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Australia's new political divide: 'globalists' versus 'patriots'

There is often talk that the old Left/Right divide is inadequate.  Eysenck made a big deal of that in his 1954 book. And libertarians too think a two dimensional description is needed.  A fairly typical example is below:



So the claims below are not very new.

I paid considerable attention to the matter in my research career, as you will see here but my conclusion was that a second dimension of attitudes did not emerge from the survey results.  Only the old Left/Right division could be found.

An important qualification to that is that OBLIQUE factors could be found.  In other words, the Left/Right domain was not totally homogeneous.  For example, there is a dimension of economic conservatism plus a dimension of moral conservatism.  Statements within those two domains correlate highly with one another but the correlation between moral conservatism overall and economic conservatism overall was weak:  Weak but not non-existent.

In other words, economic conservatives also tended -- somewhat -- to be conservative on moral issues.  And those two dimensions are the chief sub-dimensions of the Left/Right continuum.  They emerge repeatedly in survey research.  Despite some wrangling, Economic and moral conservatives do find common cause in everyday politics.  They have enough in common to co-operate with one-another.

So what are we to make of the findings below?  Clearly, they have identified two distinct factors.  But how oblique are those factors?  We are not told.  I am almost certain that the two factors will in fact be very oblique, very highly correlated.  Patriotism is normally a strong component of conservatism and internationalism is normally a Leftist ideal. Leftists continue to salute the United Nations despite the gross corruption in that body.

So all that I think the authors below have done is rediscover the old Left/Right divide. They have identified a group of statements that conservatives strongly agree with -- patriotic statements -- and a group of statements that get strong support from Leftists -- globalism. Two particular subsets of Left/Right attitudes have come under sharper focus and gained greater importance recently

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


Openness. That is the word Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe chose to emphasise at his first public outing this year.

In Australia there is an "openness and transparency" not always found elsewhere, he told a high-powered business gathering at the Opera House on Thursday night.

And openness to trade and investment has been fundamental to the nation's prosperity.  Australia is "committed to an open international order," Lowe said.

Those sentiments might have seemed routine a few years back. But in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump "openness" to the world economy – often referred to  as globalisation – is now a hotly contested political issue.

A little over a year ago Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right Front National party and a presidential contender, cast political battlelines as being no longer "between the left and the right but the globalists and the patriots". The globalists, she sneered, are for the dissolution of France into a "global magma".

Greg Ip, a Wall Street Journal economics commentator, wrote last month that Le Pen's remarks foreshadowed "the tectonic forces that would shake up the world in 2016".

Opposition to globalisation – the increasing movement of goods, money and people across international borders – was a key theme of Trump campaign to become president of the US. From now on it is going to be "America First", he says repeatedly.

In Australia, Pauline Hanson has globalisation in her sights. In her maiden speech to the Senate in September she accused national leaders of giving away our sovereignty, our rights, our jobs and even our democracy.  "Their push for globalisation, economic rationalism, free trade and ethnic diversity has seen our country's decline," she said.

In pitting globalists  against patriots Le Pen neatly summed up a new and unpredictable political fissure that cuts across old divisions between left and right.

Ip predicts the tussle between globalism and nationalism "will shape the coming era much as the struggle between conservatives and liberals has shaped the last".

This political split has emerged during a period of rapid global economic integration. In the two decades before the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007 international trade in goods and services grew by 7 per cent a year on average – a much faster rate than global GDP.

This has been a period of great prosperity for Australia, which has not experienced a recession for a quarter of a century. But there has also been a marked shift in the structure of the economy. Since the mid-1990s manufacturing's share of Australia's economic output has fallen from 14 per cent to about 7 per cent.

Meanwhile, the importance of knowledge-intensive service industries such as finance and professional services has grown significantly. Similar trends have been at work in other advanced economies.

The flow of migrants to Australia – another factor many associate with globalisation – has also been strong. The proportion of Australians born overseas reached 28 per cent in 2014-15, the highest proportion in more than 120 years.

There are now signs the tussle Ip describes between globalist and nationalist sentiment has become an important political fault line in Australia.

Polling for the Political Personas Project commissioned by Fairfax Media and conducted by the Australian National University and Netherlands-based political research enterprise Kieskompas, shows public opinion is divided over the merits of trade liberalisation, one of globalisation's fundamentals.

The statement "free trade with other countries has made Australia better off" could not muster support from the majority of the 2600 voters surveyed – 44.7 per cent agreed (but only 7.1 per cent strongly), 27.5 per cent disagreed and 27.8 per cent were neutral.

There is a similar split when voters are asked to assess the impact of globalisation.

A separate Ipsos survey released in December found 48 per cent of Australians considered globalisation a "force for good" while 22 per cent said it was a "force for bad", with 29 per cent undecided.

Carol Johnson, professor of politics and international studies at the University of Adelaide, said many voters have, over time, become more aware of globalisation's drawbacks.

"Twenty years ago, the electorate seemed prepared to believe that while there were some risks to opening up the economy, there would also be benefits," she said.  "Part of what happened is that people are now more aware that many of our competitor countries, including Asian countries, are more than capable of developing these [high-tech and service] industries themselves.

"The assumption that Western countries will always be superior has started to come undone and voters are becoming worried that government hasn't got right the mix of balancing the benefits and downsides of globalisation."

Polling for the Political Personas Project found more than eight in 10 voters believe "we rely too heavily on foreign imports and should manufacture more in Australia". This statement received more support than any other proposition in the survey, which covered dozens of hot-button political issues.

Jill Sheppard, a researcher from the ANU's Centre for Social Research and Method who was involved in the project, said public concern about the decline of manufacturing was linked to perceptions of globalisation.

"Globalisation seems to manifest in people's minds as manufacturing and jobs going offshore. They think about cheap labour in Asian countries, which seem like a direct threat to us."

SOURCE

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More on the Bates revelations about the NOAA paper by Tom Karl

The writer below says that the Bates revelations have one and one only important implication:  That unvalidated data was used.  In my career as a psychometrician, I too often railed against the unvalidated data often used by my fellow social scientists.  So I agree that use of unvalidated data means that the conclusions of that particular study cannot be accepted.

I don't think the problem ends there, however.  I think it unlikely that the data used CAN be validated.  The revelation about the best measurements of sea surface temperature not being used do, I think, have that implication. They imply that the data body used was constructed to defraud


It is sometimes said science is all about data… observation, measurement, experiment, measurement… But that is NOT the whole story. To ensure data is reliable and understood, we’ve developed standard units of measure, and document procedures used to obtain and record measurements. The intention is to make sure BOTH the data AND collection methods can be reliably understood and used by others. The fleshed out version of this is the scientific method, and is integral to, and indispensable in the advance of science. It works because it helps eliminate bias and protect the integrity of both data and process. Any departure from rigorous adherence to these principles may or may not adversely affect data. But it increases the risk, and introduces doubt as to the overall integrity. And any subsequent reliance on this data must not assert confidence levels beyond the weakest preceding link. For example, it would be inaccurate or dishonest to claim 100% certainty on results that can only be replicated 50% of the time.

So let’s wind forward…

There has been much suck-and-blow blather in the aftermath of the David Rose column on the whistleblower allegations by former NOAA scientist John Bates. I won’t rehash the article, other than to say Rose does seem eager to sensationalize speculative results rather than the details, but that in no way negates the seriousness of the allegations stated. What I want to discuss is the allegations and impacts. Rose is not the story. Bates is not the story. The story is the circumvention of procedures put in place to protect the integrity of the data, and hence the reputation of the NOAA. From John Bates:



Predictably, both the “consensus” and skeptic camps largely missed the mark in jumping to defend or attack positions. There were a flurry of hastily written newspaper and blog reports on “bad data“, “data manipulation“, and “data tampering“. Bates’ report didn’t say data was deliberately compromised (he mentioned a “thumb on the scale” which he later seemed to walk back), but that the presentation may have been biased, and adherence to protocol was haphazard. These of course are different things. This opened the door for the usual suspects from the other side to rush out reports showing the NOAA data was largely in agreement with other datasets, directing the discussion away from the presentation and protocol questions to “The data checks out. See? No problem.” This was cleverly, cynically, and all too accurately highlighted by Gavin Schmidt:



Let there be NO mistake: Regardless of the best efforts of Schmidt and friends to paint this as just deniers denying, if NOAA followed THEIR OWN established protocols, there would be no story.

