Yellowstone? It’s the conservative syndrome, stupid

Frank Furedi below rightly points to the pervasive view among our Leftist elite that conservatives are psychologically defective. Research alleging to prove that has been going on since 1950 and I spent 20 years critiquing it, from 1970 to 1990.

Basically all the research concerned bent over backwards to prove its point and I was routinely able to show the big holes in it. If you know your psychometrics, the faults in such research are often glaring. Let me give an example by making a few comments about the Canadian article Furedi highlights -- called “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact”,

It purports to tell us about political conservatism. But it doesn't. I quote from the body of the article itself:

"socially conservative ideology was assessed in terms of respect for and submission to authority"

Respect for authority is conservative? The way the Left swallow "expert" pronouncements about global warming, the wonderfulness of homosexuality and the importance of transgenderism, I would have thought that respect for authority is a hallmark of the Left. You either conform to Leftist shibboleths these days or get "cancelled". No deviation from the party line is allowed: A very authoritarian system. And was Communism conservative? It was certainly very authoritarian.

And in any case respect for authority is an overgeneralization. There is basically no such thing. Different people respect different authorities at different times. A prime example is SCOTUS. For many years conservatives condemned it becauseof its rulings on homosexual marriage, abortion etc. Now the worm has turned and it is the Left who are furiously condemning SCOTUS and trying to undermine it. There is no doubt that SCOTUS is a major authority but that has nothing to do with respect for it. Respect for it is entirely due to whether its rulings favour the political Right or the political Left.

And the lack of coherence between attitudes that allegedly express attiutude to authority is borne out in the research in question. We read

"scale reliabilities ranged from .63 to .68".

That means nothing to the layman but to a psychometrician it means that the items in the questionnaire showed little correlation with one-another. It shows, in fact, that the questionaire was not suitable for the use it was applied to. A research instrument is normally held to have a minimal reliability of .75. Reliabilities in the .60 range show the scale to be suitable only as the preliminary form of a research insrument, not to be used until further refined

I knew what I would find before I looked up the article. I immediately went to the details of the measures used and knew that I would find junk. It's a common feature of such articles. So the article proves nothing about conservatives or anybody else. The journal editors were very indulgent to publish it, but no doubt they liked its conclusions

As far as Hollywood, Netflix and the American cultural establishment are concerned there is little point in taking conservatives seriously. They are seen and represented as basically hillbillies and rednecks who feed on a diet of kitsch and trashy reality shows. That is why the don’t know what to make of Yellowstone – one of the most watched cable series in the US.

Even the most bitter critic of conservative values cannot dismiss Yellowstone as trash. TV Guide refers to it as “prestige TV for conservatives” before adding that “prestige TV is for liberals”. TV Guide’s commentator correctly notes that “in the genre of conservative prestige drama, Yellowstone is almost alone”. That’s because Hollywood patronises conservatives to the point it seriously believes that conservatives lack the taste and artistic sensibility to appreciate prestige drama.

In the main, cultural critics have responded to Yellowstone by not responding to it. Since they are not interested in engaging with people who are not like them, they have ignored a program watched by tens of millions. Writing in Vanity Fair, one commentator wrote “Here’s to Yellowstone, the Most-Watched Show Everyone Isn’t Talking About”. The few critics that have bothered to review it can barely hide the contempt for a modern Western that extols traditional virtues and avoids the woke cliches much loved by Hollywood.

Writer Kathryn VanArendonk was seething with anger when she described the show as “a desperate and threatened appeal to American identity and white masculinity”. She acknowledges that she feels anger towards John Dutton, the main character in the show played by Kevin Costner, since he is “so blind to his privilege”.

That Yellowstone has become caught up in America’s culture war was acknowledged by The New York Times this week. One of its commentators, Tressie McMillan Cotton, noted “while liberal audiences mostly ignore it, this soapy conservative prestige television juggernaut is gobbling up audience share”. In an attempt to account for the culturally polarised reception to this show, she drew on academic expertise. As one expects, her expert, Clayton Rawlings, asserted that conservatives are narrow-minded people with limited cultural interests. He added that in contrast to liberals, “conservative audiences do not consider reading, watching or listening around a mark of status or identity”. Evidently prestige television is not for them.

Tragically, McMillan Cotton, like America’s cultural oligarchy, cannot maintain a distinction between art and politics. She treats Yellowstone as if it is a political advert for the Republican Party. She warns that the “show shares a problem with Republican Party electoral politics: Neither offers a compelling vision of the future”. Almost imperceptibly, the fictional characters in a television drama are denounced for their lack of political vision. From her perspective the conservative folk who inhabit Yellowstone are just as bad as the ones that vote Republican. “They buy guns and hoard stolen power” is her concluding remark.

The cultural establishment that dominates the media landscape in the Anglo-American world actually believes conservatives are both aesthetically and morally inferior to people like them. In their fantasy world, the people not like them are in search of simplistic black-and-white answers. In private conversation they refer to people who watch Yellowstone as rednecks, Nascar dads, tabloid readers, who are likely to be crass, materialistic simplistic, sexist, racist and homophobic.

That is why Hollywood, Netflix and the television media tend to portray conservatives as unpleasant and not very nice people. Like Mr Garrison in South Park, they are not only small-minded and racist but are psychologically messed up. In typical conservative fashion, he refuses to acknowledge his emotional and psychological issues. Like many other fictional conservative characters, Mr Garrison is in denial.

Homer Simpson is a blue-collar conservative. Therefore, the producers of The Simpsons felt obliged to portray him as a bumbling and insensitive husband and father, who over the years has turned into a self-aggrandising fool. Fortunately, Homer’s psychological deficits are compensated for by his daughter, Lisa, who because she is very liberal must be portrayed as sensitive and emotionally literate.

The media is particularly unkind to conservative women. The abusive mother Adora Crellin in miniseries Sharp Objects is one of the most repulsive characters you are likely to encounter on your screen. She is cast in the role of a small-town, Southern conservative woman, whose Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome has led her to poison and kill daughter Marian.

But it is Sue Sylvester in Glee who more than anyone else offers an over-the-top caricature of a right-wing conservative woman. Her authoritarian personality coexists with a profound sense of personal insecurity and unrestrained narcissism. She exudes malice. That she calls for the abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts, one of the left’s favourite federal arts agency, signals that her politics are not only wrong but also sick.

As far as media culture is concerned, conservatives possess unattractive psychological characteristics. Typically, conservatives are portrayed as mediocre and undistinguished characters who possess outdated and often, repulsive sentiments. Predictably, woke media culture can draw on academic experts, particularly psychologists, to reinforce its anti-conservative prejudice.

If the numerous research papers recently published in psychology journals are to be believed, conservatives are sexually repressed, lacking in empathy and intensely conformist.

The invention of the unimaginative, humourless and intellectually challenged conservative originates from the 19th century. At the time, JS Mill, the 19th-century liberal philosopher, described the Conservative party as “the stupid party”.

He took great delight when he went a step further and stated that his attribution of intellectual inferiority was not merely directed at the party but also at people who possessed a conservative outlook. When criticised for his remark, Mill replied that “I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative”.

In recent decades, Mill’s verdict about the inferiority of conservatives has been recast in the language of psychology. Numerous so-called studies have published research purporting to prove the intellectual inferiority of conservative people. An example of this form of tendentious research is the study published by two Canadian academics a decade ago. Titled “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact”, it suggests that stupid simpletons go on to become prejudiced right-wingers.

Some psychologists claim their research shows that socially conservative people feel more insecure than liberal. Others have discovered that liberals are far better at reorganising their thoughts in flexible ways than conservatives. Advocacy research claims to have discovered that “religious conservatives make poorer moral decisions than liberals”.

Some psychological studies have concluded liberals and conservatives differ in cognitive style. As you would expect, liberal cognitive styles are far more attractive than those of their conservative peers. “Liberals are more flexible, and tolerant of complexity and novelty, whereas conservatives are more rigid, are more resistant to change, and prefer clear answers,” argues one paper. Liberals also possess greater “neurocognitive sensitivity” to cues than their far more rigid conservative counterparts.

The representation of conservatives as less intelligent than their left-wing counterparts is frequently communicated by “research” on the so-called conservative syndrome. The flattering hypothesis of this syndrome is that conservatism and low cognitive ability are directly correlated.

A commentator in progressive magazine Mother Jones wrote in 2014, that “10 years ago, it was wildly controversial to talk about psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. Today, it’s becoming hard not to”. As it happens Hollywood has been talking about this for a very long time. Through its alliance with advocacy research, it has succeeded in constructing a stereotype that deprives conservatives of any redeeming features. That is why it has to either ignore or lay into Yellowstone.


Fascism: Left, Right, or Neither?

