Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

General Debate 5 November 2015

November 5th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Even Germaine Greer is not PC enough now!

November 4th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Germaine Greer is one of the major feminist voices i the 20th century. But even she can’t qualify as being PC enough today. Stuff reported:

Germaine Greer, a leading feminist for more than 45 years, has defended herself against allegations of misogyny towards transgender people saying “just because you lop off your d— it doesn’t make you a woman”.

The Australian-born academic, 76, was due to give a talk at Cardiff University next month but cancelled it after a number of activists protested against her repeated derogatory comments about transwomen.

The author of The Female Eunuch, a classic exploration of female sexuality, Greer prompted protests on social media last week when she told Newsnight: “I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through that procedure, all I’m saying is that it doesn’t make them a woman.”

Terrible – she must be boycotted. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to have her speak on campus and ask her questions about her views?

There is a recent Southpark episode in line with this, where Kyle is demonised just because he says he doesn’t think Caitlyn Jenner is a hero.

Tags: ,

General Debate 4 November 2015

November 4th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

A win for toy dinosaurs

November 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The police case against Rickey Caton started with a “roaaaar!” when he was forcibly arrested by two officers after jokingly producing a toy dinosaur during a roadside car stop.

But it ended with a whimper on Friday when a magistrate ordered the police force to pay more than $105,000 in legal costs after finding the matter should never have gone to court.

The police are facing even more financial pain over the ill-judged prosecution, with Mr Caton and his mate set to launch a claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.

“The [police] proceedings should not have been brought,” Magistrate Mark Douglass told Kiama Local Court on Friday, as an inspector from the police force’s Professional Standards Command looked on.

“The prosecutor failed to reasonably investigate relevant matters … which might have suggested that the accused was not guilty.”

The magistrate was referring to the evidence of the third officer present on the night of the arrests – Lucie Litchfield – who said that far from assaulting police as her colleagues had claimed, it was Mr Caton and his mates who had been the victims of aggression.

Ms Lichfield said that when police stopped Mr Caton and his mates in Queanbeyan in late December 2013 and asked if they had any weapons, the local father had cheekily pulled out the toy and declared “I’ve got a dinosaur – roaaaar!”.

She said one of the officers, Senior Constable Todd Finnegan, had subsequently forced Mr Caton from the car, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. Her other police colleague, Senior Constable Patrick Hicks, had then crash-tackled Mr Caton’s friend, Adam Antram into a retaining wall.

What an appalling over-reaction by Police, and good to see them lose big time in court.


General Debate 3 November 2015

November 3rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 2 November 2015

November 2nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 1 November 2015

November 1st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Freedom of speech dying at universities

October 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

From the Adelaide Advertiser:

My experience as a student magazine editor for the past year has shown me that freedom of speech no longer has de facto acceptance on campus. Universities are no longer a place of inquiry or rigorous debate. Academic censorship is rife.

Take Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalist who sought to establish a research centre at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University. At both institutions he has faced resistance form students who staged protests and leveraged their student bodies to prevent such a centre from being established.

Their rationale? They do not agree with his findings and they’re not prepared to engage in debate.

Lomborg’s situation is strikingly similar to that of Galileo when he posited that Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa. The church was not willing to hear out the argument and simply cast Galileo out.

Absolutely. And Lomborg’s crime wasn’t even the capital offence of climate change denial, but simply having a view that other environmental issues were a better use of spending.

If anything exemplifies the dangers of academic censorship it is the case of Galileo. How do we expect our society to advance when new ideas cannot be discussed because of an unwillingness by some precious, self-centred students?

Sadly they don’t want to be challenged. They only want to hear views they approve of, and want to stop others hearing dissenting views.

These same students also want to limit free expression by mandating the use of “trigger warnings”, as well as censoring books they find uncomfortable or challenging. A “trigger warning” is a device that has emerged in the past two decades that seeks to warn a reader where a post traumatic reaction may be induced based on the content.

This has gone from warning of a discussion about rape to now including things such as ‘‘how many calories are in a food item’’ and “drunk driving’’. The discussion of these things doesn’t actually harm anyone, it’s just that students now demand to live in a cotton-wrapped world.

Great works such as The Great Gatsby, Metamorphoses and Mrs Dalloway have been banned from university reading lists simply because some self-absorbed students find the content emotionally challenging and upsetting.

There is no right not to be offended or even upset.


General Debate 31 October 2015

October 31st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 30 October 2015

October 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Stupid Defence Force

October 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A decision to deny an Iraqi-born New Zealand woman a job in the New Zealand Defence Force because of her birthplace has been slammed as stupid and prejudiced.

