-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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An attack on Jordan Peterson by a former friend
Furious denunciations of Jordan Peterson from the Left are a dime a dozen but there is a more reasoned article here by BERNARD SCHIFF, an old associate of Jordan Peterson which has a serious claim to uncover Peterson's feet of clay. His obviously intimate and long term association with Peterson gives his words some claim to authority.
I am not going to attempt a systematic reply to the article. That would be absurd when Peterson himself is far better placed to do that. So I just want to offer a few notes:
Some of the accusations Prof. Schiff makes are serious ones. He actually hints that Peterdson is behaving like a Fascist dictator. But his principal claim is that Peterson is not a systematic thinker and that he therefore is prone to serious self-contradictions and inconsistencies.
But his own knowledge of the sort of things that Peterson discusses looks very shallow at times. I was amused that he repeats the ignorant Leftist accusation that HUAC and Joe McCarthy were somehow one and the same. He says:
"In the 1950s a vicious attack on freedom of speech and thought occurred in the United States at the hands of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee".
How a Senator could be part of a House committee is an abiding mystery and yet to conflate the two is a common Leftist mistake that shows how utterly shallow and unscholarly Leftist thought usually is. HUAC was a Democrat creature established in 1938 which ran to 1975. It was initially chaired by Martin Dies Jr. (D-Tex.). McCarthy was active from about 1950 to 1954 and had no association with HUAC.
Another accusatory paragraph from Prof. Schiff:
Jordan has a complex relationship to freedom of speech. He wants to effectively silence those left-wing professors by keeping students away from their courses because the students may one day become “anarchical social revolutionaries” who may bring upon us disruption and violence. At the same time he was advocating cutting funds to universities that did not protect free speech on their campuses. He defended the rights of “alt right” voices to speak at universities even though their presence has given rise to disruption and violence. For Jordan, it appears, not all speech is equal, and not all disruption and violence are equal, either.
That is a fairly absurd paragraph in several ways. It's hard to believe but Schiff really is saying that the Alt-Right should not be heard because that provokes Leftists to attack them! Prof. Schiff admits to being a Leftist but that is singularly one-eyed for a Leftist academic. You could justify the Nazi attacks on Catholics with that sort of argument. "He who controls the Streets is the only one with any right to be heard" is the underlying argument.
And what about Peterson's wish to de-politicize academe is inimical to free speech? It is an argument about keeping politics out of a certain venue, not an aim to completely muzzle one kind of speech -- which is what Leftists aim to do when they ban or obstruct conservative speakers from campus. Peterson is consistently defending free speech, on campus or off.
And Prof. Schiff's other arguments are of that sort. He sees things from a completely Leftist perspective, with all the limitations that entails, where a broader perspective would see Peterson's ideas as quite reasonable, defensible and consistent. Schiff is simply objecting to Peterson's conservatism, nothing more. Any competent conservative writer could show that Peterson's arguments are not inchoate, inconsistent or unreasonable -- JR
An email from Bettina Arndt below. I have been reading Tina for decades so am pleased that she is still energetically engaged in challenging the consensus. She has had her own travails but has risen above them. There are two things in her words below that had a personal resonance for me.
1). Her claim that roughousing from a father figure is desirable would be greeted with pursed lips by many but I in fact did heaps of it with my stepchildren, much to their delight. I would wear out after a while, however, and I can never forget the childish voices urging me on: "Come on, John. More John". They are all well established adults in their middle years now and I am still on excellent terms with them all. We all remember lots of fun times together.
2). I did once years ago have an interview with a counsellor from Relationships Australia and was amazed at their feminist bias. For example they seemed to think that anger in a female was a good thing, whereas I as a psychologist would have said that all anger is a bad thing as it obstructs dialogue
I thought you might like to see something cheerful after all the very serious topics I have been covering recently. So my latest video is about Roughhousing, featuring a fascinating discussion between Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell about how this classic play between fathers and their children contributes to child development. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryVSS0q2FCM
I’ve indulged myself by including a couple of tiny home videos showing my own son, Jesse playing with my baby granddaughter, Matilda. I received these videos from the family – who are living in Texas at the moment - around the same time I was watching the Peterson/Farrell discussion. I couldn’t resist including them here because they so beautifully illustrate what it is about play with fathers that is unique and irreplaceable. I hope you will help me promote the video.
Finally, we’re doing well with Rob Tiller’s crowd-funder – we just about to hit the initial goal of $10,000 but we decided to double that amount. I’m sure you all know about hefty legal fees - his next Fair Work Commission hearing is in July. Also Rob is slowly building up his private practice. Do keep him in mind for skype or phone counselling – and he’s planning his first workshops. He’s scheduled one for next month on The Impossible Business of Keeping Women Happy. Keep an eye on his website for details of when and where. www.robtiller.com.au. Rob’s delighted to have some financial support at the moment to help him back on his feet. He’s also been doing some great media interviews. Here he is with my friends Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean on Sky News’ The Outsiders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGcQwWo9poQ
We are being swamped with stories from across Australia about the anti-male climate at Relationships Australia and similar organisations. I have a number of people who are keen to follow up on this story so please contact me if you have more information. If you need to remain anonymous, that will be fine. We will protect your confidentiality.
'We are living through a crisis in our democracy': Hillary Clinton receives Harvard medal for 'impact on society' as she blasts 'authoritarian' trends
The truth is the reverse. America has just escaped from authoritarian trends. What could be more authoritarian than Obama wanting to "fundamentally transform" American society?
And the only "threat to the rule of law" came from Obama, who tried to do and end-run around Congress with his "pen and phone".
Obama signed little of the legislation sent to him by Congress. By contrast Trump has signed legislation put before him by Congress even when he disliked a lot in it. So who is disrespecting the rule of law, again?
And who is threatening the free press? All the censorship is coming from the Left, not conservatives
And who is trashing free elections? It wouldn't be the Leftist attempts to unseat the democratically-elected Trump would it? And the critics of the electoral college are conservatives, are they?
It the usual Leftist style Hildabeest is upending reality and projecting Leftist faults onto others
Hillary Clinton, again wearing a long coat and bulky scarf in hot weather, has lectured a crowd that there is 'a crisis in our democracy' as Harvard University awarded her a medal.
Clinton spoke on Friday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she accepted Harvard's Radcliffe Medal for her leadership, human rights work and 'transformative impact on society'.
The former Democratic presidential candidate, secretary of state, US senator and first lady said that American democracy is in crisis because of threats to the rule of law, the free press and free elections that are 'undermining national unity.'
She did not mention President Donald Trump by name as she called on audience members to do their part by voting and calling out fake news when they see it.
Air pollution scare debunked
Greenies love to condemn urban air pollution and say how bad for us it is. Faulty science on fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) was the bedrock of the Obama EPA’s war on coal. Particulates don’t just make you sick; they are directly related “to dying sooner than you should,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson falsely told Congress. There is no level “at which premature mortality effects do not occur,” Mr. Obama’s next Administrator Gina McCarthy dishonestly testified. See also some of my previous comments here
The latest research findings below are very powerful evidence on the question. The study included the entire Medicare population from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012. And their finding that only one in a million people die from particulate air pollution is pretty decisive. If you bother about that tiny risk, you should never get out of bed.
The authors pretend that their findings support the Greenies but they would have been reviled if they had said the truth: That their findings show that air pollution is not dangerous.
Air pollution from smoky cooking-fires has probably been part of the human experience for something like a million years and we have adapted to it. We just cough it up.
Association of Short-term Exposure to Air Pollution With Mortality in Older Adults
Question: What is the association between short-term exposure to air pollution below current air quality standards and all-cause mortality?
Finding: In a case-crossover study of more than 22 million deaths, each 10-μg/m3 daily increase in fine particulate matter and 10–parts-per-billion daily increase in warm-season ozone exposures were associated with a statistically significant increase of 1.42 and 0.66 deaths per 1 million persons at risk per day, respectively.
Meaning: Day-to-day changes in fine particulate matter and ozone exposures were significantly associated with higher risk of all-cause mortality at levels below current air quality standards, suggesting that those standards may need to be reevaluated.
Importance: The US Environmental Protection Agency is required to reexamine its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every 5 years, but evidence of mortality risk is lacking at air pollution levels below the current daily NAAQS in unmonitored areas and for sensitive subgroups.
