Is Trump a conservative?

Below I put up a historically grounded reply to the WSJ article How Trump Has Changed the Republicans

At the outset, let us immediately set aside the absurd Leftist contention that conservatism is opposition to change.  The greatest change agents of recent decades were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, undoubted conservatives.  The only changes conservatives regularly oppose are destructive changes proposed by the Left  -- the most recent example of which is "defund the police".

Unlike Ronald Reagan, Mr Trump is clearly not a libertarian and most of the writers mentioned in How Trump Has Changed the Republicans   are also sure that he is not a conservative.  But none of the writers below make the point that he takes his policies from both libertarians AND conservatives. So is he simply a "hybrid" president or is there more to it than that?  There is.

It is well-known and obvious that the Left have no abiding philosophy and principles. The way they have embraced the rioters who are at the moment trashing many American cities is surely proof of that.  

What is less recognized is that conservatives too have no fixed policies.  Both sides adopt ideologies from time to time but what they embrace changes over time.  So the real, basic, difference between Left and Right is psychological.

Broadly, Conservatives tend to be dominated by positive emotions: happiness, contentment and love of country in particular, while Leftists tend towards anger, dissatisfaction and hatred of the world around them, their own country in particular. Conservatives want to safeguard their country and its ways of doing things.  Leftists want to attack and undermine their country and its social system. Conservatives will embrace anything that seems good for their country and eschew anything that seems bad for it. Ideally, Leftists want a revolution.  Conservatives are loving, generous people.  The Left are haters and destroyers

Prominent English philosopher of conservatism Roger Scruton was particularly known for identifying patriotism with conservatism

And the torrent of hate that the Left have poured out at Mr Trump and his supporters clearly identifies hate as a major part of their makeup.

My contention that conservatives have no lasting principles will be cheered by Leftists but will seem contentious to many conservatives -- so let me take us through a brief history of conservative thought that will confirm my contention.

We find support for that contention in the conclusions drawn by some historians of the British Conservative party -- who find a certain realistic, practical and pragmatic outlook as the main enduring characteristics of Conservative thought (Feiling, 1953; Gilmour, 1978; Norton & Aughey, 1981; Standish, 1990) and theirs is clearly a theory about the wellsprings of conservatism rather than a description of what conservatives have tended to stand for. And it is not at all difficult to see why a realistic view of the ham-fisted and restrictive things that governments characteristically do has led to doubt about the benefits of extending such activities. So we again come to the view that there is a conservative psychology that explains and gives rise to conservative political positions.

But while the proposals of Feiling, Gilmour and others are perfectly reasonable, they do have a large philosophical problem: How do we define what is realistic, practical and pragmatic? So while I also think that realism is a large part of the psychology underlying a conservative stance and have advocated that view at some length in the past (in the introduction to my book Conservatism as Heresy), garnering evidence for its truth is a difficult task and certainly not one that I have found a way to investigate by the normal techniques of psychological research.

I do not think that this leads to any need for great vagueness about what conservatism is at the political (policy-preference) level, however, so would in part reject the view noted by Owen Harries when he says:

"In introducing his anthology The Conservative Tradition, R.J. White defensively (or perhaps smugly and archly) claims, "To put conservatism in a bottle with a label is like trying to liquify the atmosphere or give an accurate description of the beliefs of a member of the Anglican Church. The difficulty arises from the nature of the thing. For conservatism is less a political doctrine than a habit of mind, a mode of feeling, a way of living."

One must obviously agree with White that the habits of mind and ways of feeling are prior and causative  but I do not agree with White that the political policy-preferences they lead to are hard to define.

Noted American conservative thinker Russell Kirk starts out from a premise very similar to White's but draws quite different conclusions. He finds LOTS of policy-preferences that a conservative outlook leads to. He says here

"Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata.... Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word "conservative" as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.....

In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy "change is the means of our preservation.") A people's historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude."

What I think Kirk partially overlooks, however, is that conservatism is not limited to those "who find the permanent things more pleasing". Such people will of course be conservative but most people who adopt a cautious attitude to social change do so for a more practical reason -- because they see that as serving their basic aim of a better life for the individual. Almost all of the most influential conservatives (e.g. Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan) were in their earlier years Left-leaning, so their conservatism can hardly be attributed to an inborn preference for permanence or a dislike of change as such. They became conservative for a good reason -- to promote and conserve what they saw as best for their nations and their peoples -- and that included  respect for the individual and for individual liberties. 

Another theory about the psychological origins of conservatism is related to the "realism" theory but is a lot less sweeping than it. It is one that is very often quoted and finds its principal exponents in Burke (1790), Hayek (1944) and Oakeshott (1975) -- though the two former thinkers in fact described themselves as "Whigs" rather than as conservatives. This theory also traces policy to a style of thought -- or a "habit of mind" as R.J. White put it (see above). The theory basically is that there is an underlying wariness and skepticism in conservatives (particularly about human nature) that makes them question ANY political policies whatever -- including policies that call for change. Conservatives need good evidence that something will work well and have the intended consequences before they will support it. And for this reason conservatives prefer "the devil they know" and want any change to be of a gradual and evolutionary kind -- progressing by small steps that can easily be reversed if the intended outcomes are not realized. And there has never been any doubt that conservatives do indeed think that way. Note the following comment on one of the enduring heroes of American conservatism:

"In Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking, William F. Buckley Jr. mobilized a group of writers to set forth certain ideas about the conservative movement for which he and they played such a decisive and animating role. It is telling that they did not seek to enumerate a list of issues on which conservatives must agree. If anything, Buckley, Meyer, Chambers, et al. argued that conservatism is neither an ideology nor an exercise in litmus tests. Buckley spent as much time reading fringe groups out of the conservative movement as he did defining what it was, precisely because he knew that conservatism is as much about temperament and tendencies than it is about a specific position on a given issue".

So the actual policies pursued by both conservatives and leftists can be much better predicted from their psychology than from any set of principles.  There is some consistency in the rhetoric on both sides but it flows from the psychology of the two sides.  Leftists have long preached about poverty and conservatives have long preached about liberty.  But The Left these days  prioritize environmentalism -- an immensely destructive gospel -- over the poor and the working man.  And conservatives have often preferred tariffs over free trade and see liberty as a non-consideration when it comes to abortions. Killing babies is a most hateful act and conservatives want no part of it. Leftists have no problem with it.

So I think it is clear that Trump is in fact a traditional conservative.  He is working not from any set of principles but from a pragmatic view of what he sees as good for his country. 

So he pleases libertarians by de-regulating business and pleases ordinary Americans hard-hit by free trade by imposing tariffs.  And he displeases the Left by being a patriot, while patriots flock to him. 

The polarization that Trump has brought to America in response to his slogan "Make America great again" is rather vivid evidence for Scruton's contention that patriotism -- love of one's country, its history and its characteristics  -- IS conservatism

But while patriotism may be the heart of conservatism, current conservative policies can be supported for other reasons.  Upper class people, for instance, do tend towards support for Leftism of various sorts.  It suits their authoritarian inclinations. But there was very little evidence of that during the Soviet confrontation.  The elites tended to support conservative policies at that time. Why?  Because a Communist takeover threatened them explicitly.  They would be the first to be shot or  expropriated.  

And conversely, many patriots voted Democrat because Democrat promises would put more money in their pockets.  So we need to distinguish people's basic attitudes from what they vote for. Lipset (1959) s well known for arguing that the working class is conservative even while they mostly voted Democrat

In the age of Trump, however, conservative feelings and conservative vote have largely come together. Trump is a vocal patriot and there are no strong reasons for patriots to vote against him.  While that is also every reason for the haters of the Left to vote against his successful defence of a praiseworthy American identity and socio-political system.  In the age of identity politics, Trump has a very attractive identity to promote, an American identity.


Burke, E. (1790) Reflections on the revolution in France. Any edition.

Gilmour, I.H.J.L. (1978) Inside right. London: Quartet.

Hayek, F.A. (1944) The road to serfdom. London: Routledge

Lipset, S.M. (1959) Democracy and working class authoritarianism. American Sociological Review 24, 482-502.  

Norton, P. & Aughey, A. (1981) Conservatives and conservatism.  London: Temple Smith

Oakeshott, M. (1975) On Human Conduct. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Climate change 'could hamper efforts to wipe out malaria'

Utter rubbish!  They can wipe out malaria any time they want by re-authorizing the use of DDT.  Australia is a third tropical but it wiped out malaria before DDT was banned

The DDT story is an old one.  DDT is toxic to insects only but some poorly substantiated claims that it also hinders reproduction for some birds were enough to get it banned.  An unbiased re-examination of the evidence would almost certainly un-ban it.  

It is a wonder for killing mosquitoes, bed-bugs etc.

