividend":

“Carbon tax and 100% dividend” is spurred by the recent “carbon cap” discussion of Peter Barnes and others. Principles must be crystal clear and adhered to rigorously. A tax on coal, oil and gas is simple. It can be collected at the first point of sale within the country or at the last (e.g., at the gas pump), but it can be collected easily and reliably. You cannot hide coal in your purse; it travels in railroad cars that are easy to spot. “Cap”, in addition, is a euphemism that may do as much harm as good. The public is not stupid.

The entire carbon tax should be returned to the public, with a monthly deposit to their bank accounts, an equal share to each person (if no bank account provided, an annual check – social security number must be provided). No bureaucracy is needed to figure
this out. If the initial carbon tax averages $1200 per person per year, $100 is deposited in each account each month (Detail: perhaps limit to four shares per family, with child shares being half-size, i.e., no marriage penalty but do not encourage population growth).

William M. Connolley (Stoat) questions the proposals underlying simplicity:

So what in the crystal-clear principles allows you to decide if it should be limited to n shares per person? And looking harder, what allows you to decide it should be an equal share per person? Is it only the lack of any other method of division?

and much back and forth takes place in the comments. Apparently, the Swedes have a carbon tax that gets returned to you in the form of income tax cuts.

Note: I'm not expressing too much in the way of opinion in these carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade posts because I don't have particularly strong opinions either way. One point that Dion has made, and that Hansen makes in the above, is that a Carbon tax is far easier to implement than a cap-and-trade market.

PS. Peter Barnes is this guy.

PPS. McLelland is a fierce advocate of Cap and Trade. His arguments are not without weight.

Dion Redeemed?

Seeing the Liberals turtle all Winter and Spring has been painful to watch.

Having Dion whip the vote over C-484 and kill it would be sweet relief.

Mind you, watching a handful of Socially Conservative Liberal MPs tell Dion to blow it out his ass and vote with the Tories to pass C-484 would be even more painful to watch.

And watching Dion have to renege at the last minute to avoid the above-noted spectacle would be worth about a three-bucket barf.

So this vow is a real opportunity and a real risk, one that I am nevertheless glad Mr. Dion has taken.

(On the other hand, it looks like Harper and Co. are going to let a bunch of bills get ground up in the wheels of the legislative process. Maybe C-484 will be one of them. If it expires at night in the Senate, that is the best possible outcome. And those old guys up there are clever. Sometimes they only appear to be sleeping, when in fact they are in deep deliberations.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Meet Alan Gough

...the Tories other audio expert in the Cadmania Scandal. He

...grew up in Stratford, Ontario and began working in the industry in 1964 in the studios of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Theology from the University of Waterloo. He speaks English, French, and Swahili.

He is important to the whole story about the Tories bizarre resurrection of The Cadman Affair, and their allegations re the Zytaruk tape, because his is the name that the Tories are not bandying about. (The name they are bandying about is "Tom Owens", of New Jersey). Well, why is that? Because Mr. Gough adds a few caveats to his analysis:

The other specialist hired by the party, Alan Gough, was less certain in his conclusions. Gough, co-founder of a firm called Integra View, concluded that the tape "is not a continuous recording of one conversation."

The interruption of words, changes of background ambiance, and changes of frequency response indicate that this may be three separate recordings. Any further analysis of these anomalies should be performed on the original recording and not on a copy," Gough said...

I suspect what is at issue here is that the Tories are looking at a copy of the original tape, perhaps the copy on the LPC's website. As one of Kady's fans has noted:

I see it as entirely possible that the Liberals put up an excerpt of the full tape on their website.

On having that analyzed, it would obviously be an edited version, at which point they could run around saying that the Liberals doctored the tape — whether or not the editing was anything germane or substantial to the issue.

Which begs the question. If the real purpose of this Tory stunt is to stop the Liberals from using their version of the tape in campaign commercials, why could said Liberals not return to the original, re-excerpt it, and use that?

In any case, thanks to James Moore for bringing this one back from the dead.

PS. Here is the website for Mr. Gough's company, Integra View, and this article touches a bit on the kind of work he does in real life.

Update: Apparently, the copy the CPoC analysed came direct from the publisher. Be interesting to know what kind of file it wound up being? An MP3 on a disk, for example? That's going to be significantly degraded from the original.

Update II: Tories are now suggesting Libs are in cahoots with Zytaruk, according to this new release from Party HQ. Weirdest bit:

When did the Liberal Party obtain the doctored tape? From whom did they receive it? Who in the Party received it?

Why are they asking this if in fact the tape analysed came to the analysts from the publisher via the Conservative Party. Isn't the answer to their 2nd question therefore: from the same people you got your copy from? And suddenly Paul Martin is involved.