Since I am now in my 70th year and nobody else has come forward to make regular contributions to this blog, I am putting it into hibernation. Today's postings are the last that I expect to make here.

I gather however that most readers are Australians or have some interest in Australia so you may find that my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog is a pretty good substitute for this one.

For people with other interests I list below my other blogs which I update 6 days a week:


Guidelines say daycare centres must remove unvaccinated children

Where taxpayer-subsidized childcare facilities are concerned, I would make a full vaccination record a condition of entry. Fanatical anti-vaccination parents can set up their own centres and infect one-another

CHILDCARE centres are facing pressure to suspend unvaccinated children, sending them home during disease outbreaks.

Peak body Childcare Queensland has urged providers ignoring National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines, which also recommend centres keep a record of unvaccinated children, to follow the rules.

The Sunday Mail yesterday revealed that parents refusing to vaccinate their children were still being paid thousands of dollars in immunisation incentives.

A spokeswoman for federal Childcare Minister Kate Ellis said the guidelines were issued to help centres control infectious diseases.

"It would be of great concern if providers were not taking all reasonable steps to ensure they maintain healthy environments at all times," she said.

Childcare Queensland chief executive officer Gwynn Bridge said centres were required to remind families to keep immunisation up to date.

"Maintaining a current list of children who are not immunised is vital as these children must be excluded if there is any outbreak of a disease (that can be immunised against)," Ms Bridge said.


1,000 innocent victims of Big Brother Britain: Families were spied on wrongly because of blunders by officials

Almost 1,000 entirely innocent people were wrongly spied upon using anti-terror powers last year following blunders by officials, it emerged last night.

In two shocking cases, two members of the public were arrested and accused of being serious criminals.

Details of phone calls and texts by genuine crime suspects had wrongly been attributed to the pair in a terrible mix-up between police and an internet company.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, said the mistakes had ‘significant consequence’ for the victims.

The internet provider involved was slow to report the errors and initially gave unsatisfactory explanations as to how they occurred or what was being done to stop it happening again, Sir Paul said.

He also revealed details of a council going beyond its legal powers to use snooping laws to spy on a family suspected of cheating school catchment area rules.

The council obtained details of phone calls and texts to seek to establish if the family lived where it said, the first known case of a town hall spying on a person’s phone records over school catchment areas.

The unnamed council was not acting within the rules, which say officials must be seeking evidence for use in a criminal prosecution. Instead, the council wanted only to withdraw a school place offered to a child in the family.

The hundreds of errors made by police, town halls and the security services will raise fresh doubts about the Government’s plan for a new ‘snoopers’ charter’.

Currently, public bodies have access to details of when and where phone calls, texts and emails were sent and, in some cases, to whom. But under proposals before Parliament, this will be extended to a person’s every internet click and the details of phone calls made on Skype.

The details will be supplied by internet firms – which were responsible for around a fifth of the mistakes made last year. Most commonly, the wrong digit was attached to a phone number or internet address by police, spies or the internet firm. This leads to data on the wrong person being investigated. It is destroyed once the mistake has been identified.

Last year, there were 895 cases where communications data – details of texts, emails and phone calls – was obtained in error.

There were also 42 errors by the security services – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – relating to undercover operations, and 42 blunders by police and other law enforcement bodies asking for warrants to intercept the details of phone calls or other data.

David Cameron said he was concerned by the errors made by organisations using the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

It was passed by Labour ostensibly to fight terrorism, but was then extended to cover a string of other public bodies, including town halls. Councils have been accused of using the powers to spy on those accused of putting their bins out on the wrong day or allowing their dog to foul the pavement.

The number of applications to obtain communications data was 494,078, which was down by 11 per cent but is still 1,350 every day.

Of these, 2,130 were made by town halls. This was up from 1,809 in 2010, despite repeated promises from ministers to curtail the use of surveillance by the so-called ‘Town Hall Stasi’.

The Home Office said: ‘Surveillance powers are a vital tool for police and security services, enabling them to catch criminals, prevent terrorist attacks and protect children. But they must be used proportionately – that is why we have blocked local authorities for accessing data for trivial purposes.’

Campaign group Liberty said the scale of surveillance revealed was ‘alarming’ and called on the Government to ‘think again about turning us into a nation of suspects rather than citizens’.


Some U.S. Leftist "own goals" about free speech

I presume that all readers are familiar enough with football to understand what an "own goal" is

When during the run-up to the 2008 election Leftists tried to prevent distibution of a video critical of Hillary Clinton, the case eventually made it to SCOTUS. A central issue was that the video was made with assistance from corporate funding and the Left wanted that delegitimized.

In what has become known as the "Citizens United" case, however, SCOTUS ruled that a group of people (which is what a company is) have the same free speech rights as individuals, so corporate funding of political campaigns is OK.

Leftists have been fuming about that verdict ever since. Huge union contributions to political campaigns are OK but corporate donations are not, apparently. But it was the Left that forced the issue by their censorship campaign. Own goal!

The latest fumarole that has appeared is in the NYT (where else?), where a Harvard professor, BENJAMIN I. SACHS, points out that pension funds often buy corporate stock and that pension money may therefore be supporting political campaigns that the pension contributor disagrees with. With rather obscure logic, he argues that pensions therefore violate free speech. I suppose he is arguing that they are some form of forced speech.

There are so many things wrong with his argument with that it is difficult to know where to start (e.g. political contributions would normally be made out of revenue, not out of capital) but let me point out the argument that the good professor is careful NOT to make. He notes that unions have some restrictions on political uses of their members' dues but is careful not to argue that pension funds should be barred from investing in corporations.

Why? Because pension funds buy corporate stock only because they see it as a good investment and if they were barred from such investments they might have to resort to buying things like California government bonds instead. Good luck with that!

Besides, coporations are big contributors to Green/Left campaigns anyway, so it could be the "free speech rights" of conservative union members that are being denied. So if the good professor's wishes were translated into some form of action (e.g. a bar on all corporate political donations), it could well be the Green/Left that loses most, not conservatives. Own goal.

An "electric" car that actually runs on a toxic form of alcohol (methanol)

Green, they may be. But electric cars have struggled to overcome one of the main shortfalls that put buyers off - an inferior range to their petrol-powered rivals. That may be about to change after a new electric car was unveiled that promises to go 500 miles (800km) before the battery needs recharging.

The Modular Energy Carrier concept (MECc), created by three Danish companies, uses bio-methanol to bolster its battery life.

Mogens Lokke, CEO of ECOmove, designers of the innovative 'QBEAK' car said bio-methanol was far better than diesel or gasoline because it produces substantially less carbon dioxide.

'In combination with the way we built the car, which is really lightweight (425 kilograms), we can get the 500-mile range,' he told CNN.

A bio-methanol/ water is converted by the fuel cell to create electricity, while waste heat from the process powers the car's heating and cooling system.

It also benefits from a innovative chassis design which has really pushed the technology forward. 'Instead of putting in a fixed battery, we have built in (six) modules that can be fitted inside the chassis. We can use battery power in the modules or any other kind of energy source,' Lokke said.

The award-winning QBEAK also uses patented in-wheel electric motors to deliver a top speed of 75mph (120kph).

According to Mads Friis Jensen from Serenergy, the designers of the fuel cell, bio-methanol is a cheap and abundant fuel with a short carbon chain. Compared to gasoline, bio-methanol production can cut CO2 emissions by more than 70 per cent

The U.S. Department for Energy (DOE) says direct methanol fuel cells are not hampered by the storage problems that affect other green fuels like hydrogen because as a liquid it's easier to transport and supply through current infrastructure.


The relentless drumbeat of Warmist false prophecy continues

The article below is from December 12, 2007 and was headed "Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?". It was by the inimitable Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. The Arctic sea ice has of course since bounced back

An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer-a sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One scientist even speculated that summer sea ice could be gone in five years.

Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years ago, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by the Associated Press (AP).

"The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colorado.

Just last year two top scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so rapidly that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040.

This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: "At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions."

So scientists in recent days have been asking themselves these questions: Was the record melt seen all over the Arctic in 2007 a blip amid relentless and steady warming? Or has everything sped up to a new climate cycle that goes beyond the worst case scenarios presented by computer models?

