It will take the Earth 3 million years to recover from the species going extinct in the near future

This is utter nonsense.  To make such a claim, you have to have a firm count of how many species there already are plus an equally firm count of the number of species that existed on at least one occasion in the past.  No such counts exist.  So it is all just guessing.

And in any case extinctions have always happened, sometimes on a massive scale.  On some estimates, 95% of all the species that have ever lived on earth are now extinct. We don't grieve that the once ubiquitous trilobites are no more so it would seem normal to accept the reality of death and extinction. But given the modern-day efforts at nature conservation, it is entirely open to us to conclude that extinctions actually have slowed down in the modern era.  LOL

Note that a lot of the extinctions we know about were from the pre-modern or early modern era, not the product of 20th and 21st century civilization:  The mammoth, the dodo and the passenger pigeon, for instance.  And the extinction of the Australian megafauna appears to date from the arrival of Aborigines in Australia, who were pretty good hunters of slow animals -- and that was about 50,000 years ago -- so definitely not the fault of modern man

And note the implicit assumption that the non-extinction of all animals is good.  Why is it good?  I think we could make a case that it does not matter at all -- excerpt perhaps for sentimental reasons.  The possibility that some one or other of the existing animals might do us some unknown good in the future would have to be vanishingly small at this stage of our knowledge.  We don't allow for all the possibilities in our lives -- or else we would never do anything

Humans will cause so many mammal species to go extinct in the next 50 years that the planet's evolutionary diversity won't recover for 3 to 5 million years, a team of researchers has found.

The Earth may be entering its sixth mass extinction: an era in which the planet's environments change so much that most animal and plant species die out. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts that 99.9% of critically endangered species and 67% of endangered species will be lost within the next 100 years.

The five other times a mass extinction has occurred over the past 450 million years, natural disasters were to blame. But now, human activity is killing mammal species.

In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark calculated how fast extinctions are happening, and how long it would take for evolution to bring Earth back to the level of biodiversity it currently has.

The scientists concluded that in a best-case scenario, nature will need 3-5 million years to get back to the level of biodiversity we have on Earth today. Returning to the state Earth's animal kingdom was in before modern humans evolved would take 5-7 million years.

Evolution can't keep up

Evolution is the planet's defense mechanism against the loss of biodiversity. As habitats and climates change, species that can't survive die, and new species slowly emerge. But it takes a long time for new species to fill the gaps — and that process is far slower than the rate at which humans are causing mammals to go extinct.

For their calculations, the Aarhus University researchers used a database containing existing mammal species and mammals that already went extinct as humans spread across the planet. They combined that data with information about extinctions expected to come in the next 50 years, and used advanced simulations of evolution to predict how long recovery would take.

Their estimates are based on an optimistic assumption that people will eventually stop ruining habitats and causing species to die out, and the extinction rate will go back down. But even in that best-case scenario, the timeline depends on how quickly mammals start recovering. If the extinction rate doesn't start falling for another 20-100 years, more species will likely disappear, causing greater diversity loss, the study said.

The researchers noted that in their model, certain species were given more importance than others. Matt Davis, a paleontologist at Aarhus University who led the study, cited the shrew as an example. There are hundreds of species of shrew, so if one or two go extinct, that would not kill off all shrews on Earth.

But there were only four species of sabre-toothed tigers on the planet. So when they all went extinct, many years of evolutionary history disappeared with them.

"Large mammals, or megafauna, such as giant sloths and sabre-toothed tigers, which became extinct about 10,000 years ago, were highly evolutionarily distinct," Davis said in a press release. "Since they had few close relatives, their extinctions meant that entire branches of Earth's evolutionary tree were chopped off."

Today, other large animals like the black rhino are facing extinction. Asian elephants' chance of making it to the 22nd century is less than 33%, the study found. These elephants are one of only two remaining species from a group of mammals that once included mastodons and mammoths.

"We now live in a world that is becoming increasingly impoverished of large wild mammalian species," Jens-Christian Svenning, an Aarhus University professor who researches megafauna, said in the press release. "The few remaining giants, such as rhinos and elephants, are in danger of being wiped out very rapidly."

He noted that the planet no longer boasts giant beavers, giant deer, or giant armadillos.

Though the researchers' findings are dire, the scientists said their work could be used to figure out which endangered species are evolutionarily unique, which might help conservationists decide where to focus their efforts to prevent the most devastating extinctions.


Australian university will offer paid leave for transgender staff undergoing reassignment surgery

How is it part of an educational role tosupport mental illness?  Gender dysphoria is a mental illness if ever there was one.  And those who "transition" are rarely happy.  There is a high suicide rate among them.

I doubt that this policy will be good for the reputation of the university.  Among normal people it could well become known as "the poofter university".  But only in private, of course. There is no free speech in what words you use in public for homosexuals

Aussies at a major university will get paid while undergoing gender reassignment surgery in an Australian first initiative.

The staff of Deakin University will be given just as many days of paid leave to change their gender as they would if their partner has a baby.

Aspiring to be the leading LGBTIQ+ inclusive educator and employer, Deakin is allowing the leave to be used at the staff members discretion.

Deakin University adopts the best practices for diversity and inclusion strategies for LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer plus) students and staff.

The 4,700 employees of the Victorian university will learn of the new entitlements on Tuesday.

Chief operating officer Kean Selway told the Geelong Advertiser: 'Under Deakin's existing leave provisions, all staff experiencing exceptionally difficult personal circumstances can, with the support of management, apply for 'special leave' directly to the Vice-Chancellor.'

Deakin launched its LGBTIQ+ 2017-2020 Plan in 2017 and has already started rolling out initiatives to support the inclusion and well being of it's LGBTIQ+ community members.

'The paid leave is backed by a new gender transition policy which provides security and clarity around the process for Deakin staff who are undergoing a gender transition,' Mr Selway said.

'Fostering a genuinely inclusive environment affords all our staff and students a sense of belonging and an equal chance of success whether it be through study or work.'

According to the institute's gender transition procedure, effective from October 19 2018, Deakin will also offer students wishing to undergo sex transition surgery a gender transition plan.

Transitioning students will be given communication assistance, alternative assessment arrangements, longer library loan periods and off-campus library services.


WHY was President General Antonio López de Santa Anna such a crazy galoot?

I gather that most Americans still remember the Alamo.  They remember a desperate defence of around 300 Americans against the army of an evil Hispanic dictator, President General Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1836

But President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was not evil.  He was very foolish but he was not evil. He was in his mind doing something that all national leaders were once -- before the current American Left came along -- duty-bound to do:  Chase away illegal immigrants from his country.  The Texians -- inhabitants of what was then Mexican Texas -- refused to assimilate to Mexico and were generally pesky and rebellious towards President General Antonio López de Santa Anna. They even wanted their own republic

And President General Antonio López de Santa Anna could in fact be seen as something of a hero:  He led his troops personally, something that had gone out of fashion long ago at the time.

So the big question is why the battle went so badly for all concerned.  Why did the Texians and other Gringos not surrender when faced with a whole army arrayed against them?  Why did they fight to the death? They took down two Mexicans for every one of them but what good did that do?  What was gained by the death of 300 gringos and 600 Mexicans?  It was simply a grievous loss all round.

President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was responsible for that.  He was so riled up by the Texians that he declared them pirates, meaning that they would be shown no mercy of any kind.  They could only be killed on the spot.  President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was so emphatic about that that he sent a letter to the President of the United States declaring it.  And the Texians were in no doubt that he would do as he said.  There was simply no point in surrendering.

Had President General Antonio López de Santa Anna been a wiser man he would simply have given the Texians safe conduct out of there and escorted them to the Mexican border.  He would have got rid of them and done so in a way that would have been generally understood and accepted.

And after he had inflicted such a savage and humiliating defeat on the Texians, President General Antonio López de Santa Anna no doubt expected the Texians to do what his fellow Hispanics would have done:  Go home and do nothing more than talk big talk.

But the Gringos did nothing of the sort.  They were instead outraged and rallied to arms, building up an army big enough to chase after President General Antonio López de Santa Anna and give him a taste of his own medicine, which they did.

So there is a question why here also.  Why were the Gringos so outraged?  There are probably several reasons but a major one was cultural. Mercy towards the defeated was in most cases simply good policy.  It presented the victor in a good light among the vanquished and it saved him the lives of many of his troops. And that was widely known and accepted.

But there was also good history to support that policy: History going all the way back to Alexander the Great.  When Alexander defeated the Persians at Issus in 333BC. After the battle, the Hellenes captured Persian emperor  Darius' wife, his daughters and his mother, all of whom had accompanied Darius on his campaign. Alexander treated the captured women not only with mercy but with great respect.

