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That evil diabetes

The prime whipping boy for the "war on obesity" is diabetes.  Being fat is supposed to give you diabetes, never mind that most fat people are not diabetic! So it is interesting to see what pops up in the research about diabetes.  And the latest study is an unusually strong one.  The researchers had data on both income and education, which makes it quite a rarity and worth mentioning for that alone. So the results can be accepted without the most usual caveat about the influence of social class.

Another usual caveat is however not excluded. By basing their conclusions on interquartile range they threw away half their data.  At least they did not use extreme quintiles, I suppose. So they are a bit up on a lot of other studies in that regard.  The bottom line, however, is that the effects they observed were weak.

So what did they find, albeit weakly?  The most interesting finding was a negative.  Neighborhood social environment was not associated with diabetes.  Bear in mind, however that race/ethnicity was controlled for.  Without that control, inner city environments would have been found to be bad for you.  So having congenial neighbors is nice but it doesn't protect you from diabetes. Not terribly surprising, I suppose, but with their tendency to blame everything on external factors, Leftists might not like it

The positive effects were that a neighborhood with good opportunities for exercise helped stave off diabetes and a neighborhood with more fresh food available helped a little too.  So having nearby parks to jog around was good for you and a less fat-intensive diet gave your pancreas a bit of a rest.

An amusing thing is that JAMA really liked that study and put up a laudatory commentary on it ("Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus:  Person, Place, and Precision Prevention").  And what the commentary said about it did not surprise me one bit. The commentary disregarded the weaknesses of the effects and even said that the authors found something which they did not.  Academics have a great tendency to draw conclusions they want to draw and damn the evidence.  So when dear little Nancy Adler and Aric Prather said in their commentary that: "physical and social contexts of neighborhood environments matter for disease onset", they were ignoring the fact that the study below found that social environment did NOT matter.  LOL.

We climate skeptics know well how little there is behind Warmist "science" but the same is true of science in other fields too, particularly health science.  And Leftism of course floats on a sea of lies.  The situation is so bad that, even at age 71, I feel I still have to keep going and keep pointing out the facts. I would rather spend my time watching operetta -- but fortunately I do get some time for that too.  Much more fun than politics and crooked science.

Longitudinal Associations Between Neighborhood Physical and Social Environments and Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)

By Paul J. Christine et al.

ABSTRACT

Objective:  To determine whether long-term exposures to neighborhood physical and social environments, including the availability of healthy food and physical activity resources and levels of social cohesion and safety, are associated with incident T2DM during a 10-year period.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a population-based cohort study of adults aged 45 to 84 years at baseline (July 17, 2000, through August 29, 2002). A total of 5124 participants free of T2DM at baseline underwent 5 clinical follow-up examinations from July 17, 2000, through February 4, 2012. Time-varying measurements of neighborhood healthy food and physical activity resources and social environments were linked to individual participant addresses. Neighborhood environments were measured using geographic information system (GIS)– and survey-based methods and combined into a summary score. We estimated hazard ratios (HRs) of incident T2DM associated with cumulative exposure to neighborhood resources using Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for age, sex, income, educational level, race/ethnicity, alcohol use, and cigarette smoking. Data were analyzed from December 15, 2013, through September 22, 2014.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Incident T2DM defined as a fasting glucose level of at least 126 mg/dL or use of insulin or oral antihyperglycemics.

Results:  During a median follow-up of 8.9 years (37 394 person-years), 616 of 5124 participants (12.0%) developed T2DM (crude incidence rate, 16.47 [95% CI, 15.22-17.83] per 1000 person-years). In adjusted models, a lower risk for developing T2DM was associated with greater cumulative exposure to indicators of neighborhood healthy food (12%; HR per interquartile range [IQR] increase in summary score, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.79-0.98]) and physical activity resources (21%; HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.71-0.88]), with associations driven primarily by the survey exposure measures. Neighborhood social environment was not associated with incident T2DM (HR per IQR increase in summary score, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.88-1.07]).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Long-term exposure to residential environments with greater resources to support physical activity and, to a lesser extent, healthy diets was associated with a lower incidence of T2DM, although results varied by measurement method. Modifying neighborhood environments may represent a complementary, population-based approach to prevention of T2DM, although further intervention studies are needed.

JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 29, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2691
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It takes a woman...

The feminist claim that there is a sisterhood always amuses me.  Women can certainly be very supportive towards their friends and, as good persons,  be nice to many others, male or female.  But the other side is female rivalry and it takes a woman to tear another woman to shreds verbally.

So I was amused to read the article below under the heading: "As scary as she is sexy: Maria Sharapova has all the warmth of her Siberian homeland" by Jane Fryer. It is incredibly bitchy in an only slightly guarded way.  Just part of it below


Teetering about in five-inch black heels and a teeny sleeveless skater dress, Maria Sharapova looks like a giantess dressed up as a doll. Her enormous shoulders jut out either side. Her thighs are rippling, surprisingly chunky and ever so slightly veiny. Her beautiful face is expressionless.

And her eyes . . . her eyes are green, sleepy, incredibly sexy but also rather scary. Like a tiger that could turn any moment, and take out her entire (very extensive) entourage with one arm and then gobble us all up.

She is being photographed in the new Porsche Boxster Spyder, being driven round and round a block in London’s Mayfair.

She appears bored and beautiful, very Russian and very, very tall (6 ft 7 in in her heels) — as if she’s somehow been enlarged by a computer program, or we’ve all shrunk. The driver is very pink. And we are all agog and a little bit afraid.

She is a daunting woman — ranked No 4 in women’s tennis, winner of five Grand Slams, including Wimbledon when she was just 17, beating defending champion Serena Williams to shock and awe. Accompanied, who can forget, by extremely loud grunts every time she served or over-exerted herself. They measured more than 101 decibels, for goodness sake — just nine less than a lion’s roar.

She is also the world’s most highly paid female athlete and has been for more than a decade. She earns more than $20 million a year from endorsements and sponsorship deals ranging from Nike to Tag Heuer, Evian to Porsche.

On top of that, she has her own range of sweets, Sugarpova; a Maria Sharapova Foundation through which she helps victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion; and a Pomeranian dog called Dolce, who stays at home in her mansion in Florida where, apparently, the air better suits his flyaway furry coat.

Maria controls everything in microscopic detail. So while, of course, she is delighted to chat, I am warned — very firmly — that she must not be asked any questions about grunting. Or her boyfriend. And particularly no questions connecting the two.

Which is a shame, because for the past three years she has been dating Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, who is No 11 in the world and the hottest man in tennis — in looks, potential, and temper — though he insists he’s made great strides in controlling it better these days, and last year only smashed 200 racquets.

He is utterly gorgeous, silly, fun-loving and a terrible show-off. Last week he tweeted a picture of himself hanging upside down on the London Underground with the caption ‘feeling silly’. If I were dating him, I’d never stop talking about him.

She was also, I’m told, extremely upset about reports in the Mail that the confectionery in her sweetie range are full of sugar.

So I start with an apology for any thoughtless comments and she looks me very hard in the eye and says, ‘no problem, I have a short memory’ — clearly meaning the opposite.

And we move swiftly to permitted topics, such as how much she loves Wimbledon, which, obviously, she wants to win again. ‘It’s a dream of mine and something I work towards every single day,’ she says........