"The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming," said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal. "Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines."


Australia too: The relentless Warmist drone of false prophecy continues
January 4, 2008

This drought may never break

IT MAY be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation's most senior weather experts warned yesterday.

"Perhaps we should call it our new climate," said the Bureau of Meteorology's head of climate analysis, David Jones.

Sydney's nights were its warmest since records were first kept 149 years ago.

"There is absolutely no debate that Australia is warming," said Dr Jones. "It is very easy to see . it is happening before our eyes."

Four and a half years later - drought in Australia is at historic lows (we are having unseasonable winter rain outside my window right now -- JR), and Sydney just had their coldest summer on record.
February 15, 2012

Sydney's record cool weather to continue

WESTERN Sydney is experiencing its coldest summer on record thanks to cloud and rain associated with the La Nina weather cycle.

Tom Saunders, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel, said Penrith had experienced average maximum temperatures of 26.2C, while Parramatta recorded an average of 24.6C.

Blacktown hit an average 25C.

Meanwhile, Sydney was only able to record an average 24.6C, putting it on track for the coldest summer since 1953.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Obama Ends Welfare Reform As We Know It

This afternoon, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive undermining the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that have been the foundation of that law - one of the most successful domestic policy reforms in the 20th century.

Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The underlying concept of welfare reform was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid.

The welfare reform law was very successful. In the four decades prior to welfare reform, the welfare caseload never experienced a significant decline. But, in the four years after welfare reform, the caseload dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty among blacks and single mothers plummeted to historic lows. What was the catalyst for these improvements? Rigorous new federal work requirements contained in TANF.

Contrary to some perceptions, the formula that made welfare reform a success was not giving state governments more flexibility in operating federally funded welfare programs. The active ingredient that made the difference was requiring state governments to implement those rigorous new federal work standards.

Today the Obama administration issued a dramatic new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).

Section 1115 allows HHS to "waive compliance" with specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: All provisions of law that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself.

The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 (entitled, appropriately, "mandatory work requirements"). Critically, this section, as well as most other TANF requirements, is deliberately not listed in section 1115; its provisions cannot be waived. Obviously, if the Congress had wanted HHS to be able to waive the TANF work requirements laid out in section 407, it would have listed that section as waivable under section 1115. It did not do that.

In the past, state bureaucrats have attempted to define activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and bed rest as "work." Welfare reform instituted work standards to block these dodges. Now that the Obama administration has abolished those standards, we can expect "work" in the TANF program to mean anything but work.

Obama's new welfare decree guts sound anti-poverty policy. The administration tramples on the actual legislation passed by Congress and seeks to impose its own policy choices - a pattern that has become all too common in this administration.

The result is the end of welfare reform as we know it.


Welcome to the Censorship Olympics

Under legislation by Tony Blair's Labour party

It beggars belief, but it can now be a criminal offence to use words like Games, Gold and Summer - or even a picture of the London skyline. The reason? An outrageous abuse of our laws to protect the profits of Olympic sponsors...

Britain is at the start of an experiment in the criminalisation of everyday speech; a locking down of the English language, with punishments for those who use it too freely.

In passing the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act of 2006, the Blair Government granted the organisers remarkable concessions. Most glaringly, the Act is bespoke legislation that breaks the principle of equality before the law.

For it has given privileges to the Olympics and its sponsors and to them alone. The Games' organisers can protect the Olympic trademarks, as any other organisation can protect theirs, but they can also control the use of words any business or shop, for example, may or may not associate with the Games. Along with bans on the use of the Olympic name, rings, motto and logo, the organisers have appropriated ordinary language.

The List A words include: 'Games', '2012' and 'twenty twelve'
At the organisers' behest, the Government told the courts they may wish to take particular account of anyone using two or more words from what it calls List A: `Games'; `Two Thousand and Twelve'; `2012'; and `twenty twelve'.

And the judges must also come down hard on anyone, even a charity, who takes a word from List A and joins it with one or more words from what is List B: `Gold'; `Silver'; `Bronze'; `London'; `medals'; `sponsors'; and `summer'. Common nouns are now private property.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games does not stop there. To cover all eventualities, it warns everyone in Britain against creating an `unlawful association' with the Games, which can be done without even mentioning the forbidden words!

Even the London skyline, believe it or not, is out of bounds if it is combined with, for example, an image of a runner carrying a torch.

And the punishments will not just be damages in the civil courts. The state has granted the police powers under the criminal law to enter `land or premises' and to `remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article'.


I have put more of this story up on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH

News Ltd CEO Kim Williams vows to fight media censorship in the High Court if necessary

NEWS Limited chief executive Kim Williams has upped the stakes in the media regulation debate, declaring he is willing to go to the High Court to protect free speech.

Speaking at an SA Press Club lunch in Adelaide yesterday, Mr Williams outlined a case against both "Finkelstein" and "Convergence" reviews now before Federal Government.

He said the "preposterous and foolish" Finkelstein recommendations should be treated with caution.

The Finkelstein recommendation for press standards to be overseen by a super regulator was "prima facie bad" because journalists could be fined or jailed with no right of appeal.

When asked how far he was willing to take the company in the fight against the proposed regulations should they be implemented, Mr Williams was unwavering in his response.

"We'll take the matter as far we can - I'll take it to the High Court. If people intend to have this stoush ... let's have it."

Promoting a "consumer first" model of reporting, Mr Williams said it should be the public, not the government, who set the news agenda. "Consumers anoint the winners, not governments or regulators," Mr Williams said.

"Australians don't need dangerous new laws to give them greater media diversity; they just need a mobile device, or a television or a laptop.

"We should be celebrating this tidal wave of change and freedom of information rather than running to hide behind new rules to try to bring it under some tired and inevitably futile form of old-fashioned, unthinking control."

Mr Williams also endorsed the company's print products and said despite the changing media world, News Limited was well positioned to move forward.

Mr Williams also spoke about recent announcements at News Limited, publisher of The Advertiser, to streamline the company's operations into a "one city, one newsroom" model.

"News Limited has announced a plan to put the customer front and centre of everything we do - to invest and innovate and streamline our organisational structure so that it is fit for purpose for today's world."


Gun Control "Laws" The U.N. SHOULD Be Considering

Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms. Ratified 12/15/1791.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

With the up-coming madness of the 27 July UN "arms treaty" assault on AMERICANS' Second Amendment Rights, here are a few common sense rules every gun-owner should consider, while you're burning up the Capitol Hill switchboards with calls to your CongressCritters - PARTICULARLY our worthless Senators! 

THESE are the "laws" the useless pukes at the U.N. SHOULD be looking at:

1. Guns have only two enemies rust and politicians.
2. It’s always better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
3. Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you.
4. Never let someone or something that threatens you get inside arms length.
5. Never say, “I’ve got a gun.” If you need to use deadly force, the first sound they hear should be the safety clicking off.
6. The average response time of a 911 call is 23 minutes; the response time of a .357 is 1400 feet per second.
7. The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win – cheat if necessary.
8. Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets . . . You may get killed with your own gun, but he’ll have to beat you to death with it, because it’ll be empty.
9. If you’re in a gunfight:
- If you’re not shooting, you should be loading.
-  If you’re not loading, you should be moving.
-  If you’re not moving, you’re dead.
10. In a life and death situation, do something . . . It may be wrong, but do something!
11. If you carry a gun, people call you paranoid. Nonsense! If you have a gun, what do you have to be paranoid about?
12. You can say ‘stop’ or ‘alto’ or any other word, but a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much a universal language.
13. You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family.

{hat-tip to Doug Giles at}

Should TV broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings be fair and accurate?

A rather unfunny Leftist satirist argues below that he should NOT have to be fair and accurate

In Australia the regulations for parliamentary broadcasts state: broadcasts may only be used for the purposes of fair and accurate reports of proceedings, and must not be used for satire or ridicule.

The reason for this law is not entirely clear. The provisions were included in the very first trial of parliamentary broadcasting for television in 1991. At the end of the trial period, the Parliament held a review of the rules. Paul Bongiorno, from Channel 10, questioned the rule, noting: "There are such things in newspapers as cartoons which daily hold up to ridicule our leaders, our politicians and our church leaders at times. They make them look very silly and we all laugh at them. On television, if you are going to do, for example, a political satire or cartoon, naturally enough you are going to hold up the politicians or our leaders to some sort of ridicule."

