Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VII – The Net Closes

Well, it’s happened at last. The festering stink of corruption within the Australian Workers’ Union in the 1990s is now front-page news on every paper in the country.

This is despite the best efforts of Gillard and others to shut down all debate on the issue (shutting down debate on all manner of things, being something of a speciality of theirs—note the body language). You’ll all remember what happened on 29th August last year, when The Australian first published an in-depth exposé of these issues by Glenn Milne. A reportedly hysterical, threat-laden phone call from Gillard to News Limited CEO John Hartigan resulted in a same-day retraction and apology. Or some time later, when radio presenter and former police officer Mike Smith tried to air an interview with AWU official Bob Kernohan. Or when Andrew Bolt tried to pursue the substance of the allegations. Milne lost his spot on ABC television. Smith was sacked from the Fairfax-controlled radio station on which he worked. Bolt considered resigning from News Limited, but decided against it. And is now pursuing the story full-bore.

Of course, the story wouldn’t go away. As you know, I’ve been following the story through the blog of political cartoonist Larry Pickering, who over the past few weeks has been progressively revealing almost unbelievable tales of corruption in the union movement. By his own admission, Pickering embellishes his stories with melodrama, which has led Gillard’s boosters to claim that his entire series is mere scandal-mongering and a fabrication. The very same boosters who today would be bellowing from the rooftops, had these allegations been raised against Prime Minister John Howard, and not the incumbent Gillard. Pickering, however, stands by the substance of his revelations. Given these include the claim that a sitting Federal Court judge was complicit in the AWU scandal, and that he in fact owes his position to his continued silence on the matter, Larry had better have sworn testimony backing it all up, or he is exposed to any number of defamation claims. That these allegations have been on his website for weeks, and that no such defamation actions have been lodged against Pickering, speaks volumes. Truth is, after all, an iron-clad defence at law against libel.

The reality, however, is the story is no longer about Pickering at all—if indeed it ever was. He simply happened to be the only blogger around with both the sources and the guts to make accusations openly, credibly and publicly. He has, after all, no boss to buckle under threats and fire him. But given that those sources include (according to Pickering) past and present employees of Gillard’s old law firm, and past and present senior members of Gillard’s own parliamentary political party, and past and present senior officials of the very union which entrusted Gillard with their most sensitive legal and financial affairs, any unsourced muck-raking regarding Pickering’s prior business affairs, if it was done with a view to discrediting the allegations against Gillard themselves, is too little too late. That ship has sailed. Hard information regarding this affair is now being independently sought and verified by senior political journalists across the country, and efforts by Gillard’s MSM supporters (some of whom, totally coincidentally, are looking down the barrel of unemployment within the next year or so when their organisation goes under), to pretend the allegations begin and end with Pickering, are now simply the waving of a red herring.

The issue is out in the open now, and unless Gillard plans to ring up each news media senior executive, one by one, and make similar threatening rants, she is simply going to have to deal with the substance of the allegations. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has said as much, and has offered to facilitate an opportunity for Gillard to address the allegations on the floor of the House, as Labor MP Craig Thomson did some months ago. “I dealt with all this years ago” doesn’t cut it. Nor does the preposterous excuse that a thirty-something, senior partner in a major law firm, not to mention a former Secretary of the Victorian Socialist Forum and seasoned political head-kicker, was “young and naïve”. That hasn’t stopped her, though, from claiming today the whole thing was a sexist attack by a misogynist Pickering.

I heard an interview this morning with Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who in 1995 was President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the union movement’s governing body, and who bore ultimate responsibility for ensuring transparent conduct within the Australian union movement. As you’ll see from the interview (which starts out canvassing the decline in our uranium mining industry, but then shifts to the corruption allegations), Ferguson denies having any knowledge of the allegations at the time, and to some extent feigns ignorance of them today.

Actually, that’s probably fair enough—as far as it goes. Ferguson is one of the few adults left in the Federal ministry, and has mature views on a wide range of issues, most notably his portfolio area. Were he more telegenic, or at least “charismatic” (whatever that means), he’d certainly make an excellent Labor Prime Minister. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that Ferguson is distancing himself from the whole mess. Given that the AWU executive themselves didn’t uncover the scandal until at least September 1995, it would be unreasonable to expect the ACTU to be even better informed.

Let me give an analogy for LibertyGibbert’s American readers. Let’s say you are a lawyer working for a large law firm which handles the regional Bell South account (I’m pulling that name out of the air). You are a female, thirty-something, senior partner in that law firm, and you personally handle the Bell South legal work. Your contact in Bell South is the senior regional vice-president, John Smith. You spend a lot of time working with him. Somehow, this morphs into a romantic attachment. You don’t tell your law firm about this new relationship—maybe because Smith is currently married with two children, maybe not.

Then one day, some months later, Smith comes to your office. He asks you to set up a new legal entity, “The Bell South Accounts Receivable Association”. This includes setting up bank accounts in the name of this entity—bank accounts to which Smith himself is to be signatory. There is no formal, written request from Bell South to do so. No paperwork. The address of the new legal entity isn’t that of Bell South’s regional headquarters, but a post office box in a small suburb of a distant city. The whole thing is done on the mere verbal say-so of John Smith.

Wouldn’t you, as a lawyer, be even a tiny bit suspicious? Wouldn’t you, if your motives were pure, at a very minimum lay out the facts of this request before your superiors, if only to get a second opinion—or at least, to cover your own backside?

