We’re in Receipt of One or More Epistles

Rapid Fire Zone!

with guest shooter John Cook

Phat Albert writes from Wash., DC, USA:

Dear RFZ c/o CN,

I guess you could call me a professional influencer. Not to blow my own trumpet, but the evidence does point to my being pretty good at my job.

From my earliest years on my family’s tobacco farm, I was expected to know how to make folks hand over legal currency in exchange for lung cancer, which may sound hard, but isn’t as easy as it sounds.

When that challenge wore off I went into politics. On an average day I might have to, say, convince Americans to re-elect Bill Clinton to the Oval Office—which, despite recognizing the name Bill Clinton, they actually did, thanks to my initiative in going ahead and inventing the ’Office Sex-perverts Should Get Four More Years’ law-and-order platform.

After retirement I wanted a change of pace, so I decided to sell something easier: the science of climate urgency.

Everyone said it would be a piece of cake, especially for the youngest person ever to drop out of Vanderbilt’s Masters in Preaching program, having surpassed my Rhetoric professors by the end of sophomore year.

Everyone said the promotional video I made for my climate-prevention company, Generation Investment Management, could be cut in half and still win an Oscar.

Everyone said I’d have the carbon debate in the bag by intermission.

Well, 13 years later, I think you can guess whose advice I wouldn’t piss on if it was at increased risk of once-in-a-century extreme temperatures: everyone’s.

Long story short, from a peak brand approval of 49% we’ve made literally zero headway in over a decade. No matter how sad and angry I get, people just prefer not to sign up anymore. How dare they?

When I do cold calls these days, it feels like 51% of the time, they don’t even want to be talked into subscribing. You can’t say the word ‘carbon credit’ in mixed company any more…

[Blah blah blah, woe is me, a few swears for good measure—eds.

It goes on like this.]

….serious thought to selling out and getting back into the respiratory-malignancies game.

So I guess my question is:

What’s the #1 WEIRD tip that can TURBOCHARGE my climate-insurance sales and save up to 200 HOURS of impotent frustration/week? That’s more than I pay for coffee.

BASIC ANSWER:

Stop preaching to the unconverted.

ADVANCED ANSWER:

As Sun Tzu says, pick your battles with a view, whenever practicable, to avoiding suicide. A surfeit of Anzac spirit is all well and good if your only ambition is to have an Australian cookie recipe named after you, Phat Albert, if that really is your name. But nobody ever wrote a book about the idiot who charged at a wind turbine—they were too busy trying to identify the resulting mince from dental records.—J.C.


Well, Rapid Fire has outdone itself this time, mereckons you’ll agree.

Because you asked for it.

School’s back, and you know what that means: it’s time for Rapid Fire!

Rapid Fire Zone!

Woman:

My question is to the rather animated gentleman on the far left, psychologist I think? [Pointing to Winthrop Professor Stephan Lewandowsky.] Hi, yeah. In two bullet points or less, how does science explain the fact that nobody bothers doing anything to avert climate catastrophe?

Winthrop Prof. Lewandowsky: Whoa! [Wiping brow theatrically. General laughter.]

That’s pretty much the question, isn’t it? So while I’m not remotely convinced you were asking it in good faith, I want to answer it anyway:

  • The human brain evolved to ignore problems that don’t matter.
  • Which is great for solving the real problems we encounter day to day—but leaves us totally ill-equipped to deal with made-up ones.

No empty calories. Gluten free. Single-origin. 97% fact-free. That’s our promise to you when you enter the CN Rapid Fire Zone.

Rapid Fire: because you asked for it.

Yes, you in the trenchcoat, sitting patiently up back. Fire away.

Rapid Fire Zone!

Q: [Inaudible] Like this? Sorry, yeah, as I was saying, I wanted to ask the panel: what’s the ‘Mission Statement’ of Climate Nuremberg’s new Semi-automatic Fire Zone [sic] section? What corporate values [inaudible]? Thanks.

A: Our new Rapid Fire Zone embodies excellence in:

  • succinctness

Who’s next?


We hope you enjoyed this zero-sugar, 97% fact-free, no-added-values science-sized snack, courtesy of Climate Nuremberg’s Rapid Fire Zone.