Now the hordes of hyperactive and secure-in-their-ignorance columnists, tweeters and bloggers from the periphery join in with escalations of character attacks, dishonest misdirections, and deliberately uncharitable interpretations of innocuous statements. The Guardian chipped in with a nastily biased bit:



Referring back to the Science Insider piece…



Just one little problem: They provide no evidence that Bates said anything about being wary of skeptics. He said “people”. And as both skeptic and consensus camps have seemingly derailed in their rush to the wrong conclusion, it could easily mean either, or more likely both.

I could go on at length about the ridiculous obfuscation and mean spirited BS thrown about during any attempted discussion of the allegations (most of which have not been denied, but rather downplayed) but I’ll save that for a separate post. That’s just another distraction from the real issue at hand.

No, the issues are as Bates outlined: “Ethical standards must be maintained”. There can be no confidence in data without confidence in the procedures surrounding collection and storage of data. And persons or organizations that place no value in these procedures further erode confidence. This happens repeatedly:

  • publicly funded trustee of information gets “sloppy”


  • concern is expressed


  • those at fault are defended


  • the ‘concerned’ are attacked


  • conversation derails


  • nothing is fixed


  • rinse and repeat
This is damaging to public confidence in climate science in particular, and government programs in general. And rightfully so. There are many billions in public funds that need to be allocated to the best possible effect. At a minimum, these continued scandals damage public willingness to invest resources required. And potentially more damaging, errors lead to resources that could have been better spent (poverty, etc) being wasted to no benefit.

Perhaps in this case no data was harmed. I hope not. But if we don’t take these matters seriously eventually there will be damages. And not just to a database.

SOURCE

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What the elite mean by Fascism

Brendy is pretty right about current usage below but his definition of historical Fascism is weak.  As a retired Marxist, he relies largely on Trotsky for a definition of it.  And that definition is conventional rather than history-based.  The classic Marxist lie is that Fascism/Nazism was middle class.  Yet the most fanatical Nazis -- the "Sturmabteilung" -- were overwhelmingly working class.  And Hitler's origins as a hobo are also not middle class.

The defining characteristics of Fascism are socialist rhetoric and extensive government control of industry.  And those things are true of most developed nations to this day. Control of industry these days is done by laws and regulations rather than by having a party representative on-site at major business  establishments but the result is very similar.  There is great government control in both cases.  So does Fascism still exist in the world today?

It does to a considerable degree.  The overt hostility to other countries is gone but that is about it.  Historical Fascists had great national pride and tried to take over territory from other nations  -- but America's many wars abroad are not so different.  The propaganda is better but there has been an obvious intention to reform other nations along American lines.  America has tried to Americanize the world.

And it may be noted that most of America's wars have been entered into by people who also espouse socialistic rhetoric.  Socialistic rhetoric was joined with war by Hitler and the same is largely true of the USA. Democrat President Woodrow Wilson got America into WWI. FDR got it into WW2.  Kennedy got it into Vietnam.  Only the Iraq intervention was the work of a Republican and that was in response to a direct attack on the U.S. homeland -- so was essentially a defensive war.

And, as with past Fascist military adventures, American interventions abroad have had very poor success.  The last clear success was in Korea and even that succeeded only in the South.

But in a sense America's military efforts are incidental to American dominance.  American mass culture has conquered the world.  Guns and bullets are a crude instrument of influence compared to that.

So I do think that real Fascism is not only alive and well but is the dominant form of government today.


Having divorced politics from popular opinion as a way of keeping in check the presumed fascist tendencies of the masses, it is not surprising that the political class views the public’s recent attempts at ‘taking back control’, at joining back together opinion and democracy, as a return of fascism. Their great fear is that the lid they put on the masses’ latent fascism, their distancing of the political machinery from public prejudices, has been lifted. They are screaming ‘fascism’ because they see fascism in us, in ordinary people. Thus the accusation of fascism expresses a profound hostility towards democracy itself, and to the demos. It is pure elitism to see fascism in the new politics. Which is why the most elite sections of society — archbishops, princes, heads of global institutions — are often to the fore in the fascism frenzy.

And of course, what they describe as ‘fascism’ — Brexit, people worried about immigration, Trump — is nothing of the sort. These things don’t even come close to fascism. As Weismann argued, even ‘dictatorship, mass neurosis, anti-Semitism, the power of unscrupulous propaganda, the hypnotic effect of a mad-genius orator on the masses, and so on’ do not necessarily constitute fascism. Fascism, he said, was something different to all that, something more than all that. Fascism, in essence, is a mass, paramilitary movement that acts as a stand-in for normal politics and normal statehood when that politics and statehood cannot deal with a threat it faces, primarily the threat of revolution or of organised, agitating labour. As Trotsky put it, fascism occurs when the ‘police and military resources’ of a society, and its parliamentary process, ‘no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium’. In such circumstances, as happened most notably in Italy and Germany, the rulers of society give way to, or rather push to the front, a mass violent movement fashioned to crush the threatening force. Fascism, basically, is when a society in crisis green-lights civil war as a means of stabilising itself in the longer term.

This fascist movement is made up from the ‘crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralised lumpenproletariat’, in Trotsky’s colourful, cutting phrase. Brought to ‘desperation and frenzy’, this mass, paramilitarised section of society sets about ‘annihilating’ workers’ movements and of course executing anti-Semitic savagery. The consequence is that ‘a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallisation of the proletariat’ — ‘therein precisely is the gist of fascism’, said Trotsky. This is why those who say ‘the Nazis were left-wing, you know’ are wholly wrong. Fascism fundamentally represents the violent marshalling of a certain strata of society to the end of crushing the left and the working class. Yes, the Nazis in particular used socialist terms, even calling themselves the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. But as Trotsky says, that was merely the means through which a mass movement could be built. Fascism’s leaders ‘employ a great deal of socialist demagogy’, he said, for this is ‘necessary to the creation of the mass movement’.

Nothing even remotely like this exists today. None of the conditions or groups that make fascism, and which make it distinct from hatred and demagoguery and even from dictatorship, exist in Europe or the US in 2017. There is no powerful workers’ movement posing such a threat to the stability of capitalism that it needs to be destroyed. No ‘crazed’ petty bourgeoisie is being armed and goaded into civil or class war as a means of ‘annihilating’ vast numbers of their fellow citizens. People — well, ordinary people — have not been whipped into a frenzy. Indeed, it is the patience of Brexit and Trump voters in the face of incessant defamation by the media and political set that is most striking.

It is a fantasy to claim fascism has made a comeback. And it’s a revealing fantasy. When the political and media elites speak of fascism today, what they’re really expressing is fear. Fear of the primal, unpredictable mass of society. Fear of unchecked popular opinion. Fear of what they view as the authoritarian impulses of those outside their social, bureaucratic sphere. Fear of the latent fascism, as they see it, of the ordinary inhabitants of Nazi-darkened Europe or of Middle America, who apparently lack the moral and intellectual resources to resist demagoguery. As one columnist put it, today’s ‘fascistic style’ of politics is a creation not so much of wicked leaders, as of the dangerous masses. ‘Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you’, he says. ‘Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you.’ In short, not leaders but the led; not the state but the people. This, precisely, is who terrifies them. This, precisely, is what they mean when they say ‘fascism’. They mean you, me, ordinary people; people who have dared to say that they want to influence politics again after years of being frozen out. When they say fascism, they mean democracy.

SOURCE

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Sea ice around Antarctica hits record low as NASA captures the moment massive iceberg the size of Manhattan breaks away from  giant glacier

Once again a single event is being hailed as proof of global warming.  But you cannot logically do that.  A global theory requires global evidence.  You can have warming in one place while it is cooling elsewhere -- for no net effect.  And it IS cooling elsewhere.  I repeat once again the graph showing ice GROWTH in Greenland.  The authors below slide around the Greenland data by saying: "At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has set repeated lows in recent years."  It sure has -- in recent years but not this year.  Greenies sure can be slippery.

And breaking ice shelves of course do not raise the water level by one iota.  They are FLOATING ice.  Check your Archimedes.

Also note that West Antarctica is normally more prone to melting than the rest of Antarctica -- probably due to greater subsurface vulcanism




Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of man-made global warming, preliminary U.S. satellite data has revealed.

Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year around the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.

This year, sea ice extent contracted to 2.287 million square kilometres (883,015 square miles) on Feb. 13, according to daily data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

That extent is a fraction smaller than a previous low of 2.290 million sq kms (884,173 square miles) recorded on Feb. 27, 1997, in satellite records dating back to 1979.

