By JR on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
This seems amusing indeed
The report below seems to be about conversations rather than any written report so it is a bit hard to zero in on what exactly is being claimed. But it seems that the central England temperature record is being referred to -- which goes back about 400 years. And if this year will be only a tenth of a degree hotter out of 400 years of readings, that is surely a huge affirmation of temperature STABILITY. There were indeed some big peaks in that record about 1830 and 1920 so it seems likely that this year will be little different from those years
It may be cold now, but 2014 is set to be the warmest year EVER. With snow blanketing swathes of the country and icy conditions on their way, balmy summer temperatures seem a distant memory. But while the wintry weather grips the North, forecasters reveal that 2014 has in fact been the warmest year in history.
Records dating back to the 17th century show that Britain has been a tenth of a degree hotter this year than in any other for more than 400 hundred years.
The same can be seen in other parts of the world, with the change attributed to global warming.
While official confirmation can't be given until the end of the year, Met Office scientist Mike Kendon told the Times: 'We have seen continuous warmth throughout the year.'
In 2013, winter months were stormy but warm, with the average temperature 1.5C above what is normal.
Spring was 1.3C hotter, while autumn saw a 1.4C increase in temperatures too.
It surpasses 1998 and 2010, two of the hottest years on record, experts said, with almost all of the warmest years belonging to the 21st century.
While no one month has seen a record temperature, a slight increase on average throughout the year has contributed to the data.
Earlier this month the Met Office predicted it would be the warmest year on record, but urged caution when dealing with figures.
Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: 'Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years.
'We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.'
By JR on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Australia: More pressure on banks over global warming
There is an amusing perversity here. Warmists are trying to convince banks that lending money to coal and oil companies is risky -- on the grounds that coal and oil are old hat and will soon be replaced by windmills and solar power. The fact that even the hi-tech "Ivanpah" project in the California desert actually depends for much of the time on "fossil" fuels is not acknowledged. So the chance that demand for coal and oil will vanish is vanishingly small.
On the other hand, the ever-tightening net of Greenie restrictions is a real hazard to the oil and gas industry. It bumps up their costs and hence the prices for their product -- leading to a fall in demand and a probable winnowing out of the less efficient producers. So lending to conventional energy producers does have some risk but not because of global warming or "sustainable" energy. It is risky because Greenies attack businesses in that field
One of the country's biggest investors, Australian Super, has asked the chairmen of the nation's biggest banks how they are responding to carbon exposure risk, as lenders face growing pressure over their response to climate change.
Australian Super's investment manager for governance, Andrew Gray, said banks needed to give investors comfort that they were "assessing and managing" the risks appropriately.
"We've actually engaged with the boards of the banks and have been asking them about this issue themselves," he said.
Mr Gray said the discussion had occurred over the past year or so and had been "constructive".
"Companies that actually have fossil fuel assets – they would have direct exposure – but banks as financiers of those companies therefore also potentially have exposure," he said.
"We would say it's a plausible issue to be examining for the banks, and so we are certainly doing that."
Former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson, who chairs the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, said that carbon didn't rate a single mention in the financial system inquiry by David Murray, who had previously doubted the severity of climate change.
"I was fascinated that the Murray Review, which is focused heavily on bank capital and the need to increase bank capital, doesn't focus on the climate risk," Dr Hewson said.
Until recently, views such as Dr Hewson's were on the fringe in the finance community, even though environmental groups have been airing them for years.
But noise is being made everywhere. In December, the Bank of England reportedly launched an inquiry into a potential "carbon bubble" in the world economy.
Earlier in the year, former United States secretary to the Treasury and Goldman Sachs chief Hank Paulson likened the growing financial risks created by climate change to the US housing credit bubble that was allowed to inflate until 2008.
Domestically, while there has been investor debate about carbon risk, it has focused on large emitters, such as coalminers, manufacturers, or airlines.
Now the spotlight is on the big four banks - Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ.
ANZ and CBA shareholders this year faced resolutions from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility that would have required banks to disclose their "financed emissions".
Even though these were firmly rejected by shareholders, Mr Gray said it would be wrong to assume this means the issue was being ignored by long-term investors such as super funds.
"Irrespective of the ACCR resolution, that's a conversation that we were having anyway from the perspective of saying, 'Well we're a big investor in the banks, we want to understand what the risk of that looks like and how banks are managing any potential risks from this as an investment theme'," Mr Gray said.
All of the major banks now disclose more information about their lending to big carbon emitters, which is partly a response to the investor and activist pressure.
Company chairmen also told investors they consider risks such as these in detail before extending credit to customers. They say these checks are built into banks' environmental, social and governance policies, which are applied to all of big corporate clients.
ANZ chairman David Gonski faced repeated questions on carbon at its AGM in December, and argued the bank carefully considered any extra risks that big carbon emitters would face.
"We will continue to look to balance things, so that we can see that we are assisting the world in its living standards, but also at the same time moving towards renewables in a positive way," Mr Gonski said.
Despite assurances such as these, research by Tim Buckley from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis - a group pushing for action on climate change by investors - paints a less comforting picture about lenders' response to carbon risks.
Mr Buckley, a former head of equity research at Citi and fund manager, said the big four banks may have already funded "stranded assets" that were already feeling financial pain due to their carbon exposure.
He described the $3 billion Wiggins Island coal export facility as "potentially one of the first stranded assets in Australia" for banks and the associated coalmining company investors.
ANZ arranged the syndicate of local and global banks lending to the project, which has since been hit by a plunge in coal prices. Mr Buckley said this plunge in the coal price was partly the result of carbon risks materialising.
The banks' loans to the Wiggins Island project are protected in this case by take-or-pay contract rules that will in effect mean coalminers guarantee the port's cash flow.
Nonetheless, lending behaviour such as this undermines bank claims about carefully considering carbon risks – though Mr Buckley said this was now starting to change quite quickly.
He said three years ago if you were to ask senior finance executives if they understood the magnitude of their carbon risk in their loan books, infrastructure funds or equity portfolios, they would admit they had "no idea".
Now this is changing, after a collapse in coal company share prices linked to the coal price.
"I think they do have an idea today," he said. "Would they have known a year ago? No."
It had changed significantly in the past six months, he said, in part due to pressure from shareholders and signs that countries including the United States, China, Japan and Germany are acting to address their carbon emissions.
"Through the board election campaign of Ian Dunlop with BHP, the banks have gone through a bit of a baptism of fire and in the last six months," he said. "They are thinking about the associated financial risks a lot more. It wasn't even on their radar a year ago."
Despite these changes, many still remain sceptical that banks are taking carbon risk seriously.
Dr Hewson said: "I doubt if they've had serious board consideration of these sort of issues and gone through their portfolio loan by loan… whether they've actually done that sort of work, and if they have, why wouldn't they be prepared to tell the market what sort of risks they're running?"
The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, which Dr Hewson chairs, is considering "naming and shaming" how the world's 1000 biggest banks are responding to carbon risk, something it already does for pension funds.
He said the issue was not whether banks should avoiding fossil fuels, but that investors needed to be aware of the risks.
Similarly, Mr Buckley prefers to describe the risks in the language of finance, rather than environmentalism or politics.
"I actually never talk about climate change, I talk about the financial risk of stranded assets," he said.
Whatever happens to the politics of climate change, the issue is now clearly on the table as a financial risk. And as Australian Super's Mr Gray said, it was likely to remain there, especially as big super funds become more active in raising this and other social or environmental issues with boards.
By JR on Monday, December 29, 2014
Social psychologists attack the "denier" accusation
Almost any Leftist writing with a pretense at scholarship is conspicuously marred by its one-sidedness. Only "facts" that support Leftist prejudices will be considered. This of course can only be considered as propaganda and will do little to persuade anybody with some knowledge of the field concerned. Jonathan Haidt and a few others have come to realize that such writing is largely pointless. It will only persuade those who are already believers.
So in an effort to upgrade the standards of scholarship in the social sciences, Haidt has spoken the unspeakable. He believes that conservative viewpoints should be included in social science debates. He is swimming against the huge tide of suppressing conservative thought that pervades Leftist discourse. The huge efforts at censorship emanating from the Left are not for him.
I actually feel rather sorry for Haidt and his lieutenants. Haidt has not considered WHY Leftist discourse is so selective in its consideration of the facts. Leftists are selective because they HAVE to be. Reality is so at variance with central Leftist assertions that it just cannot be confronted in full. The historic Leftist assertion about the malleability of human nature, for instance, flies in the face of the whole discipline of genetics. And, as time goes by, the findings in genetics move ever more strongly towards showing an overwhelming influence of genetics on human behaviour. Human beings are NOT a "blank slate".
