Temperature extremes: it’s cold South of the Equator

The widespread proclamations that recent short episodes of very high temperatures in some parts of the Northern hemisphere are proof positive of global warming are so brain-dead that I have forborne to put up anything about them, but perhaps I should say something.

That you can't judge climate from isolated episodes of weather seems to be too profound for many. And actual global warming as told to us by climatologists is measured in tenths of a degree. How can a change of tenths of a degree give rise to hugely hot episodes? There is clearly some other influence or influences at work.

But the big factor being overlooked by those who should know better is the unusually COLD weather in the Southern hemisphere at roughly the same time. People around me have all been complaining about it and the Australian media have been vocal too. So the GLOBAL temperature has on average been unremarkable. And remember it is global warming we are supposed to be talking about.

Some more germane comments below

But aside from those commonsense observations what those who shouldknowbwetter reignoring isthat theunusualy hotepiodes in the Northern hemihere have been acconpanied
While sizzling temperatures in Europe have captured the attention of the mainstream media, recent prolonged bouts of cold in the Southern Hemisphere have gone almost unnoticed. Can these simultaneous weather extremes be ascribed to climate change, or is natural variability playing a major role?

It’s difficult to answer the question because a single year is a short time in the climate record. Formally, climate is the average of weather, or short-term changes in atmospheric conditions, over a 30-year period. But it is possible to compare the current heat and cold in different parts of the globe with their historical trends.

The recent heat wave in western and southern Europe is only one of several that have afflicted the continent recently. The July scorcher this year, labeled unprecedented by the media, was in fact less severe than back-to-back European heat waves in the summer of 2019.

In the second 2019 wave, which also occurred in July, the mercury in Paris reached a new record high of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 degrees Fahrenheit), besting the previous record of 40.4 degrees Celsius (104.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set back in July 1947. A month earlier, during the first heat wave, temperatures in southern France hit a blistering 46.0 degrees Celsius (114.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Both readings exceed the highest temperatures reported in France during the July 2022 heat wave.

Yet back in 1930, the temperature purportedly soared to a staggering 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Loire valley during an earlier French heat wave, according to Australian and New Zealand newspapers. The same newspapers reported that in 1870, the ther­mometer had reached an even higher, unspecified level in that region. Europe’s official all-time high-temperature record is 48.0 degrees Celsius (118.4 degrees Fahrenheit) set in 1977.

Although the UK, Portugal and Spain have also suffered from searing heat this year, Europe experienced an unseasonably chilly spring. On April 4, France experienced its coldest April night since records began in 1947, with no less than 80 new low-temperature records being established across the nation. Fruit growers all across western Europe resorted to drastic measures to save their crops, including the use of pellet stoves for heating and spraying the fruit with water to create an insulating layer of ice.

South of the Equator, Australia and South America have seen some of their coldest weather in a century. Australia’s misery began with frigid Antarctic air enveloping the continent in May, bringing with it the heaviest early-season mountain snow in more than 50 years. In June, Brisbane in normally temperate Queensland had its coldest start to winter since 1904. And Alice Springs, which usually enjoys a balmy winter in the center of the country, has just endured 12 consecutive mornings of sub-freezing temperatures, surpassing the previous longest streak set in 1976.

South America too is experiencing icy conditions this year, after an historically cold winter in 2021 which decimated crops. The same Antarctic cold front that froze Australia in May brought bone-numbing cold to northern Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil; Brazil’s capital Brasilia logged its lowest temperature in recorded history. Later in the month the cold expanded north into Bolivia and Peru.

Based on history alone then, there’s nothing particularly unusual about the 2022 heat wave in Europe or the shivery winter down under, which included the coldest temperatures on record at the South Pole. Although both events have been attributed to climate change by activists and some climate scientists, natural explanations have also been put forward.

A recent study links the recent uptick in European heat waves to changes in the northern polar and subtropical jet streams. The study authors state that an increasingly persistent double jet stream pattern and its associated heat dome can explain “almost all of the accelerated trend” in heat waves across western Europe. Existence of a stable double-jet pattern is related to the blocking phenomenon, an example of which is shown in the figure below.

Blocking refers to a jet stream buckling that produces alternating, stationary highs and lows in pressure. Normally, highs and lows move on quickly, but the locking in place of a jet stream for several days or weeks can produce a heat dome. The authors say double jets and blocking are closely connected, but further research is needed to ascertain whether the observed increase in European double jets is part of internal natural variability of the climate system, or a response to climate change.

Likewise, it has been suggested that the frigid Southern Hemisphere winter may have a purely natural explanation, namely cooling caused by the January eruption of an undersea volcano in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga. Although I previously showed how the massive submarine blast could not have contributed to global warming, it’s well known that such eruptions pour vast quantities of ash into the upper atmosphere, where it lingers and causes subsequent cooling by reflecting sunlight.

Green attacks on horse racing

This is reminscent of an attempted ban on dog racing at Wentworth Park in 2016. As dog racing is mainly working-class that ban was very badly received and had to be rapidly reversed. It ruined the image of then NSW premier Mike Baird, however, and led to him being tossed out. I hope the present NSW government learns from the precedent

It is not trendy to vote for the Greens. It is irresponsible and downright stupid to vote for a party that will send the country broke as it chases fanciful greenhouse emissions targets. They are a cancer on the Australian political landscape.

Any leader of a political party who is ashamed of the Australian flag should be deported. Yet it is other divisive and harebrained policies that will destroy the fabric of Australian life.

Let’s use the example of the Greens’ obsession with closing down the racing industries on animal welfare grounds and responsible gambling propaganda.

Last week, the South Australian government supported the Greens to outlaw jumps racing, effectively killing off the annual Oakbank festival each Easter. There are now plans by the Greens to outlaw the whip in thoroughbred racing. The ultimate aim is to ban racing altogether.

You even had NSW Thoroughbreds boss Peter V’landys sticking the knife in when the decision was made, despite the fact banning horse racing was next on the Greens’ agenda.

The number of people who participate or are employed or volunteer in horseracing is estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000. At least 4.5 million people attend a race meeting each year, about a million people have a regular bet and more than 87,000 have an interest in owning a racehorse. Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing are in many smaller towns the glue that keeps the community together.

The racing industry pays more than $1bn in state and federal taxes. In recent years, the racing industry has devoted a share of race takings to animal welfare programs.

All of this is lost on fanatical Greens politicians.

If you like a flutter and you voted for the Greens at the last election, please rethink your values and priorities.

The Greens have a radical agenda that will change Australia irrevocably if they ever gained power.

They must be stopped.


Extinction threat may be greater than previously thought, new global study finds

This is an utter crock. How can they know how many extinctions there have been since 1500? It's pure guesswork. They would need periodic species counts since that year if they were to substantiate their claims and there are no such species counts. There is not even a final count of how many species there are at the moment

The global extinction crisis underway may be more intense than previously thought as humans continue to tear up land, overuse certain resources and heat up the planet, new research led by the University of Minnesota indicates.

Nearly one in three species of all kinds — 30% — face global extinction or have been driven to extinction since the year 1500, according to the new survey published in the journal "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment."

That's significantly higher than prevailing global estimates and the findings surprised lead author Forest Isbell, associate professor in the university's Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior. He said one of the reasons is that it takes more insects and other lesser-studied species groups into account.

"I honestly figured it was much lower," Isbell said. "I would have estimated it was 20%."

Prevailing global estimates have ranged from 12.5% across all species groups to 25% of the well-studied ones, such as animals and plants, he said.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, called the numbers "quite alarming."

"It took many years for climate change to become a prominent household concern," Greenwald said. "The extinction crisis is really part and parcel of a similar scope and severity to climate change."

Healy Hamilton, chief scientist at the nonprofit research group NatureServe, said the numbers do not surprise her. She said her organization has demonstrated for years that about one-third of plants and animals in the United States are vulnerable to extinction or have already become extinct. The new survey's real power is the broad geographic and taxonomic coverage, she said.

"The majority of species on the planet are plants and insects and other invertebrate animals that we know so little about we cannot even determine the extent to which they are threatened," she said. "And yet those are the very species which help purify our air, filter our water, maintain the health of our soils, pollinate plants we need for food, fuel and fiber, and provide medicines to hundreds of millions of people."

The new findings are the result of a survey that elicited 3,331 responses from biodiversity experts around the world studying in nearly 200 countries. The 30% figure is the median of the middle-tier estimates respondents provided, which ranged from 16 to 50%.