Efforts to eradicate malaria could be hampered by climate change — which could boost mosquito numbers and bring the disease to new areas, a study has found.

Malaria is a climate-sensitive disease which thrives where it is wet and warm enough to provide the still surface waters needed to breed the mosquitoes that spread it.

For more than two decades, experts have warned that the new patterns of temperature and rainfall induced by climate change could change malaria's range.

Experts from Leeds now warn that malaria could remain longer in parts of Africa — such as Botswana and Mozambique — while lessening in areas like South Sudan.

Africa faces the lion's share of the global malaria burden — with the continent facing, for example, 93 per cent of the world's estimated 228 million cases in 2018.

'[Following] the huge efforts to eradicate malaria from parts of the world, the areas where we observe malaria today are only a part of the total area that would otherwise be suitable for malaria transmission,' said paper author Mark Smith.

'But if we are to project the impact of climate change on the geography of malaria transmission, we need to develop more sophisticated ways of representing that envelope of malaria suitability both today and in the future,' he added.

'Our approach aims to lay out the environmental risks of malaria more clearly, so that projections of climate change impacts can help inform public health interventions and support vulnerable communities.'

'But this is only a first step, there is a lot more we can do to embed state-of-the-art hydrological and flood models into estimates of malaria environmental suitability and, potentially, even early warning systems of local malaria epidemics.'

Detailed mapping of the spread of malaria is vital for organising public health resources and aid efforts.

In the past, scientists have estimated the annual spread and duration of the disease — alongside making future predictions — by looking at rainfall and temperature.

But factors affecting how rainfall results in waters suitable for mosquito breeding are complex — including, for example, consideration of how water is absorbed into soil and vegetation, as well as rates of runoff and evaporation.

In their study, the researchers combined a malaria climatic suitability model with a continental-scale hydrological model that represents real-world processes of evaporation, infiltration and flow through rivers.

'This process-focused approach gives a more in-depth picture of malaria-friendly conditions across Africa,' said Dr Smith.

By using future climate scenarios to predict conditions up to the end of the century, the team found a different pattern of future changes in malaria suitability compared to previous works.

'While the findings show only very minor future changes in the total area suitable for malaria transmission, the geographical location of many of those areas shifts substantially,' explained Dr Smith.

'When a hydrological model is used, aridity-driven decreases in suitability are no longer observed across southern Africa, particularly Botswana and Mozambique.'

'Conversely, projected decreases in malaria suitable areas across West Africa are more pronounced.'

The largest change predicted by the team would occur in South Sudan — which is expected to undergo substantial decreases in malaria suitability in the future.

While flowing water in such large rivers does not provide a suitable habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, they can create small ponds and floodplains beside their course which form ideal larvae breeding grounds.

According to the researchers, this is problematic, as human settlements tend to be concentrated close to rivers.

'The shrinking map of malaria in Africa over that last 20 years is primarily due to huge public health efforts underway to tackle this disease, not climate change,' said paper author and health expert Chris Thomas of the University of Lincoln.

'But malaria elimination is made much more difficult where the climate is highly suitable for transmission, so it is key to know where these areas are now and are projected to be in the future.'

'Linking physical geographic processes to the biology helps us get to grips with some of that complexity.'

'The exciting challenge now is to develop this approach at local scales.'


Babies who are exposed to high levels of air pollution while in the womb have worse lung function as children and teenagers, study claims

Same old, same old crap.  Pollution and poverty confounded as a cause of poor health.

Pollution encountered was meaured by whether the person lived in a polluted area.  But pollution is not uniform in an area.  And poor people tend to live in more polluted areas.  And poor people tend to have poorer health. So was it pollution or poverty that caused the poorer health?  Unknowable.

The article is only a conference paper so details of the research are not publically available and hence are not open for critical examination.  But by relying on previous studies of that ilk we can be pretty certain that income was not controlled for and that the effects found were minute

Tedious.  Let's hope it does not get past peer review

Babies who are exposed to high air pollution develop worse lung function as children and teenagers, research suggests.

A study of 915 children found that the higher the levels of air pollution they were exposed to in infancy, the worse their lung function became as they grew into adolescence.

Researchers in Germany measured the infants' air pollution exposure and then repeatedly assessed their breathing, carrying out tests at the ages of six, ten and 15.

The team, who presented their findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, found an even bigger impact on lung function in children who developed asthma.

But they also found that babies who were breastfed for at least the first 12 weeks of their life were given some degree of protection.


Coal-fired pollution killing 800 Australians a year: report

This study just took as proven the conclusions of several American studies of pollution effects. But I have repeatedly shown that the studies concerned were badly flawed -- either because of their failure to apply demograpic controls and/or   the minute effects found. So this study is a castle built on sand. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

They also rely on a recent MJA study of the Hazelwood fire but that study attempts to examine before-and-after effects without having any data on "before".  A good try but no cigar.

Air pollution from Australia’s ageing coal-fired power stations kills around 800 people each year and spreads hundreds of kilometres from regional plants into major cities, new research finds.

This national death toll is twice as high as the number of smoke inhalation deaths in the recent catastrophic bushfire season, and eight times greater than the average annual casualties from all natural disasters, according to a new report from Greenpeace Australia.

This is the first time the national health impacts of burning coal for electricity have been scientifically assessed, its authors say.

Air pollution from coal-burning power stations also causes an average of 850 babies each year to be born with low birth weight, which puts them at greater risk of serious health conditions as adults, like cardiovascular disease, it finds. This represents 450 babies each year for Sydney, and 260 for Melbourne.

"Australians all over the country are paying for electricity with their lives and health, even if they don’t use power from burning coal or live near a power station," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific campaigner, Jonathan Moylan.

There are 14,000 asthma attacks and symptoms among Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 19 that can be attributed to emissions from coal-burning power stations each year, the report finds.

Some of these symptoms come from cross-state pollution, with about 20 percent of cases occurring in states and territories that are not home to the power station that is the source of the emissions.

But a spokesperson for the Australian Energy Council, which represents major generators, rejected the report as "alarmist, misleading and lacking in rigour".

They pointed out it had not been peer-reviewed, saying it used outdated data from overseas and extrapolated it to Australia.

"This report appears to be part of a broader campaign that seeks to demonise fossil fuel plants regardless of their health, safety or environmental performance," they said. "All power plants have to meet health and environmental limits set and monitored by independent bodies."

The Greenpeace study modelled how much pollution from coal power stations could be expected in certain areas, based on observed meteorological conditions, reported pollutant emissions and electricity generation.

Existing health studies were then used to calculate how many additional deaths occur with this increased pollution. For mortality, this included deaths due to heart disease, cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory infections and stroke.

Report co-author Professor Hilary Bambrick, an environmental epidemiologist, said power plant air pollution had caused Australians to die and suffer from preventable diseases for decades: "Governments must come up with a plan to replace our ageing and unreliable coal burning power stations with clean energy solutions as quickly as possible."

New research recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia found unborn babies whose mothers were exposed to smoke from the Hazelwood coal mine fire are at greater risk of respiratory infections in early childhood, despite not directly inhaling the pollution.

Australia still operates 22 coal-burning power stations, some of which are among the oldest and most polluting in the world. Power stations in Australia are licensed to emit pollutant concentrations that dramatically exceed limits set by comparable countries, says Max Smith, a campaigner at Environmental Justice Australia.

He urged federal and state governments to address flaws in the regulatory system and fit Australia’s coal-fired power stations with basic pollution controls that could cut toxic pollutants by more than 85 percent.


Children raised in greener neighbourhoods have higher IQs and lower levels of difficult behaviour, study finds

Only a small groan about this study.  Income is of course the big potential confounder.  Rich people tend to be the ones living in leafy areas and they tend to be smarter.

And the rearchers knew that and tried to control for it. And they didn't do a bad job. But both the index of income and the index of greenery encountered were geographical rather than personal so the correlations were ecological and such correlations are often high.  The results are not given in correlational form but appear to be undramatic so are lower than expected in the circumstances.  Testing the theory using individual measures could well have confirmed the nul hypothesis.

That the finding is not a strong one is also suggested by the fact that it was found in urban areas only, not in suburban or rural areas

Growing up in an area with more green space is beneficial to a child's intelligence, according to a new study that found those in greener urban areas had a higher IQ.

A team from Hasselt University, Belgium, analysed IQs of over 600 children and then used satellite images to examine the green coverage of their neighbourhoods.

The children in the study were all aged between 10 and 15, according to the team, who say a 3 per cent increase in greenery led to an IQ increase of about 2.6 points.

Researchers also found that children in the study had lower levels of behavioural problems if they lived in an area that more green coverage.

IQ point increases as a result of living in a green environment had the biggest impact on those at the lower end of the spectrum as small changes made a big difference.

