Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Is that what you REALLY meant?

There is a news report online (VicHealth report reveals Australians turning blind eye to rape and violence against women) that makes the claim that "A disturbing number of Australians are prepared to justify the actions of rapists and domestic violence perpetrators and shift the blame on to the victims."

Curiously, the article offers up some interesting statistics about attitudes to rape and domestic violence without offering a link to the report, although it offers "SOURCE: 2013 National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey" as a citation.

Apart from the inherent bias in the assumption that domestic violence is always against women, I was drawn to the following statement attributed to Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay,

“Let me put this simply — there is no circumstance where violence against women is understandable or acceptable.”

I am appalled. The Commissioner is obviously making the right political noises - he got to be Police Commissioner after all - but is he really saying that he cannot imagine a scenario where violence against a woman is appropriate? Is he really saying that he could not understand - not condone, just understand - that someone could be so hurt by a woman, physically or emotionally, that violence might be seen as their only option?

I have been married to the same woman for 25 years. In that time I have seen friends' marriages break up, and I have seen both men and women struggling with the viciousness that is often associated with separation and divorce. In some of those circumstances I would have understood if violence had resulted. Hell, in a couple of cases, I expected it, and would have called it justified.

I cite that only to say, as Ned Kelly did - "Such is life.

This is the normal stuff of living and breathing, of striving to make sense of the universe, and to carve out a place for yourself, and your family. Imagination isn't required so much as observation. Look around you, and you'll see men and women doing wonderful things, and other men and women behaving badly.

To say that there is no circumstance where violence against a woman is justified (to paraphrase) is absurd.

 - Imagine being the teenager on the train who is assaulted by a woman because he looked at her
 - Imagine being the young husband facing a spurious molestation allegation from his estranged wife
 - Imagine being an elderly couple watching TV when a gang of young women invade your home

To have a POLICE COMMISSIONER say it is worse. This is supposedly a man who has a better appreciation of the underbelly of society than most, purely by the matter of his job. He says that he can't imagine a circumstance where violence against women is justified, but I bet he doesn't say that about men.

The only consolation is that this isn't a reasoned statement; it's a politically correct pronouncement intended to be nothing more than public opinion theatre.

Well bless his heart ...

I am told that the title of this post is a common insult in the southern US. It apparently means that the person referred to is a few sausages short of a barbecue.

In that vein, I present Professor Will Steffen, contributor to the Climate Council, and one if the authors of a newly released report predicting 1 metre sea-level rises by 2100, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to Australia's economy. (Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding).

Do a quick internet search using the search terms "will steffen climate council" - one of the returned references will be to the ARC Center of Excellence page where you will find:

"Professor Will Steffen completed his Bachelor degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri.  He was awarded his Masters degree and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Florida."

Now, I fully understand that the natural world is made up of chemicals. I further understand that the interactions between these chemicals involves the transfer of energy. However, I REFUSE to accept that a qualification in chemistry makes one a climate expert. In fact, the ARC biography for the man reports that not one of his manifold "achievements" during his working life is in the field of chemistry.

From his biography, he is a gadfly "mouth for hire" having been climate spokesman for this and that government advisory body around the world. Nice work if you can get it.

The other author - Leslie Hughes - has a brief biography on the Climate Council website (Lesley Hughes at the Climate Council)  that curiously mentions neither her qualifications nor her alma mater.

The two are associated with the impressively named "Climate Council" which is, according to its own propaganda:

"The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. Our mission is to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change."

That's an interesting statement, and yet revealing in an unintended way. Think about it - Climate Council - sounds very official, even governmental, doesn't it? But it's not. It's a private organisation, funded by donations. That's right there in that brief paragraph. So "independent" means "not funded by government" apparently, and I don't doubt for a minute that are we somehow meant to construe that "non-profit" is in every way better than "for profit", as though not being able to sell your expertise for money is a good thing.

The second line needs some corrections though. Somehow, "Our mission is to provide authoritarian, non-expert advice to the Australian public on climate change." seems to better reflect what they do.

The people working for the Climate Council are largely the same as worked for the now abolished, government-funded Climate Commission, the most high profile of which is arguably geologist and paleontologist Tim Flannery. Professor Flannery is yet another "climate expert" with no credentials in the actual, you know, climate sciences.

Why was the Climate Commission abolished? I suspect that things like lying to the government and the public had a hand in the decision - How dare the Climate Commission complain at being caught out. The fact that it was costing at least $1.6 million per year for advice of dubious value probably helped seal its fate.

Oh, and finally, it's about as independent as my left foot is independent from my left ankle. The organisation is beholden to its donors, and the green agenda that they hold. The first time that the Climate Council presents something that fails to adhere to the green agenda of "man is evil, Mother Gaia is hurting" will be the moment that all that lovely money dries up.

At that point Professor Steffen might need to go back to the US, and get a real job, in chemistry even - bless his heart.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It never rains, but it pours ...

Here in West Oz, it rains infrequently, and lightly, but sometimes we get a cloud-burst. This happens less often that the Climate Change alarmists would like us to believe, but it does happen.

When it does rain, however, the falling sky-water hits roads that are laden with the drips of oil from many thousands of cars, and lo, the roads become skating rinks. It is one of the developed world's less admirable magic tricks. The collision rate goes up, as drivers unused to such conditions fail to modify their driving behaviour, and slides become OOPS, OH SHIT, CRASH!

We had such a cloud-burst recently (well, "recently" relative to how often I post here), but this post is not about a collision, it's about the fact that drainage systems designed around light and infrequent rain cannot handle a deluge, and how standing water in a hollow at night is almost impossible to see in street lights.

I hit the damn puddle at 20 kph - it would have been 70 kph, but for the stab at the brakes prompted by a fleeting reflection of the moon off a wind-blown ripple. The bow-wave was impressive. Just as impressive was the gluteal clench - the air intake on my 944 is low in the nose (better for to breathe cold air, my dear), and I was convinced that the engine would ingest enough water to hydrolock and break something. Stunningly it didn't. I changed down to first gear, kept the revs low, and emerged, apparently unscathed, on the far dark shore.

I say "apparently" as a few days later, strange noises began to emanate from under the bonnet. It rapidly got worse, until it was impossible for anyone with any mechanical sympathy to drive it. It sounded like three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were having a bar fight in full medieval armour, while the fourth played drums.

Of course, all the good tools I own are at my workshop, along with the hoist, and getting there with the car was now impossible. What fun - working on my back under a car, in a two car garage, at night, in the cold, without the right tools.

Surprisingly, the culprit was easy to find - bearings in both alternator (probably original) and AC compressor (recently replaced - for some values of recently) complaining about their recent bath.

Exchange Alternator - $600+
Exchange compressor - $800+
Bearings to do it myself - $35

Even buying a cheap Chinese press to make the job easier would leave me $1000+ to the good. Guess which option I chose.

With the car on ramps, I removed all the stuff the paint shop conveniently forgot to replace, then the alternator and compressor, conveniently both driven by the same belt.

Four hours to remove; two hours to clean, disassemble, and clean; two hours to replace four bearings and reassemble; three hours to reinstall, button up, and put the tools away. Normally one long day, but done over three nights.

Result? Success! It's not silent - there are too many heavy, greasy bits whirling around, not to mention the whole suck-squeeze-bang-blow thing going on - but the bits that shouldn't be making noise now can't be heard.

Anybody want to buy a cheap Chinese automotive press? Only used once!