Further, the study found that if trends continue, by the end of the century the imperiled share will grow to 37%, a share that could be significantly reduced if conservation efforts were immediately escalated. Overall, the respondents agreed that the loss of biological diversity is decreasing the functioning of ecosystems "and nature's contributions to people."

Scientists are working to understand biodiversity loss and its impacts and do not know exactly how many species exist on the planet. The study did not put a specific number behind the percent of species threatened or gone.

"There's huge uncertainty with these numbers," Isbell said. "The value is actually asking people for their input from everywhere."

Interestingly, female biodiversity experts from the global south provided much higher loss estimates. Forest said he thinks part of the explanation is that the women work in regions where biodiversity loss is more intense, and because men disproportionately study the less-threatened species.

He said he's not sure what the results say about the threat to species in Minnesota. But he said the state is part of a wealthy country and there is a trend in those responses, he said.

"People from wealthy countries systematically provided lower estimates for biodiversity loss in the past and more pessimistic estimates for the future," he said. Isbell said he does not know why.


How Big Is the Marriage Tax? Now We Know

I have long known that there are government penalties for marriage but the report below shows how extensive that is. A big one not mentioned below is when a lady with children marries.

She will often be in receipt of substantial welfare payments and loses all that when she marries. And that is particularly bad when the man involved is making child support payments to an ex-wife. Re-marriage simply makes the relationship unviable. The welfare payments are needed to balance out the support payments

Governments know of that and endeavour to get around it by treating de facto marriages the same as legal mariages. So the couple still lose the welfare payments even if they are only living together. To enforce that, some government employ "dole sniffers" -- people who go around looking into people's relationships to see if they qualify as de facto marriages.

But people get around that too. I once owned a boarding house where men rented a room from me just so they could have a different address from their lady. And if dole sniffers were around they would even spend the required number of nights in the room to qualify themselves as single

I married 4 times but I was well-off enough not to be bothered by the welfare benefit situation and other disincentives. Many people are not so lucky.

And a really big marriage disincentive -- one that affects most men -- is the divorce laws. Divorce can be economically ruinous to a man so to avoid that it is best not to marry at all. There are many de facto marriages for that reason. I always married nice ladies so my divorces cost me little. One wife did not have a car so I gave her my car when we split and she was happy with that. I wanted a new car anyway.

And one lady was richer than I was. Some men aspire to marry a millionairess. I divorced one! I guess I have had a "colourful" life

Economists, tax specialists and even ordinary people have long known that public policies can make marriage very unattractive. At the lower end of the income spectrum, marriage can lead to a significant loss of entitlement benefits. At the high end, couples who marry may face substantially higher income taxes.

There are many reasons to care about this. Academic studies find that marriage stabilizes relationships, improves children’s outcomes and facilitates the development of labor market skills for the adults. In general, marriage is correlated with economic well-being. One study reports that married couples’ average per capita wealth is more than twice that of the never-married.

Until recently researchers have not had the tools to fully measure the full extent of government-created marriage penalties. A new study by Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff and his colleagues gives us the most accurate estimate to date.

The study includes more than 30 different federal and state entitlement programs—all of which condition benefits on the beneficiaries’ incomes. In addition to federal income and payroll taxes, it includes the tax rates in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. And it includes the effects of marriage on such elderly entitlement benefits as Social Security and Medicare. No previous study comes close to this level of careful measurement.

One finding: young adults with low- or middle-income jobs pay a heavy price if they marry. When higher tax rates are combined with a reduction in welfare/entitlement benefits, the economic loss from marriage is equal to between one-and-a-half and two years of income, on average.

Take two people between the ages of 26 and 40:

If both individuals earn $10 an hour, getting married will lower their lifetime income by more than $70,000, on average.
If they earn $15 an hour, the lifetime losses will climb to more than $107,000.

At $20 an hour, their loss will be more than $142,00.

Note that these are only averages. Some couples face marriage burdens that are much higher. In the worst case researchers discovered, getting married has a lifetime cost that is equal to 20 years of income! This occurs when marriage makes a family’s income too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to qualify for an Obamacare subsidy in states that have not expanded Medicaid.

The marriage tax differs depending on where people live and what entitlement programs they enroll in. Programs such as Medicaid, for example, vary a lot from state to state in terms of eligibility and the generosity of benefits. To take one example, the overall marriage penalty in Hawaii is twice the size of the one in New Mexico.

One finding of the study is not very surprising: the marriage penalty affects low-income couples more than high-income couples. Take individuals with incomes between $26,000 and $40,000. On the average, they face a marriage tax rate that is more than twice the rate for the 20 percent of families with the highest incomes.

This is certainly part of the reason why only 36 percent of individuals with annual incomes below $26,000 are married, while the marriage rate for those with annual incomes above $103,100 is more than double that, at 77 percent.

For couples who earn $26,000 or less, the biggest components of the marriage tax are the potential loss of Medicaid and food stamps. These losses are partially offset by an actual gain from income tax credits and larger subsidies in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges.

For couples at higher income levels, the potential loss of Medicaid and food stamp benefits becomes less important, and the Obamacare subsidies begin to penalize marriage. For couples who earn more than $100,000, two-thirds of the marriage penalty is created by the tax law alone—because of the couple’s inability to file completely separate tax returns.

To make matters worse, the same fiscal system that creates a marriage penalty also imposes very high marginal tax rates on labor income, especially on people at the low end of the income spectrum. We are discouraging marriage and productive work at the same time with the same policies.

Is it possible to have a compassionate fiscal system that does not create these perverse incentives?

Replacing our income tax system with a flat tax or a national sales tax or a value added tax would eliminate the income tax part of the marriage penalty. Under such tax regimes, couples would have no tax reason to marry or divorce. At a minimum, couples should have an option of filing completely separate tax returns.

What about health care? Through the years there have been a number of proposals to replace all tax and spending health care subsidies with a fixed-sum tax credit for private insurance, regardless of personal income or marital status. For those who decline the opportunity, the credit amount would be sent to a local safety net and communities receiving these funds would be required to establish and provide safety-net care. The most recent bill is sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

We already make a great deal of food available to children in a way that avoids perverse incentives. Many large city school districts provide lunch and breakfast without charge to all students, regardless of income, and in the 2020-2021 school year, the federal government extended free meals to all students in every district.

Housing subsidies might be restructured in ways that do not involve an income or marriage test.

There are many good reasons not to get married. Government policies should not be among them.


Face of Australia's rental crisis: Single mum-of-two breaks down as she opens up on being left homeless after her landlord evicted her and she was rejected from 300 properties

One obviously sympathizes with the woman below but, as a single mother, she will always be at the bottom of the list of prospective tenants. Single mothers often have money problems and that too often leads to defaults in paying rent. No agent worth his salt would let to a single mother when other applicants were available.

So single mothers should be top priority for welfare housing. The goverment can afford to take a monetary hit. Private landlords usually will not

One also wonders where the father of the childre is in all this. She had two of them so it must have been a relationship of some duration. If he is in employment he could offer a rental guarantee, which agents would view very favourably

A single mum is at breaking point after two months of living and sleeping in her car with her two teenage sons.

Danni Cox, 45, became homeless for the first time in her life when she was evicted from her rental property in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, after being told the landlord was planning to renovate and sell up.

Ms Cox and her sons Zach, 15 and Jordan, 12, spent the first few weeks living in a caravan, which was battered by wild weather.

They spent a brief stint in a motel until it became unaffordable and now spend each night parked in friends' driveways.

Adding to the frustration is that their old home has remained vacant ever since they moved out in May.

Ms Cox has applied for more than 300 properties in recent months without any luck, despite her perfect rental history and references from previous landlords.

She told Daily Mail Australia the dire situation is now taking a heavy toll on the family physically, emotionally and financially.

'The situation has gone beyond desperate, we can't be homeless for any longer,' she said.

'Homelessness is no longer a viable option. My youngest son is half-deaf and autistic, so he's not coping at all at the moment, which is heartbreaking to see.

'I have friends' places where we sleep in their driveways. There's one park in the area where you can stay for three nights but then have to move on, so we've done that a few times.'

Currently on a disability pension, Ms Cox is so desperate she underwent training as a traffic controller and is in the process of finding work to boost her chances of getting a roof under her family's head.

'I've always been a great tenant and have never defaulted on rent or bills,' she said.

'I've never been homeless in my life and set myself up to be very independent.

'I tick all the boxes and haven't done anything wrong. The real estate agents and landlords who get back to me say there's nothing wrong with my application, it's just than other applicants were more successful.

'There's no reason to be homeless, which makes it harder to accept.'

