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Creativity

I often get emails from the energetic Deniz Selcuk, who, judging by his name, is a Turk.  I assume he is a he but I could be wrong.  He could be a she.  I know nothing about the naming conventions of Turkish and suspect that I never will.

Deniz is obsessively interested in creativity.  He scours the net for possibly relevant information about it.  Even so, he fell into what I gather is a rather common trap.  He assumed that there was such a thing as creativity.  More precisely, he asssumed that there was a general trait of creativity.  There are of course individual  creative acts but there is no such thing as a generally creative person.

In that way it differs from IQ.  A person who approaches one problem intelligently is highly likely to approach other problems intelligently, even quite different problems. IQ generalizes,  Creativity does not.

I managed to convince Deniz that he was wrong, which is a compliment to his open-mindedness, but I thought I should also mention here some of the things that I told him.

So how do I know that there is no such thing as creativity?  Three  ways:  From a reading of the research on the topic, from known facts and from personal experience.  I am not actually up to date with the latest research but the findings were quite consistent  when last I looked at them so I doubt that much has changed.  The finding was that a person creative in one field might be knowledgeable about other fields but was creative only in his own specialty.  

And that brings me to known facts.  How many great painters were also great composers?  None.  A lot of distinguished (and undistinguished) people paint in their latter years but that is about it.

And that brings me to a Canadian lady I once knew rather well: "B".  She was head of a rather large art school here in Brisbane that formed part of one of our universities.  So the visual arts were clearly her thing.  But in her home she did not have a single device (stereo, hiFi etc) for playing music. Music hardly existed for her.  Her daughter had a small portable device but that was it.  I have no idea how creative "B" was in any visual art but she must have gained some distinction to be in the job she held.  But there was clearly zero chance of her being creative musically.

And I am much the same.  I have only one narrow field of creativity: Scientific writing.  I would not have over 200 academic journal articles in print without that.  I write only for blogs these days but I think I do that to the same old standard of care.

But is academic writing creative?  Not always.  It is just hack stuff a lot of the time.  But the hack stuff mostly doesn't get published.  The journal editor and his referees have to find something interesting in the paper to pass it for publication. They commonly accept only around 10% of what they see.

And to be interesting, you have to be creative to at least some extent.  You have to have something new to say.  That made things easy for me.  I see things from a conservative/libertarian viewpoint whereas journal editors in the social sciences almost invariably see things from a Leftist viewpoint.  So my writings were rather amazing to them. Leftists live in their own little self-constructed mental bubble that insulates them from disturbing non-Leftist thought so bursting into that bubble delivers surprise.

Leftists don't like irruptions into their bubbles, however, so what I was saying had to be very strongly defended.  My research had to be very "waterproof".  But it was, so I got published.  My usual trick towards accomplishing that was to do real sampling.  Your average Leftist psychological researcher does no sampling at all.  If he wants to find out what people think and why, he just hands out a bunch of questionnaires to his students and accepts the findings from that as valid for all people for all time.  That shows, of course, the utter intellectual poverty of most Leftists.

My approach, by contrast, was to go and knock on randomly selected doors in some big city and talk to an actual representative sample of real people!  I talked to "the people"!  Leftists often talk about "The people" but they usually know nothing about them -- as I found when comparing my findings with what was in the existing literature on the topic.  

But since social scientists do in theory view sampling as important, when I presented them with some, they found it very hard to knock back.  They did manage to knock it back about 50% of the time but I mostly broke through eventually.  Since my conclusions were invariably the diametric opposite of what Leftists believe (facts and Leftism have a VERY uneasy relatioinship) it would only have been the unusually open-minded editor who published my stuff.  And it was.  There were three editors who published my writings repeatedly while other editors would be good for only one or two acceptances  -- generally on rather technical subjects that were not too alarming.

You might think that an ability to write well in an academic way would generalize  to other fields of writing.  Not in my experience. Being aware that I was doing well with academic writing, I tried on a couple of occasions to write short stories.  I submitted them to various publications with zero success. I will probably put them online the day before I die.  So even creative  writing does not generalize from one field to another.

So to be creative you have to have ideas and you have to work on them but that is about all you can say about creativity in general.  

An interesting thing that I note is that, although I say many "outrageous" things on my blogs, I rarely get abusive email and comments from Leftists in response.  I think it means that academic-standard argument leaves them lost so they avoid reading it at all.

The ancient Greeks had an interesting theory of creativity.  They felt that there was a "muse" behind each creative person.  The muse was a spirit being who was the real creative force.  The muse would for instance "send down" the words that a writer was writing, with the writer himself having only a minor part in the final product.

That is not quite as silly as it sounds.  I have experienced something like that.  Sometimes the words I want to write pour out and it is a real challenge to get them all written down before they go away.  All that it really means, I guess, is that we can think a lot faster than we can write. But I don't blame the Greeks for thinking what they did.  It does feel the way they describe it.

Hitler

I don't think that anything I have said so far is terribly controversial so let me stir the pot a bit:  I think Hitler was a good artist.  Just the fact that everybody says he was not tends to lead me to that view.  In the simple world of propaganda, ascribing anything good to him would risk attack as morally reprehensible. But not much in life is all black and white so I see no moral risk at all at holding that there might have been one praiseworthy thing about him.  But let me nonetheless explain in two parts:

Google the words "Hitler" and "paintings" together and click "images" and you will see a veritable gallery of the many paintings and watercolors that Hitler produced in his youth.  I think a lot of them are quite good.

I cheerfully admit that I know nothing about art but I doubt that anybody does.  When skilled forgers and copyists regularly fool art critics and when random blobs of paint smeared onto a canvas by some ape or other simian are warmly praised, I think I would be embarrassed to claim that I know anything about art.  I think I would be calling myself a fool.

What rather gets me is when a painting worth millions is discovered to be a forgery, its value suddenly drops into the mere thousands.  Clearly, an evaluation of its worth reflected something other than the goodness of the art concerned -- snobbery perhaps.

So that is my first blast on the subject.  I don't think that Hitler was a great artist but he seems as good as any other outside that top range.

My second blast is that Hitler's real creative achievement was not in painting at all.  He had clear artistic instincts but they reached greatness in politics.  And I can divide that into two parts.  He was an indisputably mesmerizing orator who made most of Germany fall in love with him and his vision.  If that is not great creativity, tell me what would be.  Nobody before or since has been so successful in oratory.

From reading his inaugurals and other speeches, Abraham Lincoln probably was as good at oratory in his day but he was an old fraud too.  Lincoln convinced Americans that 600,000 of their young men had to die to abolish slavery -- when no other  nation on earth needed to shed a single drop of blood to abolish slavery.

