By JR on Monday, May 30, 2016
We Should Be Accepting Refugees For Their Humanity, Not Their Literacy (?)
Once again a Leftist shows an inability to mount a valid argument, let alone a thought-out argument. Ms Kovesi below quotes the case of two highly qualified central Europeans in the '50s as some sort of argument against Australia's current immigration policies. But the people trying to force themselves on us at the moment are nothing like highly qualified central Europeans. They have low levels of literacy even in their own languages and few (about 16%) obtain full time jobs. The rest parasitize the Australian taxpayer. So her example is completely irrelevant. And the fact is that the two Europeans concerned came to Australia LEGALLY, whereas the "boat people" arrive illegally.
Ms Kovesi seems herself to see that the examples she gives have no real force so she trails off into saying that shared humanity is the reason why we should throw open the doors to all and sundry. But we have shared humanity with rapists and murderers too. So should we welcome them with open arms too? Perhaps Ms Kovesi would like to billet a serial rapist in her own home? He's human too, you know. And that's all that matters, is it not? She may have a doctorate in history but I think most ordinary Australians would see her as a drongo
Last week’s comments by Peter Dutton that ‘illiterate’ refugees will take Australian jobs misses the point at several levels, writes Catherine Kovesi.
Unsurprisingly, the electoral debate has brought the handful of tragic asylum seekers who live forcibly at our peripheries to our emotional centre stage once more. This time the argument is based on their possible illiteracy and job taking aspirations.
The response by some has been immediately to show the number of highly literate former asylum seekers who are now active and productive participants in Australian society. Others have shown instead how their illiterate parents became productive members of Australian society.
But does this advance the nature of the debate? Are literacy skills or the lack thereof what we should be basing the argument around in the first place?
My father and his brother filled out asylum seeker application forms to come to Australia in 1950. They were 19 and 23 respectively. Both were men of the mind. Highly literate, politically engaged young intellectuals. Fluent in Hungarian, and German, passable in French, and well versed in Latin. But with no English.
My father had studied Philosophy at Budapest University, and then, as a refugee in Austria in 1949, at Salzburg University. My uncle had studied medicine at the same institutions.
However in 1950, Australia was not interested in refugees’ literacy skills. In fact the very opposite. The country was only accepting refugees who had demonstrable practical skills.
My father had only just learnt to drive on the steep alpine slopes of the Tyrol, but he was accepted into Australia on the pretence that he was a truck driver, and my uncle that he was a shoemaker.
Anxiously, as they sailed towards Australia on the good ship Skargum with many other middle European refugees, my uncle studied an old shoemakers’ manual that he had hurriedly bought prior to departure, in case he arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia, to find materials to make a shoe waiting for him at Customs, in order to demonstrate his shoemaking expertise.
Both did indeed take on manual jobs when they arrived. Whilst living in the Northam refugee detention centre, my father worked variously as a gardener (planting out the grounds of the University of Western Australia), as a kiosk salesman on Cottesloe Beach, and as an orderly in a tuberculosis sanatorium in Perth. It was in that sanatorium that he spied some philosophy books on the table of one of the patients.
That patient, Professor Selwyn Grave, encouraged my father, who spoke little English, to come and study at the University of Western Australia – in the glory days of free undergraduate education. My father and my uncle did so.
Within five years my father had a scholarship to Oxford University. My uncle went on to Cambridge to study English Literature (although he always lamented that reading Shakespeare in the original was a disappointment).
But both returned to the country that had offered them asylum. Both went on to academic careers at the University of Western Australia – my uncle teaching English literature with a special focus on Shakespeare, and my father teaching Philosophy to generations of students.
Both are remembered with great fondness.
Sadly both are now dead.
But what they both offered Australia was not their literacy or otherwise. They offered quite simply all that we in turn can hope to offer desperate people who recognise something of good in the traditions of our island sanctuary – their humanity.
Can the debate please be removed from questions of literacy, and return to common questions of our shared humanity?
By JR on Sunday, May 29, 2016
20th century global warming may have been due to decreasing aroma from trees
The finding below are particularly interesting in the aftermath of Munshi's demonstration that the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere is NOT of anthropogenic origin. So therefore anthropogenic CO2 emissions CANNOT explain the slight degree of global warming seen in C20. So what does explain it? The best explanation so far is Svensmark's theory that variations cosmic rays reaching earth affect cloud formation and that earth was substantially shielded from such rays by enhanced solar activity in C20.
The finding below builds on that and looks at another factor that could affect cloud formation. It finds that aromatic output from trees can encourage clouds. So the extensive deforestation that occurred during C20 could have reduced clouds and caused some warming. Now that deforestation has on a global scale run most of its course, therefore, we should have a C21 temperature stasis -- which is exactly what we do have. We may have seen the complete end of a warming period
What I say above is just an attempt to put in layman's terms what Lubos Motl says below. My apologies to Lubos if he thinks he had already done that
CLOUD, the experiment that measures the birth of clouds at CERN, has released new papers:
CLOUD has done lots of measurements of the processes that are needed to create clouds which, as many kids have noticed, usually cool down the weather.
The experiment has been taking place at CERN because the cosmic rays (emulated by the CERN's sources of beams) are important for the creation of the cloud (condensation) nuclei. Even in the new papers, cosmic rays are found to increase the nucleation rate by 1-2 orders of magnitude.
Recall that the Sun's activity may influence the cosmic ray flux, and therefore its variations may be responsible for "climate change". Svensmark's theory generally argues that a stronger solar activity means a more perfect shielding of the cosmic rays, therefore less cloudiness, and therefore warmer weather.
However, the focus of the new papers is on something else than the cosmic rays: the molecules that should be present for the cloud nuclei to emerge and surpass the critical mass.
It's been generally thought that the sulfuric acid was almost necessary. Chimneys (or volcano eruptions etc.) should increase cloudiness. However, there have been inconclusive hints in some papers that some organic molecules are enough. You may have worried: How could have the clouds existed in the past, before the chimneys were built?
Jasper Kirkby and collaborators have found out that the molecules known as "aroma of the trees" may indeed do the same job and that is decisive in the pristine environments without chimneys.
More precisely, the molecules that can do the job are the "highly oxygenated molecules" (HOMs) which are produced by ozonolysis of α-pinene. The lesson for "global warming" seems clear: deforestation may decrease the amount of aroma from the trees, and therefore the amount of clouds, and it may therefore lead to global warming.
This may be the explanation of the changes in the 20th century and because the deforestation is over, so may be "global warming".
Trump executive proposes a wall to protect Irish golf resort from coastal erosion
This has got nothing to do with global warming. Sea level rises in Ireland are in fact on the low side. What IS true is that Western Ireland is exposed to the full force of big Atlantic storms -- and they do cause coastal erosion. And it is common to put in place structures designed to halt such erosion.
To do so in politically correct Ireland does however require a permit and that permit is required under legislation enacted out of global warming fears. It is not Trump who fears the effects of global warming in Western Ireland. It is the Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament)
That Trump seeks a permit to build a wall does not mean that he agrees with being required to seek such a permit
Donald Trump wants to build another huge wall, this time to keep out the rising seas threatening to swamp his luxury golf resort in Ireland.
The Republican presidential candidate has called climate change a "con job" and a "hoax." But in an application filed this month in County Clare, Ireland, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel cites the threat of global warming in seeking a permit to build a nearly two-mile-long stone wall between it and the Atlantic Ocean. The beach in front of the 18th green is disappearing at a rate of about a yard each year.
Trump's application, first reported Monday by Politico, cites local regulations pertaining to "rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and wave energy associated with global warming." An attached environmental impact statement says that almost all the dunes in western Ireland are retreating "due to sea level rise and increased Atlantic storminess."
Trump campaign spokesman Alan Garten did not respond Monday to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Trump, who has roiled the immigration debate by proposing to build a massive wall along the Mexican border, has repeatedly taken to Twitter to express skepticism that human activity is causing the world to warm, raising sea levels as the polar ice caps melt. He has also said he would seek to "renegotiate" the global accord to cut climate-warming carbon emissions agreed to by President Barack Obama in December.