Ms Cox spends anything from $50 and $100 on food and fuel each day while sleeping in the car each night is 'cold, cramped and horrible'.

'It's easier having a roof over your head as you can budget from week to week,' she said.

But being homeless, you have to pay your way everywhere you go. There are some days where we don't have any money.'

Her former home, where she lived for five years remains vacant. She believes the real estate agent used the owners' potential plans as an excuse to re-lease the property at a much higher rent.

'I was absolutely mortified but at the end of the day, it's the owners' decision,' she said.

'It's tenants who lose out. We've been looking at units as we've been pushed out of houses.'

The thought of the desperate lengths she has gone to get out of the dire situation brings Ms Cox to tears.

'I've slept nights in my car in the park as there has been nowhere else,' she told 7News.

'I've rang the Homeless Line and asked is there anywhere for me to go with my boys, they're here with me crying and we need somewhere now and they've said 'no, nothing','

Ms Cox is among almost 32,000 Queensland families on the social housing register, where there's a two-year wait.

The list has grown by 78 per cent in the last four years.

The Queensland government this week vowed to review the social housing register following the release of a scathing report by Auditor-General Brendan Worrall.

The report found the state government had failed to build enough homes, keep an accurate waiting list and manage existing stock.

Of the 30,000 families waiting for social housing, it's estimated almost 12,000 will still be on the list in three years time.

South Africa: The White Liberals' Burden

I have been to South Africa twice, once under Apartheid and once after it. That does not make me an expert but it does tell me enough to know that the article below is largely a whitewash

White South fricans are dominated by fear -- fear of hostility towards them by blacks. And vivid grounds for that fear is seen in the repeated vicious and often fatal attacks on isolated white farmers by black gangs.

So every white South African I met last time wanted just one thing -- to get out. And many have done so, particularly the young people. A lot of them are in Australia. Perth has a substantial population of white South Africans

Another symptom of the fear is a change I saw between my two visits. In Sandton, a wealthy Johannesburg suburb, I saw no fences between the houses first time around. Now they have 8' security fences.

Many whites feel that the present relative calm is the calm before the storm and, given the frequency of armed revolutions in Africa, fear of a violent storm ahead is not unrealistic

The most substantial reason for the present black/white truce is black fear of the whites. All the whites have guns and there is still a substantial white presence in the police and the armed forces. And blacks know how well whites can organize

Incidentally, a lot of the white South African "liberals", who had agitated for an end to Apartheid, left the country after blacks took charge. Novelist J.M. Coetzee, for instance now lives in Adelaide, South Australia

Many Afrikaners welcomed the end of apartheid, but 30 years on, they’ve found Black-majority rule in South Africa hard to live with.

By Eve Fairbanks

When I first arrived in South Africa, in 2009, it still felt as if a storm had just swept through. For most of the 20th century, the country was the world’s most fastidiously organized white-supremacist state. And then, in one election, in 1994, it became the first modern nation where people of color who’d been dispossessed for centuries would make the laws, run the economy, write the news, decide what history to teach—and wield political dominance over a substantial white minority. Unlike in other postcolonial African countries, white South Africans—about 15 percent of the population—were suddenly governed by the people whom they and their forebears had oppressed.

Over the decade I lived in South Africa, I became fascinated by this white minority, particularly its members who considered themselves progressive. They reminded me of my liberal peers in America, who had an apparently self-assured enthusiasm about the coming of a so-called majority-minority nation. As with white South Africans who had celebrated the end of apartheid, their enthusiasm often belied, just beneath the surface, a striking degree of fear, bewilderment, disillusionment, and dread.

The story of white settlement in South Africa has uncanny parallels with U.S. history. In the late 1600s, a group of predominantly Dutch-descended settlers started arriving by boat from Europe. After a century and a half working on semifeudal wine estates under the command of the Dutch and then the British, a band of them, now known as Afrikaners, decided to assert a new pioneer identity. Thousands set out for the interior in ox wagons. Their guiding dream, they declared in a newspaper-printed manifesto, was to uphold “the just principles of liberty.” On the frontier, they set up a host of small, independent republics with constitutions modeled on America’s. Many believed that they had been sent by God to tame a new world—Africa’s own version of Manifest Destiny.

After taking the reins of the government of South Africa—which amalgamated the Afrikaner republics and several British colonies—in the mid-20th century, white leaders began to legalize segregation under the term apartheid. They sent emissaries to the U.S. to study the Jim Crow South, which they used as a model for their own regime. Hermann Giliomee, a historian of the Afrikaners, told me that when the South Africans saw Alabama’s segregated buses and colleges, “they thought to themselves, Eureka!”

Apartheid completely partitioned South Africa by race and reserved the best jobs and land for white people. The system endured until the 1990s, when, thanks to a sustained effort by the African National Congress (ANC), it crumbled. Sometimes I like to tell people that South Africa, very loosely, collapses hundreds of years of American history—from the antebellum period, through the end of Jim Crow, and well into our future—into about 50. For being such a tragedy, apartheid seemed to have a miraculous conclusion—a rapid and peaceful end that spared even the defeated oppressors.

Unexpectedly, white people benefited materially from the end of apartheid. Thanks in part to the lifting of foreign sanctions, the average income of white households increased 15 percent during Nelson Mandela’s presidency, far more than Black incomes did. White businesspeople started to export wine and $10,000 ostrich-leather sofas to Europe, and white-run safari lodges welcomed a flood of new tourists.

White South Africans were rewarded in other ways, too. They no longer had to serve in a military that hunted Black-liberation groups. In the run-up to apartheid’s end, strict censorship laws were dropped, and they could finally listen to the likes of Bob Dylan on the radio. And for the many white progressives who had opposed apartheid, South African society moved far closer to their ideal of racial equality.

Yet these progressives’ response to the end of apartheid was ambivalent. Contemplating South Africa after apartheid, an Economist correspondent observed that “the lives of many whites exude sadness.” The phenomenon perplexed him. In so many ways, white life remained more or less untouched, or had even improved. Despite apartheid’s horrors—and the regime’s violence against those who worked to dismantle it—the ANC encouraged an attitude of forgiveness. It left statues of Afrikaner heroes standing and helped institute the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which granted amnesty to some perpetrators of apartheid-era political crimes.

But as time wore on, even wealthy white South Africans began to radiate a degree of fear and frustration that did not match any simple economic analysis of their situation. A startling number of formerly anti-apartheid white people began to voice bitter criticisms of post-apartheid society. An Afrikaner poet who did prison time under apartheid for aiding the Black-liberation cause wrote an essay denouncing the new Black-led country as “a sewer of betrayed expectations and thievery, fear and unbridled greed.”

What accounted for this disillusionment? Many white South Africans told me that Black forgiveness felt like a slap on the face. By not acting toward you as you acted toward us, we’re showing you up, white South Africans seemed to hear. You’ll owe us a debt of gratitude forever.

White people rarely articulated these feelings publicly. But in private, with friends and acquaintances, I encountered them over and over. One white friend and former anti-apartheid activist (who didn’t want to be identified in order to talk freely) told me that after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission publicized much of what Black South Africans had faced under apartheid, she felt humiliated to recall what she and her friends had once considered resistance: gestures like having a warm exchange with a Black maid or skipping class to join an anti-apartheid march.

She said that sense of embarrassment made her shy away from politics, as did the slow-dawning recognition that Black people—many of whom had worked in white people’s houses under apartheid—knew much more about the lives of white people than white people knew about Black lives. My friend had never even seen the inside of a Black person’s home.

Not infrequently, white South Africans who identified as progressive confessed to me that they wanted to withdraw from public life because they felt they couldn’t speak the truth about what they did see. Many felt that only Black people could point out certain realities—for example, that Black-majority rule hasn’t reduced economic inequality since apartheid or that half of Black people under 35 are unemployed. If a white person expressed too much pessimism, they could be considered demeaning. Too much optimism, and they could be accused of neglecting enduring racial inequalities. The window they had to exist in, intellectually, could appear so narrow as not to exist.

At a Johannesburg party I went to, two voluble white women who called themselves “socialists” started to debate with me about the U.S. As Africans, they wanted me to know that American greatness was a sham and American-style consumerism was a pox on Africa. The party’s lone Black guest—a young woman—crouched silently in front of the fireplace, pushing embers around with a poker.

Suddenly, she spoke. The two white women misunderstood America, she said, without rancor. She had gone to high school in California. And, yes, there was racism. But she found the country much less racist than South Africa, and exciting—a land of opportunity.