Rapid Fire: because you asked for it.

So Many Hands Raised in Childlike Curiosity, So Few Bullets

Today we’re humbled with pride to announce what scientists say will be a game-changing feature at the Berg, offering faster elimination of your lingering questions than ever. And don’t worry: CN’s new Rapid Fire Zone will learn from, and build on, the mistakes of the abortive CN Explainer—now deleted—a format we really should have known was overambitious. (The clue is in the name, der freds.)

After that episode—of which let us never speak again—we turned to our readers for ideas. You. The people. The 99% of Internet users who trust Climate Nuremberg, not Breitbart, for their daily science.

And one consistent message came through, right from the day our reader survey opened in 2003. What you’ve been telling us, year after year, is that you don’t care about the Whys and Wherefores—that’s “troll catnip,” “pandering to the immoral minority” and “false balance,” in the words of one courageous young reader, ‘Mikeman,’ from PA., USA.

What you want is the Whats, How Bads, How Fasts and Therefores.

When do you want it? Now.

Well, we listened. That’s what we do to you here at the Berg. We be agile.

After all, sitting around waiting for some evidence is so… Anthropocene. These days, the Days of Thunberg, #We simply #DontHaveTime (as my 16-year-old granddaughter keeps reminding me) for such indulgences.

Just ask any industry-free scientist: by the time the science comes true, it’ll be too late to falsify it, no matter what level of carbon austerity we submit to. The people who publish on the theory of tipping points have been in indefeasible consensus about this since 1850, and what they tell us reads more like the New Testament than a sober IPCC meta-analysis: the shit, they say, shall hit the fan like a thief in the night. And the picture in the crystal ball’s only getting more turbid. It’s as if the more we know about how uncertainty works, the less we know we know (and the more we know we don’t) about the tripwires for explosive climate derealization.

The latest scientists are now putting it like this, in private, after a few drinks: “In the climate-change world—unlike the real world—you can’t always count on getting a trigger warning.”

Michael Mann studies historical trends in tree temperatures, a question we’ve known the answer to since Victorian times. He says the junior scientists who queue outside his office for mentoring are young and—in various cases—diverse, and therefore grasp the urgency of the war on our broken climate better than the dead white geriatrics who occupy the Professorial Chairs ever could.

For Mann’s conga-line of protégés it’s no longer a science, it’s an arms race. And they’ve got no patience for the language of background checks, references, mental health screening, and other dilatory cunctations so beloved by climate delayers.

“‘Cooling-off period’ isn’t even in the vocabulary of tomorrow’s researcher superstars,” he explains, authoritatively but without falling into the easy trap of mannsplaining. “And if it is, it belongs in the same sentence as ‘phlogiston’ and ‘Little Ice Age.'”

Isn’t it time we learnt from them?

So say goodbye to step-by-step walking-you-throughs down tortuous, and often tendentious, garden paths of premise and inference that are all-too-seldom convincing—if they’re even intelligible.

From now on we’re cutting straight to the take-home point[s]. Because people—like you, for example—respond to bullets, not numbers. Climate psychologists were perfectly aware of this when Arrhenius was just a spermatozoon in his father’s eye.

Isn’t it time we learnt from them?

Without further ado, let’s answer your most burning, acidifying questions already. All that and little more when Climate Nuremberg returns with the inaugural Rapid Fire Zone, in a fortnight or so.

Shoot. ■

Lost in Locali[s|z]ation

You just touched down at the Australian National Airport. You’re champing at the bit to experience the fully sick country you’ve heard so much about. But before you disembark, or just plain deplane, here’s a couple of warnings.

First off, we Aussies speak English with a conspicuous lack of any accent. Such phonetic purity can be disorienting at first to visitors, like you, who’ve spent their lives immersed in a national or regional dialect. After your awe wears off, however, another culture shock awaits: the brands you trust are nowhere to be seen! (If it makes you feel any better, newly-paroled Aussies suffer exactly the same disappointment on arrival in non-Australian territory, mutatis mutandis.)

But The Berg has good news for a change. Yes, you read that right, reader: it’s not as bad as you thought.

