0 comments


When you have got no answers, abuse your opponent

The Left do a lot of that and it would be amusing if it were not so frequent and so frequently relied on.  We see a classic example of it below -- from the ever-whining "Guardian".  In response to criticism of the BoM using actual temperature measurements, the BoM representative addresses the facts and figures not at all. He mentions not a single temperature measurement.  There is no reasoned debate over temperatures at all.  He just whines how nasty the critics are to the BoM.  The BoM have no facts and figures with which to answer.  The critics have shown their crookedness like it is


Misleading attacks on Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology by climate deniers in the Australian are “debilitating” to the agency and limiting its ability to predict risks and protect the community, the former head of the bureau has told the Guardian.

Rob Vertessy, who retired as director of the BoM in April 2016, said climate deniers’ attempts to confuse the public about the science of climate change were dangerous, in an interview for the Guardian’s Planet Oz blog.

“I was exposed to a lot of it and it took up a lot of my time that’s for sure,” Vertessy said. “I feel for my successor and the team at the bureau having to constantly devote energy to this. It’s really quite debilitating.”

Vertessy was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, who has since had to deal with a barrage of criticism led by the rightwing thinktank the Institute for Public Affairs and expressed mostly in the pages of the Australian newspaper.

Earlier this week, the former Abbott government adviser Maurice Newman accused the bureau of “fabricating temperature records” and said it represented a “smoking gun that threatens the integrity of global temperature records”.

Vertessy said these sorts of attacks were dangerous.

“From my perspective, people like this running interference on the national weather agency are unproductive and it’s actually dangerous,” he said. “Every minute a BoM executive spends on this nonsense is a minute lost to managing risk and protecting the community and it is a real problem.

“As the costs of climate change accumulate in the years ahead, I can see that leaders of this climate change denial movement will really be seen as culpable.”

He said the government had done a “pretty good job” of supporting the bureau and independent experts. But he said politicians’ jobs had been made difficult by the Australian.

“It will just continue and it will limit the ability of the government to focus on more important matters – not just climate ones but all the works of government. It’s distracting for politicians to have to deal with this chatter.”

SOURCE

0 comments


Two New Boosts For Healthy Climate Scepticism

Two new boosts for skeptics recently.  We have already noted that the Warmist models are now acknowledged to have "run hot" (overestimated warming) but there are also now good indications that the influence of El Nino is over and temperatures are sinking back to their C20 norm.

Even using the corrupt NASA/GISS data it is clear that 2017 is much cooler than 2016.  With only one small exception, in every month so far, 2017 has been cooler than the equivalent month in 2016.  The cooling has not yet got back to the C20 mean but it is clearly trending in that direction


Image from NASA/GISS


Confidence is rising in two key aspects of healthy climate scepticism. First, climate models have run “hot” and been wrong in predicting the speed and extent of warming. Second, the extended slowdown in the rate of warming since the turn of the century was real.

The jury is out on whether the so-called pause has ended but the bigger looming battle is whether machine learning and artificial intelligence will challenge the models on which much of the world’s climate understanding is built.

The British Met Office announced this week that temperature rises did slow for the 15 years to 2014.

More remarkable was a paper published in Nature Geoscience, by a team of international climate scientists, that says climate models have been “running hot”.

As a result, the team led by Richard Millar from the University of Exeter say the climate budget or amount of carbon dioxide that humans can emit before pushing warming past the aspirational 1.5C threshold is three times bigger than previously thought. This translates to a reprieve of at least 20 years — but the task still will be difficult and remains urgent, they say.

A report on the findings, also published in Nature, says the implications of the new research for global policymakers are significant. “Humanity is poised to blow through the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) carbon budget for a 1.5 C rise within a few years, leading many scientists to declare the goal impossible,” the report says. “But the new analysis suggests that it could be met with a modest strengthening of the current Paris pledges up to 2030, followed by sharp cuts in carbon emissions thereafter.”

The findings, together with the pause — which took place against a background of sharply rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere — and the failure of climate models to predict it, leave a question mark over exactly how sensitive the climate is to rising levels of carbon dioxide.

The issue of climate sensitivity remains hotly debated, as is the role of natural cycles, particularly in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Critics of the latest Nature Geoscience paper argue its findings are fundamentally flawed because they centre on a period of slower warming because of the “hiatus” when “natural variability in the climate system temporarily suppressed temperatures”.

The Met Office says the end of the pause is marked by rising temperatures across the past three years. But sceptics argue this uptick in temperatures coincided with El Nino weather conditions and may itself prove temporary.

Alongside debate about the pause, climate sensitivity, ocean cycles and model precision is new research analysing long-term natural cycles and proxy records — sometimes with artificial intelligence computer programs — to take a fresh look at what the past can tell us about the future.

A paper by Geli Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, examines natural cycles to try to answer the key question of whether natural events or carbon dioxide are mainly responsible for driving temperatures.

“Causality analysis in climate change is an active and challenging research area that remains highly uncertain,” the paper says.

“The IPCC advocates that human activity is the most important driving force of climate change, while some researchers have argued that natural forces might be the main cause.”

Wang analysed the Central England Temperature record, the world’s longest instrumental temperature record, for clues. “This investigation into the driving forces of climate change reproduces a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which may be connected to the El Nino–Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively,” the paper says. “Moreover, these driving forces were modulated in amplitude by signals with millennial timescales.”

Other researchers have used proxy records and artificial intelligence computer programs to look for patterns in warming.

One paper, by John Abbot published in GeoResJ, uses a series of historic temperature proxy data sets such as tree rings to project what 20th-century warming would have been if there had not been an industrial revolution. Abbot found the IPCC methods over-estimate the role of human carbon dioxide emissions in temperature increase by a factor of six.

The use of proxy data, markers that scientists use for temperature change including coral, ice cores and tree rings, is widely accepted and formed the basis of the “hockey stick” predictions of runaway warming.

The findings of the Abbot paper, co-authored by Jennifer Marohasy, are supported by other international research.

German researchers Horst-Joachim Ludecke and Carl-Otto Weiss analyse other 2000-year-long proxy records. Like Abbot, they break the record into its component cycles and come to the same conclusion.

Another paper published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences collected a large number of proxies and used them to reconstruct a 2000-year temperature series.

Led by Quansheng Ge, the research found the most rapid warming in China was from 1870-2000, but “temperatures recorded in the 20th century may not be unprecedented for the last 2000 years, as data show records for the periods AD981-1100 and AD1201-70 are comparable to the present”.

Published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, the research illustrates the long-term natural oscillations in global temperatures across the past 2000 years. It clearly shows there was a Medieval Warm Period and then a Little Ice Age, with the medieval period about as warm as temperatures today.

“There is no reason to believe that cycles that have been present for thousands of years suddenly ceased to operate about a century ago,” Abbot says.

The key is to separate the natural cycles from the human influence. Abbot’s work suggests that even if there had been no industrial revolution and burning of fossil fuels, there still would have been some warming through the 20th century — to at least 1980. In short, he says it is possible to argue there was some impact from human activity but it was a lot less than the amount the IPCC required.

SOURCE


0 comments


German government supports new definition of anti-Semitism

The new definition is downplayed below but it is in fact a considerable leap forward.  By defining abuse of Israel as antisemitism it deprives Leftists of cover that they often use.  They say that are not against Jews but only against the State of Israel.  That is now illegal in Germany, though whether the illegality will be prosecuted remains to be seen

Some Leftists also claim to be "Anti-Zionist" and say that is not antisemitic.  Zionism was however the foundation ideology of modern Israel so that was always a stretch. The new German definition would also seem to catch that claim.  Criticism of the foundation ideology of Israel would seem to be caught by the ban on criticism of Israel


The German government has given its backing to a new definition of anti-Semitism intended to inform the work of schools, police, and courts.

During the last Cabinet meeting before Sunday’s national election, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers expressed support for a definition of anti-Semitism that includes attacks against religious institutions, the state of Israel, and non-Jews attacked for anti-Semitic reasons.

Officials say the decision has no immediate legal implications but signals ‘‘that the German government strongly supports the fight against anti-Semitism at all levels.’’