But you don’t do any of this. Instead, you go right ahead and, as Smith asked, set up the new legal entity—covertly, that is, without making any attempt to double-check this directive with other Bell South executives, or otherwise inform Bell South. What’s more, you don’t even open up a new file for this work, or even bill for it, meaning it is also effectively invisible to the law firm’s other partners. Once it is ready, Smith immediately proceeds to intercept Bell South phone bill payment cheques and deposit them into the bank account of this new entity. You are aware of this. But you, a senior lawyer, still don’t suspect your boyfriend of any wrong-doing?

Then Smith takes the proceeds and buys a house for himself. There isn’t yet quite enough money in the account to cover the sale price, so your law firm provides a mortgage to cover the balance. Then you head off on holidays for a couple of weeks. While you’re away, he remembers you mentioning to him you wanted some renovations done on your own home. So he goes and has them done as well, paid for out of this account. You subsequently claim to have later paid for this work yourself, and produce handwritten slips in support of this claim.

How would you characterize the sum of all this behaviour? Naïveté? A damsel wronged??

The fact is, though, that Gillard herself was only a relatively minor player in the broader corruption being unearthed here. These are the facts that we are aware of so far, and which no-one disputes: Gillard was an accessory (wittingly or otherwise, and it must be stressed she continues to deny any a priori knowledge of criminal activity) to the embezzlement of upwards of half a million dollars of union funds. These funds were used for, among other things, the purchase of a house by her boyfriend, Bruce Morton Wilson, and possibly renovations to her own home (which she claims she subsequently paid for herself—a claim that can probably never be disproven). But given that a) her boyfriend was at the time a senior official in the AWU, b) Gillard handled the AWU account for Slater and Gordon, c) it is now clear that neither Slater and Gordon nor the AWU were aware at the time of the personal relationship between Gillard and Wilson, d) it is now clear that Gillard was acting, wittingly or not, in Wilson’s interests, and not those of the union he purported to serve, it represents, at a minimum, the most monstrous conflict of interest imaginable. You don’t have to be a lawyer to recognize that the proper ethical course of action for Gillard, once she became involved personally with Wilson, was to exclude herself from working on the AWU account. Or, if she failed to do so, at an absolute minimum make the fact of the personal relationship unmistakeably clear to her employers. Or, if she failed to do even that, to move heaven and earth to ensure she never improperly advantaged her boyfriend ahead of her client, or (God forbid) advantage herself personally as a result.

Gillard did none of these things. She did not remove herself from handling the AWU account. She did not (until subsequently hauled on the carpet) even admit to her employers of the personal relationship with Wilson. She certainly did not ensure that she was not working in Wilson’s interests at the expense of those of her client. And her only defence against the allegations of personal benefit are, apparently, a couple of hand-written receipts for payment of services rendered.

How do you think a prosecutor would view all this?

The axe may still take some time to fall. Nothing less than a full Royal Commission into the union movement will get to the heart of this mess, and that will not be called until the change of government next year. If it decimates one side of politics for a generation, that is the price Australian democracy must pay, for allowing itself to become so thoroughly and shamefully corrupted. If it results in criminal charges, or even imprisonment, for serving or former politicians who have committed crimes, then surely that would simply be a clear indication that justice in this country can still be made to work, and be seen to be done.

And the press pack who knew, or should have known, and said nothing—whether out of cowardice, or political allegiance, it matters not—should hang their heads in shame.

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61 Responses to Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VII – The Net Closes

  1. Kitler says:

    Well it looks like her time is coming at last eventually karma catches up with you.

  2. Tucci78 says:

    Jeez, and I thought someone had to be male to be this much a stinking prick.

    Do lawyers get disbarred in Australia? Even Blowjob Bubba got disciplined by the ABA for his felonious act of perjury in public office, and somewhere in our Marxist Mombasa Mendacious Messiah’s heavily concealed past, he “surrendered” his law license.

    I begin to think that no lawyer can attain political power without being utterly corrupt.

    It’s a job requirement.

  3. Amanda says:

    Oz: I thought that was Julia like a poly bear on an ice floe for a moment there….

  4. Amanda says:

    ‘charismatic’: exploratory/suggested definition: ‘people think they ought to admire you for reasons they can’t explain because others with reasons they claim to explain say that others *should*’.

    It’s one aspect of the beast, surely.

  5. Amanda says:

    Half a million dollars, eh? All that corruption for such small potatoes, really. Reminds me a bit of the MP expenses scandal: ‘my government for a bath plug!’

    I guess everyone has to start somewhere – Oz

  6. Ozboy says:

    The contrast between the way News Limited and Fairfax are reporting this story is illuminating. The headline in the online SMH today: “PM Comes Out Swinging Over Claims”, underneath which is another story, “Is Abbott On Thin Ice? Absolutely”. In other words, about as partisan a reporting as a newspaper could get away with without actually joining the ALP.

    Hmmm. Gina Rinehart yesterday tried to offload a hundred million Fairfax shares at just 50 cents – down 50% from its price a year ago, and down 90% from its peak in 2007 – but still couldn’t find any takers. I’m wondering, will an eleventh-hour appeal to the Federal government be forthcoming: that Fairfax is “too big to fail”?

    There’s sure been enough brown-nosing to suggest the possibility.

    Meanwhile, Larry’s hit back with a scathing rebuttal to Gillard’s “right-wing nut job” attack on him. Twenty-four questions, none of which we have answers to. Bring on the Royal Commission.

