Monthly Archives: September 2016

Petition US government to release El Salvador files

Unfinished Sentences is encouraging US citizens to contact governmental representatives in order to encourage them to declassify documents related to El Salvador's civil war. The US has already released some documents in regard to El Salvador's civil war, as well as the conflicts in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.

However, with new opportunities for transitional justice in El Salvador, additional releases of US documents related to that country's civil war will help the people of El Salvador to demand justice from their government. What information do we have pertaining to the disappearances of upwards of 10,000 Salvadorans?

See also US release of its Latin American Cold War files.

Только свежие цветы с доставкой на любой адрес

Что выбрать в качестве подарка

Современных представителей слабого пола вряд ли удивишь любым, даже дорогим подарком. Они привыкли к элитным украшениям, косметике и парфюмерии, мобильным телефонам, дорогим аксессуарам, одежде, бытовым приборам и другим предметам повседневного обихода. Как же не растеряться в таком изобилии товаров и выбрать действительно ценный и качественный подарок? Цветы – это идеальный вариант для всех, кто по-настоящему ценит красоту и совершенство.

Где можно купить букет

Сегодня цветы можно приобрести везде – начиная от подземных переходов и заканчивая цветочными базарами и специализированными магазинами. Но рядовой потребитель сегодня зачастую не имеет много свободного времени, а букет иногда нужно приобрести в срочном порядке. Удобная служба доставка цветов придет на помощь тем, кто нуждается в красивых эксклюзивных букетах.
Сегодня заказать доставку цветов можно за несколько минут прямо из рабочего кабинета или из уютной домашней обстановки. Для этого посетите удобный сайт и подберите самый подходящий вариант букета. Сегодня цветы с доставкой заказать через сайт интернет-магазина дает массу преимуществ и достоинств, основные из которых следующие:
– качественная доставка букетов проходит в максимально сжатые сроки;
– ресурс располагает достаточно широким каталогом живых растений, которые имеют прекрасный внешний вид и изысканный аромат;
– выбрать букет можно в любое удобное время;
– всегда можно получить качественную консультацию флористов и менеджеров интернет-магазина.

В широком каталоге живых растений можно подобрать как традиционные классические букеты, так и цветы в горшках или корзинках. Сегодня здесь представлен широкий выбор роз и гербер, гладиолусов и лилий, хризантем и гвоздик, тюльпанов и орхидей. Сотрудники всегда подберут для вас цвет, форму и аромат готового букета. Для декора используются бабочки, ленточки, оригинальная авторская упаковка. Мы ценим и заботимся о каждом клиенте, а поэтому подбираем только лучшие цветы.

The Semantics of Science Versus Pseudoscience

Not long ago, Katie Burke suggested in American Scientist that the term pseudoscience should stop being used, arguing that:

Using the term pseudoscience... leads to unnecessary polarization, mistrust, disrespectfulness, and confusion around science issues. Everyone—especially scientists, journalists, and science communicators—would better serve science by avoiding it.

But would that really be true? And what descriptions should replace the term pseudoscience if that is true?

Burke offers some suggestions that gets into the specific context in which the alternatives might apply on either side of what has become known as the demarcation problem in describing science versus pseudoscience, which can be thought of as the challenge of distinguishing between credible scientific effort in new or less-studied fields and outright fraud that has been dressed up and presented in scientific clothing:

There are great alternatives to the term pseudoscience—ones that are much more explicit and constructive. One can simply state what kind of scientific evidence is available. If scientific evidence is lacking, why not say so and then discuss why that might be? And if scientific evidence directly contradicts a claim, saying so outright is much stronger than if a fuzzy term like pseudoscience is used. Of course, if fraudulent behavior is suspected, such allegations are best stated overtly rather than veiled under the word pseudoscience. Words that are clearer, stronger, and avoid such fraught cultural and historical baggage include the following: For the first use of the term, I suggest replacing pseudoscience with descriptors such as emerging and still-experimental, as yet scientifically inconclusive, scientifically debated, and lacking scientific evidence. For the second use of the term, stronger wording is appropriate, such as fraud (suspected or proven), fabrication, misinformation, factually baseless claims, and scientifically unfounded claims. All these terms make the nature of the information clearer than invoking the word pseudoscience and they have established journalistic norms around their substantiation.

Steven Novella responded to Katie Burke's arguments in Neurologica's blog, defending the use of the term pseudoscience as it has come to be commonly used in all its meanings. More importantly, he takes on the demarcation problem directly.

Burke refers to the demarcation problem, the difficulty in distinguishing science from pseudoscience, but derives the wrong lesson from this problem. The demarcation problem is a generic philosophical issue that refers to distinctions that do not have a bright line, but are just different ends of a continuum.

