Why is it still considered OK to be ageist?

Lucy Kellaway does well below to set out the problem of unreasonable discrimination against old people.  I am 78 myself but retired early from the workforce to concentrate on business so have had none of the problems described below.

Lucy does however ignore the elephant in the room when she looks at the cause of ageism.  She  is right in saying that older people do tend to have handicaps such as poor memories and discomfort with new technology but ignores a major problem:  Appearance.  Youth is the beauty ideal in our society.  And that has its reasons.  Our health is best in our youth and it is undoubtedly an exciting time with intimate relations.  I had a ball for many years.

So for whatever reason, the physical appearance of the old counts against them  A young person is felt to look better and more desirable as company.  And that counts. Appearances count, and can count very heavily.

A graphic realization of that is the desperate attempt by many  women to retain their youthful looks. Cosmetic empires are built on that.  It's a reasonable recognition of the relevance of physical appearance in our society.  People don't like an aged appearance and don't want it around themselves

In my own case my looks deteriorated at the expected pace but I was still doing well into my 60s.  The crunch came in my 70s.  When a long relationship came to an end, I had difficulty finding a new one. 

So I don't think that rebelling against the limits of the aged will do much good.  The aged themselves have to promote and demonstrate the assets they do have.  And they are many. Some are mentioned in passing below.  We have so many that it is rather churlish to rail against areas in which we have handicaps.  We should be grateful for a life well-lived instead.  And if our life was not well-lived we should look at why and accept what cannot now be changed -- JR

In September 2018 Ian Tapping, a project manager at the Ministry of Defence, called a meeting with HR. He had been in dispute with his employer and wanted to make a bullying and harassment claim. In the course of the conversation his HR manager asked when he intended to retire — Tapping, who was in his early sixties, subsequently quit and sued the MoD for age discrimination.

Last month he won his case. A judge ruled that it is illegal to ask someone about retirement plans unless they have raised the subject themselves, which had not happened in this instance. Such a question was ageist, said the judge, as it would not have been put to a 30-year-old.

The verdict was duly reported in the Daily Mail and the paper’s readers, who like nothing better than a spot of outrage, were well and truly disgusted. This country has gone mad, they exclaimed.

Given that the average Mail reader is only a couple of years younger than Mr Tapping, the hostility was odd. Ageism is so rampant that they are likely to have been the butt of it themselves. A 2021 World Health Organization survey found that every second person holds ageist attitudes, while according to the National Barometer of Prejudice and Discrimination, a 2018 study undertaken for Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, 26 per cent of people experienced age discrimination in a year.

Survey after survey establishes the same things: people over 50 find it harder to get job interviews (unless, perhaps, they are applying to be president of the US) and are more likely to be eased out of existing jobs.

The ruling last month seems an obvious case of progress. It rightly puts retirement on a par with pregnancy — over the past couple of decades, employers have learnt not to ask a young woman when she plans to have a child, unless they want to end up in court. Now it turns out that the same principle applies to older workers.

This may require quite some adjustment, as that sort of question is asked all the time. When I discussed the case with a 56-year-old friend, she said her boss at the world-famous consumer goods company where she works had that very week asked: “Am I correct to assume you intend to be on the organisational chart at the end of 2022?” Which was a fancy way of implying he would not be sorry if the answer was no.

Not only will employers have to adjust, they will need to do so snappily, as there are so many more older workers about. In 2012, a quarter of the UK workforce was over 50 — by 2050 it will be over a third. On average, men in the UK now work till 65, two years longer than in 2000. Women now retire on average at 64, up from 61 20 years ago.

Although ageism is everywhere, few victims choose to do a Tapping and take their employers to court. Even though it has been illegal in the UK to discriminate on the basis of age since 2006, such cases make up only a negligible percentage of the overall workload of employment tribunals. “It’s still under the radar,” says Lyndsey Simpson, founder of the employment website 55/Redefined, “because people don’t want to go on the record. They think they’ll be attacked and they think it will be career-limiting. I’ve lost count of the number of men who are turned down for jobs and are told: you are overqualified, or you don’t meet our diversity requirements.”

Last month, when 62-year-old Adam Boulton left his post as political editor of Sky News, he told the Times it was by “mutual decision” and that the channel was concentrating on “the next generation”. He added: “Television is very sensitive to the idea of diversity.” There seemed to be no irony in his remark — the thought that true diversity should also include age had not occurred either to him or his employer.

Not only is age the poor relation in diversity policies, it is still perfectly acceptable in polite society to be rampantly ageist. In The Atlantic last month was an article bemoaning the fact that America no longer generates big ideas in culture, science or business. One reason for this, said the writer (35), was that the people in charge were getting older — and older people were not so good at coming up with new ideas. If he had said that women were less creative, he would have been cancelled on the spot. But this aspersion, which he made little attempt to stand up, sailed through all checks and balances and, once published, caused minor grumbling rather than full-on fury.

Our blindness to ageism is particularly puzzling as it is a prejudice not against people who are different from us (other races, genders etc) but against our future selves. According to Ashton Applewhite, the US anti-ageism campaigner and author, this hostility is a product of fear. We dread getting old because we overexaggerate the risk that we will end up in an old people’s home, senile and smelling of pee.

Fear may be part of it, but there is something else going on too. The ageism against my generation — I am 62 — feels personal. We aren’t allowed to feel discriminated against because we’ve had it so good.

I mentioned this article to a 25-year-old friend at the school where I teach. She rolled her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just can’t feel bad for you boomers. You guys have got the pensions. You’ve destroyed the climate. I live in a rented flat with illegal cladding — you live in a huge house. All the power structures in society benefit you. How many top people in companies or politicians are under 30?”

I pointed out that 2m older people in the UK live below the poverty line. I said older people are expected to tolerate discrimination of a sort that other groups are belatedly being freed from. She scoffed; I challenged her to unload her view of boomers.

“Technophobes! Narrow-minded!” she began.

“Borderline alcoholics! Stuck in your ways! Terfs!” chimed in another twentysomething who shares the same office.

The first then added: “But it’s not all bad. You guys are useful for advice on mortgages.”

OK, I thought, age discrimination cuts both ways. “Snowflakes!” I yelled back at them. “Entitled! Lazy!”

In a way, the slanging match was fun and was a sign of how well we get on. These are my two best friends at school and mostly we seem to be a living example of why age diversity at work is good for everyone. We all agree that our differences make our working lives better (as well as being good for our students). But our debate made me uneasy and left me wondering if there is some ugly stuff lurking under the surface.


Journal retracts Indigenous article for plagiarism

This fake Aborigine was fake about a lot of things. She was probably relying on the uncritical acceptance that tall tales about Abogiginal ancestry and customs receive</i>

An Indigenous language scholar from Stradbroke Island has had her latest paper recalled after plagiarism complaints.

Quandamooka woman Sandra Delaney had her article ­“Reconceptualising a Quanda­mooka Storyweave of language reclamation”, published by Sage Journals in July, passed by a “double-blind” peer review process.

Shortly after it was published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies, the journal was contacted by two First Nations language researchers from the US who said their work had been plagiarised.

In a review, Sage editors found five more cases of plagiarism and this month issued a retraction of the article.

Many of the plagiarised papers were unpublished PhD theses from American and Canadian universities dealing with the ­effects of colonisation on Native American languages and reclamation of those languages.

The rest were published in education and nursing journals and publications specifically relating to colonisation issues.

The paper dealt with colonial theft of land and how it led to the partial loss of local Jandai language and how it had been rediscovered through visual story­­telling. “This article outlines a complex, vibrant, interweaving of language as a decolonising practice through creative outcomes,” the original abstract said.

“I will summarise how the Quandamooka tradition of weaving served as a theoretical framework for the reclamation of Jandai language. Shaped by a paradigm of language reclamation, it describes a Quandamooka worldview which is based on the connection Quandamooka people share with our ­Ancestors and our Country.”

It details the creation of the “Quandamooka Storyweave” as a forum for elders to more comfortably share their stories.

Ms Delaney is a prominent figure among Nunagal, Goenbal and Ngugi people, whose ­traditional homeland, Quandamooka, was the mainland, islands and water around Moreton Bay, off Brisbane.