Objective: To estimate the association between short-term exposures to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, and at levels below the current daily NAAQS, and mortality in the continental United States.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Case-crossover design and conditional logistic regression to estimate the association between short-term exposures to PM2.5 and ozone (mean of daily exposure on the same day of death and 1 day prior) and mortality in 2-pollutant models. The study included the entire Medicare population from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012, residing in 39 182 zip codes.
Exposures: Daily PM2.5 and ozone levels in a 1-km × 1-km grid were estimated using published and validated air pollution prediction models based on land use, chemical transport modeling, and satellite remote sensing data. From these gridded exposures, daily exposures were calculated for every zip code in the United States. Warm-season ozone was defined as ozone levels for the months April to September of each year.
Main Outcomes and Measures: All-cause mortality in the entire Medicare population from 2000 to 2012.
Results: During the study period, there were 22 433 862 million case days and 76 143 209 control days. Of all case and control days, 93.6% had PM2.5 levels below 25 μg/m3, during which 95.2% of deaths occurred (21 353 817 of 22 433 862), and 91.1% of days had ozone levels below 60 parts per billion, during which 93.4% of deaths occurred (20 955 387 of 22 433 862). The baseline daily mortality rates were 137.33 and 129.44 (per 1 million persons at risk per day) for the entire year and for the warm season, respectively. Each short-term increase of 10 μg/m3 in PM2.5 (adjusted by ozone) and 10 parts per billion (10−9) in warm-season ozone (adjusted by PM2.5) were statistically significantly associated with a relative increase of 1.05% (95% CI, 0.95%-1.15%) and 0.51% (95% CI, 0.41%-0.61%) in daily mortality rate, respectively. Absolute risk differences in daily mortality rate were 1.42 (95% CI, 1.29-1.56) and 0.66 (95% CI, 0.53-0.78) per 1 million persons at risk per day. There was no evidence of a threshold in the exposure-response relationship.
Conclusions and Relevance: In the US Medicare population from 2000 to 2012, short-term exposures to PM2.5 and warm-season ozone were significantly associated with increased risk of mortality. This risk occurred at levels below current national air quality standards, suggesting that these standards may need to be reevaluated.
Why American men are getting less marriageable
The article below is rather naive -- perhaps blinded by feminism. The author is male but does look rather epicene.
The decline in marriage is no mystery at all. Feminist-inspired divorce laws have made marriage into a financial disaster for most men. And hardly a day goes by without some story appearing in the papers that features such disasters. Men now know what they are in for and choose to cohabitate rather than marry. Cohabitation is the new marriage. Nearly 50% of births are now ex nuptial in some jurisdictions.
The point about employment made below does however also have some validity -- but it is not limited to manufacturing jobs. ANY man without a job or in a low paying job is unlikely to be a target for a marriage-minded woman. It's simply practical. The less money you have, the fewer are your options in life. Using Occam's razor, that's all there is to this issue.
OK, I will admit that instincts have a lot to do with it too. Women do like to look up to a man and see him as a good provider. And he's hard to look up to if he is not a good provider. And that instinct would go back to our cave-man origins. Feminism has been a total failure at changing human nature.
One cause of male unemployment that bears mentioning is the heavy push to get women into remunerative "male" jobs, particularly STEM jobs. Women are now often given preferential access to such jobs. But that is a zero sum game. The more women in any job the fewer will be the men. So some unhappy ladies will have more money but no man. And lots of them regret that quite acutely -- as the Mulvey saga reminds us
I remember a singles party I was at decades ago. There was a quite attractive lady there whom I knew. She said to me: "Where are all the men?" I remarked that there were actually more men present than women. She replied: "Not THOSE men". She wanted a man she could respect and regretted the lack of one. She went home with me
We're in the middle of a great marriage decline in the US.
This phenomenon is partially explained by economic forces that are making men less appealing partners. Traditional gender roles are also to blame.
If it seems like the number of complaints from your female friends about not being able to find a man is growing, we may finally know why. Somewhere between 1979 and 2008, Americans decided it was much less worth it to get hitched: the share of 25- to 39-year-old women who were currently married fell 10 percent among those with college degrees, 15 percent for those with some college, and a full 20 percent for women with a high-school education or less.
This great American marriage decline—a drop from 72 percent of U.S. adults being wed in 1960 to half in 2014—is usually chalked up to gains in women's rights, the normalization of divorce, and the like. But it also a lot to do with men. Namely, economic forces are making them less appealing partners, and it ties into everything from China to opioids.
The most revealing data comes from University of Zurich economist David Dorn. In a 2017 paper with an ominous title ("When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men"), Dorn and his colleagues crunched the numbers from 1990 to 2014. They found that employability and marriageability are deeply intertwined.
The flashpoint is a sector of the economy that politicians love to talk about: manufacturing. It used to be a huge slice of the employment pie: In 1990, 21.8 percent of employed men and 12.9 percent of employed women worked in manufacturing. By 2007, it had shrunk to 14.1 and 6.8 percent. These blue-collar gigs were and are special: they pay more than comparable jobs at that education level in the service sector, and they deliver way more than just a paycheck. The jobs are often dangerous and physically demanding, giving a sense of solidarity with coworkers. Not coincidentally, these jobs are also incredibly male-dominated—becoming even more so between 1990 and 2010. But since 1980, a full third of all manufacturing jobs—5 million since 2000—have evaporated, making guys less appealing as husbands.
Dorn and his colleagues find that when towns and counties lose manufacturing jobs, fertility and marriage rates among young adults go down, too. Unmarried births and the share of children living in single-parent homes go up. Meanwhile, places with higher manufacturing employment have a bigger wage gap between men and women, and a higher marriage rate.
"On simple financial grounds, the males are more attractive partners in those locations because they benefit disproportionately from having those manufacturing jobs around," he tells Thrive Global.
It underscores how in the U.S., the norms around money, marriage, and gender remain—perhaps surprisingly—traditional. Marianne Bertrand, an economist at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, has found a "cliff" in relative income in American marriages at the 50-50 split mark. While there are lots of couples where he earns 55 percent of their combined income, there are relatively few where shemakes more than he does.
While the pay gap is certainly a factor here, Bertrand and her colleagues argue that the asymmetry owes more to traditionalist gender roles and remains a class issue. They reference recent results from the World Values Survey, where respondents were asked how much they agreed with the claim that, ‘‘If a woman earns more money than her husband, it's almost certain to cause problems.'' The results broke along socioeconomic lines: 28 percent of couples where both parties went to at least some college agreed, while 45 percent of couples where neither partner went beyond high school agreed. Spouses tend to be less happy, more likely to think the marriage is in trouble, and more likely to discuss separation if the wife outearns her husband, as well.
"Either men don't like their female partners earning more than they do," Dorn says, or women feel like "if the man doesn't bring in more money, then he's an underachiever."
As manufacturing jobs are lost, there are also increases to mortality in men aged 18 to 39, Dorn says, with more deaths from liver disease, indicative of alcohol abuse; more deaths from diabetes, related to obesity; and lung cancer, related to smoking—not to mention drug overdoses. (These "deaths of despair" have taken over a million American lives in the past decade.) Ofer Sharone, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, has found that while Israelis blame the system when they can't find a job, Americans see themselves as flawed when they can't find work, which sounds a lot like perfectionism. And remarkably, half of unemployed men in the U.S. are on some sort of painkiller. Unremarkably, all that makes long-term monogamy less appealing. "This is consistent with the notion that males become less attractive partners because they have less money and start doing drugs," Dorn says.
The precarious situation that American men face has a lot to do with the nature of the jobs they're doing. Germany and Switzerland, which are bleeding manufacturing at a much slower rate, do more precision work (read: watches and cars), which is harder to ship overseas to hand over to robots and algorithms. Traditionally masculine, American blue collar jobs tend toward repetitive tasks, making them easier to replace. (One British estimate predicted that 35 percent of traditionally male jobs in the UK are at high risk of being automated, compared with 26 percent of traditionally female jobs.) There's a race to automate trucking, a traditionally male role, but not so much nursing.