An article under the above title will appear in a forthcoming issue of The Independent Review. A summary of it follows

Where does the fascism of Mussolini’s Italy fall in the spectrum of political doctrines? Italy’s fascist government conducted a policy of partial socialization of private property, total collectivization of consciousness, and large-scale redistribution of wealth. Therefore, even if fascism was theoretically conceived by its founders as not belonging to either the Right or the Left, its practical implementation showed that the whole building of fascism gravitated toward the right flank of the Left.

You can however download a preprint in PDF. I give an excerpt below from it

Fascism: Left, Right, or Neither?

Although it was short-lived from a historical perspective, its basic ideology and practice have confounded political scientists until the present day. There is no consensus among various political and academic circles (sociological, historical, and economic) regarding its place on the political spectrum. Fascism has become the most controversial politico-economic doctrine, for which no answer has yet been found that would satisfy all interested parties.

The reason is that fascism was theoretically conceived as a compromise between liberal capitalism and socialism, and as such, was deemed to possess the properties of both doctrines. One of the disputing parties has the opportunity to exaggerate the features of individualism in fascism and to assert its belonging to the reactionary form of capitalism. Another sees the features of collectivism and classifies fascism as a kind of socialism. Finally, the third argues that fascism occupies its own unique niche on the political spectrum: it is neither the left nor the right.

The unprecedented ambiguity in defining and understanding fascism was, first of all, the result of vicious interspecific struggles among different socialist currents. In particular, the initial response to the phenomenon of fascism predictably came from the communist camp in the inter-war period. It also marked the beginning of the direct and thoughtful falsification of the nature of genuine fascism. Bolsheviks insisted that fascism did not dismantle a capitalist state. They asserted that fascism was the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie, which had captured the state’s machinery.

The Marxist-Leninist arguments were as follows: The fascist core consisted of former social-chauvinists, reformists, and revisionists, who, in Lenin's words, “went to the right” and therefore are agents of the petty bourgeoisie. It follows, then, that fascism is a counter-revolution organized by this reactionary class stratum. Trotsky (1932) stated, “Italian fascism was the immediate outgrowth of the betrayal by the reformists of the uprising of the Italian proletariat.”

However, the identification of fascism with the petty bourgeois counterrevolution turned out to be a rather unconvincing and to some extent emotional explanation. Indeed, as a subclass that did not receive due attention in Marxism, except that it had to disappear from the face of the earth because of the concentration of capital tendency, could arrange a counter-revolution? Surely other, more powerful and understandable forces described by Marxism had to be involved. Of course, the Marxist ideologues immediately found such counter-revolutionary forces. Bulgarian communist Georgi Dimitrov (1935) asserted that “fascism in power was … the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Furthermore, he stated, “Fascism is the 4 power of finance capital itself.”

The communist camp began discrediting fascism on several fronts. They did not accept a mass character of the fascist movement; they described bourgeoise of all ranks as a driving force of the fascist counter-revolution; they theorized about various forms that fascism could take in different countries and assigned all authoritarian regimes to fascism, except the Soviet one. Such lines of thought have remained unchanged for years and were reinforced after World War II, as the Soviet Union and Western allies were victors, and the Left had an opportunity to write and rewrite history at will.

Marxists tried hard to camouflage the actual features of fascism, producing several conflicting explanations of the phenomenon that all insisted the doctrine has nothing to do with either socialism or the worker movement. Reverberation of the Marxist approach can be found in many scientific treatises on fascism and its place on the political spectrum that appeared after World War II

It is truly amazing the way the Left distort reality to support the Marxist view of Fascism. You can see it in summary form in that well-known Leftist rag "Wikipedia". Wikipedia says Fascism was Rightist on two main grounds: Its authoritarianism and its nationalism. The first ground is a real laugh. Without a doubt the most authoritarian form of politics is Communism. So is Communism Rightist? Its authoritariansm in fact identifies Fascism as Leftist

The second focus in Wikipedia is on Fascism's Nationalism. That argument has better traction because modern-day Leftists reject Nationalism. But Leftists did not always do that. Hitler was born in the 19th century (1889) and in the 19th and early 20th century, many Leftists were nationalist. One of the most fervent 19th century nationalists was in fact Friedrich Engels, the collaborator of Karl Marx. So the nationalism component of Fascism was thoroughly Leftist in its day. Wikipedia deliberately ignores history.

For a fuller historical treatment of Fascism, see my extensive article on the subject

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns gay marriage, but Anglican bishops remain divided

Welby is showing some spine in the matter. He might make a good Cantuar yet. He even seems to believe in God, not always guaranteed in the Anglican episcopate. Runcie clearly did not

The head of the Anglican Communion attempted to reinforce the church's stance against homosexual marriage this week, but the move was squashed by outcry from various bishops.

The controversy came to a head during the ongoing 2022 Lambeth Conference — a rare meeting of Anglican Communion bishops from around the world.

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) — self-described as "a worldwide fellowship of orthodox Anglican Provinces and Dioceses within the Anglican Communion" — came to the conference with the gay marriage ban firmly on their agenda.

"We often feel that our voices are not listened to, or respected," South Sudanese Primate Rev. Justin Badi told The Church Times. "Today, in Canterbury, we may be ‘gathered together’, but we most certainly cannot ‘walk together’ until Provinces which have gone against scripture — and the will of the consensus of the bishops — repent and return to orthodoxy."

He continued, "The Communion is not in a healthy condition at present, and only major surgery will put that right."

They were bolstered in private, if not publicly, by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The archbishop, by the nature of his office, is the most senior cleric in the Anglican Communion but holds limited powers of governance on his own.

Welby met with the GSFA in private on July 29 and offered to write a letter backing the traditional view of marriage, according to Anglican Church journalist George Conger. A call was scheduled for the conference — a sort of vote amongst the bishops to endorse or abandon proposed belief statements.

The next day — after word got out about the push for a formal rejection of homosexual marriage — the conference was threatened with chaos.

Many bishops reportedly stayed seated and did not receive the Eucharist during the mass. Protests against recording votes on church calls arose, and eventually, the conference ceased keeping track of individual bishops' decisions.

The call to reinforce Lambeth 1.10 was eventually dropped.

However, there was no demonstration against the archbishop nor the conference, and proceedings continued.

Despite the fervor, Welby made good on his promised letter, released to the faithful on Tuesday.

"I wanted to write this letter to you now so that I can clarify two matters for all of us. Given the deep differences that exist within the Communion over same-sex marriage and human sexuality, I thought it important to set down what is the case," Welby wrote in his letter.

He continued, "I write therefore to affirm that the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, 1:10 is not in doubt and that whole resolution is still in existence. Indeed the Call on Human Dignity made clear this is the case, as the resolution is quoted from three times in the paragraph 2.3 of the Call on Human Dignity."

The archbishop went on to point out that the 1998 statues cited did not make mention of sanctions or exclusions based on obedience. Welby said that the "Pain, anxiety, and contention" caused by Lambeth 1.10 was "very clear."

He concluded, "To be reconciled to one another across such divides is not something we can achieve by ourselves. That is why, as we continue to reflect on 1 Peter, I pray that we turn our gaze towards Christ who alone has the power to reconcile us to God and to one another."

Anglicanism has been fracturing for decades over gay relationships, women's ordination and other issues. Those rifts blew wide open in 2003 when the New York-based Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire.

The year prior, the top U.S. Episcopal legislative body, or General Convention, voted to authorize gay marriages in their churches.

In 2009, Anglican national leaders in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and other church provinces helped create the Anglican Church in North America, as a theologically conservative alternative to the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Anglicans, whose roots are in the missionary work of the Church of England, are the third-largest grouping of Christians in the world, behind Roman Catholics and the Orthodox.


Christian influencer slams Addison Rae's 'Holy Trinity' bikini ad: 'I felt sick to my stomach'

image from

The Holy Trinity is rubbish doctrine anyway. Most Christian denominations believe in it but the word is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. It's a theological compromise from the 4th century, promoted by the Egyptian Athanasius. The bikini is a reasonable mockery of it.

Christian influencer Brittany Dawn Davis has gone after TikTok star Addison Rae for posing in a “Holy Trinity” bikini for the brand Praying by Adidas.

Rae has faced so much backlash over the photo since she posted it a week ago, she already took it off her Instagram. The bikini is still available on Praying’s website for $100 — the top features “Father” and “Son” on either side of the piece, while the bottoms read “Holy Spirit.” Rae has not publicly addressed the controversy beyond deleting the ad.


Data Show Gender Pay Gap Opens Early

Note that the figures below are based on what degrees people got, not what sort of job they actually went into. But nonetheless what goes on is pretty clear overall. Women tend to flock into certain jobs where they are most biologically fit -- such as nursing, teaching and childcare -- and the high level of supply in those jobs tends to drive the prices (wages) in those jobs down

Broad new data on wages earned by college graduates who received federal student aid showed a pay gap emerging between men and women soon after they joined the workforce, even among those receiving the same degree from the same school.

The data, which cover about 1.7 million graduates, showed that median pay for men exceeded that for women three years after graduation in nearly 75% of roughly 11,300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at some 2,000 universities. In almost half of the programs, male graduates’ median earnings topped women’s by 10% or more, a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from 2015 and 2016 graduates showed.