It comes as NASA revealed stunning images of a huge area of ice breaking off from the Pine Island Glacier.

Pine Island Glacier is one of the main glaciers responsible for moving ice from the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to the ocean.

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured these images of Pine Island Glacier's floating edge before and after the recent break.

The top image shows the area on January 24, 2017, while the second image shows the same area on January 26.

About a kilometer or two of ice appears to have calved (broken off) from the shelf's front.

Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said he would wait for a few days' more measurements to confirm the record low.

'But unless something funny happens, we're looking at a record minimum in Antarctica. Some people say it's already happened,' he told Reuters.

'We tend to be conservative by looking at five-day running averages.'

In many recent years, the average extent of sea ice around Antarctica has tended to expand despite the overall trend of global warming, blamed on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

People sceptical of mainstream findings by climate scientists have often pointed to Antarctic sea ice as evidence against global warming. Some climate scientists have linked the paradoxical expansion to shifts in winds and ocean currents.

'We've always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir. Well, maybe it's starting to stir now,' Serreze said.

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels.

At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has set repeated lows in recent years.

Combined, the extent of sea ice at both ends of the planet is about 2 million sq kms (772,200 square miles) less than the 1981-2010 averages for mid-February, roughly the size of Mexico or Saudi Arabia.

The shocking new NASA images show the reality of the problem, as Pine Island Glacier has shed another block of ice into Antarctic waters.

The loss was tiny compared to the icebergs that broke off in 2014 and 2015, but the event is further evidence of the ice shelf's fragility.

SOURCE


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What fun! John Cook rides again!

He is the author of the famous 97% claim and a most energetic defender of Warmism.  And he certainly is a crook Cook.  He makes a great pretence of science by reporting known facts but ignoring or leaving some things out. He then pretends that he has proven global warming.

But his latest is a superb example of psychological projection. He takes some well-known examples of psychological defence mechanisms and purports to find examples of them among climate skeptics.  But exactly those same mechanisms are common among Warmists.  An excerpt:

I’m a cognitive psychologist interested in better understanding and countering the techniques used to distort the science of climate change. I’ve found that understanding why some people reject climate science offers insight into how they deny science. By better understanding the techniques employed, you can counter misinformation more effectively.

Every movement that has rejected a scientific consensus, whether it be on evolution, climate change or the link between smoking and cancer, exhibits the same five characteristics of science denial (concisely summarized by the acronym FLICC). These are fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations, cherry picking and conspiracy theories. When someone wants to cast doubt on a scientific finding, FLICC is an integral part of the misinformation toolbox.

He points to no specific examples of each fallacy among skeptics so, very briefly, let me point out how those fallacies apply to Warmists:

* Fake experts:  Al Gore

* Logical fallacies:  Some extreme weather events imply a general increase in extreme weather events

* Impossible expectations:  No change is too small to be worth noticing.  Even temperature changes in the hundredths of one degree mean something.  No change is small enough to prove temperature stasis

* Cherry picking:  Looking at only a short run of temperature records.  The Central England Temperature record goes back to 1659 and shows no trend

* Conspiracy theories:  Big oil is behind climate skepticism

Perhaps most amazing in Cook's latest screed is the way he refers to his own 97% paper.  He accurately describes it as showing that:

"Among the papers stating a position, 97 percent agreed that humans are causing global warming"

He completely skates over the fact that two thirds of the papers he examined took no position on global warming.  So only ONE THIRD of all scientists, and not 97%, agreed with global warming.  It's typical Cook.  He quotes facts but ignores their full implications.

And, as far as I can see,  that goes for all of the other claims in his paper.  For instance:  He wades in to the uproar generated by the David Rose article which questioned a paper by NOAA's Tom Karl.  He implies that Rose is wrong and the Karl paper is right.  So there has been no C21 temperature "pause".  He "forgets" to mention that, in the Fyfe et al. paper, some prominient Warmist scientists also distanced themselves from the Karl paper.  Cook is so unbalanced it is a wonder he doesn't fall over.

Cook really is a crook Cook.

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'Gender disappointment'

I was delighted when my son was born but it is my one big regret that I did not have a daughter too.  But 10 IVF treatment cycles did not produce one.  So I do to a degree understand the stories of the two women below.  "Daughter deprivation" is a real thing.

But I note that both women are emphatic about gender roles. They seem to want to prove something.  It appears that they have feminist ideas that they want to apply to their daughters.  They don't want normal "girly" girls.  They want to show that girls don't have to be girly.  That makes me a bit concerned if they do end up with girly girls.  

I know one tomboyish mother who ended up unexpectedly with a "Princess" daughter but in that case it ended well.  The mother was above all kind so the princess got her frills and things

Ethically, gender selection seems to me to pose the same dilemmas as abortion but since the selection occurs before there is any consciousness, I would be inclined to look the other way -- JR


We have come to the house of a woman we won't name, in a state we won't name, to talk to her about her desperate wish to have a daughter. We have agreed to call this woman "Kate", and such is her fear of social backlash that when we interview her, we film her in silhouette.

Several other women had agreed to be interviewed by Lateline, then changed their minds over concerns they would be targeted on social media for their views.

Kate suffers from what is known as gender disappointment.

How seriously you take that concept probably goes a long way to determining how you feel about whether Australia should legalise gender selection - the use of IVF to get the baby of your desired sex.

Gender disappointment is not a medically recognised condition.  Critics call it a social construct, but venture into some closed online chat forums and you will find hundreds of Australian women who are sharing their disappointment over the sex of their children.

Kate, 29, already has two boys and is five months pregnant with her third boy - a revelation that left her "gutted". "I went to the bedroom and cried for a really long time," she says. "Then my husband came in and he cried as well. "You feel horrible, because you want to be excited that it's a boy, but part of you was really disappointed."

Kate is desperate for a daughter but she insists she doesn't want a "a ballerina, Barbie girl". "I'm not wanting someone that I can dress in pink and tie her hair up. I'm not wanting any of that," she says.

"It's just that I always imagined her and she's always existed. I feel the family isn't complete without her."

Kate and others who feel gender disappointment describe it as a guilt-ridden, debilitating depression.

"Unless someone has that desire themselves and feels how it can be all-consuming, they can't understand what it's like," she says. "It'd be so easy if I could just switch it off and just be happy."

Gender selection is not allowed in Australia, but an ethics committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council has been reviewing the guidelines for assisted reproductive technology and may make a recommendation for change.

"To you she doesn't exist yet, but to us we can't imagine a life without her," Kate wrote in her submission to the committee.

"It's really a personal decision and it's not going to hurt people the way that people seem to think it is.

"It's not going to affect the gender ratio, and it's not going to place these unrealistic ideas on the children that are being born."

Sarah

Sarah has two boys, aged nine and seven, and four-year-old twin girls.

"I will talk to people and they go, 'Oh you're so lucky you got the two boys and then you got the two girls', and I will go, 'No, luck had nothing to do with that. I had to do some extreme measures to get my girls'," she says.

After having two boys, Sarah went to California, where gender selection is allowed, to go through an IVF cycle and be implanted only with the female embryos it produced.

Sarah had gone through the same range of emotions Kate is now experiencing. "It's gut-wrenching. I would be in tears," she says.

"It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't have a daughter, and I wanted that because I was so close to my mum that I wanted to be the mum that was that close to my daughter," she says.

She rejects suggestions sex selection is akin to creating a designer baby. "I didn't choose any eye colour, I didn't choose a hair colour, I just chose a girl over a boy," she says.

She is adamant that her daughters will not be expected to conform to gender stereotypes.

"I'm not going to force anything on my children," she says. "They can be gay, they can be bi, they can do whatever they want with their lives.

"I'm a live-and-let-live kind of person. "I don't judge other people, and I just hope they don't judge me in the same way."

SOURCE


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Donald Trump backs down over 'one China policy' in call with China's Xi Jinping

By first making it clear that U.S. policy cannot be taken for granted, Trump has gained kudos by agreeing to the status quo after all.  Good negotiation tactics.  China does now to a degree owe him a favor.