"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," Trump tweeted in 2012.
"The entire country is FREEZING - we desperately need a heavy dose of global warming, and fast! Ice caps size reaches all time high," Trump tweeted in 2014.
Environmental groups pounced on the application as evidence of hypocrisy.
"Donald Trump clearly cares more about the fate of his golf courses than the health of the millions of families already affected by the climate crisis," said Adam Beitman, a spokesman for the Sierra Club.
Australia is a nation of moguls and cartels
It is of course a general rule that cartels are bad for a country -- just as it is a general rule that import tariffs are bad. A recognized exception to the rule about tariffs is however specifically called the Australian case -- an argument that tariffs may help diversify an economy that is overly dependent on erratically-priced agricultural and pastoral exports
And I think Australia is a special case when it comes to cartels too. Australia has a relatively small population and cartels may be needed to enable Australian businesses to achieve optimal economies of scale. Absent cartelization, there would be many small businesses rather than few big businesses. And in that situation, none of the businesses may be big enough to achieve the most efficient size -- which would lead to prices being higher than they needed to be.
What I have said is of course theoretical and the case would almost certainly apply to some industries but not others. It's one for the modellers to work on. In the meantime we should not leap to conclusions and advocate "reforms". Reforms could clearly be counterproductive in the absence of more data.
Ever played the game where you try to name an Aussie industry that isn't dominated by a handful of companies? Banks? Airlines? Supermarkets? Telcos?
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants to lead a nation of innovators, entrepreneurs and start-ups. But a new analysis proves what we've always known: Australia is prime breeding ground for monopolists, moguls and cartels.
And, according to the analysis by Labor MP and former academic economist Andrew Leigh, it's only getting worse. In a speech delivered to honour Melbourne University economist John Freebairn on Thursday night, Dr Leigh shared the fascinating results of a comb through IBIS World data on the revenue share of firms in 400 industries.
The biggest four firms control more than four-fifths of the market in department stores, newspapers, banking, health insurance, supermarkets, domestic airlines, internet service providers, baby food, and beer and soft drinks.
The biggest four firms control more than two-thirds of the markets for petrol retailing, telecommunications, credit unions, cinemas, liquor retailing, bottled water and fruit juice.
And more than half of the markets for pharmaceuticals, hardware, gums, snack foods, magazines, newsagents and international airlines are controlled by the biggest four firms in those markets.
"Like a large tree that overshadows the saplings around it, firms that abuse their market power prevent newer competitors from growing. They hurt entrepreneurs and often reduce the scope for innovation. Consumers suffer through higher prices, lower quality and less choice," says Dr Leigh.
Compared with the US – where the top four firms control, on average, 33 per cent of that country's markets – market power of top firms in Australia is more concentrated at 41 per cent.
Australia is particularly mogulised when it comes to liquor retailing (78 per cent of market controlled by the top four firms, compared with 10 per cent of the market in the US), supermarkets (Australia 91 per cent, US 31 per cent), petrol (Australia 70 per cent, US 14 per cent) and cardboard manufacturing (Australia 88 per cent, US 36 per cent).
"The combined revenue of the 10 largest Australian firms – ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, Wesfarmers, Woolworths, AMP, Australian Super, Rio Tinto and BHP – is the equivalent of one-fifth of the total Australian economy," says Leigh.
But surely things are getting better, as the cool winds of capitalism stir change and the emergence of new, more-efficient business models to challenge the dominance of the old?
Ha. No, market concentration in Australia is getting worse, according to Leigh.
The number of firms in Australia actually shrank 1 per cent from 2011-12 to 2014-15, driven not because more businesses collapsed, but due to a slowing in new business formation.
In the retail sector, the number of firms shrank 8 per cent, even as the value of goods and services produced in the industry grew 13 per cent.
Despite the entry of Aldi and Costco, the market share of Coles and Woolworths has risen from 60 per cent to 73 per cent since 2008 when Kevin Rudd held his grocery price inquiry.
Observers have long pointed to Australia's relatively small population and distance from larger markets to explain our corporate behemoths and the lack of competition they face.
However, according to Leigh: "This does not explain why markets should have become more concentrated. Since the turn of the century, Australian population growth has been among the fastest in the advanced world, and incomes per person have also risen (though not in recent years). If all that mattered was market size, there should be less concentration in Australia, not more."
According to Leigh, the shift to new technologies and the "weightless" economy were supposed to drive down barriers to entry and switching costs. However, "in many sectors, this now looks to be a forlorn hope", he says. Think Google, Apple and Facebook.
It remains truer today than ever that to succeed in business in Australia, it matters not so much what you know, as who.
An outsized finance sector has grown up that makes a living charging fees for advising on mergers and takeovers that only further concentrate market power. The former merchant banker and managing director in Australia of Goldman Sachs, Malcolm Turnbull, should know this only too well.
According to the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances, the number of mergers in Australia has risen from 394 in 1992 (with a combined value of $US12 billion) to 1460 last year (with a value of $US117 billion).
The concentration of market power among a smaller number of firms is only adding to forces driving greater inequality, says Leigh.
Labor has rejected the Coalition's so-called "effects test", which would override existing "misuse of market power" provisions and open firms to legal challenge over any activity that had the "effect, or likely effect" of reducing competition.
Turnbull angered big business when he adopted this policy this year in a sop to the National Party, which thinks the new clause would provide greater protection for suppliers to the supermarket giants.
In reality, however, it would apply to competitors of only the retailers, not suppliers, who are instead covered by existing "unconscionable conduct" protections. All the new test would probably do is expose all companies to costly litigation for doing what every business does: try to win a greater share of a market.
There are no easy solutions to diluting the growing market power of Australia's big corporates. Labor's proposals include higher penalties for and greater scrutiny of companies who target disadvantaged Australians.
But if we're serious about sowing the seeds of a more entrepreneurial and innovative nation, we need to start by acknowledging how removed that is from our present reality.
Oh, and if you want to win the guessing game; the most dispersedly controlled markets in Australia are for car dealers, hairdressers, dentists and law firms, the top four in those industries accounting for less than 10 per cent of the market.
By JR on Friday, May 27, 2016
We’re losing our religion. And that’s not a bad thing (?)
Karen Brooks makes a quite stupid mistake below, all the more amazing because she is allegedly a psychoanalyst. Her employment in a neo-Marxist outfit has clearly caused her politics to trump her science.
In her discussion of religion, she fails to take account of the fact that there are many influences on human behaviour, with religion being only one of them. And NO religion has ever made any nation into a nation of peaceniks. There could be no more peaceful religion than Buddhism but the Buddhist Japanese showed great savagery in WWII. Nationalist ideas trumped Buddhist ideas.
The only reasonable way to compare religions, therefore, is to look at the religions themselves, not the deeds of groups who claim some attachment to the religions concerned. And Muslims are in fact a good example of that. Despite the constant calls in the Koran for attacks on unbelievers, 99% of Muslims in the Western world are entirely peaceful in their deeds. They are "bad" Muslims from a religious viewpoint. Their religion has no major influence on that aspect of their behaviour.
So what we have to do is to look at influence at the margins. We have to ask what is the effect of the religion when it does have influence? So we see that for a very small number of true believing Muslims, the commands of the Koran to attack kuffars are acted on with terrorist deeds. But what about equally devout Christians? Their scriptures include no such commands so there are no Christian suicide bombers, which is a very good thing, and much to be encouraged. Instead it has commands to "love thy neighbour", which result in some Christians building hospitals and doing all sorts of charitable works.
Religion DOES have an important influence but Karen is too dim to see it. Her Leftist hate of a rival faith blinds her to reality. To forestall stupid "ad hominem" attacks, I am myself a complete atheist. I don't believe in Jesus Christ, Mohammed or Karl Marx. I don't even believe in global warming
Last week, columnist Andrew Bolt declared there was a war on Christianity. Claiming that Christians are being “harassed out of public space”, he provided examples before descending into polarising rhetoric of Christianity is “good and Islam “bad” (that is, violent and intolerant).
