Breakthrough WA Study Shines A Light On Global Water Contamination

The article below is very long-winded in a typical Leftist style but the essence of it is in the opening paragraphs that I have excerpted below.

I believe the article does address a real problem.  The only surprising thing is its discovery that bore water is a last resort for drinking purposes.  It often has metallic and other unpleasant tastes that should warn that it use for human consumption is risky.

Depending on the contamination it can be purified at some cost but that is rare.  People, black and white,  just take their chances, usually. So it is not surprising that the W.A. government has not funded purification for Aborigines.  Government has many calls on its funds.

Asking the government to go into a large number of black settlements with purification machinery is a big ask when it is always possible for the inhabitants to move into areas where reticulated river water is available. The W.A. government encourages that.

But the Aborigines resist that.  They have a religious attachment to their traditional locations.  So in a sense they have made their choices about what they are exposed to and have to bear the consequences.  Is it fair for them to ask those who pay taxes (they rarely do themselves) to prop up their religious beliefs? As former Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared in March 2015, “what we can’t do is endlessly subsidize lifestyle choices.”

When deep-well bore water arrived in Australian bush communities people thought the big thirst was over. Jeff McMullen reports that a decade long study shows unsafe water is now cutting lives short.

If a baby is fed unsafe water contaminated with chemical nitrates, the child turns blue.

The striking colouring occurs particularly around the eyes and mouth. Blue Baby Syndrome is the decrease of the oxygen carrying capacity of the haemoglobin. It is potentially fatal.

And yet, in scores of communities across Australia many people are still not aware of the growing evidence that nitrates – found naturally in the environment and compounded by mining – are a crucial factor in a devastating epidemic of chronic illness, particularly renal problems afflicting children and adults.

“I never dreamed that our water has such high levels of nitrate contamination,” says Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes, paediatrician to the Goldfields region in Western Australia.

“Water flows from the Pilbara all the way south to the Great Australian Bight. The critical threat is the nitrates, combined with uranium and arsenic, to create a perfect storm.”

It is this discovery – that not only is there an immediate threat of nitrate poisoning from high levels in the water but also a long-term danger caused by prolonged exposure – that will bring Dr Jeffries-Stokes and her medical team from the Western Desert Kidney Project face to face with the WA Government this week, to present their findings and lobby the government to finally take action.

Co-Chief Investigator of the decade long research project, Annette Stokes says “people are very, very sick”.

“Some already had diabetes and did not know it. Others are progressing to end state renal illness without ever being aware of this water poison.”

“Previously unexplained levels of chronic illness, especially kidney disease afflicting black and white people in remote regions, can now be understood,” adds Dr Jeffries-Stokes. “Governments must take action urgently and it is no good talking about closing hundreds of remote communities and towns. This affects so many people Governments must clean up the water.”

One of Australia’s most respected epidemiologists, Professor Fiona Stanley, has added her voice to the call for urgent action.

“This is a really important public health and human rights issue, particularly for the Aboriginal populations of the eastern Goldfields. The neglect that we have shown these populations over the years is being added to by our reluctance to clean up the water supply,” Professor Stanley says.


A Kind Word on Behalf of the Mexicans

Libertarian Robert Higgs makes below some perfectly reasonable points about Mexicans in general and I suspect that everything he says about them is true. But he  is very one-sided in his comments.  So I think it behooves me to restore some balance to the discussion.

His basic sleight of hand is to imply that illegal immigrant Mexicans are just like Mexicans in general. He does not consider that most Mexicans stay in Mexico and that people who break the law for their own advantage may be substantially unlike their law-abiding relatives -- and may in fact be just the sort of people that most societies would like to exclude.

And criminality among Hispanics in the USA is high. Its incidence runs about half-way between the white and black incidence, with the first-generation children of the illegal immigrants being particularly troublesome. America could certainly do without that.

And the political attitudes they bring with them are also a problem.  Ones who share Higgs's libertarian views would be great rarities.  Like most Latin Americans, they are instinctive socialists and reliably vote for the Democratic Party.  They provide that party with one of its two big "rusted on" votes and have thus allowed that party to drift further Left than at any previous time in its history.

And that drift is a drift into authoritarianism, scarcely what Mr Higgs would wish.  Latin American politics are overwhelmingly authoritarian socialist and the large Hispanic vote is bringing that to the USA too.  Bipartisanship seems to have totally vanished.  Mr Obama compromised on nothing.

"But we need them!" Mr Higgs says.  Life in Australia is very similar to life in the USA but we have very few illegal immigrants of any kind.  Successive conservative governments have cracked down on it very effectively.  So I doubt that the USA needs Mexicans.  If it does, however, the need could be easily met by introducing a "Gastarbeiter" (guest worker) system similar to that which applied in Germany from the 1960's on.  In such a system LEGAL immigration could be allowed for a certain time and for certain occupations -- such as farm labor.

And America has a substantial population of non-working blacks -- who are the descendants of farm workers.  Suitable adjustments to welfare provisions could, one imagines, get at least some of them into the jobs presently being done by Hispanic illegals. How incorrect can I get?

“The immigration problem” or “the border problem” has been a heated topic of debate and politicking in recent years. (This recent spurt is only the most recent in a series that goes back for centuries in U.S. history.) In large part this debate pertains to the entry of Mexicans, especially undocumented Mexicans, into the USA. For those who support a strong “closed borders” or “secure the border” position, the debate often involves claims about Mexicans—what sort of people they are, what one may reasonably expect them to do if they become residents of the USA, what crimes they have committed or will commit in the future, and so forth. Anyone who is familiar with Mexicans is struck repeatedly by the sheer ignorance and the false claims that immigration opponents marshal in support of their position. The president himself has trotted out howlers about Mexican rapists and drug traffickers as important, standing problems of even the existing flow of Mexicans into the USA.

I have a working familiarity with the social science literature on immigration. (In the past I have written articles for economic history and demography journals that dealt with various aspects of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.) More to the point for present purposes, I have considerable personal experience with Mexicans. I grew up on the rural west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley in the 1950s in a place with a population composed of about two-thirds Mexicans and their native-born children. In October 2015, I emigrated from the USA, and since then I have lived in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. I speak Spanish, though not with the fluency I would like, and in one way or another I deal with Mexicans nearly every day. So when I think or speak about Mexicans I do so with some personal as well as scholarly background.

In this light, I am stunned by how many Americans have a false impression of Mexicans. Of course, any generalization about them will be subject to qualifications. Mexico is a large, diverse country with a large, diverse population. And obviously from individual to individual great variations exist. No population consists of nothing but good people (however defined) or nothing but bad people (however defined).

Overall, I have found Mexicans—both those with whom I grew up in California and those among whom I now reside in Mexico—on average to be fine people in all relevant dimensions. They are devoted to their families and love their children. They are extremely hard workers, often under extraordinarily difficult and unpleasant conditions. They are good-natured and friendly, courteous and generous. They are also in many cases surprisingly resourceful, knowing how to build or repair all sorts of things, often without proper tools or materials. Many of them have an artistic capacity that allows them to create various products that are not only practical but also beautiful. Centuries of oppression and brutality by the ruling classes have not destroyed their hope for a better future, and they are often willing to bear great personal costs in order to make that future better for themselves and their children.

In view of the sorts of people they actually are—not as they are painted by vicious politicians and border bullies—one might well suppose that not only are they not an especially worrisome kind of immigrants to the USA, but instead exactly the kind that native-born American should welcome, the sort that among other things will do thousands of difficult and uninviting tasks—for example, working in poultry or meatpacking plants, putting on roofs, holding down building and highway construction and masonry jobs in rain and summer heat, cleaning hotel rooms, cooking and cleaning in restaurants, harvesting crops such as apples, asparagus, strawberries, and hundreds of others that demand backbreaking manual labor, and so on and on—tasks that native-born workers are not exactly clamoring to perform these days.

Moreover, not all Mexicans who come to the USA are unskilled, low-wage workers. Entrants also include highly educated people such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, and information technology workers. Mexico’s labor force is no longer a mass of unskilled or semi-skilled workers, and in many cases both the migrants and the U.S. economy stand to gain by Americans’ welcoming highly skilled people from Mexico. That such people have relatively less to gain does not imply that they have nothing to gain. In any event, it behooves Americans to recognize the existence of this type of migrants as well as those at the bottom of the wage scale.

It would be a most instructive experiment if somehow all the immigrant workers were to be removed from the U.S. economy overnight. The upshot would be calamitous for many U.S. industries and for large geographic areas of the country. Immigration opponents rarely appreciate the extent to which the U.S. economy depends on Mexican (and other immigrant) labor and the tremendous extent to which the foreign workers produce and distribute goods and services essential to day-to-day life for everyone. The oft-heard claim that the migrants come to the USA simply to sponge off the welfare state is so preposterously out of touch with reality that it staggers the mind. Yes, of course, some immigrants take advantage of the welfare state, but their taxes (not just income taxes but also property, sales, excise, and social security taxes), fees, fines, and other personal payments also prop up that system. They are not simply welfare deadbeats (as obviously many native-born persons are) and not simply consumers or competitors for jobs or housing. They are above all producers.

More important, however, they are in the great majority of cases good and decent people seeking what most people seek—an opportunity to work toward building a better life for themselves and their children. For those of us who know them more intimately than most, it is painful to hear the ignorant and malicious statements that circulate about them, especially perhaps on social media, where people are frequently unrestrained in letting loose the most vitriolic and baseless accusations. Individualists, above all, should know better than to judge a large group of people on grounds such as race, ethnicity, or place or birth—attributes that no one has earned but has merely been born with. Americans in particular ought to meet a higher standard than to embrace such collectivism, especially about people who in many cases are personally unknown to those making the negative appraisal. Among the highest aspirations of the American people historically has been the idea that their country would serve as a beacon of freedom and a refuge for the oppressed of other lands. It is high time that more Americans became cognizant of the desirability of reestablishing this noble aspiration.


The latest anti-Trump propaganda from the NYT

The Leftist media never let up.  The latest from the NYT is amusing.  It is headed "World Offers Cautionary Tale for Trump’s Infrastructure Plan".  I am not going to reproduce it as it can be simply summarized.  It refers to Trump's wish to involve the private sector in building new infrastructure.  That is a VERY BAD thing, they say.

They support their claims in the usual Leftist way -- by cherrypicking instances that suit them and ignoring the rest of the facts.  It is such a regular Leftist modus operandi that it does get tedious.  But they have to argue that way because the full facts are almost always against them.  One-sided writing is the Leftist specialty.

In this instance, they point to past examples of public/private projects -- mostly abroad -- that have not done well.  And it is true that there have been some big failures.  In the public/private partnerships that I am aware of (road tunnels in Sydney and Brisbane, for instance), however, it is the private builder who has lost his shirt, not the government.

A wise government sets it up that way, with a fixed or largely fixed price for the work.  I sometimes wonder why private firms enter into these risky contracts. It takes a lot of heart.  But if all goes well the private company has in the end a very nice revenue stream (tolls etc.) -- leading the Left to utter loud moans about "profiteering". That the prospect of good returns is needed for private firms to invest billions into projects that may or may not work out they ignore.

And Mr Trump is renowned in his business dealings for making sure that the other guy takes the loss.  So having him working for the taxpayer is a rather brilliant arrangement. If anyone can protect the taxpayer he can.  It's gut instinct for him to play for a win.

So, yes, the NYT lists some deals that have gone bad for less savvy governments overseas but there is no reason for that experience to be repeated under a Trump administration.

And what about the other side of the coin?  What about the alternative of the government doing it all?  Would not a government-run project be more efficient?  To ask that is to laugh.  I am sure that we can all give instances of great  incompetence and inefficiency in projects that are mainly government-run.  Boston's "big dig" (which is still not right) and the problem-plagued Bay bridge in N. California spring to mind.

But the NYT mentions no instances like that.  Their star example of government efficiency is Communist China!  But they WOULD like Communist China, wouldn't they?  And it's true that China has in recent years achieved a rather wondrous infrastructure build.  New roads and bridges have almost LEAPT into existence there.  But what about China's vast empty cities?  There are about a dozen of them that have sprung up in recent years.  But in a crowded country like China, how can you have empty cities?  Real estate prices in Beijing are catching up with Manhattan.

It's quite simply bad planning.  China employs private firms to do most of its building so when the government thinks something should be built, the private sector says:  "You're paying" and gets to work. But like all governments the Chinese government makes poor business decisions and huge waste can result.  With a public/private partnership, by contrast, the private sector only gets moving if they see good prospects of a substantial profit. The dreams of bureaucrats will usually stay dreams.

And, like the Bay Bridge, government supervised infrastructure in China can be poorly built.  Their civil engineering projects -- dams and bridges -- can seem wondrous but how well will they last?  Civil engineers I know say that standards in China would not be accepted in the West.  Failing dams and falling bridges are not a remote possibility. But that would be fine by the NYT.

And are we allowed to mention the government planning that led to London's recent Grenfell Tower disaster? But having a lot of poor people burn to death would have been only a fleeting consideration to the NYT.

So there can be no doubt that Trump's way is to be preferred to theirs.  A reader has sent me a detailed fisking of the NYT article which I will happily forward to anyone interested.

Creativity and the Root-Bernsteins again

I put up yesterday some comments  on a 2011 article by the Root-Bernsteins in which they were very skeptical about the notion of creativity as a general trait and in which they challenged the claim that training in the arts was a good way of fostering scientific creativity.

A reader has however drawn my attention to an earlier, 2009,  article (See below) by the same authors in which they argue that the most creative scientists are also great dabblers in the arts. They argue from that that scientists with artistic interests are most likely to be the most creative in their fields.  That seems to run counter to their later article.

But there are large logical flaws in their 2009 approach. They certainly show that SOME distinguished scientists dabble in the arts but that is a long way from showing that highly creative scientists IN GENERAL have artistic interests. And they certainly do not show that people with artistic interests tend to make good scientists. I would have thought that arty people would be the LEAST likely to make good scientists. Art is about impressions. Science requires precision.

And, most of all, they have not shown that artistic proclivities CAUSE scientific creativity.  It might be the other way around: artistic interests might be an epiphenomenon of scientific creativity.

But, while the Root-Bernsteins have not made their case below,  their theory is an interesting one and I find it personally relevant.  For various reasons I see myself as a primarily literary person yet I have also  been scientifically creative.  In my best years I was getting academic journal articles published nearly at the rate of one per fortnight.  And I know I did exactly what the Root-Bernsteins say: I brought to bear on my primary research field thinking from many sources outside my main field of enquiry.  But I could be an oddball.  Many would say that I am.

So I am rather inclined to the theory that artistic interests have no causative role in scientific creativity but artistic interests are an occasional byproduct of scientific creativity, perhaps mainly as light relief

How do you search for scientific talent? What criteria should you use? IQ scores? High scores on math and science tests? Precocity in a scientific field? Some of the best scientists recommend looking for breadth of skills and talents in a variety of endeavors beyond the sciences.

In two previous posts, we argue that training in the arts benefits scientists in a variety of different ways. The best scientists are much more likely to be artists, musicians, actors, craftsmen, and writers than are typical scientists, or even the general public. Scientists draw skills, knowledge, processes, concepts, and even inspiration from their non-scientific avocations. Many are well aware of these advantages.

Perhaps the first scientist to recognize a correlation between scientific talent and non-scientific pursuits was Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff, a Dutch scientist who won the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Van't Hoff invented the field of stereochemistry (the study of atomic shapes); co-invented the field of physical chemistry; founded geochemistry; and helped to create the new field of history of science. In addition, he was a talented flautist, wrote poetry in four languages, and was a reasonable amateur artist. In 1878, twenty-one years before he received his Nobel Prize, he gave a lecture on "Imagination in Science" in which he argued (after having read some 200 scientific biographies) that the greatest scientists almost invariably display their imagination in non-scientific fields as well. Examples he cited included Galileo, also an artist, craftsman, musician, and writer; the astronomer Kepler, also a musician who described planetary motion as the "music of the spheres;"and Sir Humphrey Davy, one of the founders of modern chemistry, and also a poet praised by the likes of Coleridge.(1)

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, another early Nobel laureate (1906), also believed thatSci fi by Ramon y Cajal the most creative scientists are broadly trained. One of the founders of neuroanatomy, Ramón y Cajal took time to practice gymnastics, to paint, to produce the first color photographs taken in Spain and start up a photographic supply company, and to write science fiction. (That's his drawing of nerves of the eye, above, and his Vacation Stories, right.) When it came to recruiting students, he rejected those focused solely on their science. "The far-sighted teacher," he argued, "will prefer those students who are somewhat headstrong, contemptuous of first place, insensible to the inducements of vanity, and who being endowed with an abundance of restless imagination, spend their energy in the pursuit of literature, art, philosophy, and all the recreations of mind and body. To him who observes them from afar, it appears as though they are scattering and dissipating their energies, while in reality, they are channeling and strengthening them..."(2)

We must admit, since Cajal made this assessment of scientific talent knowledge has grown exponentially. Specialization, is it argued, is required for mastery of ever more deeply plowed fields. Nevertheless, recent Nobel laureates continue to repeat the mantra that scientific creativity within those fields draws sustenance from breadth beyond those fields. Donald Cram, a Nobel prizewinning chemist, craftsman, artist, poet and musician, said that "I have a tendency to use my hands and I also have a tendency to use my intellect. Well the sciences are a great way of combining these operations.... My concept of the ideal [scientist] is that you do one thing real well... and then you do a lot of other things, but not too many, maybe 4 or 6 or 10 different other things, which you do well enough to give yourself and possibly others pleasure. This should be distributed quite widely among sports and artistic things and carpentry and things that involve using your hands and a little music perhaps and things of that sort."(3) Peter Mitchell, another recent laureate in Chemistry (1978), agreed. "Most [scientists] who try to be creative..." he wrote, "have found that they've got to become craftspeople as well as art people."(4) Mitchell attributed his most important discovery to a third profound interest: the study of philosophy caused him to rethink the fundamental assumptions of modern biology, leading directly to his revolutionary experiments on the way energy is utilized by cells.

What's going on here? Why do so many leading scientists insist on paradoxically "scattering" and "channeling" their energies? The fact is that novel ideas, in science as well as in every other discipline, come from combining diverse and often disparate sources of problems, skills, knowledge, and methods. The most creative scientists recognize this fact and exploit it by integrating a wide range of interests. But some other purpose is also in play. The best scientists are also the best communicators, for novel and original ideas must be articulated and "sold" to a skeptical scientific community.

Poetry by Roald HoffmanIn this venture, skills learned beyond the sciences become invaluable. Nobel Prizewinning chemist Roald Hoffmann, for example, is also a professional poet: "I write poetry to penetrate the world around me, and to comprehend my reactions to it...." Likewise in his chemistry. "By being a natural language under tension," he says, "the language of science is inherently poetic."(5) Similarly, William D. Phillips, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, writes that, "In high school, I enjoyed and profited from well-taught science and math classes, but in retrospect, I can see that the classes that emphasized language and writing skills were just as important for the development of my scientific career as were science and math. I certainly feel that my high school involvement in debating competitions helped me later to give better scientific talks, that the classes in writing style helped me to write better papers, and the study of French greatly enhanced the tremendously fruitful collaboration I was to have with [a French] research group."(6)

In return to our original question, how should we go about identifying and fostering scientific talent, especially creative scientific talent, in our students? If van't Hoff, Ramón y Cajal, Cram, Mitchell, Hoffmann and Phillips are right, the standard approaches aren't going to work. Nobel prizewinners are rarely the best academic students. They do not have IQs that are any higher than those of scientists overall. They don't test higher on other standardized tests. They DO bring a much wider range of skills, knowledge, talents, and methods to their work.

So instead of looking for scientific and mathematical prodigies (however we choose to define these) and funneling them into early scientific specialization, we should be doing the opposite. As Cajal put it, we should be looking for and nurturing a "happy combination of attributes: an artistic temperament which impels [the student] to search for and [admire...] the number, beauty, and harmony of things."(2) We should give our science students the broadest possible education in arts, crafts, writing, philosophy, and everything else that makes us fully human.

This is not a new conclusion. In a report commissioned by the U. K. Royal Society in 1942, Nobel Prizewinning physicist William Lawrence Bragg concluded that "[t]he training of our physicists is literally too academic."(7) Bragg recommended a good dose of crafts in school and a wide range of hobbies at home. So do so many of our most successful scientists. Why, then, does our education system persist in earlier and earlier specialization when it is clear that increasing breadth fosters scientific creativity?


Do Arts Teach Creativity? Learning creative process takes more than a regular art class

This article is from a few years back but the nonsense about creativity still goes on. Robert Root-Bernstein below is one of the few who pour cold water on the whole thing.  For a start, he rightly points to science and engineering as important areas of creativity rather than thinking it glorious to mess around with watercolors.

The whole idea that there is a general trait or ability at being creative has always been arrant nonsense.  Show me one great painter who is also a great composer.  Creativity as a general trait does not exist.  There is only creativity in particular fields.

Creativity is usually highly specific rather than general.  In my case, for instance, I am very creative at writing academic journal articles (200+ published between 1970 and 1990) but I couldn't write a novel for nuts.  So even within the field of writing, there is no clear generality.

Curiously, I have seen some slight evidence that language ability does generalize from natural to computer languages:  The poetry maven may make a good computer programmer! I do no more than suggest the hypothesis but it should not be all that difficult to test.  The point remains, however, that assumptions about generalizability of creativity from one field to another have to be tested.  It cannot reasonably be assumed.

Root-Bernstein is a major student of creativity so writes from extensive experience and has some claim to authority on the subject.  He also could himself be seen as creative if iconoclasm can be seen as a major form of creativity.  He not only challenges the conventional wisdom about creativity but is also one of the small band who reject as too simplistic the HIV = AIDS equation.

The latter stance may damn him to some, but the majority is not always right.  Again, one has to look at the evidence to form a reasonable opinion.  Just going along with the majority can lead eventually to egg on face.  Conventional health advice on how to avoid peanut allergy and advice on the desirability of animal fat in the diet have both undergone 180 degree turns in the last few  years.

Massachusetts and California want to mandate teaching creativity and testing for its outcomes. Maybe your state does, too. In our last post we challenged whether creativity can be taught. In this one, we challenge the measures these states intend to use to test for it.

            In August 2010, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts signed into law an economic development bill that mandated the measurement of creative capacity among public school students. Governor Brown of California appears to be following suit. While the details of these measurements are still being worked out, there are two likely possibilities. One is to mandate 'creativity tests' and the other is to count up 'creative' activities available for student participation.

            Though our position is not necessarily a popular one, we believe that tests for creativity are generally a sham. The dean of creativity testing was the late E. Paul Torrance and recent use of his tests has supposedly demonstrated that American students are becoming less and less creative with each year.  With all due respect to Torrance and his students, we aren't sure that's what Torrance tests show at all. Torrance tests are based on the assumption that creativity is "out of the box" thinking that can be measured by how divergent a student's solutions to a problem or puzzle are compared with other students. Creativity is equated with originality.

            Unfortunately, in science, technology, engineering, economics and many other professions divergence from the norm is usually associated with being wrong.  In fact, studies attempting to validate divergence-based tests, including the Torrance tests, have found that they almost universally fail to predict creativity in the fields just listed. Divergence-based tests do not predict which scientists, engineers, etc., will produce the most patents, write the most cited papers, win a Nobel Prize or achieve other recognized measures of professional merit.

            What gives apparent validity to Torrance and other divergence tests is that many studies have reported correlations between these tests and whether students later go into disciplines such as writing, arts, music and acting. The assumption here is that everyone in these disciplines is creative.

            This lead us that second measure of creativity states might elect to employ -- access to, or participation in, arts and other presumably 'creative' activities such as debate or science fairs. The assumption here is, if you make or construct something you must be creative. But what makes artists, what makes a debate performance or a science fair project, intrinsically 'creative'?


            The truth is, there are more run-of-the-mill actors and commonplace painters than innovative ones, just as there are more regular historians and average engineers than peers at the forefront of either field.  The truth is, too, that the student who downloads a bunch of arguments off the internet for a debate is not thinking for him- or herself. The student who buys a science fair kit from any number of suppliers isn't being creative, either. And there's nothing creative (other than the sense of 'making' something) about copying a drawing or playing "America the Beautiful" over and over again out of tune. Just making something doesn't teach creativity in the sense of finding and meeting new challenges with effective thinking.

            Disappointed? Don't be. The fact is that ANY subject can be taught so as to emphasize its creative aspects and any subject, no matter how apparently 'creative', can be taught so as to eliminate all of its creative aspects. It's not the subject, but the approach to it, that teaches creativity.

           For this reason we find it meaningless to give schools a 'creativity quotient' based on how many 'creative activities' or 'creative courses' they make available to students. It is equally meaningless to use divergence-based tests to assess how many students are likely to go into 'creative disciplines'.  All these measures really show is that people who don't like to conform are often more comfortable in arts careers than in science, technology, business and social science careers. If non-conformity were all that it took to be creative, that would be fine, but there's more to learning creative practices than that!

In this regard, we urge everyone who is interested in improving the teaching of creativity in any and all subjects to refer to the credit guidelines in the arts recently established by the Michigan Department of Education. Unlike the majority of arts education requirements adopted around the country, which mandate simply a set number of arts or crafts courses, Michigan (with Bob as one of the co-chairs of the committee) adopted a creative process-based requirement. In Michigan, on paper anyway, it is insufficient simply to take band or orchestra or a class in drawing or jewelry making or graphic design. Any course that wishes to satisfy the arts requirement must incorporate into itself, in an explicit manner, the teaching of and experience with the entire creative process.

            Unlike creativity itself, the creative process CAN be taught. Attention can be paid to the challenges that have motivated creative individuals; the problems (technical and social) they have faced in meeting those challenges; the new skills and knowledge they have needed to acquire in order to address those problems; the options they have played with in exploring possible solutions; the realizations they have had that what they really wanted to do wasn't what they had set off to do; the role serendipity and chance have had in the final production of their work; the role that performing or publicizing their work has had in pushing them to modify and rethink their goals; and the struggles they have had in achieving recognition. This is the process that will prepare students for doing creative things in the world, not a high score on a divergence-based test or a ho-hum exposure to debate team, science fair or art making.

            So what's the take-home message? If we want a more creative society, we need to shift how we teach every subject. Creativity tests are irrelevant. Just adding arts to the curriculum, or debate or science fairs, won't do the trick, either. What arts can do, when they are done right, is teach creative process better than any other subject. What other core disciplines can do, too, is incorporate and emulate the best teaching practices of the arts concerning creative process. An understanding of that process, in whatever subject it occurs, should be what we strive for and measure.


The scripture that the mainstream churches can't find

Here it is:

"Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Their theologians can find it though.  It's in 1 Corinthians 6:9. So what do liberal  theologians say about it?  How do they wriggle around it?

They say that the word "Arsenokoitai" (meaning homosexual) in Paul's original Greek is of uncertain meaning.  And it is true that Paul's use of it in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 is the only mention of the word in the NT.  And my Liddell & Scott Lexicon of ancient Greek notes it as being found only in the NT. So let us look at the complete passage in the original Greek:

Tricky, Huh?  The word we are interested in is the last one on the third line.

Not really tricky.  Liddell & Scott give the word as a pair:  "Arseno-koitees".  And "arseno is the normal Greek word for a male. And "koitees" means to sleep. So the word clearly means "male-sleeper'.  Paul just jammed two common words into one -- with  perfect confidence that his meaning would be obvious. Only a liberal theologian could doubt what he meant.

Curiously, when academics talk about sexual intercourse, they often refer to it as "coitus".  They actually use an Anglicized spelling of the same Greek word that Paul used in referring to sex with men. The Left really are pathetic in their flight from reality.

There is a very extensive coverage of the whole issue here.  They are more polite than I am but come to the same conclusion.

And if there were any doubt about the NT condemnation of homosexuality, Paul makes it REALLY clear whom he is talking about in Romans 1:27.  They are among those who have been abandoned by God.

A small footnote: In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul does not in fact refer to homosexuals generally. He specifically refers to MALE homosexuals, people whom Britons and Australians still sometimes call "poofs" or "poofters". I won't repeat the American slang term as it is rather more excoriating than the British one. Lesbians don't get off entirely, however. See Romans 1:26.

UPDATE:  While we have a large body of writings on which to base our understanding of classical Attic Greek, we have nothing like that for the "koine" Greek of Christ's day.  The NT is just about all we have of it.  So it could obviously have been common for "Arsenokoitai" to be widely used at that time without our having any surviving evidence of that.  And I get the feeling from Paul's casual use of the term that it was in fact common.  I think that it was most likely to have been the contemptuous term of its day.  "Male-sleeper" is not as contemptuous as "f***ot" or "poof" But I think it probably served a similar function.

And, if I can build speculation on speculation, we can perhaps see an explanation for why Paul was so explicit in his description of homosexuality in Romans 1:26,27.  Why did he not simply use "Arsenokoitai", as he did elsewhere?  Possibly because it was Greek slang that would not be well understood in Rome. Greek was perfectly well understood in grand Roman society but Paul was probably addressing poor Romans whose native language was Latin.  Was the epistle to the Romans in fact originally written in Latin?  For an educated man like Paul to understand Latin would not be surprising.  And we know that he did once say something important in Latin: "Appello Caesarem".

"A tide of privatization"?  A prejudice in search of some facts

Emma Rowe (above and below) makes a huge effort to be objective but in the end she breaks down and lets her hatred of private schools peep out.  She writes for a webzine called "The Conversation" which claims "Academic rigour, journalistic flair". I guess they do have some journalistic flair, whatever that might be, but the "academic rigour" was a laugh from the beginning.  I would call it Leftist propaganda with an occasional nod to conservatism. I guess that nod is rigour from a Leftist viewpoint.

A condensed version of the article below:  "Since 2010, the average independent school has increased its share of enrolments from 18% to 18.39%. That constitutes a disturbing tide of privatisation in our secondary schools"

The poor woman is completely obsessed if she sees such a trivial change as "a disturbing tide."  An eddy, perhaps, but no sort of tide.

And to get her "tide" she had to ignore primary schools and concentrate on secondary schools only. She plainly wishes to find that private schools overall are unfairly favoured by the government but has to ignore half the facts to make her attempted case.  But Leftists are good at cherrypicking and selective vision.

And what about the fact that Australian parents contribute more towards the education of their children than parents in many other countries do?  Many would see that as a welcome reduction of the burden borne by the taxpayer.  But not Emma.  She says: "This is clearly problematic for those families with less capacity to pay."  Classic Leftist envy obliterates all other considerations. All must have prizes.  The Left must know that their pursuit of equality is pissing into the wind but their devotion to it is relentless and merciless.  Procrustes is their idol

You may have heard recently that public schools in Australia have experienced increased enrolments. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that public schools in Australia have increased their share of enrolments, “reversing a forty-year trend”.

A spokesperson from the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that it was a “reversal of the steady drift” towards private schools. This is misleading, for two reasons:

First, the overall population in Australia has increased, which has resulted in increased enrolments for many schooling sectors. In total there are 1.28% more students (full-time) enrolled in schools.

Second, while enrolment in public and independent primary schools (excluding Catholic schools) has increased, enrolment in public secondary schools has decreased.

We have one of the highest levels of private school enrolment within the OECD, and our country also maintains the highest levels of private expenditure towards schools (contributions from households).

It is untrue that there is a reversal of the steady drift if we look at secondary schools.

As the more expensive constituent of schooling, and also the gateway to higher education, it is the secondary school where politics truly come to the fore.

When it comes to debates about funding and privatisation, the secondary school sector is far more entangled in the politics of choice.

When we are told that our public school enrolment is increasing, this may lead you to believe that our public schools are strong and healthy. This disguises the ugly truth that many of our public secondary schools are struggling, mainly due to an ongoing stream of policies that have attacked and undermined our public secondary schools.

By how much as public secondary school enrolments decreased?

Since 2010, the public secondary school has decreased its enrolments from 60% to 59.13%.

Since 2010, the average independent school has increased its share of enrolments from 18% to 18.39%.

These changes seem very minor, and when regarded in the context of population increases, are relatively insignificant.

However, when taken with a more longitudinal analysis, it is evident that the independent secondary school in Australia has continually bolstered its enrolment share.

The independent secondary school sector has experienced the largest proportional increase in enrolment from 1990 to 2016 (6.39%).

The government (public) school has recorded the largest proportional decrease during this same period (8.87%).

Evidently, there is a consistent pattern of growth within the independent sector and a consistent pattern of decline, in terms of enrolment levels, within the public sector.

It would be simplistic to argue that this is simply a matter of demand, rather than complicated by many other factors including economic, social and cultural shifts.

As education reforms bolstered funding for the private sector, enrolment levels in the private sector increased at a similar rate and time period.
Encouraging private school choice

The government has always played a role in encouraging particular consumer choices. This is no different for schooling.

Throughout the 1990s and beyond, public schools were consistently closed or merged across various states and territories. This undoubtedly establishes a sense of instability and volatility for the consumer.

Among the reasons cited for these closures was lack of enrolment numbers. Unlike private schools, public schools must consistently prove their economic feasibility. (This reason was strongly refuted by the public. In Victoria in the 1990s, it was described as “the biggest battle over education in more than a decade”.)

While the overall number of full-time secondary students grew, by 2011 the availability of public schools had declined.

The total percentage of public schools in Australia has decreased by 2%. On the other hand, the percentage of private schools has increased by 1% of the total number of schools.

We tend to widely accept privatisation of our schools. In Australia, the overall proportion of students in private schools is 35% ( but 41% in secondary school). This far outweighs the average OECD country, where 18% is the average number.