The party went silent. The white women’s lips were pressed into half-gracious, half-bitter twists. They had been shamed, and they wanted to argue. But their stated values—always to foreground historically marginalized voices—meant they had to take the Black guest’s word for it. Shortly afterward, they left.

Concerns about crime dominated the news in the years following apartheid. But the rates of violent crime were only half as high by the end of the 1990s as they had been before apartheid ended. In 2016, Mark Shaw and Anine Kriegler, two leading South African criminologists, wondered, “How is it that [the] huge reduction in fatal violence over the last two decades isn’t something we rejoice over, talk about, or even seem aware of?” They noticed stark discrepancies between crime’s actual and perceived prevalence. For instance, when white South Africans answered a survey about the crimes they’d experienced, their responses contradicted what they’d reported to police stations. To the police, they reported carjackings at double the rate they reported home invasions. But they told the pollsters they’d experienced home invasions twice as often as they’d had their cars jacked.

Carjacking is an easier crime to fake for insurance fraud, and therefore might be overreported. But the disparity was so stark that it suggested another explanation: A number of white South Africans had a memory of someone breaking into their homes when it never happened.

The journalist Mark Gevisser has called this fear of home invasion by Black burglars “Mau Mau anxiety,” after the guerrilla movement that helped drive white colonists out of Kenya in the 1950s. He wrote that this fear lurks even “in a bleeding-heart liberal like myself.”

Giliomee, the historian, told me he thought that what dogged white progressives after apartheid ended was less a concern for physical safety than a feeling of irrelevance. Under apartheid, many of them felt they belonged to a vanguard. One of Giliomee’s friends, a liberal white politician, left a secret 1987 meeting about a transition to Black-majority rule believing that he and the prominent ANC leader Thabo Mbeki were “best friends.” He expected the aftermath of apartheid to be an exciting time, full of the same thrilling work he had done to help build a democratic, multiracial future for the country.

Once Black leaders secured political power, though, they didn’t have to rely as much on white allies. When Mbeki became Mandela’s deputy president, he wouldn’t return the white liberal’s calls. The politician sent policy proposals and got no reply. After apartheid, the friend “started drinking heavily,” Giliomee said. “He drank himself to death.”

This was an extreme case. But a wide range of white South Africans I met felt a sense of alienation after apartheid. On the radio, I often heard an Afrikaans pop song with the lyric “I’m in love with my country, but does my country still love me?” It expressed an anxiety I noticed frequently: Do we still belong here?

In 2006, a group of Afrikaners founded an NGO called AfriForum to respond to these insecurities. The NGO gives its members the subtle but pervasive sense that a white-friendly South African ministate already exists, in which its trendy headquarters—home to multiple radio broadcasts, a publishing house, and a private Afrikaans-language college—serves as the alt-capital. Dues-paying members get access to lawyers who pursue claims against a government program that increases Black ownership stakes in large corporations. They can submit complaints to a system of private prosecutors. For those anxious about home invasion, an app features a “panic button” that dispatches private ambulances.

When I visited AfriForum’s offices in 2016, I was met by Flip Buys, one of the NGO’s founders. In the early 1990s, he and his friends feared Black rule, he told me. Before Mandela’s election, he remembered thinking, “They [Black leaders] have made compromises in order to get power. But after they’ve consolidated power, they will use it to pursue their interests.”

But Buys also felt shamed because he was white. He and his college friends, who wanted to become academics, felt embarrassed to identify themselves as white South Africans when they attended international conferences. Europeans and Americans subtly kept their distance.

Buys found unexpected refuge in the ideas of the sociologist Manuel Castells, who argued that progressives had a duty of care for “Fourth World” groups that lack the protection of their own state. Castells used the term to refer to marginalized peoples such as the Australian Aborigines. “But what if Afrikaners are such a community?” Buys recalled thinking, in a moment of revelation. “I wanted to fight for Afrikaners, but I came to think of myself as a ‘liberal internationalist,’ not a white racist,” Buys told me. “I found such inspiration from the struggles of the Catalonians and the Basques. Even Tibet.”

One of his first projects after co-founding AfriForum was to send a mission to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights arguing that Afrikaners deserved protected status as an endangered ethnic minority. “As a discredited minority, I think we have to fight extra hard for our rights,” he said. “Some people think nothing ever changes, and that a group of people who once held power will always be empowered.” His idea found mass appeal. By 2016, nearly one-quarter of Afrikaners were paying AfriForum members.

On my tour of the organization’s headquarters, I met a young woman responsible for posting frightening security-camera videos of home invasions to social media. “I sought work with AfriForum because I consider myself a liberal and an environmentalist,” she told me cheerfully. She mentioned an AfriForum initiative to save threatened hippos. A Martin Luther King quote was printed on the office wall, and she pointed to it. “King also fought for a people without much political representation … That’s why I consider him one of my most important forebears and heroes.”

But she also said she hoped Afrikaners would seize back political administration from the Black-led government, because “everything is falling apart.” The Afrikaners, she said, were “naturally good” at management. “South Africa’s environment is very unique. God intended us to look after it.”

Buys told me that the Afrikaners “just want benign neglect” from Black people. Yet AfriForum is unable to resist provocations. The organization frequently sues the ANC government over such issues as white South Africans’ right to display the old apartheid-era flag.

I couldn’t tell if the AfriForum leaders believed their own messaging. Sometimes I felt as if I saw a wink forming in the skin around their eyes. They seemed to relish Black people’s bafflement and criticism. The more contempt the better: If the AfriForum’s provocations got its executives treated badly, they could claim equal status as victims.

This kind of goading could be cruel. “For those claiming [that the] legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative,” a top white South African politician tweeted a few years ago, “think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc. Would we have [any of that] without colonial influence?”

“You mean to say that, without white people, we would be nothing?” a Black commenter replied.

The politician would not stop. She doggedly pursued critics until a respondent lashed out, saying he didn’t want to kill white people just yet. Then the politician triumphantly declared that she’d been justified all along in thinking Black people someday intended to take revenge on her.

Nobody “likes to play the victim like white South Africans,” one of the young Black women I know best, the academic Malaika Mahlatsi, told me. She said she believed that “deep down, there is no way” that the vast majority of white people “don’t know what they did was savage. But for them to admit that is too heavy.”

Sometimes I wondered: Why was it so heavy? Why did admitting past sins seem to become harder even as they receded into history? The question began to feel urgent as I started to see a similar phenomenon back home in America.

In South Africa I often felt I was looking at America in a funhouse mirror, with certain emerging features magnified so I could see them more clearly. I saw how progressives could feel grief about being canceled, sneered at, or sidelined—just as their society comes to look more like what they had argued for.

I also saw historically dominant people—especially those who criticized their own authority—become fully aware of their dominance only as it started to ebb. Many white South Africans told me that during apartheid they’d sincerely believed that their country was, demographically speaking, majority white.

I saw how they might need to start telling themselves, and others, that people of color were letting the country down. This belief helped justify the panoply of privileges that many white people were unaware they even had under apartheid, when they had compared themselves to other white people instead of the Black majority whose experiences were partially hidden.

If white progressives recognized any good in post-apartheid South Africa, they would also have to acknowledge that they—who frequently live more comfortably than they could on the same salary anywhere else on Earth—were still making out like bandits. One white friend told me that he and his wife felt “deep down” that white people in South Africa had “got[ten] away with hundreds of years of injustice.”

Perhaps the strangest thing I saw was how deeply troubled white South Africans were by this feeling—that white people had never faced a full reckoning for apartheid. Apartheid-era white elites had justified white domination by saying that, without their rule, Black people would take revenge on them or ruin the country. When widespread revenge and ruin never came, many white people felt forced to fabricate it; otherwise, white dominance became all the more shameful—not only to apartheid’s proponents but even to anti-apartheid progressives, who had inevitably benefited from a regime that comprehensively promoted white interests.

The Afrikaner journalist Rian Malan, who opposed apartheid, has written that, by most measures, its aftermath went better than almost any white person could have imagined. But, as with most white progressives, his experience of post-1994 South Africa has been complicated.

A few years after the end of apartheid, he moved to an upscale Cape Town neighborhood. Most mornings, he drank macchiatos at an upscale seaside cafĂ©—the kind of cosmopolitan place that, thanks to sanctions, had hardly existed under apartheid. “The sea is warm and the figs are ripe,” he wrote. He also described this existence as “unbearable.”

