The American Way of Doing Things

CIAThe release of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee on the activities of the CIA (or, at any rate, the executive summary of it) is a welcome sign that the United Sates is growing up a bit. It demonstrates that the CIA’s practices of kidnapping (Extraordinary Rendition, in CIA-speak) and subsequent torture (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) of people they are suspicious of have been not only commonplace, but ineffective.

Well, we knew that, of course. What is significant is that the US Senate is prepared now to acknowledge it.

It is good news for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. It is utterly absurd that the Swedish prosecutor Maryanne Ny will not interview Assange (that is all she says she wants to do) in London. It is positively obscene that the UK authorities have spent many millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a 24/7 police presence to ensure Assange remains cooped up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. But all that said, it seems improbable now that Assange, were he to go to Sweden Continue reading

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Damned lies (statistics) and True Thinking

I noticed a spike in the number of people who look at this blog the other day. I am not an expert in social media at all, but I think it was caused by this retweet:

and retweeted a Tweet you were mentioned in
Nov 28:

: Don’t Mention the War – We are not out of the Woods yet ”Great article by a true thinker:

James Delingpole writes for the Daily Telegraph in London, so it was presumably his retweet that captured some attention.

Anyway, it is flattering to be regarded as “a true thinker”.  Thanks, chaps!

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It’s not going to happen again

I was a bitRupert Brooke peeved with Leonard Cohen for quite a while. I had set Lord Byron’s poem So we’ll no more go a’roving to music, and was quite pleased with myself for it. Then, a few years later, our Len did the same thing. I am not suggesting, of course, that he copied me. The problem was that people might think I had copied him.

Anyway, it is the local dog park concert today, and I was being encouraged to sing and play something. So I have set a Rupert Brooke poem to music. I discovered Brooke when I was 17: there was a copy of his collected poems in my grandmother’s house. It was a surprise to me, because like most 17 years olds, I imagined all parents and grandparents, agreeable as they were, as a bit lacking in the poetic passion department. He was of course then – in the swinging sixties – and still is today, deeply unfashionable, but in his own day, and at the time of the Great War, he was huge. Born in 1887, he was academically brilliant, good-looking, charming and much admired by other literary figures in the pre-war years. Commissioned as a navy officer having been brought to the attention of Winston Churchill, he was on his way to Gallipoli when he died of septicaemia following an infected mosquito bite. He was buried on the Aegean island of Skiros.  He was 27 years old.

He is best known for his patriotic stuff:

If I should die, think only this of me:
   That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

But it is his dry wit and his sense of fun which allows him to venture Continue reading


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Don’t Mention the War – We are not out of the Woods yet.

mention the warThe Millennium Bug scare was fairly easily dispersed. When the 2000 moment came and went, aeroplanes did not fall out of the sky, the banking system did not collapse and life carried on pretty much as before. Meanwhile, a lot of software companies had made an awful lot of money doing not a lot.

The Global Warming scare had taken longer to go away. It is now 18 years since there was any global warming, so we (or any rate, those of us who have troubled to look at the issue) know beyond any reasonable doubt that the models on which the IPCC and others based their predictions of doom were quite simply wrong. Man-made CO2 continues to be produced unabated – in tiny amounts by planet standards, but much more than mankind has ever produced before – and the effect on the climate has been – well – pretty much nothing at all.

There are indicators all over the place that the heat has gone out of the scare campaign. I notice that the BBC reported the other day that thicknesses of floating sea ice in Antarctica are much greater than Continue reading

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Look here

JulieBishopSome people in Australia feel uncomfortable with the fact that the Minister for Foriegn Affairs, Julie Bishop, is a bit of a looker.

Personally, I think it is great.

A little while ago I was waiting for my bags at Adelaide airport. Julie Bishop was waiting beside me. The photographs do not do her justice: in real life, she is a serious looker.

The important thing, of course, is that Continue reading

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Perdita is Innocent Shock

Perdita on the floor (1)We had roast chicken the other night.  There was quite a bit left.  The next morning, we could not find anything left at all.  Had Perdita got it? She can and does reach up onto the kitchen bench the days. And she looked VERY guilty.

But it turned out that she was innocent. Someone had had the foresight to hide the rest of the chicken in the microwave oven, which is one of the few places that Perdita cannot reach.

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Park Talk

I regularly walk my dog in the park, and of course many of the owners know each other. They also know that I am a lawyer.

Yesterday evening, there was discussion about an event the previous day, when a few owners were berated at length for some supposed offense by an obstreperous woman.

gi-jewPETER:  We needed you!

ME: Why? Do you want to start a war in the Middle East?

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Cougar Sleeping in a Tree

cougarSomeone (I will not say who) posted this on Facebook, on the basis that it is quite a good joke.

I agree. Not side splitting, but droll enough and perfectly harmless.

But he has been asked to take it down by a lady who described it as “misogynistic porn” and says she has “constructed my social bubble so as not to be confronted with stuff that makes me feel sick, or powerless”.

Almost everything that is funny is likely to offend someone in the world.  It would be a great shame Continue reading


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A Penny for her Thoughts

My friend Ian is a bright and amusing fellow, albeit that he has sometimes been a bit of a sucker for climate change alarmism. The other day, he posted a prediction by Penny Sackett that we had just 5 years to save the world from disastrous global warming. Now, Penny Sackett is not quite as well established as Tim Flannery as an object of mirth, but she has recently been the object of considerable derision, since it is now 5 years since that prediction, and of course, there has been no global warming at all during that 5 years, let alone disastrous global warming. So I thought Ian might well be having a bit of a laugh posting her 5 year old prediction as if it were recent.

But it seems not. He has asked me if really dispute the existence of global warming.

GWPF graph 2014There are things that are settled and things that are not. It is settled that the world has warmed and cooled numerous times in the past, and that these changes cannot possibly have been caused by man-made CO2 emissions, because these changes occurred long before mankind was around in any numbers to make any difference. It certainly warmed during the last third of the 20th century. Equally certain is that temperatures have not continued to increase this century – all but the activists agree that there has been no material global warming for the last 15 years or so (see for example the Met Office report The recent pause in global warming: What are the potential causes?). Neither has it cooled during this period. So it has remained relatively hot, by recent standards.

Also well-settled, beyond any doubt it seems to me, is that the models used by the IPCC and others, predicated both on the greenhouse gas effect and a positive feedback effect, are fundamentally wrong. Continue reading


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Esprit de L’Escalier

Jamie: Daddy, do you know what the scientific name for a gorilla is?

Me: Gorilla.

Jamie: Actually, it is Gorilla gorilla.

Me: So, actually, I was nearly right nearly right.

(This final line only came to me a few moments too slow)

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