And the working-class jobs that are being added tend toward what's traditionally taken to be "women's work." Care-oriented jobs like home-care aides continue to go up—a trend that's only going to continue as America gets older and boomers move into retirement. These are not trends that add to the marketability of guys. "The lack of good jobs for these men is making them less and less attractive to women in the marriage market, and women, with their greater earnings, can do fine remaining single," says Bertrand, the Chicago economist. "For gender identity reasons, these men may not want to enter into marriages with women who are dominating them economically, even if this would make economic sense to them."
So what's a man to do within change like this? Dorn recommends, if one is able, to specialize in areas that are harder to automate—jobs that require problem-solving and creativity. But those jobs also often require more education. Then comes the much woolier, complex issue of gender norms. There are individual choices to be made at a personal level for men to take on traditionally feminine work, or for heterosexual couples to settle on a situation where the wife brings home the bacon. But these individual choices don't happen in a vacuum—they're necessarily informed by the broader culture.
"Traditional masculinity is standing in the way of working-class men's employment," Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin said in an interview. "We have a cultural lag where our views of masculinity have not caught up to the change in the job market." (This was captured in a recent New York Times headline: "Men Don't Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree.") Parents and educators will play the biggest role in teaching more gender neutral attitudes regarding who belongs in the home and who belongs in the marketplace, Bertrand says. And eventually, she adds, gender norms "will adjust to the new realities" that are already present in the economy: women are getting better educations and are more employable, and the work opportunities that are growing are—for now—thought to be feminine.
Will America have a debt Jubilee?
So far it is mostly Left-leaning economists who have been calling for it but conservative financial prophet Porter Stansberry thinks it is going to happen soon. I will let him outline the matter and then I will follow up with an even more radical but fairer proposal
Stansberry is something of a panic merchant and tends to put dates on things where he would be better to avoid that. It has been clear to me for some years that America is effectively bankrupt but I have no idea when that will come to a head. As Keynes is alleged to have said: "The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent". And with Mr Trump in the equation, anything or nothing is possible. So Stansberry and I agree on all but the timing of the crisis.
We owe a trillion dollars on our credit cards—which often have interest rates as high as 28%! We've borrowed a trillion dollars to buy new cars—which plummet in value the minute you drive off the lot. And we've racked up about $1.5 trillion for college education with dubious worth.
The debt load for the working poor has nearly quadrupled in the past 20 years as a percentage of their income. And this debt can never, ever be repaid.
It's this system that dooms every average worker to poverty. And almost guarantees that the rich and the powerful will stay that way.
Simply working harder—or working smarter—isn't benefiting employees anymore. On the other hand, Americans who own assets and businesses have seen their wealth soar over the last 40 years.
And so we are left with the biggest income and wealth disparity in America in nearly 100 years.
For those who have taken on these incredible new debt loads, it's a very stressful way to live. So many Americans today are in a hole. They are extremely stressed out, and there is no way out.
And herein lies the problem. This group is growing, and this stress and anger is building... ultimately fueling many of today's biggest issues...
It's why you see people rioting in Charlottesville, Virginia...
It's why you see massive increases in violence and desperation in cities like Baltimore and Chicago...
It's why you see more and more radicalized politics—like resurgent neo-Nazi groups and the rise of Black Lives Matter...
It's why you see the tearing down of historic statues, and why according to a recent Harvard study, more than 50% of young people no longer believe in capitalism!
It's why we now have the highest-ever percentage of people on food stamps—double the historical rate.
It's why in some states, nearly 10% of working age adults receive disability payments!
Remember: These uprisings and protests may be nominally about race, or Donald Trump, police brutality, or immigration.
But what they're really all about is money, debt, and economics.
And that's why we will soon see a dramatic political and economic event, the likes of which we haven't seen in nearly 50 years...
Very soon, millions of Americans will be calling for the government to "do something."
Specifically, they'll be calling for a clean slate... to wipe out their debts and "reset" the financial system.
The crowds will cheer and march like never before. The violence will escalate. Our politicians will promise this reset of the financial system as a way to a "new and better prosperity."
And while it might sound like good news to those who have gotten in over their head—what will really happen is a national nightmare.
You see, this idea of erasing debts to reset the financial system is not new. In fact, in the Bible, it's referred to as a "Jubilee." If you're unfamiliar with the term, it comes from The Old Testament, the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 25.
A Jubilee in the Jewish tradition was said to occur roughly every 50 years. It was a time for total forgiveness of debt, the freeing of slaves, and the returning of lands. Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the first Christian Jubilee in 1300.
Since then, it's been used dozens of times, when anger among a population hits extreme levels, typically because of an explosive divide between the wealthy and the working class.
And very soon, millions will be calling for a new Debt Jubilee here in America. Believe it or not, many are already doing so...
Folks like Carmen Reinhart of Harvard University and Stephen Roach of Yale have advocated for a Debt Jubilee in one form or another. So have financial pundits Barry Ritholtz and Chris Whalen.
In Congress, more than a half-dozen Jubilee-style laws have been proposed, by folks such as Rep. Kathy Castor and Senator Bill Nelson from Florida.
And many of the most powerful left-wing economic "experts" are calling for a Debt Jubilee by name...
London School of Economics Professor David Graeber says: "we are long overdue for some kind of Biblical-style Jubilee... it would relieve so much genuine human suffering."
The national affairs correspondent for The Nation says we should: "Think Jubilee, American Style... because it combines a sense of social justice with old-fashioned common sense."
Paul Kedrosky, a senior fellow at the Kaufman Foundation (a liberal think tank), says: "we need a fresh start, and we need it now... we need... a Jubilee."
A Jubilee—which wipes the slate clean for millions of the most indebted Americans and "resets" the financial system—is inevitable.
And mark my words: This trend will accelerate. The idea of a Debt Jubilee will become THE leading political issue in the months to come.
Today, for millions of Americans, there's no more powerful political promise than a Debt Jubilee. Politicians will soon be promising it all...
I will wipe out your debts.
I will allow you to start fresh.
I will reward all of your bad decisions.
I will solve America's massive income inequality.
Who will pay for it? You guessed it... You, me, and millions of Americans with pensions, retirement accounts, and other types of savings.
Just as in the past, the folks in Washington will disguise this Jubilee under a different name. They might call it a "National Restoration" or "Patriotic Solvency." They'll pass an "Act" like they did in 1841... or invoke an Executive Order as was done in 1933 (Executive Order #6102)... or simply issue a mandate to the Secretary of the Treasury (which they did in 1971).
But it all means the same thing. The Jubilee will redistribute trillions of dollars from those who have invested and saved... to those who can no longer pay their debts.
Excerpt from an article received via email. Stansberry has more in his recent book "The American Jubilee, A National Nightmare is Closer Than You Think"
What Stansberry predicts is obviously unjust but does seem inevitable. Debt "forgiveness" happens all the time in international affairs. Argentina and Greece live on it. But how would you feel if a bank's debts to you (your deposits) were suddenly "forgiven"? Your savings would vanish.
There is a better way: America can't pay its debts so it is effectively bankrupt. So America should declare bankruptcy. But how do you do that? To whom do you make your declaration? It can't be done in anything like the normal way. The only way it can be done is to void the currency. America needs to declare that the Greenback is no longer its currency and all debts denominated in it lose any authority.
America then needs to issue a new currency (Maybe called "Feds") and declare that only debts denominated in Feds will be honoured. All dollar debts would be wiped. The streets would be filled with cheering students celebrating the end of their student debt and householders suddenly finding that they own their house outright after their mortgage debt has disappeared. And that pesky credit card debt is gone too. And without debt a lot of businesses would become more viable too. A weight will have lifted off the backs of the whole nation, resulting almost certainly in a huge economic boom. And a free government grant of 1,000 Feds to every citizen would get things rolling.
But what about your savings? The bank now owes you nothing. Nobody owes anybody anything. That's where the government can use its money issuing power. Certain losing groups can be compensated by GIVING them Feds. All savings accounts with a balance up to 5 million could be reinstated showing the same amount in Feds that they once showed in dollars. And social security payments would be re-denominated in Feds and would continue as before
China and Wall St would not be compensated or else the whole thing would be a farce. And labor unions that have extorted huge retirement benefits for their members would also find that their extortions had been in vain. Benefits their members had been receiving would come to a grinding halt. Their retired and retiring members would have to go on to the same social security payments (in Feds) as everyone else
So average Americans, whether previously savers or debtors, would all be better off and only the parasites would lose. Abandoning the greenback would root out a whole world of corruption.