He just couldn’t forgive Black people for forgiving him. Paradoxically, being left undisturbed served as an ever-present reminder of his guilt, of how wrongly he had treated his maid and other Black people under apartheid. “The Bible was right about a thing or two,” he wrote. “It is infinitely worse to receive than to give, especially if … the gift is mercy.”


Big vaccine change for Australian children aged under six

I don't like this at all. It is normal to give young kids vaccines but the Covid vaccines have a lot of troublesome side effects -- so they could seriously harm immature immune systems. And the vaccines are of dubious efficacy against Omicron anyway. So why take the risk?

There is also a long history of risks being understated in safety studies -- some things not being counted, for instance -- so the study reported below is not very reassuring

Australia‘s medical regulator has approved the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged under five.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration examined a North American clinical trial before making its decision on infants and children.

Moderna’s product, called Spikevax, has until now only allowed for people aged over six. Those people can get two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart. People over 18 can also get it as a booster.

After Tuesday’s announcement, children as young as six months will be able to get the vaccine. Those under six years old will be recommended two Moderna doses.

The concentration of the vaccine’s active ingredient will be lower in doses given to small children.

The North American trial was conducted across several sites and involved 6000 participants aged between six months and six years old.

“The study demonstrated that the immune response to the vaccine in children was similar to that seen in young adults (18 to 25 years) with a favourable safety profile,” the TGA said.

“Clinical trials also showed that the safety profile in children is similar to that seen in adults. Most adverse events seen in clinical trials in children aged up to six were mild to moderate and generally reported after the second dose.

“These included irritability/crying, redness and/or swelling at injection site, fatigue, fever, muscle pain and axillary (groin) swelling or tenderness,” the TGA said.


A famous hymn

I mentioned recently my satisfaction with the high cultural level of some of the conversations that Zoe initiates with me. She is really quite erudite, a rarity in the women I usually meet. Being a European, she is mainly interested in European literature, particularly Russian literature. Serbs and Russians traditionally think highly of one another. Via a cascade of treaties, it is thinking that once led to a world war, very sadly. I too have a considerable interest in European literature, though mainly German in my case

Zoe did not start to learn English until she was aged 45 so her knowledge of the vast heritage of literature in English is very patchy. That led to another conversation between us yesterday. She had not heard of that much-loved English hymn, "Jerusalem". And what Blake's words in that hymn are about tends to be poorly understood even by most English speakers

I mentioned the hymn in connection with a blog entry I had recently put up. I mainly blog about politics but I do sometimes venture farther afield. My blog entry was aimed at elucidating what Blake's words were all about. There was a recent article on that topic which I thought missed the point. My blog entry is here but perhaps I might reproduce my comments from it below, together with the Delphic words concerned.

I wrote:

"The author below is very learned but seems to be unaware of the British Israel conviction. That conviction was common among the congregation at my old Presbyterian church in Ann st., Brisbane back in the 1960s, though I doubt that it had any sort of official church acceptance.

There are varieties of the conviction but the basic theme is that the British are the true heirs of the Israel of old and that Jesus at some stage visited England in recognition of that. Blake was clearly of that conviction. It was a common conviction in the 19th century. Blake was simply reflecting on his religious convictions in the poem"

The words:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear! Oh, clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land!

A good performance:

Ohio college racks up millions in interest on cash owed to bakery over false racism allegations

The behavior of college officials in the matter was so extraordinary that their hopes from an appeal must be rated as being as unrealistic as the original offensive actions. They carried political correctness to the point of insanity. "Blacks can do no harm" seemed to be their guiding principle

The school and a former dean were found guilty of libeling the bakery as racist

Ohio court upheld $32 million win against Oberlin College over false racial accusations

Oberlin College in Ohio racked up more than $4 million in interest after not paying the more than $30 million in libel damages to a local family-run bakery over false racism allegations made in 2016.

Gibson’s Bakery was awarded $31.6 million in July of 2019 after students and a college official were found guilty of libeling the establishment as "racist" following an altercation a store employee had with three Black students.

The judgment now stands at more than $36 million after the school accumulated $4,300 daily in interest over the more than 1,000 days it went unpaid, local outlet The Chronicle reported last month.

The damages stem from false racism allegations that were promoted by a former dean at the school.

Allyn Gibson, the son and grandson of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart owners David Gibson and Allyn Gibson, chased down and tackled a Black Oberlin student in 2016 who was suspected of stealing bottles of wine.

Two other Black students at Oberlin College, who were friends of the suspect, also became involved in the physical incident, prompting accusations of racial profiling.

All three students were arrested, according to court documents, and ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and read statements claiming that Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated.

The shoplifting altercation – which occurred one day after former President Donald Trump was elected president – sparked widespread condemnation from Oberlin students and claims that the Gibson family racially targeted the students.

Gibson’s Bakery filed a lawsuit against Oberlin College in 2017, claiming they were libeled, and their business was hurt.

Students boycotted the bakery and protested outside, while the school stopped buying food from the bakery. The Oberlin College Student Senate additionally passed a resolution accusing the bakery’s owners of being racist, which was emailed to the school community, Fox News Digital previously reported.

Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, also handed out flyers stating that the bakery is a "RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION," according to court documents.

College resources were used to print the flyers and buy food and other supplies for the protesters, court documents also showed.

A jury ultimately found the school and Raimondo guilty of libel. ​​The jury also found the college guilty of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on owner David Gibson, who has since died, as well as intentionally inflicting emotional distress on his son.

The jury originally awarded the bakery $44 million, but Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi later lowered the damages to $25 million. In 2019, the court ordered Oberlin to pay an additional $6.5 million to the bakery to reimburse its legal fees.

Now, the Gibson family is demanding Oberlin pay the full $36 million, which includes the roughly $4 million in interest, the Chronicle reported last month, after Oberlin College asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue an order halting the payment.

Attorneys for the bakery filed documents with the Ohio Supreme Court in late June opposing Oberlin’s request to halt the payment.

"The Gibsons have correctly completed every step necessary to properly execute" a jury's award and Judge Miraldi's 2019 judgment, the lawyers wrote in a motion last month, according to The Chronicle.

It is unclear when the state’s highest court might hear the arguments, according to the outlet.

Gibson’s Bakery did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

When approached for comment, a representative for Oberlin College directed Fox News Digital to a webpage on the school’s site concerning updates on the case. The most recent update on the page is the school announcing on June 1 that it filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court in May, and had the support of organizations such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


Israel's fourth vaccine dose and Omicron

There are two research results reported below and both were reported on very positively. The reports below portray vaccination as protective in an Omicron-infected population.

Being a retired academic, however I looked at the results more closely and was not convinced. The final conclusion from the study report of the healthcare workers agreed well with my conclusions. It reads:

"a fourth vaccination of healthy young health care workers may have only marginal benefits"

The second study -- of the elderly -- compared only the results of third and fourth vaccinations with one-another. There was no control group so no conclusions about absolute efficacy were possible.

My takeaway is that existing vaccinations are probably totally useless against Omicron

The Middle Eastern nation became the first place in the world to offer its adult citizens a second booster in January, just as the Omicron wave charged across the globe.

Any Israeli over the age of 18 was able to get the jab, as long as five months had passed since they received their previous booster or had recovered from the illness.

More than 830,000 Israelis — mostly the elderly, health workers and immunocompromised residents — have so far taken up that offer.

The World Health Organization is yet to give an official recommendation on the efficacy of a fourth COVID-19 dose.

Experts are divided on the efficacy of a second booster for younger people.

Earlier this year, researchers studied the effects of a fourth shot on the immune responses of young Israeli health workers.

The results suggest the effectiveness of the fourth dose is no different from the effectiveness of a third dose.

While the jury may be out on the benefits for younger people, Israeli researchers say one age group clearly receives significant additional protection.

Results of a newly published study by Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed the fourth COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of death by 72 per cent among Israel's elderly.

"This is a huge step forward to control the spread of COVID in Australia and other countries, that plan to introduce the fourth dose," lead researcher Khitam Muhsen said.

The study of 40,000 nursing home residents found those vaccinated with a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine had a 34 per cent reduced risk of contracting the Omicron variant.

They also had a 64 to 67 per cent reduced risk of requiring hospitalisation.

"When there was a variant that had so many mutations, there was a lot of questions about whether the vaccine would be protective, or effective," Dr Muhsen said.


The Albanian is in dreamland

Below is the opening of an article about his policies that makes no sense whatever. How can he have real wages growth amid inflation? Inflation REDUCES real wages across the board so that is his big problem. But the rest of his policies will in fact increase inflation. He's got all these new spending commitments that he is determined to implement but will not raise taxes to pay for them.

