By JR on Monday, August 31, 2015
Scientists discover a way to reverse racial bias in young children. But how firm is the effect?
I am not sure that the authors of the baby studies below realize what they have shown. They showed that in initial encounters babies are biased. They simply prefer familiar appearances. But that is very temporary. Given just a little extra information, biases vanish. People recognized as individuals tended to be accepted as individuals, despite differences in appearances.
But that is only the beginning of the story. What happens in real life outside the deliberately limited context of a psychology laboratory?
What we do see from the experiments described below is that "Stereotypes" are highly malleable and responsive to extra information. They are not mentally imprisoning. Even a little information makes a big difference to impressions. That is in fact what the whole stereotyping literature shows. See here, here and here
So people do respond cautiously to differences in appearances BUT the response is very plastic. Caution will evaporate if and only if nothing important is associated with the different appearance. That is the opposite of the old claim that stereotypes are rigid mental straitjackets. Given extra information prejudgments will in fact change rapidly -- for better or for worse. They are very reality-sensitive.
A rather good example of that process is on view daily in Australia. Australia has a large East Asian minority, mostly Han Chinese. And it is so common to see young East Asian women on the arms of tall Caucasian men that one looks with some surprise at couples who are both Han. In such couples the man will, however, invariably be a TALL Han man. The little East Asian ladies go for tall men and they get them. They like height and they want tall children.
And relaxed Australian whites are fine by them. The ladies are probably in general a bit smarter than the Caucasian whites they grab but they know that the men concerned are easy-going in the traditional Australian way so they can live with that.
But the tallest population group in Australia are dark-skinned East Africans. Many are very tall indeed. And so many of them have come to Australia as refugees that it is common to see them lounging around the streets and shopping centres. But I have yet to see ONE of them partnered with ANY kind of an Asian lady.
The lesson? Easy. Interracial relationships may start out from a simplistic base of preferring familiar appearance but the real characteristics of people rapidly come to dominate relationships. African men are generally poor, dumb and aggressive and nobody but their own women wants them, except for a very few socially marginal or foolish white females. No Asians want them. So the Asian ladies are racist in that they recognize real racial differences -- but they are not bigoted. They in fact prefer a race different from their own. They respond to important differences and ignore unimportant ones.
Reality is so much more complex than the simplistic formulas used by the Left.
Children as young as three months old have been found to have a bias towards women who are the same race as themselves.
Now, a University of Delaware scientist has discovered a simple exercise that he claims can undo this unconscious racial biases in young children.
Using the technique of measuring how much time the babies spend looking at pictures of faces, Paul Quinn has spent a decade studying how infants classify race and gender.
At six months, Quinn said, the infants were classifying faces into three groups - Caucasian, African and Asian.
He has found that, by nine months of age, infants not only distinguish racial categories but also become less able to tell different individuals apart if they are members of a less-familiar race.
For example, white infants can identify white faces as belonging to different individuals, but they are less likely to see Asian or African faces as distinct individuals.
'Might these perceptual biases we see in infants be related to the social biases that we see in older kids, beginning at three or four years of age, and adults?,' Quinn said. 'And if they are, can we use a technique to reduce bias?
'As we tried to answer this question, we hit on the idea that if the perceptual and social biases are linked, we might be able to reduce the social bias by perceptual means.'
In their latest study, published in July in the journal Developmental Science, Quinn and his collaborators in China used photos of African and Asian faces and morphed them together to create ambiguous images that looked equally African and Asian.
Some of the faces had pleasant expressions, while others looked more severe.
When researchers showed the images to four- to six-year-olds in China, the children identified the happy faces as Asian - the category they were used to seeing - and the angry faces as African, a group they rarely saw in daily life.
The scientists' wanted to see whether the children's unconscious racial biases could be disrupted. They showed the youngsters five different African faces and gave each of the individuals a name, repeating the process until the children could identify each of the five faces by name.
When the children then looked at the happy and angry ambiguous-race photos again, their bias in favour of their own racial group had dropped dramatically.
'This process of getting the kids to respond to the [five African] faces as individuals, not as a category, only takes 15-30 minutes, and it made a significant difference,' Quinn said.
'It suggests that what is a social bias has [visual] perceptual components and that it can be disrupted.'
Another, related study that Quinn conducted in his lab at UD with babies from the Newark, Delaware, area has been published online by Developmental Science, with print publication expected in the future.
In this study, researchers worked with Caucasian babies to explore how and at what ages they began forming categories of people based on the racial characteristics of faces.
Amusing: Warmists try to strike back at skeptical scientists -- but bomb out
If you read the guff below by climate robot Nuccitelli and his merry men, it seems like they have got something. But they haven't.
I very rarely refer here to anything on Anthony Watts' site on the grounds that anybody reading this site has probably already read Watts. This time, however, what Watts points out is too funny to ignore.
The best bit is that Nuccitli & Co submitted their paper to five different climate journals before they got it accepted for publication. One of the critical journal referees commented pointedly: “The manuscript is not a scientific study. It is just a summary of purported errors in collection of papers, arbitrarily selected by the authors.”
More at the Watts site. Nuccitelli & Co do have some idea of what science is but they are no good at doing it
The scientific consensus behind man-made global warming is overwhelming: multiple studies have noted a 97 percent consensus among climate scientists that the Earth is warming and human activities are primarily responsible. Scientists are as sure that global warming is real — and driven by human activity — as they are that smoking cigarettes leads to lung cancer.
But what if all of those scientists are wrong? What if the tiny sliver of scientists that don’t believe global warming is happening, or that human activities are causing it — that two to three percent of climate contrarians — are right?
That’s the hypothetical question that a new study, authored by Rasmus Benestad, Dana Nuccitelli, Stephan Lewandowsky, Katharine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland, and John Cook, sought to answer. Published last week in the journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology, the study examined 38 recent examples of contrarian climate research — published research that takes a position on anthropogenic climate change but doesn’t attribute it to human activity — and tried to replicate the results of those studies.
The studies weren’t selected randomly — according to lead author Rasmus Benestad, the studies selected were highly visible contrarian studies that had all arrived at a different conclusion than consensus climate studies. The question the researchers wanted to know was — why?
“Our selection suited this purpose as it would be harder to spot flaws in papers following the mainstream ideas. The chance of finding errors among the outliers is higher than from more mainstream papers,” Benestad wrote at RealClimate. “Our hypothesis was that the chosen contrarian paper was valid, and our approach was to try to falsify this hypothesis by repeating the work with a critical eye.”
It didn’t go well for the contrarian studies.
The most common mistake shared by the contrarian studies was cherry picking, in which studies ignored data or contextual information that did not support the study’s ultimate conclusions. In a piece for the Guardian, study co-author Dana Nuccitelli cited one particular contrarian study that supported the idea that moon and solar cycles affect the Earth’s climate. When the group tried to replicate that study’s findings for the paper, they found that the study’s model only worked for the particular 4,000-year cycle that the study looked at.
“However, for the 6,000 years’ worth of earlier data they threw out, their model couldn’t reproduce the temperature changes,” Nuccitelli wrote. “The authors argued that their model could be used to forecast future climate changes, but there’s no reason to trust a model forecast if it can’t accurately reproduce the past.”
The researchers also found that a number of the contrarian studies simply ignored the laws of physics. For example, in 2007 and 2010 papers, Ferenc Miskolczi argued that the greenhouse effect had become saturated, a theory that had been disproved in the early 1900s.
“As we note in the supplementary material to our paper, Miskolczi left out some important known physics in order to revive this century-old myth,” Nuccitelli wrote.
In other cases, the authors found, researchers would include extra parameters not based in the laws of physics to make a model fit their conclusion.
“Good modeling will constrain the possible values of the parameters being used so that they reflect known physics, but bad ‘curve fitting’ doesn’t limit itself to physical realities,” Nuccitelli said.
The authors note that these errors aren’t necessarily only found in contrarian papers, and they aren’t necessarily malicious. In their discussion, they offer a suite of possible explanations for the mistakes. Many authors of the contrarian studies were relatively new to climate science, and therefore may have been unaware of important context or data. Many of the papers were also published in journals with audiences that don’t necessarily seek out climate science, and therefore peer review might have been lacking. And some of the researchers had published similar studies, all omitting important information.
How strong is the link between global warming and California drought?
