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Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 17th, 2013 - 25 comments
Categories: interweb - Tags:

My regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: the squeezed middle, tax avoidance, Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist non-manifesto and Pentagon technology.

I had Killer Robots last week, and as the stories come out about the latest Pentagon drone (a bat that can pick objects up), here’s an interesting look at 10 Pentagon mind experiments.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has released a book. And she’s been slated for it as it’s not a feminist manifesto, and she comes from a position of wealth… Except she explicitly makes these points in her book. She also had an excellent interview with Kim Hill yesterday – including a great quote about how she was warned off speaking about certain issues as she’d be “typecast as a woman”…

At the Guardian a look at who the “squeezed middle” is that politicians are fighting over in the UK.  The article also looks at the new documentary film Spirit of 45 that looks at what the post-war UK Labour Government did for the masses (and what’s been lost).

Locally Catriona MacLennan looks at where the money is being lost in our system. $6 billion on tax dodgers and $23 million on welfare fraud – so which are we targeting again?

An interesting look at how we sometimes shape our beliefs to our actions rather than the other way around. Explaining how fossil fuel employees don’t believe climate change among other things.

And finally it’s 100 years since the first US Presidential press conferences. So, a look at how they looked back then.


25 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. AsleepWhileWalking 1

    Sexual abuse of submissives by dominants who fail to comprehend boundaries:

    “A safeword is supposed to be for when you’ve reached your limit,” he admonished me.

    I wasn’t sure what he was saying. ”I have reached my limit,” I told him. “That hurts. It doesn’t feel good anymore.”

    “It’s not supposed to feel good,” he said. “You’re supposed to use the safeword when you can’t take the pain anymore, not just because you don’t want to.”

    “But I don’t want to,” I told him, aghast at what I was hearing. It was like he was suggesting I wasn’t being a “good enough” submissive or something, as if consent to one thing (spanking me) was consent to all things

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    It’s not actually from earlier during the week, it’s from today.
    A story outlining elder abuse. No comment has been made in the story of how higher accommodation prices are contributing to some of the abuse (not an excuse!!)


    Most cases do not end up with the police, Collins says. That’s important, because fear for their abusers appears to be a barrier to elderly people seeking help.

    That’s illustrated by the case of a 77-year-old man, who was exploited by his grandson. The man allowed the 38-year-old to move into a downstairs unit at his home. The grandson then invited someone else to move in, and the elderly man ended up paying much higher electricity bills, something he could not afford to do on NZ Super.

    When he asked the grandson and the other person to leave, both of them yelled at him, telling him he was a “selfish old bastard” and threatening to break the windows.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    A blog post by Holly Walker (GREEN), discussing the sell off of government land and properties to developers.


    Auckland – and increasingly the rest of New Zealand – has a housing affordability crisis, and this Government’s answer is to sell off valuable land to private developers and leave the most vulnerable to fend for themselves in the private rental market. It’s simply not good enough.

    Indeed. It’s a massive shift in the balance of power, with an essential need such as housing into the hands of private investors, while those who don’t currently own property are sapped for rent money by greedy and non productive landlords, or forced to buy property at outrageous prices just to stop being subjected to the brutal rental market.

  4. ghostrider888 4

    re Pentagon neuro-technology; amazing the amount of money and resources being expended to replicate instinct and intuition imo; first “rules” of Aikido; get out of the way and / or utilise the enemy’s energy against them

  5. Jenny 5

    An alarming rise in methane outgassing in the Arctic recorded this month. Have we passed a tipping point?


    • Jenny 5.1

      I mistakenly gave the link for January. March is even worse. I am sorry, this is just so dreadful.

      The following is the proper link, plus links to today’s follow up articles:




      It is just like someone just pulled the plug hole out of the climate.

      The by now over 20 degrees Celsius temperatures of the upper layer of the polar ocean will be sending a massive thermal pulse down through the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) and other shallow submarine permafrosts in the arctic. This pulse propagating fast through liquid water in cracks and methane eruption vents. The hydrate layers containing over 1000 billion tons C of methane at the bottoms of these permafrosts will destabilise fast, bottom up, when that thermal pulse hits them. Quite possible the pressure building up under these shelves, most particularly the ESAS will shatter them and release most of the hydrate methane, free methane, and undecomposed organic carbon, they are holding very fast indeed. Best estimate around 2750 billion tons C total in shallow submarine arctic permafrosts.

