Co-ed or single-sex schools? Are all-boys or all-girls schools still relevant?

Christopher Scanlon gives below a pretty good summary of the evidence that the social background of the pupils underlies the  degree of success that different schooling types have in getting pupils through their final exams.  And that is true because IQ underlies socio-economic status.  As Charles Murray showed decades ago to great outrage, the richer are smarter on average.

Scanlon does however treat social class very gingerly and thus overlooks the one thing that DOES give private schools of all types an advantage.  Particularly for boys, the friends they make at school will be the core of their friendship group for life.   And they will tend to marry their friends' sisters. So they will tend to have both bright friends and bright wives.  And that is gold for an easy progression through life.  They really will have class "privilege"

As a parent of a school-aged daughter it feels like I’ve engaged in, or overheard in playgrounds and kids’ parties, roughly a million conversations about the pros and cons of single sex schools vs co-ed schools.

The angst-ridden nature of these conversations would make you think that school choice is one of the most important decisions a parent is ever going to make for their child. Many of these conversations feature “facts” about the benefits of single-sex schooling.

But how well do these facts stand up to scrutiny? While single sex schools typically outperform co-educational schools in terms of academic results, it’s unclear whether this is due to the absence of the opposite sex or other factors, such as socio-economic status of parents.

Kids who attend well-resourced schools tend to do better academically than kids at poorer schools, unfair as that may be.

As most single-sex schools in Australia are private schools or select-entry schools, the benefits may have more to do with the socio-economic backgrounds of the kids, rather than the gender make-up.

Yet the results factor is most often brought up by parents in terms of gender exclusivity, fuelling anxiety about school choice.

One particularly entrenched view is that single-sex schools are good for girls’ science and maths education. Girls, it’s suggested, will “dumb down” to fit with persistent gender stereotypes about girls not being innately good at these subjects. But the evidence is hardly compelling.

Sociologist Dr Joanna Sikora from the Australian National University found that while girls at gender-segregated schools are slightly more likely to pursue science in their final years of schooling compared to their peers who attend co-ed schools, it’s unclear whether this has to do with the absence of boys.

Other factors, such as coming from a wealthier family and, in the case of physical sciences at least, being born overseas and speaking a language other than English at home, appear to be important factor in girls’ selection and performance in science subjects (not the gender of fellow students).

And even accepting that girls from single sex schools are more likely to opt for science subjects in their senior years, it doesn’t seem to have a lasting impact.

Dr Sikora found that while boys attending single-sex schools are likely to express an interest in careers in medicine or physiotherapy compared to boys at co-ed schools, girls attending single-sex schools don’t aspire to careers in science any more than girls who share classrooms with boys. How lasting the effects of single-sex schooling are is a theme that comes up in other research.

Dr Katherine Dix from the Australian Council of Education Research compared NAPLAN literacy and numeracy results for boys, girls and co-educational schools at years 3, 5 and 7 and found that while students attending single-sex schools start out strong, the benefits declined over time.

In Year 3, for example, students at all-girls schools start out 7.2 school terms ahead in reading compared to their peers at co-educational schools, while students at all-boy’s schools are 4.6 terms ahead of their co-ed peers.

But by Grade 7, girls at all-girls schools are only 1.9 terms ahead and boys at single-sex schools are than half a term ahead of their co-ed peers. Similar results apply to numeracy. Students in Grade 3 at an all-boys school start out 4.3 terms ahead of their peers at co-educational schools while girls start out 3.1 terms ahead.

But by Grade 7, the boys from single-sex schools are only 2.8 terms ahead and girls are less than a term ahead of their co-ed peers.

“The most important outcome of having single-sex schools in any educational system”, says Dr Dix, “is not that they may be better, but rather that they offer families choice.”

Schools, however, do more than provide academic outcomes. They also play a role in the development of children’s identity and socialisation. And when it comes to single sex schools, that includes a strong pitch to parents about how the school will inculcate gender identity.

Single sex school marketing often includes statements about the type of young men and young women schools will produce.

Forget “gender whisperers” as Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled strategies to support transgender students in schools, many single sex schools use a gender megaphone to tell the world how they will shape student’s gender identity.

While many parents might regard that as a plus, the ideal of gender they promote — sport-loving future male CEOs or community-minded, forthright yet agreeable, young woman leader —may not suit every student.

What about the artsy boy, with little interests in sports? Or the young woman who feels constrained by "traditional feminine" expectations of behaviour?

While the benefits or otherwise of single-sex schooling may be up for debate, what is clear is that single-sex education is in decline in Australia, and has been for some time.

According to Dr Katherine Dix’s work, data shows that that the proportion of students from independent schools attending single-sex schools fell from 31 per cent in 1985 to just 12 per cent of students in 2015.

If your head is spinning at the research results, a better approach might be to consult another kind of expert.

Rather than worrying about the advice of educational consultants, school marketing departments or, dare I say it, the academic researchers, my wife and I have decided when the time comes, we will consult the experts in our own house.

I’m talking about our children. Involving them the question about school choice is about empowering them to think about the kind of learning environment they want.

It’s about finding out who’s in their friendship network. If you daughter has many friendships with boys or your son socialises with girls, then these friendships may well be key to their engagement with schooling — and their academic success.

Ask them about what subjects they like best, and about what they do. Do they take opportunities to show leadership, or do they work best when they’re supporting and following?

If nothing else, including your child in this discussion and really listening to and observing them during it, show them you take their views seriously, and help them to begin a lifetime of making important decisions for themselves.

After all, they’re the ones who are going to be most affected by your decision.