Easy answer: No link at all. For a start, drought is a normal occurrence in California. Second, since there has been no global warming for 18 years, it cannot be influencing anything. Things that don't exist don't have effects. None of that is confronted by the lamebrain below. He just regurgitates the usual data-free Leftist propaganda. And thirdly, there is no significant drought. Releasing dam water to flow straight out to sea for various crazy Greenie reasons is why there is a shortage of water for homes and crops
Further studies are being conducted at this moment to explore the contributions of particulars to the climate variability which brought about the drought and temperature components related with anthropogenic warming. Thus, when rainfall declined in 2012, the air sucked already scant moisture from soil, trees and crops harder than ever.
The climatic change and its effects may be experienced globally and warmer air and weather are not the only ones to blame since other factors such as evaporation rates and precipitation form part of the main contributors.
If human-caused greenhouse gas emissions were not trapping heat, leading to climate change, the state’s drought could be up to 27 percent less severe than it is, the study researchers say.
Yes, global warming is more than three times higher than natural climate changes and this is bad for California.
The study, authored by five researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and one from the University of Idaho’s geography department, said if this trend continues then the state will experience more “persistent aridity” within a few decades, according to an August 20 press release from Columbia.
It’s very clear the warming of California has increased the probability of conditions that create drought.
Unlike the natural variation in climate which produces extreme conditions only occasionally, the demand of additional moisture on account of global warming is on the rise every year with concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rising higher consistently.
The study, said that average California temperatures have increased 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 113 years. Because of global warming Californian mountain snows have started melting in an accelerated way as well, whereas 10 years ago the melting was dispersed more gradually in time and has helped freshening up the lowlands during the hot season. The monthly changes were simulated in the quantity of water in each bucket between 1901 and 2014. It was found that global warming has contributed between 8 and 27% to the severity of 2012-2014 California drought. Due to the growing global temperature, this fact is turning out to be true for most places worldwide. This means that by around the 2060s, more or less permanent drought will set in, interrupted only by the rainiest years. If California finds itself struggling with this drought, serious planning needs to take place in order to be resilient to a future where it’s increasingly likely that the current drought will look like child’s play.
By JR on Saturday, August 29, 2015
Australia's national cheese
Nobody that I know seems to have realized it but Australia has a national cheese. We all know and love our national toast and sandwich spread -- Vegemite -- but we are, if anything, even more focused on one type of cheese.
The French would of course think of us as insane and the Brits too might be a bit scornful -- except for the fact that they too have a well-acknowledged national cheese of their own: Cheddar.
But our national cheese is far more pervasive than Cheddar. When I go into the dairy aisle of my local Woolworths supermarket there are yards of shelf space devoted to it, with other types of cheese almost totally absent. On the very top shelf there are very small quantities of a few "foreign" cheeses: Jarlsberg, Romano, Havarti, Mascarpone etc.
So what is this remarkable cheese? It is -- most unimaginatively -- called "Tasty". And it certainly is tasty. Various dairies make it under their own brand but it is always identified as "Tasty". And I for one cannot tell the product of one dairy from another. It really is the same cheese that they are all making. You can get it in various sized packs and you can even get it grated but Tasty it is.
When I first started work as a NSW public servant in central Sydney in 1968, I worked in a building that had a cafeteria in the basement. We all went there to order our sandwiches, pies, Chester cakes et.
I was saddened when I visited Chester in England in 1977 and asked for a Chester cake. I was told: "No. We only do those on Wednesday". They did them every day in Sydney.
And if you ordered any type of a cheese sandwich from the basement cafeteria, the sandwich lady would say: "Mild or Tasty"? and point to the two trays of sliced cheese in front of her. Even at that stage, I was surprised at the limited offering but it now seems to have become even more extreme. Packs of "Mild" have to be searched for. Sometimes there is only one there.
The only other offering from more than one dairy that you see is "Colby". That is a smoother and milder product than Tasty. After many years of eating Tasty, I am now a Colby man. You also see "Coon" cheese but it tastes the same as a "Tasty" to me. Perhaps I should do a blind tasting sometime.
There was at one stage a claim that "Coon" was a naughty word -- politically incorrect. But it seems to have survived that onslaught.
And then there is the sliced cheese section. Again Tasty dominates but a surprising thing is that the "Home Brand" stuff is unlike any of the block cheese. It is a very mild, Cheddar-type cheese. So if you like Cheddar cheese you have to buy it pre-sliced!
By JR on Friday, August 28, 2015
This has got to stop
The story below surely shows once and for all how disastrous is the race rhetoric of Democrats and black race hustlers like Sharpton and Obama. The rhetoric has created a great upsurge of hate among blacks towards whites -- by telling blacks that every bad thing any black suffers is the result of white racism.
So whites as a class are in danger, regardless of anything they may have done as individuals. We are constantly told that all Muslims are not to blame for the actions of a Muslim minority but blacks have absorbed the opposite lesson about whites.
But I don't suppose that the Left will readily let go of all that delicious hate. It may need blacks to kill a few of the Leftist elite to get some caution out of them
Mr Obama could help by announcing emphatically that black disadvantage is NOT due to white racism. He could also point out that black deaths at the hands of whites are a rarity compared with the other way around. But he won't. To renounce the white racism story would go against one of his own basic tenets.
So what is he doing instead? Blaming guns: As brainless and as irresponsible as ever.
A man who was fired from his job as a television reporter two years ago took revenge against the small-town Virginia news station by executing two of his former coworkers on live television, and then posting disturbing first-person video of the attack on social media.
Viewers of WDBJ, a CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment at 6:45am.
After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Ward fled and posted video of the attack on social media while also writing about his grudges against the two young journalists in a Twitter rant.
He also faxed a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note to a national news station outlining his motives for the attack, saying he bought the handgun he used following the Charleston Church killings, adding: 'my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them'.
Five hours later, police cornered Flanagan a three hours drive northeast in Fauquier County, Virginia where he shot himself in an attempt to commit suicide. Flanagan initially survived the gunshot wound, but died not long after at approximately 1:30pm
By JR on Thursday, August 27, 2015
When even the middle classes shun marriage, our social cement truly is crumbling
Libby Purves speaks much truth below but she appears to underestimate the effect of feminist-inspired divorce laws. Stories of big divorce payouts are in the papers daily so men can hardly be unaware of the issue. To put it bluntly, the feminists have turned marriage into prostitution. It has become a good way to get big money for sex. But a lot of men don't want to pay. So they don't. A man who marries these days takes heroic risks with his financial future and his future wellbeing. A well-advised man would just not do it
Why get married? Charles Darwin, the great naturalist, took a properly scientific view of the pros and cons of marriage and jotted down his thoughts.
In favour: 'Children, if it please God . . . constant companion and friend in old age who will feel interested in one . . . object to be beloved and played with . . . better than a dog anyway . . . music and female chit chat, good for one's health but terrible loss of time '.
Against it, he put down the loss of freedom, the expense and anxiety of children, the risk of quarrelling, and (quite my favourite) the prospect of being 'forced to visit relatives'. Quite a few men, I reckon, would nod at that last one.
Nevertheless, Darwin married and was happy, and near the end wrote movingly of his wife Emma as a 'wise adviser and cheerful comforter throughout my life'.
I read that again in the light of yesterday's gloomy revelation that marriage is becoming less common and moving towards a curious situation where this most basic and ancient of social habits risks becoming largely the preserve of the rich, and of immigrant communities with strict social rules.
For some time now, in a trend since the Seventies, it has been apparent that the poorer you are in Britain, the more likely you are to be in social housing and financially precarious, and less likely to get married.
By 2001, people in the top financial category were 24 per cent more likely to marry than those at the bottom; now that figure is 48 per cent.
That was worrying enough. Solid figures show that unmarried couples with children are, statistically, three times as likely to separate, with the children facing obvious distressing results, not just emotional but financial and educational.
But it was not hard to see the reasons why the poorest, the people on the edge, were less likely to marry once there was no social stigma about sex outside marriage or just moving in with each other.
If your accommodation and job chances are unstable, perhaps you are less likely to plan, and more tempted by a chaotic, take-it-as-it-comes lifestyle.
Now, however, something interesting but faintly appalling is happening: the latest figures from the Marriage Foundation and the government's General Household Survey suggest that marrying is falling out of fashion among more settled, middle-class families.
Look at middle-income couples with young children: 20 years ago 84 per cent of such people were married. Now it is 59 per cent. Still more than the poorest group, but a definite trend is, in researcher-language, 'spreading up the socio-economic scale'.
We have not yet seen whether the break-up rate will undergo as great an increase in this middling group, but the Marriage Foundation's research director says: 'When a socio-economic group turns away from marriage, we see a corresponding hike in the rates of family breakdown.'