Dodgy sex: Australian Parliament House is no different to other workplaces

David Leyonhjelm has been there and not done that.  He exposes a fraudulent report.  When I was a skeptical academic, I learned to look at the "Results" section of a report rather than the conclusions.  It was more work but often showed a severe mismatch between the actual findings and the claims about them. Leyonhjelm has obviously done the same

Late last year we were told that Canberra’s Parliament House is plagued by bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. A 456-page report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, claimed half of all people in Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (CPW), that is Parliament House or electorate offices, have experienced at least one incident of bullying, sexual harassment or actual or attempted sexual assault, and one in three people working in federal Parliament have experienced some kind of sexual harassment there.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the statistics as appalling and disturbing. Brittany Higgins, whose claims of rape in Parliament House prompted the inquiry, called for ‘immediate action’. Along with most media, the Guardian said that Parliament had a ‘toxic workplace culture’.

Having spent five years in Parliament House, I decided to read the report in full. What I discovered was that while it sets out to show Parliament in a bad light, it reveals the opposite. As a workplace, Parliament is both ordinary and representative — neither sexual assault nor harassment occur any more frequently than in other workplaces, and there is no reason to believe bullying does either. The report is just a shoddy attempt to legitimise social engineering based on cherry-picked data.

The data in the report are derived from a survey of people who work in the Parliament or electorate offices. There are two types of surveys: those in which the data drive the conclusions, and those where the conclusions drive the data. This one is in the latter category.

There were 935 responses from 4,008 people invited to participate. The sample is self-selected, which means those who choose to participate are not necessarily the same as those who do not. The report says responses were weighted to ‘correct imbalances in the results due to any non-response bias’ but gives no details. It is not true.

Given the Higgins allegations, sexual assault is a priority. However, only nine respondents reported such assault, or around 1 per cent of the sample. A 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey found 1.1% of Australian adults claimed to have experienced sexual assault in the past 12 months. That is, sexual assault is no more common in CPWs than in the community.

The report says 33 per cent of respondents (40 per cent of women, 26 per cent of men) have experienced sexual harassment in a CPW, with victims including both parliamentarians and staff. This is the same rate as in the broader population and is also unchanged from a similar survey in 2018. In other words, sexual harassment in the parliamentary environment is no greater than in the community and is not increasing.

The report also says 37 per cent of respondents claim to have experienced bullying in a CPW. Women are twice as likely as men to be bullies, women are more likely to be victims, and in three-quarters of cases, the perpetrator was more senior. The most common case is a junior woman claiming to be bullied by a senior woman. However, the report provides no comparisons with other workplaces and no basis for implying that CPWs are exceptional.

Although the survey contained 200 questions, potentially yielding a lot of useful information, the report provides very little. There are literally no responses to individual questions, and none of the tables and crosstabs normally found in opinion research reports. Despite 44 questions about sexual assault, no responses are reported – hence there is no information about location, timing, gender, age, relationships, employment, or about the perpetrators.

It is much the same with the other two issues. Despite 49 questions about sexual harassment, the analysis is brief and superficial. The report notes that reported rates of sexual harassment are higher when specific behaviours are mentioned rather than just a short legal definition. The questionnaire gives the legal definition in one question and mentions ‘Inappropriate staring or leering that made you feel intimidated’ and ‘Being followed, watched or someone loitering nearby’ as examples of sexual harassment in another question. But responses to either question are not provided.

There is little, also, about the responses to the 48 questions about bullying. As with sexual harassment, responses were probably influenced by how bullying was defined: examples in the questionnaire included ‘Others spreading misinformation, or malicious rumours’ and ‘Assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job’. Either way, we are not told.

The overall design of the questionnaire is flawed. Well-designed surveys ensure responses to key questions are not influenced by prior questions or information. Not in this survey. All the questions about sexual assault, harassment and bullying are preceded by questions like, ‘Is the workplace safe and respectful? Are sexual assault, sexual harassment or bullying tolerated? Are people treated fairly and equally regardless of age, race or cultural background, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs? Are there negative attitudes to women?’ By the time respondents get to questions about their own experience, their thinking might well have changed.

The whole objective of the report is to promote its recommendations, claiming there is an opportunity ‘for meaningful and lasting reform that ensures CPWs are safe and respectful workplaces that uphold the standing of the Parliament and are a worthy reflection of people working within them.’

These recommendations are designed to address the ‘drivers’ of misconduct in CPWs, which the authors of the report say are power, including power imbalances, gender inequality, a lack of diversity and absence of accountability. The report recommends targets to achieve gender balance among parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, and targets to increase the representation of First Nations people, people with disability and LGBTIQ+ people. An Office of Parliamentarian Staffing and Culture is proposed to ‘drive cultural transformation’, accompanied by a code of conduct.

Not one of the recommendations is based on the findings of the survey, and even if the survey had identified a problem with sexual assault, harassment and bullying, the report provides no evidence that a lack of gender balance or diversity is to blame. Naturally, there is no attempt to explain why its recommendations would make any difference. Its aim is to stampede the government into adopting a woke agenda using a dodgy survey.

The report is not worth the paper it is written on. The cost of producing it was a waste of taxpayer funds, and it will be a waste of taxpayer funds if the government takes it seriously and attempts to implement any of its recommendations.


Not so silenced

The author below  has a point.  After the initial attempts by the mass media and social media to ignore and censor the Barrington declarers, they did get a lot of attention elswhere.

Attempts to censor something often make it more widely heard.  It can generate interest.  It can be good publicity.  But the fact remains that the mainstream media did give the Barrington group short shrift initially.  And given the notable academic authority of the declarers that strongly suggests a political  motivation.  It suggests that there was a Covid orthodoxy that was not open to challenge

Supporters and opponents of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) are unlikely to agree on many things. I hope one area of agreement may be the following: The authors of the GBD are not invisible, muffled mystery men and women. People who pay attention to COVID-19 policy know their names, and we know what they believe.

In fact, these individuals are rather omnipresent figures in the COVID-19 media landscape. They have been on many large podcasts. They have given many TV interviews. They have been interviewed by and written many editorials in large newspapers. They’ve been profiled by The New York Times and Medpage Today. They have a large presence on social media. They have made a truly remarkable number of YouTube videos (Dr. Jay Bahattacharya, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Marin Kulldorff), some of which have been seen by millions of people. They have testified before Congress and in courts regarding COVID-19 policy. Some have gained new funding sources or found new employment in right-wing think tanks. They’ve met with and influenced powerful politicians, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They held a “medical experts roundtable” at President Trump’s White House. Dr. Gupta met with and influenced UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Journalists rightly say they’ve become “famous voices” this pandemic.

Like I said, we know who the authors of the GBD are, and we know what they believe. Most importantly, we know how they’ve shaped our COVID-19 response.


George Monbiot does not like Britain's attempt to rein in Gypsy lawlessness

George is a veteran Green/Leftist.  He thinks "mobile people" should be given free land and their chronic criminality should be ignored

At last, we are waking up to the astonishingly oppressive measures in the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, intended to criminalise effective protest. At last, there has been some coverage in the media, though still far too little. The Labour party is finally feeling some heat, and may find itself obliged to stop appeasing the Daily Mail and vote against the government’s brutal amendments in the House of Lords next week.

But as we focus on this threat, we’re in danger of forgetting something else buried in this monstrous bill. It’s the provision that turns trespass from a civil into a criminal offence, allowing the police to arrest people who are Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT) and confiscate their homes, if they stop in places that have not been designated for them. Under the proposed law, any adult member of the group can be imprisoned for up to three months. Given that authorised sites and stopping places cannot accommodate the GRT people who need them, this is a deliberate attack on a vulnerable minority.

Put these elements together – the curtailment of protest and the persecution of a minority, alongside blatant corruption and barefaced lies, the bypassing of parliament and the new power in the nationality and borders bill enabling the government arbitrarily to remove people’s citizenship – and you see the makings of an authoritarian state. These measures look horribly familiar to anyone cognisant of 20th-century European history. But they also have deep roots in Britain’s peculiar brutalities.