This is the first time IQ has been considered as a potential benefit of being exposed to green spaces in childhood - other studies have looked at wider cognitive benefits.

The researchers aren't sure exactly why IQ increases with exposure to a green environment, but suspect it could be to do with lower levels of stress.

The data on IQ and location came from the East Flanders Prospective Twin Survey (EFPTS), a registry of multiple births in the province of East Flanders, Belgium.

The average IQ of those involved was 105 but the team found 4 per cent of the children with a score below 80 had grown up in areas with low greenery levels.

It wasn't just intelligence that was impacted by living in an area that was more green - the team found it also helped improve the behaviour of some of the children.

They found that behavioural problems reduced for every 3 per cent rise in greenery.

The team said that a well planned city could offer unique opportunities to create an 'optimal environment' for children to develop to their full potential.

'Whereas in 1950, only 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban areas; nowadays, this is already more than half of the global population, and it is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050,' the team explained.

'There is more and more evidence that green surroundings are associated with our cognitive function,' study author Tim Nawrot told The Guardian.

'I think city builders should prioritise investment in green spaces because it is really of value to create an optimal environment for children to develop their full potential.'

According to the study authors the benefits of greenery recorded in urban areas weren't replicated in more rural communities - likely because those areas had enough green space for everyone to benefit so the effects weren't as localised.

The authors believe that a combination of lower noise levels and lower stress levels found in green space areas contribute to the improvements in IQ and behaviour.

Part of this is also due to the fact there are more opportunities for physical and social activities in areas with more greenery - which can improve IQ scores on their own.

'Our results indicate that residential green space may be beneficial for intellectual and behavioural development of children living in an urban environment.

'We showed a shift in the IQ distribution of urban children in association with residential green space exposure,' the authors wrote.

The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Medicine.


Belarus ("White Russia") may be better than you think

Belarus and Poland

Some Russian friends of mine who still have relatives throughout the former Soviet Empire and who live well there speak favorably of Belrarus. And I have myself noted some desirable aspects of Belarus in previous postings. That all becomes of particular interest at the moment as the world is noting protests in Belarus against dubious elections maintaining despot Alexander Lukashenko in power

So it is interesting that Economic historian Martin Hutchinson (below) says Belarus is much more capitalistic than either California or China.

Matin makes two points that many would jib at. He likes it that  Belarus has no lockdowns against the coronavirus.  That however is pretty close to becoming the informed medical opinion now

He likes that Belarus has much higher interest rates than Western countries.  That may seem perverse but history is on the side of Belarus.  Past great capitalistic flourishings worldwide have been accompanied by similar rates.  And present historically low rates in the West have mainly sufficed to create the punishingy high real estate prices we see in the USA and elsewhere.

Something he does not note that many people might like is that the roads are good but traffic jams are few. Belarus has an extremely good and comprehensive public transport system. So people get more exercise by walking and can do so without wading through vehicular pollution. It's a Greenie dream in action. Greenies would also like that over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested.

Many conservatives would like that Belarus is also the only country in Europe officially using the death penalty.  It is a Christian country.

Climate skeptics would like that most of its electricity is thermal generated and that they have a nuclear power station under construction.

The population of Belarus is almost wholly white so there is no disgruntled black minority to go on city-wrecking sprees, something of interest in the current American context.

See my previous comments on Belarus here

The world economy has come a very long way from the small-government, unregulated free-market model so celebrated by Adam Smith and other classical economists. Today, even in countries that claim to be committed to capitalism, taxes, monetary policy, regulations and state spending have produced huge distortions. To illustrate how huge, I thought I would compare the economic models of three jurisdictions: California, the high-tech Mecca supposedly a beacon of freedom, China, the state-controlled behemoth that claims to have a new and better economic model, and the universally despised “Communist” dictatorship of Belarus.

It must be very difficult to be a true capitalist in California. Yes, you have a support system of a myriad of other capitalists around you, and if you start with a remotely plausible business plan venture capitalists will throw money at you, but actually running a business, as distinct from merely financing losses, is extremely difficult. Real estate costs, both corporate and personal are extremely high if you are in the San Francisco Bay area, so you begin with a huge cost disadvantage against those of your competitors who are located somewhere else. The most important cost disadvantage, of course, is that you must pay people far more money than they may be worth so they can live in the Bay area.

High accommodation and staff costs are a natural economic disadvantage, but California also abounds in unnatural ones, entirely contrary to free market principles. For a start, the state has the highest tax rates in the United States, with a top income tax rate of 13% on top of the Federal 37% plus a Medicare tax of a maximum 3.8%, for a total of 53.8% marginal income tax rate. The state is in the process of voting to increasing the state income tax further to 16%, which would give a top marginal tax rate of 56.8%, a level at which it becomes barely worth working at all (I speak from experience of the high British marginal rates in the 1970s and 1980s). With the state keeping more than half its richest citizens’ marginal earnings, California’s claim to be a capitalist economy is already quite weak.

It becomes weaker still, when you realize that the state is also likely to introduce a wealth tax at 0.4% per annum, payable on all wealth above $30 million. Now you may think that $30 million is “riches beyond the dreams of avarice” but you are out of date, at least if you live around San Francisco. $30 million just about buys you an upper-middle-class house in that area, and then you must pay the state property taxes on the damn thing. In any normal jurisdiction, $30 million would be enough to retire on in considerable luxury, but not around San Francisco. Moreover, 0.4% per annum may not sound like much, but I would remind you that today 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield only 0.67%. That leaves you only 0.39% after Federal income tax (oh bliss, no state income tax) so your California wealth tax is robbing you of 105% of your remaining income – even before you account for inflation’s effect on your capital. Yes, you could put your money in riskier, higher-yielding assets, but those Argentine bonds and Neiman Marcus private equity investments did not turn out so well, did they?

Then there is regulation. Depending on your business, you will have already found out that U.S. regulation, when combined with that of an “activist” state like California, is among the most user-unfriendly in the world. German, British or Japanese regulators are well-organized pussycats by comparison. The recent Uber decision means you cannot employ contractors, they have to be full-time employees, with all the costs involved. And heaven forfend you should be in any business with global warming implications – if you’re an offshore oil driller you’re out of luck, and have been since 1969 in terms of getting new leases on state-controlled waters. And it’s not just the environmental regulations imposed on you, but the effect on you of those imposed on others; California regulations on electric utilities are so severe that the main utility has filed for bankruptcy, and many areas have been subject to brownouts in a recent heat-wave, because the heat-wave happened on a calm night, thus putting all the state’s solar and wind electric capacity out of action. Now I grant you, the early industrialists did not have electricity at all, but if you think California will let you set up a good healthy coal-powered steam engine to solve your energy problem, you’re dreaming!

Then there are the social restrictions. In California, you no longer have free speech, at least not if anyone records you; you will lose your job for even the mildest hate speech – and if you’re self-employed, the Twitterati will still find a way to make your life a misery. You may stay out of prison, but will still destroy years of your life and millions of your dollars in court cases.

Like California, China has restrictions on free speech – you cannot criticize the government, if you want to stay out of jail (in California, you can criticize the government, but there are innumerable other things you cannot say, and it is not always clear in advance what they are). China also has fairly high taxes – a top marginal rate of 45% — though not as high as California.

The main difference is that in China, you must include a committee of Party members in your company, who have the right to second-guess all your business decisions. In California, you do not yet have to do this, but the mandatory “diversity officers” and such are getting ever closer to this level of intrusiveness. Still, there are advantages to China – for one thing, you don’t need to worry about environmental regulation – it’s pretty clear most Chinese companies don’t, as they emit vast quantities of CFCs, for example, a pollutant removed from Western supply chains two decades ago.

In Belarus, you don’t have to employ Party members within your company, though you certainly have to clear management decisions with your local Party boss – who may come expensive. As in China or California, you have no rights of free speech, so there is only a modest differential between the three locations in that respect. Of course, Belarus and China are notoriously not democracies (Belarus has rigged elections, China doesn’t bother having them at all) but then if you’re a Republican living round San Francisco you might as well not have democracy either – none of your local legislators will be dedicated to the things you believe in.

On Covid-19, China has almost certainly falsified its statistics, and given it the opportunity to spread to humanity in the first place, while California has imposed all kinds of niggling restrictions on individual freedoms. On the other hand, Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko has suffered from the virus, played ice hockey throughout its prevalence, and recommends sauna baths and vodka as a cure. Advantage: Belarus, I fancy.

Tax-wise Belarus (like its neighbor Russia) is a truly capitalist state; the country has a flat income tax rate of 12%, and even offers a discount to 9% for workers in the tech sector. This is much more important than people think. Both Belarus and Russia are dominated by a few very large companies, mostly in natural resources, with heavy state involvement and part ownership by cronies of the long-term President. They are not very attractive as investments, even where you could invest in them.

