...does David Farrar really understand the pros and cons of relative poverty measures?
[Update: changed the wording of the post. Also, for what it's worth, I think that my own post is unduly harsh on relative poverty measures, and that CPAG is well within their rights to use them. They're following international norms, the type of measure is eminently justifiable, and DPFs example chosen to illustrate their flaws (where wealthiest 50% of New Zealanders become bankrupt overnight) is an example of a reductio ad absurdum which is, of its own accord, absurd.]
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
...does David Farrar really understand the pros and cons of relative poverty measures?
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Monday was angiogram day. That mean having a hole snipped into an artery (or vein, I don't know which) in my groin. Through that hole a tiny wire and catheter were poked up into my heart. From that catheter radioactive liquid was squirted. And from that liquid an image of heart was picked up by x-ray(?) and shown on a TV.
From what he saw the cardiologist determined that I don't have coronary problems to accompany my aortic ones. Hooray! What he did find though was that my aorta has been stretched. So that might have to be replaced with the valve too. Not so hooray.
Anyhow, I'm one step closer to surgery and you're wondering just what its like to have your heart squirted with radioactive stuff.
Well...the actual squirting was odd, but not that bad . First I felt a warmth in my chest a bit like that caused by a shot of whiskey. Traveling at the remarkable speed of my blood, the heat then raced to my head and my feet. It happened in a moment. You blood really, really doesn't mess about in its trip around your body.
I'd be lying if I said that the angiogram as a whole wasn't a little unpleasant. But it was bearable. Easily bearable.
It was my first time in an operating theatre too - and that was kind of surreal. In the background they played reggae music (I'm not really a fan of Wellington reggae but it did help me relax). And at one point I swear that both the nurse and cardiologist were humming and swaying too it. I half expected them to break out into song. And for a moment, I was lying there on the edge of the musical of my heart problems. "His heat is bad, it's very sad..."
Musical or not, the cardiologist, nurses and assorted medical personal were all professional, friendly and kind. It really helped.
As I left the theatre, two other people were queued up behind be waiting for similar procedures. For a whole morning, at least one day a week, the doctors and nurses in that unit perform angiograms and similar operations. One after the other. I can't imagine how stressful this must be. I'm in awe of people who do this for a living.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Gabriela Saavedra’s home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, had been crudely built with scrapwood and was now old and falling apart. While in elementary school, Gabriela, along with her three siblings, had inherited the house when her mother died of uterine cancer that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for too long. Now 19 years-old, Gabriela was renting out the eight-foot-wide downstairs of the shack, although “renting out” was more a figure of speech: the woman downstairs was dying of uterine cancer herself and had not been able to pay rent for months, but kicking her out or demanding rent was the last thing Gabriela could do after having witnessed her own mother’s painful demise.Read the whole paper [PDF] and mull over the authors' ideas on ways to solve these problems.
To get to Gabriela’s own room in the shack, you had to climb an outside wooden ladder, of which the top two rungs were broken—a ladder she had to climb holding her 19-month-old toddler, Ana Daniel.
Sitting in a chair in a weathered Nike sweatshirt, Gabriela described the sweatshop where she was working. She made clothes for export from7.00amuntil at least 6.00pm, seven days a week. But many nights, with no advance warning, the Korean owners would require everyone to stay until 9.00 or 11.00pm. There had been several shifts when they had been required to stay until 5.00am the next morning, leaving no time for sleep after getting home before the morning commute back to the factory. Gabriela and the other workers had been told that if they refused to work the mandatory overtime shifts, they would lose their jobs.
The dangers of her job increased with the sleep deprivation. “I was sewing at 3.00am, and I couldn’t do it anymore because I was so tired. I almost cut off a finger.”She told us of others who had worked at the factory longer and suffered serious injuries because of extreme fatigue. Overtime pay was even lower than her normal wages. Gabriela noted, “I’ve heard that overtime at night should be paid at 200% of normal wages, but they pay only 75% [of normal wages].”
Despite working seven days a week from 11 to 22 hours a day and making 100 shirts an hour, Gabriela earned only 400 lempiras, or US$26 a week. Food was expensive at the factory—$1 to $1.50 a meal—but the 15 minutes allotted for a lunch break left no time for alternatives. Even though she ate the factory food once during an 11- to 22-hour day, Gabriela spent $7–10 of her weekly salary on her own meals. The next $10 paid for formula and diapers for her daughter. That left $6–9 a week for any other necessities. Gabriela could not afford to lose any of the limited wages she earned, so she worked when she was sick. She also worked when Ana Daniel was sick.
On the eve of a children’s holiday, Gabriela’s husband, Daniel, had been coming home with a gift for their daughter. With a full two weeks’ wages in his pocket, Daniel was attacked and murdered. Not long before our interview, Gabriela’s 10-year-old stepsister had started caring for the toddler, but she was to return to school within weeks of our departure.