Warda Jawad, a 25-year-old psychology masters student whose family fled to New Zealand in the wake of the Gulf War when she was three, said she burst into tears after hearing the reason for her rejection.

Jawad told Radio NZ she applied for a job as an army psychologist after listening to a presentation from recruiters, and was initially told she appeared to be “the right candidate for the job”.

However, after a four-month application process, she was told she would not receive a security clearance due to her birthplace, as well as a 19-month period spent studying medicine in Oman.

“[The recruiter] said, ‘Hey look, the news isn’t good, basically your application has been rejected, given your place of birth and being away for extended periods of time from New Zealand, you weren’t able to pass a security clearance’.”


That was a pretty appalling decision. You treat people as individuals and don’t judge them off stuff they have no control over, such as where they were born.

One of my best friends was also born in Iraq, and her family left she she was very young.  I’d be furious if this had happened to her, and I can only imagine how upsetting it is for Ms Jawad.

Again you should treat people as individuals. If an applicant has beliefs or behaviour or even associates that could make them a security risk, then that is okay to decline them for a security job. But if someone has lived here since they were three years old, and you refuse them purely because of where they were born, then that’s nuts.

Labour defence spokesman Phil Goff said the NZDF had shown a narrow and conservative mindset, and had been unreasonably prejudiced against Jawad based on her birthplace.

“It is a stupid decision, it lacks any sound rationale, and they may have burnt off a person who could have been incredibly useful to them.

“There are not that many people around that are motivated to join the Defence Force and are capable of making the sort of contribution she could.”

Goff said Jawad’s fluency in Arabic, understanding of Middle Eastern culture and ability to talk with Muslim women would all be assets to New Zealand’s military operations.

“We lack in New Zealand people with those very sort of skills…we give people a few weeks’ training in the local culture and a few simple words in the local language, but those sort of skills would be so valuable to the Defence Force.”

I agree with Phil Goff on this.

NZDF have changed their decision, but the damage is already done.

Ms Jawad facebooked her feelings a couple of weeks ago:

Earlier this year I applied for a Psychologist role with the New Zealand Defence Force, a role I had my heart set on for a long time. As I had met all of the criteria for the position, my application proceeded and I met the medical requirements and began training for the NZDF fitness test that I would shortly need to pass. I was told, I only needed security clearance to progress further and become shortlisted. 3 months later, I was told I wasn’t eligible to pass security clearance and on that basis my application was rejected. Why? I was told “Given your place of birth, and being away from NZ for extended periods of time [a 9 month and 10 month period], you are not able to progress through security clearance”. …

Having been 18 years in NZ, completed all of my education here and completing a Masters degree, contributed to the community with various volunteer work that put me in risky and dangerous situations, and a completely clean slate, I am deemed to be a threat to national security because of where I was born. Serving in the Defence Force isn’t just an ordinary job, and I think we all know what sort of sacrifice is present. I willingly chose to put my life at risk and sacrifice many things, to serve New Zealand because here is what I have called home for a long time. Yet, the only thing that has been taken into consideration, is my ethnicity. Heartbroken, disappointed, confused, amongst other awful feelings. Time to turn the page and look ahead for what tomorrow has to bring. Thanks for reading friends 

Very very sad – someone who really wanted to contribute, and got turned down because of where she was born and lived for three years.

I have no doubt that some people will claim that anyone born in a Muslim country could be an extremist, and hence NZDF were right. That’s crap. As I said, one of my best friends was born in Iraq. She is the most Kiwi person I know. She is also Iraqi and also a Muslim. These things are not contradictory.

Tags: , , ,

General Debate 29 October 2015

October 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

The worth of a modern smartphone

October 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar


Isaac Morehouse writes:

In the 1980’s if I told you for only a few hundred dollars anyone could have a $1 million asset in their pocket you’d call me crazy. But here we are.

The chart above (actually a picture of a chart taken with my iPhone and uploaded to this blog with an app to further emphasize the point) is from the book Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. It illustrates why I think worry about and policy efforts aimed at changing differences in income between rich and poor are dumb, destructive, and miss the point by being stuck in a dead paradigm.

The above chart only scratches the surface. It’s hard to comprehend just how much wealth (not income) we have today compared to 20, 30, or 50 years ago, let alone a century or two ago. Anyone who complains that income gaps are growing misses the miracle under their nose of wealth exploding, and more accessible to individuals at any income level than ever before in human history.


A good point.

50 years ago, it could take a hefty sum to launch and run a basic advocacy organization, for example. You would need a secretary, long-distance phone line, office space, filing cabinets, a travel agent, a print shop that you’d have to visit to approve runs of literature (at least several thousand at a time), space to store them, shipping cost, etc. ad nauseum.