The European Jewish Congress applauded Wednesday’s decision, which follows similar moves by Britain, Austria, and Romania.

SOURCE


0 comments

Female beauty

It is an almost worldwide  form of racism and I have commented on it a couple of times before: There is a largely wordwide ideal of beauty and that ideal is Nordic. A more "incorrect" thing to note would be hard to imagine but the facts of the matter are there. One cartoonist put it rather cruelly as under:



Even Mrs Obama clearly likes the Nordic look.  All she can do towards it is to straighten her normal "nappy" mop of hair but she regularly does that. Other than that she has no Nordic attributes at all.  If her skin were white she would be seen as ugly.  She has received acceptance for political reasons only

Like it or not, the de facto worldwide standard of female beauty is Nordic -- narrow faces, fine features, white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair. Light brown hair instead of blond hair can squeak into the top standard and tanned white skin is OK but that is about the only variation accepted.

More on "narrow faces":

Something that seems very little noticed -- probably because it is a subtle difference -- is that narrow faces seem to trump wide faces.  Famous models and other women regarded as beautiful seem almost universally to have rather narrow faces



It's not a strong effect but it is remarkably common.

Russian women are well-known for beauty.  All billionaires seem to have one.  And narrow faces are notable there too.


Yana Ciganova


Inna Zobova

What about German women?  There are of course women there with narrow faces but I am inclined to think that Germany is in fact the home of wide faces.  The lady below is much esteemed in Germany but I think even her face is a trifle wide


lena gercke

But there are exceptions to every rule and the French girl who was once known as the most beautiful girl in the world has a rather wide face


Thylane Blondeau

The title of must beautiful girl in the world did not go uncontested however.  The entrant from Russia is below and she has a narrow face


Kristina Pimenova

It may be noted that blue eyes are preponderant above -- which is part of the Nordic pattern.  Blue eyes will always be well regarded but before the era of political correctness they were even more so.  They were said to be "treu", a German word meaning faithful, reliable, true, honest. See, for instance the song "Die ganze Welt ist himmelblau" in the operetta IM WEISSEN RÖSSL



So there is no doubt about how well people react to blue eyes.

And then there is blonde hair.  And high esteem for that goes back st least as far as Claudio Monteverdi, writing roughly 400 years ago.  His madrigal "Chiome d' oro" ("tresses of gold") in praise of a blonde lady is as devoted as you get.



We may deplore the Nordic standard but saying that people should adopt other standards for females that they like to look at is pissing into the wind.  It won't happen.  It will have zero influence.

An episode in my life highlighted the prestige of the Nordic look. When my son was about 18 months old, we took him to Lone Pine Koala park here in Brisbane so that we could all see the Koalas.  And a lot of Japanese people go to Lone Pine to see the Koalas too.  And they come with cameras at the ready.  So when Jenny was wheeling Joey along in his stroller, that came to the attention of the Japanese.  With his paper-white skin, emerald-blue eyes and golden-blond hair he looked like an angel to them.  So Joey was as much photographed as were the Koalas.

And something that Americans and Indians will find familiar has recently become big in South Africa:  Skin bleaching.  Even where the Nordic ideal of very white skin is not available, any approach to it is seen as prestigious.

Beauty and sexual attraction, however, are not coterminous.

The words of "Chiome d'oro can be found here in both English and the original Italian.

I can't find a translation of "Die ganze Welt is Himmelblau" so I give below my translation in interlinear form

Die ganze Welt ist himmelblau
The whole world is heaven blue
Wenn ich in Deine Augen schau'
If I look into your eyes

Und ich frag dabei: Bist auch Du so treu
And I ask then:  Are you really that true
Wie das Blau, wie das Blau Deiner Augen
Like the blue, like the blue of your eyes

Ein Blick nur in Dein Angesicht
Just one glance at your face
Und ringsum blüht Vergissmeinnicht
And all around forget-me-nots bloom

Ja, die ganze Welt machst Du schöne Frau
Yes you make the whole world, beautiful woman
So blau, so blau, so blau
So blue, so blue, so blue


0 comments



"I’m Not As Okay With Being Gay As I Thought I Was"

Below is an excerpt from a homosexual who reports that he has on many occasions experienced disapproval for being homosexual. I believe him. He had become rather inured to that but has now been shaken by the debate over homosexuality that the same-sex marriage plebiscite has aroused.  The many public comments about same sex marriage being wrong have upset his self-confidence and repose.

But who is to blame for that?  It is the frenetic demand for sexual licence from the Left.  They never shut up about homosexuals and they have kept up the pressure for legal recognition of homosexual marriage for years now.

Conservatives could see the case for giving homosexual couples  legal rights similar to heterosexual couples and in most places enacted civil partnership laws to achieve that.  That should really have been the end of the argument.  Nothing tangible is achieved by going any further.

The Left were however not satisfied with compromise.  They go for total victory.  It is their intransigence that led to the plebiscite.  They alone are responsible for it.  So they alone should be blamed for the pain caused to the writer below

The ironical thing is that Leftists often warned that moves to allow homosexual marriage would ignite a debate that could upset homosexuals -- but they still went on with their campaign anyhow.  Rather than drop their campaign because it might harm those they were allegedly "helping", they just kept up the pressure.  So that is yet another demonstration that beneath the ostensible Leftist desire to "help" lies a hunger to hurt


For many people of my generation, the same-sex marriage postal survey is our first taste of active state-sanctioned discrimination. We’re dealing with this whilst still coming to terms with our identities, and what it means to be queer.

“If any of you boys came home and told me you were gay, I’d probably disown you,” says Mum casually as we are watching the Sydney Mardi Gras on TV, her brow furrowed in mild disgust.

I am 13 and think I might be gay; her words are like a bomb going off, the ringing in my ears drowning out the TV.

“We love you, no matter what. And who knows? Maybe it’s just a phase.” My grandfather embraced me after I told him I was gay.

“What?” Mum’s eyes widened and her hands jerked the steering wheel of the car, sending us swerving. “I’m never going to have grandchildren…” she later cried.

“Faggot!” someone screamed from a passing car. I pretended I didn’t hear, but thought about it for weeks after. Sometimes I still think about it.

“Since when did you start sounding so gay?” my best friend laughed, having not seen me for a few months.

“I don’t like him – he’s a poof,” quipped my brother about a boy he doesn’t like at school. “What’s wrong with being a poof?” I quipped back.

“Marriage should be between a man and woman! Being gay is unnatural!” reads a comment on an online article. I clicked on the woman’s name, and discover she lives in my hometown.

She’s Facebook friends with members of my family.

I had probably been with Mum down the main street as they smiled at each other in passing.

“You can never be too careful,” said a boy I dated once, after he snatched his hand from mine as we were walking down the street.

“I’m not as okay with being gay as I thought I was,” admitted the boy I like, my shoulder wet with his tears.

He’s been out for less than a year. His mother, for religious reasons, is voting “no” in the marriage survey.

He loves her, and I have no doubt that she loves him. It’s complicated.

Above are a just a few of the words said to me over the course of my life. They hold a prominent place in my history in that ambiguous way certain words said at certain times do.

SOURCE

0 comments


No, Free Speech Is Not Threatened By The Right

Libellous speech from the Left is frequent but is always claimed as "free speech" by the Left.  But libel and defamation have never been protected free speech.  The Left have just got away with political defamation for so long that they expect no consequences from it.

It is about time that changed.  Just the charge of "racism" is a grievous and very damaging accusation and innocent people are entitled to be protected from such accusations.  And Mr Trump has a record with blacks and Jews that would give him an easy victory in court over such an accusation

And the now common accusation against almost any conservative that they are a "white supremacist" both really ups the stakes and exposes Leftists to a high burden of proof in court -- thus seriously exposing them to an adverse judgment.

When an addled black broadcaster made libellous and grossly untrue statements about the President, that should have been dealt with by a libel action only, not by any demands to fire her.  But whether the matter went to court or not, the remarks were still not protected free speech


ESPN host Jemele Hill calling President Trump a “white supremacist” is the latest battle in America’s grueling cultural war.