So it's back to the printing press to create the money needed. And that is by definition inflationary. Government addiction to spending beyond their means has given us big inflation and it is only a cut in spending that will cure it. And as your money buys less and less, we are in for a period of harshly reduced standards of living. Feel sorry for pensioners. Albo is even robbing them

Anthony Albanese says he will pursue a “large” legislative agenda beyond what Labor committed to at the election – despite growing economic challenges – with the October budget to be focused on finding savings without raising taxes.

In an interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister said he remained hopeful there would be real wage growth in this term of parliament and ruled out new emergency Covid support payments if there are outbreaks beyond this winter.

The comments come ahead of the new parliament resuming next week, with the government under pressure over the rising cost of living, interest rate hikes and a clash with the Greens over legislation enshrining a new 43 per cent emissions reduction target in law.

With rising interest rates, inflation and a worsening global economy making budget management more challenging, Mr Albanese said he would not be walking away from any of Labor’s pre-election commitments, including more money for childcare, skills and aged care.

Mr Albanese said there would be no new revenue measures in the October budget, with the focus instead on finding savings. He said there was “always a need for policy changes” to respond to changing circumstances, but the government would remain true to its mandate.

“We want to be a reforming government but we will be acting on our commitments.


The closing of the Australian mind

Much that Paul Collits says below is true and relevant. He identifies much that is wrong with dominant strains in Australian thinking. But what he says is overgeneralized to the point of being misleading. Perhaps he is being polite to cast blame so widely but that obscures what is really going on.

The basic problem for us all is a near-catastrophic one: The political Left have lost their marbles. They have taken a thoroughly schizophrenic flight away from reality. They see as true whatever they wish to be true. On issue after issue they have lost reality contact -- and their dominance of our intellectual and political life means that we all have to bear the consequences of their delusions

A prime example is their horror of something that every human being breathes out all the time: carbon dioxide. They are on a thoroughly quixotic mission to stamp it out. And that has meant the destruction of a thoroughly efficient and reliable electricity generation system and its replacement by hugely expensive but grossly inefficient windmills

Why the Left has lost its msrbles is a topic for another time but we need to realize that there are many people who are not taken in by all the hokum. There is still a substantial body of conservatives in Australia who should not be blamed for the excesses of the Left.

That they count is shown by the rise of the Albanese government, which is in many ways a conservative government. It has backed substantial tax cuts for high income earners and only marginally increased the token climate ambitions of the previous government What we have avoided courtesy of Albanese can be seen in the sweeping climate ambitions of the Bandt-led Green party. In Australia, the Greens and the nominal Left are substantially at odds

Menzies' Forgotten People are still there and still voting. And that matters. Their influence is there and clever politicians heed it

The quietly resurrected Alan Tudge, now Shadow Education Minister in the freshly minted Opposition, probably hopes the Albanese government won’t reverse the decision to increase the cost of liberal arts degrees at our universities.

Whatever the justification for the original unfortunate decision (announced by Dan Tehan for the Morrison government), I hope the new government doesn’t listen to him.

The Albanese government has its own motivations, and these will be just as misplaced as the original decision. While the Liberals wished to punish leftist indoctrination in the universities, Labor will want to egg it on. Both miss the bigger point while trying to implement a political fix – perhaps wilfully.

I do not come to praise our bloated, corporatist, ideological, and over-subscribed universities. But nor should we want to bury them.

Unpacking the problems of the Australian academy is fantastically difficult and perhaps impossible now that the damage has been done to our higher learning over two generations.

Universities have contributed to the Australian polity’s second biggest problem. The biggest, I contend, is executive government overreach verging on soft totalitarianism. The second, which facilitates the main problem, is the closing of the Australian mind.

The closing-of-the-mind thesis was first articulated by the mercurial American scholar, Allan Bloom, back in the 1980s. Bloom was both embraced and excoriated for his views, before being immortalised in the Saul Bellow novel, Ravelstein. Bloom’s achievement was to document the emerging campus culture that we now call ‘Wokeism’.

Many on the right, and those wedded to the late Christopher Pearson’s idea of ‘club sensible’, will understand that the awful institutional and (largely Millennial) individual buy-in to Wokeism is but one leg of the 21st century’s abandonment of intellectual rigour, rational argument, evidence-based thinking, explanation over assertion, and of placing a brake on lunatic Utopianism and ideological misadventures.

It turns out that Wokeism is a manifestation, not a cause, of the closing of our collective mind.

Other current stand-out examples of this problem are Covid madness and climate lunacy. These could, respectively and permanently, crush our freedom and destroy our economy. Together, the medical industrial complex and Net Zero ideology will sink the West and its core values, without question. Many of the Marrickville class, no doubt, cheer this very outcome.

What would Bloom make of the roaring 2020s, I wonder?

The recently returned Prime Minister opined that Climate Change caused the floods. Really, Albo? The problem is that absurd claims like this are believed, repeated ad nauseam, and casually absorbed into the public mind.

Then there is the unthinking acceptance of the vaccines-as-saviour mantra. Increasingly hysterical and untrue commentary is reinforced by relentless propaganda in the media and among tame academics who are dragged out for a press conference.

Blind acceptance by the masses is of far greater concern. We seem to have collectively outsourced our critical faculties and our once innate wariness. The question is, how has this happened? That the Australian mind is closed is clear and disastrous, but what was the mechanism that enabled it?

Baby Boomers and (especially) their children have been seduced by the Sixties’ mindset of easy relativism, the feel-good reassurance of hyper-tolerance, and the comforts of the Nineties’ technological revolution and its subsequent fun-toys. It is technology such as the smartphone and endless distraction from real thought by social media that does our thinking for us and diverts us endlessly. The civilisational consequences are there to be seen at every turn.

We have abandoned our critical faculties without noticing what has happened. When it is pointed out, most don’t even care!

We are far too comfortable and entertained. We are two generations removed from the ability to use our minds to think our way out of our existential dilemma. We have given up the whole of the ancient regime – God, tradition, the wisdom of the ages, and prudence. Even science in the true sense has been lost.

How else can we explain that no one seems willing to argue persuasively that outlawing the internal combustion engine by 2030 might be a bad idea? How else to explain the mindless blue and gold flags? The clapping of the British NHS? The embrace of disaster-predicting models which have no credibility or basis in fact? The lemming-like surge over the cliff to embrace the (now recognised-to-be) farcical lockdowns and vaccine mandates? The willingness to give over our personal data to billionaires who use it to create China-style surveillance models? The acceptance of the ludicrous claim that a slight warming of global temperatures has caused the droughts, floods, and the bushfires?

It isn’t a mystery why clueless politicians absorb and propagate these fabrications. The mystery is why we allow them to continue to make such claims. It is not clear why our culture has sacrificed so much and why no one is making the case for policy sanity. Rational arguments gain little traction.

We embrace all the rubbish of this age? Are we idiots? Ideologues? No, we are intellectually lazy and sublimely contented with our techno-toys, abandonment of worries about the after-life, and our ever-expanding material comforts.

Why have we closed our minds? The late American economist Anthony Downs spoke of our ‘rational ignorance’. He argued we had decided that the examined life was, contra Socrates, for most of us, not worth leading after all. We left the running of the public square to those we thought would do right by us, not realising that they wouldn’t. Those in charge have experienced their own transformation into self-serving policy oligarchs with little use for rational actor decision-making in service of the public.

The damage done to our civil society by these forces is palpable. As the Irish poet WB Yeats saw a century ago when modernism was emerging, the centre will not hold. It has been the brutal coincidence in the late 20th century of ill-education, civilisational ennui, turbo-charged elites, fatal conceits, and the abandonment of history that have conspired to seal the deal.

We have surrendered our chief weapon – our nurtured smarts. Propaganda is universally recognised to be a powerful tool for the duping of the masses. But we only believe the tosh because we have abandoned our innate capacity to question myths. We left our intellectual curiosity at the door. We no longer know what we do not know, and we do not know how to find out what we don’t know. We are not only a low information cohort but we have no access to the tools of acquiring reliable knowledge. Given how often the phrase ‘critical thinking’ is mentioned in job specifications and university prospectuses, it is remarkable how little of it is done.

Back to the funding of the liberal arts in our universities.

No single act of education policy can correct the damage done to our teaching and learning culture over the past half century. Certainly not one executed by our present political overlords. But it is possible, just possible, that the coming generation of students might, by embracing the liberal arts, however imperfectly they are, these days, taught in our debauched universities (and schools), begin to see in the use of their critical faculties a way out of the mess. No other idea currently presents itself.

