Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Donald Trump's Twitter resignation letter
USA TODAY NETWORKBen Carter, The Courier-Journal5:02 a.m. ET June 13, 2017
Thanks for helping me make America great again, and farewell.

Everyone knows that if President Trump resigns, he’ll do it on Twitter. Richard Nixon resigned in a letter to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, so here’s a letter of resignation from Trump to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It's about 4,338 characters that he can copy and paste into about 32 tweets any time he’s ready. Preferably sooner rather than later.
Dear Secretary Tillerson, 
Before I make Mike Pence the next president — he will be a great president — probably almost as great as me. Before I make him president, I want to thank my many admirers for their support. To the HUGE majority of Americans who trusted me to be president, thank you. I am deeply humbled by your faith. No one has ever been more humbled.
I have rewarded your faith with tremendous accomplishments and hard, hard work. I haven’t been golfing since my historic victory. And, I definitely haven’t been making taxpayers pay for the Secret Service to rent golf carts from me to protect me at my golf courses. Believe me.
No president has ever worked harder than I have. My administration has done more in less time than anyone else. And, we did it all with NO HELP from the losers in the press and crybabies in Congress and showboaters in law enforcement who are RUINING America.
The vast majority of Americans know that my victory last November — record-breaking, really, a landslide, the largest election victory in history — my victory and policies are moving this country in the white, I mean, right direction again. America is GREAT again!
And, folks, FOLKS: We are still going to have health care . . . 
Speaking of law and order, as my last act as president, I am pardoning some members of my campaign staff and administration. First, your next president of the United States, Mike Pence. I’m pardoning him even though he did nothing wrong. Noth-ing. No one did anything wrong, but especially not Mike.
Continued below . . . 

Next, I’m pardoning Michael Flynn, a great American. Wish I’d never let him go. The DEEP STATE wants you to believe that Michael Flynn took hundreds of thousands of dollars from Turkey and failed to register as a foreign agent. Didn’t happen. They want you to believe that he advocated for Turkey-friendly policies during my transition because he had received over half-a-million dollars in lobbying money. They claim he “lied” on paperwork and “lied” to Mike Pence about talking with Russian agents. FAKE NEWS. The real liar is CROOKED HILLARY. Lock her up!
I’m also pardoning my son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been treated very unfairly. The kid is big league. Did I ask him to set up a secret back channel line of communication with the Russian government using equipment in the Russian Embassy? I don’t know. But, you have to admire his spunk and smarts. Zero foreign policy experience and he already knew enough not to trust his own intelligence agencies.
Finally, I’m pardoning myself. My lawyers have told me that I may not have the authority to pardon myself. But, it’s not a conflict because I’m president. My lawyers — I have the best lawyers — have also told me that I don’t need to pardon myself because I didn’t know enough about how the federal government works to have intentionally obstructed justice. It’s true: Me and my people asked other intelligence services to pressure the FBI to stop investigating ties between my campaign and Russia. It’s true: I fired that showboater James Comey to put an end to the Russia stuff, FAKE NEWS. Just in case, I hereby pardon myself.
I have been badly mistreated. It’s abuse, really, but I was willing to take it because I love America. Big, beautiful America.
I know all the elite-coast Democrats and crooked media people are dreaming of impeaching me, of the day they can turn to me and say, “Donald, you’re fired.” Well, guess what? THEY’RE FIRED. I resign.
President Trump
Ben Carter is a consumer rights attorney in Louisville. He writes for The Courier-Journal, where this piece first appeared. Follow him on Twitter at @notbencarter.
The full story is on USA TODAY

Ex President Donald Trump, true to form, has turned his back on his most loyal supporter. He failed to bestow honorary American citizenship on Crooked Putin.
He should also have given thanks in his resignation of the late Richard Nixon. Everything Donald Trump knows about politics he learnt from Nixon, including how to resign.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


How an extra 2-5°C could affect the Lucky Country

For several decades climate scientists and commentators have been predicting dire consequences for the world unless climate change is controlled by curtailing harmful human activities. Australia, they predict, will not escape the eminent disaster and may even be more severely affected than many other countries.

The expected outcomes for the world’s smallest continent (largest island) include a rise in average temperature of 2 - 5°C during the twenty-first century, longer and more severe droughts, expansion of the deserts, increased bush fire risks, increased local flooding due to heavier downpours, rising sea levels causing coastal flooding, food shortages and increased deaths due to heat waves.

It’s a dismal outlook and perhaps little wonder that suicide rates and bankruptcies appear to be rising coincidental with climate change. It is little wonder that people are protesting at what appears to be a lack of government action. Little wonder too, that people are angry that President Trump has turned his back on the Paris Agreement. More about that later.