Moving further forward into history we come to the crusades.  The Crusaders held on to the Holy Land for about 200 years but were finally routed by Egyptian armies under Saladin.  And Saladin was an unusual man.  He was a Kurd.  So he was not an Arab.  Kurds were and are Indo Europeans, people related to us.  So how did he get to lead Arab armies?  Simple:  He was very good at it.  He won a lot of battles.  And the thing that stood out about Saladin to the crusaders was his mercifulness, honorableness and chivalry.  He was not vindictive to the crusaders when he defeated them.  And the whole of Europe got to hear of that from returning crusaders. And the medieval practices of knightly and courtly behaviour were inspired by the example of Saladin.

And when the extremely pesky Napoleon Bonaparte was captured -- twice! -- he was just exiled, not executed.

So mercy to the defeated had among Europeans what we might call these days a very good press.  And that showed in the 19th century also.  When the Prussians defeated Napoleon III at Sedan in 1870, the defeat was so total that Napoleon III was himself captured.  So did the Prussians behead him?  Far from it.  There survive from the dawn of photography pictures of Napoleon having a polite conversation with the Prussian leader, Otto von Bismarck.

Why was Bismarck holding such a long sword? It was probably a cavalry sword. A cavalry sword has to be long to strike down from the back of a horse. And the cavalry was the most prestigious arm of the services. The term "cavalier" (cf. the Italian "cavallieri" or the French "chevalier") is mainly honorific but its most basic meaning is simply "horseman". Aristocrats normally entered the cavalry, usually the Hussars. So Bismarck was emphasizing his noble status

And Napoleon was eventually released on condition that he move to England and stay there -- which he did.  That episode is later than the battle of the Alamo but it illustrates a powerful current in European traditions.

So the Texians, Texans and others from further North were right to be horrified by the actions of President General Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Alamo. It went against all that they regarded as honorable and wise.

So President General Antonio López de Santa Anna earned himself a military defeat shortly after at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836 and lost control of Mexican Texas, which soon declared itself an independent Texian republic.  President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was captured at the Battle of San Jacinto but the Texians spared his life. They could well have done otherwise but were true to their own traditions. They sent him back to preside in Mexico city

But that was not the end of his humiliations.  He never accepted his loss of territory and kept up a hostile attitude to the Gringos.  And that came to the attention of President Polk of the United States.  From his Anglo-Saxon traditions he thought that some sort of compromise might be reached which would restore peaceful relations between the USA and Mexico.  So he sent an ambassador to Mexico, with a small military escort drawn from the United States army.  So what did President General Antonio López de Santa Anna do about that?  He attacked the American military detachment!  With incredible folly, he attacked the US. army.  He really did. The USA was already a formidable power by that time so that needs explanation too.

President Polk was incensed by this vicious behavior and asked Congress for a declaration of war against Mexico, which was promptly granted.  The US army marched South and cleaned up all  Mexican forces sent against them, capturing Mexico city itself .  Mexico was comprehensively defeated and was forced via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to cede a third of its territory before the Gringos would go home.  That's how The USA acquired California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and the rest of Texas.

So what on earth can have lain behind the disastrous deeds of President General Antonio López de Santa Anna?  In one word:  Machismo.  So what is machismo and what causes it?

It is a feature of Mediterranean countries and is particularly strong in Spain, and President General Antonio López de Santa Anna was for all intents and purposes a Spaniard. It arises from the fact that Mediterranean families are very mother-dominated.  Initially the grandmother is in charge and then the mother. And mamma really does rule the roost. Both sons and daughter are supposed to take orders from her. And the aim of it all is to create the family as a powerful single unit that will defend and protect all its members against outsiders.  It is a bit like how men in the army are taught to march together under a single command.

And the best known example of a Mediterranean mother is probably the Yiddisher Momma.  Israel is after all a Mediterranean country.  If you don't know about Yiddisher Mommas and the terrible things they say to keep their children in line Google should enlighten you but a cartoon below should tell you how ruthless these ladies can be in what they say to keep control.

But Mediterranean mothers do tend to emasculate their sons.  Being mother-dominated is not manly, regardless of what feminists might say. And Mediterranean men hate to think that they are under a female thumb.  But it is hard to show that they are not when they are.  So they do anything they can think of to demonstrate their masculinity.  And that can often lead to excess.  They can mistake aggression and inflexibility for manliness. And that is what President General Antonio López de Santa Anna did.  He thought "I'll show 'em" not only to the Gringos but also to his own people -- by being ruthless with the Texians at the Alamo.

So in the end it was a culture clash.  Machismo against an American culture of Northern European origin that included a tradition of mercy to the vanquished.  President General Antonio López de Santa Anna is a towering example of how foolish and destructive machismo can be

Big free speech case in Britain

Sir Philip Green above.

He is said to have become a billionaire much faster than anyone else in British history. He is Jewish.  He seems a most unpleasant man to me.  He has certainly abused a lot of people.  But for all I know he may be kind to his dog.  Nonetheless I am totally on his side in this matter.

From the confirmation furore over Judge Kavanaugh we now know that half of American politics no longer believes in the presumption of innocence -- but to find the British parliament in a somewhat similar state is a shock.  Britain is the mother of most of our traditional legal safeguards.

Yet Phil seems to have evoked that meltdown in at least the more Leftist quarters of the parliament. His being a big businessman undoubtedly prejudices the hate-filled British Left against him.

Like many prominent men he has been the object of untested allegations and those allegations are being treated by some as if they were convictions. I have enough residual faith in the British system to believe that no action will be taken against him until the allegations are fully tested in a properly constituted court of law but that faith has been rather shaken

Nonetheless, the accusations ARE apparently before the courts so that should finalize the matter one way or the other

And I heartily defend Phil in his attempts to have the accusations against him silenced before they are tested. The very proceedings described below show the wisdom of that. When allegations are treated as fact, an exoneration in a court of law may do little to restore a man's reputation and peace of mind. False allegations against Christian singer Cliff Richard left him severely shaken even after £210,000 in compensatory damages was paid to him by the BBC and £400,000 from the South Yorkshire Police

But there is undoubtedly some tension between free speech and non-disclosure.  False allegations are however a type of libel or  defamation and those offences have never been deemed to deserve free speech protection.  When the allegations have been shown to be true is the time to mention them publicly -- with full free speech protections

Sir Philip Green has been named in Parliament as the businessman at the centre of Britain’s #MeToo scandal.

The Topshop owner was identified by Lord Hain, the former Leader of the House of Commons, after two days of speculation over the name of the man behind the injunction.

The former Labour cabinet minister said that he had been contacted by someone “intimately involved in the case” and felt a “duty” to reveal the name using parliamentary privilege.

Following Lord Hain’s comments there were calls for the billionaire to be stripped of his Knighthood and for a crackdown on the use of non-disclosure agreements by “serial offenders”.

Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary and Leader of the Lib Dems, said: “I find it very difficult to see how he could credibly hold on to an honour in these circumstances.

“I think Parliament’s proving its worth. The use of Parliament in this way is healthy and it shows democracy at work.”

Frank Field, the MP for Birkenhead who previously led condemnation of Sir Philip over the treatment of BHS pensioners, said: "The charge sheet against the knighthood is growing. Parliament and the country have made their views clear on this matter. Ultimately it's a decision for the honours forfeiture committee."

He added that he is planning to raise with ministers the need for a mechanism for abuse victims' voices to be heard in Parliament.

Mr Field said: "I have been talking this evening with somebody who witnessed grotesque bullying at work. They would like for what they witnessed to be shared, through the House of Commons, with the nation. I am seeking to raise urgently with the Government the importance of having a mechanism in Parliament through which the voices of victims of abuse can be heard. This would develop the role of the House of Commons in a way which stands up for people who have little money, against those who have much."

Number 10 said that it could not comment on cases which were ongoing.

Sir Philip Green last night refused to comment on “anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today” but denied any “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.

The Telegraph has spent the past eight months investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment made against the businessman, and the lengths he has gone to to cover up the claims. However, on Tuesday this newspaper was prevented from revealing details of the non-disclosure deals by Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales.

The intervention makes it illegal, outside Parliament or in reports of Parliamentary proceedings, to reveal the businessman’s identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.

It was the latest twist in a legal fight which began in July, which saw the appeal court rule that the confidentiality of contracts was more important than freedom of speech.

It overturned a previous High Court ruling which found that publication of the allegations would be overwhelmingly in the public interest and would significantly contribute to debate in a democratic society.

As well as re-igniting the #MeToo debate, the gagging of The Telegraph has renewed controversy about the use of injunctions to limit British press freedom.

