Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Daily Embarrassment

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    As I said, it's a legitimate story; it was just the Herald's treatment of it that rankled

    If the story is that someone bought an honour, then it is the big story of the day - no matter who else got one, or how.

    If that's not what happened, then I don't see that it's much of a story at all.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • omapere,

    One thing you could do (and I have) is email Fran your views on her piece. I even included a link to todays post by Russell suggesting she checks some of the wingnut company she is keeping when being a denier.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Julie Fairey,

    What concerns me about Owen Glenn's honour is that again Labour is showing a startling lack of political nous, which doesn't bode well going in to an election year.

    Maybe he deserves one, maybe he doesn't (and certainly, as someone to the left of Labour I have no issues with Don McKinnon getting his gong). But it looks bad. Again.

    Thanks for the thorough going over of O'Sullivan's recent witterings, I have been avoiding her stuff for a while and didn't realise quite how bad she had become. Depressing stuff.

    Puketapapa Mt Roskill, AK… • Since Dec 2007 • 234 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Haven't honours always been for sale?
    Aren't they an adult version of Santa Claus, bringing gifts to the boys and girls who have been good?
    And doesn't the size of the gift depend on how many mince pies you've left out for Santa? (And which of his elves you've greased up to?)

    Read the Herald online and buy the DomPost from its Auckland outlets. You might miss a few funerals, but litle else of significance. The DomPost still allows itself a few bag-of-hammers moments, however... notably when the subject of abortion is raised. Some of its frequent letter writers are still fighting the CS&A Act thirty years on - and the DomPost is still regularly publishing their similarly formatted letters. And ex-editor Karl Du Fresne still shoehorns the topic into his Curmudgeon column every full moon.

    It's now 20 years since the NZ Ministry for the Environment started trying to raise awareness of Climate Change facts. On a shoestring. With the budget of the BRT, the Tasman Institute, and various other business groups that fund anti-climate change propaganda in this part of the world, MFE might have made a lot more progress to the point where average readers could readily dismiss deniers as self-interested dipsticks. At least the Murdoch papers are no longer making publication of "balanced" viewpoints mandatory, since Rupert had a Road to Damascus conversion. Or something.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    It's typical of Kyoto-sceptic "experts" - most of them have a background in finance or economics, not science - McShane's web site says as much. Baron Lawson (who visited recently) is another example who comes to mind.

    Climate change is an economic issue. And Kyoto - whatever you think of it - is all about creating a different set of economic incentives.

    A question: can the people who are objecting to supposedly non-qualified people speaking on climate change raise similar objections next time we Jane Kelsey - a legal academic - pronounces on economic policy?

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A question: can the people who are objecting to supposedly non-qualified people speaking on climate change raise similar objections next time we Jane Kelsey - a legal academic - pronounces on economic policy?

    Oh, don't start me on Jane Kelsey ... I am not a fan.

    It's not so much non-qualified people commenting on climate change -- that would be me -- it's the way people dismiss it out of hand and declare people who do know what they're talking about to be not "rational". I try and respect expertise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    The magnitude of the electoral funding reform debate, and people's very polarised opinions, just demonstrates how hugely money influences an election. This is the case whether it's directed at flooding the population with misleading advertising and sledging of the opposition, at defending against the other side doing exactly that, or (occasionally) at simply trying to get above all the noise to inform the public that a candidate or party actually exists.

    The bottom line is that elections these days are almost never decided on well informed debate and accurate knowledge of the candidates. Personally I find this very disappointing.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I agree with I/S. It looks as if he has bought himself an honour.

    I vote we go through the last... I dunno, 20 years of honours lists and see who's major contribution to society was to have money to fling around. Michael Faye for starters - throw millions of dollars at some stupid boat, and then when everyone's watching it, buy up national assets in a fire sale and screw the country over. Governor General still waved a sword at him, and for some reason knighted him rather than taking good aim at his neck.

    I presume the EFA is going to give greater access to, but also, a lot more interest in, who's giving money to who. We're going to know in the future more about what donations honours recipients have made. Is making a large political donation (possibly to both political parties in this case?) going to rule people out of getting their name on a silly list?