    Update: following Gina’s unsuccessful sell-off of 5% of Fairfax (one-third of her total stake), the share price has gone into free-fall (click chart for latest prices):

    It’s now passed under 45c a share; Andrew Bolt has estimated this is getting dangerously close to its probable break-up value of about 40 cents. From the point of view of media diversity in Australia, it’s a tragedy, but one they brought upon themselves; their nakedly partisan politics in recent years has been a large part of the reason why the public has turned away from them. Pity – the Sydney Morning Herald is Australia’s oldest newspaper; dating back to 1831, it is also the oldest continuously published newspaper in the southern hemisphere.

    All brought down by pride. Anyway: we’re the media now.

    Update: more analysis here at News Limited. I don’t think they’re gloating.

  7. Kitler says:

    Well I’m glad Gina is breaking them and if she is clever when everyone else panics and sells then pick up the majority of the shares and then make them dance to her tune with a number of firings. I’d wait till it got below maybe 15c a share.

    Won’t happen K. Like I said, if it gets much below 40 cents a raider will step in and break it up – Oz

  8. izen says:

    1st Law of political thermodynamics – follow the money.

    I have to say that money used to distort governance for corporate or personal advantage I would regard as much more serious. This is direct embezzlement for personal gain, it did nothing to alter civic regulation of favour one section of society at the expense of another.
    It seems to be somewhere between stealing office stationary and Bernie Madoff in terms of scale or moral turpitude.

    What I find most intriguing however is the SOURCE of the money. Who was prepared to pay them this money, did they know it was being siphoned of by the union official?
    There must have been a calculation by those paying the money that it was cost effective, that the official could deliver a benefit greater than the cost of the contribution those businesses made.

    In that case the union, and any corrupt officials within it were gaining direct personal benefit from the collective bargaining power of the worker they were meant to be representing. Wages were lower than they could have been because of the corruption of the unions.

    G’day Izen,

    You’ve made the point before about corruption of governance being worse than embezzlement for private gain. I agree, and this is certainly the latter, which happened at least a year before Gillard got anywhere near the levers of power. It does raise questions of integrity and believability, though: what about the scandals we haven’t heard about?

    To answer your question about the source of the money, it was extorted from construction companies by Wilson in exchange for industrial harmony. As AWU State Secretary, Wilson did have the power to ensure his side of the bargain.The construction companies were offered the convenient fiction that the money was going indirectly into safety and training via the union; in truth, they couldn’t care less where the money went, so long as they got what they paid for. I wouldn’t mind betting that many of those construction executives knew or suspected what Wilson was really up to, but they were practical men – Oz

  9. Tucci78 says:

    “Politicians are like rats. What they take for themselves is nothing compared with the damage they do in getting it.” [Multiple sources, original attribution not secured.]

  10. farmerbraun says:

    She is looking a little bit ” drawn ” , wouldn’t you say ? Bring on the quartering!

  11. farmerbraun says:

    “Massive challenges”!
    “Gillard’s “got amazing tenacity and I do think she’s one of the greatest leaders Labor will ever have,” Howes said, citing her ability to deliver reforms while leading a minority government. “Whatever happens at the next election, I do know this: History will treat Julia Gillard very well.””

    A blast from the past. This boy could go far.

  12. farmerbraun says:

    “Could go far”? Yes, everyone expects him to, but this affair will damage him big-time if he doesn’t do what is right – as opposed to what suits the short-term interests of his party.

    For my northern hemisphere readers, Paul Howes, at just 30 years of age, is the current National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union. Very smart, very old-school Labor man. Even Andrew Bolt likes him, and counts him as a personal friend. Everyone expects him to move into politics, and he is widely touted as a potential Labor leader in maybe fifteen or twenty years’ time, if not sooner.

    Following the AWU’s uncovering of the scandal in 1995, they conducted their own internal investigation, and immediately dumped Slater and Gordon as their legal counsel. Howes’ problem today is, he is now in possession of the AWU files on this investigation, and so far has failed to make them public. They could clear up a lot of the mess – but they could also potentially topple the government. Howes was only a kid at the time of the scandal, so he is in no way implicated – unless he now colludes in the cover-up – Oz

  13. Ozboy says:

    Gillard’s position just got worse. The “discrepancies” in her various accounts of her activities just keep getting wider and wider.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

  14. Ozboy says:

    OT, vale Neil Armstrong, who passed away yesterday aged 82. I’ve updated my recent article on Apollo 11.

    Puts all the murky provincial politics into perspective.

  15. Ozboy says:

    From The Bolt Report today:

  16. Luton Ian says:

    Paging libertarians especially those of a female persuasion 😉

    Misogynist troll over at needs a well reasoned slapping:

    here’s an example of its sour grapes at work

    “The truth hurts doesn’t it? Women are primary attracted to men via visceral reasons instead of logic. Getting sex from women is one of the great motivators for men to achieve hence when it’s shown women are attracted to many traits befitting the evil statist men then there’s a great barrier for Libertarianism to emerge.”


    BTW Ian thanks for the recommend the other day at Mises – been getting lots of hits from that direction – Oz

  17. Ozboy says:

    Part 8 of Pickering’s exposé. The “I had no idea” line is becoming less and less tenable with each passing day.

    Update 27-Aug-2012 16:30: Michael Smith, the 2UE radio presenter I referred to above, who was sacked from his job for trying to air an interview with AWU official Bob Kernohan, has now started his own blog, which I’ve added to the blogroll on the right of the page. He is promising to post all the documents he has obtained from FOI requests. You can’t bury skeletons forever, and the guilty should have known that.