If so, that is bad news all round. Of course, divorces will always happen. Of course, separating couples can be responsible and considerate of the children, though even the best divorces tend to be expensive, disruptive and, to some extent, distressing. But at least divorce is a definite thing, a legal move, a big decision.
Walking out on your live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, even with a child in between, is vaguer, easier, more tempting.
So there is a whole new group (a large one) appearing to go off the idea of marriage. Meanwhile, it appears that the richest group — what statisticians call the 'higher managerial' group, with household incomes over £43,000 — are still heading for the altar, register office or ritzy wedding venue.
One theory about this suggests that if you are definitely well-off, with a mortgage and the likelihood of inheriting a house from your parents, you are more likely to think ahead about money and property and what you would like to leave to your partner and children.
Another is that if you are used to considerable affluence, you are less nervous about the future financial risks of divorce.
Also, in this 'higher managerial' gang, your parents may express some salty views about Doing The Right Thing and not messing about like characters in Coronation Street, or else they will leave the house to the cat's home, so there . . .
Governments are nervous about banging a gong in favour of marriage. They can speak warmly about 'the family', but tend to make it clear that this includes all sorts of families: single-parent, cohabiting, widowed.
They shy away from 'moralising' and praising marriage, not least because every time politicians do so, their party is promptly shaken by some disgraceful (yet hilarious) revelation of adultery.
They back off, only occasionally offering some puny tax advantage which the populace scornfully ignores. Who is going to make solemn vows just in case it saves £350 a year, and a distant prospect of your darling not paying inheritance tax when you croak?
So the strongest defence comes from the retired High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge, who saw too much misery in the family courts to ignore it. His Marriage Foundation bombards us with all those telling statistics about the disastrous effects of the decline.
Otherwise, defences of marriage tend to be left to the clergy (but who is listening?) and drowned by bitter jokes for which there are good reasons: about the absurdity of stupidly expensive weddings, when the marriage crashes and burns barely a year later, and about the risk of losing half your property to some scheming, adulterous partner who runs off with someone else.
You hear that great quip from the humorist Lewis Grizzard: 'I won't marry again — next time I'll just find a woman I don't like and give her a house.' Now, successful women feel that way, too.
We all have good friends who never married, whether for some obscure principle or just not bothering, but who raise happy, stable families. Like the politicians, we don't want to upset them.
Sometimes there are chivalrous reasons for living in what used to be called 'sin': one man I know moved on to a new partner in mid-life after a hard time with his wife but never divorced her, so that she could inherit the house and his pension. We don't often praise marriage in case it upsets those who are unmarried. But, to redress the balance, I will.
Marriage can go wrong but is basically a brilliant, useful, flexible, nurturing and enlivening thing. It does not feel like cohabitation (most of us in my generation have done a bit of both).
There is something different, awesome, about making a public declaration that you intend to try to keep this going for life; a buzz in making the tie legal and binding, contractually as well as emotionally.
You stand in front of the world saying: 'This is us. Not a temporary shack-up till we change our minds but a team, for better or worse, for richer for poorer, and let no interfering outsider dare try to break it asunder.'
Just look at the excitement and joy permission to marry brought to same-sex couples: they know its value, which is why they fought for it.
Marriage also makes you accept (no small thing) that you have tied together two families, two tribes. I remember reflecting, the morning after our wedding that from now on we were sort of responsible for one another's siblings, mothers, cousins, all that.
We might not have chosen them, but now had to take them into account, maybe rescue them when needed, consider their feelings more than when we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
A wedding is more than a show-off ceremony: it is public (even our sneaky, publicity-shy one had passers-by wandering in to the church). That declaration and status affirms marriage as a sort of cement, holding the flaky walls of society more firmly.
If every partnership was loose, informal, bound only by the emotion of the moment, we would edge closer to a lawless underworld. Victorian married propriety had its faults, heaven knows, but you could grow up safer there than down in the alleys with Bill Sikes and Nancy.
Marriage is grown-up, marriage is brave and serious: a properly provisioned, planned, hopeful, risky round-the-world voyage rather than a quick sunny trip around the bay.
In that responsibility you grow up. In that security you can relax and blossom. In that fidelity you are both free to develop other friendships and affections, because the basic, unbreakable tie is there.
Long live marriage.
By JR on Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Humans Are Set To Wipe An India-Sized Chunk Of Forest Off The Earth By 2050
More prophecy based on a straight-line extrapolation. Loss of forest cover can be regrettable but we all live on land that was once forest so we can't just assume that any given loss is bad.
The article itself notes that anti-logging laws have largely mitigated any problem in the Amazon so it is mainly S.E. Asia that is losing its native forests. The forests there are being replaced by oil-palm plantations. So we are seeing a change in forest cover, not a loss of it.
If Greenies think that the change is deplorable they need to recognize that they and the food alarmists are responsible for it. Palm-oil is a profitable crop because of the various bans on dietary fats that have been put in place by food alarmists. First saturated fats were banned in food manufacturing and now trans-fats have just about been phased out. Palm oil is all that is reasonably left for manufacturers to use.
That the human race has been using saturated fats (such as dripping or tallow) in its cookery as far back as we can go does not faze the food alarmists. The flimsiest evidence that something is bad for you sends them into hysteria, eventually pushing weary legislators into giving them the bans that they want.
No doubt palm oil will also be found to be bad for you in due course so at that point the palm oil plantations will probably be replaced by pine planations. But Greenies don't like pines, either. There's no such thing as a happy Greenie
By 2050, an area of forests the size of India is set to be wiped off the planet if humans continue on their current path of deforestation, according to a new report. That’s bad news for the creatures that depend on these forest ecosystems for survival, but it’s also bad news for the climate, as the loss of these forests will release more than 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The report, published Monday by the Center for Global Development (CGD), found that, without new policies aimed at cutting back on deforestation, 289 million hectares (about 1,115,840 square miles) of tropical forests will be cleared away. That’s a chunk, the report states, that’s equal to one-seventh of what the Earth’s total tropical forest area was in 2000.
And, according to the report, the 169 gigatons of carbon dioxide that this deforestation will unleash is equal to one-sixth of the carbon budget that humans can emit if they want to keep warming below 2°C — the level that’s generally viewed as the maximum warming Earth can endure while still avoiding the most dangerous climate impacts (and even 2°C is seen by many experts as too high).
The study, unlike other recent studies on deforestation, projects that in a business-as-usual scenario, in which the world doesn’t make any effort to reduce deforestation, tropical deforestation will increase, rather than decrease. According to the study, tropical deforestation rates in such a scenario will likely climb steadily in the 2020s and 2030s and then speed up around 2040, “as areas of high forest cover in Latin America that are currently experiencing little deforestation come under greater threat.”
The study does point to one change in policy that would cut deforestation rates and help alleviate climate change: a price on carbon. According to the report, a price of $20 per ton of carbon would keep 41 gigatons of carbon dioxide from being emitted between 2016 and 2050, and a price of $50 per ton would keep 77 gigatons from being emitted.
“Our analysis corroborates the conclusions of previous studies that reducing tropical deforestation is a sizable and low-cost option for mitigating climate change,” the study’s authors write. “In contrast to previous studies, we project that the amount of emissions that can be avoided at low-cost by reducing tropical deforestation will increase rather than decrease in future decades.”
The study also noted that, if all tropical countries put in place anti-deforestation laws that were “as effective as those in the Brazilian Amazon post-2004,” then 60 gigatons of carbon dioxide would be kept out of the atmosphere. Brazil took action against deforestation in 2004 and 2008, and deforestation rates in the country have fallen from 27,000 square kilometers (about 10,424 square miles) in 2004 to 7,000 square kilometers (about 2,700 square miles) in 2010
More twaddle HERE
By JR on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Bright young thing says America is responsible for the practice of sex slavery by ISIS
Kecia Ali is a Professor of religion at Boston university. She has written an article which looks at the assertion by ISIS that sex slavery is Islamic. She concludes that it is permitted by Islam but not obligatory. She then goes on to conclude her article as follows:
"In focusing on current abuses in the Middle East, perpetrated by those claiming the mantle of Islam, Americans -- whose Constitution continues to permit enslavement as punishment for crime -- deflect attention from partial U.S. responsibility for the current crisis in Iraq. Sanctions followed by military invasion and its brutal aftermath laid the groundwork for the situation Callimachi describes. Moral high ground is in short supply. The core idea animating enslavement is that some lives matter more than others. As any American who has been paying attention knows, this idea has not perished from the earth."