At Georgetown University, men who received undergraduate accounting degrees earned a median $155,000 three years after graduation, a 55% premium over their female classmates, the analysis showed.

Men who completed law degrees from the University of Michigan earned a median $165,000 three years after graduation, compared with $120,000 for women.

And men who graduated with a dental degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio earned a median $140,000 three years out, compared with $103,000 for women who got the same degree there.

The data, compiled by the Education Department using graduates’ federal tax records, provide evidence that pay gaps between men and women often form earlier than is widely perceived. Nationally, women across the workforce earn an average of 82.3 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to the Labor Department.

Economists who have long examined pay gaps between men and women cite the so-called motherhood penalty—referring to the perception that mothers are less committed to their jobs—and say this affects hiring, promotions and salaries.

Determining why those gaps appear earlier isn’t simple. The federal data don’t account for such factors as recipients of the same degrees seeking different types of jobs and career paths, some of which pay far more than others. Studies have shown that men tend to negotiate salaries more aggressively than women, and women at times shy away from ambitious goals for fear of being unprepared. Even when women and men have identical academic credentials, women sometimes choose lower-paying career paths, pursuing a passion rather than a high paycheck.

The median pay for men from the California State University, Fullerton, nursing master’s program, for instance, was $199,000 three years after graduation, compared with $115,000 for women. The school said that is largely because women in the program gravitated toward nurse midwifery, which pays less than specialties like anesthesiology.

Researchers also say that discrimination, despite laws against it, remains a factor in the gender pay gap at all career levels.

The data don’t cover every student. Nationwide, about 55% of undergraduates, 40% of master’s students and 70% of professional school students receive federal loans or grants, Education Department data show. While that represents a large share of graduates at some schools, it covers only a fraction at other programs—particularly bachelor’s degrees from wealthy universities with generous scholarship aid. The Education Department also didn’t release figures for many small programs.


CNN: Billionaires are funding a massive treasure hunt in Greenland as ice vanishes

Wow! They've got helicopters and transmitters! I'm blown away. And billionaires are doing it so it must be big. CNN can sure pick the big stories

Looking past the hype, however, we note that it's just a startup doing the exploring and that what is concerned is just one small patch of Greenland

Amusingly, there is no claim that the melting ice (if it is melting) is due to global warming. That is wise. There is extensive vulcanism in Greenland and a warmer patch could well be due to that

Nuussuaq, Greenland (CNN)Some of the world's richest men are funding a massive treasure hunt, complete with helicopters and transmitters, on the west coast of Greenland.

The climate crisis is melting Greenland down at an unprecedented rate, which -- in a twist of irony -- is creating an opportunity for investors and mining companies who are searching for a trove of critical minerals capable of powering the green energy transition.

A band of billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, among others, is betting that below the surface of the hills and valleys on Greenland's Disko Island and Nuussuaq Peninsula there are enough critical minerals to power hundreds of millions of electric vehicles.

"We are looking for a deposit that will be the first- or second-largest most significant nickel and cobalt deposit in the world," Kurt House, CEO of Kobold Metals, told CNN.

The Arctic's disappearing ice -- on land and in the ocean -- highlights a unique dichotomy: Greenland is ground zero for the impacts of climate change, but it could also become ground zero for sourcing the metals needed to power the solution to the crisis.

The billionaire club is financially backing Kobold Metals, a mineral exploration company and California-based startup, the company's representatives told CNN.

Bezos, Bloomberg and Gates did not respond to CNN's requests for comment on this story. Kobold is partnered with Bluejay Mining to find the rare and precious metals in Greenland that are necessary to build electric vehicles and massive batteries to store renewable energy.

Thirty geologists, geophysicists, cooks, pilots and mechanics are camped at the site where Kobold and Blujay are searching for the buried treasure. CNN is the first media outlet with video of the activity happening there.


Universities set low bar to take subpar students

This is grossly irresponsible. Universities are clearly doing anything to get their numbers up. And it is the poorer and less able students who will be penalized. Many will fail but will still have to pay for their courses. Money for nothing.

There was a much more defensible system in my day. Under the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, only the top third of high school passes earned government help

Struggling students who left school at the bottom of the class are being accepted into prestigious university degrees including engineering, architecture and psychology.

Universities made offers to students with Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores below 50 – the bottom 10 per cent of high school leavers – for 221 different bachelor degrees this year, placing them at higher risk of failure and financial risk.

The revelation of the low bars being set for academic entry comes as the federal government cracked down on cheating by blocking 40 of the most visited academic cheating websites on Friday.

Federation University Australia, the University of Tasmania, and La Trobe University both accepted students with an ATAR in the 30s – the bottom two per cent of school leavers.

Aspiring teachers can access seven different education degrees with ATAR scores 50 and below, sparking protests from the teachers’ union on Friday.

Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe warned that students with an ATAR lower than the average of 70 were likely to fail a teaching degree.

“Low university-entry scores for teaching degrees is a growing concern,’’ she said.

“Evidence suggests that students admitted with low ATARs are likely to be less successful at university and are less likely to complete their course.

“The bar must be raised by ­setting minimum entry requirements and making teaching a two-year postgraduate degree.’’

A Federation University spokeswoman blamed an “administrative error’’ for admitting a student with an ATAR of 37 to a teaching degree this year.

“We have investigated this matter with the Victorian Teaching Institute, and we are both satisfied that the student is doing well and should be allowed to complete the course,’’ she said.

Alarmingly low academic requirements are revealed in ATAR cut-off scores for university ­admissions this year, published on the federal government’s Course Seeker website using ­official data from universities and tertiary admission centres. Starting this year, students who fail to pass at least half their subjects will lose taxpayer subsidies and be forced to pay the full cost of their degree, switch to an easier course or drop out of university.

The federal Education ­Department said it did not yet know how many students were failing, and losing taxpayer funding, as a result of the former ­Coalition government’s Job-Ready Graduates legislation that will be reviewed by the new Labor government later this year.

If students fail a course and are kicked out, they will still have to repay the student loans they borrowed through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), possibly leaving them with a lifelong debt.

“For a bachelor degree the rule applies if a student does not complete or fails more than 50 per cent of at least eight units until the end of the degree,’’ a spokes­person said.

“If this occurs students lose access to Commonwealth Supported Places (government subsidy) and to HELP. They can regain access by changing to another course that, for example, might better suit them.

“If a student has failed or not completed units because of illness, or other unusual stresses or things out of their control in their life, their university can exempt those units from the rule.’’

Federal Education Department data shows that more than 13,000 students with below-50 ATAR scores applied for university last year, with 55 per cent ­accepted.

Another 30,000 students ­applied with ATARs between 50 and 70, with three-quarters ­accepted, while nearly all the 29,000 applicants with an ATAR above 90 enrolled in a degree.

Of the students with low ATAR scores, 11 per cent were from poorer backgrounds while only 2 per cent were from wealthy families.

Among the highest achievers, 38 per cent were wealthy and 17 per cent were from poorer families.

Higher education policy ­expert Andrew Norton, professor in the practice of higher education policy at the Centre for ­Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University, warned that students admitted with low academic results were the most likely to drop out of university.

He said half the students with an ATAR below 50 would fail to complete their course.

“Often they are equity students admitted under special ­arrangements,’’ he said. “Nevertheless, they are coming in with what looks like poor academic preparation. “I am concerned that some students will be expose to financial risk because they have a high chance of not completing their degree.’’

The Course Seeker data shows that the University of Tasmania admitted business graduates with an ATAR of 30 this year, while RMIT University set a low threshold of 48.4 for its Bachelor of Psychology.

While the University of NSW accepted only students with an ATAR over 85 for its civil engineering degree, La Trobe University lowered its cut-off to 50.

For an accounting and finance degree, the Australian Catholic University set a cut-off barely below 50, while the University of Tasmania admitted architecture students with an ATAR of just 44.

Federation University Australia this week scrapped its Bachelor of Arts degree, blaming a drop in student enrolments.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant ­decline in international enrolments, and we are now in our third year of declining student enrolments,’’ acting vice-chancellor Wendy Cross said on Friday.

“We have also seen a drop in domestic student enrolments generally due to online learning fatigue that continues to significantly impact the university’s ­financial position.”

National Tertiary Education Union Victorian assistant secretary Sarah Roberts said an arts degree was a “bedrock offering for all universities’’. “This is a demoralising day for humanities in Victoria (and) a hammer blow for students who live regionally and want to study arts,” she said.


Former governor-general Peter Hollingworth faces judgment day over sex abuse crisis

The treatment of Peter Hollingworth has been monstrous. A genuinely holy man has been given great anguish only because he was not politically correct. I did not know him well but I have spoken with him, shaken his hand and observed his joyous leadership of a eucharistic procession. And I have no doubt that he is a genuine Christian, a rarity in the Anglican episcopate.