Cherrypicking quotes from the Bible and Koran to defend his points, Bolt then stated only a Christian society is safe for nonbelievers: “Christianity, for instance, tells us to treat even strangers as we would our own kin and insists the life of even the most lowly is sacred.”
Tell that to Peter Dutton.
Historically, Christianity’s record of kindness to strangers, their intolerance towards the “lowly” and those with differing or no beliefs, like that of other major religions, is grossly blemished.
One has only to read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the various zealous missionary work undertaken around the world, to understand the destructive impact of Christianity on people and cultures, never mind how the God of peace could also transform into one that justified its warriors killing, raping, maiming and plundering in His name.
While Catholicism was the dominant religion in the Western world for centuries, Martin Luther and the subsequent Reformation changed that.
In less than 50 years, England, for example, went from a Catholic nation (Henry VIII), to a Protestant one (Henry VIII and Edward VI), reverted back to Catholicism (Mary I) before settling (uncomfortably) with the Church of England (Elizabeth I).
The Interregnum under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell saw Puritanism take hold before the Restoration and Charles II, who reinstated the Church of England, but died a Catholic. Under all these monarchs, those of minority faith were persecuted, imprisoned, executed and/or deported.
Religious intolerance and the wars and bloodshed in God’s name, continued for centuries — and not just in England.
Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, has never been homogenous. Puritans, Anabaptists, Quakers, Muggletonians, Seekers, Ranters (to name a few) all splintered from it and fought to exist.
Jesus may have suggested, “turn the other cheek”, but the facts are Christianity, like other major faiths, has a long and tortured history that’s bellicose, hypocritical and more about the accumulation of wealth, lands, power and control of the ignorant, than bestowing blessings.
While Bolt’s correct in saying the Church is being increasingly disregarded, it’s a reflection of the times when, because people are better educated (and thus more likely to eschew religion), they’re able to critically reflect on what institutionalised religion offers.
With the shocking revelations of systematic abuse of children in the Catholic Church especially (but not exclusively) high on the public agenda, the indoctrination of would-be terrorists occurring in Mosques and cyberspace, let alone the murders being committed in Allah’s name, people’s tolerance, not so much for God, but for those who claim to be doing His work — whatever it may be — is rapidly diminishing.
Then there’s the bigotry and hatred expressed online and in other spaces by purported Christians towards homosexuality, abortion, refugees and on other human rights issues.
The fact churches don’t pay taxes simply adds insult to the increasing injuries.
Reflecting this, for the first time the 2016 August census will have the “no religion” option in the top spot. There’s a chance Christians collectively may lose their majority status in Australia as they did in New Zealand when a similar change occurred.
Is this such a bad thing?
The notion that a moral framework and ethics, living a “good” life, can only be learned through religion is a furphy.
While I might be damned for saying this, the safest society is a predominantly secular one, but of the kind sociologist, Jurgen Habermas, describes. This is one where religious and secular mentalities are open to a complementary learning process where shared citizenship and cultural difference is balanced.
This is sometimes described as a “soft-secularism”. It believes in the separation of church and state, but works in favour of believers and nonbelievers alike by practising tolerance in other spheres.
While we must steer away from religious extremism, we must also avoid an aggressive secularism that dismisses religious beliefs (but never excuses bigotry or hatred towards others). Likewise, we must not allow rhetoric, which, on the pretext of defending one faith, actually privileges it while apportioning blame and vilifying another, fuelling fear and hate and causing deeper divisions in the process.
In our increasingly disconnected world, I understand why some find the community and sharing, the sense of belonging some faiths offer, seductive. But isn’t it better to have faith in each other, practice goodness and compassion in the here and now, respect each other equally, with dignity, and leave an everlasting tangible legacy, than continuously defer to an invisible entity?
Secularism at its best is inclusive. I’m yet to be convinced about religion.
By JR on Thursday, May 26, 2016
Warmists can be amusing: Lewandowski in particular
I have been posting about the Green/Left 6 days a week for many years, so you would think I would be suffering from burnout by now. But on the contrary, I often find the whole thing amusing. The stuff that Warmists come out with in great seriousness is often so silly that one has to laugh. And Stephan Lewandowski really is a lamebrain.
Here he is
He is a psychologist and has latched onto the old "ad hominem" Leftist idea that he can discredit conservative arguments by showing that conservatives are not right in the head. Psychologists have been trying to do that at least since 1950 and they have come up with some lulus in the course of pursuing that goal. The oddest one was their claim (p. 343) that Communist dictators such as Stalin, Khrushchev and Castro are conservative. But if Communist leaders and ideologues are conservatives, who is a Leftist? More on that here and here. And the "research" concerned has been much acclaimed! It's pretty clear who the twisted minds actually are. It is conservatives who are the normals.
One would feel sorry for Leftists if they were not so aggressive. They are so desperate for self-validation that they will believe just about anything that tends to support their beliefs.
Lewandowski burst onto the Warmist scene with an alleged study of climate skeptics which did indeed do the job of finding them not right in the head. The only problem was that there was absoutely no evidence that the people he "studied" were in fact a representative sample of climate skeptics. There are in fact some grounds for concluding that many of those studied were in fact from the Green/Left. Be that as it may, Lewandowski clearly has the typical psychologist's insouciance about sampling and thus conducted a study of no demonstrable generalizability. He might as well have filled out all his questionaires by himself.
Lewandowski is such a nut that he even got himself disowned by the Warmist establishment. All Warmists hate the "hiatus" in warming that has dominated this century and a couple of them have tried various tricks to "abolish" it -- to show that there really has been no "hiatus". And Lewandowski was one of those. His work was so shoddy, however that in the Fyfe et al. paper the Warmist heavies disowned the claim and reaffirmed that there was a 21st century temperature slowdown, which they explained as due to "special" factors. The joint authors of that paper were: John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka & Neil C. Swart. Mann and Santer are particularly well-known Warmists.
Anyway, on to Lewandowski's latest brainwave -- under the heading: "A blind expert test of contrarian claims about climate data". I think I had better reproduce its abstract before I go any further:
"Although virtually all experts agree that CO2 emissions are causing anthropogenic global warming, public discourse is replete with contrarian claims that either deny that global warming is happening or dispute a human influence. Although the rejection of climate science is known to be driven by ideological, psychological, and political factors rather than scientific disagreement, contrarian views have considerable prominence in the media. A better understanding of contrarian discourse is therefore called for. We report a blind expert test of contrarian claims about climatological variables. Expert economists and statisticians were presented with representative contrarian statements (e.g., “Arctic ice is recovering”) translated into an economic or demographic context. In that blind test, contrarian claims were found to be misleading. By contrast, mainstream scientific interpretations of the data were judged to be accurate and policy relevant. The results imply that media inclusion of contrarian statements may increase bias rather than balance"
He starts out well -- with a straw man argument. He says that skeptics "either deny that global warming is happening or dispute a human influence". There are some skeptics who hold those positions but by far the majority of skeptics concede the theory of some CO2-induced warming but just see no evidence or reasonable argument that it is anything but trivial in magnitude or urgent in any way. In technical terms, they dispute the climate "sensitivity".
But you can accurately summarize what Lewandowski does above by saying that he examined skeptical arguments by not examining skeptical arguments. It is that bad. Another lulu! Only a true believer would give it any credence. I think anyone can see that the hole in the bucket is the "translation" of skeptical arguments into some allegedly equivalent argument in another field. I'm betting that my translations would have been very different. And the selection of "experts" was probably another hole in the bucket. Academe is heavily Leftist so getting sympathetic experts on board would have been a no-brainer.
Anyway, he provided me with the hour of entertainment that it took to write the above notes.
