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Freedom for Catalonia!



This weekend is a referendum in Catalonia sponsored by the Catalan regional government that asks Catalans if they want to be an independent republic rather than part of Spain.

The Spanish government is doing all it can to prevent the referendum from taking place as it knows what the result will be -- a bit majority in favour of independence.  Agitation for Catalan independence goes back a long way

As a libertarian, I always support independence movements so I feel obliged to do my little bit here to support the Catalans. Catalonia has a population similar to Israel and is very prosperous.  They also have their own language.  An article below gives some background -- JR


BARCELONA — In a mass demonstration of youth and enthusiasm, thousands of students marched down the Gran Via here Thursday afternoon, presenting the well-scrubbed face of a separatist movement hoping to sever the Catalonia region from Spain.

The rally, the largest in recent memory, featured throngs of university and high school students draped in Catalan flags and protected by cadres of sympathetic firefighters in yellow helmets.

The young people took countless selfies, smoked a little marijuana and plastered signposts with posters featuring cartoon characters.

The atmosphere was festive, raucous, contagious — with folk songs from a generation ago. When elderly supporters came out on their balconies to bang pots and pans in support, the students stopped to honor them with chants, “No revolutions without the grandmothers!”

But the situation is growing serious.

The secessionist leaders here are pressing forward with their promise to stage a controversial referendum Sunday that asks a seemingly simple question: Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state, in the form of a republic? Yes or no.

The central government in Madrid, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party, says the plebiscite violates Spain’s 1978 constitution that declares the country indivisible — and therefore is illegal.

The Rajoy government, backed byconstitutional court rulings, has vowed to stop the vote, and it has deployed thousands of national police and paramilitary Guardia Civil officers to the region.

“We have no idea really what will happen Sunday. But it’s hard to see a peaceful ending, no?” said Pablo Sanchez Crespo, 21, a psychology major hunkered down in the courtyard of Barcelona University, which has been occupied by striking students sleeping on mattresses and swinging in hammocks.

“If they want to stop the vote, they are going to have to put many, many cops at the polling stations, and if the people still want to vote? I don’t know,” he said. “I think there will trouble.”

A few minutes earlier, Jordi Graupera, a professor and pro-independence activist, was conducting a 2017 version of a U.S.-style 1960s teach-in in the courtyard, explaining to the students the concept of civil disobedience and telling them about the winning tactics of Martin Luther King Jr.

“You don’t have to attack anyone,” the professor said. “But you have the right to resist.”

He encouraged the students, if they were willing, to occupy and defend polling places — school gymnasiums, community centers, city halls — and to bring plenty of food and water.

The professor said they would not go to jail for forcing open the polling spots but might be fined.

The showdown between the prosperous but restive region of Catalonia and the distant central government in Madrid could become Spain’s most profound political crisis since the end of the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco four decades ago.

A lot depends on the next few days — and which side yields, and who is seen as oppressed or oppressor. Many editorialists in Catalonia describe the impasse as two locomotives rushing toward each other on the same track.

On Tuesday at a news conference, President Trump said, “I think that Spain is a great country, and it should remain united.”

A dozen Catalan functionaries have been arrested, charged and released. The police have raided warehouses and printing presses, and confiscated 13 million sheets of paper — including ballots.

Many of the students interviewed mentioned Franco and his 40-year oppression of Catalonia’s language, culture and autonomy as a rallying cry.

Asked what he knew about Franco, who died in 1975, a quarter century before he was born, Marc Garcia said, “We heard all about it from our parents and grandparents.”

Garcia and his friend Judit Marti, both 17, said they also had been informed and stirred by programing on the public broadcaster, TV3, which is sponsored by the Catalan government.

Some of the students said they thought the current standoff was a legacy of the Spanish civil war in the 1930s and all the unfinished business left after Franco’s long reign.

“Franco didn’t lose this war, he just died,” said Pau Subirana Garcia, 21, a computer science student. “All the people around him are still around.”

Subirana was carrying a black flag with a star and cross, which he said dated back to the 1714 Siege of Barcelona. “The black is about no surrender,” he explained.

The student said that many of his friends care less about whether Catalonia chooses independence than that they have the right to vote.

“Our ancestors gave their lives for these freedoms,” Subirana said. “It shouldn’t be a crime to vote,” he said. “We won’t do anything bad.”

Polls taken during the summer show that more voters in Catalonia would choose to remain in Spain than strike for independence — but moves by the central government considered heavy handed here might have shifted sentiments.