The Leftist media don't or won't understand his tactics so are  full of scare stories about what Trump MIGHT do.  But his actions have been very conservative -- including his immigration restrictions, which are little different from actions by previous Presidents, such as Obama and Carter

There is a long article here by Daniel McCarthy, editor at large of The American Conservative which is headed: "Donald Trump: the method behind the madness. How the unorthodox US president may be one step ahead of his critics".  So some people at least do get how Trump works

Note also the following comment on Trump's travel ban order:

"Trump could have executed this better, and the courts absolutely got it wrong. But it's important to realize that this was also strategically calculated to play out in one of two ways: Either Trump got his way with the order (he didn't), or his base is (rightly) fired up about an activist judiciary just in time for Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Trump wins either way. And along the way, Trump successfully diverted media attention to a very temporary travel moratorium - i.e., not the most critical issue. The charitable view is that this is an example of one of Trump's deal-making trademarks, "managed chaos," in which he keeps his opponents off balance, distracted and unaware of the right hook that is, ultimately, going to win the match"


Donald Trump has backed down over his confrontational stance towards Beijing, committing to the `One China policy' in his first phone call with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, since taking office.

In a move that is certain to ease tensions between the United States and China, the US president "agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our `one China' policy," the White House said in a statement.

The "lengthy telephone conversation" on Thursday evening was "extremely cordial" and the two leaders "extended invitations to meet in their respective countries," the statement added.

Mr Xi told Mr Trump that he appreciated the president's reaffirmation of the policy, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.

Mr Trump angered Beijing by accepting a congratulatory call from the President of Taiwan in December, breaking decades of diplomatic protocol.

He has since suggested there could be a renegotiation of the One China policy, in which the US recognises Beijing's rule over the island. Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province, which will be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Observers had questioned Mr Trump's apparent willingness to use the Taiwan issue as a `bargaining chip' with China, and they believe his decision to back down over the issue is the correct one.

Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing, said: "Trump played with the notion of using this arrangement as leverage, but I think he ultimately came to the right conclusion that this is not where the US Administration can get leverage.  "The One China Policy is not a card on the bargaining table - it is the table itself.

"Taiwan is also a vital US partner and thriving democracy of 23 million people. Its future is not ours to bargain away," Mr Haenle, who served on the National Security Council under Mr Bush and Barack Obama, told The Telegraph.

Bonnie Glaser, senior advisor for Asia at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said: "The US-China relationship has been on hold as Beijing waited for Trump to make this statement.

"Now the two countries can get down to business and discuss how to manage their differences on a wide range of issues," she told The Telegraph.

SOURCE

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If  conservatives want to copy Trump, embracing Putin is the worst place to start (?)

Like Mr Trump, I see some virtue in Vladimir Vladimirovich and I have written to that effect on several previous occasions. (See here. Scroll down). I like Mr Putin nearly as much as I like Mr Trump, in fact.  So I am one of those evil people that the Leftist Australian  journalist  below is inveighing against. Vladimir Vladimirovich is in fact an exceptionally enlightened ruler by Russian standards.

The Leftist writer below, David Wroe, tries to make the case that Putin and Russia generally are dangerous, evil and should be shunned.  Which is amusing.  A few decades back Leftists would hear no ill about Russia -- at a time when there really was cause for concern about Russia. The points made below are however specious and are typical of the Leftist habit of telling only half the story.

Mr Putin is somehow blamed on the shooting down of a Malaysian airline over Ukraine. But the Ukraine was at the time in a civil war and was known as dangerous airspace -- and most airlines kept away from it even though that increased their costs.  It was penny-pinching bureaucrats running the Malaysian airline who took the big risk of flying their plane over Eastern Ukraine.  It is they who are to blame

It took Russia's intervention to set in train the now almost complete destruction of ISIS but our friend below can only complain that the defeat helps the Syrian government.

The Syrian government is certainly brutal but dictatorships seem to be the only sort of regime that works in Muslim lands. Islam is an authoritarian religion.  "Submit or die" is its historic message. Democracy didn't last long in Egypt. Turkey  has once again returned to a version of the authoritarian rule that has characterized most of its history and vast American efforts to democratize Iraq and Afghanistan have certainly been an abject failure.

I could go on but I think I have said enough to show that it's just the usual dishonest Leftist propaganda below.  You believe anything in it at your peril>


David Wroe

The Trumpification of the right wing of Australian politics has begun.

On Sunday night, Coalition backbencher George Christensen defended Vladimir Putin's Russia, saying on Twitter it had been "demonised unfairly" and asking, "What threat do they cause us or the West?"

This is a startling message to a country that lost 38 people in the shooting down of flight MH17 in the skies above Ukraine. In his tweets, Mr Christensen distanced Moscow from involvement in MH17 and said only that separatists "allegedly" shot down the plane, though on Monday morning he clarified that he accepted most investigators' conclusion that "separatists backed by Russia" were responsible.

But his string of tweets point to an affinity with the US President's foreign policy view that strong men who pursue their country's national interests with scant regard to the international system are to be admired and emulated.

Pauline Hanson did much the same on Monday morning, saying "I've got no problems with Vladimir" because he is "a strong leader" who is "standing up for his nation" and that's what Australians want of their leaders too.

Newsflash to them both: Australia is not the US or Russia. It is a middle power that needs rules and a level playing field. As one of our finest foreign policy thinkers, former Department of Foreign Affairs head Peter Varghese, put it in a 2015 speech: "Australia can neither bully nor buy its way in the world, so an international, rules-based order is in our best interests."

Take another one of Christensen's Sunday night tweets: "Russia [is] the real reason ISIS is losing."

Moscow has propped up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad but has targeted a wide range of anti-regime forces, not just the Islamic State, and has indiscriminately bombed civilians, killing thousands.

Its intervention has removed any incentive for Assad to compromise and allow a political solution in Syria, ensuring that Syrian Sunnis will feel aggrieved for at least another generation. That will help seed the next generation of sectarian fighters and jihadists that will replace the Islamic State when it is defeated.

By contrast, the Australian Defence Force has for more than two years carefully targeted Islamic State forces in airstrikes while advising and training Iraqi forces on the ground. Not one civilian is known to have been killed in Australian air strikes, and the ADF's efforts alongside the US have tried to avoid empowering the Assad regime.

Mr Christensen also called Russia "a democracy" and branded the hacking of US political parties "fake news", even though Mr Trump himself has admitted Russia was responsible for the hacking and US intelligence agencies have stated in a public report that Russia hacked political parties for the express purpose of tilting the election in Mr Trump's favour.

Russia is working to break up Europe and tear up the international system of rules and norms that has made the last 70 years the most prosperous and stable the world has seen. It wants to return the world to spheres of influence around powers that use might to make right.

That is the threat Russia poses to us all.

SOURCE


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GoDaddy stopped

I really hate it when a large organization gives you a phone no. only to contact them.  It often means waiting on "hold" for half an hour or more before you get through.  Why not supply an email address?  Beats me! But it is very common.

GoDaddy tried that caper with me but my patience soon ran out.  So I sent them a nicely printed letter by snail mail.  I sent it to their Texas HQ as they had carefully hidden their Australian geographical address.

The letter was never answered.  Here it is:

I am one of your Australian customers -- 121058135.  I am writing to you in Texas because I can find no other address for you and I have long given up waiting on the line to your phone helpline.

I have received an email from you informing me that you intend to debit my account $131 for one year of internet access.  I forbid you to do that.  I did not sign up for that.

When I signed up, I made a single payment covering both a domain name and internet access.  So when I received a bill for $42 a few weeks ago, I assumed that I was again making a single comprehensive payment.  That was not so apparently.  I now gather that the bill was only for domain name support.  The amount seemed passable at the time so I paid it.

I believe that you should accept that payment to cover internet access as well.  You will get no other money from me.

I am dissatisfied with your deceptive marketing tactics and am thinking of writing to the Australian regulators about them


But thanks to the ANZ bank, I got my money back. I told them it was an unauthorized debit and they clawed the money back off GoDaddy. FU GoDaddy!

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Big foot-shoot:  New baseline shows SLOWER warming

The galoots behind the study below seemed to have been unhappy that 19th century steam trains might have affected the baseline against which global warming was measured.  They argued that temperatures in the period 1720-1800 would be a better criterion for what the temperature was before industrial influences cut in.

So they did the work of getting their new baseline temperature.  But what did they find? They found that the temperature in this pre-industrial period was "likely 0.55–0.80°C cooler than 1986-2005".  That compares with the usual agreed figure of about two thirds of a degree for global warming so far.

So at the lower end the new baseline shows LESS warming than previous studies.  They were a little bit cowardly, however, in that they stated a range rather than a single figure.  Previous authors have chosen a single most likely figure.

It's a bit rough but we could take an average of their two extremes as a single figure.  In that case we are back to the two thirds of a degree already accepted. So we are left with two possible conclusions from their study.  In the modern warming period, the amount of warming is uncertain or that it is still just about the two thirds already agreed.