However, below the radar screen, where the state is uninvolved beyond local payoffs, there are a large number of small entrepreneurial companies that do well because of the low corporate tax rate (18%) and low individual tax rates on the entrepreneurs who created them. Belarus being deeply unfashionable, there are no Western venture capital companies crawling over the country. What’s more, monetary conditions are more favorable for the creation of truly productive small companies than in either California or China; inflation was 5.2% in the last 12 months and the National Bank of Belarus’ refinancing rate is 7.75% — healthy levels and relationships between the two that we have not seen in the U.S. since the early 1990s.

Since Belarus has a highly educated workforce, especially in technical areas, and very low costs indeed – far below those of even China, let alone California – it is potentially a highly attractive place to start a business, if you can tolerate the local political system and its corruption. Oh, and the power grid works, at least better than California’s.

Belarus is a nasty dictatorship. But so is China; on balance, rather nastier (I prefer rigged elections to none at all). Even California these days is hardly the land of the free that it used to be. However, in terms of economic climate for a local business there is really no comparison. None of the three countries is a truly attractive free-market environment, but by far the closest to that ideal is Belarus.


New World Temperature Record Set - Is Climate Change To Blame?

The question mark above is well warranted.  By "Climate change" they presumably mean anthropogenic global warming.  And the anthropogenic global warming theory is that CO2 in the atmosphere causes warming.  And CO2 levels have been rising steadily.

According to Cape Grim CO2 levels rose from  401ppm at the end of 2016 against the latest reading of 410ppm.  So obviously it will be hotter now than in 2016.  Problem:  It's not.  As the article below states,  reality is the other way around: 2016 was our hottest year.

So we once again see that the global warming theory fails a test against reality.  As a scientific theory it must be rejected.  As a political theory, of course, it will sail on for many years yet

It’s possible that this week, we set a new record for the hottest recorded temperature on Earth. The Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley recorded a temperature of 54.4C (129.9F) this Sunday, August 16, 2020. The temperature was high enough to cause the unofficial temperature display to start behaving strangely. If you haven’t been concerned about climate change before, perhaps it’s time to sit up and take note - this is just the latest in records that are being set since the year 2000.

The previous high temperature was 53.3C in Kuwait in 2011. In 1913, there was a potential high temperature in Furnace Creek of 56.7C, but this reading is of questionable accuracy.

Currently, scientists are verifying the new temperature claim.

This is the latest in a disturbing trend. The record hottest year on Earth was 2016, followed by 2019, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2014, 2010, 2013 and 2005 (tied), and 1998. Almost all of those years have been within the last two decades. And scientists predict that we will continue to set records.

And 2020 is not looking good either. Seven percent of the Earth set new records for June temperatures this year, such as Asia, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Mexico, and large swaths of the ocean. The Arctic had its first 100F day when a town in Siberia named Verkhoyansk reached 38C (100.4F). Droughts and dryness have also been affecting the production of soybeans, sorghum, and cotton in the middle United States.

Normally, hot years are linked to El Niño events or active solar cycles, but 2020 has had neither. In fact, it’s been the weakest 11-year solar cycle in the last 100 years.

The Earth Has Warmed In The Past, What’s Different About Now?

By using tree rings, glaciers, sediments in the oceans, rocks, and even coral reefs, we can gain an understanding of how hot the Earth was in the past, and how the temperature changed. For example, as we moved out of the last Ice Age, the temperature rose 4 to 7 degrees C.

But - now here’s the important part - this warming occurred over 5,000 years. We’ve seen the temperature of the Earth rise 0.7 degrees C in the past century. That’s 10 times faster than the average rate.


A Kurdish "boat person"

The NYT has a long and meandering story designed to evoke the life of a Kurdish "refugee" named Behrouz Boochani.

"Boat people" are alleged refugees who tried to crash their way into Australia aboard small, rickety, wooden fishing bosts from Indonesia.  They mostly came from the Middle East after taking an airline flight from Pakistan to Indonesia.  As a Muslim country, Indonesia had a duty of hospitality towards them but they wanted to come to much more affluent Australia.  They were almost all Muslims but passionately wanted to live in a non-Muslim country.

Since they had been in two countries where they could claim asylum, their claim to be asylum seekers was invalid.  They already had asylum in Pakistan or Indonesia.  Nobody was shooting at them or likely to do so there.

In the '70s, Vietnamese boat people sailing directly from South Vietnam to escape the aftermath of the Vietnam war were welcomed into Australia and integrated well. Muslims not so much.

Dramatically, the NYT story starts out:

"In 2013, Australia sent hundreds of would-be asylum seekers to a secretive offshore detention center. Then one of the detainees, a journalist named Behrouz Boochani, told the world all about it."

It is a sob story.  Let me briefly retell the story without the sobs:

Boochani was one of a group of "boat people" who tried to impose their presence on Australia.  They thought they could bypass the means Australia uses for selecting immigrants.  They thought that compassion alone would grant them entry.

It once did, but Australia eventually suffered compassion fatigue. Most such arrivals remained welfare dependent on the Australian taxpayer, a most exploited individual who would have preferred to keep his hard-earned dollars in his pocket.

Would you like a stranger to move into your house and expect you to feed him?  That is very much what the boat people were doing.  So in the end both major Australian political parties agreed that no more such people would be accepted into Australia.  They would instead be held in what were effectively jails outside Australia and offered a free flight to anywhere else in the world.

Boochani is a Kurd so he could have opted to go to the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq. But Kurdistan generally is poor.  So that was no good to him.  He sought life in a rich and peaceful Western country. And Australia was near but so far. He was offered residence in the USA but rejected that. He had heard that America was too violent.  It was Australia and New Zealand he was focused on.

He was eventually released from detention and given residence in New Guinea.  But New Guinea is poor and violent, just like Iran, where he came from.  So that was no good to him.  He was a journalist and a talented writer so he wrote accounts of his life as a boat person until he was accepted into New Zealand, where he has an academic job.

It took him many years of his life in squalid refugee camps to reach his goal but reach it he did.  He is certainly persistent.

But the NYT article is a tale of suffering.  It even adopts Boochani's claim that the Australians tortured him.  The torture was however the torture of being held in a jail instead of sailing off blissfully to Australia.

There is however no doubt that detention was unpleasant and frustrating but it was his choice to become an unwelcome guest in someone else's country that brought that down on his head.  Had I been an Iranian and a critic of the regime, I would simply have shut up.  It would have given me a much less troubled life -- JR

The First Undeniable Climate Change Deaths

Undeniable?  Then how come I am denying it?

People in temperate climates regularly die in "heatwaves" -- temperatures that would be unremarkable in the tropics.

So the only thing of interest here is whether the temperatures concerned were unusual. And it does appear that they were.  But where do you go from there?

"Attribution science" was enlisted to show a link to global warming. I won't dwell on the impossible task that is attribution science. It defies logic.  But even if we accept its conclusions as correct, what was the cause of the global warming?  Was it the increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere?

 CO2 levels and temperature are poorly correlated so we need to use Occams razor here.  And in applying Occams razor we note that the earth has been slowly warming since the Little Ice Age -- long before the modern human activities that Warmists decry.  So the simple explanation for increased global temperatures is that they are a continuation of a natural process and have nothing to do with human emissions of CO2

So even if we accept that the deaths were caused by global warming, how do we know what caused global warming?  We cannot know that.  All we can do is guess.  And the influence of CO2 is an implausible guess

In 2018 in Japan, more than 1,000 people died during an unprecedented heat wave. In 2019, scientists proved it would have been impossible without global warming.

July 23, 2018, was a day unlike any seen before in Japan. It was the peak of a weekslong heat wave that smashed previous temperature records across the historically temperate nation. The heat started on July 9, on farms and in cities that only days earlier were fighting deadly rains, mudslides, and floods. As the waters receded, temperatures climbed. By July 15, 200 of the 927 weather stations in Japan recorded temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius, about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher. Food and electricity prices hit multiyear highs as the power grid and water resources were pushed to their limits. Tens of thousands of people were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. On Monday, July 23, the heat wave reached its zenith. The large Tokyo suburb of Kumagaya was the epicenter, and around 3 p.m., the Kumagaya Meteorological Observatory measured a temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius, or 106 F. It was the hottest temperature ever recorded in Japan, but the record was more than a statistic. It was a tragedy: Over the course of those few weeks, more than a thousand people died from heat-related illnesses.

On July 24, the day after the peak of the heat wave, the Japan Meteorological Agency declared it a natural disaster. A disaster it was. But a natural one? Not so much.