After Hill received backlash from right-wing media and became a fixture of news coverage, the White House was asked to weigh in on the subject at Wednesday’s press briefing.

“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders answered. (RELATED: White House Says ESPN Host’s Comments About Trump Are A ‘Fireable Offense’)

With that statement, the outrage over Hill was redirected towards the president. What Sanders said was interpreted by the media as the White House demanding a private company terminate one of its employees; an apparent sign of encroaching tyranny.

Soon thereafter, concerns of right-wing political correctness rose again to the fore of national discourse. And many of those railing against conservative “snowflakes” were respectable conservative pundits, such as National Review’s David French.

“Snowflake Republicans are no better than snowflake progressives. Respect free speech. It’s not that hard,” French angrily declared. The National Review writer admitted that ESPN has ridiculous double standards when it comes to the political views of its commentators, but he argued that that is no reason for conservatives to insist on hoisting the sports network by its own petard.

Instead, conservatives should just “rebut bad speech with better speech,” according to French.

In a perfect world, that’s all we would need to do. However, we don’t live in that utopia and ESPN is effectively saying that it will only punish conservative speech of its employees while allowing the most ridiculous left-wing comments to be aired.

In spite of that development, the result of this controversy is further reinforcing the faulty view of liberals and some conservatives that right-wing outrage is just as much of a threat, if not more so, than left-wing political correctness.

This idea is already ridiculous just taking ESPN as an example. The network has a very long record of punishing its talent who engage in right-leaning commentary or political incorrectness, but is fine with their stars comparing the tea party to ISIS.

Hill herself faced no consequences for her actions as she wasn’t even taken off the air during the uproar. Moreover, she became a martyr to the Left as numerous pundits and commentators rushed to claim that calling Trump a “white supremacist” is merely a statement of fact.

Powerful institutions in America such as media and universities are still overwhelmingly progressive, and conservative backlash against the ludicrous statements of their representatives only leads to awareness of the problem.

It is not stopping any liberal or leftist from continuing to share their opinion in the public sphere, a contrast to the situation for rightists who have to live with the knowledge that their views could cost them their job and physical safety.

After a week where it cost over $600,000 in security to ensure Ben Shapiro could talk about his relatively tame brand of conservatism at the University of California – Berkeley, only hacks and fools could believe free speech faces a serious threat from the Right.

SOURCE

0 comments


More nonsense from the Ivory Tower

Is rising CO2 making food less nutritious? It may be.  Increasing the supply of one nutrient without increasing the supply of others would seem logically to dilute the proportion of those other nutrients in any plant.  But the idea that this is a problem is laughable.

In our technological world that the Greenies hate, the problem is OVER nutrition, otherwise known as obesity.  Individual foods may be less nutritious but we have and eat lots of them.  There is no nutrition shortage.  Glut is the besetting problem in the supply of food basics and there is no end to that in sight


Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton.

Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat—but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?

Loladze was technically in the math department, but he loved biology and couldn’t stop thinking about this. The biologists had an idea of what was going on: The increased light was making the algae grow faster, but they ended up containing fewer of the nutrients the zooplankton needed to thrive. By speeding up their growth, the researchers had essentially turned the algae into junk food. The zooplankton had plenty to eat, but their food was less nutritious, and so they were starving.

Loladze used his math training to help measure and explain the algae-zooplankton dynamic. He and his colleagues devised a model that captured the relationship between a food source and a grazer that depends on the food. They published that first paper in 2000. But Loladze was also captivated by a much larger question raised by the experiment: Just how far this problem might extend.

“What struck me is that its application is wider,” Loladze recalled in an interview. Could the same problem affect grass and cows? What about rice and people? “It was kind of a watershed moment for me when I started thinking about human nutrition,” he said.

In the outside world, the problem isn’t that plants are suddenly getting more light: It’s that for years, they’ve been getting more carbon dioxide. Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide to grow. If shining more light results in faster-growing, less nutritious algae—junk-food algae whose ratio of sugar to nutrients was out of whack—then it seemed logical to assume that ramping up carbon dioxide might do the same. And it could also be playing out in plants all over the planet. What might that mean for the plants that people eat?

What Loladze found is that scientists simply didn’t know. It was already well documented that CO2levels were rising in the atmosphere, but he was astonished at how little research had been done on how it affected the quality of the plants we eat. For the next 17 years, as he pursued his math career, Loladze scoured the scientific literature for any studies and data he could find. The results, as he collected them, all seemed to point in the same direction: The junk-food effect he had learned about in that Arizona lab also appeared to be occurring in fields and forests around the world. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history―[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”

He published those findings just a few years ago, adding to the concerns of a small but increasingly worried group of researchers who are raising unsettling questions about the future of our food supply. Could carbon dioxide have an effect on human health we haven’t accounted for yet? The answer appears to be yes—and along the way, it has steered Loladze and other scientists, directly into some of the thorniest questions in their profession, including just how hard it is to do research in a field that doesn’t quite exist yet.

SOURCE


0 comments

New online

I have just put online the last article I ever had published in a learned journal.  It was published in 2004 but I had lost my copy of it.  But I recently did a big clean-out of my library and found then that which was lost. It is Ray, J.J. (2004) "Explaining the Left/Right divide". Social science and modern society.  41(4), 70-78 .

The first half of the article does a brief survey of the last 1500 years of history and shows that a concern for individual liberty and a distrust of government has always been central to conservatism.

The second half looks at the various theories about the psychological underpinnings of conservatism.  I think all the theories discussed there do reduce to my more recent formulation that conservatives are the dispositionally contented people. For more on that formulation, see here, here and here

0 comments


We've turned our unis into aimless, money-grubbing exploiters of students (?)

As an economist, Ross Gittins often has substantial things to say.  But as a Leftist he is also a compulsive moaner.  So the points he makes below are cogent but most of them are disputable.

The one area wherein I agree wholeheartedly with him is his condemnation of relaxed assessment standards for overseas fee-paying students.  This practice is, I think, still a minority one but will surely be a big negative eventually when our universities send home to Asia students whose knowledge and skills don't match what is on the pieces of paper we give them.  It devalues our degrees.

Gittins may also have half a point in saying that Lecturers are poorly paid.  In my day we were paid well above average and there does seem to be some slippage from that.  But with salaries closing in on $100,000 pa it's still a long way from  poverty.  Many junior software engineers get about that and they are undoubtedly bright sparks.

And Gittins again has half a point in saying that tenure is now harder to get.  I was appointed with tenure, a rare thing nowadays. But there has to be a balance.  Tenure protects divergent thinking but it also promotes laziness. Once you can't be fired, why work?  I suspect that the delayed granting of tenure that we now see is not a bad balance.  It ensures that for at least a large part of one's academic life we do some work.

But his other points are contentious.  Recorded Lectures are bad?  I would think they are wholly good.  They relieve students of the pressure to take notes, though they can still take notes if they want or need to.  There was only one course I did in my undergraduate days in which I took notes.  Otherwise I concentrated on listening instead. And I am sure I learnt far more that way.  My grades certainly did not suffer from it.

"Overcrowded" lecture halls?  I don't know what he is talking about.  A lecture hall is not a high school classroom.  In my academic career I often fronted up to a lecture in an auditorium with 1,000 or more students in front of me.  And I was able to allow students to interrupt with questions.  So I would think it was a poor lecturer who couldn't handle that.

He says that universities put too much pressure on academics to do research.  I would say that they do too little.  There are now whole tertiary institutions which devalue research.  And many lecturers in all institutions do little of it. But it is only by doing research that you get a real hold on knowledge in your selected field.  You cannot be at the cutting edge without doing your own research.  Otherwise you are just reading the conclusions of others.

But in the end, Gittins's big beef is that the present system of running our universities amounts to a sort of "privatization", which is of course anathema to Leftists.  I think he should throw off those ideological blinkers and look at what is actually happening.  He looks at that so far only "through a glass darkly"


Of the many stuff-ups during the now-finished era of economic reform, one of the worst is the unending backdoor privatisation of Australia's universities, which began under the Hawke-Keating government and continues in the Senate as we speak.

