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Sydney's finest Asian Australian students still missing out on leadership roles

The whine below from a Left-leaning newspaper relies on the absurd doctrine that the proportion of people in every occupation should mirror the proportion of various ethnicities in the overall population -- "disparate impact", as Americans call it. So if 10% of the Australian population is Asian, then 10% of the people in management should also  be Asian.

It's the sort of rubbish you are always getting from Leftists.  They can only think in terms of big groups.  Consideration of the individual is of no interest to them. So what they overlook is that Asians may prefer to go into the professions rather than business management or the bureaucracy.  Judging by the numbers of Asian medical practitioners I have encountered, I have no doubt that Asians are OVER-represented in the professions -- which is as it should be.  It shows that people have a choice and exercise the choice that suits their own individual preference

Another thing ignored below is that academic success is not a good predictor of business success.  Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout.  And people who are highly successful academically may not even be INCLINED to go into business or the bureaucracy. So  it is probably for that reason that Asians seem to pop up as working scientists all the time -- often making notable contributions to knowledge.  You have just got to look at the author list on academic journal articles in the sciences.  There is almost always at least one East Asian name there, no matter where the research was carried out.  Since scholarship has been highly respected in China for a couple of thousand years or so, that should be no surprise.


For the past 20 years in a row, one Sydney high school has taken out the top HSC results in the state. At James Ruse High in Sydney's north-west, an ATAR of above 99 is so expected that it became its own satire song.

"100 ATAR, 100 ATAR, 100 ATAR," year 12 students rapped in a take on Psy's Gangnam Style. "99.95, not good enough".

It is also a school where up to 80 per cent of students come from a language background other than English, most of them from Asian families, according to the NSW Department of Education.

And yet, the statistics show that despite students of Asian origin dominating the academic scale at schools like James Ruse Agricultural High around the country, few rise to the top of the political, business and academic pile.

Australians of Asian descent make up to 12 per cent of the country's population but only four members of the federal Parliament. Of the 17 government departments only one counts a leader of Asian descent as its head.

The statistics are similarly damning in the private sector. Only 1.9 per cent of executive managers and 4.2 percent of directors come from Asian backgrounds, according to a 2013 Diversity Council Australia study.

At the entry level, discrimination, conscious or unconscious, is endemic. On average, a Chinese person must submit 68 per cent more applications to gain employment than a person of Anglo-Saxon descent, according to a 2011 study from the Australian National University.

"For 30 years, James Ruse has been pumping out very clever Asians," said University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence. "Where are they?"

For Dr Spence, self-interest is a powerful incentive. His newborn son, Ted, is half-Korean. His five children from a previous marriage are of Anglo descent.

"I want to make sure that he has much opportunity as my other children," he said. "If you say mathematician you probably think east Asian in Australia - if you say leader, you probably think white man."

"We are only now beginning to say that there is a real issue to face of particular ethnicities. The disparity between the educational success and their leadership attainment is evidence of a bamboo ceiling and the university needs to do its best to overcome it. There are settled cultural patterns that need to be challenged."

The unconscious bias goes right to the top. The country's Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, has been asked if he worked in IT or Finance, or most recently, as an accountant.

In 2014, Dr Soutphommasane gave a speech that said "the bamboo ceiling" was well and truly above our heads. Not much has changed.  "But conversations are starting," he said on Friday. "People are beginning to recognise there's a problem."

Across academia and business, tentative steps are being made to talk about the touchy subject of race and what is happening to the 99.95 ATAR club when they walk out the school gates. Public leaders are few and far between.

The University of Sydney has adopted cultural inclusivity as one of the central tenets of its 2020 strategy. It has engaged partnerships with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Westpac and Telstra through its business school to set targets for ensuring Australian's of Asian origin reach leadership positions. PwC alone has a target of 11 per cent of its partners being of Asian origin by 2020.

It's the perceptions that Dr Soutphommasane, who was born to Chinese and Laotian parents, has spent his career battling against.

"Leaders are expected to be charismatic, assertive and outspoken," Dr Soutphommasane said on Friday. "At the same time, certain stereotypes of Asian-Australians persist. There is a perception that Asian-Australians are shy, timid and withdrawn.

"Put these together and you have an obvious problem. There can be an assumption that Asian-Australians make for better technicians than leaders. That they may not be able to master Anglo-Australian expectations of leadership."

Part of the problem lies in the limited number of public faces of Asian identity on our most public platform, television.

Bing Lee and Victor Chang are often rattled off as icons, but you are more likely to find that the public faces of Asian Australians are given as TV chefs like Poh Ling and Adam Liaw.

The ABC's outgoing managing director, Mark Scott, publicly acknowledged last week that the ABC had not done enough to promote cultural diversity on the public broadcaster.

"On broader diversity, we have a way to go, frankly," Scott told Buzzfeed. "I draw a parallel to the BBC: when I watch and listen to the BBC when I'm in the UK, I think the on-air talent really represents a diversity of modern Britain and I'm not yet sure we represent the diversity of modern Australia."

Dr Soutphommasane agrees. "Sadly, the issue doesn't appear to be treated with any urgency within Australian television," he said.

"The proof is in the programming: what you see on screen doesn't remotely reflect the reality of modern Australia. And you still have parts of Australian television that appear comfortable in their periodic fits of casual racism."

Dr Soutphommasane warned in 2014 that if the situation was not addressed the nation would create a class of professional Asian-Australian coolies in the twenty-first century.

"It would be neither just nor good to have a country where people may comfortably believe that a class of well-educated, ostensibly over-achieving Asian-Australians are perfectly content with remaining in the background, perennially invisible and permanently locked out from the ranks of their society's leadership," he said.

For Dr Spence, diversity starts with education. He is canvassing the idea of race targets in his faculties. "That will be challenging," he said. "Compared to gender, talking about race is much more problematic in the lucky country.

"But a diverse and contemporary Australia must be the country that lives up to our rhetoric. We have boundless plains to share, we need to make sure we live up that national anthem."

SOURCE

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I know the poor

Poverty is a shortage of money, right?  It is not.  In our society, poverty is an effect of foolish decisions.  It is a behaviour problem, not a money problem.

I have seen it many times but I saw it most frequently when I was the proprietor of a 22-room boarding house located in a poor area. Many of the residents would buy basic groceries etc from a nearby service station, where the prices were about 50% dearer that at the supermarket.  And there was a branch of a large supermarket chain only ten minutes walk away.

And on "payday" (the day when government welfare money was paid into their accounts) it was a wonder to see the casks of "goon" (Sweet white wine in a cardboard box) coming into the place.  There was always money for alcohol.

And I had to be on the ball on "payday" too.  I had to get my rent before the money was all spent.  I even knew where some of them drank and would go in and collect my money from them at the bar.

And they would often have fights, usually over women.  And that often left me with property damasge. I always had a glazier ready on call to fix broken windows.  I could have tried to claim that cost back off them but that would have been in vain. By the end of the week most had nothing left in their pockets.

And the fighting was not limited to my place.  They would also get into fights in bars and elsewhere.  And the loser in a fight generally had his money stolen off him, often on the night of "payday".  So, sometimes, if I had not got his money that day, he would have nothing left by the time I got to him.

But not all welfare clients are like that.  Many are prudent enough to have money left over at the end of the week and accumulate some savings.  One such was a tall black Melanesian man -- named Apu if I remember rightly.  When I approached him for his rent he said:  "I got into a fight last night and lost my money ... so I went to the bank and got some out".  He was the only man ever to say that to me.

So he was not poor. He had money for his needs and could put something aside as well.  He got the same "pay" as everyone else but he was more prudent in his behaviour.

I spent many years endeavouring to provide respectable accommodation for the poor but the poor did not make it easy for me.  Many are their own worst enemies.

And in my younger days I lived on Australia's student dole for a couple of years -- and led a perfectly comfortable life.  The student dole was actually a bit below what the unemployed got.  So I was not poor either.

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Spanking children 'does more harm than good' and leads to mental health problems and worse behaviour (?)

Elizabeth Gershoff has been plowing this field for a long time so there was never any doubt about what conclusion she would come to.  Meta-analyses are notoriously easy to fudge.  You find some reason not to include studies with inconvenient conclusions.  I have seen as many as a hundred "inconvenient" studies left out of a meta-analysis.  So there is no substitute for one good study.

The big fault in all the studies I have seen is that they treat children as one homogeneous blob. That different children might need different treatment seems to be a novel idea.  But it comports with the way Leftists think.  They can consider people in big groups only (Jews, blacks, women etc.).  Attention to the individual is too hard.