And, getting back to Hitler, part of his political genius did include a visual component.  He was largely responsible for the design of Nazi rituals, displays and rallies and they helped make his speeches and rituals so emotionally powerful.  So that was clearly a remarkable artistic achievement. And that too would seem to be a pinnacle achievement.  I  know of no other political rallies and speeches that are re-run on TV even a thousandth as often as Hitler's.

All those re-runs surely attest that even we who are long past any sympathy with his aims are still powerfully affected by the speeches and spectacles involved. How could such a failed and disastrous politician still figure so largely in our minds?  There was clearly something about him that was way outside the ordinary.  He still fascinates.

So Hitler may have been merely a good painter but as a political persuader he was the best ever.  He was supremely creative in only one field but it was in a field that was, regrettably,  immensely  influential.



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The church of global warming

The new rosary: "Hail warming, full of grace, blessed art thou among climates and blessed is the fruit of thy womb panic"

In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is unhappy with the Pope's backing of what Zeg insists on calling "anthropological" global warming.

Zeg seems to be a bit of a Latinist too.  That gobbledegook above the Pope's head in the toon is not dog Latin  but real Latin.  It translates as, "The crack-brained poison of Rome".


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Charleston shooting massacre should prompt us to consider another gun amnesty and buyback (?)

Jane Fynes-Clinton (below) must be desperate for something to say.  The gun scenes in Australia and the U.S. have virtually nothing in common.  Our rate of gun deaths is about a thousandth  of theirs and you are already not allowed to own a gun for self-defence in Australia.  They are allowed to members of gun clubs for sporting purposes only. She is using the fact that the police trace and seize a lot of illegal guns to argue that more illegal guns should be seized.  But do not the seizures show that illegal gun ownership is difficult already and that a lot is  being done to enforce that?

WE NEED to go back to 1996: a new-age firearm buyback and amnesty is needed. And we need it now.

The US President Barack Obama lauded Australia this week for the success of the hard line stance the federal government took 19 years ago in banning semiautomatic and automatic weapons and buying back the newly illegal firearms, but those on the front line say Australia is again on the edge of unthinkable horror.

After witnessing yet another shooting massacre in the US – this time in Charleston, South Carolina in which eight people died as they attended church – we must act. We must not wait for our own mass shooting tragedy to make us sit up.

Victoria Police said this week they are stumbling on illegal firearms every two days in the course of their other work. [so if you make them doubly illegal how is that going to help?]

But if you break down the statistics, Queensland’s situation is possibly worse than in Victoria. The most recent Queensland Police Service annual report shows between 2012 and 2014 the Firearms Investigation Unit seized 804 unlicensed weapons and 4.2 tonnes of ammunition, or more than five weapons a week.

The dedicated Gold Coast Firearms Investigation team recovered 158 unlawful firearms in 2013-14.  Queensland’s part of Operation Unification, a nationwide two-week police operation to recover illegal weapons in June last year, netted 59 firearms.

The Australian Crime Commission last month told a senate committee inquiry it believed there are about 260,000 illegal guns out there.

The ACC last month detailed the emergence of new threats from the illicit supply of firearms, with crims taking advantage of digital technology to open up new supply networks and making guns using 3D printers. Surely taking the standard weaponry out of circulation would free law enforcers to get on with tackling these new threats?

The massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania was, at the time, the worst mass killing by a single gunman anywhere. Within weeks of Martin Bryant’s horrific murder of 35 people, the law was changed to ban rapid-fire weapons, implement a market-value buyback and open up a firearm amnesty on those guns.  Incredibly, 643,726 newly illegal guns were then bought by the government. We have not had a mass shooting since – using the international measure of five people or more being shot.

In the decade up to and including Port Arthur, Australia experienced 11 mass shootings. In these 11 events alone, 100 people were killed and another 52 wounded. But police are telling us of warning shots over our bow and we have to heed them.

The numbers of stashed, illegal firearms is creeping up. These are not box cutters or Tasers: guns have what scientists call a “high lethality index”.

We need another buyback, another amnesty. It would not hurt the responsible owners of the 25,000 registered handguns in Queensland, but would keep us all safer.

And we need to detain those found with illegal, unregistered weapons until their day in court.

Getting tough and calling in illegal weapons worked before . It is worth giving it another whirl, 20 years after its first run.
Let us not have a bloodbath to remind of us of what we should have done.

SOURCE


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That evil diabetes

The prime whipping boy for the "war on obesity" is diabetes.  Being fat is supposed to give you diabetes, never mind that most fat people are not diabetic! So it is interesting to see what pops up in the research about diabetes.  And the latest study is an unusually strong one.  The researchers had data on both income and education, which makes it quite a rarity and worth mentioning for that alone. So the results can be accepted without the most usual caveat about the influence of social class.

Another usual caveat is however not excluded. By basing their conclusions on interquartile range they threw away half their data.  At least they did not use extreme quintiles, I suppose. So they are a bit up on a lot of other studies in that regard.  The bottom line, however, is that the effects they observed were weak.

So what did they find, albeit weakly?  The most interesting finding was a negative.  Neighborhood social environment was not associated with diabetes.  Bear in mind, however that race/ethnicity was controlled for.  Without that control, inner city environments would have been found to be bad for you.  So having congenial neighbors is nice but it doesn't protect you from diabetes. Not terribly surprising, I suppose, but with their tendency to blame everything on external factors, Leftists might not like it

The positive effects were that a neighborhood with good opportunities for exercise helped stave off diabetes and a neighborhood with more fresh food available helped a little too.  So having nearby parks to jog around was good for you and a less fat-intensive diet gave your pancreas a bit of a rest.

An amusing thing is that JAMA really liked that study and put up a laudatory commentary on it ("Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus:  Person, Place, and Precision Prevention").  And what the commentary said about it did not surprise me one bit. The commentary disregarded the weaknesses of the effects and even said that the authors found something which they did not.  Academics have a great tendency to draw conclusions they want to draw and damn the evidence.  So when dear little Nancy Adler and Aric Prather said in their commentary that: "physical and social contexts of neighborhood environments matter for disease onset", they were ignoring the fact that the study below found that social environment did NOT matter.  LOL.

We climate skeptics know well how little there is behind Warmist "science" but the same is true of science in other fields too, particularly health science.  And Leftism of course floats on a sea of lies.  The situation is so bad that, even at age 71, I feel I still have to keep going and keep pointing out the facts. I would rather spend my time watching operetta -- but fortunately I do get some time for that too.  Much more fun than politics and crooked science.

Longitudinal Associations Between Neighborhood Physical and Social Environments and Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

By Paul J. Christine et al.