But Leftists need to say that people are blank slates in order to justify their authoritarianism. Leftists want to CHANGE people (can you get more authoritarian than that?). They even once dreamed of creating a "New Soviet Man". But if they are up against genetic fixity in people, attempts at change will be futile. They may say that it is not people but "the system" that they want to change but "the system" consists of what people do -- so that is a detour that leads nowhere.
So as he lets fact-based conservative ideas into his head, I think Haidt will himself become a conservative. And that will ditch his career!
At any event, I reproduce below a journal abstract of an excellent paper by Haidt and his associates that puts the case for intellectual diversity in science. I also reproduce one example from the body of the paper about Leftist bias rendering research unable to show what it purports to show. The example concerns the common Warmist accusation that climate skeptics are "deniers"
Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science
Jos L. Duarte et al
Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity - particularly diversity of viewpoints - for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diver sity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: 1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years; 2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike; 3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias m echanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority's thinking; and 4) The underrepresentation of non - liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self - selection, hosti le climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.
One closely reasoned example of bias from the paper
Denial of environmental realities: Feygina, Jost and Goldsmith (2010) sought to explain the "denial of environmental realities" using system justification theory (Jost & Banaji, 1994). In operationalizing such denial, the author s assessed the four constructs listed below, with example items in parentheses:
Construct 1: Denial of the possibility of an ecolog ical crisis ("If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major environmental catastrophe," reverse scored).
Construct 2: Denial of limits to growth ("The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them. ")
Construct 3: Denial of the need to abide by the constraints of nature ("Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it.")
Construct 4: Denial of the danger of disrupting balance in nature ("The balance of nature is s trong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations.")
The core problem with this research is that it misrepresents those who merely disagree with environmentalist values and slogans as being in "denial." Indeed, the papers Feygina et al (2010) cited in support of their "denial" questions never used the terms "deny" or denial" to describe these measures. Clark, Kotchen, and Moore (2003) referred to the items as assessing "attitudes" and Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, and Jones (2000) characte rized the items as tapping "primitive beliefs" (p. 439) about the environment.
The term "denial" implies that 1) the claim being denied is a "reality" - that is, a descriptive fact, and that 2) anyone who fails to endorse the pro - environmental side of these claims is engaged in a psychological process of denial. We next describe why both claims are false, and why the measures, however good they are at assessing attitudes or primitive beliefs, fail to assess denial.
Construct 1 refers to a "possibility" so that denial would be belief that an ecological crisis was impossible . This was not assessed and the measure that supposedly tapped this construct refers to no descriptive fact. Without defining "soon" or "major" or "crisis," it is impossible for this to be a fact. Without being a statement of an actual fact, disagreeing with the statement does not, indeed cannot, represent denial.
Similar problems plague Construct 2 and its measurement. Denial of the limits of growth could be measured by agreement with an alternative statement , such as "The Earth's natural resources are infinite." Agreement could be considered a form of denial of the limits of growth. However, this was not assessed. Absent a definition of "plenty ," it is not clear how this item could be refuted or confirmed. If it cannot be refuted or confirmed, it cannot be a descriptive fact. If it is not a fact, it can be agreed or disagreed with, but there is no "denial."
Even strongly agreeing with this statement does not necessarily imply denying that there are limits to growth. "Plenty " does not imply "unlimited." Moreover, the supposed reality being denied is, in fact, heavily disputed by scholars, and affirming the Earth's resources as plentiful for human needs, given human ingenuity, was a winning strategy in a famous scientific bet (Sabin, 2013) .
Construct 3 is an injunction that we need to abide by the constraints of nature. Again "constraints of nature" is a vague and undefined term. Further, the construct is not a descriptive fact - it is a philosophical/ideological prescription , and the item is a prophecy about the future, which can never be a fact. Thus, this construct might capture some attitude towards environmentalism, but it does not capture denial of anything. It would be just as unjustified to label those who disagree with the item as being in denial about human creativity, innovation, and intelligence
Construct 4 is similarly problematic. "Balance in nature" is another vague term, and the item assessing this construct is another vague prediction. One can agree or disagree with the item. And such differences may indeed by psychologically important. Disagreement, however, is not the same construct as denial.
Whether some people deny actual environmental realities, and if so, why, remains an interesting and potentially scientifically tractable question. For example, one might assess "environmental denial" by showing people a time - lapse video taken over several years showing ocean levels rising over an island, and asking people if sea levels were rising. There would be a prima facie case for identifying those who answered "no" to such a question as "denying environmental realities."
However, Feygina et al. (2010) did not perform such studies . Instead, they simply measured support for primitive environmentalist beliefs and values, called low levels of such support denial, and regressed it on the system justification scores and other measures (a third, experimental study, did not assess denial ).
None of Feygina et al's (2010) measures refer to environmental realities. Thus, the studies were not capable of producing scientific evidence of denial of environmental realities. Vague environmentalist philosophical slogans and values are unjustifiably converted to scientific truths even though no data could ever tell us whether humans should "abide by the constraints of nature."
It is not just that people have different environmental attitudes; the problem is the presumption that one set of attitudes is right and those who disagree are in denial. This conversion of a widely shared political ideology into "reality," and its concomitant treatment of dissent as denial, testifies to the power of embedded values to distort science within a cohesive moral community
Much more HERE
By JR on Sunday, December 28, 2014
More unscientific science
It's Warmist "science" so we know what to expect -- and are not disappointed. The author is jubilant that, in the second year of Australia's now-abolished carbon tax, emissions of CO2 dropped more than they did in the first year. He is clearly unaware of one of the first principles of statistics: Correlation is not causation. And a correlation based on a sample of two (years) is in any case undistinguishable from random noise.
To have have shown, with any plausibility at all, that the tax CAUSED the drop in emissions, he would at least have presented data about other influences on CO2 emissions and shown that those sources were static over the years concerned. He does not even attempt that.
Gareth Hutchens is an industrious writer who pops up frequently in Left-leaning publications but he is a twit. He has the self-serving tram-track thinking that is typical of the Left
This week the Environment Minister Greg Hunt published data on the quiet, two days before Christmas, that showed the second year of operation of Australia's carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.
The carbon price began operation on July 1, 2012 and ended on July 1 this year after the government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.
The new data from Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, published this week, showed emissions produced during the second and final year.
And guess what? Carbon emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent in the second year, compared with a decline of 0.8 per cent in the first year.
Economists had predicted that that would happen. It takes a while for new markets to begin working properly.
The data showed the electricity (minus 4 per cent), agriculture (minus 2.6 per cent), industrial processes (minus 1.3 per cent) and transport sectors (minus 0.4 per cent) all experienced declines in emissions this year, and that those declines were partially offset by a rise in fugitive emissions (5.1 per cent) and emissions from stationary energy (0.9 per cent).
It is worth emphasising that a nationwide decline in emissions of 1.4 per cent is much bigger than 0.8 per cent.
I say that because Mr Hunt has spent a lot of time criticising the fact that carbon emissions declined by less than 1 per cent in the first year.
His office did so again this week when I asked them what their thoughts were on the latest data.
They chose not to comment on the fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price – the larger fall of 1.4 per cent.
"We have put in a place a policy which will start its first emissions reductions from March this year and we are confident that it will see Australia meet its 5 per cent reduction by 2020," a spokesman said.
"In its first year, the carbon tax was a $7.6 billion hit on the economy but reduced emissions by less than 1 per cent. There is a better way through the Emissions Reduction Fund."
Mr Hunt will have lots of time next year to challenge the cause of the bigger fall in emissions in the second year of the carbon price.
But he will have to acknowledge that the decline has occurred.
And instead of patting himself on the back for getting rid of a mechanism that was reducing emissions by less than 1 per cent a year, he may even have to explain why he got rid of a scheme that was showing signs of achieving exactly what it was designed to achieve.
By JR on Saturday, December 27, 2014
Some desultory post-Christmas thoughts on Christianity versus Islam
I first read the Koran in my teens and, over 50 years later, I still have a copy handy -- in the Pickthall English translation.