This is not so much "neoliberalism" as a folly of the smaller-government brigade, since the ultimate goal for the past 30 years has been no more profound than to push university funding off the federal budget.

The first of the budget-relieving measures was the least objectionable: introducing the Higher Education Contribution Scheme, requiring students – who gain significant private benefits from their degrees – to bear just some of the cost of those degrees, under a deferred loan-repayment scheme carefully designed to ensure it did nothing to deter students from poor families.

Likewise, allowing unis to admit suitably qualified overseas students provided they paid full freight was unobjectionable in principle.

The Howard government's scheme allowing less qualified local students to be admitted provided they paid a premium was "problematic", as the academics say, and soon abandoned.

The problem is that continuing cuts in government grants to unis have kept a protracted squeeze on uni finances, prompting vice-chancellors to become obsessed with money-raising.

They pressure teaching staff to go easy on fee-paying overseas students who don't reach accepted standards of learning, form unhealthy relationships with business interests, and accept "soft power" grants from foreign governments and their nationals without asking awkward questions.

They pressure academics not so much to do more research as to win more research funding from the government. Interesting to compare the hours spent preparing grant applications with the hours actually doing research.

To motivate the researchers, those who bring in the big bucks are rewarded by being allowed to pay casuals to do their teaching for them. (This after the vice-chancellors have argued straight-faced what a crime it would be for students to be taught by someone who wasn't at the forefront of their sub-sub research speciality.)

The unis' second greatest crime is the appalling way they treat those of their brightest students foolish enough to aspire to an academic career. Those who aren't part-timers are kept on serial short-term contracts, leaving them open to exploitation by ambitious professors.

However much the unis save by making themselves case studies in precarious employment, it's surely not worth it. If they're not driving away the most able of their future star performers it's a tribute to the "treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen" school of management.

But the greatest crime of our funding-obsessed unis is the way they've descended to short-changing their students, so as to cross-subsidise their research. At first they did this mainly by herding students into overcrowded lecture theatres and tutorials.

An oddball minority of academics takes a pride in lecturing well.

Lately they're exploiting new technology to achieve the introverted academic's greatest dream: minimal "face time" with those annoying pimply students who keep asking questions.

PowerPoint is just about compulsory. Lectures are recorded and put on the website – or, failing that, those barely comprehensible "presentation" slides – together with other material sufficient to discourage many students – most of whom have part-time jobs – from bothering to attend lectures. Good thinking.

To be fair, an oddball minority of academics takes a pride in lecturing well. They get a lot of love back from their students, but little respect or gratitude from their peers. Vice-chancellors make a great show of awarding them tin medals, but it counts zilch towards their next promotion.

The one great exception to the 30-year quest to drive uni funding off the budget was Julia Gillard's ill-considered introduction of "demand-driven" funding of undergraduate places, part of a crazy plan to get almost all school-leavers going on to uni, when many would be better served going to TAFE.

The uni money-grubbers slashed their entrance standards, thinking of every excuse to let older people in, admitting as many students as possible so as to exploit the feds' fiscal loophole.

The result's been a marked lowering of the quality of uni degrees, and unis being quite unconscionable in their willingness to offer occupational degrees to far more people than could conceivably be employed in those occupations.

I suspect those vice-chancellors who've suggested that winding back the demand-determined system would be preferable to the proposed across-the-board cuts (and all those to follow) are right.

The consequent saving should be used to reduce the funding pressure on the unis, but only in return for measures to force them back to doing what the nation's taxpayers rightly believe is their first and immutable responsibility: providing the brighter of the rising generation with a decent education.

SOURCE

0 comments


Ms Zuckerberg regrets



There is a rather strange article here by Mark Zuckerberg's Leftist sister under the title "How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor".  In it, she claims to have the "right" ideas about classical literature but never says what they are.

She rightly recognizes that serious conservative thinkers tend to be impressed by the classics of ancient Greece and Rome and find some inspiration in them.  Some of us even study the classical languages -- as Sean Gabb does. And VD Hanson's references to antiquity are both frequent and well-known.

But she deplores the ideas that conservatives take from antiquity and refers to a group of Leftists classicists -- of whom she is one.  I presume she refers to what is taught these days in the classics departments of major universities.  How the poor souls in those departments manage to reconcile modern Leftist victim culture  with the robust values of antiquity must be quite a challenge but Ms Zuckerberg clearly likes what she hears there. So she is saying: "The classics are ours.  Hands off!".

The curious thing is that Leftist classicists exist.  History for most members of the Green/Left seems to start yesterday.  Learning from the past is not their scene.  Green/Left writers, for instance, treated the recent hurricanes as if there had never been such things before, when it is perfectly easy to document even more severe storms in the past.  And how come anybody believes in any form of socialism these days?  From Robespierre, through Stalin, through Hitler, through Mao through PolPot and many others, the lesson of history is that socialism rapidly degenerates in to ghastly tyrannies once they gain full power.  Leftists can't afford to know history.

But against all logic there are apparently some Leftists who do study history.  And I have seen something of what they say.  Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" typifies the approach.  In accord with the great Leftist tradition of cherrypicking, they find all the disreputable bits in the history of a time or place and ignore the admirable bits.  Leftists never even attempt balance.  They don't think they have to.  Just to show bad bits gives them a glow and the glow is what they seek.

So Ms Zuckerberg is trying to defend an intellectually disreputable Leftist tradition from those who really want to learn from the classics.  And she is right in seeing lots of such people on the political Right.  I had read most of the Greek canon by the time I was 18 and greatly enjoyed my Thucydides.  And all the other writers I have encountered who quote Thucydides have been conservatives.  The twisted little tales told  by Ms Zuckerberg and her clique will simply never interest us, if we note them at all.

And it seems that she regrets that.  The subtext of her article seems to be that she is not getting enough recognition and support:  A very Leftist preoccupation. Maybe she just wants to get laid.

0 comments

Contentment

In 1974 I had a book published under the title "Conservatism as Heresy".  It is now online here.  The very title was a challenge to the dictionary definition of conservatism, which refers to support for the status quo or opposition to change.  And it was obvious that the definition had problems. It was before the era of either Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher but there were already rumblings from conservatives of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire for change.  And not long afterwards Thatcher and Reagan upset the status quo comprehensively -- to cheers from conservatives.

So what, then, IS conservatism?  There has not been much discussion of that.  In their usual deaf and blind way, the Left insist on sticking to the dictionary definition despite all the evidence to the contrary.  So they don't debate what conservatism is.

Roger Scruton wrote a book in 1980 called "The meaning of conservatism" and he summasrizes his thinking here. He has many valuable insights but he is more a reactionary than a conservative. Is there ANY American -- conservative or not -- who would agree that "the future is the past"? That is Scruton's summary of a core conservative outlook.

And there have of course been a variety of conservative philosophers and intellectuals who have offered their definitions.  I summarize them one by one here.  Of them all I like Ronald Reagan's comment best: "I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom" And that definition is by now mainstream among conservatives themselves.

But Trump has come along and upset that applecart.  Trump is no libertarian.  Restrictions on trade and immigration are the antithesis of libertarianism.  And a concentration on national greatness is unknown to libertarians.

But we should not have been be surprised at Trump's irruption onto the scene.  The libertarian party has been standing in American elections for many years and getting nowhere.  It is a outrider in American politics, not a main player.  Libertarian ideas do help conservative thinking but they are not the whole of it.

And yet Trump has gained wholehearted support from a majority of conservative voters, first in the primaries and then in the presidential election.  And despite his ups and downs most of those voters still support him.  People who had found their only refuge in the wishy washy Republican party suddenly found a new champion who was much more after their own hearts. The previous GOP offering to Trump in a presidential election was Mitt Romney.  Need I say more?

So I think the GOP old hands will have to accept it sooner or later that Trump has taken conservatism back from the siren of libertarian and Leftist ideas and given it new heart.  Trump has redefined conservatism.  And non-establishment conservatives love him for it.  I do.