Lord Hain, the former Northern Ireland Secretary [and a former radical protester] , yesterday told a hushed House of Lords: “My Lords, having been contacted by someone intimately involved in the case of a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying, which is compulsively continuing, I feel it’s my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of this story which is clearly in the public interest.”

After his statement Jess Phillips, the Labour MP who sits of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “I think that today we have proven that wealth and power and arrogance will not always provide you with cover. Whilst people can be silenced with money, as is often the case, I am pleased that actually that has its limits and that we respect the spirit of the law when people like this are revealed.”

Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, added: “I think that given the huge influence that Philip Green has in the business world and the thousands of people that work for him it is surprising that the Court of Appeal decided that it wasn’t in the public interest to make this more public.

“I think that we now have to answer another question when it comes to NDAs which is how we stop them being used to cover up serial offenders. That has to be a point that is answered by the Government proposals.”

James Cleverly MP, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said Lord Hain's action had shown "people must now realise that injunctions and super-injunctions are nothing more than a good way to part with large sums of money and a bad way to keep things secret".   

The business world also reacted to the claims. Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Sexual harassment and racial abuse is illegal and has absolutely no place in modern Britain. Accusations this serious must be thoroughly and quickly investigated.” 

There has been days of speculation about the identity of the individual, with several prominent businessmen including Lord Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne taking to social media to state that it was not them.

In light of the scandal, the Judicial Office was forced to issued a rare statement emphasising that this was a “TEMPORARY injunction preventing publication only until there can be a trial.”

There has been growing condemnation over the use of NDAs in this way from both  campaigners and senior legal figures, including three former Home Secretaries, a former Director of Public Prosecutions and a former solicitor general.

Amber Rudd, former Home Secretary, said: “My concern is that these are being used to intimidate people who would otherwise speak up about illegal activity, by that I mean sexual harassment. We need to stop it.”

Lord Falconer, former Justice Secretary, added: “Sexual harassment and bullying should not be covered by NDAs at all. It should not be possible for an employer to use an NDA to suppress any allegation which might be in the public interest. It's a terrible iniquity, it is a very, very clear abuse of power.

The Prime Minister has vowed to bring forward a consultation on reform of the use of NDAs.

Sir Philip bills himself as a rags-to-riches businessman and is renowned for his expletive-ridden outbursts.

A guest at the now notorious President’s Club Dinner, he has previously questioned the MeToo movement, reportedly asking: “Where’s this all going to end? There’s no stag parties, no hen parties, no more girls parading in the ring at the boxing – so they’re all banned?”

Sir Philip said in a statement last night: "I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today. "To the extent that it is suggested that I have been guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour, I categorically and wholly deny these allegations.

"Arcadia and I take accusations and grievances from employees very seriously and in the event that one is raised, it is thoroughly investigated. "Arcadia employs more than 20,000 people and in common with many large businesses sometimes receives formal complaints from employees. "In some cases these are settled with the agreement of all parties and their legal advisers. These settlements are confidential so I cannot comment further on them."


The Divisiveness in America today:  How much is Harry Reid to blame?

The extreme polarization of American politics in America today has been  blamed on many things.  Democrat politicians blame it on a "racist" President Trump and say they are just trying to protect fairness and justice for all, but particularly for illegal immigrants.  Such brainlessness need not detain us however.  Their constant shrieks of blame are just a poor mask for their complete absence of constructive and realistic policy.

But it's not so long ago that there was a degree of bipartisanship in America.  Ronald Reagan, for instance, got his remarkable reforms through a Democrat-dominated Congress.  And bipartisanship was valued. It was so valued that it was entrenched in the rules of the Senate.  The filibuster rule meant that a President's nominees to the courts had to muster 60 senate votes to pass as distinct from a simple majority of 50.  So judges had to be pretty centrist -- however that was conceived at the time.  Basically, both sides of politics had to agree to a significant extent in order to get anything done.

But impatience  is at the very heart of Leftism -- An impatience with the world as it is and an urgency to change it.  And in 2013 the Democrat leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, pushed through a vote to abolish the filibuster in order to get some of Obama's appeal court nominees through -- over the top of Republican opposition.  Obama nominated extremist judges who had no respect for the law and thus made bipartisanship impossible.

Harry acknowledge that he was loading the gun with ammunition that future Republican majorities might use to Democrat disadvantage, but Leftists live almost wholly in the present so Harry said that was OK by him.  He was warned multiple times of what the future effect of his actions might be but he still went ahead.  And his Senate caucus went ahead with him.  More background here

Reid did have one element of caution, however.  He broke the filibuster for lower court nominees only.  He knew how dangerous a Republican Supreme Court could be to his party so left the filibuster just alive enough to block nominations to SCOTUS.

But once he had put a hole in the dam, it was easy for the rest of of the dam to be breached.  And so it was.  When Mitch McConnell was pushing Trump's SCOTUS nominees through, the Democrats used the filibuster to block Judge Gorsuch.  So McConnell used his majority to abolish the last of the filibuster and got Gorsuch through.  And after Gorsuch there came the dreadfully abused Kavanaugh -- also pushed through in the absence of the filibuster despite a quite incredible cacophany of abuse from the Donks.

Without Harry Reid's attack on the filibuster rule, the Donks could easily have blocked both judges -- and conservatives have been cackling about that ever since.  They now love the now retired brainless Harry.  There have been many "Thank you"s to Harry after Gorsuch and Kavanaugh got through confirmation. I wouldn't be surprised if on some social occasions Republicans have drank toasts to Harry

But the point is that both new judges are very conservative and their very membership of the court has snatched away from the Donks their alternative legislature.  Up until recently, they could get lots through the courts that they could not get through Congress.  They got got through such huge agenda items as homosexual marriage, universal abortion, the barring of Christian observance in the schools and "affirmative action".  All those were legalized through SCOTUS only.  The people did not get a vote on any of it.  That is now gone and it went through their own Donk folly.  No wonder they are half crazed. A large part of their world has fallen apart.  And it is all because of Harry Reid.

Their access to sympathetic courts once kept them happy -- or as happy as they are capable of being.  So that allowed them to be magnanimous to Republicans on some occasions and to some degree.  They could afford to be a bit magnanimous in Congress because the main game was not there.  It was the courts that would enforce their agenda.

But the basic point is that the filibuster demanded and got a degree of bipartisanship if either party was to get anything done.  That is gone and Harry did it.  All restraints are now off.  He clearly had no inking of how great would be the damage he did both to his own party and to the American constitution, broadly conceived

This had to happen  -- or did it?

What was behind the bombs sent to prominent Democrats?

Not all Trump supporters are Christians.  Many are in the police and the military, for instance. And they have to be hard men.  So one of them may have come to feel that the contant verbal attacks on Trump and the many physical attack on other Republicans deserve a response.  "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). "As ye sow, so shall ye reap (Galatians 6:7) "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).  The Left seem to think that they are above those ancient warnings. So the grave faces on CNN and elsewhere are rather amusing.  When did they put on such faces in response to the many attacks on conservatives?

BUT:  Maybe we are leaping to conclusions.  On my TONGUE-TIED blog, I have often put up reports of "racist" graffiti and so on that were initially attributed to conservatives but which eventually turned out to be done by Leftists as a provocation. Was this bombing done by Leftists as an "October surprise" -- intended to discredit conservatives in the run up to the mid-terms?  You would have to be dumb not to suspect that.

And it looks like the Leftmedia suspect that.  I have not so far heard them attribute the bombings to Trump supporters. And they normally attribute EVERYTHING bad to Trump and his supporters.  So they clearly don't want to get egg on the faces over making a foolish accusation.  Do they know something that we don't?  Could be.

We might also note that nobody was hurt in the bombings, unlike Rand Paul and Rep. Scalise. Someone put it to me: "If conservatives had done it, they would have done a better job

President Donald Trump addressed on Wednesday suspicious packages sent to former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and other individuals as well as CNN, saying the country's leaders must "come together" to speak out against threats of political violence.

"I just want to tell you that in these times, we have to unify," Trump said at an unrelated opioid bill signing event at the White House. "We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that threats or acts of political violence have no place in the United States of America."

"It's a very bipartisan statement," he added. "This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans."

Earlier Wednesday, authorities have intercepted suspicious devices intended for Obama and Clinton, and the Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was evacuated Wednesday after a suspicious package was mailed there.

Also, CNN's New York bureau in the Time Warner Center was evacuated after a package with an explosive device, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, was discovered, city and local law enforcement officials said.

In addition, sources told CNN that a suspicious package intended for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was intercepted at a congressional mail screening facility in Maryland and the San Diego Union-Tribune evacuated its building after "suspicious looking packages" were spotted outside.

The President noted he had just concluded a briefing with the FBI, Department of Justice, Homeland Security Department and Secret Service. "The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation," Trump said. "We will spare no resources or expense in this effort."