  18. Luton Ian says:

    Wow, 1,600 spin doctors on the tax victim funded payroll.

    She’s non to confident of the state’s or her own legitimacy, and the tax victim’s dose of stockholm syndrome, is she?

  19. Ozboy says:

    This is an hour long, but if you want to get to the bottom of the AWU scandal, Michael Smith has all the information right here – dynamite stuff it is too:

  20. Mark says:

    G’day Oz,

    It seems to me most unlikely that the PM will fall over this. Already it seems that most of the cognoscenti(eg Bolt) have reached the conclusion that she didn’t personally benefit from the thefts or if she did it was unknowingly.

    Given that these people have been able to obfuscate and dissemble over the HSU/Thomson issue where guilt is so clear cut as to be beyond any (let alone, reasonable) doubt, they should be able to keep the faecal matter away from the cooling device for another year without raising a sweat. This is especially so given that much of the MSM are either anxiously trying to protect her or find the complexities of the issue beyond their abilities to address.

    Equally, whether she did or didn’t get her house renovations done on the AWU tab seems to me to be a fourth order issue. Sure, if it could be proven to be so, she’d struggle to survive, but with the passage of 17 years and most major players being seemingly onside (even Con the BS artist is saying she paid for everything), she seems safe on that front.

    So I’m not expecting any collapse of the Gillard or ALP regime over this. To be sure, it’ll drag on and more and more revelations will come out, but each will be weathered. Gillard and the government will be increasingly wounded but, like Python’s Black Knight, they’ll fight on unimpeded. Each new revelation will be dismissed by the faithful as just more misogynistic nut-job ravings and the details will be ignored.

    The bigger issues seem to me to be only mentioned in passing at the moment. Things like the apparent all-pervasive union practice of using members funds and/or extorted employer contributions to fund re-election, needs to be examined.

    Of course, following evidence from the HSU and now the AWU we now know that financial controls are so lax that mega-bucks just flow into the pockets of corrupt union officials. This could stand some attention.

    We also need to know why the AWU leadership, Thiess and the WA government allowed all the evidence of theft to be swept under the carpet.

    Given that clearly a lot of people knew/know where the skeletons are kept, we need to see what effects that knowledge has had on the decisions of the current government. Were people put into the FWA to shut them up or pay them off? Was Thomson a protected species because if he fell, the house of cards would follow? Will Thomson therefore, forever evade retribution? What did Shorten know and how has that knowledge affected his rise and his support for Gillard? Was Rudd’s ouster linked to the whole issue, given that it was the AWU mafia who where the coups ring-leaders? Who is Howes protecting and why?

    Frankly, given what we know of the HSU and are learning of the AWU, Shorten’s and Richardson’s assurances that these are isolated instances among an otherwise exemplary union movement are unbeleivable.

    Which leads to only one conclusion. Some participants have been calling for a Royal Commission. Apparently Abbott has already privately indicating that it would a first order priority once in power and indeed one reason he hasn’t called for one now is that he doesn’t want the ALP to establish the terms of reference.

    In the world of Realpolitik this could play well for the Libs. Once they gain power it looks likely that they’ll be back at the polls within 12 – 18 months with a double disolution to reverse the CO2 tax. A Royal Commission revealing new and damaging details about the antics of the union movement and then ALP leader Bill Shorten every couple of weeks would mean such an election would be a cake-walk. Who knows, it might so damage unionism that WorkChoices would look viable.

    G’day Mark,

    Spot on re the Royal Commission. Abbott will set the terms of reference as widely as possible (odds-on he’s written them already) and call it as soon as he is sworn in (by Shorten’s mother-in law, of all people – the Heiner affair must be on Abbott’s to-do list as well).

    I hadn’t made the connection between the Royal Commission and an early double dissolution, but the way you put it makes perfect sense. Yes, Gillard’s renos are a minor issue in the scheme of things, but only because they are dwarfed by the other crimes we are discussing. The robbing of the AWU’s members’ funeral fund is a new low in my experience. As I said, the blusterous protestations of ignorance are about as hollow as they are cynical – Oz

  21. izen says:

    @- Lutom Ian

    I could not see the comment you quote at the Mises site.

    But it is ridiculous. Men choose women according to their percieved fertility.
    Women choose men according to their percieved wealth.
    Which geneder is following Mises type economic principles is rather obvious!

    I ain’t touching that one, buddy – Oz 😮

  22. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Izen,

    As I replied to one of git’s comments (in a much less friendly manner than I’ll ever adress you); there’s a big difference between the logical concepts of “all” and “some”.

    I know a lady who is not attracted by wealth
    [all] women are attracted by wealth
    Therefore the lady whom I know, cannot be a woman


    I know a lady who is not attracted by wealth
    [some] women are attracted by wealth
    Therefore the lady whom I know, cannot be one of those women

    The dangers of loosing understanding of individuals by using aggregates

  23. izen says:

    @- Luton Ian
    It is always fun to use blanket, generalised statements to oppose absolute claims, when the inaccuracy of such aggregate statements the corresponding flaw in the original can be pointed out. {grin}

    This rather toxic anti-female attitude can derive from a particular strain of religious belief that raises the submission of women to a general principle the abandonment of which leads to all the moral evil in the world…

    This is presently a hot topic in US christian circles between the authoritarian and liberal branches of the faith. There is a discussion here at one of the more intelligent blogs on christian apologetics and a source of much good commentary on social ethics, prompted by the male supremacist faction that are behind comments like the recent nonsense from Tod Akin.