But it is perfectly reasonable to expect that some children may need a firmer hand than others.  An aggressive or over-active child may benefit from spanking whereas a quieter child might be traumatized by it.  Until such differences are taken into account no findings in this field are worthwhile or worth heeding.

I might note that my father never touched me and I have never touched my son.  But we are bright.  I have seem dimmer childen who are poorly influenced by words and who would therefore need something more.  So control for both intelligence and temperament would be needed if meaningful research into the subject is to be done.

Journal abstract follows the article below


It was a long held belief that smacking a naughty child was a parent's prerogative to keep them in line and teach them right from wrong.

But now half a century of research has found the now controversial past time actually does more harm than good.

The more children are physically chastised, the more likely they are to defy their parents, scientists have found.

They are also more prone to mental health problems, aggressive outbursts, cognitive difficulties and anti-social behaviour, according to the study.

Spanking - or corporal punishment - is usually defined as hitting a child with an open hand without causing physical injury.

Professors Elizabeth Gershoff, from the University of Texas at Austin and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, at the University of Michigan analysed 50 years of research involving more than 160,000 children.

They found children who were smacked as five-year-olds were slightly more likely to be aggressive and break rules later in primary school.

'The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children,' said Professor Grogan-Kaylor.

'Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do.'

Despite mounting evidence on the harms tied to it, it is 'still a very typical experience' for children, studies have found.

They looked at the association between spanking and 17 potential detrimental outcomes and found a significant link between the punishment and 13 of them.

'We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviours,' said Professor Gershoff.

'Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.

'We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children.'

They found the practice was associated with poor outcomes across a wide range of studies of the five decades.

Children misbehaved more and were more aggressive when they had been smacked by their parents, they found.

Those who are spanked were more prone to act out and could be more distracted in the classroom, they found.

The researchers also investigated cases of adults who were spanked as children and found the more they were smacked, the more likely they were to experience mental health problems.

They were also more likely to smack their own children - perpetuating the negative cycle.

In the UK, current laws allow 'reasonable chastisement' to control a child, but parents can be prosecuted if their actions result in injuries such as bruises, cuts or scratches.

Debate was recently ignited over the subject in the US when presidential hopeful Ted Cruz suggested voters would deliver a spanking to Hillary Clinton for allegedly being dishonest– just like he does to his five-year-old daughter when she lies.

His comments reignited the old debate on whether it is reasonable to smack a child.

And recently, in Canada, following a call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to prohibit spanking, the Liberal government has promised to abolish a parent's right to physically discipline children.

Along similar legal lines, in June 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state was justified in denying foster parenting privileges to a couple who supported spanking or paddling children.

SOURCE

Spanking and Child Outcomes: Old Controversies and New Meta-Analyses.

Gershoff, Elizabeth T. & Grogan-Kaylor, Andrew

Abstract

Whether spanking is helpful or harmful to children continues to be the source of considerable debate among both researchers and the public. This article addresses 2 persistent issues, namely whether effect sizes for spanking are distinct from those for physical abuse, and whether effect sizes for spanking are robust to study design differences. Meta-analyses focused specifically on spanking were conducted on a total of 111 unique effect sizes representing 160,927 children. Thirteen of 17 mean effect sizes were significantly different from zero and all indicated a link between spanking and increased risk for detrimental child outcomes. Effect sizes did not substantially differ between spanking and physical abuse or by study design characteristics. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Journal of Family Psychology, Apr 7 , 2016


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Greenies trying to stop oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight

It's Greenies doing what Greenies do and compromise is unknown to them. But if drilling is to be banned there, drilling is impermissible anywhere. For most of the length of the bight (over 1,000 kilometers), the land adjoining the Bight is basically desert. There's nothing there. So virtually no people to endanger in any way. The land concerned is not called the Nullarbor plain for nothing. Most people seem to think it is an Aboriginal name but it is in fact Latin -- meaning "No trees". That's how barren it is.

And the minimal runoff from the land means that there is not much to encourage life in the seas there either.  There will of course be some marine life feeding off marine algae and the like but there is no reason to think any of it is unique, let alone importantly unique.  All deserts have creatures in them at low densities so the Greenies can claim that creatures on land and sea there are "endangered" but that is just a reflex.  Nobody that I know has shown that there are in fact unique creatures there, let along importantly unique ones.

So if exploration even in a desert area is impermissible, where is it permisible?  To Greenies NO oil exploration or new production is permissible but less obsessed  people do not have to agree


When executives of the global oil giant BP fronted the company’s general meeting in London this month they knew they faced ­plenty of upset shareholders.

The mop-up from the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had just eaten up another $US20 billion ($25bn) of shareholder funds in a major legal settlement, and collapsing world oil prices had smashed the company’s full year profit, causing an investor revolt over an executive bonus scheme that seemed completely at odds with the financial performance.

But when the most senior BP executives faced investors, the level of hostility towards an oil ­exploration project 16,000km away took them by surprise.

“Gosh, this investment in Australia is not very popular today,” BP chief executive Bob Dudley said. But he couldn’t see why all the fuss. “The country had an area and invited people to participate in a bid,’’ Dudley said. “We do this around the world in exploration; ­it is not a particularly unusual or harsh area.”

BP’s plans, along with rival oil giants, to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight is highly contentious, but the potential rewards — up to 1.9 billion barrels of oil worth up to $110bn (at today’s depressed prices) are great. But so are the risks. It could be the next Bass Strait, enthusiastic backers claim. Or it could be the next Deepwater Horizon disaster, passionate ­opponents warn.

At the general meeting, BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg emphasised that the company was not trying to pressure governments. “To run Bight or not run Bight is not a decision for BP,” he said. “It is a ­decision for Australia.”

Now, as BP plans a $1bn exploration program and a $US750 million drilling rig nears completion in a South Korean shipbuilding yard, the federal Senate is taking a very keen interest.

Today, a Senate inquiry holds its first public hearings, hoping to determine how the contentious drilling permits were issued and administered and whether the great risks in drilling in such a ­hazardous environment as the Great Australian Bight were properly assessed.

The Bight drilling program is at a very early stage but is vigorously touted as being the next Bass Strait: an area containing billions of dollars worth of oil reserves that could transform Australia from a net importer of crude oil into an exporter.

For risk-hungry explorers it represents one of the world’s great unexplored deepwater oil regions, similar in potential to that of the Niger and Mississippi deltas. Major oil companies, led by BP, Statoil, Chevron and Santos, are lining up for a piece of the action.

But the calamitous events six years ago in the Gulf of Mexico, when an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon well killed 11 wor­kers, spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, killing countless wildlife, ruining fisheries and decimating local communities, mean that the Great Australian Bight drilling plans have put environmental groups on high alert.

Leading environmental groups have spent many months war gaming a major confrontation with BP over its Great Australian Bight plans. The campaign dovetails into a broader agenda to limit fossil fuel developments, most particularly in new frontier and ­potentially difficult areas like ­Alaska and deepwater targets such as the Great Australian Bight.

BP says in its submission to the federal Senate inquiry, it wants the matter concluded quickly “given the Senate has taken the unusual step of specifically naming our company and its proposed investments in Australia”.

Global oil and gas production will keep rising over the next two decades, it says, to help meet world demand for primary energy. It points out that Australia has produced oil since the 1960s with a history of drilling in Commonwealth Marine Areas, including the Great Australian Bight. And Australia is a net oil importer, as consumption keeps rising despite domestic oil production steadily falling. The whole nation would benefit from the discovery of a new oil or gas region, and not just through tax and other macro­economic benefits, BP says.

“Wood Mackenzie, an independent oil and gas analytical firm, estimates the potential resource in the Great Australian Bight to be 1900mmboe (million barrels of oil equivalent) of oil — more than 20 times the entire ­Australian production in 2014,” BP’s Senate submission says. “A new oilfield development could make a material difference to the balance of payments — and to tax revenues.”

Ironically, BP was granted special tax arrangements over its Great Australian Bight exploration program and can deduct 150 per cent of costs from its royalty obligations. But in response to publicity about the tax arrangements, the company said it “considers transparency an important requirement to increasing trust in tax systems around the world”. The company told an earlier Senate hearing into tax avoidance that BP Australia’s effective tax rate had averaged 28.4 per cent over the past five years with income tax payments alone exceeding $2.2bn.

Given the company’s recent history in the Gulf of Mexico, however, it is not tax matters that concentrate the minds of environ­mental groups.

