Friday, December 11, 2009

It's a column, Jim, but not as we know it

The great thing about online publications is that, whenever you discover a new blog or opinion column that you like, there is usually an archive, and you can - hypothetically, of course - spend the whole day at work reading over past posts and columns.

When, for the first time, I read Jim Hopkins' column last fortnight - and what a load of feverish bollocks it was - my opinion of him changed significantly. I had thought of him previously as just slightly embarrassing, like the awkward uncle you only see at Christmas - the one who can't resist making groan-worthy puns and telling tortuous jokes. At least he's not boring, you think, but you still don't want to be seated next to him at dinner. Actually reading his column and finding that the cause of all this merriment is the worst, least-scientific kind of climate change denial is a bit like the scene in Father Ted where Ted stumbles upon Father Fitzpatrick's collection of Nazi memorabilia.

As usual, the conflict between my repulsion and... whatever emotion it is that makes you want to stare at a car crash... was won by the latter. A simple search for "Jim Hopkins" on the Herald site brings forth a smorgasbord of literary delights. For instance, his previous column was a bizarre rant about Hone Harawira:

You're a fomo, Hone; a foul mouth.

Not a white fomo or a black fomo, though you say you are both. But you're just a fomo, Ho. A bog standard, dime a dozen, no colour, no class, swaggering shock jock fomo.


But let's get back to the present. He obviously felt he was onto a winner last week, as he's writing almost exactly the same thing: the climate email 'scandal' means that climate change isn't happening. Presumably, if I told Mr Hopkins that the sky is blue because of the high concentration of smurfs in the troposphere, he would conclude from the falsity of my statement that the sky is not, in fact, blue. Except, unlike a normal person, he would compose a poem about it.

Christmas spirit yet to register in sales, say worried retailers - News Item.

The cheque book's on idle, it seems, the credit card on hold. We're spooked by the recession, and more besides. We'd rather keep the money, honey, than have a Wii fling. (Why didn't Tiger think of that?).


Someone should explain to our melancholy merchants that people don't spend when they're gloomy. And, boy, are we gloomy. The till's not ringing 'cos the heart's not singing. And the heart's not singing 'cos there's sod all to sing about, sunshine!

We can't even sing about that anymore without some sobbing celeb sanctimoaniously banging on about our bloody carbon footprint.

Memo to Mr Tindall and chums: It's hard to get a tingle in our Jingle Bells when there's a colossally wasteful, doom-on-steroids loath-in happening in Denmark. And tough to get the goodwill going with 30,000 and four hoarse men of the apocalypse screaming "Repent! Repent! The End is Nigh! Last chance to save the planet" at their taxpayer-funded religious rally in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

Yeah, the alleged drop in consumer spending has everything to do with global warming 'propaganda' and nothing to do with the economic recession and high unemployment. But now I guess it looks to the editors like you've written about something new, rather than the exact same thing you crapped on about last fortnight.

That's why we're not shopping, Mr T. Because we're numb with despair. Because we feel hopeless, bludgeoned by shonky science and dodgy data into a state of abject grovelment - ashamed of our sinful selves and terrified our delicate little planet is going to hell in a (very hot) handcart.

It isn't and it won't. She's a tough old Mother, Earth. She's endured many truly enormous indignities - the cosmic collision that created our moon, the enormous asteroid that did for the dinosaurs, a rent in the land in Siberia that leaked lava, like blood from a wound, for one million years.

I think the point you missed here, Jim, is that the asteroid "did for the dinosaurs". I'm not certain that most people are primarily concerned with the survival of the planet per se. Unlike the planet, species living on it have an unfortunate tendency to die out during massive ecological crises.
Though you do have to wonder what prompted these apocalyptics to unleash their millennial hysteria in the middle of our busiest retail season when people should be buying things and maintaining jobs. But if their deeply depressing opening video is any guide, those in Copenhagen would rather have children clinging grimly to trees than finding presents under them. Which makes it hard for retailers to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. But they must if we are to unlimber our purses.
Yeah, why now? You would think that the planet would have the decency to stop heating during the festive season. I haven't actually seen anything telling anyone not to spend money because of global warming, other than maybe not buying a fleet of Humvees this Christmas. Next we'll be hearing that religious unrest in Pakistan is being orchestrated by Al Gore. Or that the cricket against Pakistan is somehow involved. Oh, hang on.
Perhaps the Black Caps can help with a win in Napier. Unlikely though, unless the ICC makes underarm bowling compulsory. We sank without trace at the Basin. Against a team who couldn't catch Osama bin Laden if he was edged off a gentle full toss. Seriously, Pakistan dropped more than Tiger Woods' standards.
'Tis odd how everyone's in a tizz about his cheating but no one seems to care about scientists doing exactly the same in relation to a matter of much greater importance. Tiger's fictions affect his family, those fabricated in East Anglia and elsewhere affect all of us.
"No one seems to care" - no one, that is, but just about every single article that has been in the paper about the Copenhagen conference, not to mention at least three opinion columns in the New Zealand Herald. But now, like a distracted puppy, he's off on another topic:
Alas, as is so often the case, the more trivial a matter is, the more rapt our attention and prurient our interest. Which may well explain why, at the end of a very hard year, the extinguished poet laureate, Sir Jam Hipkins (honour pending) has forsaken his muse and embraced a more venal mistress, joining the burgeoning ranks of news readers, porn stars, nightclub hostesses and lonely hearts who have teed off, so to speak, with Mr Woods.