To understand the predicament, the question must be asked, how long have we known that the world no longer has a stable climatic system, and could something have been done sooner? After all, it is due to man’s activities, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we’ve only been told since about 1980 that the world was getting warmer, and that we are to blame, and even then, not everyone has agreed. Some people, including some scientists, have been opposed to the belief that the world is warming in a way that will be harmful to the planet, or that man is responsible for the change. The minority are sometimes referred to as climate skeptics and climate deniers.

The problem that man has with the weather is not new at all. Scientists have known for centuries that the world does not have a stable climatic system. Working with geologists, volcanologists, archaeologists, historians and others, climate experts have long known about the great climate events like the ice ages and warmer than now periods lasting thousands of years. They have long known about continental drift, changing land-forms and changing sea-levels, all of which are related to climate. They have also known, even longer, the effect that the sun, or lack of it, has on climate.

The trouble with scientists is that they make discoveries, convince most of their colleagues of a new theory, and then suddenly discover something else that changes everything. Science is about evolution and science itself is evolutionary. Science is always two steps forward and a step back. Scientists are clever people, but, understandably, they make mistakes.
World rainfall distribution showing heavier
rainfall in tropical areas

The theories expounded by a majority of climate scientists in the 1960s and 1970s are exactly the opposite to what most are claiming now. Here are some examples:

On July 9, 1971, the Washington Post published an article stating that UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan, based on scientific research, had told President Nixon, “In the next 50 years fine dust that humans discharge into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel will screen out so much of the sun’s rays that the Earth’s average temperature could fall by six degrees. Sustained emissions over five to ten years, could be sufficient to trigger an ice age.” With only four years to go, the prediction was clearly wrong on every count. But it prompted Nixon to establish the Environmental Protection Agency. It was about this time that the term Nuclear Winter was coined.
The Washington Post was not alone in warning about the coming ice age. Time magazine joined in with this piece of cold comfort: "When meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe, they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."
Source Wikipedia
On April 28, 1975, Newsweek got in on the act with this: “There are ominous signs that Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically….The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it….The central fact is that…the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down…If the climate change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”
In 1976, author and celebrity Lowell Ponte wrote in his book The Cooling, “This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.”
Not included as a disaster is the world record highest temperature recorded at Death Valley, USA, in 1913
In the late 1980s science made an abrupt change of direction, conveniently forgetting the coming ice age in favour of Global Warming. Putting pollution and CO2 into the atmosphere would now have the opposite result; blocking out the sun would cause the temperature to rise. The one thing that appeared not to change was the global alarm they were causing.

In 1990, Professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University made this claim: “By 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots…”(By 1996) The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers…The Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands.” A bit out on the timing there, Professor, but you could have a point about the reason for the Mexican border wall.

The British think-tank New Economics Foundation put out this prediction in 2005: “Scholars are predicting that 50 million people worldwide will be displaced by 2010 because of rising sea levels, desertification, dried up aquifers, weather-induced flooding and other serious environmental changes.” They must have been referring to Australia Island going under the waves . . .  But wait. Their former convict dumping ground doesn’t have 50 million people yet, and the Snowy Mountains reach more than 2,000 metres above sea level.

It seems that almost everyone, scientists and laymen alike, are predicting the same doom and gloom that their parents did half a century ago. They just can’t agree on the method nature (or industry) will use to destroy the planet, and Australia. And talking about the planet, it seems now that some scientists have discovered that other planets in our solar system also experience temperature cycles similar to Earth. If this is going to come to a wager, my money goes on the Sun rather than General Motors as the cause of the heat.

So, let us look at the land of the General Motors Holden. During the last ice age (12,000 years ago), Australia, although not completely covered by ice, was almost devoid of vegetation. It was a much harsher land than now. It was cold and wind-swept with little precipitation. As the climate warmed, the land bridges connecting Tasmania and New Guinea to the mainland were flooded as sea-levels rose 130 metres. That equates to an average of almost 11cm a year compared with a total of 20cm since 1910. The rate of sea level rise has slowed in the last thousand years, a possible indication that the rate of warming is also slowing.

Paleoclimatic records show that the Australian deserts were extensive and only 2% of southern Australia had vegetation. Forests were limited to sheltered areas on the east coast and a small section of the southwest of the continent. But despite this evidence, many people including some scientists, believe a warmer climate will cause a loss of vegetation. They will argue that a warming climate will create new deserts and make existing deserts larger. It only requires a little desert research to dispel that misconception.