You cannot read the Koran without noticing what a hostile document it is. It is filled with anger and commands to attack unbelievers. A small excerpt from the very angry Surah 9:
"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.... Fight the disbelievers! Allah is on your side; he will give you victory"
In the Koran people are sharply divided into believers and unbelievers. And only believers deserve any respect or goodwill. Contrast that with Luke 2:14: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". Christianity is a much kinder, more peaceful and more universal religion, with very little hostility in it.
And Christians have absorbed that Gospel of kindness and gentleness. A few lines from a very famous Christmas carol -- "Away in a manger":
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me for ever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.
And to this day both sets of scriptures are influential. Not all Muslims are Jihadis and not all Christians are kind but the bloodthirsty attacks by Muslims on those they disagree with are just as their Koran commands -- while Christians extend forgiveness to Muslims who attack them, as advised in Matthew 5:39.
I think I prefer an older code of justice: "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". Be kind to begin with but, if kindness is mocked, give the mocker back some of his own medicine
"William Dalrymple" is normally most erudite but he has an article here that suggests he has not read Surah 9. He points to the old Mogul empire in North India as a place where Muslims practiced tolerance and respect for Christianity and concludes from that that "Christianity and Islam are not far apart".
In so concluding he is overlooking the sharp distinctions that Sura 9 makes between what Muslims can do when they rule the roost and what they can do before that. There can be a modicum of civilization and condescension once you are in a supreme position (which the Moguls were) but until then conquest and slaughter is what is commanded. When the conquest is still going on there is no pity or mercy for unbelievers.
There is a sense in which Jihadis are Muslim Protestants: They take their holy book seriously. That their holy book serves the evil side of human nature is the pity. Freud was not far out in saying that there is a "Thanatos" (death) instinct in human nature. Lucifer? I think a Christian could well make a case that Islam is the work of the Devil.
By JR on Friday, December 26, 2014
Is Liberalism Intellectually Bankrupt?
John Goodman makes a well-informed case below but I would argue that liberalism never has been intellectual in any sense. It is just hate in action. It is simply whatever Leftists can grab from time to time that they can use to vent their hatred of the society in which they live. To get any significant support from ordinary people, they have to dress up their motives and campaigns in good intentions but the constant ill effects of their policies show what their real motives are.
Environmentalism, for instance, has been a Godsend to the Left. In the pretence of "saving the planet", they have imposed great costs on sociey -- costs which hit the poor most of all. How does that fit with the Leftist's alleged concern for the poor? It doesn't. The concern is a fraud, mere camouflage with zero beliefs or principles driving it. If there were any sincerity in their concern for the poor, they would be reining environmentalism in, not facilitating it.
Just a requirement that all businesses and farms should be fully compensated for losses suffered as a result of environmental restrictions and regulations would go a long way to ensuring saner and less destructive environmental policies
Howard Dean, who is thought to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, told reporters the other day that he supports our policy of using drones to kill people (and all those who happen to be near them) without warning. He also has no objection to the National Security Agency listening to his phone calls and monitoring his email.
Donny Deutsch, the reliable voice of the left on “Morning Joe,” told TV viewers that he supports the CIA’s torture activities – recently revealed in a Senate committee report.
These views are very different from what one typically finds in the unsigned editorials of The New York Times – causing one to wonder what exactly is happening to left-of-center thinking.
Meanwhile, three pillars of liberal thought – The American Prospect, The Washington Monthly, and The New Republic – are all in trouble. As Ezra Klein reports, the Prospect laid off much of its staff and is retrenching to its roots as a policy journal. The Washington Monthly has downsized to a bi-monthly. The New Republic is facing mass resignations and may not survive.
All this is happening against the backdrop of much soul searching and more than a few recriminations within the Democratic Party itself.
So this is a good time to ask: What does the Democratic Party stand for? And if the answer is: liberalism, what does it mean to be a liberal? Or if you prefer, what does it mean to be a progressive?
You would think that liberalism is a belief in a set of public policy ideas. But as it turns out, those ideas are hard to pin down.
Scott Sumner gives four examples of how easy it has been for liberals to completely flip flop their positions on important policy issues. And when they change they seem to do so like lemmings – all in lock step, without embarrassment or regret. (Warning: Summer says conservatives are equally malleable.)
In 1987, The New York Times editorial page called for abolishing the minimum wage. Today, the same newspaper calls for a higher minimum wage.
In the 1960s, John Kenneth Galbraith and the left wing Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) favored abolishing the corporate income tax and taxing shareholders on the basis of corporate profits. Today, liberal publications and columnists are defending our high corporate tax rates.
In the 1980s, Ted Kennedy and other liberals voted to lower the top personal income tax rate from 50 percent to 28 percent, while closing loopholes at the same time. Today, they are more likely to join Paul Krugman in defending high marginal tax rates.
In the 1990s, liberal economists abandoned the Keynesian idea that tax and spending policies could influence the behavior of the economy and focused on monetary policy instead. Today, old style Keynesianism is back in vogue.
I would add two more bullets. It was under Jimmy Carter, not Ronald Reagan, that the modern de-regulation movement began. The congressional push for it was led by Ted Kennedy and other liberal stalwarts. Yet today, Paul Krugman and others blame deregulation for many modern woes. And over the course of two decades (the 60s and the 70s) mainstream liberal thought went from being aggressively interventionist in foreign affairs to almost pacifist.
How do we explain all this? In What Is A Progressive? I proposed part of the answer: liberalism is sociology rather than an ideology. The same can be said of conservatism.
But what kind of sociologies are they? Years ago, David Henderson suggested that think tanks and others involved in the war of ideas are actually in the “market for excuses.” That is, politicians need intellectual justification for things they want to do for non-intellectual reasons.
For the whole of my academic career I have believed in the idea of a political equilibrium. There are underlying forces – independent of personalities and independent of ideology – that push us to the public policies we have. Across the developed world, the political equilibrium in various countries is more similar than different – suggesting that the underlying forces are much the same from country to country.
From time to time, however, the equilibrium gets disturbed and in the resulting disequilibrium advocates of certain policies group together in predictable but not necessarily rational ways. For example, in the United States we historically have had those who want government in the bedroom but not in the board room aligned against those who prefer the opposite. If ideology were dominating politics, you would expect people who want government both in the bedroom and the boardroom to be aligned against people who want government in neither.
But ideology doesn’t dominate. In fact, it gets in the way. What is needed are ways of thinking that are not necessarily coherent, but provide intellectual excuses for the sets of policy positions that emerge. Liberalism and conservatism fulfill those roles.
And when I say they are not coherent I mean that you can’t find a book or an essay that explains how their various components rationally fit together.
The problem comes when the underlying forces change. For the sociologies to fulfill their social role, they too must change. And that’s not easy.
The problem for Democrats is that the party is increasingly ruled by the “new oligarchs.” In his review of The New Class Conflict, by Joel Kotkin, a lifelong Democrat, George Will explains that there is a: "growing alliance between the ultra-wealthy and the instruments of state power". In 2012, Barack Obama carried eight of America’s 10 wealthiest counties.
Unfortunately for party harmony, the oligarchs are basically anti-job creation and anti-economic growth – which they see both as a threat to the environment and a threat to their life style. This puts them squarely at odds with the working class voters who used to be the backbone of the Democratic Party.
As I explained in “How Liberals Live,” once the plutocrats settle in a community like Boulder, Colorado or Portland, Oregon, they become fiercely anti-development and doggedly determined to shape their community in ways that price the middle class out of the housing market. As a result, wherever wealthy liberals tend to congregate, housing is more expensive and there is more inequality. Again from Will:
"In New York, an incubator of progressivism, Kotkin reports, the “wealthiest one percent earn a third of the entire city’s personal income – almost twice the proportion for the rest of the country.” California, a one-party laboratory for progressivism, is home to 111 billionaires and the nation’s highest poverty rate (adjusted for the cost of living)….
California is no longer a destination for what Kotkin calls “aspirational families”: In 2013, he says, Houston had more housing starts than all of California".
We have already seen how powerful the oligarchs can be in the case of the vote on the Keystone Pipeline. Senate Democrats were so kowtowed by one billionaire environmentalist that they gave up a senate seat and voted against the labor unions – their traditional core constituency.
Not to be out done, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned fracking in his state – another blow to blue collar workers Democrats ordinarily rely on when elections are held. The Wall Street Journal adds: “And this fellow fancies himself a potential President.”
What Democrats now need is a new type of liberalism. One that apologizes for and defends the new Democratic Party reality. That’s a tall order.
By JR on Thursday, December 25, 2014
The holy day has dawned
It's dawned in Australia where I live, anyway. Because of international time zones America is nearly a day behind.