By JR on Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Some pretty pictures of snow and ice that allegedly prove global warming
I am not going to reproduce any of the pictures as it is just typical Leftist cherry-picking. You can pick pictures to show almost anything. It is statistics you need if you are to generalize. And, overall, polar ice has been INCREASING.
So how come all the pretty pictures? Mainly because glaciers are always changing -- mostly in response to precipitation. Glaciers that are getting more snowfall than usual will be advancing and glaciers getting less will be retreating. And there are always glaciers doing both. The Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand is a good example. Up unti a few years ago was notable for its rapid advance. Now it is retreating.
Kilimanjaro is another example. Once it was almost bare of snow but it has since bounced back. And it's only at the stage that suits their religion did the Warmists mention either of them
And their deception is not even clever. For Kilimanjaro they show a comparison between 1993 and 2000. But what about 2016? For that see below:
More snow than ever. That shows you how they operate. They are arrant crooks
And their logic is very strange. Their two pictures of flooding in Australia were taken only two months apart. So does that prove global warming? Did drastic warming happen over just two months? Hardly. All they show is that Australia's floods are short-lived, which all Australians know. Our chronic problem is drought
I guess I could go on to dismantle all their trickery but I am not going to give any more time to gross propaganda. Just some of their text excerpted below. Click SOURCE to see the pictures
They have been locked in ice for hundreds, if not thousands of years, but newly released images have revealed just how fast the landscapes of Antarctica and the Arctic have changed.
The incredible pictures, released by Nasa, show how melting, and flooding, have transformed iconic landscapes around the world.
While some of the images, taken years apart, reveal long-term impacts that have been attributed to climate change, others show changes on a shorter scale due to shifting seasons or storms.
The shocking image comparisons are perhaps at their most dramatic when picturing the glaciers in Alaska.
An image taken in the summer 1917 of the Pederson Glacier shows mountains of ice floating in water. Yet, a photograph taken in the same spot in 2005 shows green pastures and a sparse covering of snow and ice in the surrounding hills.
In another pair of images taken of Northwestern Glacier, in Alaska, almost all the ice can be seen to have melted within just 65 years. In the summer of 1940, the glacier glacier can be seen snaking down from the peaks into the water, where chunks of ice float.
By summer 2005, the picture is completely different. Where once there was white snow and ice, the dark grey and black of the rock, with the occasional hint of green vegetation, dominates while the water is completely clear. Just a few hints of snow remain hidden among the highest peaks in the distance.
The ice and snow on the top of Africa's tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, can be seen disappearing. On the left shows a thick cap of snow on February 17, 1993 and on the right it has reducted in February 21, 2000 Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa
Southern Australia, October 9, 2010Flooding in southern Australia December 12, 2010. A series of thunderstorms led to flooding in southern Australia in 2010 affecting 200,000 people. The left image was taken on October 9, 2010 while the image on the right was taken December 12, 2010
Other images show dramatic changes caused by flooding and fire, urban development and deforestation.
By JR on Tuesday, May 24, 2016
An amusing reaction to some research
I was going to bypass the findings below until I saw the reaction to them. The finding is that churchgoers live longer, which has actually been found several times before. The study was reported in JAMA, a major medical journal. And it is a very strong study.
But JAMA also published in the same issue a controlled but obviously furious article arguing that we should take no notice of the study. You can read it here. The author clearly HATED the finding. One imagines that he is a Left-leaning atheist. The things he says about the limitations of the study are perfectly correct but such limitations are to be found in most of the medical and social science literature. If we applied similar strictures to all academic articles, 95% of them would vanish without trace. Which could be a good thing, of course.
But the point is that the critic lacks balance. In most of life we have to make decisions on the basis of limited evidence. And we do it. So by ordinary criteria, we should at least initially conclude that Christian beliefs are good for you. Heh!
Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women
Importance: Studies on the association between attendance at religious services and mortality often have been limited by inadequate methods for reverse causation, inability to assess effects over time, and limited information on mediators and cause-specific mortality.
Objective: To evaluate associations between attendance at religious services and subsequent mortality in women.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Attendance at religious services was assessed from the first questionnaire in 1992 through June 2012, by a self-reported question asked of 74 534 women in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Data analysis was conducted from return of the 1996 questionnaire through June 2012.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Cox proportional hazards regression model and marginal structural models with time-varying covariates were used to examine the association of attendance at religious services with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. We adjusted for a wide range of demographic covariates, lifestyle factors, and medical history measured repeatedly during the follow-up, and performed sensitivity analyses to examine the influence of potential unmeasured and residual confounding.
Results: Among the 74 534 women participants, there were 13 537 deaths, including 2721 owing to cardiovascular deaths and 4479 owing to cancer deaths. After multivariable adjustment for major lifestyle factors, risk factors, and attendance at religious services in 1992, attending a religious service more than once per week was associated with 33% lower all-cause mortality compared with women who had never attended religious services (hazard ratio, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.62-0.71; P < .001 for trend). Comparing women who attended religious services more than once per week with those who never attend, the hazard ratio for cardiovascular mortality was 0.73 (95% CI, 0.62-0.85; P < .001 for trend) and for cancer mortality was 0.79 (95% CI, 0.70-0.89; P < .001 for trend). Results were robust in sensitivity analysis. Depressive symptoms, smoking, social support, and optimism were potentially important mediators, although the overall proportion of the association between attendance at religious services and mortality was moderate (eg, social support explained 23% of the effect [P = .003], depressive symptoms explained 11% [P < .001], smoking explained 22% [P < .001], and optimism explained 9% [P < .001]).
Conclusions and Relevance: Frequent attendance at religious services was associated with significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among women. Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.
JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 16, 2016. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1615
By JR on Monday, May 23, 2016
Munshi on the warpath again
I am a great admirer of the work of Jamal Munshi. He really hits Warmists where it would hurt if they were real scientists. As it is, of course, neither evidence nor logic is really of interest to them.
In the paper below, he hits at the most basic assertion of Warmism: That fossil fuel emissions influence the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
I have read the full paper and have no quarrel with its theory or methodology. I am however a little uneasy at the criterion used for statistical significance. He uses the more severe standard emanating from all the recent work on unreproducible results. And none of the effects he observed survive application of that criterion. By the traditional .05 criterion, however, we do see a weak but significant effect. So the findings could in fact be sen as consistent with industrial CO2 emissions having an effect -- but a very slight one. But there is certainly nothing like the dominant effect that Warmists assume
Changes in the 13C/12C Ratio of Atmospheric CO2 1977-2014
Data for the 13C fraction in atmospheric CO2 from six different measurement stations in the sample period 1977-2014 are studied to estimate its dilution by fossil fuel emissions. No correlation between the annual rate of fossil fuel emissions and annual change in the 13C fraction of atmospheric CO2 is found. We conclude that the 13C data for atmospheric CO2 do not serve as empirical evidence that changes in atmospheric CO2 since the Industrial Revolution can be attributed to fossil fuel emissions.
By JR on Sunday, May 22, 2016
Weasel words from the Australian Left on immigration again
You can always rely on the good ol' "Guardian" for one-eyed Leftist propaganda -- and they have not failed us on this one. They claim to critique the government's claim that refugees end up largely unemployed and therefore welfare dependent. Excerpt below.
Note that it does not address the question at all. It speaks of "considerable" achievement by "refugees". But what is "considerable? You have to go to the underlying report to find that out. And in my usual pesky way, I did just that. And what we read from their table 6 is that only 16.6% of "humanitarian" immigrants were in full-time work at the time the interviews were carried out. Isn't it amazing how Leftists can spin things? They are habitual liars
And note that the underlying report was commissioned by the Gillard government so was almost certainly already leaning over backwards to find something favourable to say about immigrants
Here’s what Dutton’s own department says about the social and economic contribution made by refugees to Australia:
In 2011 the department of immigration and citizenship (as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was then called) commissioned a report by the University of Adelaide academic Prof Graeme Hugo. Hugo’s report is here.
