all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

31 October, 2017

Unbanning a Ban

From Bloomberg comes “Trump’s Ban on Transgender Soldiers Is Blocked by U.S. Judge” by Erik Larson:
A U.S. judge temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s promised ban on transgender Americans serving in the armed forces, ruling that an earlier policy of inclusion must remain in effect.
The ban, due to be implemented in March 2018, is a form [of] discrimination based on gender and is already causing harm to personnel, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington said in a ruling Monday.  […]
Citing threats to troop readiness and morale, as well as costs associated with transgender medical services, Trump in July said in a series of tweets that he would reverse former President Barack Obama’s policy allowing transgender soldiers to serve.  The suit by the National Center for Lesbian Rights claims the plan violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
The injunction means Trump’s policy cannot be implemented while the case is litigated. No trial date has been set.  In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly said she was required to apply a greater degree of scrutiny to the government’s plan because it impacts a class of Americans that has lacked political power.
“As a class, transgender individuals have suffered, and continue to suffer, severe persecution and discrimination,” the judge wrote.  “Despite this discrimination, the court is aware of no argument or evidence suggesting that being transgender in any way limits one’s ability to contribute to society.”
Ignoring the obvious point that a person who is severely physically or mentally disabled might be definitely unfit for any military service but still able to “contribute to society” (and despite the fact that not all discrimination is necessarily evil), let us apply a little reductio by exchanging one fashionable delusion accepted (seemingly uncritically) by the judge—that men who insist they are women and women who avow they are men, despite contrary biological evidence, are sane—with other forms of delusion:
“As a class, people who think they’re pet poodles, or have a firm belief that they’re garden walls, or possess deep certitude that they are intelligent vapours visiting Earth across the vast expanse of time and space from some settlement within the constellation which we call the Pleiades, have suffered, and continue to suffer, severe persecution and discrimination,” the judge might explain.  “Despite this discrimination, the court is aware of no argument or evidence suggesting that allegedly being a dog or an inanimate structure or an alien emission in any way limits one’s ability to contribute to society, therefore I demand that such people must not only be allowed to enrol (or, if already enrolled, stay) in our military forces but thenceforth our military forces must bear the inconveniences, and the taxpayers must foot the bill, for any subsequent special treatment that the supposed canines, constructions or gases may require or demand.”

10 October, 2017

Tony Abbott’s Address on AGW

Hon. Tony Abbott, in an address to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, said (inter alia):
Since the Global Financial Crisis, at least in the West, growth has been slow, wages stagnant, opportunities limited, and economic and cultural disruption unprecedented.  Within countries and between them, old pecking orders are changing.  Civilizational self-doubt is everywhere; we believe in everyone but ourselves; and everything is taken seriously except that which used to be.
Just a few years ago, history was supposed to have ended in the triumph of the Western liberal order.  Yet far from becoming universal, Western values are less and less accepted even in the West itself.  We still more or less accept that every human being is born with innate dignity; with rights, certainly, but we’re less sure about the corresponding duties.
We still accept the golden rule of human conduct: to treat others as we would have them treat us—or to use the Gospel formula to “love your neighbour as you love yourself”—but we’re running on empty.
In Britain and Australia, scarcely 50% describe themselves as Christian, down from 90% a generation back.  For decades, we’ve been losing our religious faith but we’re fast losing our religious knowledge too.  We’re less a post-Christian society than a non-Christian, or even an anti-Christian one.  It hasn’t left us less susceptible to dogma, though, because we still need things to believe in and causes to fight for; it’s just that believers can now be found for almost anything and everything.
Climate change is by no means the sole or even the most significant symptom of the changing interests and values of the West.  Still, only societies with high levels of cultural amnesia—that have forgotten the scriptures about man created “in the image and likeness of God” and charged with “subduing the earth and all its creatures”—could have made such a religion out of it.
There’s no certain way to regain cultural self-confidence.  The heart of any recovery, though, has to be an honest facing of facts and an insistence upon intellectual rigour.  […]
Beware the pronouncement, “the science is settled”.  It’s the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought-police down the ages.  Almost as bad is the claim that “99% of scientists believe” as if scientific truth 
[were] determined by votes rather than facts.
There are laws of physics; there are objective facts; there are moral and ethical truths.  But there is almost nothing important where no further enquiry is needed.  What the “science is settled” brigade want is to close down investigation by equating questioning with superstition.  It’s an aspect of the wider weakening of the Western mind which poses such dangers to the world’s future.  
Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s.  Sometimes, they do more damage but that’s because there’s more to destroy, not because their intensity has increased.  More than one hundred years of photography at Manly Beach in my electorate does not suggest that sea levels have risen despite frequent reports from climate alarmists that this is imminent.
It may be that a tipping point will be reached soon and that the world might start to warm rapidly but so far reality has stubbornly refused to conform to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s computer modelling.  Even the high-priests of climate change now seem to concede that there was a pause in warming between the 1990s and 2014.
So far, though, there’s no concession that their models might require revision even though unadjusted data suggests that the 1930s were actually the warmest decade in the United States and that temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3º over the past century, not the one degree usually claimed.
The growing evidence that records have been adjusted, that the impact of urban heat islands has been downplayed, and that data sets have been slanted in order to fit the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming does not make it false; but it should produce much caution about basing drastic action upon it.
Then there’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields.  In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it [be] accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.
In what might be described as Ridley’s paradox, after the distinguished British commentator: at least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.
Australia, for instance, has the world’s largest readily available supplies of coal, gas and uranium, yet thanks to a decade of policy based more on green ideology than common sense, we can’t be sure of keeping the lights on this summer; and, in the policy-induced shift from having the world’s lowest power prices to amongst the highest, our manufacturing industry has lost its one, big comparative economic advantage.  […]
As a badge of environmental virtue, the South Australian state Labor government had been boasting that, on average, almost 50% of its power was wind-generated—although at any moment it could vary from almost zero to almost 100%.  It had even ostentatiously blown up its one coal-fired power station.
In September last year, though, the wind blew so hard that the turbines had to shut down—and the inter-connector with Victoria and its reliable coal-fired power failed too.  For twenty-four hours, there was a State-wide blackout.  For nearly two million people, the lights were off, cash registers didn’t work, traffic lights went down, lifts stopped, and patients were sent home from hospitals.
Throughout last summer, there were further blackouts and brownouts across eastern Australia requiring hundreds of millions in repairs to the plant of energy-intensive industries.  Despite this, in a display of virtue signalling, to flaunt its environmental credentials (and to boost prices for its other coal-fired plants), last March the French-government part-owned multinational, Engie, closed down the giant Hazelwood coal-fired station that had supplied a quarter of Victoria’s power.
The Australian Energy Market Operator is now sufficiently alarmed to have just issued an official warning of further blackouts this summer in Victoria and South Australia and severe medium term power shortfalls.  But in yet more virtue-signalling, energy giant AGL is still threatening to close the massive Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW and replace it with a subsidised solar farm and a much smaller gas-fired power station relying on gas supplies that don’t currently exist.
Were it not rational behaviour based on irrational government policy, this deliberate elimination of an essential service could only be described as a form of economic self-harm.