The students occupying the university and joining the rally spoke with passion, especially about their right to vote, but they were unsure exactly what independence would bring.

Catalonia pays an oversize share of its taxes to the central government, but the region enjoys fairly broad autonomy and controls its own police, education, health care, schools, parliament and media. The dominant language is Catalan.

There are now so many national police from outside the region in Catalonia that the Spanish government chartered two commercial cruise ships and docked them in the Barcelona port to berth the overflow.

One of the ships sports large cartoon drawings on its hull of Looney Tunes characters Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote and Tweety, and the yellow bird has been adopted by the students as their symbol of resistance.

At Barcelona University, a pair of large photocopy machines sat in the hallway, churning out ballots for Sunday’s election. The students had erected tables to pass them out. How such votes would be counted — and seen as legitimate — is unclear.

“I know lots of friends — they say yes or no about independence. But the response cannot be to send in the police against the people. That means force wins,” said Elisabet Lliteres Deia, a student who said this was the biggest youth rally she had seen in Spain.

She was marching with two friends. The three represented a mix of yes, no and unsure votes. They also believed that the referendum was not binding.

Catalan politicians, however, have vowed that if more than 50 percent of ballots read “yes,” the regional parliament will declare independence within 48 hours, no matter the size of the turnout or whether the vote is disrupted.

Many people in Catalonia and Spain suspect that this is a bluff and that low participation would weaken the leverage of separatists.

Can Madrid stop the vote?

On Thursday, Catalonia’s interior minister said the region’s own Mossos d’Esquadra police force will act to protect public safety, but it would be impossible to stop thousands from gathering to vote. Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, vowed the plebiscite would happen no matter what.

SOURCE



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Australia: Is subjecting people to speech free speech?

One would think not -- quite the contrary -- but the Left have always used free speech as a justification of anything they say.  In line with that, a plan to subject football fans to pro-homosexual propaganda is being defended as free speech.

The pro-homosexual song concerned has been very widely aired so has not in any way been restricted speech but should people who dislike the sentiments of the song be forced to listen to it?  In their usual authoritarian way, the Left are answering "Yes" to that. They are having the song sung at half-time during a football match in spite of the fact that many fans there will find it objectionable.

Mere good manners would usually ensure that an objectionable song is not sung on such an occasion but Leftist propaganda is far more important than bad manners, of course.  Interesting though that political correctness is often claimed to be just good manners and refraining from offending people.  More evidence of Leftist hypocrisy


Former prime minister Tony Abbott has backed a call from same-sex marriage opponents to ban American rapper Macklemore from performing his pro-gay song Same Love at the NRL grand final.

Former player Tony Wall, who played first grade briefly in the mid 1990s, is petitioning NRL boss Todd Greenberg to halt the half-time performance and "take a neutral position on the question of same-sex marriage".

The Coalition for Marriage, the official "no" campaign vehicle, seized on the Change.org petition on Wednesday, demanding the NRL ban the song despite making "freedom of speech" one of its central campaign tenets.

Spokesman David Goodwin said the grand final was "not a PC lecture theatre" and it was "bizarre that the NRL would choose to use its half-time entertainment to push a message which it knows millions of Australians disagree with".

Mr Abbott backed that call, tweeting: "Footy fans shouldn't be subjected to a politicised grand final. Sport is sport!"

But the NRL stood firm on Wednesday, with Mr Greenberg telling 2GB radio the LGBTI anthem was just one of four songs Macklemore was scheduled to perform, and reiterating the code's support for same-sex marriage.

"He's playing four of his biggest hits, one of those will include that song and we're very comfortable with that," Mr Greenberg said.

He conceded the song could be seen as a political act but said "we're an inclusive game" and "it would be a little hypocritical for us to have inclusiveness as one of our values and not actually deliver on it".

The song Same Love, which reached No.1 in Australia in 2013, is critical of homophobia in rap music and includes the lyric: "No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it."

Mr Wall said he and his family, and other NRL fans who did not support same-sex marriage, would feel uncomfortable watching the grand final if the song were to be performed. The petition had gathered 2100 online signatures as of Wednesday evening.

The NRL formally announced its support for same-sex marriage just over two weeks ago, saying the league had a duty to back up its policy of inclusion with action.

The AFL has also encountered blowback for its long-standing support for marriage equality, with commentators and some Coalition MPs upset over a decision to temporarily replace the logo outside its Melbourne headquarters with a "yes" sign.