The President spoke from TelePrompTer but added this line at the end -- not on screen in front of him: "We are extremely angry, upset, unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we will get to the bottom of it," Trump said.



The "bombs" were hoax devices, not meant to do harm

A former Navy explosives expert pointed to some characteristics of the explosive devices sent to CNN and other current and former Democratic officials, which indicated to him amateurish construction and perhaps an ulterior motive beyond causing bodily harm.

CNN posted an image of a pipe bomb sent to its New York City bureau, which prompted the evacuation of the entire building on Wednesday.

The package was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, care of CNN’s office in the Time Warner Building in midtown Manhattan.

Thomas Sauer, who according to his LinkedIn profile is a Naval Academy graduate and served as a commander of a Naval explosive ordinance disposal unit, offered some observations on Twitter about the device.

First, he noted that wires were connected on both ends of the bomb, a style of construction he called “dumb.”

Sauer next pointed to the timer and saying that an experienced bomb maker would have placed it inside the pipe. “That thing is just silly looking,” he wrote.

Concerning the appearance of the device itself, he concluded, “Bottom Line: Whoever made that wanted it to be painfully obvious to anyone and everyone that it’s a ‘bomb.'”

Sauer then offered that “hoax devices” are “FAR more common than real ones. In which case, we should ask ourselves what the motives of the ‘bomber’ are and ‘who benefits?’ Go ahead. Think deeply and critically.”



A man with zero self-insight

THE blame game has begun between US President Donald Trump and one of his biggest critics, CNN, after the network’s New York bureau was targeted.

Mr Trump said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon local time that he “will spare no resources” in trying to find the culprit.

He said “this egregious conduct is abhorrent”, adding that America would “have to unify” in these times.

CNN president Jeff Zucker lashed out at Mr Trump, criticising the seriousness of his attacks on media.

“There is a complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” he said.

“The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. So far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”


Does the sugary one (Zucker is Yiddish for sugar) have any understanding about the seriousness of CNN's continued attacks on Trump and his supporters?  CNN should understand that their words matter. So far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”


When Hillary got what she called for, she did a 180

She had to.  She knew she could be blamed for the bombs so had to cover herself

After suspected bombs were sent to her home, Hillary Clinton called for unity at a political rally the same day.

This, of course, is the massive hypocrite who just weeks ago dehumanized Republicans to the point that she wondered how anyone could be civil to them. Earlier in the month, Hillary told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.” Just weeks later, Hillary is now bemoaning a lack of civility.

Hillary’s new views on civility after the bomb scare

Hillary spoke earlier this morning at a campaign rally in Florida and began by addressing the bombs that were sent to her, and others. “It is a troubling time, isn’t it. And it’s a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together.” So I guess the time to bring back civility is now, not after the midterms? Or is it only the right that has to be civil?

She then immediately made things political. “We have to elect candidates who … will set goals that will lift up every Floridian and American, who will look into the future,” Hillary continued.

If whoever is responsible for sending explosives did so only to Republicans, wouldn’t they simply have been abiding by Hillary’s advice to abandon civility? It’s at least nice of her to change her tune once she realized that she could be harmed by the very posture she advocates.

Responses to her comment were mixed, with most highlighting Hillary’s hypocrisy.



Watch: Audience Roars as Trump Announces Plan to Get Hillary Investigated: Nominate Her to SCOTUS

It was a popular chant for then-candidate Donald Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign season, and even Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters got in on the act after they felt he was “robbed” of the Democratic nomination by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In October 2016, Trump addressed the matter, in a way, by telling the Michigan crowd, “Hillary’s corruption is a threat to democracy. She’s likely to be under investigation for criminality for a very, very long time to come,” reported Dallas News.

And now, the “Lock her up!” theme is back. While in Texas this week, as The Daily Caller‘s Benny Johnson posted on Twitter, Trump made a statement regarding getting Hillary investigated.

With that one quip, Trump landed blows against Clinton, the establishment media, the left’s behavior during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, and the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s email server scandal. And the crowd loved it.

But her email scandal is not the only thing establishment media largely ignored or dismissed. And it’s not the only thing resurfacing with a vengeance as of late, either.

Establishment media outrage over the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is understandable. But many are questioning where their moral outrage was six years ago when Americans were abandoned to die in Benghazi.

It is a scandal that began with lies and, to this day, has uninvestigated ties to Clinton that the establishment media continues to largely ignore or dismiss. Benghazi survivor Kris Paronto, however, has not let the matter rest, and since the Khashoggi news broke, has hit the hypocrisy hard.

For 3 weeks Saudi Arabia said Jamal Khashoggi left their consultant safe and sound. They said they had no idea where he was. They denied all wrongdoing to every leader in the world as late as yesterday. Now they say they accidentally killed him in a fistfight. Bullshit.

Leftist journalists & liberals screaming that the President isn’t doing enough to the Saudi’s because one of their own was killed.Where in the hell were you when @BarackObama left 30+ AMERICANS to die in Benghazi Libya including an Ambassador?!!You all are a disgrace .

And speaking of Paronto and Hillary scandals, he’s also hit the Russia collusion scandal with a tie-in to Clinton. Investigation into the accusation that Trump colluded with Russia keeps leading back to Clinton, among other Democrats.

“Now a lot of reporters, some at The Washington Post and some at The New York Times, are complaining that Hillary’s lawyer lied to them. Heaven forfend! Did somebody say collusion with Russians?”

While Trump riles liberals, the media and the establishment of both parties with his utter willingness to speak out in the face of political correctness, his supporters are thrilled by the off-the-cuff, wise-cracking, “genius” that entertains and enthralls so many.

Sick of politics as usual, many longed for a straight-shooter who would just get things done. Things, in particular, that benefit America.

And Trump seems to be doing that, in what — for supporters anyway — is a non-traditional, and thoroughly highly refreshing way.



Trump teases 'major tax cut for middle-income people' before midterms

President Trump said Saturday he plans to roll out a major tax cut to the middle class before November.

"We are looking at putting in a very major tax cut for middle-income people. And if we do that it'll be sometime just prior, I would say, to November,” Trump told reporters after his rally in Nevada Saturday. “We are studying very deeply right now round the clock a major tax cut for middle income people."

Trump has taken criticism from Democrats for his tax cuts, which they claim only help large corporations and the top 1 percent. But Trump said the tax cuts he is looking to implement soon would not be related to businesses whatsoever.

“Kevin Brady is working on it, Paul Ryan is working on it,” said Trump. “I would say sometime around the first of November, maybe a little before then.”



Florida and Texas Post Record Sept.-to-Sept. Job Gains; Ohio Has Largest Gain in 21 Years

Florida and Texas, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not only led the nation in the number of nonfarm jobs they added in the year running from September 2017 to September 2018 but also added the greatest number of jobs to their states in any September-to-September period on record.

Ohio and Pennsylvania—sometimes considered part of the nation’s “Rust Belt”—also saw significant job gains from September 2017 to September 2018, with Ohio showing the largest increase for its state in 21 years and Pennsylvania showing the largest increase in 18 years.

“Thirty-seven states had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment in September,” BLS said in its state employment report. “The largest job gains occurred in Florida (+407,300), Texas (+406,400), and California (+339,600). The largest percentage gain occurred in Florida (+4.8 percent), followed by Utah (+3.6 percent) and Texas (+3.3 percent).

The unemployment rate in Florida was 3.5 percent. In Texas, it was 3.8 percent. In California, it was 4.1 percent.

While California ranked third among all states for the number of job gained during the period from September 2017 to September 2018, its statewide jobs growth numbers during that period were actually smaller than they were in two of the previous three September-to-September periods. (From September 2014 to September 2015, California added 493,000 jobs; from 2015 to 2016, it added 393,800 jobs; and from 2016 to 2017, it added 307,500 jobs)

Florida’s jobs grew 4.8 percent during the latest September-to-September period. Texas’s jobs grew 3.3 percent. California’s jobs grew 2.0 percent.

In Texas, the number of jobs rose from 12,232,100 in September 2017 to 12,638,500 in September 2018—accounting for the record 406,400 increase.



Leftists are untouchable


A puzzle


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Push notifications

Roughly every 15 minutes I get a "push" notification on my computer screen.  They are a fairly recent phenomenon. Instead of someone sending you an email that you have to open, the sender puts his message right on your screen before your eyes without you having to open anything or do anything.  But they are there only for a matter of about 10 seconds so you can easily ignore them if you want to. Conversely, if the message looks interesting, you have to click on it straight away if you want to see more.

Without even asking, I am sure that many people are complaining  about push notifications.  I even know the word they are using.  "Bombarded".  They will regard such messages as intrusive and distracting.  Some pain-in-the-ass types will even want a law passed to stop such messages.