But here's the killer: The conventional estimate of warming shows warming of two thirds of a degree over a period of around 100 years -- which is certainly a trivially slow warming.  But the baseline in the new work is around 300 years ago.  So if a change of two thirds of a degree over one century is trivial, what is the same change over a 300 year period?  It looks like these guys have really shot warmism in the foot.

But in their usual way, most Warmists will simply choose the starting point that suits them.  Sad for them that an earlier starting point did not help.

The authors must have known they were on dangerous ground so they included the El Nino effect (2015/2016) in their estimate of current temperature.  But that is rubbish and is increasingly being recognized as such.  But it's the only way they could get their final estimate of a one degree rise

But in the end, what the work below shows is that the temperature today is very similar to the temperature of 300 years ago.  Not the desired message, I think



Estimating changes in global temperature since the pre-industrial period

Ed Hawkins et al.

Abstract

Better defining (or altogether avoiding) the term ‘pre-industrial’ would aid interpretation of internationally agreed global temperature limits and estimation of the required constraints to avoid reaching those limits.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process agreed in Paris to limit global surface temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’. But what period is ‘pre-industrial’? Some-what remarkably, this is not defined within the UNFCCC’s many agreements and protocols. Nor is it defined in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in the evaluation of when particular temperature levels might be reached because no robust definition of the period exists. Here we discuss the important factors to consider when defining a pre-industrial period, based on estimates of historical radiative forcings and the availability of climate observations. There is no perfect period, but we suggest that 1720-1800 is the most suitable choice when discussing global temperature limits. We then estimate the change in global average temperature since pre-industrial using a range of approaches based on observations, radiative forcings, global climate model simulations and proxy evidence. Our assessment is that this pre-industrial period was likely 0.55–0.80°C cooler than 1986-2005 and that 2015 was likely the first year in which global average temperature was more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels. We provide some recommendations for how this assessment might be improved in future and suggest that reframing temperature limits with a modern baseline would be inherently less uncertain and more policy-relevant.

SOURCE
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Race gaps in SAT scores highlight inequality and hinder upward mobility

In the usual Leftist way, the writer below doesn’t want to believe what the tests show so blames the test gap on poverty, class etc.

It is important to note, however, that the tests DO predict exam performance and graduation rates. And the racial gap in exam performance and graduation is equally large and persistent there.  Educators have been trying for years to find something, anything, that would close the black/white educational success gap but nothing has had any effect. Blacks are still much less likely to graduate.  So the SAT and the in-house assessments done by 4-year schools validate and confirm one another.  They both show poor average intellectual ability among blacks and Hispanics

And note that, as a whole, the most culturally disadvantaged group are the Asians — for many of whom English is not their native language. Yet they score high, not low in both schools and on the SAT. So blaming poor performance on environmental rather than genetic factors is just wishful thinking. The gap is real and only genetic differences explain it adequately

There is as feeble attempt below to say that the black/white difference is due to social class but that just pushes the problem back one step.  We then have to ask why blacks are much more likely to be poor.  And their lesser educational aptitude and success would be a good explanation of that too. Educational success is enormously important to subsequent economic success in America

Note that the report below is from the Brookings Institution, a Left-leaning body, but one that takes an interest in the facts


Taking the SAT is an American rite of passage. Along with the increasingly popular ACT, the SAT is critical in identifying student readiness for college and as an important gateway to higher education. Yet despite efforts to equalize academic opportunity, large racial gaps in SAT scores persist.

THE GREAT SCORE DIVIDE

The SAT provides a measure of academic inequality at the end of secondary schooling. Moreover, insofar as SAT scores predict student success in college, inequalities in the SAT score distribution reflect and reinforce racial inequalities across generations.

In this paper, we analyze racial differences in the math section of the general SAT test, using publicly available College Board population data for all of the nearly 1.7 million college-bound seniors in 2015 who took the SAT. (We do not use the newest data released for the class of 2016, because the SAT transitioned mid-year to a new test format, and data has so far only been released for students who took the older test.) Our analysis uses both the College Board’s descriptive statistics for the entire test-taking class, as well as percentile ranks by gender and race. (The College Board has separate categories for “Mexican or Mexican American” and “Other Hispanic, Latino, or Latin American.” We have combined them under the term Latino.)

The mean score on the math section of the SAT for all test-takers is 511 out of 800, the average scores for blacks (428) and Latinos (457) are significantly below those of whites (534) and Asians (598). The scores of black and Latino students are clustered towards the bottom of the distribution, while white scores are relatively normally distributed, and Asians are clustered at the top:

Race gaps on the SATs are especially pronounced at the tails of the distribution. In a perfectly equal distribution, the racial breakdown of scores at every point in the distribution would mirror the composition of test-takers as whole i.e. 51 percent white, 21 percent Latino, 14 percent black, and 14 percent Asian. But in fact, among top scorers—those scoring between a 750 and 800—60 percent are Asian and 33 percent are white, compared to 5 percent Latino and 2 percent black. Meanwhile, among those scoring between 300 and 350, 37 percent are Latino, 35 percent are black, 21 percent are white, and 6 percent are Asian:

The College Board’s publicly available data provides data on racial composition at 50-point score intervals. We estimate that in the entire country last year at most 2,200 black and 4,900 Latino test-takers scored above a 700. In comparison, roughly 48,000 whites and 52,800 Asians scored that high. The same absolute disparity persists among the highest scorers: 16,000 whites and 29,570 Asians scored above a 750, compared to only at most 1,000 blacks and 2,400 Latinos. (These estimates—which rely on conservative assumptions that maximize the number of high-scoring black students, are consistent with an older estimate from a 2005 paper in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, which found that only 244 black students scored above a 750 on the math section of the SAT.)

A STUBBORN BLACK-WHITE GAP

Disappointingly, the black-white achievement gap in SAT math scores has remained virtually unchanged over the last fifteen years. Between 1996 and 2015, the average gap between the mean black score and the mean white score has been .92 standard deviations. In 1996 it was .9 standard deviations and in 2015 it was .88 standard deviations. This means that over the last fifteen years, roughly 64 percent of all test-takers scored between the average black and average white score.

These gaps have a significant impact on life chances, and therefore on the transmission of inequality across generations. As the economist Bhashkar Mazumder has documented, adolescent cognitive outcomes (in this case, measured by the AFQT) statistically account for most of the race gap in intergenerational social mobility.

COULD THE GAP BE EVEN WIDER?

There are some limitations to the data which may mean that, if anything, the race gap is being understated. The ceiling on the SAT score may, for example, understate Asian achievement. If the exam was redesigned to increase score variance (add harder and easier questions than it currently has), the achievement gap across racial groups could be even more pronounced. In other words, if the math section was scored between 0 and 1000, we might see more complete tails on both the right and the left. More Asians score between 750 and 800 than score between 700 and 750, suggesting that many Asians could be scoring above 800 if the test allowed them to.

A standardized test with a wider range of scores, the LSAT, offers some evidence on this front. An analysis of the 2013-2014 LSAT finds an average black score of 142 compared to an average white score of 153. This amounts to a black-white achievement gap of 1.06 standard deviations, even higher than that on the SAT. This is of course a deeply imperfect comparison, as the underlying population of test-takers for the LSAT (those applying to law school) is very different from that of the SAT. Nonetheless the LSAT distribution provides yet another example of the striking academic achievement gaps across race:

Another important qualification is that the SAT is no longer the nationally dominant college-entrance exam. In recent years, the ACT has surpassed the SAT in popularity. If the distributions of students taking the two exams are significantly different, focusing on one test alone won’t give a complete picture of the racial achievement gap. A cursory look at the evidence, however, suggests that race gaps on the 2016 ACT are comparable to those we observe for the SAT. In terms of composition, ACT test-takers were 54 percent white, 16 percent Latino, 13 percent black, and 4 percent Asian. Except for the substantially reduced share of Asian test-takers, this is reasonably close to the SAT’s demographic breakdown. Moreover, racial achievement gaps across the two tests were fairly similar. The black-white achievement gap for the math section of the 2015 SAT was roughly .88 standard deviations. For the 2016 ACT it was .87 standard deviations. Likewise, the Latino-white achievement gap for the math section of the 2015 SAT was roughly .65 standard deviations; for the 2016 ACT it was .54 standard deviations.

OR COULD THE GAP BE NARROWER THAN IT LOOKS?