That is just a very brief outline of how a national bankruptcy could be managed and I am not hopeful that the idea will be adopted. But it shows that the coming Jubilee would not necessarily hurt the little guy. He could be compensated.
Farm Subsidies and the Farm Bill: Truth vs. Fiction
Farm reform will never get up without "adjustment" assistance. The government will have to offer something to help farmers adjust to new realities. If use of corn alcohol in motor fuel no longer becomes compulsory, for instance, something will have to be offered to make use of now surplus ethanol.
One idea that might not be too wild would be to go to amateur distillers worldwide in search of several new forms of corn spirits for human consumption -- several new types of corn whisky, for instance. Maybe even a corn liqueur. A liqueur called "Moonshine" should be attractive if only because of the name
The government could then sponsor a big advertising blast to get people to try the new product. Success would all depend on attractive products being devised but that should not be beyond the wit of man
Like immigration, health care and other seemingly endless legislative quarrels, agriculture is a highly contentious issue every time Congress grapples with it. So this week’s House farm bill is simply par for the course. The Heritage Foundation’s Daren Bakst has produced an excellent compilation of critical amendments that should graduate to the finalized bill. Unfortunately, these amendments — just like past reform proposals — will be in the crosshairs of subsidy-obsessed special interests.
As Bakst explains in a Daily Signal op-ed, “Agricultural special interests try to make it sound as though touching even one farm subsidy — regardless of how unreasonable the subsidy is — will be the end of agriculture as we know it. Using scare tactics, they will assert wild claims without any support, or they will cherry-pick data to provide a misleading picture.” Sound familiar? That’s because global warming scaremongers apply the same tactic.
The truth is less menacing. For example, while special interest groups assert that farmers are financially strapped and therefore require subsidies, Bakst points to the opposite: “Farm households have far greater median income and wealth than non-farm households.” This means that, as of 2016, 70% of farm households reported higher earnings, and farmer wages averaged about 29% higher. In terms of aggregate wealth, farmers’ average of $897,000 dwarfs that of other households, which stands at a relatively paltry $97,300.
Another farce revolves around the supposedly deteriorating economy. While the agriculture economy is admittedly off its peak, Bakst notes that “key financial indicators such as debt-to-asset ratios are near historic lows.” Besides, he reminds us: “What other sector of the economy expects regular taxpayer handouts when things aren’t going well? The very assumption that taxpayers should protect farmers from competing in the market like every other business shows the egregious nature of the current subsidy system.”
A few additional pointers: The rural economy’s troubles have little to do with farming — “only about 6 percent of rural jobs are in farming,” says Bakst — and subsidies are disproportionately divided among small family and commercial farms (guess which one profits the most?). This contradicts the narrative that subsidies are primarily needed to propel small family farms. The number of family farms, by the way, is not in a tailspin, as special interests claim.
Believe it or not, there’s even a national security angle when it comes to subsidies. But as Bakst points out, “There are no national security problems for almost all commodities that receive little to no subsidies,” which happens to be most agricultural commodities.
Let’s also not belittle the most important fact — taxpayers are on the hook for every subsidiary element. Even with crop insurance, taxpayers foot 62% of the premium bill. And when it comes to sugar, the economy takes a $3.7 billion hit annually despite the special interest groups’ laughable claim that it’s a financially neutral program. The reality is that the poor are hardest hit. The farm bill is currently constructed in a way that ignores these realities. It can, however, be amended. We’ll soon see how Congress considers a priority — special interest groups, or taxpayers.
Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact
This is a very silly article, replete with implicit but unargued assumptions -- such as the implicit claim that "we" are in some way responsible to make good -- or at least apologize for -- all the damage that all humans throughout history have ever done.
From Trilobites to the dinosaurs, extinctions are what nature does. Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. And, of all the extinctions that ever happened, most by far happened long before human beings were on the scene. Humans were NOT reponsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, for instance.
And even in the human era, modern sensitivities were virtually unknown. The megafauna of Australia were extinguished by Australian Aborigines, for instance. I feel no guilt over that. Primitive people are often hard on the environment (pace the fictional Chief Seattle) but how am I responsible for that? It's a basic principle of natural justice that I am not to blame for the deeds of others.
Nonetheless, I am enough of a modern man to feel some regret about some recent extinctions(passenger pigeons anyone?). But should I? That leads us into very rarefied areas of moral philosophy that are not all congenial. Peter Singer, for instance, is an eminence in that field and his cogitations lead him to some very objectionable conclusions, like the permissibility of infanticide.
So feeling that recent extinctions are bad is just that: feelings. A more intellectual justification for concern awaits. Excerpts only below:
Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.
The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.
The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. One suggested marker for this change are the bones of the domestic chicken, now ubiquitous across the globe.
The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.
The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.
But comparison of the new estimates with those for the time before humans became farmers and the industrial revolution began reveal the full extent of the huge decline. Just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain, surprising even the scientists. In the oceans, three centuries of whaling has left just a fifth of marine mammals in the oceans.
The researchers calculated the biomass estimates using data from hundreds of studies, which often used modern techniques, such as satellite remote sensing that can scan great areas, and gene sequencing that can unravel the myriad organisms in the microscopic world.
The researchers acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain in particular estimates, especially for bacteria deep underground, but say the work presents a useful overview.
Because the government schools are so woeful in most instances, parents send 40% of Australian teenagers to private schools. That is such a big voting bloc that no government would dare doing much about it -- as Mark Latham found out.
But the Left see an easier target in State selective schools. There are not many of them but the fact that you have to have a good record of academic achievement to get into them brings their standards up to about equal with private schools. And you don't have to be rich to afford them. They were conceived as schools that would give a private school education to the more able poor.
But the pupils who pass the adnmissions tests tend to be from affluent backgrounds so it is mostly they who get in. The unmentioned fact in most discussions about this is that IQ and affluence are highly correlated -- so it will always be mostly rich kids who can profit from a high-standard education.
But the numskulls below want to square the circle. Because most of those eligible to attend selective schools come from well-off backgrounds they think the system is somehow "unfair". So they want to let more poor students into selective shools -- which would make them less selective and therefore less able to offer an alternative to private schooling.
But surely, the obvious thing to do is to lift the game of the mainstream state schools, not try to pull down the selective schools. That might seem blue sky but it is not. At a small unselective country State school in the '50s I got an education modelled on Eton, including physical punishment for misbehaving. And I profited greatly from what I learnt then. I learnt stuff at primary school that these days is taught in High School, if at all. I was a long way from Berkshire but I got something quite similar to an Eton education
How come? In those days all politicians wanted "the best" for their schools and Eton was acknowledged as being the best. I am inclined to think it still is. So they simply modelled their syllabi on Etons'. They even copied the Eton "house" system as far as one could in a State school where all students went home at night.
So the problem is not privileged schools but the crazy ideology and unproved methods that most modern-day education theorists inflict on mainstream schools
Monica Garcia-Pineda remembers feeling as though the partially selective Sydney high school she attended was made up of two completely different places.
“I can’t describe it in any other way,” she says. “It felt like going to two schools. There was always this divide between the selective and community kids, because you weren’t treated like you were in the same school.
“The selective kids were always encouraged to choose more academically challenging subjects so there was very little opportunity for the cohort to kind of be alongside one another in class, which affects how you socialise when you’re not in class.
“We used to sit on different sides of the quad.”
Selective school policies have come under increased scrutiny in recent months as state governments grapple with evidence that the schools are overwhelmingly populated by students from advantaged backgrounds and may be reinforcing existing class differences.
The overwhelming majority of Australia’s selective schools are in New South Wales – 19 fully selective and 29 partially selective. Its education department last year announced a review of competitive entry tests to address concerns that the system was being gamed by wealthy families who could afford tutoring.
Garcia-Pineda was a selective student at Macquarie Fields high school in Sydney’s south-west. She grew up in Wattle Grove, only about 12km away but another world in the socially complex jumble of Sydney’s western suburbs.
“I never used to hang out in the area at all,” she says. “I really didn’t feel like I was part of it.”