    Climate change is an economic issue. And Kyoto - whatever you think of it - is all about creating a different set of economic incentives.

    That would be fine if they were saying "oh, Kyoto won't work, to deal with climate change you have to do these economic things...". It's my understanding that they're saying/being put forward as saying "climate change doesn't exist". To make you an expert in that, some sort of qualifications in a sciences subject would seem pretty important.

    If a group of doctors tell me that AIDs doesn't exist, I'll look at them funny and ask them to explain how they know that. If a group of economists and pharmacy executives tell me that AIDs doesn't exist then I'll walk away wondering where they are making money out of that bullshit idea.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The bottom line is that elections these days are almost never decided on well informed debate and accurate knowledge of the candidates.

    Wait. When did this _ever_ happen?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    That string of Herald columns really is laughable -- Inhofe is a gold-plated clown, and seeing Owen McShane on his list of "experts" takes me back to Owen's regular laughable forays into climate skepticism on soc.culture.new-zealand back in the 1990s. He was vigorously fisked then, but does not seem to have leant from the experience.

    As to the sudden news that water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this has been known for 100 years, and was even discussed by Arrhenius -- this is simply embarrassing. As someone has already pointed out, the issue is whether or not that CO_2 is the dominant greenhouse gas, but that its concentration has been rising rapidly, almost certainly as a result of anthropogenic forcing (we know how much oil and coal gets burned every year, and about half of the resulting CO_2 stays in the atmosphere, the rest being absorbed by various sinks) and that the problem is then to figure out the consequences of this.

    If I can't think of anything else to do tomorrow, I may even try my hand at a letter to the editor.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Bird Nest Roys are playing with the Ghost Club at the Rising Sun on Auckland on Wednesday night.

    Oh my! I haven't heard much of their stuff (funny, that), but I am Roys-curious, so I'll be there. And Celia is going to be playing too!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Would a national newspaper actually have anything more in it than the Herald?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    quote>Haven't honours always been for sale?
    Aren't they an adult version of Santa Claus, bringing gifts to the boys and girls who have been good?
    And doesn't the size of the gift depend on how many mince pies you've left out for Santa? (And which of his elves you've greased up to?)</quote> Or conversely, they may just be a way of honouring people who have given muchly of themselves over a longish period of time. My father had a knighthood - bestowed by Paul Reeves in about 1984, I think. He thought it was a great joke, but it was an honour, so he accepted it. He didn't fling money around, there wasn't any to fling. I don't believe he made any huge financial contributions to political campaigns. I do know, however, that his services to business and yachting were many, and that's why he was knighted. I can see how many would think that it's just the rich that get these honours, but honestly, it isn't. A man who donates $500,000 to the Labour Party - he's a philanthropist, and as Russell says, he hasn't lived in NZ for 40 years. So he wouldn't have expected an honour at all. And what about all those worthy people who give and give and give and are rewarded by a Member of the Order of Merit? Deserving, lovely people who do great community work unsung forever and a day, and what a wonderful thing it must be for them to recieve recognition and get to have a big day out, and meet the Governor General. Maybe I have a slanted view on all of this because of my Dad, but I remember his investiture. I got to meet Sam Hunt, who I have loved forever. And the room was filled with people who had spent their lives looking after other people, and others who had been contributing to our society in really important ways. Music, poetry, science.........I think it's great that people are rewarded like that. And I'm not at all cynical when someone gets an honour, especially when they have been a great contributor, largely unsung, for a lot of years.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Jackie, all true. There are quite a few people who get honors who are honorable. There's also a few who are just rich, which could seem to cheapen the system. But I don't think so, any more than I think a degree from Auckland University is cheapened by the fact the Queen has one, despite Her Majesty never having gone there.

    It's more of a thing about rich people than about honors themselves. And frankly if they want to part with a decent chunk of their wealth for some worthy cause (I'm not including campaign donations to the Labour party in this btw) then they can have the title. It's always been that way, aristocratic titles traditionally adhered to wealth and violence far more than 'honor'. That part is a modern thing, and an improvement on an ancient and flawed system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Talking of stupid statements, you should REALLY give the Tim Ball credentials battle a rest, because the facts are not on your side.