The department’s own summation of Hugo’s findings (still available on the department website) reads:
The research found the overwhelming picture, when one takes the longer term perspective of changes over the working lifetime of humanitarian program entrants and their children, is one of considerable achievement and contribution.
The humanitarian program yields a demographic dividend because of a low rate of settler loss, relatively high fertility rate and a high proportion of children who are likely to work the majority of their lives in Australia. It finds evidence of increasing settlement in non-metropolitan areas, which creates social and economic benefits for local communities.
Humanitarian entrants help meet labour shortages, including in low-skill and low-paid occupations. They display strong entrepreneurial qualities compared with other migrant groups, with a higher than average proportion engaging in small and medium business enterprises.
Humanitarian settlers also benefit the wider community through developing and maintaining economic linkages with their origin countries. In addition, they make significant contributions through volunteering in both the wider community and within their own community groups.
By JR on Saturday, May 21, 2016
Warmists just LOVE the Barrier Reef
It enables them to tell SO many lies. That coral "bleaching" (expulsion of symbiotic algae) has been happening for millions of years goes unmentioned below -- as is the fact that corals have in the past coped with far greater temperature variations than anything we have seen recently. And they are still with us, funnily enough.
They do respond to temperature, among other things, but the "bleaching" is mainly in order to recruit different varieties of symbiotic algae. And corals are hardier than they look. In "bleached" form they can survive for quite a while on their normal filter feeding. "Bleached" corals are NOT dead.
And the present ocean warming is clearly due to El Nino, a temporary warming that is part of a natural cycle. It's actually the La Nina that normally follows El Nino that is the biggest concern. Corals are more likely to "bleach" in response to cooling than they are to warming.
And let me again mention my favourite fact about coral: In 1954 the USA exploded a 15 megaton thermonuclear device over Bikini atoll. And Bikini atoll had lots of coral. So there is no coral there at all now? Far from it. The corals there now are huge, abundant and thriving. So if coral reefs can recover from an H-bomb blast, why is a pissy one degree temperature rise in GBR waters of concern?
Corals at Bikini atoll today
Strange that all that goes unmentioned below, isn't it? You would not suspect any of it from the screeches below. The words below are "an orchestrated litany of lies". They just want more funding and are prepared to lie and deceive to get it. Global warming is a global racket dreamt up by scientists for the benefit of scientists
The Federal Government’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef is “totally inadequate,” and if whoever forms government doesn’t commit at least $10 billion this election the natural wonder is likely to be doomed, scientists at James Cook University have said.
This extraordinary warning comes from leading water quality expert Jon Brodie and Emeritus Professor Richard Pearson, who are speaking out after they published a paper this week. In an interview this morning, Brodie said the Reef “will never be in its full gory again, we can’t expect that, [but]it’s going to get worse unless we do something”.
The Scientists said the twin threats of poor water quality and climate change could put the Reef in “terminal” decline within five years, unless whoever forms government comes to office with a comprehensive, cohesive, and adequately-funded rescue plan.
The Coalition Government has released a plan, known as Reef 2050, but it scarcely mentions climate change and Brodie said it is “totally inadequate”. “I’m probably the leading water quality expert for the Great Barrier Reef over the last 30 years and I’m saying the water quality [aspect of the plan]is absolutely inadequate,” he said.
“It was meant to be a comprehensive plan, of course, but as has been pointed out by everyone, and particularly the Australian Academy of Science, it’s totally inadequate,” he said.
The James Cook University scientists said catchment and coastal management programs need to be funded in the order of $1 billion per year over the next ten years. “We need a plan to fix up water quality as best we can, to provide some resilience against the oncoming climate change impacts,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef has made headlines over recent months as 93 per cent of the Reef, which is the only living structure that can be seen from space, has been affected by coral bleaching.
Fuelled by warming waters, the coral bleaching event was the worst in recorded history. The uncompromising heat was a result of an El Nino climate system, superimposed over baseline temperatures already pushed up by climate change.
“Before climate change kicked in we simply never saw bleaching,” Professor Terry Hughes has previously told New Matilda. “It’s quite confronting that we’ve now got to the stage that every El Nino event – and they happen every few years – is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hughes, the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The threats posed by climate change are exacerbated by plague-like outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish, which are triggered by poor water quality. According to the James Cook University Scientists, the next outbreak is most likely to occur around 2025.
If we don’t make serious inroads at improving water quality by then, the fate of the Reef looks grim.
Brodie and Emeritus Professor Pearson are calling for management of the Reef to be extended beyond the bounds of the World Heritage Area, north to the Torres Strait, south to Hervey Bay, and inland to include the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
This would of course come at a cost. But Brodie points out that while $10 billion over ten years “may seem like a lot of money, we know that amount would be effective and it’s small by comparison to the economic worth of the Reef, which is around $20 billion per year”.
Current Federal funding, he said, “is almost nothing”. And that doesn’t look likely to change. “So far in the election campaign, we’ve seen no major commitments about the Great Barrier Reef at all from anybody really,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Imogen Zethoven said “the massive coral bleaching taking place right now on the Reef and the latest science over recent months all point in one direction: The outlook for the Reef is dire and we must act now.
“Things are worse than we thought for the Reef’s future, we are close to the brink of what this fragile ecosystem can tolerate without a credible plan for restoring it to good health,” she said.
“Australia’s current plans to protect the Reef are inadequate, short-sighted, lack appropriate funding and will not prevent its decline.”
Another white black
This official Australian fiction that says that a white can be regarded as an Aborigine if they say they are is a form of political correctness that regularly leads to a shocking form of racism. What happens is that whites get all sorts of awards, grants, opportunities etc. in the name of Aboriginals. Very rarely is any recipent of somethinjg designed for Aborigines in fact black. Slight brownness is the most you can expect. So what is the message? The message is that Aborigines themselves cannot do anything worthy. They have to be represented by whites. What a shocking message! How is that going to help Aborigines? It is a total mess
Gwen and David Moore met on the set of Bitter Springs, a film about an Australian family learning how to work alongside local Aboriginal people in the outback.
It was not only the start of the couple’s love story, but also the start of their deep regard for Australia’s history and dedication to Aboriginal education.
The Gwen and David Moore Aboriginal Scholarship was established in 2015. It’s a trust worth more than $850,000 that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying a major in archaeology, anthropology, history or sociology, with a focus on Aboriginal heritage and Australian pre-history.
David Moore graduated in 1966 with a Diploma of Anthropology from the University of Sydney before being appointed Curator of Anthropology at the Australian Museum.
The scholarship’s inaugural recipient, Kirsty Mitchell (left), is studying a Bachelor of Arts; she also wants to pursue her interest in archaeology by working at the Australian Museum.
“I am going to start volunteering in the museum’s Indigenous unit,” she explains. “Without the scholarship I wouldn’t have the opportunity to volunteer, as I would have to continue working.”
Kirsty hopes to pursue postgraduate studies in law and develop a leadership role with Aboriginal communities.
“It’s important to preserve our history,” she says. “At this vital time, when elders are getting older and no one is there to record our culture, stories and life experiences, it’s important that young Indigenous people go on that path. This scholarship provides that opportunity.”
ACER sees big problems with Australian schools
Comparing Australians with East Asian students is absurd. East Asians have a known IQ advantage, which is particularly strong in mathematics. Comparisons with other Caucasian populations alone make sense. And on the 2013 PISA figures for reading ability (the most recent I could find), Australia in fact scored above most European countries.
And the idea of raising standards for teachers is also absurd. In Australia's discipline-deprived schools few people with any alternative would take up teaching. Teaching is now for dummies. Raising standards would just lead to a teacher shortage.
Australian schools are in deep trouble and students will continue to slip behind in reading, maths and science unless there is urgent action from all governments, a new report has warned.
It's a grim picture of the country's education system, where high school students lag behind global standards, there is growing inequity and teaching has become an increasingly unattractive career.
Australia was "drifting backwards", said the author of the report Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research.