Judging by her name she could be of Turkish descent and, as one would therefore expect, is in general very pro-Muslim. Robert Spencer points out that she misrepresents Islam. Muslim apologists have to do that these days
Pebbles Hooper (@PebblesHooper) is another victim of the culture wars. She is a fashionable young New Zealand woman who unwisely but quite insightfully made an unsympathetic comment about some stupid behaviour by a Maori family. She lost her job as a columnist at a NZ newspaper over it. On her Twitter site she now lists herself as follows: "Contributing fashion editor at Remix Magazine. Illustrator. Satan"
Good to see she has not lost her sense of humor. She is herself a quarter Chinese. Her Facebook site is here
House prices hurting Australia and nation's policies making it worse
Increased housing prices are what must happen when a high level of immigration hits land-use rigidities. It is time that some categories of immigration were cut back. Australia has already done its fair share of taking "refugees" for instance. With both Greenies and Nimbys intent on freezing land use, freeing up land for new residential construction is politically difficult.
The explanations given below for the problem are just ignorant Leftism -- a chance to trot out their usual myths. I note some in the text
The explanations given below for the problem are just ignorant Leftism -- a chance to trot out their usual myths. I note some in the text
The massive jump in the cost of buying or renting a house is having a profoundly negative impact on Australia, and policies imposed by Canberra and state governments are making the problem worse, a housing expert has warned.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday released Australia's Welfare 2015, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's latest two-yearly national welfare report card.
The detailed snapshot of the health and wellbeing of Australians found the country is doing well in education and health, although there were serious areas of inequity for some indigenous Australians, some elderly and disabled people, those with a disability and people with a mental illness.
The report also showed a big jump in the number of Australians in housing stress, with more people renting and a dramatic fall in the number of people who own their homes outright.
It found an increasing proportion of young Australians still living with their parents into their mid-20s.
The report shows the great Australian dream becoming an unattainable fantasy for more people. Australian homes are the third-least affordable of OECD countries with only New Zealand and Canada having a higher price-to-income ratio.
There has also been a big jump in the number of people either living in social housing, or on a waiting list for a place. The number of homeless Australians has jumped, with a quarter of a million Australians accessing specialist homelessness services in 2014, the report said –a 4 per cent rise in a single year.
Australia's housing market is becoming increasingly unaffordable, according to Kate Shaw, an urban geographer at Melbourne University and a planning and housing expert.
"This is not a natural consequence of the increase in living and health standards documented in the report," Dr Shaw said. "The severe unaffordability of housing in Australia is due to poor policy decisions and could have been avoided. This is not part and parcel of being a wealthy country."
In the year to July, Melbourne house prices climbed 10.2 per cent, Sydney 16.2 per cent, and national capital average prices by 9.8 per cent.
Asked which other wealthy countries around the world had avoided such dramatic house price rises in recent years, Dr Shaw said: "All of them, except perhaps Canada, which suffers from the same problems. "The drivers there are the same – both Australia and Canada are regarded as very safe places to invest."
She said there should be better legislated protection for renters, who now make up a third of all households, and the federal government must remove tax concessions and incentives for investors. [More protection for renters will WORSEN the problem. It must and always does]
"Specifically negative gearing and the 50 per cent discount on capital gains tax," she said. "If these were phased out we would have billions of dollars every year to invest in affordable social, community and public housing." [And largely destroy private construction for rental. The woman is a Leftist ignoramus]
There was, Dr Shaw said, "A whole layer of low to medium-income housing arrangements provided in Canada and Germany and so many other places in the world that we have just completely ignored – they don't exist in Australia. And because we don't have them, it is increasing the pressure on the private rental market."
The report found that the proportion of people in rental stress, in which households pay more than one-third of their income on accommodation, rose from 35 per cent in 2007-08 to 41 per cent in 2011-12.
And it did not get much easier for mortgage payers, the report found. "Households with low to moderate incomes who manage to acquire their own homes sometimes cut back on necessities in order to meet mortgage repayments, especially in the early years." [So what else is new?]
A majority of over-65s own a home outright but the proportion has fallen from 78 per cent in 2002 to 71 per cent in 2011.
Higher living costs are associated with an increase in the rise in the rate of people working past retirement age. The proportion of Australians aged 55-64 who have retired fell from 49 per cent to 26 per cent between 1997 and 2012–13 and from 93 per cent to 77 per cent for those aged 65 and over.
Kerry Flanagan, acting director of the AIHW, said Australians were living longer and were healthier in senior years. "Adult participation in the labour force is higher than 20 years ago, and while some people are staying at work longer after retirement, the majority of older Australians are not using aged-care services," she said.
Ms Flanagan said other issues flagged in the report included increases in children receiving child protection services, youth unemployment and the proportion of young people who are not in employment, education or training.
By JR on Sunday, August 23, 2015
Left-Right Differences on right and wrong
Dennis Prager is right below but seems only dimly aware of the philosophical difficulties in the idea of moral truth. The basic problem is: "How do we check it?" Where is the information that confirms what we think? If I think that a dog has four legs, that is easy to check. I just look. But where do we look if we think abortion is wrong? Under a rock somewhere? A statement "X is wrong" sounds like "grass is green" but is clearly very different. There is no obvious way to check it. That it is just an opinion is the obvious conclusion. And that is where Leftists get their claim that "There is no such thing as right and wrong".
Christians of course have no such difficulties. The Ten Commandments say: "Thou shalt not kill" so abortion is clearly wrong.
But many conservatives (particularly in Australia) are not religious. Even if they believe in God, the idea that the churches know any more about him than anyone else just seems implausible. So what do they do about morality?
They view morality as having evolved. Moral standards are what have enabled us to survive as social creatures. They are what has been found to work in building a civilized society. If we abandon them we embark on a voyage without a compass and without a map. And the sorry results of abandoning them are often seen. When, for instance, standards of restraint, moderation and self-discipline are abandoned in favor of "me, me, me" we often find people descending into drug abuse and early, miserable death. Most people would wish not to end that way.
The only really interesting question concerns the very long time humans have had to acquire ideas about what has survival value and what has not. As far back as history takes us, we know that formal moral codes have changed little over the last 4 or 5 thousand years. The code of Hammurabi (who died around 2000 BC) has a lot in common with the book of Leviticus. So the ideas of right behavior that have guided us to where we are today are pretty clear. Successive generations and successive societies have come to pretty similar conclusions about what aids survival and the good life. There are differences of detail but the basics alter little.
But does the encoding of those ideas go back even further? It does. It goes back a very long way indeed. Chimpanzees have been observed to have behaviour customs that assist the survival of their troop. And it seems that some of the behaviours concerned are learned -- but not all. Chimps still behave in chimp-like ways even if brought up in isolation from other chimps. So some instincts of right behaviour have apparently become genetically coded and transmitted among chimps. How much more so should that have happened in us?
And it has. We very often have an instinctive response that something is "Just wrong" (harming babies, for instance). The "authority" for the rightness or wrongness of something is within us, not anywhere outside of us. We cannot find it under a rock or anywhere else. It is a large part of what is called our "conscience". It is our evolutionary wisdom. It is a set of responses that comes from deep within the past of our (human) race. Morality really is in our genes. The history of our species is encoded in us.
It is of course not a perfect guide to adaptive behaviour any more than any law is. There are always situations that a law does not fit well, and our instincts of rightness can be swamped by powerful external influences -- such as a belief in Islam. That explains why Muslim parents can rejoice in their children blowing themselves up as suicide bombers. All normal parental instincts are swamped by mental conclusions about what has value.
So there will always be debate about what is right and wrong. For non-psychopathic individuals, however, moral instincts will be our best guide, particularly when supported and supplemented by verbal traditions such as the Ten Commandments. We abandon our past at our peril.
There are, of course, no unchallengeable answers in philosophy. A moral rejectionist might, for instance, say: "What's all this bit about survival? That doesn't bother me. I just want to enjoy myself while I am here. Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse!" There is no good answer to that if it is a sincerely held view but it rarely is. I could, for instance, reply: "Then you will not object if I put a bullet through your brain right now". That will normally induce some hesitancy.
We see something similar when Leftists say that "There is no such thing as right and wrong". They will very often follow that immediately by a claim that racism, inequality or something else is wrong. Racism is something that does not exist?? Moral rejectionists have their own very large philosophical problems -- which is why they need Freudian neurotic strategies such as denial and compartmentalization to remain (marginally) sane
How can we determine what is morally right? The answer to this question — the most important question human beings need to answer — is a major difference between Left and Right.