  24. Luton Ian says:

    I’ll have a look at that, thanks.

    The git’s comment is about halfway down the thread of replies to this one, by “peace requires anarchy”. There’re about 85 replies to it, if you click “most recent” that thread should come to near the top.

    You’ll see there was an ambassador from the land of the archists in there last night, looking for a bridge to set up home under. It didn’t stay for long.

  25. Amanda says:

    Izen: Too narrow.

    Women (and girls) don’t want deadbeat men. They want energetic, problem-solving men. That doesn’t always translate into a high salary. Lots of women that like the good life are perfectly able to fall in love with poor men. I’ve done it myself. Women also want good lovers and fond, firm friends (not a pun but interpret as you will), and a poor man is as likely to succeed in that way as a rich man. In fact, it could be said that rich men might be less attentive lovers because they suppose they are magnetic to women (thus they are more casual about women) and because they value material things over the soul (which explains in part how they acquired wealth in the first place).

    As for men — and I have discussed this with my scientist friend, who is not always as imaginative as I am but does know his field really well: they prefer women that are slightly younger than they are. Whatever their age. That means that the younger women they prefer may be well out of child-rearing possibility. Some men, of course, pair with women that are older, whether those women are fertile or not.

    Love is a complex subject.

  26. Amanda says:

    Further to what Ian said in reply to Izen:

    Few people are repulsed by wealth (or luxury, or beautiful surroundings, or the freedom and options that money brings). But not all wonderful people are accompanied by wealth. Therefore one must choose. This is where the notion of competing goods comes into play. Those goods may not be competing in the nature of things: there is no inherent obstacle to being both wealthy and wise. But very often (most often), life does not give us all possible goods in one package, on one fork of the road. What it gives us is a mixed bag, and what it requires is compromise.

  27. izen says:

    Okay, okay already, mea culpa!
    I do know that the ‘men want fertility, women want resources’ piece of evolutionary sociology is nonsense. It is wrong as a generalisation, but also it is wrong as a simplification. Just what IS fertility and wealth are highly context dependent.

    I must admit to a bit of mischievousness… I presented the fertility/wealth shibboleth knowing that it was wrong, but knowing that deconstructing the crass biological determinism it is rooted in would also deconstruct the nonsense about women irrationally choosing strong, violent, dominant men.
    Back on the evolutionary discussion forums there would occasionally be a poster using the concept of the conflict between the genders over fertility and resources to argue that it was a biological inevitability that men would dominate women and that rape was a perfectly valid biological tactic for the male….

    This precept of male dominance, justified either by appeals to biology or theology {or both!} emerges from the political and religious fundamentalist wings of both western christian and arabian islamic traditions. At the moment the hard right evangelicals of the GOP and the wahabi sunnis from Saud to Pakistan share surprising similar views on the status, role and treatment of women.
    Go figure…..

    Izen rushes in where Ozboy fears to tread – Oz 😆

  28. Luton Ian says:

    In pure “selfish gene” terms, rape may theoretically be a way for a male to breed with a female which otherwise wouldn’t go anywhere near it, and anatomical evolution may reflect that.

    at the risk of too much information, playful bedroom rough and tumble, shows that it is pretty difficult for a woman to get into a position in which she is not vulnerable, as the DNA cares not how it is replicated, only that it is, that vulnerability may have been selected for, but;

    perhaps anatomical evolution reflects this too

    human females are usually better protected from cold than human males are, by a more even and usually more generous distribution of sub cuteneaus (sp!) fat.

    I don’t know of any human male who claims to be able to remain amorous in a cold bath, and he’ll feel the cold more than she will.

    but, as I replied to git, we’re not dogs, and you don’t see humans shagging in the street, like dogs do.

    I know the women who I’m attracted to when I see them,

    Women who are attracted to me, know they are too. Once in a while I’ll be attracted to one who is also attracted to me, whether it progresses depends on many, many other things.

    Perhaps she’s attracted to men who’ll watch soaps and the full collection of Sex & the City with her (yuk!)

  29. Amanda says:

    Izen claims that ‘the hard right evangelicals of the GOP and the wahabi sunnis from Saud to Pakistan share surprising similar views on the status, role and treatment of women’. That is libelling the GOP, pure and simple. It’s a piece of nonsense that brings him crashing down into absurdity. To make a claim like that is no different than claiming that U. S. policy is decided by aliens from UFOs. I tend to switch off from nutters.

    Yes: I’m a registered Republican. And I know my party and its constituent groups really well.

    I GUARANTEE that no sane member of my party is anything like the Islamists/jihadist Muslims in their view of the role, status and treatment of women. But then, I have actually met and mingled with evangelical Christians — who, not irrelevantly, are also the demographic in America most likely to support Israel and the rights of Jews in the world.

    I’d like to see Izen’s evidence for his calumny, I really would. Because I suspect that it’s a figment of imagination and nothing more.

  30. Amanda says:

    Anatomical evolution reflects the need for a division of labour: a hunting and provisioning sex on the one hand, and a foraging, camp-keeping, child-minding sex on the other. (That is why women as a sex are smaller than men as a sex: they require fewer calories to subsist, which means more calories for the offspring. No sense in having both sexes as calorie-hungry if there’s no benefit to the species as a whole.) In short, the sex differences are not there to make rape possible, and rape is actually a bad strategy for reproductive success, which is why only losers resort to it. (Note that there is nothing to stop a woman or her family from killing any baby that was forced on her.)