On the other hand, there is a possibility that the SAT is racially biased, in which case the observed racial gap in test scores may overstate the underlying academic achievement gap. But most of the concerns about bias relate to the verbal section of the SAT, and our analysis focuses exclusively on the math section.

Finally, this data is limited in that it doesn’t allow us to disentangle race and class as drivers of achievement gaps. It is likely that at least some of these racial inequalities can be explained by different income levels across race. Unfortunately, publicly available College Board data on class and SAT scores is limited. The average SAT score for students who identify as having parents making between $0 and $20,000 a year is 455, a score that is actually .2 standard deviations above the average score for black students (428). These numbers are fairly unreliable because of the low rates of student response; some 40 percent of test-takers do not list their household income. In comparison, only 4 percent of test-takers fail to provide their racial identification.

However, a 2015 research paper from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley shows that between 1994 and 2011, race has grown more important than class in predicting SAT scores for UC applicants. While it is difficult to extrapolate from such findings to the broader population of SAT test-takers, it is unlikely that the racial achievement gap can be explained away by class differences across race.

DOWN WITH STANDARDIZED TESTS?

Given the reliance of colleges on test scores for admissions, the gaps in SAT math performance documented here will continue to reproduce patterns of inequality in American society. It seems likely, however, that colleges rely too heavily on such tests. Research from William Bowen, Matthew Chingos, and Michael McPherson suggests that high school grades may have more incremental predictive power of college grades and graduation rates. The SAT may not be a good measure of student potential.

Even to the extent that SAT scores do predict college success, it is far from clear that universities are justified in basing admissions so strongly on the exam. After all, a wide range of other morally relevant considerations—questions of distributive justice, for example—may well need to be weighed alongside considerations of academic preparation.

Significant racial and class inequalities much earlier in life explain persistent obstacles to upward mobility and opportunity. The extensive racial gaps in academic achievement and college preparation across high school seniors are symptomatic of those deeper drivers of inequality. Accordingly, policy efforts may be more effective if they target underlying sources of these achievement gaps. That means experimenting with earlier childhood interventions of the sort we have described elsewhere: increasing cash transfers to disadvantaged parents with young children, improving access to quality preschool programs, pursuing paid leave policies to allow for more quality parent investment during the first years of life, teaching parents the skills they need to effectively raise their children, and so on.

It is also important to bear in mind that despite persistent gaps in test scores, racial gaps in college enrollment have actually been closing in recent years. In fact, the college enrollment gap by income is now significantly larger than by race. The challenge now is about college graduation rates (where race gaps have not closed) as much as college enrollment: for graduation rates, race gaps remain larger than income gaps.

It is also clear, however, that when such large gaps have opened up by the end of the high school years, equalizing outcomes at the college level will be an almost impossible task. Interventions at the end of the K-12 years, or in the early stages of college, can often be too little, too late.

Debates over the fairness, value and accuracy of the SAT are sure to continue. The evidence for a stubborn race gap on this test does meanwhile provide a snapshot into the extraordinary magnitude of racial inequality in contemporary American society. Standardized tests are often seen as mechanisms for meritocracy, ensuring fairness in terms of access. But test scores reflect accumulated advantages and disadvantages in each day of life up the one on which the test is taken. Race gaps on the SAT hold up a mirror to racial inequities in society as a whole. Equalizing educational opportunities and human capital acquisition earlier is the only way to ensure fairer outcomes.

SOURCE  (See the original for graphics)

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Fake news from the NYT

During the recent election campaign, a false story about Hillary Clinton and a NY pizza joint made news.  The Left instantly called it "fake news" and were enraged at the very idea of false stories  being treated as news.  But misleading "news" from Leftist sources has long been common, with both outright misreporting and a relentless tendency to report only one side of a story. So it behooves us all to use the current interest in fake news to point out that fake news is an overwhelmingly Leftist phenomenon.  A recent example is below

On February 2, 2017, the New York Times published on its front page above-the-fold a hit-piece under the headline, “A Sinister Perception of Islam Now Steers the White House.”  The principal targets of this unflattering article were President Trump, his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his “chief strategist,” Stephen Bannon.  But at the article’s end were five paragraphs and a picture with a caption that amounted to the journalistic equivalent of a drive-by-shooting aimed at Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney.

Specifically, Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg distorted and falsely reported comments made by Frank Gaffney in the course of two recorded interviews conducted in December 2016.  His article and an accompanying photo’s caption respectively asserted that Mr. Gaffney regarded “Islam” and “Muslims” as “termites [that] hollow out the structure of the civil society and other institutions for the purpose of creating conditions under which the jihad will succeed.”

Actually, as transcripts of the two conversations spanning roughly 2.5 hours make clear, Mr. Gaffney was characterizing the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood, not “Muslims” or “Islam.”  The misrepresentation serves the interest of the Brotherhood – which has long been determined to silence him and the Center for Security Policy – but not the interests of the New York Times’ readers or the paper’s responsibility to report the facts.

As a public service and in the interest of holding the so-called “nation’s newspaper of record” accountable, the Center today released the full transcripts of the two interview conversations between Messrs. Gaffney and Rosenberg, together with the transcript of a phone call and an exchange of emails between the two after the publication of the article on February 2nd.  Together, they constitute a case study of mainstream media malfeasance that, deliberately or not, has the practical effect of helping America’s foes.

SOURCE

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The food dictators again

This is all so arrogant but arrogance is part and parcel of being a do-gooder.  The fact is that nobody knows for sure what food is healthy and what is not.  Medical opinion about particular food has often gone into complete reverse.  And some eventually abandoned advice actually did a lot of harm -- such as the advice to keep young children away from peanut products  -- when early exposure to peanut products is in fact associated with REDUCED peanut allergies

'Please choose healthier options': Preschool scolds mother for sending her child in with a slice of chocolate cake in her lunch

A South Australian mother was left mortified after her three-year-old child's preschool sent home a note about the contents of the lunchbox she had packed that morning.

She had included a piece of chocolate cake for her child to eat during the day, which she quickly learned was against school policy.

When her child arrived home, she came with a note featuring an oversized, red frowning face image.

'Your child has chocolate slice from the red food category today,' the letter read.

'Please choose healthier options for kindy.'

The mother-of-eight was mortified, and shared the note with her friend Melinda Tankard Reist, a prominent commentator and writer.

Ms Reist posted a picture of it on her Facebook page, and told her followers she had advised the woman to 'put in two slices tomorrow and tell them to get lost'.

State funded schools in South Australia are subject to the Right Bite programme, which classifies foods into red, amber and green categories.

Red foods are strongly discouraged, while green foods are heavily encouraged.

The programme encourages schools to work with parents to stop them packing 'red' foods for their children.

Suggestions include using newsletter notices, information sessions and canteen duty as a means of communication - as opposed to notes written in red.

Commenters on the post show a fierce debate between parents who believe they should be able to pack what they like and others who see the programme as essential.

One man shared a similar experience with his child's preschool. He said packets of Tiny Teddies were sent home, with children told they were not allowed to eat them.

'Since when are preschool teachers qualified dietitians,' he asked.

Another declared: 'This is worse than Trump', while someone else suggested the teacher may have been 'overzealous' in her handling of the situation.

A woman said she agreed with the policy, as it encouraged children to seek out healthier food, but like most commenters had some issues with the school's communication method - which most described as childish.

'This is pretty normal for kinders [sic] and schools trying to combat childhood obesity and help parents who don't healthy diets for their children,' she wrote.

'I don't see the concept as unreasonable, though the delivery could probably do some work.'

SOURCE


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Why do teachers leave?

The writer below pretends that there must be other reasons but there is no mystery about the main reason why teaching has become an unattractive job.  It is that many classrooms have become white-board jungles.  Teachers are not allowed to teach. They have to use great energies just to keep some semblance of order.  It's not what they want to do but what Leftist ideas about education force on them.  

In particular, disciplinary options have become very limited.  Once upon a time, a teacher would simply send an unruly child to the headmaster, who would cane him and return him to the classroom in a more humble state.  It will need that or something similar before teachers are freed to teach.  And then former standards of educational achievement will follow


As the school gates open and students flood in with shiny shoes and new backpacks, there's an expectation that teachers should be bursting with enthusiasm to get back to the classroom after their long summer holiday.

The reality is that teachers have mixed feelings as the school year commences.  Some describe dread and anxiety while others say they're hopeful or 'trying to remain positive'. "I feel better than I did in previous years," an experienced teacher says.  "Our new principal makes our workload more manageable."