For conservatives, the answer is, and has always been, that there are moral truths — objective moral standards — to which every person is accountable. In America, this has meant accountability to the Creator, the God of the Bible, and to Judeo-Christian values.
For the Left, the answer has always been — meaning since Karl Marx, the father of Leftism — that there is no transcendent source of morality. On the contrary, as Marx wrote, “Man is God,” and therefore each human being is the author of his or her own moral standards.
There are, of course, both religious leftists and secular conservatives, but the secular-religious difference explains many of the fundamental differences between Right and Left.
As a rule, leftists fear and have contempt for people who base their values on a transcendent source such as religion and the Bible. Such people, in the Left’s view, “can’t think for themselves — they need a God and a religion to tell them what’s right and wrong.” Leftists contrast these conservatives with themselves, people who think issues through and do not need God or religion.
This ideal of thinking everything through for oneself sounds admirable. And to a certain extent it is. People should think things through. And too often, religious people can sound like they haven’t done so.
But if there is no God and religion, there are no moral truths, only moral opinions. Without God and religion, good and evil, right and wrong, don’t objectively exist. They are subjective terms that just mean “I like” or “I don’t like.”
Therefore, no matter how much one thinks things through, without God and religion — specifically, the God of and the religions based on the Bible — the individual’s conclusions about what is right or wrong can only be opinions about what is right or wrong. Without God and religion, morally speaking, there is no fixed North or fixed South. The needle points wherever the owner of the compass thinks it ought to point.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Recently, in The New York Times, a professor of philosophy wrote about this complete absence of moral truth among younger Americans:
“What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised? I was.
"The overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.
"Our public schools teach … there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths.
"It should not be a surprise that there is rampant cheating on college campuses: If we’ve taught our students for 12 years that there is no fact of the matter as to whether cheating is wrong, we can’t very well blame them for doing so later on.”
So, then, if there is no moral truth, how do most secular people arrive at moral decisions? According to how they feel. On the Left, personal feelings usually supplant objective standards.
Many liberal parents and teachers do not tell their children what is right and wrong. Rather, they ask their children and students, “How do you feel about it?”
In fact, feelings often supplant reason, not just moral truths. On the Left, feelings for the poor, for selected minorities, for the downtrodden, gays, women, Muslims and others are frequently all that is necessary to formulate policy.
For the conservative, as important as feelings may be, feelings are just not as important as standards in making social policy. But for the contemporary liberal, feeling — or “compassion,” as the Left puts it — is determinative.
As much as one may — and should — feel about historic injustices committed against black Americans, the conservative will not eliminate standards. Therefore, conservatives oppose lowering admissions standards at academic institutions for black students; liberal compassion is for it.
Conservatives generally oppose changing the marital standard of one man-one woman; liberals' compassion for gays supports it. Indeed, given the supplanting of standards with feelings, liberals will find it difficult to oppose polygamy. If love between people is the criterion for marriage, two people who love a third person should not be denied the right to marry that person.
Conservatives oppose abolishing the biological standard of gender identity and therefore oppose allowing men who identify as women to play on women’s sports teams; liberals have compassion for the transgendered and therefore drop the athletic standard.
Conservatives' commitment to a standard of true and false means identifying terrorists as Islamic; liberals feel for the many good Muslims in the world and therefore often refuse to identify Islamic terror by name.
In his Farewell Address, President George Washington’s most famous speech, the first president perfectly expressed the conservative view on the need for God and religion for moral standards and for societal standards generally:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports … these firmest props of the duties of Man and citizens.”
By JR on Saturday, August 22, 2015
The End of the Arctic? Ocean Could be Ice Free by 2015
So said well-known Warmist idiot Mark Hertsgaard in 2013 -- excerpt below. No need to say he is a false prophet, is there? Arctic ice has in fact become more extensive recently. What he says sounds so reasonable and well-informed. Paranoid schizophrenics often do. Though I think he is really just a publicity hound who will do and say whatever it takes to get noticed. He is known to be economical with the truth, cheerfully representing himself as being what he is not. Another one of his gems is that we are going to run out of wheat. He also fancies himself as Galileo but has got it exactly backwards. It is Hertsgaard who relies on conventional authority and who quotes not one single scientific fact. He's diligent in his evangelism, though. He has written six books including, most recently, “HOT: Living Through the Next 50 Years on Earth.”
Say goodbye to polar bears and a whole lot of ice. New research suggests the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2015, with devastating consequences for the world. Can it be stopped?
Someone better tell Santa Claus. First it was polar bears that were threatened by global warming. Now it’s reindeer too. As temperatures in the Arctic skyrocket, reindeer are suffering staggeringly large, rapid population losses. “Herds of reindeer have declined by one-third since the 1990s as their access to food sources, breeding grounds and historic migration routes have been altered,” reports the environmental audit committee of the British Parliament.
The entire planet is getting hotter, but the top of the world is warming twice as fast as the global average. One leading expert, Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, says the Arctic Ocean could be completely free of ice in summer as soon as 2015. An overheated Arctic in turn threatens catastrophic knock-on effects for the rest of the globe, including more extreme weather; faster sea level rise; and a higher chance of accelerating global warming to where it becomes unstoppable—what scientists refer to as “runaway” global warming.
Yet even as the number of reindeer in the Arctic is declining, the number of warships, cargo vessels and drilling rigs is increasing. In a little-noticed announcement, the United States Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, said on November 22 that the Pentagon is increasing its Arctic presence. Citing a “potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas,” Hagel declared that the US “will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats.” For his part, Russian president Vladimir Putin has pledged to turn the Arctic into “an international transport artery” that could cut one-third of the travel time and costs for trade between Europe and Asia compared to the traditional route through the Suez Canal. China, too, is setting its sights upon the Arctic. In May, it gained “observer” status on the Arctic Council—a high level intergovernmental group that coordinates international policies at the top of the world—despite its lack of territorial holdings in the Arctic. Chinese state-owned firms have also signed deals to exploit oil, gas and minerals in the Arctic.
Arctic ice cover has been declining since the 1950s, said professor Wadhams, who has led forty polar expeditions since first visiting the region in 1969. The biggest decline occurred in 2007, when the area covered by ice in summer decreased to roughly half of its usual amount. That left “an ocean of open water at the top of the planet—an unprecedented effect,” Wadhams said in an interview.
There was another large decrease in 2012, but Wadhams and other experts also worry that the thickness of Arctic ice is plummeting. Since satellites cannot accurately measure ice thickness, Wadhams has been going on board British nuclear submarines to map the ice from below with sonar. Arctic ice thickness has declined by 43 percent between the 1970s and 2000s, Wadhams has calculated, “an enormous loss” that he attributes to the higher temperatures of both air and sea in the Arctic.
By JR on Friday, August 21, 2015
Will American Fascism ever be defeated?
Here's a statement that few Americans will recognize as true:
"America started out as a Communist society but declined into a Fascist society. And like all Fascist societies it spilt a lot of blood getting power into the hands of its elite"
A bizarre statement? It's certainly unorthodox but very solidly based in history. We all know that the Founding Fathers were devout religious communists with all land owned in common until a third of them died of starvation. Only then did they reinstate private property. Communists don't relinquish control easily.
But what's this decline into Fascism? That is clearly set out in America's most famous document. Most Americans have clearly not read the Declaration of Independence. They know the few grand statements at the beginning of it but that is all. So before I say anything more, I ask readers to read it. It is here.
What's all that stuff in the middle of it about laws? Just some old stuff that is no longer relevant? To the contrary, that is the nitty gritty of the document. What it says is that the colonial legislators were busily making laws to tell their citizens what they must and must not do. And that pesky libertarian King kept over-ruling them! The King stood in the way of the colonial elite having power over the people.
And regulating everything is what Fascists do. Fascists believe in strong central power -- for the "good" of the people, of course. Mussolini prophesied that Fascism would rule the 20th century -- and he was right. All countries are now Fascist. They now all have governments that try to regulate all sorts of minutiae in peoples' lives. They in fact try to regulate more than the 20th century Fascist regimes ever did -- diet, for instance.
And the marginalization and prosecution of dissent is very Fascist. And that is well underway -- with Christians in particular losing their jobs and being fined for articulating and standing by their Biblical beliefs.
And Fascist bloodshed? We have seen that the War of Independence was really a war for the power of the colonial legislators and Abraham Lincoln himself, in his famous letter to Horace Greeley, admitted that he waged his war not for the slaves but only for "the union" -- i.e. control of the whole territory of the USA by the central government.