ABSTRACT

Objective:  To determine whether long-term exposures to neighborhood physical and social environments, including the availability of healthy food and physical activity resources and levels of social cohesion and safety, are associated with incident T2DM during a 10-year period.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a population-based cohort study of adults aged 45 to 84 years at baseline (July 17, 2000, through August 29, 2002). A total of 5124 participants free of T2DM at baseline underwent 5 clinical follow-up examinations from July 17, 2000, through February 4, 2012. Time-varying measurements of neighborhood healthy food and physical activity resources and social environments were linked to individual participant addresses. Neighborhood environments were measured using geographic information system (GIS)– and survey-based methods and combined into a summary score. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) of incident T2DM associated with cumulative exposure to neighborhood resources using Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for age, sex, income, educational level, race/ethnicity, alcohol use, and cigarette smoking. Data were analyzed from December 15, 2013, through September 22, 2014.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Incident T2DM defined as a fasting glucose level of at least 126 mg/dL or use of insulin or oral antihyperglycemics.

Results:  During a median follow-up of 8.9 years (37 394 person-years), 616 of 5124 participants (12.0%) developed T2DM (crude incidence rate, 16.47 [95% CI, 15.22-17.83] per 1000 person-years). In adjusted models, a lower risk for developing T2DM was associated with greater cumulative exposure to indicators of neighborhood healthy food (12%; HR per interquartile range [IQR] increase in summary score, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.79-0.98]) and physical activity resources (21%; HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.71-0.88]), with associations driven primarily by the survey exposure measures. Neighborhood social environment was not associated with incident T2DM (HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.88-1.07]).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Long-term exposure to residential environments with greater resources to support physical activity and, to a lesser extent, healthy diets was associated with a lower incidence of T2DM, although results varied by measurement method. Modifying neighborhood environments may represent a complementary, population-based approach to prevention of T2DM, although further intervention studies are needed.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 29, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2691
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It takes a woman...

The feminist claim that there is a sisterhood always amuses me.  Women can certainly be very supportive towards their friends and, as good persons,  be nice to many others, male or female.  But the other side is female rivalry and it takes a woman to tear another woman to shreds verbally.

So I was amused to read the article below under the heading: "As scary as she is sexy: Maria Sharapova has all the warmth of her Siberian homeland" by Jane Fryer. It is incredibly bitchy in an only slightly guarded way.  Just part of it below


Teetering about in five-inch black heels and a teeny sleeveless skater dress, Maria Sharapova looks like a giantess dressed up as a doll. Her enormous shoulders jut out either side. Her thighs are rippling, surprisingly chunky and ever so slightly veiny. Her beautiful face is expressionless.

And her eyes . . . her eyes are green, sleepy, incredibly sexy but also rather scary. Like a tiger that could turn any moment, and take out her entire (very extensive) entourage with one arm and then gobble us all up.

She is being photographed in the new Porsche Boxster Spyder, being driven round and round a block in London’s Mayfair.

She appears bored and beautiful, very Russian and very, very tall (6 ft 7 in in her heels) — as if she’s somehow been enlarged by a computer program, or we’ve all shrunk. The driver is very pink. And we are all agog and a little bit afraid.

She is a daunting woman — ranked No 4 in women’s tennis, winner of five Grand Slams, including Wimbledon when she was just 17, beating defending champion Serena Williams to shock and awe. Accompanied, who can forget, by extremely loud grunts every time she served or over-exerted herself. They measured more than 101 decibels, for goodness sake — just nine less than a lion’s roar.

She is also the world’s most highly paid female athlete and has been for more than a decade. She earns more than $20 million a year from endorsements and sponsorship deals ranging from Nike to Tag Heuer, Evian to Porsche.

On top of that, she has her own range of sweets, Sugarpova; a Maria Sharapova Foundation through which she helps victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion; and a Pomeranian dog called Dolce, who stays at home in her mansion in Florida where, apparently, the air better suits his flyaway furry coat.

Maria controls everything in microscopic detail. So while, of course, she is delighted to chat, I am warned — very firmly — that she must not be asked any questions about grunting. Or her boyfriend. And particularly no questions connecting the two.

Which is a shame, because for the past three years she has been dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, who is No 11 in the world and the hottest man in tennis — in looks, potential, and temper — though he insists he’s made great strides in controlling it better these days, and last year only smashed 200 racquets.

He is utterly gorgeous, silly, fun-loving and a terrible show-off. Last week he tweeted a picture of himself hanging upside down on the London Underground with the caption ‘feeling silly’. If I were dating him, I’d never stop talking about him.

She was also, I’m told, extremely upset about reports in the Mail that the confectionery in her sweetie range are full of sugar.

So I start with an apology for any thoughtless comments and she looks me very hard in the eye and says, ‘no problem, I have a short memory’ — clearly meaning the opposite.

And we move swiftly to permitted topics, such as how much she loves Wimbledon, which, obviously, she wants to win again. ‘It’s a dream of mine and something I work towards every single day,’ she says........

A colleague of mine (male, obviously), who once spent a day with her for an interview and claims he even saw her in a thong during the photoshoot, said that despite her extraordinary looks, he found her utterly unsexy.

I disagree. Maria Sharapova is astonishingly sexy, but you’d have to have a death wish, or be a kamikaze Bulgarian tennis star, to try your luck with her.

SOURCE


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Circumventing SCOTUS

From "Dredd Scott" onwards, SCOTUS has almost always blown with the wind.  Its rulings reflect elite opinion of the time, not the actual text of the constitution.  So the huge fuss the Left and their media henchmen  have been making about homosexual marriage had a predictable result.  The Left-leaning justices would have been shunned by all their friends had they decided otherwise.

The shred of justification that they used for the decision is from the  first section  of the 14th Amendment: "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

But there is no protection that homosexual marriage confers.  There are some privileges connected with marriage but privileges are not protections.  And in any case, civil unions offered in many jurisdictions do  provide the same privileges as marriage.  So the judicial reasoning was aimed to produce a result, not to offer an honest interpretation.  Nothing new there.

If anything, though, the reasoning was less slippery than the reasoning behind the legalization of abortion in "Roe vs Wade".  The homosexual marriage ruling was just routine  dishonesty.

So there is no reason why the SCOTUS ruling should be respected.  If they can slip and slide around the matter so can others.  And there is an easy way for conservative State governments to do so. What I have in mind would be perfectly legal and proper -- though  it would provoke a banshee scream of rage from the Left.  How do I know that?  Because something similar was proposed in an  Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) a few year ago  -- and was greeted with horror by homosexuals.

Here is what you do:  Both homosexuals and heterosexuals get the same marriage certificate -- with just one difference:  The certificate received by heterosexuals is simply headed "Marriage Certificate" but the certificate received by homosexuals would be headed "Homosexual Marriage Certificate".  There is nothing in the SCOTUS judgement to prevent that as far as I can see.

The legal wording to be enacted by the State governments would be something along the following lines:  "To avoid confusion, all  official documentation issued in connection with same-sex  marriages shall clearly refer to the marriage as a "homosexual marriage".