The truth is, all the big names are still around—they’ve just been renamed. Here are the corporate Australianisms that trip most people up on their maiden voyage Down Here.

International English Australian English
Burger King His Majesty The Royal Burger Consort
Latin Fever Convulsions: The Nightclub
Chunder’s™ Indian Restaurant Chandarsubramania with Chef Chandarsubramaniam
Cheap Dragon BYOB Eat-In N Takeout Niggardly Dragon BYO Dine In & Takeaway*
Fuddruckers® Fevinkuckers®
Schindler’s Elevators SchinLiftCorp LLC
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Harry Potter and the Philosophy Midterm
Asian in a Storage Container Thai in a Box
Hooters, Inc., Family Restaurants Ample Tips or Bust!
La Giardia Italian Eat’N’Dash La Giardia Gastro Pubs
The Drug Lord The Chemist King

For better or worse (and we can safely rule out the former), there’s nothing much any of us can do about this megacorporate habit. According to a 2015 survey in Business Weekly, the top 5 excuses cited for rebranding were:

• political correctness gone perfectly sensible
• to avoid any risk of  hilarity in a world that’s more deeply divided along dialectical fault-lines than ever
• to respect local ethnic, religious and cultural groups, especially the violent ones
• because leading US brands “look funny” if seen from the left side of the road
• forget everything you thought you knew about chicken that was fried in Kentucky ■


*This pioneer and icon of Sino-Yiddish fusion cuisine traded as The Jewish Dragon until 1972, when the owners finally bowed to community outkvetch and switched to the name we’re all familiar with today.

 

World’s scientists slam denier website for misrepresenting conclusions of blog post

A scientific dream team led by Climate Nuremberg dot com’s own John Cook is contemplating an online complaint about the denier blog Climate Scepticism dot com, in the wake of a “flawed and potentially misleading” interview (don’t click) regarding the latest post at Skeptical Science dot com.

In a scathing article today the climate scientist Joseph Romm, who teaches at DeSmogBlog dot com, gives the CliScep piece a D- for scientific credibility, citing “serial unseriousness, blatant dog-whistling and the decontextualization of literally every paragraph, from beginning to end, of the original [SkepSci] post.”

Writing at The Conversation dot com dot au, Professor Clive Hamilton says the scandal people are calling SkepticismGate illustrates the worthlessness of the blogosphere as a source of information. He reminds readers that—unlike deniers—legitimate scholars never express themselves on the Internet, viewing it as “an attempt to bypass the checks and balances of the peer-reviewed literature. Those are the two words you need to remember, folks—peer and review.”

Cook and his mother, Professor Naomi Oreskes, say they only agreed to CliScep’s interview request because the name and contents of the now-discredited website tricked them into mistaking it for a reputable, anti-skeptic blog, like Skeptical Science.

Naomi Oreskes interview hilites A Series 064

“History will judge whether the post [at Skeptical Science] that’s got deniers hot and bothered struck the right balance between honesty and effectiveness,” says Prof. Naomi Oreskes [above, juggling the twin values of science].

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, a Bristol-based cognitive scientist, lent his credibility to the SkepSci post as a co-author. He believes it’s no accident that the shadowy coalition of Australo-, Americo-, Anglo- and Euro-deniers behind CliScep chose a blog name so easily confused with Dr Cook’s. His regretful conclusion is that, “at this point, the only way to keep words like ‘sceptical’ and ‘skeptical’ safe from misappropriation by skeptics is to trademark them.”

In a special post at ShapingTomorrowsWorld dot org today, Lewandowsky reluctantly appeals for donations to a legal fund.

“The tragedy is that the good guys here are vastly out-funded by the skeptic blogs,” he writes. “As the underdogs in this cock-fight, we have no choice but to beg for your help, dear public. I’ve personally pledged to give whatever I can afford, but—with life becoming an endless series of airline tickets—I doubt that’ll cover the initial consult[-ation with an intellectual property lawyer].”

Doctors Cook and Oreskes have been on a three-continent tour to dispel public unawareness of their blog entry. But in light of the seriousness of the skeptic distortions of its message yesterday, they ditched their itinerary to meet us in Sydney, where they gave us the authentic, scientific version of events.

