Mark Day vs. Crikey:

Tim Deyzel writes: Re. “Mark Day’s bizarre fascination with stale news” (yesterday, item 16). Mark Day’s diatribe in The Australian yesterday says more about him than his primary target (you!). Could he (as a proxy for his employer) be suffering from Morgellons Syndrome also know as Delusional Parasitosis?

Wikipedia to the rescue with a definition: “In delusional parasitosis, sufferers have a strong delusional belief that they are infested with parasites, whereas in reality no such parasites are present. Very often the imaginary parasites are reported as being ‘bugs’ crawling on or under the skin”.

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Guy Rundle’s articles are generally amusing and thought-provoking. Mark should try re-reading them if he’d like to “understand what [Guy’s] on about?”

Keep on bugging the fourth estate Crikey!

“Terry Towelling” writes: It was fun to read Mark Day’s Crikey rant (how it must gall News Ltd to even mention the “gossip website”). What was even more fun was turning to Cut n Paste to see the next instalment in The Oz‘s own cultural jihad against Robert Manne (and other swingers to the left).

I will only take The Oz‘s assertions about the obsessive bleeding heart righteous anti-Murdoch focus of Crikey when they stop editorialising about Media Watch and Robert Manne.

Angus Sharpe writes: This isn’t mere hypocrisy. It’s (recursive) irony. Mark Day in a media outlet (The Australian) criticises a media outlet (Crikey) for criticising a media outlet (The Sunday Telegraph).

Chris Graham writes: The last time I read The Australian (a few years back) Crikey was sniffingly referred to as an “e-newsletter”. For a “nothing” publication, The Oz sure seems to spend a lot of time attacking you.

“Skink” writes: Who does he remind you of?

Port Phillip Bay:

Stephen Bradford, CEO, Port of Melbourne Corporation, writes: Re. “Measuring the fallout from the Port Phillip Bay dredging project” (11 September, item 9). In response to the recent article by Crikey “naturalist” Lionel Elmore, we’d like to provide the following replies to the many inaccuracies contained within it.

Firstly, the cost of the Channel Deepening Project (CDP) is not borne by taxpayers. From the outset, cost recovery for the project has clearly been based on the premise that port users as the primary beneficiaries would contribute to the project’s costs.

Secondly, the proposed maintenance dredging program is not part of the project, and in fact is part of standard Port operations to remove a build up of silt enabling ships to berth and manoeuvre with sufficient under keel clearance. In fact, the 2010/11 maintenance dredging program does not include any area that was part of the major CDP program.

This type of dredging has been done regularly for decades, while on the other hand, the Channel Deepening Project is a major public infrastructure development that is focused on jobs, industry and investment over the next 30 years.

Thirdly, there is absolutely no connection between tidal erosion and the project.

Numerous studies undertaken by independent authorities have shown that in fact there have been no consistent widespread detectable changes to tide heights since the project began and more to the point, that any changes have been in keeping with levels predicted by the project’s environmental assessment, the Supplementary Environment Effects Statement (SEES), the most intense level of scientific research ever undertaken on the Bay.

Likewise, independent evidence does not support that any changes in the weights of penguins in the Bay or at St Kilda can be attributed to any recent dredging activity. In fact all studies conducted as part of the Little Penguin Monitoring Program at Phillip Island show that penguin weights are in line with the long term averages recorded over the years.

During dredging their food may move to another part of the Bay, but penguins are mobile enough to follow their food sources. Penguins have shown they are tolerant of any short term effects arising from dredging and their preferred feeding zones are largely outside areas that can be expected to be affected by dredge plumes.

Notably, the independent Inquiry in 2007 concluded that both the St Kilda and Phillip Island penguin colonies “would be resilient in the long term” to dredging.

Overall, the Port’s level of research and assessment for the Channel Deepening Project has stood up to the rigours of public and expert scrutiny. At the same time, with major dredging operations in the Bay now completed, assessments show that the project has been completed in an environmentally sustainable manner. Further, the deepening of parts of the shipping channels in Port Phillip Bay has been one of the most tightly environmentally controlled marine projects in Australia’s history.

The decision to carry out this project is prudent in the context of the project’s economic significance. Channel deepening is a major lynchpin in the strategy to remain competitive, helping to safeguard jobs and economic prosperity not only during leaner economic times such as those now being experienced, but into the future when the world economy picks up, and it will. Indeed, it is a major public infrastructure development that is focused on jobs, industry and investment over the next 30 years.

In this context, the project has been consistently endorsed by State and Federal Governments, business groups, unions, shipping lines, manufacturers and farmers. The business community knows better than most what efficiency means to growth and success.