In early 2019, researchers at the Japan Meteorological Agency started looking into the circumstances that had caused the unprecedented, deadly heat wave. They wanted to consider it through a relatively new lens—through the young branch of meteorology called attribution science, which allows researchers to directly measure the impact of climate change on individual extreme weather events. Attribution science, at its most basic, calculates how likely an extreme weather event is in today’s climate-changed world and compares that with how likely a similar event would be in a world without anthropogenic warming. Any difference between those two probabilities can be attributed to climate change.

Attribution science was first conceived in the early 2000s, and since then, researchers have used it as a lens to understand the influence of climate change on everything from droughts to rainfall to coral bleaching. As scientists have long predicted, the vast majority of extreme weather events studied to date have been made more likely because of climate change. But the 2018 Japan heat wave is different. As people who lived in Japan knew at the time, the oppressive temperatures were more than unusual. They were unprecedented. In fact, without climate change, they would have been impossible.

These people are the first provable deaths of climate change.“We would never have experienced such an event without global warming,” says Yukiko Imada of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
On June 7, 2019, Imada, Masahiro Watanabe, and others published an attribution study of the 2018 Japan heat wave in the journal Scientific Online Letters on the Atmosphere. They found that the deadly event of the previous summer “could not have happened without human-induced global warming.”

This heat wave is not the first extreme event found to be only possible because of climate change. But it is the first short-lived event, and the first to have direct impacts on human health. Given that tens of thousands were hospitalized and more than a thousand died due to the heat wave, in a sense, these people are the first provable deaths of climate change.

For Watanabe, the result wasn’t unexpected. It was more of a grim inevitability. “It was not that surprising,” he says of his unprecedented result. An event like this was “naturally expected as global mean temperature continued to rise.” But for both Watanabe and Imada, it holds real historical significance. “It is very sensational for me because human activity has created a new phenomenon. Human activity has created a new phase of the climate,” says Imada.

You couldn’t live through this heat wave without realizing that something was unusual. Ayako Nomizu lives in Tokyo. “When I was growing up in the ’80s, if we had 31 or 32 degrees centigrade, that was hot,” she says. “We would say ‘Oh, my God, it’s gonna be really 32 degrees?’” Summers recently, and especially 2018’s, concern her. “Now we are seeing 37, 38 [degrees]. It’s crazy. We didn’t really have this kind of heat before.” Nomizu works for Climate Action 100+, a group that helps investors and companies transition to clean energy, so for her, the connection between climate change and the extreme heat in summers is obvious.

Kazuo Ogawa, a 65-year-old landlord who lives in Tokyo, says he has never experienced anything like the heat wave of 2018. His memories of the experience are visceral. “I was so uncomfortable. I took a shower three times a day, I changed my T-shirt three times a day,” he says.

This kind of heat, as the hospitalization numbers and death toll show, is dangerous. Especially so in Japan, where most people didn’t grow up with air conditioning because it was never needed, and where heat exhaustion was basically unknown until recently. To Ogawa and many Japanese, this is a new problem. “Heat exhaustion is called netsuchusho in Japanese. I never heard of this phrase, this illness, 30 years ago,” Ogawa said.

Heat exhaustion and its more deadly version, heatstroke, are simply the physiological changes that occur when someone has an extremely elevated body temperature. There are a lot of mechanisms humans have evolved to prevent dangerous overheating—sweating and other internal changes like increased heart rate and the transfer of blood from organs to the skin can usually keep the body at a safe temperature—but there is a limit to what the body can handle. If the outside temperature gets too intense or high humidity prevents sweat from evaporating and pulling warmth out of the skin, internal body temperature will start to rise. When this happens, blood vessels dilate in an attempt to get rid of more heat, causing a drop in blood pressure that leads to the first symptoms of heat stress—lightheadedness and nausea. As the body continues to heat up, organs swell, and cell-signaling processes, especially in the brain, are disrupted. At this point people begin to fall unconscious, and if their temperature is not lowered quickly, the damage can be fatal.


What the Numbers Say About Gender Differences: Data on abilities reveal a great deal of overlap for men and women

Writing below (from the WSJ), EUGENIA CHENG offers a good primer on the subject of sex differences in IQ.  When one gets little more than ill-informed raves from Leftists, Dr. Cheng is to be congratulated for her cool reason.

Her basic point is that differences in abilities do exist but are mostly too small to be important.  And she tackles the one question within the field that is undoubtedly important:  Differences in mathematical ability.  All psychometricians cheerfully agree that women are better in verbal ability.  Men regularly lose arguments with their wives. But the shortage of women in STEM fields does seem to be of concern, perhaps because of the high prestige of some jobs in those fields

So the big point in her article is the small difference in math ability scores shown in the findings by Janet Hyde. I am afraid, however that the Hyde findings cannot be accepted uncritically. Her findings make little allowance for the importance of age in these studies. Using the Progressive Matrices, Lynn and Irwing showed a vast gap in ability among adults but almost no difference among children up to age 14. Adolescents aged 15 to 19 were intermediate.

Most studies of mathematical ability do not separate out age in that way so much of the variability in their results can be attributed to that failure.  But the important thing is that  Hyde's reliance on a great grab-bag of ages in her tabulations makes her work largely irrelevant.  If she really wanted to get at adult differences, she should have studied adult differences alone.  Some genetic studies reveal in fact that genetic differences don't reveal themselves fully until around age 30.

At any event, to cut a long story short, if the age differences shown in the PM's are reflected in mathematical ability, we would expect only small differences between males and females in initial enrolments in mathematical courses, followed by very large achievement gaps in the long slow grind through university studies and into the professions.  And that is roughly what we find.  The male-female difference in mathematical ability is definitely non-trivial

But what makes it non-trivial?  In her final paragraph, Dr Cheng makes the challenging point that "it is logically flawed to infer a biological difference from a statistical difference". But if not that which?  The twin studies are certainly univocal:  The ability gap is inborn.  A genetic difference may not be inferable from the studies she quotes but many other studies do indicate a genetic basis for the differences

IN 2005 LAWRENCE SUMMERS, then the president of Harvard, caused an uproar by appearing to suggest that the lack of women professors in math and science might arise from biological differences. Fifteen years on, a gender imbalance in these fields persists and the arguments rage on. I believe math can help us to progress. The discipline of math involves, among other things, ironing out ambiguities and providing clear definitions for comparisons. Men and women are not homogeneous groups of people who all behave in the same way, so we need ways to understand whole sets of data.

Averages are one well-known way; we can compare how men and women do at something “on average.” There are different types of averages: The mean is where we add up all results and divide by the total number of people, and the median is the 50th percentile that tells us that half the people rank above it and half rank below. For example, the mean height of men in the U.S. is 5 feet 9 inches, and for women it is 5 inches less, but plenty of women are taller than plenty of men. Averages don’t tell us much about differences among entire sets of data because they neglect how widely the data are spread. That spread of data can be studied via the standard deviation, which is calculated from the distance that each data point ranges from the mean. For a standard bell curve, a distance of “one standard deviation” on ei- ther side of the mean always comprises a fixed proportion of the results, around 70%.

The standard deviation for height is around 2.5 inches, so the mean heights of men and women are about two standard deviations apart. Thus, around 95% of women are shorter than the average for men, but there is still a noticeable overlap. For data sets that differ by one standard deviation or less, there is more substantial overlap. Average marathon times for men and women differ by about 30 minutes, for instance. That sounds like a lot, but is only half the standard deviation of one hour—and the fastest women run marathons twice as fast as average men.

Height and running times are particularly easy to measure, but men and women have also been compared in broader areas of behavior, such as mathematical skills, aggression and self-esteem. In 2005, Jane Shibley Hyde collated a large collection of meta-analyses of these differences. In her book “Inferior,” Angela Saini sums up the results: “In every case, except for throwing distance and vertical jumping, females are less than one standard deviation apart from males. On many measures, they are less than a tenth of a standard deviation apart, which is indistinguishable in everyday life.” For example, “mathematics problem solving” was found to be better in men by just 0.08 standard deviations; interestingly, women were found to outperform men at “mathematics concepts” by 0.03 standard deviations.

Men showed more self-esteem by a range of 0.04 to 0.21 standard deviations, increasing through adolescence; they were found more likely to make “intrusive interruptions” by 0.33 standard deviations. The differences may be interesting, but they are also very small. The differences within each gender are greater than the differences between genders, so gender is not a good predictor of these behaviors. Such comparisons are blurred, of course, by issues beyond the reach of mathematics. Many of the behaviors studied are much harder to define and measure than height or marathon times and involve some mix of biological and sociological influences. But it is logically flawed to infer a biological difference from a statistical difference. Mathematics provides us with powerful tools, but we have to know their uses and limits.