No reasonable person could object to that but the Left are not reasonable so the uproar would be great.  The real and perverse goal behind the homosexual marriage issue -- which is to deny an obvious difference -- would be defeated.  The resultant uproar would undoubtedly send the matter back to SCOTUS eventually but even SCOTUS might be hard put to find something wrong with that wording.  They might cry "discrimination" but nothing has been withheld, denied or refused.

As a libertarian, of course, I don't care either way.  I think marriage should be a matter either of private contract or a religious sacrament.  I see no need for it to be licensed or in any way regulated by any government.  For most of human history it has been purely a religious matter, with only churches or other religious bodies keeping a record of it

And because of harsh divorce laws, many couples do not marry now anyway.  Your de facto wife is simply referred to as your "fiancee" and nobody thinks anything of it.  That is particularly so in Britain.  When women complain that men "won't commit", they can thank the feminists who have made the divorce laws so intimidating to men.  Stories of women winning big out of divorce appear in the papers almost daily so few men can be unaware of the dangers in marrying.  It will be amusing to see the same laws hitting  homosexual marriages.

And with the daily horrors being perpetrated by Muslim fanatics in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, surely there are more important matters for us to attend to.  Repeated vicious slaughter surely matters much more than what homosexuals do with their penises.  Homosexuality is certainly a matter of indifference to me.


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Britain's shame

Particularly at the shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, Britain once built around half of the world's ships.  But with the coming of the welfare state, it got harder and harder to get the Scots unionists to work. So all that is built on the Clyde now are a few warships for the Royal Navy.

So when a British businessman decided to build three big new cruise liners, whom did he give the order to?  To a company in Italy:  The very experienced Fincantieri.  No good blaming the order on low-wage Asian countries.  Italy's standard of living is similar to Britain's.

Italian workers don't have a very good reputation for diligence but they are apparently way ahead of the perpetually  aggrieved Scots


Virgin Cruises will launch its first luxury liner in 2020 from Miami, U.S, British tycoon Richard Branson has announced.

In typically flamboyant style, Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts.

Branson promised 'a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good'.

Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts

'Virgin Cruises plans to make some waves with an original and intimate experience,' he said at a news conference.

A joint venture with Bain Capital, the cruise line will be the latest addition to 64-year-old Branson's Virgin Group, which includes an airline, railroad, bank and cable operator among its more than 400 holdings.

Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri will construct three mid-size vessels to be delivered in 2020, 2021 and 2022, with 1,430 cabins to accommodate more than 2,800 guests.

'We made the decision to sail against the current trend of building these big megaships,' Virgin Cruises president and CEO Tom McAlpin said. 'We are going to be constructing smaller, more boutique vessels.

'We have deliberately chosen a size of ship that allows us to offer an excellent variety of experiences but in a more intimate environment,' he said.

McAlpin said the ships will weigh about 110,000 tonnes each, and have the capacity to carry some 2,800 passengers and a crew of 1,150.

'These are highly technological machines,' said Fincantieri chairman Vincenzo Petrone.  'The level of the entertainment... envisioned is extremely complex with technological challenges. But we are sure we can together develop a very special type of platform.'

SOURCE



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David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians



The hairless Senator is quite right.  Australia's original pygmy race survived into the modern era in the jungles of Far North Queensland -- particularly in the Kuranda area. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Kuranda in 2004 when a very short dark man walked right past me.  A full discussion of the evidence is here

SENATE crossbencher David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians.

His comments came ahead of the release of a parliamentary committee report today that will give the green light to a referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution and remove sections that could allow racial discrimination.

Senator Leyonhjelm says he is a “black and white anti-racist” and agrees with removing the two references to race.

However, the Liberal Democrat says he needs to be persuaded on the argument that Aboriginal people should be recognised as the First Australians.

“There may have been people in Australia prior to the Aborigines,” he told reporters in Canberra, adding that there were some anthropologists who argued that case.

That view was based on the Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion rock paintings in Western Australia that were distinctly different from other Aboriginal artworks.

Senator Leyonhjelm said several serious anthropologists had made the argument, but could not name them or their credentials.

“I could (name them) if I checked it out,” he said. “You’ve asked me at a door stop, I can’t off the top of my head.  “But if there is any doubt at all, why would you put history in the constitution?”

SOURCE


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Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest

The research report below is unusual in favoring conservatives but we should not get too excited about it as the findings are based on students and highly educated respondents.  It may tell us nothing about the population at large.

The findings about "freewill" are however in accord with the greater belief in personal responsibility among conservatives.  Leftists rage and apportion blame while conservatives just get on with it. Conservatives are simply calmer

Findings from three separate studies link a person's political ideology and their self-control performance, with conservatives demonstrating greater self-control than liberals. The research led by Joshua John Clarkson, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of marketing, is published in this week's early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Two studies in the report involved tasks that were conducted among undergraduates at two Midwestern universities over the past year. The third study involved 135 people across the U.S. taking part in a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk service. In each study, Clarkson says participants who identified as politically conservative consistently showed greater attention regulation and task persistence -- hallmark indicators of self-control -- and that these effects were independent of participants' gender, race, age, education or income.

Study 1

At one Midwestern university, 147 undergraduates completed a modified Stroop task. Sitting in front of a computer screen, they were presented with a word that represented a color (red, blue, green, yellow), with the words presented on an incongruent background. For example, the word 'yellow' would appear on a blue background. The researchers examined how quickly participants would respond with the word, controlling for correctness. 'We found that those who identified as conservative were as correct as liberals, but they were performing the tasks faster. This finding suggests that conservatives might be better able to fixate their attention on a task,' says Clarkson.

Study 2

At a separate Midwestern university, 176 undergraduates performed the same Stroop task. Again, researchers found that as political conservatism increased, there was a faster response time as well as an increase in the belief of freewill. 'Both conservatives and liberals reported that they wanted to perform well, but again, conservatives were responding faster, and this faster response stemmed from their stronger belief in freewill. That is, conservatives' belief in their responsibility for their outcome contributed to their faster responding,' says Clarkson.

Study 3

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, 135 Americans participated in several seven-letter anagram self-control tasks. For each anagram, they were asked -- under a set of rules (e.g., words had to have at least three letters) -- to create as many English words as they could with the letters. Importantly, participants were told they could decide when they wanted to end the task. The researchers found that the conservatives spent more time on the task than the liberals.

However, the findings showed that conservatives outperformed liberals only when participants believed freewill has a beneficial impact on self-control. When participants believed freewill could undermine self-control, liberals outperformed conservatives.

'This finding is especially interesting because research to this point has focused only on the positive outcomes of believing in freewill,' says Clarkson. 'However, one could imagine a host of situations where knowing you are responsible for your actions could lead to frustration, anxiety and other negative emotions that could impair self-control. In these contexts, these findings would suggest liberals will demonstrate greater self-control.'