Another teacher — mid-career, early 40s — discloses her panic at the thought of a year working with a particularly challenging student. "I'm not sure how much longer I can do this," she confides.

A graduate teacher, just three years into his career, tells me of his travel plans. "I'm not going to teach," he explains. "I need a break. I can't face the thought of so much work and all that stress. "I do love teaching," he smiles ruefully. "Teaching is awesome until you have to do something other than teach, which is about 80 per cent of the time."

Teachers leaving in significant numbers

It's worth considering the fact that many of the teachers who walked through the school gates last year aren't returning this year. And it's a trend we can expect to continue.

Teachers are leaving the profession in significant numbers — the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest 53 per cent of people who hold a teaching degree do not currently work in education.

And research conducted by the Australian Government in 2014 estimates that 20 per cent of education graduates do not register as teachers on graduating, meaning many teachers are leaving before they've even started.

The latest national data from the Australian Government suggest an average of 5.7 per cent of teachers left the profession in 2014.

It seems a fairly innocuous figure, however Professor Ewing argues it doesn't provide any insight into what is happening to teachers on the books. "Government bodies reassure us that there are thousands of teachers on the list," Professor Ewing says.

"But that just means they're registered to teach. Many of those have taken up other jobs or moved to different systems or are stuck in the casual, temporary cycle. "In actual fact we have evidence to suggest that we are going to have a teacher shortage."

One figure that adds weight to Professor Ewing's argument is the alarming percentage of those who leave the profession shortly after graduating.

Although the figure varies by locality, about 40 to 50 per cent of our newest teachers leave within their first five years on the job.

These graduates are leaving for various reasons, but similar themes recur: they feel burnt out, unsupported, frustrated and disillusioned. Many cannot secure permanent, full time employment and so leave the profession to pursue careers with fewer demands and greater certainty.

'Anything is preferable to teaching'

For example, Kate, 30, left the profession several years ago after her first year of full-time teaching, and now works as a freelance writer.

"Of my six close friends who I graduated with [in 2007], only one is returning to the classroom this year," she tells me, before listing off their new careers: blogger, footballer, police officer, priest, publican. It seems that anything is preferable to teaching.

"New teachers are expected to have all this energy and enthusiasm to make up for our lack of experience," Kate explains.

"But that energy gets drained away. Nobody's supporting us when we're finally in the job."

With the advent of Professional Teaching Standards in 2011, all teachers — including those with extensive experience — were burdened with an additional administrative task designed to provide a framework for teacher professionalism and ongoing accreditation.

This means an experienced teacher's time is now spent documenting their own worth; there's no time left to support colleagues, new or old. "This is our obsession with teacher accountability playing out," Professor Riley says.

"We've made it an adversarial profession, when it should be collegial. Teachers are competing for positions and constantly trying to make themselves look highly employable. What they should be focussed on is their students and their teaching."
It's not just 'new teachers' that are leaving, either

Research suggests many long-serving teachers are also retiring early, feeling utterly spent. "And they mourn the loss," Professor Riley says.  "They miss the kids and they miss teaching — but the demands of the job simply become too much."

There is ongoing pressure on teachers to improve test results, lift the profile of the profession, meet the teaching standards and deliver — faultlessly — an overcrowded curriculum.  "Experienced teachers have had enough," Professor Riley says.

And as they leave, they take with them their expertise and their ability to mentor and guide new and mid-career teachers.

What's more, teacher shortages — already evident in remote and regional areas — seem likely to continue given the number of students is predicted to increase 26 per cent by 2022.

This, combined with the ageing workforce and high attrition rates, will likely result in larger class sizes, teachers teaching out of field and less experienced teachers being called upon to do more, all of which have serious implications for students and their learning.

SOURCE


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Carpet and I

When I was growing up in the tropical North, nobody had carpet on the floor.  We had lino (linoleum; Congoleum) on the floor.  Lino was cool, somehow.  On really hot days, people would lie down on the lino to keep cool.

So my first encounter with carpet was down in Sydney, when I acquired an offcut of Westminster carpet. If you don't know Westminster carpet you have missed something.  It was indestructible. Nothing seemed to harm it.  And that was appreciated for a while.  It was widely laid in the '60s and '70s.  But it came in plain colours only.  No patterns. So after living with the stuff for 10 years and having it look as new as when it was laid, people got very bored with it.  They ripped it up and threw away perfectly good carpet. After a few years, I also ended up abandoning my offcut somewhere. It is still available but probably not from your local carpet shop. I believe you can get some patterns in it these days.

In Sydney I became quite an expert on carpet. Joy and I owned 22 flats (apartments) between us so we had a lot of tenants.  And tenants are hard on carpet.  So I was replacing a carpet somewhere pretty often.  So to cut costs I would go to carpet auctions and buy it by the roll.  A roll of carpet is HEAVY.  Special forklifts are needed to move it.  But somehow I managed.  And I would hire layers to cut and lay it.  Layers are a bit of a breed of their own but we got on one way or another.

My next bit of amusement was when I needed carpet for the anteroom of my present house.  Carpet is expensive stuff but I needed only a small piece so I went to a shop that sold secondhand carpet.  When carpet is ripped up, it mostly goes into a landfill but some shops save a few good bits.  The bit I got looks like an Axminster, a very expensive carpet. It is all browns and golds in floral patterns.  I like it.  But it is in fact not an Axminster at all.  It is a bit of rubberback (a cheap carpet) that has lost its rubber.  But it acts like an Axminster.  It has been down about 20 years now and still looks as good as ever.

My most recent adventure was when Anne decided to change the carpet in her living room.  She had a nice plain oatmeal colour down.  I believe that The Lodge in Canberra was once laid with carpet in an oatmeal colour.  But it stains rather readily and is hard to keep clean so Anne was tired of it. So she went around the shops and found something she liked.  I however insisted on seeing what she had chosen.  It was a mid-brown and looked like poop.  So I went around the shops with her to look at other options.  To my amazement ALL the options were shades of poop.  It must be a fashion.  The only thing floral I could find was Axminster.  So I bought that for her.  It cost $1,000 more than poopy carpet but was well worth in it in my opinion. There's a sample of it below



People all seem to like it but one of Anne's sons referred to it as "granny carpet", which I suppose it is.

And another carpet experience was only nominally with carpet.  It is really a rug.  But people do call handmade rugs carpets so I guess I can too.  The floors in my house are all polished boards so, perversely I suppose, I have lot of rugs down. There are three "Persian" (handmade) carpets and three Belgian cottons (machine-made).

And there is an interesting story about one of them.  A friend was throwing it out as it had been badly treated and was all stained and dirty.  I am however something of a salvor.  I don't like seeing useful stuff being thrown out. "Waste not, want not", as my old Presbyterian mother used to say. And this was a large and heavy carpet so must have been worth a lot once.  So I collected it and managed to talk to a dry-cleaning man and persuade him to do a run of his drycleaning machine with just my carpet in it.  So I ended up with a carpet that was both clean and stripped of any oil and grease.  Sadly, however, there were still stains on it so it didn't look clean.  So I just put it away.

Recently, however, I decided to put it on my verandah.  But it got very dirty again and the sun faded it a bit.  So I got a man with a truck-mounted cleaning machine over to clean it up.  I thought that with lots of detergent, lots of warm water and the big brushes of his scrubbing machine he might get my carpet cleaner than the dry-cleaning man did. He got the carpet smelling as fresh as a daisy but there were still stains there. So I now have it laid at the foot of my bed.

And if this were England, having an old and worn Oriental carpet down might not be bad at all.  An eccentricity of upper class people in England and to some extent in America is that they like having old things around.  And they regard fitted carpet as common.  You mainly have old oriental (Persian, Baluchi etc) rugs down on your floors.

I inadvertently verified that once when I was first in England and rather unaware of the myriad social rules there.  That unawareness actually got me a girlfriend from the aristocracy -- a lady who can trace her ancestry back 1,000 years.  No Englishmen of common origins would have dared approach her but I did.  And she was a very nice girl and we got on well.

But one day when I was in her apartment at Holland Park, I remarked that someone had given her a pretty tatty carpet. It was of course an old Oriental rug.  She just smiled and said nothing.  We had a nice time anyway.

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Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall.  Why?

I have been pointing out for over a year that CO2 levels have stopped rising and admissions of that are starting to appear in the literature.  The figures from Mauna Loa and Cape Grim are too plain even for Warmists to deny and they haven't got around to fudging them yet.