His offence was to adopt a proper judicial attitude towards a serious accusation against one of of his priests. That was a great secular sin. Accusations of sexual abuse are expected by the Leftist press to be believed without question. In such matters the presumption of innocence is thrown out the window

He was a proper servant of his God in acting as he did. As it says in Deuteronomy 1:17: "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s"

Time is running out for Peter Hollingworth over the child sex abuse crisis and Beth Heinrich wants him to be judged by his church with a biblical sense of urgency.

The former governor-general’s theological licence to officiate in basic tasks such as delivering sermons and overseeing family church events in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne has not been renewed but this is only a small part of a much bigger problem he faces.

The Anglican investigative body Kooyoora is inching closer to deciding whether Dr Hollingworth, 87, should be stripped of holy orders – defrocked – after several complaints about his conduct while archbishop of Brisbane in the late 1980s and 90s and his comments as governor-general.

Multiple victims of church abuse – like Ms Heinrich, who was abused at a hostel as a teenager in the 1950s by an Anglican minister – are relentlessly pursuing Dr Hollingworth, her victim impact statement to the inquiry a shattering account of how she was groomed and then abused from the age of 14 in NSW.

Dr Hollingworth’s reputation was battered in 2002 when he suggested Ms Heinrich, at the time of the offending a child at a boarding school, had instigated sex with disgraced Anglican minister Donald Shearman.

Ms Heinrich is preparing to write a book on the intimate details of how she says Dr Hollingworth and others intensified her pain, testing her will to live and destroying her relationship with the church she loved.

“You are looking at me and perhaps I look OK on the outside, but that’s not how I feel,” Ms Heinrich’s statement prepared for the Kooyoora tribunal reads.

“If I allowed myself to be me I would have to start cutting my arms to show people how much I was hurting. I am afraid to be me because it hurts too much. I feel like I am someone else.”

While Dr Hollingworth mulls what logic and fairness suggests must be the looming end of the years-long Kooyoora inquiry, Ms Heinrich wants the elderly bishop held to account for his failures, blasting the prolonged nature of the investigation.

“Of course none of this dragged out drama is necessary,” she writes. “It can easily be solved. He should find the integrity, finally do the right thing and quietly resign.”

Dr Hollingworth was never an abuser, but was exposed falling short of basic community standards in his handling of the crisis.


Indigenous voice ‘a precondition’ for Closing the Gap: Anthony Albanese

Wotta lotta ... It's fine talk but NOTHING will close the gap. Talk certainly won't. Many governments both State and Federal have tried everything conceivable to equalize black and white living standards but the gaps remain. A bigger police prsesence in Aboriginal communities to protect the women and children would help but that is about all

A voice to parliament is a “precondition” for making Aboriginal communities safer and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, Anthony Albanese says.

After revealing at the weekend his plans for a simple “yes or no” referendum on constitutional enshrinement, the Prime Minister told The Australian a voice would bring an even greater focus to the issues of violence, life expectancy, education and health affecting Indigenous people.

It is the strongest argument Mr Albanese has made to date on the practical need for a voice to improve the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as critics of the proposal accuse it of being “symbolism.”

One of the nation’s foremost Aboriginal leaders, June Oscar, has backed the Prime Minister and sees the voice to parliament as an issue that women can champion for the sake of their children.

Speaking after the Garma Festival on Sunday, Mr Albanese said he understood concerns that practical outcomes for ­Aboriginal communities would come second to the voice, but said the referendum was “far from being an either-or proposition.”

“I believe that a voice to parliament and lifting up the status and respect of First Nations communities is a precondition for getting better practical outcomes and closing the gap in all areas,” Mr Albanese told The Australian on Sunday.

“I understand that people have been let down by promises, and that people want more than just symbolism for its own sake.

“There are legitimate concerns about practical reconcil­iation, and about the need to close the gap whether it be on life expectancy, educational outcomes, living standards, health outcomes – they all need ­addressing.

“But there will be a greater focus on them when there is a voice to the parliament that has to be listened to.”

A proposed model for the voice overseen by Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma has 24 members, 12 male and 12 female, including at least five people from remote communities.

Dr Oscar said the voice was a chance for Aboriginal women, the backbone of their commun­ities, to “come to the fore”. She hoped non-Indigenous women would help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the yes campaign.

Dr Oscar is a Bunuba woman who led a long battle with ­bureaucracy to restrict alcohol in the Fitzroy Valley in the far north of Western Australia. She and other Aboriginal women took action in response to alcohol-fuelled violence and record numbers of Aboriginal suicides.

When the last bottle shop in the valley was shut down in 2009, Dr Oscar and other Aboriginal women helped researchers uncover one of the world’s highest rates of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – permanent brain damage – among local children.

“Everything that we have been able to achieve has been a fight,” Dr Oscar said. “We can’t and we should not have to keep fighting because the fight is exhausting, and it dis­courages good people from getting involved. It is a struggle to get our issues listened to and acted on – you are dealing with layers and layers of bureaucracy.

“Will the voice provide relief from the fight? If it genuinely engages Aboriginal people in the design of it, I believe it will.”

Dr Oscar said she had more views in common than differences with senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who has indicated she may campaign for a no vote in the referendum. The Coalition parliamentarian from Alice Springs has criticised the voice as symbolism and urged Labor to prioritise the reduction of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

“Our starting points might be different but we want the same things,” Dr Oscar said on Sunday.

Opposition spokesman on Indigenous affairs Julian Leeser supports an enshrined voice and believes its chances of succeeding are higher if a model is settled before a referendum. He has urged Labor to provide more detail soon.

On Sunday, Mr Albanese said he wanted the design of the voice “to be owned by the whole of ­parliament … There will be more detail in the discussion that will take place to pass the proposal for a referendum to take place.”


Most interesting: Sea levels fall in Northern Australia

I pointed at the time of the big coral bleaching scare of a few years ago to some Indonesian research which suggested that coral bleaching on the Great Barrier reef was probably caused by low sea levels -- but all Australian sources asserted that global warming caused the bleaching. Sea levels were never mentioned

But we now have below official confirmation that sea levels DID fall around that time and that there was an "unusually EXTREME drop in sea level"

So the great bleaching scare was a crock enabled by a big cover-up

In the summer of 2015-16, one of the most catastrophic mangrove diebacks ever recorded globally occurred in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Some 40 million mangroves died across more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline, releasing nearly 1 million tonnes of carbon — equivalent to 1,000 jumbo jets flying return from Sydney to Paris.

After six years of searching for answers, scientists have formally identified what is causing the mass destruction. They hope the discovery will help predict and possibly prevent future events.

Mangrove ecologist and senior research scientist at James Cook University (JCU) Norman Duke was behind the discovery.

Dr Duke found that unusually low sea levels caused by severe El Niño events meant mangrove trees "essentially died of thirst".

"The key factor responsible for this catastrophe appears to have been the sudden 40-centimetre drop in sea level that lasted for about six months, coinciding with no rainfall, killing vast areas of mangroves," he said.

Author assisting with data analysis and JCU researcher Adam Canning said the study's evidence for sea-level drop being the cause was found in the discovery of an earlier mass dieback in 1982, observed in satellite imagery.

"The 1982 dieback also coincided with an unusually extreme drop in sea level during another very severe El Niño event. We know from satellite data that the mangroves took at least 15 years to recover from that dieback," Dr Canning said.


Is red meat bad for you?

Below is the abstract of a journal article that has been bruited about in the popular press. The journal article appeared yesterday. It is one of a long series of attempts to discredit meat eating.

image from

And the present article is no more conclusive than any of its many predecessors. I have been blogging on the subject for many years so I know where the skeletons are. I used to teach research methods and statistics at a major university so I know what to look for

And the present article follows a familiar methodology. I am going to put it bluntly: When there is no overall connection between the variables you are studying, you do comparisons of extremes -- as in tertiles, quartiles or quintiles. You can sometimes "save" your research that way if the extremes differ.

The present article resorts to extreme quintiles so they really had to stretch it to produce a reportable finding. The important thing to know, however, is that such anayses throw away the majority of your data so really tell you nothing. But the resort to extremes does of itself imply that there was NO overall relationship in the data. It's a common analysis but totally discreditable scientifically

The real result of the research therefore is that eating red meat had NO EFFECT on anything

Dietary Meat, Trimethylamine N-Oxide-Related Metabolites, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study

Meng Wang et al.


Effects of animal source foods (ASF) on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and underlying mechanisms remain controversial. We investigated prospective associations of different ASF with incident ASCVD and potential mediation by gut microbiota-generated trimethylamine N-oxide, its L-carnitine-derived intermediates γ-butyrobetaine and crotonobetaine, and traditional ASCVD risk pathways.


Among 3931 participants from a community-based US cohort aged 65+ years, ASF intakes and trimethylamine N-oxide-related metabolites were measured serially over time. Incident ASCVD (myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, stroke, other atherosclerotic death) was adjudicated over 12.5 years median follow-up. Cox proportional hazards models with time-varying exposures and covariates examined ASF-ASCVD associations; and additive hazard models, mediation proportions by different risk pathways.