Compare this to the US, where approximately 8% of students attend private schools. In Canada, this percentage is even lower (approximately 6%), and lower again in countries such as New Zealand, Finland or Sweden.

We also have one of the highest percentages of private expenditure within the school sector. What this means is that we rely far more on a “user-pays” system than the average OECD country.

This is clearly problematic for those families with less capacity to pay.

This was noted in the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2016 report. When it comes to secondary schooling, for the majority of OECD countries, 90% of expenditure comes from government funds. But this wasn’t the case for Australia, Chile and Columbia, which “rely on over one-fifth of private expenditure at this level”.

While many other OECD countries do fund their private schools, they are also subject to a host of regulations.

When it comes to the funding private schools, Australia is classified as a “high funding and low regulation” country. In comparison to other OECD countries, private schools have little accountability in terms of how they spend their money.

Add to this a dominant cultural narrative around the superiority of private schooling, and you have a disturbing tide of privatisation in our secondary schools.

This tide of privatisation will only further entrench equity gaps for students from families who cannot afford to pay. It will also add to the household burden for those families struggling to pay their private school costs.



"Global coral bleaching event that has lasted three YEARS has finally ended - but reefs are still fighting for their lives"

Nonsense all round.  The Indian ocean was not affected so the event was not global.  And it is admitted below that the effect was largely due to El Nino, not anthropogenic global warming.  They say that El Nino and anthropogenic global warming together had an additive effect but -- even conceding that CO2 causes anthropogenic global warming -- there was no CO2 rise in the relevant years so there was clearly NO rise in anthropogenic global warming.  To put it semi-algebraically:  El Nino + 0 = El Nino.

And corals are at their most diverse and abundant in warm tropical waters so the claim that warm waters are bad for them is fundamentally perverse.  In Australia's case a sea-level fall was almost certainly the cause of bleaching in warm tropical water off the Far North Queensland coast

And both the extent of the loss and the difficulty of the recovery have been greatly exaggerated.  Do I need once again to mention the coral reef at Bikini atoll which was once the target of a thermonuclear blast -- but which is now again thriving?

 It's just all baseless assertion below.  Correlation is asserted as causation.  Factors like sea-level fluctuations are almost certainly involved but no attempt is made even to look at that.  One doesn't look to Warmists for a balanced account of anything -- which reveals them as fundamentally unscientific.  A scientific paper will normally look at all the possible causes of an event and evaluate them against one another. Warmists know just one cause for everything, ignore all else and assert it "ad infinitum"

A mass bleaching of coral reefs worldwide has finally ended after three years, U.S. scientists announced Monday.

About three-quarters of the world's delicate coral reefs were damaged or killed by hot water in what scientists say was the largest coral catastrophe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first announced a global bleaching event in May 2014.

It was worse than previous global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010.

The forecast damage doesn't look widespread in the Indian Ocean, so the event loses its global scope.

Bleaching will still be bad in the Caribbean and Pacific, but it'll be less severe than recent years, said NOAA coral reef watch coordinator C. Mark Eakin.

Places like Australia's Great Barrier Reef, northwest Hawaii, Guam and parts of the Caribbean have been hit with back-to-back-to-back destruction, Eakin said.

University of Victoria, British Columbia, coral reef scientist Julia Baum plans to travel to Christmas Island in the Pacific where the coral reefs have looked like ghost towns in recent years.

While conditions are improving, it's too early to celebrate, said Eakin, adding that the world may be at a new normal where reefs are barely able to survive during good conditions.

Eakin said coral have difficulty surviving water already getting warmer by man-made climate change. Extra heating of the water from a natural El Nino nudges coral conditions over the edge.


My experience buying boots is the perfect example of why retail is declining

I sympathize with the woman's story below.  I have had experiences like this more or less forever.  It's worst of all in Britain but it crops up a lot in Australia too.  Computer shops are the worst -- I have written about them before --  but clothing shops can be bad too.  My most recent experience was from 28 August 2015, when I was trying to buy bespoke shoes.  My feet are a bit swollen due to a medical condition so regular shoes that fit me are hard to find.

So I went in to BFS Pedorthics in 128 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba  -- a specialist in bespoke shoes. Nobody was serving but I found a pair of shoes that suited me on the display and got out my $200+ to pay for them.  But nobody would acknowledge me.  The blonde receptionist was glued to her phone and when I went out the back nobody there wanted to help either.  So I went elsewhere and bought a suitable pair of shoes for $60.00.

So the blonde bitch saved me money but I felt sorry for the owner, a Mr Tye. So I wrote him the following letter:


This morning I made a special trip into your Logan Rd shop in order to buy a special type of shoe I need.  There was no-one to assist me but I did find a pair that seemed right.  They appeared to be over $200 but that was OK.

I could not however find anyone to take my money.  There was a young blonde there but she was glued to her phone and I could not unglue her.  I went out the back but no-one there was willing to help either

May I suggest that you train your workshop staff to handle customers if need be?

I also think that a customer who walks in should have priority over someone who just picks up a phone but that is for you to decide.  As it is you missed out on my $200+

I was offended by the lack of service that I received


Was Mr Tye bothered by the fact that his receptionist took $200 out of his pocket?  Who knows?  He never replied.  The blonde probably intercepted the letter before he saw it. But I did what I could for the man anyway.

SOMEWHERE in the corporate headquarters of retailers, meetings are taking place.

Entire executive teams are seated around the boardroom table, laptops open, spreadsheets and sales charts as far as the eyes can see. No doubt the scent of caffeine permeates the air because everyone knows these meetings can be quite tiring.

The first slide comes up on to the wall and shows sales on a steady decline. Some of the stores this retailer operates have had days without making a single sale.

“It makes no sense,” opens the property development manager, “the shop is in an ideal location and the centre is really busy at the moment. There’s loads of passing traffic.”

“We have ample stock and the product range is up to the minute,” adds the planner.

“So why aren’t we selling any shoes?” wonders the sales manager.

It must be highly frustrating for this bunch of suits. They must be wondering why their businesses are not making money, and I know the answer.

Recently I went shopping with the express purpose of buying a pair of boots. I knew what I wanted; colour, style, price point — I had the whole thing sorted.

I was so confident in my pursuit I even wrangled my husband into joining me, there was going to be no endless dilly dallying, no hours spent browsing — just me and my credit card going into a shop and exiting with a pair of short-heeled, brown ankle boots.

The first store we went to didn’t have them. No drama, there is a shop across the way from them that seems to have an extensive collection of winter boots.

The fact that the stores are this close together doesn’t surprise me, I know the head honchos at headquarters like to position their stores in proximity for this very reason — if I don’t like what the first shop offers I am primed and ready for the next shop selling brown boots.

I enter the store and immediately see the boot I like. I also see the sales woman standing at the counter peering at her laptop. I take the shoe off the shelf and look to see what size it is. The saleswoman takes out a highlighter and starts to highlight things that are much more important than customers.

I walk over to her and ask her if she has the boots in my size. My husband asks her if she has a pair of socks that I can try them on with. She says no. It’s the only word she has said to us and we’re not sure if she’s saying no to the socks or the boots.

But then she reluctantly leaves her computer to retrieve the correctly sized boots which she thrusts at me before returning to her desk. I assume the no was for the socks. Clearly she is very busy and far too important to be selling shoes.

In fact she’s far too busy to serve customers. This I know because while I am trying on the boots two more customers enter the shop and she ignores them as well.

I’m not suggesting that the woman employed by the company to sell their products should fawn over me or tell me my feet look perfect in the boots. It’s just that the sale of product under her watch goes some way to paying her salary. Is it too much to expect her to assist the sale in some way?

Maybe she had really important documents to read and highlight, documents that couldn’t wait a single minute. But she lost my sale and the other two customers also walked out empty-handed.

Sadly she’s not alone in her refusal to sell the products she’s employed to shift, in fact she’s just one of the many people I encountered sitting behind their counters that day.

And before you blame Millennials or Generation X or any other group who you’d like to point at, let me assure you that the people refusing to help customers by actively avoiding contact with them, do not belong to one demographic or age group.

This is a retail issue. And with Amazon literally primed to enter the Australian marketplace and completely change the retail landscape surely it’s time for bricks and mortar businesses to step up the service a notch.

Somewhere in the race to be competing online it seems likes these businesses have forgotten to train their staff, or at least to incentivise them to do their jobs.

I eventually went online myself where I didn’t except any service other than an easy-to-load shopping cart. But I can’t help thinking about those people in head office who are wondering why their shoes aren’t being sold in their physical outlets.

It’s simply because no one is selling them.