Energy storage capacity set to soar, 300 UK-based companies involved in new sector

More slippery Green/Left statistics.  They give battery statistics in MW (Megawatts) and GW (Gigawatts). And they mean it as they do so repeatedly.  And it is the post of a renewables website so it is official, not just some journalistic muddle.

But MW and GW tells you nothing.  You want to know for HOW LONG you can supply current at that rate.  You need to give your figures in MWh (megawatt hours).  So the figures below are wholly meaningless from any practical viewpoint.  If they supply current at any sort of high rate, batteries regularly go "flat" in a matter of minutes.  And what use is that?

The Green/Left HAVE to deceive -- because reality constantly undermines their claims.  And it doesn't bother them to lie.  They believe that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" anyway.  They are a very poisonous lot

A new database to be launched by RenewableUK today shows a massive increase in battery storage capacity is set to take place - enough to power nearly half a million electric vehicles.

Planning applications in the UK to install just 2MW of battery storage capacity in 2012 have soared since then to a cumulative total of 6,874MW in 2018. (92% of applications for storage projects are approved first time).

The database will allow RenewableUK members to access comprehensive information on nearly 400 UK energy storage projects. It will show where operational projects are located on an interactive map, as well as schemes being planned and under construction, including those sited alongside solar, wind and tidal energy projects.

It also reveals that the average capacity of applications for new battery storage projects has increased from 10MW in 2016 to 27MW today, and that more than 300 UK-based businesses are operating in this new sector.

3.3GW of storage capacity (including hydro projects) is now operational in the UK and a further 5.4.GW has planning consent -  including 4.8GW of battery storage, which is enough capacity to fully charge 480,000 electric vehicles.

The database will be launched at the first joint conference on energy storage to be held by RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association, in London today.

The conference will explore what our energy system would need from storage to achieve 100% of our power from renewable generation, and the new technologies that could get us there. Developers, investors, representatives from Government, National Grid, Ofgem, legal professionals and policy analysts will examine the new business models and energy services which are already up and running, and the shape of those to come, as well as the potential obstacles standing in the way of the rapid development of a low-carbon system.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said:

“The energy sector is breaking new ground by making an unprecedented transition to a clean, flexible system which will power our country in the future. Energy storage is already playing a key part in that, from small local projects to grid-scale schemes. We’re decentralising the way the power system works and, at our conference, we’ll hear how an increased share of wind, solar and storage on the grid could transform UK energy markets”. 

The Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association Chris Hewett said:

“Energy storage has already begun to unlock the full potential of wind and solar energy, and it’s happening faster than almost anyone anticipated. It’s clear that storage will be the foundation of a smart, flexible and decarbonised future energy system, and this conference is an excellent opportunity to hear straight from the experts and business leaders who are working to make that future a reality”.



Hottest October day (28th) in 120 years: Queensland swelters as mercury tops 40C for the TENTH day in a row - and it's not over yet

One day is newsworthy? This is just nitpicking.  I have been enjoying springtime in Brisbane for a total of 40 years and the current season seems no different from any other.  We always get some warm days and some cool days and a temperture of 32 degrees C is no outlier for Brisbane.  34C is in fact about the usual summer afternoon temperature in Brisbane

At the time of writing in the afternoon of Monday 29th, it is in fact rather cool in Brisbane for the time of the year. I actually had to put a shirt on.  My thermometer says 22C.  We have just had rather a lot of rain too. It's been raining off and on for the last two days in fact.  No drought in Brisbane!

Monstrous heatwave, my foot

Australia's north is continuing to endure a monstrous heatwave, with no relief in sight.

Central Queensland registered 40C temperatures for the tenth consecutive day on Sunday, but the area will see extreme heat until Thursday.

The soaring temperatures shattered October records that had been in place for the region for more than 120 years, with one regional town topping out at nearly 44C.

'In Brisbane we'll probably see a few showers develop late this evening, it will be pretty cloudy as well,' Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Chris Joseph told the Courier Mail.

'It will probably be a better chance for showers tomorrow and pretty cool as well.'

The stormy skies in the state capital will come after it too basked in sunshine on Friday and Saturday. Crowds gathered to escape the heat at Streets Beach in the the city's South Bank Parklands as they sweated through temperatures of 32C on Friday.

Australia's major cities also had a dry Sunday, with Hobart the only capital to register any rainfall at all.

'Some locations have had two to three times October's rainfall in a week, but others haven't seen any significant falls. Overall, the cropping season is looking like one of the 10 driest on record,' climatologist Felicity Gamble told Daily Mail Australia.

The record-breaking dry spell could be a sign of things to come.

The Bureau of Meterology has predicted higher than average temperatures throughout the summer months for nearly the entire country.

The heatwave brings with it particularly grim conditions for the country's farmers, who have been suffering through a major drought.



Forget fast food – air pollution could be causing childhood obesity (?)

Groan!  These stupid studies of roadside pollution never stop coming out.  This latest one ("Longitudinal associations of in utero and early life near-roadway air pollution with trajectories of childhood body mass index") is a wonderful example of sophisticated statistics being wasted on crap data.

The authors went to great trouble to get defensible data but ignored the elephant in the room:  income.  The people who live by busy roads are generally those who can afford no better:  The poor.  So this is a study of poverty.  And that poor people have worse health in all sorts of ways  is probably the most frequent finding in health research.  So their findings are most parsimoniously explained as yet another demonstration that poor people have worse health.  There is no need to invoke nitrogen oxide exposure as an explanation of anything.  Their findings prove NOTHING about NOx exposure. They are just an example of the hoary statistical fallacy that correlation is causation.

