Bits and Pieces.

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/03/2022 - 4:22am in

One of the key predictions of climate science is that as the atmosphere warms up, the likelihood of extreme weather events increases.

But, how would you tell when one weather event is extreme?

You can tell when something like this happens:

(source)
They are good graphical representations, but to interpret them may be a bit tricky for those unaccustomed. The good folks of The Guardian (Oz) seem to believe otherwise. I’m not so sure. So, if it doesn’t speak to you, let me know and I’ll do my best to explain it. I’ll just advance here that the idea is not unlike a box (aka box-and-whisker) plot I explained here.

Dramatic, isn’t it? Well, now look at this:

But volumes of rain are just a part of the picture. The other and – to me at least – most dramatic part is how heavy those rains have been: some 1,000 cubic millimetres of rain have fallen over every square millimetre of surface around Brisbane in a matter of two to three days. The most recent estimate for the whole of Australia I know of is 300 millimetres per year.

To put things in perspective: one tonne of water for every square metre in two to three days.

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A so-called “rain bomb” has been visiting the east of Australia, starting in south-east Queensland and moving southwards along the New South Wales coast. Why here and now?

Graham Readfearn, Nick Evershed and Josh Nicholas try to provide simple answers to those questions. While such questions are, of course, interesting and worth pursuing, I don’t think there is an easy answer. Neither such answers are relevant to the point of extreme weather events worldwide, which is what climate change science points to.

Think about it. A hotter world means more evaporation: the atmosphere carries more water vapour. Well, what goes up must eventually come down: heavier rains. Whether it is here or there is secondary. Makes sense? Another way to put it is “climate change is intensifying Earth’s water cycle at twice the predicted rate”.

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(source)
As I write this, the shock wave of the “bomb” reached Sydney. 8 people drowned in flash floods in QLD; so far, 4 in NSW. Too much water falling on already waterlogged soil.

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A simple way to understand politics in western liberal democracies: Mr/Ms BigWig is lying. We know he/she is lying. He/she knows we know he/she is lying. And yet, the farce never stops there: he/she keeps on lying.

Why? It may have something to do with “plausible deniability”. It may also be a matter of hoping to catch the few unawares.

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A little over a week ago Sydneysiders woke up to a city without trains. COALition pollies (state and federal), had a trip defaming train workers and unions. Workers were terrorists, bastards, hijackers and had launched an unexpected strike.

At the same time, every single TV network broadcasting for Sydney – including the ABC – parroted those allegations in their early morning news bulletins. Many members of the public believed them (anecdotal evidence warning: I know one). Some were really furious at train workers.

Unions had to go around to prove their workers were out there and ready to work; they also had to demonstrate the shutdown of the entire metropolitan rail network was the State Government’s doing.

From there on most of the media changed their tune – to their credit. But why were journalists so wrong to begin with? Why didn’t they approach the unions?

I won’t speculate. Instead, I’ll let the ABC Media Watch’s Paul Barry talk.

Ashleigh Raper, ABC’s NSW political reporter, dug deep and discovered that the NSW State Government not only knew of the shutdown in advance, they were also considering a two-week long version.

That did not stop the NSW Government. First they blamed the unions; then Premier Perrottet blamed Minister Elliott (you should have told me) who blamed the bureaucrats/executives (I was sleeping). The bureaucrats/executive had nobody else to blame. But the thing did not look well: how can that bunch work that way? Finally, Perrottet reverted to default: his Government declared the shutdown, but it was all the union’s fault anyway.

Well, at least the COALition didn’t accuse us of being traitors … damn it! 

Something tells me Bevan Shields (the new SMH editor) and Peter Hartcher will get along just fine.

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So, President Putin put the Russian deterrence forces in state of “special regime of combat duty”. Frankly, I don’t know what that phrase means and I’ll advice readers not to assume you know either.

The ABC’s Paul Johnson and Will Jacksonv wrote a summary of the facts, with no editorialising. I think it’s a good account.

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What does Putin want? Well, it depends who you ask.

Leigh Sales interviewed Tom Friedman (“three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the New York Times”) on the subject. Friedman’s opinion fits in well with the prevailing narrative: Putin is a madman, what he wants is to resurrect the Russian Empire. Julie Bishop (former Minister for Foreign Affairs) is more or less of the same opinion. I call that the psychoanalytical, psychological or psychiatric school of thought.

(I never suspected Bishop was a qualified mental health professional, capable of diagnosing mental illness after a brief conversation, held years ago, during a break in a meeting with Putin Bishop wasn’t supposed to attend, but attended anyway. That and Putin’s latest appearance on TV).

Ted Galen Carpenter (“senior fellow for defence and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute”) expounds a much less popular perspective: the West cornered Russia, ignoring Russian objections to NATO’s eastward advance and they too have responsibility in this tragedy. (Which suggests a reason why the psychoanalytical school is so popular)

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In my opinion, Geoffrey Robertson gave the best, most intelligent interview by far on the subject of the invasion of Ukraine. He did not try to remotely psychonalyse Putin and, instead, stuck to what he knows: law. Cobbler, stick to your last.

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Quotable quotes:

“NATO didn’t expand –  they [eastern Europeans] joined NATO” – journalist Oliver Bullough, author of Butler To The World: How Britain Helps The World’s Worst People Launder Money, Commit Crimes, And Get Away With Anything, The Drum (March 3)

“Putin made us very angry and we will kill every Russian soldier we put our hands on” – Ukrainian civilian getting ready to confront the Russian invaders, as quoted by SBS World News (March 2).

The situation would be hilarious, if it weren’t so tragic and dangerous.

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I included this image in a previous post. It depicts a member of Azov (once an independent militia, now a formal Ukrainian armed forces regiment), training civilians in Mariupol days before the invasion:

Observe carefully the insignia on the soldier’s left arm.

I hesitated before making the decision, and only reluctantly I decided to present the next image. I do that because it is strictly essential. It is the insignia of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich:

(source)

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Are those Azov blokes neo-Nazis? They deny it. What have journalists found?

Some say there is no evidence whatsoever of extreme-Right wing, ultra-nationalist Ukrainians - as opposed to all Ukrainians - having ever committed any atrocities against Russians or ethnic Russians or Russian speakers. Is there?

Even if those things were true, they do not justify the Russian invasion, let us be clear. Collective punishment is not justice. Instead, the Russians should have prosecuted their case. Being realistic, it would have been difficult for them, given the openly hostile and intolerant climate prevailing in Western media, but the Russians were at least in a better position to argue their case, than, say, the Palestinians. 

On top things may have changed since those days. But I do not know they have changed (do you know?).

And yet, with the limited information we have at our disposal, we all still have to make up our own minds. It’s up to you to decide.