After multivariable-adjustment, higher intakes of unprocessed red meat, total meat, and total ASF associated with higher ASCVD risk, with hazard ratios (95% CI) per interquintile range of 1.15 (1.01–1.30), 1.22 (1.07–1.39), and 1.18 (1.03–1.34), respectively. Trimethylamine N-oxide-related metabolites together significantly mediated these associations, with mediation proportions (95% CI) of 10.6% (1.0–114.5), 7.8% (1.0–32.7), and 9.2% (2.2–44.5), respectively. Processed meat intake associated with a nonsignificant trend toward higher ASCVD (1.11 [0.98–1.25]); intakes of fish, poultry, and eggs were not significantly associated. Among other risk pathways, blood glucose, insulin, and C-reactive protein, but not blood pressure or blood cholesterol, each significantly mediated the total meat-ASCVD association.


In this large, community-based cohort, higher meat intake associated with incident ASCVD, partly mediated by microbiota-derived metabolites of L-carnitine, abundant in red meat. These novel findings support biochemical links between dietary meat, gut microbiome pathways, and ASCVD.


Ex-prime minister RIPS into 'fundamentally wrong' Aboriginal Voice to Parliament - and why his opposition is a grim prospect for Anthony Albanese's referendum

Referenda in Australia are normally lost if there is substantial opposition to them so Abbott has just killed Albo's referendum stone dead. Many Australians will rightly be appalled to have racial discrimination enshrined in our constitution

Tony Abbott has argued against the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament, claiming the current plan is 'fundamentally wrong' and imploring the Liberal Party to oppose it.

The former Prime Minister voiced his opinion over the issue in a piece he penned for The Australian on Wednesday, saying the body was racially divisive, risked upturning our system of governance, and would do nothing to fix the problems of Aboriginal communities.

'I'm all in favour of recognising Indigenous people in our Constitution, but not if it means making a race-based body part of our parliament and not if it means changing our system of government,' he began.

Mr Abbott claimed the 'problem' with an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is that it makes 'race an element' in who qualifies to sit on a body which will have broad powers to alter laws.

He also said that it 'changes the way our government works' by replacing or rivalling parliament as the peak body for deciding the nation's laws and regulations.

Added to the potential danger is that the powers of the body will remain undefined leading up to a referendum on whether it should be established, because the government does not want that plebiscite to fail due to disputes over fine detail.

Mr Abbott said that meant the Voice would have 'an unspecified say over unspecified topics with unspecified ramifications'.

Mr Abbott applauded Anthony Albanese for 'wanting to do the right thing by Aboriginal people' but wrote that it was not lack of legislative power that gave rise to the problems that afflict indigenous communities.

'We all lament the ugly fact Indigenous people, on average, die younger and live worse than the rest of us. But it's no mystery why this is so.

'People with much worse educational outcomes, with much lower prospects for employment and living far away from the services most Australians take for granted are always going to have shorter, poorer lives than those in better circumstances.'

Anthony Albanese attended the Garma Festival last weekend, where he revealed the possible question that could be asked in a referendum for a Voice to Parliament. The potential question was: 'Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?'

The early response from the Liberal opposition is that it will broadly support the proposal, but Mr Abbott has implored his former party colleagues in Canberra to oppose it.

Mr Abbott's public opposition to the change would cause some concern among proponents of the Voice, as he had past success at rallying support against a referendum. In 1999, the staunch monarchist led a successful campaign against Australia becoming a republic.

Mr Abbott asserted that close consultation with Indigenous elders and leaders through representative bodies 'has been happening for decades', but enshrining a new body with constitutional power that may override parliament was excessive and dangerous.

'If this body really is, in the Prime Minister's words, to 'end 121 years of Commonwealth governments arrogantly believing they know enough to impose their own solutions on Aboriginal people' it's obviously going to have something approaching a veto over decisions the parliament might otherwise make.'

'How would this additional mechanism improve the final outcome or, indeed, add anything to the 11 Indigenous voices that are already present in the parliament?

'What it would certainly do, though, is make the legislative process more complicated and invite judicial interventions on how much weight might be given to the view of the Voice versus that of the parliament; and on what matters might (or might not) be relating to Indigenous peoples.'

The former Prime Minister said having a rival body to parliament that represented the interests of indigenous people would divide the population on racial grounds rather than bringing them together.

Radical fix for Australian teacher shortages: Employ anyone with a degree

I did this over 30 years ago. I wanted to do High School teaching but had at the time "only" an M.A. -- no Diploma of Education. The New South Wales Department of Education gave me the heave-ho but a small regional Catholic school (at Merrylands) gave me a job teaching economics and geography.

Although the school served a very working-class area, my students got outstanding results in their final High School examinations (the Higher School Certificate, which serves as the university entrance examination)

Lawyers, engineers and IT experts would be parachuted into classrooms to address crippling staff shortages under radical reforms that include pay rises of up to 40 per cent for the very best teachers.

The federal government’s Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has laid out a blueprint for fixing the teacher shortage by recruiting university-educated workers to earn while they learn on the job to teach school students.

The plan includes a six to 12-month “paid internship’’ for career-changers to earn cash while upgrading their credentials with a two-year masters degree in education.

The reform recommendations from AITSL – the nation’s official agency for education quality – will be the focus of an emergency workforce summit with federal Education Minister Jason Clare and his state and territory counterparts next week.

AITSL also wants to improve the quality of university training for teachers.

Mr Clare said ministers would “pick the brains’’ of individual teachers and principals invited to the meeting. “We’ve got a teacher shortage right across the country at the moment,’’ he told federal parliament on Monday.

“There are more kids going to school now than ever before … but there are fewer people going on to university to study teaching.’’

Mr Clare said the number of teachers in training had dropped 16 per cent over the past decade.

“More and more teachers are leaving the profession early, either because they feel burnt out, worn out, or for other reasons’’ he said.

Mr Clare said the federal government was offering bursaries worth up to $40,000 for the “best and brightest’’ school leavers to enrol in a teaching degree.

He said the government’s High Achievers Teachers program would encourage more mid-career professionals to switch to the classroom.

AITSL chief executive Mark Grant said the nation’s top teachers – recognised as “highly accomplished’’ or “lead” teachers – are now being paid up to 10 per cent more than other teachers.

But he said lead teachers overseas were paid up to 40 per cent more than their colleagues, to prevent them quitting the profession for higher-paying jobs in other fields.

Translated to Australia, a 40 per cent pay rise would involve a $50,000 bonus to boost teacher salaries above $175,000. “The biggest influence on student learning is the quality of teaching,’’ Mr Grant told The Australian.

AITSL will propose the higher pay for lead teachers at the ministerial roundtable, which will also include teacher unions as well as Catholic and private school organisations.

The AITSL proposal – including a plan to fast-track other professionals into classroom teaching – is based on its submission to the Productivity Commission’s review of the National School Reform Agreement.

“There is evidence that increasing the level of pay for high-level positions would make the profession more attractive than more expensive generalised pay rises,’’ the submission states.

“Australia is facing a critical shortage of teachers due to a number of factors including growing school enrolments, a drop in the number of individuals enrolled in teaching degrees, an ageing workforce and a percentage of teachers leaving the profession to embark on different careers each year.

“Clear action is needed to ensure that a career in teaching is an attractive one.’’

AITSL notes that only 1025 teachers – or 0.3 per cent of the workforce – have been certified as lead teachers.

Education Minister Jason Clare says he doesn’t want Australia to be a country where life opportunities “depend on…
It recommends that states and territories create more “master teacher’’ roles, modelled on Singapore’s high-performing education system.

“These teachers would retain a significant classroom teaching load, but also be responsible for coaching other teachers to improve practice, supervising pre-service and beginning teachers, and leading initiatives to improve pedagogy within and across schools,’’ it states.

“Their pay should recognise their expertise and reward them for taking leadership roles in the system.’’

AITSL recommends that professionals such as engineers, scientists, lawyers, accountants and IT workers be allowed to work in schools for six to 12 months in paid internships, as part of their two-year master’s degree in education.

“The implementation of paid internships or residencies encourages high-quality candidates to complete an ITE (teaching) qualification, reducing the financial disincentives of undertaking study, including a lack of income,’’ it states.

“At the same time, internships increase the time spent in the classroom prior to full-time employment.

“Structured time spent in the classroom supports the pre-service teachers’ skill development in curriculum delivery and critical skills including classroom management and student engagement.’’

AITSL also wants to set up a national board to review university degrees for student teachers, to ensure “quality and consistency’’ of teacher training.

The AITSL blueprint for reform coincides with action from the NSW government to cut red tape for teachers in the nation’s biggest schooling system.

An extra 200 administrative staff will be sent into schools in term four to relieve teachers of some of the paperwork that principals warn is causing burnout.