Continue reading

Her Name was Trinity and She Turned Me Into a Man

Three meninges bathe and sheathe my financially-valuable brain: the dura mater, arachnoid meninx and pia mater, in ascending order of intimacy.

Perhaps I’ll tell you about them sometime. Today I want to talk about something even more intimate: my alma mater, the place where I spent my formative 13th thru 18th winters.

I hate to love Trinity School for Boys, whereas what I really love is to hate her.

Last week I had occasion to return to Trinity’s picturesque Apple Chapel on sentimental business: a friend was getting married, or something. Like good little Trinitarians, my circle of mates has never really outgrown her. I suppose there’s no shame in having your wedding at your own high school—but please shoot me if I ever have my funeral there.

It was like stepping back in space to the 1990s.

As I entered the Chapel (a satellite of the much larger cathedral where morning assembly is held), you can probably imagine the various stigmata of Mariolatry that surrounded me.

Let me stop you right there. The sight that hit me in the apse was nothing like that, I assure you.

For, despite her name, Trinity is no den of Catholicism. Her founders and First Boys were High Anglicans, a type of Protestant best known for only protesting a little bit, reluctant as they were to rock the boat like their Lower brethren. (Readers confused by Christendom’s sectarian denomenclature may find succor in CN’s Mannsplainer® section below, which is prepared to answer any and all good-faith questions.)

In short, the Trinity I knew had nothing to do with the Father, the Warrior and the Stranger. No, the equilateral sigil of our school stood for one thing and one thing only: cricket, footy and assemblies—the three pillars of a private Anglican education (or to put it in Anglo-English, a public Anglican education).

As a young sportsman, assemblies were my forte.

To this day I still don’t understand all the fuss about footy. Apparently there was a ball involved somewhere—hence the sport’s full name, rugbyball—but I never did get my hands on this McGuffin. A fellow intellectual once got close enough to describe it as “an inflatable piece of cow.” How bathetic.

Cricket was more bearable, I suppose, because for the most part you could just mind your own business in the outfield. It was certainly easier to get your homework done when you didn’t have to keep one eye open for bearded behemoths bearing down on you like pituitary Panzers, bent on using your spinal column as a tackling pad. My Saturday mornings became even closer to tolerable once I’d attained the position I was born to play: twelfth man for the Last Elevens.

Of course it wasn’t all sport. The ideal Trinitarian divided his “life” at school equally between honing his leg spin in the nets, Growing In Stature And In Service To God And Man, and hitting the academics.

Which wasn’t much fun for an academic like me. Still, to quote Nietzsche word for word, what almost kills me almost makes me admire the Klebolds and Harrises of the world. At least they had the balls, ramrods and powder to turn the tables on the jockocracy.

Like most boys I wanted nothing more than to be an onward Christian soldier, so I was devastated when they exempted me from Cadets, forcing me to join the debating society. And it was all thanks to my fraidy-cat mother, who’d snitched about a condition I suffered from at the time (“haemophilia,” for the medical geeks).

Then as now, debating was the fallback activity for noncombatant Nigels. We asthmatic, bespectacled, Warfarin-blooded perorators could only listen in skeptical awe to the tales of what went on “on bivouac”—like the story of a certain Latin master who once in the safety of Belanglo National Forest no longer insisted on swearing in Classical tongues. “Fucking Abos!” replaced “indigenes in crucem, eos in crucem,” et yadda.

To my regret I never did find out what the recoil of an Enfield feels like, or if bivouac is an actual thing. (I have my doubts.)

Meanwhile at the local state school, Fairfield Boys High, they didn’t even have their own river for rowing practice. It must’ve been out of socioeconomic envy that they tried to beat us up on the bus every afternoon. Successfully, as a rule. Thank the Three Gods their parents couldn’t afford rifles and bayonets, or they’d have utterly routed us.

But there were good times as well [subs—need a bullshit example here]

They say it’s February 2018 now. Australian society has moved on a bit since the time of Hammer. The average employer is no longer quite so impressed by an applicant who can speak New Testament Greek or cover himself in glory as a front-row hooker in the four-man cox.