Clarkson explains how the research offers clear insight into the psyche of consumers. 'When marketers consider self-control, we tend to think of sticking to a diet or exercise regimen, not wandering off your grocery list or avoiding impulsive purchases. All of these behaviors exhibit elements of attention regulation and persistence. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to believing whether or not you can control your own behavior, and what we're finding is that conservatives are more likely to believe they can control their own behavior.'



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The New Testament canon

I think it is axiomatic that Christians accept the Bible as the word of God.  If you don't accept the Bible as the word of God but still claim to be a Christian, you are some sort of hyphenated Christian.  I would call Episcopalians and Anglicans generally, post-Christians. Their adoration of homosexuals flies in the face of explicit Bible teachings in both the Old and New Testaments so they clearly do not accept the Bible as the word of God.

But what is meant by "word of God"?  Did God use the Bible writers as some sort of stenographers -- dictating precisely every word they wrote?  People who believe that are said to be "verbal inspiration" believers.  The verbal inspiration doctrine has great difficulties, however.  Take the account of what happened at Christ's tomb when his followers found his body no longer there. The four gospels give rather different accounts of what happened.

In Matthew 28 for instance, we read that when the two Marys approached the tomb, a glorious  angel came down and rolled away the stone.

In Mark 16 however we find that the stone had already been rolled away before they got there.  So they went into the tomb and met a young man sitting in it who told them Christ was risen.

And in Luke 24 we find that the women went into the tomb and were puzzled to find it empty.  But then two men in shining garments suddenly appeared beside them. And it was only after they had bowed to the men did the men tell them that Christ is risen.

And John 20 is different again.  This time it was just Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb and found it empty. This time nobody appeared to her so she ran away to tell some of the disciples.  So the disciples came to the tomb and examined its contents.  Then the disciples just went home.  But Mary stayed on.  And then two angels in white appeared and told her that Christ was risen

So we have four different accounts.  Was there one angel or two, for instance?  The accounts are not necessarily wrong.  They are about as consistent as what you get in court when different eye-witnesses to a crime are being examined.  So is God as scatterbrained as four human witnesses?  Surely not.  If he had dictated every word he would just have given the actual events, not what looks like a set of wobbly recollections.

So few Christians now believe in verbal inspiration.  They believe that the Bible writers wrote their own thoughts in their own way  but God was behind those thoughts, gently guiding them in the right direction.

But then another problem arises.  How do we know who had God behind their thoughts?  There were many documents around in the early days which contained accounts of Christ's history and teachings.  Why did they all not make it into the New Testament?

The Roman Catholic church has an answer to that.  They say that the church made the pick.  They say that the church knew which document was divine and knocked back the others:  It was the church that assembled the NT.

That is not much of an answer however.  For a start, the church at that time was almost entirely located in the Greek-speaking cities of the Eastern Mediterranean lands.  Rome was a distant offshoot.  So the discussion about which documents were divine occurred in the Greek churches, not in Rome.  And the Greek Orthodox church does to this day with some justice regard itself as the lineal descendant of the original Christian church and say that authority about the canon belongs to them

Even if we accept the Roman claim, however, it just pushes the question back one step.  How did the church know which books were divine?  The only reasonable answer to that is that God influenced the minds of the men of the church to make the right decisions.

But if God was working through the minds of men, why did it have to be just one group of men?  Surely it could have been men anywhere in the Christian world and not merely a few big shots in Rome! So, broadly, the answer to the question of what formed the canon is a simple one from a Christian viewpoint:  If God inspired the writing of the various books, he could surely also see to it that the right ones were selected as holy!

Anne, the lady in my life is, like me, an ex-Christian and our Christian past is still influential with us both.  She doesn't like the apostle Paul's view of the place of women, however -- as in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11, for instance.  Being a born tease, however, I enjoy pointing out that according to the NT, women should be submissive to their men.  Anne is no feminist but she is a pretty independent lady so she doesn't like Paul at all and why is he in in the Bible anyhow?

I replied that if God inspired the Bible writings, surely he could also make sure that the right documents were included in it.  On hearing that she burst into peals of laughter.  I am not totally sure why but I think she saw the logic in it and realized that you could not arbitrarily exclude Paul from being a divine messenger.

So how do I think the books of the Bible were chosen?  I do actually lean to an explanation that would fit in with God's guidance.  The history of the matter is that there was a considerable debate in the early days about which books were new revelation -- and various collections were made which embodied particular people's view of what was divine.  But after a while a consensus did emerge.  And it was an inclusive consensus:  Enough books were included to keep most people happy.

So was God behind that consensus?  Since I am an atheist I think not but a Christian could reasonably think so.  What I think happened is that those books which made most sense and sounded good at the time gradually, amid debate, came to be generally accepted as holy.

With his background in Greek learning, Paul was quite a good theologian, he wrote very energetically, wrote very extensively and he explicitly claimed divine guidance -- so it would appear that the whole available corpus of his writing was included.

And in the nature of these things, a tradition developed which saw that early consensus as authoritative.




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Doctors: We were wrong

Below is an excerpt from the latest issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association".  It is about as close as you can get to an official admission that the official diet advice given to Americans for many decades was totally wrong and probably harmful.

The message from that is a hard one:  Don't rely on official science about anything. You have to look at the evidence for yourself.  I have been reading health and diet advice from the early days of Lelord Kordell (he recommended lots of protein) and my response has always been to eat whatever I like whenever I like it.  So at age 71 I have had a lifetime of good dinners and only iatrogenic health problems.

On my reading of the evidence, I doubt very much that it makes much difference what you put into your mouth. The small differences that medical researchers find in their research results are almost certainly as trivial in their importance as they are trivial in their size. The lessons for global warming believers are obvious. Long live good dinners!  The planet won't notice one way or the other



SOURCE


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Consensus! Children raised by same-sex parents are no different from those in traditional families

The article below is very naive.  I could have told you before I read it what the consensus among researchers would be -- and the authors found just that -- and nothing more.  A consensus among a group of people simply tells you what those people at that time want to believe.  It tells you nothing about the facts.  Only evidence can tell you about the facts.  And there was no critical scrutiny of the evidence in this study. And that was certainly needed in this case.

What for instance are we to make of a large 2012 study that arrived at very different conclusions?  To quote:  "The results reveal numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents".  Which conclusion is right?  We have no means of knowing from the study below.

So what the study below tells you is something about the biases of current social science researchers.  It tells you nothing about its alleged subject.  It simply tells you what the current intellectual fashion is

I follow the article below with the journal abstract


Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Oregon professor.

The new research looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.

It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule by the end of this month on whether same-sex marriage is legal.

'Consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or different- sex parents,' University of Oregon sociology professor Ryan Light said on Tuesday.