Gabriela had no idea what she would do then. Gabriela’s face lit up as she displayed the clothes she had made for her daughter out of thrown away scraps she had taken from the factory. When asked what she would change in her life if she could change one thing, she answered without hesitation. She spoke immediately, not of the condition of her house or of her wages, but of caring for Ana Daniel: “I would like to work fewer hours. I would like to have someone who could take care of my daughter over here. And I would like to leave work earlier to be able to spend more time with her.”
Despite her mother’s adoration, Ana Daniel did not have a chance at a healthy childhood if her mother remained in the sweatshop where she worked. The pay was too low for them both to eat adequately. There was no money to repair the burned-out holes in the side of their shack, or to fix the missing rungs on the ladder that one day could trip Ana Daniel and cause her to fall more than a dozen feet to the ground. There was not enough money to pay for water cleaned of the diarrhea-inducing pathogens that are one of the leading causes of malnutrition and death for children younger than five. Moreover, the punishing work schedule necessary for subsistence left Gabriela no time to be a parent, and Ana Daniel was at risk of being locked alone at home, with no one to care for her.
And here is the rest of it.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
As kids, on long car journeys, my friends and I would amuse ourselves with a game called Car Cricket. The rules were pretty simple: watch the traffic heading in the other direction, every vehicle that passed was a ball. If it was a green car you got a single. If it was blue you got two runs. A yellow car scored you three and a truck of any colour was a boundary (4 runs). If a bus passed you got a 6. But if a white car passed you, you were out, and it was your friend's turn to bat
Nowadays, on long climate change threads, I amuse myself with a similar sport: denier cricket.
The rules remain simple. Each comment from a denier/sceptic is a ball. The following run schedule applies (note that some comments will blend multiple arguments, in this instance simply take the highest scoring argument):
Many leading scientists question climate change / It's all a conspiracy
In the 1970s scientists predicted global cooling
Computer Models can't be trusted
C02 isn't the most important Greenhouse Gas
Human emissions of C02 aren't significant compared to natural emissions
The 'Hockey Stick' is broken
The Medieval Warm Period
The Earth's climate has always changed
We can easily adapt
We're better spending the money on other things
We can't trust climate models
It's the Urban Heat Island Effect
Satellites show cooling
The Sun did it!/Sun spots!/Cosmic Rays, Cosmic Rays!
The Earth's climate stopped warming in 1998
CO2 lags temperatures in ice cores
No Ball (you can't go out on this comment/ you get 1 additional run added to what you would have scored otherwise)
Any comment that violates Gore's Law.
Wide (you can't go out on this comment/ you get 1 additional run added to what you would have scored otherwise)
Any comment with some form of Tu Quoque argument or ad hominem attack on climate scientists.
Out! (in the longer test match version of the game)
Any comment that mentions Christopher Monckton by name or which links to an article by him.
Out! (in the shorter one day event)
Any comment that mentions Monckton, Fred Singer, Bob Carter, Jennifer Marohasy or Climate Audit.
This morning, at the PCG, I've already knocked up 18 runs including a 6 off the very first ball...
...there have to be better things to do than debate climate change.
But, hey, I plead the XKCD defence.
So here we go.
Unafraid of waking the neighbours on a Sunday morning, Poneke has a post up loudly declaring the global temperatures stopped rising in 1998; and claiming that this fact devastates the case for anthropogenic global warming.
Here's my reply (repasted here so my links make it past Poneke's spam filter).
Gosh, I’m hardly awake myself and all of a sudden my pager is blurting noise. Mullah Gore has detected some climate change denial in my quadrant and it’s up to me to silence it. I tell you the hours in this job are lousy. Good thing I am a zealot.
On any given day or any given year numerous factors contribute to global temperature. We are worried about human Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) emissions because they are very likely to lead to a trend of increased temperatures globally*. Such a trend will not be a perfectly linear increase because GHG’s are only one contributing factor to temperature. Amongst this signal we’ll see plenty of noise. The noise which caught your ear this morning is, for the most part, a product from the El Nino/La Nina cycle you talk about. 1998 was an exceptionally hot year because of the powerful El Nino effect that year.
In the Hadley Centre dataset 1998 was the hottest year since records began. In NASA’s dataset 2005 was. In both datasets, if you eyeball a graph of averaged temperatures, this means you’ll see a ‘dip’ or plateau in temperatures this millennium. However, in either dataset, if you place in trend lines the trend (the signal without the noise) is still one of warming.
You will also notice, if you look at a graph of temperature trends since 1975, that there have been two other similar dips. And then the rise continues.
Now, if our ‘dip’ continues for another 10 years, then we’ll have reason to believe that there is something missing in our understanding of the globe’s climate. But until then it simply isn’t accurate to claim that global warming has stopped.
Oh, and no one in the World Meteorological Association is going to be called a denier for the simple reason that the don’t deny anthropogenic climate change. From Reuters:
OSLO (Reuters) - Climate change is still nudging up temperatures in the long term even though the warmest year was back in 1998 and 2008 has begun with unusual weather such as a cool Pacific and Baghdad’s first snow in memory, experts said.