So today Christians celebrate something very implausible -- the incarnation -- when the great God over all poured himself into the body of a baby and subsequently lived a life as a normal human being. It takes a lot to believe that and the whole thing was a matter of great dispute among the early Christians. Jesus himself did after all say: "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28).
But along came Athanasius' Egyptian doctrine of the Trinity to quell disputes and to make some sense of it all: The doctrine of three persons in the one God. It's not a doctrine mentioned anywhere in Christian scripture -- as I often point out -- but perhaps it is needed to make sense of the implausible. That we cannot hope to understand Godhead is after all a reasonable claim.
I attended a service at my local branch of the Church of England yesterday evening: Holy Trinity Anglican Church Woolloongabba. It's a nice-looking church, and well-maintained
To my amazement, the church was full with a good cross-section of people . I rather liked that as I see Christianity as a civilizing influence. I thought initially that most came simply for the Xmas carols -- which were promised and delivered -- but it seems I was wrong. It was a Communion service and almost all of the congregation went forward to get the biscuit.
Rev. Paschke's sermon was pedestrian, with God "rolling up his sleeves" rather a lot -- an image I could not get with at all. But one expects an Anglican sermon to be inoffensive junk. I just went there for the carols.
Given my very fundamentalist early life, there was a lot more Popery in the service than I liked but I guess that I am a bit of a dinosaur there. "Popery" is probably condemned only in Northern Ireland these days
By JR on Wednesday, December 24, 2014
In re Michael Brown and Eric Garner
In the wake of the two black deaths above, relations between American police and African-Americans have plummeted to a new low -- in part because of anti-police rhetoric from the likes of far-Leftist Bill de Blasio. De Blasio has since tried to pull his horns in but the damage has been done.
Conservatives have cautiously exonerated the police involved in the deaths above but blacks have become fired up by the Leftist pot-stirring and two NYC police have now died as a result. So I feel moved to say what little I can that might help the situation.
What I want to do here is to offer a couple of anecdotes in support of the view that civility towards the police will generally engender civility from the police. When the Ferguson and NYC police were both confronted by two huge and un-co-operative blacks, the result was always going to be perilous but could have been much ameliorated by a more civil response from the blacks concerned.
My contact with American law enforcement is very minor but I do think my contact with the California Highway Patrol -- not exactly a much praised body of men -- is instructive. My contact occurred in the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter's reviled 55 mph speed limit still applied on American highways. I was bowling along a Los Angeles freeway in my hired Ford Pinto at about the speed I would have used in Australia -- 65 mph. And I had with me my then-wife, a very fine Scottish woman aptly named "Joy"
A CHP patrol detected me and pulled me over. The trooper approached me very cautiously, sticking close to the side of the Pinto and standing behind me instead of beside me. He was obviously very tense. But when he found that I was unaggressive and perfectly civil to him, he untensed rapidly. The fact that I speak with an accent that Americans usually perceive as British may also have helped. It helped explain my unawareness of California rules. (For the phoneticans, my accent is Educated Australian). We had a perfectly genial conversation at the end of which he waved me on my way without even giving me a ticket.
White privilege? Not exactly. Because something similar happened recently to me where I live in Brisbane, Australia -- a place where blacks are too few to influence policy.
I was approached by a Queensland cop when I had unwittingly made an illegal turn. And Queensland cops are not exactly fragrant. There are many bad apples among them. Even the police Commissioner was sent to jail for corruption not long ago.
So the cop was initially brusque and supercilious with me. When I showed that I was listening to him carefully by asking him to repeat something I had not understood, however, he became much more relaxed and we had a fairly genial conversation. He saw it as his duty to give me a ticket but we ended up with him wishing me a Merry Christmas and pausing other traffic to facilitate my driving off. Once again a civil and co-operative approach from me got exactly the same back.
These are only anecdotes but I think they feed into a general perception of what might have saved the lives of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. There is an old saying that people are a mirror of ourselves. There is a lot of truth in it.
By JR on Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Forget glycemic index
The glycemic index of foods has been much promoted as important in diet. A recent study (excerpt below) has however debunked most of the claims concerned
Effects of High vs Low Glycemic Index of Dietary Carbohydrate on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Insulin Sensitivity
Frank M. Sacks et al.
Foods that have similar carbohydrate content can differ in the amount they raise blood glucose. The effects of this property, called the glycemic index, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes are not well understood.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this 5-week controlled feeding study, diets with low glycemic index of dietary carbohydrate, compared with high glycemic index of dietary carbohydrate, did not result in improvements in insulin sensitivity, lipid levels, or systolic blood pressure. In the context of an overall DASH-type diet, using glycemic index to select specific foods may not improve cardiovascular risk factors or insulin resistance.
By JR on Monday, December 22, 2014
A professor who admits that she hates Republicans
Hate is what Leftists do so there is no great surprise in that. Whether such a person should be leading an academic department is however open to question. And it is unsurprising that Leftists should hate conservatives. Conservatives are always bringing up the realities which make Leftist dreams impossible of fulfilment. They are the messengers of bad news. And being infantile, Leftists are inclined to shoot the messenger.
Amusing that she has to go all the way back to Spiro Agnew to find examples of conservatives mocking Leftists. I remember Spiro but I am an old guy. Conservatives, by contrast, would have no such difficulties. The obsessional attacks on the Koch Brothers by Harry Reid are very recent, for instance. And the Tyrrell has other very recent examples here. Leftist media surge to the attack at the slightest opportunity
Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan. Since she endeavors to "psychologize" conservatives below, let me give her some of that back. Leftists are people who hate the world they live in. There are a variety of reasons why they might feel that way. Being a rough-looking broad would be one reason for it
I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal “personhood.”
This loathing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back in the 1970s, I worked for a Republican, Fred Lippitt, the senate minority leader in Rhode Island, and I loved him. He was a brand of Republican now extinct—a “moderate” who was fiscally conservative but progressive about women’s rights, racial justice and environmental preservation. Had he been closer to my age, I could have contemplated marrying someone like Fred. Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me. And I’m not alone. Back in 1960, only 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said they’d be “displeased” if their child married someone from the opposite party. Today? Forty-nine percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats would be pissed.
According to a recent study by Stanford professor Shanto Iyengar and Princeton researcher Sean Westwood, such polarization has increased dramatically in recent years. What’s noteworthy is how entrenched this mutual animus is. It’s fine for me to use the word “hate” when referring to Republicans and for them to use the same word about me, but you would never use the word “hate” when referring to people of color, or women, or gays and lesbians.
And now party identification and hatred shape a whole host of non-political decisions. Iyengar and Westwood asked participants in their study to review the resumés of graduating high school seniors to decide which ones should receive scholarships. Some resumés had cues about party affiliation (say, member of the Young Republicans Club) and some about racial identity (also through extracurricular activities, or via a stereotypical name). Race mattered, but not nearly as much as partisanship. An overwhelming 80 percent of partisans chose the student of their own party. And this held true even if the candidate from the opposite party had better credentials.
How did we come to this pass? Obviously, my tendency is to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats, which may seem biased. But history and psychological research bear me out.
Let’s start with the history. This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.
A brief review of Republican rhetoric and strategies since the 1980s shows an escalation of determined vilification (which has been amplified relentlessly on Fox News since 1996). From Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as an “effete corps of impudent snobs”; to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech; to the GOP’s endless campaign to smear the Clintons over Whitewater, then bludgeon Bill over Monica Lewinsky; to the ceaseless denigration of President Obama (“socialist,” “Muslim”), the Republicans have crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.
From here on, she regurgitates conventional Leftist psychology about conservatives. Leftist psychologists have been trying to find psychological defects in conservatives since at least 1950. They have never been able to convince anyone but fellow Leftists, however. And the reason for that is the very poor quality of the studies concerned. They fail to prove what they purport to prove. See here and here for a couple of demolitions of the nonsense concerned
Why does this work? A series of studies has found that political conservatives tend toward certain psychological characteristics. What are they? Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure. How do these qualities influence political thinking?
According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats. And, especially since the early 1990s, Republican politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Democrats.
So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad. I miss the Fred Lippitts of yore and the civilized discourse and political accomplishments they made possible. And so do millions of totally fed-up Americans.
A girl who is sometimes seen in my environment
By JR on Sunday, December 21, 2014
Does feeling old kill you?