Note this recent study: "It’s poverty, not individual choice, that is driving extraordinary obesity levels"

Had they gathered a measure of income for each family they would have been able to use various statistical techniques (I personally like partial correlation) to remove the effect of income and see if there was anything else left to explain.  But they had no measure of income so could not do that.  If they had such data my guess would be that their quite weak effects would have vanished entirely once the effect of poverty was removed.

They did have a measure of education but some well educated people are poor and some poorly educated people are rich.  Bill Gates was a dropout and there are plenty of Ph.D. burger flippers around these days.  So education is not a reliable proxy for income.

The intellectual level of pollution researchers seems to be permanently stuck in the basement.  If a student had handed this in to me for an assignment, I would have failed it

Exposing children to nitrogen dioxide air pollution from vehicles in the early stages of their life could increase the risk of them becoming obese.

The new research, lead by a team from the University of Southern California and published in the Environmental Health journal, studied 2,318 children the region to see whether there was a link.

It found children living on or near busy main roads in the first year of their life were almost a kilogramme heavier by the age of 10 than those with low exposure.

The scientists were not able to examine how the harmful chemicals increased weight gain in the children but said inflammation of the brain could have caused anxiety-induced overeating and changes in fat metabolism..

They said other factors such as gender, ethnicity and parental education are unlikely that variations in diet could explain the strong link found.

A recent report suggested spending a long weekend in some of Europe’s famous cities could have the same health impacts as smoking up to four cigarettes.



Women in physics: Why there’s a problem and how we can solve it

The title above and the excerpt below show that people with nothing better to do are still chewing away at this old issue -- even though all the attempted "solutions" have failed -- as they admit below.

But the first issue is surely why it matters.  There are many women in physics so clearly those who are inclined towards a physics career can have one if they give it priority.  There is certainly a lot of official encouragement of it.  So the issue is not whether women can contribute to physics.  Many can and do. What is at issue is the PROPORTION of women in physics.  So why does THAT matter? The proportion of women in physics is low but what is lost by that?

Feminists claim glibly that many valuable potential contributions to physics by women are not being made and see that as the loss to us all.  But where is the evidence for that? Given that there are large numbers of women already in physics could it not be that those women who have a serious avocation for physics are already there?  It certainly seems possible so the feminist claim seems nothing more than an unproven assertion.  Some proof would be nice -- but I am not holding my breath.

But feminists are routinely uninterested in proof for their various assertions so my call for proof in this matter will cause eye-rolling only.

So the real motivation for concern would appear to be the old falsehood that all men are equal -- and women are just as equal.  If that were true it would make some sense to expect equal representation of women in  all occupations whatsoever.  But it isn't true. All men are different, not equal and men and women are systematically different too.  The fact that different proportions of men and women are found in almost all occupations is ample evidence of that.  When do we let the evidence count?

And the relevant difference between men and women in physics is plain to see.  Physics is math-intensive and women are woefully outnumbered in the top tiers of mathematical ability.  The leptokurtic distribution of female IQ -- and mathematical ability in particular -- makes the small average difference between male and female mathematical ability translate into a large difference in absolute numbers at the top of the range. Some women have made and will continue to make significant contributions to physical knowledge and understanding but they will ALWAYS be a small minority in physics.  Given the different abilities between men and women on average, it cannot be otherwise.  Attempts to "solve" the difference are flailing at the wind. Flailing will continue to go on but it will be just as unsuccessful in the future as it has been in the past.

Finally, I must say something about the specific article below. They mention the paper by the terminally incorrect Alessandro Strumia. But in all the condemnations of his wickedness that I have seen (e.g. here), nobody mentions the powerful statistical evidence he presented. They content themselves with emotional reactions -- which is one of the things Strumia accused them of! Below is one of his graphs, showing how much more the work of male physicists is cited compared to the work of female physicists

Citations are the normal criterion of excellence throughout academe.  You can get a less extreme difference by including  arXiv articles, as Hossenfelder does, but such articles are not not peer-reviewed so that one has to resort to them to elevate the work of women is in itself something of a defeat.  Given their unknown quality, it seems likely that they are most often cited only to rebut them.

So how do the authors below reply to Strumia's careful research?  By mentioning that only three woman had received the Nobel prize in physics in the 117-year history of that prize. I would have thought that that fact rather supported Strumia! But in any case, thinking that selected instances can invalidate an average is a profoundly unmathematical way of thinking so is in itself surely an example of why women rarely do well in physics.  With friends like that ....

Women are still wildly under-represented in physics – but it doesn't have to be like that. Our special report looks at the steps we can take to improve things

WHEN we were 16 years old, my friend Karen and I were interviewed for an educational video. With our hair thick with styling mousse, pale blue eyeliner and misplaced teen swagger, we explained why we had chosen to study physics. We were the only two girls in our school that year who had. Our video was going to inspire other girls to do the same. We were going to change the world.

Thirty years on, it is safe to say our ambition failed. In 2016, no girls studied A level physics in almost half of the schools in England that admit girls. In the same year, just one-third of schools had two or more girls taking the subject. It is a similar picture across much of the world. Despite all the initiatives to attract more girls into physics, the proportion remains stubbornly low.

Physics and sexism has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks by the incendiary comments made by theoretical physicist Alessandro Strumia. At a workshop on gender in physics, of all places, at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland, he claimed that women were less capable than men at physics research. The day after he was suspended by CERN, Donna Strickland became only the third woman to receive the Nobel prize in physics in its 117-year history, sharing this year’s award for her pioneering work on lasers.