    First, climatology is scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time.

    And the topic of Tims PhD thesis:
    "Climatic change in central Canada : a preliminary analysis of weather information from the Hudson's Bay Company Forts at York Factory and Churchill Factory, 1714-1850"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_F._Ball

    So we have established that Ball did research ¨"Climatology" for his PhD.

    So lest look at the others Desmogblog lists as other climatology PhD in Canada
    http://people.uleth.ca/~dan.johnson/first_phds_in_climatology_in_canada.htm#top

    They list 21 names.
    So lets look at their credentials for PhDs in "Climatology in Canada"

    Leonard A Barrie
    1975 Ph.D. Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe University, Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, Frankfurt Atmospheric Science

    Neither a Canadian university nor Climatology ( atmospheric science isn't the same thing)
    George J Boer
    Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1970. Department of Meteorology
    neither Canadian university nor climatology again

    Ian Burton
    no details on his PhD topic , but has worked as a meterologist

    James P Bruce
    No details on his PhD topic but mentions his major work on climate and water resources

    Stephen Calvert
    Ph.D., California - Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Not a canadian university and oceanography ( research interests marine sediments)

    Garry Clarke
    Ph.D. (1967), University of Toronto
    Wow , a first from a Canadian university but hang on he's now a Professor of Glaciology at Vancouver. So not a climatologist

    R allyn Clarke
    PhD in Physics (Oceanography) (1970), University of British Columbia
    His research focuses on the circulation of the high latitude North Atlantic and its role in the global climate system.

    Roger Daley
    McGill University (Montreal), PhD) in meteorology

    Jacques Derome
    Ph.D. degree at the University of Michigan.On the maintenance of the axisymmetric part of the flow in the atmosphere,
    Atmosphere physics again but not Climatology and another from a US university

    Keith Donald Hage
    Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago 1957, topic not listed but research in Meteorology and atmospheric physics

    F Kenneth Hare
    ...He joined McGill University as a geography professor, meanwhile earning his PhD as an arctic climatologist...

    Wow thats a surprise a PhD from a Canadian university in climatology

    I wont go on but the rest are similar in that almost none are Climatologist's as scientifically defined and Hare is the only fit.!

    So we can conclude that Tim Ball WAS one of the first Climatology PhD's from a Canadian university

    What is surprising is that the list includes meteorologists which is short term weather systems
    But sticking to the facts seems to be a problem with those who attack people from a climatology background who don’t follow the conventional wisdom on climate change.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Just want to give a big thanks to Russell for posting *actual content* during the silly season.

    And Happy New Year to everyone!!

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Steve, your argument seems to be along the lines of "if you're a botonist then you can't be an environmentalist".

    I take it your'e using the Wikipedia definition of Climatolgoy, which in full reads -

    Climatology is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time,[1] and is a branch of the atmospheric sciences.

    What you have taken to be the definition of Climatology is in fact wiki's definition of Climate. And Climatology, according to Wiki, is a branch of atmospheric science - which is what many of those PhDs were in.

    You also overlook the explanation given why many of the PhDs were not given in Climatology as such -

    Some climatology PhD degrees may have been granted in climatology per se, but this was rare until recently. and many of the first PhD's in climatology in Canada received their degrees in related disciplines, primarily meteorology, climatology, physics, mathematics, geology, or geography...

    And picking one of those PhDS at random, Stephen Calvert, who you dismiss as an oceanographer, so therefore not a climatologist, he explains his research as -

    The long-term goal of my research is to understand the factors responsible for the wide compositional variability of marine sediments, the controls on organic matter burial and nutrient utilization in the ocean, and to use this information to interpret past oceanographic and climatic changes from sediment core records.

    That sounds like Climatology to me. I'm not about to defend their views but using a narrow definition of Climatolgy to argue that they are not Climatologists and therefore their opinions on climate change have less merit doen't sound like a strong argument.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    I’m not dismissing these scientists because they aren’t climatologist's under a narrow definition.
    Desmogblog listed them as PhDs in Climatology from Canadian universities. If they cant get that right what exactly is the point they are making ,that Ball is a fraud?
    I find all this credential bashing pointless.
    There should be far more disagreements then there are, and the scientific tradition is to encourage debate not shut it down.