The recent medical research excerpted below does report a slight effect of that nature but I am skeptical (as ever). The researchers did ask why people felt older but did not adequately address the possibility that many of those who felt older than their actual age might have had good medical reasons for that. They may have felt older because they were in fact less well. And it was their actual poorer health that killed them rather than feeling old.
The authors below did make a valiant attempt to examine that. They measures eight indexes of physical health and allowed for their influence statistically. What they examined were major causes of death but I was surprised that they failed to include blood pressure. BP is a major factor for circulatory ailments and a lot of people do walk around with elevated BP. And it seems to me that high BP might have a subtle influence on feelings of wellness and hence subjective age.
And that point can be extended to the observation that only KNOWN illness was controlled for. Many infections and viral illnesses can have adverse effects on wellness ranging from the very subtle to the gross -- with chronic fatigue syndrome being at the gross end. So it seems to me likely that those who felt old did in fact have poorer health, but from many possible causes not picked up in the research. Just being unfit, for instance, might make one feel old, and there are many claims that unfitness leads to premature death.
Feeling Old vs Being Old: Associations Between Self-perceived Age and Mortality
Isla Rippon & Andrew Steptoe
The crude mortality rate during the mean follow-up period of 99 months was 14.3% in participants who felt younger, 18.5% in those who felt about their actual age, and 24.6% in those who felt older (Table 1). Adjustment for covariates had pronounced effects on the associations between self-perceived age and mortality.
Nevertheless, when we combined the factors that were independently associated with mortality in models 1 through 8, feeling older than actual age remained a significant independent predictor of mortality (model 9: hazard ratio, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.10-1.82).
Results were similar after excluding deaths occurring within 12 months of baseline (Table 2).
Analyses of separate causes of death showed a strong relationship between self-perceived age and cardiovascular death, but no association between self-perceived age and cancer mortality (Table 2).
By JR on Saturday, December 20, 2014
Some medical news is so crazy that I just have to laugh
An excerpt below from a newspaper report of some experiments. The report was headed: "Is Ibuprofen the key to a longer life? Study finds it may provide 12 extra years of good health". The idea that you can generalize from yeast cells, worms and flies to human beings is of course absurd. Even mouse studies often don't generalize to people. Human beings are an unusually long-lived species so already have in their makeup most things that can prolong life
To those with a headache, it already works miracles. But ibuprofen could also hold the key to a long and healthy life. In a series of experiments, the popular painkiller extended the life of yeast, worms and flies by around 15 per cent.
What is more, the extra years were healthy ones.
In human terms, this would equate to an extra 12 years of good quality life. Put another way, people would be in good health for longer.
In one of the experiments, worms given ibuprofen throughout life were healthy for longer.
UPDATE: Ibuprofen actually SHORTENS human life -- a little
By JR on Friday, December 19, 2014
Will Xmas carols defeat the Left?
Just a small initial point: Is my use above of "X" to represent Christ disrespectful? It is not. It is in fact very respectful indeed. The Gospels were written in Greek and the first letter of Christ's name in Greek is the letter Chi -- which is normally written the same as our letter X.
And Greek letters are not exactly unknown in educated circles to this day. Statisticians, for instance, will all be familiar with the statistic "Chi squared" -- a way of testing the statistical significance of frequencies.
And there are still some of us who work their way through the New Testament in Greek. I actually own three recensions of the Greek New Testament: Griesbach, Westcott & Hort and a 1958 revision of Nestle. So my very occasional excursions into the original Greek are well supported.
And the early Christians made much use of Chi. They used it to represent Christ and closed one end of it to make it look like a fish when they were being persecuted. So the use of Chi has a most honorable background.
And to this day, some Christians (mostly Anglicans in my observation) do still use a fish to represent their faith.
But I did not intend this post to be about ancient Greek so let me get on to the small but perhaps important point that I originally wanted to make:
When I first visited California in the mid-70s I arrived, for some long-forgotten reason, in early December. So I was delighted to have Xmas carols piped at me from any retail outlet that I entered. I gather that that pleasant world is long gone now, however. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Frosty the Snowman are about it these days -- which must be very boring.
And the Left have some logic behind their suppression of Xmas carols. Most of the carols are very devout. They in fact largely tell the basic story of Christianity: That Jesus was God incarnate. I guess that people rarely pay full attention to the words of songs but to the extent that they are exposed to Xmas carols, people will learn rather a lot about basic Xian doctrine. The sheer beauty of the traditional Xmas carols will often get them past Leftist censorship.
And there are even hints of long-lost scholarship in the carols. "Gloria in excelsis Deo" and "Adeste fidelis", for instance, may open up the world of Latin for some. And the perspective that conveys could indeed be transformative.
And the frequent mentions of Israel in the carols should make it clear that Israel is forever the land of the Jews
By JR on Thursday, December 18, 2014
WHY do the old swing Right?
Back in 1985, I reported, in one of the academic journals, the results of a large body of attitude surveys that showed what beliefs were characteristic of older people. Both in what they favoured and in what they rejected, old people were shown to be very conservative.
Most people do swing rightwards as they get older, with the best-known examples being, of course, Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. Reagan was even a union official in his early days and yet became arguably the most beloved conservative leader of all time.
And there are other examples. The person may not always change party loyalties but their views may evolve within that loyalty. A good example comes from my home state of Queensland, in Australia. Following is a brief excerpt from his Wikipedia entry:
Edward Michael (Ned) Hanlon (1887 - 1952) was Premier of Queensland from 1946 to 1952. After leaving school, he worked in the railways, and soon became a union official. In the 1912 Brisbane General Strike he played a prominent part as a militant.... Over the years Hanlon's outlook mellowed, and he shifted to the political right. He ended up, as [Labor Party] Premier, sending the police to suppress union demonstrations during the 1948 Queensland Railway strike.
So, again, why? It couldn't be simpler: The essence of conservatism is caution. And underlying that caution is a perception that the world is an unpredictable place. So change has to take place in small steps if its objectives are to be achieved. Massive changes such as Obamacare are to be avoided in case large unforeseen negative consequences emerge -- consequences of the sort that emerged rapidly in the case of Obamacare.
And as we get older that unpredictability of the world is forced upon us -- and that makes us cautious. Experience conservatizes us. And that is why the young tend to be Leftist: They lack experience. Shielded by their parents, they have yet to realize that the world is full of surprises -- many of which are unpleasant. As the great Scottish poet Robert Burns put it so memorably (and prophetically):
"The best-laid plans o' mice and men gang aft agley
and leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy".
Apologies for quoting the less-known next line of the verse. But it is undoubtedly apposite.
The transformation wrought by experience is only part of the reason for the differences I found, however. The world has undergone large changes in the last couple of hundred years or so, with a big swing towards socialism in many countries in the middle of the 20th century, ending in a decisive swing worldwide back to broadly free-market economic policies after that.
The large economic upswing -- greatly increased prosperity -- that began with the abandonment of socialist economic policies in the Reagan/Thatcher years, however, had consequences as well. As economic concerns became less pressing for most of the population, the policies and attitudes that accompanied economic struggle became less pressing too. People could afford to reduce greatly the strategies they saw as needed to put bread on the table. So there was an upsurge in permissiveness all-round. Survival was no longer a harsh master. So social (non-economic) attitudes liberalized -- reaching rather absurd lengths as time went by -- as with the idolization of homosexuality in the early 21st century.
So the age-related attitude differences noted in my research also partly reflected the era in which the individuals concerned were born. People who grew up in times of economic stringency acquired attitudes appropriate to that. Homosexuality, for instance, had to be anathematized because it threatened the survival of the family. And the family is of course the original social security safety net.
And so people who grew up in times of economic ease formed the more permissive attitudes allowed by that. People acquire attitudes in their youth which tend to last for the rest of their life -- unless powerfully contra-indicated by life-experiences -- which is the sad fate of many who enter adulthood with socialistic ideas.
A FOOTNOTE: The USA is a very successful country economically and yet also has large pockets of social conservatism. Why? It's at least partly because many Americans don't FEEL economically secure. And why is that? Because the only way many Americans can find to keep their families reasonably safe is to engage in "white flight". They need to get away from the extraordinarily high rate of violent crime that pervades black or partly black neighborhoods.