The Great Australian Bight is an “extra­ordinary ocean and coastal environment of global conservation significance”, the Wilderness ­Society says in its Senate inquiry submission. “It is remote, wild and pristine, with more local marine life diversity than the Great Barrier Reef.

“While scientists are still trying to understand the diverse eco­logical values of the Bight, we know already that it is a major haven for whales, including the threatened southern right whale, and home to other significant ­marine wildlife such as the Aus­tralian sea lion, giant cuttlefish, dolphins, great white sharks and a vast array of seabirds. All of this life and ­immense natural beauty supports thriving fishing and ­tourism ­industries and a uniquely Australian way of life for the many ­coastal communities of the Bight.”

Both sides are haunted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. ­According to BP, if the Bight was hit by a worst-case scenario — a loss of control of the well resulting in uncontrolled flow of petroleum into the ocean, “oil would take ­several weeks to reach shore and the direction in which it could drift ­varies due to seasonal differences in current and wind direction”.

But the Wilderness Society says an oil spill from a deep-sea well blowout could close fisheries in the Bight, Bass Strait and even the Tasman Sea while even a low-flow oil spill could affect all of southern Australia’s coast, from Western Australia right across to Victoria through Bass Strait and around Tasmania.

BP aims to begin exploratory drilling in October and has a $US750m harsh environment, semi-­submersible oil drilling rig nearly completed in South Korea and ready to ship to the Bight.

The Senate has a fortnight to investigate but given the looming federal election, it is feasible the Senate may not finish the task. The inquiry terms of reference call for an assessment of the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of BP’s plans, including the risks of something going wrong.

Submissions to the inquiry ­include local councils and fishing groups. The city of Victor Harbor thinks the risk of an oil spill within the Bight may be low but the ­consequences potentially catastrophic. It points out that the Bight is a pristine environment and a critical sanctuary for many threatened species that support two significant industries: fishing and tourism.

The South Australian Oyster Growers Association says it does not want to block potentially beneficial oil projects for the Eyre Peninsula and South Australia. But drilling for oil does pose a “significant risk to the currently pristine unpolluted environment and the image of this”.

“These are the features that our reputation and credentials in the marketplace are based upon, and have taken decades to ­establish and promote,” the association says.

Then there’s damning evidence by the world’s foremost engineering disaster expert, Bob Bea. Bea, nicknamed the “Master of Disaster”, criticises BP, saying there is not “sufficient information to determine if BP has properly ­assessed the risks”.

“The information that has been presented indicates that BP has apparently integrated the key ­aspects of what has been learned about drilling in high-risk environments,” Bea says. “However, the information is not available to ­determine if BP has properly assessed and managed the risks ­associated with an uncontrolled loss of well control.”

Bea, professor emeritus at the Centre for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California-Berkeley, has worked for more than 55 years on offshore oil and gas industry operations in 72 countries.

The American ­Society of Mechanical Engineers journal says: “If Robert Bea turns up on your project, it’s not a good sign. Either you’re in the middle of a major disaster or someone is worried enough to send out the ­nation’s foremost forensic engineer to take a look.”

The Wilderness Society says BP has admitted containment booms and skimmers will not work in the Bight and that the area is “right on the edge of” the reach of helicopters. But of major concern is the level of secrecy ­imposed by the government-­sanctioned ­appro­v­ing authority, which has all of the environmental powers of the federal government over the offshore exploration area including endangered and listed marine species.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority is an ­independent statutory authority that is the national regulator for health and safety, well integrity and environmental management for offshore oil and gas activities in Australian waters.

Green groups demand that BP release its environmental plan and that the federal government assemble an independent expert panel to look at oil drilling in the Bight. They claim NOPSEMA does not have necessary environmental expertise. “While we know the Bight is a pristine marine environment with at least 36 species of whales and dolphins, there is still much we don’t know as the GAB Research Project, which BP has partly funded, won’t report until mid-2017,” a Wilderness Society spokesman says.

The Wilderness Society is ­demanding a transparent process. “Instead, we have an Environment Minister who has handed off his responsibility to protect the environment to a poorly known regulator; one running a highly flawed and opaque process that fails to ensure the protection of our environment or properly assess the cumulative impacts of all potential oil development in the Great Australian Bight.”

BP is no doubt banking on the Senate inquiry falling victim to the electoral cycle. It wants to start drilling in October and the federal government has delegated the ­decision to its regulator.

In its own Senate submission, NOPSEMA says a final decision on the BP plans for the Bight is yet to be made. It notes that two statutory independent reviews found NOPSEMA to be a “robust, rigorous and competent regulator”.

SOURCE


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Words, words

There is far too much weight given these days to using exactly the "right" form of words.  I suppose it is a hopeless case but I think we should instead just look at the basic meaning and think about that

Let me give an example of the difference that the "right" word can make these days.  I once said: "All Jews should get back to Israel.  They don't belong here".  Did I get condemned for that? Was I immediately fingered as an antisemite? Not at all.  How come?  Because I didn't actually say that.  I said it in Hebrew instead. What I said was: "I think all Jews should make Aliyah".  Both of those forms of words mean the same thing but one was phrased in a way that bore on a great Jewish controversy. 

"Aliyah" literally mean "rising up"  -- rising up to Eretz Israel.  And many Jews acknowledge that as a holy duty and feel guilty and apologetic that they have chosen to live in the fleshpots of NYC instead.  So what I said was actually holy from a Jewish viewpoint. And some of my Jewish readers wrote to agree with me.

But isn't that crazy?  Why do we pay so much attention to superficialities? I may be wrong but I do genuinely believe that Israel, despite the attacks on it, is ultimately the safest place for Jewry -- but I was fortunate that I could put that thought in the "right" way.  If I had not been so able, I might have attracted much opprobrium for saying exactly the same thing.

So I hope that conservatives at least will sometimes look at and think about the underlying intention of an utterance and overlook or forgive less felicitous forms of expression.

FOOTNOTE:  My reason for thinking that all Jews should make Aliyah

The Ayatollahs have made clear that America is the great Satan.  Israel is only the little Satan.  And the 9/11 attacks were on NYC, not Israel.  So, if the Obama-enabled Ayatollahs are suicidal enough to unleash a nuclear strike, it will most likely be on NYC, not Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is, after all, holy to them too


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Are conservatives healthier?

I am indebted to Deniz Selcuk, my indefatigable Turkish correspondent, for drawing my attention to the 2007 article below.  The article argues that emotions of disgust have evolved to drive us towards being more hygienic and hence healthier.

As is, I think, well-known by now, Jonathan Haidt has found that conservatives are much more easily disgusted than Leftists.  Since even mass-murder does not seem to disgust Leftists, that stands to reason.  So are conservatives healthier and therefore more long-lived?  It is the obvious inference to be drawn from combining Haidt's work and the paper below.

I consulted Professor Google on the matter and the most useful article seemed to be This one.  It basically pointed out that most indicators did seem to confirm better health among conservatives but also pointed to a much-quoted study by Pabayo which found liberals to be more long-lived.

The Pabayo study, however, seems to have been withdrawn so there were obviously problems with it.  None of the studies, however suggest a big difference in lifespans according to your politics.  There are of course many factors influencing lifespan so that is not inherently surprising.  But, in any event, conservative are probably more hygienic.


A natural history of hygiene

Valerie A Curtis, PhD

Abstract

In unpacking the Pandora's box of hygiene, the author looks into its ancient evolutionary history and its more recent human history. Within the box, she finds animal behaviour, dirt, disgust and many diseases, as well as illumination concerning how hygiene can be improved. It is suggested that hygiene is the set of behaviours that animals, including humans, use to avoid harmful agents. The author argues that hygiene has an ancient evolutionary history, and that most animals exhibit such behaviours because they are adaptive. In humans, responses to most infectious threats are accompanied by sensations of disgust. In historical times, religions, social codes and the sciences have all provided rationales for hygiene behaviour. However, the author argues that disgust and hygiene behaviour came first, and that the rationales came later. The implications for the modern-day practice of hygiene are profound. The natural history of hygiene needs to be better understood if we are to promote safe hygiene and, hence, win our evolutionary war against the agents of infectious disease.

SOURCE

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English has a big lack of  words for "State"

Is it perhaps an Anglo-Saxon dislike of government that makes it difficult for us to make immediately clear statements about government?  The old Sapir-Whorf codability hypothesis would certainly suggest that.

For instance, we don't have a separate word for an intermediate level of government, a State government. In the English-speaking world -- The USA, Canada, Australia  -- such forms of government are common and important: Governments running Texas, California, Alberta, Ontario, Queensland and Victoria, for instance.

