Saturday, May 26, 2012

Scepticism and denialism

Further on the ANU climate-death-threats controversy, The Australian’s legal affairs editor Chris Merritt has today fired off another desperate salvo at the ABC and Media Watch.

He gives voice inter alia to the concerns of a handful of committed campaigning climate sceptics who seem unhappy with the ABC’s continued refusal to demur to the proposition that there were no death threats to any Australian climate scientists ever, period.

I have nothing to add to what I’ve already noted about all this, except to note that the “threatening incidents” towards ANU staff, established as occurring in late-2009 and early-2010, took place in the context of the Copenhagen climate summit of December 2009, culminating in relocation of the ANU staff in February 2010.

Keen observers will recall that time was characterised by somewhat overblown assertions in the populist media regarding the Copenhagen ‘agenda’.  For instance, consider the following from an associate editor of a major Australian metropolitan daily:

To say that Leftist groups are using the global warming scare to further their dreams of world government is not a conspiracy theory but the literal truth...

Note that what was being considered there were draft treaty arrangements for mitigation of what the Australian Government then recognised (and presumably still does) as the most pressing moral challenge of our time.  The world is planted thick with sundry treaty arrangements, from NATO to the European Union to the WTO.

The most-read columnist proceeded to conflate those draft treaty arrangements with conspiracist notions of world government; then served up the reeking confection to a readership primed with his daily rants against Teh Left Who Want to Oppress You; and, moreover, a readership sometimes inhabited by a minority but vocal lunar fringe.

Fast forward to today and one finds that one of most strident and venomous critics of the ANU death threats “smear” is that very same most-read columnist.

Well, who could blame someone for being in denial about having unwittingly helped feed something so ugly?

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Friday, May 25, 2012

He said, he said

James Delingpole, conservative writer, The Australian:

I had a run-in with prickly ABC talk radio host... One of the things that has always puzzled me about the Left is that for all its fine talk about the virtues of free speech, it's often at least as eager as any authoritarian Right regime to close it down. Nowhere is this tendency better exemplified than by the behaviour of those two gruesome siblings, the BBC and the ABC: despite their pretensions of even-handedness and social responsibility, the way they abuse their near-monopolistic domination of their country's broadcast media owes more to statist tyrannies than free democracies.

Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director, Senate Estimates:

It struck me that there are a number of these international people, mainly climate change sceptics, who come and are interviewed on all our programs, and before they leave they drop a diary column to the Spectator and a piece in the Australian and leave. I am sorry that he did not feel that the robust questioning he got on the ABC was the kind of questioning he wanted. But he does present himself as contrary and running against conventional wisdom, and that is what you get. I would say that in his final paragraph he describes the ABC, talking about the way we abuse “the near monopolistic domination” — talking about us and the BBC — “of their country‘s broadcast media.” I thought that if he really has come to Australia and appeared on all these outlets and believes that the ABC has a near monopolistic domination of the country‘s broadcast media, then quite frankly I do not think we need to hear much from him anymore, if that is the level of insight that he really has.

That just about wraps it up for . . .

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friends needed

The haemorrhaging of value from Facebook stock following last week’s IPO has been cause for much consternation in the business press.

“Where are Facebook’s friends?”

they ask in unison (for instance, here and here and here and so on).

As a concept Facebook is “really cool”, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is wont to say (endlessly).

It is by far the most innovative online social networking platform with incredible reach and penetration. Show me someone whose Mum isn’t on Facebook and I will show you a socially deprived individual.

But that cool concept must be monetised in order for it to be viable and sustainable. The health and vigour of an online community is reflected in its share price.

That’s where you, the Facebook user, come in. As a free-loader on the online corporate infrastructure provided by Facebook, it behoves you to do your part in generating the value that will sustain the concept.

In short, you need to get on that platform and interact. Use the silly applications. Play the mindless games. Engage in shameless self-promotion, or even a spot of cyber-bullying within acceptable limits. Generate your fair share of interstitial nodes of demographic data.

In shorter: Be Mark’s friend.

Consume and, ultimately, be consumed.

image source


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Energy driven

On ABC TV’s Media Watch last night, Jonathan Holmes made a sterling attempt to unravel the controversy over alleged death threats to climate scientists in Australia.

It’s much as I suspected: A concatenation and endless loop of misreporting, claim, counter-claim, self-righteous indignation, partisan posturing, etc.

From the material presented by Holmes and the Media Watch team there can be no doubt that a number of climate scientists in Australia have been subjected to abusive and threatening approaches — whether by email or other means — by some of the more unhinged exponents of climate ‘scepticism’.

Yet some prominent and even not-so-prominent mass-bloggers are still in denial on that point. Andrew Bolt still wants the story to be about who said what to whom and when. He simply can’t let it go because he has for many weeks now invested so much of his credibility into ratchetting up the invective to the nth.

Meanwhile, Bolt’s stablemate at News £td, Tim Blair has summed up Holmes' efforts thus:

In the short term, yep, a win for Holmes. But in the long term, warmies have never understood how much energy these evidence-avoiding tactics drive into the climate debate.

That’s kind of an interesting formulation: Abuse and threats resolved as “energy driven into the climate debate.”

Well, after all, this is the guy whose response to an actor’s public fantasising about shooting a journalist was to entertain the actor over drinky-poos.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

People and Code

While a war for civilisation rages virtually ignored exclusively by this blog, a far more defining struggle has been waged under the radar...

Web startups are made out of two things: people and code. The people make the code, and the code makes the people rich. Code is like a poem; it has to follow certain structural requirements, and yet out of that structure can come art. But code is art that does something. It is the assembly of something brand new from nothing but an idea.

This is the story of a wonderful idea. Something that had never been done before, a moment of change that shaped the Internet we know today. This is the story of Flickr. And how Yahoo bought it and murdered it and screwed itself out of relevance along the way.

Bloody good read: How Yahoo killed Flickr and lost the internet.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunset #20045