Both codes have resisted attempts to shut down their advocacy, arguing they are entitled to a point of view but respect those who disagree.

The Coalition for Marriage and supporters have made "freedom of speech" a central tenet of its campaign, claiming free speech wold be under threat if same-sex marriage were to be legalised.

"Freedom of speech is a central issue in this campaign," the Coalition for Marriage said last week following the Abbott headbutt.

"It is absolutely crucial that people are able to speak up and participate in a national conversation about marriage in a respectful and peaceful manner."

In a 2GB interview on Wednesday, Mr Abbott continued his campaign for a "no" vote, saying it was "the best way of stopping political correctness in his tracks".

"We have seen political correctness run riot on a whole host of issues, but this is the first time that the Australian public have been asked to cast their verdict on all of these developments," he said.

SOURCE


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Academic says people who are against legalising gay marriage are 'not intelligent enough to take part in meaningful debate' (?)

But he says so on the basis of a survey question that did NOT mention gay marriage! A fuller report of the research is here.  It is in general carefully done but I am surprised that the results are reported as a trend.  That would normally be used for a time series. The more usual presentation would be in the form of a correlation coefficient. When correlations between beliefs and IQ are examined on other occasions, the correlation is found to be very weak.  That may have been the case on this occasion but has been covered up by the unusual analysis.

Concern must also be expressed that attitude was measured by just one very general question.  Psychologists normally use multi-item scales precisely because answers to a single question can be very misleading. And in that connection one must note that the question did NOT refer to marriage. It was just a general rights question.

That is of particular concern when we note that the answers to the question were from two years ago, long before the marriage debate became as well-defined as it is now. The same question might well be differently understood now.

The author has clearly overgeneralized from his finding. Insofar as the finding means anything, I see it as just another iteration of the general finding that high IQ people have a weak tendency to be more Leftist.  They think they know it all and so do Leftists.  It also means that more intelligent kids are better at picking up and absorbing the lessons drummed into them by our Left-dominated educational system.


An academic has suggested opponents of gay marriage are less intelligent.

Dr Francisco Perales, a senior research fellow with the University of Queensland's Institute for Social Science Research, argues those opposed to redefining marriage struggled with processing complex ideas.

Citing comprehensive demographic data, he said those planning to vote 'No' in the same-sex marriage postal vote were unlikely to be persuaded by the facts.

'This may shed some light on why those who stand against equal rights may not be persuaded by evidence-based arguments in the ongoing same-sex marriage debate,' he said in an opinion piece for the ABC on Tuesday.

'This applies, for instance, to the scientifically unsupported claim that children are worse off in same-sex households.'

The Brisbane-based academic, who specialises in 'gender and sexual identity', said opponents of changing the Marriage Act lacked the cognitive ability to process complex ideas, discern facts from speculation and critically engage with new or diverse viewpoints.

'Specifically, there is a strong and statistically significant association between higher cognitive ability and a greater likelihood to support equal rights between same- and different-sex couples,' Dr Perales said.

He added older people and those from non-English speaking backgrounds were more likely to oppose gay marriage.

'Some population groups — older people and those from non-English-speaking backgrounds, for example — may be more opposed to equal rights and also perform worse in cognitive ability tests,' he said.

'For the former group, this may be due to cognitive decline, and for the latter it may be due to English not being their first language.'

He argued the 'No' case were relying on arguments unrelated to same-sex marriage, such as religious freedom or gender theory in schools, to persuade socially conservative voters.

'These results may thus shed some light over why some on the 'No' side may be failing to offer or accept evidence-based arguments, or why they keep relying on philosophically, historically or empirically flawed ones,' Dr Perales said.

With former Liberal prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, along with socially conservative politicians like Bob Katter, leading the 'No' case, Dr Perales didn't suggest all opponents of gay marriage were less intellectual.

'The findings do not mean that all who intend to vote 'no' in the marriage ballot have a low level of cognitive ability,' he said. 'Nor do they mean that all those who intend to vote 'yes' have a high level.'

However, he concluded opponents of gay marriage were more likely to be less intelligent, citing data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia annual surveys of  17,000 people.

'People who stand against equal rights for same-sex couples are less likely to have cognitive resources that are important to participating in meaningful debate,' he said.

His intervention into the gay marriage conversation comes as voters return ballots from the Australian Bureau of Statistics as part of the $122 million voluntary postal vote on redefining the Marriage Act.