So a self-governing nation can be called a state but so can one part of that nation.

Germans are much better off.  They can use Staat, Reich, Land and Nation.  A State government, for instance is a "Land" government in Germany, while the nation is a "Reich".

And "Reich" is both an extremely useful German word and one   that CANNOT adequately be translated into English.  That deficit gets a bit embarrassing when we try to translate what the people of China call their nation.  The best we can do is to translate it as:  "Middle Kingdom".  But that is absurd.  China is NOT a kingdom.  In German, by contrast, "Mittelreich" is a perfectly adequate translation.

I use German words quite a bit.  It would probably help if more German words became better known.  We use heaps of French words, so why not?

Germans of course don't have it all their way.  They don't, for instance, have a good word for "pink".  They usually translate it as "rosa" or "nelke".  But both those words are names for flowers and both flowers can of course have a variety of colors.  Who can forget the yellow rose of Texas, for instance? So Germans should probably adopt our word. Maybe some do.

But A BIG gap in German is that they have no word for "happy".  Does that tell us something?  Maybe.  The nearest word to happy that they have is "gluecklich", but that just means "lucky.  Many years ago I was talking to an old German Jewish refugee who had narrowly escaped Hitler.   I asked him if he was happy.  He knew I understood a bit of German so he said: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not".  He knew he was lucky to escape but missed the high culture of Germany.  And he needed two languages to say that concisely

So let us have more linguistic borrowing! -- JR

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The kids really ARE all right: There are no differences between children of same-sex parents and heterosexual couples, study finds

What complete and utter garbage.  There was no objective gauge of child wellbeing at all.  They took the parents' word for it.  And it was all done over the phone.  The researchers did not even see the children concerned.  Anybody see a problem with that?  The journal article is "Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children's Health"  It's a vivid demonstration that you can get the most rubbishy "research" published if it validates current political correctness

Traditionalists may worry about the impact of same-sex parenting on children, but a new study adds to a growing body of evidence that there's no problem at all.

Researchers say the children of same-sex parents are just as healthy - both mentally and physically - as those of heterosexual parents. The only difference noted was that lesbian parents found raising their children more stressful.

It's estimated there are 690,000 same-sex couples living in the United States and that 19 per cent of such couples and lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals are raising children under the age of 18.

There is growing acceptance of different-sex parents, as portrayed in the 2010 film The Kids are All Right, in which Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play committed lesbian parents.

Child development experts from the universities of Amsterdam, Columbia and UCLA, used the US' National Survey of Children's Health and matches 95 same-sex female households to 95 different-sex parent households with children between the ages of six and 17.

They took the parents' age, education and location into account, as well as their child's age, race and gender to get the best matches possible.

One parent from each couple was interviewed by telephone about their experience, such as whether raising a child is stressful.

To gauge their child's wellbeing, parents were asked questions such as: 'How often during the past month was your child unhappy, sad, or depressed?' and 'Does he or she do all required homework?'

They were asked to plot their answers on a scale of one to five, with one meaning 'never' and five meaning 'always'. The results were then weighted and analysed.

Nanette Gartrell at UCLA told CNN: 'It is the only study to compare same-sex and different-sex parent households with stable, continuously coupled parents and their biological offspring.'

The experts wrote in the study published in the journal Cell Press: 'Children with female same-sex parents and different-sex parents demonstrated no differences in outcomes.

SOURCE

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Reflections about my forebears

Taking an interest in one's forebears is a very conservative thing to do. Leftists usually act as if the world started yesterday.  They are certainly slow to learn from history. Despite all the horrors that Communism has unleashed on the world, you still have a neo-Communist, Bernie Sanders, running for President of the United States at the moment.  His rhetoric is over two centuries old and there is no doubt about where it has previously led.

I am rather bemused by what the more addled Leftists in American universities call "whiteness" studies. Whites are an evil lot who should be ashamed of themselves and give all their goods to minorities -- is the general message.

But I am not at all ashamed of my whiteness.  I am very pleased by it.  And I am impressed by my white forebears.  Two of my ancestors came out to Australia from the other side of the world in frail little wooden ships.  When men went to sea in such ships there was always a high likelihood (a third?) that they would never come back  Yet they repeatedly did it  Why?

It was partly because of the way that men are fascinated by machines. And their ships were quite complex wooden machines, probably the most complex machines of their day. Sail was perhaps an even older technology than the wheel.  It enabled people to move things through time and space without being totally reliant on human or animal muscle

Bodies of water were the highways of the ancient world.  People  had little in the way of roads so you could not go far or easily on land.  But you could by water.  So your technology was focused on movement across water.  And thus you could move things long distances and bring back things from far places.  Sailing ships were a very USEFUL technology.  They expanded greatly what humans could do.  They could even remove humanely problem people from their society.

And two of my ancestors were such problem people.  But by dint of the great skills of white people they arrived safe and sound  after long and wearying transport across a vast distance. Another society -- e.g. a Muslim one -- might simply have killed off or mutilated those two of my petty-criminal forebears but the humane white people of England simply sent them far away.  I am proud to be of that ilk.

But what do we know of my more remote forebears? There is always disputation about these things but it seems that they were originally Celts, ancestors of most of the people who now living in Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland and Wales. And the people now living in Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland and Wales are very similar to the rest of the current British population.   So it seems likely that the Celts were much like we are today.

Most of what we know about the early Celts we get from Roman writers, particularly Caesar.  In Commentarii de Bello Gallico he tells us about his conquests of the Celts in Gaul (now France). We learn that they were big and fierce fighters who would rush into battle with great  enthusiasm.  They were too disorganized, however.  They were regularly defeated by the discipline of the little Roman troops.  Roman soldiers from Italy were mostly only about 5' tall but the taller Celts were regularly defeated by the  better organization and discipline of Caesar's troops.

When it came to the Germans however, the Romans had REAL trouble.  Those guys were even bigger and even more ferocious.  They wiped out whole Roman legions at times.  They stopped Roman conquest at the Rhine.

Caesar invaded Britain in 55BC but did not occupy it permanently.  That took place nearly 100 years later, leading to Britain being under Roman control for around 400 years.  And around 500 AD  later the Germans arrived, conquered and settled.

So you would think that modern-day British people  would have a blend of Celt, Roman and German genes.  And it is partly like that.  And I have no doubt both Celtic and German genes in me.  But what about the Romans?  The  DNA studies of the current British population find little or no trace of them.  We know that the first thing conquering armies did in the old days was to rape the women of the conquered population so what happened to all the Roman genes that should have entered the British gene-pool at that time?  Unlike the Greeks, the Romans weren't baby-killers so there does seem to be a mystery there.

But there is in fact no great mystery. Rome was very multicultural.  You did not have to be of Italian origin to have all the advantages of Roman citizenship.  Even St. Paul, a Hellenized Jew, was a Roman citizen.  And so it was with Roman armies.  It was very unlikely that many Italian troops ever went to Britain.  The legions that did go were probably raised from somewhere more conveniently located, most probably Celtic Gaul (modern France).  So Celts trained in Roman military discipline went to Britain and defeated Celts using Celtic customs.  The Roman conquest and occupation probably did very little to alter the Celtic nature of the British population.

So I have in me the genes of two very capable white populations, the Celts and the Germans -- plus a bit of Norman and Scandinavian probably.  And I know enough about both groups to be  rather pleased about all that.  I am privileged to be descended from such capable people.

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Does Australia have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD?

The Left-leaning article below answers 'No' to that question but still searches for something to whine about.  They are up against it however -- as they concede that "Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany".

What they look at is how big is the achievement gap between well-off and poor kids.  And in the Australian case they admit that the gap is not due to lack of "resources" (mostly meaning money spent per pupil).  So insofar as the gap is largeish in Australia, it is probably due to Australia's huge network of government-subsidized private schools.  40% of Australian teenagers go to private schools.  And there is no doubt that such schools do have some beneficial effect on exam performance and other indications of educational achievement.  Well-off kids get better schooling in Australia

Is that unjust?  Maybe it is but it is not beyond remedy. Australian government schools for many years modelled their curricula and procedures on famous British private schools such as Eton.  I was one product of that system (including compulsory Latin!) and the excellent education I got from it has definitely helped make my life easier and richer.  I shudder at the impoverished and propaganda-laden curricula of today.

With their constant imposition of unproven and unsuccessful educational theories, the Left have destroyed the old system.  But it shows what is possible.  Government schools CAN provide a high quality education.  All you have to do is to go by what works


As the debate around public and private schooling in Australia rages on, writer and social commentator Jane Caro told the Q&A audience that Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Is that right? When asked for sources to support her assertion, Caro referred The Conversation to a 2015 report published by the Australian Council of Educational Research.