Hotter Tropical Soils Emit More Carbon Dioxide: Sixty-five billion metric tons of the plant-warming gas could enter the atmosphere by 2100

This article is one of the more contemptible to come out of the NYT. Does CO2 really WARM plants? First I have heard of it. It is usually said to warm the whole globe. Its effect on plants is to promote their growth. And does soil "spew" anything? It certainly doesn't emit carbon. Carbon is a solid element. CO2 is a gas.

And what does it matter anyway?  Atmospheric CO2 levels and global temperature are very weakly correlated so claiming a causal relationship between the two is tendentious

Humble dirt could pack an unexpected climate punch according to a new study published in the journal Nature. An experiment that heated soil underneath a tropical rainforest to mimic temperatures expected in coming decades found that hotter soils released 55 percent more planet-warming carbon dioxide than did nearby unwarmed areas.

If the results apply throughout the tropics, much of the carbon stored underground could be released as the planet heats up. “The loss rate is huge,” said Andrew Nottingham, an ecologist at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study. “It’s a badnews story.” The thin skin of soil that covers much of our planet’s land stores vast amounts of carbon — more, in total, than in all plants and the atmosphere combined. That carbon feeds hordes of bacteria and fungi, which build some of it into more microbes while respiring the rest into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Many of these microbes grow more active at warmer temperatures, increasing digestion and respiration rates.

The finding “is another example of why we need to worry more” about how fast the globe is warming, said Eric Davidson, an environmental scientist at the University of Maryland College of Environmental Science in Frostburg who was not involved in the research.

Ecologists began in the early 1990s building apparatuses to artificially heat soils. Such experiments in temperate and boreal forests have shown that carbon-rich soils almost always belch carbon dioxide when warmed. In 2016, a group of researchers estimated that by 2050, soils could release so much of the gas that it would be like adding the carbon emissions of a new country the size of the United States.

But that study left out the perpetually warm, mega-biodiverse tropics, where a third of all soil carbon resides. Figuring out the fate of this carbon would require grappling with the many pitfalls of doing research in the tropics: humidity, storms and hungry animals that can take a toll on research equipment — chewing through electrical wires or protective coverings, for example — and on researchers themselves.

In 2014, Dr. Nottingham, then a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, traveled to Barro Colorado Island, a humancreated island in the Panama Canal area that’s home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He buried electrical wires in five circular plots to a depth of nearly four feet. For protection from the elements and ravenous insects, he shielded the wires inside metal structures shaped like freakishly large spiders. Measurements were logged inside weatherproof boxes.

“Our experiment was basically me as a postdoc making things out of a D.I.Y. shop,” Dr. Nottingham said. The team encountered a number of hiccups, including electrical connections that blew up and cost the researchers nearly a year and much of their budget to repair.

Starting in November 2016, the wires’ electrical resistance began warming the soil by almost 6 degrees Fahrenheit, within the range of how much the tropics are projected to warm by century’s end according to current climate models. Other equipment measured the carbon dioxide coming out of both experimental plots and nearby plots that weren’t artificially warmed as well as microbial activity in the plots.

An experiment warming soil in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico had turned on two months earlier but was pummeled by back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes in September 2017; the study team didn’t turn the power back on for a year.

The results from Dr. Nottingham’s team are sobering: Over two years, warmed soils spewed out 55 percent more carbon than control plots. “This is a very large response,” said Dr. Margaret Torn, an ecologist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab in California, who runs a similar warming experiment in a California forest that reported a roughly 35 percent increase in carbon emissions after two years. “It’s one of the largest I’ve heard of.” If the entire tropics were to behave similarly, the researchers estimate that 65 billion metric tons of carbon would enter the atmosphere by 2100 — more than six times the annual emissions from all human-related sources.

Scaling the results to account for the entire tropics is complicated, however. The soils on Barro Colorado Island are richer in nutrients than many others, such as those of much of the vast Amazon rainforest, Dr. Davidson noted. That could make it easier for the Panamanian microbes to ramp up their activity. Microbial communities in African and Asian soils are very different from those in the Americas, Dr. Torn added.

And while there is agreement that climate models need to treat soil more realistically, how best to do that is unclear. The new study strikes a blow against simple theories predicting that tropical soils will respond weakly to warming, said Kathe Todd- Brown, a soil scientist at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not part of the research team. But to really get a handle on the problem, she said, modelers will need information about how microbes respond to variations in soil moisture and nutrients in addition to temperature.


ABC is forced to pull two episodes of kids' favourite TV show Bluey over claims they include racist language

Almost any word can be offensive in some context.  The context matters.  And there is no abusive or offensive context in the show mentioned below

In a famous comic book ("The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie") written by Barry Humphries, the word "feature" was treated as very indelicate -- but in all other contexts it has no offensive character at all

The ABC has pulled two episodes of its most downloaded kids show after receiving complaints they contained racist language. 

Episodes of the show Bluey were taken down on August 10 after a viewer complained about the use of the term 'ooga booga' in the 'Teasers' and 'Flat Back' episodes.

The complaint said the phrase had racial connotations which referred to a 'problematic history for Indigenous Australians.' 

'The ABC sincerely apologised to the complainant for any distress caused by the term,' an official statement read.

'The ABC has a strong record for giving voice to Indigenous Australians and an ongoing commitment to helping reduce discrimination and prejudice.'

The complainant was also told the ABC and the external producers of the show weren't aware of the offensive language.

Bluey is the ABC's most downloaded show on Iview, having been watched more than 200 million times.

Outraged fans took to social media to slam the broadcaster for taking down the episodes. 'Can't people just enjoy Bluey as a wholesome cartoon?' one fan wrote. 'Can someone explain to me how 'ooga booga' is racist?' another added.

However others praised the decision and one woman explained why the term 'ooga booga' was racist. 'I well remember a time growing up in Western Sydney where the phrase 'Ooga Booga/s' was used conversationally to describe a dark skinned person/s,' she wrote. 'It was used in social circles, in movies or TV depicting black indigenous people as 'uncivilised fools'.

'I personally balked at hearing it used in Teasing , but never said anything because I thought it was maybe just me.'

The ABC will change the dialogue prior to future broadcast or publication of the two episodes. 


Get Serious: More C02 Isn’t Making Earth ‘Uninhabitable’

Once again I feel I have to bring up the generally forgotten point that only a small part of the world is average in temperature -- and the tropics are ALREADY much warmer than the global average.  Yet people live in the tropics perfectly well.

I myself was born into a place -- Far North Queensland -- with an average temperature that was wildly above the global average.  100 degree F temperatures were common and  temperatures in the 90s were  experienced for at least half the year

We tended to drink a lot of beer but otherwise life went on pretty much as it did elsewhere.  And life would go on untroubled by the two degree rise that Warmists panic about

But what about the melting glaciers?  Someone will ask.  Over 90% of the glacial ice is in Antarctica and the average temperature there is many degrees below zero so very little there is going to be  melted by a puny 2 degree rise

Former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman and Princeton University economist Alan Blinder recently wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal: “cumulative CO2 emissions heat up the atmosphere, causing climate changes of all sorts—most of them bad. Because this huge negative externality has been allowed to run rampant, we are gradually making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans.”

Increasing CO2 emissions have been “making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans?” Really?

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that over the last one hundred years, CO2 emissions and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere indeed have both sharply increased.

And NASA data show that since 1920, our planet’s temperature has risen by 1.25 degrees Celsius.

But the data also show that the increase in CO2 emissions and the rising temperature have not been “making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans.”

The University of Oxford’s Our World in Data has reported that since 1920, the world population has quadrupled from less than two billion to over seven and half billion.

It also has reported that the share of people living in extreme poverty fell from 74 percent in 1910 to less than 10 percent by 2015.

And EM-DAT (The International Disaster Database) data show that since 1920, the number of people killed by natural disasters has declined from almost 55,000 per year to less than 10,000 per year.

Sustaining a population that has grown by about six billion people, lifting most of those people out of extreme poverty, and reducing the number of natural disaster deaths by over 80 percent show that whatever impacts increasing CO2 emission and atmospheric levels and rising temperatures have, they are not making the planet “an inhospitable place for humans.”

The data instead suggest that increasing CO2 emissions and atmospheric levels and rising temperatures are making the planet more, not less, hospitable for human life.

The Heartland Institute has extensively documented “increased plant and forest growth, bigger crop yields and longer growing seasons as benefits derived from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide.”

Better yet, an extensive 2015 study found that cold kills over 17 times more people than heat.

Twenty-two scientists from around the world analyzed over 74 million deaths in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 1985-2012.

The cold caused 7.29 percent of these deaths, while heat caused only 0.42 percent. And “moderately hot and cold temperatures” caused 88.85 percent of the temperature-related deaths, while “extreme” temperatures caused only 11.15 percent.