Opinion polls, including Newspoll, show the 'Yes' having majority public support.

SOURCE


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We're just too clever to find a boyfriend! It may sound insufferably smug, but these women say their high intellect means they struggle to meet someone

There is some truth and a lot of mistaken assumptions below. Men are less keen on going to university these days because that is no longer where the money is.  Tradesmen such as electricians and plumbers are the high income earners these days. So for a woman to find a man with similar interests and background is difficult.

But it always was.  Traditionally women were interested in clothes and babies while men were interested in cars and beer. Interests in common have never been a major factor in  male/female pairings and it is foolish to expect it.

And the women described below have, if anything, accentuated that difference.  They all seem to have done do-gooder studies of some sort. That fits a woman's biological role as a carer but it is not a biological role for a male and is more likely to put men off than elicit approval.  And for a women to have done feminist studies is worst of all.  That would send most men running.  Feminism is just too hostile to them.

And the claim below that a brainy background is uniquely handicapping to women is an example of how identity-conscious people routinely assign to their identity something that is not identity related at all.

Take the example of blacks.  Everyone experiences social exclusion and disapproval of some sort for all sorts of reasons but a black will often attribute all such disapproval to his blackness when it may have many other causes -- such as his excessive self-esteem.

And it is true that a highly educated person will be somewhat isolated by that.  But such isolation happens to MEN TOO.  When I used to go to parties many years ago, I would have two answers ready to the usual "what do you do for a living" question.  At that time I was a university lecturer but also drove taxis part time for a bit of extra money.

If I replied to the party question "I am a university lecturer", the space around me would clear within minutes.  Nobody wanted to talk to me.  On other occasions I would reply "I am a taxi driver".  That was a great social success.  Everybody would want to talk to me about taxi drivers they had met etc.  So the ladies below should stop being sexist about what is in fact normal social segregation. They are feeling unreasonably aggrieved and grievance has its own problems.

The focus on conversation is one I share but it is not necessarily wise.  In Australia the population is about 5% Han Chinese so there are a lot of short little Asian young ladies about.  And they HATE being shorter than almost anyone else around.  So they are determined to have taller children.  But the only way to do that is to get a tall man.  But the tall men are almost all Caucasians.  So that is what the little ladies go for. So it is common out and about where I live to see little Asian ladies on the arms of tall Caucasian  men.

So how come those Asian ladies can get a man  when the ladies below cannot?  Simple. Asian ladies don't want to know what the men think of Mr Trump or social issues generally.  They just want to know what he wants and do their best to give it to him.  And that suits the men.  Asian ladies tend to come across as very feminine and their obliging nature makes the man think he has hit the jackpot.  So there will be a lot of Eurasian children about in Australia before long.

So are there any lessons from that for the bereft ladies below?  There is a BIG lesson.  It is relationships that matter not your hobbies -- intellectual or otherwise.  Concentrate on people before all else and you will do well.  You might even find that "dumb" electrician to be a nice guy who will keep you in style.  And you can have your specialized conversations with your friends.

That's roughly what I do.  As a much published Ph.D. academic and as someone who ran Sydney Mensa for a number of years, I am betting that I have even greater difficulty than the ladies below in finding similarly qualified women to relate to. I never have.  So I don't try.  I seek and find women with a good heart and have my specialized conversations mostly with my son.

What I have just said runs hard against what women are mostly told these days but it is also traditional wisdom. And what has worked for thousands of years may have something to be said for it.


For Natasha Hooper, the most important part of pre-date preparation isn’t getting her hair done, waxing her legs or buying a new dress.

Instead, she is more preoccupied with composing a list of conversational topics which she hopes will bridge the gap between her highbrow preoccupations, and the more mainstream interests of her dates.

Waiting in a bar for a young man a few weeks ago, she ran through possible options, before settling on the subject of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A surefire way, the 22-year-old undergraduate reasoned, to guarantee an interesting debate.

Yet while the 30-year-old office worker who sat down in front of her was handsome, polite and smartly-dressed, the minute Natasha brought up the Labour leader’s policies, any spark of attraction was extinguished. ‘When I mentioned Jeremy Corbyn he said: “Who’s that?” I couldn’t believe it,’ says Natasha.

After 90 minutes discussing what she describes as ‘benign’ subjects, such as reality TV and football, Natasha made her excuses and left, no closer to finding Mr Right.

With long dark hair, big brown eyes and a stunning Size 8 figure, Natasha — entering her final year at Goldsmiths, University of London — has no problem attracting male attention.