The report analysed results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and noted: "the general relationship between the overall level of schools’ educational resources and the resources gap between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Where resources are high, the gap tends to be low, and where resources are low, the gap tends to be high"

    The OECD analysis also showed that, contrary to the general pattern, Australia has a high level of resources as well as a high level of inequity in the allocation of those resources. Australia’s overall level of schools’ educational resources is above the OECD average, yet it is ranked fifth among 36 participating countries in resource disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

Caro also sent The Conversation an article published by the Save Our Schools organisation titled OECD Report Highlights Education Inequity in Australia, and the PISA 2009 results report published by the OECD.

What the data shows is that Australia is not the worst or nearly the worst when it comes to equality and our education system.

However, it is true there is a great deal of evidence that Australia’s education system is very unequal. The level of equity is not getting better and if anything, it is getting worse.

What do we mean by ‘unequal’?  The best tool for understanding how equal or unequal the Australian education system is compared to other OECD education systems is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Equity in PISA refers to how well students do on cognitive tests according to their socioeconomic background (SES).

Socioeconomic background is measured in PISA by taking into account parental occupation and education, access to home educational and cultural resources, family wealth, and books in the home.

According to PISA’s measure, “unequal” means there are large differences in the outcomes of high SES and low SES students. In other words, it’s when kids from wealthy or well-off households consistently get better test results than kids from poorer families.

In the 2000 PISA report, Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy was indeed referred to as “high quality – low equity”. In other words, Australia’s achievement was higher than the OECD average but in terms of equity, Australia was below the OECD average.

In reading, in particular, Australia continues to fall into the category of high-quality - low or average equity.

In mathematics and science – subjects that less likely to rely on parental involvement and resources than reading literacy – this is not the case.  In these subjects, Australia falls into the high-quality - high-equity quadrant.

‘Among the worst’? While Australia’s performance in PISA reading literacy has been classed as low equity, Australia’s level of equity was not particularly different to that of many other OECD countries. New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany (among others) were also classed as low equity when it came to reading literacy.

Saying we are “among the worst” may stretching it a bit – but this is splitting hairs. The data supports the overall point that Caro was making: Australia does have a schooling system that is not equitable.

Based on data from PISA:

    There is a gap of about 2.5 years of schooling in mathematical literacy between students in the highest SES quartile and those in the lowest quartile.

    Low achievement is strongly associated with low SES. In both mathematics and reading literacy, low SES students comprised about 45% of all low performing students while students from the second lowest quartile accounted for a further 29%. Just 10% of students of low performers were from the highest SES quartile.

    Australia shows a high level of variation in reading literacy performance due to SES differences between schools

    A recent re-analysis of the PISA 2012 data found that a socioeconomically disadvantaged student in Australia was six times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student. After taking account of several other factors influencing school performance such as gender, immigrant and language background, family structure, urban or rural location, pre-primary education and grade repetition, a socioeconomically disadvantaged student is still five times more likely to be a low performer than an advantaged student.

    While all Australian schools report adequate educational resources, schools with a large proportion of low performing students report much lower levels of these resources than schools with a large proportion of high performing students.

    Between 2000 and 2009, Australian secondary schools became more differentiated in reading achievement. That differentiation became more strongly linked to the average socioeconomic context of the school.

Verdict: Australia doesn’t have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD.  However, there is good evidence that our schooling system is not equitable.

SOURCE

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English has a big lack of  words for "State"

Is it perhaps an Anglo-Saxon dislike of government that makes it difficult for us to make immediately clear statements about government?  The old Sapir-Whorf codability hypothesis would certainly suggest that.

For instance, we don't have a separate word for an intermediate level of government, a State government. In the English-speaking world -- The USA, Canada, Australia  -- such forms of government are common and important: Governments running Texas, California, Alberta, Ontario, Queensland and Victoria, for instance.

So a self-governing nation can be called a state but so can one part of that nation.
Germans are much better off.  They can use Staat, Reich, Land and Nation.  A State government, for instance is a "Land" government in Germany, while the nation is a "Reich".

And "Reich" is both an extremely useful German word and one   that CANNOT adequately be translated into English.  That deficit gets a bit embarrassing when we try to translate what the people of China call their nation.  The best we can do is to translate it as:  "Middle Kingdom".  But that is absurd.  China is NOT a kingdom.  In German, by contrast, "Mittelreich" is a perfectly adequate translation.

I use German words quite a bit.  It would probably help if more German words became better known.  We use heaps of French words, so why not?

Germans of course don't have it all their way.  They don't, for instance, have a good word for "pink".  They usually translate it as "rosa" or "nelke".  But both those words are names for flowers and both flowers can of course have a variety of colors.  Who can forget the yellow rose of Texas, for instance? So Germans should probably adopt our word. Maybe some do.

But A BIG gap in German is that they have no word for "happy".  Does that tell us something?  Maybe.  The nearest word to happy that they have is "gluecklich", but that just means "lucky.  Many years ago I was talking to an old German Jewish refugee who had narrowly escaped Hitler.   I asked him if he was happy.  He knew I understood a bit of German so he said: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not".  He knew he was lucky to escape but missed the high culture of Germany.  And he needed two languages to say that concisely

So let us have more linguistic borrowing!

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The lying never stops.  Now krill are being used to push Warmist nonsense

If you read carefully below, you will see that it's only warming in the Western Antarctic that is at issue.  So if the warming is due to climate change why is the much greater bulk of the rest of Antarctica remaining stable and even gaining glacial mass?  Easy.  The Western Antarctic warming is NOT due to climate change.  It is now well-known that there is extensive vulcanism at both poles -- localized in the South mainly in the Western Antarctic. It is subsurface volcanoes that are causing the localised warming of the Western Antarctic, not CO2 emissions

'Krill is the power lunch of the Antarctic': But now the decline in numbers of the tiny crustaceans caused by climate change is killing penguins

Penguins, seals and whales in the Southern Ocean are being threatened by a declining krill population caused by climate change and melting Antarctic sea ice.

The inch-long crustaceans are considered the 'basis' of the Antarctic food chain and use sea ice to protect themselves and feed from the algae that grows from it.

Penguin-watchers say the krill are getting scarcer in the western Antarctic peninsula, under threat from climate change and fishing

The inch-long crustaceans are considered the 'basis' of the Antarctic food chain and use sea ice to protect themselves and feed from the algae that grows from it

'Krill is the power lunch of the Antarctic. It's a keystone species for everybody,' group leader Ron Naveen said.

Sea temperatures on the peninsula have risen by three degrees in the past 50 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said the threat of declining krill populations was significant and claims 300,000 tons of krill is caught annually and used for farmed fish and 'Omega 3' oil supplements.

However, Norwegian fishing company Aker BioMarine said the amount of krill caught by humans is comparatively small, with just 0.5 per cent of the 60 million tons eaten each year by sea creatures.

SOURCE


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Michael Brull just does not understand Australia's day of remembrance

Michael Brull is a far-Leftist Australian Jew.  So he hates Israel and Australia in roughly equal measures. But he is always good for a laugh.  His talent for missing the point is unfailing.  As with many Leftist articles, his article below is very long-winded. I have however reproduced it all so that people can see that he just doesn't get it.

Yet his basic point can be expressed quite simply.  He says that Leftist criticism of the ANZAC commemorations is somehow disallowed or suppressed.  But he quite spoils his own argument by listing towards the beginning of his article all the Leftists who HAVE criticised it, some of them quite prominent.

And if such criticisms have been suppressed, how is it that way back in the benighted early '60s my junior High School curriculum included a study of what is probably the most anti-ANZAC story ever written -- Seymour's "One day of the year".  And that was during the Prime Ministership of Sir Robert Menzies, an archetypal conservative.  Brull is talking through his anus.

He seems to have realized that his article lacked point and was  wandering all around the place like Brown's cows so he concluded it by saying:  "We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so".  It's a conclusion that is quite detached from the rest of his article.  If he had shown that someone has denied him those entitlements, it might have made sense -- but he did not.  All he shows is that conservatives sometimes criticize  criticisms from Leftists.  Is it not allowed to criticize Leftist criticisms?  Is it only Leftists who are allowed to criticize? He seems to think so:  Typical Leftist bigotry.