Arguing that the two ends are meaningless because there is no sharp demarcation is a logical fallacy known as the false continuum. Even though there is no clear dividing line between tall and short, Kareem Abdul Jabar is tall, and Herve Villechaize is short.

Rather than discarding a useful idea because of a demarcation problem, we simply treat the spectrum as the continuum that it is. What this means is that we try to understand the elements that push something toward the science or pseudoscience end of the spectrum.

Novella then goes on to identify the features of pseudoscience that make its illegitimacy recognizable as such on the pseudoscience end of the continuum.

  • Cherry picks favorable evidence, often by preferring low quality or circumstantial evidence over higher quality evidence
  • Starts with a desired conclusion and then works backward to fill in apparent evidence
  • Conclusions go way beyond the supporting evidence
  • Fails to consider plausibility, or lacks a plausible mechanism
  • Dismisses valid criticism as if it were personal or part of a conspiracy. This is part of a bigger problem of not engaging constructively with the relevant scientific community
  • Violates Occam’s Razor by preferring more elaborate explanations or ones that involve major new assumptions over far simpler or more established answers
  • Engages heavily in special pleading
  • Tries to prove rather than falsify their own hypotheses
  • Not self-correcting – does not drop arguments that are demonstrated to be wrong or invalid.

We can certainly attest to having directly witnessed each one of these unscientific or unprofessional behaviors since launching our "Examples of Junk Science" series.

Novella then puts his finger directly on the real distinction between science and pseudoscience:

Science vs pseudoscience are about process, not conclusions, and therefore not values and beliefs (except for valuing science itself – and that is the entire point)....

In the end this is not about us vs them (again, this has been exhaustively discussed already in the skeptical literature). It is about understanding the process of science and all the ways in which that process can go wrong or be deliberately perverted.

That is pseudoscience. It is worth understanding and it is helpful to label it honestly.

There's a lot of discussion that falls in the section covered by the dot-dot-dot of the ellipsis in the quoted passage above, where we cannot recommend reading the whole thing strongly enough!

Science vs Pseudoscience Demarcation Problem

Is it better for the Democrats if Hillary loses?

I doubt there are many Democrats who would want to entertain the thought of Donald Trump winning on November 8th.  That's traditional, long-time registered Democrat voters rather than the more recent, brash, Sanders insurgency supporting youth who so nearly upset the convention.  And yet there may be a case - which some hard-core Sandersites have long endorsed - for suggesting that a Trump win would be the better option for the long-term future of liberalism in America.

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency then her very tenure will reinvigorate the Republicans in Congress, united in their bid to frustrate her at every turn.  It will likely give Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, an even higher profile and a leading role in not only refurbishing the Republican image - something he is desperate to do - but also in running for the presidency in four years time.  A Clinton presidency will also leave the substantial army of Trump supporters wholly unsatisfied, and ready to back either Trump or similarly iconoclastic right-wingers next time round, when they can point to four more years of "Democrat misrule" and establishment alienation.

A Clinton presidency might even engender a constitutional crisis.  While Trump said he would support Clinton as president if she won the election on November 8th., he has made enough noises previously to suggest that he and his supporters consider the whole electoral system rigged against them, and would use that as justification to dispute another Democratic victory.  Edward Foley on Politico has shown how such a challenge might work given the partisan nature of America's state operated electoral decision machines.

Should Trump actually win, a whole new scenario emerges (I know, I know....a contender for statements of the blinding obvious).  Given Trump's maverick approach to politics, and the division he has already inflicted on the Republican party, the Democrats can look forward to four years of ever increasing Republican turmoil as House and Senate Republicans try and deal with an unpredictable, and essentially non-party, president.  Four years of President Trump also provides even his hardest core supporters with the irrefutable evidence of not just how damaging such a presidency might be, but more importantly show them just how little he is able to change.  When no wall goes up - or at best a small symbolic one - and immigration doesn't cease; when terrorist attacks continue; when Trump's pally approach with a politically superior Vladimir Putin fails to bring gains to America and merely makes her look like an international patsy; when Trump's economic decision making fails to match the promise he has given of work for all those disenchanted, unemployed voters; when race relations hit a nadir and riots envelop the cities on a scale not seen since the 60s; when the economy tanks under the weight of an illiterate economic stategy; when all this and more happens do we really think the Trump brand will retain its potency in the re-election battle of 2020?

In such circumstances, the Democrats could nominate a new, fresh face, reinvigorate their liberal appeal, shore up their popular support across a variety of groups - the young, the black, the female, the Hispanic - and storm to victory not just in the race for the White House but also in the House and the Senate, probably for a generation at least.