All this paints a picture of physics as a career that is unwelcoming to women to start with and isolating for many of those who do make it. But why is this still the case?



Should blacks be white supremacists?

My heading above will of course expose me to a roar of accusations that I am a white supremacist.  I have certainly been accused of that before.  I have in print around a hundred academic journal articles on race and racism so I at least qualify as being a racist according to the Leftist lexicon -- which is anyone who mentions race or monkeys. I have mentioned both.

the Left throw around the term "white supremacist" with wild abandon so it is very hard to work out what they mean by it. So varied are the words that provoke such an accusation that it could mean a very wide variety of things.  Could it be synonymous with "Good old boy", for instance? It seems possible.

In fact, of course it is not meant to have any particular meaning.  It is simply a term of abuse, like S.O.B.  It sounds bad and that is enough.

So is there any point in trying to look at what it COULD mean?  I personally treat the meaning of words with respect so I think I should at least try.  I think there are two possible underlying meanings: Someone who thinks whites ARE supreme and someone who thinks whites SHOULD BE supreme.

And it is reasonable enough to think that whites are supreme in at least some ways.  Modern Western civilization and the innovations that drive it is almost entirely the creation of whites. And whites  tend not to be good runners or good rappers but in terms of high income and low crime incidence they generally excel in international comparisons.  China will no doubt catch up but they are not there yet.

So is there any problem in reporting that factual situation?  I can't see it.  But Leftists are not concerned with facts of course so I am presumably a villain just for mentioning the facts of the matter.

So then we come to the second type of possible white supremacist:  Someone who believes that whites SHOULD BE supreme.  But are there any such people?  Since whites already are supreme in important ways, what point is there in wishing for such a situation to come about?  You can't open a door that is already open.  So I can't think that there could be any whites in that category.

But there could be some blacks.  What is true of comparisons between countries is also true of comparisons between cities.  And it is a byword about what behavioral sinks black-dominated cities in America are  -- with huge rates of violent crime, great poverty and urban decay generally. Think Detroit.

So it seems possible that there are some blacks in such cities who would like whites to be fully in charge of their city and enforce white standards of behaviour. There might even be some who pray for that. It's not for me to say that they should but if I were a black living in Detroit, I would.


"Killer heatwave": What the heck are they talking about?

At mid afternoon Thurs 1st November in Brisbane (S.E. Queeensland), my thermometer reads 29.5C -- and my thermometer synchronizes well with Brisbane BoM readings. And a normal summer afternoon reading is 34C

Killer heatwave strikes: Temperatures on Australia's east coast soar towards 40C – and it won't end until next week

Australia is sweating its way through the first heatwave of the season, prompting dire warnings from fire and health authorities.

Temperatures in Sydney are set to reach the mid-to high-30s by Friday and more than 40C in regional areas.

Unusually dry conditions, strong winds and scorching temperatures have also increased the risk of dangerous fires.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke told Daily Mail Australia the heatwave would be contained to inland areas for southern parts of the country.

'In the far north of the country parts of the tropics are getting the heatwave, such as the eastern part of Cape York,' Mr Dutschke said.

Most of southern Australia is set to endure three to four days of the scorching heatwave. However, areas such as northern New South Wales and southwest Queensland will be met with much more severe heat.

Most of the coast will be lucky to avoid the heatwave due to sea breezes, but will still see warmer than normal temperatures.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Jake Phillips said it was the first heatwave of the season and while it won't be very intense, it could impact people more than normal given the recent run of mild conditions.

'One of the characteristics of heatwaves is not just hotter maximum temperatures but also hotter minimums,' he said in a statement.

As the heatwave stretches across most of the country, authorities have urged residents to prepare themselves for a 'killer' bushfire season.

Friday and Saturday will be the hottest days as the heatwave makes its way across the east coast before being pushed north.

Weatherzone meteorologist Jacob Cronje said the heatwave was the result of a cold front pushing the warm weather towards the coast. 'At the moment there is very hot air over the interior of Australia, which has had very little cloud cover,' Mr Cronje said. 'A cold front is forcing and dragging all that warm air down.'


What heatwave?

At mid-afternoon in Brisbane on Saturday, my thermometer read 31C.  But a normal summer mid-afternoon temperature is 34C, so there is nothing out of the ordinary about the current temperature

Good news for weekend beach-goers as Friday's heatwave will spill over onto Super Saturday.

Records were smashed across New South Wales on Friday, as Green Cape in the state's far south-east broke its November record by six degrees and Wollongong's highs of 36C represented its highest ever early Spring mark.

While temperatures will not reach as high as Friday's scorcher, those in Australia's east coast can expect the above-average heat to continue.

Persistent warm north-westerly winds blowing in from central Australia will see Sydney hit 30C on Saturday, making it perfect weather to hit the beach.

According to Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) forecaster Rose Barr, temperatures in western parts of the state will stretch past 30C.

The western suburb of Penrith is expected to see highs of 36C.

Meanwhile in parts of Queensland, temperatures could push up to 40C over the weekend.

However those looking to top up their tan should bare in mind that the heatwave won't last much longer.

BOM meteorologist Rose Barr told Daily Mail Australia that the hot spell is likely to linger until Tuesday.



Is the Arctic set to become a main shipping route?