And Fascist wars? How about Bill Clinton waging war on the Christian Serbs in defence of Muslim Kosovars? And what good did the Iraq intervention do? And don't get me started about FDR and Pearl Harbor. The Afghanistan involvement was a response to attack from there so that war was advisable. But it was still a vast loss of fine American lives for no gain. Just dropping a big one on Kandahar was all that was needed. An indiscriminate attack in response to an indiscriminate attack would simply be to answer the adversary in a language that it would understand.
Libertarians are vocal opponents of government power but are too few to limit it. I am of course one of those
One can only hope that conservative legislators come to realize the company they are in when they support or fail to oppose regulation of various kinds -- and ask themselves what right they have to tell others what to do. They have no right. All they have is might. And Leftists, of course, deny that there is anything such as right and wrong at all. They are nihilists whose only motive is destruction. And laws can be very destructive.
By JR on Thursday, August 20, 2015
Melbourne named world's most liveable city again, Adelaide ranked fifth
These rankings do tell something about the quality of life in the cities concerned but the differences are highly subjective. Another ranking put Tokyo first! Most of the raters in the present case would have been from England's Home Counties. So it is amusing to note how similar to the Home Counties the highly rated cities are. 4 out of the top 5 were even English-speaking! The same 4 were also in monarchies with the Queen as Head of State. Mustn't laugh! Definitely congenial places for English people. But hey! I like Melbourne too
Melbourne has been named the world's most liveable city for the fifth year in a row, achieving a near perfect score on the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) liveability survey of 140 cities.
The survey rated cities out of 100 in the areas of health care, education, stability, culture and environment and infrastructure. Melbourne again achieved a score of 97.5, just two-and-a-half points shy of perfection. The five most liveable cities:
Adelaide was ranked in fifth place again with an overall rating of 96.6.
"Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density," the EIU report said.
"These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure."
Seven of the top 10 scoring cities were in Australia and Canada.
Melbourne is Australia's fastest-growing capital and the only city in the world to have won the title five consecutive times. International visits have increased by 8 per cent in that time.
While celebrating the ranking, the Victorian Government said it would "never be complacent", investing $20 billion in transport infrastructure and $5.4 billion in health and education to create a stronger economy.
"Melbourne has the best of everything and this title proves it," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said. "Perfect scores in health care, education and infrastructure, culture, environment and sport are all proof there's no place like Victoria."
Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle said he was "very proud" of the accolade. "It is particularly pleasing in a year when the Economist Intelligence Unit notes that many cities lost ground," he said. "We must be doing something right in our cities in this part of the world."
By JR on Wednesday, August 19, 2015
How Amusing! A Warmist attack on Prof. Judith Curry that is totally lacking in substance
Unlike the Left, I am not afraid to hear what people with different opinions to mine say. So I read a fair bit of the stuff that emanates from the Green/Left. It's mainly amusing for its feeble reasoning and boiling anger but occasionally something seems worth mentioning. A recent attack on Judith Curry is a case in point.
I won't reproduce the attack as it is mostly abuse and is full of foul language but I give the source below for those who wish to check. The attempted hit-piece is by the Tony Heller impersonator, Greg Laden, and is titled "As the World Burns, Episode I: Judith Curry & Mark Steyn, Partners in Slime". Just the title tells you most of what you need to know, I think.
So does the article parade some new climate facts? Of course not. Warmists basically don't have any. All they have is speculation, lies and abuse -- like pretending that statistically non-significant temperature changes exist.
The post seems to have been inspired by the fact that a well-known and senior climatologist, Wallace Broecker, said some derogatory things about "Hockeystick" Mann. Laden wants to discredit what Broecker said. How does he do that?
He points out that Broecker does not pull his punches. If he thinks something is crap, he says so. He is an energetic and fearless critic. Therefore Broecker's adverse comments about Mann reflect ill will rather than a considered judgment.
I think you can see that, when I put Laden's argument in temperate language, it just does not hold up. There is no evidence presented to say that Broecker has ever been wrong about anything. We don't even have a critique of what he said about Mann. All we have is an attack on Broecker's character: How typically Warmist. And how infantile!
Did I say " feeble reasoning and boiling anger"?
By JR on Tuesday, August 18, 2015
My Alternative Wikipedia
Over the years I have on various occasions attempted to make contributions to Wikipedia. Whatever I put up there, however, gets wiped. Wikipedia editors are clearly Left-leaning so I can understand that they wipe anything written from my libertarian/conservative viewpoint. But even stuff with no obvious political slant disappears.
From what I can see, Wikipedia editors in fact spend most of their day deleting what others have put up. So there is clearly an informally-specified Wikipedia culture that you have to conform to if you wish your writings to appear there. It also seems likely that, once you have been identified as a bad egg, you are just totally black-banned, no matter how good what you want to post may be.
That is something of a pity as some of the information I try to put up is not found anywhere else in English. My major recreational interest these days is Austro/Hungarian operetta. I spend a couple of hours nightly watching it. Rather frivolous, I guess, but I have the privilege of reading and writing serious stuff all day so light relief has its place.
So I have come to know rather a lot about it. Being the academic type, I also research the shows as well as watching them. I look at who is singing, who the artistic director is and other details. I try to accumulate biographical information about the singers, about the historical background, and information about particular notable performances.
Operetta does have a worldwide audience but it is almost all sung and written in German and the information about it, including libretti, is also mostly in German. So if English Wikipedia does have any information at all about (say) a particular singer, it will mostly be pretty bare-bones. Wikipedia in German, and sometimes in Italian, will have much more information. And German Wikipedia is only a start. There are many music-oriented German-language sites that include operetta information.
Since I can read German and Italian (the latter with difficulty) I can however usually find out quite a lot more about a singer than most people in the English-speaking world would be able to. And I am inclined to pass on that information in English. But Wikipedia won't let me.
So I have set up My Alternative Wikipedia to draw together my posts on matters that I think have reference interest. It's not all operetta but mostly so. And that may be a useful approach. Most of the performers in operetta are from Europe and have European names -- such as Ingeborg Hallstein or Dagmar Schellenberger -- that would rarely be encountered in English-language sources. So a Google search on those names should lead quickly to my site.
And having an operetta database can lead you to the unexpected. If, for instance, you Google the very popular "Ivan Rebroff", you will find a multitude of well-deserved references to him as a jolly Russian bass singer of both popular and operatic works. But without a comprehensive reference to operetta, you may not realize that he was also a brilliant comic actor. His performance of red-faced rage at the rejection of his "daughter" in a 1970s performance of Zigeunerbaron is far and away the best I have seen. His whole life was an act, in fact. He was a German, not a Russian. And he died a Greek. As all conservatives know, reality is complicated.
First, however, we have to get Google to index my site. They do not so far appear to have done so. So I would be much obliged if anybody reading this would put up a link to my new site on any site that they may run. The more links there are to it, the more likely it will appear in Google searches.
And I should perhaps note that Austro/Hungarian operetta is very politically incorrect these days. It was written around 100 years ago so reflects a more natural set of values. Membership of the military is, for instance, treated with great respect, and even is to some extent glorified. No modern Leftist would applaud that. But, as a former Sergeant in the Australian army, I do myself have every respect for the military.
And we also see monarchist sentiments at times -- but only inhabitants of a monarchy -- and I am one -- will understand that.
The politics of racism are flourishing in Australia (?)
The little lady who wrote the article below is a Ph.D. student. One hopes that her supervisors will make her up her game soon. She seems not to have noticed that Muslims are a religion, not a race. The difference? Muslims are of many races and you can change your religion but not your race. Yet she bases her entire claim of racism on Australia on the fact that there are some Australians who are critical of Muslims. Dim!
And why is criticism of Muslims in any way illegitimate? Leftists can be searingly critical of Christians! But "that's different", I guess. Sheer hypocrisy more like it
She also joins the Leftist mob in claiming that the booing of Adam Goodes was racist but fails to mention that other AFL stars like Wayne Carey, James Hird, Jason Akermanis and Nick Riewoldt were also heavily booed in their day. Was that racist too? Or is booing just what AFL fans do? It's just opinion that the booing of Goodes was racist. If the booing of Goodes shows Australia as racist, how come he has twice won the Brownlow Medal, given to the “fairest and best” player in the game? That's pretty strange racism isn't it? But it's an article of deep faith to Leftists that Australians are racist so any "evidence" for that belief will do and no contrary evidence will be admitted. More on the Goodes affair here.