A colleague of mine (male, obviously), who once spent a day with her for an interview and claims he even saw her in a thong during the photoshoot, said that despite her extraordinary looks, he found her utterly unsexy.

I disagree. Maria Sharapova is astonishingly sexy, but you’d have to have a death wish, or be a kamikaze Bulgarian tennis star, to try your luck with her.

SOURCE


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Circumventing SCOTUS

From "Dredd Scott" onwards, SCOTUS has almost always blown with the wind.  Its rulings reflect elite opinion of the time, not the actual text of the constitution.  So the huge fuss the Left and their media henchmen  have been making about homosexual marriage had a predictable result.  The Left-leaning justices would have been shunned by all their friends had they decided otherwise.

The shred of justification that they used for the decisdion is from the  first section  of the 14th Amendment: "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

But there is no protection that homosexual marriage confers.  There are some privilerges connected with marriage but privileges are not protections.  And in any case, civil unions offered in many jurisdictions do  provide the same privileges as marriage.  So the judicial reasoning was aimed to produce a result, not to offer an honest interpretation.  Nothing new there.

If anything, though, the reasoning was less slippery than the reasoning behind the legalization of abortion in "Roe vs Wade".  The homosexual marriage ruling was just routine  dishonesty.

So there is no reason why the SCOTUS ruling should be respected.  If they can slip and slide around the matter so can others.  And there is an easy way for conservative State governments to do so. What I have in mind would be perfectly legal and proper -- though  it would provoke a banshee scream of rage from the Left.  How do I know that?  Because something similar was proposed in an  Australian jurisdiction (the ACT) a few year ago  -- and was greeted with horror by homosexuals.

Here is what you do:  Both homosexuals and heterosexuals get the same marriage certificate -- with just one difference:  The certificate received by heterosexuals is simply headed "Marriage Certificate" but the certificate received by homoxsexuals would be headed "Homosexual Marriage Certificate".  There is nothing in the SCOTUS judgment to prevent that as far as I can see.

The legal wording to be enacted by the State governments would be something along the following lines:  "To avoid confusion, all  official documentation issued in connection with same-sex  marriages shall clearly refer to the marriage as a "homosexial marriage".

No reasonable person could object to that but the Left are not reasonable so the uproar would be great.  The real and perverse goal behind the homosexual marriage issue -- which is to deny an obvious difference -- would be defeated.  The resultant uproar would undoubtedly send the matter back to SCOTUS eventually but even SCOTUS might be hard put to find something wrong with that wording.  They might cry "discrimination" but nothing has been witheld, denied or refused.

As a libertarian, of course, I don't care either way.  I think marriage should be a matter either of private contract or a religious sacrament.  I see no need for it to be licensed or in any way regulated by any government.  For most of human history it has been purely a religious matter, with only churches or other religious bodies keeping a record of it

And because of harsh divorce laws, many couples do not marry now anyway.  Your de facto wife is simply referred to as your "fiancee" and nobody thinks anything of it.  That is particularly so in Britain.  When women complain that men "won't commit", they can thank the feminists who have made the divorce laws so intimidating to men.  Stories of women winning big out of divorce appear in the papers almost daily so few men can be unaware of the dangers in marrying.  It will be amusing to see the same laws hitting  homosexual marriages.

And with the daily horrors being perpetrated by Muslim fanatics in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, surely there are more important matters for us to attend to.  Repeated vicious slaughter surely matters much more than what homosexuals do with their penises.  Homosexuality is certainly a matter of indifference to me.


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Britain's shame

Particularly at the shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland, Britain once built around half of the world's ships.  But with the coming of the welfare state, it got harder and harder to get the Scots unionists to work. So all that is built on the Clyde now are a few warships for the Royal Navy.

So when a British businessman decided to build three big new cruise liners, whom did he give the order to?  To a company in Italy:  The very experienced Fincantieri.  No good blaming the order on low-wage Asian countries.  Italy's standard of living is similar to Britain's.

Italian workers don't have a very good reputation for diligence but they are apparently way ahead of the perpetually  aggrieved Scots


Virgin Cruises will launch its first luxury liner in 2020 from Miami, U.S, British tycoon Richard Branson has announced.

In typically flamboyant style, Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts.

Branson promised 'a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good'.

Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain's uniform and shorts

'Virgin Cruises plans to make some waves with an original and intimate experience,' he said at a news conference.

A joint venture with Bain Capital, the cruise line will be the latest addition to 64-year-old Branson's Virgin Group, which includes an airline, railroad, bank and cable operator among its more than 400 holdings.

Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri will construct three mid-size vessels to be delivered in 2020, 2021 and 2022, with 1,430 cabins to accommodate more than 2,800 guests.

'We made the decision to sail against the current trend of building these big megaships,' Virgin Cruises president and CEO Tom McAlpin said. 'We are going to be constructing smaller, more boutique vessels.

'We have deliberately chosen a size of ship that allows us to offer an excellent variety of experiences but in a more intimate environment,' he said.

McAlpin said the ships will weigh about 110,000 tonnes each, and have the capacity to carry some 2,800 passengers and a crew of 1,150.

'These are highly technological machines,' said Fincantieri chairman Vincenzo Petrone.  'The level of the entertainment... envisioned is extremely complex with technological challenges. But we are sure we can together develop a very special type of platform.'

SOURCE



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David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians



The hairless Senator is quite right.  Australia's original pygmy race survived into the modern era in the jungles of Far North Queensland -- particularly in the Kuranda area. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Kuranda in 2004 when a very short dark man walked right past me.  A full discussion of the evidence is here

SENATE crossbencher David Leyonhjelm has cast doubt over whether Aboriginal people were the first Australians.

His comments came ahead of the release of a parliamentary committee report today that will give the green light to a referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution and remove sections that could allow racial discrimination.

Senator Leyonhjelm says he is a “black and white anti-racist” and agrees with removing the two references to race.

However, the Liberal Democrat says he needs to be persuaded on the argument that Aboriginal people should be recognised as the First Australians.

“There may have been people in Australia prior to the Aborigines,” he told reporters in Canberra, adding that there were some anthropologists who argued that case.

That view was based on the Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion rock paintings in Western Australia that were distinctly different from other Aboriginal artworks.

Senator Leyonhjelm said several serious anthropologists had made the argument, but could not name them or their credentials.

“I could (name them) if I checked it out,” he said. “You’ve asked me at a door stop, I can’t off the top of my head.  “But if there is any doubt at all, why would you put history in the constitution?”

SOURCE


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Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest

The research report below is unusual in favoring conservatives but we should not get too excited about it as the findings are based on students and highly educated respondents.  It may tell us nothing about the population at large.

The findings about "freewill" are however in accord with the greater belief in personal responsibility among conservatives.  Leftists rage and apportion blame while conservatives just get on with it. Conservatives are simply calmer

Findings from three separate studies link a person's political ideology and their self-control performance, with conservatives demonstrating greater self-control than liberals. The research led by Joshua John Clarkson, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of marketing, is published in this week's early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Two studies in the report involved tasks that were conducted among undergraduates at two Midwestern universities over the past year. The third study involved 135 people across the U.S. taking part in a survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk service. In each study, Clarkson says participants who identified as politically conservative consistently showed greater attention regulation and task persistence -- hallmark indicators of self-control -- and that these effects were independent of participants' gender, race, age, education or income.