The BBC is pushing this old fantasy again.  And in good BBC style they start out with a deception -- when they claim: ‘But in 2014 the Nunavik became the first cargo ship to traverse the [Northwest] passage unescorted when it delivered nickel from the Canadian province of Quebec to China.’ It fails to mention the obviously important fact that Nunavik is an icebreaking bulk carrier with quite a high ice-rating

In 2014 the Nunavik became the first cargo ship to go through the Northwest Passage without an icebreaking escort ship leading the way. Climate change is increasingly opening up the Northwest Passage, an Arctic sea route north of the Canadian mainland.

Could it herald an era of more cargo shipping around the top of the world?

Back in the 19th Century there was a race to map and navigate the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean as a shortcut between the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

Explorers would take ships up Greenland's west coast, then try to weave through Canada's Arctic islands, before going down the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.

The problem was that even in the summer the route was mostly blocked by impenetrable ice. On one of the best-known expeditions - that of the UK's Sir John Franklin in 1845 - all 129 crew members perished after their two vessels got stuck.

Today, more than 170 years later, a warming Arctic means that the route is increasingly accessible for a few months each summer.

And according to some estimates, Arctic ice is retreating to the extent that the Northwest Passage could become an economically viable shipping route.

For shipping firms transporting goods from China or Japan to Europe or the east coast of the US, the passage would cut thousands of miles off journeys that currently go via the Panama or Suez canals.

The Canadian government is certainly hopeful that this will be the case.

Late last month the country's trade minister Jim Carr said that the route "will in a matter of a generation, probably be available year round".

At the moment it is still a risky business though, with ice remaining a serious problem.

But in 2014 the Nunavik became the first cargo ship to traverse the passage unescorted when it delivered nickel from the Canadian province of Quebec to China.

Tim Keane, manager of Arctic operations for the ship's owner, Canadian maritime transport firm Fednav, was on board the Nunavik for the journey.

He says that the trip was pleasantly "boring" - the ship didn't have to spend days struggling through ice.

Instead it did the journey from Quebec to China in 26 days, more than two weeks less than the 41-day return via the Panama Canal.

"From a distance point of view it makes tremendous sense to use the Northwest Passage when it's available to you," he says.

While Fednav doesn't have immediate plans to use the route again, it remains a possibility depending on the cargo's destination, and the time of year.

A year prior to the Nunavik's journey, another large vessel - the Nordic Orion - became the first cargo ship to go through the passage, albeit led by a Canadian coastguard icebreaker.

Owner, Danish company Nordic Bulk Carriers, said afterwards that "we hope and expect to do it" again.



Conservative causes uproar in EU Parliament with Nazi comment

The Eurocrats took refuge in the fact that the Nazis were not the only socialists in prewar Germany but that proves nothing.  It is true that the old union-affiliated Left (Social Democrats) did oppose the Nazis to some degree but that was just sibling rivalry, often the bitterest rivalry.

Leftists are very prone to "splits" and sometimes  seem to hate one another more than anyone else. Lenin spoke of other Bolsheviks such as Kautsky describing: "the full extent of their stupidity, pedantry, baseness and betrayal of working-class interests".  He could scarcely have spoken greater ill of the Tsar.

And Trotsky was a very senior Bolshevik, leader of the Red Army during the revolution, no less.  But he ended up with an icepick in the head, courtesy of Stalin.

So being an anti-Nazi socialist does nothing to deny that Nazis were socialists too.  There are many flavours of socialism, all pretty poisonous and longing to control you

A leading British Conservative in the European Parliament has come under a barrage of criticism after he compared current-day socialist parties with Nazism.

Addressing socialist lawmakers in a debate Wednesday, Syed Kamall said ‘‘you have to remember that Nazis were National Socialists, a strain of socialism, so let’s not pretend. It’s a left-wing ideology.’’

The remarks caused an immediate uproar. and Kamall added ‘‘you don’t like the truth, do you?’’

Kamall later said he ‘‘apologized directly & unreservedly’’ to the leader of the socialist group, but criticism was scathing.

Socialists opposed Nazism and were among the early victims of the extreme-right ideologies of Adolf Hitler.

EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said claims that Nazism is left-wing or socialist have been pushed by the extreme right on the Internet for the past few years, but added ‘‘what is new to me is that the leader in this house of the party of Churchill and Thatcher would appropriate that narrative.’’

‘‘What has happened to the Conservative Party?’’ he asked legislators.

ALDE Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, too, was stunned.

Kamall’s words were ‘‘an insult to all the Social Democrats who fought against Nazism and died in concentration camps,’’ Verhofstadt said.

The S&D socialist group said socialists ‘‘throughout Europe resisted Hitler’s regime and paid for it with their lives. With his disgusting comparison, Kamall has mocked these brave people.’’

Kamall tweeted that it was not a comment aimed at anyone and ‘‘I have upmost respect for anyone who stood up & fought against Nazism, Communism & any other kinds of extremism.’’


UPDATE:  A reader has alerted me to a terminological problem in describing the weapon used to kill Leon Trotsky.  Strictly, an ice pick is a rather harmless thing that looks a lot like an office bodkin.  I use one often. The weapon used to kill Trotsky was a sort of pick but it is better described as an ice axe, though the handle had been shortened for concealment purposes.  A picture of it is here, together with a description of how and why it was used

An ice pick.  Not a good murder weapon and NOT the thing used on Trotsky.  Trotsky was a mass murderer who deserved to die as he lived.


Australia: Endangered Koalas?

More stupid Greenie prophecy. If they ever get a disaster prophecy right will be the time to heed them, and not before.  As it is, this is just another of their old scares.  Scares are their stock in trade.