But what about the economic catastrophe that global warming supposedly will cause in the coming decades? If future global warming has any negative impact on the nation’s economy, it is likely to be minimal.

The National Bureau of Economic Research estimated in 2019 that if the planet’s temperature rises by 0.01 degrees Celsius per year through 2100, the total U.S. GDP in 2100 will be 1.88 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be.

Yet based on the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of a 1.4 percent annual real long-term potential labor force productivity growth rate, the nation’s per person GDP will be about 204 percent higher by 2100.

With the reduction that NBER estimates based on global warming, GDP per person would be an almost indistinguishable 200 percent higher.

NBER’s extreme case projection that if the planet’s temperature rises by 0.04 degrees Celsius per year through 2100 (five times the actual rate of increase since 1880), total U.S. GDP will be 10.52 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be, similarly would leave GDP per person about 172 percent higher.

In other words, after taking account of the supposedly harmful impact of global warming, U.S. income per person in 2100 will be about triple today’s level.

Professor Blinder undoubtedly teaches his students that sound science depends on data. When it comes to the impact of increasing CO2 emissions, he needs a refresher course.


Australia's top universities shoot up the international rankings

Since I have degrees from two of the universities highly ranked, I rather like this. I am particularly pleased about how highly UQ was ranked -- seeing it was my alma mater. Having UQ ahead of ANU is quite something. 

The Shanghai Jiao Tong index is the oldest ranking system and is still highly respected.  It has been questioned because it gives a big weight to research but research is what distinguishes a university from a technical college and other teaching-only bodies so I think the criticism is tendentious

Australia's most elite universities have shot up an international rankings chart as their intake of China international students has surged.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities league table featured seven of Australia's Group of Eight universities in the top 100 list.

After the United States and the UK, Australia came third when it came to having the most number of universities in the upper echelons.

In 2003, Australia came ninth in the world - in terms of having the most universities on this top 100 list.

University of Sydney associate professor Salvatore Babones, a China expert and an adjunct scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies, said the Group of Eight universities also, between them, sourced 68 per cent of their international students from China.

'How did Australia climb from tied-ninth to third in the world in less than two decades in the world's premier research-based university rankings?,' he said.

'In two words: Chinese students.

'Until the coronavirus struck, they were the 'cash cows' that funded Australian universities.'

Last year, before coronavirus, Australia's education exports to China were worth $12billion.

The ARWU list is compiled by the Shanghai Rankings Consultancy, a commercial spin-off from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The University of Melbourne was ranked at No. 35, putting it ahead of the Sorbonne in Paris at 39.

The University of Queensland in Brisbane came in at 54.

Australian National University in Canberra was 67.

The University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales both came in at No. 74 in the world.

Monash University in Melbourne and the University of Western Australia both came in at 85.

The University of Adelaide was the only Group of Eight university not to make the top 100 but it was placed in the 151 to 200 band.


The last decade was the HOTTEST on record with greenhouse gasses reaching ultimate highs in 2019 and sea levels now 3.4 inches above what they were in the 1990s

This is an amusing article.  They pull out all stops to show that we are warming up. The data are "massaged" however. They actually have very few readings from places like Siberia and the Arctic so they just make up the temperatures that they record from there.  Averaging based on nearby temperature stations is fair enough but often there is nothing nearby so they do "estimates" out of thin air

The other phenomena they refer to are equally dubious.  Sea level is intrinsically difficult to measure and sea level expert Nils-Axel Mörner is noted for his rejection of there being anything significant going on. See also here for great doubt that there has been ANY recent accelerated rise.

One of the more amusing features of sea level measurements is the way Warmists turn actual sea level falls into rises. Where sea levels have been falling -- e.g. Stockholm -- they turn that fall into a rise by invoking the doctrine of "isostatic rebound". That any part of the earth's crust is still "rebounding" from an ice age of long ago seems highly implausible. When will it stop?

It is however true that atmospheric CO2 levels have been rising steadily -- which makes it all the more amusing that there is no good evidence of it affecting anything

The past decade was the hottest ever, according to a new report on climate change, with 2019 the second warmest year since record-keeping began in the mid-1800s.

Last year's average global temperature was only surpassed by a freakishly warm year in 2016, when an enormous El Nino event caused the thermometer to spike.

There was also a record number of 'extreme warm days' in 2019, when high temperatures exceeded the 98th percentile for the past 60 years.

The warming trend caused alpine glaciers to lose mass, scientists said, continuing a trend dating back over 30 years.

Loss of ice in the polar regions has raised global sea levels 3.4 inches above what was recorded in the 1990s. And ocean temperatures are also at near record highs, second only to 2016.

Published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the study found that concentrations of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide were at record levels in 2019.

That's compared to both modern instrumental recordings and ice core samples dating back 800,000 years.

The study, based on data from researchers in over 60 countries, confirms similar findings from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And the heatwave shows no signs of ending: From Arizona to Siberia, regions around the globe have been charting record high temperatures in 2020.

In February, the thermometer in Antarctica topped 68F (20.7C) for the first time. 

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the rise in temperatures is 'persistent,' and not the result of fluke weather phenomena.

'We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back,' Schmidt said.

'We know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.'

Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, has called global warming one of humanity's greatest follies.

'This is not so much a record as a broken record,' Rapley said. 'The message repeats with grim regularity, yet the pace and scale of action to address climate change remain muted and far from the need.'

More than 190 nations signed the Paris climate accords in 2015, promising to combat global warming and stem the rise in global average temperatures.

Two years later, President Donald Trump announced the US would be withdrawing from the agreement


'Canary in the coal mine': Greenland ice has shrunk beyond return, study finds

Ho hum!  Another study that ignores polar vulcanism.  The earth's crust is thinnest around the poles so volcanic activity is strongest there.  And subsurface vulcaniam in Greenland is well attested.

Even the galoots below admit that warming is much greater in the Arctic than elsewhere.  What is their explanation for that?  They don't give one.  CO2 concentrations are not greater there -- quite to the contrary.  And solar radiation has less effect there too because of obliquity.  It's what makes the poles cold!

There is also volcanic melting around the South pole, particularly along the Antarctic peninsula

So there may be some overall melting of Greenland ice but to attribute it to global warming is ignoring the obvious.  It is in fact a breach of Occam's razor

Greenland's ice sheet may have shrunk past the point of return, with the ice likely to melt away no matter how quickly the world reduces climate-warming emissions, new research suggests.

Scientists studied data on 234 glaciers across the Arctic territory spanning 34 years through 2018 and found that annual snowfall was no longer enough to replenish glaciers of the snow and ice being lost to summertime melting.

That melting is already causing global seas to rise about a millimeter on average per year. If all of Greenland's ice goes, the water released would push sea levels up by an average of 6 meters -- enough to swamp many coastal cities around the world. This process, however, would take decades.

"Greenland is going to be the canary in the coal mine, and the canary is already pretty much dead at this point," said glaciologist Ian Howat at Ohio State University. He and his colleagues published the study Thursday in the Nature Communications Earth & Environment journal.

The Arctic has been warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the world for the last 30 years, an observation referred to as Arctic amplification. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years.

The Arctic thaw has brought more water to the region, opening up routes for shipping traffic, as well as increased interest in extracting fossil fuels and other natural resources.

Greenland is strategically important for the U.S. military and its ballistic missile early warning system, as the shortest route from Europe to North America goes via the Arctic island.

Last year, President Donald Trump offered to buy Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory. But Denmark, a U.S. ally, rebuffed the offer. Then last month, the U.S. reopened a consulate in the territory's capital of Nuuk, and Denmark reportedly said last week it was appointing an intermediary between Nuuk and Copenhagen some 3,500 kilometers away.

Scientists, however, have long worried about Greenland's fate, given the amount of water locked into the ice.

The new study suggests the territory's ice sheet will now gain mass only once every 100 years -- a grim indicator of how difficult it is to re-grow glaciers once they hemorrhage ice.

In studying satellite images of the glaciers, the researchers noted that the glaciers had a 50% chance of regaining mass before 2000, with the odds declining since.

"We are still draining more ice now than what was gained through snow accumulation in 'good' years," said lead author Michalea King, a glaciologist at Ohio State University.

The sobering findings should spur governments to prepare for sea-level rise, King said.

"Things that happen in the polar regions don't stay in the polar region," she said.

Still, the world can still bring down emissions to slow climate change, scientists said. Even if Greenland can't regain the icy bulk that covered its 2 million square kilometers, containing the global temperature rise can slow the rate of ice loss.