Study 1

At one Midwestern university, 147 undergraduates completed a modified Stroop task. Sitting in front of a computer screen, they were presented with a word that represented a color (red, blue, green, yellow), with the words presented on an incongruent background. For example, the word 'yellow' would appear on a blue background. The researchers examined how quickly participants would respond with the word, controlling for correctness. 'We found that those who identified as conservative were as correct as liberals, but they were performing the tasks faster. This finding suggests that conservatives might be better able to fixate their attention on a task,' says Clarkson.

Study 2

At a separate Midwestern university, 176 undergraduates performed the same Stroop task. Again, researchers found that as political conservatism increased, there was a faster response time as well as an increase in the belief of freewill. 'Both conservatives and liberals reported that they wanted to perform well, but again, conservatives were responding faster, and this faster response stemmed from their stronger belief in freewill. That is, conservatives' belief in their responsibility for their outcome contributed to their faster responding,' says Clarkson.

Study 3

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, 135 Americans participated in several seven-letter anagram self-control tasks. For each anagram, they were asked -- under a set of rules (e.g., words had to have at least three letters) -- to create as many English words as they could with the letters. Importantly, participants were told they could decide when they wanted to end the task. The researchers found that the conservatives spent more time on the task than the liberals.

However, the findings showed that conservatives outperformed liberals only when participants believed freewill has a beneficial impact on self-control. When participants believed freewill could undermine self-control, liberals outperformed conservatives.

'This finding is especially interesting because research to this point has focused only on the positive outcomes of believing in freewill,' says Clarkson. 'However, one could imagine a host of situations where knowing you are responsible for your actions could lead to frustration, anxiety and other negative emotions that could impair self-control. In these contexts, these findings would suggest liberals will demonstrate greater self-control.'

Clarkson explains how the research offers clear insight into the psyche of consumers. 'When marketers consider self-control, we tend to think of sticking to a diet or exercise regimen, not wandering off your grocery list or avoiding impulsive purchases. All of these behaviors exhibit elements of attention regulation and persistence. Ultimately, however, it all comes down to believing whether or not you can control your own behavior, and what we're finding is that conservatives are more likely to believe they can control their own behavior.'



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The New Testament canon

I think it is axiomatic that Christians accept the Bible as the word of God.  If you don't accept the Bible as the word of God but still claim to be a Christian, you are some sort of hyphenated Christian.  I would call Episcopalians and Anglicans generally, post-Christians. Their adoration of homosexuals flies in the face of explicit Bible teachings in both the Old and New Testaments so they clearly do not accept the Bible as the word of God.

But what is meant by "word of God"?  Did God use the Bible writers as some sort of stenographers -- dictating precisely every word they wrote?  People who believe that are said to be "verbal inspiration" believers.  The verbal inspiration doctrine has great difficulties, however.  Take the account of what happened at Christ's tomb when his followers found his body no longer there. The four gospels give rather different accounts of what happened.

In Matthew 28 for instance, we read that when the two Marys approached the tomb, a glorious  angel came down and rolled away the stone.

In Mark 16 however we find that the stone had already been rolled away before they got there.  So they went into the tomb and met a young man sitting in it who told them Christ was risen.

And in Luke 24 we find that the women went into the tomb and were puzzled to find it empty.  But then two men in shining garments suddenly appeared beside them. And it was only after they had bowed to the men did the men tell them that Christ is risen.

And John 20 is different again.  This time it was just Mary Magdalene who came to the tomb and found it empty. This time nobody appeared to her so she ran away to tell some of the disciples.  So the disciples came to the tomb and examined its contents.  Then the disciples just went home.  But Mary stayed on.  And then two angels in white appeared and told her that Christ was risen

So we have four different accounts.  Was there one angel or two, for instance?  The accounts are not necessarily wrong.  They are about as consistent as what you get in court when different eye-witnesses to a crime are being examined.  So is God as scatterbrained as four human witnesses?  Surely not.  If he had dictated every word he would just have given the actual events, not what looks like a set of wobbly recollections.

So few Christians now believe in verbal inspiration.  They believe that the Bible writers wrote their own thoughts in their own way  but God was behind those thoughts, gently guiding them in the right direction.

But then another problem arises.  How do we know who had God behind their thoughts?  There were many documents around in the early days which contained accounts of Christ's history and teachings.  Why did they all not make it into the New Testament?

The Roman Catholic church has an answer to that.  They say that the church made the pick.  They say that the church knew which document was divine and knocked back the others:  It was the church that assembled the NT.

That is not much of an answer however.  For a start, the church at that time was almost entirely located in the Greek-speaking cities of the Eastern Mediterranean lands.  Rome was a distant offshoot.  So the discussion about which documents were divine occurred in the Greek churches, not in Rome.  And the Greek Orthodox church does to this day with some justice regard itself as the lineal descendant of the original Christian church and say that authority about the canon belongs to them

Even if we accept the Roman claim, however, it just pushes the question back one step.  How did the church know which books were divine?  The only reasonable answer to that is that God influenced the minds of the men of the church to make the right decisions.

But if God was working through the minds of men, why did it have to be just one group of men?  Surely it could have been men anywhere in the Christian world and not merely a few big shots in Rome! So, broadly, the answer to the question of what formed the canon is a simple one from a Christian viewpoint:  If God inspired the writing of the various books, he could surely also see to it that the right ones were selected as holy!

Anne, the lady in my life is, like me, an ex-Christian and our Christian past is still influential with us both.  She doesn't like the apostle Paul's view of the place of women, however -- as in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11, for instance.  Being a born tease, however, I enjoy pointing out that according to the NT, women should be submissive to their men.  Anne is no feminist but she is a pretty independent lady so she doesn't like Paul at all and why is he in in the Bible anyhow?

I replied that if God inspired the Bible writings, surely he could also make sure that the right documents were included in it.  On hearing that she burst into peals of laughter.  I am not totally sure why but I think she saw the logic in it and realized that you could not arbitrarily exclude Paul from being a divine messenger.

So how do I think the books of the Bible were chosen?  I do actually lean to an explanation that would fit in with God's guidance.  The history of the matter is that there was a considerable debate in the early days about which books were new revelation -- and various collections were made which embodied particular people's view of what was divine.  But after a while a consensus did emerge.  And it was an inclusive consensus:  Enough books were included to keep most people happy.

So was God behind that consensus?  Since I am an atheist I think not but a Christian could reasonably think so.  What I think happened is that those books which made most sense and sounded good at the time gradually, amid debate, came to be generally accepted as holy.

With his background in Greek learning, Paul was quite a good theologian, he wrote very energetically, wrote very extensively and he explicitly claimed divine guidance -- so it would appear that the whole available corpus of his writing was included.

And in the nature of these things, a tradition developed which saw that early consensus as authoritative.




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Doctors: We were wrong

Below is an excerpt from the latest issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association".  It is about as close as you can get to an official admission that the official diet advice given to Americans for many decades was totally wrong and probably harmful.