The only question is - would four years of Trump be an acceptable price to pay for such future largesse?

Australian Politics 2016-09-29 15:46:00


The whole State of South Australia blacked out during storm

This was expected.  The storm just pushed S.A. over the edge it was balanced on.  Their triumphant boast that they now rely on "green" power only had to lead to power loss. Green power only works under very favourable circumstances.  That the storm knocked down a few poles in one area should not have taken the whole State down.  Wind turbines have to be switched off during high winds so that was the most likely cause of the problem.  And once they were down, the lowered voltage would have hit hard the interconnector to Victoria and tripped it off

A “CATASTROPHIC” superstorm that left an entire state without power is far from over with warnings the worst of the wild weather is yet to come.

As the nation’s leaders stuggle to work out how South Australia was left in total blackout — causing travel chaos, hospital terror and reported looting of homes — forecasters say more is on the way.

The once-in-50-year storm is expected to move east through the south coast of Australia in the next 24 hours, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Expect havoc across the country as the storm unleashes again, with flood warnings in place for five states as well as for the ACT.

It has already hit parts of Victoria and will move into NSW and Tasmania today. BoM senior meteorologist Craig Burke said a weather event of this size and intensity was unusual, especially when it affected so many locations.

“It’s extremely rare to see a low of this much pressure and intensity,” he said. “It’s fair to say it’s going to get extremely nasty again.”

The extreme weather saw gale-force winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms lash South Australia and parts of Victoria last night.

As the “worst storm in decades” struck the country with force, South Australia was plunged into darkness and triple-0 was down in isolated parts of the state.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill insisted it was not South Australia’s reliance on renewable energy that led to the blackout, as some have suggested.

“This was a weather event, this was not a renewable energy event,” he said, saying the whole electricity network was forced to shut down after a “catastrophic weather event” damaged infrastructure near Port Augusta at 3.48pm yesterday.

The Premier said powerful wind gusts and thunderstorms smashed 22 electricity transmission stations in the area, and the toppled towers were followed by a lightning strike, which triggered a shutdown for safety reasons.

“This is a catastrophic natural event which has destroyed our infrastructure,” he said in a press conference this afternoon. “These are events the Director of the Bureau of Meteorology has never seen in his whole career.

“There is no infrastructure that can be developed that can protected you against catastrophic events that take out three pieces of infrastructure.

He praised the rapid response of the Australian Energy Market Operator, SA Power and emergency services, as well as the “community spirit” among South Australians.

“This is certainly a system that was designed to get the system back up as quickly as possible. In a few hours we were beginning to restore power and now the lion’s share of the system has been restored.”

Ninety per cent of the power has been restored in the 38 hours after the blackout, with 75,000 still without power this morning.

Mr Weatherill warned about 40,000 households could be without power for the next two days. Large industrial users are among the last waiting to begin operating again.

“It’s not simply a storm, it’s an unprecedented weather event, the likes of which the bureau has not seen here,” he added. “There are things we have to reflect upon, but our present advice is this was an event which could not have been predicted, it was an extreme event.”

He said there would be a three-pronged inquiry into what went wrong, but said the priority now was to deal with people still suffering, particularly in the north of the state.

On reports of looting, he said: “There’s some isolated incidents the police commission might want to concern themselves with. If that’s happened, it’s disgusting.

“An isolated incident is disgusting and regrettable but I done think it reflects the overwhelming evidence of community spirit.”


Hospitals came under serious pressure as they switched to back-up power generators to assist people on life support. Handheld battery packs and hand-operated respirators were used as 17 patients had to be moved.

People using life-support devices at home headed to hospitals for extra power, with the wards focusing solely on those in life-threatening situations.

By 7pm (local time) yesterday power had started to be restored to some suburbs, mostly in the metropolitan area’s eastern districts.

Adelaide Hills and northern suburbs were among the worst affected.

Hail, winds and wild weather made travel impossible with traffic lights out of action and trams and trains cancelled.

The BoM has warned that gale-force winds of up to 120km/h and plenty more rain is expected across the state today.


Malcolm Turnbull criticises state governments for 'unrealistic' emissions targets over energy security

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has criticised the state Labor governments, saying they have prioritised lower emissions over energy security, following a state-wide blackout in South Australia yesterday.

South Australia's entire power supply was cut off when wild weather toppled dozens of transmission towers and tripped the interconnector with Victoria.

Mr Turnbull said measures targeting lower emissions had to be consistent with energy security.

He told reporters in Tasmania this morning that intermittent renewable energy sources posed a "real threat" for energy security. "Energy security should always be the key priority ... whether it is hydro, wind, solar, coal or gas," he said.

"A number of the state Labor Governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security."