Is feminism incompatible with romance?

I think it is and I think that is a great loss.  I see feminism in very black hues.  At it extremes it lapses into insanity. The definition of insanity (psychosis) is loss of reality contact and I know of few feminist beliefs that are in good contact with  reality.

That can sometimes be shown by the conflict between their own beliefs -- conflicts which normally seem quite invisible to them.  For instance they believe in equal pay for equal work and yet when they note that women overall earn  less than men they regard that as unjust -- even though it is perfectly plain that -- for perfectly good reasons -- men and women do not do equal work.  Their call for equal pay for equal work justifies the inequality in pay that they deplore.

And one could go on.

But I think that by far the saddest thing they promote is their inherent hostility to romance.  It may seem strange for a sober old social scientist like me to be talking about romance but I note in possible mitigation that I have been married 4 times.  There has to be either insanity or romance behind that but I will leave it to readers to decide which.

Mostly here I want to draw attention to romance in popular music and I think my purpose is well served by drawing attention to an evergreen pop song called "I will follow him".  Its sentiments are everything that feminists anathematize.  It is about as "patriarchal" as you can get. Its lyrics follow:


I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow

I will follow him, follow him wherever he may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep me away

I must follow him (follow him), ever since he touched my hand I knew
That near him I always must be
And nothing can keep him from me
He is my destiny (destiny)

I love him, I love him, I love him
And where he goes I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow
He'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love
From now until forever, forever, forever

I will follow him (follow him), follow him wherever he may go
There isn't an ocean too deep
A mountain so high it can keep, keep me away
Away from my love (I love him, I love him, I love him)

I love…


Andre Rieu does a splendid version as follows:

Follow the whole thing through and watch the faces on both the singers and the audience.  Have you ever seen so much happiness in one place? It is a song of ecstasy.  Feminism is antagonistic  to what is best in being human.  To them the song is just propaganda but has any of their propaganda ever evoked any ecstasy at all? Not as far as I can tell. An ecstasy of hate maybe.

Now let me draw attention to one of the most popular bands in the history of pop music: Abba:

I have always rather wondered why I have never heard criticism of ABBA from feminists. Both "Mamma Mia" and "Waterloo" recount how a woman is captivated by a man that she cannot give up -- surely the reverse of the feminist gospel. And in "Money, Money", the female singer aspires to marry a rich man! And "Dancing Queen" is a simple little ballad about a teenager who loves dancing. Again not quite a feminist priority. So at least the best known ABBA songs seem quite conservative to me.

Something to remind you below. Don't ogle the beautiful blonde Agnetha too much.

If by some magic all the embittered feminists of the world could suddenly transform into normal women, the world would be a much happier place -- JR

Why did physicist Dr. Ridd conclude that corals thrive in warmer water and will flourish as global warming increases?

The above question appeared on Quora and the responses are instructive.  The first commenter, Hirsekorn, started out with an incorrect "ad hominem" assertion about Dr. Ridd's academic background.  I quote from Ridd's page at his university:

"Peter Ridd is a geophysicist with the following interests: coastal oceanography, the effects of sediments on coral reefs, instrument development, geophysical sensing of the earth, past and future climates, atmospheric modelling. In addition with his group in the Marine Geophysics Laboratory "

So Dr. Ridd's background leaves him amply qualified to speak on reef problems.

The next point made by the same author, Hirsekorn, is that individual corals differ in the optimal temperature of the waters surrounding them.  That is undoubtedly true but it offers no scale for that effect.  The acceptable range of temperature could be large and it could differ for individual corals.  And in fact it does, as we see here

So the comments by Hirsekorn have no merit whatever and, as such, are of the standard we have come to expect from Warmists defending their addled theory.

The second comment, by Reiner, is well informed, extensive and perfectly correct.  In particular, it has now been shown that sea level variations in recent times have been the major cause of coral bleaching.  I was unaware that Peter Ridd had predicted that some years back so he is revealed as a good scientist:  One whose theories are borne out by reality

The two original Quora comments below:

Answer by Alex Hirsekorn, lifetime seashore aficionado:

Assuming that you’re referring to Prof. Peter Ridd of James Cook Univ. I would guess that he reached such a conclusion because he is not a biologist but a geophysicist that apparently doesn’t talk to biologists very much.

There are something like 1,000 species of “reef building” coral worldwide and if you plot them by geographic location versus species you will see that they have definite preferences regarding temperature. Looking a bit more carefully will demonstrate that any given species’ numbers will diminish as you leave its temperature ‘sweet spot’ for waters that are either colder or warmer.

You don’t need to be a professor to understand this concept. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say he was probably misquoted; the alternative explanation is that he’s either a moron or willfully ignorant.

Comment by Bryson Reiner, studied at PhD in Biochemistry:

Peter Ridd is a marine physicist and has published multiple studies on sediments and their effect on coral reefs. Having spoken with Dr Ridd, my understanding is that he was suggesting corals do well not directly due to increased temps-but rather due to increased sea levels. From what I can recall, and my memory is admittedly foggy on this as it was over 5 years ago, that the Great Barrier Reef along the Queensland coast has suffered from declining sea levels which destroys coral. I am pretty sure he was inferring that rising sea levels as a result of a warming trend would increase coral growth-not as a direct result of temperature increase.

To professor Ridd’s credit, he is a strong advocate for reproducibility in the marine sciences and decries sensationalism in science. In particular he mentioned the inability to reproduce studies indicating changes in ocean pH as huge shifts in pH occurred with upwelling and even recent rains which caused short term changes but the studies results were not reproducible over long term. As an aside, certain corals will die in cooler temps just as some may die in warmer temps.

Empirically, as an avid diver-I can attest to the fact that inshore reefs are very likely affected by run off. I've been diving at an unusually inshore reef with huge coral mounts not 20 m from shore since the early 80s which was almost inaccessible as it was on the side of a small mountain in the carribean with only 3 houses nearby and a sheer dirt road that was often washed out. The reef was healthy and vibrant until 2013 when a high end housing development went up complete with a paved road. The effect was immediate as the reef went from vibrant reds, yellows, greens and blues to dull gray. The coral closest to shore was the most affected with another swath of graying coral that went well out to 100 m from shore which I couldn't quite figure out until I saw it rain which produced a huge outflow that ran along a rock jetty as a current which ran identical to the swath of dead coral. The coral has become progressively grey with each visit being worse than the last although the most affected areas remain the ones described. Yes, pollution in petroleum products and detergents certainly have an effect on coral-but to suggest that all, or even most instances of coral bleaching are due solely to temperature change is likely not the case and has yet to be determined at best.

Additionally, there are thriving corals that survive with dramatic changes in temperature near and in the Atlantic gulfstream which shifts its location by tens of miles regularly with temperature changes greater than 20 F-it's a literal column of water where within 10 meters you'll have a 60 F reading and a 80 temp. These corals are still healthy and vivid in color with life teeming all round and withstand these temperature changes on a regular and frequent basis. To suggest less than 1 C degree of change is wiping out corals is likely an overstatement.

I'm a firm believer that coral should be protected as they serve as oceanic estuaries and are simply beautiful little wonders to observe. But I suspect we'll get much better results by investing resources in controlling run off and spills rather than trying to manage the global climate. Specific efforts targeted directly at saving our reefs and coral seem more feasible in this instance vs macromanaging daunting things like the climate which in this instance is inconclusive in the degree to which it may affect the viability of coral. I'll go a step further and guess that managing directly runoff and spills will have a more immediate and dramatic effect on coral health and sustainability than even a successful attempt to change global climate.


That 14.8C degrees current global temperature again

A correspondent has updated me on the above issue. He points out that the 14.8C GAT referred to is also the Annual Average for 2016.  14.84C is shown at the NOAA Annual Summary here. They show .94 anomaly + 13.9 average, which is 14.84.

This compares with HIGHER temperatures reported for 1997 and 1998

NOAA say that their 1997 and 1998 averages were wrong and that they have subsequently been revised downwards.  They say:

"Please note: the estimate for the baseline global temperature used in this study differed, and was warmer than, the baseline estimate (Jones et al., 1999) used currently. This report has been superseded by subsequent analyses. However, as with all climate monitoring reports, it is left online as it was written at the time."

That is mightily convenient.  It becomes amazingly convenient when one notes that the original GAT for 1997 in the report was 16.92C -- ie over 2.0C warmer than 2016. Over the last 20 years they have lowered the 1998 temperature by 2.4C, and they currently say records are being broken by a measly tenth or hundredth of a degree.