Light, who co-authored the study with Jimi Adams of the University of Colorado at Denver, said the study may be too late to affect the court's ruling this month but he hopes it will have an impact on future cases.

'I hope we'll see acceptance of gay marriage of the courts and by the public at large,' he said.

The studies, Light said, showed some disagreement among scientists on the outcome of same-sex parenting in the 1980s but it largely subsided in the 1990s, and a clear consensus had formed by 2000 that there is no difference between same-sex and different-sex parenting in the psychological, behavioral or educational outcomes of children.

'Across the board we find the iterative suggests there's no significant differences,' Light said.

'To our knowledge this is the most comprehensive analysis of this type on this issue.'

Gary Gates, Research Director at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, said although several review articles have made arguments that there is a consensus that the gender of the parents does not matter, he was not aware of any other in-depth study of this nature.

'That to me actually sounds like a fairly novel approach and I'm not sure that others have done it,' he said.

He said he believes the argument that same-sex parents are less adequate than heterosexual parents has largely been taken out of the legal debates. But he said it's always possible that it could come up.

'We'll see what happens in the Supreme Court argumentation,' he said.

'We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations,' the pair wrote.

SOURCE

Scientific consensus, the law, and same sex parenting outcomes

By jimi adams & Ryan Light

Abstract

While the US Supreme Court was considering two related cases involving the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, one major question informing that decision was whether scientific research had achieved consensus regarding how children of same-sex couples fare. Determining the extent of consensus has become a key aspect of how social science evidence and testimony is accepted by the courts. Here, we show how a method of analyzing temporal patterns in citation networks can be used to assess the state of social scientific literature as a means to inform just such a question. Patterns of clustering within these citation networks reveal whether and when consensus arises within a scientific field. We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations.

Social Science Research, Volume 53, September 2015, Pages 300–310.


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Pope's climate adviser lambasts Australia



If you think he looks like something that has recently emerged from the anus of a zoo animal, I will not contradict you, "ad hominem" though that is.  Apologies but the pompous fraud has certainly succeeded in irritating me.   More temperately, exactly what qualifies a theoretical physicist to pontificate on the Australian economy?  Also see Tuesday's issue of GREENIE WATCH for a comment on his "science"

A leading German climate change authority and adviser to the Pope on the effects of global warming has lambasted Australia over what he perceives as its failure to address an inevitable process of de-carbonisation.

Professor Hans Schellnhuber, head of the highly-regarded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research outside Berlin, told reporters Australia's reliance on coal exports to China was a "suicide strategy".

"I don't think Australia can be sustained based simply on raw materials he says. "Just pursuing the carbon path is a red herring."

An adviser to both the Pope and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prof Schellnhuber is one of Europe's leading climate change scientists in his capacity as Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam.

He was interviewed in his study where Albert Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity.

In good natured remarks about the challenges facing a country like Australia, Prof Schellnhuber said it was "not responsible to run a country like a lottery."

He compared Australia unfavorably with resource-rich Norway which is being run almost completely on renewable energy [mostly hydro, which Greenies hate] and was making use of its vast sovereign wealth fund to build new and innovative industries.

Australia, he says, was excellently-placed to make the most of its renewable potential in solar, wind-power and other forms of renewable energy.

Asked why Germany experienced a low level of climate skepticism compared with countries like Australia and the United States, Prof Schellnhuber says "Anglo-American" societies tended to be dominated by ideas of entrepeneurship and free market impulses.

The Anglo-American world believed technology and innovation would help it to overcome its challenges. Germany, with its "different history", was more "cautious."  [Germany has a cautious history?  You could have fooled me!]

"Australia and Canada suffered from the curse of bounty," he says. "We will be fine forever: why should we change?"

"In the end," he adds. "it [the curse of bounty] makes you complacent. Unfortunately paradise doesn't last forever".

Africa and South America also have bountiful natural resources, so how come they are not in "paradise"?  Schellnhuber hasn't even asked himself that question.  His economics and sociology are on a par with his climatology

SOURCE

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The Warmists have no shame

They utter the most transparent lies.  Every hospital administrator knows that it is colder weather -- winter -- that brings on illness and death -- not warmer weather.  But Warmists still claim the opposite.

In the best Leftist tradition, theory trumps evidence every time.  So I suppose it's no good quoting evidence to show that warm years are on balance better for you.

And the claim of rising extreme weather is simply false.  Climatologist Dr. John Christy who has looked back to the 1850s told the MRC in 2013 “there is no trend in hurricanes.” He said, “[I]f you look at the last seven years, there has not been single major hurricane hit the United States. This is the longest period of such a dearth of hurricanes in that entire record.”

In early 2014, when the networks hyped a drought in California as the “worst drought on record,” Dr. Martin Hoerling, a federal climate researcher, disagreed and told the MRC it was consistent with previous California droughts. California would have NO water shortage right now except for its Greenie policies -- sending dam water straight out to sea, for instance. See also here and here

 And poor nutrition in a warmer climate?  Give us a break!  A warmer world would open up Northern Canada and Siberia to farming and food production.  Warming would most probably produce a GLUT of food!

These guys are utter crooks.  But British medical journals have long been laden with Green/Left propaganda.  "Lancet" even opposed George Bush's Iraq intervention.


The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last 50 years of gains in development and global health, experts warned on Tuesday.

Extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves bring rising risks of infectious diseases, poor nutrition and stress, the specialists said, while polluted cities where people work long hours and have no time or space to walk, cycle or relax are bad for the heart as well as respiratory and mental health.

Almost 200 countries have set a 2 degrees C global average temperature rise above pre-industrial times as a ceiling to limit climate change, but scientists say the current trajectory could lead to around a 4 degrees C rise in average temperatures, risking droughts, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

"That has very serious and potentially catastrophic effects for human health and human survival," said Anthony Costello, director of University College London's (UCL) Institute for Global Health, who co-led the report.

"We see climate change as a major health issue, and that's often neglected in policy debates," he told reporters at a briefing in London.

The report, commissioned and published by The Lancet medical journal, was compiled by a panel of specialists including European and Chinese climate scientists and geographers, social, environmental and energy scientists, biodiversity experts and health professionals. {And uncle Tom Cobley and all]

SOURCE

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'Coal and coral don't mix': Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo joins fight to save Australia's Great Barrier Reef

When you have got Hollywood actors saying something it must be true, I guess. That the reef undergoes cycles of change is not mentioned of course.  Both State and federal governments have extensive arrangements to prevent environmental degradation on the reef.  See for instance here on the dredging scare.

And a key point is that the reef does get heavily impacted by natural events such as the many cyclones that have hit North Queensland in recent years. Cyclones are very destructive of coral. HOWEVER, when we look at that storm destruction, we also  find that corals grow back rapidly. While that happens, the GBR is in no "danger". Any changes are temporary. See here and here, for instance.


Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo has thrown his weight behind the movement to save Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

The Avengers actor tweeted his support along with a link to Greenpeace site, takeanotherlook.gp, which states that the reef is 'under threat from the coal industry'.

Greenpeace's campaign states that the sea bed is being dredged to make way for four 'mega ports' to be serviced by 7000 industrial ships that will cross the Reef every year.

'Coal & coral don't mix. Join the movement to save the Great Barrier Reef:' Ruffalo tweeted, alongside with a photograph of himself smiling and holding up a sign that read '#savethereef'.

US President Barack Obama had plans to ban fishing, energy exploration and other activities in a large swath of the central Pacific Ocean, with Australia's Great Barrier Reef given as an example of 'environmental devastation'.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with the Hollywood star and environmental activist appeared at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC, where a video message from the president was played.

'It's fantastic to start off the day by hearing President Obama commit to expanding marine reserves in US waters and taking serious steps to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace,' DiCaprio said at the time.

In 2013, DiCaprio announced a $US3 million ($A3.3 million) donation to help protect the oceans' habitats for marine species.

'Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I've witnessed environmental devastation firsthand,' he said.

'What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.'

SOURCE



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"New Matilda's" idea of survey research

I am probably one of the very few who take any notice of Matilda but they are so determined to come to their foreordained conclusions that I find them amusing.

I find the latest effusion particularly amusing because I spent 20 years as a university survey researcher -- resulting in many academic publications.  So I am quite sure how the sleight of hand below works.

What they do is to compare a properly conducted survey with responses gathered over the internet.  And they found a great divergence of results.  But such comparisons always do diverge.  People contacted over the internet are not representative.  They differ from the mean in being better educated, more socially isolated, more Leftist and in various other ways.  As far as generalizing to any known population is concerned they are invalid and useless.  It takes Matilda to hang their hat on such a survey


A survey distributed on social media has recorded dramatically different results to those released by the government-funded group, finding stronger support for constitution reform among white Australia than black. Amy McQuire reports.

Only 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the “grassroots” Recognise group, and a majority would vote no in a referendum if it delivered only symbolic recognition, according to a new poll that pours cold water on the Recognise’s claim that nine out of ten blackfellas support their campaign.

In May, the government-funded Recognise group released research suggesting nine in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people supported constitutional recognition.

The polling was conducted by Polity Research, which surveyed 750 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and 2700 non-Indigenous voters, according to Recognise.

Recognise said the “research confirms continuing support for recognition from the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

The group released its media statement without detail of the question that was posed to interviewees, or where it had retrieved its sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters.

But the claim of overwhelming Indigenous support is one that was controversial among many who believe the issue is being met with a much more diverse sample of opinions in Aboriginal communities.

While conservative opposition to constitutional reform has been highly publicised, the concerns from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been largely overshadowed by the Recognise campaign’s claims of almost unanimous support.

In February, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples acknowledged that there was a growing opposition to constitutional reform from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with co-chair Les Malezer saying “we are already receiving messages from our people that they are determined to vote against any referendum”.

This opposition is confirmed by an online survey conducted by Luke Pearson at IndigenousX, a social media platform across Twitter and Facebook, who released the results last night.

The survey drew responses from 827 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, with the majority of responses coming from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The poll, conducted on Survey Monkey, was widely shared across Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which has high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The survey acknowledges that, like the Recognise polling, the sample size was “still quite small”.

“Questions regarding the distribution of data collected by Recognise should be similarly asked and caution must always be exercised when claiming that a survey is ‘representative’,” the group says.

But the IndigenousX poll produces radically different results to those promoted by the Recognise campaign.

It found that rather than Recognise’s stated 87 per cent Indigenous support, only 25 per cent of IndigenousX respondents supported the group. 58 per cent were in opposition, while a further 17 per cent were still unsure.

SOURCE


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Confiscate all cars.  More car control!  Toughen up car licensing! More car-free zones!

Mad Muslim uses a car to kill 3 and injure 34 in Austria.  Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a car.”

A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.

Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.

The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.

The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city's main square.

The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from 'psychosis' related to 'family problems'.

Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month. 

The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism. 

The busy square was hosting an event relating to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix which is being held 80km away, in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, in Steiermark.

The city council released a statement which read: 'At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.'  

Provincial Governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said at least one of his injured victims is in a critical condition. 

He added: 'We are shocked and dismayed... there is no explanation and no excuse for this attack.

'We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people.'

German-language website Krone reported that the man arrested by police is of Bosnian origin.


Apologies for the sarcasm in my heading and sub-heading above but the point is an important one.  I am of course deeply grieved at the senseless loss of life involved. As a great fan of Austro/Hungarian operetta, Austria is close to my heart


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A white kills blacks!  BIG News!

Blacks killing whites is mostly only local news, if that.  No national attention to this event for instance



The attack is of course deplorable. The kid seems to have attacked some pretty decent people. But his words reveal that the kid was disturbed by the difficulties blacks pose for white society.  Apparently he somehow escaped the brainwashing which says that blacks must be treated like children who cannot be blamed for what they do -- "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -- as George Bush called it. In a country that claims equality before the law it is in fact amazing that so many accept one law for whites and another for blacks (e.g. so-called "affirmative action").  One wonders how long the brainwashing will retain its power.  If it loses its power we will see many like Dylann Roof.  Some basic details below

Dylann Roof, the man arrested after a shooting dead nine people in an historically black South Carolina church on Wednesday, wanted to start a civil war and bring back segregation, friends claim.

The 21-year-old is pictured on his Facebook profile wearing a jacket bearing flags from apartheid-era South Africa and what was once white-rule Rhodesia.

He also has a criminal record and in April received a gun for his 21st birthday.

'He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff,' his friend Christon Scriven told the New York Daily News. But, he said, 'He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.'

His roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News: 'He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.'

According to classmates, Roof is a frequent abuser of prescription drugs.

Court records from Lexington, North Carolina - where he has been living in a trailer park - reveal he was arrested twice this year on charges of trespassing and drug possession.

Roof attended ninth grade at White Knoll High during the 2008-09 school year and went there for the first half of the following academic year, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. The school system gave no reason for Roof's departure and said it had no record of him attending any other schools in the district.

According to CBS News, school records show that between fourth and ninth grade, Roof attended six different schools, and repeated the ninth grade.

A witness to Wednesday's massacre said Roof said before the shooting: 'I have to do it...You rape our women and you're taking over the country.'

SOURCE

He's precisely right about rape. In the latest available U.S. government figures (for 2008) there were over 16,000 rapes of white women by blacks and zero rapes of black women by whites.  See Table 42 here. Is he the only one to see a problem there?

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Did Bach set Psalm 23?