NSW will also release high-quality, sequenced curriculum resources to help teachers plan for lessons.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the biggest tax on teachers’ time was sourcing or producing high-quality teaching resources.

“We want to ease that workload by providing online access to universally available learning curriculum materials they can draw from to free up lesson planning time each week,’’ Mr Perrottet said.

The Australian Primary Principals Association criticised the new national curriculum last week, declaring it was “impossible to teach’’.

The Australian Education Union has also blasted the curriculum, describing teachers’ workload as “excessive, unsustainable and unrealistic’’.

It says the two-year review of the curriculum, which had 20 per cent of its content cut in April, had failed to “declutter’’ the teaching document.

“Feedback from Queensland, which is the only jurisdiction to implement the Australian curriculum in full, suggests that the changes have not succeeded in this aim,’’ the AEU states in its submission to the Productivity Commission.

“The AEU has had numerous reports from teachers in Queensland that they are concerned about the workload implications of implementing the identified curriculum changes, and that there has been very little reduction of the cluttered curriculum, which is unlikely to improve student outcomes’’.


I am a dyed-in-the wool conservative. Should I be concerned that "the arts" are largely dominated by the political Left?

To establish my credentials as someone who is fit to comment on the matter, I think I should initially point out that I am in general very much "into" high culture:

I can recite around 100 lines of Chaucer in the original Middle English plus some mainstream Goethe poems in German. I know who Belisarius and Justinian were, J.S. Bach is my favourite composer and I rather like Canaletto. And my favourite song is in Latin. And my Serbian girlfriend has been very helpful in introducing me to lesser-known Russian literature. And I acknowledge modern genius in the form of Philip Glass and David Williamson. So it would be hard to brand me as a Philistine.

But I regret to say that I do not share the common assumption below that the arts are in general important. To me they are just a small niche in the entertainment scene. Somewhat to my distress, football entertains far more people and should in consequence be more deserving of conservative attention. I see no virtue in the fact that I personally enjoy more arcane forms of entertainment.

And I don't think that much is lost by inattention to the arts as we have them today. Any message in them is usually Leftist dribble and very few modern artists are of anything like the quality of the greats from our past. Catching up with the canon of Russian literature would give us all greater insights than reading anything from the vast outpouring of modern novels or attending to most modern stage-shows. Some modern productions will of course stand the test of time but the wearisome task of finding the wheat among the storm of chaff is not for me. The classic past offers much better prospects for finding artistic enjoyment. I would rather (for instance) put on my favourite video of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, knowing that I will find great joy in that

Some works of art are undoubtedly politically influential. Orwell is the prime example of that. But the canon of classic English literature has much more potential to influence thought so promoting an awareness of that would seem to be a better task for conservatives. It was in his final year of High School that I discovered to my distress that my son had never heard of Coleridge or Wordsworth so there is much work to be done in that direction.

There are some notes about the sort of thing that I do and what I value here and here

Conservative political thought’s fractured history and philosophical developments should make for compelling artworks and literature. However, the Right is often perceived as the enemy of both the artists and writers, who predominantly fall under the Left’s protection.

Conservative political commentator Douglas Murray’s article "Publishing is a left-wing bubble" notes that those on the Left vastly outnumber those on the Right in the publishing industry. Birmo’s pride and prejudice show ARC grants need new rules written by postcolonial world literary studies professor Ben Etherington criticised Simon Birmingham’s decision to deny funding to arts and humanities projects.

The animosity between the progressive arts sphere and the political Right appears mutual: complaints about Woke publishing often feature in conservative discussions about the Australian cultural sphere, occasionally followed by a call for alternative media.

However, this article suggests several reasons for the Right to value and invest in the arts.

First, during 2020’s Covid-related funding reductions in the arts, I argued in "Anyone can do art – so why fund the Arts?" that art and literature are key to democracy. They allow us to model and exchange complex social experiences and arguments. The article then provided evidence to support a statement from Centre For Stories director Robert Wood on the need for resources in the arts:

‘It is fiction to think that art flowers without support. That it is only a calling that does not require resources.’

While the thinkers and organisations referenced in Anyone can do art were from the Left, there is no logical reason for the Left to monopolise the arts. Historically, parts of the Right have advocated for artists and writers who fled communist regimes. One cornerstone of libertarian thought is a novel, Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged".

Art allows for the coexistence of multiple truths without demanding one be ‘proved’ at the expense of all others. Topher Fields’ documentary "Battleground Melbourne" explores the costs of Victoria’s harshest Covid control measures. It was an emphatic recount that illustrated the rapid escalation in the state’s power, deterioration in social wellbeing, and mainstream media’s increasing approval of state-approved violence. The existence of Fields’ documentary does not discount, say, the efficacy of vaccination in reducing the severity of Covid symptoms in vulnerable groups, or the aggression and entitlement that some who opposed Covid vaccines exhibited. In the arts, two conflicting truths do not cancel each other out: they granulate our understanding of a complex world where people of different experiences and backgrounds attempt to coexist.

Advertisers have long understood that emotive stories, not hard facts and numbers, influence people to engage with products, services, and charity efforts. Right-wing thought is filled with storytelling material: it has a nuanced and diverse history of scrutinising social and cultural concepts such as nationhood, family, marriage, and community. Angela Dillard’s book "Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner: Multicultural Conservatism In America" examines strategies that ethnic and sexual minorities used to assimilate themselves into traditionally Anglo-European and Christian conservative movements. Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson’s book "Strange Justice: The Selling Of Clarence Thomas" considers tensions between African-American recognition, feminist concerns, and conservatism during Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas.

Despite the profound discussions arising from fractures within the Right, the Australian vocabulary about right-wing thought is woefully limited. Australian conservative politicians are said to have ‘become left-wing’ if they express support for gay marriage or decriminalisation of abortion.

The prominence of unfavourable personalities further degrades public perceptions of the Right. Even people seeking to sympathise with the Right often preface their statements ‘I’m not on the Right but–’ Many are unaware of the Right’s profound intellectual history which studies the balance between a need for change and the maintenance of cultural integrity. The Right needs art more than ever to capture the public’s imagination.

While this article pushes for the Right’s appreciation of the arts, it does not support squirrelling into ‘alternative outlets’, an idea floated among various Right-wing outlets. Ideas that defy the progressive consensus of Australian arts industries may need to circulate among more sympathetic spheres (arts industries in non-Western countries) to gain initial momentum before Australians recognise its validity. Having a multitude of artistic and literary platforms framed around different values and tastes may improve our access to different perspectives on controversial issues. But these should still lie within a generally unified cultural sphere, rather than walled off into separate echo chambers. A unified cultural sphere allows for the acknowledgment of viewpoints across the political divide. Echo chambers are deaf to external information and descend into polarised stupidities.

Conservative commentators frequently note a progressive takeover in mainstream Australian arts and media. For example, Alexandra Marshall’s article "The Sydney Writers’ Festival: so woke you want to call for blood tests" observed the Sydney Writers’ Festival’s platforming of simplistic racial and gender identity politics. One may question or disagree with her derision towards Wokeness in the media. However, her observation about the conservative viewpoint’s absence begs an important question: where are the conservative creatives? The simplistic understanding of conservatism in Australia is unsurprising: deriding artists as ‘lefty snowflakes’ and siphoning out their money damage any chances of artists studying right-wing thought, let alone sympathise and be inspired by its nuances. If the Right is truly concerned about Leftist dogma in media and culture, it needs to be serious about regaining cultural territory through investment, training, and respect for artistic and literary practitioners.

In time, I would like to see Australian Right-wing and Left-wing writers and artists in conversation at national cultural events. A rehash of the ‘we are more similar than different’ conclusion may not directly answer questions like ‘should big churches be heavily taxed?’ or ‘why are fuel prices so high?’ But it may provide necessary reminders to people that political adversaries are simply humans with different priorities on particular issues, not demonic lunatics to be exiled from workplaces and social groups. That would go a long way in detoxifying political debates.


Ethically non-monogamous relationships

Wow! It seems that I was ahead of my time. I practiced for years a version of what is described below. And it had the consequence warned of below too.

Although I have had good sexual relationships with many women over the years, I am actually not very sexy. I can take it or leave it and often leave it.

I was aware that my girlfriend had good juices, however and that my loss of interest in sex with her distressed her. But other aspects of our relationship were very good so I told her that what she did when out of sight of me would be fine, as long as I was spared the details.

So she did have sexual relationships with other men while remaining emotionally attached to me. So for years we were both happy with that arrangement.

It was however an inherently risky arrangement and after a while that risk became reality. She eventually found that one of her lovers suited her better than me in important ways so she shacked up with him. I was distressed to lose her company but we have remained friends, as what she did was within our agreement

By Jana Hocking

I learnt a very interesting fact over the past week: many of you cheeky things are in an ethically non-monogamous relationship … with a twist.

Last week, my column was on ENM (ethical non-monogamy) and I queried whether I could participate in this craze without jealousy rearing its ugly head and decided that long-term the need to be exclusive would ultimately win.