The response of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Televising was far from comprehensive: "The committee views the medium of television as being a much more powerful medium than any other and therefore discounts any suggestion that televising of proceedings should be as unrestricted as publishing in newspapers and magazines."

The argument is intriguing - we don't mind being ridiculed as long as it isn't by a powerful medium. The most common justification for the rule given to me has been "to protect the dignity of the house". If you have watched question time recently, where cat calls and guffawing pass the time before the daily call for the suspension of standing orders, such dignity may have evaded you.

Is this law actually a restriction on freedom of speech? True free speech does not restrict the tone or type of speech. It does not say, you may discuss your government, but only in polite tones. It does not say, you may criticise your politicians, but only in a well-researched op-ed piece.

As the US Supreme Court has accepted, the criticism of public figures "inevitably, will not always be reasoned or moderate"; public figures will be subject to "vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks".

Much more HERE

Free speech for lies?

So the U.S. Supreme Court seems to have decided when it struck down the Stolen Valor Act

The act reads (in part), “Whoever falsely represents himself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States … shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” An enhanced penalty is provided for falsely representing oneself as a Medal of Honor winner, which is what Xavier Alvarez did when he introduced himself as a new member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board in Claremont, Calif.

Convicted under the statute, Alvarez appealed, arguing that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was prosecuted for knowingly making a false statement. The plurality opinion (written by Justice Anthony Kennedy) agrees, declaring that the category of exceptions to the First Amendment’s general protection of speech does not include false statements. The supporting citation is to New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), in which it is said that because false statements are inevitable in public debate, they must be protected “if there is to be an open and vigorous expression of views.”

Kennedy also points out that in those instances (perjury, fraud, defamation) in which false statements have been criminalized, the statements are part and parcel of a “legally cognizable harm.” In the case of stolen valor, however, there is, Kennedy avers, no such harm; the statute “targets falsity and nothing more” and therefore could be extended to false statements “made to any person, at any time, in any context,” including “personal whispered conversations within a home.”


The verdict is pretty obnoxious but I can see the point of it. The Act should have included a provision that an offence is committed only when someone gains a significant personal advantage from the lie.

Tree-rings indicate climate was WARMER in Roman and Medieval times than it is now - and world has been cooling for 2,000 years

Tree rings are dubious thermometers but the "Hockeystick" is based on them so this looks like a case of the Warmists being hoist with their own petard

And the desperation in the response from Michael "Hockeystick" Mann is amusing. "Mann argues that Esper's tree-ring measurements come from high latitudes and reflect only summer temperatures".

So guess where most of Mann's tree ring data came from? Northern Russia! A high latitude!

How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought. A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today.

German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century. This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells.

These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now. They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.

Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.

‘This figure we calculated may not seem particularly significant, however it is not negligible when compared to global warming, which up to now has been less than 1 deg C.’

In general the scientists found a slow cooling of 0.6C over 2,000 years, which they attributed to changes in the Earth’s orbit which took it further away from the Sun.

The study is published in Nature Climate Change. It is based on measurements stretching back to 138BC.

The finding may force scientists to rethink current theories of the impact of global warming

Professor Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC.

In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling.

Professor Esper said: 'Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods.’

The annual growth rings in trees are the most important witnesses over the past 1,000 to 2,000 years as they indicate how warm and cool past climate conditions were.

Researchers from Germany, Finland, Scotland, and Switzerland examined tree-ring density profiles.

In the cold environment of Finnish Lapland, trees often collapse into one of the numerous lakes, where they remain well preserved for thousands of years.

The density measurements correlate closely with the summer temperatures in this area on the edge of the Nordic taiga; the researchers were thus able to create a temperature reconstruction of unprecedented quality.

The reconstruction provides a high-resolution representation of temperature patterns in the Roman and Medieval Warm periods, but also shows the cold phases that occurred during the Migration Period and the later Little Ice Age.

In addition to the cold and warm phases, the new climate curve also exhibits a phenomenon that was not expected in this form.


Mexican IQ

The article by Fred Reed below gets a lot of things right but gets a simple thing wrong so I thought it might be useful to put it up for both reasons. His comments about the characteristics of Mexican and US culture seem spot-on to me and the differences between the two cultures do play a part in explaining why Mexico is in an apparently permanent mess.

In his coments about IQ, however, Fred seems to forget what an average is. The Mexican IQ average includes the large, semi-literate rural population and that drags the average down. So showing that the Mexican middle class performs better than what that average would lead one to expect proves nothing and is essentially irrelevant

And in any case, smart fraction theory says that it is the IQ of the top 5% that matters, not the average IQ. The most vivid example of that is Israel, which has overall only an average IQ (Due to the large fraction of the population that came from Arab lands). But Israel also has a very bright sub-population of Ashkenazi origin and it is that sub-population that mostly accounts for Israel's frankly brilliant achievements.

What the average IQ of Mexico's top 5% is I have no idea but Fred is right in saying that cultural factors would hold them back even if they were very bright

The higher up the Mexican social hierarchy you go, the whiter people seem to get so Mexico is, like Israel, still a mixture (not a blend) of two broad sub-populations of different racial origins (Spanish and native). So that could well be integral to explaining why the Mexican middle class performs well above what one would expect from the national average. They have a larger Spanish genetic component

The Mexican authorities are of course aware of the demographic differences in their population and appear rather nervous about its potential for social combustion. So they have promulgated the amusing doctrine of "La Raza" -- the pretence that there is such a thing as a Mexican "race". I doubt that it fools many Mexicans, though. Its main use seems to be among Hispanics living in the USA

I belong to a list-serve of exceedingly bright people (I am not one of them) to include Ivy profs, who believe that IQ largely determines human destiny. This is in part I suspect because IQ is something they have, but it is possible that I am being snide in this. They regard as canonical the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, which purports to show a correlation and by extension a causal relationship between mean national IQ and prosperity. They assert that the mean IQ of Mexico, where I live, is about 86, well below the mean of roughly 100 of white Americans. This, they further assert, accounts for the comparative backwardness of Mexico. Does it?

Now, some brush-clearing. Intelligence obviously exists, in the street sense that we all recognize. Some people obviously have more of it than others. There is obviously a genetic element. No biological reason exists to believe that genetically distinct groups cannot vary in intelligence. IQ, within cultures anyway, provides at least a rough measure of intelligence: It is easy to distinguish people with IQs of 180 from those with IQs of 80. So, in principle, Mexicans could be innately stupid. Are they?

I would like to think not, but what I want to think doesn’t seem to determine reality. (I regard this as a major design flaw of the universe.) How could I tell whether Mexicans were dull? It seemed to me that the alleged deficit, almost fifteen points, ought to be obvious. In fact I wondered whether a nation with a mean IQ of 86 could run airlines, hospitals, and telephone and internet companies. Which Mexico does.

While I could not test the entire population, I thought a reasonable approach might be to compare the apparent intelligence of Americans and Mexicans in professions of which I knew something. This I did.

A few days ago, I saw a retinologist in Guadalajara. Ophthalmological specialties are not for the fumble-minded, yet he was as intelligent and competent as any I have seen in the US. He also spoke near-perfect English. I tend to ask questions, which gives doctors a chance not to know the answers, or half know them. Not this guy. He was sharp. He sent me to a local retina clinic for optical-coherence tomography and a fluorescein angiogram. I have had these things done in the US, and saw no difference in the competence of those administering them.

Now, the IQist response, reasonable enough as a question, is to argue that even in a country with a mean IQ of 86 there will be a few who can perform at a high levels. True. This is the argument of The Only Fifty Smart Mexicans. The question is how many hundreds of thousands of the Only Fifty you can have before the numbers become embarrassing. After nine years in Mexico, I have seen a lot of dentists and doctors, using all manner of, for example, ultrasound-Doppler gear, and seen no difference in apparent intelligence.

A small difference would not be detectible by this method. But fifteen points?