Similarly, people who are Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have been deprived of places where they can lawfully stop, and then punished for the absence of provision. According to a study by the Community Architecture Group, between 1986 and 1993 roughly two-thirds of traditional Travellers’ sites, some of which had been used for thousands of years, were blocked and closed. Then, in 1994, John Major’s Criminal Justice Act granted the police new powers against GRT people stopping without authorisation. With a cruel and perverse twist, the same act repealed the duty of local government to provide authorised sites, and removed the grant aid funding these sites. Partly as a result, a recent study by the group Friends, Families and Travellers found that, of the 68 local authorities they surveyed, only eight had met their own identified need for Gypsy and Traveller pitches. Though there is a long waiting list of GRT households seeking authorised sites and stopping places, official pitches have declined by 8% in the past 10 years.

Now the new bill would enable the police to confiscate people’s vehicles (in other words their homes) on the mere suspicion of trespass. When their homes have been seized and their parents arrested, GRT children are likely to be taken into care. The police bill would deprive this minority of everything: homes, livelihoods, identity, culture, even their families.

And, like the homeless people trapped between the Vagrancy Act and the housing qualification, it would put people who are Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in an impossible position. To apply for an official pitch, you must demonstrate “proof of travelling”. But if you don’t have access to official pitches, travelling will put you outside the new law. In other words, it is not a particular behaviour that is being criminalised. It is the minority itself.

The new authoritarianism meshes with a very old one, that harks back to an imagined world in which the peasants could be neatly divided into villeins (good) and vagrants (bad), where everyone knew their place, geographically and socially. Of course, the demonisation of mobile people, whether Roma or asylum seekers, does not extend to the government ministers and newspaper editors who might shift between their pads in London and their second homes in Cornwall or Tuscany. It’s about the rich controlling the poor, as if democracy had never happened.


The Atlantic Ocean Invaded Its Neighbor Earlier Than Anyone Thought: The saltier Atlantic broke through layers of ice and freshwater, contributing to the Arctic’s warming

The NYTimes (below) reported on November 28, 2021 that the melting of the Arctic began before industrialization.  To now blame melting on CO2 emissions is just false propaganda

Arctic. Atlantic. Long ago, the two oceans existed in harmony, with warm and salty Atlantic waters gently flowing into the Arctic. The layered nature of the Arctic — sea ice on top, cool freshwater in the middle and warm, salty water at the bottom — helped hold the boundary between the polar ocean and the warmer Atlantic.

But everything changed when the larger ocean began flowing faster than the polar ocean could accommodate, weakening the distinction between the layers and transforming Arctic waters into something closer to the Atlantic. This process, called Atlantification, is part of the reason the Arctic is warming faster than any other ocean.

“It’s not a new invasion of the Arctic,” said Yueng-Djern Lenn, a physical oceanographer at Bangor University in Wales. “What’s new is that the properties of the Arctic are changing.”

Satellites offer some of the clearest measurements of changes in the Arctic Ocean and sea ice. But their records only go back around 40 years, obscuring how the climate of the ocean may have changed in prior decades.

“To go back, we need a sort of time machine,” said Tommaso Tesi, a researcher at the Institute of Polar Sciences-CNR, Italy.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, Dr. Tesi and colleagues were able to turn back time with yard-long sediment cores taken from the seafloor, which archived 800 years of historical changes in Arctic waters. 

Their analysis found Atlantification started at the beginning of the 20th century — decades before the process had been documented by satellite imagery. The Arctic has warmed by around 2 degrees Celsius since 1900. But this early Atlantification did not appear in existing historical climate models, a discrepancy that the authors say may reveal gaps in those estimates.

“It’s a bit unsettling because we rely on these models for future climate predictions,” Dr. Tesi said.

Mohamed Ezat, a researcher at the Tromso campus of the Arctic University of Norway, who was not involved with the research, called the findings “remarkable.”

“Information on long-term past changes in Arctic Ocean hydrography are needed, and long overdue,” Dr. Ezat wrote in an email.

In 2017, the researchers extracted a sediment core from the seafloor of Kongsfjorden, a glacial fjord in the east end of the Fram Strait, a gateway between the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard and Greenland, where Arctic and Atlantic waters mingle.

The researchers sliced up the core at regular intervals and dried those layers. Then came the painstaking process of sifting out and identifying the samples’ foraminifera — single-celled organisms that build intricate shells around themselves using minerals in the ocean.

When foraminifera die, their shells drift to the seafloor and accumulate in layers of sediment. The creatures are crucial clues in sediment samples; by identifying which foraminifera are present in a sample and analyzing the chemistry of their shells, scientists can glean the properties of past oceans.

The team’s original idea was to reconstruct the oceanographic conditions of a region that contained both Arctic and Atlantic waters, going back 1,000 to 2,000 years. But, in the slices of the core dating back to the early 20th century, the researchers noticed a sudden, massive increase in the concentration of foraminifera that prefer salty environments — a sign of Atlantification, far earlier than anyone had documented.

“It was quite a lot of surprises in one study,” said Francesco Muschitiello, an oceanographer at the University of Cambridge and an author on the paper.

The sheer amount of sediment was so high that the researchers could assemble a chronology of past climate down to five- or 10-year increments. Additionally, a molecular biomarker could pinpoint a specific year, 1916, when coal mining began in Kongsfjorden. Since the foraminiferal shift occurred just before this marker, the researchers estimate Atlantification began around 1907, give or take a decade.

When the researchers compared the data from their paleoclimate model with others to see if they overlapped, they found existing climate models had no sign of this early Atlantification. The researchers suggest a number of possible reasons behind this absence, such as an underestimation of the role of freshwater mixing in the Arctic or the region’s sensitivity to warming.

Dr. Lenn, who was not involved with the research, sees a difference between this early Atlantification and the present, rapid Atlantification, which is largely driven by melting Arctic sea ice. “It’s too soon after the start of the industrial revolution for us to have accumulated excess heat in the planetary system for it to be anthropogenic at that point,” Dr. Lenn said.

The authors are not sure of the precise reasons behind the early Atlantification. If human influences are the cause, then “the whole system is much more sensitive to greenhouse gases than we previously thought,” Dr. Muschitiello said.

In another possibility, earlier natural warming may have made the Arctic Ocean much more sensitive to the accelerated Atlantification of recent decades. “Could it be that we destabilized a system that was already shifting?” Dr. Tesi said.


Barrier Reef islands are GROWING

Warmists are always prophecying that Pacific islands will go underwater as a result of global warming of the ocean, with coral cays being particularly vulnerable.  

But actual evidence below shows us that the opposite is happening.  Coral cays are in fact GROWING.   Any effect of global warming is more than cancelled out by other processes.  

Basing predictions on just one of many potentially influential factors is dumb and very unscientific

A scientific field trip to a small group of deserted islands on the Great Barrier Reef has its roots in a 1928 expedition and has implications for the future of the reef.

A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong led by Associate Professor Sarah Hamylton visited the Howick islands, about 130 kilometres north-east of Cooktown, in far northern Queensland, last year and found the mangroves were expanding.

“What’s particularly interesting for a lot of the islands in the Howick group that we are mapping and investigating is that they are growing,” Associate Professor Hamylton says.

“Most of the islands we have looked at are predominantly made up of broken up corals, which waves then sweep and deposit on the island. This coral sediment is responsible for building up the islands. Add in mangrove forests and you can see that these islands are actually growing. Some mangrove forests are marching forwards by up to five to six metres per year,” she explains.

Associate Professor Hamylton says the group was able to compare aerial images taken by a drone with hand-drawn maps created in 1928 and photographs from 1974.

“This research was started back in 1928 with an expedition known as the Great Barrier Reef Low Isles Expedition.”

In July 1928, British and Australian scientists undertook a journey to investigate the biggest coral reef in the world. They spent 13 months wandering reefs and islands, looking at ocean conditions and growth rate of corals.

“Two members of the Great Barrier Reef Low Isles Expedition were particularly interested in how old the reef islands around here are and how were they formed,” says Associate Professor Hamylton.