"We ignore these warning signs at our peril ... Unless we can arrest and reverse those trends we will continue to see a decline in the quality and equity of schooling in this country," he said.
The decline in the maths skills of students was particularly alarming, Professor Masters said.
Australia's results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – an international survey that pits the world's education systems against each other – has steadily declined over the past decade.
The top 10 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds now perform at about the same level in maths as the top 40 to 50 per cent of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
It coincides with a declining proportion of year 12 students taking up advanced maths and science subjects.
"It means we won't have the supply of people who are highly trained in mathematics and science that we are likely to need in the future," Professor Masters said.
The report comes at a critical time, with education shaping up as a key election issue. The federal government has promised an extra $1.2 billion for schools and Labor has pledged $4.5 billion.
But the report, which was released on Thursday, found that increased spending on education had not led to better outcomes. It said funding needed to target "evidence-based strategies".
"A decline in outcomes has often occurred in parallel with increased spending," Professor Masters said.
"Money alone is not the answer, but to turn around current trends we may need more money."
It also raised concerns about the drop in ATARs required for teaching courses.
In 2015, just 42 per cent of Australian students embarking on a teaching course had an ATAR above 70.
It recommended that teaching courses become highly selective, and make the bulk of their offers to students with ATARs above 70.
"The world's highest-performing nations in international achievement studies consistently attract more able people into teaching, resulting in better student outcomes," the report said.
"In some of the world's highest-performing countries, entry to teaching is now as competitive as entry to courses such as engineering, science, law and medicine."
In Victoria, the government is considering a similar model to New South Wales where future teachers are sourced from the top 30 per cent of school leavers.
Professor Masters said federal and state governments needed to agree to a national action plan to halt these "worrying trends".
He also took aim at "passive, reproductive learning" in schools which did not promote creativity.
Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the report supported the Coalition's approach.
"The Turnbull government's back to basics Student Achievement Plan focuses on what ACER has called for, the better use of resources to target evidence-based initiatives," he said.
"Our once-in-a-generation plan to lift school student achievement provides more money than ever before for Australian schools but most importantly it focuses on measures that improve student results through clear and targeted action."
Victorian government spokesman David McNamara said many government initiatives were addressing concerns raised in this report - including the new Victorian Curriculum which teaches coding.
"The government knows that great teaching is the single most important factor for schools in improving student outcomes. It is always considering ways to ensure we attract and recruit the best teachers, including from among high achieving VCE students."
By JR on Thursday, May 19, 2016
Do Warmists actually think? Mismatch between CO2 and temperature changes
It sometimes seems not. This post is a reaction to the generally correct statement in the excerpt below to the effect that CO2 levels have been rising steadily for a long time now. The problem is the second statement: That increased CO2 levels cause warming. In combination, those two statements are inconsistent with the evidence. In particular, warming levels behave quite differently from CO2 levels. The two are simply not correlated. They don't covary. And without correlation there is no causation.
For instance, CO2 levels DID rise steadily in C21 but temperatures did not. It was only in 2015 under the influence of El Nino that temperatures rose. And as luck would have it, that was precisely the one year in which CO2 levels stagnated. 2015 CO2 levels at Mauna Loa just fluctuated up and down from month to month around the 400ppm mark.
The 4th column is the actual average CO2 level in ppm.
So at no point in C21 did temperatures and CO2 levels rise at the same time. They were two independent phenomena.
The figures from Cape Grim showed more change but from August on the CO2 level was stuck on 398 ppm. And late 2015 was precisely the time when El Nino was most influential and the temperature rise was greatest. Putting it another way, any warming from August on (inclusive) was NOT an effect of a CO2 rise -- because there was no CO2 rise. That rather knocks out most of the warming in 2015 as due to CO2. So again, temperature and CO2 did not mirror one another.
The Warmists below just don't see that a steady CO2 rise accompanied by no temperature rise is a problem. They are robotic propagandists not scientists
Within the next couple of weeks, a remote part of north-western Tasmania is likely to grab headlines around the world as a major climate change marker is passed.
The aptly named Cape Grim monitoring site jointly run by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will witness the first baseline reading of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, researchers predict.
"Once it's over [400 ppm], it won't go back," said Paul Fraser, dubbed by CSIRO as the Air Man of Cape Grim, and now a retired CSIRO fellow. "It could be within 10 days."
The most recent reading on May 6 was 399.9 ppm, according to readings compiled by the CSIRO team led by Paul Krummel that strip out influences from land, including cities such as Melbourne to the north
Mark Butler, Labor's shadow environment minister, said the Cape Grim landmark reading was "deeply concerning". "While the Coalition fights about whether or not the science of climate change is real, pollution is rising. And it's rising on their watch," Mr Butler said.
Cape Grim's readings are significant because they capture the most accurate reading of the atmospheric conditions in the southern hemisphere and have records going back 40 years.
With less land in the south, there is also a much smaller fluctuation according to the seasonal cycle than in northern hemisphere sites. That's because the north has more trees and other vegetation, which take up carbon from the atmosphere in the spring and give it back in the autumn.
So while 400 ppm has been temporarily exceeded at the other two main global stations since 2013 - in Hawaii and Alaska - they have dropped back below that level once spring has arrived because of that greater seasonal variation.
David Etheridge, a CSIRO principal research scientist, said atmospheric CO2 levels had fluctuated around 280 ppm until humans' burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests set in process rising levels of greenhouse gases almost without pause since about 1800.
"It's been upwards pretty much all of the time," Dr Etheridge told Fairfax Media. "This is a significant change, and it's the primary greenhouse gas which is leading to the warming of the atmosphere."
China building at sea level
I pointed out below that there were both good military and good economic reasons for building the islands and that they are there to stay.
What is amusing about it, however, is that the islands are just slightly above sea level -- which shows that China does NOT believe the global warming story. If they really did expect a sea level rise they would not be spending billions of Renminbi on building things that were due to be swamped soon.
China and the East China Sea
There has been much heartburn lately over China's island building in the East China Sea. Just about everyone disapproves. I do not. I realize that in saying so I am rather like the editor of the Skibbereen Eagle, when he warned the Tsar, but what I think will happen generally does happen so what I have to say on the matter may be a harbinger of things to come nonetheless.
For a start, I think island building is a good thing in general. The climate of the area is a pleasant one and recovering land from the sea expands the human habitat. The Dutch would of course agree with that, though Greenies would automatically talk of endangered marine creatures. And China has an enormous population so needs all the living space it can find. So I hope that in due course there the facilities there will be greater than the merely military. Could there even be a tourist industry there one day? Stranger things have happened
Living space is of course not the motive of the island building concerned. The motive is a combination of military considerations and resource hunger. China has a huge need for resources, energy sources in particular, so the prospect of oil reserves in the general area is hugely motivating. And it could be argued that China deserves those resources in the light of its huge poplulation and that less populous nations have a lesser claim on them. That is of course a socialist argument but China is officially a socialist country and we live in a socialist world.
And the military argument is orthodox. Many nations have sought and supported buffer states and the worldwide network of military bases maintained by the USA puts it in no position to claim that China should not maintain bases at a distance from the homeland.
But in the end, the argument is over. China has clearly lost patience with the dithering and debate about ownership of the places concerned and has decided to settle the argument in its own favour in the traditional way, by conquest. And it has stated that it will defend its new bases so the message is basically "Up yours". The world would do well to accept the new status quo. It's not going to change. You don't argue with China
By JR on Tuesday, May 17, 2016
A defence of Waleed Aly
A Leftist lady, Karen Brooks, writes below that she finds Aly's Leftism perfectly acceptable, wise and honourable -- to paraphrase. But she would, wouldn't she? -- As Mandy Rice Davies once said. Her heading on her article below was "Dear Australia, why so angry?" So it's possible that she really does want to know why many conservatives don't like Mr Aly.