Clearly, the average global temperature is at best an unreliable and wild guess of no worth for policy or any other purposes.  On the original NOAA figures, the earth has COOLED by 2 degrees since 1997/1998 --  JR

Rough old feminist broad wants more imperial honours for women

Rather amusing to see a radical feminist arguing for the relevance of imperial honours. Few Australian Leftists would.  Though it is rare for anyone to refuse a gong.

But her basic argument is the same as Hitler's.  Hitler was in fact more reserved.  He only thought that Jews were unfairly privileged whereas Jenna Price thinks that men in general are unfairly privileged.

What Hitler overlooked is that Jews had earned their eminence in Germany by hard work and superior brains.  What Ms Price overlooks is that it is difficult to achieve eminence in any field while you are at home minding babies.  I am all in favour of women staying at home minding babies and I think they should be honoured for it.  They once were until feminists began deriding them and calling them "breeders".

But however you cut it, women are just not in large numbers in occupations that are likely to generate especial honour.  Some are but they are simply not there are often as men are.  And the imperial awards reflect that.  The demand from Ms Price that women be at least equally represented in the awards is then procrustean.  It seeks to impose an un-natural equality or a pretence at equality that is just not there in the real world. Procrustes would gladly have taken her as his wife.

But her demand is of course just another iteration of the manic and incessant Leftist demand for equality in all things -- an equality that has never existed, does not exist and never will exist.

I have written at greater length about Ms Price here

Once again the honours list has failed Australian women.

This cannot continue. It's a complete dishonour to the thousands of women across Australia who deserve to be recognised at the highest level.

The awards announced on Monday will show that the percentage going to women has sunk even lower than the five-year average, already an embarrassingly low 31 per cent. In the general division of the Order of Australia, it's 467 males and 206 females. Just 30 per cent women.

That said, there's no choice but to entirely recast the Council for the Order of Australia. If the organisation that oversees the awarding of honours to Australians can't get anything close to a semblance of Australia in those who receive these awards, the entire leadership needs to go. It must be replaced by people who are agents of change.

It needs to meet the government targets for 50 per cent of women on government boards. Of the 18 councillors, four are women. Of the four women, one, Elizabeth Kelly, comes from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Two others are state reps. And community rep and former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who must be losing her mind at the slow rate of change.

So why is this organisation failing? Here are some answers.

Chairman? Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston. Secretary? Mark Fraser. Official secretary to the Governor-General. Ex-officio representatives? Senator George Brandis. Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

All decent people but from worlds dominated by men. The military. The Liberal Party. None famous for equality. How is it possible to reshape this reflection of Australian spirit if all you see reflected is the people with whom you grew up, with whom you went to school; and now work alongside?


An excellent result in Scotland

The real loser in the recent British general election was Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party.  They were routed.  They lost 21 of their 56 seats at Westminster. The Scottish Conservatives won 12 of those seats.

Nicola Sturgeon is short of stature, married but childless.  She is well to the Left of British politics. She is a former member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  The Scottish Tories are led by Ruth Davidson, a lesbian.  British conservatives are supportive of homosexuality.  Homosexual experience was traditionally common in British private schools.

It has been much noted that the Northern Irish handed government to the Conservatives, as the English Conservatives fell a little short of winning an overall majority.  But it is equally true that the Scottish Conservatives handed overall control of the UK to the Conservatives by their votes.

Which is a considerable irony.  Nicola Sturgeon is a hateful little bizzem, fanatically driven by her loathing for the English -- a common ailment in Scotland. But it was her poor campaign that delivered those 12 new Scottish seats to the Tories.  She campaigned on a second independence referendum for Scotland whereas economic issues were the big drivers among the Scottish voters.

So her obsessive hatred of the English delivered up government to the hated English Conservatives.  Most just.  She will be widely reviled in Scotland as the woman who delivered government to the Conservatives.

What is the global mean temperature?

There is some excitement in Germany at the moment about what is the global mean temperature. After some years of reporting an annual mean of 15 degrees Celsius, the WMO and NOAA are reporting a current mean of 14.8 degrees. In other words, the global mean temperature has DROPPED. Read all about it here.

I am ready to be corrected but as far as I can see it is just a misunderstanding.  Here are the two relevant paragraphs from the WMO:

"NOAA said the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces in May was 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), beating the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.

After five consecutive record months it comes to no surprise that the average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–May 2016 resulted in the warmest such period on record across the world's land and ocean surfaces, at 1.08°C (1.94°F) above the 20th century average of 13.1°C (55.5°F), surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.24°C (0.43°F), according to NOAA"


So there you see the 14.8°C figure.  It is pretty clear however that the 14.8°C figure refers to May average only, not the average temperature for the whole year.

So:  A storm in a teacup?  I think so -- JR

Jimmah has left the Baptists

I have always doubted that Jimmy Carter was a believing Baptist.  His miserable Leftism seems at variance with the joy of heartfelt Christianity.  So I am not surprised that he has now left his church -- though it took him a heck of a long time to do so.

He has timed his exit to get maximum kudos from it.  Women's issues are big these days.  But his theology is shallow. He speaks of "a few carefully selected Bible verses" as if that proves something.  They are Bible verses or they are not and if you believe that the Bible is God's word -- as real Christians do -- the teaching is clear: "Women should keep silent in the congregation"  (1 Corinthians 14:33-35). That is a very unpopular teaching these days and few churches observe it.

But some do and the Southern Baptists apparently do. And one of the world's most Bible-observant groups is the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church in Australia.  And their theological seminary -- Moore College -- overflows with students, including a big representation of young women. It will no doubt be a big surprise to many but the old teachings often have strong appeal.  They have not been rendered nugatory by modern secular wisdom.

But Jimmah ignores all that in his seeking after secular righteousness.

He justifies his move by referring to the atrocities that Muslims inflict on women, in an amazing example of guilt by association.  What do Christians have in common with Muslim abominations?  Even male circumcision is not required of Christians, as the apostle Paul ruled (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:18;  Colossians 3:11). Carter's reasoning is apparently that religions are all the same, which must be about a four-year-old's level of reasoning.

Jimmah also claims that there were female "deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets" in the early church.  But there were no such ranks in the early church. There were overseers ("episkopos") and servants ("diakonos") principally.  There were also prophets but what exactly they did is unclear. From Acts 21: 9 the impression is that their role was not part of congregational activities

Sadly, Jimmah gives no references for his assertions but the only women mentioned as prominent in the NT that I can recall were Dorcas, who was known for her needlework and Phoebe, who was a servant ("diakonos") of the congregation at Cenchrae.  In the King James Bible, episkopos was translated as "Bishop" and diakonos was translated as "deacon" but that goes well beyond the original meaning.  Diakonos, for instance, literally means "through the dust" portraying a humble visitor circulating among  members of the congregation.

There is no doubt that women were great supporters of their congregations in the early days -- and Paul greets several of them affectionately in his epistles -- but there is no doubt that there were  well-accepted sex roles at the time too. And the subordinate role of women in the congregation is repeatedly stressed.  See also Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:11,12; 1 Peter 3:11.

Jimmy's religion is Leftism, not Christianity.
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


Melbourne Member of Parliament accuses judges of 'standing in the corner of terrorists'

This is a lively issue at the moment with overheated claims by some that the politician should be prosecuted for what he said.  So the Law Council has emailed out a comment on the matter which begins as follows:
The Law Council, speaking on behalf of the Australian legal profession, is calling for an end to political attacks on the judiciary, especially in cases where they might be perceived to interfere with matters currently before the courts.

Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, said recent comments from Government MPs referring to "ideological experiments" supposedly being carried out by the judicial system were gravely concerning.

“It is inappropriate to suggest that judges decide their cases on anything other than the law and the facts presented to them by the parties,” Ms McLeod said.

“Attacking the independence of the judiciary does not make Australia safer, in fact it erodes public confidence in the courts and undermines the rule of law.

“It is Australia's robust adherence to the rule of law that has underpinned this nation's status as one of the most peaceful, harmonious, and secure places in the world.”

Ms McLeod said the Law Council has particular concerns about comments made in the media today by Government MPs about a terror-related case currently before the courts in Victoria.

Fiona McLeod

Respect cannot be commanded.  It must be earned.  So Fiona might do well to look at the CAUSES of disrespect for the judiciary.  Almost the whole of Australia would find leniency for terrorists obnoxious so it is about time that the judiciary responded to that.  They have plenty of leeway in their sentencing options to enable that.  And the right to criticize judges is democracy at work too.