“The researchers observed ocean waves and tidal currents transporting loose coral sediments derived from the underlying reef platform and depositing these to form the islands. Sometimes these cays or islands may remain unconsolidated and move around with the seasons. But over time, the larger cays built up to be above the sea level and become covered in vegetation, which stabilises them into more permanent features.”

Forty-five years later, in 1973-74, another group of researchers, the Royal Society and Universities of Queensland Expedition, decided to partially retrace the footsteps of the researchers from the 1928 expedition. They concentrated on remapping the Howick group, as well as other islands further north, in more detail. By remapping the islands and collecting more data on mangrove forest vegetation, the researchers believed they could inspire subsequent studies.

The information caught the eye of Associate Professor Hamylton who has a keen interest in geomorphology, which examines how landscapes such as the islands on the Great Barrier Reef form and are shaped over time.

“When I looked over the maps from 1928, then some aerial photos from 1974, I then compared these maps and images with recent satellite imagery from the internet and could plainly see that the islands had increased in size. Especially since 1974.”


High School Lesson Plans Tell California Students They’re Inherently Privileged If Male, Cisgender, White, Christian

The last sentence below summarizes the misguided belief that underlies the current anti-white craziness. Despite the vast efforts to privilege blacks via "affirmative action", some people still think that the economic and social backwardness commonly experienced by blacks is the result of what whites do. We must not consider that blacks are inherently less capable at dealing with the challeges of the modern world -- as is plainly seen in their usually dismal educational performance

Minorities of European, East Asian (Chinese) and South ASian (Indian) origin all trend to outdo native-born American whites economically so how come they are not held back by the supposed barriers and privileges that American whites suppposedly erect?

Criical Race theory is Criical Race mythology -- A desperate attempt to escape racial reality. The real privileges accrue to blacks. You must not blame them for anything, not even thir own incompetence or extreme criminality

Following requests for comment from The Daily Signal, Desert Sands Unified School District public information officer Mary Perry said “the lesson was not in alignment with the district-adopted curriculum” and “actions are being taken to rectify the situation.”

“The teacher was operating outside the scope of [the] adopted curriculum and had potentially presented a biased position,” Perry said. “Corrective action is underway.”

The Daily Signal so far has not been able to determine which teacher or teachers used or wrote the lecture materials.

Graphics included in the lecture materials for Nov. 15 to 19 warn students that if they “don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.”  

“If you can use public bathrooms without stares, fear, or anxiety, you have cisgender privilege,” reads one graphic. 

Another graphic says: “If, while growing up, college was an expectation of you, not a lofty dream, you have class privilege.” 

Desert Sands Unified School District parent Celeste Fiehler posted the lesson plans in the Facebook group Informed Parents of California after another parent made her aware of the ideological content.

Fiehler said in her Facebook post that the materials were used in a ninth grade English class, noting that students were told “no cellphones allowed.” 

“Wonder why,” she added in her post. 

Fiehler told The Daily Signal on Tuesday that the lesson plans were from an Advanced Placement English class at La Quinta High School, but is unsure which teacher or teachers gave the lectures. 

La Quinta High School did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment. 

‘Check Your Privilege’

The lesson plans appeared to be lifted from a 2014 campaign by the University of San Francisco’s Intercultural Center led by associate professor of psychology J. Garrett-Walker and professor of marketing Sonja Martin Poole. 

The “Check Your Privilege” campaign defines privilege as “unearned access to social power based on membership in a dominant social group.” 

The campaign’s stated goal is to teach students, faculty, and staff at the university about privilege and to “encourage the use of privilege to advocate for others.” 

Kenny Snell, a teacher in the school district and spokesman for Desert Sands Unified School District Recall, told The Daily Signal in an email that his school board recall organization considers any lesson based on “critical race theory pedagogies to be objectionable.” 

“Politically biased indoctrination, that divides our students into victims and oppressors, educates them from the annals of Fake News stories from the legacy media, and instructs them in the ways of violent BLM [Black Lives Matter] and Antifa ‘civic activism’ does not belong in public education,” said Snell, who said he currently is not teaching because he is “out on disability” due to a mask mandate.

“If you can expect time off from work to celebrate your religious holidays, you have Christian privilege,” one poster from the University of San Francisco’s Check Your Privilege campaign says. 

“If you’re confident that police exist to protect you, you have white male privilege,” says another poster. 

“If you cannot be legally fired from work because of your perceived sexuality, you have heterosexual privilege,” reads a third. 

Garrett-Walker and Poole did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Signal, nor did the University of San Francisco. 

Desert Sands Unified School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal regarding which teacher or teachers used the lesson plans in question.

Are You a Member of the ‘Oppressed?’   

The Desert Sands lecture materials also included a discussion of a TED Talk titled “I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype.”

“Stereotypes are part of a dominant narrative that is perpetuated by the media (film, TV, etc), people in power and oftentimes our elders,” the lesson plans say. “Notice that all of those groups have some kind of power and privilege (economic, political, age) over others.”

The lecture plans then dive into “systems, power, and privilege” discussions. Systems of power, according to the materials, are “the beliefs, practices, and cultural norms on which individual lives and institutions are built.”

These systems of power are “rooted in social constructions of race and gender” and “are embedded in history (colonization, slavery, migration, immigration, genocide) as well as present-day policies and practice,” the lesson plans say. “These systems of power reinforce the structural barriers that are the root causes of inequality experienced by people of color.”


The Chinese are insecure about their eyelid shape

In a remarkable example of a cultural cringe, Chinese have taken Western eyes as the ideal. It is common throughout Asia among those who can afford it to have their eyelids "done" by a plastic surgeon. They beat themselves up over it

image from https://www.neican.org/content/images/2022/01/1640672787195407-1.jpeg

A deplored image

Chinese netizens have been debating about “squinty eyes” in the last few weeks. The debates centred on a series of advertisement posters from Three Squirrels, a Chinese snack maker, featuring a model with small, narrow eyes.

At the heart of the controversy is the perception by some Chinese netizens that these ads invoked the “slanted eyes” stereotype associated historically with Western racism against Asians. On that basis, they accused Three Squirrels of being “unpatriotic” and “insulting China”.

The Three Squirrels controversy is not an isolated instance. Recently, Mercedes Benz and Dior also came under fire for depicting models with small, narrow eyes in their ads. Chinese animated film I Am What I Am, a story about a boy and his friends chasing their dreams and becoming lion dancers, have come under attack for the eye shape and size of the main characters.


This torrent of outcry underscores China’s political and social environment. Deteriorating relations between China and the US, paranoia about external and internal enemies, Chinese state propaganda, and social media dynamics have made the soil conducive for nationalist discourse.

The Chinese party-state and a portion of the Chinese public have become hypersensitive to perceived insults. This hypersensitivity is hurting China’s relations with the broader world and eroding political tolerance at home.

Yes, the “slanted eyes” stereotype has a long history of association with Western racism against Asians. One prominent example of this is the fictional character Fu Manchu, the personification of the “yellow peril” threat to Western society.

And, indeed, the label “slit eyes” and its associated pulled-eye gesture are highly offensive to Asians even though Western mainstream societies no longer consider Asian eye features as a mark of racial inferiority.

Regardless, today’s racists, like their predecessors, tend to assert their superiority by exaggerating minor variations in human genetics. A slightly more pronounced epicanthic fold becomes “slit-eyed”; a slightly different skin tone becomes “yellow”.

But the Chinese critics are overreacting. They are projecting their nationalist agendas, paranoia and sensibilities onto the aesthetic expressions and intentions of others.

In the case of Three Squirrels, this is a local Chinese company selling to Chinese consumers. Why would it intentionally “insult” its customers by getting into bed with Western racism? It makes no sense whatsoever. A better explanation is that the company was trying to capitalise on international fashion trends.

Some idiots have attacked the model featured in the ads for her looks, labelling her “unpatriotic”. How can the features of one’s eyes be “unpatriotic”? Can the shape of a cloud or the contours of a mountain be “unpatriotic”?

In the eyes of the beholder

Large, double-lid eyes are considered beautiful by the Chinese mainstream. This preference is so strong that millions of young Chinese feel the need to undergo double eyelid surgery every year. Some critics have internalised this preference so deeply that they seem incapable of comprehending that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder: “are you telling me some people find small eyes beautiful? That’s absurd!”