The big thing that is totally missing from his article is any awareness that ANZAC day is a day on which we remember the premature deaths of our relatives.  I had relatives who died in both world wars.  I never knew them.  I was too young at the time.  But I know the families and know they must have been people like me who felt like me and I know how grievous their deaths were at the time. An uncle Freddie of mine in particular was much loved and I regret that I never got the chance to know him.

And most people who attend ANZAC day ceremonies are like that.  Their degree of  closeness to the dead will vary but they will all be mourning relatives.  And the ex-servicemen who march will be remembering close friends who were lost.

And enlisting in the armed forces is an heroic act.  We walk into great danger.  We offer to put our lives on line to defend our families from an enemy.  And on ANZAC day we honour that heroism

And, Yes. I myself did voluntarily enlist and serve in the Australian army in the Vietnam era.  I never got to Vietnam but I did apply to go


Go beyond the tedium of mainstream Anzac Day coverage and you’ll see the meaning ascribed to the Day, and the way the history around it is constructed, remain hotly contested. In a fundamentally political disagreement, shutting sceptics out should be seen as an act of political correctness, writes Michael Brull.

Once again, Anzac Day has sneaked up on me. For those of us who are unpatriotic, it is easy to feel like we’re a negligible minority. It is easy to think that your feelings of ambivalence, indifference, or even hostility to Anzac Day are totally marginal and isolated. It is just you and a few of your friends, while the rest of the nation patriotically gets up early and cries on cue at the heroism of our diggers. Yet the truth is that there is plenty of dissent about Anzac. The only reason you don’t hear about it so often is that it’s usually shut out of the mainstream media.

Right-wingers are perfectly aware of this. Since 2009, right-wing historian Mervyn Bendle has been complaining about academics trashing the Anzac legend, in a series of long and tedious essays for Quadrant. The “intelligentsia and the Left”, he complains, offer a perfunctory nod to the bravery of the Australian soldiers in World War One, only to follow by emphasising what they think really matters: an approach which is “always critical, debunking and even denunciatory of the legend, applying a form of methodological nihilism to allege that at the core of the Anzac legend there is nothing—only meaninglessness, futility, error, ‘a nightmare happening in a void’ as George Orwell remarked of Great War literature. Alternatively, if there is something at the core of the legend, it is shown by the revisionist to be unworthy, wicked and iniquitous—militarism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, masculinism—and therefore can and must be condemned and ridiculed.”

One summary of a collection of academic writings by Adrian Howe, an Associate Professor at RMIT University, identifies the Anzac legend as “a masculinist and British imperialist military tradition”; a “nationalistic, militaristic tradition [that is]class-based, race-based, ethnocentric and male-centred”; while Anzac Day is “a day celebrating Anglo-Australian manhood, militarism and a bloody defeat in an imperialist war [and]should be abolished”.

The list of offending scholars is long. They include Anthony Burke, Mark McKenna, Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake, James Brown, and David Horner. Military historians come in for a particular scolding, including Joan Beaumont, Brown and Horner again, Peter Stanley, and two books edited by Craig Stockings. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is also counted among the unpatriotic. Bendle grumbles that in a speech, Keating “largely regurgitated the nihilist view that the conflict was pointless and futile, which has long been the default ideological position of the Left.” Alas, Keating dismissed “the war as the lamentable product of European tribalism, ethnic atavism, nationalism and racism in which Australia had no stake”.

Bendle assures readers in the tiny, largely unread magazine of the aggressive, purportedly highbrow intellectual right that Keating’s “facile, unhistorical ramblings” are wrong: “the Anzacs who sacrificed their lives or their health in battle did so for a great cause. To pretend otherwise is to betray their memory.” Thus, to doubt the cause of World War One, 100 years later is to betray the soldiers. It turns out that to be properly patriotic, we must not just mourn the dead. We must also celebrate the reasons they were sent to die.

In a sense, Anzac Day isn’t just about remembering suffering of soldiers. The sanctification of their memory is done with a political intent, with particular political aims.

The parallels to today are not hard to find. Many people thought it was really terrific how there were such widespread demonstrations around the world before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even if they didn’t stop the war, at least they showed anti-war sentiment. Was there any precedent for such anti-imperialism?

Yes, there was. Adam Hochschild reminds us of the large anti-war demonstrations across Europe before World War One. As Austria declared war on Serbia, 100,000 protesters converged at the heart of Berlin against war. The French Socialist leader Jean Jaur├Ęs stood with his arm around Hugo Haase, co-chair of the German Social Democrats, before an audience of Belgian workers. In Britain, Keir Hardie spoke to an enormous crowd at Trafalgar Square, “the largest demonstration there in years”. To wild cheers, according to Hochschild, he urged a general strike in the event of war.

As is known, these protests more or less ended as the war started. As in 2003, the media decided to “support our soldiers”. Like Bendle, this support for the soldiers in practical terms meant stifling any doubts or criticisms about the cause for which they were sent. Though the interests of soldiers and the politicians who command them are not necessarily the same, they are conflated by leading political figures. The loyal scribes of these politicians assure the public that to doubt the politicians is to doubt the soldiers, and how dare anyone cast aspersions on those risking their lives to keep us safe and defend our freedom? How dare anyone belittle the sacrifice of the soldiers, by questioning the values and wisdom of the politicians who send them into harm’s way?

Last year, Scott McIntyre was fired from the SBS for his blasphemies about Anzac Day, at the behest of Malcolm Turnbull, then, judging by Turnbull’s own words, the Minister for Right-Wing Communications. Though McIntyre’s tweets were condensed due to the nature of the medium, his supposedly inflammatory comments were duly analysed by academic specialists on the Anzacs. Professor Phillip Dwyer, Director of the Centre for the History of Violence at University of Newcastle, agreed that the Anzacs were “no angels”, whose members included those who behaved in “overtly racist manner”, and also rapes and summary executions. Geoff Lemon observed that it was hard to argue that Gallipoli was “an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with”.

Recording historical facts about wrongdoing by Anzacs makes it harder to valorise the soldiers. They shift from becoming our heroic diggers, to human beings, many of whom acted in the flawed ways armies often act in conflict zones. Yet historians have not just challenged the factual basis for hero-ising the soldiers. They are also resolutely sceptical about the value of worshipping the Anzacs. Frank Bongiorno commented that “Anzac’s inclusiveness has been achieved at the price of a dangerous chauvinism that increasingly equates national history with military history, and national belonging with a willingness to accept the Anzac legend as Australian patriotism’s very essence.”

Academics are not infallible. Academic specialists can be wrong, just as academic specialties can function to mostly serve power. Anyone who has too much reverence for academic specialists should revisit the performance of all the economists who failed to predict the 2008 crash. They may know more than the rest of us about what happened during the war, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily more right about the reverence with which the Anzacs should be treated.

My point in reviewing their Anzac scepticism is not to suggest that academics verify or vindicate such suspicion. It is to suggest that jingoism tries to pretend a moral or political disagreement is somehow inherently illegitimate. There are many different ways to approach history. Trying to sanctify one approach to one aspect, and acting horrified at those who dissent from this particular approach is a political act.

As noted by Jumbunna researcher Paddy Gibson, in response to Aboriginal protests of Invasion Day, Prime Minister Bob Hawke started to push Anzac Day as an alternative to Australia Day as a way to cement Australian nationalism. This support for Anzac Day since the late 1980s has revived and reshaped Anzac Day, as the government has sought to push Anzac Day, and the particular values of its modern incarnation, on the general public. This culminated in the extravaganza of last year, when the government spent over $300 million on Anzac commemorations. Yet there were signs this had limited effects. Australians didn’t tune in to the World War One documentaries. Attempts to flog Anzac merchandise were increasingly seen as tacky. Everyone tried to cash in. Woolworths and Target put the Anzacs in their marketing. Now folded soft-porn mag Zoo featured a woman in a bikini with a poppy to mark the special day.

This kind of marketing was seen by some as exploitative. But using Anzac Day as a way to promote the virtue of World War One while hiding behind the political sanctity of Australian soldiers who died seems comparably cynical.

If we’re going to remember the past, and celebrate parts of it, why single out Australian soldiers? Why not celebrate Aboriginal warriors, who died resisting the invasion of their land and the decimation of their peoples and cultures? Why not celebrate trade unionists, who secured some of the best working conditions and entitlements across the world, and kept Australia one of the more egalitarian Western countries until the 1980s? Why not celebrate the suffragettes, who earned white women the vote in Australia before most of the rest of the world? Why not celebrate the activists for Aboriginal rights, who fought for land rights, treaty and sovereignty? Or those who won Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the vote, and dismantled most elements of formal racial discrimination in Australia? Why not remember and celebrate the Australians who fought against World War One? Or those who successfully campaigned against conscription in Australia during World War One, or those who successfully ended Australian involvement in the war on Vietnam?