And it is as dishonest as usual. They say, for instance, that Koalas are "at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas".  A more honest statement would be that Koalas are "at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas while being in pest proportions in other areas, such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia".  There is no truth in them (John 8:44)

EARTH has lost a staggering 60 per cent of its wildlife populations since 1970, a bleak new report has revealed.

But koala numbers in Australia have declined at an even faster rate, and the beloved national animal is at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas.

The group WWF today released its Living Planet Report, a comprehensive study tracking 16,704 populations of 4005 vertebrate species across the world from 1970 to 2014.

It described the global decline in species — an average rate of 13.6 per cent every 10 years, or 60 per cent in total — as a “grim” result of the pressure humans place on nature.

While the figures are alarming, koala populations along Australia’s east coast have plummeted even faster, at a rate of 21 per cent per decade.

That shocking statistic can be explained by another figure in the report — eastern Australia is one of the 11 worst deforestation fronts in the world, and the only developed country on the list.

“It is a wakeup call for our east coast to appear alongside notorious forest destruction hot spots such as the Amazon, Congo Basin, Sumatra and Borneo,” WWF Australia boss Dermot O’Gorman said.

Clearing for livestock is listed as the primary cause of forest loss, with unsustainable logging an important secondary cause.

By 2050, koalas are likely to disappear completely from the wild in NSW, WWF Australia estimates.

The group blames the axing of forest protection laws by the State Government, saying it all but signing the species’ death warrant.

“The Government needs to urgently reverse its recent axing of laws that has led to a tripling of koala habitat destruction in northwest NSW,” Mr O’Gorman said.



'Knuckle-dragging philistines': Labor targets Liberals for blocking arts grants

So we have a Leftist party wanting to transfer taxpayers' money to middle-class ivory-tower types.  That leaves the conservatives as defenders of the workers' money.  Something wrong there?

My own first degree was an Arts degree but I think the argument in favour of Humanities involvement is greatly over-egged.  I am not sure that any arts and humanities courses should be publicly funded.  There is very little evidence that they do any good.  All we get are high flown assertions to that effect

I myself greatly enjoyed my studies of Homer, Thucydides, Chaucer, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Goethe, Wittgenstein, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven etc. and still do -- but I can't see that I needed to go to university to acquire that familiarity

Labor has accused former education minister Simon Birmingham of pandering to “knuckle-dragging rightwing philistines” by blocking 11 Australian Research Council grants in the humanities totalling $4m.

Senate estimates hearings on Thursday revealed that Birmingham blocked $1.4m of discovery grants for topics including a history of men’s dress from 1870-1970, “beauty and ugliness as persuasive tools in changing China’s gender norms” and “post orientalist arts in the Strait of Gibraltar”.

Birmingham, now trade minister, also blocked $1m of early career awards announced in November 2017 including a $330,000 grant for research into legal secularism in Australia and $336,000 for a project titled “Soviet cinema in Hollywood before the blacklist”.

Two further grants announced in June 2018 were also blocked: “The music of nature and the nature of music” ($765,000) and “writing the struggle for Sioux and US modernity” ($926,372).

The grant projects were proposed by researchers at universities including the Australian Catholic University, the Australian National University as well as Sydney, Melbourne, New South Wales and Monash universities. All grants were independently approved by the ARC.

Labor’s innovation spokesman, Kim Carr, accused Birmingham of judging research on its title and targeting the humanities because no research in other disciplines such as science were blocked.  "He’s pandering to rightwing extremism in an attempt to peddle ignorance,” Carr told Guardian Australia. “There is no case for this blatant political interference to appease the most reactionary elements of the Liberal and National party and the shock-jocks.

“These are grants in arts, culture, music and history which somehow or other in his mind are not acceptable … what is his research expertise to justify interventions of that type?”

Carr said that when the former education minister Brendan Nelson vetoed humanities grants in 2004-05 there was “outcry from the Australian research community”.

When in government Labor instituted a protocol that blocking research required a special declaration so the decision was public, which Carr said the Coalition had rescinded.

Birmingham responded on Twitter: “I‘m pretty sure most Australian taxpayers preferred their funding to be used for research other than spending $223,000 on projects like ‘Post orientalist arts of the Strait of Gibraltar

In a statement the Australian Academy of the Humanities expressed “shock and anger” that the minister intervened and called for the $4m of funding to be restored.

The academy president, Joy Damousi, said Australia’s research funding system “is highly respected around the world for its rigour and integrity”. “Political interference of this kind undermines confidence and trust in that system,” Damousi said.  “The rigour of that system and the competition for funding means that only exceptional applications make it through the process.

“A panel of experts have judged these projects to be outstanding, yet that decision has apparently been rejected out of hand by the former minister.”



Leftist groups call for tech companies to crack down on what they call hate speech

Note that what they call hate speech are descriptions the Left commonly use for things that Trump says.  Trump, for instance, has a long record showing that he is in no way racist yet the Leftmedia commonly mislabel things he says or does as racist.  Just the mention of race can be racist to a Leftist.

The Leftist groups below would, via their usual hysterical mislabelling, silence all conservative speech if they got their way.  When you read the things they want banned you can see some point in it, but the Devil is in the details.  What they mean by those labels is widely at variance with common usage.  It's part of the deliberate deception which is the "modus operandi" of the Left

A group of civil rights organizations is pushing technology companies to create policies to more effectively address hate speech and extremist groups.

The six organizations, joined by 40 other organizations who echoed the call, wrote in a report that they want the platforms to take firmer stances against “racism, sexism, xenophobia, religious bigotry, homophobia and transphobia” and enforce policies against hate speech and extremist groups more strictly.