The message from that is a hard one:  Don't rely on official science about anything. You have to look at the evidence for yourself.  I have been reading health and diet advice from the early days of Lelord Kordell (he recommended lots of protein) and my response has always been to eat whatever I like whenever I like it.  So at age 71 I have had a lifetime of good dinners and only iatrogenic health problems.

On my reading of the evidence, I doubt very much that it makes much difference what you put into your mouth. The small differences that medical researchers find in their research results are almost certainly as trivial in their importance as they are trivial in their size. The lessons for global warming believers are obvious. Long live good dinners!  The planet won't notice one way or the other



SOURCE


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Consensus! Children raised by same-sex parents are no different from those in traditional families

The article below is very naive.  I could have told you before I read it what the consensus among researchers would be -- and the authors found just that -- and nothing more.  A consensus among a group of people simply tells you what those people at that time want to believe.  It tells you nothing about the facts.  Only evidence can tell you about the facts.  And there was no critical scrutiny of the evidence in this study. And that was certainly needed in this case.

What for instance are we to make of a large 2012 study that arrived at very different conclusions?  To quote:  "The results reveal numerous, consistent differences, especially between the children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents".  Which conclusion is right?  We have no means of knowing from the study below.

So what the study below tells you is something about the biases of current social science researchers.  It tells you nothing about its alleged subject.  It simply tells you what the current intellectual fashion is

I follow the article below with the journal abstract


Scientists agree that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Oregon professor.

The new research looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.

It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule by the end of this month on whether same-sex marriage is legal.

'Consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or different- sex parents,' University of Oregon sociology professor Ryan Light said on Tuesday.

Light, who co-authored the study with Jimi Adams of the University of Colorado at Denver, said the study may be too late to affect the court's ruling this month but he hopes it will have an impact on future cases.

'I hope we'll see acceptance of gay marriage of the courts and by the public at large,' he said.

The studies, Light said, showed some disagreement among scientists on the outcome of same-sex parenting in the 1980s but it largely subsided in the 1990s, and a clear consensus had formed by 2000 that there is no difference between same-sex and different-sex parenting in the psychological, behavioral or educational outcomes of children.

'Across the board we find the iterative suggests there's no significant differences,' Light said.

'To our knowledge this is the most comprehensive analysis of this type on this issue.'

Gary Gates, Research Director at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, said although several review articles have made arguments that there is a consensus that the gender of the parents does not matter, he was not aware of any other in-depth study of this nature.

'That to me actually sounds like a fairly novel approach and I'm not sure that others have done it,' he said.

He said he believes the argument that same-sex parents are less adequate than heterosexual parents has largely been taken out of the legal debates. But he said it's always possible that it could come up.

'We'll see what happens in the Supreme Court argumentation,' he said.

'We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations,' the pair wrote.

SOURCE

Scientific consensus, the law, and same sex parenting outcomes

By jimi adams & Ryan Light

Abstract

While the US Supreme Court was considering two related cases involving the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, one major question informing that decision was whether scientific research had achieved consensus regarding how children of same-sex couples fare. Determining the extent of consensus has become a key aspect of how social science evidence and testimony is accepted by the courts. Here, we show how a method of analyzing temporal patterns in citation networks can be used to assess the state of social scientific literature as a means to inform just such a question. Patterns of clustering within these citation networks reveal whether and when consensus arises within a scientific field. We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations.

Social Science Research, Volume 53, September 2015, Pages 300–310.


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Pope's climate adviser lambasts Australia



If you think he looks like something that has recently emerged from the anus of a zoo animal, I will not contradict you, "ad hominem" though that is.  Apologies but the pompous fraud has certainly succeeded in irritating me.   More temperately, exactly what qualifies a theoretical physicist to pontificate on the Australian economy?  Also see Tuesday's issue of GREENIE WATCH for a comment on his "science"

A leading German climate change authority and adviser to the Pope on the effects of global warming has lambasted Australia over what he perceives as its failure to address an inevitable process of de-carbonisation.

Professor Hans Schellnhuber, head of the highly-regarded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research outside Berlin, told reporters Australia's reliance on coal exports to China was a "suicide strategy".

"I don't think Australia can be sustained based simply on raw materials he says. "Just pursuing the carbon path is a red herring."

An adviser to both the Pope and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prof Schellnhuber is one of Europe's leading climate change scientists in his capacity as Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam.

He was interviewed in his study where Albert Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity.

In good natured remarks about the challenges facing a country like Australia, Prof Schellnhuber said it was "not responsible to run a country like a lottery."

He compared Australia unfavorably with resource-rich Norway which is being run almost completely on renewable energy [mostly hydro, which Greenies hate] and was making use of its vast sovereign wealth fund to build new and innovative industries.

Australia, he says, was excellently-placed to make the most of its renewable potential in solar, wind-power and other forms of renewable energy.

Asked why Germany experienced a low level of climate skepticism compared with countries like Australia and the United States, Prof Schellnhuber says "Anglo-American" societies tended to be dominated by ideas of entrepeneurship and free market impulses.

The Anglo-American world believed technology and innovation would help it to overcome its challenges. Germany, with its "different history", was more "cautious."  [Germany has a cautious history?  You could have fooled me!]

"Australia and Canada suffered from the curse of bounty," he says. "We will be fine forever: why should we change?"

"In the end," he adds. "it [the curse of bounty] makes you complacent. Unfortunately paradise doesn't last forever".

Africa and South America also have bountiful natural resources, so how come they are not in "paradise"?  Schellnhuber hasn't even asked himself that question.  His economics and sociology are on a par with his climatology

SOURCE

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The Warmists have no shame

They utter the most transparent lies.  Every hospital administrator knows that it is colder weather -- winter -- that brings on illness and death -- not warmer weather.  But Warmists still claim the opposite.

In the best Leftist tradition, theory trumps evidence every time.  So I suppose it's no good quoting evidence to show that warm years are on balance better for you.

And the claim of rising extreme weather is simply false.  Climatologist Dr. John Christy who has looked back to the 1850s told the MRC in 2013 “there is no trend in hurricanes.” He said, “[I]f you look at the last seven years, there has not been single major hurricane hit the United States. This is the longest period of such a dearth of hurricanes in that entire record.”

In early 2014, when the networks hyped a drought in California as the “worst drought on record,” Dr. Martin Hoerling, a federal climate researcher, disagreed and told the MRC it was consistent with previous California droughts. California would have NO water shortage right now except for its Greenie policies -- sending dam water straight out to sea, for instance. See also here and here

 And poor nutrition in a warmer climate?  Give us a break!  A warmer world would open up Northern Canada and Siberia to farming and food production.  Warming would most probably produce a GLUT of food!

These guys are utter crooks.  But British medical journals have long been laden with Green/Left propaganda.  "Lancet" even opposed George Bush's Iraq intervention.


The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last 50 years of gains in development and global health, experts warned on Tuesday.

Extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves bring rising risks of infectious diseases, poor nutrition and stress, the specialists said, while polluted cities where people work long hours and have no time or space to walk, cycle or relax are bad for the heart as well as respiratory and mental health.

Almost 200 countries have set a 2 degrees C global average temperature rise above pre-industrial times as a ceiling to limit climate change, but scientists say the current trajectory could lead to around a 4 degrees C rise in average temperatures, risking droughts, floods, storms and rising sea levels.