I on the other hand regard them as a great leap forward in communication.  How wonderful it is that there are people all over the world  (OK, mostly in America so far) who are sending me bits of information that they believe might be interesting to me! Instead of me seeking out information, it just comes to me with no effort on my part.  It is an improvement in civilization itself.

So how do you become a recipient of such messages?  It happens  when you are reading something on the net that interests you.  The site owner will put up a requester that asks you whether they can send you more information about the sort of topic that they cover.  Once, if you replied "Yes" to such requesters, you would have to provide your email address and the extra info would come to you in an email.  Such are the wonders of modern technology, however, that they no longer need your email address.  Instead of getting more email, these days you will just get a one or two sentence summary projected onto a corner of your screen.  They "know" where you are and how to access your screen.  I imagine that could be abused in some way.  There is not much that someone has not abused.  But, as far as I can tell so far, it is completely harmless.

It greatly reduces what I have to do in information seeking. It actually gives me more free time.  Isn't that great?

What makes a "good" school?

Before answering the question above, one has to define what a good school is.  And that's surprisingly easy.  The basic definition is that the pupils do well in the annual state-wide exams.  Many people, however, will poo-pooh that definition, and say that things like cultural awareness, personal development and social responsibility are the defining qualities.  But, as it happens, all those things tend to covary.

A school with good exam results will tend also to facilitate more exposure to the arts and offer many options for activities that are not strictly academic, such as good sporting facilities being available, with  sport being seen as character building.  Charitable work will also usually be encouraged.  So it is clear why people speak as if there were schools which are simply "good" across the board.  There really are such schools.

But how do you arrive at that?  Having good teachers and fine buildings can help to a degree, as can extensive parental involvement.  But how do you arrange that? Do good teachers and fine buildings just drop out of the sky?  What is the starting point that brings all those things together?  It is something that really runs across the grain for Leftists, with their comical belief that all men are equal:  It is good students that make a good school.

If the students are orderly and attentive they will get good exam results and most teachers would like to teach there -- so the school will have its pick of the best available teachers.  And the best teachers will be best at treating the students as individuals and encouraging them in their own particular interests and abilities. So the school will be a safe and rewarding place for all.

So the next question is:  How do you get good students for a school?  How do you find orderly and attentive students who reward the efforts made by teachers to develop them in various ways?

In the end there is only one way to arrange that.  You have to have selective admissions.  But selective admissions are seen as obnoxious by many.  All men are equal, don't you know?  So we need a system that delivers selective admissions without appearing to do so.

There is such a system:  You find a locality where the good students tend to congregate naturally and locate your school there. So where do you find such a locality?  Easy.  You find the localities where the rich live.

There will of course be exceptions but much research has shown that the rich tend to be brighter.  Life has selected them for above average intelligence, and intelligence is mainly genetically transmitted, so their kids will be brighter too. And, again as all the research shows, an amazing range of advantageous characteristics tend to be associated with high IQ.  Your "good" students will almost all be students of above average IQ.  So a good "non-selective" school will in most cases be a school located in a high income suburb.

And that brings us to the article below in which the writer has got the cart totally before the horse. It says that having a good school in an area will make the suburb an expensive one.  It says, for instance, that the Sydney suburb of Woollahra has a good school and that has pushed up the price of real estate there. But Woollahra has been an expensive suburb for many years.  I once lived there so I have a good awareness of that. The big terrace house I once lived in is now worth millions.

And most of the people who live there are beyond the childbearing and childrearing years.  Why?  Because it is mostly only they who can afford to live there.  But if they are living post-children lives, schools are not the reason they live there are they?  In fact there are many reasons people live in leafy Woollahra in Sydney's Eastern suburbs.  I could list them but just ask a real estate agent in the area.

There is of course such a thing as a virtuous circle.  Once a suburb has got a good school, that school will add to the attractiveness of the area and those who have more money will try to move there -- pushing up the price even further than it otherwise would be.  So the story below is not totally wrong.  It is just superficial.

And it has to be.  When Leftists are asked what makes a good school, they are pretty stumped and tend to mutter vaguely about "privilege".  That is dangerous ground however as many of them send their own kids to such schools. So are they "privileged" too?  They usually don't want to think that so silence is the best option for them

For those who know a bit about the British scene, the video below shows the very upper class Jacob Rees-Mogg embarrassing a privileged Leftist over the highly selective school to which he sent his son, something that was not generally known

So if you are a Leftist, you have to pretend that good schools somehow magically drop out of thin air without any reference to what made them good.  And when you note that such schools tend to be located in expensive areas you have to pretend that it is only the "goodness" of the school that has bid up the price of living in that area.  The article below was published in a very Left-leaning paper

Photographer Jason Busch rarely has to worry about his five-year-old son being late for school. Living right opposite Woollahra Public School, in the eastern suburbs, he has only to glance at the clock and then it’s a 30-second walk.

“We’d heard how good the school was, so that’s a real advantage of living here,” says Busch, who has a daughter, three, who will also attend the school. “As well as being so convenient, getting involved with the school is a great way of becoming part of the community.”

The chance to live in the catchment area of a well-regarded school is a major driver of price in the property market and likely to become more so as private school fees rise, says Domain Group analyst Nicola Powell.

“We know that well-performing public schools certainly have an effect on an area’s price growth,” Dr Powell says. “Private school fees have increased quite significantly, so, if people are priced out of those, they’ll look for good public schools.

“We also tend to find that residents of those areas will stay in those homes for longer, which limits supply and puts even more upward pressure on prices.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint by how much prices may be inflated by the presence of a good school, but anecdotally experts say it can be as much as 5 or 10 per cent.

Real Estate Institute of NSW president Leanne Pilkington believes a school’s strong reputation can precede it. “It can create extra competition in the market, especially if there’s not a lot of property coming up in the area. It can add to the value quite considerably.”

Competition is now so fierce to enrol in some popular public schools that principals ask parents to sign statutory declarations about their living arrangements to make sure their children are eligible to attend. Even leases on investment properties have to be long-term, and false declarations can be punishable by fines of up to $22,000.

Ray White Double Bay agent Di Wilson, who’s selling Busch’s two-bedroom apartment on Edgecliff Road as he and his family look to upsize, believes the prospect of a home so close to an excellent eastern suburbs school will be attractive for a young family.

The garden residence is on the north corner of a 1890 Victorian manor converted into apartments. It has retained its original charm after a contemporary renovation.

“It has all the convenience of an apartment, but it feels much more like a house,” says Wilson, who leads it to a November 8 auction with a price guide of $1.45 million. She says the manor’s apartments were once inhabited by artists and writers.

“For me, arriving in Sydney, it felt like a real community here,” says Busch. “And it still does.”

It’s a similar story for catchments in the inner west, advises Chris Parsons, of McGrath Leichhardt. He says that most buyers ask about zonings for schools such as Leichhardt Public and Orange Grove in Lilyfield. “As well as adding to the price, those schools make all the difference between homes selling or not selling.”

In Baulkham Hills, the high-achieving Matthew Pearce Public is another lure for home-buyers.

“It’s a crucial consideration for a lot of parents,” says Declan Morris, of Manor Real Estate. “We receive a lot of inquiries … and, if they’re not in the right catchment, people often decide to look elsewhere.”


Is the AfD Prussian?

Many observers have noticed that the most strident oposition in Germany to third-world immigration (under the rubric of "refugees") comes from the formerly Communist East. The anti-immigrant AfD party has most of its strength in the old East, though it recently got a good showing in the Bavarian state elections too.

One can contrive explanations for that readily enough:  1). The West has a long history of Muslim Gastarbeiter from Turkey so is more relaxed about Muslims generally. 2). The Easterners had a gutful of political correctness under the Communists so no longer respect it.

Both those explanations undoubtedly have some force but I suspact that there is an elephant abroad in Germany that no-one is seeing:  The fact that the old East contained what was left of  historical Prussia.  And the Eastern regime was not shy about that.  They deliberately portrayed themselves as heirs to Prussia in an attempt to legitimate their regime to the East German people.

Listen to and watch a video of the old East German national anthem below. It has quite a lot of militaristic touches and even the references to peace do not dilute that.  Hitler used similar appeals. The video is in fact strongly reminiscent of Hitler's propaganda.

And one does need to know something about the traditional place of Prussia in the German lands.  Have a look at the postwar map of Germany before the recent reunification.  Prussia was historically in the Northeast and that is where the old East Germany was.

And in the German lands, there are strong cultural differences that mirror geography.  To be a little crude about it, the North had the soldiers and the South had the culture.  And Prussians were arguably the world's best soldiers.  The battles fought under Prussian generals are studied in staff colleges worldwide to this day.  And that great Bible of Prussian warfare, Vom Kriege by Carl von Clausewitz still attracts some awe, even though its author left it unfinished.