Macquarie Fields is demographically typical of western Sydney. Unemployment is higher and wages are lower than the Australian average. Fewer people are university educated and the population is dramatically more multicultural than the rest of the country.
A few years before Garcia-Pineda graduated in 2008, Macquarie Fields made national headlines when teenagers threw stones and molotov cocktails at police officers during riots sparked by the deaths of two local teenagers who were killed during a police car chase.
The statistics are reflected in the makeup of most of the local public schools.
Education data published by the federal government breaks school populations down into four “socio-educational” advantage quartiles. At Ingleburn high school, 2km away from Macquarie Fields, 54% of students come from the bottom quartile while only 3% come from the top.
At another neighbouring school, Sarah Redfern high, the figures are almost identical.
Both neighbouring schools rank below the national average for educational advantage, a yardstick determined using the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, or Icsea, which measures factors such as parents’ occupations, education level and the location of the school.
But at Macquarie Fields only 15% of the students come from the lowest advantage quartile, and 27% are from the top. Its Icsea score of 1,054 is above the national average of 1,000.
It’s a trend which is reproduced over and over across Australia wherever selective schools are found.
Analysis of My School data by Guardian Australia reveals that students at selective schools are strikingly more advantaged than other nearby schools. They are overwhelmingly attended by the most educationally advantaged students and in many cases are dramatically unrepresentative of the suburbs in which they are located.
The divide is more pronounced in fully selective schools than partially selective. In fact, Guardian Australia’s analysis found that in some cases partially selective schools are less advantaged than their neighbours.
But at fully selective schools such as Penrith high school in western Sydney, the Icsea is 1,163, compared with an average score of 976 at the 20 closest schools. Only 1% of the school’s students are from the bottom advantage quartile. At Jamison high school, about 3km away, the figure is 42%.
The trend is even apparent for schools in highly affluent areas of Sydney and Melbourne, though these have the smallest gap between selective and non-selective.
The difference comes in part because selective schools do not have geographic catchment areas like public schools and can therefore be attended by students from anywhere in the state.
Education data suggests some selective schools may be becoming more advantaged over time. In 2013 the average score for students at Macquarie Fields was 1,047, rising to 1,054 in 2017.
But changes to the way the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (Acara) calculates disadvantage means it’s impossible to accurately assess how much the school’s demographics have changed over a longer period.
Christina Ho, an academic from the University of Technology, Sydney, says selective schools are reinforcing class and cultural divisions.
“They’re elitist. And not only are they elitist but they’re becoming more elitist,” Ho says. Any review of selective schools’ admissions would amount to “tinkering around the edges” of a system she says has become “warped”.
“There is obviously an education culture emerging that means these schools have a certain kind of status within the community which is quite different to what it was designed to be,” she says.
“Selective schools were supposed to be public schools that were accessible for gifted kids. The fact that there are almost no disadvantaged kids in these schools tells us they’re no longer accessible and they’re not genuine public schools because they’re not open to anyone except the most advantaged families in NSW.”
Not everyone agrees the system is broken.
Jae Yup Jared Jung, a senior lecturer in the school of education at the University of NSW, says the positive role of gifted education programs such as academically selective schools is backed up by research.
He points to a 2016 US academic paper which reviewed 100 years of research on ability grouping in education.
The study, published in the Review of Educational Research, looked at 172 papers on “ability grouping” published between 1922 and 1994, and concluded that the “preponderance of existing evidence” suggested special grouping for gifted students can “greatly improve K–12 students’ academic achievement”.
He says the process of choosing students for selective schools “isn’t perfect”, but that the system helps gifted students advance faster by coupling them with students of similar ability.
“There are certain selective schools with students from a higher socioeconomic background than other schools, but you could say the same thing about the Catholic and independent sectors,” he says.
“There’s no perfect way of selecting students for selective schools, but I have confidence in the NSW department of education that the current systems are such that someone who doesn’t deserve to be there isn’t being permitted to enter.”
Brendan Ma graduated from James Ruse Agricultural high school in 2015. The school’s Icsea value of 1,236 is one of the highest in Australia, and in 2017 87% of its students came from the top advantage quartile. [And most are Asian]
But Icsea doesn’t consider income, and Ma says it is wrong to assume that most selective students come from advantaged backgrounds.
“I had a lot of friends from my cohort who would have parents working double jobs, coming from an immigrant background where their parents still didn’t have a strong grasp of English,” he says.
For Ma, going to a selective school meant getting access to opportunities he never would have been able to afford otherwise.
“For a lot of people at my school who might have worked really hard or been academically gifted there were a lot of opportunities to advance those gifts,” he says.
“Study tours, musical events, things that cost a lot money. Usually it wouldn’t be something they could go to because their parents couldn’t pay for it, but our school made a really strong effort to make sure they could provide opportunities at low cost or for free.”
Guardian Australia’s analysis also compared the percentage of selective school students from a language background other than English with that of neighbouring schools.
It found that across fully selective schools the average proportion of students from a non-English speaking background in 2017 was 66.5%, compared with 36.2% at nearby non-selective schools.
In some schools the difference was more stark. At James Ruse, 97% of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds, compared with 38.7% at nearby schools.
In February Guardian Australia reported on research showing Indigenous students were disproportionately represented in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools. Christina Ho argues that the concentration of students – mostly from east Asia – in selective schools is another example of “monocultures” forming within the education system.
“Because these schools are now seen as ‘too Asian’ there’s been a real backlash from non-Asian families, so Anglo Australians are now saying ‘those schools are not for us’,” she says.
But Ma, the James Ruse student, says being at a selective school allowed him to explore his identity.
“I think for a lot of students who did come from immigrant backgrounds it did in some way support their development of an identity,” he says.
“My experience coming from a Chinese immigrant background was that as a young person you get conflicting signals about what your identity should be or how you fit into the Australian landscape.
“I found though that I could be more comfortable with my identity at school. All those doubts I had about being proud of my heritage or language I could be open with people who understood.”
In January the NSW education minister, Rob Stokes, said he was concerned selective schools could “create a rigid, separated public education system”, and raised the idea of opening more selective schools to local enrolments.
Laura Perry, an associate professor specialising in education research at Murdoch University, says schools with partially selective academic programs in specific subject areas such as music or sports are preferable to fully selective schools, because they have the dual benefit of keeping high-performing students in the public sector while “promoting socially mixed schools”.
For Garcia-Pineda, despite experiencing a social divide between selective and community students at her school in western Sydney, there were benefits in being exposed to students from different backgrounds.
“I think for a lot of kids who were in the selective part of the school it was a good experience for them because they mostly came from families with money and weren’t always exposed to that,” she says.
“I know for me it was confronting. When I came to high school I didn’t know people who came from single-parent households [or] grew up living in housing commission.
“I think that’s a major benefit of a school with a mixture of backgrounds. You become a different kind of person. It opens your eyes a little bit.”
The Royal wedding
As a confirmed monarchist I did watch the Royal wedding on TV, mostly on Australia's channel 9. So I thought I might note here a few desultory impressions of it.
The first thing I liked was all the splendid cars, old and new. The old Rolls bringing the bride was particularly magnificent. It was a 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom-iv. But there were a lot of impressive vehicles delivering the wedding party.
Then I was pleased to see Prince Philip looking so well -- in remarkable health for age 96
I was pleased to see that both young Princes wore military uniform. They wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals -- which is Harry's old regiment. Both men were of course fully entitled to wear uniform as both had served in the armed forces in their younger days. The Royal family is a military family -- as most European monarchies once were. I thought Prince Charles would be in uniform too but he wore a tailsuit in a rather horrible shade of grey. He obviously didn't want to outshine his sons
It was good too that Harry kept his red beard. Red-headed kids traditionally got bullied in British schoolyards but with the very popular Prince Harry being a red-head that must have been ameliorated. My father was a redhead so I have sympathy for redheads
It was good to see how Harry and William stopped to greet their Gurkha guards as they entered. Harry did of course work with Gurkhas when he was in the army in Afghanistan. They were the only people the Royal brothers stopped for. That would have been noted and justly celebrated in Nepal. The Gurkhas are held in huge respect in England. Here is one reason for that respect.
It was also good to see how the two brothers interacted while they were waiting. They are obviously a great support for one another.
The Dean of Windsor seemed rather tremulous. He sounded like he might break down. Since he was running the show, that would not have done.