"That has very serious and potentially catastrophic effects for human health and human survival," said Anthony Costello, director of University College London's (UCL) Institute for Global Health, who co-led the report.

"We see climate change as a major health issue, and that's often neglected in policy debates," he told reporters at a briefing in London.

The report, commissioned and published by The Lancet medical journal, was compiled by a panel of specialists including European and Chinese climate scientists and geographers, social, environmental and energy scientists, biodiversity experts and health professionals. {And uncle Tom Cobley and all]

SOURCE

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'Coal and coral don't mix': Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo joins fight to save Australia's Great Barrier Reef

When you have got Hollywood actors saying something it must be true, I guess. That the reef undergoes cycles of change is not mentioned of course.  Both State and federal governments have extensive arrangements to prevent environmental degradation on the reef.  See for instance here on the dredging scare.

And a key point is that the reef does get heavily impacted by natural events such as the many cyclones that have hit North Queensland in recent years. Cyclones are very destructive of coral. HOWEVER, when we look at that storm destruction, we also  find that corals grow back rapidly. While that happens, the GBR is in no "danger". Any changes are temporary. See here and here, for instance.


Hollywood star Mark Ruffalo has thrown his weight behind the movement to save Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

The Avengers actor tweeted his support along with a link to Greenpeace site, takeanotherlook.gp, which states that the reef is 'under threat from the coal industry'.

Greenpeace's campaign states that the sea bed is being dredged to make way for four 'mega ports' to be serviced by 7000 industrial ships that will cross the Reef every year.

'Coal & coral don't mix. Join the movement to save the Great Barrier Reef:' Ruffalo tweeted, alongside with a photograph of himself smiling and holding up a sign that read '#savethereef'.

US President Barack Obama had plans to ban fishing, energy exploration and other activities in a large swath of the central Pacific Ocean, with Australia's Great Barrier Reef given as an example of 'environmental devastation'.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with the Hollywood star and environmental activist appeared at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC, where a video message from the president was played.

'It's fantastic to start off the day by hearing President Obama commit to expanding marine reserves in US waters and taking serious steps to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace,' DiCaprio said at the time.

In 2013, DiCaprio announced a $US3 million ($A3.3 million) donation to help protect the oceans' habitats for marine species.

'Since my very first dive in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia 20 years ago to the dive I got to do in the very same location just two years ago, I've witnessed environmental devastation firsthand,' he said.

'What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.'

SOURCE



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"New Matilda's" idea of survey research

I am probably one of the very few who take any notice of Matilda but they are so determined to come to their foreordained conclusions that I find them amusing.

I find the latest effusion particularly amusing because I spent 20 years as a university survey researcher -- resulting in many academic publications.  So I am quite sure how the sleight of hand below works.

What they do is to compare a properly conducted survey with responses gathered over the internet.  And they found a great divergence of results.  But such comparisons always do diverge.  People contacted over the internet are not representative.  They differ from the mean in being better educated, more socially isolated, more Leftist and in various other ways.  As far as generalizing to any known population is concerned they are invalid and useless.  It takes Matilda to hang their hat on such a survey


A survey distributed on social media has recorded dramatically different results to those released by the government-funded group, finding stronger support for constitution reform among white Australia than black. Amy McQuire reports.

Only 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the “grassroots” Recognise group, and a majority would vote no in a referendum if it delivered only symbolic recognition, according to a new poll that pours cold water on the Recognise’s claim that nine out of ten blackfellas support their campaign.

In May, the government-funded Recognise group released research suggesting nine in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people supported constitutional recognition.

The polling was conducted by Polity Research, which surveyed 750 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and 2700 non-Indigenous voters, according to Recognise.

Recognise said the “research confirms continuing support for recognition from the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

The group released its media statement without detail of the question that was posed to interviewees, or where it had retrieved its sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters.

But the claim of overwhelming Indigenous support is one that was controversial among many who believe the issue is being met with a much more diverse sample of opinions in Aboriginal communities.

While conservative opposition to constitutional reform has been highly publicised, the concerns from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been largely overshadowed by the Recognise campaign’s claims of almost unanimous support.

In February, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples acknowledged that there was a growing opposition to constitutional reform from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with co-chair Les Malezer saying “we are already receiving messages from our people that they are determined to vote against any referendum”.

This opposition is confirmed by an online survey conducted by Luke Pearson at IndigenousX, a social media platform across Twitter and Facebook, who released the results last night.

The survey drew responses from 827 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, with the majority of responses coming from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The poll, conducted on Survey Monkey, was widely shared across Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which has high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The survey acknowledges that, like the Recognise polling, the sample size was “still quite small”.

“Questions regarding the distribution of data collected by Recognise should be similarly asked and caution must always be exercised when claiming that a survey is ‘representative’,” the group says.

But the IndigenousX poll produces radically different results to those promoted by the Recognise campaign.

It found that rather than Recognise’s stated 87 per cent Indigenous support, only 25 per cent of IndigenousX respondents supported the group. 58 per cent were in opposition, while a further 17 per cent were still unsure.

SOURCE


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Confiscate all cars.  More car control!  Toughen up car licensing! More car-free zones!

Mad Muslim uses a car to kill 3 and injure 34 in Austria.  Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a car.”

A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.

Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.

The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.

The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city's main square.

The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from 'psychosis' related to 'family problems'.

Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month. 

The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism. 

The busy square was hosting an event relating to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix which is being held 80km away, in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, in Steiermark.

The city council released a statement which read: 'At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.'  

Provincial Governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said at least one of his injured victims is in a critical condition. 

He added: 'We are shocked and dismayed... there is no explanation and no excuse for this attack.

'We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people.'

German-language website Krone reported that the man arrested by police is of Bosnian origin.


Apologies for the sarcasm in my heading and sub-heading above but the point is an important one.  I am of course deeply grieved at the senseless loss of life involved. As a great fan of Austro/Hungarian operetta, Austria is close to my heart


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A white kills blacks!  BIG News!

Blacks killing whites is mostly only local news, if that.  No national attention to this event for instance



The attack is of course deplorable. The kid seems to have attacked some pretty decent people. But his words reveal that the kid was disturbed by the difficulties blacks pose for white society.  Apparently he somehow escaped the brainwashing which says that blacks must be treated like children who cannot be blamed for what they do -- "the soft bigotry of low expectations" -- as George Bush called it. In a country that claims equality before the law it is in fact amazing that so many accept one law for whites and another for blacks (e.g. so-called "affirmative action").  One wonders how long the brainwashing will retain its power.  If it loses its power we will see many like Dylann Roof.  Some basic details below

Dylann Roof, the man arrested after a shooting dead nine people in an historically black South Carolina church on Wednesday, wanted to start a civil war and bring back segregation, friends claim.

The 21-year-old is pictured on his Facebook profile wearing a jacket bearing flags from apartheid-era South Africa and what was once white-rule Rhodesia.

He also has a criminal record and in April received a gun for his 21st birthday.

'He flat out told us he was going to do this stuff,' his friend Christon Scriven told the New York Daily News. But, he said, 'He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to.'

His roommate Dalton Tyler told ABC News: 'He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.'