Daniel Lewis writes: Re. “Rundle: No wonder Danby is pissed off” (yesterday, item 12). Guy Rundle refers to “the pretty trenchant critiques offered by Antony Loewenstein and Michael Brull” of Israel. Excuse me? There’s no doubt that Loewenstein, and his compadre Brull’s “critiques” are obsessive, relentless and frequent. But trenchant or accurate? I think not. Loewenstein’s “Reign of Error” is legendary and barely a week goes by without another basic and embarrassing unforced error.

Michael Brull however has the rare distinction of making Loewenstein seem knowledgeable. For example, his embarrassing claim in defence of Islam, that: “more suicide bombings had been committed by the (secular) Tamil Tigers than any other group”. Wrong! More suicide bombings were carried out by Islamists in a single year, just in one country (Iraq), than by the Tamil Tigers in the last 100 years.

Like his mentor Loewenstein however, Brull knows that anyone pointing out errors can surely only be a “Zionist Bully” with a dirty, dirty agenda, as opposed to (say) someone who does know what they are talking about and would like a bit of accuracy in discussion on the Middle East. Loewenstein and Brull are much smarter than the rest of us, you see.

The reason Loewenstein and Brull appeal to people like Guy Rundle, and other leftist groups, is not because their commentary is especially insightful (it’s not even accurate). But because they call themselves Jewish, and thus have a novel defence denied to the typical Jew-hating (sorry, anti-Zionist) obsessive.

As Michael Danby noted, they are certainly good enough for Crikey

ACMA and iTunes:

Verity Pravda writes: Re. “ACMA iTunes and the failure of net filtering” (yesterday, item 4). Stilgherrian tells us that both Mark Newton and Geordie Guy have cottoned on to the idea that they can chew up taxpayers dollars in reporting iTunes and Bigpond for allowing users to access MA15+ movies. He posits “Imagine the mayhem if every anti-censorship campaigner started hitting ACMA’s red complaint button“.

However, after the mayhem wouldn’t there just be an awful lot of content on the blacklist and/or take down notices? Wouldn’t such a campaign by said campaigners be just a lot of self-defeating twaddle?

Why don’t they get over their obsession with the ACMA list as currently constructed and focus their energy on holding Conroy to his current version — a mandatory web-filter would only apply to Refused Classification material (and get Conroy to create an R18+ and X18+ category for online games and his State colleagues to create it for other games).


Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer opines “Labor politicians in New South Wales should be hoping for an early arrest over the murder of property developer Michael McGurk”. But, in fact, the mooted Legislative Council “fishing expedition” won’t affected by sub judice due to parliamentary privilege. Nor will it prevent the Sydney Morning Herald making the reminiscences of Leanne Edelsten of 25 years ago front-page news like it did last Saturday.

The reality is that it will be open season on the NSW Labor Government (headed by Nathan Rees or any other unfortunate) until 2011. We, the media consumers of New South Wales, will be bombarded with every accusation and indiscretion vaguely related to the state government. Yes, NSW Labor is on trial, but so is the media. Can they report the news, or will they be consumed with impotent blood lust?

White power:

Angela Swindle writes: Re. “‘White power’ t-shirts for sale outside Alice Springs council offices” (10 September, item 4). It amazes me what kind of low-life people we have in this world and how I can’t even find the words to describe a person as disgusting as that so-called “man” who is selling these shirts. I am also amazed not just at the lack of action from the local council, but particularly by allowing this to happen outside of their offices — what does it say about them?

Very scary. I feel for and worry for the local Aboriginal people and for all Aboriginal people who are subjected to such hatred for no reason.

Climate change:

Matt Andrews. writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) maintains his fine tradition of breathtakingly ignorant letters on climate change with a couple of claims just ripe for the puncturing. The first is “the global temperature in August 2009 was 0.23C above the 30-year mean”. Presumably Tamas is trying to paint a picture of negligible warming that doesn’t warrant strong action, but in fact this data point is embarrassingly devoid of meaning.

Let’s take a step back: “climate” is roughly defined as “the average of the weather over the long term”, where “long term” is usually defined as at least 30 years. Short term temperatures — the single month that Tamas cites, or even annual averages — are dominated by the wild ups and downs of the weather, the “noise” in the long term signal. The warming trend caused by human releases of greenhouse gases is very clear over the last thirty years or hundred years, but if you restrict your time period tightly enough, it’s swamped by the natural chaos of the weather.

Tamas neglects to mention that the data he’s quoting is the denialists’ favourite: UAH satellite figures. Satellites don’t measure surface temperature; they measure temperature across large cross-sections of the stratosphere and upper troposphere. That is then processed to generate an estimate of lower troposphere temperature. This is not the same as direct surface temperature measurements, for which there are several global average indexes of high statistical quality, the best of which are Hadley HadCRU and NASA GISS. nSubstantial issues have been raised in recent years over implausible anomalies in UAH data.