"When we think about climate action, we're not talking about building back the Greenland ice sheet," said Twila Moon, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who was not involved in the study. "We're talking about how quickly rapid sea-level rise comes to our communities, our infrastructure, our homes, our military bases."


Sydney dams start to spill after a saturated six months

The Greenies were telling us that the drought was due to global warming.  So does this show global cooling?

The fact of the matter is that rainfall in Australia is erratic but can be made adequate by use of dams

Sydney's dams have started to spill after the latest big rain event over eastern NSW filled most reservoirs to the brim, with more rain forecast.

By Tuesday, the storages had gained more than 10 per cent in a week, or a net 253 billion litres, to climb to 95 per cent capacity, WaterNSW data shows.

The giant Warragamba Dam, which accounts for about 80 per cent of Greater Sydney's reservoir capacity, had risen to almost 96 per cent full, or about double the storage of a year ago.

The smaller Nepean Dam on the Upper Nepean River has started to spill after gaining almost a quarter of its capacity in the past week.

Tallowa Dam is also spilling, into the Shoalhaven River, with flows contributing to the highest flood levels downstream at Nowra in 29 years.

At its peak spill rate on Monday, Tallowa was releasing water at the rate of 375 billion litres a day, WaterNSW said.

The near-full capacity comes just six months after the storages dropped towards 40 per cent before a huge three-day rain event in February doubled water levels. The jump in inflows allowed the Berejiklian government to ease water restrictions and delay plans to double the size of Sydney's desalination plant.

A spokesman for WaterNSW said Warragamba was not expected to spill as a result of current inflows generated by the rain event.

"However WaterNSW will be making small operational releases from the dam’s spillway gates in order to bring the storage back to target level in anticipation of further rainfall," he said.

The forecast rainfall for the coming weekend had been scaled back, including 5 to 15 millimetres for Friday, but those predictions could change, the spokesman said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Olenka Duma said "we're not expecting a huge amount of rain" from the strong cold front that will move eastwards towards the end of the week. Still, there remains the prospect of thunderstorms over much of NSW as the front draws in tropical moisture from the north.

In addition, the bureau is putting the odds of a wetter-than-normal September-to-November period for the eastern half of mainland Australia at greater than 65 per cent.

Stuart Khan, a professor in the University of NSW's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the rapid shift from water restrictions to full storage "is something we haven't seen since 1998".

Professor Khan said it was "pretty likely" Warragamba would start to spill soon. The Wingecarribee Reservoir, for instance, was 99.6 per cent full, and any spill from there would largely end up in Warragamba via the Wollondilly River.

The rapid rise inflows has meant NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey had been vindicated in her decision to stop work on preparations to double Sydney's desalination plant, he said. The high flows, though, should not put a halt to consideration of water-saving measures such as water recycling.

"It's exactly the time we should be talking about long-term water supply strategies," Professor Khan said.


Whitmer Imposes Implicit Bias Training on State Workers

This implicit bias stuff is mythology. No doubt some sort of unconscious bias is possible in some people but the claim that you can detect it and combat it is a mirage.

It all arose from the use of a test -- the IAT -- that claimed to be able to detect unconscious bias.  It has never been validated as being able to do that however and there is much evidence to say that it is not valid

I summarize some research on it here

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has built a pandemic-related reputation as one of the more arrogant and capricious politicians in the nation, has further burnished those dubious credentials. Last Wednesday, after declaring that racism is a public health crisis, the governor signed an executive order requiring all state employees to undergo “implicit bias” training.

The order itself is a paean to the institutionalized victimhood progressives have foisted on minorities for decades. “Racism has existed in America for over 400 years,” it states. “From the genocide of Indigenous peoples upon the arrival of the Europeans, to chattel slavery beginning in the 1600s, to the Jim Crow era. Even today, through inequitable outcomes in the criminal justice system, achievement gaps in education, disproportionate results in health and infant mortality, and job and housing discrimination, racism remains a presence in American society while subjecting Black, Indigenous, and other people of color to hardships and disadvantages in every aspect of life.”

First, racism has existed for thousands of years among people of every country and culture. Fear of “the other” is a hard-wired biological reality, and thus the notion that racism is particularly American, or that white people are the sole perpetrators of it, is nonsense. Moreover, no country has made a greater effort to atone for its racial shortcomings than the United States.

Yet, as Whitmer’s order makes clear, none of it matters. If “Black, Indigenous, and other people of color” are the sole victims of racism, while whites are the sole perpetrators of it, one can reasonably assume the governor subscribes to the odious aspect of progressive ideology declaring that only whites can be racist because they control the levers of power.

That worldview may be somewhat problematic among white state workers whose “power” largely consists of showing up for work like everyone else, and who are now being forced to undergo what amounts to a proscribed level of self-abasement as a condition of employment. As for non-white employees, one suspects there might be more than a few who resent being subjected to a categorical assumption of victimhood as much as some of their white counterparts resent being automatically labeled as privileged.

Unfortunately, demagoguery prevails, and bias training is only part of the equation. Whitmer is also creating a Black Leadership Advisory Council that will identify “state laws, or gaps in state law, that create or perpetuate inequities,” serve as a “resource for community groups on issues, programs, sources of funding, and compliance requirements within state government in order to benefit and advance the interests of the Black community,” and promote “the cultural arts within the Black community through coordinated efforts, advocacy, and collaboration with state government.”

This is not Whitmer’s first effort to force-feed her worldview on state workers. In July, she announced that the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs would require healthcare providers in that state to take the same implicit bias training as part of the licensing process.

“This is not alleging that people are racist,” Whitmer insisted. “It’s recognizing everyone has biases, from where we grew up or how we were raised. It’s just a fact and that’s why we’ve got to acknowledge it and seek to address it.”

Address what, exactly? A curriculum on “Institutionalized Racial Superiority for white people” developed by the Civil Rights Office for the city of Seattle may provide some insight. It asked white participants to explain how they benefit from “white supremacy,” how their “white fragility” “shows up at work,” or if they’re aware of their “white silence.”

In short, a white person is guilty of racism until proven otherwise. And in Whitmer’s world, there is apparently a government standard of acceptable groupthink that is necessary to implement because “where we grew up or how we were raised” is, like America itself, an inherently flawed proposition.

The arrogance is breathtaking. Those who wish to remain on the government payroll must subject themselves to the contemptible notion that any judgment one makes about anything, no matter how well reasoned, is “biased.” Even worse, workers must assume that wholly unconscious behavior evinced by whites and minorities automatically aligns itself with the progressive worldview that all whites are oppressors and all minorities are oppressed.

And that’s “just a fact.”

Thus, if one is white, one is either a progressive or a bigot. And if one is a minority? Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden succinctly explained that his or her choices are equally limited. “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump,” Biden said, “then you ain’t black.”

As for defining racism as a public health crisis, reveals the pernicious mindset behind such assertions. “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, confirmed, and highlighted the deadly nature of pre-existing inequities caused by systemic racism,” it states. “For example, in cases where race and ethnicity is known, the rate of reported COVID-19 cases for Black/African American Michigan residents is 14,703 per 1,000,000, compared with 4,160 per 1,000,000 for white residents, more than three times higher. And the rate of reported COVID-19 deaths for Black/African American Michigan residents is 1,624 per 1,000,000 compared with 399 per 1,000,000 for White residents, more than four times higher.”

That such data ignore other health problems exacerbating the effects of coronavirus is telling. For example, black Americans have greater levels of high blood pressure and higher rates of diabetes than white Americans. Lifestyle choices count as well, but when U.S. Surgeon General and black American Jerome Adams suggested that blacks “avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs,” he was excoriated for undermining the systemic racism narrative that insists the entire society must be reordered to ensure equal outcomes for all — even in terms of equal infection and death rates from disease.

Yet if Whitmer et al. were being honest, they’d acknowledge it is the elderly who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. As of May, an astounding 42% of all coronavirus deaths took place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Moreover, Whitmer herself deserves a substantial portion of blame for elderly deaths in her state. Despite evidence that made even a progressive stalwart like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo backtrack on his own order to place infected people into state nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Whitmer actually vetoed a bill on July 31 that would have moved elderly coronavirus patents into separate facilities.

In other words, after the catastrophic data from New York were available.

Nonetheless, in a letter explaining her decision, Whitmer asserted that her veto was based on “the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors.”

That 33% of the coronavirus deaths in her state were nursing home residents or employees? The establishment of an Elderly Leadership Advisory Council — as in the requirement that state workers take “elderly bias” training — will not be forthcoming.

Instead, Michigan workers will be subjected to progressive indoctrination sold as spiritual enlightenment. Yet what about Whitmer herself? A search of relevant stories reveals nothing about whether the governor will participate in the same training. Shouldn’t she lead by example? Or are some state employees — or maybe just one state employee — “more equal” than others?