But the article below says that static levels are not enough.  Levels have to decline.  But why?  We live in perfect comfort with the current levels.  So where is the need to reduce them?  The article below does not say.  It just asserts such a need.  The Warmists have a very profitable schtick and they don't want to let it go.  They can't accept that they have won their goal


Summary:

2016 marked the third year in a row when global carbon dioxide emissions remained relatively flat, but actual declines won't materialize without advances in carbon capture and storage technology and sustained growth in renewables.

FULL STORY

Without a significant effort to reduce greenhouse gases, including an accelerated deployment of technologies for capturing atmospheric carbon and storing it underground, and sustained growth in renewables such as wind and solar, the world could miss a key global temperature target set by the Paris Agreement and the long-term goal of net-zero climate pollution.

The finding, published in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, is part of a new study that aims to track the progress and compare emission pledges of more than 150 nations that signed the Paris Agreement, a 2015 United Nations convention that aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels -- the threshold that scientists have marked as the point of no return for catastrophic warming.

"The good news is that fossil fuel emissions have been flat for three years in a row," said Robert Jackson, chair of the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. "Now we need actual reductions in global emissions and careful tracking of emission pledges and country-level statistics."

In the new study, Jackson and his colleagues developed a nested family of metrics that can be used to track different national emissions pledges and thus global progress toward the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Applying their method to the recent past, the researchers found that global carbon dioxide emissions have remained steady at around 36 gigatons of carbon dioxide for the third year in a row in 2016.

"The rapid deployment of wind and solar is starting to have an effect globally, and in key players such as China, the U.S. and the European Union," said Glen Peters, senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research -- Oslo (CICERO) and lead author for the study. "The challenge is to substantially accelerate the new additions of wind and solar, and find solutions for effectively integrating these into existing electricity networks."

However, wind and solar alone won't be sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. When the researchers examined the drivers behind the recent slowdown, they found that most of them boiled down to economic factors and reduced coal use, mostly in China but also the United States.

In China, the decline in coal use was driven by reduced output of cement, steel and other energy-intensive products, as well as a dire need to alleviate outdoor air pollution, which is responsible for more than 1 million premature deaths annually.

The reasons for the decline in the United States were more complex, driven not only by a decline in coal use but also by gains in energy efficiency in the industrial sector and the rapid rise of natural gas and wind and solar power. "2016 was the first year that natural gas surpassed coal for electricity generation," said Jackson, who is also chair of the Global Carbon Project, which tracks the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by humans each year.

Looking to the future, the researchers predict that the greatest challenge to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement is the slower than expected rollout of carbon capture and storage technologies. Most scenarios suggest the need for thousands of facilities with carbon capture and storage by 2030, the researchers say, far below the tens that are currently proposed.

Jackson notes that carbon capture and storage technology will prove even more crucial if President Donald Trump follows through with his campaign pledge of resuscitating the nation's struggling coal industry.

"There's no way to reduce the carbon emissions associated with coal without carbon capture and storage," Jackson said.

SOURCE

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I am fully in favour of my country admitting as refugees people who are in danger for their lives elsewhere

But they really do have to be refugees and their average standards of behaviour must be at least as good as the average of the host population. One expects gratitude, not hostility, from those who have been rescued. So, broadly, that excludes Muslims and Africans.

Australia does admit many refugees and has been admitting refugees for a long time. It started before WWII when thousands of Jews fleeing Hitler were admitted.

Then immediately after WWII, large numbers of "displaced persons" in Europe were admitted.  Then in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, large numbers of Asian "boat people" were admitted.

And in between, large numbers of economic migrants from rural Greece and Southern Italy were admitted.

And all those European and East Asian immigrants have blended in to the Australian peoplescape with minimal friction.  Their children act and speak much as other Australians do and their children tend to have a high rate of educational and economic success.  There were a couple of occasions when Yugoslavs bombed one-another but not one Jihadi indulging in random killing has emerged from them.  They have been of clear benefit to the country, bringing new ideas, skills and improved services.

And Leftists use that undoubted fact to argue that ALL immigration is desirable.  But that is just another manifestation of their manic and obviously wrong insistence that all men are equal.  All men are NOT equal and groups of men are also  therefore not equal.

Africans have brought their normal high rate of violent crime to Australia and many of the Australian host population have had much suffering inflicted on them as a result.  And many Australians have also died at the hands of Muslim fanatics.  Had we kept those two groups out, all that suffering would have been avoided.

So I heartily endorse Donald Trump's moves to protect Americans from hostile sub-groups.  And I support Pauline Hanson's calls to do the same for Australians.  Opinion polls have shown that around 50% of the Australian population support Pauline's ideas in that regard so my thoughts on the issue are perfectly mainstream, not "racist", "xenophobic", "white supremacist" or any of the other insults that Leftists normally hurl at people who support selective immigration.

A coda

I get the impression that most people who have relocated to Australia are in fact grateful for the life they have here but I want to close this essay with a story about how powerful gratitude can be.

Persians appear to be particularly energetic people and that would appear to be why they have over the centuries created three great empires.  Once an empire declines, that is normally the end of it.  But not so Persia.  Hundreds of years later a new Persian empire will arise.  But it was in one of their weaker periods that the Muslims swept through and took control of them.  And in their usual kindly way the Muslims gave them a choice:  Convert or die.

Most converted but there were a few who clung to the native Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.  Zoroastrianism is a rather sensible religion that make a much better job of explaining the problem of evil than Christianity does.

But when they found that living in Muslim Persia was going to be very dangerous to Zoroastrians, the strong believers fled to Gujurat, in nearby India.  They were received there with tolerance by the local Hindus.  There is a great variety of religious devotions in India so one more was no great problem.

And the Persians (Parsees) were very grateful for the refuge India had given them.  And they expressed that both in words and later in deeds.  With their Persian energies, the Parsees prospered mightily in India and many became quite rich.  So what did rich Parsees do with their money?  They gave most of it away, initially to poor Parsees but also to other Indians.  They became a major source of charity in India.

So the Parsees did not share the fate of the Jews, with people becoming envious of their success.  There are of course always grumbles but Indians saw that Parsee success benefited them too and Parsees highlighted their giving as a act of gratitude so Indians felt that they had earned the charitable support.

So Parsee gratitude for refuge sustained their welcome and even protected them when they became an economic elite.  Being grateful is as powerful as ingratitude is contemptible -- JR.


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Central England Temperatures 1659-2016 show no trend

The great trick in chartmanship is choosing your starting and ending points to show the sort of trend you want to show. Warmists do it all the time.  So that is why a really long record is needed -- to avoid showing a small part of the record as typical of the whole.

And the Central England Temperature record is the longest we have -- from 1659-2016.  So what trend does it show?  None at all.  Look particularly at the summer temperatures (in red).  Any global warming should certainly be obvious there.  But it is not.  There IS no global warming and there has been none for a long time

The Warmists are probably nutty enough to claim that England was somehow insulated from the rest of the world but I have no idea  how anyone could explain that.  Extra-terrestrials at work?

What they do say is that the record harks back to the beginning of thermometers so the early readings are not as precisely accurate as modern readings.  What that does however is highlight how tiny and hence how trivial are the changes they deal in:  Tenths and hundredths of one degree.  To changes as small as that, the only reasonable response is "Who cares?"


There has been no change in UK average temperatures in summer(JJA) or in Spring(MAM) for the last 367 years. The two hottest summers were 1826 (17.6C) and 1976(17.8C). I remember 1976 as the perfect summer with two months of continuous sunshine, causing a severe drought.  The two coldest winters were 1740 (-0.73C) and 1963 (-0.07C). 1963 was the perfect time to be a small child aged 10, sledging every weekend. These extremes have not been exceeded for the last 40 years.



Monthly averaged temperatures for winter(DJF), Spring (MAM), Summer (JJA) and Autumn (SON). Data curtesy of the UK Met Office

SOURCE

UPDATE:  Comment from a reader.

By the way, thermometers have been very accurate since they were invented....why.......well 0 is the freezing point of water and 100 is the boiling point and God will not allow those to be changed. Everything in between is linear. Anyone can make a thermometer. Put some Mercury in a glass tube, seal it. Place it in an ice bath. Mark the glass tube at the top level of the mercury then place it in boiling water(sea level) and mark the glass tube again. Now add graduations linearly the length between the two and WALAA............a thermometer.  The longer the tube of mercury the more accurate and finer reading one can take.