Today you can setup a WordPress website, bid out for design work on Fiverr or 99 Designs, get VistaPrint to run a few hundred after proofing a digital copy, book your own travel, store your own files, run email campaigns with MailChimp, etc. ad nauseum for a few hundred bucks.

Anyone can write and record songs, publish books, start businesses, sell goods and services, learn anything in the world, or meet people across the globe for free or close to it with a phone and some WiFi. These things are equally accessible to rich and poor. Wealth – as measured in opportunities and fulfilled desires, the real end of money – is greater than ever and flatter than ever.

The focus should be more on opportunities, than who has how much money in the bank.


Processed meat and cancer risk

October 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It’s official: Bacon, ham, hot dogs and other processed meats can lead to colon, stomach and other cancers – and red meat is probably cancer-causing, too.

While doctors in rich countries have long warned against eating too much meat, the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency gave the most definitive response yet Monday about its relation to cancer – and put processed meats in the same danger category as smoking or asbestos.

The same category, but not the same risk.

The cancer agency noted research by the Global Burden of Disease Project suggesting that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are linked to diets heavy in processed meat – compared with one million deaths a year linked to smoking, 600,000 a year to alcohol consumption and 200,000 a year to air pollution.

So what is the risk at an individual level?

The agency said it did not have enough data to define how much processed meat is too dangerous, but said the risk grows with the amount consumed. Analysis of 10 of the studies suggested that a 50-gram portion of processed meat daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer over a lifetime by about 18 percent.

The lifetime risk of colorectal cancer is 4.5%, so an 18% increased risk is an extra 0.8% risk.

So if you eliminate processed meats from your diet you are 0.8% less likely to get colorectal cancer. People can decide for themselves if going without processed meats for several decades is worth reducing your colorectal cancer risk by 0.8%.


General Debate 28 October 2015

October 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

No sausages are not like cigarettes

October 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Thomas Lumley blogs at Stats Chat:

There has apparently been a leak from the International Agency for Research on Cancer about their forthcoming assessment of meat. It’s just in the UK papers so far, but I expect it will spread. Here’s an example, from the Telegraph

“Bacon, ham and sausages ‘as big a cancer threat as smoking’, WHO to warn
The WHO is expected to publish a report listing processed meat as a cancer-causing substance with the highest of five possible rankings”

Presumably what they mean is that IARC is going to classify processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen. The story is playing on a common misunderstanding of the IARC hazard grades for carcinogenicity.

As I’ve written before, the IARC hazard grades aren’t about the magnitude of the threat. A Group 1 carcinogen is an agent whose ability ability to cause or promote cancer is well established.

So the Telegraph has it entirely wrong. Hopefully the media here will not fall into this trap.

If the leak is correct, processed meats will be joining alcohol, plutonium, sunlight, tobacco, birth-control pills, and Chinese-style salted fish in Group 1. These aren’t all an equal threat, but the IARC scientists believe all of them are able to cause cancer at the right dose.

Tags: ,

General Debate 27 October 2015

October 27th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 26 October 2015

October 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Some claims should not be given publicity

October 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

A WOMAN claiming to be the victim of a “VIP paedophile ring”, which involved three former prime ministers, has alleged she was prostituted to “paedophile parties” at Parliament House in Canberra.

The moment I saw the allegation involved three separate prime ministers, I knew it was loony tunes.

Speaking to media in Sydney, Fiona Barnett detailed her alleged abuse by the alleged elite paedophile ring 40 years ago.

The 45-year-old said she was abused by the ring, which included high-ranking politicians, police and members of the judiciary, at the age of five and claimed there were thousands of other victims.

“My experiences were horrific beyond words,” she said. “But the way I’ve been treated for reporting the crimes I witnessed and experienced has been far worse than my original abuse experiences.”

Actually I don’t think people not believing you would be worse than being raped as a five year old.

The northern NSW woman went on to detail “hundreds of crimes” she claimed she had witnessed, including child abduction, torture, rape and murder.

She’s obviously crazy, so why are the media reporting this?

Ms Barnett said she had taken the allegations to multiple health professionals in the 1980s, NSW Police in 2008 and approached the Royal Commission in 2013. She said she and other victims of “VIP” perpetrators were “stonewalled” by authorities.

ACT Police release a statement this afternoon after Ms Barnett’s press conference.

“The matter was thoroughly investigated by ACT Policing’s Operation Attest and there was no evidence to substantiate the complainant’s allegations,” the statement read.

If she claimed to have been to the moon, would the media report it?


General Debate 25 October 2015

October 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 24 October 2015

October 24th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 23 October 2015

October 23rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 22 October 2015

October 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 21 October 2015

October 21st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

General Debate 20 October 2015

October 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel