Greenie bank tottering

Germans are the original environmentalists.  They have been walking around naked in their forests -- and feeling good about it -- for over 100 years.  Even Hitler adopted Greenie ultimate goals of primitive bliss.  So modern environmentalism could well be said to be a German invention.

It is therefore no surprise that a major German bank, Deutsche Bank,  has been active in promoting environmentalism. They frequently proclaim the truth of Warmism, for instance.  And their investments must be "ecologically responsible", of course.  No building of dams to benefit poor people in India and Africa. Below is an excerpt from the front page blurb on their site:

Environmental and climate protection are among the most pressing global challenges of our time. We take these concerns into account in all aspects of our business, including minimising our own ecological footprint. Using our expertise in the areas of energy and climate change, we support the development of a more sustainable world economy

Pretty clear.  But it is an an old adage that if your theories are wrong, you won't get the results you expect.  And that seems to have happened to this group of cabbage-heads. We read:

"Deutsche Bank shares have finally climbed today after falling to a historic low amid mounting fears for the future of Germany's top bank.

Companies in the FTSE 100 index saw £23billion wiped off their value yesterday as investors dumped financial stocks.

The sell-off was triggered by reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had ruled out a government rescue of troubled lender Deutsche Bank.

The bank has lost more than half its value in the past year as it struggles to cope with low interest rates and sluggish growth.

Deutsche Bank shares fell another 7.5 per cent to a record low yesterday, dragging other finance stocks down with it.

This morning they fell to €10.25 amid warnings that a dip below €10 per share would take the bank into the realm of a risky investment. However, by this afternoon, shares had risen to €10.63 before the market closed at €10.51 - down 0.4%.

The FTSE 100 Index was down 10.37 points to 6,807.67, as London-listed lenders were dragged lower by the negative sentiment surrounding the German bank"

Instead of lending money to foster "Green" projects, they should have lent to the most promising commercial projects.  And instead of worrying about the environment, they should have been worrying about cyclic downturns in the economy.  But they did not do that so they got results they did not expect.  Their theories about what was important were wrong.

Deutsche could have learned from Australian banks. Australian banks are the world's soundest banks.  In 2008 when banks worldwide were falling over and being rescued by their governments, Australian banks just kept on making profits as usual.  I know.  I had and have shares in most of them.

So how did the Oz banks do it?  By sticking to their knitting.  They just concentrated on lending to people who were most likely to pay it back.  No political lending. No Greenie activism.  Pretty simple!

Why are so many people fighting to protect Sydney eyesore?

Locating the building in a premium area was a wasteful act to start with.  As welfare housing it generated only a fraction of the income it could have generated if it had been used for high-end accommodation.  But it gave good views to a few privileged poor people and the Left liked that. Rationality is however now catching up.  The money made by selling the building will fund much more public housing than before

The arty-farty arguments for retaining an ugly building are amusing.  They say it adds to "the social mix".  So what?  Why is that a good thing? It is probably a bad thing. Having lots of poor people in a given area tends to elevate the crime rate in that area.  But you are not allowed to mention that, of course.  Assumptions are all the Left need -- not those pesky facts.  They don't even bother to argue for their assumptions.  They just "know" the truth

IS IT ugly and deserving of a wrecking ball? Or iconic and in need of protection?  It depends who you ask.

But for now, Sydney’s Sirius building — which has been used for public housing since it was built more than 30 years ago — appears to be living out its final days next to the iconic Harbour Bridge, in The Rocks.

The Cumberland Street apartment block is under threat from NSW Government plans for redevelopment, with most tenants having already moved out.

Hundreds of protesters have opposed the plans to replace the 1979 building with apartments boasting million-dollar views and price tags to match.

But their calls to save the building have so far fallen on deaf ears, with a heritage listing bid for the harbourside building ultimately rejected by the government.

The building is arguably the worst eyesore on one of the world’s most spectacular harbours. So why are so many people fighting to protect it?

Sydney’s Lord Mayor and NSW opposition members joined hundreds of protesters in a march from Circular Quay over the weekend, demanding one of the city’s most controversial buildings be saved from demolition.

Hundreds of protesters marched from Alfred Street, around the Quay, meeting at the base of the brutalist building on Saturday morning.

The vocal crowd, flanked by police officers, were addressed by several opponents of the building’s slated demolition, including Lord Mayor Clover Moore and opposition planning minister Michael Daley.

“If the government applies this policy to other inner city areas, it will destroy the social mix — the very soul of city — and we will fight that all the way,” Ms Moore said from the back of a truck in front of the building.

“This housing is needed just as much now, or even more, because the majority of social housing residents in Millers Point have already been dispersed.”

The mixed-bag of protesters included unionists, architects and social housing advocates.

The CFMEU granted a Green Ban over the building earlier this week, in an attempt to stall demolition plans.

Michael Daley warned the Baird government any attempt to tear down the building would be met by fierce opposition. “We’re here to say to Mike Baird, if you try and cheat the people of Sydney out of the Sirius building, when you come down here with your developer and your banker mates, we’ll be waiting,” Mr Daley said.

Architects Olivia Savio-Matev and Hugo Raggett said the Sirius building held more than just architectural importance in Sydney.   “We’re here to support and save the heritage architecture of Sydney, but also to support the residents who are being evicted.

“I think the government’s stance on this building is purely a money grab.”

Leading the charge to save the building of brutalist architecture is the National Trust’s advocacy director Graham Quint. “They’re dramatic and they’re meant to make a statement,” Mr Quint told  “I don’t know whether ‘beautiful’ would be the word, but not everything’s meant to be beautiful.”

The Sirius building had a unique history, said Mr Quint, built specifically for housing commission tenants turfed out of harbourside suburbs when the area was being redeveloped in the 1960s.

Far from blocking views of the harbour it actually “steps down” to reveal a wide sweep of Sydney, said Mr Quint. Any replacement could be even bigger.


Why correlations of CO2 and Temperature over ice age cycles don’t define climate sensitivity

This paper from a great headquarters of Warmism is something of a mess.  Its conclusion -- that there are so many unknowns in the paleoclimate record that it should not be used as a basis for generalizations -- most skeptics would wildly applaud.  The authors  limit themselves to talking about only one type of generalization but the same considerations surely throw all paleoclimate generalizations into doubt.

The other thing of interest is their comment on the long-term correlation beteween CO2 levels and temperature.  Skeptics have never questioned that.  Instead they point to the time lag involved:  Temperature rises PRECEDED CO2 rises -- exactly the opposite of what Warmist theory prescribes but fully understandable as warming oceans outgassing CO2 -- a normal physical effect

We’ve all seen how well temperature proxies and CO2 concentrations are correlated in the Antarctic ice cores – this has been known since the early 1990’s and has featured in many high-profile discussions of climate change.

For obvious reasons, we are interested in how the climate system will respond to an increase in CO2 and that depends on time-scale and what feedbacks we consider:

The “Charney” sensitivity is generally thought of as the medium-term response of the system, including all the fast feedbacks and some of the longer term ones (like the ocean). This is usually what is meant by climate sensitivity in normal conversation. On longer (multi-millennial) timescales we expect changes in vegetation and ice-sheets to occur and alter the response and that sensitivity is often described as the Earth System Sensitivity (ESS).

But let’s go back to the correlation from EPICA Dome C:

Using local temperatures, the straight line regression is ~3.9 ºC/(W/m2). Assuming that global temperature changes on these timescales are roughly half as large, that implies ~2 ºC/(W/m2) at the global scale, and given that 2xCO2 forcing is about 4 W/m2, that means a ‘sensitivity’ of ~8ºC for a doubling of CO2. This is very much larger than any of the standard numbers that are usually discussed. So what is going on?

The first point to recognize is that the ice age/interglacial variations are being driven by Milankovitch forcings (“orbital wobbles”). These have an almost zero effect in the global mean radiative forcing but make huge differences to the seasonal and regional solar fluxes. This makes these drivers almost uniquely effective at impacting ice sheets, hence temperature, the circulation, the biosphere, and therefore the carbon cycle. Notably, these drivers don’t fit neatly into a global forcing/global response paradigm.

Second, the relationship we are seeing in the ice cores is made up of two independent factors: the sensitivity of the CO2 to temperature over the ice age cycle – roughly ~100 ppmv/4ºC or ~25 ppmv/ºC – and the sensitivity of the climate to CO2, which we’d like to know.

The problem is perhaps made clearer with two thought experiments. Imagine a world where the sensitivity of the climate system to carbon dioxide was zero (note this is not Planet Earth!). Then the records discussed above would show a reduced amplitude cycle, but a strong correlation between CO2 radiative forcing and temperature. This relationship would be exactly the T to CO2 function. To take another extreme case, assume that that carbon cycle was insensitive to climate, but climate still responded to CO22, then we’d see no CO2 change and zero regression. In neither case would the raw T/CO2 regression tell you what the sensitivity to CO2 alone was.

Instead, to constrain the Charney sensitivity from the ice age cycle you need to specifically extract out those long term changes (in ice sheets, vegetation, sea level etc.) and then estimate the total radiative forcing including these changes as forcing, not responses. In most assessments of this, you end up with 2.5ºC to 3ºC in response to 2xCO2. To estimate the ESS from these cycles you’d need to know what the separate impacts the CO2 and the orbital forcing had on the ice sheets, and that is not possible just from these data. Constraints on ESS have thus come from the Pliocene (3 million years ago) or even longer Cenezoic time scales – giving a range roughly 4.5ºC to 6ºC. Lunt et al (2010) and Hansen et al (2008) have good discussions of this and we discussed it here too.

The bottom line is that you can’t estimate Earth System Sensitivity solely from correlations over ice age cycles, no matter how well put together the temperature data set is.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

The pill and Massey Ferguson

The great moral questioning of the '60s is normally attributed to the contraceptive pill, which became generally available at that time. The pill did what conventional morality had long done: remove the risk of ex-nuptial births. So conventional morality lost its authority among the young. Whether any sexual restraint of any kind was warranted became questionable. So sexual promiscuity probably reached its peak at that time. I was there and was a cautious participant in the mood of the times.

And ALL morality, not only sexual morality, came into question at that time.  There was a collapse of values and standards across the board at that time.  If sexual restraint had become irrelevant, might not all forms of restraint be old-fashioned and irrelevant?  So practices that had evolved over millennia for the guidance of society lost their authority and there was nothing to replace them.  People were cast adrift from all guidance and had to figure out entirely from new how to live the good life.  Nobody knew any longer what was wise.

Fortunately, however, Christians in particular kept the old moral thinking alive and showed by results that it gave a better balanced life.  I was myself a fundamentalist Protestant throughout my teens (late '50's to early '60s) and that gave me a great set of rules to live by.  I did not have to invent my own rules. I had the wisdom of the ages on my side.

So I got though my teens with no trauma at all and much happiness.  I took no mind altering substances so was not damaged by them.  I did not drink alcohol so avoided all the risks associated with that.  I had friends who drank who died while drunk driving but I did not.  I was celibate so avoided some nasty diseases. I kept clear of crime.  So I arrived undamaged at adulthood and mental maturity.

And at around age 20 (1963) I became an atheist.  But my teen-aged experience of a very puritanical lifestyle gave me strong habits of restraint so I participated in the sexual revolution from that time on only as part of affectionate relationships. A lot of my old Christian values stay with me to this day and even in the '60s casual sex had no attractions for me.

So I saw it all in the '60s and was sober enough to remember what I saw.  Many of the people who glorify the life they had in the '60s can't actually remember much detail of what they did. They can't remember what they saw through a blur of drugs and alcohol.

So what I have given so far is a conventional explanation of the great break of the '60s.  But the pill is in fact only half the story.  It's not the whole explanation for that break.  The other half is the Massey Ferguson tractor!  How's that for a strange proposition?  To understand that proposition we have to go back to what was behind the conventional morality of the pre-1960 era.

Conventional morality was heavily influenced by a shortage of food.  In our present era of cheap and abundant food, we find it hard to comprehend that for most of human history, it was a struggle for most families to put enough bread on the table for their children.  Most people were poor and the money often did not stretch far enough to buy all the food that the family wanted.  They often had to make do with the cheapest possible food in order to eat at all.  Oaten porridge was a lifesaver.

So in those circumstances men wanted to be absolutely certain that the children they were feeding were their own. "Cuckoos" were regarded as robbing the man's natural children of what was rightfully theirs.  But the problem was how to tell who was the father of the various children.  Women mostly had a pretty good idea of it but the men did not.  And there is no doubt that both men and women sometimes "stray".  In a moment of passion a woman might easily sleep with someone other than her husband and produce a child from that union.

So there was only one way a man could ensure that his scarce resources were spent on his own children:  He had to convince his wife to sleep only with him.  And all the persuasive resources of society were brought to bear on that need.  Sexual restraint became the highest morality, with everything from ostracism to hellfire deployed to produce it.

And the pill did little to reduce that need.  Sex became less perilous but the man still needed to know which children were his.  So how come a highly functional morality broke down?  Why did not the pill simply drive promiscuity underground?

And that's where we come to Massey Ferguson.  The Massey Ferguson tractor was only one part of a broader phenonenon but it was a very visible one.  The Massey Ferguson was a small, cheap tractor  that was a remarkably tough machine.  I remember seeing lots of them in Australia and I gather that they were equally popular in Britain.  Massey Ferguson have made tractors of all shapes and sizes over the years but those small post-war models had a big impact.

With a Massey Ferguson farmers could pull bigger implements than a horse team could, could pull them for longer and could pull them more cheaply.  A horse team was not cheap to maintain.  You had farrier's bills, veterinary bills and feed bills.  And a  team of big working horses can go though a phenomenal amount of feed every day. For his Massey Ferguson the farmer just had to keep a drum of fuel handy.

So a farmer's productivity was at least doubled when he bought a Massey Ferguson. And what does a farmer's productivity add up to?  Food.  Along with other agricultural advances of the postwar era, the Massey Ferguson steadily drove down the price of food.  In the USA it was probably John Deere who provided most of the tractors but the result was the same.

So by the time the '60s hit, feeding your family was a difficulty only for the very unfortunate.  So it was no longer a tragedy if a man fed a child who was not his own.  His other children were not deprived thereby.  So the great need for the sexual control of women largely fell away.  Conventional morality had lost its main function.

So the Massey Ferguson is at least as important as the pill as an explanation of the '60s moral revolution -- JR

"Ethical Socialism"

I owe the excerpt from Oswald Spengler below to statistician Briggs.  It is indeed interesting.  Spengler was a popular German thinker of the early 20th century.  He thought that European civilization had just about reached its limit and was bound to fall while some other civilization arose.  The gutless reaction to Islamic hostility in the Western world today certainly does bring Spengler to mind.

And it is notable that Spengler identifies socialism as the power-hungry but ultimately nihilistic force that is destroying the countries it dominates.  His diagnosis of socialism as inherently totalitarian has certainly been borne out by subsequent events in Russia and Germany.

But in an indirect way, Spengler was responsible for the rise of Nazism.  He never was a Nazi and rejected its antisemitism but his diagnosis of his own society  as dying from its own weakness and lack of self-confidence did plant in people's minds  the hope that a strong leader would emerge who would restore the national will and self-confidence  -- make it great again --  and thus rescue European civilization from its decline.  And we all know who came along in Germany to offer just that.

Hitler was of course an idol who had feet of clay but it is not unreasonable to hope that a new leader with fewer flaws could arise.  And that seems to be where we are now.  No matter how often Muslim terrorists murder us, our Left-dominated leaders refuse to do anything about it.  And the rise of Trump has exposed the great discontent among the people about the lack of reaction to Islamic supremacism.

Trump is also far from a perfect saviour but he seems to be the only saviour we've got.  A successful American businessman and an undistinguished Austrian artist are very different people so very different things are to be expected from them.  What we get may not be ideal but it may include what we need.

But the rescue we need is NOT from Islam.  As Spengler foresaw, it is from the ever more powerful Left.  There is no lack of  patriotic pride and civilizational confidence among ordinary Americans.  It is the Left who are keeping a lid on it rather than proclaiming and defending it.  There is nothing wrong with America and Americans.  It is only the Leftist and Left-dominated parasites riding on its back that are the problem.  Reagan neutered them for a while but they have regrouped.  Trump is our best hope of purging their influence and hitting back at Islam

In spite of its foreground appearances, ethical Socialism is not a system of compassion, humanity, peace and kindly care, but one of will-to-power. Any other reading of it is illusory. The Stoic takes the world as he finds it, but the Socialist wants to organize and recast it in form and substance, to fill it with his own spirit. The Stoic adapts himself, the Socialist commands. He would have the whole would take the shape he desires, thus transferring the idea of the Critique of Pure Reason into the ethical field.

This is the ultimate meaning of the Categorical Imperative, which he brings to bear in political, social and economic matters alike—act as thought the maxims that you practise were to become by your will the law for all. And this tyrannical tendency is not absent from even the shallowest phenomena of the time. It is not attitude and mien, but activity that is to be given form. As in China and Egypt, life only counts insofar as it is deed. And it is mechanicalizing of the organic concept of Deed that leads to the concept of work as commonly understood, the civilized form of Faustian effecting.

Apollian man looked back to a Golden Age; this relieved him of the trouble of thinking upon what was still to come. The Socialist feels the Future as his task and aim, and accounts the happiness of the moment as worthless in comparison. The Classical spirit, with its oracles and its omens, wants only to know the future, but the Westerner would shape it. The Third Kingdom is the Germanic ideal. From Joachim of Floris to Nietzsche and Ibsen—arrows of yearning to the other bank, as the Zarathustra says—every great man has linked his life to an eternal morning.

And here Socialism becomes tragic. It is of the deepest significance that Nietzsche, so completely clear and sure in dealing with what should be destroyed, what transvalued, loses himself in nebulous generalities as soon as he comes to discuss the Whither, the Aim. His criticism of decadence is unanswerable, but his theory of the Superman is a castle in the air.

And therein lies a deep necessity; for, from Rousseau onwards, Faustian man has nothing more to hope for in anything pertaining to the grand style of Life. Something has come to an end. The Northern soul has exhausted its inner possibilities, and of the dynamic force and insistence that had exposed itself in world-historical visions of the future—visions of a millennial scope—nothing remains but the mere pressure, the passionate desire to create, the form without the content.

The soul was Will and nothing but Will. It needed an aim for its Columbus-longing; it had to give its inherent activity at least the illusion of a meaning and an object. And so the keener critic will find a trace of Hjalmar Ekdal in all modernity, even its highest phenomena. Ibsen called it the lie of life.

For deep down beneath it all is the gloomy feeling, not to be repressed, that all this hectic zeal is the despairing self-deception of a soul that may not and cannot rest. This is the tragic situation—the inversion of the Hamlet motive—and a thread of it runs through the entire fabric of Socialism, political, economic and ethical, which forces itself to ignore the annihilating seriousness of its own final implications, so as to keep alive the illusion of the historical necessity of its own existence.

Racism and freedom of thought

I am a racist -- as the Left define that term.  I think that there are different races and that some (not all) of the differences between those races matter.  Aside from the fanatic Left, most people would concede that there are differences between people and that some of those differences can matter so why deny that groups of people can be different too?  I suppose an answer to that is possible but I have yet to hear one.

The reason the Left get such a charge out of the "racist" accusation is that it puts people in mind of the deeds of the unforgotten Uncle Adolf.  Adolf was for a time seen as a kindly uncle by most Germans.  So Leftists exploit that memory to imply that anybody who mentions race at all must be only a hairsbreadth away from being a genocidal maniac.  I suppose most people can see that such an inference is too sweeping but I want to show that it is very sweeping indeed.

And I intend to use myself to show how incorrect that inference is.  Although I am a racist, one of the people I most admire is David P.  To my mind he is worth more to humanity than a whole skyscraper full of bureaucrats.  David runs a small cafe where I often have brunch.  He takes orders, he makes coffees, he delivers orders to the tables, he clears away dirty dishes and wipes down tables.  And he has got a ready smile for everyone all the time.

And all those things are needed. They are things that people voluntarily seek out and pay money for.  And the benefit of them is totally clear and uncontrovertible -- unlike the dubious "services" provided by bureaucrats in skyscrapers.  I certainly enjoy my excellent brunches from David but when has any bureaucrat given me pleasure?  If a skyscraper full of bureaucrats vanished overnight, few people would notice.  But if David did not come in one morning, there would be a lot of people milling around and feeling very deprived.

David is Vietnamese.  He grew up in Australia but his parents  were "boat people": People who fled Communism in small boats to get to a safer place.  So what sort of racist am I when I admire immensely a brownish man of unambiguously Asian appearance?  I will tell you what sort I am.  I think the Vietnamese are a fine race who pull their weight more than most.  I am racially pro-Vietnamese.  Not all of them are as good as David but Vietnamese have been in Australia for a long time now and I have been observing them for a long time.  And a lot of them are as good as David P.

I could go on with other examples of people I admire.  I could mention Pavan, who is Indian and also the most good humoured man I know.  I could mention Les, who is one of the manliest men I know but who, like a lot of Kiwis, has both English and Maori ancestors.  And so on.  And more broadly, I could mention how much I admire the Japanese and Chinese for their unusual intelligence.  I am in fact a Sinophile of sorts.  I admire the Han.

So, you see, it is possible to be a racist without thinking ill of people, let alone wishing to harm them.

But I don't think highly of all people I meet and I don't think highly of all human groups that I encounter.  It could hardly be clearer that people of Sub-Saharan African ancestry are in general dangerous people to have around and I understand well the "white flight" to the suburbs whereby mainstream Americans seek to avoid them.  Their problem is not their skin color but their aggressive behavior.

And it is that aggressive behaviour that should in my view be focused on, not their racial origin.  As I have long argued, I think it is crazy to catch malefactors and then let them go.  Once someone has been found guilty of some foul deed, it seems crazy to let them go so that they can re-offend.  So how to improve that situation?  We once did deal with it well. Up until the early 19th century, murderers and other grave offenders in England were hanged at Tyburn and similar places.  There was a zero rate of re-offending for them.

There are so many people who commit crimes these days that we can hardly hang them all.  Even in the early 19th century, the British didn't hang everybody.  Petty criminals were, for instance, banished to Australia.  I am descended from two such petty criminals.

It seems to me, however, that recidivists (repeat offenders) are a special case.  It is often said that anybody can make a mistake and that people should be given an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. So a first-offender should be punished but after that let go in the hope that he will not re-offend.  But what if he does reoffend?  I think that shows him as a seriously deficient person who is unlikely to change in response to mercy and forgiveness.

That doesn't mean that we have to hang him but it does mean that he has to be kept permanently out of circulation in the law-abiding community.  Low-cost permanent detention would be one possibility.  Only about 2% of the population commit crimes and only about half of them re-offend so the numbers to be accommodated might not be impossibly costly -- particularly if bare-bones accommodation only were provided.

And a traditional method could be used too:  Exile. Exile goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times and probably earlier.  As a descendant of exiled people, I think it could almost be called humane.  There is no doubt that some poor countries could be paid a small sum to take in exiled Western criminals.  Africa might be particularly receptive.  Afro-Americans would not seem too different from the local population and criminals of Caucasian origin would usually seem positively law-abiding compared to the African locals.

And then there are the Jihadis.  There is no doubt that they are a problem group at the moment. To deal with them I think we have to deny Muslims not only freedom of speech but even freedom of thought.  That is an extraordinary thing to propose but the only other way I can see of protecting ourselves from the insane minority of Muslims is to repatriate all Muslims to their ancestral lands.

So what do I mean by freedom of thought?  I mean that any evidence of Jihadi sympathies among Muslims has to be made illegal so that the person concerned can be caught before he carries out Jihadi deeds. He is then exiled to his ancestral country.

The cooperation of the Muslim population at large would be needed for that to be done effectively but if it is put strongly to them that their permission to stay in Western countries is at stake, I have no doubt that co-operation would be forthcoming.  Very quietly, a lot of co-operation at preventing terrorist acts is already given. There have even been instances of Muslim parents incriminating their radicalized children.

But what about the First Amendment, Americans will say?  I hate to state the obvious here but the First Amendment protects speech only, not thought!  I think a court could find the two to be separable.

So I don't want to harm anyone on the basis of their race but I do believe that we need to use firmer measures to protect ourselves from crime.  And noting the differences between different groups of people can aid that.  The characteristic crimes of each group may benefit from solutions "tailor-made" for that group.  Jihadis need thought monitoring, Africans need Africa.

A marvellous rendition of Meine Lippen, die küssen so heiss by a young Anna Netrebko

From Giuditta (Judith) by Franz Lehar

I know this song well in a performance by the gorgeous Natalia Ushakova.  Ushakova is good but she can't beat the passion Netrebko puts into this performance.  The singer is supposed to be half-mad and Netrebko conveys that

Netrebko seems in fact to be particularly associated with that aria.  She has certainly recorded it often.  And like the great thespian she is, she has done it in a number of ways.  With the Proms performance being particularly jolly.  But the above performance is truest to the plot of the operetta.

And I know what she likes about that aria. It gives her great opportunity to show what she can do. Grand opera is very boring.  People are either dying or about to die. In Carmen he kills his lover and in Aida the lovers get immured.  How ghastly!  But it is much jollier in operatta. Guiditta is undoubtedly the darkest of the  operettas but in the end the reunited lovers just acknowledge one another and go their separate ways.  So this aria gives Netrebko scope to show what she can do. It allows all sorts of expression -- which she delivers brilliantly.

When? When and where was the aria recorded? It was recorded on 7 July 2006 in a grand concert with Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon at the Waldbühne ("Forest Stage") near Berlin -- before a huge audience of 20,000. Germans like their music and this aria was after all in German.

Fascism in the open

The stranglehold that the Left have on American education strives to ensure that no part of history that might embarrass the Left becomes generally known.  The slogan in the graphic above would never have been used except that a knowledge of Benito Mussolini has been thoroughly anaesthetized.  Mussolini invented the word Fascism to convey exactly what Mrs Clinton is conveying.  He was a scholarly man who knew his history and he knew that the symbol of authority in ancient Rome was a bundle of rods called a Fasces borne by the lictors.  The image was that the bundle was much stronger than any single rod it contains. In historical terms, then, Mrs Clinton is quite explicitly a Fascist. She has chosen as her theme the central message of Italian Fascism.

And in their intolerance of dissent, the Left are getting close to another great Fascist slogan:  Mussolini ha sempre ragione (Mussolini is always right).

A new Mona Lisa?

The picture above is of course of Nikki Gogan being told by the man she loves, that he loves another.

I very rarely watch TV and I certainly did not watch the show from which the above photo came, but it popped up so often in my news feed in recent days that I began to take notice of it.  And something that seems striking about it is that that photo is far more beautiful than any other photo of her.  She is undoubltedy a very attractive woman but in that photo there is an enigmatic beauty about her that is akin to that of the Mona Lisa.

We normally find a smiling face most attractive yet that is essentially an immobile face.  It is not a sad face or a relaxed face. To me it is a face in waiting:  Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.  That is probably a rather unusual state to be in so is that why it makes such a strong impression?  That it has made a strong impression is shown by the number of times people have put it up.  I am clearly not alone in finding it a fascinating face.

Another grab of the photo here. There is also a video of the episode here, which shows her as very gracious even in disappointment. He missed out on a quality lady there -- as most of Australia seems to think.

Ford moving all production of small cars from U.S. to Mexico

This announcement has produced a lot of criticism so I thought I might mention the reason for it.  The reason is that small car production is extremely competitive -- and becoming more so as China enters the market.  So Ford needs a cost saving to compete with the Asian manufacturers.  Otherwise sales of small Fords could nosedive, which would throw American workers out of work anyway.  And the benefit to the consumer of the move is a reduced price for their small car buy.

I agree that there can be social reasons why moving production may be undesirable but in this case no American workers will lose  work so I can't see any reasonable objection to the Ford move.  If Trump does put a tariff on imports from Mexico he will simply be giving the entire small car market to Asian producers, notably China.  Does he really want that?  Ford's profits will mainly go to America.  China's profits will go to China

Ford Motor said Wednesday it is shifting all of its U.S. small car production to Mexico, a development that drew fresh criticism from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Ford's declaration came as CEO Mark Fields sought to appeal to investors.

"Over the next two to three years, we will have migrated all of our small car production to Mexico and out of the United States,"   Fields told a meeting in Dearborn, Mich., where the company is based.

But the new development played perfectly for Trump, who was campaigning in Michigan, the traditional home to the nation's auto industry. As recently as April, he blasted Ford's plans to move production to Mexico as an "absolute disgrace." And on Wednesday, he picked up the beat again as he visited Flint, which has been hard hit by the loss of auto worker jobs.

"We shouldn’t allow it to happen. They’ll make their cars, they’ll employ thousands of people, not from this country, and they’ll sell their car across the border," Trump said. "When we send our jobs out of Michigan, we’re also sending our tax base."

In Michigan, Ford's announcement didn't come as a great surprise. Ford has said it continues to invest heavily in its U.S. plants and isn't cutting jobs here. Last fall, the automaker made a commitment to invest $9 billion in U.S. plants, with about half going to 11 facilities in Michigan. The deal created or retained more than 8,500 jobs as part of a new four-year contract with the United Auto Workers union, a net increase in the U.S.

Still, UAW President Dennis Williams has repeatedly blasted Ford and other automakers for investing so much money in Mexico.

"There is no reason, mathematically, to go ahead and run to countries like Mexico, Thailand and Taiwan," Williams said earlier this year. "We all recognize there is a huge problem in Mexico. So we have to address it as a nation. The UAW cannot do it alone. We are not naive."


Poofter leadership offer their version of civil debate

"Poofter" is a contemptuous Australian word for a male homosexual.  I use it here advisedly.  I don't have the slightest interest in where homosexuals stick their dicks.  I would rather not know, in fact.  But I do object to coercion and threats of violence coming from them.  That draws my contempt. Their contempt for free speech and democracy makes them different from Hitler and Stalin only in detail.

Not all homosexuals are thugs.  I know some decent ones.  But the decent ones should be vigorously dissociating themselves from the slime described below and demanding police prosecution of them.   And where are Tricky Gillian's 18c speech police?  If ever there was a breach of hate speech laws the one below is certainly it

The Accor Hotels group confirmed late yesterday that a function had been abandoned after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests.

A ferocious campaign against Christian groups planning to meet on same-sex marriage has forced them to cancel the event at a major hotel next week, amid claims of physical threats from marriage-equality advocates.

The Accor Hotels group confirmed late yesterday that the function had been abandoned after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests.

In the first test of the “civil” debate promised for a plebiscite on gay marriage, advocates for the “yes” case were being blamed last night for the kind of “hate speech” that Bill Shorten and others have claimed would come from the “no” case.

A spokeswoman for the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel said the campaign by marriage-equality advocates had forced the company to close the hotel’s Facebook page, sparked phone calls that disturbed hotel staff and escalated the problem to the company’s headquarters. “We’ve conducted an objective review regarding the safety and security of our hotel guests and staff,” she said. “Following this review the event will no longer take place next week.”

The four Christian groups booked the hotel conference room for Tuesday to prepare for a “no” campaign in the potential plebiscite, even though Labor and the Greens appear certain to block the “people’s vote” legislation in the Senate. About 100 people were expected to attend from the Sydney Anglicans, Sydney Catholics, the Marriage ­Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby.

Gay news website Same­ alerted readers to the event. Activist ­Pauline Pantsdown urged followers to stop the “dangerous, predatory” ACL. “Are children safe at Mercure and Accor hotels?” one post said. One follower declared it ­“utterly horrifying” that Accor would host the Christian groups while another accused the hotel of supporting the “hateful, ­deceitful and extreme” ACL.

The campaign dismayed some marriage-equality supporters. “I’m becoming a little uneasy about this kind of thing,” said one. “Will fundamentalist Christians and others start ­pressuring venues hosting ­marriage-equality functions to cancel them?”

Accor confirmed the campaign led to a number of “negative” calls to the hotel but would not confirm claims these calls included death threats. The spokeswoman would not say whether the police had been notified.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, warned that it was beneath Australians to treat supporters of traditional marriage as proponents of ­bigotry. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, warned of the danger to free speech from the threats that shut down the meeting.

A joint statement from the conveners said the hotel staff ­received “threats of violence” after the details of the private event were published on the ­internet. “We have chosen to reconsider our arrangements for the event next week due to our concern for the safety of the hotel staff, and our commitment to a reasonable and respectful debate,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.

The Weekend Australian sought comment from Australian Marriage Equality yesterday but the group was not aware of the storm over the event.

Marriage-equality advocates hailed the cancellation of the meeting late yesterday. Pantsdown accused ACL of “playing victim” and justified the campaign against the Christian groups “due to danger they pose” to LGBTI children and families.

The bill to hold the February 11 plebiscite was introduced into parliament this week but appears headed for defeat in the Senate, with the Coalition insisting on a “people’s vote” and Bill Shorten wanting Labor to vote against it.


Grammar schools: we need knowledge, not nostalgia (?)

Joanna Williams, the British author below writes for a normally conservative organization but her angry rant below is thoroughly Leftist and poorly founded in fact.  Her belief that IQ is unimportant to educational achievement flies in the face of over 100 years of research findings.  And she doesn't even argue her case.  She just dismisses the influence of hereditary intelligence with a wave of her hand.

And she seems very confused about the worth of traditional subjects.  On the one hand she calls them "pale, male and stale" but she ends up lauding such academic knowledge.

And her alternative to grammar schools is laughable.  She says that what is needed is "teachers who are sufficiently passionate about the subjects they teach".  Who could disagree?  But where are you going to find a big new crop of them?

And she seems very hostile to social mobility.  Both Left and Right see it as desirable and there is no doubt in the world that Grammar schools have been a major force in enabling it -- so what is wrong with that?  She is very hard to understand.  I think her progesterone levels must have been very high when she wrote the confused nonsense below

Re-introducing grammar schools, or academic selection for children aged 11, has rivalled Brexit as the main political talking point this summer. Last week, on the same day Theresa May’s proposals were finally confirmed, my daughter took the 11-plus exam, or ‘Kent Test’ as it’s known locally. We’d spent months preparing for the big day and that morning she hugged me a little tighter than usual and bravely fought back tears. Fortunately, she pulled herself together for the test and has, I’m pleased to report, been dining out on her efforts ever since with pizzas, sleepover parties and ritual book burnings.

At the moment, Kent is one of only a handful of places in the UK that has selective secondary schools, a throwback to the educational beliefs of a bygone era. Some, like the school my sons attend, date back centuries. The nostalgia currently driving government policy is for something comparatively more recent: the grammar schools brought into existence by the 1944 Education Act. This legislation enshrined the right of all children to secondary education through a tripartite system of grammar, technical and secondary-modern schools. In reality, few technical schools existed and, for most children, success or failure in the 11-plus led to roughly 20 per cent of each age group attending grammar schools, where pupils enjoyed a traditional academic curriculum, while the majority attended secondary moderns, where pupils received lessons considered more ‘relevant’ to their future lives.

Grammar schools did not take off in earnest until after the Second World War. Academic selection epitomised education policy of the 1950s, but was already being called into question by the end of that decade. In 1965, the then Labour education secretary, Anthony Crosland, issued a circular requesting the closure of grammar schools. But it was Margaret Thatcher, a few years later, who, as education secretary, introduced an unprecedented number of comprehensive schools, where children of all abilities would be educated together.

Grammar schools are a product of a particular and very short-lived era. Their existence was premised on two fundamental assumptions; first, a conviction that intelligence was innate, differently distributed throughout the population and measurable through a simple test; and, second, a belief in the value of a classical liberal education. The continued fondness for grammars is driven for the most part by their perceived connection to social mobility. In the 1950s, a small number of bright kids from poor families did indeed have their life chances transformed by education. But, again, this needs to be placed in the context of the time. The era of grammar schools coincided with a period of economic growth, when more ‘middle-class’ and better paid jobs were being created. Academic selection may have determined who filled those jobs, but it did not bring them into existence.

However much May and a section of the Conservative Party may wish it were otherwise, the 1950s cannot be legislated back into existence, and neither can grammar schools. Of course, selection based on exam performance can be reintroduced, but even here the differences between the cultural attitudes of the 1950s and today are striking. Nowadays, parents and teachers alike are quick to bemoan the pressure children are put under at school. A few months ago, some parents kept their children off school for a day for a ‘kids’ strike’ in protest at the stress of testing. When children are considered to be so vulnerable to mental-health problems, a high-stakes, pass-or-fail test for 10-year-olds takes on a far greater significance than it would have done in the past.

Bringing together children who successfully jump through the 11-plus hoop does not necessarily create a grammar school. Changing the law is a blunt means of promoting values and changing educational culture. The ethos of many existing grammar schools is based on tradition, and built into their architecture. Mostly, it stems from a curriculum that privileges academic subjects over vocational ones, and scholarly success over social inclusion. For this reason, grammar schools tend to attract teachers who are first and foremost subject specialists.

When grammar schools were introduced in the years after the Second World War, teachers largely shared a belief in the content of a classical liberal education. Few questioned whether material needed to be ‘relevant’ to the lives of 14-year-olds. Rarely was the curriculum criticised for being pale, male and stale. Teachers and parents accepted the merit of knowledge taught at school and the values presented in the curriculum.

It is certainly not impossible to offer children this academic, knowledge-based education today. In fact, many schools – both grammar and non-selective – already do. What’s needed is not a change in the law, but school leaders and teachers who are sufficiently passionate about the subjects they teach. Only then will schools be prepared to go beyond the strictures of the exam syllabus, and, at the same time, minimise the myriad other demands placed on them to teach everything from relationships to how to open a bank account. This requires teachers with sufficient subject knowledge, and a firm conviction that this knowledge is worth children mastering. Only then will schools be able to resist the pressure to succumb to a culture of low expectations.

When I’ve talked with other parents at my daughter’s school over the past few months, bemoaning the stress of the Kent Test, grammar schools have been the No1 topic of conversation. However, despite the additional pressure the 11-plus puts on family life, it’s easy to see why grammar schools are still popular: parents want their children to be challenged; they want them to learn academic subjects; and they want them to leave school knowing considerably more than they did when they started. In my experience, this is an aspiration that all parents share. Few parents say they want selection for the sake of it. If we believe that intelligence is neither fixed nor innate and that all children are capable of being educated, then there is no reason why a rigorous, academic curriculum can’t be introduced in all schools. But this will require a cultural shift, an appreciation of knowledge and learning for its own sake, and a determination to put children under pressure rather than seeing them as too vulnerable to learn. Tinkering with education policy may provide a different set of incentives and a few quick fixes, but it is unlikely to change the dominant ethos surrounding education today.

That May is arguing for grammar schools primarily on the basis of social mobility shows exactly how far we are from a culture that values academic knowledge. Placing social mobility at the heart of education reduces academic subjects to skills that might aid employability. It implies an instrumentalisation of knowledge that completely undercuts any belief in learning for its own sake. If May’s proposals come to fruition, we risk importing the worst element of grammar schools – selection – without reaping their greatest benefit: the privileging of subject knowledge. What would be better for all children is a return to the founding ethos of the comprehensive system: namely, that of ‘grammar schools for all’.


The relationship between conservatism and racism

The nature and extent of the relationship is contested but the Left are quite convinced that it is conservatives who are racist.  That conservatives are generally OPPOSED to the blatant racism that is affirmative action never quite gets into their heads.  Leftists are OBSESSED with race.  They look for racial implications in everything.  "Racist" is their big swear sword. Conservatives just wish they would stop.

What Leftists do to support their suspicion of conservatives is to do survey research in which they ask one series of questions that identifies conservatism and then another that identifies racism.  That such opinion surveys don't predict racial behaviour has been known since the 1930s but let that pass.

They then ask who agrees most with the statements that express conservastism and then ask are they the same people who agree most with statements expressing racism.  And they do generally find some overlap.

An unusually sophisticated study in that mould has just come out that has some interesting results, however.  The new study looked at the social context in which the statements were made.  What do people say when most people around them are conservative and does that differ from when most people around them are Leftish.  And they found that context made a big difference.

What they found was that in a generally conservative society, conservatives were NOT racist.  It was only among Leftists that conservatives agreed with some racist statements.  So Leftism provokes racism.  Who'd a thunk it?  The Leftist obsession with race makes conservatives a bit racist too.  I find that a big laugh.  It certainly torpedoes the conventional Leftist view of conservatives.

In summary:  In a conservative environment, where little is heard of the constant Leftist yammering about race, "negative outgroup attitudes" are rare and likely to come from both Right and Left.  But a Leftist environment is polarizing.  The constant Leftist yammering about the evils of whites and the innocence of minorities causes conservatives to react  against that and make them more likely to express attitudes that are critical of "outgroups".  So it is actually Leftism that causes "negative outgroup attitudes" to be expressed by conservatives.
The journal abstract is below. For the statistically-minded, note that restriction of range effects were allowed for:

The Mobilizing Effect of Right-Wing Ideological Climates: Cross-Level Interaction Effects on Different Types of Outgroup Attitudes
Jasper Van Assche et al.

The present research investigated a multilevel person-context interactionist framework for the relationship between right-wing ideologies and prejudice across two large, representative samples (Study 1: European Social Survey: N 5 56,752; Study 2: World Values Survey: N 5 74,042). Across three different operationalizations of right-wing ideology, two contextual levels (regional and national) of right-wing climate, and three types of outgroup attitudes (i.e., age-, ethnicity-, and gender-based), the analyses consistently revealed cross-level interactions, showing a strong association between right-wing attitudes and negative outgroup attitudes at the individual level in contexts with a low right-wing climate, whereas this relationship is weaker and often even absent in contexts with a high right-wing climate. These cross-level interactions remained significant after controlling for statistical artefacts (i.e., restriction of range and outliers). The authors propose norm setting as the mobilizing mechanism through which a right-wing climate develops and curbs the influence of individual right-wing social-ideological attitudes on outgroup attitudes.

Political Psychology, 2016. doi: 10.1111/pops.12359

Can a "correct" diet make you smarter?

The report below would seem to say so.  A small group of Finnish children who ate a traditional Finnish diet that was low on red meat, fat and sugar had better reading skills in third grade than did other kids in their classes.  And the study was a careful one with obvious confounding factors like social class ruled out.  What is to quarrel with there?

A lot.  Correlation is not causation and not all possible confounding factors were ruled out.  As is commonly the case, the researchers did not ask WHY some kids got a traditional diet while others did not.

An obvious possibility is that the parents who took the trouble to feed their children a traditionally "correct" diet were health conscious generally and that all we are seeing is the outcome of greater health consciousness.  Finland is a modern country so it  would undoubtedly have been easiest to feed kids Western convenience foods -- with their high levels of fat and sugar.  So the parents who did not do that stood out and may have had other different practices relevant to health -- avoidance of psychoactive drugs, for instance.

Poor health is indeed associated with damage to IQ so the dimmer students may simply have been less well-cared for generally.

Other points to ponder is that the sample was small, that the effects were statistically significant but small and that abilities at third grade are only weakly correlated with abilities in later life.  IQ rankings even in the teenage years can wash out in adulthood.

These observational studies are all well and good but there is no substitute for a controlled before-and-after study.  I include the journal abstract below.

Children who eat fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains in their first three years of school do far better in tests than their peers with poor diets, the study found.

The findings, from the University of Eastern Finland, were independent of children's socio-economic status, physical fitness, and body type.

It suggests healthy foods impact the brain in a way we do not fully appreciate, and could provide important evidence for public health policymakers globally.

The study involved 161 children aged between six and eight years old, and followed up on them from the first grade to the third grade in school.

The quality of their diet was analysed using food diaries, and their academic skills with the help of standardized tests.

The closer the diet followed the Baltic Sea Diet (high in vegetables, fruit and berries, fish, whole grain, and unsaturated fats and low in red meat, sugary products, and saturated fat) the healthier it was considered.

The study showed that children whose diet was rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grain, fish and unsaturated fats, and low in sugar, did the best in reading tests.

These healthy-eating children also showed the most progress in reading skills between grades one and three, compared to their peers with low-quality diets.

'Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socio-economic status, physical activity, body adiposity, and physical fitness,' Dr Eero Haapala of the University of Eastern Finland said


Diet quality and academic achievement: a prospective study among primary school children

Eero A. Haapala et al.


Purpose:  Poor diet quality may impair academic achievement in children, but such evidence is limited. Therefore, we investigated the associations of healthy diet in Grade 1 assessed by Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Baltic Sea Diet Score (BSDS), and Finnish Children Healthy Eating Index (FCHEI) with academic achievement in Grades 1–3 in children.

Methods: The participants were 161 Finnish children who were 6–8 years old in Grade 1 and attended in a large ongoing physical activity and dietary intervention study. Dietary factors were assessed using 4-day food records, and MDS, BSDS, and FCHEI were calculated. Academic achievement was assessed by reading fluency, reading comprehension, and arithmetic skill tests. The data were analyzed using linear regression analysis and analysis of covariance adjusted for age, sex, parental education, household income, body fat percentage, physical activity, the PANIC Study group, and total energy intake.

Results: MDS was positively associated with reading comprehension in Grade 3 (standardized regression coefficient β = 0.167, P = 0.032). BSDS was positively associated with reading fluency in Grades 2–3 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.161–0.274, P < 0.05). FCHEI was positively related to reading fluency in Grades 1–2 and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 (β = 0.190–0.344, P < 0.05). Children in the highest third of BSDS and FCHEI had better reading fluency and reading comprehension in Grades 1–3 than children in the lowest third (P < 0.05). None of the diet scores was associated with arithmetic skills.

Conclusions:  Healthier diet assessed by BSDS or FCHEI in Grade 1 was associated with better reading skills, but not with arithmetic skills, among children in Grades 1–3. Long-term intervention studies are needed to investigate the effects of improvements in diet quality on academic achievement among children.

Haapala, E.A., Eloranta, A., Venäläinen, T. et al. Eur J Nutr (2016). doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1270-5

Deconstructing "inclusivity"

Inclusivity is something of a buzzword on the Left these days.  It has always seemed complete nonsense to me.  You don't include golf players in football games or vice versa.  Far from being a good thing, inclusivity would seem to create one big muddle.  Different people need to be treated differently, not herded into one big corral.  It only makes sense if you believe the absurd Leftist doctrine that all men are equal.  They may all be equal in the sight of God -- to quote a famous political compromise -- but God's optometrical difficulties are not widely shared.

I regard myself  as having had a blessed life and at age 73 still laugh my way through the day.  I don't sound very jolly in my writing a lot of the time but who could be jolly in discussing the slimy con-men of the Left?

Yet, as I have previously set out at some length,  I have lived most of my life in a state of great exclusion.  And I am delighted that I was able to separate myself from uncongenial company.  Because "inclusivity" was not forced down my throat, I was free to go my own way and do my own thing.  When most of my fellow pupils at school were running around chasing balls, I was reading books. From infancy on, chasing balls is clearly one of humanity's greatest pleasures but I much preferred books.  And I could do that.  I could separate myself from other people.  I lived happily outside the big Corral.  And to this day I have quite a small social circle.

So the great good to me seems to be discrimination.  Each of us is very discriminatory in choosing things as diverse as our wine and our life partners so being discriminatory in choosing our company should be optimal for our life satisfaction.  We do best by excluding the unsuitable, not by including it.

I suppose at this stage I must seem like a bit of a moron.  I have been treating the desirability of inclusion as a general proposition.  I think one does need to look at it in such an  objective way but, in reality, it is a very particular policy goal hiding behind a generally good-sounding name -- in the usual Leftist style.  Candy-coating their destructive proposals is what Leftists do.

What inclusion is all about was brought home to me by this article.  The language was inclusion but the starting point of the article was was outrage at the occasional deaths of unco-operative black criminals at the hands of the police.  Voila!  Being inclusive means being nicer to blacks!  That is the whole meaning and purpose of the  doctrine concerned.  I am all in favour of everybody being nice to everyone else but being permissive towards criminals of any skin color seems grossly maladaptive to me.  They should be excluded, not included.

Debating homosexual marriage is "hate speech" (?)

The usual intolerance of dissent that characterizes the Left below.  They just KNOW all the right answers and everyone else should shut up. Stalin thought the same.

The writer is commenting on a proposal to have a popular vote on whether homosexual marriage should be allowed in Australia.  The Left are showing how antidemocratic they are by opposing the idea.  The people are not fit to make decisions affecting their own lives, apparently

Here's a question that, on the face of it, seems refreshingly simple to answer: should public money be used to promote hate speech?

And at first glance the answer would appear to be "no, obviously". But when you think about it a little bit more deeply, the answer becomes: "Seriously? Still no, for all sorts of legal and moral reasons. Why are you even asking this? Do you need a hug and some quiet time?"

However, it's the question which the Coalition party room is going to be inexplicably struggling with this week as it decides whether or not the $160 million plebiscite on whether or not to legalise same sex marriage should be even more expensive by using even more public money to fund publicity campaigns for the Yes and the No cases.

The problem that the No case, and by extension the federal government, have with funding such a campaign is that it would encourage activity which is arguably illegal.

In 2013 the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013 was passed, meaning that it is illegal to discriminate "on the basis of sex, marital or relationship status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, breastfeeding, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status."

This little problem, incidentally, is why there was a push to suspend our anti-discrimination laws for the duration of the plebiscite - an option which was immediately ruled out by Attorney-General George Brandis in February, who pointed out that "There are very obvious practical problems with that, among them... that most anti-discrimination laws in this country are laws of the states, not the Commonwealth."

The fact that a No campaign would appear to be arguing for something which is prima facie illegal is just one more problem for those seeking to prevent same sex marriage being recognised in Australia, along with the enduring problem that there's no sane reason to deny Australian citizens equal rights because of their sexuality, and the fact that those most strongly advocating the No case are not exactly the most charming, persuasive and charismatic people the country has to offer.


Another false prophecy

The excerpt below is from a 2007 article.  It correctly predicts that global CO2 levels will hit 400 ppm by 2015.  Unlike temperature, CO2 has been rising fairly steadily so that was easy.  What is amusing is what was predicted to happen when we got to 400ppm.  Southern Spain was to be emptied out by the extreme heat, for instance.  Someone tell the Gibraltarians!  

Warmists are very attached to their prophecies.  It's a good thing. The failure of a prediction is the normal scientific criterion for the theory that generated it being wrong.  In that way, Warmist theories have repeatedly been shown as wrong.  So a continued belief in anthropogenic global warming is a rejection  of science.

One failed prediction might be just an aberration but the slew of uniformly wrong predictions we have seen from Warmists would be enough to kill any other theory stone dead. Warmist models have zero predictive skill, meaning that a rational person would ignore them

Environmentalist writer Mark Lynas’ new book about global warming takes for its metaphor Dante’s descent through the circles of hell. But while Dante was guided by the poetics of Virgil, Lynas follows the research findings of scientists; and while Dante plotted a route down through the unbaptised, gluttonous, slothful and treacherous, Lynas descends through one, two, three or even six degrees rise in global warming (we’re spared Dante’s final three circles of hell because the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change (IPCC) only estimated a rise in temperature of up to six degrees).

Dante dealt in moral failings such as betrayal and faithlessness; Lynas deals with the more anodyne stuff of car journeys to work and buying tropical fruit at the supermarket. Regardless, we will be visited with the results of our sinful actions, as daily energy usage is repaid in the rising of the planet’s mercury. The events described in the book will be our future, says Lynas, unless we ‘repent’ and cut back on energy consumption. His predictions go like this:

At one degree rise in temperature, the western USA is wracked by droughts: powerful dust and sandstorms ‘turn day into night across thousands of miles of former prairie’, while ‘farmsteads, roads and even entire towns will find themselves engulfed by blowing sand’. At two degrees, southern Spain will empty, with a ‘mass scramble to abandon barely habitable temperatures, as Saharan heatwaves sweep across the Med’. At three degrees, Texas is hit by ‘Super-Hurricane’ Odessa: ‘the winds from the storm’s eyewall slam into Houston, the gleaming towers of the central business district begin to sway ominously’. Four and five degrees are worse still. Then at six degrees there will be mass extinction, something approaching ‘global apocalypse and doom’ (it is ‘unlikely’ that humanity will be wiped out completely, but there will not be many of us left).

Each of these outcomes corresponds to a carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions scenario. A two degrees rise corresponds to a CO2 concentration of 400 parts per million, which means peaking global emissions by 2015 – eight years’ time – and cutting emissions to 90 per cent by 2050. A three degrees rise corresponds to peaking global emissions by 2030; four degrees to peaking by 2050. But in actual fact, says Lynas, if we want to avoid global apocalypse and doom we would have to keep within the ‘magic two-degree threshold’.

This is because environmental feedback systems will mean that the temperature will tip upwards, irrespective of our carbon dioxide outputs. As temperature rises, says Lynas, some ecosystems increasingly stop absorbing CO2 and they start to release it (or other greenhouse gases) instead. At three degrees, says Lynas, there is the collapse of the Amazon ecosystem, and soils start to release stored CO2; at four degrees, there is the release of methane from Siberia. ‘If we reach three degrees, therefore, that leads inexorably to four degrees, which leads inexorably to five.’ And at five there is an even more powerful feedback mechanism, the release of methane hydrate from the sea. The result is ‘runaway global warming’, against which ‘humanity would be powerless to intervene’. So it’s two degrees – 90 per cent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050 – or it’s apocalypse.


A self-inflating stunt by a white black man

Aborigines are black.  Does the guy below look black to you?  He is a white man but under Australia's crazy rules he is allowed to call himself Aboriginal or indigenous if he has any trace of Aboriginal ancestry that he knows about.

So he did something no black Aborigine would do.  Aborigines are quiet, shy, camplaisant people most of the time.  Publically insulting two old ladies over their private conversation would not remotely be on their agenda.  But this guy did it -- enabling him to portray himself as a battler against racism -- and he got the applause that often flows from that.

But, as I see it, the whole thing was just an ego boost for himself.  He is basically one of that sad band of insecure people who create so much nuisance:  An attention seeker.  He or someone with him deliberately photographed and circulated the docket given to the ladies.  How is that NOT publicity hunger?

And we have no assurance that the ladies were in any way racist.  The only quotation from them given is the word "assimilation".  But assimilation into white society does occur and is usually beneficial.

Respect for his intellectual acuity is not aided by his use of English.  He says that the conversation he criticized was "less than distasteful ".  So it was tasteful?  Very confused

AN INDIGENOUS man has come up with the perfect response to racism.

Perth man Jarred Wall was having lunch with a friend in Fremantle when he heard two elderly ladies talking about Aboriginal people.

“The conversation was less than distasteful with words like assimilation being thrown around willy nilly,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I could have unleashed a tirade of abuse but that wouldn’t have helped.”

Instead, he decided to buy them a pot of tea — leaving a handwritten note on the receipt that said: “Enjoy the tea! Compliments of the 2 Aboriginals sitting next to you on table 26.”

“Maybe these ladies will be a little wiser and think before they speak,” he wrote in the post, adding the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #englishbreakfasttea.

“Hopefully there won’t be a next time!”
Mr Wall and his friend were having lunch when they overheard two ladies making racist remarks.

Mr Wall and his friend were having lunch when they overheard two ladies making racist remarks.Source:Facebook

The post was shared on Facebook, attracting more than 13,000 reactions, 1500 shares and 1200 comments, the overwhelming majority of which have been positive.

“Being kind often does help. It sometimes shames people into looking at their behaviour. It makes them feel guilty for being d*ckheads,” one user wrote.

“If I was there I would have given you a standing ovation with lots of clapping and cheering,” wrote another. “Hope the ladies have learned some serious lessons from this incident because in this time and age there is no room at all for these kind of remarks.”

His mother, Trish Hill Wall, wrote: “I’m so proud my son that you rose above the hurtful rants of others. Kindness goes a long way, and you all walked away after with your heads held high.”


The Marmot thinks more money would fix Aboriginal health

Is that you, Sir Michael?

The Marmot has been peddling nonsense for a long time.  He has the typical Leftist's lack of imagination:  Government spending fixes everything.  That more money given to blacks would mostly  lead them to piss it up against a wall, he does not confront.

We see here that he knows that low IQs are strongly associated with poorer health  -- but no mention of that below, of course.

He says that treating black children better would fix their problems.  So how are you going to do that?  How are you to get them to attend school?  Send the police after them every day?  But wouldn't that be too "authoritarian"?  Perhaps take them away from their families and give them to whites to bring up?  Hasn't he heard of the "stolen generation"?  The Marmot is just a blow-in Pommy Leftist who hasn't got a blind clue about Aborigines.  No wonder the ABC has treated him as an honoured guest

If Australia wants to close the gap between the health of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the traditional approach of treating disease will not do it, epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot says.

Indigenous life expectancy is 10 years lower than that of the general population. Rates of diabetes are more than three times higher.

An Aboriginal Australian is 19 times more likely to die of acute rheumatic fever or chronic rheumatic heart disease.

The rate of suicide for Indigenous boys aged 15 to 19 is four times higher than for their non-Indigenous counterparts; among girls, the rate is six times higher.

In 2016, the prime minister's Closing the Gap update found that while there had been improvement in some areas, other targets are unlikely to be met.

"In my view, the reason why Aboriginal Australians have worse health than the non-Indigenous population is because of inequality," Sir Michael, president of the World Medical Association and director of the Institute of Health Equity, says in his second ABC Boyer Lecture.

He argues the best way to deal with that inequality is investment in early childhood development.

"What happens to children in the early years has a profound effect on their life chances and hence their health as adults," he said.

"A poor start in life, of course, affects everything that happens subsequently, the kind of job you do, the amount of money you earn and these, in their turn will affect health.

"More adverse conditions in early childhood, fewer educational opportunities, fewer opportunities for good and meaningful work, low income, worse environments, and high rates of smoking, poor diet, alcohol and drugs.

"People are not responsible for the social forces on their life. Get the social conditions right, ensure optimal early child development, and then, of course, people can be expected to take responsibility for their own health."

Sir Michael's research in the UK suggests that good child development is less common among the socio-economically disadvantaged.

However, he points to Hackney in East London as an example of how it need not be so.

There, investment in teachers and pre-school services closed the performance gap between children who were eligible for school lunches — a marker of disadvantage — and those who were not.

On a larger scale, Sir Michael pointed to the correlation between taxation and social welfare policies and child poverty in the United States and Australia.

Before taxes and transfers, 25 per cent of US children are classed as being in poverty — defined as having a family income that is less than 50 per cent of the median — while in Australia the figure is 28 per cent of children.

But after tax and transfer payments, poverty drops to 11 per cent in Australia. In the US it remains as high as 25 per cent.

This has led Sir Michael to an inescapably political conclusion: if Australia is serious about the health and wellbeing of its citizens, it must get serious about inequality.

"Social injustice is killing on a grand scale," he said.

"The social injustice of condemning some children to a poor start in life should not be tolerated."

Warmer, wetter climate would impair California grasslands, 17-year experiment finds

The Greenies love this claim.  It overturns just about everything we know about plant growth.  There have been any number of experiments showing that CO2 makes plants grow bigger and we know why.  And greenhouse owners routinely add CO2 to their greenhouses to improve growth of their crops.  So what happened on the occasion below?  Apparently the soil in the area was phosphorous deficient and that stopped the plants from taking advantage of the other growth factors. See here

Grassland at Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. An examination of 17 years of experimental data from the preserve is helping scientists from Rice University, Stanford and the Carnegie Institution for Science better …more
Results from one of the longest-running and most extensive experiments to examine how climate change will affect agricultural productivity show that California grasslands will become less productive if the temperature or precipitation increases substantially above average conditions from the past 40 years.

That's one conclusion from a new study in this week's Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from Rice University, Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science. The research team analyzed data from the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment, which has run continuously since 1998. The experiment simulates the effect of warmer temperatures, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, increased nitrogen pollution and increased rainfall on a 1.8-acre tract at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

"There's been some hope that changing climate conditions would lead to increased productivity of grasses and other plants that draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," said study lead author Kai Zhu, a global ecologist and data scientist at Rice "In northern California, it was hypothesized that net grassland productivity might increase under the warmer, wetter conditions that are predicted by most long-term climate models. Our evidence disproves that idea."

The Jasper Ridge experiment involves 136 test plots where scientists can study how grass will grow under conditions that are predicted to occur later this century due to climate change. The experiment allows scientists to test four variables: higher temperatures, increased precipitation, increased atmospheric CO2 levels and increased nitrogen levels. The plots are configured in such a way that scientists can test each of the variables independently and in combination.