But after such an upheaval someone is going to have to pick up  the pieces and define the new core of conservatism.  And I want to add a few thoughts in that direction.  And I hope in what I say that I can point to an underlying core theme that explains all the ideas that have been and are described as conservatism.  That is a big ask but I think I can get most of the way there.

For a start, there can be little doubt that conservatism is NOT a selection of political policies.  The policies that conservatives have espoused over the last 200 years or so have been all over the shop.  Finding a common theme among them could only give something impossibly vague.  No.  We have to go down to the psychological level to explain conservatism.  And Scruton and many other conservatives over the years have been agreed on that. I am not being at all innovative is saying that.  What I hope to do is to zero in on exactly WHAT psychological trait separates conservatives from others.  And I obviously have to explain Leftism too.  The great opponents of Left and Right obviously cannot be understood by themselves

And my proposal for the psychological trait that ties all conservatives together is in the heading of this essay.  I believe that conservatives are dispositionally contented. They are not contented with everything nor are they contented at all times but contentment is their natural state.

And that contentment leads to some obvious policy preferences.  They like their traditional religion and don't like to be told it is wrong (about homosexuality, for instance) and they don't like new laws that might upset arrangements they are content with.  They are for instance comfortable with the age-old division of labor between the sexes so don't at all see the point of setting quotas for the proportion of women in business management or politics.  And they see no reason why their normal descriptions of people as "fat", "short", "retarded" etc. have to be changed.

And, in the normal human way, they like best people of their own kind and that extends to groups of people as well as individuals.  They are proud of their ancestors and proud of their country. They are happy to be what they are and happy about how they got there.  The constant Leftist need to denigrate their ancestors and their fellow countrymen as "racists" just does not feel right to them and makes no sense. They like their country and want to make it great again.

My own 1974 claim that conservatism was heresy reflected the fact that, already at that time, the political consensus had settled around policies that tended to disturb conservative contentment. In particular, Australia had just come out of a long reign (1949 to 1972) of somnolent conservative governments into an era governed by a Leftist Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, who seemed determined to upset everything he could.

I could go on from there with more examples of the role of contentment but I think other examples of conservative policies springing from a contented disposition are pretty easy to think of.

So what is Leftism?  Leftists are the discontented people.  They dislike heaps in the society around them and want to tear down as much of that as they can.   And there is more to it than mere  discontentment.  They are also angry and hostile most of the time.  Their natural inclination is to be angry with everything. They probably are never really content.  They are always looking for ways to destroy anything that provokes their anger.  They often achieve their policy aims but that does not content them for a moment.  There are always new "injustices" to attack.  They are insatiable.  They never reach a state that they are remotely happy with.  They somehow think that there is a new Eden around the corner but they can never seem to get anywhere near it.

For example, they think homosexuality should not be illegal.  They get that.  Then they want homosexuals to be broadly accepted socially.  They get that.  Then they want homosexuals to be able to enter into a form of marriage,  They get that.  Then they want all criticism of homosexuals, including Bible criticisms, to be stigmatized as "homophobia".  And they are mostly there with that. And just around the corner "homophobia" will be illegal.

So we see why there will always be a fierce political polarity.  Leftists have had many triumphs in destroying existing arrangements and they want more.  Although conservatives would rather  be left alone to enjoy their friends, their families, their church, their sports or their national identity, they will always have to gird up their loins and try to block Leftist destructiveness.  Though sometimes the Left sabotages itself, with the implosion of Obamacare being a good example of that.  Leftists are so angry that they usually can't think straight.  They overlook important realities and thus generate "unexpected" outcomes that destroy what they set out to achieve.

It may be noted that the account I have given of conservatism is not a  million miles from the old claim that conservatives oppose change and support the status quo.  Where my account differs is that it takes note of what conservatives have to face.  The idea that conservatives oppose ALL change is absurd.  They oppose destructive change. There is always a torrent of actual and proposed Leftist changes that have to be opposed to prevent chaos and preserve order.  Leftists think their changes are so obviously right that conservatives could only oppose them through an ornery disposition to oppose ALL change.  The idea that conservatives might have good reason to oppose their changes they just cannot consider.  The idea that conservatives oppose all changes whatsoever is just Leftist propaganda.

My claim that contentment is an enduring psychological disposition does imply that it is hereditary. And the evidence that the level of happiness/contentment in us is substantially pre-set is strong. See here.

And all the general population surveys show conservatives to be happier. Pew, for instance, reports that: "Some 45% of all Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972"

Leftists hate that finding. In their usual projective way, they think conservatives should be miserable.  So there have been innumerable attempts to explain it away -- even going to to the lengths of measuring the crinkles around the eyes of congresscritters!  You couldn't make it up.

I put up an earlier version of this essay a year ago.  It has some points additional to those above.



0 comments

In Praise of New Zealand

As we all know, New Zealanders hate Australians -- just as Canadians hate Americans and Scots hate the English.  Big brother is rarely popular.  But I forgive them.  They can't help it. So I am going to perhaps make them feel a little better.

For a small population, they have done remarkably well in business.  Take wines.  Australia has long had a lot of success in selling wines to the world.  The Poms buy twice as much Australian wine as French. So the idea that anybody could sell much wine to us is improbable. Yet the Kiwis have done it.  Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region is now a big seller in Australia.  The one I sometimes buy is under the "Giesen" label.

And New Zealand chocolate?  Not Belgian, not Swiss?  Yes.  For a long time Whittakers of NZ used to export small bars of milk chocolate filled with nuts to us.  Then they managed to get a big order from Australia's biggest supermarket:  Woolworths.  Now they have on offer everywhere a great range of all sorts of choolate.

And New Zealand cheese?  Australia has many dairies that make cheese but more or less forever New Zealand has been selling us a cheese called Epicure.  It was what you bought if you wanted a strong-tasting cheese.  Then a few years back they started selling us "Mainland" cheese in a number of varieties.

But here's the latest.  Australia is a big market for pre-sliced cheese.  And the odd thing is that sliced cheese is the only cheddar cheese that you can buy.  Presumably cheddar slices more easily.  The "national" Australian cheese is "Tasty".  From the look of the supermarket shelves "Tasty" is what 80% of Australians buy.  Lots of dairies make it.  It is basically a cheese that is made as sharp in taste as possible without becoming crumbly.  It is a compromise cheese and, true to their British heritage, Australians like to compromise.  It's less hassle than the alternative.

So when I was looking yesterday for a pack of sliced cheese I saw a newcomer there, a brand called "Hillview" that was cheaper than any other.  Being born frugal, I bought it.  When I got home I tried it and found it to be perfectly good so I wondered why it was so cheap.  So I studied the pack.  And there in small letters was, "Made in New Zealand". They have now invaded our big market for sliced cheese!  They will do well.

UPDATE: My trip to the supermarket this morning yielded a big surprise.  Hillview has really invaded the market. Today there was a big new display of Tasty cheese by them.  They have obviously stitched up a good deal with Woolworths and are here to stay.

0 comments

Animation reveals the global sea level 'fingerprints' that show how climate change is affecting Earth

The report below repeatedly links sea level variations to global warming but offers no proof of that.  It's all just assertion.  Natural factors can and do affect sea levels -- such as isostatic uplift, El Nino etc.

And we do well to note Morner's demonstration that most of the sea level changes are the product of "adjustments".

And even after the adjustments (upwards) we are still talking about a stunningly trivial 7 hundredths of one inch in sea level rise per year.  That is obviously a statistical artifact.  The available measurements are not nearly that precise.  There are those pesky things called waves which make all sea level measurements very rough


NASA researchers have reported the first detection of sea level 'fingerprints' that show changes in sea level variability around the world.

They result from changes in water storage on Earth's continents and in the mass of ice sheets. .

The ocean observations, called sea level 'fingerprints,' allow researchers to determine how much the sea level will rise at any point on the global ocean due to glacier melt.

As ice sheets and glaciers undergo climate-related melting, they change the Earth's gravity field, leading to sea level changes that are not uniform around the planet.

For example, when a glacier melts and loses ice mass, its gravitational attraction is reduced.

As such, ocean waters nearby move away, causing sea level to rise faster far away from the glacier.

This resulting pattern in sea level change is known as a sea level fingerprint - and certain areas, particularly in Earth's middle and low latitudes, are hit even harder, and Greenland and Antarctica contribute differently to the process.

For example, sea level rise in California and Florida caused by the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet is up to 52 per cent greater than its average effect on the rest of the world.

To calculate these sea level fingerprints associated with melting ice sheets, glaciers and changes in land water storage, the team used gravity data data collected by the twin satellites of the US/German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) between April 2002 and October 2014.

During that 12-year period, the loss of mass from land ice and from changes in land water storage increased global average sea level by approximately 0.07 inches (1.8 millimeters) per year.

43 per cent of the increased water mass came from Greenland, 16 per cent from Antarctica and 30 per cent from mountain glaciers.

The researchers verified their calculations using reading of ocean-bottom pressure from stations in the tropics.

'Scientists have a solid understanding of the physics of sea level fingerprints, but we’ve never had a direct detection of the phenomenon until now,' said co-author of the study Dr Isabella Velicogna, UCI professor of Earth system science and JPL research scientist.

'It was very exciting to observe the sea level fingerprints in the tropics, far from the glaciers and ice sheets,' said lead author Chia-Wei Hsu, a graduate student researcher at UCI.

The findings are published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The research project was supported by UCI and NASA’s Earth Science Division.

SOURCE

1 comments


Does poverty cause suicide?

That it does is the implicit message below.  And it is true that the poor suicide more.  But is the poverty the cause of the suicide?  In the case of the person highlighted below it would seem to be an hereditary depressive illness.  Many close relatives to him had suicided too.

From my reading of the literature, social isolation and loss of important relationships are the main cause of suicide. We need connectedness with others. So how do we explain the correlation with poverty?

I think we need to see poverty not as a cause but as an effect.  many things can lay you low financially, including mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.  And there is also extravagance, monetary incontinence. If you repeatedly blow all your money soon after you get it, you are going to be long-term poor. And extravagance in turn can reflect deficient impulse control, which is again a mental weakness.  

And a major correlate of poverty is IQ.  Some people just cannot cope with modern work requirements.  Jobs have become more complex as time has gone by.  Digging ditches manually was so simple anyone could do it but few jobs are that simple anymore. So the low IQ person is more likely to be unemployed, often for long periods.  And unemployment is depressing in a host of ways.  And it is ultimately a depressive state of mind that leads on to suicide.

So a more measured and detailed look at people at risk of suicide is what is needed for prevention purposes. Just blaming poverty is irresponsibly simplistic and unlikely to help.  The most officialdom is ever likely to provide is anti-psychotic and anxiolytic medication.  The churches will be the major source of social and emotional support. Neither governments nor Leftist organizations have any track-record in that function.


I was standing inside a tacky “instant cash loan” place in main street, Dandenong, I had just applied for a $200 loan.

“Sorry love we can’t help you today,” the Eastern European lady at the loan shop I’ll call CASH NOW EXCITING WOW said.

I was broke and living on a friend’s couch. I went to three other “instant cash loan” places who said no to giving me a loan that day. Plus I’d been into Centrelink and asked for a cash advance — I got rejected for that too.

I also had a bad back and was losing my battle with the insurance company. I’d just borrowed money from a friend earlier that day — she needed it by the next morning for her daughter’s school excursion. CASH NOW EXCITING WOW’s final rejection meant I realised I couldn’t repay her by that night like I promised.

Twelve months earlier I had a well-paying, high-status job; I’d been on TV, the radio, I wrote for magazines — everyone took my call when I was a journalist — most people wanted to be my friend.

After CASH NOW’s rejection I felt disconnected, life seemed pointless; broken beyond repair. I walked for hours plotting ways to die. I eventually followed one street all the way to Dandenong Hospital’s emergency room and told them I wanted to kill myself.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been suicidal. But it was the first time that financial despair had driven me to it.

And the experience turned out to be illuminating in more ways than one — years later, I would start reading and find what is rarely talked about: The link between being on a lower-income and suicide.

Not that long ago terms like “affluenza” and “cashed-up bogans” were freely thrown around. Yes we know that “money doesn’t make you happy”, but being dirt poor can drive you to despair — male suicide in Australia was at the highest in the 1930s Great Depression.

Many studies show the link between unemployment and suicide: unemployed men suicide about 4.62 times the rate of employed men in Australia according the latest research by the University of Melbourne.

The latest available ABS figures show Australia’s annual suicide rate is 12 per 100,000 — the highest in 10 years. We know men are more at risk, so too LGBTI people and the indigenous. But since 2002, ABS data hasn’t recorded occupation or income (currently it looks only at age, race, gender) of those who have taken their own life — when it did it showed the unemployed, tradies and labourers were the ones most likely to suicide.

Contemporary figures showing the link between income, class and suicide proved hard to find. But the suicide rate for trades people is 21 per 100,000 and for labourers it’s an astonishing 34 per 100,000 (nearly triple the national average).

Compare that to the suicide rates of male managers of 7 suicides per 100,000, and middle-class professionals of 13 per 100,000.

There are a few aberrations including veterinarians and those working in the medical profession, who have high suicide rates, but otherwise the trend appears relatively clear.

“The main drivers of suicide are disconnection, and a loss of hope and purpose,” Alan Woodward Director of Lifeline Australia told news.com.au.

“We know financial struggles and personal indebtedness is a factor that can lead people to feel suicidal ... if you are unemployed there is a strong chance your social network will reduce and you may experience some loss of a sense of contributing to the community.”

“Some occupations have some features, less control of the nature of their work, less fulfilment, job satisfaction, possibility to exposure to unsafe areas.

And of course — most of those jobs are male-dominated. “Traditional masculine behaviour and attitudes have been found to relate to reduced and delayed help-seeking for mental health problems,” he said.

When I reflect back on the day my financial crisis led to suicidal ideation, I do think about the lack of meaning in my life right then. I had tried to do everything right: I had been studying law, I’d spent most of my life climbing the socio-economic ladder just as my parents had lifted themselves out of their parents’ poverty. There I was — begging for money.

My Dad is on a disability support pension after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder 10 years ago. He has attempted suicide a few times. His Dad had schizophrenia and suicided. My Dad’s brother also took his own life, so did my cousin.

Back at Dandenong hospital the day I was completely broke and suicidal, I ended up speaking with a great psychiatric nurse, who gave me a very good counselling session, an antipsychotic and a bed for the night.

While it didn’t solve my problem, it did help me deal with these issues with a clearer head the next day.

And while mental health is clearly not just all about the individual, I did need to get my head together initially to work out how to solve my problem.

I’m extremely grateful for the help and cherish the fact I have gone to live another seven fulfilling years.


0 comments


It is impossible for homosexuals to form a true marriage

They can at best impersonate a real marriage

In Australia we are currently having a nation-wide postal survey on Australian marriage law in order to determine whether the definition of marriage should be changed to include homosexual relationships. https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/

There is currently a lot of talk about same sex marriage being marriage equality. But is it?  It will in fact always remain fundamentally different

As I see it, by nature, a man and woman are different not equal.  Equality does not enter into it. And that difference brings a diversity of capacities to the marriage -- a diversity that a homosexual union cannot usually have.  No doubt there are, for instance, some homosexual men who are good with children but homosexual men in general cannot give the near-guarantee of being good with children that a heterosexual woman can give.  The diversity of the parties in a normal marriage gives the marriage as a whole a nearly double range of strengths and possibilities.  What one partner cannot do the other might, making the partnership as a whole more versatile.  Division of labour will be much more effecrtive.

And it is presumably specialization and division of labour that have caused men and women to evolve differently in the first place.  A partnership that has far fewer possibilities for division of labour is flying in the face of evolution and can rarely if at all be as strong and effective.

Men and women are necessary to each other, and only in that sense are they equal to each other.  A half plus the other half equals the whole. But a half plus the same half merely equals the same half.

A man and a woman are two halves that make a whole. A man and woman together become one, make life, become part of the ongoing flow of nature. A man and a man, and a woman and a woman, cannot do that without the assistance of the other sex, so their marriage is not equal to the marriage of a man and woman.