[Excruciating "poem" begins - you'll have to brave the link yourself, sorry.]
So that's climate change fakery, the spending downturn, Tiger Woods' infidelity and the cricket.

Interestingly, the article sharing the opinion page with Hopkins is "Deniers don't have a rapidly melting glacier to stand on" - perhaps a headline that Hopkins could have improved. But at least that means that the Herald's coverage is fair and balanced, right?


  1. Don't do it, it's not worth the emotional trauma of having to actually read his column!

  2. Oh, you did it... I'm noticing a pattern here. No matter what the subject of his 'article' is (is there a point to any of them?) he always has to shoe-horn in about three too many tactless references to whichever black man has embarassed himself in the news that week. He'll probably be spending this weekend with his fingers crossed, hoping that Samuel L Jackson headbutts the Queen.

  3. There's quite the split among the seniors on the subject of climate change, it seems. It mystifies me why the newspaper hasn't sat down and decided its position, and stuck to it.

    Because of this we get a bunch of confused stories on the green page every week and an opinion section which swings wildly in either direction on any given day.

    That said, despite the fact that there isn't a Herald reporter at Copenhagen, I've been pleasantly surprised by the choices the editors have made in their coverage thus far.

    One article laid in to the wackjobs at the alternative conference, others concentrated on the robust defence by the IPCC people against the emails. They had the warmest decade story on the front page. Today they have focused on Tuvalu's plight. That's not a bad stab from 14,000 miles away.

    It's a shame they have cocks like Hopkins and George spoiling the position of the actual news pages of the newspaper.

  4. What the fuck.

    And what's a fomo?

    I feel ill now.

  5. Urm, your analogy of the blue sky and the smurfs things isn't quite right. Isn't the majority of the climate change debate over what is causing the warming (and odd plots of cooling), not whetehr it's happening or not?

    In which case, if you said the sky was blue because of all those smurfs, a rational individual would call you out on it. So if you claim the world is warming because of man's emissions (yes thsoe ones), isn't it fair to call the science into question? Particualrly when the "solution" is to essentially wipe out western economies, hoping like hell we can come up with a suitable alternative to fossil fuels.

  6. Actually it's interesting James that you don't critique that other article you metnion on the same page of the Herald. Poorly argued, relying largely on "seeing pollution" and tenuously linking it with climate change. Acid rain? Smog? And these contribute to climate change... how? yes they are nasty things, but i'm not sure that's sufficient to link them to climate change.

    If you were to provide an example of fair and balanced reporting, James, you would equally rip into this opninion piece. But alas, you have not (yet). I can appreciate your disdain for Hopkins, but if you're rtying to have a go at the Herald too, as you seem to be in your last paragraph, then surely you should lead by example. No?

  7. I don't know dude. Regardless of which side of the argument you support, the Hopkins column is a mental piece of literary faeces, while the other one, whilst perhaps similarly shaky in it's reasoning (I done seen it, I did...) is at least well written, and doesn't contain any refernces to Tiget Woods. At the end of it you can weigh up what he's said and choose whether to agree with it or not.

    After reading Hopkins, I'm left wondering whether to jump out the window or not.

    You are correct about the smurf analogy being flawed, as you said, most arguments are based on the cause of, not the existence of, global warming. I think Hopkins stance might be creeping towards the latter though. Unfortunately the only way to confirm that would be to read the column again, and that ain't happening.

  8. oh dear. the 'sceptics'* have arrived.

    * fucktards

  9. I thought scepticism was a founding value of science. So why the sudden disdain for it? Oh that's right, people on all side of the debate are full-o-shit.

    Interestingly, the author of this blog (the venerable Mr Coe) was himself sceptical on climate change for a rather long time. His change of heart coinciding with his return to life at the University.

    Oh Coe! Copious Coe! If only your prevailing opinion didn't depend on whatever book you're reading at the time. If only! Remember that brief stint with capitalism? Remember... foam raves?

  10. @Spock4eva and Anonymous

    I can sympathise with the venerable Mr Coe here, I too am a notorious flip-flopper, and tend to be unduly influenced by whatever I'm reading at the time...

    I personally am pretty dubious as to whether anthropogenic climate change is the big deal we're all supposed to think it is, but I've already been on both sides of the fence, and (here comes my point, finally):

    I don't feel ashamed for changing my mind when I see evidence that contradicts my ideas/beliefs, or re-think and come to a different conclusion. Neither should James. Or anybody. That's part of what "makes science work".

    All that said, Jim Hopkins writes like a friggin idiot.

  11. "I don't feel ashamed for changing my mind when I see evidence that contradicts my ideas/beliefs, or re-think and come to a different conclusion. Neither should James. Or anybody. That's part of what "makes science work"."

    Well said.

    And Jim Hopkins is a tool who should just stop.

  12. My point is that calling people "fucktards" because they are skeptical is pretty, well, shit, actually. Especially when everyone is or has been skeptical about all sorts of stuff in foam-rave days gone by.

    And yes, the Hopkins column is the usual nonsensical crap he delivers, but that other one on the same page is equally bad for a whole heap of other reasons. Yet, it's left alone. How intriguing. It's kind of along the lines of that swimwear one many moons ago. Yet... ignored.

    And who be this "Anonymous" above (the one with the inviting potty-mouth). Be it Copious Coe himself? Surely not. Surely.

  13. no, it's me. my instruction still stands.