The groups, which include the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Free Press, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that they plan to release report cards next year for how social media firms are handling the recommendations.



The Morrison government gets realistic on the drivers of electricity costs and is told about "The hoax" Australians have been sold on electricity

A comprehensive investigation of the drivers of electricity costs reveals that Greenie costs are not the only driver pushing costs upward.  Electricity firms are also making a motza. So PM Morrison takes modest measures to rein in those profits.  So the Left praise him for that?  Leftists don't like big business.

But, no, Morrison is "hypocritical" for doing that.  He said that environmental costs were a big driver of costs so he should stick to that only apparently. He is not allowed to look at more than one cost driver at a time, apparently.  He'll get no logic or reason from Leftists, just hate. I suppose in the simplistic Leftist mind, things CAN have only one cause

WHEN the Abbott Government first romped to victory in 2013 on its promise to axe the carbon tax, it was to address one key issue — the rising cost of electricity.

Addressing climate change was costing too much, Australia’s future prime minister Tony Abbott argued, and was impacting people’s power bills.

Five years later and despite dumping the so-called tax, people’s power bills have still skyrocketed but it’s not for the reason they think.

As ABC finance analyst Alan Kohler highlighted in a series of graphs, electricity prices have jumped by 55 per cent since 2007.

The reason? While climate change policies have played a part, they were not the biggest factor and an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report released in July gave an interesting insight into why prices had risen.

Mainly it’s because of network costs (which added 4 cents per kilowatt hour), the cost of wholesale electricity (2.8 cents), environmental costs (1.6 cents), retail margin (1.4 cents) and retail costs (0.8 cents).

Most of these terms mean nothing to average consumers. To simplify it, the climate change impact can be attributed partly to the lack of a good policy, which means there has not been an “orderly” transition to cleaner energy sources.

Big coal-fired power stations like Northern and Hazelwood have closed without much notice, making it difficult for the market to find alternatives. The closures have also driven up wholesale prices partly because there is less supply and competition. Gas prices also jumped up after the resource started being exported and this has also contributed to higher prices in Australia.

Meanwhile, there’s little incentive for companies to invest in new sources of electricity when the closures mean they can instead charge more for the energy they are already generating.

The ACCC also found “network costs” had driven up prices the most. In particular, in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania, there has been over-investment in networks, the so-called “poles and wires”.

But one of these figures have escaped much of the scrutiny applied to the others: retail margins.

For those not familiar with the jargon — this is the profit that electricity companies make. And this has grown by 1.4 per cent.

As Mr Kohler noted, selling electricity has become so profitable in Australia, retail margins are now the highest in the world.

The government focus has now turned to cracking down on retailers for confusing customers, price gouging and unfair late payment fees.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced measures to bring down prices, including that it ask the Australian Energy Regulator to put in place a “price safety net”, which is essentially an electricity price cap, something Australia used to have and then got rid of in 2007.

While the crackdown on retailers is in line with ACCC findings, some have noticed the government’s approach now appears to fly in the face of its previous scaremongering.

The new Morrison Government is trying to break the link between carbon emissions reduction and rising power prices, saying it will “comfortably” meet Australia’s Paris agreement targets while at the same time lowering prices.

It’s something that 7.30 host Leigh Sales questioned Energy Minister Angus Taylor about last night and the lack of response was telling.

“This government suggests that emissions reduction, carbon emissions reduction, and power prices are not linked,” Sales said. “If that is true, then you are admitting that your entire anti-carbon tax platform was a hoax because your opposition to it was based on it driving up power prices?”

One of the first things Mr Morrison did when he took over the prime ministership was get rid of the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which was aimed at reducing electricity prices, providing more stability in the system but also legislating an emissions reduction of 26 per cent over the next 10 years.

Now it looks like Australia won’t have a climate policy and may have to rely on the government topping up the Emissions Reduction Fund, which Mr Abbott introduced to pay businesses, community organisations, local councils or others to reduce their carbon emissions.

The Morrison Government has also left the door open to support new coal-fired power stations and may even protect these investments against the future climate change action.

Mr Taylor told The Guardian the government would look at absorbing the risks for companies, which had found it hard to get finance because they were unable to predict future carbon action, particularly because Australia has not been able to agree to a bipartisan policy.

Asked whether he acknowledged that would expose taxpayers to risk, Taylor said: “We’ll look at the risks and we’ll seek to minimise the risks to the commonwealth”.



Australia's economic 'lucky streak' jeopardised by political infighting, reliance on China, report warns

This is a repeat of Donald Horne's old jaundiced claim that Australia does well only because it is a "lucky" country.  

But it's not luck qand never has been.  The Australian continent is resource-rich but so is the African continent.  Need I say more on that? Australia is very similar to the USA in its economic and cultural arrangements so gets prosperity by its own doing, just as the USA does.

Past Prime Ministers, Hawke, Keating and Howard all instituted economically rational policies which have been very beneficial to prosperity and the present conservative government even seems to have reined in the debt splurge inflicted on Australia over six years from 2007 to 2013 by the Rudd/Gillard Leftist government

As to the threats enumerated above, political infighting among the conservatives has been deplorable but nonetheless has seen economically constructive policies adopted throughout.

And the idea that problems with China will be anything more than superficial is absurd.  What end would it serve for them to restrict the major inflows of coal, iron, copper, wool and dairy products that they presently get from Australia?

Australian mines and miners are very efficient and Australia is located only a short shipping distance from the major Chinese ports so they can buy from Australia very cheaply, often cheaper than they can buy from Chinese sources

Australia has an "enviable economic record" but its "lucky streak" could come to an end due to domestic infighting and an over-reliance on Chinese trade, according to a report published today.