But the only presently legal (post-segregation) way to get away from such neighborhoods is to move to the more expensive suburbs that blacks can rarely afford. And that takes money, rather a lot of money. So Americans are economic strivers at a huge rate. The pursuit of money is America's biggest religion. It's a great pity that their society makes Americans so unrelaxed
The truth of all that can be seen in Australia. Australia's largest non-European minority is hard-working and law-abiding East Asians (mostly Han Chinese) -- at about 5% of the population. And Australia is also an economically prosperous place with very conservative economic policies. Australian Federal governments even bring down surplus budgets on some occasions! Contrast that with the trillions of debt run up by the Obama administration. So a prosperous but safe country should have a very relaxed population. And that is exactly what Australia is known for.
Apropos of that, I remember reading about 30 years ago (in "The Bulletin", I think) that Australia had at that stage the world's highest proportion of half-millionaires. Once they had accumulated that much, smart Australians tended to hop off the treadmill and retire to more recreational pursuits. Americans, by contrast, stayed on the treadmill for much longer -- because money is at least part of their religion. They reject St. Paul's view that the love of money is the root of all evil. They know money as the root of all safety. Even in their churches, Americans are often subjected to a prosperity gospel that would do Calvin proud. -- JR.
By JR on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Some woolly Green/Left thinking in CA
What would it affect if Californian entities "divested" from coal shares? Very little. Not a kilo less of coal would be produced and used. All that would happened is a slight depression of the value of shares in coal companies -- making them cheaper for investors and particularly attractive to investors looking for dividends.
And after California aiming to subject gasoline sellers to the extra cost burden of cap & trade laws, Steyer blames oil companies for putting up gas prices! Does he seriously not see the connection between increasing taxes on something and prices of that something going up?
With Republicans threatening to shove climate change to the back seat as they take control of the U.S. Senate, state officials including Gov. Jerry Brown huddled with one of the nation’s leading Democratic donors Monday to talk up ways to keep it on California’s agenda — including legislation that could send a shiver through the coal industry.
The state Senate’s top leader said at an Oakland forum organized by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer that he’s planning to introduce a measure next year to require the state’s public-employee pension funds to sell their coal-related investments.
“Climate change is the top priority of the California state Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. He said his legislation would require that the California Public Employees Retirement System, which manages public employees’ pensions and health benefits, and the California State Teachers Retirement System divest millions of dollars in coal-related investments.
“Coal is a dirty fossil fuel, and we generate very little electricity in California from coal,” de León said. “And I think our values should shift in California.”
But not oil and gas
De León, who just returned from an international climate-change summit in Peru, said he hadn’t worked out the specifics of his bill but that it would be limited to coal investments. He said it would not extend to all fossil-fuel holdings such as those in oil and gas production.
“We’re working out all the (divestment) details,” he said. “We’re talking about a way that’s smart and intelligent, not a way that hurts investment strategies.”
Climate-change activists have been pushing large investors to shed their holdings in coal, a major contributor to greenhouse gases. CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund with $300 billion in investments, would be the environmental movement’s biggest prize should de León be able to push his legislation into law.
The biggest name at the California Climate Leadership forum was Brown, who said the state would face strong opposition from “very powerful people” as it continues its aggressive approach to climate change.
Those efforts include bringing gasoline sellers and distributors under the state’s landmark cap-and-trade climate law as of Jan. 1, requiring them to purchase credits to emit greenhouse gas pollutants. It’s been targeted as a “hidden gas tax” by the Western States Petroleum Association, which is lobbying to delay its implementation.
On the national front, Republicans who take control of the Senate next month have targeted several Obama administration initiatives aimed at reducing global warming. In particular, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has vowed to strip funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
“We can do things in California,” Brown said, “but if others don’t follow, it will be futile.”
Fighting Darth Vaders
For his part, the 57-year-old Steyer depicted environmentalists as the good guys in a “Star Wars”-like battle for the planet’s health — with oil companies cast as a collection of Darth Vaders who are fully capable of raising gas prices “in order to punish us.”
By JR on Tuesday, December 16, 2014
A British Lawyer and a Conservative Party "wet" (cf. RINO) sets us straight about climate
Barrister Rupert Myers writes under the heading: "The Right needs to wake up - climate change is real, and we're causing it".
So what evidence does he muster to support his view that "climate change is real, and we're causing it"? None. He mentions not a single climate statistic: Just the current Warmist prophecy that 2014 will be the warmest year ever. Other than that, it's all just assertion and a warm feeling that all good chaps agree on this. I hope he argues his cases in court more convincingly
His talk about a "significant loss of landmass" is amusing. Where? Even Bangladesh is GAINING landmass. Is he aware that the latest modelling shows that sea level rise will take thousands of years to happen? See here and here
He also acknowledges the problem that China is still building coal-fired generators but gives no answer to it.
He also says that we should stick to the "core conservative principle of doing what works and looking at the available evidence" -- without giving any evidence. He may think that his handwaving allusions to things like strawberry crops in November count as evidence but, if so, he has no idea of what constitutes evidence in science.
I could go on but I think there is no cure for credulity. See it in full flight below
Whenever I head to the north Norfolk coast and see the wind farm offshore, visible from the Cromer pier, my heart sinks. The blinking red lights at night and the white spinning blades during the day spoil the historic view of the channel from the Victorian seafront. It was a view witnessed by a holidaying Winston Churchill at a place recommended by Austen; the clunking towers have written it off. I have not learned to love or to even silently accept the wind farms, and I cannot understand those claim that they are beautiful or elegant.
But I am persuaded that we need them. On the day that the Met Office has recognised that 2014, the warmest year on record, is attributable to man-made climate change, it’s time to put these eyesores into perspective. The results are in, and everyone from NASA to the UN agrees that there is an urgent need to change the way we behave, to prevent widespread destruction of our environment. From melting ice to strawberry crops in november, we are starting to see the early stages of a chain of events which - if not addressed adequately - will drastically alter the planet and the lives of generations to come.
There are enclaves of scientific denial on the Right, like tiny pacific islands on which old Japanese men still believe they are engaged in World War Two. The odd bloody scalp, the odd skirmish does not prove that the war is ongoing. Nick Griffin, who called man made global warming ‘a hoax’ has expressed his support for UKIP, a party which has vowed to bin the Climate Change Act, and which clearly wants to attract those who think that the war is still to be fought.
Yet you don’t have to be a pro-EU fixie-cycling ethical barista of no fixed gender identity with a piercing through your nose to wake up and smell the coffee. Indeed, you should enjoy the smell of coffee whilst you can, since climate change is having a dramatic impact on the bean crop yields. Bemoaning the ban on filament lightbulbs needs to be seen in the context of widespread food shortages and significant loss of landmass. The cost of renewables to the UK needs to be set against the likely cost of famine, drought, and the expense of keeping an overpopulating planet even remotely peaceful as its food and its land diminish. It will not improve the views from the East Anglian coastline if the coastline itself is eroded.
The deniers argue that any globally coordinated response to this problem will involve ‘socialism’ and EU control, calling many exponents of green policies ‘watermelons’ for being green on the outside and red on the inside. Yet the same people will often argue that unilateral action on climate change would be an expensive waste of time whilst China is still building coal power plants. We can’t work together because it will interfere with freedom – but we can’t act alone because it’s pointless. Even more confusingly, there are too many on the Right who then have a go at private companies for getting into renewable energy. When the socialist-finder generals aren’t calling people watermelons, they are calling out the corporate greed of making a profit from involvement in green energy solutions. Governments are bashed for taking a statist approach to climate change, and corporations for a capitalist one.
There are many dreadful side effects to man-made climate change, though most of them will only be apparent – experts warn – once it is too late to counter them. In trying to act to prevent the worst of it, we are having to tear up parts of our countryside and even get our heads around splitting our rubbish into different forms of recycling. But one of the most irritating and immediate consequences has been from the deniers, particularly on the Right, who, while understandably mistrustful of ideology and consensus, have abandoned the core conservative principle of doing what works and looking at the available evidence. The same populist movements which would abolish the ‘elites’ in politics have decided that an international scientific consensus about complex, long-term changes is no match for their lived experience of yesterday's weather. Despite the best efforts of our Prime Minister in opposition, many on the right are abandoning a commitment to environmentalism as a costly and unproven expenditure.
It’s time for the doubters to surrender, and accept that there is nothing Right-wing about denying the global consensus of a scientific community. At this point too many of us on the Right echo the farcical warning of Stephen Colbert that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” After all, it isn’t Blofeld’s SPECTRE warning us about climate change - it’s the British boffins in our own Met Office.