Take another field, one that I know well: journalism. I have read lots of Mexican newspapers (they are on the web). They are as well-written as American. The Spanish in editorial columns is syntactically more complex than American journalistic English. Such journalists as Ihave met have been very smart. Television journalism is like the American, except that in talking-head shows there is civility and people don’t talk over each other. (And, overall, the content is less controlled, but this is anaother matter.)

The same happens in daily life. I have no sense that the civilized population is dim-witted. Here things are tricky: A large part of the country has barely risen above peasantry, and seems stupid, as much so as America’s Scotch-Irish louts of the 1800s or inhabitants of Chinese villages today. Among the approximately middle class—more a psychological than an economic designation—people seem as bright as Americans. I see them in banks, travel agencies, pharmacies. And I encounter way too many kids who have learned fair to good English, many in high school. I mean English English, not Frito bandido dialect. With a mean IQ of 86?

An IQist asked me a bit challengingly how many kids I knew who could qualify for Harvard. Two. One is my stepdaughter. The other is a guy whose mother owns a local bar. Natalia is in university, he by choice in some nothing job. (The women in Mexico are regularly more impressive than the men.) Obviously kids whom Natalia chooses as friends are not average, but two Ivy intelligences out of the perhaps ten kids I know squares poorly with the IQist theory.

In saying all of this, I am not suggesting that Mexico has achievement the intellectual development of Finland. While it is generally literate, much of it is barely so. Very large chunks of the population live in ignorance and do not produce retinologists. What I do suggest is that far too many people here do technically and otherwise demanding things for the IQ-86 theory to hold water.

When do exceptions cease to be exceptions? Maintaining modern cars with their linguini wiring and computers is not for the stupid. They do it. Ditto, building highways through mountains. They do it. Ditto, walking internet customers through the internals of modems. The Telmex techs regularly do it. Ditto, pirating software with tight security, such as Adobe, or Windows 7 so that it updates. Young techs do it.

So, the IQists ask reasonably, if Mexicans are not stupid, why is the country backward? Where are the Nobelists in physics, the Intels, the Apollo programs? Why no Bill Gates?

There are several becauses. Because the society is profoundly corrupt, with (it sometimes seems) everything and everybody being for sale. Because of a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, a tendency to be content with enough. Because Mexicans tend to live entirely in the present, instead of having one foot in the future as Americans do. Because of a resentful envy of the smart and ambitious (cf. “acting white”) instead of following their example; this is serious. Because envy and distrust of one another make it hard for them to work together. Because of a lack of interest in study. Because so very many of the young marry at sixteen, have a baby, and do nothing thereafter.

If these were just Fred’s opinions, they would be ignorable. It is also the view of Violeta and Natalia. Should anyone want a truly insightful exposition of why Mexico is as it is, read Mañana Forever, by Carlos Casttañeda, a former foreign minister of Mexico. His view, with which I entirely agree, is that Mexico is mostly a modern country creeping into the First World, but crippled by the culture of a century ago. See above.

Am I (and Castañeda) right about this? IQists tend to dismiss the invocation of culture as an evasion—real men believe in IQ—or to argue that defects of culture are the results of low intelligence. This is highly debatable. Consider the following list of founders of major companies in the information technologies (laragely from memory, so I hope right):

Google (Sergei Bryn, Larry Page), Intel (Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce), Apple (Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak), Microsoft (Bill Gates), Dell Computer (Michael Dell), Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), YouTube (Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim), Netscape (Mark Andreesen), Yahoo (Jerry Yang, David Filo), AMD (long list of guys from Fairchild Semiconductor), Twitter (Jack Dorsey), Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger), (Ron Unz), PayPal (Peter Thiel), Ebay (Pierre Omidyar).

Note that they are overwhelmingly either American or working in America. Why America? Gringos are no smarter than Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans. The countries of all of the foregoing countries run huge high-tech companies, but their college kids don’t think, “Geez, I’m bored. I guess I’ll start Dell Computer, or Facebook, or maybe Microsoft. Beats doing a doob.” Certain thoughts seem embedded in American culture: “Why not?” “Who says I can’t?” “Bet me.” “Let’s wing it and see what happens.” It is not Mexico. Or much of anywhere else.


Califonia high-speed rail: On wrong track

"State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), is probably best known as the author of California's bill to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. After Friday's vote, Simitian may be best known as the Democrat who warned his colleagues not to issue $4.6 billion in bonds for big-ticket high-speed rail. 'Any of us who talks to our folks knows that they're asking the same questions,' Simitian reasoned. 'They're saying, "Really? You made these cuts. We're threatened with more. And you want to build a high-speed train?"' The state Senate, nonetheless, passed the bill with 21 votes."

More here:

[Railways are very old technology now. The "City of Truro", a steam train, exceeded 100 mph in 1904. How come Leftists, of all people, romanticize trains? I guess they just like herding people together]

Hate-filled enemies of "hate"

Hollywood and the American left love diversity, except when it offends their "progressive" value system.

Witness the reaction to actor Brad Pitt's mother, Jane, who publicly opposed President Obama's re-election. Mrs. Pitt's pro-life, anti-gay marriage statement to her local paper last week enflamed the Tolerance Mob. And her mere expression of dissident political views exposed the glittering hypocrisy of the left-wing "No H8" campaign.

In a letter to the editor for Missouri's Springfield News-Leader, Mrs. Pitt responded to another reader who argued that Christians should not support Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith. Arguing for interfaith tolerance, she praised Romney's "high morals" and "business experience." The celebrity mom urged "prayerful consideration" from fellow Christians before voting for Obama -- "a man," she pointed out, "who sat in Jeremiah Wright's church for years, did not hold a public ceremony to mark the National Day of Prayer, and is a liberal who supports the killing of unborn babies and same-sex marriage."

Self-appointed Tinseltown anti-bigotry cops blew their tops. The Hollywood Reporter labeled Mrs. Pitt's letter "anti-gay." Gossip website Global Grind, founded by rap mogul Russell Simmons, called her "homophobic." Perez Hilton, an L.A.-based gossip website operator and hanger-on to the stars who fronts the "No H8" gay-marriage movement in California, pounced on Mrs. Pitt as "mommy dearest."

Hilton angrily scrawled across a photo of Mrs. Pitt with her son: "A vote for Romney is a vote for God." After taking obligatory potshots at Christians, Hilton, who calls himself the "queen of all media," fumed: "Ugh! How can one woman birth such a beautiful boy, but have such unattractive views???"

You want ugly? Hilton knows ugly. He's the same trash-mouth blogger and former beauty pageant judge who attacked Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean with misogynistic profanities in 2009 because she said she opposed legalizing gay marriage at the federal level in favor of states' rights to put the question up for a vote. "She lost not because she doesn't believe in gay marriage," Hilton railed. "She lost because she's a dumb bitch!"

You want ugly? When word of Mrs. Pitt's letter spread on social media late last week, Twitter lit up with a stream of death threats, smears and slurs. My Twitter curation site,, compiled just some of the vile bile aimed at Mrs. Pitt......

The usual civility police were in their usual place when the No H8 bullies mauled Mrs. Pitt: nowhere to be found.


Provocation defence gets Korean man off murder charge

Who's the galoot in the hat? You might ask. It's actually the trial lawyer, Winston Terracini, who got the Korean guy off the hook

A MAN who caught his wife in bed with his close friend has been found not guilty of murder on the grounds of provocation.

Joachim Won came home from work sick in May 2010 to find his 44-year-old wife, Anna, having sex with his friend Hyung Mo Lee. Won, then 56, went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and stabbed Mr Lee, 48, seven times, allegedly shouting "you must die" or "he must die".

A NSW Supreme Court jury took less than an hour to return a verdict of not guilty to murder. Won was automatically found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Won was overcome with emotion when the verdict was delivered yesterday.

Won's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said: "It's a very satisfying result and Mr Won, through his legal representatives, had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter from the very beginning but the Crown rejected it."

Mr Terracini had told the jury his client was acting under "provocation", in that he was so shocked by what he saw he lost self-control.

The jury was asked to decide if the act of finding a spouse in bed with someone else could have induced an ordinary person in the position of Won to have so far lost self-control as to have formed an intent to kill, or to inflict grievous bodily harm.