So there is no doubt that being Prussian implies a militaristic and nationalistic heritage -- and that seems to me to be a pretty good explanation of East German contempt for the dregs from the Middle East and elsewhere that have been foisted on them.

UPDATE:  In the original German, many of the words of the anthem could easily be direct quotes from Nazi propaganda.

Und der Zukunft zugewandt,

Deutschland, einig Vaterland.

Schlagen wir des Volkes Feind.

Deutsche Jugend, bestes Streben
Uns'res Volks in dir vereint,

I will dig out the Nazi parallels if anyone doubts them

As a further evocation of historic Prussia see the video below.  It is the Chilean army marching to the strains of Preussens Gloria, probably the most famous Prussian military march.  The Chilean army adopted Prussian practice, uniforms etc. before WWI and have retained it all ever since.  Note General Pinochet in the reviewing stand.

Scientists bet $10K on the climate. Guess who lost

Climate science decided by gambling!  A rather desperate recourse!  There are others better qualified than I to comment on all the matters raised in this but I want to point out a couple of basics.

1). OF COURSE climate skeptics declined to predict a specific climate outcome.  The whole position of climate agnosticism is that the climate is a multivariate product which CANNOT be reliably predicted.  You can only get a prediction right by chance.

2). And the quite glaring fault in Annan's reasoning was that he got his big prediction right because the more recent time period he chose encompassed the biggest El Nino we have seen recently.  So the temperature rise was entirely natural, unrelated to anthropogenic global warming.

Had Annan been a real scientist, he would have corrected his data for the influence of El Nino, which would have shown an essentially flat temperature record -- i.e. no global warming.  Even the simple step of subtracting the leap caused by the previous El Nino would have shown that.

In my research career, I regularly corrected statistically for lots of extraneous factors before I accepted an observed effect as informative.  To make not even an obvious correction is beyond sloppy.  It is non-science

UPDATE: Forecaster Kesten Green writes as follows, putting my point 1 more precisely:

In scientific forecasting terms, what you are saying is don’t expect to beat the no naive no-change forecast of global mean temperatures over longer periods, which Scott, Willie, and I proposed in our 2009 paper in IJF “Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making”.

The logical (and policy-relevant) bet on the predictive validity of “dangerous warming” is not “will it be warmer vs will it be colder” or “will the OLS fitted trend go up or down over the period”, but will the monthly or annual errors from a dangerous warming forecast (the 3C/century that the IPCC have been forecasting for the longest time) be smaller than the errors from a no-change forecast. That was the basis of the Climate Bet that Scott challenged Al Gore to take and that we monitor (as if he had taken the bet) at The initial bet was 10 years to end-2017, which we calculated would be easy for no-change to lose given natural variations over the relatively short period. No-change nevertheless won.

It was a bet any climate scientist would take. It was 2005, and James Annan, a climate scientist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, had heard enough. Some researchers and conservative thinkers who reject mainstream climate science were arguing that climate models were wrong or that Earth would enter a cooler period after solar flares faded.

So he offered them a bet. The wager was $10,000 that the Earth would continue warming through 2017.

The winner would be decided by comparing global surface temperatures from 1998 to 2003 with those between 2012 to 2017. Annan was confident in the climate models, which showed that it would be warmer. Seven prominent climate contrarians refused to bet. Among them was Richard Lindzen, a physicist associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has rejected mainstream climate science.

Annan was essentially fighting with one hand behind his back. The comparison started in 1998, an anomalously warm year in the temperature records, partially driven by an El Niño. Still, Annan was confident that his science would outmatch political ideology.

"They didn't believe what they were saying; this was the whole point to the betting," he said. "It has a serious scientific point to it. ... It's one way of making the point that they're playing debating games."

Eventually, Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, solar physicists at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics in Russia, agreed to the wager. This week, Annan declared that the contest was over and that Mashnich and Bashkirtsev had lost. It comes as NASA said this week that 2018 could be the fourth-warmest year on record and the fourth year in a row that is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above the 19th-century average.

The researchers won't pay, Annan said. Neither Mashnich nor Bashkirtsev responded to questions from a reporter. Annan said Bashkirtsev wants a new bet. It would raise the stakes to $100,000 and cover another eight-year period.

Annan has declined that offer because he doesn't think the money will ever arrive. Besides, he said, his point has already been proved.

"It was obvious of course that this settlement risk was the biggest uncertainty right from the start," Annan wrote on his blog, announcing the contest's end Monday. "I had hoped they would value their professional reputations as worth rather more to themselves than the sums of money involved. On the other hand a certain amount of intellectual dishonesty seems necessary in order to maintain the denialist mindset."

Annan has won money on previous climate bets. In 2016, he and climate economist Chris Hope won a £2,000 wager against members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a U.K.-based group that rejects climate science. The winners said 2015 would be warmer than 2008.

He has also lost.

Once, Annan bet that 2010 would break high temperature records. He was off by a year. The five warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all come after 2011, and the 10 warmest years have all come since 1998. Annan said that year, 1998, broke records, and now "we won't see a year that cold again."


Cockroach Krugman: Donald and the Deadly Deniers

America's leading Leftist economist is at it again. He is an economist and there is no evidence that he knows anything about climate science but that does not restrain him. It is just another area for him to pontificate in.  His idea of wise comments about climate skepticism is, in the usual Leftist way, mere abuse.  He calls our thinking "cockroach ideas".  Charming. Let me do a Trump and shoot back -- by saying he is the biggest cockroach of all:  Worth squashing only.

And his hand-waving arguments, such as they are, are all attacks on a straw man.  Skeptics have always agreed that there does seem to have been a slight warming (no more than one degree Celsius) in the last 150 years or so but regard a warming of no greater than one degree Celsis over that period as trivial and not significant in any important sense. Nothing recent has disturbed that judgement

Climate change is a hoax.

Climate change is happening, but it’s not man-made.

Climate change is man-made, but doing anything about it would destroy jobs and kill economic growth.

These are the stages of climate denial. Or maybe it’s wrong to call them stages, since the deniers never really give up an argument, no matter how thoroughly it has been refuted by evidence. They’re better described as cockroach ideas — false claims you may think you’ve gotten rid of, but keep coming back.

Anyway, the Trump administration and its allies — put on the defensive by yet another deadly climate change-enhanced hurricane and an ominous United Nations report — have been making all of these bad arguments over the past few days. I’d say it was a shocking spectacle, except that it’s hard to get shocked these days. But it was a reminder that we’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

About those cockroaches: Details aside, the very multiplicity of climate-denial arguments — the deniers’ story keeps changing, but the bottom line that we should do nothing remains the same — is a sign that the opponents of climate action are arguing in bad faith. They aren’t seriously trying to engage with the reality of climate change or the economics of reduced emissions; their goal is to keep polluters free to pollute as long as possible, and they’ll grab onto anything serving that goal.

Still, it’s worth pointing out how thoroughly all their arguments have collapsed in recent years.

These days, climate deniers seem to have temporarily backed down a bit on claims that nothing is happening. The old dodge of comparing temperatures to an unusually warm year in 1998 to deny that the planet is getting warmer — which is like comparing days in early July with a warm day in May, and denying that there’s such a thing as summer — has been undermined by a string of new temperature records. And massive tropical storms fed by a warming ocean have made the consequences of climate change increasingly visible to the public.

So the new strategy is to downplay what has happened. Climate change models “have not been very successful,” declared Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser. Actually, they have: Global warming to date is well in line with past projections. “Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” asserted Donald Trump on “60 Minutes,” based upon, well, nothing.

Having grudgingly conceded that maybe the planet is indeed getting a bit warmer, the climate deniers claim to be unconvinced that greenhouse gases are responsible. “I don’t know that it’s man-made,” said Trump. And while he has sort-of-kind-of backed down on his earlier claims that climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, he’s still seeing vast conspiracies on the part of climate scientists, who he says “have a very big political agenda.”

Think about that. Decades ago experts predicted, based on fundamental science, that emissions would raise global temperatures. People like Trump scoffed. Now the experts’ prediction has come true. And the deniers insist that emissions aren’t the culprit, that something else must be driving the change, and it’s all a conspiracy. Come on.

Why, it’s as if Trump were to suggest that the Saudis had nothing to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, who vanished after entering a Saudi embassy — that he was killed by some mysterious third party. Oh, wait.

Finally, about the cost of climate policy: I’ve noted in the past how strange it is that conservatives have total faith in the power and flexibility of market economies, but claim that these economies will be completely destroyed if the government creates incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Apocalyptic claims about the cost of reducing emissions are especially strange given tremendous technological progress in renewable energy: The costs of wind and solar power have plummeted. Meanwhile, coal-fired power plants have become so uncompetitive that the Trump administration wants to subsidize them at the expense of cleaner energy.