Political infighting and a revolving door of PMs has become a cause for concern

The report, written by The Economist's Asia editor Edward McBride, says Australia has one of the "world's top economies" based on its steady economic growth and relative resilience during two financial crises.

It adds that no other wealthy country has had comparative economic growth when looking at the stable increase of wages in contrast to widespread global wage stagnation.

McBride attributes this to reforms made 30 years ago by former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating — who floated the Australian dollar and deregulated the financial sectors — as well as the more recent diversification of the economy at the end of the resource boom.

Speaking to the ABC, McBride said Australia's 27 years without a recession and affordable health care and pensions were some of the key reasons for Australia's position.

However, the report says Australia's reliance on Chinese trade, as well as domestic infighting, has the potential to destabilise policies which have underpinned the country's economic success.

A Beijing boycott would shake Australian livelihoods
China is Australia's largest bilateral trading partner with imports and exports worth some $183 billion last year, according to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

The second biggest trading partner is now Japan at $71 billion after it took over the United States last year.

But China is Australia's largest buyer of iron ore, copper, wool and wine, and it also provides 16 per cent of Australia's tourists.

In his report, McBride says a potential economic boycott by Beijing could have a significant impact on Australia.

"Should Chinese tourists disappear, or Chinese drinkers stop slurping Australian wine, many Australians would lose their livelihood," he writes.

A boycott situation would not be beyond the realms of possibility as similar events have happened in the past. Last year Beijing orchestrated a boycott against South Korea due to Seoul's decision to allow the installation of an American anti-missile system.

However, Hans Hendrischke, a professor of Chinese business at the University of Sydney, said the trade relationship was reciprocal.

"The problem with this scenario is that any unilateral reduction of trade links between China and Australia would cause immediate economic harm for no as of yet evident political benefit," he said, adding both sides provide goods and services the other does not have.

Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham told the ABC Australia would continue to support the multilateral trading system, and it was "opening new doors" for Australian businesses through trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong, and the European Union.

"We have strong trade and investment ties with China, the United States, and many other countries," he said in a statement.

"I continue to urge all parties to respect the long established rules of international trade and to avoid action that could ultimately damage their economies and those of other nations."

Domestic politics 'a cause for concern'

In another key finding, the report says while the Australian economy "is without equal in the rich world … its [domestic] politics are a cause for concern".

But the infighting within Australian political parties has impacted businesses to the point of being a cause for concern not only for the economy, but also for diplomatic relations.

The report says Australia's recent fast turnover of prime ministers has created feelings of disillusionment towards future policies.

"That is especially alarming because the trend of rising incomes which marks Australia out from the rest of the rich world is running out of steam, and the consensus around policies that underpinned it, such as openness to immigration, is eroding," the report says.

If politicians do not sort themselves out, the report adds, Australia risks becoming as troubled as everywhere else.

"I'm surprised by how few Australians seem to realise how much their country stands out, not just in terms of how long it has gone without a recession, but also in terms of income growth, immigration and economic reform," McBride said.

"It's an amazing record, and one that is important not to jeopardise."



Uluru climber fights to keep the famous rock open and claims traditional owners guided visitors to the top in the past

It should be open and accessible to all Australians. Locking it up on the grounds of Aboriginal superstition is a form of racism.  It prioritizes a racially defined religion.

It's my belief that there is no spirit realm.  Why is my religion not of any force in the matter?  It's a widely held belief.  Australia is a very secular country and most Australians would believe that your ancestors are as dead as

And while an Aboriginal group are politely referred to as "traditional owners", the legal reality is that the rock is crown land, in effect owned by all Australians

Ayers rock

Right to Climb Ayers Rock blogger Marc Hendrickx has filed a Human Rights Commission complaint alleging racial discrimination.  'I deeply respect the past Aboriginal owners but I think the decision to close the climb has been handled badly,' he told The Australian.

Concerns for the conservation of Uluru partly drove the decision to close it to climbers in October next year. It was argued that tours to the summit of Uluru not only had a detrimental effect on the environment but also disrespected the traditional owners, the Anangu people.

Opponents to the closure claim crucial data was lacking at the time of the decision, and local Aboriginal people, in fact, once guided visitors to the top.

Mr Hendrickx drew up archival images and reports to back up this claim. A 1940s film showed two Aboriginal men Tiger Tjalkalyirri and Mitjenkeri Mick guiding heading a tour to the summit.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management chairman Sammy Wilson disputed Mr Hendrickx's claims and urged people to look beneath the surface. He also slammed tourism authorities and a nearby resort for turning Uluru into a moneymaker.

'We are teaching our kids not to climb,' Mr Wilson said. He added it was 'a spiritual place' and noted 'can I climb your temple?'

At the moment, a sign is planted at the base of the rock: it urges visitors to not climb the feature, though many ignore it.

Mr Hendrickx visited Uluru with his daughters in July and said the view at the top was 'stunning'.

On top of closing down the rock, it is also believed five plaques at the rock's base, the chain and a historic cairn at the summit have also been ordered to be removed.

Opponents say it would destroy the very same cultural heritage that authorities are sworn to protect. 'I ­believe that closing the climb and removing those monuments will breach the lease agreement,' Mr Hendrickx said.

A Parks Australia spokeswoman denied any plans to 'destroy the summit monument, chain and memorial plaques.'

The spokeswoman added Parks Australia does not agree with the 'assertion that the director of National Parks has breached the lease agreement with the Anangu traditional owners.'