      Kinda like a warm well shook champagne bottle when you pop the cork.

      Lots of this methane will hit the atmosphere.

      With even more water vapour, more methane, more N2O, more ozone being produced by the methane, less SO2 forming clouds because methane destroys it….

      We’ll have a greenhouse effect like the earth has not seen before in its 4.5 billion years of existence.

    • Bill 5.2

      Hi Jenny. So who exactly is Aaron Franklin? The page you linked to gives no info on contributors and/or what their relevant expertise is. (And that’s fine for opinionated blogs) The fact that Aaron constructs elaborate and quite detailed future scenarios (including time scales) in areas where science rightly throws up its hands due to knowledge hitting boundries of probability/uncertainty….well, it says to me he’s a bit of a conspiracy nut doom sayer. And I do love his ‘rescue plans’ such as sending the Australian navy to spray water around the Arctic with, of course, Aaron’s very own special nozzle attachments…I mean, how many ships does the fcking Australian navy have and how big is the Arctic?

      Anyway, I happen to reckon that we’re screwed. But that’s based on what has happened up until now with regards (understandably) conservative, scientifically grounded ‘predictions’, governmental inaction and the trajectories that are now showing up in the scientific record.

      Aaron, however, is another kettle of fish.

      If what he is blogging can be linked back to peer reviewed papers or opinions/extrapolations by peer reviewed scientists, then that’s one thing. But if not – and there’s a real dearth of links in that blog – then sack fulls of salt are in order because he’s of no more worth than a mirror or reverse image of a Monkton.

      That’s my critical and non-scientific reading of him anyway

      • Jenny 5.2.1

        You may, indeed be right Bill. This guy may be a bit of panic merchant.

        However, take note of what Lynn Prentice says on the matter:

        Quite simply we are on a irreversible rollercoaster to a vastly changed climates.



        I am still waiting on Lynn’s reply, on what we should and can do about it. If his reply is: “Nothing can be done”. (ie “Do nothing”).

        Then that would be very informative.

        • Jenny

          1/ This is what I think we should do……

          2/ I think we should do nothing and this is why……

          3/ “You can’t handle the truth”

  6. Jenny 6

    Sorry, I am chilled. This is unreal, this is the exact scenario predicted in the stupidly named “Diagram of Doom”.

    This emergency like no other, is unfolding live on line today.

    The Greatest War Ever

    Introduction – Highest Urgency and Priority for Australia

    By Aaron Franklin

    Hello everyone,

    I hope this report is helpful in understanding the current very serious situation. Its an attempt to present it in a way that’s accessible to all.

    There should be no other priorities until this is dealt with.

    Every one should acquaint themselves with the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) and its Strategic plan, at: http://a-m-e-g.blogspot.com/2012/12/ameg-strategic-plan.html

    Lots of good up to date information can be found at http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/ , most of the reports there should be compulsory reading for all.

  7. Jenny 7

    Come on lynn. Help me out here. I am floundering. You’re the climate scientist here. Am I being alarmist? What’s happening?

    • lprent 7.1

      Actually I did an earth sciences degree 30 years ago. It means that I’m better capable of reading charts and data on earth sciences than most people

      Looking at the links and in particular the atmospheric concentration charts I’m sure that he has overblown the issue – especially in terms of the timescale. He appears to have only been looking at the short-term effects rather than longer term trends.

      They are showing a strong level of short term variability in the current levels of CH4 in some arctic areas – looks like the Barents & Norwegian sea being spread in the polar jetstreams. Looks pretty consistent with a rapid outgassing of methane over a geographically limited area (or something disrupting the adsorption/breakdown mechanism). But the volumes in the Arctic when evened out over the period are consistent with previous years. What has probably happened is that one of the outgassings in that area is starting to get more variable and letting more through to the surface periodically. You’d need more data over time to find out how sustained the release is.

      Think of it as an volcanic eruption in progress, with it waxing and waning periodically. It makes little effect if you look at it over a decade, but causes marked variability in the short-term.

      The polar projection charts are showing isolated hot spots in terms of air-sea temperature and the general upwards trend in CH4 consistent with an outgassing. Again consistent with a limited area / volume. You see this kind of stuff all of the time with volcanic eruptions and sulphur dioxide or forest fires and CO2/dust. CH4 plumes off the sea floor appear to act in a similar way.