    Just picking a article from my desk, shows that the first comprehensive argument for continental drift was from Alfred Wegeners 1915 book The Origins of Continents and Oceans. but it notes that many specialists made nasty comments about his scientific method.
    Continental drift evolved into the more accurate term plate tectonics
    Wegener was kicked around because he wasn’t a trained geologist much like Ball and others seem to have their credentials attacked rather than the validity of their views.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As I said, it's a legitimate story; it was just the Herald's treatment of it that rankled. The no-comment from National was interesting. The story implies he has he has donated there too.

    Um, sorry... I didn't read that into the story but I guess a less sinister explanation is that John Key is just getting a lot smarter about picking his fights. Where's the upside to getting into a pissing match on New Year's Eve over a triviality like the honours list. With all due respect to the recipients, who remembers the damn thing once the hangover has worn off?

    In the end, I can think of a long list of people whose contributions to philanthropy and academia put them well ahead of Owen Glenn but so fucking what? Yes, there's a long history of gongs being handed out to generous donors to the government of the day. As we don''t actually have an upper house where peers have influence over legislation, I can dislike it but regard it as a relatively trivial and harmless form of cronyism.

    I just can't get the outrage gland pumping over this one.

    Though, having said that, if any big ticket National donors end up on the honours list on John Key's watch I'd be ripping the person(s) responsible a new arsehole. Just not a good look people, and bitching about The Herald giving it front-page play abouve the folk is rather missing the point.

    As for the "two high profile Nats" cited up-thread, would that be Marilyn Waring (!) and Don McKinnon, who is being honoured as the Commonwealth Secretary-General? AFAIK, Waring's membership (unsurprisingly) didn't survive her departure from Parliament and neither did McKinnon's.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Good on Don McKinnon, well deserved & that uncle of mine for his good works.

    An award for giving cash is bollocks really.
    Like the "Free" Charity Hospital in Christchurch. It is State Funded. The rather bitter Dr of a few years ago is obviously trying for a Knighthood or is that hoody these days. Resource duplication is his only achievement.

    For the Climate Change Skeptics to put everyone who disputes Gores findings in one basket is a bit broad.

    Every NZers knows his assertion NZ will house all the flooded PIs is a lie. Gore needs to be kept honest - he's a politican after all. Hyperbole is a big problem in Climate Change - please remeber to quote studies.

    The deniers are all a little past their prime and I think craving a little attention Augie - Dutton - Mcshane. To their credit they do quote studies.

    Happy New Year

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    The deniers are all a little past their prime and I think craving a little attention Augie - Dutton - Mcshane. To their credit they do quote studies

    Well one of them certainly is.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Looking back at previous New years honours
    http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/index.asp checking out the last one done by Jenny Shipley( in those days they actually got the moniker Dame/Sir for the top honours) we see
    Selwyn John CUSHING, C.M.G., of Hastings. For services to business, sport and the arts.

    This has political donor all written over it ( the CMG would suffice for his "contributions" to the areas listed)

    This was an interesting one from that year
    Dr Brian Finbar Myram EDWARDS, of Auckland. For services to broadcasting and journalism. (CNZM)

    Another couple of national political donors from 1998/97 who got knighthoods
    Rajeshwar (Roger) Sarup BHATNAGAR, of Auckland. For services to business and the community.
    Robert Arthur OWENS, C.B.E., of Auckland. For services to business and the community.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There's a distinct undertone of contrition in the Herald's editorial on Owen Glenn this morning ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Selwyn John CUSHING, C.M.G., of Hastings. For services to business, sport and the arts.

    This has political donor all written over it ( the CMG would suffice for his "contributions" to the areas listed).

    Cushing was actually a National Party fundraiser for a while. Curiously, though, his knighthood was not greeted with mean-spirited and defamatory accusations like this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Jane Treadwell,

    Owen Glenn is making donations across the globe. One small Welsh rugby club thinks he's pretty ok... Floodlights gift for rugby game.

    BTW what's up with the Herald online at present - getting gibberish the past few days and all the formatting's up the creek.

    Singapore • Since Nov 2007 • 9 posts Report Reply

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