"Global change is quite complicated," said Zhu, who spent almost two years analyzing Jasper Ridge data during a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford and the Carnegie Institution for Science from 2014 to 2016. "It does not just mean change in temperature. There are also changes in rainfall, atmospheric CO2, nitrogen and many other things. If we want to get a comprehensive understanding of everything, it is important to have experiments like Jasper Ridge, which manipulate more than one variable, both singly and in combination."

One clear finding from the data is that increased levels of CO2 did not increase grass production. Instead, the amount of grass grown at sites with elevated CO2 remained flat, even at CO2 levels almost twice the present atmospheric concentration.
"The nonresponse to CO2 is as important as any of our other findings," Zhu said. "That finding may surprise people because a lot have said that if you have more CO2 in the atmosphere, you'll get better growth because CO2 is a resource for plants. That's a popular hypothesis."

By examining data from all the test plots, including those where CO2 increased in conjunction with higher temperature, rainfall and nitrogen levels, and incorporating more than 40 years of climate records from the Jasper Ridge site, Zhu was able to deduce the optimal temperature and moisture levels for production under all conditions. His analysis showed that average conditions from the past 40 years are near optimal for grass production, and any significant deviation toward warmer or wetter conditions will cause the land to be less productive.

"Experiments like Jasper Ridge are designed to examine the interactive and unexpected effects that are likely to arise from global environmental change," said study co-author Chris Field, the founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology and the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University. "The nonlinear, interactive effects of temperature and precipitation on grassland primary production revealed by this analysis highlight the value of this experimental approach and suggest that it could be useful in studying how global change will affect other types of ecosystems."


High IQ people are prejudiced too

The findings below are reminiscent of Yancey's work. He looked at findings which showed conservatives to be more prejudiced and bigoted. He showed that, using similar research methods, you could show liberals to be prejudiced and bigoted too. The difference was the target. Conservatives tended to have dim views of homosexuals and blacks whereas liberals foamed at the mouth about Christians and conservatives

There is currently a small correlation between IQ and expressed liberalism.  High IQ people are quick to pick up on that the dominant political ideas are and to go along with such ideas for the sake of social acceptance.  Around the mid-20th century, when conservative ideas were dominant, high IQ people tended towards conservatism.  See here

It has long been believed that people with a low IQ are more likely to be prejudiced, including anti-gay attitudes and racism.  But new research suggests there may be more to the story.

The researchers looked at data from a survey which asked people to rate their feelings toward 24 different groups.

The survey also gauged participants' IQs using a measure of vocabulary that is linked with overall intelligence. As with previous studies, the results showed that people with low IQ showed more prejudice.

However, the researchers also found that people with higher IQs also showed prejudice.  What differed between the groups was who they showed prejudice towards.

The new study, which is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, suggests that people with lower IQs tend to dislike minorities they perceive as liberal.

In contrast with this, the researchers suggest that people higher on the IQ scale are more prejudiced towards conservative groups, such as religious fundamentalists.

Speaking to Live Science, Dr Mark Brandt, a psychologist at Tilburg University in Holland, who co-led the study, said: 'Because our study finds this on both ends of the cognitive ability continuum, it suggests this isn't just something that's unique to people with low cognitive ability.

'The simplest explanation for this result is that both people with high and low cognitive ability seem to express prejudice towards people they disagree with.'

The researchers looked at data from the 2012 American National Election Studies survey to explore the prejudice that participants may have had.

As with previous studies, the results showed that people with low IQ showed more prejudice. However, the researchers also found that people with higher IQs also showed prejudice.

What differed between the groups was who they showed prejudice towards.

Low-IQ people tended to dislike groups that are perceived as liberal and that people have little choice about whether they join – such as blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and gay people.

In contrast with this, higher-IQ people tended to dislike groups that are perceived as conservative and that people have a choice about whether they join – such as businesses, the military, and Christian fundamentalists.

The results came as a surprise to the researchers, as liberal people tend to be more open to experience.

Dr Brandt said: 'Even people who are open to new ideas show this link between perceiving somebody as having different attitudes than them and expressing prejudice. 'It's kind of depressingly robust.'

The researchers also looked at what is behind the tendency to dislike people you disagree with. They found that the strongest factor seems to be that people dislike other people who they perceive to have different moral values than they do.

Dr Brandt added: 'We want to be at a place where we can say, 'Yep, I disagree with you, but that doesn't mean I dislike you, necessarily.'  'But that seems to be something that's relatively rare.'


Can racial discrimination be harmless?

The Left clearly think so.  Affirmative action is nothing if not racially discriminatory.  And even racial pride is fine, as long as it is black pride.

The Left are in fact obsessed by race.  It is on their agenda all the time.  The destruction aimed at is more subtle but they are just as obsessed with race as Hitler was.  New socialists and old socialists are not much different.

But are there other forms of racism that should get a pass?  He  is all but forgotten now but the leading racial theorist of C20 was Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who was admired not only by Hitler but also by Kaiser Bill, the nominal German leader of WWI. Chamberlain was a liberal, a passionate Greenie and a virulent antisemite.  So let me make clear at this point that I am not defending him or his doctrines.  The only thing we have in common is an admiration for the people of India.

And that is my first point.  Chamberlain was in his way positive  in what he said about race.  His antisemitism, although relentless, was incidental to his main racial theme:  That Aryans were a superior people.  And he enthusiastically included Hindu Indians among the Aryan race.  He even learned Sanskrit to study their early writings. It was probably the writings of Chamberlain that influenced the admiration of Democrat U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for Aryans.

So Chamberlain was primarily concerned not to attack "inferior" races but to build up respect and esteem for Aryans, among whom Germans were the leading lights.  He in fact saw the Prussians, the skilled warriors of Northeastern Germany as approaching an  ideal type of human being.  But he also believed that others could aspire to reach the Prussian ideal.  You did not have to be born a Prussian to be an exemplary Aryan.

So the leading theorist from the days of racial theory had primarily positive aims. He was there to praise much more that he was there to condemn.

But in Chamberlain's case, praise for one group went with denigration for another group:  Jews.  So is that generally so?   Can one think well of one's own group without denigrating other groups?  There is much evidence that you can.

It was a topic I looked at several times when I was doing survey research among the general population.  And I repeatedly found that a person's patriotism and national pride gave no prediction of one's attitude to ethnic outgroups.  You could for instance be a proud American and at the same time have no animus against Jews.  All combinations were roughly equally probable:  Some patriots tended to be favourably disposed to Jews while others tended to be critical of Jews, with neither type of attitude being strongly felt.  And there were roughly equal numbers in both "camps".

Examples of my research findings on the matter can be found here, here, here and here.  And simliar conclusions have been arrived at by others -- e.g. Cashdan

So I think it is clear that it is not only on the Left that racial sentiment can pass muster.  There can be favourable views of other groups with no vicious implications.

I for instance am firmly of the view that the Han Chinese are in many ways a superior group.  I think that in most ways they will in time surpass my own Anglo-Saxon group.  In some ways they already have.  They appreciate Western classical music much more than Westerners do.  Classical music has a following in the USA of only about 2% of the population, whereas in China and Japan the figure is about 6%. And the best interpreter of much of Western piano music is in my view Yuja Wang, from Beijing.

Yuja Wang

And the rise of China has already been greatly beneficial to us all.  Almost all our electrical goods are now made there very cheaply.  And the ubiquitous presence of Chinese names in the author lists of most academic journal articles in all scientific disciplines has to be seen to be believed.

But will the Chinese rise always be benevolent?  One might think not if one knows Chinese attitudes.  Most Han Chinese see the Han as a superior race. So will that lead to aggression against other races?  The whole point of this essay is to argue that it will not.  Thinking highly of your own group does NOT automatically  imply hostility to other groups.

And there are practical reasons why we do not have to fear war with China.  For a start, why would they want to start a war with their biggest customers?

More importantly, however, the People's Liberation Army is now so large, so well-equipped and trained that any war against it would be unthinkable.  Any war between China and anyone else would have to go nuclear almost immediately.  And the Chinese know as well as anybody that there would be no winners from such a war.  Life on earth could in fact be entirely wiped out, something only Greenies would celebrate.  So there will be no war with China. Nuclear deterrence kept the Soviets at bay and it will keep China at bay.

But what about current tensions in the East China sea?  With its very large population, China has a great need for resources and it is common for nations to seek such resources from under their nearby seas.  The USA does it; The UK does it and Israel does it.  The difference on this occasion, of course, is that there are other claimants on control of the areas at issue.

But China now has firm control of the places concerned and because of that, I also think that China has now established a clearly superior legal claim on the areas concerned.  By building up the various shoals and islets into substantial bases with extensive facilities and a population, China has simply acquired those places by right of conquest.  They took over empty territory and thus have an arguably better claim on the territories concerned than the USA has on its territory.  The USA acquired already occupied territory by right of conquest.  China acquired empty territory by right of conquest.

So for a variety of reasons, I don't think the rise of China is to be feared or denigrated.