No doubt there are some racists in Australia but the only real issue is its prevalence. Are we going to brand a whole nation with the deeds and ideas of a few? It's a breach of natural justice to blame someone for the deeds of others. And if racism IS prevalent in Australia, how come so many people of all races have risked their lives to get here on rickety boats, with many drowning in the process? It just seems to be impossible for a Leftist to look at ALL the evidence. Their preconceptions are sacred. Sad souls
By Susie Latham
It might be tempting to dismiss claims by new anti-Muslim political party Australian Liberty Alliance that it hopes to eventually poll "in the 20 per cent bracket" at election time as wishful thinking, but this would be a serious mistake.
Racism is flourishing in Australia. AFL legend Adam Goodes has been criticised by many public figures for drawing attention to it and there have already been many rallies against Muslims nationwide this year.
The Abbott government has fostered this atmosphere by declaring that people have the right to be bigots and attempting to repeal part of the Racial Discrimination Act. Banning the burqa in Parliament, declaring that a death cult is coming for us at every conceivable opportunity, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi's instigation of an inquiry into halal food certification, and Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen addressing a Reclaim Australia rally suggest that an embattled government is belatedly acting on Scott Morrison's advice to exploit community concern about Muslims.
The Opposition's silence, seen by some as a clever way to avoid being wedged on national security, has also contributed.
Although right-wing racist groups have always existed on the fringes of Australian society, the danger posed by a lack of national political leadership on racism and the emergence of the ALA is that it will propel bigotry into the mainstream. Many Muslims feel that sentiment towards them has never been more negative, and having candidates stand for election gives anti-Muslim bigots a public platform and confers legitimacy on their views.
Numbers turning up to rallies against Muslims have been relatively small, but almost 30,000 people "liked" the Reclaim Australia Rally Facebook page. Results of a national study released in 2011 indicated as many as 49 per cent of Australians held negative sentiments towards Muslims. Expressing this on a ballot paper is safe, easy and private.
The ALA may denounce violence and the neo-Nazis associated with some anti-Muslim groups, but you can be sure members of these groups, and others carrying out physical and verbal attacks on Muslims, will be voting for ALA candidates.
In several forums Muslim women have said they are restricting their movements and clothing choices out of fear. Others, including a 90-year-old man, a couple in their 80s and a community activist have had offensive letters posted to their home addresses. Australian Muslims minding their own business have been verbally harangued at their workplaces, on public transport and in the supermarket.
Extremist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has advised the ALA and will be the guest of honour at its launch in Perth in October, described a poll that claimed more than half the Muslims living in Holland feel less welcome and think more often about leaving as "good news". As the ALA recently reminded its members, anti-Muslim parties may initially struggle, but in "the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, France and Italy – they are supported by millions [and] already poll in the 20 per cent bracket".
The ALA's strong connections to successful anti-Muslim groups in Europe and the US set it apart from groups such as Reclaim Australia and One Nation. It is more sophisticated, well-financed and better organised. Debbie Robinson, a Perth-based director of ALA, is also a member of the group Stop Islamisation of Nations (SION). Other members of SION include US anti-Islam commentators Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.
At a time when political leadership has been wanting but decent Australians have taken it upon themselves to speak out against the racism directed at AFL player Adam Goodes, the same unity and organisation is needed to stop the ALA from making headway here and leaving Australian Muslims feeling similarly devastated.
U.S.-based tech entrepreneur goes on epic Facebook RANT about what's wrong with Australia
He's pretty peeved that his exchange-rate bets went wrong. In the way of these things, the Oz dollar was for a while greatly overvalued and he still doesn't realize that.
His comments on negative gearing show a complete ignorance of normal accounting practice but I entirely agree that Australians tend to be "apathetic". "Relaxed" and "laid back" are other words for that. It is however probably a large part of the reason why Australia's rate of homicide is a fraction of America's. A pretty good price to pay, I think.
Our friend seems to be a tech nerd so he has probably never heard of German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. Leibniz put forward the provocative thesis is that we live in "the best of all possible worlds". It's probably not true but it draws attention to the fact that bad things can sometimes be preconditions for good things. Hence the probable association of an apathetic population with a low rate of per capita homicide. If nothing much bothers you, you are probably not going to be bothered enough to blow somebody else's brains out.
Similarly, the curfew on nightclubs was put in place after a lot of late-night drunken brawls killed a few people and made the streets at night generally unsafe. The probabilities are that there are some people alive today who would not be if a nightclub free-for-all had remained in place. Mr Holmes à Court has a Leftist naivety about the causes of things
An entrepreneur who left Sydney to found a San Francisco start-up has slammed 'lazy' Australians in a long Facebook rant about the government and economy.
Nick Holmes à Court, founder of tech companies including BuzzNumbers and GoodCall, took to social media to question the changes to Australia he has noticed over the past two years while living the U.S. in a post that has been shared more than 1000 times.
Mr Holmes à Court, a distant relative of one of Australia's richest women Janet Holmes à Court, criticised everything from the property industry, to internet censorship laws, to Sydney's nightclub lockout laws.
'Can anyone explain to me WTF is going on in Australia...' he wrote. 'In the 2 years since we left Sydney, institutions like [Kings Cross nightclub] Hugos have closed, Gowings has opened, and you cant buy wine after 10pm or enter a nightclub after 1am (hint, the purpose of a nightclub is in the name).
Mr Holmes à Court went on to criticise the people of Australia for being too apathetic. 'But no one in Australia gives a f***. The lucky country? More like the lazy country.
'We are about to get f***ed so hard by global corporate interests, but the average Australian still thinks "she’ll be right mate".
'At the same time - housing pricing are up 20% in the last 2 years, and $5BN in annual tax losses are thrown to the gutter in negative gearing to make baby boomers richer at the expense of our generation whilst we cut all investment in innovation and future jobs.
'And what is worse, to keep the bubble rolling, Australia is giving away Visas to Chinese investors if they buy property - lets keep the party going baby!'
Mr Holmes à Court said he predicted 'tough times ahead' but that he hoped to be wrong. 'I love Australia, it’s my home, and I hope to grow old and die there. And it really saddens me to see how badly we are f***ing ourselves over as a nation,' he said.
'Paul Keating once argued this was "the recession we had to have" in the 80’s. I wonder what recession Australia needs to have this time to re-correct this unprecedented property and credit bubble.'
Mr Holmes à Court founded social media monitoring company BuzzNumbers in 2007, and it was acquired by Sentia Media in 2012.
In 2013 he founded email automation company GoodCall, which he operates from San Francisco. He also works with Startmate, an organisation that aims to help young Australian entrepreneurs get venture capital in the U.S.
By JR on Sunday, August 16, 2015
Hitler's Leftism and Jewish Leftism
Hitler called his political party, "The National Socialist German Worker's Party", Nazi for short. And all Socialist Worker's Parties that I know of are to at least some degree Trotskyist, meaning far Leftist. Even the Soviet Union was not socialist enough for Trotsky. He called it "Bonapartist", which is an enormous insult in Marxist circles. Bonapartism was an early form of Fascism. So Hitler placed himself very firmly in the socialist camp.
But those who know something about it sometimes say that Hitler was more of a nationalist than a socialist and there is truth in that. Nazism was actually a fairly coherent doctrine and in it socialism actually sprang from its nationalism. And Hitler was quite explicit about that. He saw Germans as a family and family members look after one-another.
Have a look at the 1939 Nazi propaganda placard below (a "Wochenspruch" for the Gau Weser/Ems). The placard promotes one of Hitler's sayings. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people".
Like Bismarck before him, Hitler was a pan-German nationalist. He saw all Germans as one family ("Volk") that was sadly disunited and wanted to re-unite them as one big happy family. He was not as wise as Bismarck, however. He didn't quit while he was ahead. Bismarck waged a short sharp and very successful war (the Franco-Prussian war of 1870) and then spent the rest of his days avoiding war -- ushering in what came to be known as the "Belle Epoque", a time of general European peace which produced a great flowering of the arts, a period that lasted until 1914.
So by the time Hitler came along, Germany was largely united into a single legal entity. Bismarck had accomplished that. But it was a very fragile unity. The Laender (states) that were formed out of the old German kingdoms and principalities still retained the prime loyalty of most Germans. They thought of themselves (for instance) as Bavarians first and citizens of the Deutsches Reich second. And, even worse, there were still some German speaking lands that were outside the Deutsches Reich, Austria in particular. And Hitler was an Austrian.
But far worse than those elements of disunity were the class enmities and struggles of his day. Even before WWI, there was a lot of unrest in Vienna. And that intensified in the wake of the WWI defeat, when Germany was in turmoil. The Marxists exploited that turmoil. There were even minor revolutions on some occasions. And the central element of Marxist thinking is of course social class and class war was their explicit aim.