We can imagine a conservative response to these suggestions. Ah, but you see, these are political choices. Celebrating feminists, anti-imperialists, Aboriginal resistance and trade unionists doesn’t reflect the entire political spectrum. We couldn’t base nationalism on the political values of a segment of the population. It would leave out the rest of us.

Perhaps that’s fair enough. But what about those who feel left out by Anzac Day? Honouring those who fought in a war, while refusing to permit reflections on whether the war was unjust or not, is political. And so are nationalism and patriotism.

Some people may be proud Australians, who think ours is the greatest country on earth, with a largely, if not entirely unblemished history. Those who disagree are not committing a crime, they are simply engaged in a political disagreement. Australians who are horrified at Anzac sceptics are simply trying to enforce their political correctness on the rest of us. We are entitled to different values, and we are entitled to say so.

SOURCE

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"Renewables" are alone enough?

The bright-eyed Warmist guy below -- Mark Diesendorf  -- is triumphant in thinking that he has shown that there is no need for hydrocarbon-fuelled baseload power stations. What he  argues below (in summary) has some logic in that although renewable power sources have very uneven availability by themselves, a whole network of renewable sources is more reliable. So if everything is interconnected, you might be able to get power from solar cells when the wind isn't blowing and vice versa.  Because it does happen that all renewable sources are not always  available in the quantities demanded, he does however concede that reliance on other sources -- such as gas turbines -- would sometimes be required.

Clearly, however, such a system would require a lot of very tricky management and good luck for there always be some power source available.  And lot more transmission lines -- which are both costly and eyesores -- would be required to get the geographical spead needed to overcome the localism of things like clouds and wind.  The wind can be blowing in one place and not in another place nearby, for instance.  So to have a useful spread of inputs you would need generators scattered far and wide -- and all sorts of new and expensive transmission lines from them to a central core or elsewhere. And the NIMBYs would block you at every step along the way when you try to build those transmission lines.

And the backup gas-powered generators needed to fill in when nature is unobliging would have to be very powerful.  On those occasions at night when the wind isn't blowing, the gas generators would have to be capable of assuming the whole load.  So in the end you still end up with huge hydrocarbon-powered generators.  So where is the benefit?  A benefit to Warmist ideology only, it seems. You would still have to double up your power generating capacity.

And "renewable" power sources require much larger capital investment per megawatt so you are looking at spending something like three times what you need to in order to get an acceptable electricity service.  But money seems to grow on trees in the Greenie imagination so I suppose they dismiss that with a wave of their hands

I suppose I should briefly mention the main two other sources of "renewable" power -- solar furnaces and hydro-electricity.

Solar furnaces are easy.  They do not remotely live up to their promises and the two big ones -- Ivanpah in California and Abengoa in Spain -- have just been hit by huge cost over-runs.  Obama may bail out Ivanpah but it would just be pouring money down a hole if he did.  Its running costs far exceed what it can get for its power.  And the Spanish government will probably just have to switch their installation off -- if they have not done so already.

And building new hydroelectric installations is a laugh.  They all require big DAMS -- and, in their strange superstitious way, there is nothing a Greenie hates more than a dam.

So I think we have to conclude that Mr Diesendorf is up the creek in a barbed-wire canoe without a paddle -- as Barry Humphries puts it


The assumption that baseload power stations are necessary to provide a reliable supply of grid electricity has been disproven by both practical experience in electricity grids with high contributions from renewable energy, and by hourly computer simulations.

In 2014 the state of South Australia had 39% of annual electricity consumption from renewable energy (33% wind + 6% solar) and, as a result, the state’s base-load coal-fired power stations are being shut down as redundant. For several periods the whole state system has operated reliably on a combination of renewables and gas with only small imports from the neighbouring state of Victoria.

The north German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein are already operating on 100% net renewable energy, mostly wind. The ‘net’ indicates trading with each other and their neighbours. They do not rely on baseload power stations.

A host of studies agree: baseload power stations are not needed

“That’s cheating”, nuclear proponents may reply. “They are relying on power imported by transmission lines from baseload power stations elsewhere.” Well, actually the imports from baseload power stations are small.

For countries that are completely isolated (e.g. Australia) or almost isolated (e.g. the USA) from their neighbours, hourly computer simulations of the operation of the electricity supply-demand system, based on commercially available renewable energy sources scaled up to 80-100% annual contributions, confirm the practical experience.

In the USA a major computer simulation by a large team of scientists and engineers found that 80-90% renewable electricity is technically feasible and reliable (They didn’t examine 100%.) The 2012 report, Renewable Electricity Futures Study. Vol.1. Technical report TP-6A20-A52409-1 was published by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The simulation balances supply and demand each hour.

The report finds that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.”

Similar results have been obtained from hourly simulation modeling of the Australian National Electricity Market with 100% renewable energy (published by Ben Elliston, Iain MacGill and I in 2013 and 2014) based on commercially available technologies and real data on electricity demand, wind and solar energy. There are no baseload power stations in the Australian model and only a relatively small amount of storage. Recent simulations, which have yet to be published, span eight years of hourly data.

These, together with studies from Europe, find that baseload power stations are unnecessary to meet standard reliability criteria for the whole supply-demand system, such as loss-of-load probability or annual energy shortfall.

Furthermore, they find that reliability can be maintained even when variable renewable energy sources, wind and solar PV, provide major contributions to annual electricity generation, up to 70% in Australia. How is this possible?

Fluctuations balanced by flexible power stations

First, the fluctuations in variable wind and solar PV are balanced by flexible renewable energy sources that are dispatchable, i.e. can supply power on demand. These are hydro with dams, Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) and concentrated solar thermal power (CST) with thermal storage, as illustrated in

Incidentally the gas turbines can themselves be fuelled by ‘green gas’, for example from composting municipal and agricultural wastes, or produced from surpluses of renewable electricity. More on this below …

Second, drawing on diverse renewable energy sources, with different statistical properties, provides reliability. This means relying on multiple technologies and spreading out wind and solar PV farms geographically to reduce fluctuations in their total output. This further reduces the already small contribution from gas turbines to just a few percent of annual electricity generation.

Third, new transmission lines may be needed to achieve wide geographic distribution of renewable energy sources, and to multiply the diversity of renewable energy sources feeding into the grid. For example, an important proposed link is between the high wind regions in north Germany and the low wind, limited solar regions in south Germany. Texas, with its huge wind resource, needs greater connectivity with its neighbouring US states.

Fourth, introducing ‘smart demand management’ to shave the peaks in electricity demand and to manage periods of low electricity supply, can further increase reliability. This can be assisted with smart meters and switches controlled by both electricity suppliers and consumers, and programmed by consumers to switch off certain circuits (e.g. air conditioning, water heating, aluminium smelting) for short periods when demand on the grid is high and/or supply is low.

As summarized by the NREL study: “RE (Renewable Energy) Futures finds that increased electricity system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply-demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.”

A recent study by Mark Jacobson and colleagues went well beyond the above studies. It showed that all energy use in the USA, including transport and heat, could be supplied by renewable electricity. The computer simulation used synthetic data on electricity demand, wind and sunshine taken every 30 seconds over a period of six years.

Storage or ‘windgas’ could also manage fluctuations

The above ‘flexible’ approach may not be economically optimal for the UK and other countries with excellent wind resource but limited solar resource. Another solution to managing fluctuations in wind and solar is more storage, e.g. as batteries or pumped hydro or compressed air.

A further alternative is the ‘windgas’ scenario recently advocated by Energy Brainpool as a greener and lower cost alternative to the UK’s Hinkley C nuclear project. The idea is to use excess wind energy to produce hydrogen gas by electrolysing water and then convert the hydrogen to methane that fuels combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations.

In fact, not all the hydrogen needs to be converted into methane, and it’s more efficient to keep some of it as hydrogen, a useful fuel in its own right. Another option is to use the hydrogen to make ammonia (NH3) which can both be used as a fuel, and as a feedstock for the fertiliser industry, displacing coal or natural gas.

In Brainpool’s scenario, the system is used to replicate the power output of the 3.2GW Hinkley C nuclear power station, and shows it can be done at a lower cost. But in fact, it gets much better than that:

    as each wind turbine, CCGT, gas storage unit and ‘power to gas’ facility is completed, its contribution begins immediately, with no need for the whole system to be built out;

    the system would in practice be used to provide, not baseload power, but flexible power to meet actual demand, and so would be much more valuable;

    as solar power gets cheaper, it will integrate with the system and further increase resilience and reduce cost;

    the whole system creates grid stability and cannot drop out all at once like a nuclear plant, producing negative ‘integration costs’.