The more sophisticated critics argue that the Three Squirrels controversy underlines the cultural and aesthetic hegemony of the West. They say that China needs to fight western oppression by developing its cultural and aesthetic confidence. Central to this narrative is the idea that bad apples in China are helping the West by self-Orientalising.

But this argument is fatally flawed. First, the standard of beauty varies across time and cultures. For much of China’s dynastic history, tiny feet and small eyes, for example, are considered physically appealing. The mainstream standard of beauty in China today is a distinctively modern product, one heavily influenced by western material culture and aesthetics.

Second, despite calls for emancipation, these critics are having the opposite effect: enforcing conformity of aesthetic expression. Ironically, their aesthetic intolerance is stigmatising their compatriots with small, narrow eyes, the very features that were used historically by Western racists as symbolism for Asian degeneracy.

Moreover, times have changed, aesthetic tastes have shifted, and aesthetic symbols are being repurposed. Small, narrow eyes and other Asian physical features have actually become cool among many Western youngsters due to the global influence of Asian culture.

Yet, some Chinese critics are trapped in the past. Unable to transcend their own prejudices and ignorance, they fail to see the transformative potential of embracing diversity.

A mature society allows space for political and aesthetic pluralism. The Chinese don’t need any more shackles on freedom of expression, including self-imposed ones introduced in the name of liberation.


Electric cars are more expensive but do lower running costs make up for that?

Only if you drive a lot and if that is because you drive long distances an electric car may have range problems

An electric vehicle can be powered with virtually free solar energy, and has much lower maintenance costs than an ICE vehicle.

Because of that, you might be willing to buy an electric vehicle even if it costs more, so long as you save money within a few years.  So how long does it take to recoup the extra cost of an EV?

Well, there's no simple answer. It will depend on a range of factors including:

the EV you are considering, and the alternative ICE vehicle you are comparing it to

how much you drive, and how far each time

whether you have excess solar generation at your home, to use for charging.

These factors will determine whether you save money within a few years of buying an EV, or whether you break even at all.

One of the cheapest battery-powered electric vehicles available in Australia is an SUV coming in at about $44,000.

Now, let's say you were tossing up whether to buy that car or a similar SUV made by the same manufacturer — one that runs on petrol and costs about $28,000.

You're paying $16,000 more for the EV. So, over a few years, could you save that $16,000 in fuel and maintenance?

Yes — but you'd have to be a big driver, clocking up about twice the national average of 12,000 kilometres per year.

If you had an EV, and could use your home solar panels to charge your car, you might spend just $2,500 charging your EV and another $3,000 on maintenance over the five years.

If that all works out, you'll be about $500 better off after five years with the EV, compared to the ICE vehicle.

Other EVs on the market start at about $50,000 and go up from there. Making enough savings from fuel and maintenance with those vehicles is going to be harder, depending on what ICE vehicle you're comparing it to.

And the less you drive, the fewer the opportunities for savings. If you drive the car rarely, it's very hard to realise any of the savings from an EV.

This is all based on prices today, but prices are projected to continue their sharp decline. As they do, the equation becomes more and more favourable for EVs.

And when EVs cost the same as ICE vehicles, buying one will for most be a no-brainer.

In Norway, government policies have made EVs already roughly the same cost as ICE vehicles, and as a result, nearly 80 per cent of new car sales are battery electric.


Strange bigotry about red hair in England

In other places that I am aware of, red hair is more likely to attract positive comment.  My father was a redhead and he was almost always addressed by a nickname that referred to his red hair: "Bluey" And no offence was intended or taken

The report below refers to "Britain".  That is sloppy.  It is the English who are the offenders. There are far too many redheads in Scotland for red hair to be a significant issue there

So why are the English often so hateful about red hair?  I think it is because red hair is exceptionally common in Scotland and Ireland -- historic foes of England in war.  Old prejudices die hard

An amusing report below about redheads having more sex. My very lively first girlfriend was a 16-year old redhead and there have been four redheads in my life -- two of whom I married

UPDATE: I am still in touch with that 16 year old Australian girlfriend -- now in her '70s -- and she confirms that her red hair has been all good in its effects

Red-haired children need more protection from gingerism and prejudice, a human rights charity has claimed.

Bullying people for their barnet was not 'harmless banter' and leads to abuse and suicide, Equalities and Human Rights UK said.

They said the discrimination has been present for thousands of years across the world but was 'particularly acute' in Britain.

It comes after a teaching assistant was fired for bullying including one case where he joked about a child's hair colour.

CEO of Equalities and Human Rights UK Chrissy Meleady slammed the idea of it being a 'laugh to belittle, demean and abuse' red-haired children.

She claimed it can be 'very harmful stripping these children of their positive self-identity and confidence' and could lead to 'trying to die by suicide'.

She told the Sheffield Star: 'Bullying red-haired people is one of the last socially accepted forms of prejudice against people for a trait they were born with, researchers say.

'It's not 'harmless banter' researchers say, due to the consequences and adverse impact of the bullying.

'Whilst it might be seen as a laugh to belittle, demean and abuse these children for being red haired or their phenotyical characteristic, it can be very harmful stripping these children of their positive self-identity and confidence and worse it can lead to school refusal, health problems, self-injurious behaviour and even children wanting and trying to die by suicide.'

Ms Meleady told how a family physically abused their baby for its  ginger hair because they thought it was the 'mark of the devil'.

She said another was thrown down the stairs and was hit with a brick by other girls during bullying.

She added: 'There needs to be more done to protect red haired children, not just from gingerism or anti-red haired prejudice and abuse from other children, but from school and other settings members who model the bullying and abuses to red haired children.'

Last week a teaching assistant from St Wilfrid's Primary School in Sheffield was dismissed from his job after 13 years over bullying complaints.

The man, who has not been named, allegedly 'humiliated' a young vulnerable boy when he gave him a girl's name in the classroom.

He was also accused of searching the internet for 'Gingerphobia' during a lesson on Vikings, which saw a red-haired child teased by his friends.

Despite Ms Meleady's claims, a study in October found redheads were enjoying more romantic encounters.

The study's authors noted women with red hair – up to nine per cent of European females – 'tend to be the subject of various stereotypes about their sexually liberated behaviour'.

And in Britain, the report said, has more redheads than any other European country.

The Czech researchers wanted to find a connection between red hair and sexual behaviour, collecting data from 110 women (34 per cent red-headed) and 93 men (22 per cent).

The academics from Charles University, Prague, found redheaded women – but not men – reported greater sexual desire and activity over the past year.

Redheads had more sexual partners, 'higher sexual submissiveness' and started sex at a younger age.

The academics said: 'The apparently more liberated sexual behaviour in redheaded women could be the consequence of frequent attempts of potential mates to have sex with redheaded women.'

Katerina Sykorova, who compiled the report, said: 'The intensity of their sexual activity was relatively higher than the intensity of their sexual desire. 

'This suggests that it is not the redheaded women's own initiative but higher demand for them which might be responsible for their higher sexual activity and higher number of sexual partners.'

The study said redheadedness was determined by 'the quantity, ratio, and distribution of the two main types of the pigment melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin'.


Novak Djokovic ruling: Strategic surrender or an embarrassing loss?

As a survivor of Covid, he had natural immunity so was no danger to others.  Vaccination would have added nothing

Legal cases are rarely dramatic. But the federal government’s total capitulation on Monday in its case against Novak Djokovic was about as dramatic as you could imagine.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews consented to the Federal Circuit Court quashing the decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa and to paying his legal costs. All up, the legal costs for the taxpayer (without including court time), will likely be more than $250,000.

Djokovic didn’t technically win his case, he just forced the government to give up its defence. But in some ways, forcing your opponent to yield to you and surrender is better than a win. It’s certainly more embarrassing for the loser.

People might not understand how an unvaccinated person – tennis player or not – can come into this country, especially after Australians overseas have had difficulty getting home for the two years of the pandemic. Add to that the fact that Melbourne has endured substantial lockdowns and the unvaccinated have been subject to strict controls on their movements.