Does she like Tony Abbott or Donald Trump? I'm guessing not. I am also guessing that she has said harsh, intemperate and inflammatory things about both of those two interesting gentlemen. But that's OK, of course. Leftists are allowed to utter as much abuse as they like and that's fine and dandy. Conservatives however have only one duty: To shut up. Is she surprised that they don't? Apparently. What's good for the goose is not good for the gander. The expression "double standards" comes to mind, as it often does when reading Leftist writing.
But let me tell her why people outside the small circle of Leftist luvvies don't think much of Mr Aly -- and certainly don't think he deserves any kind of Australian Award.
It's because of the sneering contempt he has expressed about mainstream Australia. He implies that we are immature, unthinking and reflexively racist -- with no substantial evidence at all and ignoring much evidence to the contrary -- including the advantages that he himself has been given.
So that's it, Ms Brooks: Aly is an offensive false accuser and a person with a very flexible respect for the truth. Is that a good enough reason to disapprove of him? If you want to read one of Mr Aly's contemptuous comments about Australians, together with a few observations about them, go here. But you won't will you?
While the Logies is done and dusted for another year, the level of scorn and vitriol dumped on Gold Logie recipient Waleed Aly (co-host of Channel 10’s The Project, academic, award-winning journalist and musician), by various sections of the media and public, has not only been astounding, it deserves examination.
What has this clever and clearly multi-talented man done to warrant such a smear campaign?
Less than 24 hours after the nominations for Gold Logie were announced back in April, derision was being heaped on Aly’s inclusion. Political correctness was touted; the show’s poor ratings; he’s too “divisive” wrote some. One anonymous person complained he didn’t use social media (no, just sets it alight). Another said he was a “Johnny-come-lately”, despite having a 10-year career on TV and radio. Perhaps it was a case of Muslim-come-lately?
In a recent interview with The Australian, Aly raised the issue of his religion, noting that while the general populace don’t seem to care, journalists do. He suggested, “Journalists find it much more a point of interest because it’s not part of their world and the media is lacking in diversity.”
Then, just as the fuss over his nomination was dying down, he did the unforgivable, and won.
According to one conservative columnist, the first, I think, to take aim, “it was fitting” that Aly won because he’s a “Social Justice Warrior who appeals most to Lefties with a first-year arts student view of the world”.
Putting aside the fact caring about social justice is now also cast as something negative, the usual cluster of right-wing columnists (what is the collective noun for them, a cacophony?) then piled on to use Aly’s win as a political hammer upon which to beat their own dull and predictable agenda drum — insulting the “Left”.
And boy, did they — along the way casting aspersions on Aly, his wife, their financial status, Twitter users, SBS, the Logie voting system, audiences, Noni Hazelhurst, ABC, the Archibald.
Blah lefty, blah left, blah leftist.
It seems that for some of these columnists, the most unforgivable thing Aly has done is give a broad voice and often considered and humanitarian platform to ideas that contest theirs — what they dismiss as Left-wing views. Some of Aly’s op-eds have been picked up on YouTube and gone viral: his discussion on terrorism and ISIS garnering 30 million-plus hits alone.
Refusing to be comfortably boxed, let alone shelved, Aly not only eschews the stereotypes many try to foist upon him (Muslim apologist, divisive etc), but also speaks out and, in doing so, pricks the social and cultural conscience.
It’s not comfortable being told in a measured manner that people with “unpronounceable names” are sometimes marginalised and forced to conform in order to get ahead. But it’s the truth. Anger and denial doesn’t change that.
Another social truth is what Aly humbly and with great compassion told when he received his Logie. Thanking his fellow nominees, he said each of them “brilliantly distils a piece of Australia... (if we) look back at all those pieces assembled, it’s a brilliant mosaic and we really should be celebrating that fact”.
He joked often and was self-effacing. It was only in the final part of his speech that he referred to the undeniably white landscape of Australian TV. So white, “Mustafa” had to change his name to Tyler to be cast in an ethnic role. He dedicated his win to all the “Mustafas” and “Dimitris” and, basically, praised the night for perhaps enabling more and necessary change.
Less of an attack I haven’t seen or heard. Yet, to read his conservative detractors, you would swear Aly was an ungrateful mongrel who savaged everyone.
Perhaps Aly’s greatest offence is that rather than telling us what to think, he encourages us to think for ourselves.
But instead of congratulating the man many think a worthy winner, outrage and racism dressed as virtue and patriotism followed, accompanied by shrill claims of how multicultural and tolerant we are.
Give me Aly and his voice of reason and “accessible sound bites” over all the hate, judgment, green-eyed monstering and non-casual racism any day.
By JR on Monday, May 16, 2016
How different are Jehovah's Witness beliefs?
To start at the end: Not very different at all.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses, was originally a Presbyterian and quite a lot of JW doctrines are held in common with traditional Presbyterians. Like a lot of strict Presbyterians, particularly in Scotland, the JWs don't like drinking or smoking and are dubious about dancing. Both denominations believe that the Bible is the word of God and that salvation is needed to get God's reward in the afterlife. And the hymns that JWs sing are just slightly re-worded versions of generally popular hymns.
Perhaps the best known doctrine of the JWs is that we live in the "end times": That Armageddon, the end of the secular world, is around the corner. And that is actually a common belief among a variety of Protestant groups, though usually a belief by a particular congregation rather than by the whole of a denomination. Matthew 24 makes it pretty clear that Jesus too believed that the end was nigh, and the apostle Paul clearly did (1 Corinthians 15:51), so it is hardly surprising that some Christians still do.
And their pacifism is also shared by a variety of other Christians -- such as the Quakers. After reading Matthew 5:39 I was once a pacifist myself.
Their rejection of blood transfusions is a little peculiar but it should be noted that both Jews and Muslims are superstitious about blood and take great care not to eat any. JWs think likewise but add that it is inconsistent to avoid taking blood into your body via your mouth and then take it in by other means. So their sensitivity there is just a refinement of a prohibition followed by over a billion people.
And here's the kicker about that: There was a study of survival after heart surgery that took a particular interest in survival by JWs. Apparently transfusions are common during heart surgery so they expected a greater mortality among JWs after they had refused transfusions. The study found that about a third of non-JWs died but NO JWs did. Tranfusions cause stresses of their own. Use of transfusions has declined markedly since then. So JWs did have the last laugh. God's wisdom? They think so.
JWs also reject the messy doctrine of the Holy Trinity but they are not entirely alone in that. As the name implies, Unitarians do too -- if there are any of those left. Christadelphians also reject the Trinity doctrine. But it is a major break from Chistianity generally. Even Seventh day Adventists accept the Trinity. It should be noted that the doctrine of the Trinity was introduced by Athanasius in the fourth century as a theological compromise. Even the word "Trinity" is not mentioned in the Bible.
JWs also reject Christmas and Easter as being pagan celebrations but that is widely acknowledged among more scholarly Christians.
But the biggest break from other denominations is the JW belief that the soul is not immortal. Since there are quite a lot of places in the Bible where the soul is said to die, it is not a surprising belief but the doctrine of the immortal soul is apparently too ego-pleasing for anyone else to give up. Since the favorite scripture of most Protestants -- John 3:16 -- says you don't automatically get immortality -- you can perish -- it is a real wonder that the belief in an immortal soul is so widespread. Ego trumps scripture.
It should be noted, however, that the original Jewish teaching was that eternal life for the righteous was attained by resurrection at the second coming of the Messiah. Popping off to heaven when you die was ignored as a pagan teaching. Jews believe all sorts of things these days but most would, I think, be comfortable enough with JW teaching on the prospect of an afterlife. As the Jewish Encyclopedia says:
"The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture"
So JW's have at least some Jews on their side in the matter. Their view of the afterlife could be said to be Jewish.
On church government JWs departed early on from Presbyterian practice. Pastor Russell was originally elected but that seems to have just faded out. JWs are governed by a central government, a theocracy, unlike the democratic Presbyterian practice. JWs are governed much as Roman Catholics are -- but their "pope" (Don Alden Adams) keeps a low profile these days.