In short, while the arguments of climate deniers were always weak, they’ve gotten much weaker. Even if you were genuinely persuaded by the deniers five or 10 years ago, subsequent developments should have made you reconsider.

In reality, of course, climate denial has never had much to do with either logic or evidence; as I said, deniers are clearly arguing in bad faith. They don’t really believe what they’re saying. They’re just looking for excuses that will let people like the Koch brothers keep making money. Besides, liberals want to limit emissions, and modern conservatism is largely about owning the libs.

One way to think about what’s happening here is that it’s the ultimate example of Trumpian corruption. We have good reason to believe that Trump and his associates are selling out America for the sake of personal gain. When it comes to climate, however, they aren’t just selling out America; they’re selling out the whole world.


Groan! Another tale about the evils of particulate pollution

New York Magazine has a subsection called "Intelligencer" which would more aptly be called "Dramatizer".  Under the heading, "Trump’s Climate Denial Isn’t Just a War on Our Coastlines. It’s a War on Our Brains'" they have a large collection of tired old Warmist talking points, all of which have been refuted many times by skeptics. Hell! I have refuted them many times.

What has got them particularly stirred up this time is particulate pollution -- tiny little bits of matter that float around in the air.  Diesel truck exhausts put out a lot of it. And various industries put it out too. Technically, it is airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, known as PM2.5.

Various regulations exist to minimize it but there is still some out there.  And to Greenies it is obviously BAD.  They need no evidence to draw that conclusion.  But Greenies are an evangelical lot so they like to draw others into their faith. And a lot of the people they target are pesky people who demand evidence!  So they have often set out to provide it.

That "often"really gives the game away. If there really were any firm evidence that normal levels of particulate pollution were bad for us, they would not have to keep trying to prove it!

For a long time I would write something pointing the holes in the various studies as they came out but I am getting more and more reluctant to do that.  "There are none so blind as those who will not see" and even basic errors of science are usually invisible to the Green/Left.

So let me just give the key paragraph in the whole long winded article and then go on to point out what it misses:

Excerpt: "How big are the developmental and cognitive effects? The term researchers use is “huge” — the equivalent of having lost a year of education. Reducing Chinese pollution to the EPA standard, they found, would improve the country’s test scores by 13 percent and its verbal scores by 8 percent —potential boosts in productivity that should alarm anyone concerned about the country’s rapid economic and geopolitical ascent".

I have recently given a general discussion of such studies here and here and I have dealt with the specific study principally relied on by  New York Magazine here. PM2.5 might be bad for you but that is yet to be shown in a scientifically well-founded way -- JR.

In defence of "manspreading"

"How can anyone defend such an inconsiderate habit?" might be an understandable response to my heading above.  And I have yet to see a defence of it.  And yet the truth is obvious:  It is natural for men to sit that way when relaxed.  Why?  Because men have a package between their legs that does not like being squeezed and does like a bit of air.  Women don't have that so have more of a tendency to sit demurely.  And the male and female pelvises are different too so that could be an influence that someone who knows more about anatomy than I do might be able to talk about.

Note below that two Royal Princes who were very much in the public eye sat like that recently.  And they are occupationally obliged to avoid offence

Needless to say, men CAN sit more considerately and will usually do so if in a crowded situation.  But it is an effort, though not a great one.  So men who do take up more than one space or seat on a crowded bus or train should politely be asked to make way. And men who fail to give up their seat altogether to an obviously pregnant woman are low types who deserve censure, and, in some cases, prosecution.

But feminists never see the other side of any question so I have yet to see any complainer about manspreading refer to the common female practice of taking up an extra seat for her handbag, tote, shopping etc.  Women too can be inconsiderate in their use of space.  It is inconsiderate PEOPLE we should condemn, not one sex or the other.  Matthew 7:5 again applies.

Now here is an interesting picture below:

We see an odd way of sitting that is sort of half spread.  It's the way I and my son naturally sit -- with one foot tucked under. We automatically and just about always sit that way.  We don't know why. We just do it.  It feels most comfortable to us to sit that way.  For many years it had never occurred to me that I sit in an unusual way until the boy's mother remarked to me one day,   "He sits in the same funny way that you do".  I initially thought:  "Funny way? I don't sit in a funny way!" but I eventually realized she was right

Clearly some unusual gene has got into us in some way and there it rests.  It doesn't bother us in the least.  We sit in perfect comfort.  But it does tend to show that even your manner of sitting is genetically determined.  But it is very common for feminists to argue futilely with genetics.

An atheist manifesto

I put up here a great deal in support of Christians and Christian causes but since I am myself an extreme atheist in the manner of analytical philosophers like Rudolf Carnap, it seems only reasonable that I present an atheist POV occasionally.  None of the difficulties for theism presented below will disdturb committed Christians but they deserve to be presented.

It always amuses me that both Christians and atheists consider one another to be totally unreasonable. They both have a point.  Atheists consider it unreasonanble to believe in an undetectable object and Christians believe it unreasonable to believe the vast complexity around us happened by chance.  Partly for that reason I never argue for or against belief in God, Thor, Zeus or whoever he is

I do however believe in the Devil.  I think Islam is ample proof of his influence

The fact reported below that Australian young people are much more religious than their elders is certainly an interesting finding.  I suspect it reflects the uncertainties of the modern world -- where the Left have done a pretty good job of throwing all values into question.  The existence of God is much better argued for than most traditional beliefs are so young people cling on to the only firm anchor they can find.  And they find in Christianity a rich system of thinking and values that guides them well through life and its challenges.

I myself am profoundly grateful for my fundamentalist youth.  It was much more helpful to me than believing in the absurd Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as Right and Wrong".  How can they expect anyone to draw philosophical nourishment from such an etiolated body of thought?

I am still mostly guided in my life by Christian principles.  They work for me.  I even "take a little wine for my stomach's sake" from time to time (1 Timothy 5:23)

The promise of an afterlife – to meet departed family and friends – appeals to many, but especially younger Australians. Are private religious schools playing a part? And why do they dismiss the evidence of physics, asks Brian Morris.

Against all odds, it seems the concept of going to heaven holds far greater significance for the young than for those who are closer – numerically – to death! We need to confront ‘the D word’ itself, but let’s first get a handle on why the idea of paradise has gripped contemporary youth – more so than pensioners.

A national Essential poll shows 40% of all Australians believe in heaven. But the crucial figure is that a staggering 51% of those aged 18-34 hold such a belief! This compares to just 29% of the public who are over 55 years old. The young are almost twice as fixated with an afterlife than those closer to pension age! Why is that?

Is it insecurity or religiosity? One suggestion points to the fact that 40% of secondary students now attend private religious schools – a rate far higher than all other Western nations. There has been an exponential growth in government funding for private Catholic and Anglican schools since the 1960s – from a base of almost zero.

Others suggest that a similar rise in Special Religious Instruction (SRI) and chaplains in public schools has led to the Christianisation of education across the nation. These government-funded programs are run by evangelical Christian organisations in each state – with Catholic and Anglican private schools proselytising their own religions. And do millennials then stay at home too long, with a childhood faith, instead of getting out into the real world?

Since colonisation, Christianity instilled belief in an afterlife. It’s reflected on a daily basis in mainstream media, in film and on television – and in our obsession with sport. No game passes without players pointing skyward when scoring a goal, or honouring a deceased team or family member with hands reaching towards heaven.

But the biggest problem is that we don’t talk about death!

Society needs to get over this end-of-life taboo – to discuss and challenge the sugar-coated religious myth that claims we will all meet up with our loved ones (and pets) when we die and go to heaven. Before confronting the concrete scientific evidence (below) – and how we can better handle the emotional aspects of death – just dwell on this thought for one moment.

Isn’t paradise already just a little crowded? Think about who those you would meet – not only the entire cohort of your departed relatives, your friends and ancestors – but all the people you have detested; and those who gave you so much grief during your lifetime.

Then there’s the rest – every human who died! Research shows that, by 2050, an estimated 113 billion people will have lived and died on planet Earth; so heaven is already a seething mass of ‘souls’. For eternity!

The average punter has great difficulty conceptualising ‘eternity’. Most can’t even grasp the fact of our universe being 13.8 billion years old – or Earth a mere 4.5 billion. The concept is starkly illustrated in a fascinating book, A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters. While fictional, it focuses the mind on a serious problem with infinity.

Chapter 10 sees our hero arrive in heaven, choosing to spend all his time eating luxurious food, having endless sex, and playing golf. After several thousand years he’s sick of food and sex, and on each heavenly golf course he hits holes-in-one on every par 3. He pleads to be released from this endless “perfect existence” and asks if others finally yearn to be free; to actually “die”. With a short pause for effect, the answer was plain. “Everyone!”

Books on near-death experiences, and visits to heaven, are legion. A recent best seller was Proof of Heaven by Dr Eben Alexander – a neurosurgeon, no less. Alexander sold more than 2 million copies before his claims were debunked. Among those who contested his story was Professor Sean Carroll, a particle physicist and high-profile science communicator. Carroll said there could only be two possibilities for Alexander’s spiritual encounter:

(1) Either some ill-defined metaphysical substance, not subject to the known laws of physics, interacted with the atoms of his brain in ways that have eluded every controlled experiment ever performed in the history of science; or

(2) People hallucinate when they are nearly dead.

Professor Carroll’s detailed explanation of Physics and Immortality spells out precisely why an immaterial ‘soul’ does not exist.

Carroll worked with the team that discovered the Higgs Boson at Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider. He could not be more explicit;

“If there are other waves, particles or forces sufficient to externally influence the brain, then we would know about them … Within Quantum Field Theory, there can’t be a new collection of ‘spirit particles’ and ‘spirit forces’ that interact with our regular atoms, because we would have detected them in existing experiments… You would have to demonstrate evidence of a completely new realm of reality, obeying very different rules than everything we know about physics.”

The 3 links above are needed to fully understand why there is no ‘soul’. But science does not devalue the need for compassion and empathy in the face of raw emotions that come with our personal experiences of death. It is necessary to face up to reality – but there are alternatives to religion in coping with end of life crises.

Discussing death openly and honestly – and publicly through the media – is a first step in helping to ease the extreme distress that many suffer with their own fear of death.

The ‘Golden Age of Athens’ pre-dates Christianity by four centuries – it led to a crucial period of new philosophical thought about life and death, about government and democracy, and how ordinary people could live a more fulfilled and contented life.

The philosophical principles of stoicism remain popular today. It’s based on three central themes. ‘Perception’, how we choose to view events; ‘Action’, how we deal with events we can control (and those we can’t); and then there’s ‘Will’ – training ourselves to deal honestly and ethically with events in our own lives. Following the full regime of stoicism may seem daunting; but after filtering the basic principles it becomes somewhat easier to apply.

The stoic approach to dealing with death – of family, friends, or oneself – is particularly relevant. Initially, it may appear morbid to periodically remind ourselves of one’s mortality. But if we consider this approach to death deeply enough, we soon come to realise the benefits of a greatly improved mental state.

The stark alternative for most people is to ignore the inevitable, and to be completely consumed by grief when family or friends die unexpectedly. Religion holds its privileged status based on fear – fear of not believing in God, fear of the unknown, and especially the fear of death. It’s a cruel deception that society needs to overcome.

By sugar-coating mortality with the myth of everlasting heaven, religion simply deprives us all of the ways and means to better cope with the end of life. While stoicism may not be the complete solution for all, it is clear that the basic principles of ‘philosophical ethics’ – honesty, reason, compassion, and love – would be a far better alternative than teaching schoolchildren obedience to God and religious ritual.

Future generations would avoid the trap of today’s millennials who continue to shun science and instead cling to religious concepts of an afterlife.

A ‘soul’ that miraculously ascends to heaven, only to re-unite with 113 billion other souls – for the whole of eternity! Just like our golfing hero, that sounds more like purgatory!


The Senate Is an 'Unfixable Crime Against Democracy'?

Brent Bozell makes some good points below and both he and I have written previously on why the last electoral college vote has been greatly misrepresented by the Left, but I think I can make some further points relevant to the present Lefist shriek.

For a start, the shriek implies a very simplistic definition of democracy.  The implied definition -- that a democracy is ruled by the majority vote of the population -- rejects most of the democracies of the present world and of history as not being democracies. To take just two reference points:  The most famous democracy of history -- ancient Athens -- was not a democracy by that definition.  Only about a third of the Athenian population had a vote. And to take a much more recent example, Bill Clinton fell well short of getting a majority of the popular vote in 1992 -- at 43%.  And in Europe it is almost unprecedented for a leading party to gain a majority of the popular vote.

So what is going on?  The plain fact is that people's political beliefs are all over the place in any democracy, including some very wacky befiefs.  So you have to have a way of deriving a parliamentary majority out of that confusion. And doing that can be quite precarious.  There is no doubt that proportional representation is the fairest way of putting into parliament a clutch of politicians who mirror the range of views out there but that almost never leads to simple majority rule.  In Germany and Australia, for instance, the party with the biggest share of the popular vote generally gets to form government but that party can still have a hell of a job of getting any new legislation through their parliament.  Yet it all works, sort of.

The American system deals with the same difficulty in a different way:  It cuts down your choice to just two parties -- leaving voters who like neither party out in the cold.  And there are quite a lot of Americans who like neither party -- as is shown by the low voting turnout.  So a big majority of the popular vote will always be a small minority of the qualified voters.  There is no way that can reasonably be seen as fair but it all works, sort of.

And there is in the American system another deliberate distortion:  Both the electoral college and the Senate are designed to privilege inhabitants of the smaller States.  There is no way that is fair either but it all works, sort of.

Why are the smaller states given enhanced representation?  It goes back to the days when America really was a federation -- something Abraham Lincoln put a stop to.  In those palmy days of independence, States could possibly have refused to join the new Federation of States.  And many considered it.  The smaller States in particular were wary that by joining a federation, they might end up being ruled by the bigger states in ways that were inimical to their own best interests.  So to create the United States of America, the smaller states had to be assured that they would have a voice in decisions that was nearly as strong as the bigger States.  And both the electoral college and the Senate do just that.  And if you now tried to take any of that protection away, you would energize a huge bloc of votes against your party.  It would be electoral suicide.  So it all works, sort of.

So the U.S. system is just one of the many flavors of democracy.  There is no perfect system.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses -- JR

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell revved up his Outrage Machine on Friday night once it became apparent that Brett Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. There was a new crime against democracy — or rather, there was a very old crime. It's called the Senate.

Come again? Senators are elected, but since they voted to give President Trump a narrow victory, it can't be democracy. The Founding Fathers designed a Senate that wasn't elected by the people but by the state legislatures. (Some regret that the 17th Amendment changed that.)

O'Donnell lamented that America's never been worse: "And so the Senate is now deeply undemocratic and getting worse every single day. People who live in countries that have never really pretended to be fully democratic don't feel the disappointment and sickness that Americans feel when democracy so obviously fails."

Someone get O'Donnell a handkerchief, and perhaps a textbook on how a republic operates. Like many Democrats, O'Donnell feels that the popular vote should prevail on everything. The Electoral College must be scrapped because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote — she should be president.

Using the same peculiar calculations, liberals claimed that there are now four Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents who didn't win the popular vote. Those geniuses forgot that George W. Bush nominated two justices after he won the popular vote in 2004.

But let's return to O'Donnell just making things up, like John Belushi's "Animal House" rant about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor. He blathered: "An American realist knows that the federal government has never even tried democracy, not for one day. And so today in the United States Senate, the senators who represent 55 percent of the American people lost an important Senate vote — again."

The MSNBC host was parroting a survey paid for by Marist and the taxpayer-subsidized liberals at NPR and PBS that found the 49 senators who opposed Kavanaugh represented 55.8 percent of the public.

This sentiment was ably mocked on Twitter by New York Yankees fans.

In the 1960 World Series, the Yankees outscored the Pittsburgh Pirates 55 runs to 27... and lost the World Series. Their wins were blowouts. Theirs losses were close games. O'Donnell mourned that he used to be proud to work in the Senate a while back for Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but it slowly dawned on him that the Senate is "an unfixable crime against democracy" perpetuated by a group of racist, sexist Founding Fathers. He lectured his liberal viewers to get out and vote, "the vote for United States Senate that the Founding Fathers never wanted you to have."

Jim Geraghty at National Review pointed out more flaws in this analysis, writing: "The second-least populated state in the union is Vermont ... the 45th is Delaware; the 43rd is Rhode Island; and the 40th is Hawaii ... All of those states have two Democratic senators."

In fact, election expert Jeff Ditzler of Decision Desk HQ tweeted that the top 10 states by population (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan) have elected 11 Democratic senators and nine Republican senators, and the bottom 10 states (Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire) have elected ... 11 Democratic senators and nine Republican senators.

It's obvious that Friday night felt a lot like election night 2016 to liberals. What's so upsetting to them is that the liberal media can't successfully engage in mind control and run the country by chanting their baloney into the television set. MSNBC just hates that democracy in America doesn't have enough of a liberal bias.