According to classmates, Roof is a frequent abuser of prescription drugs.

Court records from Lexington, North Carolina - where he has been living in a trailer park - reveal he was arrested twice this year on charges of trespassing and drug possession.

Roof attended ninth grade at White Knoll High during the 2008-09 school year and went there for the first half of the following academic year, district spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said. The school system gave no reason for Roof's departure and said it had no record of him attending any other schools in the district.

According to CBS News, school records show that between fourth and ninth grade, Roof attended six different schools, and repeated the ninth grade.

A witness to Wednesday's massacre said Roof said before the shooting: 'I have to do it...You rape our women and you're taking over the country.'

SOURCE

He's precisely right about rape. In the latest available U.S. government figures (for 2008) there were over 16,000 rapes of white women by blacks and zero rapes of black women by whites.  See Table 42 here. Is he the only one to see a problem there?

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Did Bach set Psalm 23?

As I have mentioned previously, the most popular setting of Psalm 23 is Crimond, from Jessie Seymour Irvine, but many composers have set it.  So did the greatest religious composer of all time also set it?

He did but not in the way often asserted.  His aria "Sheep may  safely graze" is often said to be his version of Psalm 23 but its wording has next to nothing in common with the psalm.  See the words below:

Schafe koennen sicher weiden,
Sheep can safely graze
Wo ein guter Hirte wacht.
where a good shepherd watches over them.
Wo Regenten wohl regieren,
Where rulers are ruling well,
Kann man Ruh und Friede spueren
we may feel peace and rest
Und was Laender gluecklich macht.
and what makes countries happy.

The aria is sublime music but it in fact is part of a whole cantata devoted to currying favour with his aristocratic patron, Duke Christian.  It is not religious at all.  The aria is from Cantata 208: Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd ("Hunting is the only thing that satisfies me").

Bach left few tempi notations in his MSS but most conductors do it as an adagio, though largo would also defensible and some conductors have adopted that.  I am with the majority there. Sir Neville Marriner's interpretation below. It is so beautiful it makes me cry:



The cantata (no. 112) that does contain a setting of the psalm is "Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt" -- to a German text by Wolfgang Meuslin.  It's on YouTube e.g. below:



The words:

1. Coro
Corno I/II, Oboe d'amore I/II, Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt,
Hält mich in seiner Hute,
Darin mir gar nichts mangeln wird
Irgend an einem Gute,
Er weidet mich ohn Unterlass,
Darauf wächst das wohlschmeckend Gras
Seines heilsamen Wortes.

2. Aria A
Oboe d'amore solo, Continuo

Zum reinen Wasser er mich weist,
Das mich erquicken tue.
Das ist sein fronheiliger Geist,
Der macht mich wohlgemute.
Er führet mich auf rechter Straß
Seiner Geboten ohn Ablass
Von wegen seines Namens willen.

3. Recitativo B
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Und ob ich wandelt im finstern Tal,
Fürcht ich kein Ungelücke
In Verfolgung, Leiden, Trübsal
Und dieser Welte Tücke,
Denn du bist bei mir stetiglich,
Dein Stab und Stecken trösten mich,
Auf dein Wort ich mich lasse.

4. Aria (Duetto) S T
Violino I/II, Viola, Continuo

Du bereitest für mir einen Tisch
Vor mein' Feinden allenthalben,
Machst mein Herze unverzagt und frisch,
Mein Haupt tust du mir salben
Mit deinem Geist, der Freuden Öl,
Und schenkest voll ein meiner Seel
Deiner geistlichen Freuden.

5. Coro
Corno I/II, Oboe d'amore I e Violino I col Soprano, Oboe d'amore II e Violino II coll' Alto, Viola col Tenore, Continuo

Gutes und die Barmherzigkeit
Folgen mir nach im Leben,
Und ich werd bleiben allezeit
Im Haus des Herren eben,
Auf Erd in christlicher Gemein
Und nach dem Tod da werd ich sein
Bei Christo meinem Herren.


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Yes. I have read the latest encyclical

I put on a string of Bach cantatas to keep me in a serene mood while I read a very long document (over 100 pages) and below is what I found in it.  Below are selected phrases and sentences as written by Pope Frank himself.  You don't need to rely on journalists to interpret the document for you.  You can do it yourself from his own  politically relevant words that I have picked out.  I believe they summarize the whole, as far as secular issues are concerned.  I will have something to say about them following them:

"faced as we are with global environmental deterioration...

for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate...

 bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development...

the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle....

There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general.

 We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon

 scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.

Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.

There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy

Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.

The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.

 Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.

It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars

aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view

The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct

 It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.

The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon

There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.

All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution

 there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops.

 Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated.

Economic growth, for its part, tends to produce predictable reactions and a certain standardization with the aim of simplifying procedures and reducing costs. This suggests the need for an “economic ecology” capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality.

Many intensive forms of environmental exploitation and degradation not only exhaust the resources which provide local communities with their livelihood, but also undo the social structures which, for a long time, shaped cultural identity and their sense of the meaning of life and community.

Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes

The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro is worth mentioning. It proclaimed that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development”.

The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy

 Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper,

SOURCE
Before beginning a discussion of the above, it is obviously of interest to ask whether dangerous global warming now has the imprimatur of Papal infallibility. Is the encyclical an infallible pronouncement on the matter?  It is not.  The Vatican Council taught that the Bishop of Rome makes an infallible ex cathedra definition when he defines “exercising his function as pastor and teacher of all Christians as pro suprema sua Apostolica auctoritate.” The encyclical must not be considered, then, as a document containing ex cathedra definitions except where the Holy Father speaks and teaches in them using “his supreme apostolic authority.” Simply put, he's got to say, "This teaching is infallible".

Note however that Catholics are bound not only by doctrines defined as infallible but by all the teachings of the church.  They are therefore now bound to sincerely accept the reality of dangerous global warming if they are to be true Catholics.  See here

So much for the theology. On to a consideratiion of the teachings for those who are not Catholics:

It's clear that Frank hasn't got a blind clue about how the modern world works.  I had expected a better brain from a Jesuit.  As it is, the above is a pretty good enchiridion of modern Green/Leftism.

Frank hates the world about him as passionately as any Leftist.  He sees disasters and wrongs everywhere he looks.  He fortunately does not call for any specific political policies other than "discussion" but he has lumbered the church with a belief in the false doctrine of imminent and catastrophic global warming.

With typical Leftist overgeneralization, he treats the world as a whole, with little recognition that different parts of the globe are very different. Any American living in the border states knows that you just have to cross a political border to enter a very different world.  And if it is crass to treat the USA and Mexico as just one undifferentiated whole, how much sense does it make to treat (for instance) the Central African Republic as no different from Norway?

Frank just has no time for detail.  And yet detail is all-important in the greatly differentiated world we inhabit.  It is true, for instance, that Indonesia is cutting down its native forests at an alarming rate but it is also true that the USA has more tree cover today than it did 100 years ago. So when Frank rails against the global loss of forests he is making a generalization that is both wrong and stupid.