By JR on Monday, December 15, 2014
Is this the rudest necklace ever? 'phallic' pendants spark fury
Controversial designer Tom Ford has sparked fury by launching a range of penis necklaces - just in time for Christmas. The phallic pendants - which resemble the shape of a cross - come in gold or silver and are available with small, medium and large charms.
Intended as the perfect holiday gifts for kinky fashionistas, size apparently doesn't matter as they are all priced $790.
But the latest offering from the designer provoked outrage on Twitter from users who said the necklaces were 'unbelievably offensive' to Christians and branded Ford 'sick' for combining a phallic image with a religious symbol.
Kevlyn Hall added: 'How dare you use a phallic symbol in the Christian cross! You insulting piece of trash! HOW DARE YOU!'
One user said on Twitter: 'This is unbelievably offensive to me. Is he insane?'
I have no doubt that these pendants were meant to offend and were probably seen by their creator as innovative and original. They are not however. The cross was originally a pagan sex symbol, meant to symbolize a male penetrating a female. With the encouragement of St. Paul, however, the early Christians adopted many pagan practices, such as Sunday observance, Easter etc. Use of the cross is another such borrowing.
In the original Greek of the New Testament there is no mention of Christ dying on a cross. The words usually translated as "cross" are either "xylon", which simply means "wood" or "stauros", which simply means "stake'. Christ was executed by nailing him to a stake with his hands both directly above his head. Why bother to add a crossbar when a simple stake could do all that was needed?
By JR on Sunday, December 14, 2014
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE
By Dr David Pascoe BVSc PhD
I am a country boy myself. I grew up in a small Australian town based on farming. So I understand the anger below. And I agree that country people are unusually fine people. But I think I need to add something to the story below.
For a start it is not true that the drought in Western Qld. and NSW has gone unmentioned in the media. It has been mentioned quite a lot on both radio and TV -- particularly on rural programs. Though it has admittedly never been front page news.
Secondly, I gather that ANZ bank has recently softened its policies towards drought-hit farmers -- though how helpful that will be remains to be seen. It is certainly true that treating farming like any other business is stupidly rigid. Longer term thinking is needed.
Finally, I am not sure that it is in anybody's best interests to keep these people on the land. Australia gets drier the further West you go from the East coast and by the time you get to places like Winton, farming is a very risky gamble. It may rain or it may not.
And it is certain that people taking on debt in a drought are highly likely to be cutting their own throats. If the drought endures, as it often does, they will have no income for some years and no means of servicing their loans. So they will then lose the lot.
The proper way to use such dry country for farming is to destock and close the gate once you run out of money. You then go and get a job somewhere until the rains come again. If you can get a job nearby you may even be able to do some weekend farming and preserve a small herd or flock as a nucleus for future restocking. For many however, that way is too hard. They borrow instead. And the result of that is REALLY hard
There is of course traditional advice to that effect: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be". It is outdated advice in many situations but farmers ignore it at their peril. -- JR
Charlie Phillott, now 87, is a farmer from the ruggedly beautiful Carisbrooke Station at Winton. He has owned his station since 1960, nurtured it and loved it like a part of his own flesh. He is a grand old gentleman, one of the much loved and honoured fathers of his community.
Not so long ago, the ANZ bank came and drove him off his beloved station because the drought had devalued his land and they told him he was considered an unviable risk. Yet Charlie Phillott has never once missed a single mortgage payment.
Today this dignified Grand Old Man of the West is living like some hunted down refugee in Winton, shocked and humiliated and penniless. And most of all, Charlie Phillott is ashamed, because as a member of the Great Generation - those fine and decent and ethical men and women who built this country – he believes that what happened to him was somehow his own fault. And the ANZ Bank certainly wanted to make sure they made him feel like that.
Last Friday my wife Heather and I flew up with Alan Jones to attend the Farmers Last Stand drought and debt meeting in Winton. And after what I saw being done to our own people, I have never been more ashamed to be Australian in my life.
What is happening out there is little more than corporate terrorism: our own Australian people are being bullied, threatened and abused by both banks and mining companies until they are forced off their own land.
So we must ask: is this simply to move the people off their land and free up it up for mining by foreign mining companies or make suddenly newly empty farms available for purchase by Chinese buyers? As outrageous as it might seem, all the evidence flooding in seems to suggest that this is exactly what is going on.
What is the role of Government in all of this? Why have both the State and Federal Government stood back and allowed such a dreadful travesty to happen to our own people? Where was Campbell Newman on this issue? Where was Prime Minister Abbott? The answer is nowhere to be seen.
For the last few months, the Prime Minister has warned us against the threats of terrorism to our nation. We have been alerted to ISIS and its clear and present danger to the Australian people.
Abbott has despatched Australian military forces into the Middle East in an effort to destroy this threat to our own safety and security. This mobilization of our military forces has come at a massive and unbudgeted expense to the average Australian taxpayer which the Prime Minister estimates to be around half a billion dollars each year.
We are told that terrorism is dangerous not only because of the threat to human life but also because it displaces populations and creates the massive human cost of refugees.
Yet not one single newspaper or politician in this land has exposed the fact that the worst form of terrorism that is happening right now is going on inside the very heartland of our own nation as banks and foreign mining companies are deliberately and cruelly forcing our own Australian farmers off the land.
What we saw in the main hall of the Winton Shire Council on Friday simply defied all description: a room filled with hundreds of broken and battered refuges from our own country. It was a scene more tragic and traumatic than a dozen desperate funerals all laced onto the one stage.
Right now, all over the inland of both Queensland and NSW, there is nothing but social and financial carnage on a scale that has never before been witnessed in this nation.
It was 41 degrees when we touched down at the Winton airport, and when you fly in low over this landscape it is simply Apocalyptic: there has not been a drop of rain in Winton for two years and there is not a sheep, a cow, a kangaroo, an emu or a bird in sight. Even the trees in the very belly of the creeks are dying.
There is little doubt that this is a natural disaster of incredible magnitude – and yet nobody – neither state nor the federal government - is willing to declare it as such.
The suicide rate has now reached such epic proportions right across the inland: not just the farmer who takes the walk “ up the paddock” and does away with himself but also their children and their wives. Once again, it has barely been covered by the media, a dreadful masquerade that has assisted by the reticence and shame of honourable farming families caught in these tragic situations.
My wife is one of the toughest women I know. Her family went into North West of Queensland as pioneers one hundred years ago: this is her blood country and these are her people . Yet when she stood up to speak to this crowd on Friday she suddenly broke down: she told me later that when she looked into the eyes of her own people, what she saw was enough to break her heart
And yet not one of us knew it was this bad, this much of a national tragedy. The truth is that these days, the Australian media basically doesn’t give a damn. They have been muzzled and shut down by governments and foreign mining companies to the extent that they are no longer willing to write the real story. So the responsibility is now left to people like us, to social media – and you, the Australian people.
And so the banks have been free to play their games and completely terrorise these people at their leisure. The drought has devalued the land and the banks have seen their opportunity to strike. It was exactly the excuse that they needed to clean up and make a fortune, because once the rains come – as they always do – this land will be worth four to ten times the price.
In fact, when farmers have asked for the payout figures, the banks have been either deeply reluctant or not capable of providing the mortgage trail because they have on-sold the mortgage - just like sub-prime agriculture.
This problem isn’t simply happening in Winton, but rather right across the entire inland across Queensland and NSW. The banks have been bringing in the police to evict Australian famers and their families from their farms, many of them multigenerational. One farmer matter of factly told us it took “oh, about 7 police” to evict him from his first farm and “maybe about twelve” to evict him from his second farm which had been in his family for many generations. You think they are kidding you. Then you see the expression in their eyes.
And there was something far worse in the room on Friday: the fear of speaking out against the banks: when we asked people to tell us who had done this to them, they would immediately start to shake and cry and look away: They have been silenced to protect the good corporate image of their tormentors called the banks. What in God’s name have the bastard banks been allowed to do to our people?
This is a travesty against the rights and the human dignity of every Australian
So it’s only fair that we start to name a few of major banks involved: The ANZ is a major culprit (and they made $7 billion profit last year). Then there is Rabo, which is now owned by Westpac (who paid CEO Gail Kelly a yearly salary of some $12 million) According to all reports, the NAB and Bank West are right in there at the trough as well – and all the rest of them are equally guilty. For any that we have missed, rest assured they will be publicly exposed as well
But here’s the thing: when these people are forced off their farms, they have nowhere to go. There are no refugee services waiting, such is the case for those who attempt to enter the sovereign borders of this nation. The farmers simply drive to the nearest town – that’s if the banks haven’t stripped their cars off them as well - and they try and find somewhere to sleep. Some are sleeping on the backs of trucks in swags. There is basically no home or accommodation made available to take them. They camp out, shocked and broken and penniless – and they are living on weet bix and noodles. If there is someone that can lend a family enough money to buy food, they will: otherwise they are left completely alone.