The first fallacy about deserts is the popular belief that deserts are created by high temperatures. The primary cause for most deserts is a lack of precipitation or water flowing in from high rainfall areas. Wind and soil conditions can also contribute to desertification. But nothing rivals extreme cold in the formation of deserts. Some well-known deserts like the Sahara, Gobi, Kalahari and Mojave may be famous for their extreme high temperatures, but they also have extremely low temperatures at night and in winter, and it is the cold that makes the difference. Anyone wishing to dispute this fact should look at a map of the world and look for the deserts situated at or near the Equator. Not one desert of any significance is located anywhere near the Equator. The entire equatorial region is occupied by tropical rain forests.

The Antarctica Desert is the world’s largest desert. Second largest (although some of it is frozen ocean) is the Arctic Desert. Third largest is Greenland, followed by the North American Arctic Desert and the Russian Arctic Desert (tundra). The closer one gets to the Equator the smaller and less frequent the deserts become. The land does not like extreme cold and the coldest areas are the driest areas.

If the current scientific consensus on global warming is correct, rather than the consensus of the 1970s, then Australia has little to worry about. As the climate warms, the monsoon rains will reach further south towards the interior taking the tropical vegetation with it. The east and west coasts will also receive more rainfall and the vegetation will extend further inland. A warmer Australian climate, allowing for regional differences, will have a higher rainfall with smaller deserts. Australia with 25 million people has about the same land area as continental USA with 330 million and China with 1.3 billion. In a short time, climate change could make Australia one of the world’s most populated and prosperous nations.

But the debate will go on despite former Vice President Al Gore’s May 31, 2006, statement on the CBS Early Show, “The debate among scientists is over. There is no more debate. We face a planetary emergency.” Variations of this statement are now popular and frequently resorted to by climate faith followers who fail by convincing argument to close down debate with climate skeptics. They love to strike back with, “The debate is over. The science is settled. A majority agrees. End of debate!”

The debate will not be settled anytime soon. However, it may be quietly and conveniently forgotten when the climate cools and we face famines and diseases, or the climate warms as predicted (naturally or otherwise) and we see how much better off the world is with a warmer climate. In a few centuries from now it may even be warm enough to support another Antarctic forest, or at a bit of a stretch, even Antarctic bananas.

Some things are certain. Man cannot turn back the sea all over the world or cancel the sun. Nature was here and doing its thing, going through its cycles, long before man.
To return to President Trump, some will be thinking this writer supports him and that is why this post is written. Let me explain Trumps election strategy as I see it. Trump is not an experienced politician and nor is he a particularly successful anything. But he was cunning enough to know that all he had to do was have half a dozen outrageous, die-for, impractical policies each supported by ten percent of the voters and he had it made. Most rednecks only have one thing on their minds and don’t care what else a candidate may be raving on about.
Trump has made a fool of America with the Paris withdrawal, but given time the Paris Agreement will be forgotten. It will be forgotten like the original reason for the EPA and all the wild talk of a nuclear winter.

So, you have stayed with me through this lengthy diatribe and I thank you for that. But now you are saying, this article has not been peer reviewed. Well let me say this; I am not a scientist and I take peer reviews with a grain of salt. Asking another scientist to review a scholarly paper is like asking a drunk to judge another drunk trying to walk a straight line. He is bound to say, “Well done, mate. Have another drink.” It is usually better to ask someone who hasn’t been drinking.

For some climate scientists, looking up from their computer modelling, looking outside at the real world and talking to real people will advance their cause along more realistic lines. But for those who insist, yes, this article has been peer reviewed, by a crusty old fisherman waiting for the fish to bite down at the local jetty. That is the best kind of peer review that any writer/researcher can ever wish for.

Meanwhile, Aussies, keep smiling. You live in the Lucky Country.

Friday, 19 May 2017


Traveling America with William Least Heat-Moon

I like to poke around second-hand book stores hunting for bargains that might contain information I may have missed, when that information was new. Recently on the hunt, I discovered a 1983 edition of William Least Heat-Moon’s 1978 Blue Highways, paid the money and took it home to be added to my pile of books to read.

When Blue Highways found its way to the top of the pile, I was in for an entertaining and informative time. In the opening pages, I discovered that Heat-Moon’s name is not as peculiar as it sounds. He has a mixture of Irish, English and Midwest native blood. 
Author William Least Heat-Moon

Following family traditions, his father was Heat-Moon, his older brother was First Heat Moon and so he had to be Least Heat-Moon. It makes perfect sense, but they added a William too so he could be called Bill for short, which also makes perfect sense.

But this Bill is no ordinary Bill. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1939, and has a Ph.D. in English and a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri. To compliment his academic qualifications, he has an extraordinary sense of humor, a keen eye for detail and a love of traveling the back-blocks. Added together and you have a writer of exceptional talent.