The issue, she explains, is the calibre of men she attracts. ‘I’m not claiming to be Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to meet a man I find intellectually stimulating,’ she says. Nor is she the only well-educated young woman who says she is too clever to find love.

Indeed, she is one of a growing breed of women who fear — perhaps with good reason — they will be left on the proverbial shelf because of a shortage of educated men.

Recent figures from the university admissions service UCAS showed that 30,000 more women than men are starting degree courses in the UK. On A-level results day last month, 133,280 British women aged 18 secured a university place compared with 103,800 men of the same age.

The effects of this carry over into the workplace, where women aged from 22 to 29 typically now earn £1,111 more a year than their male peers.

This growing gulf between male and female attainment — the result, many believe, of the feminisation of the education system, with more female teachers, less physical exercise and an emphasis on the arts — is having troubling repercussions when it comes to relationships.

A recent study found more than 90 per cent of predominantly graduate women surveyed were delaying motherhood not to pursue careers, but because they couldn’t find a suitable man.

Some were so despairing they were considering freezing their eggs as an insurance policy.

Put simply, it is an oversupply of educated females. In China, they are called ‘leftover’ women.

‘It sounds cold and callous, but in demographic terms it’s true. There are not enough graduates for them,’ said the study’s author Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology at Yale University.

The upshot? Frustrated young women terrified of being left single and childless — and men driven by a sense of inadequacy.

‘Men may claim to want educated women, but don’t know how to deal with those they meet and some say they’re intimidated by me,’ says Natasha, who grew up in Birmingham and is single after breaking up with her boyfriend this year.

‘I feel I’m hitting a brick wall.’

Like many arts degrees, her media and communications course is dominated by female students, and Natasha claims the few male undergraduates ‘lack the intellectual maturity to handle conversations’.

‘One cancelled our date four times because he was too busy getting drunk. In class, their conversations centre around going to gigs and smoking weed at weekends, which is not what I’m looking for in a date.’

She prefers instead to date older men she meets through her part-time job as a nightclub promoter.

Yet even more mature men fail to show the requisite enthusiasm for her university projects — which include a radio documentary she recently produced on ‘the pressure that black women are under to adhere to white beauty stereotypes’.

One can imagine how such a topic could be a little alienating to many men, and Natasha herself admits ‘there’s only so much I can talk about my own interests without sounding patronising.’

She says that men often try to change the subject matter back to lads’ nights outs, holidays and sporting hobbies.

‘I’ll always listen to be polite, but superficial, self-indulgent conversation is an immediate red flag,’ she says.

Since the breakdown of her most recent relationship, with a DJ ten years her senior, Natasha has had a handful of dates, but declined to take things further.

‘Afterwards I’ll text to say our conversations weren’t flowing in the right direction. Most accept it although one, a company director, went on the defensive, saying I thought I was a princess,’ says Natasha.

‘I think he had anger issues.’ British women began to ‘catch up’ with men’s educational attainment levels in the Sixties, when larger numbers entered universities, but only recently have the roles been dramatically reversed, with men falling behind at an alarming rate.

‘In the Sixties there was a gendered way of pushing female graduates into jobs such as teaching and nursing,’ says Nichi Hodgson, author of The Curious History Of Dating: From Jane Austen To Tinder.

‘And only 20 or 30 years ago a man wanted his female partner to be smart because the assumption was that she would be the primary carer, staying at home to raise their children, who would then absorb her intellect.’

But now women are competing with men for the same careers — there are more female junior doctors than male, for example, while nearly two-thirds of practising lawyers in Scotland under 40 are women — their achievements have become more problematic.

‘Smart women raise the issue of who would take time off when they have children,’ says Hodgson. ‘After all, why should a female partner stop working if she’s studied hard for her career?

‘The reality is that with women getting more — and better — degrees, in the next ten to 20 years women will be smarter than men, in terms of how well they’re educated. And I don’t think men are ready for this.’

This is no surprise to Becca Porter, who graduated last year from Manchester University with a joint honours degree in history and sociology, and is now starting a masters in disability studies at Leeds University.

‘The sense of achievement I derive from learning seems alien to most men,’ says Becca, 23. ‘At school I wasn’t bothered about boys, but I’m at the stage where I’d like to share my life with someone.’

With a working-class upbringing — Becca’s mother is an activities co-ordinator and her father an engineer — Becca was not only the first in her family to go to university, but an anomaly among her male peers in Burnley, Lancashire.