The case is the latest to focus public attention on the law of provocation, which is the subject of an inquiry by the NSW Parliament. The inquiry began last month following the case of Chamanjot Singh, who was given a six-year jail sentence for slitting his wife's throat with a box cutter.

In May, Singh was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder after a jury accepted his claim that he had been provoked by a stream of verbal abuse from Manpreet Kaur, 29, including an alleged threat that she would have him deported.

Mr Terracini said the principle of provocation had been seen as valid since the 19th century.

Reacting to the verdict, the victims' advocate Howard Brown said cases where provocation is argued should be left to judges, not juries.

The defence of provocation was abolished in Tasmania in 2003 and Victoria in 2005, following a recommendation by the Victorian Law Reform Commission which found the law "partly legitimates killings committed in anger".


I am going to be all multicultural here and note that, when normally great Asian patience is pushed beyond its breaking point, the result is often explosive. The man "runs amok", as they say in Malaysia. So I think that on multicultural grounds at least, the defence of provocation should remain available, with juries in the best position to sort out the claims in particular cases, as they did above

Mega-pesky! New paper finds wildfires in the western US are at the lowest levels in 3,000 years

The exact opposite of what Warmists claim

A recent paper reconstructs wildfire activity in the western US over the past 3,000 years and finds current fire activity is at the lowest levels of the entire 3,000 year record. According to the authors,

"there is now a forest “fire deficit” in the western United States attributable to the combined effects of human activities, ecological, and climate changes. Large fires in the late 20th and 21st century fires have begun to address the fire deficit, but it is continuing to grow."
Long-term perspective on wildfires in the western USA

By Jennifer R. Marlona et al.


Understanding the causes and consequences of wildfires in forests of the western United States requires integrated information about fire, climate changes, and human activity on multiple temporal scales. We use sedimentary charcoal accumulation rates to construct long-term variations in fire during the past 3,000 y in the American West and compare this record to independent fire-history data from historical records and fire scars. There has been a slight decline in burning over the past 3,000 y, with the lowest levels attained during the 20th century and during the Little Ice Age (LIA, ca. 1400–1700 CE [Common Era]). Prominent peaks in forest fires occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (ca. 950–1250 CE) and during the 1800s. Analysis of climate reconstructions beginning from 500 CE and population data show that temperature and drought predict changes in biomass burning up to the late 1800s CE. Since the late 1800s , human activities and the ecological effects of recent high fire activity caused a large, abrupt decline in burning similar to the LIA fire decline. Consequently, there is now a forest “fire deficit” in the western United States attributable to the combined effects of human activities, ecological, and climate changes. Large fires in the late 20th and 21st century fires have begun to address the fire deficit, but it is continuing to grow.


Other contributors?

I have called on a number of occasions for co-bloggers here and a couple of people have heeded the call but I still do 98% of the blogging here.

I will shortly be in my 70th year so thoughts of reducing my workload do loom rather large. I really need someone to take over regular blogging here with just occasional input from me.

An alternative would be to put this blog into hibernation and direct people instead to AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and my various other blogs.

Thoughts and offers?


Can't put a number on it? Then the number could be zero! Warmists admit that global warming could have NOTHING to do with current weather

In science, numbers are everything. If you can't put a number on the things you are describing you are just telling stories. So when veteran Warmist journalist Seth Borenstein asked for numbers, he inadvertently exposed the hollowness of the Warmist assertions about global warming being the cause of recent climate extremes in parts of the USA. Background:
Press Conference & Report on Heat Waves and Climate Change

On June 28, 2012, Climate Communication hosted a telephone press conference on the connections between heat waves and climate change. The press conference was accompanied by the release of a new science update from Climate Communication, Heat Waves and Climate Change, a summary of the latest peer-reviewed literature on climate change and the recent increase in temperatures — a contributing factor to wildfires. The report can be read and downloaded on our website.

Moderated by Director Susan Hassol, the press conference featured a panel of scientists who discussed how climate change contributes to the extreme weather events unfolding now, their public health impacts, and how similar risks could multiply in the future. The expert panelists were Dr. Steven Running, Dr. Howard Frumkin, and Dr. Michael Oppenheimer.

Download and listen to the full recording of the press conference

From the transcript:
Seth: Okay, can you hear me? In terms of – let me try and put you more on the spot, Mike and Steve, I know there’s no attribution - you haven’t done attribution studies, but if you ballparked it right now and had to put a percentage number on this, on the percentage that the heat wave, the percentage of blame you can put on anthropogenic climate change, on this current heat wave and on the fires, what percentage would the two of you use? Aren’t you lucky, Howard, this isn’t part of your question?

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer: Come on, I’m not going to answer that. Yes I will answer it, and my answer is: I won’t do it. You know, we have to do these things carefully, because if you don’t, you’re going to end up with bogus information out there. People will start disbelieving because you’ll be more wrong, more often. This is not the kind of thing I want to do off the top of my head. Nor do I think it can be done, you know, convincingly, without really taking - doing careful analysis, so I’ll pass on this one and see if Steve has a different view.

Dr. Steven Running: (Laughter) Well, I already got way too hypothetical in my last answer. Yeah, it’s… it’s probably really dangerous for us to just lob out a number. I - We could certainly lob out some guess, but it wouldn’t be based on the kind of analysis and statistical rigor that we want to put out into the public arena.

Seth Borenstein: Okay let’s make it easier. 50% line…how about 50% line: Is it more than 50%, do you think, or less? Just, you know, on one end. More or less?

Susan Hassol: Seth, most of the scientists I talk to say it’s a contributing factor and that’s what we can say and that it’s really not even really a well-posed question, to ask for a percentage, because it just - what you’re asking really is for a model to determine the chances of this happening without climate change or with climate change and models are not very good at that. And so –

Seth: I understand, I’ve been covering this for 20 years, I understand. I don’t need a lecture, thank you very much. What I’m asking for is when the fingerprint – when the attribution studies are done, two or three years later, it’s already beyond people’s memory. I’m just looking for whether you could say this is - global warming was the biggest factor, more than 50 – most of the factor, you know, either more or less than 50%...

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer: I honestly don’t think you can really put a number right on it. what I honestly think is global warming has in general made this part - that part of the world - warmer and drier than it otherwise would be, and that makes it fertile ground for fire events like the one we’re seeing. So did global warming contribute? Yes. Can I really make any sort of estimate – numerical estimate- about how much? Not really sitting here on a telephone at my desk, and maybe not even if I had six months.


Compromise over women bishops in the Church of England rejected

No allowance at all for those who follow the Bible on the matter. Further shrinking of an already drastically shrunken church to be expected. Average Sunday attendance is less than a million in a country of 60 million. It's said that more people in Britain go to Mosque on Friday than go to the CofE on Sunday. Women bishops will find themselves preaching to largely empty pews

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a humiliating apology to the Church of England yesterday for the latest fiasco over women bishops.

Dr Rowan Williams spoke of ‘penitence’ as the bishops asked the Church’s parliament, the General Synod, for another three months to make up their minds over how to draw up a new law about the place of women.

It would allow women priests to be promoted for the first time to the leadership ranks of the bishops. It has already taken the CofE 12 years of agonising to get to the brink of consecrating its first woman bishop.

But yesterday the Synod voted for another delay after Dr Williams admitted that, together with his fellow bishops, he had badly misjudged an attempt at a compromise.

Supporters of women bishops were so angry that they were poised to vote down the new Church law.

The Archbishop said: ‘It is quite clear that the reaction cannot be ignored. When there is a reaction of real hurt and offence in the Church, Christians and Christian pastors in particular, cannot afford to ignore it.

'If other bishops feel as I do, they will need to examine themselves and feel appropriate penitence.

'An adjournment gives us at least the chance of lowering the temperature and explaining ourselves to each other.

‘If other bishops feel as I do they will need to examine themselves and feel appropriate penitence that they did not recognise just how difficult that was going to be.'

The Synod will gather again to try to agree a law on women bishops in November.

Dr Williams and his colleagues now have until September to draw up a compromise to save the consciences of traditionalists who will not accept the leadership of women bishops, while ensuring the women bishops who are expected to be appointed from 2014 have the same status as their male colleagues.

Yesterday’s climbdown came as Dr Williams and his colleagues faced an open warning from a senior politician that further delay or mishandling of the women bishops issue will have serious political consequences for the Church of England.