It was roughly five minutes after the article went live that many people got in touch with their own experiences with ENM. My DMs were filled with essays and my phone pinged with friends who felt comfortable enough to share their own stories.

Let’s just say, my mind was blown!

First of all, good lord there’s a lot of you choosing to step outside society’s idea of a ‘normal’ relationship. And it’s not just the spicy couples you assume would be in these kind of relationships. Oh no. There were teachers, plumbers, stay-at-home mums, bankers. It seems the ENM life does not discriminate.

Secondly, I was chuffed that people felt they could share with me, knowing that I am a judgment-free-zone.

I have to admit, following these juicy confessions, I found there to be one stand out feature in these stories. Many (and I mean MANY) people are non-monogamous, they just don’t discuss it with their partner.

That’s where the ‘ethical’ part of this new dating trend becomes a bit hazy. You see, it turns out when you’ve been in a relationship for, what feels like, a million years, sometimes the need to remain exclusive dwindles.

At lunch this weekend, I found myself deep in a debate about ENM and one friend exclaimed: “We’ve been married for so long, I genuinely couldn’t give a hoot who he hooks up with. As long as he comes home to me and doesn’t forget to mow the lawns!”

Another friend happily fantasised who she would hook up with first if given the chance to go non-monogamous.

My DMs were even juicier. One particular bloke shared with me that he and his wife have an unspoken agreement that “what happens on the road, stays on the road.”

Both travel extensively for work, and while in the early years of their marriage they tried to stay monogamous, life on the road can get pretty dull and the mind starts to wonder.

He said it makes him slightly paranoid at the end-of-year Christmas parties, as he tries to guess who she may have hooked up with while away, but believes feelings are spared by just not knowing.

Another person in my DMs said being ENM works for himself and his partner, but rules must be enforced for it to work.

“Rules?!” I questioned, “I thought the whole point of being ENM was that you could be wild and carefree?!”

Nope, because you see I was missing one key fact: when two people connect intimately together, they are running the risk of developing feelings. So, this gent and his partner agreed that they are allowed to hook up with people but not allowed to sleep with the same person more than once, therefore avoiding ‘catching the feels’.

Then I remembered a TED talk I watched recently on ‘The brain in love’ with Dr Helen Fisher, a Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute. She revealed just how easy it is to fall in love with someone during a one-night-stand.

“Any stimulation of the genitals drives up the brain’s dopamine system, which is basic to feeling intense romantic love. Then, with orgasm, there’s a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin – brilliant chemicals that are associated with attachment,” said Dr Fisher.

“So, when you have sex, you can go over the threshold into falling in love thanks to dopamine – and, after orgasm, feel a deep attachment to them.”

Well that’s slightly petrifying!

I took a trip down memory lane and concluded that, yes, this fact is 100 per cent correct. There’s a certain bloke I’ve done the doona dance with who just has a gift for ‘hitting the spot’ and I’m completely bonkers for him. Science, hey!

So, I think what we can all take from this new trend is that you really are playing with fire if you partake. Boo, why do all fun things have to come with a clause?


Temperature extremes: it’s cold South of the Equator

The widespread proclamations that recent short episodes of very high temperatures in some parts of the Northern hemisphere are proof positive of global warming are so brain-dead that I have forborne to put up anything about them, but perhaps I should say something.

That you can't judge climate from isolated episodes of weather seems to be too profound for many. And actual global warming as told to us by climatologists is measured in tenths of a degree. How can a change of tenths of a degree give rise to hugely hot episodes? There is clearly some other influence or influences at work.

But the big factor being overlooked by those who should know better is the unusually COLD weather in the Southern hemisphere at roughly the same time. People around me have all been complaining about it and the Australian media have been vocal too. So the GLOBAL temperature has on average been unremarkable. And remember it is global warming we are supposed to be talking about.

Some more germane comments below

But aside from those commonsense observations what those who shouldknowbwetter reignoring isthat theunusualy hotepiodes in the Northern hemihere have been acconpanied
While sizzling temperatures in Europe have captured the attention of the mainstream media, recent prolonged bouts of cold in the Southern Hemisphere have gone almost unnoticed. Can these simultaneous weather extremes be ascribed to climate change, or is natural variability playing a major role?

It’s difficult to answer the question because a single year is a short time in the climate record. Formally, climate is the average of weather, or short-term changes in atmospheric conditions, over a 30-year period. But it is possible to compare the current heat and cold in different parts of the globe with their historical trends.

The recent heat wave in western and southern Europe is only one of several that have afflicted the continent recently. The July scorcher this year, labeled unprecedented by the media, was in fact less severe than back-to-back European heat waves in the summer of 2019.

In the second 2019 wave, which also occurred in July, the mercury in Paris reached a new record high of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 degrees Fahrenheit), besting the previous record of 40.4 degrees Celsius (104.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set back in July 1947. A month earlier, during the first heat wave, temperatures in southern France hit a blistering 46.0 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Both readings exceed the highest temperatures reported in France during the July 2022 heat wave.

Yet back in 1930, the temperature purportedly soared to a staggering 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Loire valley during an earlier French heat wave, according to Australian and New Zealand newspapers. The same newspapers reported that in 1870, the ther­mometer had reached an even higher, unspecified level in that region. Europe’s official all-time high-temperature record is 48.0 degrees Celsius (118.4 degrees Fahrenheit) set in 1977.

Although the UK, Portugal and Spain have also suffered from searing heat this year, Europe experienced an unseasonably chilly spring. On April 4, France experienced its coldest April night since records began in 1947, with no less than 80 new low-temperature records being established across the nation. Fruit growers all across western Europe resorted to drastic measures to save their crops, including the use of pellet stoves for heating and spraying the fruit with water to create an insulating layer of ice.

South of the Equator, Australia and South America have seen some of their coldest weather in a century. Australia’s misery began with frigid Antarctic air enveloping the continent in May, bringing with it the heaviest early-season mountain snow in more than 50 years. In June, Brisbane in normally temperate Queensland had its coldest start to winter since 1904. And Alice Springs, which usually enjoys a balmy winter in the center of the country, has just endured 12 consecutive mornings of sub-freezing temperatures, surpassing the previous longest streak set in 1976.

South America too is experiencing icy conditions this year, after an historically cold winter in 2021 which decimated crops. The same Antarctic cold front that froze Australia in May brought bone-numbing cold to northern Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil; Brazil’s capital Brasilia logged its lowest temperature in recorded history. Later in the month the cold expanded north into Bolivia and Peru.

Based on history alone then, there’s nothing particularly unusual about the 2022 heat wave in Europe or the shivery winter down under, which included the coldest temperatures on record at the South Pole. Although both events have been attributed to climate change by activists and some climate scientists, natural explanations have also been put forward.

A recent study links the recent uptick in European heat waves to changes in the northern polar and subtropical jet streams. The study authors state that an increasingly persistent double jet stream pattern and its associated heat dome can explain “almost all of the accelerated trend” in heat waves across western Europe. Existence of a stable double-jet pattern is related to the blocking phenomenon, an example of which is shown in the figure below.

Blocking refers to a jet stream buckling that produces alternating, stationary highs and lows in pressure. Normally, highs and lows move on quickly, but the locking in place of a jet stream for several days or weeks can produce a heat dome. The authors say double jets and blocking are closely connected, but further research is needed to ascertain whether the observed increase in European double jets is part of internal natural variability of the climate system, or a response to climate change.

Likewise, it has been suggested that the frigid Southern Hemisphere winter may have a purely natural explanation, namely cooling caused by the January eruption of an undersea volcano in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga. Although I previously showed how the massive submarine blast could not have contributed to global warming, it’s well known that such eruptions pour vast quantities of ash into the upper atmosphere, where it lingers and causes subsequent cooling by reflecting sunlight.

Green attacks on horse racing

This is reminscent of an attempted ban on dog racing at Wentworth Park in 2016. As dog racing is mainly working-class that ban was very badly received and had to be rapidly reversed. It ruined the image of then NSW premier Mike Baird, however, and led to him being tossed out. I hope the present NSW government learns from the precedent

It is not trendy to vote for the Greens. It is irresponsible and downright stupid to vote for a party that will send the country broke as it chases fanciful greenhouse emissions targets. They are a cancer on the Australian political landscape.

Any leader of a political party who is ashamed of the Australian flag should be deported. Yet it is other divisive and harebrained policies that will destroy the fabric of Australian life.

Let’s use the example of the Greens’ obsession with closing down the racing industries on animal welfare grounds and responsible gambling propaganda.

Last week, the South Australian government supported the Greens to outlaw jumps racing, effectively killing off the annual Oakbank festival each Easter. There are now plans by the Greens to outlaw the whip in thoroughbred racing. The ultimate aim is to ban racing altogether.

You even had NSW Thoroughbreds boss Peter V’landys sticking the knife in when the decision was made, despite the fact banning horse racing was next on the Greens’ agenda.