When his marriage broke up and his Missouri teaching job disappeared, Heat-Moon took to the blue roads of America, living in a small truck and parking overnight where ever the road of the day found him.

The blue highways of 1978 are now the red highways in current editions of the Rand McNally Road Atlas, which means that the author traveled the secondary roads, avoiding the interstates and big cities, while searching out the obscure, fascinating, humorous and historic sites. During his travels, Heat-Moon rubbed shoulders with local bar patrons, café owners, residents, rebels and other real-life characters and comics. His portrayal of local accents and customs is epic.

From Missouri, Heat-Moon circled America by headed east to the Atlantic coast, to the Deep South, across the southern United States to the Pacific coast, retracing some of Lewis and Clark’s travels and returning to the Atlantic through the northern states before turning for home.

Blue Highways takes the reader to peculiar or unpronounceable places like Wequetequock, Connecticut; Bad Axe, Michigan; Lookingglass, Oregon; Hog Heaven, Idaho; Defeated, Tennessee; Woonasquatucket, Rhode Island; Left Hand, West Virginia; Burnt Store, Maryland; Dime Box, Texas; Our Town, Alabama; Simplicity, Virginia; Only, Tennessee; Kennebunkport, Maine; Scratch Ankle, Alabama; Boreing, Kentucky; Dull, Tennessee; Mud Lick, Kentucky; Whynot, Mississippi, and many more fascinating places.

Heat-Moon is much more than a traveler with a yearn for odd and unusual places. He interviews the local identities, describing them and their surrounding with his unique mastery of the English language and a wit unsurpassed.

On Page 398 I came upon this tidbit of history:

At the bottom of Morris Street, across from the Tred Avon ferry slip, sat the Robert Morris Inn, the 1710 portion of which, built by a shipwright, was once the home of Robert Morris – Senior and Junior – a family of fortune and misfortune. The father died when wadding from a cannon fired in his honor struck him in the arm. The son, one of the wealthiest men in eighteenth-century America and a financier of the Revolution, was sentenced to three years in a Philadelphia debtor’s prison after a spell of reverses, one of which was the failure of the new government to repay his loan to the Continental Army.

Finding my old copy of Blue Highways was indeed a literary bonanza and I recommend it anyone interested in American travel, humor and history. But please don’t ask to borrow my dog-eared copy. It’s mine forever.

Thursday, 6 April 2017


Australian tourist loses limbs after bite from White Tail spider

The horror story of a white tail spider victim was carried by many major news outlets. It was reported that the tourist in Australia had lost both legs and his arms may also have to be amputated to save his life. But most of the news reports have now been amended or withdrawn due to a lack of accuracy.
A typical white tail spider.
Its reputation is worse than
its bite.

White tail spiders have fearsome reputation in both Australia and New Zealand. Almost everyone knows of someone who has been bitten with horrendous consequences.

So, what is the truth about one of Australia’s most notorious spiders?

It is not hard to find white tail experts and victims in Australia, and New Zealand where they were first seen in 1886. Horror stories persist of gruesome injuries and flesh-eating venom that can lead to serious illness and even death, if not treated quickly. But scientists tell us that while the bite can be painful, the white tail (Lampona murina) bite rarely carries any lasting effects, and they only bite if handled or provoked. This can include bites from spiders trapped inside clothing and bed covers.

In 130 cases studied by G. Isbister and M. Gray from 1999-2002, where the insect was seen to bite and was captured, they found no evidence of necrotic ulcers or flesh-eating. None of the 130 cases required hospital admission. The findings of the study were later published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

But the myth persists that the white tail is one of the deadliest spiders and that reports from scientists and authorities are a cover up. Typically, people will say, “That’s what they want you to believe.”

There is also a claim that the white tail spider is deadly because it eats Daddy Long Leg spiders which, it is claimed, are the world’s deadliest spiders, but their fangs are not strong enough to penetrate human skin. But this raises another question: How does anyone know that its venom is deadly if it has never penetrated anyone’s skin? The answer to the first question is simply that the daddy long legs is not venomous because it has no place in which to carry venom. And that rather makes a nonsense of the second question.

Like any bite or sting (cat, dog, bee, wasp, spider), not everyone reacts the same way to a spider bite. A few people have allergies that could lead to illness or death. Cats, dogs, bees, wasps and spiders don’t brush their teeth every day and that raises the possibility of infection. If you think you have been bitten by a spider, and you feel unwell, you should try to capture it for identification and take it with you when you seek medical help. But remember, if you didn’t see a spider, it probably wasn’t a spider. For immediate care, you should clean the bite with antiseptic or warm soapy water.  

For more information on spider bites see: Ministry of Health New Zealand