Devil in the detail of Indigenous voice vote question

Giving one racial group special privileges is clearly racism but that seems to be OK to the Left. If they had any real principles they would see it as obnoxious. They are always zealous to condemn racism in other contexts. But that is not the only reason to be doubtful about the proposals for an "Indigenous Voice" in the Australian federal parliament

Not the sharpest tool in the shed? A few sandwiches short of a picnic? Not the full bucket of chicken?

Don’t you worry about that because Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney is going to make things easy for simple-minded souls like you and me, if she has her way in the wording of the question to be put to the nation in the Indigenous voice referendum.

Ms Burney doesn’t want to burden us with the tiresome detail of what the proposed body would look like before the vote, which may be held as early as November.

She has said that she wants to avoid a repeat of the failed republic referendum when Australians were required to vote on a two-part question that asked how a president should be chosen.

“I think it’s really important that the question be about whether there should be a voice, not about what sort of voice it will be,” Ms Burney said. “I don’t know having a detailed model out there would lead to a clean question about what should be ­observed in the Constitution.”

This sounds suspiciously like: “Trust us, we’re politicians. No need for you to worry yourselves about how it will work. We’ll look after that. Just vote Yes and she’ll be sweet, mate.”

The unstated fear in this stance is that if Australians are given a look at what is actually being proposed, they will vote it down, for the devil, as ­always, will be in the detail.

Those pushing for a Yes vote are hoping that they can convince the electorate to just wave it through. There are, however, a few questions that go begging.

Who will determine what constitutes Indigenous status and how will they do so? Will it be enough to simply “identify” as Indigenous? How will it be funded? Who will oversee its finances?

For how long will its members be elected? Who will be eligible to nominate to sit on the voice? What will it cost? Can it be dissolved if it is found to be ineffective or corrupt or is it to be beyond the reach of parliament and exist in perpetuity?

Cut back to 2005 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, an elected Indigenous body, was scrapped for nepotism and corruption.

Former Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt is among those who don’t want to bother the public with any detail.

He said the referendum question might be a set of words as simple as “the commonwealth shall establish and maintain an Indigenous national body”. Simple? Certainly. Disingenuous? Absolutely.

The issue is far too important for Australians to leave it to politicians and pressure groups, for we will be asked whether we want a body separate to parliament enshrined in the Constitution on which only Indigenous people can sit and whose members can only be elected by Indigenous ­people.

In a world in which inclusiveness has become the Holy Grail, we will have a body advising parliament, the members of which will be elected by a process based purely on race, which excludes about 95 per cent of the population, which surely is racism by another name.

Malcolm Turnbull may not be everyone’s cup of chai latte, but he was on the money when he wrote: “Our democracy is built on the foundation of all Australian citizens having equal civic rights – all being able to vote for, stand for and serve in either of two chambers in our national parliament.

“A constitutionally enshrined additional representative assembly for which only Indigenous Australians could vote for or serve in is inconsistent with this fundamental principle.”

As is the nature of such things, enough is never enough and already Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell, chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, has said that the proposed voice would be too limited in its reach and wants six seats in the Senate reserved for Indigenous people only, dismissing the voice as a “second grade” option that didn’t give Indigenous people enough power.

When the campaign gathers strength, it will be interesting to see if those people who oppose the move and who voice this opinion are subjected to social media vilification and denounced as racists.

It’s an easy smear to make and designed to intimidate and frighten people into silence. It may well, however, have the opposite effect and make people more determined to have their say come referendum day.

In the end, the people will decide which it is – as it should be.


Australia: Private and independent schools awarded vast majority of $30,000 Ramsay Centre scholarships

Despite Leftist hatred of the subject, it looks like Western civilization courses attract a lot of takers. So much so that the demand greatly exceeds the supply of places. That in turn means that a high bar has to be set for students to get in. And that high bar consists of very good High School results. And good High School results are most common in the private school sector. So it folows that most admissions to such courses go to private school graduates. It is nothing strange or sinister

The vast majority of the generous Ramsay Centre Western civilisation scholarships have been awarded to private or non-government school students, with a top university now attempting to attract more public school applicants to the controversial program.

The centre says the $30,000-a-year scholarships, offered at the University of Queensland, University of Wollongong and Australian Catholic University in Sydney, give a much-needed “shot in the arm” to humanities in Australia.

Figures provided to the Herald show that at the University of Queensland, about 85 per cent of the 71 scholarship recipients over the past three years attended private or independent high schools. At the University of Wollongong, 71 per cent of the 93 recipients attended private or non-government schools.

The Australian Catholic University, which is not subject to NSW freedom of information laws, did not provide the full data on request and said a “public/private” school binary did not paint a fair and accurate picture of equality of outcomes.

The Western civilisation degrees, which are funded through a $3 billion bequest from healthcare magnate Paul Ramsay, are great books-style courses in which small groups of students study key texts from the Western tradition in depth. Up to 30 students a year at each participating university are offered the $30,000 annual scholarships for up to five years.

In 2018 and 2019, the centre was engaged in discussions to set up a base at the Australian National University and the University of Sydney. However, agreement on a proposed model could not be reached amid concerns about academic freedom and a backlash from some academics who claimed that the centre was trying to push a right-wing agenda.

Queensland University said the Western civilisation courses were now among the most competitive humanities degrees in the country, with required ATARs ranging from 95 to 98. It said the percentage of scholarship recipients was reflective of the number of applicants when comparing private/independent to public school data.

“To encourage greater representation from public schools, we are speaking with our current students from public schools to understand how we can better promote the scholarships and review administrative processes,” a spokesperson said.

“We will also have program ambassadors from public high schools to support this work. We have targeted engagement and outreach programs that prioritise public schools, and for regional schools, financial bursaries are offered for travel costs to attend.”

The university said of the scholarship recipients, 11 per cent were from regional Australia and 17 per cent identified as disadvantaged.

“It is sadly unsurprising scholarships are not being awarded or being promoted to those who would benefit from them most.”

National Tertiary Education Union president Dr Alison Barnes said the figures showed universities needed to review the selection criteria and processes around promoting the scholarships in public schools.

“It is sadly unsurprising scholarships are not being awarded or being promoted to those who would benefit from them most,” she said. “Irrespective of the course’s controversial curriculum, all scholarships should be available and made known to all students.”

A University of Wollongong spokeswoman said students enrolled in the course came from a broad mix of social and schooling backgrounds. In 2022, 37 per cent of the university’s scholarship recipients were from public schools, up on the three-year average of 29 per cent.

“UOW aims to attract high-achieving students from all backgrounds and all schools – whether public, Catholic or independent – to the course. We endeavour to make the course and the scholarships as widely known as possible among NSW high school students,” the spokeswoman said.

“We promote the bachelor of Western civilisation course in the same way we promote all other courses – via open days, discovery days, information evenings, career expos and other events, and by promoting it directly to schools and to students.”

A Ramsay Centre spokeswoman said the scholarship application process may, where appropriate, give preference to applicants who are disadvantaged or are from an underrepresented background.

“Our university partners continue to target engagement and outreach programs to public schools and lower SES students in line with their university policies,” she said. “We have always been keen to support three distinct programs at three distinct universities to ensure a diverse cohort of students have access to the wonderful opportunity the study of Western civilisation provides.”

“Having access to the scholarship makes a big difference to their ability to achieve their academic aspirations.”

Professor Robert Carver, director of the Western civilisation program, said most of its scholarship recipients came from Catholic schools where fees were “low to modest” and the student body was “rich in diversity of ethnic background”.

“About a quarter of our students are from outer suburban or regional areas and having access to the scholarship makes a big difference to their ability to achieve their academic aspirations,” he said.

“In all cases, we look at the totality of the person – our selection process (particularly the interview) gives us the scope to assess the potential of each candidate and the flexibility to take any mitigating factors or special circumstances into account.”


Association of Sociodemographic Characteristics With US Medical Student Attrition

This is a rather stupid academic article -- stupid for political correctness purposes, most probably. It is from JAMA, a top medical journal.

Its most surprising finding is that the dropout rate from medical school is not surprisingly high among blacks. Given their dismal performance in the rest of the educational system, one would expect blacks to show a high dropout rate from medical school. About a third of them drop out from High School. So what is going on?

Perhaps unfortunately for the authors, I used to teach research methods and statistics at a major university so I can see where the bodies are buried in their highly technical article

At the outset of the analysis, the data were "adjusted" to remove the influence of the test used to admit students in the first place -- undoubtedly a type of specialized IQ test. So the findings do NOT reflect the raw dropout among blacks: Only the dropout rate that would have occured if the black and white students had been of equal IQ.