When it came to the actual marriage service, Cantuar was in good voice -- a most experienced preacher.
There certainly were a lot of Christian expressions from all who spoke. It went on and on, very repetitiously. God was so frequently invoked that one got the impression that he must be hard of hearing. Harry must have been bored but military men learn patience so he outlasted it without apparent difficulty.
There was a pronounced African presence throughout the proceedings, presumably in deference to Meghan's partial ancestry. The cellist was good but I was unimpressed by the rest of it. Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry was very active and dramatic in his speech but all he did was state some extremely anodyne comments repetitiously and with a lot of noise.
But you can't expect much more from the Episcopalians. Homosexuality seems to be the only thing Episcopalians care about. Had the bishop quoted Romans 1:24-27 that might have livened things up. As it was, his speech was just way too long. It was supposed to last 6 minutes but in a rather good demonstration of black ego he performed for 17 minutes. Never in the field of human preaching has so little been said for so long.
The media generally praised his speech highly but what else could they do with a black bishop from the world's most politically correct church?
Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E King's soul classic Stand By Me during the service. It was repetitive but sung with a lot of energy. I noted that Camilla looked horrified when they came on. I thought it was just noise.
I noted that St George’s Chapel had a medieval "rude screen", behind which all the "magic" happened -- out of sight of most of the congregation. The chapel was built in the 14th century so it reflects its times.
And I was rather pleased to see beadles in use guiding people. Is it only Anglicans who have beadles? I have never seen one on the more Protestant services I am accustomed to.
The departure of the married couple in an Ascot Landau with a big Household Cavalry escort was of course what one expects of a great Royal occasion. Some of the carriage horses were clearly a bit spooked by the cheering etc but they were well managed. If there is one thing the Royal family and their attendants know about it is horses. It's an equestrian monarchy. Even the Queen still rides -- but only ponies these days.
The bride: I was rather surprised by the strong resemblance between Meghan and her mother, though I suppose I should not have been. I had supposed that Meghan's fine features would have come from her Caucasian father but clearly she got a bit from both -- JR.
Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)
There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment. The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia. Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries. It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.
But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not. To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.
If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers. But that would be too practical, of course. Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.
Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.
The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.
After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.
Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.
“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.
‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”
The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.
In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.
In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]
Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.
University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.
NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.
“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”
A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.
The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.
A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.
Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.
The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.
Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming (?)
This is a classic example of how to lie with statistics. The 400 month figure is presented as an apparent proof of continued global warming. It is equally consistent with continued plateauing or anything in between. It is in fact consistent with global warming having stopped. Judging by the satellite data, some initial annual warming was followed by plateauing. So global warming has in fact stopped. The annual temperature average rose slightly from about 1975 to 2000 and is now back at about the 2000 level
Amusing that they rely heavily below on monthly temperature levels. Even in a year with an unchanged annual average temperature, monthly temperatures will vary greatly. There is this thing called the "seasons", for a start.
It must be embarrassing for them that they have to report "the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year". Only the 5th? The earth must be COOLING!
Also interesting that in North America the temperature COOLED. America has a dense network of temperature measureing stations so the temperature there is much harder to "fiddle" LOL. As in Orwell's "1984", Warmists revise history a lot, as the disrespectful Tony Heller often documents
It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.
It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.
Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.
The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.
"We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm," said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. "Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."
Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements. That's because it's fixed in time, allowing for consistent "goal posts" when reviewing climate data. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability.
"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline," Arndt said.
NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.
Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.
Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.
North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.
For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.
A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.
Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.
This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Will Posting Nutritional Information on Menus Prod Diners to Make Healthier Choices?
Some studies say no effect. Others say a very small effect. The article comes from a major medical journal so the authors conclude in favour of providing the dietary information. But that is more an expression of political correctness than anything else. A conclusion that the doubtful benefits don't justify the costs would also be warranted.
Note that the authors are also politically correct in demonizing salt (sodium). That is very poorly informed from a medical viewpoint. There is now much evidence that salt is helpful rather than harmful. See here, here and here
On May 7, all US chain restaurants with 20 or more locations—and that includes coffee shops, bakeries, and movie theaters that sell food—had to start posting the calorie content of their menu items.
The rationale behind the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate, set forth in the Affordable Care Act in 2010, was that it might make customers think twice about ordering a meal that contained more calories than they should consume in an entire day. But whether posting calorie counts will help trim the proportion of US adults and children who are overweight or obese remains to be seen.
“About half of consumers’ annual food dollars are spent on, and a third of total calories come from, foods prepared outside the home,” according to the FDA’s final rule on menu nutrition labeling, published in December 2014 (implementation of the rule has been postponed twice from its original date of December 1, 2015). “Research indicates that many people do not know, or underestimate, the calorie and nutrient content of these foods.”
US consumers have had nearly a quarter of a century to familiarize themselves with nutrition labeling on packaged foods, required by the FDA since 1994. Mandating the posting of calories in restaurants “is a really good start to be more consistent with the way we have labeling on packaged foods in grocery stores,” said Heather Eicher-Miller, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition science at Purdue University.
A number of jurisdictions already require chain restaurants to post calories, beginning in 2008 with New York City. In addition, some nationwide chains, such as Krispy Kreme and Subway, already post calories.
Evidence Is Thin
Evidence that providing calorie counts on restaurant foods spurs customers to ditch fettuccine alfredo for filet of sole is pretty thin. Even if diners do opt for the lower-calorie items, it’s not known whether they’ll compensate by eating more than they normally would at their next meal.
Eicher-Miller coauthored a meta-analysis in 2017 that concluded that menu labeling in restaurants did not result in a change in quantity or quality of calories consumed by US adults. “But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful or important,” she said, explaining that only time and further research will tell whether the FDA’s mandate might eventually have the desired effect.
A recent Cochrane Review found that adding calorie information to menus in restaurants, coffee shops, and cafeterias could reduce calories purchased by about 8%, or by about 50 calories out of a 600-calorie meal. And there was no evidence that posting calories caused unintended harm by increasing the number of calories purchased or consumed.
The authors’ conclusion was not a ringing endorsement of menu nutritional labeling though, due to a dearth of high-quality studies. “We tentatively suggest that nutritional labeling on menus in restaurants could be used as part of a wider set of measures to tackle obesity,” they wrote. “Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions.”
Higher-quality studies are needed to answer 2 key questions, said Theresa Marteau, PhD, director of the Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge Institute of Public Health in the United Kingdom and a coauthor of the Cochrane Review. How should nutrition labeling on menus be designed to optimize the impact on purchasing and consumption, particularly for those in lower socioeconomic groups who might be more likely to benefit? And how effective are menu nutrition labels alongside other efforts to promote healthier diets, such as availability of healthier options and smaller portion sizes?
While these questions have yet to be answered, Marteau said, “we believe that there is sufficient evidence of effectiveness for the FDA to proceed with required nutritional labeling on menus and for the UK, and other jurisdictions, to move toward mandating this.”
One reason the research so far has failed to find much of an effect from posting calories is because relatively few consumers use the information, said Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University. At restaurants, Ohri-Vachaspati said, “we are all impulsive eaters, and we are all used to making impulsive decisions.”
In a study published in 2015, Ohri-Vachaspati and her coauthors found that 60% of people interviewed outside of McDonald’s restaurants said they had noticed nutritional information on the menu boards, but only 16% of them said they had considered it when deciding what to order. Higher income and having a bachelor’s degree or higher were independently associated with a greater likelihood of noticing as well as using the menu calorie labels.
Simply slapping calorie totals on a menu isn’t enough, Ohri-Vachaspati said. Diners need to understand what calories mean in the context of their daily diet. The FDA is requiring that menus must say “2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” However, not everyone grasps what that means, Ohri-Vachaspati said.
“I think that the average American consumer does not understand what calories are” or how many they should consume in a day, said Sara Bleich, PhD, professor of public health policy at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s unfortunate that it’s just calories that are being reported.”
Besides posting total calories on menus or menu boards, restaurants must have available “on the premises” printed information about 10 other nutrients in their dishes, including grams of fat, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber and milligrams of cholesterol and sodium, according to the FDA.