A ‘train crash’ would threaten the Church’s power to keep seats for bishops in a reformed House of Lords, Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry told the Synod. Under Lords reform proposals currently before Parliament, the CofE would see its 26 bishops in the Upper House reduced to 12.

Sir Tony, who as Second Church Estates Commissioner is the CofE’s link with the Government, said: ‘I am your only voice in the House of Commons who will be arguing for the bishops.’

‘The Deputy Prime Minister has already made it clear he is indifferent to the matter, the Honourable Member for Rhondda (Labour MP Chris Bryant) has already made it clear that he intends to introduce an amendment for the removal of bishops from the Second Chamber.

‘If you have a train crash this afternoon all I am saying is that my task of maintaining bishops in a mainly elected second chamber is going to be infinitely more difficult if not impossible.’

Synod members voted 288 in favour of a delay, 144 against and 15 abstained.

The compromise on women bishops that has now been withdrawn was produced by Dr Williams and his colleagues in May.

It would have put into law the rights of traditionalist parishes to reject a woman bishop and insist on oversight by a male bishop who was himself untainted by ever having ordained a woman priest or accepted the authority of a woman bishop.

Supporters of women said they could not support this because it would turn women into second class bishops.

A leading tradionalist at the Synod, conservative evangelical the Reverend Rod Thomas, said: ‘The House of Bishops has a huge amount of work to do. Unless it comes up with clear space for us to have a permanent space in the Church it will fail - that has to be done.’


George Lakoff is still going

I hadn't heard of him since I last debunked him some years back but he is still at the same old stall selling the same old secondhand ideas. He has issued a book called "The Little Blue Book: Quotations from Chairman Lakoff"

Lakoff's central "insight" is that you must use distorted Leftist language to have any hope of promoting Leftist ideas. But telling that to people who already call racism "affirmative action" and abortion "choice" must be one of the most unoriginal ideas ever proposed. George Orwell beat him to that idea by half a century.

I suppose that telling people that what they have always done is right might be encouraging to some but that is about all you can say for it. A few excerpts from a critical review of the book:

George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at U.C. Berkeley — and highly regarded Democratic tactician — has just released his playbook for the 2012 election. Titled The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, it purports to be the ultimate insiders’ guide to liberal messaging and left-wing ideology.

But Lakoff is not just any intellectual celebrity: he is deemed one of the most important contemporary philosophers of progressive thought. You know how whenever Democrats lose an election, they invariably blame their “poor messaging” and never ever the content of their policies? Lakoff came up with that. Liberals find it very reassuring: We don’t need to rethink our ideas — we just need to express ourselves more clearly.

As a linguist, Lakoff focuses on the notions of “cognitive frames” and “conceptual metaphors,” which refer to the overarching filters through which each person perceives the world. This academic field in and of itself is politically neutral. But on the other hand, Lakoff is also a hardcore leftist, so he decided long ago to overtly combine his academic interest with his personal politics, to use the study of cognitive frames to promote leftist ideology. This is what makes him such a hero to liberals. The Little Blue Book is Lakoff’s attempt to transform his high-minded theories into nuts-and-bolts instructions for how all Democrats — from the White House to the drum circle and everything in between — should speak to conservatives, undecideds and the media....

And yet his new Little Blue Book is supposed to be an instruction manual on how to convert wavering conservatives and undecideds to the liberal worldview — even though insults and mockery are an integral component of that worldview. To summarize Lakoff’s presentation in one sentence, he essentially says, “Hey, you ignorant yet diabolical rubes, shut the hell up and submit to an incessant barrage of our vacuous euphemistic leftist slogans, because you’re too stupid and evil for an honest debate.”

The eternally vexatious problem which drives Lakoff to distraction and which inspired him to write (along with one of his researchers) The Little Blue Book is that despite their psychological pathologies and awful moral structure, conservatives somehow still manage to occasionally win elections. Lakoff has come to the conclusion that this is due not to the superiority of conservative philosophy, but to superiority in conservative messaging.

I’ve designed a little chart to clearly illustrate what I call Lakoff’s Paradox: Why is it that conservatives still manage to sometimes win public opinion and elections despite being so vastly inferior? Behold:

Everything is going liberals’ way until that last step, where they fumble the ball at the goal line: messaging. Conservatives on the other hand are a miserable lot, but somehow manage to uncork a convincing moral frame to hide their distasteful politics. The Little Blue Book really would have benefitted from having such an illustration; but better late than never.

For example, right in the introduction he puts on his scientist hat and gives us a neutral and dispassionate summary of the liberal and conservative political visions, which he will refer back to repeatedly throughout the book. But the language he chooses to use reveals all: the definition of liberalism contains words like “caring,” “decent,” “moral” and “fair,” while the definition of conservatism contains phrases like “self-interest,” “no commitment,” “corporate interests,” and “sink or swim.”

Every page, every paragraph, every sentence in the entire book could be unpacked in a similar way, an unending pastiche of partisan linguistic bias masquerading as scientific or impartial verities.

Lakoff is also the reason why liberals and conservatives never seem to be able to communicate with each other. This frustrating problem is no accident, nor a natural result of differing ideologies simply not seeing eye to eye. Rather, it’s a conscious behavior explicitly recommended by Lakoff over the years, and one which he hammers home repeatedly in The Little Blue Book. Page 43 contains the book’s core message:

“Never use your opponent’s language….Never repeat ideas that you don’t believe in, even if you are arguing against them.”

So central is this notion to Lakoff’s thesis that his publicist sent out a list of “The 10 Most Important Things Democrats Should Know” with each review copy, and guess what comes in at #1:

“Don’t repeat conservative language or ideas, even when arguing against them.”

And many politicians, pundits and talking heads have taken Lakoff’s recommendation to heart. This is why conservatives and liberals can’t seem to have the simplest conversation: liberals intentionally refuse to address or even acknowledge what conservatives say. Since (as Lakoff notes) conservatives invariably frame their own statements within their own conservative “moral frames,” every time a conservative speaks, his liberal opponent will seemingly ignore what was said and instead come back with a reply literally out of left field.

Thus, he is the progenitor of and primary advocate for the main reason why liberalism fails to win the public debate: Because it never directly confronts, disproves or negates conservative notions — it simply ignores them.

A prime example of Lakoff’s ruinous recommendations can be seen in the debate over abortion, which never seems to get resolved despite a trillion words being expended on it every day. The “conservative frame,” to use Lakoff’s language, is that a fetus is a human being who has not yet been born; thus to “abort” the fetus is to kill it, which means a human being has been killed, which is tantamount to murder. In response to this frame, Lakoff recommends — a recommendation that liberals dutifully follow — that those on the left completely ignore the conservative argument, and instead “reframe” the issue with metaphors like “freedom of choice” and “women’s independence” and “reproductive rights.” All those positive words — “freedom,” “independence,” “rights” — recast the entire debate in a different light, allowing liberals to “win” the debate by not acknowledging that the opposing side has even made a statement.

And this is Lakoff’s fundamental flaw, which unfortunately exactly coincides with his fundamental thesis (in other words, his thesis doesn’t have an error — it is an error). By intentionally refusing to challenge, disprove, understand or even acknowledge the existence of the other side’s argument, you allow that argument to grow in strength and win converts.

This would not be true if the other side’s argument were inherently weak or fallacious, which I assume is at the root of Lakoff’s blunder; he must assume that conservatives don’t have valid arguments or positions, but rather nothing more than sneakily effective ways of misrepresenting erroneous or ridiculous beliefs. In Lakoff’s universe, you can extinguish such beliefs by ignoring them completely, thus depriving them of oxygen.

While Lakoff’s foolish insistence that liberals never repeat conservative frames means that conservative notions never get directly rebutted, this insistence backfires in other ways as well. Why? Because conservatives take the diametrically opposite strategy: They seize on every utterance that liberals make, and repeat their “frames” as loudly as possible to demonstrate how deceptive they are. So while liberals studiously avoid analyzing anything conservatives say, conservatives meanwhile are avidly dissecting every single thing liberals say. The end result is that conservatives, to their own satisfaction as least, successfully challenge and de-fang every liberal notion; but liberals never challenge or de-fang conservative notions, instead seeking to snuff them out with a lethal dose of Silent Treatment.