Meanwhile life at Trinity, or what passes for it, has proven to be reassuringly immutable. They tell me Latin is still the lingua franca of daily worship, sports practice and the English classroom. (Not the French classroom, obviously.) The great leafy Quadrangle is still one side short, as it has been since the 1960s—courtesy of a handful of rioting borders inflamed with school spirit or similar inflammation.

And me? I turned out all right. Anti-Catholic guilt eventually lost its hold on me. Like my idols Mao Zedong and Christopher Flannery, I realized idolatry was poison. It was the cursing of a drunken Irishman—”Mary mother of m*therfucking God!”—that tipped me off, of all things, to the fatuity of faith. How could anyone worship, with a straight face, a demigod born of a one-night stand between God and His own mother, I asked myself? You may as well be a Scientologist or a Presbyterian, for God Delusion’s sake.

But it was those six years, the Trinitarian years, that made me the man I am today, says my therapist.


CN Mannsplanation™ Zone!

What does ‘High’ Anglicanism involve?

The first High Anglicans earned their vertical denomination not only for their fondness for psychedelic stained-glass polyptychs but their insistence that all around them was continually turning into plasma, serum and bodily tissue. These hallucinations are thought to have been a side-effect of their signature vice: the recreational use of liturgical censers.

(Pass the thurible, said the bishop to the vicar, as they sat in a circle getting incensed.)

Ah, but I fear I’ve already lost my Muslim readers, haven’t I? Let’s rewind a tad—to the Middle Ages, which occurred in Medieval times.

It is the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church holds undisputed temporal and spiritual sway over the peoples of Europe. (‘Catholic’ literally means all-inclusive, indiscriminate, ecumenical; think holistic, Holocaust or holodomor.)

But one peoples, who call itself Anglicans, are none too happy living under the thumb of a fat man in a dress in Avignon. The final straw comes when the Pope refuses to relax the canonization criteria for their favorite candidate, the popular mystic Jesus. He simply doesn’t have the necessary number of magic powers, explains His Holiness with faux regret. (You can’t beat pancreatic cancer by praying to Jesus, for instance.)

So the Anglicans secede from the Mother Church, with understandable sequelae: centuries of internecine pogroms.

My grandparents in Germany still remember the Catho militias who traveled door to door cleansing the community of “Prods” (to use the hate-word they applied to devotees of St Jesus). But because all religions are about the same thing—being a better person and loving your neighbor—it was no easy task to tell members of one sect from another. Save for a certain lascivious avariciousness of the lips, the average Papist doesn’t look palpably different from the average Christolator. So the roaming Romists needed some kind of shibboleth to sift the wheat from the chaff of Christendom.

Their solution was as simple as it was fiendishly elaborate.

When you answered the door they’d either hit you on the thumb with a hammer or pretend to break some bad news, like “someone scratched your car,” or “you left your headlights on.”

Any homeowner who blurted out “Jesus!” was killed on the spot. Only if you blasphemed properly (“Mary mother of thr*ce-beshitten God,” or “Begorrah” for short) would they let you off with a savage beating in front of your family for sullying the name of the patron saint of teen pregnancy.

Naturally, this great Old World tradition was exported Down Under in an attenuated, half-assed form. I was too young to understand why, but I vividly recall Dad nailing a sign to the door of our house—a sign that was to save our lives more than once: No Salesmen, Charities, Death Squads Or Take-Away Menus Please. It worked wonders, thanks to the unique laziness of the Australo-ustashe.

The age of sectarian genocide was over by the time I started seventh grade, thank God. In the Vatican, a few years prior to the events of today’s post, a fiat of Pope Lawrence had shuttered once and for all The Office for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, better known as the Holy Inquisition. (The site now houses a state-of-the-art burns ward.)

But the mistrust lingered. Even in an extremely moderate family like mine we weren’t allowed to have Catholic girlfriends. Since it’s not entirely clear what the point of dating a non-Catholic schoolgirl is, this was tantamount to saying your genitals are grounded for the next six years, young man. ■

In religion a fiat is a kind of executive ruling, coming from the word fatwa.


We trust this CN Mannsplanatory Zone! has eliminated all your outstanding questions about world religions (not to mention your mediocre ones). If questions persist, please see your religion provider.