South Australian Labor Senator Penny Wong has criticised the Turnbull Government, accusing the Prime Minister of politicising the event.  "We're all waiting for Malcolm Turnbull to behave like a Prime Minister and like a leader," she told the ABC.

"To have not just the Prime Minister, but others jumping in to play a bit of politics with this about their own views around renewable energy is disappointing."

Senator Wong also criticised fellow South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, who yesterday said "heads have to roll" over the power outage.  "We all know Nick loves publicity, but yesterday he crossed the line," she said.

"He crossed the line jumping on television to have a crack, to talk about hospitals shutting down was irresponsible, it was alarmist and frankly it was tacky."

Mr Turnbull said he had spoken with Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg about negotiating with his state counterparts to move towards a national renewables target instead of "political gamesmanship" between states.

Mr Frydenberg also addressed media at a separate event, saying that he hoped to meet with his state counterparts in coming days.

He said the weather led to the "cascading effect" which caused the power outage, but also raised concerns over the security and stability of renewable energy, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of South Australia's power.

"That type of renewable energy is intermittent, meaning when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, power is not being generated," he said.

"This creates issues for the stability of the system because of the level of frequency that is generated and these are issues that COAG are currently looking at."

Experts have dismissed suggestions a reliance on renewable energy was to blame for the outage, following comments from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who says the black out in South Australia should prompt questions about the state's reliance on renewable energy.

Mr Joyce told the ABC that "the question has to be asked, is the over-reliance on renewable energy exacerbating their problems and capacity to have a secure power supply".

Greens MP Adam Bandt said his party will move for an inquiry into the effects of global warming on infrastructure, particularly energy infrastructure.

Senator Xenophon also wants an independent inquiry into the power outage.


Tasmania's empty dams problem

Should they stop using for power what water is left so that water levels can build up?  Tasmania ran down its water reserves during the Gillard years -- in response to perverse Greenie incentives. Then the rain stopped coming

Hydro Tasmania has baulked at a suggestion from its biggest customers that a year's worth of power should be stored in the state's dams.

In a submission to the Energy Security Taskforce, the Minerals and Energy Council said Hydro should increase its water storages to ensure a 12-month safety net.

The taskforce was established to investigate the best way to ensure energy security after an unprecedented energy crisis earlier this year caused by record low Hydro dam levels and a broken Bass Strait undersea power cable.

Hydro Tasmania's chief executive Steve Davy said cost would be an issue in relation to the storages called for.

"It sounds like an expensive measure and I would caution against measures that would make the costs of supplying that very expensive to Tasmanians," he said.

It is unclear exactly what level of water would be required for a 12-month safety net.

Energy analyst Marc White said more modelling would be required.

"This is a question of what insurance premium are we prepared to pay for what levels of system security, and I think there's more work to be done on the modelling," he said.

To boost dam levels in the coming months the costly Tamar Valley Power station will be fired up in October.

Mr Davy said Hydro was taking a conservative approach.

"The management and board of Hydro are aware of the lessons that we need to learn and are making the changes in terms of our risk management that are required," he said.

Hydro said rainfall levels would determine how long the Tamar Valley Power Station operated for.


Australia 'should go in to bat for China'

This may be the first and last time I agree with a U.N. official but I think the lady below is right.  I have previously argued that China now has a perfectly legal right to the islands it has built in the East China sea: The right of first settlement

Australia is well placed to make the case to Washington to try to reform international organisations to accommodate China's rise, according to a senior EU advisor.

Nathalie Tocci, a special advisor to the European Union's High Representative, says as Europe is doing some soul searching about giving up some of its own power, other countries need to do the same.

"Unless we start doing that we may end up in a situation where other organisations pop up," Dr Tocci told AAP on Wednesday.

China needed to be told the world understood it was growing and needed more space, within rules and limits.

"It's also about telling Americans, you've got to make that space, otherwise they are going to take it and it's not going to be pretty," she said.

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, set up in opposition to the US-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank, was the "first warning signal", she said.

Other bodies such as the World Trade Organisation and even parts of the UN could also need reform.

"In order to ensure that multilateralism survives into the future, we have to transform it," Dr Tocci said.

She urged Australia to take a leadership role because it understands China's rise is inevitable.

"I think, given Australia's relationship with the United States, it has a huge role to play in making the case," Dr Tocci said.

On the prospects of an EU and Australian free trade deal, Dr Tocci, who helped draft the new global strategy on foreign and security policy after Britain voted to leave the bloc, said politicians needed to start laying the ground work early in order to win over a hostile public.

"These are not easy times. What we are seeing is a backlash against globalisation," she said.

"A lot of explaining needs to be done about why these agreements are actually good." She predicts the deal could be finalised by 2018.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here