Djokovic would say he is entitled to an exemption from getting vaccinated because he recently contracted Covid and given that it might not be safe to get the vaccine. He seems to have ATAGI on his side on that. The government would say that is not a good enough reason and he’s been ­allowed in because Border Force made technical mistakes in processing the decision to cancel his visa.

With a clearly annoyed judge Anthony Kelly, the government not only agreed to the reinstatement of Djokovic’s visa, it agreed to the court finding the process that the government – through Border Force – engaged in was unreasonable.

The big question is whether the government will now try to ­remake the decision but this time with a proper process.

On one view it’s possible the capitulation was a strategic one. There’s a saying in the law about “taking the temperature of the bench”. The bench is where the judge sits, and so this refers to trying to guess from the judge’s comments or demeanour which way they’re going to decide.

Taking the temperature of the bench on Monday told me his Honour was red hot in favour of finding for Djokovic. Not only did his Honour seem to think the process was unreasonable – as the government agreed to his Honour including in the court orders made by consent – but his Honour appears to have had a tentative view in favour of Djokovic on a far more important point.

Earlier in the hearing – when the live feed was not active – his Honour said he found it difficult to understand how Djokovic’s medical exemption – based on his December positive test and signed by a professor of immunology, a physician with expertise in disease and endorsed by a state government ­independent panel – was rejected by Border Force. A finding by his Honour that Djokovic was medically exempt would have tied the government’s hands in future.

So it is possible it surrendered in order to limit the loss it was about to suffer by agreeing to ­essentially start the whole process again.

The big question at the end of Monday’s hearing was what will the government do now? The court was told at the end of the case that the government was still considering cancelling Djokovic’s visa. The judge seemed unimpressed, although thankful he had been told and not blindsided later.


Climate change could spark a rise in KIDNEY STONES: Higher temperatures caused by greenhouse gases will lead to an increase (?)

This is just modelling, which proves nothing. A hot climate actually is associated with more kidney stones but the tiny rise in average temperature of recent times is unlikely to be the cause behind the recent increased incidence. Many other factors can affect the incidence of the stones

More hot days in the future will likely due to greater water losses through sweat, resulting in more concentrated urine and increased formation of kidney stones, researchers in Pennsylvania claim.

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

They form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances – such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid – than the fluid in your urine can dilute.

Previous research has already shown that high ambient temperatures increase the risk of developing these kidney stones.

Not drinking enough water contributes to their formation because more water in the kidneys helps prevent stone-forming crystals from sticking together.

Higher temperatures are therefore more likely to cause dehydration, which in turn leads to the painful condition, which can often require surgery.

The new study was conducted by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in Pennsylvania, led by urologist Dr Gregory E. Tasian.

'It is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow or hasten greenhouse gas emission and anthropogenic climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be,' Dr Tasian said.

'[But] our analysis suggests that a warming planet will likely cause an increased burden of kidney stone disease on healthcare systems.'

In the US, there is an increase in the incidence of kidney stones from North to South, and there is a rapid increase in risk of kidney stone presentations following hot days.

However, previous studies have not precisely projected how climate change will impact the burden of kidney stone disease in the future.

A study by the Mayo Clinic found an overall increase in the prevalence of kidney stones across three decades.

The rate of confirmed symptomatic stones increased more than 300 per cent in women and 100 percent in men from 1984 to 2012.

While the increase can in part be explained by improvements in medical imaging technology, experts said it could also be linked to the dietary factors driving increases in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Australia: Analysis of national test results shows no difference in effectiveness between public, private schools

This analysis is not serious.  Below is the journal abstract:
A higher proportion of students are privately educated in Australia, compared with many other nations. In this paper, we tested the assumption that private schools offer better quality education than public schools. We examined differences in student achievement on the National Assessment Programme: Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) between public, independent, and catholic schools. Cross-sectional regressions using large samples of students (n = 1583–1810 ) at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 showed few sector differences in NAPLAN scores in any domain. No differences were evident *after controlling for socioeconomic status and prior NAPLAN achievement*. 

Using longitudinal modelling, we also found no sector differences in the rate of growth for reading and numeracy between Year 3 and Year 9. Results indicate that already higher achieving students are more likely to attend private schools, but private school attendance does not alter academic trajectories, thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes.

Removing the influence of prior NAPLAN scores should not have been done.  The results are what they are and removing prior NAPLAN scores is irrelevant and distorting.   Prior NAPLAN scores are NOT an influence on current score.  They are just a correlate of it.  Removing prior scores is a powerful way to remove differences so it is no wonder that no differences were found

Soioeonomic status, on the other hand IS a cause  of achievement and removing its influence is therefore informative. 

It looks like the equalitarian ideology of the researchers has triumphed over reality

A major study of NAPLAN results over time found only slight differences in scores between the three school sectors, and these differences disappeared once a student’s family background was considered.

An analysis of students’ improvement between years 3 and 9 also found no variation between the private and public sector, “thus undermining conceptions of private schools adding value to student outcomes”, the researchers found.

The research team, led by Sally Larsen from the University of New England, looked at the NAPLAN results of more than 1500 students who were involved in the national testing program in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

They found no difference in average achievement between the three school sectors in primary school, except that year 5 students in public schools performed slightly better in numeracy than those in Catholic schools.

Year 7 and 9 students at independent schools were slightly ahead, but their “apparent advantage … disappeared after including SES [socio-educational status],” said the report, published in the journal The Australian Educational Researcher on Tuesday.

“Results such as these highlight that school sector is not a strong predictor of basic skills achievement, and suggest that it is the social background and academic ability of children who attend private schools which support the appearance of better quality schooling.”

Dr Larsen said the researchers wanted to explore whether private schools improved student outcomes, given NAPLAN is billed as a way to evaluate the extent to which schools contribute to students’ literacy and numeracy skills.

A student’s background - particularly their parents’ education levels - is a strong predictor of their academic achievement. However, many parents do not take this into account when they look at the strong academic results from high-fee private schools.

The study’s findings can reassure parents that “it’s OK if you can’t afford private schooling”, Dr Larsen said.

“The largest predictor of academic achievement in NAPLAN is previous achievement in NAPLAN. If we accept NAPLAN does assess something about the basic achievement of students, then the school sector is not going to make a large amount of difference.”

The study’s results echo those from earlier research.

A 2018 analysis from the Grattan Institute, a think tank, found attending a public or private school had little impact on how fast a student progressed in NAPLAN.

The results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test sat by students across the OECD, found there was no difference in the reading or science achievement between the school sectors once results were adjusted for socioeconomic background.

In maths, government schools slightly outperformed Catholic schools for the first time.

Peter Goss, who did the Grattan analysis, said Dr Larsen’s study used a different approach but came to the same basic conclusion.

“After taking account of socio-economic factors, Australia’s three school sectors show no meaningful difference in the rate of student learning progress in NAPLAN reading and numeracy,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean that all schools are equal. Far from it - after accounting for SES, the best schools in each sector help their students make much faster progress in reading and numeracy than average.

“If we want to improve education outcomes at scale, we have to get much better at identifying what those schools are doing. Harnessing this variation is the key.”


Prime Age Mortality up 40 Percent, Majority of Deaths Not From COVID-19

The obvious but unstated  point arising from the figures  below is that many of the extra deaths would have been related  not to COVID but to the government response to it.  A big problem would seem to be (for instance) that many people bombed themselves out with drugs to enable them to cope with isolation etc. Ill-advised government policies were a major cause of deaths

Mortality among young-to-middle-age Americans went through the roof last year. The majority of the increase didn’t involve COVID-19, according to official death certificate data.

Deaths among people aged 18 to 49 increased more than 40 percent in the 12 months ending October 2021 compared to the same period in 2018–2019, before the pandemic, based on death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That’s more than 90,000 additional deaths in this age group, of which less than 43 percent involved COVID.

The federal agency doesn’t yet have full 2021 numbers, as death certificate data usually trickle in with an 8-week lag or more.

The mortality increase was most notable for the 30–39 age group, where deaths skyrocketed by nearly 45 percent, with only a third involving COVID.