If Fiona wants to end "political attacks" on judges, let her urge the judges concerned to come down from their ivory towers.  Let her urge them to have discussions with the family members of those who have been killed at random by Jihadis

I am afraid that to me Fiona just sounds like another mentally isolated Leftist twit.  She would probably have done better to keep her mouth shut.  She herself is provoking disrespect for the judiciary

A federal Liberal Party MP has launched an extraordinary attack on Victoria's Chief Justice and her judges, accusing them of 'standing in the corner of terrorists'.

The state's top judge Marilyn Warren is under fire following a controversial sentence for a teenager who had plotted to behead a police officer on Anzac Day.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing the Victorian Supreme Court's seven-and-a-half year non-parole jail term imposed last year on Sevet Ramadan Besim.

The 19-year-old criminal had plotted to cut off a police officer's head in 2015.

Melbourne-based Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, who is also Assistant Treasurer, said judges needed to be called out for soft sentences when it came to terrorists.

'As far as I’m concerned, we need to be asserting as much pressure as we can on lawmakers and calling out judges who seemingly are standing in the corner of the terrorists and not in the corner of our society and the victims,' he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday.

The conservative Liberal PARTY MP, who studied law, clarified his comments to say judges cared more about the welfare of terrorists than the public. 'Seemingly, more interested in their rehabilitation than in the safety and security of our society,' Mr Sukkar said.

'There are multiple numbers of cases where you’ve got people who are planning the most heinous acts and the only reason they’re stopped is because we’ve got amazing law enforcement agencies that stop them from happening.'

He added that as the chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security committee, he believed 'the prospects of rehabilitation, particularly for Islamic terrorists is extraordinarily low'.

Last year, Besim pleaded guilty to an act in preparation of planning a terrorist attack, which would involve running down and beheading a police officer, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.


UPDATE: Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar have been ordered to front the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday to explain "why they should not be referred for prosecution for contempt".

Free speech, anyone?

The dilemma I faced when my daughter won a private school scholarship

Elana Benjamin

The mother below was probably right in deciding to send her daughter to a State School.  And I say that not because I went to one myself but because of something she does not mention:  It all depends on the school.  Not to put too fine a point on it, a State School in a poor area would probably be disastrous for the daughter of a professional family.  She would be greatly limited by it. But, reading between the lines, Mrs Benjamin is most unlikely to live in a poor area.  And State Schools in a middle class area can be quite good.

I sent my son to a fairly orderly State school for the second half of his primary years and it certainly didn't hold him back. Can I embarrass myself by once again telling my favourite story from that time?  There was once a schoolwide literacy and numeracy test conducted in his state school.  One would think that the highest scorer on the literacy test would be some kid in 7th grade. But it was not. It was a pesky little 5th grader.  That 5th grader was my son.  So as long as the school is reasonably orderly, ability will out.  I think that Mrs Benjamin's daughter might have an equivalent experience.

So why are schools in poor areas disadvantageous?  Sensitive souls should stop reading at this point because I am going to say something that, according to the Left, make me a white supremacist if not an outright Nazi. They can see a small moustache growing on my upper lip. I am going to mention IQ.

A school in a poor area will be bad in many ways because of the kids there.  As Charles Murray showed long ago, a low IQ is hereditary and has many unpleasant correlates, with poverty prominent among them.  So kids enrolled into a school located in a poor area will mostly be dumb, have less self-restraint  and will be more poorly behaved generally.  They will make life hell for their teachers and give the teachers little time for teaching.

It doesn't have to be that way. I grew up in Innisfail, a small Australian country town and I attended Innisfail State Rural School for my primary schooling.  And I have fond memories of that school and of some of the teachers there.  There was none of the dysfunction that would be expected of that school these days. The school no longer exists so I can safely say that.

So why was Innisfail State Rural School perfectly OK?  Because they had effective discipline back then.  If a kid stepped out of line he got sent to the headmaster for caning.  He would come back much abashed and no longer disruptive.  So lessons could proceed according to plan.  But it's no longer like that. Under Leftist influence, most forms of discipline are now forbidden as "child abuse".  The discipline tools available are few.  So a disruptive dummy kid will just act out and not be effectively restrained, thus derailing any education while that happens.

But Australia is relatively lucky in one way:  We rarely have a substantial African-origin population in a school.  In both Britain and the USA, by contrast, schools in a poor area will very often be quite black. And black students are notoriously disruptive.  As a result, British and American white mothers go to enormous lengths to keep their kids out of such schools.  There is substantial voluntary racial self-segregation so that helps.

But the lesson remains:  A "good" school is good primarily because of the kids who go there and a bad school is bad because of the kids who go there.  One hopes that the school Mrs Benjamin has chosen for her daughter has a student body who tend be like her own family.  She should check. That is what matters

My 11-year-old daughter has been awarded an academic scholarship to a private school. It's only a modest discount, but the scholarship means she'll bypass the snaking waiting list – provided my husband and I can fund the 20 grand a year shortfall. Should we commit to the abyss of private school fees, or choose free education instead at a partially selective state school?

I always assumed my children would go to private school, like I did. Not because my family is wealthy – but because I'd imbibed one of the mantras of my childhood home: Education is the best thing you can give your children, and its implied corollary: The best education is private.

Both my parents gave up their dreams of tertiary study in order to earn much-needed income for their families. Immigrants to Australia in the 1960s, Mum and Dad were textbook in that they worked hard to give my brother and me all the opportunities they'd been denied. They never pushed, but as a sensitive first-born, I absorbed my parents' unspoken hopes and aspirations: I would become a member of a profession and earn a good income, so I'd never have to struggle like they did.

At my academically oriented private school, the importance of education was reinforced. I learnt the lessons of Jewish history, a history filled with centuries of persecution and violent anti-Semitism. The message was clear: you may have to leave your birthplace, your home, your loved ones, but you can never be stripped of your education.

Against this backdrop, it took years for me to make peace with the fact that my two children attend our local public primary school.

They'll go to private for high school, I consoled myself. Yet here we are, our eldest now in year 6, and my husband and I will struggle to afford private school, even with that scholarship our daughter's been offered.

"Many families take a second mortgage to pay school fees," a friend cheerily suggests when I share my dilemma. But we're already drowning in debt, with my husband's salary bequeathed to a long line of greedy beneficiaries (first NAB, followed by Coles).

If we're to send our girl to private school, there's only one sane option: for me to increase my work hours and cash in on the benefits of the law degree I studied so hard for. The degree that was supposed to be my ticket to a good job and a solid income – except that's not quite how it turned out.

I aced the HSC, only to suffer through years of dreary law lectures at university, then advance to a career of well-paid but uninspiring jobs in corporate insurance. Now that I've finally escaped my creativity-starved cubicle, I'm not keen to resume my meaningless climb up the corporate ladder.

And yet I could still command a salary package that would pay the school fees, if I really had to. You can never be stripped of your education.

My husband – concerned I'll end up resenting the school-fee burden – isn't pushing me to resuscitate my career. My strong-willed daughter is unusually easygoing about the decision. "I have friends at both schools so I don't really mind," she says.

My parents, however, weigh in. "Thousands of children go to public school and they turn out fine," says my mother. "Why do you want to put yourselves under so much financial pressure?" adds my father, seemingly oblivious to the irony of his question, given he and Mum did the same for me.

The guilt and expectations are mine alone. As much as I don't subscribe to the "get your kid ahead" hype (I'm in the no-coaching, anti-homework camp), I'm quietly terrified that my daughter's potential will be wasted at the public school. That even in the selective stream, she'll be lost in the crowd. And yet I know that a return to corporate insurance will crush me.

Over many sleepless nights, I wrestle with the bullies in the classroom of my mind. The ones who taunt me, calling me hurtful names: "Selfish. Indulgent. Princess". And the meanest of all – the one who leaves me winded, gasping for air every time: "Lousy mother."

When I finally catch my breath, I confess to my tormentors that although I want the best for my daughter, I have my own dreams too. I cannot sacrifice everything for my precious girl, just so she can retrace my steps on the path from high ATAR, to university, to six-figure-salary but dissatisfied.

I explain that I want to be a positive role-model for my girl, and an unhappy parent is a terrible strain on a family. I point out that not even the privilege of private school will protect my beloved from ordinary outcomes, undesirable peers, disappointment or struggle.

And finally, the bullies back off. So it's decided. My daughter is going to the public school behind our home. She couldn't be more pleased. "I'll be able to sleep in and walk to school in one minute," she gloats.

It's taken me a little longer, but now I'm content. More than my fancy private-school education, it's my family that shaped me. With high school now 25 years in the past, I can no longer remember the mathematical formulae or Shakespearean quotes I once knew so perfectly. The lessons from my childhood home, however, have proved impossible to forget.