And the irony escapes him that it is places like Indonesia where people  mostly live the simple village life that he extols. If he really did like trees he would be praising the  USA and condemning Indonesia.  No hope of that, of course.  Frank just hates the modern world so much that he has no inclination to learn of its real diversity and complexity.  You will see no recognition in his words that it is in precisely the capitalist world which he condemns where the environment is best cared for.  He knows nothing.  All he has are prejudices and hatreds -- JR.

A comment received from a reader of the above that I like:

Now we see revealed to the world why the nethermost Americas are so poorly governed when a leading intellectual can reel out the warmist pap as an article of faith.

As you say, we all expect better of a Jesuit. There wasn't the slightest hint of critical thought, or scientific investigation. There was no attempt at balance or dispassionate analysis. The language is the intemperate bile of the zealot. No hint of a document revised time and again by the finest minds in the Vatican to ensure intellectual respectability or philosophical thoroughness. It's a schoolboy's first draft, an outpouring of passionately held, but not critically examined ideas.

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Why the English Tories should hope that the Scots Nats retain their grip on Scotland

The phenomenal electoral success of the Scots nats in the recent  British general election is to my knowledge unprecedented in a democracy so deserves serious thought. They won 56 out of 59 Scottish  seats.  It shows the continuing appeal of Fascism.  Fascism is socialism ("we will look after you") combined with with nationalism ("we are the greatest") so it had huge appeal to all sectors of Scottish society. Scots are nothing if not patriotic.  In WWII, Fascism helped Germans to march relentlessly to their doom -- right up until the bitter end.

So it is likely that Scottish politics will remain dominated by the SNP.  The Scots in Scotland are ferociously socialist so the Labour party will have nothing distinctive to offer and the Tories have only ever been marginal in Scotland.  The only pressure for change might be if the SNP-dominated Scottish government makes a mess of things.  They are certainly spendthrift. But, ironically.  the English subsidy in the form of the Barnett formula or its successors  will probably rescue them from any meltdown.

So why should the Tories care?  They have almost no following in Scotland in any case.  It matters because no Anglospheric political party remains in charge for long.  The political parties tend to rotate.  The British Tories have now won two general elections in a row so, on a purely probabalistic basis, they are due to lose the next one. But they may not, of course.  They have made Britain the standout nation in Europe in terms of economic recovery so that may contribute to a third win.

But the time will one day come when the Tories lose control. And when they do they will most probably not be faced with a Labour government but rather by a SNP-Labour alliance.  And if it is an alliance with policies as destructive as those recently offered by Ed Miliband, that will be a very alarming prospect -- a prospect alarming enough for extreme measures.

As ever, however, the ace up the Tory sleeve will be the British Labour party.  It used to be said that the Labour party was Margaret Thatcher's biggest asset -- they were so extreme as to be unelectable -- and Ed Miliband was certainly David Cameron's greatest asset in 2015. And something else that is useful about the Labour party -- aside from their destructive policies -- is that they will never consent to Scottish independence.  Without the Scottish seats in the Westminster parliament they would be permanently out in the cold.

And the Tories too don't like the idea of breaking up the UK. But that dislike is more a sentimental than a practical thing.  It would be a great relief to them to boot the Scottish MPs out of Westminster.  And a SNP/Labour government would enable them to do just that.  They could offer to vote with the SNP for Scottish independence.  The SNP would certainly accept and the combined Tory/SNP vote would win the day -- terminating, probably immediately, the SNP/Labour government and entrenching conservatism in England for a very long time.

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Das Land des Laechelns ('The land of smiles")



I had a rather eventful day yesterday by my humble standards. At lunchtime I drove to Tingalpa in my 1963 Humber Super Snipe to see Anne and her friend Lola.  An outing in the Humber always gives me some sense of an occasion and it gives that to others too.  I get the sort of praise for driving it that owners of those combustible supercars can only aspire too, I imagine.  Given the heat that their mighty engines produce, I suppose it is no wonder that supercars regularly burst into flames and end up as charred wrecks. The Humber is a powerful car but nowhere near that powerful, thankfully.

I don't drive the Humber much these days so it was around a month since I had started it up.  The battery was by then pretty flat, but, with good Humber engineering, the motor did start anyway.  I drove it yesterday both because I might have risked some sort of corrosion had I left it longer and also because Lola is British (in an East African kind of way) and I knew she would be pleased to see such a splendid old British car.  Britain still produces a lot of cars but they almost all bear names such as Honda, Toyota and Nissan these days.  Though Jaguar has made a comeback under Indian ownership.

So when I got back home from Tingalpa I wrote up a small but predictably eccentric memoir of the occasion and then proceeded to compile my blogs for the day -- which I managed despite a more limited timeframe than usual.  I even managed to write a few derisive comments about Global Warming and the Leftist "New Matilda".  Writing takes time so my memoir had to be the only extended thing I wrote yesterday.

But the climax of the day lay ahead at that point.  I received during the day a DVD of a new operetta: The 2001 Moerbisch performance of Lehar's Das Land des Laechelns.  I was very curious to see how a Viennese composer would write about China!  So late in the evening I sat down to watch it.  My skepticism that an Austrian could write reasonably about China in 1923 was actually quite unfair.  Chinoiserie had been very popular even in the Belle epoque (before WWI) so China was hardly a mystery by then. And interest in the Far East generally had been greatly aroused in 1905 when Japan's admiral Togo sank most of the Russian navy.

So the show was set in two parts: First in Vienna then in China. The first part was where most of the jokes were.  And Harald Serafin gave most of them to himself.  He is very good at comic parts so that was fair enough.  He always took a part in Moerbisch performances as well as directing them.  The eunuch scene in the second half of the play had some very good lighter moments too.

Speaking of jokes, there was one that did not seem to get the laughs it deserved.  When "Gustl" (August?) in the second half  excused himself from being a fickle Viennese by saying that he was from "Burgenland", I thought that was quite good.  Burgenland is of course where Moerbish is located.  But Mitani's reply was good too: "Isn't that the same?"  Moerbisch and Vienna are only about 60 kilometers apart, from memory.

And we got in part 1 a good introduction to Ingrid Habermann as the lady the Chinese Prince fancied -- a regal and classically good looking Vienna lady with blue eyes and a great mop of blonde hair.  I would have fancied her too. I did, after all, once marry a lady with a great mop of blonde hair.

The contrast in appearance between Habermann and her Chinese admirer was of course deliberate.



Habermann is actually Austrian -- from Linz -- so the part would have been very congenial and easy for her.

And it was also at that early stage that we first heard the famous "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" ("You are my heart's delight"). It is a great and famous aria and was originally written for Richard Tauber so it seemed a bit strange to hear it sung by a Chinese tenor. He gave an impassioned performance, however, so did it justice. Tauber sings it in English here. I am inclined to think that the Chinaman sang it better, actually.

And the second half of the show was surprisingly dark and tragic for an operetta.  The lady goes to China but can't fit in there so has to make her escape.  Her lover reverts to Chinese form and she ends up tragically by declaring to him:  "Ich hasse dich" ("I hate you").

So the ending is low-key by operetta standards. The lady and her Viennese admirer are happily reunited but the Chinese players are left desolate. Not good. Had it been grand opera, everyone would have died so we have to be thankful for small mercies, I suppose.  I will definitely be watching this show  some more.