    See Owen Lovejoy, ‘The Origin of Man’, Science article, January 1981and similar paleoanthropological articles, e.g. ‘Are We Sexy Because We’re Smart Or Smart Because We’re Sexy?” As of the 21st century, Owen’s essential position remains unchanged, because nothing in the research he and others have done since then contradicts it.

  31. Kitler says:

    IZEN you obviously don’t know many American women if you think they are just going to stand around meekly and be bullied into silence so your analogy is wrong. However as very few of them are meek you will not be seeing many in Heaven.

    I dunno K – look around at all the biggest earth-inheritors you can see (e.g., Paris Hilton). How meek do they look to you? Oz

  32. Ozboy says:

    Incidentally, I hope you like the new picture at the top of the page – the only change to the blog’s look and feel I’ve made in two years. I’ve replaced the very nice stock WordPress image with the view from the summit of Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak.

  33. Kitler says:

    Ozboy is that a rock glacier? Last time I saw one of them was in North Wales.

    I’ve only been there once; most of the formations around the mountain are Permian coal measures, similar to those of the Sydney Basin (Gondwanaland got ’em later than your lot); you can see the index leaf fossil Glossopteris in both measures. In fact, in the early days of white settlement, coal was mined on the lower slopes.

    The mountain itself is Jurassic dolerite, which displays the columnar “organ pipe” jointing visible in similar outcrops throughout central and southern Tasmania (technically part of the Karoo-Ferrar large igneous province). Actually, if I may digress, the Karoo-Ferrar was the fourth-largest igneous intrusion on record; about 180 million years ago, about 5 million cubic kilometres of magma flowed over several million square kilometres of Godwanaland. The baking of the underlying hydrocarbon-bearing deposits resulted in over twenty trillion tonnes of CO2 being given off in a short space of time. Kinda puts the puny anthropogenic contribution into perspective, doesn’t it? You can see the Jurassic spike in atmospheric CO2 concentration here. Funny to note how the atmospheric temperature responded 😉

    What you are seeing in the picture at the top (angular boulders) is I think simply a weathering pattern, caused by the annual freeze, rather than glacial till. However, there were two major recorded glacial events in Tasmania, the most recent being the Pleistocene; local indigenous folks would have seen the last bit of it. In the central highlands there is plenty of visible evidence (such as this) of the recent event – Oz

  34. Luton Ian says:

    It took a bit of getting used to looking at tillite a few metres below South African coal seams, when the British ones have tropical soil profiles and (in the lower seams in northern England and in Scotland) tropical limestones in the sequence.

  35. Luton Ian says:


    agreed, only absolute losers resort to rape (and deserve dire consequences).

    The infanticide assumes that the culture makes the connection between the act and the result.

    Supposedly some cultures do not make that association, though I have difficulty believing the tales that such ignorance exists.

    Interesting what you say about body size. we keep relatively small sheep, which produce more lambs and lambs which grow just as big as much heavier sheep breeds do.

    The heavier sheep eat more despite their lower productivity, but if they’re to be bought in (we breed our own), they cost less, and when they reach the end of their lives, they sell for more, as a big sheep makes more curries and kebabs

  36. Luton Ian says:

    do the dolerites get close enough to the coals to increase rank?

    The Zululand coalfield was really complex because of the dolerites, and the coking coals were highly sought after, despite being thin.

    As I recall from examining the Mt Ossa specimen, there was no sign of post-depositional alteration, and Glossopteris was clearly visible, so I would say in that instance the answer is no. More generally, see my comment above on Karoo-Ferrar – Oz

  37. Amanda says:

    Ozboy: I like the new banner for the website. Beautiful and appropriate. : )

  38. Amanda says:

    Oz: Just read your comment on the banner. Tasmania: the country my husband dreams of. Along with New Zealand. (He sometimes asks me: Would Ozboy hire me? Would Farmerbrown? I’ll do anything!)

    If you’re interested, I’ll be looking for a couple to act as caretakers (known down here as woofers) from February-December 2017, while we head off around Australia in a caravan. Some hard work involved, though – Oz

  39. Amanda says:

    Ian: I think/would guess that all humans DO recognize the connection. The really interesting question is whether some higher animals do. I suspect that the answer is No.

  40. Kitler says:

    Well the Romans were not above rape to restock their depleted population see the episode known as the rape of the Sabine women. I’m not sure it could be counted as such as the women were probably exchanging one hairy thug for another one but one that was tougher than the last one. Oddly enough the surviving Sabine men complained and did get conjugal visitation rights.

  41. meltemian says:

    I’m not altogether sure (old as I am, I wasn’t actually there) but I thought the Romans “grabbed the girls” and gave them the choice of marrying a Roman. They wanted to settle the area but the Sabine men weren’t keen on inter-marriage and refused to let them anywhere near their women. I seem to remember some battle between the Romans and the Sabines where the women intervened between their fathers and their husbands to stop them fighting.
    Mind you I expect a lot of “rape and pillage” went on wherever the Roman army went. They can’t have had enough camp followers to keep them occupied can they?