CDC data on the exact causes of those excess deaths aren’t yet available for 2021, aside from those involving COVID, pneumonia, and influenza. There were close to 6,000 excess pneumonia deaths that didn’t involve COVID-19 in the 30–39 age group in the 12 months ending October 2021. Influenza was only involved in 50 deaths in this age group, down from 550 in the same period pre-pandemic. The flu death count didn’t exclude those that also involved COVID or pneumonia, the CDC noted.

A chunk of the mortality spike could be likely explained by drug overdoses, which increased from about 72,000 in 2019 to more than 100,000 in the 12 months ending May 2021, the CDC estimated. About two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids including fentanyl that are often smuggled to the United States from China through Mexico. Overdoses involving methamphetamine or other psychostimulants also significantly increased, from fewer than 17,000 in 2019 to more than 28,000 in the 12 months ending May 2021.

For older age groups, mortality increased too. For those 50–84, it went up more than 27 percent, making for a total of more than 470,000 excess deaths. Almost four out of five of the excess deaths reportedly involved COVID.

For those 85 or older, mortality increased about 12 percent with more than 100,000 excess deaths. Given the more than 130,000 COVID-related deaths in this group, the data indicates that these people were less likely to die of a non-COVID-related cause from November 2020 to October 2021 than during the same months of 2018–2019.

Comparing 2020 to 2019, mortality increased some 24 percent for those 18–49, with less than a third of those excess deaths involving COVID. For those 50–84, it increased less than 20 percent, with over 70 percent of that involving COVID. For those even older, mortality jumped about 16 percent, with nearly 90 percent of that involving COVID.

For those under 18, mortality decreased about 0.4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. In the 12 months ending October 2021, it decreased some 3.3 percent compared to the same period in 2018–2019.


My pictorial home page

I have just put up the 2021 edition. See here (https://accessjonjayray.blogspot.com)

There are also backups of all my annual picture pages here

Norman Mailer book cancelled after "White Negro" essay row.

"The White Negro" attributed various anarchic  characteristics to blacks.  It was meant as praise. I am no fan of Mailer but I think he had a point

A publisher is said to have cancelled plans to release a collection of political essays by the American writer Norman Mailer after complaints from a junior member of staff about the title of his 1957 work The White Negro.

Penguin Random House is understood to have informed the Mailer family that it no longer had plans to publish the collection to celebrate the centenary of his birth next year.

Mailer was one of the defining voices of American 20th-century literature but courted controversy throughout his career and stabbed one of his six wives in the leg with a penknife during a drunken row.

Best-selling author Michael Wolff said Mailer’s oldest son had confirmed that Penguin Random House had told him of the cancelled plans.

Wolff wrote in The Ankler newsletter: “With slow-mo hammer-dropping predictability, Norman Mailer’s long-time publisher has recently informed the Mailer family that it has cancelled plans to publish a collection of his political writings to mark the centennial of his birth in 2023 . . .

The back-door apologies at Random House include as the proximate cause – you hardly have to look hard in Mailer’s work to find offences against contemporary doctrine and respectability – a junior staffer’s objection to the title of Mailer’s 1957 essay, The White Negro.”

The infamous 9000-word essay explored Mailer’s philosophy on “hipsterism” and declared the murder of a white shop owner by two black teenagers was an example of “daring the unknown”.

James Baldwin, the influential black writer, criticised the work and accused Mailer of employing racial stereotypes.

Mailer died aged 84 in 2007.


Queensland weather: Heatwave conditions as some towns reach 44C

This is a bit sensationalist.  The bulk of the Queensland population is in the S.E. -- where I live.  I watch my thermometer a lot and at no stage did it rise above 30C, a normal summer temperature

Temperatures in Queensland Outback towns are climbing toward the mid-40s and one town ‘feels like' nearly 50C with some places “on track” to break January records as a heatwave continues to develop across the state.

Longreach in Queensland’s north-west has already hit 43.6C after climbing above 40C by 10.20am, as the Bureau of Meteorology warns severe to extreme heatwave conditions have developed across central and northern Queensland.

Winton has climbed to 44.6C and Blackall is on 41.8C. Closer to the coast it is 39.1C in Innisfail.

Meanwhile, Lochington near Emerald had a scorching ‘feels like’ temperature of 49.8C at 2pm.

BOM meteorologist Helen Reid said the heatwave was “assisted” by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth as record-breaking temperatures “picked up across quite a few locations”.

Ms Reid said the record heat could stretch across western Queensland as well as coastal regions.

“Over the last few days there have been big numbers recorded across western parts of the state such as Mount Isa and Longreach – an average of 44C,” she said.

“But what is noteworthy is by the time you get to the central coast, St Lawrence recorded 42.2C yesterday which is quite likely to be a record for the month.”

Mackay which is a bit further south picked up nearly 37C while Samuel Hill “which is normally known for its rainfall” recorded 37.9C.


Clarifying the meaning of "Right-wing"

It does not always imply racial hostility

My son and I recently had a discussion about being "Right-wing". We agreed that I am. But in what sense?

I mentioned that Syngman Rhee was in his day notably called "so far Right he was almost out of sight". He was a South Korean politician who served as the first President of South Korea from 1948 to 1960. But there were no racial issues in his term in office so how was he Rightist?


Although they themselves -- from Karl Marx on -- are often antisemitic, Leftists today use the terms "Rightist", Right-wing", racist", white supremacist" for anyone they disagree with who has any group-denominated views. To the Left you can be a racist even if you express no views about any race. Opponents of vaccination mandates are, for instance, sometimes called racists even by mainstream voices of Leftism. See for instance here

So if Rightist implies racism, I am very clearly a Tory rather than a Rightist, as the term "Rightist" is commonly understood. By Tory I mean traditional conservatism as seen in the British Conservative party prior to WWII and as seen in the more traditional stream in the current U.S. Republican party. In line with that, I think the individual is much more important than any group that he/she belongs to. But, insofar as generalizations have some value, I think highly of both the Chinese and the Jews. And I have a very low opinion of Muslims and blacks.

That latter opinion will produce immediate howls of rage from Leftists, but, in their usual way, that is bereft of context. Am I a racist if I approve of some minorities and disapprove of other minorities? The Left in their simplistic way do not even consider that matter. To them it is just another opportunity for abuse and attack. They act as if all thoughts about race are fundamentally evil. Though if you speak well of one of their favoured minorities that is fine, of course

I would say that I am only a racist insofar as I think that group identity can sometimes make a difference.  I don't think that the astronomical rate of violent crime among blacks is coincidence, for instance. It does NOT mean that I approve of bad treatment of someone solely on the basis of their race. I actually agree with the statement in the United Nations charter that says each case should be judged on its individual merits.  The conservative whom I have quoted most in my writings is in fact a black man -- Thomas Sowell

And that non-hostile view is a Tory position, not a specifically Rightist one.  There are indeed Rightists who wish to persecute all members of some race, usually Jews, but I am not one of them.  

So let me allude to some famous Tories and their opinion of Jews.  In the 19th century, the British Conservative party (Tories) made a proud Jew their Prime minister -- Benjamin Disraeli.  

And the British Prime Minister  who declared war on Hitler -- Neville Chamberlain -- had some antisemitic views.  So conservatives can have some views about a particular group -- in this case Jews -- without wishing them ill.  You can even promote their cause -- as the Conservative Party did in the 19th century and as Neville Chamberlain did in the 20th.


And the greatest Tory of all, Winston Churchill, voiced some very negative views of Muslims but pitied them rather than being hostile to them. See here

So my position on racial questions is in fact a Tory or conservative one, not a Rightist one.  Leftists will of course be uninterested in that distinction.  It does not give them enough opportunity for abuse

The great irony of course is that the old Soviet view of Hitler as a Rightist  is now generally accepted.  He was indeed to the Right of the Soviets in that he allowed more individual liberty than they did but that is not saying much. The truth of the matter is that Hitler called himself a socialist and had a broad range of socialist policies -- including comprehensive  party  control of industry.  His deeds have lasting relevance but they are relevant to Leftism, not conservatism. He is another example of the generalization that hostile racial obsessions are mostly Leftist, not conservative. 