And consider this: not one of them has asked for help. Not one. They just do the best they can, ashamed and broken and brainwashed by the banks to believe that everything that has happened is completely their own fault
There is not one single word of this from a politicians lips, with the exception of the incredibly courageous father and son team of Bob and Robbie Katter, who organised the Farmers Last Stand meeting. The Katter family have been in the North since the 1890’s, and nobody who sat in that hall last Friday could question their love and commitment to their own people.
There is barely a mention of any of this as well in the newspapers, with the exception of as brief splash of publicity that followed our visit.
The Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce attended the meeting in a bitter blue-funk kind of mood that saw him mostly hunched over and staring at the floor. He had given $100 million of financial assistance in a lousy deal where the Government will borrow at 2.75% and loan it back at 3.21%.
The last thing these people need is another loan: they need a Redevelopment Bank to refinance their own loans: issuing a loan to pay off a loan is nothing more than financial suicide.
The reality is that Joyce cannot get support from what he calls “the shits in Cabinet” to create a desperately needed Redevelopment Bank so that these farmers can get cheap loans to tide them through to the end of the drought.
Our sources suggest that those “shits in Cabinet” include Malcolm Turnbull – Minister for Communications and the uber-cool trendy city-centric Liberal in the black leather jacket:, Andrew Robb – Minster for Trade and Investment and the man behind the free trade deal, the man who suddenly acquired three trendy Sydney restaurants almost overnight, the man who seems to suddenly desperate to sell off our farms to China – and one Greg Hunt, Environment Minister and the man who is instantly approving almost every single mining project that is put in front of him.
At the conclusion of the meeting, we stood and met some of the people in the crowd. My wife talked to women who would hug her for dear life, and when they walked away people would suddenly murmur “oh, she was forced off last week” or “they are being forced off tomorrow” . Not one of them mentioned it to us. They had too much pride.
The Australian people need to be both informed and desperately outraged about what is being done to our own people. This is about every right that was once held dear to us: human rights, property rights, civil rights. And most all, our right to freedom of speech. All of that has been taken away from these people – and the rest of us need to understand that we are probably next.
In the last four weeks the Newman Government has removed all farmers rights to protest to a mine and given mining companies the rights to take all the water they want from the Great Artesian Basin – and at no cost to them at all.
And all of this has happened under the watch of both Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott.
Until Friday, we used to think of Winton as the home of Waltzing Matilda: it was written at a local station and first performed in the North Gregory Hotel. I think it was Don McLean who wrote, “something touched me deep inside…the day the music died”… in his song American Pie, and for us, last Friday was the day music died.
We will never be able to sing Waltzing Matilda again until we see some justice for these people, and all the farmers of the inland.
This is no longer the Australia we once knew: no longer our country, no longer our people, no longer the decent caring leaders we once remembered.
Right now, the banks, the mining mates, the corrupt politicians and all the ‘mongrels in suits’ have won – and the Australian people don’t have a clue what has been done to them.
Like the American Depression and the iconic photograph of Florence Owens Thompson, there is a terrible, gaping wound that has been carved across the heartland of this nation.
We need to fully grasp that, and to understand that our people – dignified, decent and honourable old men like Charlie Phillott - have been deliberately terrorized, brutalised – and sold out.
In one sense, Charlie Phillott has become the symbol overnight of every decent Australian: the simple right to live out our lives on the land we love - and the land we are still free to call our own. At least until some dangerously persuaded corrupted trendy liberal theorist decided to strip all that away.
The truth is, no Australian was ever consulted about whether or not they wanted to see their land mined into oblivion or see our precious water poisoned and given away for free, whether they wanted to be driven off their land by the greed of banking executives who saw the chance to make a profit by wiping out the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us.
No Australian was ever consulted about whether or not we wanted to see our beloved homeland sold on the cheap to greedy faceless foreigners just because some slimy two-faced minister managed to convince a weakened prime minster to meekly carry out his bidding.
Nobody has asked us. We the People. Not once.
So if we are ever going to do something, then we’d better realise that its now only two minutes to midnight – so we’d better move fast.
By JR on Saturday, December 13, 2014
Japanese north–south gradient in IQ predicts differences in stature, skin color, income, and homicide rate
By Kenya Kura
A fascinating academic journal article from Japan below. The Japanese and Chinese are less politically correct in talking about race than Americans are -- if only because they mostly believe that THEY are a superior race. And in average IQ terms, they are.
And the finding below, that high IQ people in Japan are taller, richer and less prone to crime and divorce, agrees well with American findings going back as far as the 1920s.
Not mentioned in the Abstract below but mentioned in the body of the article, is that the Koreans and Chinese score a touch higher on IQ than the Japanese do -- only by about one or two point but that is in the opposite direction to what one would expect. The Japanese are more Westernized than the Chinese are -- though that difference is diminishing rapidly -- so if there were any "Western" bias in the tests (which Leftists often assert there is), one would have expected the Japanese to be slightly ahead. Clearly, any "bias" in the tests is not detectable in the far East -- being detectable only by American Ivy League "wisdom".
But there is one point inferable from the findings below that seems at first completely regular -- the finding that the closer you get to the equator, the browner and dumber you get. The Japanese archipelago does cover a very considerable North/South range so there is plenty of room for that to emerge. So the really smart Japanese are in the Northern Prefectures of Honshu while the dumbest are in Okinawa.
And in South-East Asia we find the same phenomenon. Filipinos and Malaysian Bumiputras are notably browner and less bright than North-East Asians.
But that is not as regular as one might think. There are a number of exceptions to the rule. South Africa has a climate similar to Europe (if you have experienced a Bloemfontein winter you will know what I mean) yet the Bantu (South African negroes) are no brighter than any other Africans as far as we can tell. But that is only a superficial puzzle. The Bantu are recent immigrants originating in central Africa. The whites in fact arrived in South Africa before the Bantu did.
The Bushmen (original inhabitants) of South Africa are a little more of a puzzle as they are very primitive indeed. They are short of stature and live these days in extremely arid regions. Perhaps they always did live in arid regions to escape the many fierce predators in the rest of Africa.
And Tasmanian Aborigines were also at an extremely low civilizational level (they did not even use fire) before white-man diseases killed them all off. Yet Tasmania has a climate quite similar to England. Tasmania is however a rather small island that was cut off from the rest of Australia for many millennia -- and isolated populations are often backward. It appears that lots of invasions are needed to perk up average IQ -- which is why Eurasia is home to all the high IQ populations. Invaders can very easily sweep for long distances across Eurasia -- as Genghis Khan showed.
So the "exceptions" I have noted so far are all explicable by special factors. But there is one exception that absolutely breaks the rule: South India. South Indians can be very dark in skin color indeed. Yet they are far and away the brightest populations in India. The computer programmers, scientists and technologists in India come overwhelmingly from the South. The recent amazing Indian Mars shot was almost entirely the work of Southerners. It is no coincidence that Bangalore, India's science and technology hub, is in the South.
So what went on in the South to push them up the IQ scale is hard to say. The nearest I can come to an explanation is to note that they all hate one-another. The various regions have different languages and were often at war with one-another over the centuries. So perhaps invasions did the trick there too. But then West Africans are are always fighting one-another as well ...
So perhaps we have to draw into the discussion that some evolutionarily recent DNA mutations affecting brain complexity did not spread to Africa. Evolution can of course work either via natural selection or via mutations -- or both
A final note about the correlations reported below. They seem unusually high. That is common in "ecological" correlations (correlations between groups rather than individuals). It was Prefecture averages that formed the raw data below. Individual correlations between similar variables can normally be expected to be much lower -- JR
Regional differences in IQ are estimated for 47 prefectures of Japan. IQ scores obtained from official achievement tests show a gradient from north to south. Latitudes correlate with height, IQ, and skin color at r = 0.70, 0.44, 0.47, respectively. IQ also correlates with height (0.52), skin color (0.42), income (0.51) after correction, less homicide rate (− 0.60), and less divorce (− 0.69) but not with fertility infant mortality. The lower IQ in southern Japanese islands could be attributable to warmer climates with less cognitive demand for more than fifteen hundred years.