    Depends on how camp they were – Oz 😉

  42. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Actually, if I may digress, the Karoo-Ferrar was the fourth-largest igneous intrusion on record; about 180 million years ago, about 5 million cubic kilometres of magma flowed over several million square kilometres of Godwanaland. The baking of the underlying hydrocarbon-bearing deposits resulted in over twenty trillion tonnes of CO2 being given off in a short space of time. Kinda puts the puny anthropogenic contribution into perspective, doesn’t it? You can see the Jurassic spike in atmospheric CO2 concentration here. Funny to note how the atmospheric temperature responded ”

    The graph you present is the old early 80s version that is based on computer modelling of the carbon cycle and very uncertain estimates of temperature with a very poor temporal resolution incapable of resolving the ‘short term’ variations in temp or CO2. The CO2 pulse during the Jurassic resulted in hot dry deserts in the tropics, tropical jungle in the temperate zones and temperate forest at the poles. There was also a pronounced reduction in biocalcification in the oceans as acidification blocked coral and diatom growth. At the end of the warming and acidification from the CO2 pulse there is also strong evidence of ocean anoxia and an extinction event.

    All of this from a large increase in CO2 over several thousand years. So although the eventual level was greater than the present, the rate of CO2 increase was around an order of magnitude smaller than the present.

    Click to access Weissert-Erba.pdf

    Gosh, is there anything you don’t know? Now you’re a geologist, too!

    Just one small piece of advice, from the ignorant: do read what you condemn; before you condemn it. The palaeoclimate reconstructions in the graph I linked to are not early 80’s, as you suggest; temperature is from Christopher Scotese of the University of Texas, whose Palaeomap Project is ongoing. In fact, Scotese didn’t even gain his PhD until 1985.

    CO2 levels are from R.A. Berner 2001 (as in, you know, what it says on the bottom of the graph). The paper (actually Berner and Kothavala, both of Yale), published in the American Journal of Science, if you wish to read it, is an update of a reconstruction (GEOCARB) first made in 1991. The principal 2001 enhancement, as you will see in the abstract, is that it incorporates the GCM, which is part of most climate computer models used in IPCC-cited papers. In fact, the paper even cites work by Lovelock. So, glaring inaccuracies aside, I’m not at all sure what your point is.

    And while you’re at it, perhaps you might wish also to read what you cite. Weissert and Erba’s 2004 JGS paper, which you link to above, is actually a very worthy multi-proxy palaeoclimate reconstruction – but from late Jurassic (Oxfordian age, began 160 My) to mid Cretaceous (Albian Age, ended 100 My), as the diagram on page 3 of the paper makes clear. The Karoo-Ferrar event I referred to happened in the mid-Jurassic (Toarcian, 180 My, hence “Toarcian extinction”).

    I know you pulled this up by googling “Jurassic”, and you may be tempted to accuse me of quibbling – “mid Jurassic, late Jurassic, so what?” But the Toarcian age was, like, TWENTY MILLION YEARS earlier. Nor do you provide a source for your contention that this event occurred over “several thousand years”, upon which you base your comparison to AGW. And finally, your paper deals with the continental landmass that became modern-day Europe, not Gondwanaland.

    Just a suggestion, mind you – Oz

  43. Kitler says:

    I hope they leave the picture in place for the article.

  44. izen says:

    @- Amanda
    “It’s a piece of nonsense that brings him crashing down into absurdity. To make a claim like that is no different than claiming that U. S. policy is decided by aliens from UFOs. I tend to switch off from nutters.”

    I do appreciate that suggesting a similarity between Islamic attitudes to women and the policy positions taken by the GOP can appear ‘nutty’ or ridiculous hyperbole just as the claims that Obamacare is tantamount to socialism may appear to those on the other side of the political divide.

    The reason why such ideas get traction however is because there is a grain of truth in them so they play with the audience for whom it is confirmation of their personal biases.
    In the case of Obamacare it is the underlying assumption that the market is incapable of delivering effective universal healthcare without significant central regulation at least, and direct funding in some circumstance. {as with medicare} That looks a bit like socialism to some….
    With the GOP it is the recent policy of an absolute prohibition on abortion with no exceptions for incest or rape. {well perhaps legitimate or ‘forcible’ rape…?} that indicates an assumption that the free choice of individual women is illegitimate and requires direct regulation by the state. Kinda like islamic theocracies for others….

    I acknowledge that this may be as disconcerting and apparently ‘nutty’ as I find Limbaugh, but reflect that this DOES make sense to those share the viewpoint that the religious right are shaping policy in the GOP in the same sort of way that fundamentalist islam shapes political policy in the Muslim theocracies of the middle East and Asia.

    I am very highly dubious about ANY claims for gender roles or capabilities that can be derived from the biology of humans. It is always prone to the Naturalistic fallacy.
    Two biological findings that I tend to quote when people start to claim a legitimacy from Nature for how humans ‘should’ order their reproductive relationships. Both are tendentious, but in this field there is little that isn’t.
    1- Apes vary from strict monogamy to a free for all. Because of direct competition in species where the female has multiple partners the ejaculate size and sperm motility tends to be larger with a proportionate increase in the size of male genetalia.
    Humans fall somewhere in the middle of the range from Gorrillas {strict monogamists} to Bonobos {make the 60s look puritan}.
    2- there is some {admittedly weak} evidence that the immune suppressive response of a female that enables the carrying of a fetus for 9 months is improved (reducing misscarrages) by the gastric ingestion of the same genetic material as will fertilise a future pregnancy.

  45. Kitler says:

    Izen male gorillas have Harems or whatever the term is for gorillas so how is that monogamous? As for number 2 on your list good luck persauding a woman it’s a good idea.