So the  grossly inaccurate view  of Hitler as "Rightist" has thoroughly muddied the waters.  People understand the meaning of the term "Rightist" to mean conservatism plus racial ideas.  But the  misattribution of Hitler causes people assume that all racial ideas must be hostile, including racial views  among conservatives.  

As we have seen, however, this is wrong.  People with conservative views may see racial differences as significant without being at all hostile to the races they take an interest in. They may even favour and think well of some races.

I see myself as wishing no-one ill on account of their race and as having many conservative views.  I in fact usually describe myself as a libertarian conservative.  

Another huge irony, however, is that  libertarian ideas are often described by the Left as "Right wing", when they are not.  They are thoroughly opposed to both traditional conservatism and racial awareness.  Conservatives who are sympathetic to libertarian ideas represent, in fact, a major stream in modern-day conservative thought. 

The most loved and most influential conservative leader of the 20th century knew what conservatism was about, of course.  He said: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism..... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom"   And if Ronald Reagan did not know what  conservatism was  all about, who would?

Reagan also conveyed the patriotic, pro-Christian message that Trump later used to such strong effect. I align with both those orientations. I am pleased to be born a 5th generation Australian and even more pleased to be a product of the Anglosphere. And I was a strong Christian fundamentalist in my teens. Subsequent to that, however, I have been a thoughgoing atheist (in the Carnap manner) for the whole of my adult life. Nonetheless I still have the warmest memories of my Christian days and still try to live by Christian principles. And I find that whenever I do the Christian thing I get a reward, often very rapidly. And when I allow the Devil to dominate I stumble. And there is a Devil. Whether you conceive of him as a man in a red suit with horns and a tail, or as a fallen angel or the destructive side of human nature, there is clearly much evil in human life. Freud called it "Thanatos", the death instinct.

And I still go to church on some (rare) occasions

So I do have many traditional conservative views -- also including the view that the justice system often goes too easy on criminals, that homosexual "marriage" is a travesty and that traditional sex roles are largely inborn. I even practice "ladies first" and open car doors for women. And such attitudes in combination with some libertarian views make me seen as extremely Right-wing. I readily accept that ascription as long as it is understood that my thinking about other races is of a conservative or Tory kind -- i.e. not hostile towards any individual solely on account of his/her race.

For a more detailed accountof my views, see here

Shale oil is unprofitable

It's expensive to produce so production can flourish only while producers of conventional oil keep crude oil prices up. Recent drops in crude prices have driven many shale producers out of business so a revival of crude prices may not lead to a revival of shale production any time soon. So its once again producers of conventional oil who are dictating prices at the pump

Donald Trump had to be the most fossil-fuel friendly U.S. president of recent times. When he became president, Trump quickly reversed Obama’s energy policies; the Keystone Pipeline was approved, imports from the Middle East were cut, and the price at the pump came down. It was claimed that America had become “energy independent” and was again a “net exporter” of oil. In 2018, the U.S. oil business even surpassed the record petroleum production peak set in 1970.

Inasmuch as American petroleum production had been sliding downward since 1970, how did this come about? It came about because of “unconventional oil,” e.g. shale oil. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the installation of a new president hostile to fossil fuel, shale oil had hit a snag: financiers were losing patience with shale’s profit performance.

In November of 2019, two months before the outbreak of the pandemic in America, NPR ran “As Oil Prices Drop And Money Dries Up, Is The U.S. Shale Boom Going Bust?

Today, shale accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. oil production and nearly all of the industry's growth, but many of the companies that made that growth possible are now struggling to stay afloat. […]

Without access to new cash, many producers are pulling back on exploration. The number of rigs drilling for new oil is at its lowest point in two years.

That's bad news for people like Ron Fountain, who works on a drilling rig in the Bakken shale of North Dakota. He thinks back to a few years ago, when the price of oil was more than $100 a barrel and companies were drilling with abandon.

In March of 2020, just after the coronavirus began feasting on elderly Americans, “Why This Oil Crash Is Different” ran at both the Center on Global Energy Policy and at Foreign Policy:

With the economic slowdown from the coronavirus outbreak projected to cause the first annual drop in oil demand since the global financial crisis in 2009, oil prices had already plunged 20 percent in the lead up to last week’s meeting of the so-called OPEC+ group, which includes both OPEC members and several other oil-producing countries, most notably Russia.

Russia had made clear its ambivalence about cutting supply, given concerns about whether cuts would be effective in supporting prices, and Russia’s reluctance to throw a lifeline to U.S. shale oil producers struggling under low prices and high debt. […]

Even before this weekend, shale oil production growth was already projected to slow sharply due to lower oil prices and much tighter capital constraints as investors grew skeptical of the sector due to its poor profitability.

In April of 2020, with bodies piling up in makeshift morgues, The Guardian ran “US shale industry expected to shrink sharply as oil price falls”:

US shale was expected to grow by 650,000 barrels a day this year before the coronavirus outbreak wiped out forecasts for global oil demand, triggering one of the steepest oil price declines on record. It is now forecast to shrink by 1.5m barrels a day compared to last year and that may accelerate even further.

Also in April of 2020, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ran “How the Saudi Decision to Launch a Price War Is Reshaping the Global Oil Market”:

Saudi Arabia’s decision [to expand oil production] was a response to the dislocation in the global oil market caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) against the backdrop of an already weak global economy. […]

The resulting drop in the oil price from about $35 to near $20 has further exacerbated the financial stress experienced by U.S. oil producers in Texas, Oklahoma and other oil-producing regions, which were already reeling from sharp reductions in fuel demand caused by the coronavirus.

In July of 2020, as the pandemic was raging throughout America, the Washington Post re-ran Bloomberg’s “Shale’s Bust Shows Basis of Boom: Debt, Debt and Debt”:

What was very visible this spring was the steep drop in the fall of oil, driven first by OPEC actions to increase supply and then by pandemic lockdowns that decimated demand. But a crackdown by creditors alarmed at the industry’s debt levels had begun last year. […]

The pandemic and OPEC’s moves, which were driven by Russia and Saudi Arabia’s market-share war, pushed prices down steeply in March, with some oil futures prices falling into negative territory for the first time. Even when oil is at $35 a barrel, almost a third of U.S. shale producers are technically insolvent, according to a recent study by Deloitte LLP.

In August of 2020, energy investor Kirk Coburn ran “The US Shale Industry: From Boom to Bust”:

For years, the US shale industry was on a boom fueled by junk bonds from Wall Street. The industry was waning in 2019. In 2020, shale oil giants faced the perfect storm -- COVID-19, failed OPEC+ talks, and relentless oil price wars came to a head. Then the US shale industry went from just barely hanging on […] to a definitive bust.

The bust has been a long time coming; COVID-19 just pushed the industry over the edge.

In October of 2020, Forbes ran “As Oil Bankruptcies Surge, Vulture Investors Start Their Long Feast”:

More Chapter 11s are coming, […] it will mean that management teams are finally accepting of the new reality of oil prices stuck at $40/bbl amid a continuing supply glut and pandemic-weakened demand. The world has changed, the debt-fueled fracking binge has come to an end. Many zombie oil companies cannot survive in their current form.

Alarming stuff, I’d say. But pandemic or no, shale oil is a more costly proposition than regular old conventional oil. Because of the complexity of its extraction (fracking), shale oil has a higher break-even price than does conventional oil. It’s been alleged that the Saudis and others have recently been able to pump (conventional) oil out of the ground for $10 a barrel.

In April of 2021, at Oilprice.com, we read that “Oil at $60 is undoubtedly a comfortable price level for U.S. shale.” And since oil has been trading above that price recently, maybe the U.S. oil business can round up new investors and creditors willing to take a chance that shale oil can turn a profit.

But for U.S. oil to be profitable, the federal government needs to get a whole helluva lot smarter. Biden should start by replacing his Energy Secretary with someone who knows something about energy. Jennifer Granholm is unfit for that job. America needs an Energy Secretary with a deep understanding of both fossil fuel and its alternatives. Biden should consider someone like chemical engineer Robert Rapier (a recent article of his).