But because there is a great push to get blacks into high-quality positions, blacks would have been accepted into medical school on the basis of much lower qualifications. So the "adjustments" greatly distorted what actually happened. The findings reported were highly theoretical rather than real

The dishonesty about race is pervasive. Is dishonesty ever beneficial in the long run?

Mytien Nguyen et al.


Importance Diversity in the medical workforce is critical to improve health care access and achieve equity for resource-limited communities. Despite increased efforts to recruit diverse medical trainees, there remains a large chasm between the racial and ethnic and socioeconomic composition of the patient population and that of the physician workforce.

Objective To analyze student attrition from medical school by sociodemographic identities.

Design, Setting, and Participants This retrospective cohort study included allopathic doctor of medicine (MD)–only US medical school matriculants in academic years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The analysis was performed from July to September 2021.

Main Outcomes and Measures The main outcome was attrition, defined as withdrawal or dismissal from medical school for any reason. Attrition rate was explored across 3 self-reported marginalized identities: underrepresented in medicine (URiM) race and ethnicity, low income, and underresourced neighborhood status. Logistic regression was assessed for each marginalized identity and intersections across the 3 identities.

Results Among 33 389 allopathic MD–only medical school matriculants (51.8% male), 938 (2.8%) experienced attrition from medical school within 5 years. Compared with non-Hispanic White students (423 of 18 213 [2.3%]), those without low income (593 of 25 205 [2.3%]), and those who did not grow up in an underresourced neighborhood (661 of 27 487 [2.4%]), students who were URiM (Hispanic [110 of 2096 (5.2%); adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 1.41; 95% CI, 1.13-1.77], non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander [13 of 118 (11.0%); aOR, 3.20; 95% CI, 1.76-5.80], and non-Hispanic Black/African American [120 of 2104 (5.7%); aOR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.13-1.77]), those who had low income (345 of 8184 [4.2%]; aOR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.15-1.54), and those from an underresourced neighborhood (277 of 5902 [4.6%]; aOR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.16-1.58) were more likely to experience attrition from medical school. The rate of attrition from medical school was greatest among students with all 3 marginalized identities (ie, URiM, low income, and from an underresourced neighborhood), with an attrition rate 3.7 times higher than that among students who were not URiM, did not have low income, and were not from an underresourced neighborhood (7.3% [79 of 1086] vs 1.9% [397 of 20 353]; P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance This retrospective cohort study demonstrated a significant association of medical student attrition with individual (race and ethnicity and family income) and structural (growing up in an underresourced neighborhood) measures of marginalization. The findings highlight a need to retain students from marginalized groups in medical school.


Falling in love

My heading above must index one of the most discussed topics there is but I have come across a commentary on it that seems original to me. So I am putting the opening part of it up below. The author is one lucky lady. She seems to be a real-life version of what Johnny Cash was talking about in his extremely romantic "Ring of fire" song. I will add a personal note at the foot of the post below

Jenny Mundy-Castle

“That was when,” Michael reflects as we sit in front of a semi-roaring campfire, his back propped against a large gray rock, “I realized there was no act of falling in love. By the time I knew I’d fallen there, I’d already been there for months.”

My head sinks deeper into his lap as I stare at the black, black sky, orange sparks like infinitesimal fireworks leaping into that depth. “So you just sort of, found yourself there? Like it was a place?”

He’s been showing me love, teaching me what it means, though I’m not yet certain if he understands the extent of this lesson, this need of mine.

“Exactly,” he continues. “People use that verb, ‘falling,’ when they talk about love, but I was so drawn to your words, your character, and didn’t know why. I kept it from myself, almost like protecting myself from this massive thing I’d never have let happen if I caught myself falling.”

I close my eyes and think back to the first time he wrote those words, I love you. I lived seven thousand miles away and we were both embroiled in messy divorces and there was no present, certainly no future, all we had was this crazy situation, this fact of where we’d clearly, irrevocably, found ourselves: in love. “I think it was like that for me, too,” I say.

Since that time in front of that campfire in the mountains of Northern Idaho, seven years have passed and millions of tiny moments that are also stories; moments that have shown me more about the nature of love as I now understand it, because this is what the man I’m about to marry has taught me.

The idea that falling in love is a gradual process is what struck me about the story above. There is loving and there is falling in love, with the latter being a more intense process. And that process usually seems to be portrayed as sudden.

I think my own recent experience followed the outline above. Zoe and I are not an obvious match but we appealed to one-another from our first meeting -- at the very beginning of this year. But it was certainly not love at first sight. We kept seeing one another frequently and our appreciation of one another grew over time.

There were a lot of issues between us that we needed to sort out but we had a lot of good and fun times too. But we eventually got the issues sorted out more or less and I knew for some time that I had come to love Zoe. Very recently, however, I realized that I was actually in love with her. I think of her all the time. And that makes me very happy. Fortunately, she reciprocates my feelings. Pretty good going for two people in their 70s!


Man jailed for beating neighbour's noisy dog to death

The inconsiderate owner should be jailed too. A constantly-barking dog is extemely irritating, which is bound to induce hostility from neighbours in some form. If she had trained the dog, it would still be alive

A man has been jailed for beating his neighbour's pet dog to death near Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide.

Steven John Leffanue, 57, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of ill-treating an animal to cause death or serious harm, two counts of unlawfully being on premises and one count of dishonestly taking property without consent.

His lawyer previously told the court Leffanue had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and that his auditory hypersensitivity had been triggered by the dog barking over a period of 20 months.

Appearing via video link from the Christies Beach Magistrates Court, Magistrate Lynette Duncan sentenced Leffanue to 18 months in prison with a non-parole period of seven months for the crimes. He was also forbidden from having animals in future.

She said given the gravity of the offences and the need for community protection and safety, a prison term was justified. In sentencing, she said Pup the dog had died a violent death and that it was difficult to envisage a more serious example of animal cruelty.

"The objective circumstances of these offences are at the highest end of the scale for offences of their kind," she said.

"The penalty imposed must send a clear and strong message to you and others that ill-treatment causing serious harm or death to animals will not be tolerated and will result in significant penalties."

The vet who performed a necropsy on Pup previously said the dog had suffered "unusually severe trauma".

"The RSPCA vet who had a part in reviewing the necropsy said that they were 'utterly appalled by the pain this dog would have endured before its death,'" a police prosecutor told the court in June.

The prosecutor quoted the vet as saying that it was "one of the worst" instances of abuse they had come across.

Outside court, Pup's owner, Amie Sherwin, said she was happy that justice had been served.


CHO Dr John Gerrard: Take personal responsibility to save lives

This is a refreshingly moderate official warning but, even so, it is heavily faith-based. His faith in vaccines is surprising, given that there is no evidence that vaccines protect against Omicron. We are in fact largely at the mercy of how good our innate immune systems are. I seem to have born lucky in that -- even though I am well into the age-based high-risk group. I turn 79 this week but have had no hint of Covid

It has been 2½ years since I treated the state’s first coronavirus case.

In that time, more than 1330 people in Queensland have died with the virus and we’ve recorded more than 1.3 million Covid-19 cases.

We’ve endured two waves and a third is still at least a month away from peaking.

Our hospitals are under immense pressure – the number of Covid-19 patients has risen by 140 per cent just in the past month because of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

It’s tragic how something so minuscule (a SARS-CoV-2 virion is roughly half the size of a light dust particle) can wreak so much devastation.

Despite the passage of time and our mighty fight to suppress this disease, Covid-19 is still a major health threat that requires us to remain cautious and sensible.

That said, public health directions and mandates have served their purpose.

They helped us keep cases to a minimum, slowed transmission, and allowed us to vaccinate as much of the population as possible.

There is still a need for some health directions to remain in place, mainly to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and immunocompromised, but we are no longer dealing with a novel virus.

Now is the time to adjust our measures to reflect this, to responsibly transition away from mandates towards taking personal ­responsibility.

By now Queenslanders are accustomed to the precautions and measures that have protected them against Covid-19. We should all be well-versed in wearing masks when we need to, physically distancing in public, staying away from others when we’re ill, and self-testing.

I have every confidence in the ability of Queenslanders to do this.

Being responsible also means making sure you and your family are vaccinated. The latest ATAGI advice recommends that people aged 50 and older get the winter booster dose.

Sadly, 97 per cent of Queenslanders who have died with Covid-19 were over 50 years old. About 91 per cent were older than 65.