But it is no business of the government to ask what anybody does with their private bits.  It is only when the Left asks government to describe something as what it is not that an issue arises.  But in the great spirit of Anglo-Saxon compromise,  there would seem to be no objection to issuing homosexual couples with a certificate naming them and headed: "Homosexual marriage certificate".  That would make clear that the marriage is a special case and not a true marriage -- JR

0 comments

Italian versus Anglo mothering

Below is an extreme but accurate portrait of a culture clash.  It should remind us that what is "correct" in one culture can be incorrect in another culture.  I grew up with a lot of Italians around so I am aware of the generality of what the author describes.

I am myself a reserved, undemonstrative and independent Anglo -- which has large implications for family ties. French sociologists such as LePlay and Emmanuel Todd find the English family incomprehensible.  They see it as chaotic.  Where people in  Latin cultures keep up close family ties, the English can easily go for years without seeing close relatives.  The English family seems impossibly non-existent to Latins.  It is as if family is everything to Latins, but nothing to those of us of English descent. Germans too are much like Anglos in that respect.  It does seem to be a racial thing.

And I am a pretty typical Anglo.  Up until recently, I had gone for a couple of decades without seeing my quite gorgeous and vivacious kid sister -- even though she lives only a half-day train-ride away.  I can't help being what I am but I do nonetheless admire the Italian approach to life and am rather resolved to try to be more like them.

I do rather agree with Nonna Gemma below


My mother is the doyenne of Australian etiquette, June Dally-Watkins. My mother-in-law is an almost illiterate farmer from the mountains of eastern Tuscany. Both are formidable, wise women.

But their mothering styles are biting opposites. One is a successful Australian businesswoman whose life's work has been her career, the other a humble Italian woman who has dedicated her life to her family. Trying to glean child-raising tips from both has pretty much done my head in.

It might even be time to give up trying to be a good mum – or as my kids would say, mom. Or maybe mamma. Now 18 and 16, my children are half-Australian and half-Italian. They speak English with American accents and Italian with Florentine accents, and they flow easily between one and the other depending on their company.

With such inherent cultural diversity, they don't seem to suffer too much identity confusion. Whereas my maternal compass – born and raised in Australia, with one culture and one language – is frazzled. For 20 years I've been travelling between Sydney and my home in Florence, trying to work out which culture has the best parenting principles for my polyglots.

Striving to be a good mum, mom and mamma by reconciling my birth culture with my new culture, I've naturally looked to my mother as a role model. But while navigating the choppy waters of my children's teenage years, I observed my mother-in-law, too.

Nonna Gemma on daily life:  "Never let your husband see you idle. When the working males return home, the women must not be seen relaxing. Men must believe their women are constantly on the move, cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, keeping house with rigour and determination. You are a signora. Ideally, you won't have to work outside the home."

My mother: "Work. Get a job. He might leave you so you must have a career to fall back on. Look fabulous at all times. When at home, wear casual clothes and look even more fabulous."

Nonna Gemma on cooking: "Always make something the grandchildren love, something they've eaten many times so that your food will not fail to disappoint, a reliable, heart-warming dish using a well-worn recipe of lasagne, or roast chicken with roast potatoes. Pasta should be home-made, chicken hand-reared and potatoes home-grown."

My mother: "Cook something no one has ever tasted or heard of. Use a new recipe adapted to what's in the fridge."

Nonna Gemma on raising children: "Never let the children do sleep-overs. One never knows what other families do when they're in their own homes."

My mother: "Let your children go. Trust them to make their own decisions, and the right decisions."

Nonna Gemma on raising teenagers: "Give them lots of cash. Buy them clothes because they are the family's mascot, our representatives when out and about. Repair their clothes with a fully kitted-out sewing box."

My mother: "Make children get a job to learn the value of hard work and money. Clothes are birthday and Christmas presents. There might be a hotel sewing kit in my cabin luggage bag."

Nonna Gemma on school lunches: "Nothing beats a container of pasta with a tomato sauce made from scratch with garlic, basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese. In a second container add chargrilled chicken with salad."

My mother: "A sandwich made with white sliced bread and last night's chicken and lettuce should do it."

Nonna Gemma on university education for their grandchildren: "Why should they leave home for university? Why have babies if you're only going to send them away? At 18, they're still children."

My mother: "The world is their oyster. Make them international people. Let them stand on their own two feet. Send them away."

Nonna Gemma on table manners: "There are none."

My mother: "Put your knife and fork together to show you've finished. No. Not like that, the blade must be facing inwards towards the fork. No. The plate is like a clock and the handles must be at six o'clock."

The only way to tackle such opposing child-rearing advice is to try to mix and match their guidelines until the balance between Italian "smother love" and Australian "tough love" is just right, like one of my mother-in-law's recipes.

Anglo-Saxons show their children they love them by teaching them how to do everything for themselves. Italians show they love their children by doing everything for them. Trying to be a good mum, for me, is about harmonising that while focusing on how I feel. Most people in bicultural families live in the present, look to our children's future and try to honour the past. Finding the best child-rearing process in the middle of all that cultural identity can be hard, especially with such wildly different matriarchs.

Both women are contradictory in every way, but hearing their opinions opens up different worlds for me as a mother. Neither way is right, just as neither way is wrong. There are two lifetimes of insight in their approaches, and there is value in learning from both. If only I could fathom how.

Maybe it's time to stop trying so hard, to stop judging, comparing, choosing and balancing. Perhaps if I keep my kids close, while trusting them to make the right decisions, I'll succeed in being a good mum as well as bringing their grandmothers' attitudes into alignment. There is only one thing I know for sure about motherhood, and it applies regardless of where you come from: children thrive on love, no matter what the language.

SOURCE

0 comments


Hooray!  I have been censored

I was beginning to feel neglected.  I frequently write relentlessly factual things about race, IQ and social class -- and they must be the big trifecta of political incorrectness.  If those topics don't get me censored what would?  Actually there IS one thing more likely to get me censored:  Praise for Donald Trump.  And I do a lot of that.  I am as Trumpian as you can get.

And I think that is what lies behind the ban that has been placed on me.  I spend more time than I should reading the questions and answers on Quora.com.  Most of the questions there are puerile but some of the answers are interesting.

The answers I have myself been putting up there have all however been very brief, usually only a few words.  For instance, in answer to the question "What would you do if someone threw a basketball to you?" my answer was "Dodge". And in answer to "Who is the most influential person in history? Why?", I wrote "Hitler. People will never get over him".  And in answer to "If first contact was established with aliens, what one person, dead or alive, would you use to represent the human race?", I answered "Trump. He speaks in simple sentences"

And in my answer to "Why does Ernest Adams hate social conservatives so much?" I wrote "He was born that way".  And that seems to have torn it.  That answer was apparently so incorrect that I was banned from putting up any more answers or asking any questions.

For background Adams is a Quora heavyweight and a very supercilious Leftist.  He is absolutely full of himself and conservative Quorans do criticize him for that at times.

So why was my answer so bad?  It is a common research finding  that political dispositions are highly hereditary so my answer was highly factual.  It's not the political opinions by themselves that are inherited so much as the underlying psychology that determines those positions. Basically, conservatives are the contented people and Leftists are the angry people.  And that has a big impact on your policy preferences.  Leftists want to attack whatever they are angry about and conservatives want stability.

And where you stand on the happiness/contentment scale has repeatedly been found to be very much inborn.  Some people will be happy no matter what and some will be miserable no matter what.  So both the actual opinions and the underlying psychology have been found to be hereditary.

So Quora penalized me from giving a scholarly and well informed comment.  To them it was so wrong that it couldn't be right.  I have no idea of the details of their angry thinking but I suspect that their objection was really a pretext.  My constant praise of Trump would undoubtedly have jarred them.  It was that which really lay behind my banning, I suspect.  It is a very Leftist site.

I won't protest my banning. Matthew 7:6 tells you why.