But it gets worse, because it is the very euphemisms and other ludicrous “conceptual metaphors” recommended by Lakoff which give conservatives so much grist for their mill. Every time a liberal talking head gets up and uncorks another howler in the Lakoff style, conservative fiskers and deconstructionists latch on and tear it to pieces, trumpeting it as further evidence of liberals’ cluelessness or mendacity. So not only does Lakoff recommend holding fire against conservative frames, the ammunition he saves only ends up being used against the liberals themselves.

And this man is considered their master strategist?

More HERE.

Lakoff's book does have some vague claims to academic respectability so my dissection of his ideas does include a presentation of the academic evidence relevant to his theories

Should Australian students study Australian history?

A history teacher (Bantick) argues below that it should only be taught as one part of global history. While I can see the point of that, I see no reason why global events can not be referred to in outlining Australian history.

So I would argue exactly the opposite. Australian history is more likely to be interesting to Australian students than the history of places they have never seen so world history should be introduced via Australian history. Early Australian history was certainly much influenced by British politics and events -- so explaining what happened in Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries as an outcome of what happened in Britain at that time is far more likely to leave a strong impression of British history than study of British history as a standalone subject would do.

Similarly, a well-taught explanation of Australia's involvement in Vietnam would lead to some understanding of U.S. politics then and since -- JR

Australian history is set to lose its sacrosanct place in the national curriculum and might only be taught as part of global history. Should we care? Not really.

THE decision by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority to remove Australian history as a stand-alone subject in the national curriculum for history makes sense. It is long overdue.

Predictably, the Victorian History Teachers Association is rushing to the barricades over the demise of Australian history. It is too little, too late. Gone are the glory days when Australian history was a heavyweight subject. Last year just 1170 students were enrolled, out of more than 45,000 students statewide.

Still, this is not quite as dire as Renaissance history, which, as a boutique subject with fewer than 300 students, has reached critical mass and is unsustainable as a study at VCE level. Australian history is going the same way. Should we care? Not really.

The reality is that Australian history has suffered from two significantly deleterious movements. The first is the teaching through ideology and the second is repetition. The fact is that Australian history has become highly politicised. For example, you can no longer say that colonists were not all bad in their treatment of Aborigines and the environment. Settlement is now replaced with invasion. Meanwhile, Ned Kelly is a hero. His murder of police is explained away.

Then there is the repetition. The First Fleet pretty well runs aground by year 4. Still it moved down the sliprails year after year. So too with gold. Sovereign Hill is kept viable by school excursions; some are repeat visits. And Gallipoli is the annual national identity fix.

While there are many other examples, it makes sense to study Australian history as a component of global history. It is illogical to study Australian history as some kind of historical excrescence that existed in isolation in the Southern Ocean. Australian history is umbilically linked to 19th-century British history specifically, but also to European and, to some extent, post-revolutionary American history. It is a no-brainer to view it otherwise. Yet this is exactly what has bled it dry.

The argument that is often touted about the sacrosanct place of Australian history is that it is somehow a conduit for understanding national identity. The argument runs that students need to know about their own past so they can have a sense of belonging. This is so flawed as to be offensive. This suggests that there is simply one history and one identity that is the ballast of who we are as Australians. Yet an identity that emerges from social Darwinism, suspicion of race and bellicose jingoism is not one to be proud of or to endorse.

But what has also contributed to the death of Australian history is the demise of the narrative approach to the past. There is no Australian story, it seems, just topics. Still, Simon Schama, consultant on the British national curriculum for history, notes, "narrative drive and force of events have brought readers back to history and liberated them from 'the past'."

Teachers are not exempt from the killing of history. This is largely through a lack of methodology and knowledge. Australian history has been taught by non-specialists for a generation. Non-specialists who are not historically inclined are a bad sell for the past.

Schools desperate to cover classes have all too often parachuted staff into the teaching of history. That and the dreaded studies of societies and environment. What SOSE did was declare that history was a subject without a distinctive methodology and corpus of knowledge. It was in effect gutted as a subject.

There is no reasonable and substantial persuasive argument to suggest Australian history should be anywhere than part of global history.

For Australian history to survive at all, it must take off its black armband and be put into an international context. Leaving aside the long prehistory of Australia, which surely is a candidate for ancient society historical analysis under the national curriculum rubric, Australian history is modern, global history.

How different these arguments were when I participated in the national curriculum debates on history at Ruskin College, Oxford. British history was seen as a given. It was to be taught as a stand-alone subject, but the problem was the content, not its place in the curriculum. It was not about identity but about teaching history to a multicultural society.

The fact is that Australian history has to now give an account of itself. Why should it be studied at all? There is not a case that convinces as to why it must be seen as the marquee or beacon mandated history in schools.

Australian history's survival in a very different form is global. In this, ACARA not only makes sense but has probably saved the subject as such.


Hoagy is back! With straight-out, unproven Warmist propaganda

Danish Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg was a great prophet of doom about the Great Barrier Reef until his own research showed the reef was in no danger. He fell silent for a few years after that. But we see below that he has now managed the usual Greenie trick of ignoring the facts and is back at his old stall

For the record, the ocean is very alkaline. There would have to be huge changes for it to become acidic. And the claim that warming would cause acidity goes against Henry's law, anyway. A warmer ocean would outgas CO2 and hence reduce the incidence of carbonic acid. The laboratory studies reported below therefore have no real-world significance

NEMO the clown fish, high on "acid", heads from the safety of home with no fear and no sense of smell, straight into the jaws of a predator.

No, it's not a dark sequel to the Pixar animated movie hit, but a reality facing one of the Great Barrier Reef's signature species clown fish.

The International Coral Reef symposium in Cairns yesterday heard disturbing new evidence that burning fossil fuels was not only pushing up global temperatures, but also ocean acidity that in turn could send the brains of some fish species haywire.

"It shows the next Hollywood release will not be so pretty," University of Queensland's Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said. "Nemo does not get so lucky next time."

About 2500 of the world's top reef scientists yesterday shared the latest research into coral growth and fish behaviour under climate change.

Townsville-based James Cook University researcher Phillip Munday and his team found clown fish, made famous in the movie Finding Nemo, as well as damsel fish and open-water predators like tuna and spanish mackerel, suffered adverse effects under high acidity.

They said laboratory studies showed increased acid levels affected the main neuro-transmitters in fish brains, causing a malfunction in the sense of smell, hearing and perception of risk, and an increased tendency to stray from safe reef areas.

"We're not talking about extinction (if acidity continues to rise) but changes in abundance," Mr Munday said.

Other dire predictions yesterday included a warning that bleaching could leave many reefs a white "stumpy" mass dominated by only a few coral species covered in a "brown scuzz" or "green, slimy sludge".

"Within 20 years, some coral species will have been nailed into the coffin," Prof Hoegh-Guldberg said. "It sounds like alarmism, but that is what the biology tells us."


Mosque proposal in ACT unpopular

ACT planners have been told that women in burqas will scare children in Gungahlin if Canberra's Muslim community proceeds with plans to build a mosque in the area.

The ACT Planning and Land Authority has received more than 50 submissions in response to the proposed development on The Valley Avenue.

It follows a campaign by a group called the "Concerned Citizens of Canberra" that urged residents to object to the development because of its "social impact" and concerns about traffic and noise.

The Canberra Times revealed on Saturday that the group's spokesman, Irwin Ross, is a Christian fundamentalist activist who describes himself as a pastor with Olive Tree Ministries.

More than 30 submissions lodged with ACTPLA object to the development on grounds including traffic, parking, design, lack of consultation and, according to one anonymous submission, claims the mosque is not "compatible with Australian values and Australian law".

But a further 20 Canberra residents wrote to the government in support of the development, some complaining about the anonymous anti-mosque flyers that were delivered to their homes.

One objection to the mosque asks the ACT government if it can "assure the citizens of Gungahlin that this centre will not be taken over by extremists, bent on bringing chaos to our immediate community".

Another claims the sight of women wearing burqas will be "perturbing" for children in the area.

One Gungahlin resident complains Muslims have to: "obey the Koran and therefore Sharia law. This means that Sharia law will always come first and Australian law second".