But in all the flexible, renewables-based approaches set out above, conventional baseload power stations are unnecessary. In the words of former Australian Greens’ Senator Christine Milne: “We are now in the midst of a fight between the past and the future”.

The refutation of the baseload fairy tale and other myths falsely denigrating renewable energy are a key part of that struggle.

SOURCE

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Camera traps show animals have reclaimed Chernobyl's radioactive wasteland 30 years after the disaster -- and are in good health

Thus showing as completely wrong the Greenie claim that even tiny amounts of radioactivity are harmful.  Chernobyl shows that even quite high levels are not harmful.  Radioactivity has been much demonized for political reasons. Radioactive leaks from nuclear power plants will not do harm unless you are very close to them.

In other evidence of low harm from radioactivity, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was one of a small number of Japanese to live through  both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear detonations.



He was only only 3 km away from the epicenter on both occasions. He was badly burned by the heat but he recovered from that and lived to 93.  


Exactly 30 years and one week ago, a small town in the former Soviet Union witnessed the worst nuclear disaster the world has seen.

Following a fire in one of its reactors, an explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in the former Soviet Union town of Pripyat leaked radioactive material into the environment and saw the surrounding area evacuated.

But while radiation levels in the region is still considered too high for humans to return, wildlife has moved back into the area and is flourishing.

Studies of the animals and plants in the area around Chernobyl are now providing clues as to what the world would be like should humans suddenly disappear.

The exclusion zone is still in effect around the site of the disaster in what is now Ukraine to protect people from the high levels of radiation which persist in the environment.

But in the absence of human activity, wildlife has flourished ­– making the site a unique habitat for biologists to study.

Scientists are monitoring the health of plants and animals in the exclusion area to see how they react to chronic radiation exposure.

Camera traps set up by researchers have captured a stunning array of local wildlife, including wolves, lynx, mouse, boars, deer, horses, and many others, as they wander through the area.

It shows that three decades on from the disaster, the area is far from being a wasteland. Instead life is thriving there.

Using the motion-activated traps to get snapshots of wildlife at a number of sites throughout the exclusion zone, researchers at the University of Georgia have recorded 14 species of mammal.

In a study published this week in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the Georgia group reports it found no evidence to suggest that the areas with the highest levels of radiation were keeping their numbers down, and that populations inside the exclusion zone are doing well.

Sarah Webster, a graduate student working on the project and first author of the study, told UGA Today: 'Carnivores are often in higher trophic levels of ecosystem food webs, so they are susceptible to bioaccumulation of contaminants.'

'Few studies in Chernobyl have investigated effects of contamination level on populations of species in high trophic levels.'

The exclusion zone, which covers a substantial area in Ukraine and some of bordering Belarus, will remain in effect for generations to come, until radiation levels fall to safe enough levels.

The region is called a 'dead zone' due to the extensive radiation which persists. However, the proliferation of wildlife in the area contradicts this and many argue that the region should be given over to the animals which have become established in the area - creating a radioactive protected wildlife reserve.

It would be expected that carnivores would receive extensive radioactive exposure, both directly from the environment and water sources as well as ingesting it through eating contaminated animals.

In the long-term, this accumulation of radioactive material would be expected to be harmful to the top predators and would restrict their number, but findings from the latest study don't seem to support this.

'We didn't find any evidence to support the idea that populations are suppressed in highly contaminated areas,' said Dr James Beasley, a biologist at Georgia and senior author of the paper.

'What we did find was these animals were more likely to be found in areas of preferred habitat that have the things they need – food and water.'

Other research groups working within the area, including the TREE consortium, have found that endangered Przewalski's horses – released into the exclusion zone in the 1990s – are breeding successfully.

In addition, the camera studies have identified a number of protected bird species, including golden eagles and white tailed eagles.

SOURCE  


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A Leftist view of patriotism

The Left can't help it.  They just cannot see straight.  The academic article below by Israeli academic Gal Ariely starts out by standing reality on its head.  He is perfectly right in saying that in recent years in America there has been a "more pronounced tendency towards suppressing civil liberties and critical voices".  But who is responsible for that?

America has been undergoing quite spectacular attempts by Leftists endeavouring to squash Christianity in general and rejection of homosexuality in particular so is  Dr. Ariely blaming the Left for speech suppression?  Far from it.  He says the guilty ones are patriots!  Patriots these days are usually conservatives so Dr Arielya has got the boot on precisely the wrong foot!  For a HUGE chronology of Leftist censorship activities, see here

The whole aim of his article is to discredit patriotism. But there is nothing wrong with patriotism.  It is the Leftist distortion of patriotism -- nationalism -- that is the problem. Orwell understood the distinction between the two:

"There is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality"

So how does Dr Ariely demonize patriotism? He shows that in economically advanced societies, patriotism tends to be low but in impoverished and strife-ridden societies it tends to be high. In a cautious academic way, he draws from that the entirely perverse conclusion that patriotism is in general a bad thing EVEN IN COUNTRIES WHERE IT IS LOW. He does not consider that patriotism in affluent countries might be the unproblematic residuum of an often mixed phenomenon.

So the final sentence of his article makes no distinctions about patriotism: "This study suggests that national pride is related to a less attractive environment than its advocates tend to assume". He clearly thinks patriotism is all the same, wherever it is found. No nuance there. I suppose all men are equal as well.

The Israeli Left are certainly a poisonous lot. Excerpt only below



Why does patriotism prevail? Contextual explanations of patriotism across countries

Abstract

Addressing the normative and empirical debate regarding the nature of patriotism, this paper examines the social contexts in which patriotism – defined here as an expression of national pride – thrives. Combining diverse theoretical explanations, it investigates whether expressions of patriotism are related to globalization, state function, social fractionalization and conflict. A multilevel regression analysis of data from 93 countries led to three principal findings. First, citizens of more developed and globalized countries are less likely to be proud of their country. Second, citizens are more likely to be patriotic in countries characterized by higher levels of income inequality and religiously homogeneity. Third, citizens of countries exposed to direct conflict – that is, suffering terror and causalities from external conflict – tend to exhibit higher levels of national pride. Patriotism frequently being identified as a mandatory political commodity, these results suggest that, overall, patriotism forms part of a less attractive matrix than its advocates tend to assume.

Introduction

The rise in patriotism in the United States following 9/11 has led to two trends – a stronger sense of solidarity and civic engagement, the ‘we’ becoming more important than the ‘me’ (Skocpol 2002; Sander and Putnam 2010), on the one hand, and a more pronounced tendency towards suppressing civil liberties and critical voices on the other. These different outcomes reflect the long-standing debate concerning the nature of patriotism, conventionally defined as love for and attachment to one’s nation (Bar Tal and Staub 1997; Kosterman and Feshbach 1989).

Conclusions

An overall pattern nonetheless emerges. By and large, higher levels of patriotism occur in countries whose citizens are worse off. In societies that form part of the globalized community, enjoy more income equality and are not subject to the threat of terror or external conflict, patriotism levels appear to be lower. Taking into account the fact that politicians, pundits and philosophers frequently describe patriotism as a mandatory political commodity, this study suggests that national pride is related to a less attractive environment than its advocates tend to assume.

SOURCE

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NOAA's monthly deception again

Sure, there's been a recent temperature rise but is it caused by human activity?  They dodge that all-important question.  They admit that El Nino is partly responsible but fail to quantify or correct for its influence.  Scientists quantify.  They don't indulgle in hand-waving dismissals.  Ergo, none of the guff below is science.  

So what is the science?  The science is that the first 8 of their 11 months of warming were at a time when there was NO CO2 rise and hence no human cause.  So the recent rise is clearly an effect of El Nino only.  Below is a great coverage of El Nino effects, nothing more (excerpt only)

Last month marked the hottest March in modern history, setting the longest heat streak in the 137 years of record-keeping, US officials said.

The month's average global temperature of 12.7°C (54.9°F) was not only the hottest March, but continues a record streak that started last May.

The combined average temperature in March was the highest for this month in the 1880–2016 record.

The temperature was 1.22°C (2.20°F) above the 20 century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F).

This surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.32°C / (0.58°F), and marks the highest monthly temperature departure on record.

March 2016 also marks the 11 consecutive month a global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in 137 years.

SOURCE