UPDATES:  I have now watched it again and I laughed at all the jokes again.  Serafin delivers them expertly.  His dry comment on a Chinese "dirndl" was exquisite, as was his non-recognition of Confucius.

But Serafin does his tragic scene well too. His final call to his departing daughter not to forget Vienna is very significant. As I have argued previously, Vienna at that time was what New Yorkers think NYC is -- the center of the civilized world. And she later did admit with passion how much she missed Wien. Only in her hometown could she be "free". New Yorkers would understand.

But I loved the old car that took "Lisa" away.  A bit like a very well-appointed A-model Ford.

And I was MOST impressed by the magnificent riding habit "Lisa" (Ingrid Habermann) wore for her entry to the show.  I have not seen anything before remotely as good.  It must be Austrian elegance.

And the military hats in the early scenes rather confounded me.  They looked like French pillbox caps.  But I imagine they were a type of shako.

Speaking of hats, was this the first time Serafin trotted out absurd green plumes on his hat?  He did it in Weissen Roessl too.  A good comic touch.

And I must pay some tribute to Yuko Mitani, the Japanese soprano playing the Prince's sister.  Having a Japanese playing a Chinese was no problem, of course.  They all look the same, you know.  Jokes aside, however, by her manner she could have been a Viennese lady.  I guess it shows how much of Western culture Japan has absorbed.  She was certainly as expressive as one could wish. The show was part-sponsored by NHK in Tokyo so perhaps it all fits.

But the show was a magnificent part for Habermann and she went from strength to strength thereafter.  Moerbisch has been a place of takeoff for many singers and I am hoping that will work for Cornelia Zink as well.



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The Greek situation

Greece has huge debts that it cannot repay and is essentially "broke". And its creditors are barking at it. They want their money. Its only way forward would seem to be to retire from the Eurozone (a common-currency area) and reintroduce its own currency, the Drachma. It can then print as much money as it likes and pay Greeks everything that they think they deserve. The result of that will be hyperinflation, yet more economic collapse and sky-high prices for anything that Greece imports from overseas. Greek living standards could end up at less than half of what they once were. And it would leave the Greek government unable to borrow from overseas for a long time.

To understand the Greek situation, people need to know something that is just about unmentionable these days -- because it could be seen as "racist":  Greeks are undoubtedly the most work-shy people in Europe.  Where a lot of Northern Europeans like to keep themselves busy by building and making things or otherwise doing something constructive, the ideal life for the average Greek male is to sit around with his friends drinking coffee and arguing about politics.  Finding a way of getting money without working for it is his Holy Grail.  Which is in part why one in two Greek households rely on social security payments to make ends meet.

And the Greek government too wants a free ride.  It has had such a ride courtesy of Europe's banks but now that it cannot pay the interest due on its borrowings, it still wants to cruise along propped up by the rest of Europe.  Faced with colossal bad debts, the rest of Europe is inclined to continue that propping up -- but not at any price.  They want the Greek government to curb its wasteful ways and get on top of its debt.

But the present government is a far-Left one so will not.  They say that Greece has already cut all its fat.  But it has not.  A major demand of Germany and other creditors is that Greece reform its pension (social security) system.  But government payments to the elderly are already low so that cannot be done, says the Greek government.  They are actually right in saying that the payments are low but that is not what the rest of Europe has its beady eyes on.  What they are looking at is ELIGIBILTY for pensions in Greece.  An article from five years ago tells us rather vividly what it is all about:

In Greece, trombone players and pastry chefs get to retire as early as 50 on grounds their work causes them late career breathing problems. Hairdressers enjoy the same perk thanks to the dyes and other chemicals they rub into people's scalps.

Then there are masseurs at steam baths: they get an early out because prolonged exposure to all that heat and steam is deemed unhealthy.

Until the Greek debt crisis, northern Europeans looked at Greek early retirement with an amused roll of the eyes. But more and more such loopholes are angering them: they bristle at being asked to pay for their laggard southern neighbours' early retirement.

When Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild asked readers in that fiscally prudent nation how they felt about coughing up hard-earned money for this kind of luxury, the daily's website lit up with comment.

In a bloc with a shared currency but no power to enforce budgetary restraint and keep members from spending themselves into messes like Greece's, the retirement quirk illustrates another fault line that crept to the surface with the debt crisis that began in Athens and is threatening to spread across the euro zone.

Germany, making available as much as 22.4 billion euros for the joint EU and IMF bailout of Greece, and which not long ago raised its retirement age from 65 to 67 to offset a shrinking, aging population, is being made "the laughing stock of Europe," one reader wrote to Bild.

Like many EU countries, the general retirement age in Greece is 65, although the actual average is about 61. However, the deeply fragmented system also provides for early retirement - as early as 55 for men and 50 for women - in many professions classified as "arduous and unhealthy."

The vast majority seem reasonable, like coal mining, but others, like the bakers and wind-instrument musicians, might strike some as a tad silly.

Greek pensions are low but the system is widely abused, and as part of a drive to reduce Greece's huge debt the government is trying to simplify the labyrinth of rules governing pensions and abolish early retirement rights for some categories of workers. In the end, Greeks will have to work more years, pay a bit more into the system and receive smaller pensions.

In Stockholm, 22-year-old security guard Jenny Lindstrom, called the Greek system unfair to other Europeans and said the bloc should have a single set of rules. "I also would like to retire earlier. I don't want to work for a long time to pay for others' to retire early in other countries."

Greece has to reform its system.  It is just not sustainable to allow women to retire at, say, 58, and pay them a pension well into their 80s. Along with early retirement, Greece has one of Europe's highest longevity rates - with an average life expectancy of 77.1 years for men and 81.9 for women.

As far away as Finland, where the government has tried to push up the retirement age to make up for a lack of skilled workers, there is resentment over paying for early retirement in the EU's sun-baked south.  "No way. It would be really unfair on a Finnish taxpayer who is still at work at the same age as someone in the same profession in another country retires," said 60-year-old Pirkko Toivonen.

SOURCE


Some changes to the above situation have apparently been made since then but not many and not by very much.  See here

So at a time when many countries are phasing in 70 as the normal retirement age, Greece could cut its pensions bill by a huge amount simply by falling in line with that retirement age.  But a far-Leftist government just will not do it of course.  They will   send the whole country into a downward spiral rather than earn the ire of one of their major support groups.

And the rest of Europe also has its beady eyes on the Greek tax system.  Greeks are so crooked that the tax system collects only about half of what it should.  Tax evasion is a way of life in Greece.  Again, a little has been done to tighten that up but not much.  Much more could be done.  And it's not the Leftist government that's principally at fault in that matter.  The situation is the fault of Greeks generally.  They almost all think that someone else owes them a living and that they have already paid plenty.  That attitude has already significantly impoverished them and they are now on the brink of even greater impoverishment

There is one potential solution to Greece's problems that would rid Greece of its debts in an entirely honourable way -- but nobody much is talking about it so far -- so I will mention it only in passing:  Greece has a LOT of islands, many of which are in very attractive locations and thinly populated.  Greece could  sell off entire islands to foreign governments, which would use them to build for their citizens retirement homes in the sun.  That could prove quite attractive to some Northern European countries.

There's a current report of the negotiations between Greece and the rest of Europe here -- JR