Among those from poorer backgrounds, the gender divide is highly pronounced, with young women who were on free school meals 51 per cent more likely to go into higher education than men in similar circumstances.

‘The boys at my school mostly went into manual jobs after we left and seemed to think I had a high opinion of myself for going to university,’ says Becca. ‘They say I’m too bright for them.’

Becca recalls a factory worker she asked out in a bar while home for the holidays turning her down because she was ‘too clever’ for him.

‘We were having a great chat until he found out I was at university,’ says Becca. ‘I insisted I wasn’t too clever for him and he agreed to go on a shopping trip together for our first date.

‘But it was awful. I think he felt I should lead the conversation, so he barely spoke and I felt too awkward to say anything.’

Her longest relationship was with a car mechanic from Burnley last year. It lasted a few weeks.

‘He thought I viewed myself as a big shot,’ says Becca, who admits she found him ‘monosyllabic’.

‘Our conversations were mundane. When I tried to start an informed discussion — about religion or terrorism, for example — he had no idea how to react.

‘He didn’t understand that my degree meant I had a head full of information and when I asked him about his work all he could muster was that it had been “fine”.

‘In any case, there’s only so much you can talk about when you do the same job every day.’

Andrea Gould, 41, has two degrees and says her intellect has prevented her from finding love and having the family she longed for

In the event, Becca ended the relationship because, she says, he was always at work — an unfortunate fact of life many of us might sympathise with, but one Becca intends to put off for much of her 20s by doing a PhD in disability research after her masters.

She has dated around eight men in total — all non-graduates.

‘I know deep down they didn’t see me as relatable,’ she says. ‘I get the impression they’d rather date a girl without a degree. They don’t know how to react to my different life experiences and see my education as a barrier.’

So why doesn’t Becca date fellow students? Because, she says, of the class divide.

‘The few boys I met at university came from middle-class families in which a degree was expected of them,’ she explains. ‘They weren’t generally interested in their studies, whereas my degree was a big deal — I was there to learn.’

She acknowledges some of her degree subjects were a bit ‘out there’ — they included gender and sexuality in Africa and reproduction in new medical technology — but adds: ‘It was hurtful that men didn’t want to talk about them.

‘One date found the fact I studied from a feminist perspective offputting. Most mistakenly assume I hate men.’

Many believe the growing number of casualties from the intellectual chasm will be educated women in their 30s and 40s, who’ve failed to find men they deem their equal and are running out of time to start a family.

Andrea Gould, 41, from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, has two degrees and says her intellect has prevented her from finding love and having the family she longed for.

‘Being an A-grade student has been an obstacle as much as a blessing. It has limited my choices in men,’ she says.

During both her degrees — she first studied English and German at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, then social policy at the same university for an extra ‘challenge’ — she claims male students fell into two camps. ‘There were geeky types into computer games, and leery lads who just wanted to drink and were intimidated by my studious nature,’ she recalls. ‘I didn’t want to be around either.’

Throughout her 20s and 30s Andrea — who worked as a foreign languages teacher before setting up an online furniture store — struggled to find anyone suitable.

Her longest relationship, for two years, was in her mid-30s with a musician. It ended because she disapproved of his use of cannabis.

‘Since then I’ve used online dating and tried to date only those who specified a similar level of education on their profile,’ she says.

‘But we had nothing in common. Men think I’m too serious. I want to talk about psychology and literature — they’re obsessed with UFOs and Harry Potter. Perhaps I’m too fussy, but I’m bored within an hour.’

Dr Elle Boag, a social psychologist at Birmingham City University, says: ‘More women graduate with the expectation of being challenged by conversation in a romantic context as well as in their careers. ‘This in turn can be intimidating for men, who often feel belittled by women who’ve outgrown them.’

For her part, Andrea insists that scintillating conversation isn’t too much to ask for. ‘I’m not after a man with money or a high-powered career, just someone to have an intellectual conversation with.

‘But I’m running out of time to start a family and that gives me a sense of emptiness.’

The solution, perhaps, for Andrea and the growing number of women in her situation, could be to master the art of compromise.

After all, as Dr Boag puts it: ‘A degree might make you think differently, but it doesn’t make you a better person. As women continue to excel, many might be better off exercising a bit more humility.’

SOURCE

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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

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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


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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


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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


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"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

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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

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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


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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

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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

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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.

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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.



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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.

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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