That filled Hitler with horror. To have Germans making war on one another was the very antithesis of what he wanted. The Marxists wanted bloody revolution while Hitler wanted one big happy family.
Fascism is now dead but the Marxist-inspired Leftism of Hitler's day is still with us. It is what we recognize as Leftism today. Nobody preaches "one big happy family" Leftism today but a diluted form of class-war is still very much with us. Modern-day Leftists too want to rip down the customs and arrangements of our society and replace that with some incoherently conceived utopia. Democracy restrains them but they introduce as many destructive policies as they can get away with.
So if you don't like the sound of modern Leftism, you might have some understanding of how the version of that in Hitler's day sounded to Hitler. It sounded demonic. But it was clearly threatening to all he stood for so he studied it.
And before he came from his home in Linz to "the big smoke" (Vienna) he says he had no particular thoughts about Jews, regarding them as just another religion.
But let Hitler speak for himself about his years in prewar Vienna (From Chap. 2 of Mein Kampf). First we read of his horror at the nihilism of the Austrian Social Democrats, at that time a heavily Marxist party but with some rather startling parallels to modern-day mainstream Leftism. Then we read what he found about the leading lights in that party. Key excerpts :
My first encounter with the Social Democrats occurred during my employment as a building worker. These men rejected everything: the nation as an invention of the 'capitalistic' (how often was I forced to hear this single word!) classes; the fatherland as an instrument of the bourgeoisie for the exploitation of the working class; the authority of law as a means for oppressing the proletariat; the school as an institution for breeding slaves and slaveholders; religion as a means for stultifying the people and making them easier to exploit; morality as a symptom of stupid, sheeplike patience, etc. There was absolutely nothing which was not drawn through the mud of a terrifying depths
More than any theoretical literature, my daily reading of the Social Democratic press enabled me to study the inner nature of these thought-processes.
The greater insight I gathered into the external character of Social Democracy, the greater became my longing to comprehend the inner core of this doctrine.
The official party literature was not much use for this purpose. In so far as it deals with economic questions, its assertions and proofs are false; in so far as it treats of political aims, it lies. Moreover, I was inwardly repelled by the newfangled pettifogging phraseology and the style in which it was written. With an enormous expenditure of words, unclear in content or incomprehensible as to meaning, they stammer an endless hodgepodge of phrases purportedly as witty as in reality they are meaningless. Only our decadent metropolitan bohemians can feel at home in this maze of reasoning and cull an 'inner experience' from this dung-heap of literary dadaism.
However, by balancing the theoretical untruth and nonsense of this doctrine with the reality of the phenomenon, I gradually obtained a clear picture of its intrinsic will.
At such times I was overcome by gloomy foreboding and malignant fear. Then I saw before me a doctrine, comprised of egotism and hate, which can lead to victory pursuant to mathematical laws, but in so doing must put an end to humanity.
I gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was directed predominantly by Jews; yet I did not attribute any special significance to this circumstance, since conditions were exactly the same in the other papers. Yet one fact seemed conspicuous: there was not one paper with Jews working on it which could have been regarded as truly national according to my education and way of thinking.
I swallowed my disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so doing that I endeavoured to become more closely acquainted with the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery. From the publisher down, they were all Jews.
I took all the Social Democratic pamphlets I could lay hands on and sought the names of their authors: Jews. I noted the names of the leaders; by far the greatest part were likewise members of the 'chosen people,' whether they were representatives in the Reichsrat or trade-union secretaries, the heads of organizations or street agitators. It was always the same gruesome picture. The names of the Austerlitzes, Davids, Adlers, Ellenbogens, etc., will remain forever graven in my memory. One thing had grown clear to me: the party with whose petty representatives I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a foreign people
And once the Marxist Jews of prewar Vienna had fired him up, Hitler began to see a malign influence of Jews everywhere, as later chapters of Mein Kampf reveal and as at least some historians document and as was common in Germany anyway.
Apologies for the long quote but I wanted to let Hitler speak for himself before putting his thinking into my words. And much of what he said does have resonance today. It is surely fascinating that much of what he says about the Social Democrats (the mainstream Leftists of his day) could equally be said of modern-day Leftists. When he described Leftist theoretical writing as gibberish, he could well be talking about much of what is taught in American universities today.
And that similarity should give Leftist Jews pause for thought. By embracing hostility to existing German society in the inter-war years, they eventually brought down on their heads a terrible vengeance from a charismatic patriot. They found that hate sometimes hurts the hater most of all. Is it not possible to learn from that? American Jews are still overwhelmingly Leftist and hence hostile to the society that has given them a safe place. Would it not be more appropriate and decent to support rather than contest the arrangements that have been so beneficial to them?
Hitler arose in one of the most civilized and enlightened countries on earth. And no-one foresaw his advent. So how can we be sure that another charismatic patriot will not arise in America? Donald Trump is no Hitler but he does show that a charismatic and angry patriot can come out of nowhere and win a totally unexpected level of support.
And note that the frontrunner for leadership of Britain's major Leftist party at the moment is a neo-Marxist antisemite and open supporter of jihadists. His popularity has surprised everyone. Reassuring?
If the steady pace of destruction that Obama has been inflicting on America continues long enough, there could be an anti-Left rebellion that sheds much blood. Conservatives have the guns, after all. And the military is deeply conservative. And America has had two civil wars already. And any rebellion that had Leftists in its sights would ipso facto have many Jews in its sights. Jews always lose in any upheaval. It is in their interests to prevent an upheaval, rather than encouraging it.
I just hope that what I have said is not prophetic. Just over 70 years ago, the many haters among them set Jewry up for the most ghastly retaliatory blow. Has nothing been learned? Will the hate ever stop? I regret to say that I am not optimistic.
By JR on Saturday, August 15, 2015
Your genes WON'T make you wealthy: Becoming rich is more about nurture than nature, study finds (?)
I add some skeptical comments at the foot of the report below. The usual finding is that high IQ people tend disproportionately to be high income earners. And IQ is of course highly hereditary
If your parents are rich, then you’re more likely to be wealthy too.
Scientists have long debated whether this is down to genetics or the culture in which children are raised. Now, a new study claims to have finally settled the debate; nurture, it says, is far more important that nature when it comes to amassing wealth.
‘Innate biology is only a small factor in wealth’, Kaveh Majlesi, a professor of economics at Lund University in Sweden and co-author of the study told fivethirtyeight.com
Previous studies have attempting to find a ‘rich gene’ which might explain how genetic characteristics that cause people to be wealthy are passed down.
The latest research, however, found that the wealth of an adopted child – before receiving an inheritance – is similar to that of their adoptive parents, rather than their biological ones.
The study included data from 2,519 Swedish children who were adopted between 1950 and 1970.
The researchers then compared this to data on adults’ overall wealth in Sweden between 1999 and 2007. This allowed scientists to compare the wealth of the adult adoptees to the wealth of potential biological and adoptive parents.
The biological parents were tended to be younger, poorer and less-educated than the adoptive parents.
Researchers found the adoptive parents had 1.7 to 2.4 times more of an effect than the biological parents did on the adopted child’s adult wealth.
I hate to rubbish a very carefully and laboriously done study but it is important to note that this is a study of WEALTH, not income. It is derived from data collected by the Swedish government for the purposes of its wealth tax.
I have read the whole original study ("Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth") and note that it showed great statistical care.
It does not show much knowledge of people however. It covers gifts in the form of bequests but otherwise omits the issue of gifts altogether. The authors seem quite unaware that well-off people tend to give their kids money on various occasions and for various reasons. My son, for instance, does well every birthday.
And since the adoptive parents in the study above were richer than the natural parents, it is almost certain that the adopted kids got more gifts -- thus accounting entirely for the finding that those kids had more wealth. The study therefore tells us nothing about any biological effect -- including the influence of genes.
I might add the general point that wealth taxes of any kind are quite like other taxes in that they provoke avoidance (legal) and evasion (illegal). And the standard way of avoiding wealth taxes is to transfer funds to later generations in the form of gifts. Gift taxes hinder but do not prevent that. So the fact that the data originate from official Swedish wealth tax statistics is rather unfortunate for this study. It guarantees that a LOT of intergenerational giving did go on. So the findings in this study would seem to be largely an artifact of Swedish law.
The data of the study is therefore not capable of supporting the conclusions of the study. I can't say I am surprised by social scientists who know nothing about people. I had a lot of fun pointing out the follies of my fellow social scientists during my own 20-year research career. But I guess I shouldn't laugh!