“Global warming has not stopped,” said Amir Delju, senior scientific coordinator of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) climate program.
Last year was among the six warmest years since records began in the 1850s and the British Met Office said last week that 2008 will be the coolest year since 2000, partly because of a La Nina event that cuts water temperatures in the Pacific.
“We are in a minor La Nina period which shows a little cooling in the Pacific Ocean,” Delju told Reuters. “The decade from 1998 to 2007 is the warmest on record and the whole trend is still continuing.”
*And remember here, that global means global. Temperatures in specific locations may perform quite differently.
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Friday, April 04, 2008
To me utilitarianism is the least worst political philosophy, but it's not without problems. The one that I find most troubling being that Utilitarianism leaves no place for justice at a philosophical level. That's not to say that, for rule utilitarians at least, there's not space for something resembling justice in practice (in the long run we all benefit from having a just social contract). But justice is there simply because it helps make us all better off; not because it is right to put wrongs to right.
Consider the following hypothetical example:
Race A colonised the land of Race B. Much injustice was done. Eventually Race A formed a majority of the population. Years later the country starts to address its past. An act utilitarian would be guided in this process by the belief that we should undertake those acts that lead to the greatest wellbeing (so quite possibly no redress). A rule utilitarian might decide that compensation is part of a just social contract and even if the majority don't benefit from this in the short run, because in the long run we are all better off with such a social contract in place. But, while this might look like justice - it is not justice for justice's sake. And this seems troubling.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Here in the New Zealand blogosphere (not to mention the media, more generally) this has been much talk of the rise in price of basic goods - cheese seems to excite the lefty bloggers I read the most.
In the developing world the same rise in commodity prices is being felt too, but with much greater consequences.
Paul Krugman writes:
The financial crisis gets most of the attention from the business press — but in terms of sheer human impact, the current food crisis may well be a bigger deal.
Governments across the developing world are scrambling to boost farm imports and restrict exports in an attempt to forestall rising food prices and social unrest.
The moves mark a rapid shift away from protecting farmers, who are generally the beneficiaries of food import tariffs, towards cushioning consumers from food shortages and rising prices.
But economists warned that such actions risked provoking an upward spiral in global food prices, which have already been pushed higher by rising demand from emerging markets like China and India and pressure on land from the growing production of bio-fuels.
What I don’t quite understand is why food prices have spiked so dramatically. Demand has been rising for a number of years; bio-fuels is a big thing, but how much bigger is it this year than a year or two ago? It can’t be speculation: that raises prices by inducing stockpiling, and stocks of wheat and rice are at or near record lows.
Important stuff. We need to figure this out.
We do. My understanding is that part of the reason for the spike is drought in several key producing areas. Even without this though, the rise in demand stemming from China and India means, as best as I can tell, that we are either in desperate need of a new Green Revolution or a major change in consumption patterns. Of course, for us in the developed world (or at least those of us not in poverty) price signals will do some of the job. But by then it may well be too late for the people whose starvation means little more to us than the time it takes to watch a 30 second news item.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
A classic claim from climate quacks is that, because CO2 rises lag behind temperature rises in ice core records, C02 produced by human activities can't possibly be contributing to climate change. A nice sensible explanation of why this is nonsense can be read here. But if you prefer a chuckle with your debunking, you won't find any better than this piece of pure joy from Tim Lambert's Deltoid.
CO2, warming, and causality
z, in comments:
"CO2 is not causing global warming, in fact, CO2 is lagging temperature change in all reliable datasets. "
See also my forthcoming paper: "Chickens do not lay eggs, because they have been observed to hatch from them".
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
It wasn't that long ago that I wrote a post on how good it was to be largely free of the symptoms of Reactive Arthritis. I spoke to soon, I guess. Some time over the last few years, inflammation has damaged the aortic valve from my heart. It is now leaking, causing my heart to stretch. And I need the valve replaced before my heart itself is damaged. Valve replacement is open heart surgery but the risk of serious complications is small. If things go ok I can expect a 1-3 month recuperation period and a more or less normal life afterwards. If I stay within the public system I can expect to wait between 6 and 9 months for surgery.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious, or disappointed - the need for surgery has derailed what were looking to be exciting plans for the year. But, of course, things could be worse.
Anyhow, I intend to write more here about events as they unfold. I do get the odd person coming through to this site who has Reactive Arthritis, so maybe my experiences might be useful. You can reciprocate too. Any experiences of open heart surgery (doesn't have to be stemming from arthritis, or even valve replacement) are much appreciated in the comments box below.
[Update: If you do read this and have Reactive Arthritis - don't worry. Heart problems are a very, very rare complication of Reactive Arthritis. A rheumatologist friend of mine described my situation as a 'textbook complication that you only ever see in textbooks'. So the odds of you encountering similar problems to me are small.]
Oh - and I think there may be a couple of people from work and the immediate surrounds who read this blog. My need for surgery isn't a secret, but it isn't public knowledge yet either (partially because I can't really figure a way of telling people...)