The best-known difference of JWs is their practice of doorstep preaching but the Mormons do that too.
The overall zeal of JWs is striking. Hitler gassed a lot of them for refusing to bow the knee to him. But such zeal has much precedent among other Christians. Can you believe that at one stage even the Church of England had bishops being burnt at the stake for their faith?
So there is no major point of JW doctrine that is not held in common with some other Christians or Jews. Like all other denominations, JW beliefs are a particular pick-and-mix of common beliefs. It is probably true, however, that the particular pick-and-mix chosen by JWs is closer to first century Christianity than is the doctrine-set of any other denomination.
By JR on Sunday, May 15, 2016
The importance of attitude
It's amazing how much difference your attitude can make. The same event can be viewed either as a disaster or as a positive on some occasions -- and which it is can entirely be a matter of attitude.
One story I have often told is about Joe G., who used to do all my carpentry for me before he his health let him down. Joe came from London and was in most ways a typical Cockney -- a cheerful chatterbox. And one day he was telling me about a job he had been on recently. He was manoeuvering a heavy beam into place when it slipped out of his hands and fell down across his saw stools, smashing both of them. He told that as a great joke and said: "I needed new stools anyway". Most admirable.
And then there is Ken. Ken was always a cheerful optimist. Some time in his '40s when he realized that lots of his dreams were not going to be fulfilled, he went through a slough of despond
but he eventually got past that. And he seems to have lots of friends. He constantly says things that irritate his family but he has perfectly amicable relationships with everyone else: George, Joe and myself for instance.
So something Ken once said struck me. I said how I limit my driving to avoid traffic jams. I hate sitting in traffic jams. Ken however replied that he didn't mind them at all. He said they were just a welcome quiet time for him. You could just relax and take it easy with no pressure on you to do things. I greatly wish I could have that attitude but I still don't.
And Anne has some good attitudes too. I was saying how I hate the long flights one has to take in order to get almost anywhere from Australia. I remember a Maersk flight that I once took to travel from Sydney to London via Copenhagen. I was in that plane for about 30 hours and loathed it.
Anne said however that she likes those long flights. She just settles down in a comfortable chair with a good book, gets up once an hour to stretch her legs and people keep coming to her seat bringing food and drinks. She thought it an ideal setting to read a book -- something she does a lot of. I would like to adopt that attitude but don't think I could.
Why did I say "slough of despond" above? Did anybody recognize the allusion? It is one of the more notable situations in "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. I read it about 50 years ago but I liked that phrase and have used it occasionally ever since. I liked "the full armour of God" too but that is actually from Ephesians
And I suppose that brings me to something in my own life. Most people who exit from Puritanical religions seem to have at least some anger towards the religion concerned. But I went through a very fundamentalist, Puritanical phase in my teens and have no anger about it at all. I view that time in my life with warm affection, in fact. I was as happy than as I have ever been and I have had a very happy life in general. And I still enjoy reading my Bible. I find it full of wisdom. And I also still think that the lessons I learned then from a Protestant interpretation of the Bible put my feet on the right path through life. So that's a different attitude from an atheist.
By JR on Saturday, May 14, 2016
Does RACISM explain the rise of Donald Trump?
An amusing lack of thought below. The study concerned is methodologically weak (many more females than males; no representative sampling etc.) but I believe its conclusions are mostly right. Support for Trump IS mediated by racism: Leftist racism.
Mainstream whites are discriminated against all the time by America's elites. "Affirmative action" is nothing if not racist. Leftist are the racists, not conservatives. And American whites don't like being discriminated against any more than blacks do. It's only the brain-dead Left who think that the cure for discrimination is more discrimination.
And whites know that all sorts of minorities are privileged over them: Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, homosexuals, the sexually confused, Greenies, welfare parasites etc. So when reminded about the discrimination that they suffer, they become more favourable to those who are against favoritism: The Donald and the Tea Party. And that is exactly what the researchers found.
Being Leftists, the researchers seem to think that they have discredited Tea Party and Trump supporters in some way. They fail to see that mainstream whites have real grievances and that the Left is to blame for those grievances. White males in particular are both badly treated by government and often mocked, condemned and even demonized. The researchers seem to think that they should not be aware of all that. Trumpism is protest -- protest by ordinary decent people, nothing more. It is the Left who are responsible for the rise of Trump
Many white Americans now believe that their hierarchical standing is being threatened by minority groups, leading them to support political forces that would help ‘restore the status of whiteness,’ a new study claims.
Through a series of online experiments, a Stanford University sociologist found that heightened levels of racial resentment were tied to greater support for the Tea Party in white participants.
The study suggests that the perceived ‘decline of whiteness’ prompts some to align with platforms that condemn minority groups – and they say this mindset may be at play in the rise of Donald Trump.
According to Stanford professor of sociology Robb Willer, this trend began with the election of President Obama in 2008 and grew through the Great Recession, along with the rising political influence of minorities in America.
The team, which also included Matthew Feinberg of the University of Toronto and Rachel Wetts of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted five survey-based online experiments involving 1,329 participants.
In the first, white participants were shown altered photos of President Obama.
Those who viewed an artificially darkened picture of Obama were more likely to express their support for the Tea Party, at 22 percent, compared with those who were shown a lightened photo, at just 12 percent.
In another set of studies, white participants were either told that white share of the total U.S. population was decreasing, or that whites’ average income was declining in comparison to other ethnic groups.
Both groups showed greater support for the Tea Party, which the researchers say is partly explained by increased racial resentment.
This was also seen when the researchers emphasized the declining portion of whites in America.
In the last experiment, the researchers found that the participants reported stronger support for the Tea Party when they emphasized aspects of the platform that could have racial implications, including opposition to immigration and welfare, over libertarian ones, like government spending.
The researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate the link between Tea Party support and racial resentment.
WHAT THE STUDY CLAIMS
Since the election of President Obama in 2008, followed by the Great Recession and the rising political influence of minorities in America, some white Americans feel their ‘racial standing’ is threatened, the researchers say.
‘Together these factors could be viewed as a collective threat to the status of whiteness in the U.S., which provided fertile ground for the rise of a social movement that promoted a return to the way things used to be in America, including a set of policies that could restore whites’ position on top in the racial status hierarchy,’ Willer said.
The study suggests that this perceived ‘decline of whiteness’ prompts some to align with platforms that condemn minority groups, including the Tea Party and likely even Donald Trump.
These groups advocate restrictions on immigration, opposition to Obama, militant positions toward Muslim nations, and other policies which the researchers say would help to 'restore the standing of whites in America.'
‘Past work finds that economic downturns can exacerbate racial resentment by giving whites the sense that they have a shrinking piece of a shrinking pie,’ Willer said.
This, combined with the election of a non-white president and other factors in recent years, are leading some white Americans to feel more ‘threatened,’ the researcher explains.
‘Together these factors could be viewed as a collective threat to the status of whiteness in the U.S., which provided fertile ground for the rise of a social movement that promoted a return to the way things used to be in America, including a set of policies that could restore whites’ position on top in the racial status hierarchy,’ Willer said.
And, the findings don’t just apply to the Tea Party; the researcher explains that the growing trend is likely playing a role in the growing support for Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.
‘Donald Trump’s candidacy pulls support from much of the same base that the Tea Party did and has,' Willer said.
'And there is good reason to think that many of the same psychological forces propelling Tea Party support also propel support for Trump’s candidacy. Indeed, Trump’s statements probably go further in criticizing minority groups than the Tea Party did.'
‘What was largely implicit in the case of the Tea Party has become more explicit in the case of Trump’s candidacy’ Willer said.
According to Willer, the findings suggest the ‘threats’ to racial status have caused some to turn to support for the Tea Party, and likely Trump, based on their advocacy of certain policies, including restrictions on immigration, opposition to Obama, militant positions toward Muslim nations.
The researcher says these policies would help to 'restore the standing of whites in America.'