The number of people who participate or are employed or volunteer in horseracing is estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000. At least 4.5 million people attend a race meeting each year, about a million people have a regular bet and more than 87,000 have an interest in owning a racehorse. Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing are in many smaller towns the glue that keeps the community together.

The racing industry pays more than $1bn in state and federal taxes. In recent years, the racing industry has devoted a share of race takings to animal welfare programs.

All of this is lost on fanatical Greens politicians.

If you like a flutter and you voted for the Greens at the last election, please rethink your values and priorities.

The Greens have a radical agenda that will change Australia irrevocably if they ever gained power.

They must be stopped.


Extinction threat may be greater than previously thought, new global study finds

This is an utter crock. How can they know how many extinctions there have been since 1500? It's pure guesswork. They would need periodic species counts since that year if they were to substantiate their claims and there are no such species counts. There is not even a final count of how many species there are at the moment

The global extinction crisis underway may be more intense than previously thought as humans continue to tear up land, overuse certain resources and heat up the planet, new research led by the University of Minnesota indicates.

Nearly one in three species of all kinds — 30% — face global extinction or have been driven to extinction since the year 1500, according to the new survey published in the journal "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment."

That's significantly higher than prevailing global estimates and the findings surprised lead author Forest Isbell, associate professor in the university's Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior. He said one of the reasons is that it takes more insects and other lesser-studied species groups into account.

"I honestly figured it was much lower," Isbell said. "I would have estimated it was 20%."

Prevailing global estimates have ranged from 12.5% across all species groups to 25% of the well-studied ones, such as animals and plants, he said.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, called the numbers "quite alarming."

"It took many years for climate change to become a prominent household concern," Greenwald said. "The extinction crisis is really part and parcel of a similar scope and severity to climate change."

Healy Hamilton, chief scientist at the nonprofit research group NatureServe, said the numbers do not surprise her. She said her organization has demonstrated for years that about one-third of plants and animals in the United States are vulnerable to extinction or have already become extinct. The new survey's real power is the broad geographic and taxonomic coverage, she said.

"The majority of species on the planet are plants and insects and other invertebrate animals that we know so little about we cannot even determine the extent to which they are threatened," she said. "And yet those are the very species which help purify our air, filter our water, maintain the health of our soils, pollinate plants we need for food, fuel and fiber, and provide medicines to hundreds of millions of people."

The new findings are the result of a survey that elicited 3,331 responses from biodiversity experts around the world studying in nearly 200 countries. The 30% figure is the median of the middle-tier estimates respondents provided, which ranged from 16 to 50%.

Further, the study found that if trends continue, by the end of the century the imperiled share will grow to 37%, a share that could be significantly reduced if conservation efforts were immediately escalated. Overall, the respondents agreed that the loss of biological diversity is decreasing the functioning of ecosystems "and nature's contributions to people."

Scientists are working to understand biodiversity loss and its impacts and do not know exactly how many species exist on the planet. The study did not put a specific number behind the percent of species threatened or gone.

"There's huge uncertainty with these numbers," Isbell said. "The value is actually asking people for their input from everywhere."

Interestingly, female biodiversity experts from the global south provided much higher loss estimates. Forest said he thinks part of the explanation is that the women work in regions where biodiversity loss is more intense, and because men disproportionately study the less-threatened species.

He said he's not sure what the results say about the threat to species in Minnesota. But he said the state is part of a wealthy country and there is a trend in those responses, he said.

"People from wealthy countries systematically provided lower estimates for biodiversity loss in the past and more pessimistic estimates for the future," he said. Isbell said he does not know why.


How Big Is the Marriage Tax? Now We Know

I have long known that there are government penalties for marriage but the report below shows how extensive that is. A big one not mentioned below is when a lady with children marries.

She will often be in receipt of substantial welfare payments and loses all that when she marries. And that is particularly bad when the man involved is making child support payments to an ex-wife. Re-marriage simply makes the relationship unviable. The welfare payments are needed to balance out the support payments

Governments know of that and endeavour to get around it by treating de facto marriages the same as legal mariages. So the couple still lose the welfare payments even if they are only living together. To enforce that, some government employ "dole sniffers" -- people who go around looking into people's relationships to see if they qualify as de facto marriages.

But people get around that too. I once owned a boarding house where men rented a room from me just so they could have a different address from their lady. And if dole sniffers were around they would even spend the required number of nights in the room to qualify themselves as single

I married 4 times but I was well-off enough not to be bothered by the welfare benefit situation and other disincentives. Many people are not so lucky.

And a really big marriage disincentive -- one that affects most men -- is the divorce laws. Divorce can be economically ruinous to a man so to avoid that it is best not to marry at all. There are many de facto marriages for that reason. I always married nice ladies so my divorces cost me little. One wife did not have a car so I gave her my car when we split and she was happy with that. I wanted a new car anyway.

And one lady was richer than I was. Some men aspire to marry a millionairess. I divorced one! I guess I have had a "colourful" life

Economists, tax specialists and even ordinary people have long known that public policies can make marriage very unattractive. At the lower end of the income spectrum, marriage can lead to a significant loss of entitlement benefits. At the high end, couples who marry may face substantially higher income taxes.

There are many reasons to care about this. Academic studies find that marriage stabilizes relationships, improves children’s outcomes and facilitates the development of labor market skills for the adults. In general, marriage is correlated with economic well-being. One study reports that married couples’ average per capita wealth is more than twice that of the never-married.

Until recently researchers have not had the tools to fully measure the full extent of government-created marriage penalties. A new study by Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff and his colleagues gives us the most accurate estimate to date.

The study includes more than 30 different federal and state entitlement programs—all of which condition benefits on the beneficiaries’ incomes. In addition to federal income and payroll taxes, it includes the tax rates in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. And it includes the effects of marriage on such elderly entitlement benefits as Social Security and Medicare. No previous study comes close to this level of careful measurement.

One finding: young adults with low- or middle-income jobs pay a heavy price if they marry. When higher tax rates are combined with a reduction in welfare/entitlement benefits, the economic loss from marriage is equal to between one-and-a-half and two years of income, on average.

Take two people between the ages of 26 and 40:

If both individuals earn $10 an hour, getting married will lower their lifetime income by more than $70,000, on average.
If they earn $15 an hour, the lifetime losses will climb to more than $107,000.

At $20 an hour, their loss will be more than $142,00.

Note that these are only averages. Some couples face marriage burdens that are much higher. In the worst case researchers discovered, getting married has a lifetime cost that is equal to 20 years of income! This occurs when marriage makes a family’s income too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to qualify for an Obamacare subsidy in states that have not expanded Medicaid.

The marriage tax differs depending on where people live and what entitlement programs they enroll in. Programs such as Medicaid, for example, vary a lot from state to state in terms of eligibility and the generosity of benefits. To take one example, the overall marriage penalty in Hawaii is twice the size of the one in New Mexico.

One finding of the study is not very surprising: the marriage penalty affects low-income couples more than high-income couples. Take individuals with incomes between $26,000 and $40,000. On the average, they face a marriage tax rate that is more than twice the rate for the 20 percent of families with the highest incomes.

This is certainly part of the reason why only 36 percent of individuals with annual incomes below $26,000 are married, while the marriage rate for those with annual incomes above $103,100 is more than double that, at 77 percent.

For couples who earn $26,000 or less, the biggest components of the marriage tax are the potential loss of Medicaid and food stamps. These losses are partially offset by an actual gain from income tax credits and larger subsidies in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges.

For couples at higher income levels, the potential loss of Medicaid and food stamp benefits becomes less important, and the Obamacare subsidies begin to penalize marriage. For couples who earn more than $100,000, two-thirds of the marriage penalty is created by the tax law alone—because of the couple’s inability to file completely separate tax returns.

To make matters worse, the same fiscal system that creates a marriage penalty also imposes very high marginal tax rates on labor income, especially on people at the low end of the income spectrum. We are discouraging marriage and productive work at the same time with the same policies.

Is it possible to have a compassionate fiscal system that does not create these perverse incentives?

Replacing our income tax system with a flat tax or a national sales tax or a value added tax would eliminate the income tax part of the marriage penalty. Under such tax regimes, couples would have no tax reason to marry or divorce. At a minimum, couples should have an option of filing completely separate tax returns.

What about health care? Through the years there have been a number of proposals to replace all tax and spending health care subsidies with a fixed-sum tax credit for private insurance, regardless of personal income or marital status. For those who decline the opportunity, the credit amount would be sent to a local safety net and communities receiving these funds would be required to establish and provide safety-net care. The most recent bill is sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

We already make a great deal of food available to children in a way that avoids perverse incentives. Many large city school districts provide lunch and breakfast without charge to all students, regardless of income, and in the 2020-2021 school year, the federal government extended free meals to all students in every district.

Housing subsidies might be restructured in ways that do not involve an income or marriage test.

There are many good reasons not to get married. Government policies should not be among them.