"I am particularly worried about the women and girls," the resident's letter states.

"In the DA [development application] several rooms are allocated for weekend classes - which means that all the girls from early age on will have Koran lessons and therefore will have no real chance to get integrated in Australian society."

A number of objections use template letters supplied by the Concerned Citizens of Canberra, while several others complain the mosque will create too much traffic congestion.

However, 20 letters urge the ACT government to approve the development, with one submission stating it will "complement the two existing churches". "As a resident of Gungahlin town centre I would be materially affected by this development," the submission states.

"As such I strongly support this development.

"It is appropriate to the town centre, an appropriate design and the road network is designed to handle the surges in traffic."

Another resident complains about the flyer they received from the Concerned Citizens of Canberra and says the group's objections to the mosque are "flimsy at best and outright bigoted at worst".

"Though I am not a religious person I feel that someone should be just as free to build a mosque as a church and having it near Gungahlin town centre seems as good a location as any in the area," the submission states.

A spokeswoman for the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate said additional submissions were still arriving by post and were being accepted, provided the letter was stamped before the deadline for comment.

Meanwhile, the Australian Motorists Party candidate for Ginninderra Chic Henry said he believed the development would create traffic congestion.


Words, Then and Now

As a former Soviet citizen, Oleg is used to words being misused and is appalled at the Sovietization of American political discourse. Below is his list of misused terms

Then: Ejecting from a failing aircraft before it crashes
Now: Injecting money into a crony too-big-to-fail bank before it crashes

Then: Someone a pal would share a drink with
Now: Someone a pol will share taxpayer money with

Then: You do what you want
Now: You do what we want

Then: A lack of the basic necessities of life
Now: A lack of the newest iPhone

Then: Resentment of one's skin color
Now: Resentment of one's political views

Then: A means of funding the services provided by the government
Now: A means provided to the government to screw you if you don't buy health insurance

Then: All the news that's fit to print
Now: All the news that fits our narrative, we print

Then: A scientific theory explaining the development of complex creatures from simpler ones
Now: A journalistic theory explaining the development of simplistic legal opinions from supposedly complex supreme court justices

Then: A person risking some of his own money in hopes of a positive return
Now: A politician risking a lot of the public's money which he's positive won't be returned

Then: A movement seeking to preserve the earth for future generations
Now: A movement seeking to kill off future generations to preserve the earth

Then: A loan made to a mature, responsible person for the purpose of purchasing a house
Now: A loan made to an immature, irresponsible person for the purpose of making politicians feel good

Then: Spending billions to build a rocket to take men to the moon and break rocks
Now: Spending billions to build a train to take men from Bakersfield to Fresno which will never break ground

Then: A human with female sex organs and sexual characteristics
Now: A human with female sex organs and sexual characteristics who votes Democrat

Then: An occasion to celebrate with gifts to the new bride and groom
Now: An occasion to celebrate with a donation to Barack Obama

Then: "Change back from your dollar," an ad campaign for selling hamburgers
Now: "Change you can believe in," an ad campaign for selling a meathead

Then: Symbolic head of McDonalds
Now: Actual head of the US


Big Government Cripples Incentives to Save, Promotes Risky Culture of Immediate Gratification

Daniel J. Mitchell

America’s political elite is nauseating for many reasons, but perhaps most of all when they blame others for problems that are caused by misguided government policies. A stark example is the way they attacked the Facebook billionaire who moved to Singapore because of punitive taxation and class-warfare policy.

Today, let’s look at an example that affects almost everybody rather than just a handful of rich people. Many people in Washington sanctimoniously say that American households and businesses are too focused on the short term and that we don’t save enough.

But as I explain in this CBNC interview, tax and spending policies from Washington have undermined the incentive to save.


Labor Party powerbroker says Greens 'bordering on loony'

KEY Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari has attacked the Greens for accusing the ALP of having no values, saying the party is "bordering on loony".

The Labor powerbroker last weekend called for his party to no longer automatically favour the Greens in any future preference negotiations.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young responded by saying Labor would be a sell-out if it handed the coalition control of the Senate.

Speaking today, Mr Dastyari repeated claims the Greens were operating in their own self-interest.

"These people aren't our friends, they don't share our ideology, they don't share our values, they don't share our history," he told Macquarie Radio.

"I think for too long the Labor party, particularly in NSW, has really been giving the Greens a free ride. A lot of the Green agenda isn't in the interest of Labor voters."

Mr Dastyari, whose branch holds its conference in Sydney this weekend, said the Liberals, Nationals and Labor should no longer remain silent about the Greens' agenda.

"Sarah Hanson-Young ... started jumping up and down on radio saying 'oh there's no values, they show there's no values'.

"These are the type of people that if you don't have their values, if you don't agree with them, you're automatically discounted in the Australian political debate," he said.

"The biggest problem with the Greens isn't their aspirational policy agenda which is, you know, bordering on loony in half a dozen different areas, it's this refusal to compromise....

"You're not dealing with a bunch of kind of harmless hippies from the seventies anymore, these are a cold-hearted ... political party."


Fatal blow to the "tipping point" theory

The earth appears to have been warming very slowly for the last 150 years. The temperature rise over that period (less than one degree Celsius) is so slight, however, that projecting it forward for another 100 years gives no cause for alarm

So what is an alarmist going to do in that case? They predict a DEPARTURE from the existing trend due to a "tipping point". But what could cause a "tip"? Their theory is that clouds warm the earth and that an accumulation of clouds as warming proceeds on its gentle way will eventually start a positive feedback cycle, where warming causes more warming.

Now isn't that a simple explanation of Warmism? All the blather boils down to that one paragraph above. But you can see the crucial point: Do clouds really warm the earth? Amazingly enough, Warmists just assume it. They have no proof of the most critical point in their theory. And what evidence on the matter that is available so far suggests the opposite: Clouds COOL the earth. And more evidence has just become available -- and it appears in a very prestigious peer-reviewed journal:

A paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that a natural atmospheric oscillation, the Southern Annular Mode, is correlated to significant increases in cloud cover resulting in "large scale" local cooling of approximately -2.5C.

The research concerned South America only but South America is a rather large place and any claim that clouds behave differently there from anywhere else is something only a Greenie could even propose, let alone accept.
Understanding sudden changes in cloud amount: The Southern Annular Mode and South American weather fluctuations

By Benjamin A. Laken et al.


This work investigates the cause and effects of extreme changes in synoptic-scale cloud cover operating at daily timescales using a variety of satellite-based and reanalysis data sets. It is found that the largest sudden increases detected in globally averaged cloud cover over the last ten years of satellite-based observations occur following positively correlated shifts in the phase of the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index. The associated pressure anomalies are found to generate frontal cloud formation over large areas of the South American continent, increasing regional cloud cover by up to 20%; these changes are correlated to statistically significant reductions in local temperatures of approximately −2.5°C with a +1 day time lag, indicating the SAM index is associated with large scale weather fluctuations over South America.



'illegal immigrant' is a slur?

A bit of fast and loose reasoning below

Last month's Supreme Court decision in the landmark Arizona immigration case was groundbreaking for what it omitted: the words "illegal immigrants" and "illegal aliens," except when quoting other sources. The court's nonjudgmental language established a humanistic approach to our current restructuring of immigration policy.

When you label someone an "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant" or just plain "illegal," you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.

In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don't pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You're still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren't labeled illegals.

More here

So nobody can be called an illegal immigrant until a court declares them so? What were they before the court declared them illegal then? Legal?

His reasoning is actually an example of the old logical fallacy of composition, which arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. So it may be true that a particular person should not be called illegal until a court has judged him but that does not imply that there is not a group of similar people which is illegally present -- and who can thus be referred to as a whole as "illegals".

And even if we want to refer to a particular person as an illegal, we can reasonably follow newspaper practice and refer to him as an ALLEGED illegal immigrant.

But the argument is rarely about individuals. It is about a very large group of people who are in America without permission. Denying that such a group exists would be absurd and being in America without permission is illegal -- hence the term illegal as a shorthand reference to that class of persons is perfectly reasonable.

Rather fun pulling that apart.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. doesn't think "illegal immigrant" is a slur either.