Whether customers will actually use that information is another matter. “People generally do not ask for nutrition information beyond what’s printed on the menu,” said Karen Byrd, PhD, MBA, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition, dietetics, and food management at Murray State University in Kentucky.
A recent study by Byrd and Eicher-Miller and coauthors suggests that it might be more useful to post sodium content on menus instead of calories, especially considering that US adults get approximately a third of their total daily sodium intake from restaurant foods.
Many US adults consume more than the recommended daily limit of 2300 mg of sodium, according to a recent study in JAMA led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers. They estimated that the average daily sodium intake of US adults was 3608 mg.
In her study, Byrd examined whether sodium warnings required on chain restaurant menus in New York City since 2015 had any effect. The restaurants are supposed to place a triangular icon with a salt shaker in the middle next to menu items that have 2300 mg of sodium or more.
“Based on my research, that’s not effective,” possibly because only 17% of all menu items contained at least 2300 mg of sodium, making it easy for consumers to overlook the icon, said Byrd, who conducted the study while on the Purdue faculty.
However, posting the number of milligrams of sodium next to each item on the menu did make a difference, although it depended on whether people perceived relatively healthier foods as tasty. Those who liked to eat healthy food selected meals with lower sodium content, Byrd found. On the other hand, 1 in 5 participants in her study said they thought lower-sodium foods weren’t tasty, so posting the sodium content drove them to order higher-sodium menu items.
In contrast, posting calories made no difference in the calorie content of the meals ordered, even among participants who thought healthy foods were tasty, Byrd’s study found.
Even participants in Byrd’s study who opted for lower-sodium menu items were unable to reduce their sodium intake at one meal to below 2300 mg, the maximum recommended daily intake, because so many dishes came close to or exceeded that level.
“Additional action by the restaurant industry to reduce the sodium content of restaurant foods, as proposed by the FDA, may be necessary to make a significant public health impact,” she and her coauthors wrote.
The problem is that simply eliminating salt added in the preparation of food or at the table might not meaningfully alter sodium intake in the population because it remains high in commercially processed foods, Joachim Ix, MD, MAS, and Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS, both of the University of California, San Diego, wrote in an editorial accompanying the CDC study in JAMA. “Because of this, strategies to reduce sodium intake should focus at the population level first and should include the industries that supply processed foods, beverages, and menu items,” Ix and Anderson wrote.
Recent research by Bleich suggests that large US restaurant chains are moving in that direction by cutting calories and sodium in their new menu items.
In one study, she and her coauthors found that the calorie-adjusted sodium content in newly introduced menu items in the 66 top-earning restaurant chains declined by 104 mg from 2012 to 2016. “However,” they wrote, “sodium content of core and new menu items remains high, and reductions are inconsistent across menu categories and restaurant types.”
In another study, Bleich and her coauthors found that items dropped from the chains’ menus during that period contained 71 more calories than the items that remained on the menu. “I think that’s probably a reflection of shifting consumer demands,” Bleich said.
Diners’ behavior is resistant to change, but eliminating higher-calorie menu items might have a “significant and positive impact on population health,” she and her coauthors wrote.
“The overarching point is it’s an overall good trend,” she said of the lowering of sodium and calories in restaurants, although “we want to keep an eye on some red flags.” For example, Bleich said, to cut calories, restaurant chains are often replacing healthy fats with sugar, which could leave customers less sated.
The mandated posting of calories in restaurants will likely motivate them to reformulate more dishes, Bleich predicted. “You don’t want to be known as the restaurant that has the highest-calorie appetizer.”
Where have all the babies gone?
Reducing the population is a big Greenie goal and they have convinced some foolish women to make the life-shattering decision to avoid having babies. Women that foolish and unnatural are probably not much of a loss from the gene pool however.
And it is not only conservatism that tends to stand athwart the trend to a baby drought. Many religious people and economists also deplore it. The Catholic church has an adamantine opposition to contraception -- so adamantine that even the heretical Pope Francis suports it. But, like many church teachings, that one has largely fallen by the wayside. There are now few Catholics who heed it. Thank goodness for the Mormons, I guess. And a shout-out to the remarkable Duggar family is surely appropriate here too.
As we see below, however, the baby bust has now hit the USA, mainly because minority women too have now caught on to the trend. Prosperity has now influenced them too. And it does seem clear that prosperity is the culprit -- enabled by the pill, of course. When you have a kindly welfare state to help you when you are sick or old, who needs kids?
Answer: Everybody and nobody. Nobody in the USA now needs kids for economic reasons. But life is not all economics. We do have other needs and other pleasures. And babies are big in both those arenas. Children are undoubtedly life's greatest pleasure. As ever, there is some pain with the gain but it is only the very unlucky where the pain is not well worthwhile. And for real women, a baby is a need. The many women who undergo IVF are one testimony to that.
Still there are many women who have one or two children only and I am not going to criticize that decision. The women who have more than two are the key, however. We need them to make up the many women who, for good reasons or bad, have no children.
Politicians of course love babies. They see them as future taxpayers. So many countries -- France was the first, I think, now have pro-natalist policies of various sorts. They do what they can to encourage and accelerate baby-making. Singapore has probably the most extreme of such policies but Russia has made great efforts too. Australia actually pays for babies.
So should the USA go down that road too? Does it all really matter? I'm doubtful.
As a kid, my hair was so fair that I remember being addressed as "Snowy". So I like to think that will continue. I would like to think that there will be many like me in the future. And, where I hang out most of the time, I do see quite a few mothers with little snowy-haired kids. And I love to see them.
Intermarriage does of course threaten that. Australia's big (about 5%) minority is Chinese and the young Chinese ladies go all out to snag a tall Caucasian man. So a tall Caucasian man with a small Asian lady on his arm is rather frequently seen in my neck of the woods. And I see the fruit of that too. I myself now have Chinese relatives -- in that a tall, blue-eyed cousin of mine married a Chinese lady who produced a brilliant and beautiful Eurasian daughter. Eurasians are commonly seen as good-looking and tend to be smart too. So more Eurasians would please me. But I do regret than none of them will ever be "snowys".
But nonetheless, most people marry others with backgrounds similar to themselves. Psychologists even have a term for it. They call it "assortative mating". So it seems to me that there will always be snowys somewhere, even if in diminished numbers.
But hair color is a side issue. Are there any other reasons why we should fear population shrinkage? I can't see it. The USA could end up like Brazil or Mexico, where people of European ancestry rule the roost, despite most of the population being of non-European origin. And that means that the entire population is ghettoized. Whites live in walled-off areas in habitations that are much like European habitations elsewhere in the world -- and non-whites live in often very rudimentary accommodation. In short, people will rise to whatever standard of living that they are capable of. There will be exceptions to that, of course, but it is averages I am concerned with here.
So if the baby shortage among American whites leads to a demographic overturn that leaves whites in a minority, I think the effect of that on white lifestyles will be small. The crime problem will increase and foolish government restrictions on business will limit prosperity but walled estates and security guards are just some of the measures that can keep crime at bay for the more affluent population segment, while foolish government regulations are regrettably common everywhere. Obama and the Greenies did their best to throttle American prosperity but even under that regime there was some economic growth.
Economic restrictions just lead to ways for circumventing them -- the famous "black markets" are a case in point and successful entrepreneurship just entails a degree of corruption. Italy today is a very prosperous place with many rich people (and over a thousand admirals!) but by most estimates about a third of the Italian economy is "black".
So I think that even under some fairly dire outcomes of a prolonged baby bust among American whites, a white population will continue to flourish for a long time.
If the baby bust goes on for a very long time, American whites would of course die out -- to cheers from whatever is left of the Greenies -- but that is not likely. Even in today's world there are many maternal women who just hunger for a baby so they will continue to reproduce themselves regardless of what others do. It may be that the white population will come to consist entirely of their progeny -- in which case we will see a white population INCREASE occurring, even if off a much smaller base than we have today.
The United States just hit a 40-year low in its fertility rate, according to numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2017 provisional estimate of fertility for the entire U.S. indicates about 3.85 million births in 2017 and a total fertility rate of about 1.76 births per women.
These are low numbers: births were as high as 4.31 million in 2007, and the total fertility rate was 2.08 kids back then.
Who are the Mass. voters supporting Scott Lively?