Footnote:  If you doubt that Leftists are the angry people and conservatives are the contented people, just ask any Leftist what he thinks of Mr Trump!  And if you doubt that conservatives are the contented people ask yourself why the Congressional GOP has done so little to give Mr Trump the changes he wants.

0 comments


How bureaucracy destroys research in U.S. hospitals

There is a long article here which gives a blow by blow account of a doctor trying to get permission to do a research study -- a study that seemed to need doing.  He spent years dealing with the bureaucracy only to be defeated by all the nitpicking in the end.  He was not able to do a perfectly reasonable study.

The article had a particular resonance to me because what he wanted to do -- a questionnaire survey -- was something I did many, many times in my research career.  And I never asked ANYBODY for permission.  I just did it.  So how come the difference?  Several possible reasons:

I did my research in the '70s and '80s.  Things may have tightened up more by now.

I also did my work mostly in Australia, a much less uptight country than the USA.  Many of my fellow academics, including the head of school, would have had a pretty good idea of what I was doing but trying to rein me in would have needed effort and they just could not be bothered with that

But perhaps the key factor was that I did not ask. I did not set the bureaucratic machinery in motion. The bureaucracy just did not know of me. I was below their horizon. I had not foolishly set their rumbling machinery into motion. "Just do it" was an old piece of Hippie advice from the '60s and I was there in the '60s.

So with my experience I read with great horror what this guy experienced.  But he makes the correct point that bureaucracy does that.  The job of the bureaucracy is to say "No" to anything that might conceivably be dangerous in some conceivable world and it takes a lot to get around that.  And sometimes you can't.

And the end result?  I had 200+ academic journal articles published whereas this guy had none.  What a waste!

I think his final comments are worth reproducing:


"I sometimes worry that people misunderstand the case against bureaucracy. People imagine it’s Big Business complaining about the regulations preventing them from steamrolling over everyone else. That hasn’t been my experience. Big Business – heck, Big Anything – loves bureaucracy. They can hire a team of clerks and secretaries and middle managers to fill out all the necessary forms, and the rest of the company can be on their merry way. It’s everyone else who suffers. The amateurs, the entrepreneurs, the hobbyists, the people doing something as a labor of love. Wal-Mart is going to keep selling groceries no matter how much paperwork and inspections it takes; the poor immigrant family with the backyard vegetable garden might not.

Bureaucracy in science does the same thing: limit the field to big institutional actors with vested interests. No amount of hassle is going to prevent the Pfizer-Merck-Novartis Corporation from doing whatever study will raise their bottom line. But enough hassle will prevent a random psychiatrist at a small community hospital from pursuing his pet theory about bipolar diagnosis. The more hurdles we put up, the more the scientific conversation skews in favor of Pfizer-Merck-Novartis. And the less likely we are to hear little stuff, dissenting voices, and things that don’t make anybody any money.

There are so many privacy and confidentiality restrictions around the most harmless of datasets that research teams won’t share data with one another (let alone with unaffiliated citizen scientists) lest they break some arcane regulation or other. Closed access journals require people to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees before they’re allowed to read the scientific literature; open-access journals just shift the burden by requiring scientists to pay thousands of dollars to publish their research. Big research institutions have whole departments to deal with these kinds of problems; unaffiliated people who just want to look into things on their own are out of luck.

SOURCE

0 comments

Give Max the boot?

Max Boot has some record as a conservative but his writing below shows him as a typical Leftist. As a NY Jew that is no surprise. American Jews voted overwhelmingly for Obama. Again as a Leftist, he has no respect for the truth at all. He does the typical Leftist trick of misrepresentation by omission. It would be tedious to fisk his whole outpouring but let me mention a few of his misrepresentations.

He mentions that he received some antisemitic abuse recently and probably hopes to persuade us that antisemitism is now common in America and that it comes from conservatives.  He offers no proof of either of those things.  It is true that in the last decade or two there has been a gradual upwelling of antisemitism in America -- from the Left.  Many Leftists joyously particpate in the BDS movement, for instance, which aims at eradicating the State of Israel.  No matter what spin they put on it, it's essentially modern-day Nazism.  Max mentions none of that.

He says:  "Trump came to office vilifying Mexicans and Muslims".  He did no such thing.  He advocated more control of illegal immigration and immigration from terrorist infested nations.  Most Muslim nations were NOT subject to his restrictions.  Max is quite simply lying -- deliberately ascribing motivations to certain actions without any evidence that such motivations were in play.

Max says that Trump praised the Charlottesville protesters.  He did not.  He said of both the marchers and their attackers that they included good people on both sides.  He gave no blankret approval to anyone.

Max criticizes the pardoning of Sheriff Joe, without mentioning that Sheriff Joe was simply doing his job despite obstacles to immigration control created by Obama.  Obama was by far the real lawless actor in the matter.

But what seems to have set Max off is the withdrawal by Trump of the DACA regulations promulgated by Obama with no legislative authority. That Trump is simply reasserting the rule of law that Obama undermined he does not mention.

Max could well mislead less informed people by his lies so we conservatives do need to combat them but it is a weary task. Lies just seem to flow out of every pore of Leftists. Lies are essentially all they've got.


I am white. I am Jewish. I am an immigrant. I am a Russian American. But until recently I haven’t focused so much on those parts of my identity. I’ve always thought of myself simply as a normal, unhyphenated American.

Ever since I arrived here, along with my mother and grandmother, from Russia in 1976 at age 7, I have been eager to assimilate. And I’ve done a pretty good job of it.

Last year I experienced the first sustained anti-Semitism I have ever encountered in the United States. Like many other anti-Trump commentators, I was deluged with neo-Nazi propaganda on social media, including a picture of me in a gas chamber, with Herr Trump in a Nazi uniform pulling the lever to kill me. This was accompanied by predictable demands that I leave this country to “real” Americans and go back to where I came from — or, alternatively, to Israel.

At one time it was easy to dismiss such sentiments as the ravings of a handful of marginal losers. That’s harder to do now that the president of the United States has embraced the far-right agenda. Trump came to office vilifying Mexicans and Muslims. As president, he has praised the protesters who marched with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and come out against taking down Confederate monuments, symbols of white supremacy. He has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who became a symbol of racism and lawlessness for locking up Latinos, in defiance of a court order, simply on the suspicion that they might be undocumented immigrants. And now Trump has set in motion the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which prevents 800,000 law-abiding people from being deported because their parents brought them to the United States illegally.

SOURCE

0 comments



Amusing:  Warmists outdo 20th century dictators

When 20th century dictators -- Communist or otherwise -- wanted to boost their legitimacy, they would hold an election and announce that somewhere between 97 and 99% of the population had voted for them. Such a consensus was routinely denounced as phony in real democracies.

But Warmists can out-phony that. Naomi Oreskes in her unreplicable study announced that 100% of climate scientists supported global warming.  Her study was however very slapdash and open to critisism so the Hayhoe and others have recently got together to repeat the exercize in a more opaque way.  We find an article titled: "Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed".  Isn't that fabulous?  Informed dissent is completely eradicated.

I have of course no intention of reading the claims.  With old stagers like Dana Nuccitelli, John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky involved, I know that I can expect mere propaganda in lieu of real scholarship. I have no doubt that the debunking will readily be debunked.  Knowing how Warmists treat modelling results as gospel, if something a skeptic said diverged from some model results, I am sure that that alone would invalidate a claim to a Warmist.

But the whole enterprise is wrong-headed.  The origin of the 97% claim lies in John Cook's famous paper.  Cook merely collected up all the papers he could find  that bore on global warming and classified them (very arbitrarily) as for or against global warming. What he found was that only one third of the papers took any stance at all on global warming. Only one-third expressed an opinion on global warming.  And it was 97% of that one third who became the great comforter for Warmists.  In typical Green/Left slipperiness, the result of the survey is routinely quoted as "97% of climate scientists agree" -- when the actual finding was that only one third of climate scientists agreed.

So the present study seems to be of 3% of one third, which surely tells us little.  Even more to the point, most of the papers were not specifically designed to prove or disprove global warming.  They just expressed an opinion on it.  So showing that they did not disprove global warming is no surprise and is completely trivial.