      Release of methane and nitrous oxides releases will give a greenhouse gas pulse and they are up over time. But so far not on a scale that would compete with the effects of releasing CO2 in either the short or long term. Both are also short-term effects which don’t have that much effect on the oceans because they simply don’t persist for long enough.

      Always think decades in climate – because that is how sluggishly the climate systems change. What you’ll get are statistically shifting temperatures, precipitation and probability of extreme weather events.

      What you’re looking at deserves watching, and similarly they should probably increase the observation for CH4 plumes in the south. But it is a watching situation rather than the emergency the guy you were quoting is trying to say.

      • Jenny 7.1.1

        Thank goodness. So we still have a little bit of time. Just one more thing. Help me get submission sign ups, to stop the new Mangatangi open cast coal mine.

      • Jenny 7.1.2

        Yeah. I thought this guy was a little bit flakey. In my opinion when it goes, nothing will be able stop it.

        • lprent

          That had already happened. Quite simply we are on a irreversible rollercoaster to a vastly changed climates. From the 90’s we haven’t managed to reduce the rate of increase in CO2 emissions, pushing an immense payload of CO2 and heat in at the polar ocean currents for generations in the future.

          But nothing moves very fast in climate terms, it is just hard to live with an ever escalating rate of change over the coming decades and centuries.

          • Jenny

            Granted. But what do you recommend we do about it?

            • lprent

              Sorry missed this.

              Attempt to mitigate more damage. At present we are looking at 4C average increase at the end of the century. That will make considerable areas of the world unusable for agriculture, and some places potentially uninhabitable for any large populations through water rises and desertification. But it probably will not cause the kinds of warfare caused by massive resource and refugee issues because it is likely to be gradual enough to allow time for adjustment.

              However it is quite feasible that we hit between 6C and 8C. All that takes is a still expanding world population for most of this century clawing their way to affluence on the enormous coal reserves. Currently that is quite possible to happen. That path will cause severe and probably rapid climate shifts with some pretty nasty effects on agriculture.

              • ghostrider888

                there is an e-mail from moi

              • Jenny

                No need to apologise Lynn. I am humbled that you have not been offended by my imperious demands.

                An email from moi, also, will be finding its way to you through the ether.

                • Jenny

                  Bugger. On composing my email to you. On hitting send and after CCing it to myself it seems to have dissappeared into the aformentioned ether. Not to appear in my in box, or in my ‘sent messages’. Not to be discouraged. I am rewriting it. Will resend soon.

              • Jenny

                What can we do?

              • Jenny

                Definition of mitigate

                [with object]

                make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful:
                drainage schemes have helped to mitigate this problem
                lessen the gravity of (an offence or mistake):
                (as adjective mitigating)
                he would have faced a prison sentence but for mitigating circumstances

                Oxford English Dictionary

                The key word here is “verb”. At school we were told a verb is a “doing word”.

                What should we do?

                • lprent

                  At present? Work on reducing the amount of CO2 heading into the atmosphere. Start raising insurance premiums. Avoid buying or developing property close to the sea shore. Keep looking at the security of food supplies assuming a increase in exceptional weather events.

                  In other words, try to avoid inflicting increased damage on future generations beyond what they will already get from the last few centuries of CO2 pollution and plan to start receiving the first waves of climate shifts and sea level rises ourselves.

                  The frequency of extreme weather events is going to rise pretty rapidly over the next few decades as the climate adjusts shifting more heat around. And I’d be surprised (if I am still alive) if more than 25% of the current ice volume in Greenland survives the next 3 decades now that the Arctic sea ice has largely disappeared in summer. The experience in the Antarctica peninsula shows that without the brake of the sea ice, the glacier flow will start speed up a lot.

                  Fortunately at present the WAIS looks pretty stable. Which is a good thing as the evidence of past warming there says that it goes really fast once it starts. But it is only a matter of time before the seaice in places like the Ross sea starts to reduce.

                  The EAIS, while it is getting additional moisture leaking through causing more snow, will probably take a few centuries before it starts get strongly affected.

    • ghostrider888 8.1

      fark joe, greatful to be a simple man, i am (all commodities within arms reach)

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