The 2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial election will take place on November 6, 2018. The primary is scheduled for September 4, 2018. Incumbent RINO Governor Charlie Baker is running for re-election to a second term in office. He is very popular in Mass. so will win the Republican primary and subsequently the governorship. He has a real Republican challenger in the primary, Scott Lively, who has no hope of winning so some people are wondering why he is standing. A report from the Leftist Boston Globe below
The Globe treats as ludicrous Lively's claims about the homosexual element in Nazism but it is well documented here
In addition to such well-known homosexuals as Roehm and Schirach at the top of the Nazi hierarchy there were others such as Heines -- whom Shirer ("The Rise and fall of the Third Reich") describes thus: "Edmund Heines, the Obergruppenfuehrer of Silesia... a notorious homosexual" (p. 307). Silesia is of course a major industrial area of great historic significance so command of the Nazis there was no mean post. Could a "notorious homosexual" get a prominent party job anywhere else in the world at that time? I think not. So Nazism did in its times embody an exceptional degree of "gay lib". Arguably it was in fact the first flowering of "gay-lib"
Roehm (L) and Heines (R)
DEMOCRATS WANT BIG WINS in the November midterm elections. But in primaries last week in Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia, not a single Republican critic of President Trump survived. In Massachusetts, nearly 28 percent of delegates to the state GOP convention last month voted for Scott Lively over Charlie Baker, the most popular governor in the country.
Lively has claimed that gays controlled the Third Reich. He also calls himself “100 percent pro-life,” “100 percent Second Amendment,” and “100 percent pro-Trump.”
Who are these Lively voters? Activists who want to send Baker a message to move to the right? Anti-gay bigots? Or mega-fans of Donald Trump, whose own extremes freed them up to support the ultra-extreme Lively?
It’s Trump, says Todd Domke, a long-time Republican analyst who resigned from the GOP after Trump’s election. The GOP base here is more conservative and populist than most realize, he says, and a president’s appeal is huge. Domke sites Ray Shamie’s stunning win over Watergate star and former Attorney General Elliot Richardson in the state’s GOP primary in 1984. Shamie wrapped himself around the swaggering Ronald Reagan. Richardson? Not so much.
The convention vote to put anti-gay crusader Scott Lively on the primary ballot is a self-inflicted black eye for the state’s Republicans.
Now we’re talking supper-swaggering Trump, a TV star billionaire with a cult-like appeal who drives liberal elites bananas. At a Belchertown Flag Day celebration last year, Lively supporter Chris Pinto of Massachusetts Gun Rights gave a speech detailing most every nasty remark made by such elites about Trump. Among them: Madonna, Robert DeNiro, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Colbert, Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dogg, YG, and Everlast.
Richard Howell, another Lively supporter, says that zeal for Trump turned into zeal for Lively, who’s wrapped himself around Trump completely. [Mass. governor] Baker, meanwhile, has kept his distance. He even blanked the 2016 presidential ballot, voting for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton.
But it’s not just where Trump “stands on the issues,” says Howell. “It’s performance. Trump is not going to be threatened or intimidated.” And neither, he says, is Lively.
What about those Trump issues? The Iran deal? The Mueller investigation? Michael Cohen and his links to the Russian mob? All those women who’ve accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment?
Howell says he loves what the president is doing “with the mullahs in Iran.” He calls the Mueller investigation a “deep state operation” and wonders why nobody ever prosecuted Clinton for her e-mails. “If there were any truth to (the women’s claims) it would’ve come out sooner,” he says.
The zeal for President Trump turned into zeal for Lively.
You talk to deep-red Massachusetts Lively conservatives, and you realize: Although their numbers are tiny, their ideas echo talking points you heard in reports from Indiana and Ohio and daily on “Fox News.” Though no one I talked to embraced Lively’s crusade against homosexuality, they do oppose gay marriage and transgender rights. But mostly, they love Trump on guns, the wall, and anti-abortion judges.
Massachusetts’ progressives, meanwhile, may as well live in a different galaxy. They’re horrified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to separate children from mothers at border crossings. They love talk of Cohen’s “slush fund” for porn stars and CNN debates between Alan Dershowitz and Jeffrey Toobin over Trump’s taking “the Fifth.”
GOP activist Steve Aylward of Watertown says he couldn’t vote for Charlie Baker, “who’s supported every kooky liberal program there is, from the bathroom bill (his term for transgender legislation) to bilingual education to this most recent crime bill, which may as well be called the let-people-out-of-jail bill.” Aylward, famed in state conservative circles for successfully leading the defeat of the 2014 gas hike ballot proposal, insists Lively support “has very little to do with gay rights. This is the anti-Baker Trump vote, if it was Scott Lively or Joe the Plumber.”
None of this is to argue that Charlie Baker needs to worry about Scott Lively on Election Day. But Trump fever clearly still thrives here in blue Massachusetts. And if it thrives here, Democrats may yet face a long, tough slog across America this fall.
AND PIGS MIGHT FLY
I follow the report below by the underlying journal article. It is under the lead-authorship of none other than that dedicated Warmist Kevin Trenberth. The article is actually a retreat. The latest schtick from Trenberth and other Warmists is to admit that hurricanes have NOT become more frequent but have become stronger. Global warming sure is selective in its effects!
Some comments from meteorologist Joe Bastardi offering another interpretation of what happened:
The counter to this was written last year, because it was just a matter of time before this came out.
Harvey could not have dumped that much rain without the major cold trough that trapped it. Also it was not as bad as Flora over eastern Cuba that got blocked in 1963 -- prompting Castro to blame the US.
The point is I wrote this last year, because it was just a matter of time before this started.
They are weaponizing weather, and this is a classic example
AS COASTAL cities brace for the coming hurricane season, the destruction of the last one is still having a big impact, particularly on the hobbled island of Puerto Rico. And scientists are already able to draw some big warnings from last year’s carnage. “Several aspects of the 2017 season were not ‘natural,’ ” a team of researchers wrote in a paper published this week in Earth’s Future, a peer-reviewed journal run by the American Geophysical Union. “The first was the role of human-induced climate change.”
About humanity’s role in worsening the catastrophe, the scientists left little doubt: “While hurricanes occur naturally, human-caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage.”
Noting that 2017 saw three enormous hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, they focused on Harvey and the intense flooding it caused in Houston. Before Harvey came through, the oceans were the hottest on record. This heat kept the hurricane going — and more. The scientists found that, when Harvey traversed the Gulf of Mexico, it soaked up ocean heat via evaporation, packing more moisture into the atmosphere. Harvey then dumped record amounts of rain on Houston, flooding large swaths of the city. “Record high ocean heat values not only increased the fuel available to sustain and intensify Harvey, but also increased its flooding rains on land,” the researchers found. “Harvey could not have produced so much rain without human-induced climate change.”
Harvey was only a single event. But it was a spectacular one, and a useful case because the researchers could study its before-and-after effects reasonably isolated from other environmental influences.
It is still a matter of debate whether climate change will increase the number of hurricanes, but it is more and more clear that human-caused heating of the planet will boost their severity. “There will be a warmer and wetter world over oceans, and more energy available for evaporation,” the researchers wrote. Nearly all of the extra heat trapped by the greenhouse gases that humans have produced goes into the oceans. More heat in the oceans means more water vapor and, therefore, heavier rain and more flooding.
Hurricane Harvey links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation
Kevin E. Trenberth et al.
While hurricanes occur naturally, human‐caused climate change is supercharging them and exacerbating the risk of major damage. Here, using ocean and atmosphere observations, we demonstrate links between increased upper ocean heat content due to global warming with the extreme rainfalls from recent hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey provides an excellent case study as it was isolated in space and time. We show that prior to the beginning of northern summer of 2017, ocean heat content was the highest on record both globally and in the Gulf of Mexico, but the latter sharply decreased with hurricane Harvey via ocean evaporative cooling. The lost ocean heat was realized in the atmosphere as moisture, and then as latent heat in record‐breaking heavy rainfalls. Accordingly, record high ocean heat values not only increased the fuel available to sustain and intensify Harvey, but also increased its flooding rains on land. Harvey could not have produced so much rain without human‐induced climate change. Results have implications for the role of hurricanes in climate. Proactive planning for the consequences of human‐caused climate change is not happening in many vulnerable areas, making the disasters much worse.
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