As I have mentioned previously, the most popular setting of Psalm 23 is Crimond, from Jessie Seymour Irvine, but many composers have set it.  So did the greatest religious composer of all time also set it?

He did but not in the way often asserted.  His aria "Sheep may  safely graze" is often said to be his version of Psalm 23 but its wording has next to nothing in common with the psalm.  See the words below:

Schafe koennen sicher weiden,
Sheep can safely graze
Wo ein guter Hirte wacht.
where a good shepherd watches over them.
Wo Regenten wohl regieren,
Where rulers are ruling well,
Kann man Ruh und Friede spueren
we may feel peace and rest
Und was Laender gluecklich macht.
and what makes countries happy.

The aria is sublime music but it in fact is part of a whole cantata devoted to currying favour with his aristocratic patron, Duke Christian.  It is not religious at all.  The aria is from Cantata 208: Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd ("Hunting is the only thing that satisfies me").

Bach left few tempi notations in his MSS but most conductors do it as an adagio, though largo would also defensible and some conductors have adopted that.  I am with the majority there. Sir Neville Marriner's interpretation below. It is so beautiful it makes me cry:



The cantata (no. 112) that does contain a setting of the psalm is "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt" -- to a German text by Wolfgang Meuslin.  It's on YouTube e.g. below:



The words:

1. Coro
Corno I/II, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt,
Hält mich in seiner Hute,
Darin mir gar nichts mangeln wird
Irgend an einem Gute,
Er weidet mich ohn Unterlass,
Darauf wächst das wohlschmeckend Gras
Seines heilsamen Wortes.

2. Aria A
Oboe d'amore solo, Continuo

Zum reinen Wasser er mich weist,
Das mich erquicken tue.
Das ist sein fronheiliger Geist,
Der macht mich wohlgemute.
Er führet mich auf rechter Straß
Seiner Geboten ohn Ablass
Von wegen seines Namens willen.

3. Recitativo B
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Und ob ich wandelt im finstern Tal,
Fürcht ich kein Ungelücke
In Verfolgung, Leiden, Trübsal
Und dieser Welte Tücke,
Denn du bist bei mir stetiglich,
Dein Stab und Stecken trösten mich,
Auf dein Wort ich mich lasse.

4. Aria (Duetto) S T
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Du bereitest für mir einen Tisch
Vor mein' Feinden allenthalben,
Machst mein Herze unverzagt und frisch,
Mein Haupt tust du mir salben
Mit deinem Geist, der Freuden Öl,
Und schenkest voll ein meiner Seel
Deiner geistlichen Freuden.

5. Coro
Corno I/II, Oboe d'amore I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe d'amore II e Violino II coll' Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Gutes und die Barmherzigkeit
Folgen mir nach im Leben,
Und ich werd bleiben allezeit
Im Haus des Herren eben,
Auf Erd in christlicher Gemein
Und nach dem Tod da werd ich sein
Bei Christo meinem Herren.


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Yes. I have read the latest encyclical

I put on a string of Bach cantatas to keep me in a serene mood while I read a very long document (over 100 pages) and below is what I found in it.  Below are selected phrases and sentences as written by Pope Frank himself.  You don't need to rely on journalists to interpret the document for you.  You can do it yourself from his own  politically relevant words that I have picked out.  I believe they summarize the whole, as far as secular issues are concerned.  I will have something to say about them following them:

"faced as we are with global environmental deterioration...

for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate...

 bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development...

the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle....

There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.

 We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon

 scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.

Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.

There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy

Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.

The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.

 Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.

It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars

aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view

The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct

 It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.

The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon

There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.

All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution

 there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops.

 Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated.

Economic growth, for its part, tends to produce predictable reactions and a certain standardization with the aim of simplifying procedures and reducing costs. This suggests the need for an “economic ecology” capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality.

Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community.

Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes

The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro is worth mentioning. It proclaimed that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development”.

The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy

 Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper,

SOURCE
Before beginning a discussion of the above, it is obviously of interest to ask whether dangerous global warming now has the imprimatur of Papal infallibility. Is the encyclical an infallible pronouncement on the matter?  It is not.  The Vatican Council taught that the Bishop of Rome makes an infallible ex cathedra definition when he defines “exercising his function as pastor and teacher of all Christians as pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate.” The encyclical must not be considered, then, as a document containing ex cathedra definitions except where the Holy Father speaks and teaches in them using “his supreme apostolic authority.” Simply put, he's got to say, "This teaching is infallible".

Note however that Catholics are bound not only by doctrines defined as infallible but by all the teachings of the church.  They are therefore now bound to sincerely accept the reality of dangerous global warming if they are to be true Catholics.  See here

So much for the theology. On to a consideratiion of the teachings for those who are not Catholics:

It's clear that Frank hasn't got a blind clue about how the modern world works.  I had expected a better brain from a Jesuit.  As it is, the above is a pretty good enchiridion of modern Green/Leftism.

Frank hates the world about him as passionately as any Leftist.  He sees disasters and wrongs everywhere he looks.  He fortunately does not call for any specific political policies other than "discussion" but he has lumbered the church with a belief in the false doctrine of imminent and catastrophic global warming.

With typical Leftist overgeneralization, he treats the world as a whole, with little recognition that different parts of the globe are very different. Any American living in the border states knows that you just have to cross a political border to enter a very different world.  And if it is crass to treat the USA and Mexico as just one undifferentiated whole, how much sense does it make to treat (for instance) the Central African Republic as no different from Norway?

Frank just has no time for detail.  And yet detail is all-important in the greatly differentiated world we inhabit.  It is true, for instance, that Indonesia is cutting down its native forests at an alarming rate but it is also true that the USA has more tree cover today than it did 100 years ago. So when Frank rails against the global loss of forests he is making a generalization that is both wrong and stupid.

And the irony escapes him that it is places like Indonesia where people  mostly live the simple village life that he extols. If he really did like trees he would be praising the  USA and condemning Indonesia.  No hope of that, of course.  Frank just hates the modern world so much that he has no inclination to learn of its real diversity and complexity.  You will see no recognition in his words that it is in precisely the capitalist world which he condemns where the environment is best cared for.  He knows nothing.  All he has are prejudices and hatreds -- JR.

A comment received from a reader of the above that I like:

Now we see revealed to the world why the nethermost Americas are so poorly governed when a leading intellectual can reel out the warmist pap as an article of faith.

As you say, we all expect better of a Jesuit. There wasn't the slightest hint of critical thought, or scientific investigation. There was no attempt at balance or dispassionate analysis. The language is the intemperate bile of the zealot. No hint of a document revised time and again by the finest minds in the Vatican to ensure intellectual respectability or philosophical thoroughness. It's a schoolboy's first draft, an outpouring of passionately held, but not critically examined ideas.