  46. Luton Ian says:


    I can’t offer references – because it came via my estranged, who’s all into animal behaviour 😉

    supposedly the guys who did the pioneering work on bonobos were hippies.

    Is it a surprise that they found “peace and free love, man”

    The guy who did the work on west african chimps was a marxoid – and what did he find?

    Anthropomorphizing –

    never! they were entirely objective!

    If it’s a nosh you want, you’ll have to sell the idea to your would be nosher some other way – like it’s good for the complexion, or it’ll heal the world and save the polar bears

    something hopey changey

  47. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian the strangest use for something and this from a woman was that it was good for the teeth if you brushed your teeth with it. People believe a lot of old tripe.

  48. Luton Ian says:

    There’s another use suggested for it, in the last paragraph of this blurb

    I know keynes was less than “the shortest distance between two points”
    and that we are separated by a common language
    and that said secretion can leave stains, but come on…

    I thought Rothbard always used a typewriter!

    Quite a succinct summary which I’ve never read before (more a long essay than a short book). Though I think we all knew where old Maynard was coming from – Oz

  49. Luton Ian says:

    Looks like US politics just got a whole lot stickier, with Ron Paul supporters being refused their seats at the convention, and worse, far worse

  50. meltemian says:

    Good Grief! Too much information izen….I’ve only just had breakfast.
    As to the Mises article – maybe it’s a kind of invisible ink?

  51. meltemian says:

    Kitler, I do not believe there is a place called ITTOQQORTOORMIIT, sounds like some sort of code!
    I may use it next time I need a new password for something.
    Anyway it’s nice to see warble gloaming has hit Greenland.

  52. Amanda says:

    Izen: I guarantee that ‘gastric ingestion’ has no effect whatsoever. Not that kind of effect, anyway.

    This is rather on the order of some people’s suggestion that weeing in the shower is good for your corns. One’s corns (if you have ’em; I don’t) are not the least bit interested in wee, but it makes a good excuse for behaviour one wants to let pass anyway (so to speak).

  53. Luton Ian says:

    If the dove, is recognized as the bird of peace…

    By following Izen’s somewhat tortured logic

    The bird of “true love” whatever that might mean, must be the

    wait for it

    It must be the swallow

  54. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian would that be an African or Europe Swallow?

    I can see I need another thread soonish – give me six hours or so – Oz 🙄

  55. Kitler says:

    Well Ozboy sex and politics go together but what have you against the transport of coconuts.

  56. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Just one small piece of advice, from the ignorant: do read what you condemn; before you condemn it. The palaeoclimate reconstructions in the graph I linked to are not early 80′s, as you suggest; ….”

    Okay guv, its a fair cop….
    You caught me making a quick knee-jerk response to a familiar graphic and relying on memory and the first example I could find at short notice.

    I am not even sure that the line you are taking IS that the graph shows a lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature that has any valid relevence to the issue of present AGW. Perhaps the wry smiley was an ironic acknowledgment that the graph is incapable of showing any link between CO2 and temperature on timescales shorter than 10My. Yes, agreed – Oz

    One interesting aspect of the version of the graph you post is that it omits the error range indicated for the GEOCARB modelling results. Compare your version with this one –

    There is also the text from the paper from which this graph is derived –

    “This type of modeling is incapable of delimiting shorter term CO2 fluctuations (Paleocene-Eocene boundary, late Ordovician glaciation) because of the nature of the input data which is added to the model as 10 my or longer averages. Thus, exact values of CO2, as shown by the standard curve, should not be taken literally and are always susceptible to modification. Nevertheless, the overall trend remains. This means that over the long term there is indeed a correlation between CO2 and paleo-temperature, as manifested by the atmospheric greenhouse effect.”

    The point I was trying to make, badly and with lamentable errors, was that the graph you posted is inadequate evidence from which to draw any conclusions about rapid climate change from large CO2 changes. Neither the temperature record or the carbon record are capable of detecting or resolving them.

    The speed, and magnitude of the CO2 changes can be derived from the extinction rates as a result of ocean anoxic events. Isotope changes also provide a timeframe for events like the atrthat gives several thousand years for around a 1000ppm rise. Much slower than the present rate of increase.

    My apologies for such a careless post, consider me suitably chastened and I will endeavour to be more care full in future.

    Although if you were implying that the graph indicated anything substantive about CO2 pulses and climate change, or that the climate created by the the Karoo-Ferrar event was benign or attractive, you’re wrong.

    Well, I certainly wasn’t implying that – I did refer above to the Toarcian extinction, which manifests itself in the fossil record primarily in the top boundary of many species of marine molluscs such as ammonites and brachiopods. If I thought human beings were contributing to anything remotely like it, I’d be taking an entirely different approach.

    My point was to contrast the scale of geological events to that of human activities; something that is difficult for us to comprehend, as we live in an age of comparative geological quiescence, Vesuvius, Krakatoa and Mount St Helens notwithstanding. Though Farmerbraun may beg to differ – Oz

  57. izen says:

    @- Amanda
    “……but it makes a good excuse for behaviour one wants to let pass anyway (so to speak).”

    That is the point I am making. Biological determinism, evolutionary sociobiology or any attempt to derive ‘SHOULD” from the natural world is suspect. Often the result of wishful thinking or a desire to legitimise an ideological or political position.
    Which brings us back to Tod Akin and Ryan, the GOP and its attitudes to women.

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