Tamas says “there’s still no sign of the coming apocalypse”; that in itself is very much debatable, but on the face of it he wants us to wait until we have a global disaster on our hands before acting — a suggestion so spectacularly foolish that I need say nothing more on it.

More seriously, Tamas has clearly failed to understand that the climate issue is one of minimising risk. There are substantial uncertainties over what might happen in the coming decades, and, yes, some of them are near-apocalyptic, at least for contemporary human civilisation. That might be a low risk, but it is not insignificant, and it includes several quite plausible scenarios which could play out at very short notice. More broadly, there are major impacts which are already at a high risk of occurring over the next few decades.

Tamas goes on to announce that “the temperature data supports the climate sceptics”. This is in fact (unintentionally) correct — the genuine “climate sceptics” are the mainstream climate scientists. Scepticism lies at the core of science: new data is critically examined both in terms of its soundness and against the context of the established evidence. Conversely, those who label themselves “climate sceptics” are usually the opposite: credulous and ill-informed, sucking up whatever factoid they come across on denialist blogs, and resolutely refusing to educate themselves about the big picture. What he’s trying to say is that the temperature data refutes mainstream climate science — a claim which is manifestly and comprehensively false.

If Tamas is able to provide some kind of substantial evidence to back this assertion, I’m sure that climate scientists the world over would be very interested indeed.

Mark Byrne writes: Tamas Calderwood at least provides some language that can accurately describe his own argument: “lazy arguments and lack of supporting data”. In the following one and a half sentences from Calderwood, see if you can spot the non-sequitur and the unsupported conclusion: “…global temperature in August 2009 was 0.23C above the 30-year mean so there’s still no sign of the coming apocalypse. Given that the temperature data supports the climate sceptics…”

Tamas, I think this could accurately be described as of argument by fallacious assertion. The data you present does not support either of your proclamations that (a) there is no sign of dangerous warming, nor (b) that the temperature data supports the climate sceptics (whoever might deserve that title). Tamas you’ll be surprised to read that there is evidence of rapid climate change, evidence that there is more warming in the pipeline, and is and also evidence of triggers that greatly amplify warming.

Are we to assume that Tamas will only be convinced of dangerous global warming after it has occurred?

ANd Mark M Aldridge (yesterday, comments), thanks for your conspiracy theory, but why are would those greedy scientists claim consensuses on the causes of the current warming if they could drag out funding with more studies. Surely in your fantasy they cooked their goose when they discerned a consensus. Thank goodness for the Exxon and Co funding all those truth seeking lobby groups, and tax whacking ideological think tanks.

I also suggest you read AR4 WG2, to see the impact of warming on food production, and particularly in regions already facing scarcity.

Kieren Diment writes: Tamas Calderwood refers to a “lack of supporting data”. This is in fact only true if you ignore or discard 80% or more of the existing data, and set your standards of scientific evidence to a peculiarly psychotic level.

Mark Aldridge may care to do some sums and calculate the difference between the size of the fossil fuel economy, and the climate science economy. Having done the sums he will then see which side of this so- called argument is better placed to fight an effective PR campaign, often aided and abetted by similarly misguided individuals such as Tamas Calderwood.

Ken Lambert writes: From the ratbaggery of Clive Hamilton to the Woodstock pinings of Ian McHugh, the Hazelwood protest is another example of the mindless green agenda which will consign Australia to a dark, cold poverty.

There are only three feasible non-GHG producing alternatives to coal fired central electricity generation in Australia in the next 20 years — Nuclear, Geothermal and Hydro. The fourth is Gas — less, but still producing CO2 — a plant food and trace GHG. And as I have said before several times; CCS is BS. Forget your windmills, PV Solar, tides, fumaroles and power towers. They just won’t replace 83 percent of current electricity load generated by coal.

A few quiet scientists are working on geothermal at 50-70MW a pop — you need lots of them and the technology is still experimental. Geothermal sites are a long way from loads but very high voltage DC is mooted to be feasible for transmission. Hot rock geothermal runs 24/7.

Nuclear is mature and could be deployed in 10-15 years with our own enrichment and storage facilities — if we start a crash program next week. It runs 24/7 close to the load, but we will probably end up buying our technology from the Chinese who don’t tolerate Green ratbags running their energy future. More hydro needs more mountains, water and dams — all in short supply in Australia.

So there it is, Clive, Ian — either Three Mile Island — cadmium and mercury laden brine from hot granite … or more dams in the bush.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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